South East Creatives – Success Stories

Posted on 11/01/2021

South East Creatives is a business development programme supporting growing creative practices working in Essex, East Sussex or Kent. The programme is for creative, cultural or digital businesses looking to cultivate their knowledge and broaden their professional network.

Towner is delighted to be one of two Cultural Hubs in East Sussex alongside De La Warr Pavilion.

There are a number of offers that creative businesses can benefit from through this programme, including Workshops & Mentoring and Grants. In addition, South East Creatives have a developing Local Offer aimed at helping the creative economy.

We spoke to some local creative businesses who have benefited from South East Creatives’ workshops and grants. You can find out more about how South East Creatives could support your creative, cultural or digital business and fill out an eligibility form here.

Studio Imeus
www.studioimeus.co.uk

We spoke to Anthony Peters from Studio Imeus, a boutique design studio nestled along the coast from Brighton who work on art direction, general design, branding, logo design and creative consultancy.

“I took part in South East Creatives’ Business Planning for Creative Business training. The training allowed for me to feel much more confident moving forward as a limited company with my design business and helped me to understand the financial planning process much more thoroughly than I had before.

The support from South East Creatives has helped Studio Imeus to forge ahead with our plans and think carefully about the infrastructure we need to put in place to develop.

In 2021 I intend to find a studio space and to employ my first junior designer.”

Rye&Moor
www.ryeandmoor.co.uk

Rye&Moor design, make and sell textiles, homewares and furniture featuring their own contemporary graphic designs. Their founding principle is to deliver a collection of remarkable items made for modern living. Simply Designed. Thoughtfully Made.

“We received 33% match funding through South East Creatives to participate at ‘Top Drawer’ in January 2020, the biggest Home & Gift Trade Show in the UK – an event we’d been present at in 2019 as part of Spotted ‘New Designers to Watch’. The funding allowed us to physically produce our stand, book the space and produce our sales & marketing materials to a standard and scale that made commercial not just creative sense. 

The show itself was a huge opportunity to meet new stockists and understand interests (and barriers) to our offering, assess the market space and drive credibility and awareness for our brand.  We met face to face with many of our stockists, had some meaningful conversations with some bigger organisations about scaled production, met with some new suppliers and were able to spend time ‘on’ our business together rather than ‘in’ the business designing, creating and making.

2020 then took an unexpected twist and March saw the doors close for all the independents, galleries and museums with whom we were stocked, both existing & new. Whilst some stockists continued to purchase for their online offerings, orders were smaller, more cautious, so we took some time to refocus the business and sell direct to consumers. We used this time to work up a new product offering (the Roddy Birch Footstool) and did some online courses and some exploratory product process work.  We now have a couple of collaborations in the wings working with other local creatives to create conversation, engagement and hopefully some joy together. 

The South East Creatives funding gave us the opportunity to be present, to observe, to learn and to sell via the event, which has informed the way we have worked these past 12 months, and will continue to do so into the next 12 months and beyond.

Our plan is to continue selling direct to consumer alongside wholesale when (hopefully) the world becomes ‘normal’ again in 2021. Following conversations with stand visitors and competitor review at the trade show, we’ve also reconfigured the construction and price points on specific items in our core collection, which will inform how we push our wholesale in 2021.

The key things we’ve learnt from this project are to be both ambitious & realistic, know your numbers, keep your receipts and ask lots of questions. Write flexibility into your bid applications, we had intended to use some of the funding to attend London Design Fair but sadly when was cancelled, due to Covid, we were unable to move the apportioned funding monies to an alternative business need.

We’d recommend that other creatives and creative businesses take a look at what South East Creatives can offer them. The funding has the dual purpose of making sure you have applied rigour to your plans (as you will need to fund the remaining 66%) but allows some breathing space in which to be prospective. It’s definitely worth seeking funding for a project that benefits/informs lots of areas of your creative business & allows you to take advantage of a bigger opportunity.”

Eastbourne Studio Pottery
www.eastbournestudiopottery.com

Eastbourne Studio Pottery CIC is a fully accessible ceramics facility run co-operatively by four directors.  Together with an open access membership scheme they run fee-paying classes and project development sessions as well as workshops. 

“Our South East Creatives grant was used to furnish and equip expansion into our second studio.

It meant that we were able to run two activities in tandem and grow our community of makers by providing more space for open access hire and bespoke workshops for local organisations. The support from South East Creatives has helped us forge ahead with our plans and encouraged us to think carefully about the infrastructure we needed to put in place in order to develop.

Now we are developing an artist in residence scheme for artists, designers and craftspeople who would like to experiment with clay as part of their practice. We will be starting a training scheme for young people who would like to explore working with clay and develop their understanding of how to run a clay studio. We are continuing to develop the offer for the local community and will be trailing some new classes, including one specifically designed for teenagers. We are hopeful that we can get back on the road again in 2021 and set up the pottery at festivals and local events to help diversify our audience. 

We’d recommend that fellow creatives apply for grants from South East Creatives as the process really helped us to clarify the purpose and aims of our business.”

Nicola Furner Architects
www.nicolafurnerarchitects.co.uk

Working on residential and commercial projects, Nicola Furner Architects use empathy, insight and original design to create more from less. They are specialists in translating clients’ ideas, requirements and resources into innovative, beautiful and affordable designs. Nicola is a passionate advocate of sustainability and a supporter of local suppliers and craftspeople.

Nicola attended two South East Creatives courses: ‘Inventing Your Future – Business Planning for People Who Hate Planning’ and ‘Producing Your Own Social Media Strategy’.

“It was stimulating to meet other creative business people, both attending and teaching the courses, who have the same or similar business predicaments as myself and to be empowered with the tools necessary to move forward with my business.

I learnt to be consistent and methodical in my approach to other areas of my business such as social media and administration and to give them equal weight as tools within my core business.

My immediate aim was to ensure that all my different project categories were professionally photographed and represented and I have now done this. My next goal is to get my revised website up and running and link it into my social media handles.

The Business Planning course clarified what my vision and values for my company in the long term were and it helped me simply my goals into tangible and measurable outcomes. The Social Media Strategy Course enabled me to see how I was different to my competitors and how this was beneficial to my brand.”