Made in Britain: Liverpool-based art gallery ‘The Nest’

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The Nest in Liverpool’s Royal Albert Dock is home to quirky clothing, greeting cards and other designs.

Owner of The Nest, Katherine Caldwell, talks to us about what makes her products so unique and discusses all the challenges that come with running a small business

Tell us about The Nest?

I graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in Graphic Arts and have worked in the industry ever since as a self-employed illustrator. In 2018, the time was right for me to open my own shop after years of supplying other stores and running pop up shops, so The Nest Liverpool Limited was born.

I am very much a creative. I approach everything in a creative way, so I was always destined for a career in the creative industries. I always knew that I wanted to work for myself so I just focused on the most unique aspects of my own personal work and worked hard to carve out a niche for myself in that market. I started by creating a range of illustrated organic cotton children’s clothing that I sold at arts markets. Then it all grew from there after a reassuring nod from the public. Across all my ranges, whether it’s greetings cards, clothing or accessories, each item carries with it the promise of ethical and sustainable manufacturing – something that I have implemented from the start.

What makes your products so unique?

I’ve probably covered some of the most important aspects with regards to the values behind my own products. Of course, they are also so unique as I hand illustrate each design by hand in my own style that has developed over the past 15 years. It was during my time at university that the idea of creating your own distinct style was heavily encouraged and I’m glad to have developed that style early on.

How do you spread the word about your business?

Liverpool is a very supportive city with regards to independent businesses, so word of mouth is always one of our greatest methods of spreading the word. Our approach to business is one that welcomes the customer and listens to their input with care. This has encouraged high engagement on our Instagram account in particular and allows our valued visitors from abroad to stay in touch with everything new at The Nest whilst they are unable to travel.

How has business been during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Like all non-essential retail, we have had to close on three separate occasions, so we were left unable to really plan for the future.

Letting go of plans that we’d made for 2020 wasn’t easy but the reality of what was happening was very clear to me from the beginning. My priority became the health of my family and friends. Growing the business will be far more challenging than ever before but I know we have the right products and a very supportive customer base to see us through.

Now we are open once again and there appears to be a more robust roadmap out of the pandemic, I can feel the excitement coming back once again and I’ve been designing lots of exciting new products that I can’t wait to share with our customers. When we hit the second lockdown just before Christmas, we opened up a web shop for the first time and offered a local delivery service with festive hampers full of our signature products so that we could still reach our customers.

What’s the hardest thing about running a business?

Probably the discipline. I’m always at my best professionally when creating spontaneously and when inspiration strikes, so the day-to-day organisation doesn’t come easy to me!

Have you received any financial support for your business?

We’ve had some fantastic support from Liverpool City Council with the various grant schemes available to us. The whole process has been very thorough and greatly appreciated.

What’s the best decision you’ve made so far?

Get a great team of accountants!

What is one thing that would make running your business a lot easier?

The first thing off the top of my head at this very moment is absolutely for there to be a safe way for our visitors to come and see us again with ease, from both home and abroad. In other words, a global solution to managing or eradicating Covid. We are really missing our international visitors to the city as we are often their first port of call on arrival into Liverpool (Albert Dock is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site here at Liverpool’s waterfront). The day-to-day bustle of businesspeople popping in after a meeting or relatives returning home after living abroad for many years are the little interactions we miss.

What’s next for your business?

That’s a good question! We are always adapting and exploring what’s new out there so I suppose it will be more of that. We love seeing what our incredible local creatives come up with and we are usually pretty good at predicting a trend. We’ll be working more with those sorts of businesses to encourage the growth of the whole designer maker eco system.

Business Matters Magazine

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