Last weekend I made a trip up to London for the Not On The High Street Pitch Up 2017 event where, similarly to Liberty’s Best of British Open Call, they open up their headquarters to lots of hopeful designers to pitch their products! Not On The High Street is such a popular online shopping destination these days, especially for gifts and unique design, so this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.
I signed up to NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 back in December via EventBrite which is open to anyone but there are limited slots. It crept up fast and all of a sudden February came and I realised I’d better get myself prepared and so I created a little handmade booklet to show my product photography to the panel. I knew from having done the Liberty Open Call that the 10 minute slot would fly by fast and what really matters is the quality of my products so I didn’t prepare a speech or anything. I know that over rehearsing will most likely only make me panicky and that I’m passionate enough about my brand that I can speak about it quite freely without needing to practice.
I stayed with a friend in London the night before so I could get the train to Richmond the next morning without any faff. I’d signed up to be seen between 11am-12pm but I think this is just a general guideline since I arrived early but didn’t get seen until around 11:45pm. When you sign in there is a waiting room next to the reception where you are given a number and wait to be called upstairs in groups of about ten. There seemed to be quite a lot of people attending which felt competitive at first but a nice and friendly atmosphere developed thankfully.
Once I was upstairs I had to let them know what products I had brought with me which meant I needed to see potentially three different panels which I didn’t expect. I waited at the side of the room to be called over which didn’t take long at all and at first met two lovely ladies from the Home & Garden department. They were very complimentary and even had some great ideas for developments I could make. They were undecided however if my products were right for the very trend-led, contemporary style of NOTHS and so said they would decide together with the lady from the Art & Prints department after I’d seen her.
So I headed back to my chair at the side and waited to be called over once more, at this point preparing myself for disappointment. I was kicking myself for only bringing one A4 print with me since the email had said to only bring about 5 products and I hadn’t expected them to have time to look at a lot. Thank goodness I had my iPad with me and so I got my online shop loaded at the ready to show them my full range of prints online. The head of the department loved my work, and having unpackaged my print to examine the quality she handed over a Congratulations card without even discussing with the ladies from Home first! She asked that I’d post a couple of my A3 prints to her just to see them for real but said she’d put me through nevertheless! I was so overwhelmed at this point having expected to have to wait nervously while the two departments came to an agreement.
After that they send you through to another room where someone takes your details and signs you up then and there which was really nice because it made the whole thing feel concrete having received an email confirming my membership already. So afterwards I went for some obligatory celebration lunch at Wahaca and then visited the new Switch House viewing terrace at Tate Modern. (Wahaca is delicious by the way and I was suitably hungry for the occasion.) What a day, I’m so overjoyed to have reached a new milestone for Sky Siouki!
For anyone thinking of attending the next NOTHS Pitch Up event I would say absolutely go for it! There is nothing to lose really bar a few travel expenses, plus the joining fee is half price if you do get through. It was very well run, dare I say better than Liberty’s Open Call since the allotted time slots mean everyone arrives at a staggered pace and I really wasn’t waiting very long at all. It felt like they had time for you, even bothering to ask where I was from and what I had planned for the afternoon to make me feel more at ease rather than rushing through it.
My biggest regret is of course not taking more prints with me, but thankfully I still got through! I would advise having a good look at the website and thinking about how or if your work will stand out as there is a lot of choice on there already and they did mention how mugs and cards in particular are a very saturated market where it can be hard to stand out. The reason they liked my prints so much was because of my unique contrast of painting against detailed sketches and exciting colour use. They mentioned trends quite a lot and whether products were gift-able so there are a few points so to bear in mind to anyone who goes to the next Pitch Up! Now I’m off to get adding my products to the website!