We’ve seen Fund it project creators grow out all sorts of creative hubs. Finding a dedicated tribe that can support your work, collaborate on projects or be cheerleaders for your business can make all the difference at every stage of development. Designers and makers are just one tribe of creators we engage with regularly. For tips on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign for your design project, check out our interview with Elaine Fallon, founder of Brookwood Pottery, the most successful Design category project on Fund it to date. Elaine successfully raised €16,770 from 279 funders, helping her to kit out Brookwood Pottery with equipment, as well as raise the profile of the pottery before its launch.
What are your top tips for designers and makers thinking of launching a crowdfunding campaign?
If your project involves launching a new business or expanding I would really recommend booking some business mentoring with your local enterprise office. It’s important to engage with people who have a different perspective, and who can suggest ideas and approaches that you may not have thought of. They will also provide you with a structure and force you to do the figures, which as creatives we may shy away from!
Use professional photography and the best video piece you can afford. High quality imagery and video shows that you are serious about your project and tells a story better than any post will.
Finally I would recommend trying to contact other people who have successfully crowdfunded as mentors and cheerleaders for you. My Fund it buddy was Joanne Condon from Kyle Lane who I knew through a friend. Joanne’s support was really important as she shared her experiences with me, encouraged me and understood first-hand the rollercoaster experience that crowdfunding can be!
What was the most important element of the campaign for you when planning it?
Definitely the financial plan – working out how much I needed to raise to equip and open the pottery and how much each reward would cost me to pay back and the length of time I would need to pay back the pledges. I needed to know that this part of the campaign was sound before going forward as I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I was backing on funds that weren’t really there. At the time I had taken a total break from the pottery to re-evaluate and totally re-haul how I looked at the business. I had started mentoring sessions with the LEO Dublin City Centre office that opened my eyes to the long-term feasibility of my business. It was the turning point for me and helped me plan and put a structure on all of my ideas.
What worked during the campaign / what didn’t work?
Social media was the most important tool I used during the campaign. I used Facebook and Instagram to a point of almost being embarrassing with live podcasts and updates on events but I knew I had a limited time to get the message out there. Local radio was also surprisingly effective and I was able to leverage an interview on a local radio station effectively with a producer on Radio 1 ‘The Business’. I rang them to let them know I would be on a local radio and they could tune in to hear me and it worked – they contacted me after that. Handing out flyers at a local garden festival was a low point and I felt that it was too random so I would not recommend that! But I suppose my attitude was if I threw enough energy and events at the campaign then something was bound to stick.
What surprised you most about the process?
What genuinely surprised me was the amount of goodwill and kindness there was out there and the willingness of people to help. People genuinely wished the best for the project and wanted to help me achieve my goals. Their warmth and empathy was very heart warming and renewed my confidence in people – I know this sounds a bit over the top but it’s true! I was also surprised by how stressful the campaign was. It took a lot of energy and focus and it was hard to keep going at certain points like mid-way through the campaign when funding slowed.
What’s next for your project / creative journey?
The crowdfunding campaign has allowed us to develop Brookwood Studios into a resource for us as makers and the community. We hold regular classes for adults and children and host groups for special occasions such as birthdays and corporate events. We also host workshops for other makers – workshops in furniture upcycling and floral design are planned for November. As well as producing our own range we share the studio with six Brookwood Pottery members and we held an open night for Culture Night where all members work were shown. We are planning our 1st year Birthday party at Santry Central for November 2018 with a special buyers evening. Our shop currently stocks Brookwood Pottery, Ail + El, Mr. Kite Designs, Ruby Robin, Firefly Design and Dalkey Soaps. I would like to develop our shop space and eventually specialize in ceramics. We will also be expanding our visiting workshops programmes and are keen to hear from designers who would like to host their event at our location.
For more information, visit Brookwood Pottery
More support for Designers and Makers
If you’re a designer or maker seeking further supports and information, the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) is the national agency for the commercial development of Irish designers and makers, stimulating innovation, championing design thinking and informing Government policy.
DCCoI provides a range of programmes, supports and services for designers and craftspeople, learners and teachers, retailers and gallerists, shoppers and collectors, media and partner organisations in order to raise the standard and profile of Irish design and craft. Their activities are funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland.
For more information visit: https://www.dccoi.ie/