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 Central Research Laboratories

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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Gold Nuggets from Colette

Welcome to our next 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 are excited to share words from Sarah Andelman who runs the iconic colette store in Paris. Sarah talks about working with her mum and what they look for in brand collaborations.

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Tell us about yourself and your business

Hello, I’m Sarah! Together with my mother we opened the colette store back in 1997. Our ambition was to open a place where we could showcase great fashion, beauty, design, art and food. Since the beginning we have always prided ourselves on having an international mix of young designers and more well-known brands. Every week we change the windows and display inside. And every day we receive new products.

What do you look for with brand collaborations?

Each relationship is different but it’s important for us that each partnership feels personal, and that each collaboration is built on respect for one another. It just feels right for all parties.

Our selection process is quite spontaneous but we always pick products we like. We particularly are looking for items that are original, authentic and of great quality.

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

From my mum “just follow your instinct”, and I know I’m very lucky to be able to do it.

What is your ambition for colette?

To keep the excitement alive for as long as possible.

What song motivates you in the store and why?

Anything from the colette podcasts! Here’s the latest...

PWG x Kickstarter Glasgow Meetup

Thanks  Bonnie  for the photo.

Thanks Bonnie for the photo.

Last week we brought loads of makers + creators together to talk about their projects and share their Kickstarter experiences at the very first Glasgow Kickstarter Meetup.

We had talks from Heather Corcoran from Kickstarter, Danny Kane from Filament PD, and both Vanilla Inkers Kate Pickering + Scott McIntyre. They shared their Kickstarter experiences, and gave some absolutely smashing tips. 

Two exciting makers; Curious Chip + Soundbops brought their prototypes along and it was great to see people sharing ideas and inventions.

The wonderful Vanilla Ink have turned their talk into a really handy (and honest) blog post and you can catch up on the rest on Twitter.

We're thinking about running these every six months or so, if you're interested in getting involved or have any feedback please get in touch and let us know. We are all ears, not literally that's just weird. 

 

Gold Nuggets from Hilary Grant

It's time for some more 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 sat down with our long time friend Hilary Grant to pick her brain about running her knitwear business and what she's learned about running her business in Orkney. 
 

Image Credit:  Ross Fraser McLean

Image Credit: Ross Fraser McLean

Tell us about yourself and your business
I run a knitwear company under my own name Hilary Grant, on a remote island off the North Coast of Scotland called Orkney. I started my business 2011, designing scarves and knitting everything myself on a hand-operated knitting machine. We're now a 2 person business, with my partner Rob joining me on design and running the online shop and all our knitwear is now produced with a knitwear manufacturer in Scotland. We sell our knitwear online and to department stores and design-led lifestyle stores in over 5 countries. 

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?
Have goals and celebrate smashing them. Learn from mistakes. 

When you're a small company,  you sometimes don't have the time or even notice when you're achieving things - you're always moving on to the next task. It's good to celebrate when good things happen, it gives you the motivation to move on and allows you to take stock of your achievements. 


Top 3 tips for growing a brand in a remote location
Social media is basically a lifeline for our business when we live in such a remote place. But having really brilliant content is what makes people stick around. It can genuinely be an isolating experience, running a business in a remote place but Instagram allows you to build a little world around yourself with people who support what you do and meet other businesses and creatives who inspire you and you can support in return. 

Physical face-to-face events are so important for us as it gives us a chance to meet the lovely people to support us online. It also gives you the opportunity to make chance encounters with all sorts of people outside our social media circle. We do a lot of pop up shopping events in winter and I think it really means a lot to people to be able to touch our knitwear and feel it before making a purchase. Our knitwear feel so soft and tactile -  one thing you can't show people through the internet!

Instagram has been a brilliant driver for us, but we don't want to rely on it too much. Kaye has been quite evangelical about newsletters for quite some time and we're ready to jump in with that now.

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?
Make a plan and stick to it. We worked with brilliant woman called Kirsty Scott to help us build a growth strategy. It was the best thing we've ever done for our business.

What’s your ambition for your business?
We like being small as it offers us flexibility. For us the driver for the business really comes from the creative side - so we think about other products we'd like to make, techniques we'd like to develop and figure out how to reign it in to be commercial and accessible to people. We'd love to start working with more interior designers on bespoke projects and large-scale pieces. 

What song motivates you in the studio and why? 
It's hard to choose just one song. If I need to concentrate I'll listen to Disasterpiece. On Friday afternoon, when I'm trying to wrap up everything for the weekend I'l make a point of listening to Yo La Tengo's cover of "Friday I'm in Love". It's good for a Friday dance around the studio and getting into the weekend spirit!

Getting started on Instagram

Instagram is a great way to grow and keep in touch with your community.

Before you get started it’s best to first understand why you want to use Instagram, who your community are and what's going to make them tap that heart. 

Instagram Goals

With clear goals, you'll have much better success. Here are some reasons that people use Instagram to help their small business;
- Showcase your products or services
- Share news and updates
- Build your community
- Increase brand loyalty with existing community
- Increase awareness of your brand
- Showcase your company culture and values

Choose 2-3 goals to really focus on. Don't worry, these can change over time as you grow.

Setting up YOUR ACCOUNT

Writing your description. What you choose to share here should be personal, clearly describing what you do and hint at your values. Most include either (or both) of the below:

- Brand slogan or tagline (e.g. Paved With Gold “Nice Things 🔸 Good People🔸 Great Ideas🔸”)

- An outline of who you are and what you do (e.g. BleepBleeps “Cute, connected gadgets that make parenting easier”

Choosing your profile picture. Whenever someone views one of your posts or your profile they’ll see your profile picture. It’s important to show them something that’s recognisable. Unless it’s a personal account we recommend using your logo or an example of your work. Remember to choose one that works well with the circular frame without being cut off or with small text that’s hard to read.

Your one link. Instagram doesn’t allow links to be added to posts. Instead you get just one link in your profile. Naturally many use it to direct people to their website. But sometimes you’ll want to share links to a certain campaign or piece of content. You can do this by temporarily changing your bio link, and in the post mentioning “Link in bio”.


Sharing on Instagram

What to share?

Think about those Instagram goals, what your values are and the audience you’re trying to attract. This will help you think about your content themes and what you should focus on sharing.

Some example content themes to get you started:
Behind the scenes - Getting to know the team or how your product is being made
Followers & community - stories from customers and influencers that love your brand
In the wild  - Your brand at events, demos, showcases and talks.
Useful - Content that helps your audience.

How to share?

Frequency - Try to share daily, sometimes you might not be able to but make sure you share at regular intervals rather than spamming feeds by posting all at once.

Mentioning and tagging - For more engagement you can mention and tag other Instagram accounts that you’ve featured in your post. Sometimes they might regram and mention you back too!

Hashtags - Adding the right hashtags will help your posts be more discoverable and is a great way to target followers with particular interests. We love finding unique hashtags like #capturemycraft or #signsofsummer. There’s a real magic to getting the right hashtags for your account, we'll talk about this more in another post.

Instagram styles we love

Mayku - Minimal and Knolling. Considered design.
Everything perfectly placed to showcase the simplicity of their product. 

Flat15 - Home & Lifestyle. Aspirational living.
Gabriella's blog is all about luxurious interiors, and her Instagram really brings this to life. 

Trakke - Outdoor. A sense of adventure.
The team at Trakke bake adventure into everything that they do. They've curated an awesome team of adventurers to showcase the toughness of their bags. (We're a bit obsessed)

BleepBleeps - Colour. Bright and Up.
One that we work on at Paved With Gold! Aligned with the BleepBleeps brand, we love showcasing great design and bright, bold colours. We’re using it to showcase the stories we've been creating on the blog and bring the community along as the BleepBleeps team create new products. 

If Instagram makes you nervous, or all this talk of brand values making you sweat? Give us a shout and we can help you understand clearly what your business is about, who it's for and how to reach them.

Gold Nuggets from Ding

It's time for some more 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 one of our favourite couples, John Nussey and Avril O’Neil from Ding, a project we helped become successfully funded on Kickstarter.

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Tell us about yourselves and Ding
Hi! We're Avril and John, and with support from The Design Council, John Lewis and our amazing backers on Kickstarter we’re launching Ding. 

Ding is a simple, beautiful, smart doorbell that’s perfect for your home and makes your life easier. When a visitor presses the button, the chime rings in your home and also connects to the Ding app on your smartphone, allowing you to talk with the person at your front door from wherever you are in the world!

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?
There's a lot I wish we'd known in our first year! Making a physical product comes with many challenges and it's hard to know what to prioritise. In all honesty we don't have many regrets, as we've learnt so much through the experience. The one thing I think we wish we'd had was a way of meeting and expanding our team quicker. We have secured an amazingly talented team, including the guys at PWG, but it took a lot of searching to find them. 

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What are your top 3 tips for how to best use funding?
Tip 1. Spend it on things you can't do yourself

Tip 2. Trust your gut and don't worry about spending it

Tip 3. Invest it in the company, rather than using it as an income, get your product out there sooner. 

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?
Make the business work for you and don't be a slave to any other formulas or compare yourselves to others too much. 
 
What’s your ambition for Ding?
On a personal level it is to see a product we've made out there in the world, solving a real need. In the bigger picture it's to make IOT products that have a genuine benefit for people, rather than producing technology for technology's sake. 

What song motivates you in the studio and why? 
"Ring my bell" by Anita Ward. Then there’s "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica, "My doorbell" by The White Stripes...we could go on! ;) 

Gold Nuggets from Flat 15

In this edition of Gold Nuggets we caught up with one of our favourite style and decor bloggers. Gabriella Palumbo from Flat 15 tells us how she works with brands and how she developed her own to become an award-winning blogger. 

Tell us about yourself and Flat 15. 
My name is Gabby and I am an interior designer and founder of the award-winning design and lifestyle blog Flat 15. I find inspiration for my eclectic London-based design and interior projects from my travels abroad, high and emerging fashion, artwork and daily strolls around my Notting Hill neighbourhood. I make sure to document anything that celebrates original style and happy living on Flat 15.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?
I think something to remember when starting out is to always have confidence in yourself and just own it! When I first started I was quite nervous about putting myself out there (especially on the blog). I was timid for the first several months about really going for it and in a way I regret that. I eventually found my feet, but I wish I hadn't wasted any time in feeling like "what if people don't like what I am saying" and went for it from the very start. 

Top 3 tips for brands when approaching bloggers?
Tip 1. Be Personal. The brand should really know the blogger (and blog) that they are approaching. Sometimes brands email me and it is quite obvious that it is an email template that they have sent to lots of people. This is very off putting for me. 

Tip 2. Be Upfront. In the past it has happened to me on my part and on the brand's part, where we have not been upfront about what is expected and it caused confusion. Now I like to be very clear about what is expected for the content, timeline and brand exposure across social media. 

Tip 3. Good Fit. I think it is important for brands to be aware of the aesthetic and style of the blogger and make sure that this fits well with the overall look of the brand. This will get the most exposure for the brand and also keep with the integrity of the blog. 

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?
I think the best piece of advice I was given was actually from my husband who told me to stay consistent with my content and voice on the blog. I think when you have your own business there are highs and lows, especially when you first start out and it seems that things are moving slowly (or slower than you want them to). Staying consistent is one of the most important aspects of building a blog, brand or business in my opinion. 

What’s your ambition for Flat 15?
I would love to eventually design some of my own products and sell them. I usually have a very specific idea of decor objects that I love so it would be great to create some of these for like minded people. 

What song motivates you in the studio and why? 
I tend to work best when I am listening to chilled music as I can still concentrate on work but feel upbeat at the office. I would say that Drake is always a go to for me during the day.

How to work creatively remotely

You’ll find Paved With Gold mostly in London and Glasgow but we’ve worked with clients from all over the world; from Hong Kong to Berlin to New York. Our designer Kim worked with us whilst cycling across Korea, Japan and then the USA, and Chara our Community Manager works from sunny Barcelona. 

We get asked a lot about how we make working remotely work for us. The most important thing to get right is making sure each team member feels in charge of their work. There’s no time for micromanaging when there’s a small team. We all support each other to make sure it doesn’t ever get too much, and make sure our deadlines work for each individual as well as the makers we collaborate with.

Anyway, here are a few things we do to make working remotely work at Paved With Gold. 

The Tool Kit

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To keep in touch, like most we’ll catch up with video calls on Skype, work collaboratively in Google Docs, and share important thoughts, links and Gifs on Slack.

A Weekly Roundup

When there are lots of projects on we like to send around a weekly roundup of what everyone has been working on. This helps everyone feel involved and gives an opportunity for anyone to chime in with suggestions and tips from their experiences.

Explore Together

Each year we take time out to get the team together. We take this opportunity to look back on the year that has passed and look forward to the year ahead. It’s an opportunity for us to hang out together for a few days and discuss how we work and talk through ways to make things better. 

Recently we all visited Kaye up in Glasgow and met a whole bunch of super interesting people in and around South Block. 

We’re keen on visiting more places this year. So if you like what we do and you’re from an interesting hub or community please get in touch. We’d love to come by!