Starting Out...

We started our business in October 2005

Our first stall was at Greenwich Market (South East London). Sophia had just finished her degree in fashion design and Matt was in the third year of his degree in information design (pretty much graphic design). We were both working weekends in a furniture shop to earn a little cash, and Matt was working during the week as a 'digital retoucher' for a photographer towards the end of his degree, and doing some freelance web development.

Having finished her degree

Sophia planned on either looking for a job in the fashion industry or becoming self employed. Matt fully intended to be self employed after his degree and was planning to go into full time web development or graphic design. Between looking for jobs, Sophia started sampling small easy to assemble products at home, all kinds of weird Frankenstein creations started appearing, some of which we actually still have in a cupboard where they are least likely to offend the senses. Out of this creative process appeared our first makeup bag. All of our early product designs were incredibly simple in their construction — they had to be because they were all hand cut and sewn by us at Sophia's house, we needed to be able to produce products easily in reasonable quantities, we also wanted to place an emphasis on print design, and there's a fine balance to be achieved between fancy construction and busy prints, too much of the wrong stuff would have been horrible.

After a month

We had a small collection of very basic products, we took our products to Greenwich market and had our first stall on Friday, October 28th 2005. We learned very quickly, and listened to all of the feedback we received at the Market, we continued to revise our product designs and stall presentation, as a result of this things started to take off pretty fast.

At this stage

We still had no intention of becoming a company it was late November 2005 and we were working flat out to keep up with demand, we very quickly realised that we could earn more money developing our products full time, the first step towards this was for us to both quit our weekend jobs at the furniture shop — a job that Matt described as "soul destroying monotony" and needed very little convincing to leave, especially before he was fired. Following that, Matt left his degree just months before finishing and never returned to his job as a Retoucher, our budding company became our number one priority.

With both of us working full time

We worked hard hand making our products and with Christmas 2005 approaching we spent every hour of every day working flat out, Matt was cutting and Sophia was sewing everything. By January 2006 we were completely exhausted, we had made a small profit and had come to rely entirely on what was fast becoming "A Business" for our income.

After a couple of months

It was becoming clear that we could no longer work from Sophia's bedroom, having impressively "scaled up" once already by buying a bigger table to work on, it was time to find some studio space, which we eventually found at Trinity Buoy Wharf (East London). We can't say enough good things about getting some space at Trinity Buoy Wharf, we loved our studio very much, it was the very heart of our business and has enabled us to grow as a company. Our studio overlooked the river Thames and is at the centre of a creative a community. We looked at a handful of Studio spaces at Trinity Buoy Wharf, but felt instantly good about the Studio M. Feeling good about where you work is massively important, especially if you're in a creative business, things started going very well shortly after moving into our new studio.

By the end of our first year in Studio M

We had really refined our product range, and had begun to develop a style and identity, not to mention the all important product range, which by now (mid 2007) consisted of two styles of handbag, a makeup bag, a large wash bag, a small wash bag and 2 styles of purses. We had a format that was working well for us and we instinctively knew which direction to take things, for us it was to keep things simple so we could continue to produce our products by hand at the studio in larger quantities as demand grew, also enabling us to focus on developing print design in our spare time.

Finally at the start of 2008

Having expanded into a second studio, and into 3 markets (Greenwich, Camden Lock & Camden Stables) we could no longer cope with cutting and sewing everything ourselves, we searched everywhere for help in manufacturing, we were hell bent on keeping the majority of production in London. We found a small family run factory in East London that now sews 98% of our products.

By the end of 2008

We had finally started to settle down in our business, Matt had started working on building a website, developing our identity with signage and a logo, and started working on the product photography. Sophia continued to work on refining the existing product shapes and working on developing important new product ranges. Two big things happened for us in 2008, the new "AFX Big Green Spot" range was finally finished, a range that we had been working on for nearly a year, when the first batch arrived from the factory we couldn't have been happier with the production quality and how well it had finally turned out. The AFX range has been very popular and was an early glimpse at the direction we want our company to take in the next few years. The second big thing for us was a chance encounter with Hiro Koshimizu, someone who has become a very good friend of ours and is now the sole distributor for us in Japan, with his help we launched our company in Tokyo at the beginning of February 2009.

In 2008 we produced and sold over 12,000 products in London, we did absolutely zero marketing, with no online sales, no wholesale and only trading 2 days a week. We achieved these figures by working extremely hard, pricing our products fairly and most importantly listening to our customers. What’s next

In 2012 we are set to improve further and look forward to bringing you new and exciting prints and products. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when our new prints and products will be released. Exciting stuff!