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Monthly Archives: June 2013

You Read It Here First…

By Gabrielle Hase

Who doesn’t like hearing about The Next Big Thing before anyone else?  Not many of us, which is why today is your lucky day!

I work with The School for Creative Startups as a Titan, which is a very grand name for the group of professionals that work with startups enrolled in the SFCS course.  It’s always really encouraging to meet entrepreneurs in the creative industries, who prove that there is still room in this world for unique ideas and products. I think the world should know a little bit more about them, so here are some that I’ve recently met:

  • Gothenburg Boots – these are really stylish boots made for UK (and Seattle) wet weather.  They make Wellies look as edgy as a butter knife.
  • Babytronic – and because ‘edgy’ shouldn’t be reserved for adults, Abilene Leach designs fantastically designed babygrows that brand Junior as a force to be reckoned with.  This one is my favourite.
  • INKY Shades – up the ante in the personalised home decor stakes with these beautifully hand-painted lampshades and cushions by Madeleine Wilson.
  • Holly Francesca – Holly is a superb illustrator and she designs digital and framed prints with a distinctive style.  Her maps of London and New York neighbourhoods are totally unique.  She accepts commissions too – another way to stand out from the design masses.

And when these businesses become household names, you can say you knew about them when they were just starting out.

What are some of the coolest small companies you’ve seen lately?

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A New Website Offers Designs From Around the World

In The New York Times

Ambra Medda, the wunderkind former director of the Design Miami/Basel fair, is embarking on her next chapter: a Web site, to be inaugurated June 19, that will give visitors easy access to international design. Speaking from Switzerland, where she was attending Art Basel in a downpour, Ms. Medda, 32, said L’ArcoBaleno (Italian for “rainbow”) will bring diverse design talents to light. They may be basket makers in Botswana or a British furniture designer like Peter Marigold, whose pieces are collected by moguls. (His Palindrome table, shown, will be available for $16,240.)

The works will be surrounded by explanatory essays, interviews and videos. “We do all the fulfillment,” Ms. Medda said. “Everything from customer care to shipping.” And she plans to dip into fashion, too: she is now in talks with the designer Antonio Marras, a fellow Sardinian, about a collection. “It may be a series of 12 super-chic raincoats,” she said. “At this point, what I want to design is things for the rain.”

 Information: l-ab.com.

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Hobbs bucks high street trend as it eyes Chinese customers

From City AM

HOBBS, the upmarket fashion retailer founded in Hampstead over 30 years ago, yesterday mapped out global plans to push the brand into new markets after seeing a big increase in sales last year.

The chain, owned by listed UK private equity outfit 3i, notched up an 11.1 per cent increase in sales to £125.1m. This pushed operating profits up to £15.2m for the year ending 26 January, amid a time of turmoil on the high street.

Chairman Iain MacRitchie told City A.M.: “It’s been tough on the UK high street but we’ve been able to reconnect with customers. We put a lot into product and brand development.”

The company said it spent £3.1m on brand development last year alone and now plans to roll out into China and Hong Kong.

The company, established in 1981 as a shoe brand in North London, is also banking on a new line of clothes and accessories this winter to help drive growth. A major refit of a third of its stores is also planned. MacRitchie added that the company’s wider future plans with backers 3i were on track.

“We’re half way there,” he said. “We wanted to get the brand developed, which we’ve done, and now the next phase is international.”

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