Meredithe Stuart-Smith grew up down the street from Hallmark’s head offices in Kansas. As a child she would hand make cards and tape them to the windows hoping someone from Hallmark would walk by and see them. From there her company Meri Meri was born, growing from hand made greetings cards to stationary and party supplies. Of course, it is echelons superior to Hallmark and provides the most beautiful, creative kit for children. We meet Meredithe (or Meri Meri as her friends call her), the name behind the brand:
You began your business in LA – what made you branch over to the UK, and why Cheltenham?
I met my English husband in NY at the Stationery Show. He also had a greeting card company and he convinced me to move to England. I had lived in London a few years prior. I figured I would either get married and live happy ever after or have another great year abroad. I moved to Cheltenham for my daughter to attend Cheltenham Ladies College.
Could you describe what it’s like in the Meri Meri studio?
It is a hive of creativity, There are about 30 creatives on the team. It is truly a magical place. There is a lot of drawing, cutting, sewing and general making going on.
What does a working day look like for you?
I spend about half my time in the studio working with the design team or graphics team keeping everything on brand and connected. Our work is very collaborative and all of our designers are achingly creative. While I might connect the dots, they create the magic. The rest of the day is often spent with strategy meetings or very boring admin things, that I would never hire me to do!
How have children’s parties changed over the years?
I think they have become incredibly creative. People seem to be having so much fun decorating. I think putting the parties together might even be more fun than the actual parties.
You have so many great new designs at the moment – we love the circus particularly. Where did the idea for this come from?
This was completely inspired by the bohemian festival feel of Gifford’s Circus. I have gone to it every year since they opened. I started taking the whole UK team and their families a few years ago. Nell Gifford was a genius.
What are three things every party should include (even in a crisis)?
Cake, ice cream and games.
Do you have any top tips for keeping children entertained during these times?
We are putting together some craft projects and downloadable activities to share with kids at home. Watch this space!
What’s your favourite Easter cake?
My favourite is an Italian traditional cake like a panettone called Colomba de Pasqua. I was in Italy once during Easter week and they are in every bakery. The slight sweet yeasty, doughy cake/ bread is delicious.
I would have to say both (sides of the Atlantic). When I’m in Cheltenham that feels like home and when in Maine, that feels like home too!
Which items from your home make you especially happy?
My Leonard Baskin pieces from his Native American series and my Kartell, Mademoiselle chairs by Philip Stark with Missoni fabric.
What the best party you’ve ever had or thrown?
It would have to be my wedding. I was 40 when I married my husband so we did it ourselves. The wedding was at Westminster Abbey and the reception at the Liberal’s Club in Whitehall.
Is there anything in the pipeline for Meri Meri that we should know about?
We are having a lot of fun with fancy dress and costumes and of course we’re also getting ready for Easter!