Shop Profile: Ink & Thread
By Kate Marsden
Welcome to our first Just A Card shop profile! Today we're meeting long term supporter of our campaign, Emily Baker of Ink & Thread in Derby. Read on to hear about her shop, some great resources for designer/makers and how she supports Just A Card..
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
My name is Emily Baker and I run British Made design shop: Ink & Thread. Selling from our shop in Derby and online since 2011, the shop celebrates and supports small creative companies and individual designer/makers. Absolutely everything we stock is made in Britain, something I’m extremely proud of.
What does a typical day involve?
The Derby shop opens at 10 o’clock, so before opening up I’ll head to the post office and get the previous days online orders in the post. Then I’ll spend the day at the shop doing what all small business owners do: a bit of everything. My priority is serving customers but whilst at the shop I’ll also be updating social media, adding new products to our website, placing orders, unpacking orders, responding to emails and general paperwork/admin.
Where do you work? What is your shop like?
Ink & Thread is based in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter, we’re on a beautiful street full of independent shops. The shop is all on one floor and we rent the upstairs space of the shop to the brilliant product photographer and stylist Holly Booth so I’m always discovering even more brilliant designer/makers.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing shop/gallery owners at the moment?
The high street is always changing and always will be, out of town shopping centres with free parking have affected city centres over the last few decades. I still believe there is a place for small independent shops, but they need to be doing something different and interesting... that’s why we’re seeing retail spaces evolving, offering customers more than just a shop, interacting with customers, running creative workshops and becoming social spaces... providing something the internet can’t.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
Long term I’d like us to be the shop you think of when you want to buy affordable British Made design. Short term, growing online sales is a key target for this year. I’d also like to work with some of my favourite designers to produce items exclusively for Ink & Thread.
Do you have any tips for fellow small business owners and designer/makers who are reading this and may be just starting out?
There is lots of great support out there: The Design Trust, who supports this campaign, is an excellent source of advice. I also point people towards the Indie Retail Academy which is run by fellow shopkeeper Clare Yuille, and offers great advice for designer/makers looking to take the wholesale leap.
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Yes, since first hearing about the campaign the overall message I’ve taken from it is about being more thoughtful about your purchases... whatever they may be. I would always choose to spend my money with an independent small businesses over a chain, and I think more and more people are starting to feel this way.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
Supporting small businesses is exactly what Ink & Thread is all about: everything we sell has been made in Britain by small creative companies and individual designer makers. It would be easy for me to sell mass produced items which can be found in gift shops up and down the country, but for me it’s about the product: the story behind it and the person behind it. So to find a campaign that supports exactly that is fantastic, that’s why I’ve been shouting about it since the beginning and will continue to do so.
Where did you hear about the campaign & which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently?
I heard about the campaign direct from it’s creator, I'd been following Sarah (Hamilton) on twitter for a while and once we got chatting I wrote a blog post about the campaign last year... this lead to an article in Mollie Makes which I was thrilled with.
Social media is really important to the business, I’ve used twitter since opening and started using Instagram last year. Both are great for connecting with customers, designers and fellow small business owners.
What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I will continue to shout about it through social media and encouraging others to do the same. It really is a fantastic campaign, Sarah has worked so hard on it and now more people are on board it’s only going to go from strength to strength, I’m really pleased my small shop is associated with it. Every purchase helps makers keep on making and keeps our high street interesting and independent.