Image shows - Helen Shaw, founder and owner of Blue Ticking, outside her new studio in a converted brickworks.

Creative Me – Helen Shaw from Blue Ticking

Image shows - Helen Shaw, founder and owner of Blue Ticking, outside her new studio in a converted brickworks.
Helen Shaw, founder and owner of Blue Ticking, outside her new studio in a converted brickworks, in the Surrey Hills.

Under the Oak Tree is…

A meeting place for creative folk. Be inspired by their stories – and shelfies.

Helen Shaw, has turned her passion for vintage chic into a business. With hubby John, a talented carpenter and artisan craftsman, Helen runs Blue Ticking, which sources and creates stylish products for children’s bedrooms.

She joins us  Under the Oak Tree to talk inspiration, colours to brighten dark days, Desert Island Discs and mud pies…

1. What are you working on now?

Quite a few things – all at the same time! We recently moved into a new studio so we are still kitting it out and making changes to the space. I’m also focusing on sourcing some new products that will compliment our contemporary prints and other wall décor range. Plus, there are lots of orders to fulfil and I always have to photograph the new products that we find.

Blue Ticking sells vintage children's furniture, storage and décor.

2. Describe your desk or workspace?

Our studio is in an old brickworks. It contains a workshop, storage space, photography area, a mini showroom and then my office. It’s a space that ticks a lot of boxes and enables us to do everything under one roof. We only moved here in the summer so we still have a way to go to get it how we want it, but it’s great and enables us to be both productive and creative. My desk is brightly coloured and very much reflects us as a business. Even when the weather outside is dark and grey, my desk brightens my mood!

3. What’s the soundtrack to your work?

It depends what I am doing. If I am at my desk then you can’t beat a bit of Radio 4 and Woman’s Hour or Desert Island Discs from the archives, I’m obsessed! If I’m in the photography studio or in the workshop then I need something with a bit more energy, so it’s Radio 1 all the way. I still think I’m much younger than I am!

Image shows - 'The Maggie' range of vintage enamel pots transformed into comfy stools provides stylish storage.
"With 'The Maggie' range we believe we've created the ultimate storage and seat combo which is both functional and very cool!", says Helen. "The vintage enamel pots provide perfect storage for all kinds of things including hats, gloves, shoes and toys galore. We have then added a bespoke ticking seat pad which is both squishy and comfy and can easily lift off to reveal the nifty storage space." The Maggie range starts at £60.

4. Who or what inspires you?

My children are a constant source of inspiration and help keep me motivated and engaged. We are also very lucky to live in the glorious Surrey Hills so we spend a lot of time outdoors and you can’t fail to be inspired by the ever-changing and dramatic scenery.

5. What do you need to create?

Time, a clear head and a tidy workspace. I can’t do anything if my desk is chaotic, or the studio feels crammed or unordered.

I also work with my husband John and we are always bouncing ideas off one another so he’s integral to our success and the creative process.

Helen Shaw's company, Blue Ticking, sells modern heritage pieces for children.

6. What time of day does your brain come alive?

I feel more productive in the morning and definitely get more done then. Although my ideas seem to appear in the evening or when I’m lying in bed trying to sleep! The evening is also the time John and I have more time to together so we often have a creative event over supper!

7. What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you do?

Don’t be afraid to give things a go. Embrace mistakes and learn from them. You also don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but it is key to have a point of difference. What makes your idea/business unique and different to others out there?

It’s also really important to love what you do and talk about it passionately. If you love it, then others will too.

Helen Shaw's company, Blue Ticking, sells everything you need to make your child's bedroom as stylish as the rest of your house.

8. What do you do when you lose sight of your inspiration?

Take time out for a day or two and do something completely unrelated to work or go for a run! I run every other day and it’s my saviour. It’s the only time I really switch off and don’t think about anything other than where to put my feet so I don’t fall over on the trails!

In the words of BT, it’s also good to talk, especially to others who run creative businesses. Working for yourself can often feel isolating, so embrace those around you.

9. Tell us one thing about yourself that no one would guess?

I grew up on a farm, where I loved donning my Ford overalls and mucking about in the mud, building camps and mud pies!

Image shows - The Blue Ticking logo
The Blue Ticking logo

10. What’s next for you?

Finishing our studio so that it really reflects us as a business and conjuring up new goods to add to our heritage range, so that we can be more of an all round kids interiors brand.