5th April 2021

In our 2021 Cockpit Effect Report, we’ve featured six makers in case study stories, each illustrating different practices and experiences during 2020. We’ll share them all over the coming weeks.

Yusuf Osman – leather craftsman, founder of Yussico

What major things happened to you during the year?
This year has been tumultuously creative. After six months at Cockpit, I renovated my studio to better facilitate the leather working classes that had seen much success, leading to December 2019 – February 2020 being my best months. I was looking forward to an upward trajectory with my teaching business in 2020.

Building a sustainable bedrock for my business came to an abrupt halt in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. I was not eligible for the various Government support packages that were available, and I decided to not take my teaching online because I believe the magic of the in person experience could not be replicated, especially with the specialist industry tools that students get to use in my studio.

In order to keep my business going, during the summer I started making fabric face masks for the community whilst raising money for charity at the same time. These high-quality face masks became very popular and allowed me to stay in my studio and continue to be creative. I also joined the Cockpit maker initiative to sew PPE gowns for local GP surgeries that were running short on supplies.

For the summer open studios, I hosted an origami paper handbag making class which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Recognising the inherent accessibility of this medium, I took this class online offering it to companies as team building exercises for employees stuck at home. This was very popular and I hosted clients such as eBay.

I’ve found this time in my studio to be extremely productive creatively. I’ve had the space to explore ideas that quite often go overlooked in pre-pan busy-ness and have networked and collaborated with other makers in the same situation. I’ve developed a new range of products to meet the changing current demands of working from home. I’m producing my first collection of leather goods for the home as well as my signature handbag and I’m very excited to be launching these items in 2021.

What challenges did you face?
It’s been challenging to close my doors to students many of whom have paid for classes and vouchers for over a year now. Thankfully they’ve all been understanding and have opted to wait for the in-person experience. It’s been difficult to juggle a business that required a change of direction with producing new work and seeking alternative sources of funding alongside the pandemic demands on mental health.  

What successes did you have?
Finding new ways to generate income, discovering new mediums to offer workshops online, developing a new product range.

What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my creative thinking to see me through this pandemic and actually see my business thrive creatively and setting new foundations for the future of my business.

What would you say was the benefit of being at Cockpit?
Aside from the generous licence fee discount offered by Cockpit (that wasn’t offered by many other studios), having a business coach has been a lifesaver. Being a creative entrepreneur can be lonely at the best of times let alone during a pandemic. Having an empathetic and supportive cheerleader has been invaluable.