The independent design and craft shops springing up across the UK

Edinburgh shop Technicolour interviews Glasgow shop Welcome Home for tips

The independent design and craft shops springing up across the UK

Ever dreamt of opening your own shop? Or maybe turning your online mini-empire into a real-life bricks and mortar boutique? Jo Richardson is one of three ECA graduate designers who has just opened Technicolour in Edinburgh’s Tollcross. She asks Mhari McMullan, owner of Welcome Home in Glasgow’s West End, which recently celebrated its first birthday, what advice she’d give …

Jo: What were you doing before this?
Mhari: I graduated in 2003 from textile design (specialising in print) at Central St Martins in London, where I’m from. I worked as a buyer and visual merchandiser but didn’t feel I was using my creativity enough and wanted to focus on my own work. Unfortunately this doesn’t pay off straight away so I tried a few placements — I worked for the lighting designer Tord Boontje at his Peckham studio which was amazing, like working in wonderland! Also at World of Interiors magazine, and as a tutor running art and design workshops.

Jo: What led you to open your own shop?
Mhari: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I moved to Glasgow in 2007 and really fell in love with the city and its creativity. We decided to stay and I’ve been planning Welcome Home pretty much since then. As a designer myself I wanted somewhere that was more than a shop or gallery. I wanted to make a creative, supportive platform that wasn’t like anywhere else. It sounds silly but somewhere people would feel at home, get involved and shop for inspiration as well as great products.

Jo: What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started out?
Mhari: Just how much work it would be! I’ve had great help from people, but I run Welcome Home single-handedly six days a week. You get used to it, but it sure is tiring sometimes. I’ve only recently had time to focus on my own work again — I’ve started a new label called Black Arches. It’s so nice to be doing both once more.

Jo: Has the shop developed as you planned, or evolved into something different?
Mhari: Both really. One thing you’ll learn is that you can’t plan everything. Some things work straight away; others take time. You’ll probably find you get approached with ideas or projects you hadn’t planned that are too good to say no to. I like that though, I like variety.

Jo: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Mhari: I’d like to do more collaborative projects and take Welcome Home elsewhere too. It’s good to have goals and ambitions but it’s quite exciting to not know exactly what’s going to happen. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve but you’ll have to wait and see.

Jo: What are the best bits about running Welcome Home?
Mhari: Meeting so many great people, both designers and customers; finding new work to showcase in the shop; seeing an exhibition come together; lovely comments from people who come in for the first time - there’s a new best bit each week!

Jo: What’s been the highlight of year one?
Mhari: Probably putting together the Welcome Home Annual; a newspaper to celebrate the first birthday on 3 October this year. It was great to look back on the first year and remember everything that had happened, all of the different events and exhibitions. Sometimes you’re so involved you can’t see things clearly and I had a moment of seeing it from the outside and how much I had achieved.

Jo: Any disasters or unexpected hiccups?
Mhari: Nothing major. It’s not always easy, but you cope. If the good doesn’t far outweigh the bad then you shouldn’t be doing it.

Jo: What’s your one great piece of advice for Technicolour?
Mhari: Enjoy it!

Technicolour, 2 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, 07835 143574. Mon-Sat 10.30am-6.30pm; Sunday 11am-5pm.
Welcome Home,19 Keith Street, Glasgow, 334 9598.


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