Crane & Kind – Stay Curious
Written by Stella Nicholls
Photos provided by Crane & Kind and Stella Nicholls
Walking through the beautiful seaside town of Sidmouth, I recently happened upon a visual delight in pink. Not a stunning fashion model, posing for a photo shoot, as one might perhaps expect from someone who has designed for Conde Nast, but instead, it was graphic designer Polly McLachlan’s latest creation. A wonderful little shop, called ‘Crane and Kind’.
Polly McLachlan – passionate that her mark on the world is a positive one, loves to challenge herself and prove that she can do the things she dreams of. The Post Graduate Scholarship winner (at the prestigious Domus Academy in Milan) and freelance graphic designer for Conde Nast, publishers of high-end magazines like Vogue and GQ, is one of the most down to earth people that I’ve interviewed. She made me feel right at home, with a coffee and a chat in the family lifestyle store that she and her sister recently opened. During our time together, Polly mentioned that being in Devon next to the sea, while still seeing her ads in Vogue, is an amazing feeling.
Having had a bit of a “false start”, as she put it, Polly found her calling after enrolling at Exeter College to complete an Art Foundation Course. Her creative passions ignited, she thoroughly enjoyed her year, realising that she had the talent needed to pursue her dreams. And it opened up a whole new world for her!
After the course, she enrolled at university in Cardiff to complete a degree in Fashion Promotion, where she specialised in Graphic Design. She spent her final year at uni, finessing her style but it was that classic case of coming out of university and thinking, oh my gosh, what do I do now?
Her course leader, recommended that she apply for a scholarship at the Domus Academy in Milan. She put together her application, sending it off with the thought that she was probably never going to hear back. Amazingly, she not only heard back, but she also won!
If Polly had thought that her Art Foundation Course had “opened her world”, then studying in Milan surely took ‘that world’ to another level. She was on the course with students from all over our planet – places like Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa and Brazil – and each one brought a wealth of beautiful influences. She says that the experience was eye-opening really broadening her horizons for what was an inspirational year.
After her degree, Polly says that she was “lucky enough” to get a job with the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design which had just opened. It was an amazing opportunity as whilst the college was a ‘start-up’ and they were a small team, they were still part of a huge multinational business. It was a double roll, as she spent time developing the brand identity and marketing of the college, speaking with all the publications in Vogue House and was lucky enough to have adverts in their magazines around the world but was also able to develop the pastoral, creative and education side as a lecturer as well. She describes her time in London as full of influences and loved designing under the aesthetic of Vogue but says, as a creative person, you always want your own outlet.
During a Beautiful Days Festival at Escot Park, Polly and her sister, Jemma Lascelles, manned a stall and sold some beautifully designed posters that Polly had created. Polly says that this was the “nugget” – the starting point – to where they are now as a business. Jemma has always been a positive influence on Polly, always standing by her. Polly says that she would never have started the shop without her sister, who Polly says, “believes in me more than I believe in myself”. Polly and Jemma seem to have the perfect working balance, with Jemma being the “numbers” person, focusing on the financial side of the business (she is a tax accountant and director of tax at Michelmores) leaving Polly to create and be free to ‘stay curious’ – her motto in life.
Polly says that something that has always stuck with her, and influences the way she does business, designs, or looks for new stock, is a Grace Coddington quote (one of Vogue’s most famous and loved fashion directors). Grace said that Norman Parkinson, (who was an iconic British Photographer) taught her to “Always keep your eyes open – never go to sleep in the car or anything like that. Keep watching – because whatever you see out the window or wherever – it can inspire you”. And Polly and Jemma’s knack of finding beautiful things is evident in the stock they gather.
Polly and Jemma named the shop to keep their maiden name ‘alive’ being the last in the line of Cranes; Polly chuckled and added, “Much to our husband’s chagrin”. They chose the word ‘kind’ as it is a multi-faceted word, and so flexible in its meaning. When I asked Polly, what changes she would make to the world, if she could only make one, she replied, “For people to be kinder to each other” and she loves the phrase “if everyone was a little bit kinder, the world would be a happier place”. Of course, we are all part of humankind, and it makes sense that we care about each other and the environment, while we are here on earth.
Originally starting out as an online store in 2015 (called Crane, Bump and Baby) Polly wanted to expand their range of baby items and diversify into some lovely adult products too. While I chatted to Polly, I couldn’t help noticing some fabulous sweatshirts (designed by Crane and Kind) and I’m told that for each adult size sold, £5.00 is donated to The World Land Trust. As Sir David Attenborough says,
“The money that is given to the World Land Trust, in my estimation, has more effect on the wild world than almost anything I can think of.”
Polly is pleased with the way the sweatshirts have been received, saying that people really get what they are about. Roll on payday, when I may just ‘have to’ pop online to order one!
Crane and Kind’s stock is generally not easily accessible in the UK and fits with their aesthetic vision. They are exclusive stockists of a couple of brands from places like Australia, California, New Zealand and now that they have a shop, they are also proud to house some British brands too. They work with some small unique brands and they know the story behind each one and it’s that connection that they really cherish. Polly says that she wants to raise them up as much as Crane and Kind’s profile.
The shop enables her to have that human touch, she loves being involved with her customers. Some come in to buy a present for a new baby and she says,
“There is something really special about playing a small part in those really happy moments in people’s lives.”
As well as helping customers find just the right product, Polly brings her London & Milan experience to Devon, offering her graphic design services from the shop too. She has recently worked with places like Combe Estate on the development of the Combe Garden Centre as well as a number of local businesses and private clients.
To get in touch with Polly pop onto her website.