• Catherine Wilks

Top Drawer A/W17

Top Drawer is a great platform for us to present ourselves to the world.

We feel very hidden in our studio, on the 1st and 2nd floors of an old Victorian building in Oswestry, looking down on the town. I don’t think that many people know we are here, and we are not open to the public so even if they do it is difficult to spark spontaneous conversations.

Then when we venture further afield… Where is Oswestry!? This is the question we are always prepared to answer, and laughter follows as people struggle to say Os-west-ry.

There is a hive of activity going on up here, in the rural town of Oswestry, in Shropshire on the Welsh Borders. Over 70 makers across the week are…

  • experimenting with new ideas

  • learning new making and design skills

  • making new products

  • selecting and refining new designs

  • researching supplies

  • producing wrapping and labels

  • packaging products and sending them to their new homes

and when we get time, sharing our story…

‘Making is not a distraction in a mind numbing way, it allows the chaos to disappear

and when I am making I am active.’

‘I feel like my work is valued, that doesn’t happen often in my life’

JOLT is a retail brand of Designs in Mind, a working studio of makers

living with mental health challenges.

There are so many roles in a working studio, there is always something for people to be involved in- on good days and bad days. Some tasks involve repetition, precision, creative thinking, discussion or trial and error- some jobs are about starting something new, some are about finishing off. What we all know is that we rely on each other as we navigate this creative adventure.

Sharing our new collection at Top Drawer last week is what we have been working on all year.

We have learnt a lot since our first visit to Top Drawer A/W16 and it was great to be back feeling a little more confident and excited about what might be.

Yet again Top Drawer exceeded our expectations. I find it difficult to honestly tell the story of our experience because there are so many conversations still to be had, things to follow up on and I don’t want to jinx anything! It is a funny feeling wanting to be proud of what we have achieved so far and knowing we have a long way to go.

Presenting and selling our work at Top Drawer has two impacts on our studio...

1. It contributes earned income to the sustainability of our work

2. It positively impacts on how people feel- physically faces beam, spines straighten, eyes sparkle. People describe more energy, more motivation, self-worth, value and a sense of purpose.

This year at Top Drawer it felt like there was a lot more action- people were engaging with our products, buying from us and talking to us about commissions- places we have dreamt of working with. We look forward to adding our new stockists list to the website soon, lots of lovely shops selling our work up and down the country.

One of the things I will remember the most is a conversation about ‘having fun’. It can be challenging standing on a stand, smiling, starting new conversations, trying to remain cool whilst having thoughts about professionalism and image darting through your head- but the most important thing is, we all want to enjoy ourselves. We are lucky that across the four days, six of us were involved in looking after our stand and making connections. We made friends and shared stories with all the people around us and reveled in the conversations with buyers and retailers who wanted to buy from us or work with us in the future.

In the end everything is down to relationships, this is the most important thing in our studio and when we go out and about. Top Drawer enabled us to make lots of new connections and we look forward to working together in the next phase of this creative adventure.

Thank you Top Drawer.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts