We were lucky/fast enough to grab two of the very limited tickets for the Folksy Summer School. This is a massively collaborative effort that celebrated Folksy’s 5th anniversary by creating a weekend event where designer-makers can come together and learn from others how best to apply themselves to their chosen crafts.
The Summer School is a real insight into the contemporary craft-cottage industry that happily beavers away in homes and small studios around the country these days.
First off, the event was held in Sheffield, a mere five minutes drive away from HoBHQ at the J. G. Graves Discovery Centre in Ecclesall woods. Folksy couldn’t of chosen a more apt place for their gathering. With some brilliant wood buildings, a marquee, a large courtyard, a pond with a beautiful veranda and an outside woodworking classroom and wood seller, it’s a pretty sweet location to get creative in.
Even the catering was a collaboration of small, relevant businesses. In the courtyard was a table with a constant stream of tea and coffee provided by local suppliers Pollards, a table laden with free fruit from the Sharrow Marrow on Sharrowvale, tasty sarnies from Made by Jonty and a lovely little tuck shop of treats put together by the lovely Cocoa Wonderland from Ecclesall Road. NOM!
There were talks filling both days in the classroom marquee and we decided to sit through as many of these as we could as it was rather difficult to choose to not see some; the quality of the subjects being so brilliantly conceived and curated with time put aside for relevant subjects such as Starting Out, Growing A Business, Branding and Ideas, Press and Conversations, Blogging, Maker’s Own Stories, Marketing, Selling and Pricing… You name it, Folksy Summer School had it covered.
All of the talks were brilliant for a variety of reasons, but we’d be here all year writing about how much we enjoyed each one, so here are a few of our personal highlights:
John V Willshire from Smithery
John used to have the enviable title of ‘Chief Innovation Officer’ at ‘Charlie-Big-Potato’ ad agency PHD, but left it all behind to start his own agency, Smithery whose “Make things people want rather than make people want things” and ‘Dialogic over Dialectic’ approach to business and branding caught our attention and imagination in a massive way. John’s talk was relaxed, funny and a big inspiration for us as he flew smoothly through the presentation he’d created using his own product Artefact Cards, which i can’t wait to get my dirty mitts on next time we have a big brainjam. We also had a fifteen minute chat with John as we booked in for one of the available One on One sessions which we walked away from beaming.
Chloe Hayward owner of Hatastic
Chloe came across as a genuinely lovely lady whose passion for creating has been a genuine success, from starting out making herself a hat for a wedding to being a part of Milan fashion week and having her work feature in some of the biggest fashion magazines.
Lianne Mellor, owner of Mellorware
It was great to see Sheffield’s own Lianne Mellor talking about her experience as a successful designer-maker. We love her quirky chinaware and her talk came across more ‘casual chat’ than presentation as she talked about how she gets the business side of things done when all she really wants to do is draw badgers. She charmed our socks off.
Doug’s talk ended the weekend with a pretty big bang. A Californian Entrepreneur (who appeared on the first couple of series of Dragons Den… apparently…). Doug has raised and sold a good few businesses in his time and is very honest about his failures as well as his successes. Having made a good few Bob over the years, Doug’s current project is the admirable School For Creative Startups; a social enterprise more interested in educating small creative businesses than making money. Pretty bloody awesome.
Doug’s no-nonsense attitude and his bags of charisma made his talk totally captivating while he hammered home the fact that creators shouldn’t undervalue their skills, time and products but be proud and confident in them and price them accordingly. We certainly felt more empowered as we headed out of the classroom.
Here’s the rest of the spectacular line-up:
Victoria Woodcock from Bust Craftacular
Emma Jones from Start Up Britain
Patricia Van den Akkar from The Design Trust
Nick Hand from the Department of Small Works (His Photofilms are well worth a good watch or two)
Angus Montgomery from Design Week
Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire from Mini Moderns
Polly Dugdale from Handmade Horizons
Andy Poplar of Vinegar and Brown Paper
Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons
Claire Yuille from the Indie Retail Academy
Claire Bates owner of Landbaby
Folksy’s own James Boardwell
Sinead Koehler founder of Crafty Fox Market
James Green – Sheffield based Lino print artist.
Sarah Thelwell from Mycake
Marie-Claire Dorking and Tracy Ramsden from Skribe London
Running alongside the talks all weekend there were some great demonstrations, including:
Bookbinding and Letterpress from Heather Dewick who had a beautiful old Adana press that we probably drooled on a little. Heather is a Sheffield Bookbinder and print enthusiast (who we waxed lyrical with about our shared love of typography and print)
Screenprinting with Sue Westaard (Sponsored by Handprinted)
Toy Making with Sarah Pinney from Northfield Primitives
Lino Cutting from Zoe Badger and James Green
3D Printing with Adrian McEwan
Knitting and Crochet classes with the Mollie Makes team (we LOVE Mollie!)
Expert knitting, crochet and quilting advice from The Amazings
Yarn-Bombing with Kerry Howarth of the Yarnbombing Consortium
We’d like to give a shout out to Camilla, who had a massive involvement in the organising of the event. Her work with Folksy cannot go unrecognised, neither can her own stunning work at Butterscotch and Beesting.
Overall we had a fantastic weekend; it was a supremely relaxed gig with attendees all having their own schedules based around what was most important to them, giving everyone who attended a different experience. The whole weekend was smoothly organised without being regimented, quite a feat for its first year. Attendees and speakers mingled and there were smiles and fevered chat everywhere you looked. We discovered a caboodle of new people and work to admire and came away feeling perfectly inspired if not a little sad that it had come to a close so fast. We couldn’t recommend this event enough to anyone who loves to make and share.
So Thank You Folksy and everyone that took part, we had a total blast. Can’t wait for next year