Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Ecca Case Study: Just For The Halibut Interview!

just for the halibut

Fresh from landing the Best Stand Award at our inaugural Creative Fair ECCA reeled in Louise Salmon for a quick catch up to find out more about her creative enterprise Just For The Halibut.

You spent three years working in New York after graduating from LCF in 2005. What were you doing out there and how did that opportunity come about?

I was very lucky to get an internship as a print designer over there and promptly fell in love with the city. I had an amazing time working as a print designer for US high street fashion creating placement and all over prints for mens and womenswear. I had only graduated 3 months earlier when the opportunity arrived so I traded in my round the world ticket which had been my 21st birthday present and bought a flight to NYC as I knew it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up!

I'm sure there's a lot of UAL students that would jump at the chance of working in the Big Apple. Do you have any advice for those looking to work out there?

Yes, if you fancy it definitely go for it. After a friend got an internship for her placement year I was really inspired to get one myself. I started researching all the textile and print studios in New York, contacted trade shows and cold called designers in America to see if they were looking for interns. I was full of enthusiasm and had a fresh portfolio full of photos from graduate fashion week and nothing to loose. I was really lucky to have someone to go with as it can be daunting moving to a city abroad. The visa process in America can be tough but there are other countries that offer a one year working visa which is perfect if you want to see the world and forward your career at the same time.

How did your textiles business 'Just for the Halibut' first start?

I wanted to start my own business for a while but it wasn't until I went freelance and started working with other designers that I felt it was the right moment to start. I had been inspired by seeing others working on their own creations and building their businesses and so started making my own stuff. I adore screen printing and it was really great to get into the studio and print some of my original designs.

What inspired the move from working for someone else to setting up your own business and going freelance?

It was a tough decision to go freelance but it gave me the freedom to explore different areas of fashion. I still work as a print designer for the studio in America but it now means I have time to do my own prints. I'm also currently working with a designer here in London, Mrs Jones. She is a stylist and designer and creator of the iconic white "Kylie" jumpsuit. I love working with her as it gives me the opportunity to be involved in video and photoshoots. I am currently working on some prints for her new collection.

Did you seek out any funding or advice when going about setting up your business?

No, Just For The Halibut started off very small and grew gradually. I made all the decisions as I went along.I didn't want any financial strain so didn't get a loan though I have sought advice on the business side of things. As a designer I have really enjoyed learning how to run a business as I have spent so long focusing on the creative aspects.

How do you find the time to juggle work whilst making the products you sell?

Just For The Halibut is a labour of love so I can often be found doing things in the evening and weekends. I'm lucky to be surrounded by other creative people who are always working on little projects themselves so there is always someone in the studio to work alongside to keep me company. I hope to devote more time to it as the business grows and I'm lucky enough to be able to make a living out of doing something I love.

There's been a real resurgence in craft and the hand-made of late across all aspects of art and design. Do you think it is a passing trend or something that's here to stay?

Here to stay I hope! I'm such a fan of going to markets and craft fairs and seeing independent designers and their wares. It gives you a great idea of just how many people are out there doing their thing. Notonthehighstreet.com and etsy.com have done amazing things to boost independent designers in giving them a platform to sell without even having to leave their house.

What's the most challenging aspect of doing what you do?

Juggling different task and being organized has been my biggest nemesis so far. Running a business requires lots of organization, being on top of things and planning in advance. As a messy designer this has been a challenge to overcome. I'm still messy but I plan my mess in advance now!

As well as at craft fairs your products are also available online at Etsy.com. What has been your experience selling you products this way?

Etsy is a really good platform for designers to showcase their products to the world and to see what else is out there. My most rewarding experience of selling so far has been doing a stall. People are so interested in who you are and what you do that you get to have a chin wag and wrap up your products when they sell. It's like you get to send them off to a good home after nurturing them and seeing them grow!

Part of your prize for winning the Best Stall award is a table at the East London Design Show next year. No doubt you'll have yet more exciting things on sale by then, how do you do about developing new ideas?

I'm so excited to be part of the East London Design Show next year. I went along this year and there is such as colourful array of products. I totally inspired and ended up doing quite a bit of my Christmas shopping there. I'll definitely be working on some new products before then... something a bit christmassy for all my fish fans.

Craft fairs are often busy, bustling affairs. How do you make sure you stand out from the crowd?

Arrive first and make sure you get the best table! I think its best to focus on the visual impact of the stand. Make the products on display clear to the customer and accessible. People also like the interactive element of stalls so don't be afraid of just having a chat and don't worry about the hard sell so much. I like to keep a strong colour theme throughout the stall and little touches like some decoration and a banner look great.

Craft fairs selling handmade produces from the capital's creative community are springing up all over London. What's the best way to find out when the next one is happening?

I write my own blog and follow many other designer's blogs. It's a great way of advertising an event, sharing funny things, merriments and generally chatting about stuff that interests you. Also Timeout is great if you don't mind scouring through all the listing and join as many mailing list if you can, you never know what events will appear in your inbox.

No comments:

Post a Comment