10 Jan 2021
What inspired you to create the masters of craft range?
“We at Avec have been leading the category for licensed brand and private label craft kits for the last seven years – which is the heritage of our company. It has been my background and passion to create easy, accessible and affordable kits for crafters to pick up and try. I spent a few Handmade Fairs on the Hobbycraft stand demonstrating our early Kirstie Allsopp kits, and showing crafters how easy it was to try a new technique and create something they were proud of. I loved being that hands on. As we have grown the business and the category diversified, I am naturally drawn back to those roots. So when I started re-looking at craft trends, I could see it wasn’t about one person owning the message – the diversity of messages and methods made it intriguing and engaging, and I wanted to capture that. I started talking to all the creative talent I have worked on and off with over the years, both in Avec and in my time as head of product at the now disbanded Design Objectives, and we all had the same ambition – let’s make it better! We wanted to make the kits more sustainable, reinvent the education and the quality, take it further and start to embrace really cool techniques that seem utterly enchanting and daunting.”
How did you choose your ‘Masters’?
“Anyone who has a specialism, also has a passion. Ever heard Patrick Grant get upset about the amount of clothing already produced that can clothe the next five generations (at least) and the need to love and elongate the life of the clothes we already own? Well until you have experienced that up close, you do not know what passion for patching and darning is! That kind of authentic care is what we wanted to harness. It is unbridled creativity – and it is not about selling a kit, it is about sharing a joy for a craft. If you have visited Jenny Muncaster’s studio then you know what acrylic paint can do! Our local hero that is Kathryn Coyle has been the warmest, kindest watercolour artist, making personal prints for birthdays for the team and just sharing her love with such generosity. She is a master of her craft. These masters want to show crafters how to use the tools and tips and create something they love. The credentials were all about being true to their skill, and being utterly joined to the journey of engaging with crafters.”
How were you able to collaborate with so many influential figures in craft?
“When I make friends I like to keep them. Some of the masters are new friends I am making – and we have had some fun developing branding with them. For some of them this is the first time they have seen their passion translate into a product. I am incredibly honoured to be part of that process. I love what I do and I attract and admire those that also share passion and purpose. So when it comes to benefits and challenges, I think it is simply about sharing a vision and realising that even for the mainstream (on the TV) talent like Kirstie and Patrick – there is a wonderful humility and love to be part of something that connects craft with someone you may not have heard of before now.”
Why do you believe the personal touch from these popular influencers will draw in consumers?
“I think we all thrive on connections with people – you can see this through how we now engage with brands and each other. Craft is no different, we don’t want our brand to be faceless. It needs to feel part of a community, now more than ever. I think that is why I love being a crafter – we all have our micro communities and support networks. We lean on each other, ask each other’s advice, swap fat quarters and tips over a coffee. Our influencers are human beings – all wonderfully warm, hilariously imperfect, and approachable. I think that each of our Masters captures community and expertise without ego.”
How were you able to portray the different styles and personalities of your chosen Masters of Craft within each box?
“We approached every brand uniquely and worked with each master specifically on their message, their unique voice and way of expressing their passion. We want each person to be different – that was the whole idea. So from branding, to content, to how they teach and share and QR codes that link to their work and words it is all bespoke and tailored and perfectly them. We then brought it under our banner and created a collective approach that we could share with retailers to create a clear story for shelves. What we have found is that retailers have honed in on their specific themes, and selected kits and masters that match their audience. How perfect is that? One size, one story, one kit does not fit all. The Masters of Craft range is about creating a forum for specialism that is commercial and supportive. We craft and we personalise, so why wouldn’t we do that with this product?”
How important was it for you to create a product with strong sustainable and ecofriendly credentials?
“Creating a product that has strong sustainable and eco-friendly credentials was fundamental.
“As a business we champion sustainability, it’s not just as a buzzword, but a way of operating daily as a team. Using these considerations, we then reflected on how we source, develop, produce and support.
“We have a zero single use plastic policy for our product and have reduced the packaging size. We are one of around 3,000 companies in the UK that are FSC certifi ed and we operate to the strictest social, environmental and ethical standards – even if our competitors do not. Our internal compliance team are passionate advocates for raising the bar when it comes to sustainability.”
What were the main sustainable considerations that were implemented when creating the boxes?
“We have a zero single use plastic policy and have reduced the amount of packaging used. We have also done all we can to make sure that the product and tools inside are high quality that perform well and are not disposable.”
What are the key ways that you plan to market the range?
“We fl y under the radar as a business, that has been our MO for the last eight years. We market directly to our select retailer base, working on bespoke ranges and solutions for them. This concept felt bigger than one retailer solution – which is why we have opened it out to our multiple retailers in the UK, AU and USA. We have then done what we do and created bespoke solutions and compositions that marry their audience with the right themes and price points.”
What’s next for Avec UK?
“We are really excited about our exclusive global partnership with TheDadLab® and Sergei. The concise capsule range launches AW20. It is sustainable, and exciting. We have a range of other sustainable products across skincare, craft, home and stationery for our customers.
Some of the products we develop include bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo and cotton face pads that replace disposable ones. We have a massive portfolio – it really is about the conversations we have with customers, about finding their challenges, and providing easy solutions. We have creative Advents for 2020 – and a rather exciting project and brand collaboration that I will have to fill you in on later in the year… it is top secret!” To find out more about the Masters of Craft range go to www.avecuk.com
Becks is one of our expert speakers for our virtual trade show, Craft Business Live! View her seminar here.