Wednesday, 9 June 2010

MEET: Beverly Lay

This week we meet someone a little different, based in London, Beverly from All Things Original is the founder of a fabulous online boutique showcasing UK designer makers.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how your business got started?
I’m always doing something crafty, sewing, quilting, making jewellery, experimenting with my Gocco or doing a bit of cross stitch for my daughter.

After a degree in Graphic Design, I started a career in advertising but soon realised after only a couple of years of selling my soul that it wasn’t for me. At around the same time, I was experimenting with jewellery making in my spare time and, one summer, decided to sell what I had made.

A local shop owner who saw what I was selling approached me and asked if she could order some of my jewellery to sell in her boutique. She proceeded to order 50 items for her shop and, with a new-found confidence, I was soon selling my wares to different shops around the country as well as at both Greenwich market and the Upmarket on Brick Lane.

It was through doing this – and particularly through selling at the markets - that I met so many fabulous other designer makers. It really gave me a brilliant insight into what was out there in terms of UK craft and design.

I knew that what was on display was popular but felt that beyond the boutique shops and market stalls in London it was actually quite difficult for the average person to find all the wonderful bits and pieces being made by UK designers.

So, after to speaking to lots of my friends and colleagues about the idea for an online shop, I resolved one cold winter’s morning over a cup of tea to set up

The next few months involved lots of planning and admin but the site was finally ready in November 2007 and the rest, as they say, is history!

The only downside to is that now I don’t get to make my jewellery so much anymore, but I still try to keep creative - my latest passion is quilting!

What is the ethos behind All Things Original?
Starting out as a small designer maker myself, I know just how much hard work it takes to make a successful business out of making and selling creative goods. That’s why from the very beginning of All Things Original I wanted to ensure I was adding to the work of designer makers rather than just taking from it.

All Things Original is not a big corporate enterprise – and I will never let it become one! I like to keep in close touch with my sellers, regularly checking in with them to make sure that they are getting the most out of the site and promoting their work in relevant press wherever I can.

Describe your typical working day.I really do not have a typical working day. Mornings are usually chaos trying to get my daughter off to nursery and my husband out the door to work but once the chaos is over I make myself a coffee and start to go through my emails.

I answer customer queries, print out yesterdays orders, do a little social networking, upload any new bits and pieces and deal with any press requests that may have come in - generally try to get on and tackle my ever-growing to do list!

Unfortunately there’s a lot of admin associated with running a site with almost 60 designers. However, I spend a lot of time browsing blogs and looking for new designers and new trends. Sometimes a fun day may include visiting trade or craft fairs just to see what’s out there.

Then it’s back to being a mum and wife for a while - baby’s tea time, bath, bottle, bed time and dinner – before finishing off any bits and pieces that I didn’t have time to get done in the day.

What do you love most about what you do, and what is the most difficult?
LOVE – discovering new designers that I think are very special and just don’t know it yet!

DIFFICULT – Managing my time between being a mum and a businesswoman and knowing when to stop - there is always something to do.

What are your future plans for All Things Original?
I’m working hard on improving the functionality and backend of the site at the moment and trying to make the shopping experience easier for my customers. These new features will hopefully be up and running by the end of the year.

We’re also looking at creating a bespoke service that will give people the chance to order specific pieces based on the designs already on the site.

Long-term, I want to build up the community aspect of the site for my sellers, giving them a chance to interact with each other to share ideas and also with sellers to resolve queries more efficiently.

And if I’m daydreaming, I think about the idea of setting up a physical All Things Original shop to showcase some of the best work on my site - but we’ll have to have a very good 2010 before I can think seriously about that!

What styles and trends have caught your eye recently?
Anything bold and beautiful works for me right now…the new statement necklaces by Gossimarwings are a great example.

2 comments: said...

Great post I'd heard of 'All Things Original' before but I never knew what it was really all about. One of the Etsy UK folk lazygiraffe has a shop there.

Interesting to hear from the person behind the site!

Angela said...

Well done Belinda, interesting blog.