Hothouse Taster Day

hothouse logo

A long post but worth a read…

“Effective networking is constructing and participating in a world of social connections.” Professor David Rae.

Last Friday I went to a Hothouse Taster Session run by the Crafts Council at Nottingham Trent University. The Hothouse scheme is something I have been thinking of applying for so I went along to find out what its all about.

On arrival we were given a free copy of Crafts magazine which already made my day worthwhile! Madeleine Furness, Maker Development officer for Crafts Council then gave an introduction to the company and what they do to support makers.

The first seminar was by Alison Branagan: Alison Branagan Creative Consultancy. I had already seen Alison lecture at New Designers in 2012 and found her very inspirational. She gave an insight into your business networks and how to best use them. Alison also gave a talk later in the day about starting up your business which included many helpful tips

There are 7 steps to starting a business:

1. Research- Networks, Market & Skills Gaps

2. Getting advice & sources of support

3. Writing a business plan

4. Funding- Savings, Loans, Grants, Family!

5. Opening a business bank account

6. Seeing and accountant and bookkeeping

7. Registering as self-employed

I’d like to think I’m almost there!

“Everything in the craft world is planned two to four years in advance” 

“If you go to a trade fair in February buyers are looking for items to sell at Christmas.”

Next, Sean Macaskill the Enterprise Advisor of the HIVE at NTU gave information on how this business support programme could benefit recent graduates. They run business start up courses and provide support and mentors. It is something which I’d like to research further into.

In the ‘local network’ session we were given information from Helen Ackroyd the Education officer at Rufford and Paul Hough who works for the Creative Greenhouse Network.

Rebecca Wombell, the marketing manager at the Harley Gallery (where I did one of my shows in December 2012) gave us information on social media and how it can benefit your business. A handy tip was to add photo albums of behind the scenes in your studio or workplace. People love to see how things are made and developed. This is something I’m hoping to do soon.

“It’s not about how many followers you have, but having people who interact.”

Rebecca also gave a talk on how to build a relationship with a gallery including how to contact them and keep in touch.

We then had a break for lunch and I managed to have a catch up with some of my old lecturers and students from the year below.

The afternoon session was titled: ‘Presenting Your Practice’. It began by a talk from Alex Brownless of ArtsThread an online portfolio who work in conjunction with New Designers. I already have a portfolio with them (which needs updating!) but it was interesting to hear what happens behind the scenes in the company.

“Don’t waste that much money, otherwise it gets a bit depressing.”

- Great quote from Alex.

Madeleine then gave some information on Hothouse and how they can support you. It is a 6 month programme which involves:

Designing your future

Business Planning

Presenting Yourself

Creative Peer Review

Manufacture & product Development

Market & Audience Development

Financial Costing, Planning & pricing

Business Peer Review

Peer Networking Days

It sounds fantastic!

This was followed by a talk from Anna Colette Hunt about her ceramics business. Anna was also a graduate of NTU Dec Arts (a few years before me) and is now very established in the crafts market. She did the Hothouse programme last year so it was great to hear about her experiences and what she had achieved since graduating.

Esther Patterson of Curiousa & Curiousa also a graduate of NTU gave a talk on her career so far and gave a lot of handy tips on how to succeed in the industry.

“Don’t allow anything to stand in your way.”

The day ended with some networking and I chatted to other makers and recent graduates about their practice over a glass of wine.

It was a great day and definitely beneficial to my business. If you haven’t planned to already, I would definitely recommend going along to one of the other tasters Crafts Council are running.


Work by Anna Colette Hunt & Curiousa & Curiousa