Laurel Cottage Ltd is small family run business – in America we’d be a Mom and Pop operation but here in Northern Ireland we’ll call ourselves Granny and Granda! Granny is Alison Johnston, I’m Tim and we’ve been publishing books and prints from our cottage in Ballyhay since 1990.
It was all started by Alison back in the late 80s when she created a series of paintings of our picturesque local town, Donaghadee, as part of a programme with the Donaghadee Community workforce to record the town’s history. However when folk saw the paintings they so admired them that they encouraged Alison to create a more permanently accessible record and so the idea of a book was born and by Autumn 1990 Cottage Publications’ (later to be incorporated as Laurel Cottage Ltd) first publication “Donaghadee, an Illustrated History and Companion” alongside a series of prints of the paintings was on sale.
I joined the business almost by accident after Alison sought to repeat the success of the Donaghadee book with a second book on another local town (Bangor). Being heavily pregnant she was going to have to step back from the business for a while and, although I was heavily involved in the project, I had a full time job. As such we were faced with employing someone to do the marketing etc for the book for us – until Alison somewhat jokingly said “why don’t you come and work full time in the business?”
We had a young family, a mortgage, no savings, no other income and no background in publishing – what could possibly go wrong? Yet here we are more than 30 years later, still together, blessed with grandchildren and still publishing books!
We’ve always prided ourselves in the quality of our products and the level of service we provide to our customers and both have stood us in good stead during major upheavals and, barring any major calamities, we still have a few books left in us yet.
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