Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet the creative gallery and shop owner Jane Will

With Christmas coming soon, now is the opportunity to shop local and support independent shops such as Will and Yates in Deal Kent.

Will & Yates Gallery + Homestore

104-106 High Street Deal Kent CT14 6EE

Tel 01404 374700 /07958 931 411 /info@willandyates.com

When we first met many moons ago you were working in the Shaker Shop in London. How did this come about?

Shaker was my favorite shop in London. I became obsessed with the whole look and loved everything about it. Had I lived back in the 1750’s I am sure I would have become a Shaker sister. I filled my house with all things Shaker, peg rails, boxes in all sizes. It got to the point where I visited the Shaker villages in the USA. Then I started to work for the Shaker Shop in London.

Deal is very different from London. What made you move down to a small coastal town and away from London?

I lived in London since I was 18 and I had my family there. We always said once the kids left home we would move down to the coast. We visited many seaside towns but as soon as we visited Deal we knew it was the place that we wanted to live. It ticks all the boxes, it’s architecture, independent shops, Saturday market, great restaurants and a fast train to London.

What are its advantages and disadvantages?

I honestly can’t think of any disadvantages. Family and friends visit all the time- we always have a house full. The pace is obviously slower, but that is what I want. After a full time job and parent hood, the simpler things become more important- sitting on the beach, riding my bicycle, lunch with friends.

Have you always wanted to run your own shop and gallery?

Yes, I used to make my sister play shop with me. I loved using my till and giving out change.

How long have you had your shop/gallery  in Deal?

We opened in October 2017

What have been the major challenges?

Keeping the stock fresh so that customers keep returning.

Is there much competition within the town?

There are a few independent shops, which is lovely, as we are all different.

Do you sell much on line?

Not yet but I intend to build up that side of the business.

Is it difficult to source original product?

Yes we are always on the look out for local artisans.

Jane I have known you for a long time I have written about your previous houses and I know you have a great eye. Have you had any kind of design training?  

No, but I do live with creatives. My husband ran an Ad agency before we moved down here and my sons both work in creative industries.

Had you ever had any experience in running your own business before?

No I’ve always been employed.

How did you find your premises and why did you choose the sea front?

Caroline, my business partner, and I had been looking on the high street and then we walked past this on the sea front and saw it was up for rent. So we went and bought fish and chips and sat on the beach and discussed it for a very short time. So after the fish and chips we went back to the shop and said yes.

Tell me about how you met your business partner and about the different roles you hold within the business? We met on the beach and got talking and immediately made a connection.We bring different things to the business.Caroline is an artist and she studied painting at the RCA. She is more creative than me. I am the more practical one.

What would you say is your USP?

We sell a mixture of original art, much of it Caroline’s but other artists too, plus vintage and new home wares. I attend antique fairs, trade fairs and open studios. Sometimes I find people on instagram.

Do you run any events from the shop?

Yes every three months we hold an event such as a Christmas sales evening or an exhibition launch. We advertise this on social media and we do door drops and we have a mailing list.

Can you describe a typical day?

I shall describe a typical Saturday. I will go to the market and buy flowers for the shop. Deal has an excellent Saturday market. I will buy a sticky bun from the Swedish lady who has a stand there and coffee from Deal Roasters. I take everything to the shop and open up at 10am. Normally we are busy with lots of locals coming to see what we have that is new. I try to remember to ask how people have found us. Often recommendation and some find us on instagram. I close the shop at 5pm. Walk home and have a glass of wine.

On Sundays the customer base changes, there are more dog walkers who walk past and then come in to see what we are selling. Up to now we have been closed in the week but as the summer progresses and we become better known we will open from Thursday to Sunday.

One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over fifty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care, illness and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with any of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life or business?

It was because of the children that I took a job as a school secretary. I needed to work, although it wasn’t particularly creative it meant that I didn’t have childcare issues and I could see my children after school and during their holidays.

Who or what inspires you?

Caroline my business partner inspires me. She has changed my life. Even though what I now have has been a long held dream, I am not sure that I would have done it by myself. I get on with the day-to-day stuff whilst she is painting. We make a good team.

From what part of your business do you get the most satisfaction?

I get a great kick when someone buys something I’ve chosen and when people say lovely things about the shop.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out today?

Do as much as you can yourself to save money. My husband, who is luckily very practical, fitted out the shop.

You do need financial security for rent, stock and to get set up. It will probably be a while before you can start making any income from it.  I overlapped with my other job for eight months in order to get established. I’ve given up the other job now to concentrate on this.

What is next for the shop?

Caroline would like to expand into bigger premises. I am not sure yet and would like to get this a little more established before we do.

Since interviewing Jane, she and Caroline, have bitten the bullet and, moved into much larger premises on High Street Deal. The move has been a great success.

Will & Yates Gallery + Homestore

104-106 High Street Deal Kent CT14 6EE

Tel 01404 374700 /07958 931 411 /https://www.willandyates.com/

Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet the Maker Craft author and Illustrator Clare Youngs

I went to meet Clare Youngs with my photographer Antonia Attwood to interview and photograph her in her Thanet home. Clare writes craft books for the publishers Cico, and whatever the subject, they are always of the highest standard, beautifully styled and informative. I was curious how Clare had got into the business of being a craft author. She works from a studio at the bottom of her garden.

J.B. Tell me about your design background.

C.Y. I did an art foundation course in London and then I went to Canterbury to do a degree in graphics and packaging design. It was a great course very creative we covered lots of skills as well as graphic design, including styling and art direction.

After art school I worked mainly for small design groups designing packaging.

J.B. How did you get into writing books?

C.Y. My husband, Ian bought me a book on vintage style and I was flicking through it when I had a light bulb moment. I have always made things including curtains cushions and blinds. I had an idea for a book on making things for the house out of paper. I went to Hamlyn and my first book was published by them. Then Cindy Richards the M.D. of Cico books got hold of me and asked if I would like to write a book for them. The first book I did was on making bags out of recycled materials.

J.B. Do the ideas for your books originate from you or from the publisher?

C.Y. It is half and half, sometimes I come up with proposals and sometimes they do.

J.B. How long does it take to produce a book.

C.Y From start to finish probably 4-5 months, but that is working full time on it. From the concept to publication is usually a year.

J.B. Who does the photography and styling?

C.Y.  I do the styling and Jo Henderson does the photography and my husband Ian does the illustrations.

J.B. What are your favorite and your least favorite parts of creating a book.

C.Y. I love making things, so the designing and making is what I enjoy doing best.

When I started, I found writing step -by -step instructions challenging. The secret is to write them as you go along.

J.B. What and who inspires you?

C.Y. Vintage Children’s books,particularly those published in the 60’s and 70’s. I like the work of Brian Wildsmith, and Eric Carle, Alice and Martin Provensen an American couple who illustrated more than 40 children’s books together. Mostly between the late 1940’s and the 1960’s.

J.B. Are there any modern illustrators you like?

C.Y. I enjoy the work of Joohee Yoon

J.B. What other things or people inspire you?

C.Y. I like old bannisters. I love humour in design. I like the textile designer Marimeko. Scandanavian design and Japanese crafts both interest me. I like the work of the following painters and designers. Howard Hodgkin, Ben Nicholson, Robert Tavener, Edward Bawden, Eric Ravillious and Charlie Harper.

J.B. Are you a collector ?

C.Y. Yes I am a collector I have 23,000 czechoslovakian matchbox lables that I bought on line. I will probably sell some as many are duplicates.

J.B. What are the benefits and drawbacks of working from home?

C.Y. It is great to have a purpose built space that is just at the bottom of my garden. So I don’t waste time travelling. My husband who is also a designer works in the house so we often meet up for lunch. However the down side of working from home is it is sometimes isolating as you don’t have feed back from other designers. As a result of this, last year I took an on line course called ‘Make Art that Sells’ . I wanted to study illustration as my craft projects have become more illustrative, for example I produce designs to embroider or collage. The boot camps that the web site runs are excellent and give you prompts rather than teaching as such. They have a face book group so that you can get feed back from like minded designers.

J.B. Apart from the boot camp do you use other social media?

C.Y. I do instagram and find that is a very useful way of making contacts in the design world. Last year I participated in the 100 day project.

J.B Do you teach workshops ?

C.Y. When we first moved out of London, our kids were young and we thought it would be nice to move to the Kent coast. At this time I ran a few family craft workshops at the Turner Gallery.

J.B. If you hadn’t been a graphic designer what would you have studied or done as a career?

C.Y. I think I would have done a craft, been a print maker or a potter.

J.B. What are you doing next?

C.Y My latest book by Cico came out in October it is called The Mindful Maker

J.B. Clare thank you very much for letting us have a glimpse into your working life.

Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet the Maker Joy Fitzsimmons of London Pooch

As Christmas will be with us all too soon, I thought it would be nice for you to read about some independent makers and designers from who you can buy original cards and presents directly . The first is Joy Fitzsimmons from London Pooch.

JB I know you as a card designer and maker. Can you tell the readers did you train as a graphic artist?

JF Yes I went to Liverpool Art School 1971 -74 and studied Graphics and Illustration. It was in the days when we all learned to set hot metal type and the Tate Liverpool was an atmospheric derelict Dock.

JB What is a typical day for you?

JF My typical day starts at 8.15am with a bracing walk round one of our local parks with our 2 dachshunds. I walk with a friend who has 2 dachshunds and during that 45 mins the we compare thoughts and experiences and leave the park utterly refreshed.

As I work from home there is always the invitation to be distracted by domestic matters. I dispatch these as quickly as I can. Then spend a large part of my day in the workroom at the computer as I produce all my work in Illustrator. 

I do fit in a certain amount of admin work for my husbands business then of course have to address my own admin work. I like a change of air midday when possible. When you are working alone it is good to meet a friend even just for a coffee. Give the eyes a rest.

My working day usually finishes as I address the evening meal preparations after 6. I enjoy this as it involves more active movements over a stove! And a change of scene.

JB What do you love most about what you do?

JF I love the fact that I have developed a routine of sitting and drawing to develop the theme of the artworks. My ongoing theme is placing a dachshund in a well-known painting or sculpture which totally changes the meaning. It has been so rewarding to copy from the great masters then give it a humorous slant.

I love to engage with the buying public in person although setting up a stall at a market can be demanding! I have to admit the pleasure I get from anyone wanting to buy even a card. It endorses your work.

JB What do you dislike most about what you do?

JF I dislike the fact that there is so much admin and trouble shooting which gets in the way of design time too often. Time management is a fine art.

JB Have you ever worked for anyone else, or done any collaborations? If so, with whom?

JF My early career was as a book designer and I worked freelance for 25years in the world of book publishing. Working for Weidenfeld and Nicholson and Studio Editions and eventually Partworks. During this time I also produced 2 illustrated children books. I think my timing was unfortunate as the recession of the 90’s hit too many old publishing houses. Including my own! But my time at Dorling and Kindersley was spent visualising. I was the only person employed to use a pencil. This was good and bad as the mode of book design went totally to computer. I had only worked with paper galley paste ups, unheard of now. At the end of this time I found I was not trained to design books in the now required fashion. So I slowly taught my self to use Illustrator in order to illustrate.

JB What made you want to start your own creative business?

JF London Pooch came about when I unfortunately had to have prolonged treatment for breast cancer. I suddenly had time on my hands recuperating. So we acquired 2 dachshunds. I had bought a small die cutting machine and collaged doggy cards seemed to be emerging. At that time I was printing all at home. From here I practised in Illustrator and London Pooch slowly started to develop. When my mother developed Vascular Dementia she came to live with us and producing greetings cards was an easier way to work round my additional job as carer. (Her attempts to help with the packaging were hilariously disastrous and short lived.)

JB Have you had any training recently? If so where and why?

JF I have had no further training although my Computer/Illustrator skills are all self taught. But I have been delighted to join a local Life Drawing class. Working from life straight onto paper again with pen and charcoal is immensely rewarding. And to work along side others who produce a totally different vision of the same object is a constant delight.

JB Can you describe your creative process?

JF Most of my designs at present are based on parodying Art and popular Architectural sites in London. All with the addition of a dachshund printed or collaged onto the card. 

The cards and prints are all printed in Kent by a well established printer. The Tea Towels printed in Lincolnshire. I have help to finish and pack the cards. We send out orders from here. 

JB What are your biggest challenges ?

JF Deciding what quantities to invest in when it come to production. Finding a good agent. Leaving enough time for new designs by delegating more to others. I handle the website largely myself since it was setup for me which is not perhaps the best use of my time. Fascinating though web design is I fell I need more purely creative time and must address this.

JBWhat advice  would you give to someone starting out in your field today ?

JF Talk to people already in the field at Trade Fairs and Local markets. All maker seller crafts people are generally keen to share stories as we all work in isolation and find that many working lives are running parallel.

JB Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult? Why?

JF I think it is easier to get an public awareness of who you are these days through social media. 

Also the trend towards small businesses and the spread of fairly high end Craft Fairs are all in the interests of young new makers. In these days of highly sophisticated marketing the public are definitely move towards small producers. See the spread of farmers markets at a time when sales in the High Street are suffering. Heartening. 

JB. Have you exhibited? If so, where?

JF Only at Trade Fairs. But my print collection is expanding now so I am looking to Exhibit at some point.

I have done Artists Open House in Dulwich

JBHow do you find Clients?

JF I have an agent for the London area and home counties. I have until now, sold myself into Galleries and Museums around the country but I am now looking to hand all of it to agents. Social Media has been good, but taxing on time. This takes me back to back to time management!

JB What are you currently working on?

JF I am always working on new designs. I usually have 2 or 3 in various stages. It is easier to be more objective about how they are shaping up unless I have a precise commission.

JB What is next?

JF I am gathering together enough work to produce a book. I loved word play. My first book was written in rhyme. I would like to produce more in this field. Would like to start all over again really. I have just produced my first Pooch plate.

Many thanks Juliet

Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet the Maker: Deirdre Hawken currently exhibiting at Metropolitan Museum, New York

Deidre
radish salad toms opener

Deidre Hawken makes what might loosely be called hats or head pieces. However that description does not do justice to the exquisite intricate pieces of work created by this multi talented designer. I and my photographer went to interview her recently in her studio.

JB.I know you as a hat designer and maker, but I understand  that you also design and make jewelry. Can you tell us which discipline you trained in and how you came to practice both?

DH I trained in theater design, sets and costume, at the Central School of Art and Design, now Central St Martins.

I worked as a Theater Designer for some time and I was an Art Director for a couple of design companies, but I have always loved the design and making process. I have made costume accessories for The Royal Opera House, English National Ballet and the BBC, I also designed a run of windows for Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and made props for Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Asprey Ltd and I had an exhibition in Fortnum and Mason among others, and I created collections of jewellery with my sculptor husband for various fashion designers.

three hats

JB.What is a typical day for you?

DH. There is no typical day! I could be designing hats or jewellery or researching new work, seeing a client or dealing with boring administration.

into studio

 JB. What do you love most, about what you do?

DH.I love researching ideas, it is now so easy on the internet, and as I said I love everything about the making process, especially dyeing fabrics.

working pages with fabrics dyed

 JB.What do you dislike most about what you do?

DH Any kind of administration.

JB.Have you ever worked for anyone else? Or done any collaborations ? If so with whom?

DH.When you are a designer for the theater you’re basically working with and for the director, but I have been a freelance designer most of my life. I did collaborate with a jeweler, we were asked to make a joint piece, but I did not really enjoy the experience. I have also made jewellery with my husband.

mushroom onions etc

 JB.What made you want to start your own creative business?

DH. I love working for myself, although I sometimes have an assistant on a really big job, such as when I made jewellery for Saks 5th Avenue.

 JB.Have you had any training recently? If so where and why?

DH.Not recently, but in 1998 I won a scholarship to study couture millinery. This was through QEST, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. There are no age limits and but you do have to fill in a very difficult application form. I trained with Rose Cory in Couture Millinery and had an internship with Stephen Jones. I also went to America and studied at the Met.

JB.Can you describe your creative process?

DH.First I have an idea, then I research, choose the materials. I only work with a few materials, leather, silk taffeta, silk velvet silk organza and organdie. I dye all the fabrics myself using Dylon dyes. I then decide how to make the headpiece or perhaps a collection of jewellery. Most of my headpieces are one off designs. I never make another piece exactly the same.

cigar making in progress

JB.What are your biggest challenges?

DH.Selling work.

cigars

JB. What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?

DH.It has always been difficult to be self-employed, especially in the Creative Sector, I believe good training is essential, also you must have self belief.

JB.Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult?

DH.I think it is harder, as everyone thinks they can be an artist or a designer.

JB.Have you exhibited? If so, where?

DH. I have had so many exhibitions it is hard to choose which ones to talk about. I have work in the following Public Collections: Victoria and Albert Museum – London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute – New York, Kyoto Institute of Costume – Tokyo, Graves Art Gallery– Sheffield, Museum of Costume –Bath, Philadelphia Museum of Art-USA, Hat Museum- Stockport.

 JB.How do you find clients?

DH. Clients come to me and I sell at exhibitions.

JB. What are you currently working on?

DH.A very tricky Summer Pudding Headpiece for submission for the London Hat Show early 2018.

summer pudding

 JB.Do you teach or run workshops? If so where?

DH. Not now! I have taught at various Art colleges and was an assessor for the BA Jewellery course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and design, Dundee for three years. I have given many talks including one at the V &A and many workshops all over the country.

lemons leather

 JB.What is next?

salad

DH. I am developing a range of headpieces which can be displayed as Still Life’s in acrylic cases, which I am finding very exciting.

JB. That is a great idea, your work is far too lovely to store out of site, in a hat box.

Many thanks Juliet

I did this interview over a year ago, however this week I had the email below and this image. So I wanted to share it with you.

‘I just wanted to let you know that a Cauliflower headpiece of mine  has been included in the latest exhibition at the Costume Institute, part of the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
I was so thrilled it was included! I am attaching an image of it in situ, the exhibition is called ‘Camp’ Notes on Fashion.’

http://www.deirdrehawken.com/

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Blog, Meet the Maker

• Meet Architect Jane Duncan

This month celebrates The London Festival of Architecture. There is an amazing programme of more than 500 unique events and activities. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jane Duncan OBE ex president of the RIBA

Jane Duncan is a British chartered architect, with her own practice based in Buckinghamshire. In August 2014 she was voted president elect of the Royal Institute of British Architects, receiving 52% of the vote and became the 75th president of the RIBA on 1 September 2015; her term of office finished on September 1 2017. She is only the third woman to ever have held the post of President.

Did you always want to be an architect and if so why?

I decided at the age of 13 when it became clear during a school art project – my friends were drawing the pots of geraniums and I was drawing the buildings. I was fascinated by buildings, spaces and people. I drew them, read about and visited them, formed pottery buildings rather than ponies, and made crazy balsa wood models all through GCSE and A levels.

Do you come from a family of architects? Yes my father was an architect running his own micro practice. I was taken to the office as a child for a treat occasionally (actually the ‘treat’ was a Chinese meal for lunch) but I was mostly bored there. When a local older friend of mine went off to study architecture, and took me for a trip around his college studio I felt absolutely at home, and knew I had found my future direction.  My father however was not supportive and told me he thought it unsuitable for a woman. I don’t think the concept of reverse psychology was well enough developed at the time! My mother was very pleased with my choice and supportive.

Which architectural college or university did you attend?

My friend had shown me around The Bartlett School at UCL.  I only applied there, and was luckily accepted.  My first degree was Architecture, Town Planning, Building and Environmental Science – quite forward thinking for the 1970s.

It is a long and grueling course do you feel it is a good education and does it equip you for work in an architectural practice once you leave?

It’s not the least bit grueling – it’s really fun, stimulating, challenging and tough. A good architectural education certainly helps you tackle the physical problems and ethics of design, but should mostly just make you curious and come away with an ability to think creatively and laterally, and communicate well.  Those are the two most important skills for an architect.

I question whether some current courses still provide students with those skills, as they now have so few hours of contact time, so little technical content and so much emphasis on clever graphics.

I have concerns too about the costs of the courses. I received a grant, and would probably not have studied architecture if it had cost the same as it does today.  I also had to live at home to reduce the costs, and commute daily from Barnet to Euston.

What made you interested in Architectural politics?

I started in politics early whilst working, prior to qualifying, in a huge international engineering company. I joined the staff in-house union and ended up at the age of 23 representing 3000 architects.  I set up my practice after qualifying, had a family (at pretty much the same time) and dropped politics for a while, although I always did other things such as acting writing and directing for amateur dramatics, running a salsa club and pro bono community work. 

I was ‘spotted’ at an RIBA conference for small practices, where I stood up and spoke my mind on charging properly for our work. I was asked to join the RIBA’s Small Practice group which is where it all started 15 years ago. From that point I was drawn into the maelstrom of architectural politics, and loved it.

Did you enjoy being president of the RIBA and were you able to influence the way the profession works?

I enjoyed every minute of it – even the ‘events dear boy, events’ – the long, long hours (as I was still running the practice so worked 24/7) flying around the globe, creating new initiatives and working with a really super staff team and some great supporters. I ran for office on a triple manifesto pledge of pride (in our work) profit (charging to represent our value) and people (diversity). I think I have influenced all of these, and added a whole heap more including directing a new Vision Strategy for the Institute, making it more global in outlook, and bringing social responsibility and ethical practices back to prominence.

Are you still involved in architectural politics?

After I handed over the presidential reigns the role requires a year as immediate past president, and I took on chairing three major committees to complete work started during my presidency. These were a review of the RIBA Awards, a complete Constitutional review and the Expert Panel on Fire Safety after Grenfell. The latter is probably the most political work I have ever done, and this role will continue. I am also President of the Architects Benevolent Society.

What were the best parts of the job as president RIBA and the worst?

My highlight was meeting, getting to know and putting the Royal Gold Medal around the neck of my architectural hero Zaha Hadid . My low point was being phoned up by the press team 6 weeks later and told that she had died, and I was to be live on BBC World News in 20 minutes.  I had a whole evening of live interviews from around the world, whilst coming to terms with the awful subject matter.

Other than that I loved meeting people – students, architects around the world, construction industry groups, community workers and many MPs and government officers.

It was hard work though to represent the profession after Brexit though with a government who had no idea how to handle the unexpected result of the vote, and with Ministers moving off almost as soon as a relationship had been developed.

I understand that as vice president of the RIBA you were Equality and Diversity Champion. Did you manage to make the changes within the profession that you wanted?

I think I was a good facilitator for change both in the Institute and in the Profession. I had a fantastic support from dedicated staff, and we did many things for the first time: welcomed LGBT group events, created an international women in architecture day, developed role models for the profession from all the 10 protected groups, and then role model practices.  The most important change was to get all parts of the Institute and the Profession thinking – perhaps for the first time about unconscious bias, representation, inclusivity and awareness.

When did you start your own architectural practice? How many people were in the practice to begin with and have you found it difficult to grow?

I set up in practice almost as soon as I qualified. I was working for a lovely young architect and asked for a partnership or I would leave. I left….. and set up in my back bedroom.

The practice grew slowly and steadily based on workload, and a very cautious business attitude. We now have 17 to 20 staff many of whom have been here for decades including interior designers, architects, technicians and students. We have no wish to grow this, but take on projects which we will enjoy. I am sure that our clients don’t realise that we go to interview them!

Your practice specializes in residential projects along with educational, community, commercial and leisure schemes. What kind of work do you most enjoy?

The best project for me is a site for a new house – I can literally build someone’s dreams. It doesn’t get better than that really.

Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for architects to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult? Why?

Both really.  There’s a lot more knowledge and training in business, but also a lot more in the way of constraint from building and employment legislation, data protection, health and safety etc.

I know this question is hard to answer, but what is a typical day for you?

Early morning workout (if I wake in time), breakfast and then: site meetings/ client meetings/planning meetings/staff meetings/consultant meetings etc. In between hundreds of emails, (ugh) and a little design work. Trouble shooting and administration for the practice, plus writing lectures, minutes, writing articles, judging awards and still travelling a bit for the Institute.

What do you like most about what you do?

Every day is different and there are loads of challenges.

What do you dislike most about what you do?

Not much – I have a ball

What advice would you give to a young woman starting out as an architect today?

Go for it! It’s the best, most challenging, difficult, inspirational, exciting career on the planet. Don’t take no for an answer and have confidence in yourself. If you’ve successfully qualified you are amazing and need to take no nonsense from anyone. Be yourself and make sure you work for a practice which allows that – even if you have to start one yourself. There’s lots of help if you get unstuck – so ask.

One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over forty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with either of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life or business?

Everyone on the planet has to deal with these things – including me and my staff. It’s not an imposition it’s life and that’s as important as your business. People understand and you need to understand that too if you have a business, with staff/clients etc. I have not had a career break to deal with any of them.  I think architecture is in your blood so you have to keep doing it to be happy. If you are happy you can cope with most things.

What are you currently working on?

I am running about 30 projects with various staff – new houses, mixed developments, churches, historic buildings, green belt sites. On my board at the moment (yes we still use drawings boards and pencils to do our initial thinking) is a large shop which we are going to replace with a block of flats.

What is next?

Succession planning, more travel .

Jane Thank you

Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet The Maker Chantal Coady OBE. An award given for her services to chocolate making.

May 6th 2019 is the 300th Anniversary of King George I granting permission for the residents and landowners of Chelsea to use his private road, King’s Rd in Chelsea. One of the current residents is Rococo Chocolates owned by Chantal Coady

How long have you been a chocolatier?

I don’t really consider myself to be a chocolatier in the traditional sense. I would call myself more a chocolate designer or a curator of chocolate experiences. My love of chocolate goes back to my early childhood, so at least half a century since I made my first Easter Egg. It was an unbridled disaster, probably why I can still remember it.

You began your creative career studying Textile design at Camberwell School of Art, now part of University of the Arts London. After obtaining your degree did you ever work in textile design?

I have never designed any actual textiles since Graduating from Camberwell. In fact as a student at Camberwell, I split my time between the Printmaking, Photography and Printed Textiles departments, and my final show was my photographic images on silk squares. It was a bit radical at the time. I suppose you could say that my Rococo designs are a reflection of four years studying, so I have put the experience to good use.

What made you change direction entirely and start your own chocolate business ?

The moment of truth was when I went to meet my friend Nicky Cousins at Harrods (who was studying at Chelsea Art School), she was working in the Chocolate department on Saturdays. That job was like  a dream come true, especially when I was offered a place on the team, I jumped at it. I could hardly believe that I was being paid to sell chocolates. My very first customer was Michael Caine, though I failed to recognise him.

Today there are many independent chocolate companies but you were one of the first, when you started did you do your own making or did you buy in?

When I started Rococo, NO-ONE was making their own chocolates in store. Most chocolate businesses had factories outside London who made their chocolate and many companies bought chocolate in from Belgium, or France. A famous exception that I have been asked about is Floris Chocolates, in Soho’s Brewer St, founded by a Hungarian émigre, although they had been closed for many years before I opened.

Was it difficult to source delicious chocolates?

It’s helpful to remember that Britain in the 1980s was in the grip of a two hundred year old industrial food tradition: so chocolate meant either “Belgian” or Cadburys.

I discovered a great trade show in Cologne, it’s still running although its decades since I visited. Big & small chocolate companies exhibit there, so it was easy to find lots of very good suppliers under one roof.

Where did you go to learn about chocolate manufacturing?

Manufacturing is not the word I would use for it. I spent time in Yorkshire with Alan and Nicola Porter, together we had started the Chocolate Society, so I needed to get up to speed on all the basic techniques of chocolate making.  I learned about tempering chocolate and making the perfect ganache on a trip to  Varhona’s Chocolate School at  Tainl’Hermitage

. That was an eye opener. I learnt about using really top ingredients and understanding the skills needed to create simple and delicious fresh chocolates. After that it was practice, and more practice, and then training a good small team to help.

Had you ever had any experience in running a business and had you been taught anything about business whilst at art school?

At art school they really look down at anything remotely commercial, in fact I was more or less punished because I had a Saturday job, which I needed for the money, instead of attending Saturday sketching outings, so definitely no business classes. I did attend a mini business course that was run by the Manpower Services Commission: a Margaret Thatcher initiative to encourage entrepreneurs. We had three weeks in the classroom, and six weeks to create your own business plan. It was enough to get me my first bank loan, although the bank manager asked for it to be secured with the family house.

How did you find your first premises and why did you choose Chelsea, which even in the nineteen eighties was expensive?

I got a map of London, marked all the locations where there were existing chocolate shops, and looked for a gap in an area that I believed had the right type of demographics for my customers. In fact that bit of the King’s Road was populated by punks, and  was pretty rundown although it had a great vibe. I paid for the end of a lease, which with hindsight was probably a mistake, but at the time seemed to only way to get a shop.

I know you design your own packaging has that always been the case? What made you decide to expand and open other shops?

There have been three main design periods at Rococo – the first was cherubs and candy floss pink that matched the decor, the next was a more classical Rococo period design, in black and white with Ho Ho birds at the time of the “Creative Salvage” period, and the enduring one is based on the antique French chocolate mould catalogue, again using my art school training in how to create a random repeating design. That has formed the corner stone of the brand design and other insprirations have been Maroccan encaustic tile designs, as well as my hand paint designs like the Neroli orange blossom  Also my own handwriting is very much a part of the character, and features on almost all the labels.

What made you decide to expand and open other shops?

We have shops in Chelsea, Belgravia, Seven Dials, Marylebone and Notting Hill.

Apart from selling in your own shops and on line do you also supply other chains or outlets?

We are in Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, also in John Lewis, and we are planning more pop-ups with Jigsaw.

How many people do you employ?

The business is tiny in real terms, but it feels big. We have quite a complicated infrastructure, so between the shops and chocolate kitchen we employ around 60-70 people.

One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over forty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with either of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life or business?

I chose my path to be self-employed in business, and at the time I had my children I was not even eligible for maternity leave other than the statutory 6 weeks (at about £60 a week if I remember correctly). I did not have a choice, but to go straight back to work after about 2 weeks, and James was very supportive coming to help whenever he could. We shared the childcare in the early months and then got some help, in fact James pretty put his acupuncture career on hold while he came into the business. That was a huge sacrifice for him, and if he had not done that I dont suppose Rococo would have survived those early childhood years. Clearly this makes a huge impact on life in general, and finances were extremely tight. I have a clear memory of my son, aged two weeks, asleep in his car seat among the Easter boxes in the basement of the King’s Road shop and also of having my daughter strapped to me in a papouse aged about 1 week, as we stacked the shelves in a new shop in Bluewater in 1999, that did not last long!

You run events and workshops from some of your shops how long have you been doing this and do you enjoy it?

It takes a particular skill set to run events, and a very good support team. When that is in place it’s a real pleasure to do workshops. My favourites are ones off site in places like Castello di Potentino in Tuscany. It’s even more complicated when you have to take everything with you but lovely to be inspired by completely new surroundings and ingredients. I have also done a master class on a cruise ship in the Caribbean where the air-conditioning failed and room temperature was nearly 40C; that was majorly stressful, although I managed to get my chocolate tempered with some help from the sous chefs and the fridges. Its good to get out of your comfort zone, but probably not necessarily under such circumstances! I do have a great team who do the day to day events, so the responsibility does get shared.

Were you surprised when you were awarded an OBE?

I could not have more surprised to receive an official brown envelope, that looked like a parking ticket, which announced the nomination for the OBE – I actually thought it was a spoof, and refused to even look at it properly. Finally I was persuaded by my husband James to read it and return the paperwork. This bit all takes place months before the actual list is published, so you have to keep very quiet. I was really delighted when it was announced and especially to receive the very first in the category of “Services to Chocolate Making”. I am aware that without the help and support of my long suffering husband, family, and good chocolate people I have met along the way, the OBE would never have happened, so I am humbly grateful to all of them.

The trip to Buckingham Palace was a magical day, and following the advice of fellow honourees, I made sure that it was properly celebrated, with small parties at both lunch & dinner. Prince William was the Royal on duty at my investiture, and I managed to make him burst into laughter over my answer to his question “How did you get into chocolate?”. I can’t actually remember what I said.

It felt very grand driving into the Palace, and made my taxi driver’s day!

Many thanks Juliet Bawden

Blog, Meet the Maker, Uncategorized

Meet the Maker Jehane Boden Spiers, Textile designer, Art licenser and Consultant

Jehane in her studio surrounded by work

I know you as a textile designer and maker, Can you tell me if you went to art school and if so what did you study?

I was born & bred in Brighton. I studied Textile Design at Winchester School of Art (1994 – BA Hons).

How and when did you become an art consultant?

I have curated my fellow artists’ work since first opening my house for the Brighton Festival in 2002. I discovered that I am skilled at selling other artists work and enjoy talking about the creative process. The next one is every weekend in May starting on the 4th in less than two weeks time . For details of Venues, locations and times look at https://aoh.org.uk/house/may2019/

I became a licensing agent in 2004 when my children were born. Through my work as an agent, I have received many submissions from artists that I have not been able to represent for one reason or another. Being an art consultant means that my services can be offered more widely. I now offer one-to-one consultancy to emerging and established artists internationally.

You contributed a chapter to the very successful book ‘House of Cards’ did you enjoy the writing process and have you ever written a book of your own.

I loved it! I would love to do a book of my own. It’s on my bucket list.

Can you give us a brief history of how you started out.

I first licensed my own designs in 1992 as a student at Winchester School of Art. I worked as a textile designer in Vienna when I graduated. I set up as a freelance designer back in Brighton in 1996 under the name of Cloth of Gold.

I designed for industry (mainly paper products), made one-off embroidered pieces for private clients, and created hand-made items for small batch production sold to galleries and retail outlets nationally.

My designs have sold for textiles, gift-wrap, greeting cards & more. Licensees of my designs include Stewo, Jung Design, Gallery Five, Sanderson Fabrics, Baumann, Penny Black, Collage, Medici, Zoewie, Boots Plc, and The Paper House Group. 

My designs have featured on London Underground posters. My retail clients have included Liberty of London, English Heritage, the RSC, and Vienna & Sydney Opera Houses. My one-off embroideries have sold in galleries nationally. I have given many talks about her artwork including at the V & A.

I also had a variety of agents before I set up on my own as an Artists’ Agent. I was always very pro-active, exhibiting at trade fairs and contacting shops/ licensing clients directly.

What is a typical day for you?

Work by Ken Eardley

Everyday starts with catching up on my Instagram and planning the day’s social media. I will walk down to my workspace at Studio Eleven where I have been for 7 years. I have my own room in a shared studio space of creatives. It’s a great atmosphere and very focused. I currently spend all of my time at a computer although I have started planning a new range of products for my Open House in May. A typical day I would be designing and writing new marketing campaigns, liaising on existing licenses, contacting new clients, and giving creative direction to the artists that I work with.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love being immersed in another artists’ work. I enjoy the wide variety of client responses to artwork and the fun of trying to predict who might like what. Most of all I love combining my love of the visual world with conversations

What do you dislike most about what you do?

Being solely defined and seen as an agent. Being a designer is at the source of everything I do.

Examples of Jehane’s work

What made you want to start your own creative business? I knew it would be the thing I would most regret not doing.

Your business seems to have really grown over the last few years how has this happened?

I have always worked hard. I have never taken time out. More recently, I have spent a lot of time asking myself difficult questions and challenging myself. What is really important to me? I realised that working in an inter-disciplinary manner is hugely important to me. It has guided me to expand my offer. I have been able to promote hard as a result because I am very sure of my vision. This has really helped me to grow my business.

Cressida Bell

Can you describe your creative process?

It always starts with a response to either pattern, colour, or words. I often need to make associations and connections between things.

What are your biggest challenges?

So much to do, so little time.

I also find it hard to send short emails!

Focusing on the bigger picture when there are so many details pulling me the other way.

Speaking in public – I have lots to say but I get incredibly nervous.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?

Work hard. Ask questions, Don’t be scared to put yourself in front of people. Think about your own intent, what is important to you, really important to you? This will be invaluable in guiding your decision-making. Present everything visually and beautifully. Attention to detail.

Nancy Nicholson

Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult? Why?

I think it is easier. There are more resources and the creative industries are booming. Even though they are marginalized in schools, they are more recognized by the government (and people at large) as being crucial to the economy. 35% of the UK’s income is from the creative industries. Websites and social media make it much easier to be seen and to connect with clients.

One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over forty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with either of these of issues and if so how did it impact on your creative life or business?

I decided to license work by other artists was when I had my children. I was scared that if I took a seven year break from my designing, to have my two children, that I would lose confidence and be unable to get back into the industry. Having children can be isolating as can be working on your own. Working as an agent meant I still had lots of contact with people even though I was working at home. I worked virtually full time when my children were young in order to develop my business but I decided against having a nanny or an au pair. It is a constant juggle!

Have you exhibited? If so, where?

Yes – all over the country, mainly in group exhibitions but all over 15 years ago.

Liberty of London

Grace Barrand Design Centre

Ferrers Gallery

Manchester City Exchange

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art etc

How do you find clients?

Trade fairs, social media, trade magazines, look at the underneath of products

What are you currently working on?

Planning new products with my designs for my open house

New newsletters for Jehane Ltd

A bespoke licensed range with British Airways i360 and Cressida Bell

Talking to New artists for representation

Planning my open house; getting flyers ready to print

& more!

What is next?

An online shop on www.jehane.com

Has social media impacted on your business and if so in what way?  Yes, hugely. It has been the launching pad for my new business Jehane Ltd and has been the main reason that I have attracted the new artists I represent and the new clients I am talking to.

Many thanks Juliet