This time last week, we were busy preparing for an exciting day. On Saturday we went to Liberty London for their Best of British Open Call. If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s an opportunity for British Designers to present their designs directly to the buying panel. A fantastic experience and an amazing opportunity!
Now in it’s 3rd year, the open calls have seen many small, independent designers get their products onto the shelves in the world famous, Liberty store.
We had originally signed up to attend the event earlier in 2011 but this date clashed with our moving date (the weekend which we had to move into our studio) and the minute they announced a second event later in the year, we jumped at the chance and signed up again.
It seems another lifetime since starting Made With Love. When I think back to 2005, I wouldn’t have ever dreamt that my/our stuff would ever pass through the doors of Liberty. I wouldn’t have imagined that an opportunity of this magnitude would have arisen, nor that I would have been accepted, nor that I would have had the confidence to speak to buyers about my stuff. I’m very thankful to people that believed in me in the early days of Made With Love.
The week before, was spent working on samples and the frames which we had shortlisted to take down with us.
The morning of the event was an early one. We drove from home to the station at 4:00am (crikey!) to catch the 5:15am train from Manchester Piccadilly.
A bit of breakfast on the train. One very tired Simon (look it’s dark outside & everything):
One tube ride. A walk around a few blocks with Ikea bags filled and we had arrived at Liberty.
We joined the queue at 8.30am which was already quite long. People had been queuing since 6am (whaaaaat!)
We got chatting to some fab designers in the queue and saw some of the buyers walk past us. All very exciting!
They were also filming on the day for the BBC show (Britains Next Big Thing) so lot’s of camera’s and film crew peeps were around. When Simon went for coffee’s, I (Clare) got interviewed on camera whilst in the queue. I had to say a few words about who we where, what we had brought etc. Simon was jealous when he returned with coffee’s that he had missed it!
The doors opened at 10am (I think), the queue moved really quickly and it wasn’t too long before we had climbed the rafters to the 4th floor and was inside the beautiful Tudor waiting area. A gorgeous room decorated with Union Jack flags, bunting and lot’s of elegant carved wood beams. It was beautiful. Buzzing. And filled with lot’s of creative & nervous energy. We received some great feedback on our eye catching card ranges before we got to see the buyers from film crew & fellow designers which was a great confidence boost. It’s especially lovely when something is your own work, to receive sweet comments from passers by. Lovely!
Whilst inside the waiting area, we were asked to say a few words for the camera again. This time Simon was there so he had the microphone whilst I held the frames…and smiled (rather fabulously obviously!). See the film clip below. We’re 3:38 mins in.
We got to meet the buyers at around 11am. We met Maria Moger (Manager of Stationery & Chocolate Shop) and Bryony Sheridan (Buying Assistant for Home) who were fantastic in their approach and feedback/advice they gave to us.
They liked our stuff but it wasn’t what they were looking for. But they took our details and we got some great feedback and have taken their comments on board. One of which was to attend a trade show – which we shall be doing in 2012. Another is an alteration on an existing range which they liked. We are working on this one and will be introducing our letter-press range in the new year. Very excited for this one as it’s been in our plans for a while but their comments have made up push this plan forward and get cracking on this one.
The open call is a fantastic opportunity, celebrating British Design. It may seem daunting or scary but then anything that’s worth it IS scary. We would thoroughly recommend you sign up for the next event if you make/design in the UK. What are you waiting for!
Read Full Post »