Interior insider: Nessie Maclay of Thisisnessie


Sussex-based Nessie Maclay designs beautiful handmade greeting cards and stationery for her company Thisisnessie.

Thisisnessie started almost by accident… I was a fashion designer up until 2002 when I had my first child. That Christmas my mother asked me to design some Christmas cards and one thing led to another and I wound up selling nearly 10,000. The seed of an idea was sown and it all grew from there.

To begin with, my motivation was… to earn a bit of pocket money, but it all snowballed rather fast.

The core of Thisisnessie's product is… bespoke stationery – everything from invitations to thank you cards for events as diverse as you would ever imagine people can be.

Our bestsellers are… our footnotes cards. They are postcards that can be personalised with your choice of over 40 different shoes and wellies. People love creating something that is totally unique to them and their family.

There is a growing fashion for… ultra-personalisation. So much of consumer culture is dominated by big brands these days that people feel a need to reclaim their individuality.

I am a big fan of… upcycling furniture. I repaint a lot of things that are either found or acquired when others are getting rid of them. Artwise, you won't be surprised to learn that I tend to rely on myself. I often give original watercolours as gifts.

My motto is… ‘Work hard, play hard, never give up.’

I am most proud of… my four beautiful children.

My biggest design challenge so far is… our new website due to launch in the New Year. It has been a real challenge to build something that captures the diversity and breadth of what we do while remaining clean and simple.

My advice to a beginner artist is… some of your best ideas will come when you least expect them. Make sure you listen to everyone; there's a lot of good ideas out there.

The most common decorating mistake is… not taking your time and failing to prepare woodwork properly. Too much strong colour is often a mistake in my view as well.

When I start a design job, the first thing I do is… turn off the phone and put on some ear defenders.

From the design scene, I love… Quentin Blake's illustrations. He is blessed with a wonderfully relaxed yet enormously expressive style.

We live in a… 600-year-old house that is stuck in a timewarp until we can afford to walk into an interior shop. 

I can gaze at Pinterest forever… There is so much lovely stuff on there and heaps of inspiration for illustrations. I spend a lot of time on font and typography websites and love my email newsletters from type foundry and small artisan font designers.

As a mother of four, my favourite interior trend is… tidiness. I encounter the most and hate chaos. We have a blackboard wall by the back door which has everyone's weekly schedule on it – that is my lifesaver.

We are big fans here of… all things hand-drawn. We have just designed a new logo combining lots of colours – it's a bit googley, but in a watercolour style.

My dream project would be… to design and build a ski chalet where I could hang out with all my family and friends for big chunks of the year while someone else does all my work.

Annie Deakin is interiors writer for sofa and interior design website