Creating eco-friendly, alternative and tongue-in-cheek greeting cards and gifts, there’s something about SWALK Creative that feels uniquely Mancunian.
Perhaps it is because its founder, Megan Price, has always lived and worked in the city, even basing the business within the walls of the iconic Afflecks. Her seriously strong green credentials and ‘support local’ ethics make SWALK a force to be reckoned with. Couple that with her unique and personal approach to creating her collections, she shows us that there really is an art to mastering the sentiment and humour behind a greeting card.
Earlier in March we had the pleasure of speaking to Megan about starting her business, how she overcomes creative block and why her latest creations are based around gratitude.
Interview: Jenna Campbell
Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, where you are from and what you do?
I’m from Sale and I launched SWALK Creative in September 2014. I started online and doing all the local markets and opened the Afflecks store in May 2015.
Did you always set out to work in the creative industries?
Prior to that I had a pretty corporate job. I had always been creative in my spare time, but the job took up most of my time and I felt my creative outlet was stifled during those years. When I did leave I was able to take a couple of months off, I experimented with lots of things and got back into drawing and eventually decided to make a go of it!
What inspires you and how do you come up with your designs?
I love puns, and I was initially drawn to making cards because at the time I felt there weren’t enough LGBT+ and non gendered cards available on the mainstream market. So that’s always in my mind when I am working on an idea.
Sometimes they come to me in a flash and I have to quickly make a note of them. But if I’m working on a bulk of designs or new collection sometimes it’s more difficult. I’m generally sat listening to Christmas music in August, playing with lyrics and seeing how I can put a silly spin on them!
“I love puns, and I was initially drawn to making cards because at the time I felt there weren’t enough LGBT+ and non gendered cards available on the mainstream market.”
Do you ever experience creative block and if so, how do you overcome it?
I often struggle with creative block, but I do think it’s crucial not to force it. I find it helps to remove myself completely from what I should be doing. If I stare at a blank page willing an idea to come, it very rarely will. But if I get out the house, read a good book or listen to music it’s when my mind isn’t on the work at all that I can come up with ideas in a more natural way.
A lot of your work is created on eco-friendly materials, why is this so important to you?
When I started SWALK I knew I couldn’t put more paper and card into the world without doing so in a responsible way. I put a lot of research into eco-friendly suppliers and packaging so I could make the business as green as possible. It’s a work in progress, we can always do more but I’m always happy to share my suppliers with other makers to encourage them to make more responsible choices too.
What have you been working on lately?
I’m working on some new products right now, based around gratitude. I think it’s important to stop and take check of how lucky we are sometimes so I’ve got some new things in the works that will hopefully encourage people to consider all the things we have to be grateful for.
‘I’m also bringing back a range I first started in 2017 called ‘Quotes From Your Therapist’ which is art postcards featuring illustrated quotes of real snippets from my own therapist. These were really popular first time round as the advice is universal and a little postcard is a perfect way to remind yourself to look after your mental health.
What has been your proudest moment professionally?
This May we’ll celebrate the fifth birthday of our Afflecks shop. Since opening we’ve expanded four times and I’ve had so many incredible milestones it’s hard to pick my proudest moment, but I think being able to grow and sustain the shop just makes me feel lucky every day.
“Where possible I’d get outside, even in your garden, nature never fails to inspire me. I also love how many people have embraced snail mail and picked up their pens to write to loved ones during this time.”
Do you have any tips for how people can keep creative at home?
There’s so many incredible creatives who are offering free and discounted printables for colouring in or decorating at home, I would definitely recommend people take advantage of that at the moment.
We have nothing but time on our hands so now is the time to look around you and pick up a craft project or hobby you’ve not been able to get in to. A pack of paper and some origami tutorials is a cheap way to explore your creativity.
Where possible I’d get outside, even in your garden, nature never fails to inspire me. I also love how many people have embraced snail mail and picked up their pens to write to loved ones during this time.
How have you been adapting to the current situation?
Once the Afflecks store closed we inevitably had to trade exclusively online. There are 11 Manchester artists in our Afflecks shop so raising the online profile of each is really important to me so people know they’re still trading. And whilst we’re all stuck indoors, adorning your walls with gorgeous artwork is a super way to liven up your living space and stop staring at empty walls! It’s a difficult time to be in business and I’m trying to find new ways to adapt. Just letting people know we’re still here and posting out is half the battle.
What do you love about up living and working up north?
I’ve lived in Manchester my whole life and since starting SWALK made a conscious effort to immerse myself in the creative community. I went to meet-ups and collaborated with others and built up an incredible network of people.
The creative community here is so supportive, we recently had an open call for artists and the response was absolutely overwhelming. Even when we had to close our doors recently, people rallied to help us in any way they can.
I love that there’s no pretence, people in Manchester aren’t precious about sharing their contacts or techniques etc because it really is a community, there’s room for us all so no need for competition. On the whole, people in Manchester really see the value of independent businesses and supporting local, without them we wouldn’t have seen the success we have.
To find out more about Megan and SWALK visit her site here.