About this project
Suitcase Susie is a luxury range of fine bone china tableware and home textiles with distinctive designs inspired by travel.
All the products are British made – the tableware in Staffordshire, home of the famous British ‘Potteries’ and the 100% cotton textiles in Lincolnshire. These pieces aren’t mass-produced on a factory production line, but are lovingly hand-finished to a very high standard.
Named after an old jazz tune, Suitcase Susie is about what we take with us from our travels that become part of who we are – memories, impressions, experiences…
The stunning Paper Kite design (pictured above) whisks you off to the jungles of Malaysia where large, but delicate monochrome butterflies stand out against the verdant green foliage and brightly coloured flowers. This design was selected by the Royal Academy in their RAted Open Call for Designers.
The striking Paper Kite design really caught our eye at the RAted Open Call back in September 2014. Inspired by butterfly designs from travels to Malaysia, the clean monochrome designs are reminiscent of classical Art Deco style. Methods of production were also key to the selection process, with each design being screen printed in small quantities and hand decorated in Stoke-on-Trent onto Fine Bone China. The designs work effectively over each piece in the collection, creating a wonderful display when the pieces are stacked. It was clear to see that each ceramic shape had been selected well to complement the designs with well-defined attention to detail and finishing to a high standard.
The RAted range seeks to champion British design and support emerging designers, and it was clear when talking to Michelle about her range this has had a comprehensive development process, from her inspiration through to selecting the right production methods to suit her vision. Due to the nature of small production and being produced in the UK, these unique hand decorated pieces are great value.
Emily Rubner, Buyer, Royal Academy of Arts
Koru uses the integral symbol of Maori pattern that not only echoes the unfurling fronds of a tree fern, but with its beautiful sweeping waves, reminds you that you're never far from the sea in New Zealand.
Intricate and illustrative, the Haveli design draws you in with stories of nights of entertainment in the mansions of old Rajasthan - puppeteers and dancers perform to a traditional band surrounded by elaborate Indian decoration of wood block prints and henna patterns.
Suitcase Susie has already had some great press, featuring in The Evening Standard Homes & Property supplement, Living etc & Period Homes & Interiors magazines, Heart Home online magazine, and a number of blogs. Take a look at the press page of suitcasesusie.com
The next steps
Until now, I’ve funded the business entirely by myself, but have really struggled to meet the 100-piece per item minimum order quantities in order to supply shops. Some stores have said they'd only stock Suitcase Susie if they could take a mix of china and textiles.
This is where you come in…
With your help, I can increase the range of home textiles to include tea towels, oven gloves and aprons as well as put more of the china pieces into production. Then I’ll be able to supply more shops and ultimately achieve regular orders that exceed the manufacturers’ minimums.
I’m asking for your support to do this.
I’m personally inviting you to join Susie and me on our journey for what I know will be a fun and rewarding experience.
And speaking of rewards, just look at what’s on offer! Imagine serving afternoon tea with the elegant Paper Kite cake stand or escaping to the ocean each morning with the Koru breakfast set. There’s limited edition, signed plates, not to mention the brand new textiles range. Which will you choose?
£5 – 1st Class Boarding Pass
Where else can you travel first class for just £5! We'll show our appreciation by adding your name to the 'Passenger List' page of suitcasesusie.com, where all our supporters will be thanked.
£20 – Frequent Flyer – Blue: pair of designer tea towels
£22.50 - Frequent Flyer - Blue: Apron
£27 – Frequent Flyer – Blue: pair of fine bone china mugs
£48 – Frequent Flyer – Bronze: luxury fine bone china cup, saucer & side plate
£55 – Frequent Flyer – Bronze: brand new designer textiles set (tea towel, apron & oven glove)
£68 – Frequent Flyer – Silver: Elegant fine bone china Paper Kite teapot
£80 – Frequent Flyer – Silver: Luxury Paper Kite 3-tier cake stand
£90 - Frequent Flyer - Silver: Delightful set of four fine bone china espresso cups and saucers
£140 – Frequent Flyer – Gold: Luxury fine bone china Breakfast set
£150 – Frequent Flyer – Gold: Collectable limited edition, signed Paper Kite plate only available via Kickstarter
£150 – Frequent Flyer – Gold: Collectable limited edition, signed Koru plate only available via Kickstarter
£450 – Frequent Flyer – Platinum: Set of three limited edition, signed Haveli plates only available via Kickstarter
£695 – Frequent Flyer – Platinum Plus: 6-person fine bone china luxury dinner set in Koru or Paper Kite
Huge thanks to the following people for their help:
Colin Conroy, Video Productions Ltd; Rita, Lee, Ade, Andy, Jason, Denise & Karen, Heraldic Pottery; Chelsey Baker and Jamie Pickard
Photography: Thomas Gonsard, Ian Marriott-Smith & Michelle Kent
Risks and challenges
I didn't feel comfortable pushing the idea forward until most of the production risks were resolved.
I’ve tested the market at a number of design shows and in the first six months of trading Suitcase Susie was stocked by The Royal Festival Hall Shop at London’s Southbank Centre and the Royal Academy shop, where Suitcase Susie was selected in the Royal Academy’s RAted Open Call for Designers.
Earlier this year, I exhibited at my first trade show, which was a great success for a start-up, leading to a number of new stockists and generating interest from a leading UK department store.
As I have already worked with both the ceramics and textiles manufacturers and have already been fulfilling orders I feel these are very reliable, although there is always the chance of minor delays. One of the advantages of the manufacturers being based in the UK is that I would be happy to visit them should any issues arise.
For delivery, I will ensure that all pieces are well-packed, especially the china, and will replace any items that arrive broken or damaged.
My ambition is to partner Suitcase Susie with a charity that contributes to regenerating the environment and encouraging wildlife to flourish, but I need the company to do well first.
With your help I can increase my stockists. If you know of a lovely homewares or gift shop in your area that might like to stock the Suitcase Susie range, please tell them about us and encourage them to get in touch or send me their details so I can approach them.