Category Archives: fashion

The safest thing on my bicycle is my Mirrycle

mirrycle_logoDuring my year of cycle commuting across the capital (15 learnings from a year of Brompton cycle commuting in London) I have become increasingly safety conscious.

My first step was to buy a cheap and cheerful cycle helmet, mostly to placate my concerned partner. At that point I was still doubtful about its value as there was some evidence to the contrary (Cycle helmets are useless, says brain surgeon). However, after a few months mingling with cars, buses, lorries and other cyclists, I started to appreciate the fragility of the human head. Especially when it has the potential of coming into contact with any of these solid metal vehicles, or even just a patch of hard tarmacadam road. So recently I upgraded my helmet to an ‘urban’ model with more protection, and hopefully a tad more style.

giro-sutton-helmet

My Giro Sutton bash hat

Next came a choice that drops me off the bottom of the fashion scale. My fluorescent orange and yellow safety vest may be a faux-pas from a style perspective, but it certainly gets me noticed – which is the point of wearing it. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen car drivers and pedestrians glance in my direction, then doing a double-take and stopping their imminent move into my path, as the bright colours of my vest hit their brain receptors.

I spent my formative years riding a motorbike on London roads, so I know that anything on two wheels is effectively invisible to most other road users. I still remember the “I’m sorry – I didn’t see you” from when I was knocked down by a car in the Walworth Road in 1989. And I really want to avoid hearing it again.

In those days it was the engine driving the wheels rather than my legs, and the two rear-view mirrors were something of an irrelevance. The acceleration of my motorbike meant I needed to focus on what was in front of me, not behind me.

Mirrycle-Barend-Mirror-MTB-2

I can see behind with my Mirrycle mirror

On a pedal powered bike it is more of a fifty-fifty front and rear. I still need to concentrate on the road ahead for rogue pedestrians and cars pulling out in front of me. But I also need to be aware of what is coming up behind me. Is it a taxi who is going to squeeze me into the kerb, or a bus desperately trying to get the stop in front of me, or a monster truck who’s air draft is going to blow me over.

I am even at risk from young Lycra clad cyclists, who I’m sure see an old codger like me riding a Brompton in a suit, as someone they can whiz past. So the ability to see them bearing down on me at speed, and so give them space to pass, is very helpful to both of us.

I still look round behind me quite a bit too, using what the Police call the lifesaver. This tends be before a manoeuvre, or to make eye contact with a driver who is about to cut me up.

Knowing what is going on behind me gives me choices and avoids dangerous surprises. So that makes my Mirrycle perhaps my most valuable investment in terms of safety on my trusty Brompton. In fact based on my experience I would recommend that every bike should be fitted with at least one mirror as a standard safety feature.

Update November 2015

Interesting to see Garmin have now come out with a radar system for detecting vehicles sneaking up behind you. I still think my mirror will do for now.

Using Twitter to get Lady Gaga’s attention

Dayne HendersonIn my workshop Introducing Social Media for Small Business I talk about Twitter’s unique ability to engage with otherwise inaccessible public figures.

To be honest, someone with millions of followers is unlikely to read every tweet sent their way. But it is possible to get noticed if the content piques their interest.

This is one of the wonders of social media over traditional forms of communication. You wouldn’t expect a letter, text or fax to be read by your celebrity target, let alone to get through on the telephone, or meet them in person. They would all be filtered out by their agents and minders.

But in fact many high-profile figures revel in the opportunity social media, and Twitter in particular, has given them to be in direct contact with their fans.

A recent story in the Metro newspaper gives a great example of this unprecedented access. Fashion designer Dayne Henderson who produces latex fetish outfits in his spare room in North Shields, uploaded some images onto Twitter. These got the attention of Lady Gaga, who commissioned him to make 19 headpieces for her world tour.

As Dayne told the Metro, ‘I never in a million years thought my first bit of work as a self-employed designer would be with Lady Gaga’.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga wearing one of Dayne Henderson’s latex designs

Anorak – now a cool brand and a Success Story

anorak_logo I have blogged in the past about the importance of using a ‘made-up’ name for your trademark, but there are other ways to establish a distinctive but protected presence in the market place.

I was recently helping a couple of customers in the Centre find some useful market research reports on home wares. In conversation I discovered they were the founders of Anorak, a company who make and sell ‘functional products inspired by the great outdoors’. I also learned that we had helped them along their journey to success over the last four years, so they qualify as one of our Success Stories.

For me, the story here is the ingenuity of taking a widely used slang term with negative connotations, and subverted it into something cool and trendy.

trainspotter

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Mattbuck

According to Wikipedia the term anorak came from the Observer newspaper’s description of UK trainspotters, based on their preferred form of clothing. Allegedly members of this group often wore, the by then very unfashionable anorak jackets, when standing for hours on chilly railway station platforms noting down details of passing trains.

However according to the Guardian Newspaper’s Notes and Queries column, the term was was originally created by Radio Caroline Disk Jockey Andy Archer in the early 70′. He used the word anoraks on air, to describe the boatloads of fans who came out to visit the pirate radio ships anchored off the Dutch coast.

During the 1980’s it became a general derogatory term for a someone with an obsessive interest in unfashionable and largely solitary interests. 1980’s UK rock group Marillion called one of their albums Anoraknophobia, referring to the long running in-joke that Marillion fans were sometimes called freaks or anoraks.

isle of wight computer geek iow

www.theisleofwightcomputergeek.co.uk

In the United States the term geek or nerd is often used instead, but is not associated with a particular item of clothing as far as I am aware. The exception might be the wearing of large unfashionable glasses. The US based company GeekSquad have also attempted to exploit the label to their own advantage.

The word anorak is derived from Greenland Eskimo ‘anoraq’, used to describe a waterproof jacket, typically with a hood, of a kind originally used in polar regions.

I am aware that this post may be in danger of straying into anorak territory itself with this level of obsessive detail, so I will stop here.

 

Anorak_fox_mugAbout Us

Introducing Anorak. A British brand with its heart planted firmly in the great outdoors. Inspired by childhood camping adventures (in a bright orange campervan), Anorak’s founder and Creative Director Laurie Robertson uses striking silhouettes to bring a touch of fun and whimsy to homewares and outdoor lifestyle accessories.

From Kissing Rabbits to Proud Foxes, Anorak’s animal designs are bold, bright and a good deal less timid than their real life relatives. But looks aren’t everything, so the entire Anorak product range has function at its heart. The wash bags are wipe clean, the sleeping bags have leg room a plenty, the picnic blankets are light enough to carry on the longest of country strolls. So if you’re a fan of the great outdoors (even when you’re indoors) and think fun should follow function, remember to pack your Anorak.

Protecting Cara Delevingne the brand

Cara_Delevingne

Source Wikimedia Commons

I was surprised to see a whole page of a recent Evening Standard devoted to UK and European trademarks.

If you have read this blog before you will know that I consider trademarks to be the most significant form of long term intellectual property protection for most businesses.

In the case of a celebrity such as current top model Cara Delevingne the motivation is often as much about protecting you name from commercial abuse, as profiting from it.

When choosing to register a trademark with either the IPO (Intellectual Property Office) in the UK or the OHIM (Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market) in Europe you have to choose which of the 45 Nice classes are relevant.

The OHIM database shows Delevingne has applied for four classes at a cost of 1,050 Euros. Not surprisingly many celebrities have registered their names over the years. Only last year the singer Beyoncé tried to trademark her daughter’s name Blue Ivy, but discovered a wedding planning business had pre-empted her.

 

 

onsie

An example of a onsie

According to the Standard, Delevingne’s only aspiration so far is to produce her own brand of onesies. But perhaps these small beginnings could spawn a worldwide fashion brand.

The author of the article Kara Dolman (Kara with a K), was inspired by Delevingne to register her own trademark Kara D. Sensibly she first checked the IPO database (something we often help with in the Business & IP Centre), and chose class 25 covering fashion goods at a cost of £170.

Once the application gets through the two month period allowing for objections, Dolman will be free to pursue her dream of Kara D branded socks. However, I feel obliged to point out that if she doesn’t do so, her trademark will lapse after five years. People often forget that trademarks are designed to protect actual commercial activities, rather than just as a block to others.

Retail Trends – Online and Offline by Cate Trotter

Cate TrotterThe latest in Cate Trotter’s series of Trends workshops (see my previous posts on Key Trends for 2012, The Future of Online Marketing, The growing grey market in the UK) concentrated on Retail. In it Cate covered the rapid online developments, but also changes in bricks and mortar shopping, known as offline retail. She also explained how the smarter retailers are merging these two elements together to enhance both the online and offline experience for their customers.

Here are my notes from this highly recommended workshop:

Omnichannel retailing

  • Although the value of online clothing and accessories sales are predicted to double over the next five years, offline will still dominate with three quarters of overall sales.
  • There is a trend for online retailers to add a high street presence. Examples are FunkyPigeon, Made.com and ETSY.
  • The new Burberry flagship store on Regent Street is a leading example. It has a large screen showing live fashion events from around the world. And live music events held in the store are streamed onto their website.
  • Cate suggested using If This Then That or Hootsuite (which I have been using for a couple of year and can personally recommend) to manage multiple social media channels from one screen.
  • She asked the audience to review all their customer contact points and maximise buying opportunities for interested customers.
Burberry flagship store on Regent Street

Burberry flagship store on Regent Street

Mobile

  • Use of smart mobile devices is currently increasing at 35% a year, so all websites need to be made mobile friendly using tools such as DudaMobile.com.

Retail is everywhere

Social

  • Customers trust social media far more than advertising, for instance 90% trust recommendations from their peers.
  • Pinterest has now grown to 50 million users and is a great way to show products and designs.
    Pinterest_logo
  • This leads to an approach where products promote the brand which is a reversal of traditional marketing where the brand promotes the product.
  • Cate’s advice is to create remarkable products and services which your customers will want to promote through their social media networks.
  • An example is shops which offer free wi-fi enabling customer to take pictures of items and share them instantly online.

Speed and efficiency

  • The market is changing rapidly and social media trends show you where it is going. So monitor it using tools such as Google Trends or Editd.com.
  • Get your customers to choose what they want from you using funding sites such as Kickstarter.com.
  • Customers are demanding instant gratification to match delivery digital goods, so use services such as Shutl.com to deliver within minutes instead of days.
    shutl_logo

Customer experience

  • You can’t compete on price with the likes of Amazon.com, so develop an enhanced customer experience instead.
  • Be remarkable – be unique to compete.
  • For example the record company Rough Trade opened a record store designed to be a browsable experience rather than focussed on sales.
  • Look Mum No Hands sells and repairs cycles, but is also a trendy café for two wheeled fans.

A tailored experience

A personalised experience

  • Amazon.com has increased sales by 40% through the use of its recommendations system.
  • Dressipi.com uses customer driven fashion retailing to get the lowest return rate in the industry of just 10%.
    dressipi_logo
  • Cate suggested trying out Facebook’s recommendations plugin

 

Spring Market 2103 competition winners

In January we ran a competition to find designers and makers who have used the Library to develop their ideas, the prize was a day selling their products at our at our Spring Market on Monday 4 March 2013.

The winners of the competition also get training in running a market stall, free business advice through the Business & IP Centre, as well as marketing support from the Library.

I bought some great presents at last years Spring Market so am really looking forward to this one.

Spring Market winners 2013

Ali Miller
Ali’s handmade and UK produced homewares have a traditional, nostalgic feel with a twist of British quirkiness. Her vintage inspired work has been featured in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes series as well as in notable publications such as Elle, Financial Times and The Telegraph. Ali has attended the Library’s ‘Make it, Sell it’ event and used our Business & IP Centre for research.
www.alimiller.co.uk

ali-miller


Anthropoid Clothing
Using her training as a scientific and natural history illustrator, Abigail Lingford creates bags, home wares, clothing and shoes inspired by her love of science. She was shortlisted for the BBC wildlife artist of the year in 2012 and has been featured in Time Out and The Guardian. She is inspired by our exhibitions, including ‘Out of This World’ on science fiction. She is also a user of our Business & IP Centre which helps her to commercialise her work.
www.anthropoidclothing.com

anthropoid-clothing


Boodi Blu
Upcycling has become increasingly popular in recent years. Boodi Blu’s Sarah Marafie has utilised this to create beautiful bespoke pieces of china and porcelain jewellery. The china she uses has been found buried or washed up on river banks, building an historical story to the jewellery. Sarah has used our Business & IP Centre to better understand intellectual property, copyright and to attend our ‘Knowing your Market’ workshop.
www.boodiblu.com

boodi-blu


Euan Cunningham
A professional artist, Euan has applied his ink and watercolour drawings of London landmarks to items such as greeting cards, mugs, t-shirts and prints. Euan was featured in the Sunday Times and his card designs are now sold in Fortnum and Mason. The Library’s building has influenced his work – watch out for the British Library print!
http://commissionahouseportrait.com/

euan-cunningham


Josie Shenoy Illustration
Josie is an illustrator and designer who is inspired by storytelling and has a passion for fusing hand-made and digital approaches. Josie’s success is growing; she has recently sold her work with Topshop and ASOS. Josie attended our ‘Make it, Sell it’ event and has enjoyed our exhibitions such as ‘Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire’.
http://josieshenoy.com

josie-shenoy


Lisa Edoff
Swedish graphic designer Lisa Edoff creates beautiful products inspired by folk tales, nature, pop culture and the surrounding environment. She was directly approached by notonthehighstreet.com to become a partner and her products have been recommended by The Independent Magazine. Lisa has used our Business & IP Centre to attend our ‘Beginner’s guide to IP’ workshop, get one-to-one business advice and to network with other makers.
www.lisaedoff.com

lisa-edoff


Lucy Alice Designs
Lucy Porter has been creating gifts, cards, jewellery and homewares since 2011, all of which are influenced by her love of illustration and the British outdoors. Lucy was Runner up in the New Design Britain Awards in January 2012 as well as an exhibitor at MADE 12. Lucy has used the Library’s Business & IP Centre to research intellectual property and to create her business plan as well as researching British wildlife in our wider collections.
www.lucyalicedesigns.co.uk

lucy alice designs


Motties
Environmentally friendly Motties, are cosy and stylish slippers handmade from recycled leather materials. Alexa Mottram, the designer and creator of Motties, donates £1 from every sale to the homeless charity Emmaus. Alexa has received notable press coverage from The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian. Her focus is on ethical fashion and she used the Library’s collection to research her MSc in Sustainable Architecture and Energy Studies, which has influenced her design work.
www.motties.co.uk

motties


Nette’ Leather Goods
Talented Californian turned Londoner, Johnette Taylor produces high quality leather goods such as purses, iPad cases and bicycle accessories. Her hand crafted accessories are made to last as well as being designed for functionality and attractiveness. In 2010, Johnette won a start up grant from the Prince’s Trust, and is currently a finalist in the Brand Amplify competition. She attended our creative and fashion meet-ups and training sessions on copyright and registered designs.
www.netteleathergoods.bigcartel.com

nette-leather-goods


The English Tee Shop
Alia Qadir designs and makes a range of luxurious printed t-shirts for women. Her emphasis on Englishness is central to the brand and can be seen through her use of the English language on the t-shirts as well as manufacturing her line solely in the UK. Alia has used the Library’s Business & IP Centre to do market research and has attended a trends workshop with our partner Insider Trends.
www.theenglishteeshop.com

the-english-tee-shop


Wonderhaus
Wonderhaus is an urban jewellery brand created by Julia Roy Williams. Julia gathers inspiration from urban environments, looking at architecture, music and other sub cultures and transforms this into beautiful jewellery made from materials such as bronze, leather, perspex and rubber. Julia’s jewellery has been recommended by The Sunday Times and Grazia as well as being seen on celebrities such as Erin O’Connor. Julia has been inspired by our exhibitions, including ‘Magnificent Maps’, our online gallery of images and our St Pancras flagship building.
www.wonderhaus.co.uk

wonderhaus

Your New Year’s resolution – a new website?

Arganic oil bottleFor many small business their website is the key element of their marketing strategy. So I am often surprised just how poor some of these are. One of the worst consisted of white text on a bright red website which meant I couldn’t look at it for more than a few seconds without hurting my eyes.

So as well as emphasising the importance of a blog in bringing in visitors, I always encourage people to get a professional looking website that matches their product or service.

Dana Elemara’s Arganic website is an excellent example of how to use high quality photos and illustrations along with consistent page design and text fonts.

Which brings me to Sarah Warsop the British Library’s jewellery designer in residence. My colleague Fran Taylor our Marketing Manager for Creative Industries has been helping Sarah to discover inspirational collection items in the library.

My job has been to help Sarah develop the business side of her creative activities.Her previous website was more focussed on her dance practice and her other creative projects. She wanted a site that would be easy to setup and maintain, and to better show her amazing jewellery designs. And of course I suggested she include a blog.

So I was really excited to see this week that she had taken the plunge and moved to a new site using SquareSpace. In my opinion the result is simply stunning. http://sarahwarsop.com/

Sarah Warsop new website

 

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2012

GEW_UK_logo

Tonight we hosted another of our Inspiring Entrepreneurs evenings as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). This time we had successful entrepreneurs from a diverse range of business sectors, from home wares to plumbing.

Once again our moderator and all round business expert was Matthew Rock,  Real Business Co-founder and Editor.

Charlie_MullinsFirst up was Charlie Mullins who said he wanted to be a plumber from nine years old. And from very early on was out on the road working with plumbers. He doesn’t believe in a magic formula for business success. He didn’t have any set plans when he started out, just hard work and dedication to be successful. The harder you work the luckier you get.

His is a family business with children and in-laws employed. Pimlico plumbers is now the largest independent plumbing company in the country, and the most recognised in the country. And they now employs 200 people, but the hardest thing is finding the right staff.

orla_kielySecond was Orla Kiely who knew by the age of twelve that she wanted to work in fashion. She applied to the one good art college in Dublin and there discovered textiles. She left Ireland in the late 1980’s as there wasn’t much going on there at the time. After four years working as a textile designer she went back to college at the Royal College of Arts which she considers essential for creatives.

orla_kiely_logoFrom there she started making a few hats and bags with fax orders from the UK to Monaco. On moving back to London to expand the business with her partner Dermott Rowan she began by freelancing for M&S and creating her designs at weekends. Their first office was their flat which became crammed with boxes. The move to prints was the way they were able to differentiate their brand, and since then they have grown organically.

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Sam_HargreavesNext was Sam Hargreaves who credits his sister with starting his business when she turned down an iPod he had bought for her as a present. At 16 Instead of spending £5,000 on a car as agreed with his parents, he bought 50 iPods from the USA and doubled his money overnight, but was grounded by his mum.

His Gadgets 4 Everyone now has eleven staff and a million pound turnover, and recognised as the number one gadget recycler. Sam puts his success down to a personal touch, following up with customers over the phone and making use of social media. He tests his ideas on his friends who are brutally honest and will throw any bad ideas back into his face.

Stephen_FearFinally Stephen Fear who grew up with virtually no education, and used to read the newspapers he was delivering. At fourteen years old he began using his local phone box to contact American suppliers with help from a friendly phone operator. He settled on trainee salesman as his job title after rejecting Chairman and President, in order to get in the door at big companies who wouldn’t see a teenage child.

The evening ended with a lengthy question and answer session:

How to grow your business?
Spend your profits on your business not on holidays or expensive presents for yourself. Find the right partnerships who can help your business grow. Partner with your customers and your suppliers and ultimately with your financier.

Mistakes
Mistakes are how you learn, and you come out a lot stronger. You always have to watch your own business regardless of who you employ to look after it for you. You have to keep focussed on your business at all times. Plan ahead. Example of a five year plan to choose between menswear and home-wear for Orla Kiely.

Funding
Finance means everything must have a margin (40% in the case of Orla Kiely). Stephen Fear covered the funding options of Crowdfunding, personal investors who will take a percentage of the business, BBA website for grants. Charlie reckons friends and family can be the best source of funding for startups.

Business plans
Don’t need to be too detailed, but must be a credible road map for your business.

New markets.
Sam is expanding into European markets through connections and other people’s successes. The UK DTI help exporters expanding into new markets.

All of the speakers stayed on well after the 8pm close for some serious networking in the bar of the conference centre. It was great to be able to chat to Orla Kiely, Stephen Fear and Charlie Mullins over a glass of wine and nibbles.