We caught up with Sammy Blevin, founder of Bow & Arbour, an online portal allowing customers to create their own bespoke 'wedding zine'. With a background in graphic design and a passion for weddings, Sammy is disrupting the wedding market with the launch of Bow & Arbour in July this year.
Designed to blend into your home, their zines are created to showcase the joy and passion of your wedding day.
Can you tell us about the inspiration and journey behind Bow and Arbour?
I was born a creative, and have always had an annoying eye for detail and an obsession with print. I studied graphic design at University which landed me with a Bachelor of Design. This led to me working in corporate design for 6 long years. It was a little soul crushing although it did give me a skill set I will always be grateful for. After working a myriad of jobs, establishing a charity and tour company @diwazambezi (for anyone wanting to visit Africa) with my husband, it was finally time for us to invest in something that was true to who I was and what I was passionate about - design, photography, print and weddings. My obsession for weddings and the industry, in which I have now worked in for nearly 3 years, not surprisingly was born during the planning of our own wedding back in 2015.
Bow & Arbour was one of those lightbulb moments for me. It was the perfection combination of all the things I am passionate about and with a lifetime’s worth of support from my husband and a handful of others, Bow & Arbour came to life over the course of 6 months and we launched in July this year. James (my husband) and I have very complementary skill sets. He is a CA, with the perfect business brain and that coupled with my creative brain, just works.
What is your go-to source of inspiration?
Day-to-day things and also, very predicably, I get a lot of inspiration from scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest and I probably stare at the screen far too much. Away from a computer screen, turning the pages of a magazine does wonders. I have never been into books, but have always loved a well designed magazine. I am also very fortunate to draw a lot of inspiration from my couple’s wedding photos as they’re all so different and inspiring on their own. I am sure other creatives will relate but sometimes you just run out of creative juice and for me I am lucky enough to visit Southern Africa twice a year. I find these trips so important for rejuvenating on so many levels.
Which creatives are you most inspired by?
I love reading Tess Robinson of Smack Bang Design's blog post/articles. I find I can relate to them alot. I find the work of photographers inspiring and have a lot of admiration for their storytelling and creative abilities. I am fortunate enough to call Janneke Storm a friend and her work always blows me away. I am quite easily inspired and I get far too excited about the smaller details in everything!
Who is the Bow and Arbour couple.
A couple who is after the creation of simple, well designed, meaningful, modern ‘Wedding Zine’ (trademarked) to display their wedding day memories for a lifetime. Our Wedding Zines, short for magazine, contemporary for wedding album, are a relaxed interpretation of a traditional wedding album. Somehow wedding albums have always been an awkward, rather than complimentary, memento of one of the biggest days of anyone’s life. We have sought to change that through our product. We are very discerning about what we display in our home and our zines are designed so as to tastefully blend in with your own home and decor whilst simultaneously showcasing the joy and passion of your wedding day.
Where is your dream destination?
There is only one answer! Africa. I fell in love with Africa before I had ever been and long before I met my Zimbabwean husband! It is a huge part of our lives and I am so grateful for that. It is hands down the one place I feel everyone needs to visit in a lifetime. Words just can’t do its magic justice.
Can you run us through the process for designing your wedding zines?
After receiving a couple’s wedding photos and drooling at them for the better half of a day, I begin designing the internal pages. It is important to me that their individual wedding day story is told as it should be. I also love to select standout images and spread them across a double page to ensure there is plenty of impact when turning the pages. From there I add in any wording the couple has supplied, such as vows, love notes, special messages from cards, song lyrics and quotes. I think this is such a very special way of combining all of those details that often get relegated to a box at the top of your wardrobe. Finally, I design a few cover concepts for the couple to choose from. After approval and print I carefully package them up with love and send them off to their forever home.
Describe your favourite part of the job?
That’s a tough question. I could say meeting amazing industry contacts like yourselves who are on the opposite side of the globe although I still pinch myself everyday as I am trusted by so many couples with their wedding photos, THEIR WEDDING PHOTOS! and turning them into a something I hope they cherish forever. I feel like I have attended a lifetime’s worth of weddings already and I am just getting started! The exciting thing about Wedding Zines is that you can order 2, 5 or 10 copies allowing you to not only pop one away for safe keeping (the grandchildren will love it) but also to gift them to your parents, grandparents or even your crazy aunt!
What does the future hold for Bow and Arbour?
It’s still so new, our baby so to speak. We would love to become that go-to product for couples who are getting married or who have just been married. Some couples invest a lot of money in amazing wedding photographers and we really want to do the photos they capture justice and turn them into a form they can enjoy every day for the rest of their lives. If it isn’t the couples coming to us we would love to work with a handful of epic wedding photographers from across the globe to make their lives easier.
Photos by Janneke Storm
Bow and Arbour zines are available internationally. Each zine is 200 pages, bound and printed in full colour on uncoated paper.
All zines are designed and printed in Australia.