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If it's good enough for Beatrix Potter

...then it’s good enough for me.

The letter was written in my best joined-up writing, down the margin I’d made a pleasing attempt at a drawing of Peter Rabbit and I’d signed it from Your Biggest Fan. An address and a stamp were all I needed, then Beatrix Potter would know just how much I loved her and her books. The thought that she might write back filled me with a ridiculous amount of joy. (Imagine a small child clutching said letter to her heart, eyes closed, chin raised and a curiously creepy smile on her face. Yep, that’s me.)

I can still remember the moment my mum explained why none of those things would be happening.

I was seven. I cried.

I slowly grew out of Beatrix Potter’s anthropomorphic characters and their adventures. Apart from watching the Miss Potter film I hardly gave her a second thought.

That was until a trip to the Lake District.

We were a few days in when my husband casually asked if I fancied visiting Beatrix Potter’s house, Hill Top*. I think my reaction shocked us both.

I was 38. I cried.

Hill Top, Nr. Sawrey, Ambleside. National Trust

I have no idea where the tears came from. Maybe it was the thought of walking the same garden path as her. Standing on the stone steps where she’d stood. Seeing the same garden view from her window. Whatever it was, the issues surrounding the never-to-be-sent-letter clearly remained unresolved.

Beatrix Potter standing outside Hill Top

Rachel Moore standing outside Hill Top (sorry, not sorry)


Thankfully I managed to keep it under control and didn’t create a scene at Hill Top or later at the exhibition in Hawkshead. Still, it wasn't the whimsical illustrations that stood out for me, it was the clear evidence that Beatrix Potter was a very savvy business woman. She knew more than a thing or two about marketing and the power of merchandise.

I remember the buzz words we'd use when I worked in marketing - customer journey, content marketing, cross selling, upselling - whether or not those ideas consciously went through Beatrix's mind it's obvious she had a real aptitude and appetite for business.

She understood our weird need to buy into collections. At the end of each book was an illustrated end plate advertising the next. "Gotta catch 'em all" springs to mind. Beatrix realised the importance of keeping control of her intellectual property rights so patented the Peter Rabbit soft toy. As she did with her books, Beatrix took an active interest in all creative and commercial details.

Patent certificate for Peter Rabbit soft toy from an exhibition at Sissinghust Castle

Here's a quote from one of the displays: "The products she authorised ranged from china and colouring books to jigsaws and even Peter Rabbit slippers. Keeping a close eye on the quality of these items, Beatrix had a high level of input into the granting of licences. She had a strong sense of how her brand should be portrayed and her attention to detail was evident in her negotiations."