I’m very excited to introduce the next Boost mentees; Steph and Ellie aka Home Slice and their fabulous Chippy Plates. They were also mentored by Helen Johannessen of Yoyo Ceramics, and I spoke to all three of them to see how it’s going, ahead of the big launch on 10th October.
Steph and Ellie, what’s the best advice Helen has given you?
S&E: To start at the end with a product and research how much customers would pay for it, then work backwards and really try to lower your production costs as much as possible without compromising your design. This has really stuck with us and enabled us to produce something we love for a price we would realistically spend ourselves, which was something that always important to us.
Also, Helen is a lady with her fingers in many creative pies! We have learned a lot from how she works with Yoyo ceramics, sometimes selling designs rather than always producing them herself and being involved in lots of different projects to enable her to support herself. Cheesy as it sounds, we found this incredibly inspiring!
And what’s been the most valuable part of Boost so far?
S&E: The belief and encouragement from people who know what they’re talking about has been incredibly valuable to us, along with the constructive criticism! The Boost project has also given us an environment in which we can make mistakes and not be written off or instantly disregarded as not professional enough. It has given us the chance to learn from our mistakes, which hopefully we won’t be making again in the future!
Helen, what’s been the most rewarding part of Boost for you?
H: To see and get involved in the up and coming talent. The Southbank shop is a great platform for new and established designs, I really like this project.
What do you think has been the most valuable part for Steph and Ellie?
H: Hopefully to have first hand knowledge and experience of Yoyo Ceramics and how I have make decisions in business and regarding products when the reality of selling is involved.
Steph and Ellie – it’s not over yet! What do you hope will happen as a result of taking part?
S&E: The Southbank Centre shop is such an amazing platform for us. By being stocked there we hope to reach more people with our designs and spread the Home Slice love. We have tons of new ideas that we’re excited about and, through this Boost scheme, we have gained the skills, the means and the confidence to turn our new ideas into products we can sell all over London, the UK and the world… eventually!
Why did you want to be involved?
S&E: Why wouldn’t we?! Not only is it the chance to be stocked in the Southbank Centre shop, which is pretty ace in itself, but we get the help of mentors and experts along the way. It’s the perfect opportunity for any young designer with an idea. We were at a point where we needed to take the next step from making our own items at home to batch manufacturing, which is a scary step indeed. Having support from Boost made this a lot easier.
What about you, Helen – why did you want to be involved?
H: I provide a consultancy service within my studio practice already (which I charge for) and I like to volunteer and give something back. During the first few years of being in a creative business I had help and it know how invaluable it can be.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new designer, what would it be?
H: Follow your gut and not what others demand of you
What about you, Steph and Ellie, what single piece of advice would you give to a new designers in the position you were in before Boost?
S&E: There would be two…
1 – Don’t be overwhelmed by looking at other people’s work and don’t freak out over other people’s achievements (especially those who are younger than you!). It’s a waste of time. Instead, stick to what you know and keep creating, growing and making stuff!
2 – If it’s midnight and you feel tired and want to go to bed but know you need to finish one more design, just make a cup of tea, have a Jammy Dodger and do another hour. It will be worth it the next day. Besides you can live on six hours sleep a night no problem, all that eight hour stuff is nonsense.
Helen, have you learnt anything from Steph and Ellie in the process of mentoring them?
It’s nice to be reminded of the excitement and energy when starting out. It tends to morph a little as you grow and mature as a business, turning into another sort of energy required to keep it up!
What’s been the hardest part of the process?
The girls are very open and smart, so from where I’m sitting my process isn’t too hard! But maybe hoping all the timings of production work out for the launch. I feel the pressure for them – outsourcing processes involves others and their timings.
Steph & Ellie: What’s special about Homeslice?
S&E: We have a special sense of humour(!), a comforting humour that draws from references we’ve all grown up with or see everyday, but don’t necessarily pay attention to. We like to think that, in our own small way, we’re championing the unsung domestic heroes of Britain and creating homewares that inspire nostalgia and optimism and the occasional smirk. We are also made up of one product designer and one illustrator – this combination means that everything we’re creating is considered from both viewpoints which we hope makes for exciting products that are interesting in more ways than one!
How will your products make people’s lives better?
S&E: That’s a nice question! We hope they act as a comforting reminder of the little pleasures we encounter every day and not to take life too seriously.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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