Dozens of designers who make their own products - from home and kitchenware to jewellery prints and gifts - have been able to reach a worldwide audience thanks to the online boutique Howkapow. Now, after two years of successful trading, the Bristol-based outfit is opening a temporary shop in the city. Perfect timing for the Christmas market.
The shop is located in Quakers Friars, a historic building in the city's Broadmead shopping district, and is holding a grand opening tomorrow - Thursday 25 October. "Everything is white with pops of colour, as we want to make our products sing," explains co-founder Cat How. "We've also enlisted the help of Bristol illustrator Lucie Sheridan, who is doing a series of hand-painted murals and script around the shop. Very colourful but hopefully also very clean and refined."
Having helped independent designers, illustrators and design companies from around the world find a market for their creative products, founders Cat and Rog How are an excellent source of advice. They've trudged the artists markets, and setting up Howkapow they've learned what sells, what doesn't, and how to keep costs under control.
"Be persistent as well as prolific," is Cat How's first suggestion. "Churn out lots of ideas and one of them might end up being your star product while you might have to ditch the rest. But always bear in mind your profit margins and be clever with your designs - if you want to make a mug, do a design in one or two colours instead of loads of different ones as more colours can lead to a more expensive product. Once you've done this, know your wholesale and retail prices inside out."
The most successful products online over the last two years have been the Dog Lamp by Matt Pugh, Fox Cushions by Robin and Mould, and the wiggly Daschhund Tea Towel by Lucie Sheridan. "It's fun and quirky and always makes people smile - which is why it's so popular," concludes Cat How.