Crowdfunding Creativity

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If you’re following us on Instagram, then you will now be very much aware that our Crowdfunding Creativity cohort are coming to the end of their campaigns over the next week. It’s been an absolutely thrilling few months watching them develop their ideas and products, and helping them launch their campaigns. If you haven’t heard about our mentorship programme then here’s a quick run-through of what it is and what we’ve been up to.

At the end of 2017 we created some recommendations for creatives crowdfunding in the UK. It’s difficult to write about something that is constantly changing, but it was good to put a marker down.

We then had an open call for applications and the Creative Scotland team selected 7 projects (6 continued throughout) to join our mentorship programme. We brought everyone together for monthly sessions where we covered everything they’d need to know for their campaigns. This was supported by frequent 1:1 sessions with Richard and me. We helped guide and support the teams. It was difficult to be hands off, when ultimately we are very hands ON, the success of the projects was all down to the hard work of the participants. Eek!

We are exceedingly proud of the way they have tackled their different projects. Take a look, there’s still a few days left to support!

Gold Nuggets from Daisy Stapley-Bunten

We were delighted to be interviewed by Daisy last year for Startups Magazine. After meeting her and learning about her own story we knew we had to do the same! Here’s a little on how Daisy launched and grew Startups Magazine.

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Tell us about yourself and Startups Magazine.

Startups Magazine is a print and digital bi-monthly publication launched in 2018 which endeavours to help startups connect the dots on their entrepreneurial journeys, I am the editor and founder and couldn’t be prouder of the success our team has had with this new publication and the wonderful feedback we have had from our community of tech startups.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew before you started Startups Magazine?

I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to have faith and not to stress as much, everything will work out and it will be a success, but equally in a way I think that it was the stress that pushed me to work harder towards success. 

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What are your top 3 tips for building a community around Startups Magazine?

1. You need feet on the ground and preferably your feet. People buy people, your idea is an extension of yourself, and people can relate to your product if they can get on board with the person it came from. Go forth and meet your audience.

2. Don’t just get feedback, act on it. It’s great to say that you did your market research and got loads of feedback, but just how valuable is it if you don’t put it into action? Listen to what your audience is telling you. When we exhibited at unbound London someone said how they would like to see pictures of the founders, now we include a headshot in every startup interview. This may seem small, but as we grow, we will grow through the support of our community which has nurtured us along the way.

3. It’s not all about you. When working with new contacts and your audience, don’t think first what’s in it for you, this is the Year of Collaboration – work with people and create partners. These working relationships will be far more valuable to you in the long-term. 

What is the best bit of advice you have been given and who gave you it?

The best advice I have been given was from my brother, Thomas Stapley-Bunten, now a Command Qualified Officer in the Royal Navy, he taught me that whatever the situation, ‘use your initiative’. This mantra drives my decisions and has taught me to assert myself and trust my own judgement.

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What’s your ambition for Startups Magazine?

I hope for Startups Magazine to be a resource that startups can turn to for inspiration, practical guides and a platform their stories and products to get valuable exposure.

We’d love to know what song motivates you while you’re working and why? 

We have a battle of the radio stations in our office, so it’s really hit and miss what I listen to, I’d rather a cup of tea for motivation than music any day!

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Apply for Design Council Spark 2019

We’re excited to see that the Design Council Spark programme is now open. We have worked with a few projects from the programme before alongside mentoring their crowdfunding sessions. We can’t wait to see what projects will be selected this time around.

For 2019, the programme will focus on innovations for the home. “The Home Innovation Challenge” includes ten different categories:

  1. Getting up/going to bed

  2. Washing and bathing

  3. Getting dressed

  4. Cooking and eating 

  5. Working

  6. Gardening

  7. Cleaning

  8. Answering the door

  9. Sitting

  10. Relaxing

Don’t fret if you’re idea doesn’t perfectly fit one of these categories as the Design Council are also interested in any ideas that “help improve someone’s life”. If you’re interested then head over to the Design Council website to find out more.

Join CRL's Hardware Accelerator Programme

We are proud to be crowdfunding mentors at London’s “Home of Hardware”, the Central Research Laboratory. Having partnered with CRL for some time now (since 2017!), we’ve watched the space and their programmes grow from strength to strength. We’ve already worked with so many fantastic CRL projects and are super excited to see who will be part of the next cohort.

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CRL’s accelerator programme runs for six months, helping you launch your project and to grow it into a sustainable business. You’ll benefit from 1:1 sessions with experts that will help you with marketing, developing your idea for manufacture, setting-up supply chains, all the way through to how to pitch for investment or run a crowdfunding campaign (yes, that’s our bit!).

You’ll also receive desk space, access to CRL’s workshops, an investment of £5000 as well as a trip to Shenzhen to meet manufacturing partners.

If you’re interested head over to CRL’s website to find out more about their Accelerator Programme. The application deadline for the next cohort is 16 March 2019.

Gold Nuggets with Lorna Freytag

We met Lorna shortly after Kaye moved back to Glasgow in 2016. Lorna had just launched Hey Wow books on Kickstarter, and was slowly building her brand up from her base in Oban, on the West of Scotland. Although we haven’t had the pleasure of working together yet, we love what Lorna is creating and wanted to pick her brains for her Gold Nuggets of wisdom.

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Tell us about yourself and Hey Wow Books

I started HeyWow with my husband Daniel, we channelled our passion for design into creating personalised books. Remember those books when you were little that you could get your name added to a story? We decided to take it a step further with our seek & find, mix & match, colouring, doodling, thinking, discovering, questioning and imagining books. They’re all cleverly personalised with a child's face and name on each page. I worked for many years as a children's fashion photographer in London, New York and Sydney but my real passion has always been children’s books. Here in Oban we're surrounded by forests, sea and wild places, the perfect inspiration for our books. We're not complete country bumpkins though - only 2 hours from Glasgow, we can hop on a flight and be in London for lunchtime!

What’s the one thing that you wish that you’d known in your first year of your business?

That it was going to take a lot longer to “make it”

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given and who gave you it?

To take baby-steps, build a solid base for the business and don’t expect everything to happen overnight (I think I’ve blended a few peoples advice in there!).

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What are your top 3 tips for growing a business in your spare time?

1) Focus! Don’t let things distract you. So choose a time to work when you know you won’t be interrupted too much (tricky when, like me, you’ve got two young kids around)

2) Be organised- again when you’ve got kids this is so important otherwise I forget to do things. I add everything to my online calendar so I get notifications as little reminders. My phone is constantly pinging me!

3) Prioritise and make a good plan. It’s always good to have a roadmap of where you’re heading- whether that’s a marketing strategy or a solid business plan. Anything that helps make your goals a little clearer helps them feel more achievable in bite-size chunks.

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What’s your ambition for Hey Wow Books?
We hope to really scale the business in terms of the products on offer and also with brand collaborations- either by licensing our software system or by creating books (in our HeyWow style) for other businesses.

We have so many ideas in the pipeline for 2019...

What song motivates you while you’re working and why? 
There’s not one particular song I can pinpoint but, call me strange, I actually listen to movies when I’m doing creative, non-admin work. 

Otherwise the mix of music on Radio 6 keeps me going.

We've partnered with Make Works for V&A Dundee

We’ve partnered up with one of our long time clients Make Works to share the stories behind the specially commissioned and crafted products for V&A Dundee’s gift shop.

Carrie + Garry have been zipping about the country interviewing the likes of Donna Wilson, DC Thompson, Tom Pigeon and whole host of others… still to be released! We’ve also been nosying around their studios and workshops to produce a collection of photography that showcases their work. Alongside this we produced photography to be used on V&A Dundee’s website.

We’ve had a blast getting to see behind the scenes in makers workshops, and getting to meet so many fine and inspirational folks.

The first two maker interviews are now live on V&A Dundee’s site, go and take a look and get immersed in the world’s of Edward Smith and DC Thompson.

Fact: Richard Ling had his artwork, created using Microsoft Paint, featured in The Dandy as well as Buster.

Gold Nuggets from Sadhbh Doherty

The wonderful Sadhbh is Product Manager / Designer at the fantastic Tech Will Save Us. We had the pleasure of working with Sadhbh a few years ago on the Mover Kit, and she’s gone on to lead development on loads of new products at the kids tech startup. Just before Christmas we got the chance to chat with Sadhbh about her work, and what to expect in the future.

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Tell us about yourself and what you do at Tech Will Save Us.

I've been living in London for the past five years. I came over from Ireland to do an MA at the RCA and have been working at Tech Will Save Us for the last four of those. My background before Tech Will Save Us was quite varied doing everything from exhibition design to costume design which has influenced the work I do and how I go about it. I'm a product manager and designer and I see all of the Tech Will Save Us new products through their entire development from first glimmer of an idea to a product on a shelf that someone takes home (with a great team of people of course). I'll generally be working on four products at a time although they'll be at different stage of their journey. 

Over the year or so it takes to see a product through from end to end I'll be working out the viability of a product with people from across the team. Creating concepts and prototypes with the product team, user testing in schools and homes with children, working with the marketing team to create solid positioning and testing to make sure it resonates. We make sure the components and processes we're using fit the budgets and estimated retail price we have. Then designing the product for manufacture, creating the engineering files, then heading over the China to work with our suppliers. Then making sure everything is in place to launch our product alongside our online experiences. There's always a lot going on and it can be a challenge but it's a really rewarding and as I've already mentioned we have a great team of people.

When designing a product, what’s your approach? Where does the inspiration come from?

We've spent a lot of time creating a process for product design that takes us from idea right through to the product sitting on a shelf. This keeps us focussed but open enough for as much creativity from the team as possible. We begin each project with a loose brief that identifies the price point, how it fits within our range and a wide theme like wearables or craft. From there we get input from around the business; our sales team might have picked up on retail trends, or the dev team may have been playing with a new technology; we take those and begin to create concepts around them. We like to get hands on as fast as possible so will make prototypes and get user testing to see what's working and what gets kids excited. It's really from there that our products begin to form. It's not one big lightning flash but twenty smaller ones that grow into a product we know kids will love.

It’s not one big lightning flash but twenty smaller ones that grow into a product we know kids will love.

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In your spare time do you make + create things, if so any projects we should know about?

I do so much making and creating at work that the things I make at home are really personal things like embroidering t-shirts I want to wear or sketching little illustrations of angry people, I went through a cross stitch phase a while ago that I somewhat regret, at the moment I'm learning to propagate plants. There are a few larger design projects beginning to brew in the background with friends so ask me again this time next year and I might have something to show off.

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What’s your favourite design + tech project you’ve seen this year, and why do you love it?

People are doing such great things at the moment. There are incredible things happening with recycled materials, there are robots building robots, there are amazing humanitarian projects happening but my favourites this year are the silly things people are doing with AI. I think it's always important to have a bit of fun with new tech and helps to inspire new ways of thinking about a technology and widen its scope. The highlights for me are the beatboxing AI that live battles a human beat boxer by creating samples from their voice and Pix2Pix which uses TensorFlow to create "realistic" drawings of cats, shoes and Pikachu's from your chicken scratches. Here's a terrifying cat I made today: 

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What song motivates you while you’re working and why? 

I have a weird habit when I need to be particularly focussed of playing the same song on repeat for hours, days or even weeks at a time. I'm not sure it's the healthiest thing but it keeps me on task. The last song to get the repeat treatment was Die Young by Sylvan Esso. It's a great song, maybe just don't play it for two weeks straight.


Gold Nuggets from Kate Pickering

Vanilla Ink, Ink Baby. Have you met Kate before? She’s all at once quiet and lively and incredibly, incredibly motivated. There’s not many people that work quite as hard as she does, and it was real pleasure to get a chance to ask her all our questions. Vanilla Ink is a jewellery school based in Glasgow, anyway, we’ll let Kate tell you all about it.

 Kate Pickering.

Tell us about yourself and Vanilla Ink.

Hullo - I'm Kate Pickering the founding director of Vanilla Ink, Scotland's unique Jewellery School. From Fife, to Dundee, to Glasgow, where I now live in the Southside with my two dogs, Brutus and Rita. 

Vanilla Ink was founded in 2009 and has grown a few arms and legs since then. Primarily set up to bridge the gap from education to industry and support start up jewellers in their transition from learning jewellery and being a jeweller. Vanilla Ink also started teaching classes to all walks of life in its original studio in Dundee and was always striving to support the jewellery industry. It moved to Glasgow in 2014 where I dipped my toe in the water and thankfully Glasgow loved it! We expanded and I brought on a business partner, Master Goldsmith Scott McIntyre. We crowdfunded to turn Vanilla Ink Studios Ltd into Vanilla Ink Jewellery School CIC and raised £30,000 to build our school in our current home in The Hidden Lane in the WestEnd of Glasgow, that we love! We teach, we train, we support and we make. We believe in 'Educating, Inspiring and Empowering' anyone who walks into Vanilla Ink. 

We hadn't even been open a year when we opened up our second location in the beautiful Banff Aberdeenshire, Vanilla Ink The Smiddy, specialising more in Silversmithing, we doubled our team and now the fantastic Megan and Alison run the incredible space up there and things are just rosie, incredibly busy but we are so grateful that things are going well.

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What’s the one thing you wish you knew before your first year in business?

The basics of accountancy! The terminology still baffles me and I put my full trust in accountants, which hasn't always been the smartest move. I really enjoyed the book Business for Bohemians by Tom Hodgkinson, Tom talks about how Indie businesses and particularly creative businesses bury their heads in the sand when it comes to numbers and financial planning. His advice is to get an accountant but to still know the basics to keep your business afloat and to call bullshit when an accountant is not doing their job properly (happy to say we have fantastic accountants but we are definitely their problem children because we are playing catch up). 

What are your top 3 tips for supporting other small businesses to grow?

1. Ask for help whenever you need it. I am an advocate of throwing your hands up and admitting when you are stuck. I would rather ask for help than waste hours trying to figure things out on my own.

2. Trust your gut. I'm guilty of talking to A LOT of people and getting advice from everyone that it sometimes muddies the water and pulls me in a direction that I wasn't necessary going. I think that's a confidence thing.

3. Be you and be honest! I'm not afraid to stand in front of a crowd of suits in a floral jumpsuit and tell them about my journey and I've always been quite open with my lessons and insights. I think what you give out, you get back.  

Be you and be honest! I’m not afraid to stand in front of a crowd of suits in a floral jumpsuit and tell them about my journey


What was the best bit of advice you have been given and who gave you it?

My first advisor from the Princes Trust told me to just let it grow (try not to sing that song from Frozen). I was trying to force Vanilla Ink into something it wasn't ready to be and I've done it on a few occasions and I then rein it in and let it tell me what it wants to do. Vanilla Ink has grown from a one woman sole trader, into a limited company, then a Community Interest Company and now a form of franchise. We haven't rushed it and just listened to the business!

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You’ve launched your newest location this year, what’s your ambition for Vanilla Ink?

That's a good question as opening the newest location was one of 5 year goals and we got it in year one. Right now I'm going to try and enjoy the space and perhaps just sit back and congratulate ourselves on what we have achieved in such a short space of time. However, knowing me that won't last long and I'll start getting twitchy. 

Our ambition is to keep growing...international Vanilla Ink anyone 🤔 We would love to see our Glasgow location grow in size too, create more spaces for Jewellers and Silversmiths to work, more classes, bigger facilities with MORE TOOLS <3


What song gets you moving in the workshop and what do you love about it?

I'm a wee mosher at heart and anything nu-metal will get me dancing, bit of System of Down, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park but what will always get me up on the dance floor of the Catty would be Killing In the name - Rage Against the Machine. A total throwback to my high school years, it wasn't the best of times but I remember coming home and playing this very loud and feeling so free.

2018 in review

It has been a wonderful, bonkers year at Paved With Gold, we couldn’t be more thankful for our incredible clients.

When we became Kickstarter Experts at the end of 2016, we discovered that the majority of projects were raising between £1,000-£10,000. We’ve helped people raise almost $1.5million, on average raising more than $124,000 over our campaigns. However, we realised that a lot of fantastic projects were raising these smaller amounts and were missing out on valuable support as they just didn’t have the budget. Richard and I made a resolution that we’d find a way to work with even smaller makers than we’d done previously.

We are so excited that we’ve really been able to do that in so many forms this year. From providing free advice through Cultural Enterprise Office, publishing a report on crowdfunding in the UK for Creative Scotland, running our mentoring schemes through Central Research Laboratory and Creative Scotland. We’ve also done more talks and workshops than ever before, presenting for the likes of Royal Conservatoire, Scottish Culture Policies, Visit Scotland , it’s been brilliant.

Alongside our crowdfunding work, we also undertook so many creative projects, we loved producing Longflint’s newspaper, a raft of photography and video for V&A Dundee’s shop in collaboration with Make Works and PR for Makerversity’s cultural programme. All this, while Richard held down the fort for 4 months, while I was off having my son (Thank you Richard Ling!).

We also upgraded Glasgow HQ and got featured in the wonderful Startups Magazine, best year so far?

Thank you everyone for your continued love + support. We’ve many, many exciting things already lined up for 2019 and we cannot wait to get started, but first we’re off to celebrate the holidays with friends and family.

Happy Holidays everyone, and we’ll see you in the new year.

Solstice, the Kinetic Clock is fully funded!

As mentors on the Central Research Laboratory’s Accelerator Programme we’ve helped many projects grow a community and launch their crowdfunding campaigns. The latest project to be successfully funded was for Solstice, a kinetic clock that turns passing hours into art.

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Alongside our mentorship we also worked on their PR campaign, reaching press and influencers throughout the world of design and tech. Mashable, Colossal, Core77, Mental Floss and Lost At E Minor as well as many others shared their support for the mesmerising Solstice clock, contributing to it being fully funded in just 2 days!

The project is still going strong and excitingly almost 200% funded. If you’re interested in a very unique and beautifully designed timepiece then head over to Kickstarter.

Gold Nuggets from Lauren Currie

We are on fire! With an amazing batch of interviews heading your way. This week we caught up with Lauren Currie who is an incredible force to be reckoned with. She’s got an OBE dontcha know!

Over to you Lauren…

Tell us about yourself and Letter Love Shop.

Ahoy! My name is Lauren. I’m a mother, a designer and an entrepreneur. Letter Love Shop creates wild alphabet artwork for the little people you love. We make letters, names and alphabets.

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What was your inspiration to launch a new business this year?

It happened by accident. My baby was two weeks late so I busied myself by drawing their name for their nursery. I wanted to create something gender neutral focused on animals and nature. Chris is a biologist and I love building ideas that carry a progressive message. When I saw how our friends and family reacted to my first sketch of Atlas’ name I knew I’d created something really unique.

A quick sprint of research revealed two key insights.

  • The majority of children’s artwork is gendered in both content and colour.

We believe that marketing any item to "boys" or "girls" reinforces harmful stereotypes.

  • Children’s artwork lacks variety and diversity of animals. There are too many Giraffes, Elephants, and Bears and not enough Komodo Dragons, Jackals and Mayflies.

We believe that the current and possibly the next generation will suffer from nature deficit disorder and are in an educational tragedy, we want to inform and inspire using the complexity and wonder of our natural world.

I get joy from launching ideas into the world. It was the perfect distraction whilst I waited for Atlas to arrive. We both stayed up into the small hours; me in the kitchen drawing all fifty-two letters of the alphabet and Chris in the living room building our Shopify site.

Our business will be 1 year old at the end of Jan 2019. We have spent no money on marketing and have sold over 80 products to 40 customers across Europe and Australia.

We sell three products; individual letters, names and the alphabet. We make all three products in any size and ship all over the world (free shipping!) £1 from every product we sell goes to Pregnant Then Screwed; a remarkable charity fighting to end maternity discrimination. I’m proud to be a chairperson on their board and can’t wait for the UK’s Festival of Motherhood and Work on Jan 19th!  

What are your top 3 tips for starting something new and completely different from your career.

I love this question! It made me realise that actually what we’re building at Letter Love Shop has a few things in common with the work I’ve been doing for the past 10 years. It’s about craft, service and insight. Of course, I know absolutely nothing about selling art work online or in retail... I’m always hungry for advice. My top three tips are:

  • You can use the internet to learn most things:

If there is a gap in your knowledge or skillset holding you back from starting - use the internet to learn the bare minimum.

  • Ask for help:

The first thing I did when I had this idea was to chat to my friend Tash, an amazing illustrator. The second thing I did was research a ‘hit list’ of people who are at the top of their game in this stuff - it’s amazing who will have time to give advice to a small unknown business, if indeed you only ask! The first to reply was Toby Hextall, Head of Product Design at MOO.COM, and Lisa Donati at Gie It Laldy. Neither of them knew me or Letter Love Shop beforehand, I’m kinda proud that they do now.

  • Lean into what you are:

    This learning has really hit home for me over the last two months of launching NOBL in the UK. It’s tempting to exaggerate your client list or headcount. I choose to do neither of those things across all of my businesses. At NOBL, we’re purposefully designed to be small with low overheads so we can deliver complex, intimate work fast. Letter Love Shop is my wee family. Chris and I are a couple and we’ve just had our first baby. It’s just the three of us. When I look at Letter Love Shop competitors, I’m momentarily tempted to glorify the truth but instead, I lean into what we are; a family business inspired by our love for our little boy.

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?

Oh, that’s easy! Prototype.

For as long as I can remember I have had a very strong bias towards action and doing. When I was little I wanted to have my own copy of Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl. My impatience to have my own copy instantly led to me typing every single one of the 9387 words on my typewriter. Studying design and launching my own business at a very young age only strengthened this muscle.

We had 5 letters drawn and this gave us enough data to know that people would pay for this product. This is the email we sent to a small group of trusted friends for our first round of feedback (click image to expand).

What’s your ambition for Letter Love Shop?
Short term we’d like to get our product into local shops as well as high street brands like John Lewis. Long term, we’d like Letter Love Shop to take the best bits from Cath Kidston and Lush to build a home furnishing retail store that promotes nature and equality whilst supporting the rights of working parents.

We’ve focused on animals and nature for now, and we might stay there, but I think there is a market for the same work focused on cities, pets and hobbies.

Here’s how you can help

  1. We have a bunch of email addresses of buyers and wholesalers and I don’t really know where to begin - any advice?

  2. If you run a nursery, playgroup or a school we’d love to send you one of our alphabets.

  3. If you run a cafe or a restaurant, our products make the perfect colouring in book for little ones during meal times.

  4. And of course, buy our product and use this special 10% discount code for friends of Paved With Gold: Gold01. It’s true that every time we get a sale Chris and I do a little dance in our kitchen.

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What’s the tune that motivates you through the long nights?
I’m really loving this tune right now.

You can email Lauren at Lauren@letterloveshop.co.uk or get her on Twitter check out our Instagram to see lots of happy babs with their illustrations.

Gold Nuggets from Alice Dansey-Wright

We’ve taken a wee sabbatical from these this year, as Richard’s been running the show solo, while Kaye’s been on maternity leave, but now we’re back, and it's time for some more Gold Nuggets where we talk with some of our most loved makers, founders and do-ers.

For our first chat we caught up with artist and fellow Glasgow dweller Alice Dansey-Wright. Alice creates bold often black and white designs across various mediums, and we love spotting her partnerships cropping up around town.

Image Credit:  Nu Blvck

Image Credit: Nu Blvck

Tell us about yourself and your work.

I’d describe myself as an artist and designer - I used to say illustrator but artist/designer feels more like it. I studied Environmental Art at GSA and back then I had quite a conceptual practice (although the focus was the public realm rather than galleries and I still wanted my work to be accessible and to a degree, collaborative). I took a break from making art for about 8 years and emerged with more of a design focus. To be honest I think it just took me that time to figure out what I wanted my practice to be and also to do a bit of living and working out with a world/industry that I’d lost confidence about my place within.

My work now consists of:

  • Mentoring/facilitating/teaching (both creative business skills and art/design techniques)

  • Public art and private commissions, usually taking the form of murals and large scale paintings or textiles

  • Design commissions, usually products

  • Collaborations, both collaborating on products and art projects

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I’m inspired by the human body, identity, fashion design and textiles. Thematically I like to explore accessibility and ownership/collaboration.

Recently I’ve worked on a series with Platform including weekly adult art classes, a shop project, a collaboration between myself, platform and Alliance Scotland to create new waiting room designs for Easterhouse Community Health Centre and a mural project with Grow Wild / Seven Lochs Wetland Park.

I’m also a panellist and mentor for the Glasgow Visual Art and Craft Maker awards.

A design commission for the Local Heroes ‘Made in Glasgow’ project which resulted in the Glasgow Raincoat which I made in collaboration with love and squalor. And product collaborations with SQUINT clothingGiannina Captani Knitwear and Tenement Design.

I love what I do- it’s taken me a long time to get here and I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to work with the people and organisations that have been clients and collaborators along the way.

The Glasgow Raincoat from Alice’s Local Heroes collaboration with love and squalor.

The Glasgow Raincoat from Alice’s Local Heroes collaboration with love and squalor.

When designing a product, what’s your approach? Where does the inspiration come from?

A lot of my inspiration comes, I think, from fine art - I guess no surprise there! Especially abstract painting and figurative sculpture. I like to make digital mood boards - actual pdfs that take ages rather than Pinterest for some reason! Plus I have a lot of books at home and membership of the GSA library as a resource. Regularly visiting exhibitions and collections really helps too. I do keep sketchbooks also but they often end up more like big notebooks. If i’m painting a mural or a garment or making something freehand I don’t like to have the absolute final product all drawn out in advance- An element of surprise and spontaneity that comes about through the making makes it more interesting.

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What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given and who gave you it?

I'm not sure if this is advice or more just an acknowledgement: 'pretty much everyone feels like an imposter' - good to remember this if you ever feel that way. Can’t remember who said it but it’s been corroborated several times!

Alice’s collaboration with Squint Clothing.

Alice’s collaboration with Squint Clothing.

You do a lot of collaborations in your work. What are your top 3 tips for partnering up with other designers?

  1. Agree your terms before you start - finance/marketing/naming the co-lab - sometimes for me this involves some sort of official contract/agreement and sometimes it's less formal. Getting the nuts and bolts sorted before proceeding is a good idea, whichever way you do it although obviously if you're working with a big company or just someone you haven't met it might be worth getting external advice around setting your terms.

  2. Make a plan / schedule that works for both of you - you're in this together so respect your collaborators availability and remember to state yours, being mindful of over estimating how much time you may have!

  3. Approach your dream collaborator…just ask! it’s ok if they say no and they may well say yes...

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What song motivates you while you’re working and why?

All Night Long by the Mary Jane Girls - perhaps not as motivation but as something that I listen to when the flow of work is in full swing, it’s both relaxed and upbeat so I guess I’m trying to absorb that! I have to add though that I’ve never been able to work really late or through the night (unless you count having twin babies). I’m very much a 9-5, 3 meals a day sort of person!

Material Explorations : Waste Streams

Throughout the year we are working with Makerversity to promote their creative programme.

September brings a closer look at creatives working with waste materials; from chipboard made out of potato to sequins made of bioplastics. 

Workshop - (k)not a ropey workshop

Join a rope making drop-in workshop to discover the pure potential of hair as a raw material. Learn about its tensile strength and the potential application of hair in the future.

Talk
A lively debate led by Material Driven to hear from four designers exhibiting in Material Explorations : Waste Streams who use Industrial by-products as the starting point in their creations and are spearheading the notion that waste is an untapped abundant resource that should be treasured not trashed.

Exhibition
This exhibition showcases designers who use waste material as a starting point and offers an alternative view to waste as untapped abundant resource to be harnessed.

Mentor Pilot Programme with Creative Scotland

We're excited to share about Crowdfunding Creativity! In partnership with Creative Scotland we will be delivering a mentoring programme to help artists, makers, designers and creatives crowdfund their projects.

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The programme aims to provide people who are working in the creative industries in Scotland with the skills and knowledge to develop their own successful crowdfunding campaigns. Over the course of the programme, those selected to take part will learn not only how to develop their crowdfunding campaign but also gain key skills to help them support their creative practice.

In addition, the selected projects will benefit from access to 25% match-funding from Creative Scotland.

We're looking forward to working with talented creatives and helping to bring their ideas to life. If you want to apply or find out more visit Creative Scotland (Applications close 2 July 2018)

 

Gold Nuggets from ALEX PEET

Welcome to another edition of Gold Nuggets where we talk with some of our most loved makers, founders and do-ers. Digging into their stories to reveal tips, precious wisdom, and even some music to get your under-the-desk feet dancing.

We recently partnered with the Central Research Laboratory to deliver Kickstarter training sessions to the startups on their accelerator programme. We were delighted to discuss product development with Alex Peet from Central Research Laboratory, and are excited to share his fantastic advice.

Tell us about yourself and the Central Research Laboratory.

My name is Alex Peet, I’m the Product Development Lead at the Central Research Laboratory. My background is in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to CRL, I worked for Dyson developing their products, with a team of engineers.

CRL focusses on helping prototype and get products to market, be it via crowdfunding, private investment or traditional routes. We’re the first product specific accelerator in the UK, with the biggest open access prototyping labs in London.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?

When I came to CRL, I had just finished a two year project leading a team of engineers to design a pretty complex product. Even though you're expected to consider the end user all the time, you're also given a pretty long list of things the product must do, which is governed by energy requirements and the competition in the market. The difference with designing a completely new product is that this list of key features is defined totally by you. This has to shift your attention to understanding your customer first, before jumping into engineering. That's something I had to learn quickly at CRL.

Top 3 tips for designing your MVP?

If you’ve read ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries, it describes the MVP as the quickest, cheapest way to get a version of the product you can show to your potential customers. In product design, this can be a difficult task and there will always be some technical hurdles along the way.

Tip 1. Understand what you’re testing.  Before you start making your MVP, write a list of things you’re looking to learn.  For example, if you expect the customer to use your product in a certain way, you can create a quick prototype with interaction points, in the rough shape you’ve envisaged, explain to someone what it’s going to do, and ask them to use it, without explaining how.

Tip 2. Simplify. When you’re designing a product it can be tempting to keep adding feature after feature. The trick is to understand what the core offering of the product is, and execute that well. One of the startups we’re working with at the moment is designing a coworking space management system. The MVP we’re developing together does one thing: it allows you to book meeting rooms. The plan is to execute that well, and add features only when the customer demands it (and you’ll know when that is, because you won’t stop hearing about it). I would recommend the book Rework by Jason Fried, designer of BaseCamp to read more on reducing product features.

Tip 3. Don’t be afraid to show an unfinished product. Crowdfunding sites are a great example of how transparency can get people on board with the product creation process. By working with your customer, you’ll be able to get real feedback on a lot of things you weren’t expecting, because the product is in a changeable state. The other great litmus test, is that if the prototype goes down well with your target users, even in an unfinished state, you know you’re onto a winner.

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?

Oh man, this is getting deep. I think the bit of advice that resonated with me most was given to me by my Dad, when I say advice, it was more of a bollocking! I was 15, just before my GCSEs, I think I came home from school and told him I didn’t care about school or any of the subjects I was studying. He preceded to explain to me that if I want to join the ‘bums and losers’ out in the world, then carry on thinking that. It’s the people that care about the things they’re doing or trying to achieve, are the ones that get places. Pretty heavy advice for a fifteen year old, but it actually made a big difference, and since then I’ve put a lot more effort into everything I do, and so far, it’s paid off.

What’s your ambition for CRL?

My ambition for CRL is the same ambition for the UK startup scene as a whole, to consistently produce world class product based businesses. What we can do to help that, is bring together the best minds to provide the right support to make that happen.  

What song motivates you at CRL and why?

Well it’s an album actually: Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars’. It’s an amazing album and the vinyl was pressed in Hayes, in the old EMI headquarters where CRL is based.

Gold Nuggets from BleepBleeps

Here’s another edition of Gold Nuggets where we talk with some of our most loved makers, founders and do-ers. Digging into their stories to reveal tips, precious wisdom, and even some music to get your under the desk feet dancing.

In this edition we’d like you to meet our pal and long time client Tom from BleepBleeps. They are on a mission to make parenting easier with their Smart Family of devices.

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Tell us about yourself and BleepBleeps.

I’m Tom Evans, founder of BleepBleeps. We make cute, connected gadgets that make parenting easier. Before BleepBleeps I was an Executive Creative Director in design/brand/advertising/digital agencies. I jumped ship a couple of years ago to start BleepBleeps and I’ve been grinding it out and learning every day since.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?

Strap in, this is going to take waaay longer than you think. And it’s going to be way way harder than you think. (Actually, maybe it was good I didn’t know that!?)

What are your top tips for growing your team?

When it comes to startups or products/services you need people that can: Think it, Make it and Sell it. These are very different groups of people that don’t tend to hang out with each other!

My advice is to create a brand first, and then get out there and meet people. I must have done over a thousand “coffees” with potential co-founders, team members, partners, investors etc etc. If you have a brand and a vision these meetings are far easier to get in the first place, and it’s much easier to enrol people into your “quest” if you have a cohesive brand and a purpose.

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?

My favourite quote of the moment (in today’s tough times for startups: post-brexit, Trump, etc) is: “Staying alive is the new winning" - Paul Graham, Y-Combinator

What’s your ambition for BleepBleeps?

I want to create a brand that’s loved by kids and parents all over the world.

What song motivates you in the office and why?

I have three answers to this.

You cannot beat Jump by Van Halen for getting things going.

During general work/travel I tend to listen to a lot of spoken word: Tim Ferris podcast particularly and a lot of non-fiction/business/self help crap on Audible and Blinkist (which is an amazing summary app).

But spoken word doesn’t work so well if you have write/think. So... (and this is slightly weird) I’ve been experimenting with listening to one very simple track on repeat to help focus when writing, thinking or doing more brain-taxing tasks. And for that I currently use Finder by Ninetoes.

Design as a tool to influence and spread ideas

We’re very proud to be working with Makerversity to help promote their cultural programme. Makerversity’s most recent series looks at PROTEST and the role of design in activism.

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The series kicks off with a civic hack event in collaboration with Citizens UK & Stop Funding Hate. There’s also Delayed Gratification’s, Rob Orchard giving a talk on the history of 21st century protest through his “Last to Break News” slow journalism perspective. Then trade union campaign and exhibition banner maker Ed Hall will be running a banner making workshop.

Here’s a an interview we lined up with Design Week where Makerversity’s Public Programme Manager, Liza Mackenzie, talks about the importance of “Design in the Trump age of political protest”. If you’re interested, take a look at the full list of events here.

Hello Kickstarter! We’ve launched Pip by Curious Chip!

Over the past 9 months we’ve been working with Curious Chip to launch their gamer and maker system called Pip on Kickstarter.

We had a lot of fun styling the set and creating the campaign video. A huge thanks to all the kids and Eben Upton (Co-Founder, Raspberry Pi) for being part of it!
 

It was great to see our work resonating so widely. We saw lots of enthusiasm from kids, teachers and parents, with plenty more fantastic coverage from tech, design and maker communities.

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Benjamin Brush on Kickstarter

We’ve been working with BleepBleeps for some time and we’re mega excited to have helped them successfully fund their third product Benjamin Brush! He’s a fun wee guy designed to get kids brushing their teeth.

We produced all the creative assets including photography and the video. We worked with press and bloggers to get feedback and spread the word about Benjamin. 

Here’s the video we made for BleepBleeps!

We received lots of great feedback from the press, bloggers and influencers we got in touch with too. Here are just a few of our favourites from Fast Company, Mashable, Swiss Miss and Core 77.

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