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!

Gold Nuggets From Make Works

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

We caught up with the inimitable Fi Duffy-Scott founder of Make Works, factory finders who support makers to make local. We recently worked with Make Works to launch their Patreon campaign.

 Image Credit:  Peter McNally

Image Credit: Peter McNally

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?
That it was OK to take a day off! Over the first two years of Make Works I only had a couple of days when I wasn't thinking about the project, and wound up totally exhausted. Now I'm pretty strict about taking myself home in the evening and actually having holidays.

What are your top 3 tips for experimenting with alternative models to support Make Works?
Make Works has always been looking for sustainable ways to make the work happen. Quite early on we realised that public funding wasn't going to be very sustainable in the long term; and equally the typical start-up trajectory of growth and investment didn't fit very well with being a non-profit. So, we needed to find alternative models to support the project.

From what we have learnt so far though here are 3 tips:

Tip 1. Seek out like-minded people. From reading work by Aaron Swartz to meeting people at the Small is Beautiful conference or reaching out to other Patreon creators - have all helped to reassure me that it is not completely crazy to be actively looking for alternative models.

Tip 2. Give yourself time to experiment. New ways of doing things won't always work first time, and can take a lot of chipping away at to make work. I think being comfortable with things not being a 'quick fix' is important if you want to make anything really worthwhile for the world.

Tip 3. Make things for your audience. Starting a Patreon has meant that we've really got a better understanding of what sort of people really find Make Works useful and want to see it continue - it's made me super appreciative of that support and helps keep perspective of who we are making the project for.

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?
"Find the right person" -  I remember I was speaking to Janine Matheson from Creative Edinburgh early on about the difficulty I was having getting funders to back the project. She told me that I just needed the right person to hear about it, and soon I had much better success - purely from making sure I was seeking out people who would 'get' it.

What’s your ambition for Make Works?
I'd love to see people setting up their own Make Works all over the world! The ambition at the moment is to work out how to make that work well for people who want to start those other regions, and finding a sustainable, open business model to make that possible in the long term.

What song motivates you in the studio and why?
Pussy Riot - Straight Outta Vagina absolutely got me through 2016! It came out at a time when everything seemed really dark in the world, and still makes me feel super hopeful and energised.

Gold Nuggets from Desk Beers

We’re excited to share the first of a series of blogs called Gold Nuggets where we talk with some of our most loved makers, founders and do-ers. Digging into their stories to reveal top tips, precious wisdom, and even some music to get your under-the-desk feet dancing. 

Recently we caught up with Adam Rogers from DeskBeers, a handy service that delivers craft and small-batch drinks to offices all over the UK.  

Tell us about yourself and DeskBeers.
Hi! I’m Adam. As captain of the good ship DeskBeers, I predominantly make tea. Gallons of the stuff. We can't function without it. If we didn't have tea, we'd never manage to get the craft beers, fine wines, ciders and soft drinks from our suppliers to our customers across the country. The whole system runs on tea.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year
Apart from the volume of tea required to run a successful operation, it's silly stuff like not only talking to customers but understanding how to interpret what they say. Customer feedback is the best file for developing a product (after tea), but what customers say and what customers do can be quite different. "Talk to customers" is pretty common advice, but thinking about what to do with what you discover is a bit harder.

What are your top 3 tips for finding the best partners to work with?
Tip 1. Good suppliers are as passionate about customer service as we are. If you get palmed off on the phone or wait for ages to get a reply to your email. It's not a good sign!

Tip 2. Don't (always) believe the hype. It seems like these days all you need to start a craft brewery is a brewer and a designer. More than a few new breweries only have one of those things and it ain't the brewer.

Tip 3. Ask for what you want. Good suppliers are in business too. Ask for a discount, expedited delivery, marketing swag, or whatever else you need. It's OK to make them say "no". But always be polite and respectful.

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What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?
My dad used to say "if you're trying too hard you're doing it wrong". He probably still does say that, I just haven't spoken to him in a while. It's very rare that we're actually doing anything truly groundbreaking, and often when we're stuck thinking about the problem a different way can lead to an elegant, simple solution.
 
What’s your ambition for DeskBeers?
To be the default choice for supplying drinks at the office, and in doing so support and promote independent producers of beers, wines, ciders and soft drinks.

What song motivates you in the office and why? 
Slipknot, Wait & Bleed. The warehouse can get pretty noisy and sometimes you need to whack on the headphones, get the double kick-drum going and crank out some code.

If you'd like to try out DeskBeers use the promo code PWG20 to get 20% off your first regular delivery order. Wahey to drinks with the team!

WE’RE KICKSTARTER EXPERTS!

Paved With Gold are excited and honoured to be founding members of Kickstarter Experts. We’re so proud that Kickstarter loves what we do and the projects we work with. To celebrate we wanted to share some of the Kickstarter projects our founders Richard and Kaye helped get funded, and the amazing things those projects went on to do.

Foldable.Me (Funded 2012)

Foldable.Me allowed you to design a personalised buddy online. Your Foldable would then arrive on your doorstep pre-cut and scored, ready for you to put together. They went on to take over the Kickstarter staff page for April Fools, and thousands were even sent to support Fair Trade in London’s Parliament Square!

Projecteo (Funded 2012)

Our favourite tiny little Instagram projector was a Kickstarter success being the first European company to reach its Kickstarter goal within 24 hours! It’s popularity led to collaborations with fashion brands like colette and Opening Ceremony, and because of its beautiful design was proudly put on shelves at the MoMA design store.

Hackaball (Funded in 2015)

The connected (IoT) ball raised over $240,000 which put it in the top 1% of most successful Kickstarters in terms of performance. Hackaball really resonated going on to be awarded ‘Best in Book‘ by Creative Review and becoming one of TIME’s best inventions in 2015. We’re delighted to see Hackaballs landing all over the world and inspiring a new generation of makers (and their parents!).

Technology Will Save Us - Mover Kit (Funded in 2016)

Mover Kit is the first wearable that kids make and code themselves. Unlocking the mysteries of new technologies. After reaching their goal in just 48 hours, and being featured in every possible publication we could find, Mover Kit, and the entire Tech Will Save Us range, has now taken over an entire section of the Design Museum in Kensington.

BLEEPBLEEPS - SAMMY SCREAMER & SUZY SNOOZE (FUNDED IN 2014 & 2016)

Sammy Screamers have already been sent all over the world, and joined collections at MoMA and the colette store in Paris. Their second product, Suzy Snooze was recently successfully funded and is going to ship very soon. We’re excited to be working with BleepBleeps again to help launch their third product early next year, adding to their collection of cute devices that make parenting easier.

Ding (Funded in 2016)

One to watch out for, the Ding Smart Doorbell which Fast Co simply said “gets the Internet of Things right”. Stuff magazine included Ding to make John’s eyebrows dance like never before.

We hope you enjoyed our little trip down memory lane. A huge thanks to Kickstarter and everyone we’ve worked with to help bring these amazing projects to life! We’re looking forward to launching and growing more ideas!

Maker Christmas Markets

It seems the season is truly upon us!  Shopping small, means you get unique gifts and support makers all at the same time. 

This weekend is jam-packed with fantastic maker markets and workshops. We’ll be running around trying to go to every damn one.

In Glasgow there are three amazing events opening this week, filled to the brim with our favourite makers. Kicking off tomorrow night at South Block with Unit 60, then over for some Friday fun at Grey Wolf Studios, then a two day extravaganza with Customs & Excise at SWG3. 

In London there's a veritable feast of ways for you to shop small this Christmas, from Urban Makers East this weekend, to Crafty Fox Market in Peckham and for something extra special check out the Wallpaper Snowflake Pavilion at Kings Cross from Monday. 

If you’re looking for some entertainment and a more personalised gift, why don’t you check out these workshops too! 

And if you just can’t be bothered to get out of your pyjamas, our lovely Carrie’s gift shop is always open.

When you’ve filled all the space under the tree pop down to The Alternative Christmas Carol Concert for a not-so-traditional carol service. Expect plenty of fun and singing along with the all-women Lips choir.

Better design for the smart home: No more routers please!

The Drum asked us to write about the growing desire for better design in the smart home. Read on to learn about some of the smart home projects we've worked on and love. 

Look at your router – it looks like a router, right? Now look at your doorbell – it probably looks like a router or, worse, an air freshener.

A lot of ‘smart’ products have focused first and foremost on cramming in all the latest technology, with design and how people interact with them an afterthought at best.

But some of the startups we’ve been working with at Paved With Gold are proving that there is demand out there for better design and are now making technology for the home that no longer needs to be hidden away.

Ding

Avril O'Neil and John Nussey of Onn Studio came up with the concept for the Ding Smart Doorbell after their own doorbell broke. Unable to find a suitable replacement they decided to make their own and their idea has resonated with the Design Council and John Lewis, who have supported the project, and also with Kickstarter backers who have helped them double their initial funding goals.

Ding works like any other doorbell by ringing a chime inside your home, but what makes it better is that it also allows you to talk to the the person at your door using your smartphone, so you’ll never miss important visitors or deliveries.

And whereas others have focused more on video surveillance and security, Ding keeps things simple being designed as a doorbell first. It feels closer to a traditional doorbell rather than a surveillance system with additional features that have been driven by the latest technology. Plus, with home styling in mind, Ding doesn’t look out of place inside or out, coming in various colours to suit colour schemes and tastes.

Suzy Snooze

The second launch from BleepBleeps is Suzy Snooze, part of a series of connected devices that aim to make parenting easier. Its primary objective is to get a good night’s sleep for all the family. A baby monitor, night light and sleep trainer all in one, it helps children sleep and know when to get up.

Founder of BleepBleeps Tom Evans found that a lot of connected devices aimed at parents either looked very medical and science-y, or a bit too toy-like. The family of devices from BleepBleeps have been made to be simple and fun while using a design language that is attractive to both children and parents. Children enjoy the playful nature of the devices, each of which has a character like the Tony Tempa thermometer, whereas parents like using the devices as they’re simple, while also appreciating the aesthetic which has been likened to collectible vinyl toys.

Joto

Joto is a smart display that connects a pen to the internet. In the home we display art or write messages and share lists. Joto brings these to life through drawing and writing in real-time. A simpler solution may well be to use a whiteboard, but sometimes you just want things to be more fun than that, don’t you? Imagine the kids getting excited over something as mundane as adding to the shopping list.

Recently nominated for Design of the Year by the Design Museum, Joto will be available for pre-order in the new year.

The smart home is certainly getting smarter, and hopefully we’ll be able to make more space for it on our shelves and walls rather than hiding it all under the sofa. You may now stop looking at your router.