Product Development Considerations
I’ve thought long and hard about this. There are so many products that I’d like to design and explore, but each time I sit down to research this, I’m always stopped by my environmental conscience that sits self-righteously on one or other of my shoulders!
I’m not trying to sound pious or cast aspersions on the business decisions of others – after all, we’re all trying to earn a living, right? Now, almost two years on from starting this business, what I am trying to do is take a more measured and well-thought-out approach to product development, considering key financial and environmental aspects instead of jumping headlong, eyes shut, into the abyss.
Brands I love!
I could list countless business whose products I adore. Many of the content challenges that I take part in on Instagram are run by fellow business owners, makers, artists and designers. As a collective, we come together to shine a light on our work, our homes, our creative spaces, sharing ideas, woes, seeking advice from the like-minded. It’s a fantastic (virtual) community that I feel honoured to be part of.
When I’ve considered new products, my thoughts and research always come full circle: some of my favourite brands already sell some of the products I’d like to develop and are doing so with huge success. So, why would I enter this market when it is being so well-represented?
I feel that because my offering would be no better and no worse, I wouldn’t really be offering anything innovative or different. Afterall, a coaster is a coaster and the brands I love sell these in spades, in all manner of gorgeous colours and designs. I’d love to sell them (along with table mats, chopping boards, maybe aprons, and oven gloves etc.) but the expense might be in vain, the field already highly competitive.
Looking specifically at the gifts and homewares market, Katie Cardew, Bean & Bemble, Kitty McCall, Emma J Shipley, Particle Press, and The Hambridge Artist are all businesses I admire greatly. Their styles are different, but all demonstrate a love of colour and pattern, which hold huge appeal for me. Many of them sell the same types of products as me (tableware, prints, tea towels etc.) but all have cornered their own plot, carefully curating and tending their wares in the busy field of the home-accessories and -décor market.
Environmental Factors Affecting Business Decisions
My main driver for the decision not to expand my homewares range at this present time is really one of finances, but mostly out of concern for the environment.
I took the decision early on not to produce small items such as key rings, fridge magnets, tote bags etc., to avoid more of these items eventually ending up in landfill. Such items do make the perfect small gift or token of thanks, but, as aforementioned, there a great many large and small brands creating a myriad of these and I don’t think my offering would necessarily differentiate me.
Instead, I took a long time to research UK-based manufacturers, ordering samples and conducting product testing. Once satisfied with the environmental and ethical credentials of these businesses, and the products they could manufacture, here in Great Britain, I launched my small-batch home textiles in the form of tea towels, neck/head scarves and cushions.
Again, you could argue this is an already saturated market, and had I done sufficient market research, I may have adopted a different route to market by focusing on PPC instead of starting out solely growing my social media audience. With hindsight, I should have introduced PPC much sooner than now!
New Products, New Direction
Why am I telling you, the reader, about this? Over the last several months I have been developing an idea that started with one design of its kind back in 2021. I played around with the capabilities of InDesign and created a representation of King’s College, Taunton (the main school building) where I currently live. I used my own high resolution acrylic artworks to construct the digital version of this historic building. It worked and I soon transferred the design to prints, tea towels and cards.
I expanded the technique to include King’s Hall School (the junior equivalent to King’s College) in 2022, and since the autumn of that year, I been inspired to develop a whole range of landmarks and buildings – from the local and obscure, to national treasures up and now the country. Most recently, I have explored digital collage representations of landscapes (coastal and inland uplands) with success.
This new collection was launched at Easter as a series of A4 prints. It may well be that I take the business in this new direction and a new home textiles range will evolve from these designs … let’s watch this space together shall we?
Reflecting across my range of products, even my painted glassware (an accidental decision, rather than anything strategic!) has taken on a slightly different look, and not just in surface design. As well as ‘new’ glass items, my range now incorporates upcycled glass, from bottles or varying size and shape, to jars and fruit bowls, and all manner of glass product in between.
I have always used charity shops as a source of glassware, going right back to the 1990s, when I first sold painted glassware. It would always delight me to find something a little unusual and out of the ordinary to paint. I still follow this approach today, and as well as breathing life into bottles and jars destined for the recycling tub or landfill, I also give those unwanted charity shop items a chance to live a new life!
Many friends and family now regularly save their glass items for me to upcycle – and thank you all sincerely for helping me reuse and recycle these once perfunctory items into something beautiful and unique. These items are now available through my Etsy shop.
Bespoke Wedding Gifts
All my products make great gifts for all occasions, but my painted glassware and prints can be fully bespoke to suit your brief. Take a look through my shop, or drop me an email with your ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Prints for Sale
As well as my soon-to-be-launched landmarks and buildings collection, I also have a range of art prints for sale. These are digital designs that incorporate my acrylic and mixed media work, presenting them in a whole new light, focusing on pattern, texture and colour.
Small-Batch Homewares and Gifts
My homewares and gifts range includes tea towels, prints, cushions, head and neck scarves, cosmetics bags and painted glassware. Vibrant and bold in design, they’re not for the faint-hearted, instead intended to inject some colour and pattern into your homes.