At last the Easter break and Mr D is actually taking a break from making...and blogging...so today's post is from me, The Other One.
It's been an exciting week for us, kicking off with a great piece in the Financial Mail!
The article was about the fantastic Crafted programme which we are fortunate to be part of and apart from an age check (big thanks for that) was a great piece on a new initiative that is set to make craft a vital part of Britain's economic future - offering apprenticeships, as employers and as exporters of British luxury goods.
Since Crafted started last year, we have been attending regular workshops and receiving insightful mentoring from some exceptional business people. Workshops doesn't really do the process justice - when so far they have given us the rare opportunity to sit opposite Anda Rowland from Anderson & Sheppard or Bill Amberg and ask them direct questions about their businesses; to pick the brains of some of the UK's leading financial, branding and marketing people; and to receive legal advice from a leading fashion industry law firm!
The impact on us and our business is two-fold: -
Confidence: by putting all of the 'business' elements in place - from trademarks, supplier agreements and design registration to accounts, export and branding - it is giving us the freedom and confidence to concentrate on the things that matter most - our bespoke customers, designing and craftsmanship
Energy: we are both really excited about our bespoke business and how it might look by the end of the year..we are giving it our all!
I visited MICAM for the first time a few weeks back. It is at the Fiera Milano and what a modernist setting.
Purpose built, the approaches to the exhibition spaces feel more like a scene from a sci-fi film than industrial Italy...take note Olympia/Earls Court!!
Since we dipped out toes in at Pitti Uomo last year, we've been talking about going to MICAM to get a better understanding of the wholesale and retailing side of things. The competition is amazing, but so many companies are producing so many similar products and designs! So much of business must be down to relationships and being priced competitively I guess...
It was great to see a few Italian companies showing there who still do some hand work. Had my Italian stretch beyond ordering a glass of wine I would have loved to talk to them about their craft. The International section was also interesting and it was good to see labels like Emma Hope - who launched her business as I was leaving college - standing the test of time.
Strangest of all perhaps was the opportunity to meet with our Winkers manufacturer whilst I was there. All the way to Milan to meet someone whose business is only a 100 miles or so away from our London studio! Anyway, it was a good opportunity to catch up and to meet another of his customers who has a beautiful men's shoe shop, Brogue in Geneva.
The upshot of the impromptu meeting was that Mr Brogue loved the Winkers shoes and came to see them at Wolf & Badger over the weekend.
We've just sent him a selection of tweeds so fingers crossed, we will have our first European retailer on board shortly!
We also took a look at some new tweeds this week - Harris Tweed no less - and are very much hoping to have some new Winkers samples ready to tempt other independent retailers for the autumn. Harris Tweeds really know how to produce a beautiful, but functional cloth - after all it has been the cloth of choice to face the British weather for centuries. Its heritage and the fact that it is hand woven, is just what we are looking for.
Wait until you see the colours we have chosen!
Well, that's it from me - an Easter egg hunt and Kew Gardens await (in the rain).
Happy Easter... the Master will be back next week with more top shoemaking tips.