It seems like so long ago now, but it was only last month that I travelled to London for a talk hosted at the Furniture Maker’s Hall. It was a seminar set up for members of their Young Furniture Makers community consisting of guest speakers: Brogan Cox (of http://www.sebastiancox.co.uk), Rod Wales (of http://www.walesandwales.com), and Danny Cleaton and Paul Strong from social media and digital marketing agency, Hoopla.
Personally I found Brogan’s talk the most engaging and simplest to understand. It was apparent that not only does she clearly know her stuff when it comes to marketing, and specifically marketing craft, but she obviously has such an excitement for it too. The way she explained it was interesting and accessible.
As designer-makers (or whatever variation of that, that you define yourself as) it is incredibly easy to lose yourself in the creative process, and avoid doing all the other roles that are inherent to running your own business. Or as furniture maker, Heather Scott once described it: ‘you have to swap your creative hat for your business hat’. And this was Brogan’s first piece of advice: channel your enthusiasm by creating a strategy or plan for how you are going to operate as a craftsperson. Creating a single narrative brand for yourself is your first priority.
There were aspects of her talk that I had heard before, when Sebastian Cox came as a guest lecturer to Rycotewood during my first year of study. How long ago that all seems, but it all came back to me when Brogan explained the next step in creating a distinctive voice for yourself. Start by identifying a minimum of three role models (from a range of industries) that inspire you and your work.
As part of this blog post series, I thought it would be interesting for me to apply each of Brogan’s teachings to This Girl Makes, for illustrative purposes. It is the very nature of this initiative to provide its community with a large and varied range of craftswomen for role models. So selecting only three proved a pretty difficult process, but eventually I came to the following…
Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani
Director of Young Women’s Music Project, Oxford.
Zahra has always been a mentor to me, since the very first project I worked on for YWMP. When she is quoted as saying: “the project will run no matter what and the girls know that”, this really demonstrates her commitment to helping others through the medium of music and art. The parallels between what is happening in the music industry and my own have become apparent the more we discuss our experiences.
THIS GIRL MAKES has been inspired by Zahra’s unstoppable approach to what she believes in; her sensitivity to the participants of YWMP; her creativity in the development of the project, and her generosity with time and resources to those that access it.
Dr Lynn Jones
Furniture Industry Staff Search Service, Furniture Careers Advisor, University Lecturer and External Examiner.
Surely just by her list of job roles, you get an instant impression that this is someone who clearly lives for her passion! The first Doctor of Furniture that I ever met, and someone who has constantly had my back throughout my degree: from comforting be over the phone, to helping me find a job…
It goes without saying that Lynn never fails to inspire This Girl Makes. She has been a key figure in developing the brand and its voice, helping it reach a wider audience, and championing it to everyone she knows or meets within the furniture industry.
Brand Champion for HEAL’S, London.
Carmel has been nothing but supportive of This Girl Makes throughout my degree. She is extremely proactive in using her skills and resources to help others. Not only by nurturing young designers and makers, helping them enter into the industry, but also establishing the charity Kiss It Better (https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/457622/When-my-girl-was-fighting-cancer-all-I-wanted-to-do-was-kiss-it-better).
I am inspired by Carmel’s refreshing approach to leadership, and hope I have been successful in conveying similar qualities through This Girl Makes. She is thoughtful, and respectful of others; and always has patience to reply to my emails!
(Whilst carrying out research for this article, I found this discussion, hosted by Carmel, that you can watch on YouTube).
Keep an eye out for the next instalment in this blog series, it will be available soon.