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Q+A with Bound Notebook Co

Posted by Emily Harris on
Q+A with Bound Notebook Co

We spoke to Bound Notebook Co about travel, sustainable choices, illustations and drawing inspiration from their travels. 

With an aim to grow our lifestyle offering to include sustainable items perfect for adventure, you can only imagine our joy when we discovered Bound Notebook Co. Sharing our values and sense of adventure, we hugely believe in supporting small businesses whose ethos align with our own and felt that Bound Notebook Co ‘Wild Folk’ Pocket Jotters would fit in perfectly. With the launch of the pocket jotters we interviewed them to share more about the brand, where it all began and whats next for them. 

Tell us a bit about Bound Notebook Co and how your journey began? 

It all started with an idea to make sustainable notebooks for travellers and adventurous creatives. The seed for Bound Notebook Co was first planted in summer 2019 as we sat in an airport waiting for a delayed flight. Looking back, it makes sense that we were on a trip because when we set out on this journey to create something new, the idea that it reflected a sense of adventure was always there. We’ve always been notebook people – lovers of list making and note taking – and we felt that we could make stationery with a fresh edge that appealed to people like us. In the same way that the clothing brands we liked were creating bold graphic t-shirts with a vintage feel, we wanted to do the same for our notebooks. And due to our experience working in publishing and print, over the years we had built up the know-how and connections to make it happen.
The idea of making travel inspired notebooks for adventurous creatives meant that the decision for our first release to be pocket-sized was an easy one. Small enough to take anywhere but big enough for all your creative ideas & adventure notes, the Wild Folk pocket jotter is a travel companion you can rely on, whether you’re on a weekend city break or trekking through the countryside.

Can you tell us a bit more about the sustainable materials you use and why they have been an important choice for you?

When we were working on the concept for Bound, the very core of our ethos was that if we couldn’t do it right, we wouldn’t do it at all. The idea of starting a small business that went against our daily values didn’t really make sense. At the end of the day, anyone can go online and make a bog standard notebook, and we wanted to stand out from the crowd. Our sustainable material choices and manufacturing methods help us do that.

We spent a lot of time researching UK-based printers with sustainable practices and testing the recycled materials you find in our notebooks. The durable cover of our Wild Folk pocket jotters is a recycled uncoated board with a soft-touch feel. Instead of choosing a true black cover board, we opted for a recycled charcoal paired with white vegetable-based ink which picks up all of the cover board's beautiful flecks, because we enjoy things with a bit of character.

The paper inside is 100% post-consumer recycled paper with excellent whiteness, high opacity and a tactile surface. We worked with our printer to find a premium writing paper that was completely recycled and held FSC and EU ecolabel certifications. From day one, our aim has been to remain true to our environmental values without compromising on quality. As people who love the outdoors, our commitment is to creating products which are both excellent quality and as sustainable as possible.

Have you got any other product concepts in the pipeline? What's in store for Bound Notebook Co in 2022?

Our website has been live for about 7 months and in that time we’ve been focussed on becoming part of the community of adventurous creatives in the UK. It’s been a really exciting time with lots of challenges, but we’re so happy to be seeing our notebooks out in the wild and collaborating with the like minded creative folk. Over the last few months we’ve been researching what our friends and followers would be interested in seeing next from us and so as we move into 2022, our focus is to bring out more original products.

We’ve got a bunch of new things in the pipeline that we’re really excited about to be working on, but as with all good things, getting them just right takes a bit of time. With that said, our next release will be a larger A5 size notebook and more paper types. Keep your eyes peeled!

What makes the Wild Folk Pocket Jotter stand out from other notepads?

The pocket notebook is nothing new and we knew that going in. What we felt we could bring to the table was a UK maker of pocket notebooks which paired solid eco- credentials with bold, graphic styling and an adventurous spirit. Our first pocket jotters, named after those who inspire us, are a Bound Notebook Co original. Whilst we know that we didn’t invent the pocket notebook, no one is making them like we are.

One of the things that we are really proud of is that our notebooks are made right here in England. It took a while to find a printer that was the right fit for us, but then good things often take time. Often, we were told that it would be more cost effective to print in Europe, or further afield. But for us, it wasn’t about doing things the easiest (or cheapest) way. We held fast and in time found a printer who not only held the same values as us, but who worked with us to create something that we could be proud of.

The printer who makes our notebooks has been recognised as one of the UK's most sustainable printing companies. Every one of our notebooks is printed, folded and bound in a solar powered factory in Cornwall. For us, it doesn’t get much better than that.

We love the illustrations in the pocket jotters, who is the artist and what's the idea behind these?

Thanks so much! The Wild Folk Pocket Jotter is a complete Bound Notebook Co original. Jack, our co-founder, is a writer and designer who hand drew the ‘Wild Folk’ illustrations at our home in the Midlands before editing digitally for print. The bold graphic style was inspired by the blueprint flash of 20th century old school tattoo masters. The western illustrations were chosen to reflect a sense of grit and romance which paired well with the vintage feel of the materials.

We are both tattoo collectors with an interest in the history of traditional tattooing and the basis of our research began with our collection of tattoo history and flash books. Looking to the future, we would love to collaborate with artists to create more limited edition notebooks.

What are your 3 most important pieces of kit you always take when out on the trail?

Reusable water bottle
Single use plastics are the worst. That’s why none of our packaging contains any plastic. We learned recently that the average person uses 150 plastic water bottles every year and when you think about the sheer amount of plastic bottles that are more often than not simply thrown away after using, it’s a really scary thought. Filling up a water bottle at home and taking it with you on is probably the simplest change you can make and guaranteed to save you money, too. One of the best gifts we ever received was our reusable water bottles and we take ours everywhere with us. Jack’s is an all black Chilly’s which keeps water cold for 24hrs – perfect for hikes and city adventures alike.

We’re a long way from being photographers but we love documenting our trips and capturing memories. Our first experience of travelling together over a summer was way back in 2012 where we took off around Europe armed with our backpacks, a paper map and an old point and shoot 35mm camera. Looking back at the photos of those two kids exploring the world holds a really special place in our hearts. Each photograph brings back a memory of a place or a moment or a person met along the way. From slices of pizza sat on the kerb outside a bus station in Rome to relaxing on the pebbled beaches of Croatia. We’ve got huge admiration for the craft and knowledge that goes into being a photographer, but there’s also something really romantic and nostalgic about those terrible grainy photographs from family holidays and travelling trips.

Pocket notebook
It would be remiss of us not to mention our favourite bit of kit – a good notebook!
Every trip we’ve been on, we’ve taken a notebook with us and kept a diary of the places we’ve been, the things we’ve seen, the food we’ve eaten. We’ve got tonnes of travel notes and diary entries from our trips so it was a very natural progression for us to want to create our own travel notebooks. Whether it’s for keeping notes of the trails you’ve walked, jotting down memories from the places you’ve been or simple writing the weekly shopping list, a pocket notebook is the perfect everyday carry essential.

Can you name drop a few of your favourite small sustainable brands?

Absolutely! We follow and have been supported by so many amazing independent creatives and businesses so it’s impossible to name them all. But here are a few of the small sustainable brands we love:

Overseas Apparel are a unique eco-friendly clothing brand based in Cardiff who design and screen print in house by hand using water based inks. All their products are made from recycled plastic or organic cotton and a percentage of sales from some of their items go towards supporting environmental and animal charities.

Based in Lancashire, Outdoor Camera Club are purveyors of outdoor inspired goods which merge a love of photography with a passion for outdoors exploration. Their logo t-shirts are organic cotton and printed using water based inks in Snowdonia National Park. Their ‘Nothing But Footprints’ promise means that for every order they plant a tree and donate to charities that help protect and preserve the great outdoors.

Outpost Candle Company are makers of outdoor inspired handmade candles from the Brecon Beacons. We first came across them when they were based in the Midlands, like us! They use soy wax and recyclable packaging and offer scents like ‘Cedar Cabin’, ‘Mountain Pine’ and ‘By the Fire’, so they’re right up our street.

And of course, Wildbarc. We’re huge dog people and love the outdoors inspired designs including the amazing handcrafted climbing rope dog leads. They offer incredibly original and cool products with the added benefit of being made using recycled materials that would otherwise end up in landfill. A small sustainable business rooted in adventure which is run by great people, doing great things.

Like us you love to explore, but it can be difficult sometimes to actually get out and about when you are also working hard to grow a business. If you could visit one place in 2022, where would that be?

If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. So is running a small business! We’ve learned quickly that you have to craft out time in the day and be okay with yourself when you need to take a break. Most of all, if you can work on a project that suits your lifestyle and the things you enjoy, it’s much easier. Just like you guys are able to show off your new products whilst out and about on walks with Lola, Bound was inspired by our love for travel so when we go on day trips, holidays or mini adventures, the idea of ‘content’ producing and photography fits into that. Travel and exploration is really important to us but in the last couple of years, our focus has shifted from Europe and further afield, to more local adventures. Lockdown meant that we rediscovered our love for our local area and our plan for 2022 is to explore more of the UK than ever before. Our first trip of the year was to Pembrokeshire and the incredible National Park coastline. For anyone reading this, we would highly recommend.

It rained every day we were there and it was still so beautiful. We’ll be back, for sure. In terms of visiting one place in 2022, this is such a tough question for us with so many places on our bucket list, but if we had to choose just one it would probably be Scotland. We love wild places and that’s somewhere we’ve always wanted to visit but not quite made it.

We reached out to you as we fell in love with your ethical approach as a business and the notebooks you passionately craft with sustainability at its heart. What helped you make the decision in accepting Wildbarc as a stockist for Bound
Notebook Co?

We all know that big businesses don’t always practice what they preach when it comes to sustainability and ‘green washing’ is a hot topic of conversation right now. Our aim has always been to do things in the best way we possibly could, from the materials we use to the way in which our notebooks are made. Sure, it might not be the easy way, but when you think of the alternative, it’s an easy choice to make.

When it came to accepting Wildbarc as a Bound Notebook Co stockist, the simple fact that you reached out to us and were willing to work with and support our small business was the first sign that Wildbarc were good people. Then, when we got to know you more through social media, your website and our conversations, it became clear that we were on the same page and that our core values aligned. Our small businesses are both are rooted in our love for adventure, our passion for the environment and appreciation for the outdoor community, not to mention our use of recycled materials and small batch approach. We’re extremely grateful and proud to have Wildbarc as the first stockist of our Wild Folk pocket jotters.

We love watching outdoor focused YouTube channels and adventure films. For example, the Patagonia films channel has some amazing short films that highlight the responsibility we have as humans to step up our efforts to help our planet heal and halt further damage we do. Are there any films or YouTube shorts you think everyone should watch?

We’re yet to discover the joys of YouTube channels/films but this sounds great and we’re definitely going to be checking that out. One of the best things about Instagram is the way that it can bring likeminded people together and how much we’ve learned and discovered through the online community. It's how Wildbarc and Bound met and it's where we get a lot of our information and news about politics and campaigns for sustainable responsibility, rewilding private land, and slow living tips. We also get a lot of adventure inspiration from the platform, seeing people like Charlie and Jess from The Travel Project on their ‘52 UK adventures in 52 weeks’.

In terms of films, in a time where going outside was restricted, we found that adventure films were a really enjoyable and inspiring pastime. Free Solo was the first watched during lockdown and more recently, 14 Peaks. Both are testament to the unbelievable things people are capable of and incredibly inspiring films that we would recommend.

For documentaries on human responsibility and sustaining the natural world, David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet sticks out because its message about the damage humans have done to nature is so clear and horrifying. It’s a must watch for anyone invested in shaping a better future, where we live more in balance with nature. When you learn that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions, clearly the bulk of the responsibility for shaping the future lies with big businesses and our government changing their ways and putting the planet before profits. But at a time where things often seem bleak and overwhelming, individual changes can still make a difference. From the things we buy to the way we eat, we can choose to do things differently. It might seem like a small thing, but they all add up.


Check out our Bound Notebook Co pocket jotters on our website here  and follow Bound on Instagram here to learn more about their brand and follow their adventures.

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