We work with The Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme to offer 18 to 30-year-olds a gateway to a career in craft.
Find out how we support craftspeople at different stages with our selection of makers' stories.
In 2015, Vanessa Hogge, an ex-Royal College of Art graduate with a long career as a graphic designer, relaunched her ceramic practice after a 25-year hiatus. With support from Cockpit Arts, her business has grown exponentially in the last 18 months and her decorative porcelain floral wall pieces and vessels are now in huge demand the world over. So how did Vanessa transform her passion for clay into an internationally successful business?
Majeda Clarke arrived at Cockpit Arts Deptford with a fledgling textiles business as part of the 2016 cohort of Clothworkers’ Company awardees. With business support from Cockpit, a subsidised space in Deptford’s dedicated weave studio and free access to professional looms, she has had the creative freedom to explore her craft beyond the scope of what she had originally anticipated. She is now running a flourishing business that combines small-batch production with bespoke art projects.
Established in 2013, our award-winning Creative Employment Programme is the only one of its kind in the craft sector; it is widely considered to be a pioneering initiative that helps craftspeople take on their first employees and an attractive route for young people choosing not to go to university.
A recent example of this successful endeavour is Another Studio, a craft-design studio that took on an apprentice at our Holborn centre. Owned by Aimée Furnival, Another Studio creates original products for the desk, home and workplace. Hannah Marker, who hails from Essex, joined Another Studio as a Studio Assistant Apprentice in May 2017.
Onome Otite is an illustrative textile artist who creates beautiful three-dimensional artworks. She arrived at Cockpit Arts’ Holborn incubator as part of the 2016 cohort of their Creative Careers Programme, which is run in partnership with The Prince’s Trust. Since then, her business has taken off. She has won several newcomer awards, exhibited her work in central London and recently designed the front cover for style bible Estila magazine.
Since her arrival, Onome has immersed herself in the Cockpit community, taking advantage of all the professional development opportunities on offer. “It’s really helped me focus on where I want my business to go, and has given me perspective on what’s important,” she says.
“The Cockpit Arts/Clear Insurance award meant that I could make the step from being an apprentice to having a studio of my own.”
Matthew Warner is a potter best known for his hand thrown porcelain tableware. He joined Cockpit Arts’ Deptford incubator in 2016 as a recipient of the Cockpit/Clear Insurance award, which gave him £2,500 towards his first studio. Over the last year Matthew has been able to develop a whole new body of work thanks to the Jill Humphrey Springboard Prize, an award open to Cockpit Arts studio holders. He plans to launch this in a solo exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts in February 2018.
“This whole experience has been very good for me so far. I’ve got time to make mistakes and I’m developing myself and my techniques.”
Darren Appiagyei is a largely self-taught woodturner who arrived at Cockpit Arts in March this year shortly after graduating from Camberwell College. Sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Turners, he has access to a year’s free studio space. Importantly, he is also receiving free tuition from some of the UK’s leading woodturners, as well as benefitting from individual support from Cockpit Arts’ in-house Business Incubation Team. He is using his award to focus on developing his craft skills, and plans to launch his business, ‘In The Grain 93’, at the London Design Festival this coming autumn.
“You don’t learn any of the business side of things at university, so the practical business support that Cockpit offers is so helpful.”
Josie Shenoy is an illustrator who joined Cockpit Arts’ Deptford incubator in 2013 shortly after graduating. In just four years her business has taken off and she now designs ranges for Crabtree & Evelyn, Anthropologie and the British Museum, to name but a few. Despite leaving Cockpit Arts in 2016, she has continued to stay in contact through the London Creative Network programme, which she has found particularly useful at a stage in her career when she is growing and considering taking on staff.
In July 2016, ten candidates were interviewed by representatives from Clear Insurance and Cockpit Arts. Ceramicist Leah Jensen was selected for the 2016 Award and moved in to Cockpit Arts, Deptford in September that year.
“I use ceramics as a canvas, as a surface on which to explore ideas surrounding mathematics and art; deconstructing Renaissance paintings to their fundamental elements and unearthing hidden geometric structures that reside beneath the surface. I carve each vessel by hand with an aim to increase the complexity and precision of detail to appear mechanically manufactured.”
Q. What difference has The Cockpit Arts / Clear Award made to you and your business?
The difference has been huge. Having only been in London for a year and still in the early stages of my business, it has been so incredibly valuable to have an instant network of support.
In 2016, applications were invited for the ninth Cockpit Arts / NADFAS Award. This prestigious award aims to support professional craftspeople working with traditional craft skills, with particular consideration given to crafts requiring skills at risk of dying out.
Paper marble, Lucy McGrath was selected as the recipient of this Award and was allocated a place at Cockpit Arts’ incubator for a year.
Sick of poorly-made sketchbooks falling apart at the seams or her pen bleeding through multiple pages, Lucy decided to take matters into her own hands and offer beautiful quality, one-of-a-kind products that would be treasured. Paper marbling is an ancient and beautiful technique that Lucy hopes to revive, with a contemporary twist for today.
She got her first formal training in bookbinding studying Illustration at the University of Brighton, and previously worked for Cockpit Arts maker Jen Rowland, before launching her own business.
What difference has The Cockpit Arts / NADFAS Award made to you and your business?
It’s made an enormous difference to me in so many ways. My business has grown hugely in turnover and scope – I’m starting to explore new routes to market and ways to educate people about and involve them with marbling. I’ve gained huge amounts of confidence in myself as the driver of the business, and my products. I’ve benefitted from very insightful workshops and being in a community of supportive makers, where I’ve made friends and found opportunities.
Katrin Spranger is a conceptual artist who runs a hybrid practice from her Holborn studio that touches several disciplines including fashion, food, photography, performance and installation art. During her three years at Cockpit Arts, she has benefitted enormously from the diverse and complementary skills of the Cockpit team and recently received a substantial grant from the Arts Council to create a piece of work for COLLECT 2015. She has exhibited in galleries and venues throughout the world, and is currently in the process of establishing a school for jewellery with fellow Cockpitter, jeweller Kelvin Birk.
“It’s not just the location and space. It’s also about Cockpit’s business support. Nowhere else would provide the coaching as well.”
Trained in textile design, Ejing Zhang creates strikingly beautiful jewellery and accessories made using multiple threads cast in resin. She launched her eponymous brand just a few months after arriving at Cockpit Arts’ Holborn incubator in 2015 and it was an instant success. Supported by the Business Development Team, Ejing was advised on her pricing, product offering and how to find her target market and approach potential buyers. One year on, orders are flooding in. She now stocks boutiques in New York, London and China and has taken on a full-time assistant to help meet demand.
“It’s fair to say that if it hadn’t been for Cockpit Arts, and my year’s placement, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I am today.”
Tania Clarke Hall is an award-winning jeweller working in leather. Using experimental and innovative techniques her work has garnered much critical acclaim and has been showcased at leading international art fairs and galleries. She was heavily influenced by Cockpit Arts’ makers during her placement year from Middlesex University, and after graduation took a studio at the Holborn incubator where she has been based since 2009. With Cockpit’s help, Tania has shifted the perception of her work from a piece of leather to a piece of design. This has enabled her to increase the price point of her core collections, and as a result she’s seen her sales through galleries increase.
“It’s great to see businesses at very different stages. There is a positive energy going on all the time. You see people being successful, exhibiting, selling their stuff and that gives you momentum.”
David Marques is a ceramic artist who creates beautifully intricate work for both large-scale art installations as well as collectable objets d’arts. He has worked on major installations for Portugal’s leading porcelain and crystal manufacturer Vista Alegre, as well as the Outpatient Oncology Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital for Cancer Research UK. Based at Cockpit Arts’ Deptford incubator since 2014, he has recently been reassessing his business model and is in the process of developing new products on a smaller, more commercial scale. He has used Cockpit’s Open Studio events to successfully test launch this new work.
“With the support I’m getting in other areas of my business I can focus on what I do best, making things!”
Maya Selway was an internationally renowned silversmith, best known for her sculptural silverware, when she arrived at Cockpit Arts in 2008. Three years ago she embarked on an ambitious growth plan that has seen her license her sculptural designs to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, while moving her jewellery collections into the high end of the market. With support from a network of Cockpit associates she is now able to devote more time to refining her goldsmithing skills and creating new collections.
“I needed to believe in myself, that I had the same professional standing as the other makers, particularly as a deaf person. But once I got to Cockpit, being amongst like-minded people was really inspirational.”
Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings is a textile artist and designer whose use of intense colours and rich blending and layering techniques is influenced by her Sudanese upbringing. She arrived in 2014 thanks to a Cockpit Arts bursary, and flourished under the guidance of the Business Incubation Team. As Cockpit Arts’ first deaf studio holder, she worked closely with the Cockpit team to develop a greater depth of understanding and awareness of deaf issues that she hopes will benefit disabled artists applying for studio space in the future. Omeima recently moved to Hove in East Sussex where she is preparing to launch her new interiors brand.
“Getting a studio here is one of the best things that has happened to me. It’s changed my business and my personal life.”
Contemporary jeweller Dovile Bertulyte arrived at Cockpit Arts in 2015 as part of the Creative Careers programme, which offers emerging craft businesses a year’s free studio space. She has been supported with streamlining her product offering, writing a business plan, introducing time management systems and applying for further funding. With her work already being exhibited in major UK craft galleries, she is looking forward to being able to apply for a full-cost studio at Cockpit once she graduates from the programme in 2017.
“Cockpit provides the emotional and technical support that makes it possible to swim in these choppy waters.”
Shelley James makes extraordinary glass objects that play with our perceptions of light and space, creating beautiful optical illusions. She arrived at Cockpit Arts in 2013 shortly after completing her PhD research at the Royal College of Art and now occupies a small studio on the ground floor of Cockpit’s Deptford incubator. Her studio is very much a working craft space, using light industrial machinery that is noisy and dirty. But rather than take a unit on an industrial estate, Shelley chose to base herself at Cockpit where she feels there is a much greater support network in place. Now, nearly three years on, she says she feels she has grown in confidence and is much more established as a business.
Lorna Syson is a great example of how to tap in to all the incubation support on offer at Cockpit Arts, which includes access to funds in the shape of the Ingenious Growth Loan. In the four years since she first arrived in Deptford, she has actively engaged in the workshop programme and meets regularly with business development for one-to-one sessions. Lorna has also taken the opportunity to sell cross-site during Open Studios, giving her access to an audience in Holborn as well as Deptford. This has been particularly useful in her early stages of developing and testing product.
“The idea that Lush Designs can give someone an opportunity and that an organisation like Cockpit Arts can help us implement this is really fantastic.” Marie Rodgers
Lush Designs is renowned for its whimsical, fairy tale-like prints, which adorn everything from lampshades and cushions to bed linen and wallpaper. The thriving homewares company, co-owned by Marie Rodgers and Maria Livings, has been at Cockpit Arts’ Deptford incubator since the building opened in the early 90s. With shops in Greenwich and East Dulwich, as well as an online shop and stockists worldwide, Marie and Maria have started to offer apprenticeships alongside their permanent staff as part of Cockpit’s Creative Employment Programme.
“I had a lot of goals and ideas for my business before I moved to Cockpit, but being here has made me want more. I see all these people around me who have become very successful so my plans have become much grander.”
Candice Lau makes beautifully hand crafted leather accessories using traditional leather working techniques. She arrived at Cockpit Arts Deptford in 2015 thanks to the Cockpit Arts/Leathersellers’ Award, which provides a year’s subsidised studio space and access to a fully-equipped Leather Hub. She has had pop-up demonstration stands at Heal’s, run workshops for the Hoxton Hotel Amsterdam and collaborated with Lacoste, Glenfiddich and Pilsner Urquell, among others. With support from Cockpit’s Business Development Team, she is well on her way to turning what was once a hobby into a sustainable business.
“Being at Cockpit Arts has given me structure, guidance and a level of professionalism. It’s a fabulous platform for me in terms of PR and marketing, plus it has allowed me to have a reputable hub from which to deal with suppliers, manufacturers and clients.”
Visionary weaver Nadia-Anne Ricketts combines innovative digital technology with traditional weaving skills to create luxury bespoke woven pieces. She arrived at Cockpit Arts in 2012 with a BA in textile designs and a fledgling business. Supported by the Cockpit Arts/Clothworkers’ Foundation Award and in-house business coaching, Nadia spent the first three years researching and developing her idea. Her registered business, BeatWoven®, was officially launched in the UK in September 2015 and now produces fabric by the metre and one-off commissions for the V&A, Southbank Centre, Harrods and ABC Carpet & Home in New York.
“There are not many opportunities to have an artist’s studio in central London. Cockpit is very unique in that way.”
Ruth Tomlinson is an internationally renowned fine jeweller whose distinctive collections, rich with gemstones, have won her myriads of fans throughout the world. Considered by industry experts as one of the leading influences on the current generation of UK jewellery designers, her work sells in high-end galleries and jewellery boutiques in the UK and abroad.
Ruth has been based at Cockpit Arts’ Holborn incubator for 11 years, during which time her business has flourished and grown rapidly into the award-winning international brand it is today. As she has expanded, Ruth has found the business support at Cockpit increasingly important. With her three staff members, she is about to move into a large, sole-occupancy studio, which she plans to convert into a luxury showroom and workshop.
“I love being around other makers. It’s just nice knowing that they’re there – it’s much harder to motivate yourself at home.”
Beatrice Larkin is a textile designer specialising in weave. She combines traditional Dobby weaving with the capabilities of the computerised Jacquard loom to create her distinctive geometric designs. With a keen focus on British craftsmanship, Beatrice designs and samples her textiles in her studio at Cockpit Arts, before sending them off to be woven by a specialist mill in Lancashire. She has exhibited at the Heal’s Modern Craft Market and sold to Conran Interiors, and sells her work online through Daylesford Organic.
Beatrice arrived at the Deptford incubator in 2014 as an awardee of the Cockpit Arts/ Clothworkers’ Foundation. She has spent her first two years focussing on understanding her costings and building relationships with UK manufacturers in order to create a sustainable business.
On the opening nights of Cockpit Arts’ Deptford Open Studios, the sound of Alex Bishop’s gypsy guitar can be heard resonating soulfully through the corridors. It’s been a tradition since Alex arrived in 2011 as an awardee of Cockpit Arts/NADFAS with his fledgling guitar making business. With a steady stream of commissions and his reputation as a teacher and repairer growing, he is fast establishing a name for himself in the gypsy guitar world.
Having left a degree in Aerospace Engineering in Bath, Alex moved to London in 2007 and enrolled on a musical instruments course at London Metropolitan University. He graduated in 2010 with a First Class Honours, the ‘Top Thirty Student’ award and the ‘University Recognition Award for Academic Excellence’. In the same year, he applied for the Cockpit Arts/NADFAS (The National Association for Decorative & Fine Arts Societies) award and moved in to his Deptford studio in February 2011. The award supports designer-makers practicing a traditional craft that requires skills at risk of dying out. Alex was given a subsidised studio space in Cockpit’s Deptford incubator, including the free in-house business support available to all studio holders. “I came to Cockpit fresh from studying instrument making, so the award was really important for giving me that initial buffer to start work without the added financial pressure,” says Alex. “It’s the first rung on the ladder, and the hardest one.”
“I started from absolutely nothing. I didn’t have the basis to set up a business, so for me the [Cockpit Arts/Bellhouse Foundation] award was invaluable.”
Ornella Iannuzzi is an award-winning fine art jeweller and alumna of Cockpit Arts. She arrived at the Deptford incubator in 2007, straight from graduating with a Masters in Jewellery from the Royal College of Art. As a recipient of the Cockpit Arts/Bellhouse Foundation Award she was offered a year’s free studio, which she now says was invaluable for launching her fine jewellery business. In 2015 she made Professional Jeweller‘s Hot 100 for the second year running and won the prestigious Goldsmiths’ Company Gold Award for The Uprising ring. A regular at Goldsmiths’ Fair, she has recently launched a prêt-à-porter diffusion line of jewellery, which she sells through select stockists including Fortnum & Mason.
“I wanted to move somewhere where there was more going on, more happening, especially as most of my customers were down in London.”
Shona Marsh is an award-winning silversmith who hand crafts breathtakingly beautiful silverware. Working to bespoke commission, major projects have included a Papal Cross for Pope Benedict XVI, as well as replica work for the Staffordshire Hoard. She moved to Cockpit Arts in 2012 from Birmingham’s jewellery quarter. As her profile has grown as an artist, she has found the business support on offer at Cockpit increasingly important. Over the last two years, Shona’s business has embarked on a major rebranding exercise and the Business Development Team has been on hand to guide her throughout.
“I had to start designing and thinking in units that could be produced in small batches with multiple purposes. It’s totally changed my way of making jewellery.”
Jacqueline Cullen is one of the only jewellers in the world to use Whitby jet in fine jewellery, manipulating the natural beauty of this prehistoric stone to create a truly unique body of work. She regularly exhibits at major international shows including the British Fashion Council’s Rock Vault, Couture Las Vegas, London and Paris Fashion Week and New York NOW. Her work is stocked in Dover Street Market stores in London, Tokyo and New York, as well as in high-end boutiques throughout North America and the rest of the world.
Jacqueline’s business has grown exponentially from her early days at Cockpit as a sole trader hand crafting her work from start to finish in the studio, to a global brand that now outsources elements of the making process. This has created a huge shift in the way she designs and produces her jewellery, which in turn has opened up new opportunities in both selling her work and expanding her collections.
“I finally feel I have a body of work that sits well together, not just a hotch potch of designs.”
Birds hover and perch around the studio of Georgina Brett Chinnery, a leather worker who creates startlingly lifelike sculptures. With a background in upholstery, she exploits traditional leather working techniques to create unique objets d’arts. She arrived at Deptford in 2014 as an awardee of the Cockpit Arts/Leathersellers’ Company and has spent the last two years refining her work and repositioning it for the art market.
“Professionally and emotionally I am indebted to Cockpit Arts. I feel very proud to be an alumnus. You don’t ever really leave Cockpit; you still feel part of the family.”
Billy Lloyd is an award-winning designer of ceramic tableware, perhaps best known for the series of interlocking mugs he designed exclusively for The Conran Shop. He started his practice at Cockpit Arts in 2011. At the time he was selling hand thrown tableware through a number of modest stockist and collectors, but it was during his time at Cockpit that he realised the potential of designing his work for manufacture. With support from the Business Development Team he was able to carefully and strategically reposition himself as a designer. He now spends the majority of his time designing and making prototypes for manufacture, and has collaborated with RIBA and Brooks Brothers, as well as The Conran Shop. He is currently working on a collection of coffee cups and saucers for international cycling super brand Rapha.
“London is a creatively vibrant city, and craft is a vital part of that. It’s really important to have a craft presence in this area, for craftspeople to be making and working here.”
Jane Adam holds the honour of being Cockpit Art’s longest-serving studio holder. She arrived in 1994, when the building was little more than a managed studio space, and has watched it grow over the years into the award-winning craft business incubator it is today. A doyenne of the jewellery industry, Jane pioneered the use of anodised aluminium as a jewellery artist’s material in the 1980s. A maker trustee and then co-vice chair of the Crafts Council, and a founder, vice-chair and chairman of the Association for Contemporary Jewellery, her work is held in major museum and public collections throughout the world. Although she moved out of her Holborn studio in 2015, she has cemented her long-standing relationship with Cockpit Arts by recently becoming a trustee.
“The support at Cockpit Arts has been unbelievably useful, particularly over the last two years as my business has undergone these major changes.”
Jo Hayes Ward is a fine jeweller whose business has grown since its conception in 2006 into an internationally renowned luxury brand. She has exhibited with the British Fashion Council’s Rock Vault and has her work in the permanent collections of The Crafts Council, The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and the Alice and Louis Koch collection in Switzerland.
Jo has found the mid-career coaching at Cockpit Arts particularly beneficial, helping her restructure the business and employ staff for the first time. This has enabled the brand to continue to grow and flourish, allowing Jo to focus on her creative strengths, as well as making her work/life balance much more manageable.
NADFAS David Bell Memorial Award was established in 2014 to support a young crafts person aged 17 – 28 who is inspired by music and starting out in business.
In April 2015 Camilla Lee Lambert was selected as a recipient of the prestigious Award. Camilla was awarded a place at a Cockpit Arts incubator for a year.
Camilla Lee is a London based designer working in the field of furniture, lighting and sound. Whilst studying 3D Design & Craft at Brighton University, Camilla developed a broad range of skills working with various materials. She is interested in the aesthetics and organic sound qualities of wood and ceramic, and is passionate about fusing functionality with unique aesthetic forms. Application of sound and pattern has become a recurrent thread within her work, linking themes of sound therapy, interaction and line.
What difference has The Cockpit Arts / NADFAS David Bell Memorial Award made to you and your business so far?
‘It’s kicked everything off really. It’s made everything very serious and very professional. Everyone at Cockpit Arts is looking out for you and encouraging you. You look at all the designer-makers in the studio around you and you see their incredible work and you think, ‘wow, I’m of this standard’ – well, sometimes you think ‘I’m not there yet but I will be – I can be of this standard!’
“Without the support of Cockpit Arts I would have struggled to find a way to express myself creatively. To be able to turn that into a way to make a living really does feel miraculous.”
Eleanor Lakelin is one of Britain’s most accomplished artists making in wood. Working exclusively with trees that have been felled in the British Isles, she combines traditional craftsmanship with a free-form approach to create vessels with a distinctly contemporary feel. Her work is shown in major galleries and exhibitions including Contemporary Applied Arts, Sarah Myerscough Gallery at COLLECT and William Benington Gallery, Sculptural 2015. She was nominated for the Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize and has work in the permanent collection of the National Trust.
Originally from a furniture making background, it wasn’t until Eleanor won the Cockpit Arts/Worshipful Company of Turners’ Award in 2011 that she was able to take her business in a new and more exciting direction. With support from the Business Development Team she has dedicated her time at Cockpit to repositioning her business and developing a body of work for the art gallery and high-end retail markets. “I think it’s fair to say that without the Turners’ Award, I would not have had the confidence to pursue [turning and carving] full time,” says Eleanor.
“The free studio space was a huge boost in the early days of setting up my business.”
Sarah Marafie was a self-taught jeweller, selling her fashion jewellery on market stalls, when she was referred by the Prince’s Trust to Cockpit Arts’ Creative Careers Programme. After two years of business coaching, along with intensive training sessions at the bench to learn traditional jewellery making skills with two of Cockpit’s jewellers, Sarah’s business has undergone a complete overhaul. She has repositioned herself as a high-end fashion jeweller, including redesigning her logo and website. With the start of 2016, she is now ready to launch her new brand into the high-end jewellery market.
“I’m very surprised there is a market for hand woven. It’s a real relief that it’s possible. I’d always hoped hand making was a form of luxury; that the skill, care and attention to detail that go into my products is valued. I really appreciate the amount of creative control that I have over my pieces because I weave them by hand.”
Catarina Riccabona designs and makes hand woven textiles that are produced from start to finish in her studio at Cockpit Arts Deptford. Using a traditional, computerised loom and eco-friendly yarns like hemp, linen, undyed wool and alpaca, Catarina has become part of the new wave of crafts people redefining luxury. She sells her work direct from her studio, as well as through outlets like The New Craftsmen.
“The one-to-one coaching sessions were a great sounding board for ideas and gave me the confidence to go forth and get on with things.”
Ndidi Ekubia is a contemporary silversmith who uses traditional hand-raising techniques to create visually stimulating yet functional silverware, recognised for its distinctive ‘rhythmic’ style. A Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company and Senior Fellow and Trustee of the Bishopsland Educational Trust, her work has been auctioned at Sotheby’s and is in the permanent collections of the V&A, The Ashmolean Museum and The Goldsmiths’ Company.
Ndidi has been at Cockpit Arts’ Deptford incubator since its inception in 2001. Over the years she has been supported in readjusting her business model for the high-end collector’s market, ultimately making her business much more profitable and sustainable. With the birth of her first child, she is now moving out to bigger premises in Surrey and plans to expand into product design.
“I looked at all the studios in the Lewisham/Greenwich area and found that Cockpit Arts ran the best programme. I felt it had everything that would be helpful for setting up a business.”
Katharine Morling is an award-winning artist working in the medium of ceramics. Using a technique that she describes as sketching in 3D, Katharine has created a number of large installations for high-profile clients including the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and large installation commissions through the Balman Gallery.
Since joining Cockpit Arts in 2003, Katharine’s work has grown in both reputation and scale. With help from Cockpit’s Creative Employment programme, she has learnt how to streamline her production processes and now employs a team of three people, enabling her to focus more on the creative side of her business. She is currently looking to expand into the US and hopes one day to open her own workshop space.
“I thought of Cockpit Arts as a studio space and a community of designers with the added bonus of business support – but actually it’s been so much more than that.”
Julie Kouamo, of Kouamo textiles, draws on her French Cameroonian heritage to design boldly visual fabrics rich with imagery collected on her many travels. She launched her eponymous label in 2011, and has collaborated with Made.com on an exclusive collection, as well as selling her work through ABC Carpet & Home in the US, Swoon Editions in London and her own recently launched online shop.
Julie has spent the last three years since arriving at Cockpit Arts’ Holborn incubator transforming her business into a premium textile brand, streamlining her production processes and rethinking her target market. She relaunched as Kouamo in early 2015 and is currently exploring new markets.
“The Cockpit Arts & Ingenious Growth Loan Fund gave us the boost we needed for sampling and marketing and enabled us to create some real energy around the campaign to launch our ready-to-wear range”
Deborah Carré and James Ducker, of Carréducker, craft beautiful bespoke shoes using traditional English hand welted construction. Since joining Cockpit Arts 12 years ago, the company has grown to include shoe making courses, a design consultancy service, an online tool shop and a successful ongoing partnership with gentlemen’s outfitters Gieves & Hawkes. They have recently benefited from The Cockpit Arts & Ingenious Growth Loan Fund which has helped them launch their new ready-to-wear collections.
“I chose Cockpit Arts mainly because of the business support you get here; I wasn’t ready to move into a studio with no support. Cockpit seemed the ideal place for a complete beginner like me.”
Tipped as one of the standout stars of her generation by The Worshipful Company of Weavers, Rita Parniczky is winning awards and fans alike with her large-scale art installations that defy conventional weaving techniques. Using unusual materials like nylon monofilament, Rita weaves extraordinary x-ray like pieces that play with light and shadow. She has exhibited at COLLECT Open and her work is in the permanent collection of the V&A.
Moving into a studio at Cockpit Arts in 2011 enabled Rita to work on a much larger loom and in a very real sense has allowed her to grow creatively and expand the boundaries of her chosen art form. With one-to-one support from the Business Development Team, Rita is successfully repositioning her work in the world of art and rapidly being recognised, including the recent announcement, as the 2016 winner of The Perrier-Jouet Arts Salon Prize.
Bow maker, Stephen Thomson, is the latest recipient of a Cockpit Arts & Ingenious Growth Loan using the funds to assist in the purchase of a substantial stock of Pernambuco, a protected species which is the preferred wood for making bows. Following a chance conversation about the scarcity of materials and concerns about the aging population of bow makers, Stephen explains: “finding this stock of perfectly aged Pernambuco wood has enormous repercussions – it is a step toward preserving our industry far beyond just my working life; I knew I had to find a way of buying the stock at a fair price”.
His next step was a meeting with David Crump, Head of Business Development, who quickly realised the importance of Stephen’s opportunity and guided him in applying for the Ingenious Growth Loan.
Beyond the finance, a significant value in applying for the Loan, is the application process itself. Working closely with David, the applicant puts together a business plan showing past and current performance and forecasting future results. The focus is about how the business works, and how these results are going to be achieved, rather than just looking at financials and the bottom line. Even for applications that do not progress, real benefits emerge as the studio holder and David take a really comprehensive look at their business model.
‘Initially I was not in a position to sell product or make any money back, so being able to keep my costs down with a subsidised studio space has helped me incredibly.’
November 2014: Imagine your favourite piece of music transposed into fabric – this is the work of visionary weaver Nadia-Anne Ricketts who combines innovative digital technology with traditional weaving skills to create luxury bespoke woven pieces. Nadia’s gorgeously rich fabrics offer a wide range of applications from large-scale art installations and upholstery to fashion and home accessories.
Nadia arrived at Cockpit Arts in 2012 with a passion for dance and music and a fledgling business idea. She had been awarded a studio thanks to the Cockpit Arts/Clothworkers’ Foundation Award which provided a large dedicated studio space for 6 weavers at Cockpit’s Deptford incubator. This subsidised studio space has played a vital role during the formative years of Nadia’s business.
Two years after joining Cockpit, her registered business, BeatWoven®, is now producing fabric by the metre and one-off commissions for the V&A, Southbank Centre and Harrods.
‘BeatWoven® has been extremely expensive to set up as there has been a lot of research and development in the early stages of the business,’ explains Nadia. ‘Initially I was not in a position to sell product or make any money back, so being able to keep my costs down with a subsidised studio space has helped me incredibly.’
During one-to-one coaching sessions with Cockpit’s Business Development Team, Nadia was helped to successfully apply for a School for Start-ups’ Launcher Loan and the UAL Seed Fund. Along with a further year’s funding from the Cockpit Arts/Clothworkers’ Foundation Award 2013, this has enabled her to continue to develop and research her brand.
‘There is an amazing density of knowledge within these walls, and people are very generous with sharing their knowledge. It’s refreshing to know that even well-established businesses struggle with the same issues that I do.’
July 2014: Mark Tallowin crafts made-to-order handbags, painstakingly hand making each bag to exacting specifications. Yet he comes to the luxury handbag market as a largely self-taught craftsman, and realises the sheer scale of the industry he is taking on. Mark’s passion and tenacity for a traditional skill brought him to Cockpit Arts in July 2013. He already had a capsule collection of hand stitched bags, but needed help with getting his pricing and positioning right for the market. ‘In the early days, the one-to-one sessions were like a much-needed MOT,’ says Mark.
In the last year, Mark has completed a commission to make a bespoke case for Billecart-Salmon Champagne and showed work at Christie’s as part of the Multiplied Art Fair. His work has been featured in Elle India and New York Magazine’s The Cut and he was invited to join the Fashion Innovation Agency’s bank of prestigious designers. He is about to launch a fifth bag in his CORE collection, alongside a range of wallets.
Mark has just won this year’s Cockpit Arts / The Leathersellers’ Award, an opportunity he says he would never have considered without the support of Cockpit’s Business Development Team. The award will pay for his current studio space for another year.
‘Being in craft is a tough life,’ says Mark. ‘But when you have the opportunity to make a go of it, it’s fantastic.’