Greetings to the print company making their mark, the old school way

Nick Hand and Ellen Bills are the Co Founders of The Letterpress Collective; a business reviving old-style print techniques to engage with artists, writers and community projects in Bristol.

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Tell us what The Letterpress Collective is and what your business offers?

Our business is a community social enterprise. A letterpress print company which is an old style of printing with amazing printing presses, wood and lead type. We teach people how to use the type and presses.

Those who attend our workshops, learn to print amazing posters and cards to take home at the end of the day from our print room.

What was it that inspired you to set-up your own business?

It was partly to protect the machines and type. And partly to teach young people these amazing craft skills to combine with the digital skills they already have. This leads to visually pleasing results, which makes the whole project worthwhile.

Do you think an Entrepreneur ISA and a Small Business Savings Allowance would have helped aid your companies growth in the early stages?

Most certainly. It’s like starting a big truck. Any business is a risk but the quicker that you get the wheels rolling, the quicker you can make it work! And you need support to do that - financial support and business support. Once you have that in place, the wheels are in motion!

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced so far?

To make the business work financially. The good news is we’ve managed to make this happen over the course of the last year or two. The real transformation, off the back of getting our finances in good shape, has been the ability to hire someone. The young apprentice has allowed us to focus on growing the business and moving things forward. And at the same time, has given someone the opportunity to do a job they are truly enthusiastic about.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Start a business that is fun, enjoyable and you’re passionate about. It’s also very important to be flexible and not too rigid in the direction of where you visualise the company to be heading. We’ve found it has been important to be prepared to adapt and look for opportunities in unexpected places.

What is your proudest achievement to date as a company?

To employ, train and support a young and talented printer. Then to watch them grow in confidence alongside the company. It doesn’t get much more fulfilling than that.

Better still, we have been able to hire a young woman, in what is traditionally a male-dominated sector. We feel proud to make this happen and hope more women will be encouraged to work in this space in the future.

Nick Hand and Ellen Bills are the Co-Founders of The Letterpress Collective.

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