On The Brink Studios
Alongside commercial work we work with mainly natural materials left over from previous jobs to create new beautifully made products.
What is your favourite part of running your own business? And what is the biggest challenge?
I love the sense of pride in knowing that we have built this studio from scratch. When we arrived at the space it needed so much work, but when I see the whole space being used now; the machines in the wood shop running, music playing, everyone creating; those are the best moments for me.
The biggest challenge has being developing the infrastructure for the business to run. We can come up with ideas for projects no problem, but it’s the work behind the scenes to make sure the building and everything in it runs correctly that takes all the time!
We always had an idea of using up materials from previous jobs to minimise waste across all areas of work in the studio. Leather left over from making stools can be used to make pencil cases to sell through our online shop and in local stores, like Trove in Levenshulme. The props we need are either made out of wood, collected on walks, or sourced from local independent shops and makers. The nature of the materials we use lend themselves to the idea of slow living.
With the product photography side of things I will gather mainly natural materials and look at structure and form when using props to make a composition for products to be showcased.
The idea of slow living is also important to us. As a studio we will sit down for lunch and eat together when we can and talk about our projects. We have a 2 year old. He came about as we grew the studio and so the whole idea was to create a better work life balance. At the moment I work 2 full days in the studio and spend the other days with our boy, but if I need to, he can come to the studio and if I have a bit of work to do, Gareth or Aidan will hang out with him, which is great because he gets to see what they’re up to.
I’ve begun to think a lot more about the clothes I wear. I’ve stopped buying from large clothing companies that will have a lot of waste left over from having large seasonal runs. I’ll either save or buy second hand.
I’m from the countryside, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so life was full of the ideas of slow living and I’m really in my happy place when I’m wandering in a forest and seeing all it has to offer.
The days are always so different. I can either be doing photoshoots, making products and props or working on the digital side of the business. I absolutely love the variety, it suits how my brain works.
Before the pandemic we would host regular workshops and events in the studio. We’ve had some great ones in the past, turning the wood shop into a Ramen joint for an evening with Gareth cooking alongside Lorcan Kan. People could make their own noodles and then their own chopsticks too. We were also hosting regular freelancer meet ups and Life Drawing evenings with Rebecca England. Our events were gathering momentum up until COVID, and now we are unsure what to do with that side of the business. We are looking at fitting out the yard for outdoor workshops, but for this we will need some funding.
However, the positive side of the pandemic for us has been the support we’ve received. People buying our products and engaging with all we are doing. During the first lockdown we created DIY kits made from what we had in the studio. They were made with the idea of keeping people creative and their hands busy during lockdown. We delivered them all over the city and posted all over the world! We're just so thankful for our customers and everyone that supports us. It feels like there's a really positive creative community out there and that's been an exciting development.
We are always adapting. Even before the pandemic. What we do depends on who comes into the studio, who we meet along the way, how we can work together. My next plan is to look at getting our yard kitted out for outdoor workshops when it starts to get a bit warmer. It’s a great space but needs some investing in. I’d love it to become a greener space where we can offer community groups and other creatives the chance to come and hang out in the warmer months.
We really enjoying making an environment, whether it’s in the studio or outside, where people feel comfortable and hopefully leave with some creative inspiration.