Premium stationery for smart minds. Rama Publishing is home to some of Papersmiths best tools and stationery finds in store and online. The founder, Rachida is the designer of the famous Rama Eye Clip - a genius invention to keep your favourite pen attached to your notebook. We asked a little about how Rama Publishing came to life, and what's to come. You're in for a treat...
What is Rama Publishing and how long has it been about? Tell us where it all began!
Rama Publishing was founded when my husband and I were living in Melbourne. We were only staying for a year, so it felt like the perfect moment to make a bold move and I had always dreamed of having my own stationery business. Whilst it was tough being so far from my friends and family at the time, it made starting the business easier. This is because often it is your loved ones who make you doubt yourself when taking risks, although their risk aversion is coming from a place of love. But I am a firm believer that the biggest risk in life is not taking risks.
You were born and raised in France but have spent much of your life in London. Tell us what it is about our city that you love so much!
I don’t just love London, I am obsessed with London. I honestly believe London is the greatest city in the world, the energy in this city cannot be explained with words and I feel blessed to live here. One of the things I love most is how multicultural London is; it is a city that is open to so many diverse and beautiful communities. As a young girl from a mixed background growing up in a small town in France, London was the sort of place I had always dreamed of – you can do whatever and be whoever you want in this city.
What have been your biggest challenges since starting Rama?
The biggest challenge has been not always being able to do all the things I want to do. I am a dreamer; I love coming up with ideas for products. But one thing I quickly realised after starting Rama was having an idea was the easy part, executing it well is tough! Creating a product that we are proud of might take a little longer, but we are happy with the pace. I love that quote: God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time.
When did you know you wanted to work in stationery design?
I have always wanted to have my stationery brand, but I didn’t have the courage to go for it. It was only when I moved to Melbourne that I had the boldness to do it. I have a law background and society and peer pressure mean you are usually parked in a rigid box and god forbid you to dare to try something new. We are all creative and creativity is multi-dimensional. You should never listen to the naysayers trying to define you, they are only projecting their shortcomings onto you. I love that quote from Whitman: “I am large, I contain multitudes.” I believe that the best-lived life is to attempt to explore your many facets.
What was your goal when creating the brand?
When I first started Rama, I wanted to create products that had a clear purpose, elegant design, and carried a touch of magic. I must believe in each product 100% or we will simply not go ahead with it and try something else. Rama reflects me in a lot of ways. For example, our first product, the Daily Review Planner, is also known as “the coach you carry with you” and I used my coaching experience to develop a product that would help the customer achieve their goals. I also have a Master of Laws and my experience studying and tutoring law students inspired me to create the Ratio Notebook for Law Students. We want our customers to love and be thankful for our products because we are thankful for them as well.
Why do you think there will always be a place for stationery despite technology advancing in the modern world?
My answer is unequivocally YES! There is something sacred about the art of writing on paper and I find that my best ideas were written using a notebook and a pen. I genuinely believe that the more technology is advancing the more people will revert back to pen and paper. Using stationery also has the power to bring to the surface ideas, feelings, and emotions that typing on a device will never be able to replicate. I am not a neurosurgeon but I met one and he said that a very important part of the brain is activated when you use pen and paper.
What's your favourite thing about stationery?
This is a very hard question because there are so many things to love. I am obsessed with the artistry, the touch, and the smell of stationery. Starting a new notebook is like entering a world full of possibilities. My mum gave me my first notebook I was seven years old and I still remember vividly my heart bursting with excitement. It is a feeling only a fellow stationery addict can understand!
Talk us through a typical day in your studio.
I have a working space in London because I would go crazy if I had to work from home or in a studio by myself or with just a few people every day. I love being surrounded by the other founders at my working space; they motivate and inspire me. I usually start work at 9am after delivering the previous day’s orders and my day could be filled with any of the following things: meetings all over London, designing new products, engaging with people on social media, researching, organising, and/or delivering workshops (I am also a career coach and speaker). In the evening I pack any new orders and try to switch off from the business for at least a few hours. My husband and I cook dinner together and then go for a stroll around our neighbourhood which is a great way to relax. I’ve never been to the gym; walking is my limit in terms of exercise!
Did you have a big job that resonates with you as being the one that made you think - I can do this! Or was it a gradual road to success?
The first moment that comes to mind was when I attended a private party and sat next to a well-known photographer. She worked for Vogue and shot so many of their covers. She wanted to take down a recommendation and grabbed her notebook from her bag and to my shock, I saw she had our Rama Eye Pen holder attached to her notebook. I literally screamed (I am yet to learn how to play it cool!). She was confused until I told her it was one of my products and I asked her where she got it from and she said she was on a shoot in Brighton and got it at a beautiful stationery store called Papersmiths!!!! When she said her pen holder was her “lucky charm” I knew I was meant to do what I do! It has honestly beat anything else. It is up there with having our Daily Review planner at Anthropologie on Regent Street and our products at Moderna Musset in Stockholm, one of the best modern art galleries in Europe.
What /who inspires you and your design process?
I am inspired by people. I am completely in love with people: what they think, how they behave, and their dreams. I could sit for hours in a coffee shop simply observing the people around me and sparking up conversations with friendly strangers.
What’s the process for you when it comes to creating your designs? Can you share the process from the start of an idea to the finished product?
My creative process always starts with a beautiful coffee shop and a cup of green tea. I usually pick the busiest coffee shop and observe people. I love seeing people interacting with each other and observing what pieces of stationery they are using. I am a talker, so I don’t hesitate to start conversations with people with great stationery items – it is my mini-market research. I then go to my office at a working space and jot down my findings and start brainstorming with my designer. We discuss colour schemes, what the product should make us feel, and measurements. I will draw a rough sketch for my designer to get a prototype mocked up. I will then use the product for several months to see if it is solid, durable, and enjoyable to use. I believe that less is more. I do not get pressured by external factors and do not believe in having new products for the sake of having new products. I want to have classics that will stand the test of time. That’s my goal.
We love to take a look behind-the-scenes in design studios. Where is your workspace? Can we take a peak?
You sure can! This is my base, but I love exploring the best coffee shops in London where I can get inspired by beautiful outfits, design, and architecture. That’s how I feed my creativity tank.
What's in the pipeline for you? Do you have any big exciting projects that you’d like to share?
I am actively looking for a permanent physical space. I had a pop-up in the heart of Shoreditch a year or so ago and it was such an amazing experience that I have been plotting our return ever since! It will be a store/event space to host events such as book launches and live interviews as well as sell our stationery and favourite books. I am also working on a new line of lined notebooks with my designer that I am very excited about.
I’d love to know which one is your favourite design from the past and present combined. Do you have a preference, and if so, what makes you favour a design over another?
I know this is going to sound cheesy but I genuinely consider all of my products my babies, but I also know parents lie when they say they don’t have a favourite! My all-time favourite is our Rama Eye Pen Holder Clip without a doubt and our Daily Review Planner. I love them because they combine beauty and practicality. They are also the first two products we launched so they have a special spot in my heart.
Keen to shop more of Rama publishing designs? You can shop the full collection on our website here
You can find them on Instagram at @ramapublishing
Or visit their website at - https://ramapublishing.com/