I moved into cockpit arts just after the summer open studios in 2011. I had visited that summer’s open Studios to see how the other makers presented their work. My first thoughts were Eeeeeeeek! I am way out of my league here! At that stage Deco 22 was a clothing brand and I designed and made coats and jackets but they were made to order. As the time drew near for my first open studios event I had very few products to put on display and was not sure what to do about that. Luckily there was also opportunities to have one-to-one discussions about my business with a member of the support team. During my first session I expressed my concern of the lack of products I would have for the December open studios. At that point I was making fabric bags for myself but had never considered those bags to be something I could sell, even though people had often asked me where I got my bags from. When I casually mention this in my meeting and pointed to one of my bags, I forgot the lady’s name but she kind of gave me a look and then said well why don’t you sell those. To be honest I don’t really think anyone would buy the bags I made but it was better than having a blank table, so I made a few bags.
My first open studios I hid all my machines behind fabric. I had a few of the coat’s samples hanging up and some of the bags that I had made were on the table, with bolts of potential fabrics for future commissions. I was really surprised that I sold some of my bags and the interest people had in my bags after that Deco 22 turned into coats jackets and bags business for quite a while.
For the first couple of years generally open studios was an opportunity to test some of my ideas and products. I noticed I was having more success with the accessories rather than my garments as people seemed less willing to pay the higher price bracket for made-to-measure commissioned coats and jackets. As my accessories products evolved so did my presentation of my work at open studios. I found it quite interesting a couple years down the line, when people would comment that this was the first time they had seen me despite the fact I have been there for years!
I have learned a lot about how to present my work from participating in the twice-yearly open studios and I am glad I photographed most of my displays so that I can now look back at how my presentation has evolved. I no longer try to hide all my machines and equipment as this is an “open studios” event and I realised the fact that I make my products in my studio is part of my craft-based businesses story.
As always for a creative person my presentation will continue to evolve as my work is always a work in progress.
The next Cockpit Arts open studios in Deptford will be 3rd-5th December. Fri 12-8pm Sat & Sun 12-6pm Tickets £6 online- Click here to book £8 on the door £4 concessions