Inspired Women... February 22, 2018 10:40

Every year, the 8th of March marks International Women's Day, a celebration of the achievements of women worldwide. In fact, the whole month is Women's History Month, and don't forget Mother's Day falls on the 11th too! What's more, this year is the 100th anniversary since women in the UK first won the right to vote. Phew, pretty big year for us then gals?

The International Women's Day campaign theme for 2018 is #PressforProgress and to mark the occasion we've taken their official pledge to celebrate women's achievements. This includes individual and collective, success and contribution; in all walks of life.

As we approach the end of our first proper year in business, we decided to take this opportunity to focus on a couple of causes close to our heart. Being politically active is not something that comes very naturally to us, but our business was built on a friendship and we wouldn't have got through the past year without that. In fact we probably wouldn't get through the average Wednesday without that. (Anyone else notice how uncharacteristically soppy we get on this blog?!) 

So anyway, to us, feminism pretty much boils down to having each other's backs. Let's build each other up, pick each other up, cheer each other on and shout super loud about each other's successes.

We wanted to find a way to bring these ideas into our day-to day work as well. So each Friday over the next few weeks, we'll be featuring some of the incredible creative women-owned or run businesses who inspire us. Keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram for updates on this!

As well as our Insta feature, we have designed 4 special edition cards to mark the occasion. Inspired by the homespun creativity of hand-painted protest signs, they all feature different messages of encouragement, admiration, support and friendship.

Because, is there anything more cheering than a card in the post for no reason at all except just to say how great you are? 

Giving the tree the trim... November 17, 2017 11:51


 Since we've been feeling oh so festive this year, we decided to put our signature calligraphy style to a new purpose. Boxes of pretty Christmas baubles are filling our back corridor and they've got your name on them (or they will do once we paint it on!). 

 We stocked up on a big batch of clear, and another of frosted white baubles, some white and gold paint, plus a fancy new paintbrush. Chief calligrapher Cara has already been busy personalising them ready for you to trim your trees! 

With two colour options there's something for everyone's Christmas décor scheme, and if you want to sort your whole family out, we offer a special deal when buying four. Don't miss out, they're going fast and someone's already placed a big order for all his flying reindeer... 

The most wonderful time of the year... October 6, 2017 13:16

Look, we know it's only October, but you try drawing Christmas scenes all day every day and see if Bing Crosby doesn't sing White Christmas to you in your dreams. Every night.

Anyway, those of you who keep an eye on our social accounts will have noticed we took a little trip to the big smoke last month. This was Paper Parade's first official business trip, and despite it very literally being a flying visit, we had a ball and returned north full of inspiration. The main purpose of the trip was to go and have a nosy around Top Drawer, a specialist trade show for gifts and stationery, among other things. We'll be back at Top Drawer in January, this time as exhibitors! More on that another time.

 Admittedly, we got a bit sidetracked by the free tasters in the gift food section, but we did manage to have a thorough look around all the beautiful stationery and make a start on planning our Christmas range! 

All work and no play is certainly not the Paper Parade way, so we made a pit stop for a refreshing but eye-wateringly London priced cocktail at Sketch, where the walls are decked in David Shrigley illustrations. Heart eye emoji alert. 

With the desk stationery selection all ordered, it's back to the grind and safe to say we are getting through a fair bit of red and green gouache. This will be our first Christmas in the shop, so the pressure is on for a very exciting collection of our own products. Watch this space for cards, boxed sets, wrapping paper, gift tags and some very special calligra-fied decor.  

 We've got lots of stocking fillers and gift ideas making their way to the shelves over the next few weeks, ideal for your stationery obsessed loved ones. We are busy updating the website too, soon you'll be able to shop all our desk accessories online as well as in store. Click and collect will also be an option, so if you're one of the rare breed that is super organised about Christmas shopping, you can save on postage costs! 

Roll on December. Is that sleigh bells we hear?

An Introduction to Modern Calligraphy September 15, 2017 14:28

Since we transitioned from being a purely online presence to having roots in the real world, one of the best changes is being able to invite customers and other creatives into our space. Skill sharing is hugely important (and a lot of fun) and we have lots of ideas for exciting workshop exchanges with our creative friends. Over the past few weeks, we decided to open our doors to hold some informal modern calligraphy tutorials.

Modern calligraphy is something we've been learning and growing with over the last two years. We have utilised it in a lot of our wedding projects and it's always such a beautiful addition to really personalise a wedding suite. It's also something that a lot of our customers seemed interested in getting to grips with themselves, so through this interest our workshops were born.

We held three classes, including having the ladies down from Snapdragon florist, to learn a new skill they can apply to their own work. Each workshop was two hours long, and we covered things like getting to know your tools, how to hold them, different strokes and letter forms, and even getting creative and writing some words and phrases by the end of class.

We like to call it 'an introduction' to modern calligraphy, because it really is one of those skills where practice makes perfect, and two hours is not a huge amount of time to perfect your skill. But we sent each class away with their own pen, nib and ink and some new skills to continue practising. In fact we were genuinely impressed by the level everyone was at by the end of class. I feel like they caught on a lot quicker than me... Should I be worried?

We really enjoyed having everyone into the studio, and the enthusiasm with which everyone jumped in. So much so, we plan on running a few more workshops very soon. I know there were a few of you who missed out as the spaces filled up quickly, so keep an eye out for the new dates which we will be posting soon. I'll leave you with a photo of how we finished off our classes, because is a Parade event really a Parade event without alcohol and snacks?

Something old, something new, something copper and navy blue... September 1, 2017 12:03

Earlier this summer, we worked on a bespoke wedding invitation suite for Laura & Duncan, who tied the knot at Lartington Hall in County Durham. They had already selected a colour palette of blue tones, and wanted the stationery to have a luxurious and somewhat vintage feel, reflecting the Georgian decor of their idyllic Manor House venue. 

For the design, we opted for a classic navy and white scheme, with copper accents and a striped twine to tie it all together. 

The main invitations were hot foil pressed into a super heavy weight 540gsm Colorplan Imperial Blue card. The colour couldn't have fit the bill more perfectly, providing a rich, dark backdrop for the copper calligraphy to catch the light. 

To give the suite an up-to-date edge, we used a modern calligraphy style, hand lettered and then digitised. This was paired with typefaces Mr & Mrs Eaves; contemporary updates on Georgian-era Baskerville.

The calligraphy carried through on the details slip and RSVP card, which were all tied up with a navy and white twine, and posted out in Colorplan Pristine White envelopes. 

The couple also needed a few invitations for evening guests, for which we used a similar design. These were printed by traditional letterpress in dark navy ink on an antique white textured stock, and were presented in an Imperial Blue envelope.

Nearing the big day, Laura and Duncan asked us to help out with a table plan and some details for table settings. At this stage we decided to lose the copper, as the couple had chosen blue and white florals and had silver detailing on their cake, so we stuck with the navy and added silver ink in place, to harmonise with the rest of the decor. 

In Gastby-esque style, the tables were named after classic cocktails, and decked out with antique blue and white hydrangea. We created hand-lettered table names and guest place names, using a high-shine metallic silver ink and the same modern calligraphy style used in the invitations. Simple, white, long format menus were dotted around to remind everyone what the meal had in store. Guests also sat down to discover a miniature cocktail at each place setting, with a hand stamped tag as a memento of this beautiful occasion. 

Ⓒ Venue based images by

Putting pencil to paper... August 11, 2017 12:45

Since opening our studio in April, our working process has been a regular talking point with our customers. Often they are surprised – firstly that we design everything ourselves, and secondly that we actually draw things with real pencils and paint and paper! Recently, we've finally had time to spend designing a few new additions to our range, so we decided to put together a behind the scenes insight into our work, from start to finish.

Running a small business isn't all fun and games but this part really is. Designing new cards is the most enjoyable and exciting part of our job, and one of the main reasons we started Paper Parade in the first place. It gives us so much freedom; the brief is pretty much just to draw something that makes people smile (now you see why so many of our cards feature illustrations of food).

Inspiration can come from anywhere - a happy memory, an interesting plant we see, someone's outfit as they pass us in the street, or sometimes we just feel like drawing a unicorn. It strikes at often inconvenient times; we have been known to scribble thumbnails, unintelligible to anyone but ourselves, on the back of a bus ticket or bank statement before the idea is lost.

A good set of watercolour paints and a sharp pencil are our essential implements, and with these we sit down to create the artwork that will go on the cards. The first step is to decide on a colour palette and then we pencil out the design at full size, working from our tiny, wonky sketches. The finished paintings are scanned in and edited, and this is the stage where it does get digital. This is often what surprises people the most. I think if you're not an insider in the world of design, you might presume that like most things, it's all done with computers. Don't get us wrong, Photoshop and his friends are essential to our work, but only as editors; all our designs begin life on paper.

I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that we are pretty particular about paper, so chose a textured, heavyweight, off-white stock for our cards to be printed on. And with that, they are off to the printers! All our stock is produced in the UK, and the cards come back to us to package up with our branded envelopes. It's always fun to see which of our designs are the most popular, we try to order new cards around 6 times a year and are always open to suggestions about what you'd like to see next!

The Festival Begins... August 4, 2017 14:01

August means one thing in Edinburgh; festival month. The city becomes a temporary home to the largest arts festival in the world, and as long as pedestrians can keep a reasonable walking pace, that's something we can really get behind. This year, it's officially 70 years since The Fringe began celebrating creative freedom. Our streets are already buzzing and we thought we'd run a few fun promotions to coincide with our favourite Edinburgh month of the year.

One of our most popular products since we opened in Morningside has definitely been our phone cases. If you're like me and your phone is constantly shoved into pockets and bags, scraped against keys and coins and occasionally shunted into orbit, a protective layer is always a good idea. We made it our job to also make it look good and have given you some summery updates, whilst offering a nice 25% off for the month of August. Amongst others, we have some tropical leaves, seasonal strawberries, a moody seascape (because let's be real; it's Scotland), and we also have shrimp, because we wanted to. If you really need a reason you can probably find a street food vendor selling shrimp somewhere in the festival...

So pop in and see us - you'll also be able to pick up one of our limited run of Scottish postcards. Send them with love from the festival to friends that couldn't join us this year, or just keep for your memory box. They're only here for this month and are free, if you check-in with us on social media.

Now go have a wander and a wonderful festival!

Your Stationery Checklist... July 28, 2017 13:39

So you're engaged, congrats!

Now begins the fun (and maybe a wee bit of stress) of planning your big day. The world of wedding stationery can be overwhelming, but don't fret! We've put together a handy checklist of all things paper to help you and your other half decide which parts are essential, and which optional extras you'd like to have. It will also help you stay on track with your budget and time constraints. We've colour coded them by how important we think they are, so red for the essentials, amber for the most popular optional extras and green for the extras that are fun but not necessary.


  • SAVE THE DATE - Usually a simple postcard, these are sent out around 6-8 months before your wedding, or as soon as you've set a date, and simply include your names, the date and possibly the town or area your wedding will be held. These are especially useful for friends and family living in far-flung locations so they can book time off work, flights and hotels in plenty of time.
  • THE INVITATION - This can be as elaborate or basic as you wish, but if you want your guests to turn up, chances are you will need to send them an invitation. These should be sent out around 6-12 weeks before the big day. You may wish to state the names of who is invited, so people are totally clear about whether or not to bring their partner and/or kids. 
  • DETAILS CARD - If you have a lot of information to give your guests, it's a good idea to include a separate card. This keeps the design of the main invitation simple and elegant, and 'stick-on-the-fridge' worthy. Here, you can give directions to your venue, details of local hotels and taxi numbers, your gift registry number and anything else relevant. 
  • R.S.V.P. - Traditional invitations include a card to be posted back with confirmation or regret. If you prefer to go minimal, lose the card but do ensure you provide contact details for guests to reply to. It's advisable to give a deadline for guests to respond by too, so that you can confirm numbers with the venue and start working on your seating plan!
  • TRIMMINGS - These are definitely not essential, but there are lots of exciting options to make your invitation stand out. Add ribbon, twine, or a personalised wax seal for a luxurious touch!

For The Day

  • ORDER OF SERVICE - Common in traditional and religious ceremonies, these can be given one per guest or one per couple and include the order of your wedding service, plus songs and readings. A more contemporary option is to have a board at the arrival point giving guests a timeline for the day.

  • TABLE PLAN - By this point you will have had all your replies and can construct a carefully planned seating chart. This goes at the entrance to the reception and makes sure guests can find their assigned seat, and no one ends up next to their ex-husband, employer, arch enemy etc.
  • PLACE NAMES - Same as above, but these are the specific names at the respective places on the table.
  • TABLE NUMBERS (OR NAMES) - Fairly self explanatory, these go on a stand in the middle of each table. Give guests a talking point with creative table names; something personal to you as a couple like cities you've visited together or your favourite bands or restaurants. 
  • MENUS - Essential if you are giving a choice, but otherwise optional. There is no need to give one per guest, 2 or 3 per table is plenty. Make sure you find out in advance about who is veggie, and any allergies or special diets!
  • SIGNAGE - If well designed, these can add to the overall aesthetic of your event and can be used as a welcome message or to direct your guests to the dance floor, cake, photo booth, etc.

After the wedding

  • THANK YOU CARDS - We are going with essential on this one, a swift way to irk Aunty Margaret is to forget to thank her for the exquisite floral tea set that you'll probably never use... Joking aside, people have probably travelled far and wide and used up precious holidays off work to join in with your celebrations so we recommend sending these out within a couple of months.

The Journey Continues July 21, 2017 14:31

Over these last few months we have worked on so many beautiful weddings, with some wonderful couples. Most recently, I had the pleasure of creating some invitations for Megan and Rory. Keen travellers, who plan on seeing much more of the world together, they wanted to evoke an old worldly feel of travel and exploring; classic, with a modern twist. 

We kept to a colour scheme of navy, white and gold. The main body of the invite was simple and clean, printed with hot foil blocking to give a luxury feel. We chose a beautiful warm metallic gold, on a heavy GF Smith paper stock.

To really make it their own, we designed a little travel themed 'logo' using Megan and Rory's initials, which we handstamped on to each Colorplan envelope.

And finally, the envelopes were addressed with some handwritten calligraphy, of course. Which is a topic we shall discuss in more detail very soon...

The First Hurdle... July 14, 2017 11:41

Hello and welcome to our very first blog post!

As most of you will know, we had another big 'first' this year, and that was the opening of our little studio and shop in Morningside on the 1st of April (we know, we know, ridiculous day to open, but it was no joke).

We'd love to say it was always in the grand plan, but this time last year, we were still part time Paper Paraders, and it took a couple of strange turns of fate in the autumn for us to decide to jump in with both feet. We looked at one retail unit (yep, just the one), took it, and spent exactly a month up ladders, on our knees, paint stained and stinking of white spirit to get it ready for the grand opening. Lesson learned; choosing the right shade of white is no picnic, with many a day spent fretting over paint swatches and whether they possibly looked a bit pink or a bit blue in the wrong light. 

With favours from friends and family maxed out for the foreseeable future, we thought it was probably about time to open the doors and ply people with prosecco until they bought something. And of course, have a wee celebration ourselves...

Now we're here, our first quarter done and minimal casualties, well, one smashed light and a very sore head, but we made it through without falling out, passing out or checking out so we'll chalk that up as a success. A lot of the time we feel out of our depth, up the creek and into a bloody great ocean with not a paddle in sight, but seriously, we are so glad we took the plunge.