We did not know what to expect when we arrived at Top Drawer, but we have come away with a really strong feeling that it was a success.
Talking about it today at the morning meeting, my adrenaline was flowing sharing the news from our first experience at Top Drawer 2016.
Catherine and I visited in January 2016 and you can read what we learnt here… Top Drawer January 2016.
And as you can see we thought, ‘Yes we can do this, it is going to be hard work, there is a lot to do, let’s aim for 2017.’
There are 74 of us at Designs in Mind, (A studio of designer makers referred through mental health services. JOLT is a retail brand of Designs in Mind.) who have contributed to the development of JOLT. Working collaboratively in this way makes a journey like this possible. It might be a conversation in the kitchen, or a workshop to get design ideas, or a one to one screen printing session- it feels like everyone has had a part to play.
Take, for example, our name- JOLT. Commissioner’s and buyers of our work are impressed by the quality. They are often embarrassed as they say, ‘but your work is so professional‘. We know this is said with good intentions, but our experience tells us that people expect low quality work from a community group and that adults living with mental illness can’t learn high level skills. The predominant culture is one of low expectations. Members reflected this perception in their conversations…
'I think we should show the world what we do, it is such a positive in a difficult time- we’re not stupid, ignorant or second class citizens because we’re living on benefits and not in work. We have aspirations for our ability and the future.’
(J, Designs in Mind Member)
We know we surprise people and this has a positive effect on members, raising their aspirations of what they can achieve, as well as challenging the expectations of people outside of Designs in Mind.
So JOLT was born.
I don’t know if you have heard of Katagelophobia?
It is the fear of ridicule, being put down or embarrassed . The origin of the word kata is Greek (meaning put down), gelo is Greek (meaning laughing) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear).
Up until we had our stand up this is what I felt and we discussed it on a daily basis in the studio. Are we good enough, a real feeling of impostor syndrome.
So I think this is why Top Drawer exceeded our expectations.
We got amazing feedback on our product
Top Drawer attracts people with a reputation in the design world- and they came to speak to us!
Everyone got what we are doing and they were not patronising in their response to our story. We can often hear- ‘oh isn’t that nice’ or ‘that is lovely’ but not at Top Drawer. People wanted to talk to us about process and how members of Designs in Mind had produced this collection.
If there is a Top Drawer club- we felt like we were part of it, although it didn’t feel clique at all. Top Drawer did an amazing job of looking after us and making us feel special- in person, on social media and with drinks on the first night- whoop!
We didn’t feel there was a sense of competition at all in the room- just overwhelming support from other makers and designers.
And we made sales- hoorah, we did the YAY dance a lot, our new stockists are stunning and we have come back to the studio with a bigger ‘To Do’ list than when we left.
We are ready to rock and roll in this new design led retail world that we feel proud to be part of.