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Welcome to Sam Smith from HELLO TIME, my first #incredibleindependents interview of the New Year! The The HELLO TIME Planner is a trademark of Alilia Studio which she owns.

1) Why did you start your business?

I started Alilia Studio 9 years ago. I relocated from Nottingham where I was a Creative Director at design power house Linney Create (formally Linney Design) to Worcestershire (my husbands neck of the woods) we wanted to leave the city life behind having formally lived and worked in London to move to the countryside. I started from scratch doing all sorts of design and arty projects including developing a collection of wall art for Heal’s London.

Sam from Hello Time

A year or so in, a previous client of mine, Emma Penrice contacted me with a business idea. We called it Illustries.com and set the business up in 2010. We started creating very personalised and bespoke coffee table wedding books for couples where we incorporated their vows, readings, speeches, guest list and first dance lyrics along side the story of their special day and photographs. This quickly developed into more books to celebrate life’s special moments. Off the shelf books that you could populate and fill in from wedding guests books, wedding planners, hen party books and family journals.

Our range grew and in 2016 we jumped head first into the world of designer stationery with a small print run of cloth bound, blind embossed black planners that were purposefully simplified but were designed to keep your time, tasks, notes and ideas in one place, rather than having to carry loads of different notebooks and pads around with you! I left Illustries in the summer but I took the planner with me to develop into a full lifestyle brand (fingers crossed!). It’s not a straight forward story so I wanted to give you some background for context!

2) What do you love about running your own independent business?

I love seeing people’s eyes light up when I offer them a solution to their planning and time management concerns. I love building a brand having worked on helping others develop theirs and I love doing a happy dance every time someone places an order, I’m so grateful that I can help others through my own relationship with time and experiences.

3) What is your favourite product or service and why?

My range is so small right now and it’s very early days so it’s obviously the planner itself. It’s a challenge to find true differentiation in a brand, product or service and I love that challenge.

4) Let’s spread the indie love, name some other independent businesses you support.

My Indie loves would be Parentfolk, Southwood Stores, Love Leah Handmade, Coco & Ginger Candles, Scamp & Dude, Selfish Mother, The Brand Stylist, Girl Tribe Gang to name a few!

5) Which is your favourite social media platform and why?

Instagram! It’s visual and I’m a creative so it comes much more naturally to me than the likes of Twitter and it’s more targeted at brands where as Facebook is more for friends (in my humble social opinion!). I love planning out my squares and curating the photos (I am a bit of a moodboard queen) and I’m loving the challenge of learning more each day and developing my knowledge and experience of the platform.

A big thank you to Sam for taking part and please do check out her beautiful planners! Please continue to support all those #incredibleindependents out there by using them and also shout about why you love them and use this hashtag so we can find them all!