It's getting quite interesting at the shop, events and for the Hippos in general. We seemed to have kicked up a gear, mainly because I actually got myself organised with the back office. Cannot believe how lovely some of our artists were in not chasing me for information - most of the responses to my humble apology were things like don't worry, figured you were busy. Without such a fab group around me think I would have gone nuts (no heckling from the back over that comment!).
So, next stage - friend told me about the Own Art scheme which is something I would love to achieve for us. It's basically a credit scheme backed by Arts Council England where customers can buy larger pieces on credit and the scheme allows us to be a broker. Win win :) The customer gets to buy larger pieces in stages, we get to sell more originals, artists get to be seen more so everyone's happy!
All the criteria is around having original work from living artists and the permission from the artist to sell them which we do. Just got to wait till August to apply because we will have been at the shop for 12 months then which is the other criteria. Can't believe that twelve months ago we were in a little garden shed on a really quiet site and now looking to Arts Council England to apply for their credit scheme - it's just such a positive progress marker.
We now have almost 60 local artists and makers in the shop, all fabulous people with amazing work and all so different. Truthfully I think that's why it works, because we celebrate that uniqueness, they all come from such different backgrounds and some have had a bumpier ride than others but they meet at the shop on an equal footing. Personally I don't give two hoots where (or if) you trained formally, some of our best artists have never sat through formal art training! The thing they all have in common is they like making what they do so it's all good. And the really lovely thing is we actually know them all to chat to and ask what mischief the dog got up to last week and other normal things so it really is like having a creative family that all trundle along together.
The other thing I didn't anticipate is how much button thumping I would do! This is my non technical speak for all things computer based such as blogging, twitter, websites etc. Someone kindly pointed out that actually it's only me that calls it button thumping, oops. Also, didn't anticipate the interest we would generate from other sources. The amount of customers and artists popping in or contacting me via a referral is awesome, and there's me thinking I just stick a purple Hippo on things.
As always, a huge thank you to everyone that has allowed this to happen - and to allow me to see the possibilities of where we could go next. Already in discussions about the next cunning plan with someone that sees opportunities the way I do, will share when there's something more definite to share but think it could be rather exciting.
See you all soon, Hippo xx