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ChattyFeet

Gil Kahana and Humberto de Sousa met while studying MA Communication Design at Central Saint Martins. Their mission is to inject more fun into people’s lives through their characterful ChattyFeet socks.

ChattyFeet Founders

Gil & Humberto

It all started one fateful evening when they posed the question: ‘What if our socks could talk?’  They are still answering this three years later, having launched and grown a successful business, with recommendations from Vogue, the Guardian and the Huffington Post, to name but a few.

We spoke with Gil to find out how ChattyFeet transformed from an idea to the business it is today.

“Humberto and I were good friends after college. One of the great things about the MA at CSM was the international aspect of the course. I made friends from around the World!

Good ideas come with friends, when you’re comfortable with the people around you…

We were both interested in self-initiated projects. I was working in User Experience at the time, and Humberto was working as a Web Designer.  I had dipped my toe in the water with a cookbook called ‘Lunch Box Revolution’, and I really enjoyed it, so I wanted another project to pursue.  Humberto and I were at a friend’s one evening and we were joking around, when I put my foot up on the table and animated it. Somehow the idea stuck, and a few days later we created a prototype by drawing a face on a white sock to test it out, to see how it actually felt. We researched and found videos of other people animating their feet, so we knew it would be something that people would be interested in, and that people could relate to.

First Prototype ChattyFeet

First prototype

We then decided to take the huge step of having a sample produced, which was an adventure in itself. We found this difficult as when you are starting out, factories are reluctant to work with you unless you are getting thousands of units made.  We eventually found somewhere in India to produce the sample, however this was a long and arduous task – they didn’t understand what we were doing and we wasted time and money. They couldn’t execute the quality and level of detail that we required.

So we decided to go with another producer in Turkey, but this turned out to be even more stressful – we set a launch date for the product for the 1 December 2012, and they had left it very close to the date to ship the first batch over. They sent us a picture of the product ready to be shipped, and we saw that all the labels were on the wrong way round. The biggest lesson we learnt from this is to make sure you always over-communicate with your producer!

With Start-Ups, your initial idea is a very small percentage of the whole business. What’s vital is that you have the energy and passion to take the idea forward – you need to have enough love to overcome fears from judgement, and going against the mainstream. You have to really commit to your idea – even to treat it like it’s a person. Pursuing an idea like this and setting up a business is hard work, but it also means you wake up every day with a certain essence.

Kate MiddleToe

Kate MiddleToe

As a start-up, you try and do everything yourself to save money until it really hurts, and you know the business can’t continue like that. We started off shipping everything ourselves – our busiest time was Christmas, where I would literally be carrying a big sack of socks to the post office every day… This eventually became too exhausting and we decided we couldn’t continue without a fulfilment partner. One benefit of doing it this way round is that you are experts on what you are then outsourcing.  For example, we knew how exactly how much we should be paying for shipping.

We sold the first batch in Camden and Spitalfields markets – this gave us a real sense of how people reacted to the product. We saw people picking up the socks and laughing at them –it was really nice to see. However, we learnt that the market on the street is too wide, we knew we had to go online.

We started to work with different platforms to see where our products were most successful. When you are small your website isn’t going to get you the same amount of exposure – you have to work with the bigger established companies.  Notonthehighstreet.com has been our most successful sales platform – we found them to be brave and open minded about our product.

Don-Cottone

Don Cottone

We recently collaborated with some students from ESAD, a University in Portugal. The students were given a brief to come up with a new character for the brand. We chose four designs from these which we now sell. This was a really positive experience for us – it brought us a fresh perspective and new ideas as a brand.

It took us a year and a half to understand that we are a gift brand rather than a fashion brand… People tend to buy our products to make someone else laugh… What we also discovered is that you have to take advice from people with a pinch of salt – sometimes advice can be invaluable, but sometimes it can be very dangerous. There are so many ways to get it right – you have to believe in yourself.

ChattyFeet is really successful in countries where you have to take your shoes off because this is when people can see our funny characters… We still have a lot of ground to cover in countries where it’s cold!  We now have nineteen designs for adults and kids.  We are hoping to expand our product range from just socks – for Chattyfeet the sky’s the limit!

ChattyFeet is a friendly brand so feel free to get in touch with Gil and Humberto for advice and inspiration!

Visit the ChattyFeet socks website

 

 

Brit Week 2015

London Transplants Exhibition

The West Coast Alumni Association are launching their Exhibition entitled London Transplants, which will run as a part of Brit Week 2015, from April 21 – May 3 at WallSpace LA, 607 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles.

The show, which runs from April 21-May 3, 2015, will be a unique offering from UAL alumni – transplants from England and Europe who work in diverse fields, including the fashion and textile industries, contemporary art, film and animation, product and graphic design and have made Los Angeles their home.

On the surface, LA and London seem to have little in common outside a shared language, and those moving to the city can experience a culture shock. Leaving Europe behind, the London Transplants swapped rain for sun, public transport for freeways and cars, and history for Manifest Destiny. London Transplants 2015 will showcase artists who have been in LA for decades and those who have recently arrived to these sunny shores. What is true for all the artists is that the move to LA has encouraged an evolution, even a revolution, in the creation of their work.

It is well know that artists such as David Hockney blazed a trail for ex-pats who, like him, moved west to experience the light, the openness, the newness and the nowness of Southern California. Freed from the traditions and institutions of older cities and artistic tradition, the “blue-sky” creative climate in LA and its continually developing art scene have allowed for a fresh perspective for expat artists. In presenting London Transplants 2015, Wallspace offers a continuation of this legacy and an exciting look at these artists’ journey in this electrifying city.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

West Coast UAl Alumni Association
Email: info@londontransplants.com 
Website

The Mongolia Project!

The Mongolian Project

Anna-Louise Hale, Fine Art BA (Hons), Central Saint Martins; Byam Shaw is director of The Mongolia Project! Since graduating she has continued to create work as a freelance artist in set design, predominantly as Lead Set Designer with RIFT Theatre Company on their overnight adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Poplar 2014 – however her heart still lies with contemporary art.  After a two month adventure alone to Mongolia in 2012, the Mongolia Project was born, in order to say thank you to the talented artists she met on her way.

The Mongolia Project will be the first non-commercial contemporary art exhibition in the UK for Mongolian and international artists inspired by the country. The exhibition and events will be held in conjunction with ART HUB Gallery in October 2015 and as part of the Deptford X Art Festival in September 2015. After two years of organisation, they now need your help on Kickstarter to raise £5000!

Anna is supported by a team and group of ten artists, who invite you to explore modern Mongolia, its history, and the challenges it faces through visual, auditory and kinaesthetic means; talks, activities and participation. There are three main aspects of the project, the exhibition, events and a trip that Anna and a colleague will take later this year to Mongolia in order to work with the University of Art and Culture in Ulaanbaatar.

You can help them by donating here

For information you can visit the website or contact them at mongolia.exhibition@gmail.com

 

 

Acting Alumni Win Big at Olivier Awards

Penelope Wilton © Pamela Raith

Penelope Wilton © Pamela Raith

Drama Centre London alumni Penelope Wilton and John Dagleish both scooped prizes in the Olivier Awards 2015 with Mastercard.

Penelope Wilton won Best Actress for her role in Taken at Midnight at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. She gave a harrowing and steely performance as a mother fighting for her incarcerated son in Nazi Germany.

John Dagleish was named Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of The Kinks frontman Ray Davies. He played Davies in Edward Hall’s production of Sunny Afternoon.

Alumnus Ronan Bell was also nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical, for the part he played in Memphis the Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

Since their inauguration in 1976, the Olivier Awards have been known as a mark of theatrical greatness. The winners are chosen by a mixture of distinguished industry professionals, theatre luminaries and members of the public.

More information:
Drama Centre London

Graduate Weaves Music into Textiles

© Beatwoven

© Beatwoven

Beatwoven, a company founded by BA Textile Design graduate Nadia-Anne Ricketts, has been given a £25,000 ‘Boost’ award by Creativeworks London.

Creativeworks’ new award teams academics with small businesses, to collaborate on a research project that benefits both partners. Beatwoven will be paired with Queen Mary, part of the University of London.

Building on Beatwoven’s expertise in translating music into textiles, Queen Mary will make an app that allows customers to upload their music and create bespoke patterns.

The app will be developed alongside a research project investigating copyright boundaries within the music industry.

© Beatwoven © Beatwoven

Stiff competition
There was strong competition for funding and Nadia-Anne’s team had to compete against 11 other start-ups and research teams.

Each team had to prepare a business pitch and deliver a five-minute presentation to a panel of industry professionals.

Judges included Chris Moore from UK Trade and Investment, Wendy Malem from London College of Fashion and Steve Clegg from IBM.

More information:
BA Textile Design