pennychoo greeting cards

In an attempt to put a face to some of the wonderful businesses I’m working with, please welcome our first Sponsor Spotlight feature: Sue Lee of Pennychoo Greeting Cards!

What inspires you?

Generally, mid-century design, but more specifically, anything and everything from around 1920 to 1960! So, um, not very specific at all, actually.

I’ve used patterns and motifs from crockery, matchboxes, vintage neckties, bark cloth curtains, vintage clothes, handbags, jewelry, shoes… I’ve looked at ceramic cats, classic cars, Formica tabletops, architecture, motorbikes, bizarre 1950s party foods, roadside signs, old school tattoos, typography on signs, fairground rides, posters, handbills, labels, menus, car badges… pretty much anything that I find old, interesting, quirky and/or charming. Oh, and music – listening to the right music while I’m working can really help things along…

How did you get started in your business?

I was already a graphic designer and illustrator when I became involved in London’s 1940s/1950s vintage scene, and the two just sort of naturally collided. I started doing small design jobs for people on ‘the scene’ – logos, album artwork, tee shirts, posters etc – and I think it was a friend Karen who suggested I focus on it more seriously. I went for greetings cards partly because I love cards, and couldn’t find many I really liked, and mostly because it’s one of the few areas of design for print where you can really indulge yourself: no-one picks up a card in a shop and says ‘Hmmm, so does this fulfill my stringent brief?’ Yes, you have to constantly bear in mind that your cards have to sell (or else you’ll be creatively fulfilled but nutritionally challenged…), but card-buying/giving is one of those activities where people are generally feeling happy so they’re more likely to take a chance and be a bit more adventurous on what is a relatively low priced item.

What’s in your handbag right now? 

Hmm, my ‘handbag’ is more like an army kitbag, and about the size of a medium-sized family dog… It’s practicality all the way with me where shoes and bags are concerned! Right now, it’s empty, but on an average day, it will usually contain:

– keys (hopefully!)

– a hairbrush

– my purse

– sunglasses (just incase…)

– a brolly (just incase…)

– iPhone & earphones

– several nylon bags to counter my eco-worrier aversion to plastic carrier bags

– a Moleskin notepad & pen incase an idea comes flooding in…

– a shopping list (I can barely function without a list telling me which list to make next…)

…and a mountain of envelopes as it’s a rare day indeed that I’m not taking orders to be weighed at the Post Office.

Oh, and if I’m out with the chap, it will also contain everything he doesn’t want to carry – sunglasses, cheque book, keys, baby elephant, tuba etc.

If you could pick one item from your shop, which is your favorite and why? 

That changes all the time, but just now it’d have to be this Christmas card from the new Jazz Cats 2012 range. I live with a jazz musician, and I love the whole 1950s beatnik thing, so I’ve really played on that with this range. I also love words, especially words that make me laugh, so I know that while not everyone will get it, this will almost certainly bring a smirk to the faces of those that do.

About Sara Burnett

Editor of Burnett's Boards, which she founded to showcase global creativity in the wedding industry. Sara currently lives out of a suitcase while island hopping the Caribbean and beyond. Learn More // Follow on Instagram.


  1. What a fun feature! I love hearing what creative people have to say, especially about their work. I laughed out loud about being “creatively fulfilled but nutritionally challenged.” I totally get that!