Inspiration to Realisation – findings from the seminar
Cockpit Arts was delighted to be Southbank Centre’s partner for Bloom 2010. There has been a tremendous amount of learning that has resulted from the project which was shared at our March seminar ‘Inspiration to Realisation’, attended by over 150 creative businesses.
There’s too much information to squeeze into this one article so over the coming weeks we’ll be writing a range of blog features that will cover all aspects of this type of project – from how to develop relationships with manufacturers, to pricing work, to approaching retailers.
In the meantime we wanted to highlight some of the key themes that came out of the evening.
1. Research is the key
All the makers that took part in Bloom 2010 agreed that research was a key element in developing a successful retail product. Ceramicist Timea Sido stressed that before approaching a retailer you should always do a site visit to the shop to see what type of products are already stocked and the price points of the work and use this information to help develop a range that can be realistically sold by the retailer.
2. Get it in writing
As with any type of commission it’s important to ensure that you have some form of an agreement in place. Head of Retail and Buying at Southbank Centre Adam Thow, stressed that this should set out the agreed time scale for the project, payment details, IP and ownership rights, payment terms, and any exclusivity rights. Letterpress Printers Theo Wang and Tom Boulton of SORT also mentioned that they keep a careful record of any email correspondance relating to the orders that they undertake.
3. Be open minded
When approaching a brief you can often have a set idea in mind. Textile designer Naomi Ryder felt it was important to be open minded about the products that could be produced and to take on board the advice of the retails “who know their market better than anyone!” Naomi worked very closely with Southbank Centre Retail team to translate her line drawing designs into a product range that would appeal to Southbank customers.
4. Be realistic
Southbank Centre Retail team commented that when involved in a project such as Bloom 2010 it’s important to be realistic about timeframes and what you can achieve within the time you have available. We all know it can be easy to get carried away in the design process on a project. The makers for Bloom 2010 were commissioned to develop projects in November 2009 and had to deliver these first thing in March 2010, which only allowed fives months from idea to production! Being ambitious but at the same time realistic was essential.
5. Time to get organised
Organisation and time management was a very important issue for many of the makers, especially those who were hand-making large numbers of products for the deadline. Glassmaker Sue King used lists to keep her on track and also streamlined her production methods by ensuring that all her glass elements were cut in bulk. She also had to factor in kiln timings to ensure that there was enough time to fire all her pieces by the deadline.
6. Relationship building
For those Bloom 2010 makers who worked with manufacturers, building in the time to research and develop realtionships with factories was crucial. Ceramicist Sena Gu felt it was extremely important to find a manufacturer who she could trust to deliver the high level of finish that was required for her cups and vases.
One of the best ways to ensure a successful relationship with a retailer is to ensure that you keep in touch with them on a regular basis and all the makers that worked on the Bloom 2010 project reported that they did this. The buyers added, that this way, if you are struggling to meet deadlines or there’s a problem with production they know well in advance and can help you resolve the issue.
8. Enjoy the process
Southbank Centre Retail Team, Adam Thow and Katherine Walsh both commented that the most important thing was to enjoy the process, as did many of the makers who took part. This was certainly the case for jeweller Tania Clarke-Hall who has always been inspired by the Royal Festival Hall and found the Bloom 2010 project a great opportunity to not only explore this interest further but push her boundaries as a designer. Read more about Tania’s approach here.
Coming up…. how to successfully approach retailers and buyers.
Filed under: Business Planning, Creative Development, Sales and Marketing | 1 Comment
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