‘Courage in one hand, creativity in the other’
Creatival Manchester 2019 was kicked off with an introduction and welcome by Helen Bottrill from The Creative Business Network and Megan Jones of Curated Makers with a word from sponsors The Growth Company.
Indie biz champion Leona Thrift-ola of Indie Roller provided us with a rainbow of inspiration, discussing how her businesses have evolved from product to service focused and the importance of setting boundaries to avoid burn out. The term ‘Keep Going’ can sometimes mean adapting and making changes, but we need to build our resilience and learn from our mistakes. We should be proud in telling our story and set out a clear future focused business vision using our values and our own measures of success. If we feel the fear and stretch beyond our comfort zones and then we will be comfortable in the uncomfortable. I loved seeing Leona’s values scribbled onto sticky notes on her studio wall as a constant personal reminder of her beliefs and intentions.
For the first breakout session, I chose IP & Copyright with Ingrid Fernandez of Dec & Dash Legal Consulting. Ingrid gave us tips on protecting our work through keeping date stamped documentation and applying to register trademarks. As a small business, you can do this yourself however it is pricey and time consuming and even if you register a trademark in one class (for example clothing), it doesn’t mean you own the trademark in all the other 44 classes. Also, if you want to own the trademark worldwide, you would have to apply for the trademark in the UK, EU, USA etc. separately. It is a bit of a minefield and best to get professional help. Ingrid also gave useful advice on dealing with copycats and we discussed how easy it may be to accidentally infringe someone else’s copyright by using on trend symbols and patterns.
Next, Yvette Streeter editor of Mollie Makes magazine gave us handy tips on a writing press release. The best press releases are concise with 3 great images (close up, overhead and lifestyle shot). Include the story behind the product, tailor content towards seasonal gift guides, make it easy for editors to download high res images and use a witty and engaging subject line in your email. Send press releases to anyone and everyone and don’t be put off if you don’t hear back. “Keep it short, reflect your brand and dream big.”
Athena Cauley-Yu owner of Meticulous Ink told us her business story and emphasised the importance of flexibility, having a range of different revenue streams and listening to what customers want. Athena owns her own shop in Bath which specialises in high quality bespoke letterpress printing on site. She also uses the space for selling her own range of inks and papers, delivering workshops and offering open evenings. “A physical shop is like having a second home, but it gives you somewhere you can fill with creativity.”
As I am preparing for my first craft fair, the session that I found most useful was Stacey MacDonald of Darwin & Gray’s talk on Styling & Visual Merchandising. Stacey has been a seller at the UK’s top fairs and trade shows and has a background in visual merchandising. I have had multiple trips to the DIY shop trying to work out what I need and how to build a wooden display and Stacey had all the answers I had been looking for as well as practical tips I hadn’t thought of. She believes in a DIY approach, using multi purpose units that reflect the brand identity and can be used around the home in between craft fairs. Top tips: look everywhere for inspiration, put prices on items, clearly display your Instagram handle and make sure what you are taking fits in the transport you have available unless you are prepared to fork out for a van.
There was plenty of time in between sessions to meet other like minded creative businesses, browse the ad boards, use the photo booth from Beautiful South Photo Booth Company and find out more about Naked Cards with Jules from Mollycat Studio and Becka Griffin.
Manchester Hall was a great venue for the event – lots of separate rooms on the same floor for different sessions, plenty of space, some sparkly chandeliers and easily accessible from Salford Central train station. The quotes about creativity beautifully illustrated on the mirror of the ladies’ powder room by Myro Doodles were a lovely touch and made everyone smile.
Thanks to the whole Creatival team, The Creative Business Network, Curated Makers, to everyone who contributed to the fab good bags and a special huge thanks to the lovely people at noissue. who generously provided my ticket for the event. So much useful information and tons of inspiration for the future.