This year we wanted to visit some of the many small creative businesses that make up notonthehighstreet.com in a bid to learn more about them and lend a hand during their busiest time of the year. We were keen to see first-hand what it takes to get an order made, processed and dispatched. The businesses who sell with us don’t necessarily have a large infrastructure to support them so we became Christmas elves for the day. Here are some of the people we visited…
Lucy Phillps visited Jo Jenner from 3 Blonde Bears in Sussex. In one day, Lucy helped pack over 150 orders (and ate amazing homemade soup!).
She also visited husband and wife team Vicki Smith, founder of sgt.smith and Jim Lockwood, founder of layereight. Lucy spent the day folding orders for Humorous Iconic T Shirts and Personalised Dinosaur T Shirts, packing them up for delivery and drinking copious amounts of tea in between. ‘It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the work that went in to it, but I didn’t fully realise the attention to detail required for each order and the sheer volume of orders they deal with each day with such a small team.’
Lucy Wood spent the day working for Hersey & Son Silversmiths. They produce high-quality sterling silver tableware, gifts and jewellery, using traditional silver spinning techniques. The skills required take around five years to perfect – so sadly she wasn’t able to help with the actual making of any items but packaged up the orders and watched intently as they skilfully spun the silver and hammered, engraved and polished each item with complete dedication.
Our production manager Jenny went out to visit the very talented Designer-Maker Laura Long. She works from Cockpit Arts Studio – a shared studio space in Holborn – that supports several of our sellers. Jenny was trusted to have a go at some stitch work and spent the day sewing tiny felt carrots contained within Laura’s Personalised Bunny in a Box. You can see Jenny’s handiwork above. Not bad!
Jo visited Gina Axell, founder of rosiebull designs. When Jo arrived, Gina and her daughter (who works there on her days off) were already busy at the sewing machines, fulfilling order after order for the Personalised Glasses Case. Jo helped cut out the glasses pattern and sewed buttons on to each case. ‘There are so many stages involved in making the cases and it’s so labour intensive, but it was really fun and we had a good laugh.’
Anna visited Noollibird who makes gorgeous stamps (that we’ve been decorating our gifts and cards with in the office) and works from her kitchen table in Brighton. She makes all the stamps herself and mounts them on wooden blocks which are cut for her in the UK (and then stored in her study). Anna packed and dispatched some orders during her visit and was even let loose to assemble a few stamps.
Liana paid a visit to Designer-Maker Sarah J Miller whose slogan ceramics and textiles are much loved… (the ‘I Am Not Awake’ Mug is a Monday morning staple). Founder Sarah works in a shared studio space and Liana was put in charge of the packaging and the printing of dispatch notes and gift notes, which gave Sarah some much-needed time to make some of her ceramics. Liana said of her day, ‘It was really, really fascinating, if not a little exhausting. It’s also really made me appreciate how much hard work our sellers put into getting Christmas orders out.’
Harriet visited Sally Beerworth who runs the Joy of Ex Foundation; set up to assist people with their legal and counselling bills following a divorce. ’This is the shot I took after a hard day’s work. There were so many orders for her Joy Tote Bag, I was like a real elf and lugged post bags on my back to the post office – but I had an amazing day!’