First look: New shop is a dream come true for Cheltenham's Wildflower Illustration Co

A young couple has transformed a hobby into a stunning stationery shop in Cheltenham, celebrating the beauty of nature and the power of connection through handpainted letters and cards.

By Emma Luther  |  Published

Rebecca McMillan and her husband Karl have realised a long held dream by turning an old print and copy shop in the Suffolks in Cheltenham into their first stationery shop.

They stumbled across the shop in Suffolk Parade in April 2023 and decided to fundraise to make their dream of a permanent base in Cheltenham a reality.

Now, after raising £10,000 through crowdfunding and working hard on transforming the space all summer, they're opening the doors to Wildflower Illustrations Co on Saturday 30 September 2023.

In fact, so many people got behind the project, they actually raised £15,000, which they're putting towards a letterpress printer.

It's a big transformation from their previous lives as a teacher and a lawyer. Karl, 35, left his teaching job in 2016 and Rebecca, 32, left her legal career in 2017.

The couple, who live in Cheltenham, started off small in a Cotswold barn studio painting cards and pieces of art before gradually winning more and more business for Rebecca's paintings born out of a love of nature and travel.

She said: 'The crowdfunding made something that would have otherwise been impossible, possible. We are so excited to create a space where people can pop in if they fancy a chat. Somewhere they will find friendly faces, no matter if they buy something or fancy a browse.'

The couple plan on hosting co-working sessions to bring like-minded people together.

She added: 'People can come to an art session that allows them to stretch their creativity. People can choose a card to connect with a friend, or show a member of their family that they are thinking of them.

'It's going to be somewhere we can continue a tradition that is being lost: a shop as a community space. Because at the end of the day, things are just things. They can't bring us happiness at all. But connecting with other people? That's the magic.

'We are losing these spaces and we believe they are integral to humanity and our happiness. Local high street independents are so much more than just a shop. We can't wait to meet our customers!'

Wildflower Illustration Co opens in Suffolk Parade on Saturday 30 September 2023.

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