Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Interview | Neal Whittington, Present & Correct

Stationary ogling seems to be a quality past time, and if your in need of new stationary for the office, then look no further than Present & Correct.

Present & Correct opened their virtual doors in 2008. The online store is a place for their own designs, things they love by other designers from around the world and vintage items which they have discovered around Europe, and beyond. 
It's a showcase for the things they have enjoyed since school. A long-term obsession with stationary has culminated in a constantly evolving store. Selling wonderful, quality, quirky and colourful paper and office objects which are inspired by homework, the Post Office and school.

The founders of P&C have a great love and obsession for this field and hope to spark a distant memory and make you smile, whilst looking at the mundane in a new, and fonder, light.

We managed to pull Neal Whittington founder of P&C, away from what must be a really busy schedule, (running the online store, working in the brick & motor store, packing, posting and not forgetting; the buying trips) to get more of an insight into the business and his personal fascination with all things stationary.

An Interview With Neal Whittington

Who are you and what is your role in the company?
I'm Neal Whittington, my role is everything! Designer, photographer, postman, tea maker, shopkeeper.  

When was Present & Correct founded, and by whom?
It began with my final major project at art college, that was when I registered the name. It has been in its current guise for five years though, when I left my design job and started to make stationery and sell it through the site. It started with a poster and grew from there. I have always collected old things for myself and thought it would be interesting to throw that vintage side into the mix too. 

What is the first thing you do when you get to work? 
Make a cup of tea and check my emails & various social media! i also usually have a bit of a tidy up on entering the shop and walking to the counter.

What is a typical day like at Present & Correct?
Since getting the shop my routine has become far more set, as it is dictated by the opening hours. I get coffee then am in the shop by around 8:45 then I wrap orders and get them shipped off, then make sure the shop looks nice before opening at 12. The afternoon is spent at the counter working on new products or putting a wholesale order together. As well as tending to Pinterest, Twitter etc. 

When did you open your brick and motor store, and what was the reason for doing so?
I always wanted a shop but financially felt it wouldn't happen, as the rents in London are so high. I was looking for an office/studio which I could open up once a month, but no landlords were up for that idea. 
Then this shop space came up on a little street tucked out of the way, and the rent was so good and not much more than the studio spaces I had been looking at. It was a no brainer and I just went for it. It was really exciting and almost a surprise that it happened and in an area that I really like.

When did you first become obsessed with stationary and office supplies, and what sparked this obsession?
It has always been my thing, i had toys but I was far more interested in art supplies, craft sets & stationery. My first job was in WHSmith, all my holiday money when I was little would go on writing sets. I even worked in a pen factory!  I think as well that being a graphic designer and liking stationery comes hand in hand. The desire for interesting Print finishes, paper stocks, binding methods etc are intrinsic to both.

You go on buying trips four times a year. Could you tell us a bit about these trips?
They're pretty fun and can be a little bit hardcore in terms of walking. We have regular trips to Germany, France, Belgium & Spain and then we throw in the odd one further afield, or tie it on to a holiday. We are always looking though, whether on a work trip or holiday. Its impossible not to. 

The trips generally centre around markets we know or have researched. Some are weekly some are once a year. There is a lot of luck involved, a lot of rummaging and hoping something good will be found. Budapest was very disappointing yet Tallinn was a revelation!  Its never not exciting. We are so fortunate in Europe that we can go overseas so cheaply and see different languages and styles within a fairly short distance. Also we have been lucky in making contacts with other collectors and also owners of shops who have old things they don't want. Its kind of become a little black book grown over the past 5 years. 

Finally what does the future hold for P&C?
The shop will be open more i.e. every weekend, and we will continue to make and find nice things. At the top of the list is a newspaper showcasing found ephemera, artists we like etc. It would be great to do one or two a year. I'm working on a collaboration with a great magazine too which I am pleased about. 

I guess more of the same, P&C is tiny it would be lovely to see it grow a little more but not to the point where it changes. I would also really like to do some kind of mobile shop. It's on the list of dream projects. The main thing I hope for is that people keep enjoying it, its nice to hear from appreciate readers & customers.


Thanks Neal, for taking the time out to help us get a better understanding of what Present & Correct is all about and what goes on there. The plans for the future sound great and we'll be keeping a close eye on things. Present & Correct is a really cool and quirky rarity that we would love to see stick around, and grow, without it changing and becoming too mainstream. Keep up the good work and good look for the future.ACM

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