Running a jewellery business and not knowing where to start can be lonely and daunting. We have launched our INKubator Programme and are looking for jewellers seeking support with running their jewellery business. We have built and developed the nine month, part-time Programme to allow you the time, space and support to build and grow your jewellery business.
In this series of blog posts we will introduce you to the Programme and tell you more about what is involved and why you should consider joining the INKubator for 2020, they will help you to ‘Get INKspired’ and help you decide if the INKubator is right for you and your business.
Applications close on the 29th of September and we will launch a blog post every Friday until then, so keep your eyes peeled.
New to our 2020 INKubator Programme (OMG!) is the addition of a 3 day residential at the beginning of the year. This is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow jewellers (INKers), the team, learn and most importantly have fun!
The Residential will take place in Banff, Aberdeenshire at our sister site, Vanilla Ink The Smiddy. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to chat to our team, Alison and Megan and get to know, the nearly new, Smiddy.
T H E S M I D D Y
Alison and Megan
So, tell us a little about yourselves?
Alison: I trained as a Landscape Architect , but more recently have been working in creative project development in my role as an Arts Development Officer for Aberdeenshire Council and laterally as a Freelance Project Co-ordinator for Historic Environment Scotland. I applied for the job as Workshop Co-ordinator at The Smiddy last year and the rest is history. I have a passion for developing creative opportunities particularly within the community I live in and this job allows me to achieve this.
Megan: I graduated from DJCAD in 2015 and since then have been developing my creative practise as a jeweller/silversmith. I started my business after finishing my studies and enjoy so many aspects of the craft and love being able to create with my own hands (and a lot of tools). An aspect of my creative output has been teaching jewellery and silversmithing classes over the last four years, and I find so much pleasure in teaching others new skills and allowing others to feel the sense of achievement I feel on completion of a new design. My love for creating and teaching has meant that the job role of Smiddy technician and tutor is the perfect one for me.
How did you both get involved in The Smiddy?
A: When I worked for Aberdeenshire Council, I was on the team working on the development of the Smiddy as part of a wider Regeneration Programme in Banff. We advertised the lease of the building to the wider community and I was thrilled when Vanilla Ink applied. We had been hoping that a social enterprise would apply as the building is a Common Good building and therefore is really for the community. So having a business located within the building that had our community at its heart was of upmost importance to us.
M: I had known since graduating that a potential silversmithing workshop was being developed in Banff and through much intrigue I contacted the team at the time who were working on the project as I was already based in Aberdeen. Fast forward a couple of years and the opportunity to apply for the position through Vanilla Ink became available and I just had to get involved. The position was perfect for me as it combined my love for silversmithing and working with the public through teaching, as well as the rest.
A: I was brought up in Banff and moved back here about 10 years ago. I love the coast, the beautiful beaches and the architecture of the area.
M: Banff was a perfect choice for this development of craft as it was formerly known as a silversmithing town due to the amount of silversmiths working there, and what a fantastic idea to re-ignite the silversmithing flame here in the North East.
Is it the same as Vanilla Ink in Glasgow?
M: The Smiddy has all of the same values and ethos as Vanilla Ink in Glasgow, however, we are also different in many ways. We are tailored more towards silversmithing than jewellery (BIGGER TOOLS) and are more open to the public as a destination to visit for both locals and tourists. We are right on a busy street in Banff, with many people popping in to either watch us work or to browse our retail cabinet. The development of our courtyard might bring in a few more visitors too as we start to take classes outside.
You mentioned a retail space, who do you stock there?
A: We obviously stock Megan’s beautiful work and local makers, as well as past INKers and residents. This includes the work of INKer 2018 and Banff born and raised, Lois Wiseman. The work sits pretty on stands created by Edinburgh maker StudioEmma.
Megan, do you still make?
M: I do still make, yes! Fortunately I have access to The Smiddy outwith my working hours to make my own work and develop my own practise. I still attend craft shows/fairs and take part in exhibitions when I’m not working at The Smiddy and still love that aspect of my own business.
Alison, do you have any plans to pursue a jewellery or silversmith career?
A: I’m sort of the guinea pig here… I am a beginner and have tried a few of the classes to give feedback from the point of view of a beginner and to learn the basics so that I can converse a bit more fluently in “silversmithing” language. I have found that I do like making spoons and this may well be an avenue I might well have a wee dander down.
What are you most proud of at The Smiddy so far?
A: I am SO proud of our team. We were somewhat thrown together when this crazy journey kicked off in September last year. We all just jumped on board and went with it. Kate & Scott trusted Megan and myself to get on and we have with their full support. It’s been a challenge and still is… but it’s a joyful one. Team Smiddy are incredible.
M: I think I am most proud of how far we have developed the workshop as a team since opening less than a year ago. I absolutely love teaching classes and am also proud of both the students and the young people for their eagerness to learn new skills and get involved in a craft they may not have been involved with before.
What’s your favourite job in The Smiddy?
A: My absolute favourite job is developing programmes with partners, sourcing funding and the ultimate pleasure when it all comes together. This means we have students coming in the door that would not normally get this opportunity. It is just wonderful to be able to create these opportunities, particularly for young people, and it makes everything worthwhile. Earlier this year, HRH Prince Charles came to The Smiddy to find out a bit more about our Make In Metal Programme and that was just the icing on the cake. To be recognised for our social enterprise work within a year of opening was just astounding.
M: My favourite job in The Smiddy has got to be teaching the Meet Your Maker and Make In Metal programme - it was an absolute pleasure to meet such wonderful young people who are so keen to get involved and learn something different. I am so pleased we have secured funding for further programmes which will introduce silversmithing skills to another group of young people!
What does the future hold for The Smiddy?
A: I see The Smiddy as a catalyst for the area and have it emerge again as a Silver Town, with The Smiddy at the centre of the Creative Regeneration Programme. We are here not only to develop classes and programmes, but to support local makers, graduates and emerging makers. It would be great if we could attract many more makers to the area to set up and develop their own business here supported by Team Smiddy. I would love for us to have many freelancers working for us delivering classes here and out in our community. We would love to develop as a Centre of Excellence and host national and international events here at the Smiddy.
M: I think the future holds some really exciting things for The Smiddy - I hope that we become a creative hub for the North East and really become embedded in the local community. I too would love to see silversmiths, nationally and internationally, visit us to run courses, have a great group of Smiddy members and continue running all sorts of creative silversmithing classes to the public. I am so excited to see what the future holds in terms of opportunities for its young people, recent graduates or a member of the public who is interested in learning about the historic art of silversmithing.
Is there anyone in Banff that remembers it being a Smiddy?
A: Yes. We have had several people in to visit who came here when it was a Blacksmiths’ workshop and tell us wee stories about their memories here. We even had a gentleman visit who had been a blacksmith’s apprentice here when he was a teenager.
What are you most excited about for the future of The Smiddy?
Both: We are currently most excited about our accommodation that is being built further along Bridge Street by North East Scotland Preservation Trust. This will allow us to develop our residential programme and offer our students and tutors accommodation. It opens up a load of possibilities for us and we can’t wait to get started on this part of our project. We are going to be asking for help on naming our Townhouses so keep your eyes peeled for that!
Q U I C K F I R E R O U N D
A L I S O N
SketchBook or Computer? Both
Kindle or Book? Both
Super organised or last minute madness? Both
Tea or Coffee? Both
Shared workspace or work best on your own? Both
PC or Mac? Both
Inked or Clean? Clean but the first one in the making…
Words to live your life by? Be open to EVERYTHING that comes your way...
M E G A N
SketchBook or Computer? Sketchbook
Kindle or Book? Book
Super organised or last minute madness? Last minute madness
Tea or Coffee? Tea
Shared workspace or work best on your own? Shared workspace
PC or Mac? Mac
Inked or Clean? Clean
Words to live your life by? Everything happens for a reason
What have you been listening to at The Smiddy?
A: BIG fans of Post Modern Jukebox… but more recently summer residents playlists. When I am here myself the Angry Alison’s Anthems Spotify playlist may well get played… but don’t advertise that… (btw, I’m not angry)
M: Mostly whatever Alison plays, although this can vary drastically. We are also loving the new Vanilla Ink playlists!
What are your recommendations for people once they’re visited The Smiddy?
A: Get out into the countryside and explore. We have so many beautiful beaches up here and gorgeous coastal villages that just can’t be missed. If you really are a silver buff though, I would recommend visiting Banff Museum and taking a good look at their amazing Banff Silver collection.
What do you think about the INKubator Programme visiting The Smiddy for their Residential at the beginning of the programme?
A: I’m really excited about the INKubator Programme coming to Banff. It will be a superb opportunity for Team Smiddy to welcome folks to Banff and for us to be part of this innovative programme at Vanilla Ink. We love developing programmes, socialising and making... so this is a perfect combination for us... especially if gin is involved!
Huge thanks to Alison and Megan for taking the time to answer these questions and for their INCREDIBLE hard work they put in to The Smiddy. We are very fortunate to have an amazing team that supports us and our vision!
The Smiddy turns 1 year old on the 22nd of September and we must mark the occasion. If you’ve yet to visit The Smiddy why not join us on Saturday 21st of September for a little celebration. Save the Date!
Applications for The INKubator Programme closes midnight 29th of September.