Wow! I can’t believe a whole year has gone past since I was awarded a place on the Next Steps Programme put together by Fife Cultural Trust, Fife Council, Crative Scotland and Fife Contemporary Art & Craft. It’s been an amazing year full of hard work and lots of changes and developments for Milomade.
I apologise for not blogging much about it during the year itself, but it was a very intense period of time for me. One of the main tasks I wanted to accomplish was to revamp my website with a totally new look, a more shop based outlook with better text and photography. This took far longer than expected but I got a lot of help and support along the way and also was able to hire a copywriter to help me get my copy in order. It was an amzing experience, totally exhausting, but I’m really happy with the results and I’ve completed the first Design Trust Challenge and got my site ready for Christmas!
The Next Steps Programme is for Fife based craft and visual artists and is a programme that runs for up to 12 months and is tailored to the individual selected and includes 1-1 mentoring. The Next Steps Programme also provides funding up to the value of £6000 that could be put towards research/travel, development of skills, training, creation of new work and much more.
My main goal for the year was to bring Milomade out of the shadows it’s been lurking in for too long and work towards doing my first trade show. If I want to make a go of Milomade I feel I need to move into the wholesale/retail arena and with the grant I’ve been able to book a stand at the Brtitsh Craft Trade Fair (BCTF) in Harrogate in April 2015. The grant has covered the cost of the stand, catalogue inclusion, display furniture and fittings, vinyl text banner, my accomodation to name but a few things.
The grant has also funding new work as well as the development, rebranding, repackaging and rethinking of existing work to better suit the retail market. I’ve been able to do a lot of online courses in marketing, selling to shops as well as tap into a lot of online mentoring and resources.
I’ve been able to buy new tools and equipment that have helped progress my work and my skills as well as speed up my processes. I’ve invested in Eco Silver and stocked up on sheet and wire supplies.
Another opportunity I was able to fund with my grant was a set of classes at Silver Hub Studios in Leith, Edinburgh under the tutorage of professional jeweller Lisa Arnott. The classes were small with tons of one to one tuition and here I learnt how to make hinges and clasps specific for lockets – something I’ve been wanting to learn and experiment with for a long time. It was an amazing experience and I relished my three hour slot of selfishness and indulgence every week. It was so lovely to have breathing space and not have to rush what I was working on. Unfortunately, down to a shoulder injury I had to cut my classes short as I wasn’t able to drive through to Edinburgh for a while, but I’m hoping I can fund a few more lessons myself in the future as it was so lovely to be working alongside other people, sharing ideas and banter and I had a lot of fun every week. I will blog more about what I learnt and made at Silver Hub Studios soon.
I’ve posted a lot about what I’ve been up to on my Facebook page while my site was down for refurbishment so a lot of you already know what I’ve been up to but not in much detail. So I hope to write a few more posts this month to recap my Next Steps experience and show you what a years worth of mentoring and financial support can do for a business like mine.
It’s a been an amazing year with lots of highs and lows, hard work, stress as well as joy and I really feel I’ve achieved a lot. I’m still working towards my main goal – that being BCTF next year – and I will be posting regular from now until then of how I’m getting on with that.