Friday, 20 August 2010

News Update...

A week ago I came across this petition from the folks at UK Handmade. It was a call out to the famous Mary Portas a.k.a Mary Queen of Shops tv show from the BBC.

Mary Portas, Handmade Needs You!

An Open letter to Mary Portas of UK TV Fame: Mary Queen of Shops
Mary, the handmade fashion and accessories industry needs you!
We bring you your biggest challenge yet: Bigger than ‘Under the Moon’, bigger even than ‘Homeboy’.....we bring you the handmade fashion and accessories industry!
With the huge resurgence of handmade over the past few years, many people have rediscovered the joy of hand-making and small handmade businesses have been springing up throughout the UK, resulting in a hidden handmade economy. Unfortunately, much of the mainstream public are still unaware of its existence or the fact that there are abundant opportunities to acquire bespoke, unique, quality hand-crafted goods for high street competitive prices.
Websites such as UK Handmade and Handmade and Fabulous seek to address this by bringing handmade to the fore, providing the general public with a portal through which they can discover handmade alternatives to high street products.
We, the designers and makers of handmade goods, work diligently to make and market our products, but we are on the cusp of a new era and we need your guidance to fully exploit the opportunities that await. We need to truly show the mainstream public that handmade is a viable, affordable choice. This means taking handmade into the high street and you, Mary Portas, are the perfect person to help us do that.
Mary we need your help!
UK Handmade team & Handmade and Fabulous! team

4 Days ago Mary replied......

An Open Letter to the UK Handmade Industry

Written by maryqueenofshops To the UK handmade fashion and accessories industry,

My office receives hundreds of letters, phone calls and e-mails every week from enterprises of all shapes and sizes asking for my advice.  Between running my own business, writing columns, lecturing, filming my shows and working with Save the Children, as well as looking after my two children, I am not usually in a position to help.  I am responding to you because your campaign to get my attention was so well co-ordinated, and because I genuinely love the concept of handmade goods.  So here’s my advice to you.  Honest and direct.

If you want to compete with the big boys, you need to step up your game and act like sophisticated retailers who just happen to sell handmade products:

1.    If you’re selling online, look at Topshop, Asos and Liberty – these are your competition for share of £'s spent.  Then look at Etsy.  Spot the difference.

2.    PR – if you’ve got a product that deserves space in magazines, you’ll get it.  Write a list of the ten magazines you want to appear in.  Then call them.  But add your point of difference. Tell the press why you are unique.

3.    Think about product adjacencies on your sites.  Yours are all over the place.  I noticed an absolutely gorgeous necklace that was placed next to an odd glass painted tile – what is that saying about the necklace?  Segment the range to lifestyle and end use.

4.    Pricing – you say in your letter that you’d like handmade to be a “viable, affordable choice”.  If I am honest, at first sight some of the pricing seems quite premium.  I find £25 for three egg cosys a bit steep.  However if under the product there was a beautiful design, fabric and source story which I as a customer can pass onto my friends, then I might not shirk at that cost. Remember Status Stories are the new Status Symbols replacing logos, brands and general bling.

I love handmade products and I think they have a real place in the future of retail, but I want handmade in a modern, sexy environment, not handmade in a Church hall.  Take a trip to Liberty, they sell handmade products in a premium, fabulous environment and make the perfect case study for you.

I’m sorry if I’ve been a bit tough, but you wanted my honest opinion and there it is.  I hope you feel this helps.

Good Luck. I shall follow your progress!


When I read Mary's response I realised, it is exactly what I have been talking to people about for the past 4 months. This is what im working toward. Bringing quality handmade goods to the high street. Presenting and marketing them with style and professionalism, and also selling them at affordable prices.
Often when people hear the word "handmade" they immediately associated with "homemade". The difference is the levels of skill and quality.
Artisans design their products with care and you can literally see the time and love that goes into the manufacture. I use this blog to highlight the wonderful work that is being done and to bring creatives together so we can present to the world in one strong voice that we are here and what we make is fantastic!

so please buy it

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