Buttercrumble is a young at heart creative communications studio based in Leeds, and in today’s story we’re going to find out more about Abigail and Chloe Baldwin, the sisters behind the brand. Fancy learning a bonus fact? They’re twins!
I first worked with Buttercrumble in 2017, when I had a logo designed for my portfolio site. After being so impressed with the service they provided, when it came to bringing the vision for The Artisan Detour to life, I knew Abigail and Chloe would be the only ones I would turn to.
Something I’ve loved the most about writing Abigail and Chloe’s story is seeing how they’ve been in it together since childhood. Most of us know how lonely running a business by yourself can be, unless you’re able to meet your tribe and go on the journey together, learning from each other’s experiences and even collaborating with them along the way. Luckily, Abigail and Chloe have never had to feel alone, and it was clear to see how well this sister duo work together.
In today’s story you’re going to find out all about how their childhood love for being creative organically grew into what’s known today as Buttercrumble. We’ll also learn about the importance of collaborating and finding your team, as well as struggles they have faced over the years. All of this can be found alongside the photoshoot we did at the brand new Buttercrumble HQ, and at the end of the post you’ll be able to see just how amazing Abigail and Chloe’s work is…
Abigail and Chloe Baldwin are the duo behind the creative communications studio, Buttercrumble. Although based in Leeds, their journey begins together in Scarborough. Thanks to their family, art has been part of their lives since an early age. As kids they could often be found with felt tip pens and pencils in hand, doodling away on rolls of newsprint that their grandad bought home from the factory he used to work at. Art continued to be part of their lives throughout school, college and eventually university, where they studied Graphic Design - which of course felt like a natural path to take by then. Since Graphic Design is such a diverse subject, it allowed them the opportunity to experiment with illustrations and painting, but also working digitally amongst other mediums.
“It’s just been a really organic growth and journey for us. It’s not been overly contrived at all.”
It’s lovely to hear how their childhood interest in art has led to a career as graphic designers and illustrators, but I was curious to find out whether there was ever a plan B?
“We’ve never considered anything else. We just didn’t know that we could develop a business, but we’ve gone down this route and it seems like it’s meant to be.”
With similar styles, Abigail and Chloe have been able to work together to build a brand that is instantly recognisable as Buttercrumble! Influences have included Quentin Blake, the Moomins and the Power Puff Girls, and during university the sisters learnt the importance of staying true to their style, especially since students can be encouraged to go down certain routes that aren’t necessarily true to their own voice as artists. Although being pushed outside of your usual style and comfort zones can be a great thing, it doesn’t always work out that way. Throughout their first year, after feeling influenced to adopt a certain way of working, the sisters say they began to forget what their strengths were.
“In the second year I felt I’m not getting the creativity out that I want, so for one project I thought I’m just going to do what I really like and love. Now it makes perfect sense, I don’t know why I didn’t do that in the first place. From that moment I found that university just got better and better. The tutors, our peers, and everybody embraced it.
I think you should just always try to stay true to your style, I don’t think it’s something you can fight.”
Moving to Leeds from Scarborough turned out to be a great move for their careers. Both sisters were proactive with gaining valuable industry experience, which started as soon as their first year at university! They both worked part-time for design agencies and being ahead of the game meant they didn’t need to worry about finding internships later down the line. Even better, they had jobs waiting for them once they’d finished university. But it was only six months after graduating that they were able to go full-time with Buttercrumble!
Most of their speedy success not only comes from the amount of valuable industry experience they gained whilst still students, but in my opinion, from the fact that they’ve been in it together from the beginning. Keeping that in mind, I wanted to know how things would have been different if they did not have the support of each other?
“I wouldn’t have had the confidence to set up a business on my own. Because we’re twins we are competitive, but it’s almost like a supportive competitiveness. We’re always egging each other on, and that’s helped to grow the business.”
There definitely seems to be an emphasis put on the importance of team work and collaboration with Buttercrumble. The sisters tell me that finding a team is important, especially if you’re running a business by yourself, because it can help your business grow faster.
“If you’re a solopreneur or artist working alone, if you can find ways to work with other people, or to team up, collaborate, and have people in your network, it will help you grow so much.”
As we all have our strengths and weaknesses, I wanted to know what roles Abigail and Chloe each take on, apart from the actual design of course! In the first year they were happy with busying themselves with getting creative, but during the second year, as their business grew, they found they had to define their roles.
Abigail: “Chloe likes to take charge of the organisation aspect of things, so she is very big on project management, whereas I’m more about the marketing and getting Buttercrumble out there in the world.”
As a small but growing company, I love how diverse the services Buttercrumble offer are. These include graphic design, branding, illustrations, marketing, consultancy, website design, print design, and copywriting.
“Whenever we describe Buttercrumble we always say, ‘It’s a creative communications studio that specialises in playful graphic design and illustration, and it’s always with an ethos of making people smile.’ We help businesses express themselves in its simplest form.”
Even though Buttercrumble is a company that is expanding, with a new member who recently joined the team as a creative assistant at their new studio in Leeds, Abigail and Chloe both want to maintain that personal feeling they have been able to offer their clients, or rather their partners, as they prefer to call them. Speaking from experience, I’ve always felt so involved with the design process and have always been happy with the service they have provided for both my brands. I’ve found that getting to know the faces behind the brand has definitely helped me to feel like I will be a returning partner, time and time again.
“We do want to grow our team again, but I always imagine us staying quite small and close nit. We just want to really continue focussing on working with young at heart brands, so people in the children’s industry, or galleries, libraries, museums, arts and culture, and just making sure we’re always staying true to our style and our ethos.”
Even though the sister’s careers have organically grown throughout their lives, it doesn’t mean there haven’t been any struggles that needed to be overcome along the way. Abigail told me how going to university and running their business allowed her to deal with low levels of confidence, and as a result learning to interact with people, sharing her work and receiving feedback. For Chloe, struggles with imposter syndrome caused her to worry about being a young woman working in the industry.
Abigail: “It can be hard when you run your own business and you do lack confidence. If you don’t put yourself out there, you’re not going to get any work or jobs from people because they just won’t know about you.”
Chloe: “We didn’t know that this could be a business. It’s just something we enjoyed doing and people noticed our work. It all developed very naturally for us, and sometimes you think ‘Am I the right person for this job?’, and of course you are, but there’s almost that moment of doubt.”
I hope you enjoyed reading the story of Abigail and Chloe. I really enjoyed my day spent with them in their new studio in Leeds, where they are now planning on offering small businesses bespoke and personal support at their round table events. If you attend, I’d love to hear all about it! Let me know in the comments below.