Cockpit Arts

Business Support Project with Cockpit Arts – ‘Commercialising Creative Content’

Cockpit Arts, the award winning Social Enterprise and creative-business incubator for designer-makers, launched a project in 2011 aimed at helping small creative businesses to take the next steps in their business development, expansion and manufacturing strategies.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the project matched specialist advisers with designer-makers to provide support over a number of face-to-face sessions and group workshops.

Nigel Rust, one of three specialist advisers working on the project, ran two group workshops on ‘finding, selecting and getting the most from manufacturers’ as well as taking on a number of clients on a one-to-one basis. Ten designer-makers, all with studios at Cockpit Arts in either Holborn or Deptford, were selected to work with him, including: interior product designers, ceramicists, jewellers, a fashion designer, high-end wallpaper designers and giftware makers.

The clients each had their own specific needs that were identified at the start – some wanted to reduce the cost of outsourced manufacturing, some wanted to increase productivity in their studio, some were looking to rationalise or expand their product range, some simply wanted to improve their management skills and systems, some needed help with research into alternative manufacturers and some wanted a combination of these areas.

Over the course of about five months Nigel worked closely with each client helping them to make immediate practical improvements and developing on-going action plans. All the designers involved were able to make big strides forward in their business development.

Nigel observed: All the clients were enormously enthusiastic and able to move forward at a surprising pace.

After one session one of the clients emailed:”Thanks for an inspiring meeting this morning, we are all very excited at the prospect of becoming more efficient.”

Another estimated that the project had already: “Improved productivity by a third.”

And from the group sessions: “Nigel’s session gave me the confidence to go into manufacture.”

“Nigel’s talk provided a lot of useful tips on how to go about manufacturing. I was very impressed with the relevant background research that went into this session. It was very useful.

Ellen O’Hara, Head of Business Development at Cockpit Arts, added: “We were delighted that Nigel was able to provide his expertise as part of the ‘Commercialising Creative Content’ project. His professionalism and in-depth knowledge of the manufacturing sector made him a pleasure to work with. The businesses that he mentored have all commented on the significant impact that he has had on their productivity. We look forward to working with him again in the future and would highly recommend him to other creative businesses.”

For further information on Cockpit Arts please visit:

Thornback & Peel studio, Cockpit Arts, Holborn. Photo: Vanessa Swann, image courtesy of Cockpit Art
Designs from Lizzie Allen's range of wallpapers and soft furnishings. Photographer Jamie Trounce, image courtesy of Cockpit Arts

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