Archive: June 2015

A Look Behind the Scenes of Vevian Shoes London

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with Vevian Shoes London.

For this week’s ‘Inspiring Independents’ interview we chatted to Vivienne Lopez, founder of Vevian Shoes London. Their handmade collection of luxury footwear for kids is causing a storm and we couldn’t wait to take a look behind the scenes of what inspires this amazing indie.

What inspired you to start Vevian? When did you begin?

After having my daughter Maria I noticed the lack of choices in baby shoes. I had made my daughter a beautiful pair of hand-crafted leather shoes for her first birthday party and requests from friends followed, and so Vevian was born. I began developing shoes in 2008, and launched Vevian in 2009.

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

I am involved in the making of each shoe from beginning to end and every pair has a journey with me, the designer. The shoes are a memento of a child’s first steps and tumbles, making them very personal, and with the beautiful wooden boxes lined with different fabrics, Vevian shoes create an ideal keepsake item worthy of being treasured forever.

What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

I have a few roles! When running your own business you tend to perform all the roles, especially in the first few years. This makes you more knowledgeable when working with people. My favourite part of my job is shopping for leather because that is when the ideas for new designs start coming to me and I can’t wait to start cutting and creating.

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

The accountant, who is my husband. He has been a great support to me. I have a team in a factory in East London who help me make the shoes and they have been so helpful with their years of knowledge in the business.

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at Vevian?

I do agree because we all work so hard and when someone buys a product or service from us, we are so grateful that we go the extra mile for each and every one of them. At Vevian, I ensure this happens by being the last person to handle the shoes before they are sent to our customer.

Baby London Magazine recently featured your Maria patent shoes as a Best of British product fit for the new royal baby. How did it feel to be included in the pick?

For both Prince George and the upcoming Royal Baby I have had many great features and I am very grateful for the recognition. I feel there is a spotlight on British made children’s products because of the new Royal family which has been great for my business.

You currently specialise in designer children’s shoes. What inspires you about this area of design? Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend your collection?

My philosophy is ‘designed to be treasured forever’ and I want to be a part of goods that are worthy of being collected and treasured, like a piece of jewellery. Many children’s gifts today are disposable and don’t stand the test of time. I love the idea of keeping a few items as a memory of our earlier years.

Your shoes combine cute styles and stylish materials. What can you tell us about the process of creating these designs?

When I find leathers from local suppliers that are suitable for children’s shoes, I take it home and start designing a style that works with the leather and ensure its fastening is practical and safe for children. For this reason I am limited in what I can do, but through great colours and trims I hope to make them both fun and stylish for those precious little feet!

Your collection shows great attention to detail and quality. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved?

As the making is all done locally and I am involved every step of the way, I can ensure the shoes meet my high standards, and when packing a pair of shoes in their wooden boxes, I always think “Would I be happy to receive this pair?” and when the answer is “Yes”, they are sent with full confidence that my customer will be happy.

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

Vevian shoes are not mass-produced and made ethically. The unique designs and high-end quality, combined with the beautiful wooden box to keep them in, make Vevian shoes an ideal gift worthy of being stored and treasured forever. Vevian also offers engraving on the wooden boxes to personalise the shoes for a special someone.

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

There are a plethora of reasons why people should support independent businesses, with considerations to ethics, creating a unique character to an area which attracts people, and preserving economic diversity. I also think as consumers we all should buy less and when we do buy, it should be something that has been well-made and made with love.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

Urban Merino because my children grew up wearing their pieces and they far exceeded my expectations in quality and durability!

Thank You Vivienne!

You’ve read the interview, now check out the indie. Visit the Vevian website.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 8/06/15
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A Look Behind the Scenes of CardNest

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with CardNest.

For this week’s ‘Inspiring Independents‘ interview we caught up with David Robinson Co-founder and Creative Director at CardNest.

A new and exciting way to stay on top of all your card-giving occasions CardNest offers customers a pack of three greetings cards, sent in the post each month.

Their unique collection of cards are exclusively designed for CardNest by independent artists and illustrators all over the world.

A designer himself, David does a great job of curating a unique and diverse collection and we couldn’t wait to get a sneak peek behind the scenes of inspiring indie business.

What inspired you to start CardNest? When did you begin?

The concept behind CardNest resulted from the blend of two ideas from myself and co-founder Oli Gosling, originating in 2012. Living in the creative-rich city of Bristol in the UK and working as a designer, I struggled to find unique and independently designed greetings cards. Oli on the other hand found himself struggling to keep on top of friends and family’s birthdays, always having to dash out last minute to pick up a ‘so so’ card and catch the last post. It was at that point that a light bulb lit up in both of us. We wanted to create a subscription service where members would receive a monthly ‘top up’ of three greetings cards in the post, all designed exclusively by the world’s most exciting artists and illustrators. From 2012 to launching in September 2014, we worked hard to fine tune the service and prepare the collection!

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

We pride ourselves on being an independent that supports other independents too. Working solely with individual artists not only gives us the opportunity to create a diverse range, but also allows us to promote their talents. I also feel that it’s our attention to detail that sets us apart. We are meticulous about even the smallest of decisions to ensure we deliver a product and service that is high quality, beautiful and most importantly, useful to the subscriber.

What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

As well as co-founding the business, I am also the Creative Director. I take the lead on commissioning and curating the collection. Everything from receiving new artwork, seeing the designs in print to hearing positive feedback from our subscribers makes the job so exciting and rewarding!

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

The best things come in small packages! Oli and I head up the CardNest team. As well as acting as Managing Director, Oli is our resident developer, making sure that all things technical run smoothly! We’re also joined by David Nichols, our marketing and PR pro who manages the brand and takes the lead in all of our communications. We’re a close-knit and hard working team!

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at CardNest?

We couldn’t agree more! The designs we commission are created exclusively for us and our members. They can’t be found anywhere else! We work hard to create a range that’s both unique and useful at the same time. Each monthly collection is essentially ‘limited edition’. Once that month has passed, the cards are no longer available and subscribers don’t receive the same cards twice. We are looking into ways that we can give our subscribers the opportunity to order from our back catalogue, but there’s something quite exciting with the ‘once they’re gone, they’re gone!’ element. When it comes to printing, we use a gorgeous 324gsm uncoated stock that looks beautiful and also lovely to write on. We don’t compromise on quality. Everything from the premium envelopes that accompany the cards to the sturdy custom-made packaging that the cards are sent out in are carefully considered.

You’ve just completed your ninth month of the subscription card packages. How are you finding things? What has been the reaction from your customers?

It may sound cliché but I can’t believe how fast the time has gone! We’re now curating the collections for the summer months. The positive response from our subscribers has been overwhelming and it’s incredibly humbling and rewarding to hear that the love for card sending is still very much alive! We carried out our first subscriber survey in January this year; we were flattered not only by the wonderful compliments, but also the creative suggestions and ideas for the future. We really want our subscribers to have their say and shape what the CardNest service will look like – it’s so valuable to us.

You currently specialise in greeting cards? What inspires you about this area of design? Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend your collection?

There’s a great amount of sentiment that goes with sending and receiving a handwritten card, whether it’s for a birthday, thank you or a heartfelt ‘hello’ in the post. Many of the cards have a deeper meaning to them too. Take Babeth Lafon’s ‘The Time We Spent’ for example. Babeth drew inspiration from the things that reminded her of the time she spent with her best friend. It was lovely to be able to pass this on to our subscribers and inspire them to send on the same sentiment to someone special. It’s probably a little early to define the exact path we’ll take, but we have lots of exciting ideas brewing!

Your subscription packages feature some fabulous card designs. How do you choose which cards to send each month?

We commission independent artists from all over the world to create a unique and diverse range. Every artist has their own style. When we approach an artist, we’re quite open with the brief, because we love their work so we want them to put their own stamp on it. When it comes to curating each monthly collection, we think carefully about the designs that will go well together as well as the special occasions coming up. It’s really not a case of closing our eyes and picking at random! We run a lot of fun campaigns around a lot of the cards to inspire and engage our subscribers, so it makes every collection really special.

We LOVE receiving greeting cards ‘just because’ but what would you say to encourage a person that wasn’t convinced by the idea?

Unless it’s our birthday, we’ve come to expect our post to consist of bills and junk mail, so it’s been great to hear so many people engage with our mission to bring the fun and excitement back into ‘snail mail’. Speaking from experience, it’s just as lovely to surprise someone with some unexpected post as it is receiving it. Plus, there’s something rather quite endearing about not relying on ‘auto-correct’ and seeing a mistake crossed out. So, I’d encourage anyone to get back in touch with handwriting!

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

As well as delivering beautiful, exclusive and unique cards to our subscribers, we’re also very mission-led. Social media and technology have provided us with a quick and convenient way to keep in touch with loved ones, but it can often feel quite rushed and something to tick off the list. We want to inspire our subscribers to take their time nurturing their relationships through our bright and cheery designs!

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen more people heading back to the high street to buy local (ourselves included!), even going out of their way to pick up bits and pieces from a variety of shops. I think this is the same when it comes to online shopping too. People want to feel connected to a brand, their service and offering and it’s independent retailers like us that have this in leaps and bounds. Consumers are getting frustrated with the lack of customer service that larger corporates bring and are switching their shopping habits to support smaller businesses.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

Bailey’s Home and Garden, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, UK

From the moment you pull up to Bailey’s large converted barn buildings sitting on the border between England and Wales you know you’re in for a treat. It’s filled with an eclectic range of beautifully simplistic homeware. If you’re searching for something truly unique then this place is hard to beat.

Thank you David!

You’ve read the interview, now it’s time to see the indie for yourself. Check out the CardNest website now.

Posted by Charlotte 10:00 1/06/15
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