As the year draws to a close, it's heads down to make 2015 a success and to build on the highlights of 2014...the new look of No.1 Savile Row and a bespoke presence on the Gieves and Hawkes website, the Crafted exhibition at The Royal Academy, the GREAT Festival Istanbul and the start of our 10th year in business together.... to name but a few.
Something that continues to strike a chord, is just how many people want to learn a trade or craft either to pursue in their spare time, as a change of career or as further education. But there are three hurdles to overcome - Where can you learn? How do you pay for your training? Where can you get funding and advice?
To help you get started, we've listed a few courses, contacts and grants below which might be of help to those of you in the UK, interested in training as shoemakers or working in shoemaking.
Creative and Cultural Skills The CCS gives young people opportunities to work and learn in the creative industries via a network of industry and education supporters - the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural. Since 2008 over 3000 Creative Apprenticeships have been created in the UK.
Funding: Creative and Cultural Skills Creative Employment Programme. This £15 million Arts Council England fund, managed by Creative and Cultural Skills, has created nearly 2000 jobs for unemployed young people aged 16-24. With the fund extended to March 2016 now is the time to see how you could benefit.
QEST is a great source of support for training in specialist crafts like ours. It was set up by the Royal Warrant Holders Association in 1990 to support traditional and contemporary British crafts at an individual level and so retain the creative skills vitally needed by Royal Warrant holding companies. Since then, it has gone on to fund training for over 354 scholars, with around 93% of them still practising their craft professionally.
A QEST scholarship is how I was able to follow my passion for shoemaking and, in turn, how Alistair is now able to train with us. The deadline for the next round of funding is January 20th 2015, so if you are thinking about a career change, adding to your expertise or up-skilling then now is the time to take action.
There is only one place to learn traditional English hand sewn shoemaking and pattern making for bespoke shoes, that is with us at Carreducker. You can either enjoy the dynamics of learning in a small group (maximum seven students) on an intensive course - May in New York or London in August; let us know when you can take a 12-day break and we will run a one-to-one course for you; or if you already know something of shoemaking, then tell us what else you would like to learn and we will put together a Master Class tailored specifically to you.
So plenty of food for thought and something useful to be doing amongst all the festivities. We've sent the elves off for Christmas, so have a great break and we look forward to welcoming you back in the New Year. Until then, happy shoemaking!