‘Grow with the pros’ is our newly launched project that aims to share marketing insights from some of our most dynamic and enterprising customers. By following three inspiring local companies, we hope to uncover wisdom and experience that could help you grow your own business.
Last year, we had a fantastic time following Ancoats Guitars – a new manufacturing business taking its initial steps into print marketing. As the brand embarked on activity such as flyers, posters, brochures, exhibition materials and merchandise for the very first time, we were able to log its progress and report back with valuable lessons.
Heading into 2023, we decided to look at enterprises that were a little further along on their journey. We wanted to share business knowledge and marketing insight from more experienced print customers. Looking among our clients from our neighbouring town of Leigh-on-Sea, we identified three businesses with three unique and contrasting stories.
Finding our focus
We wanted to select businesses that had already enjoyed success in their chosen sectors. That way, we knew that their insights would carry the weight of experience and prove truly useful to our audience.
Each of the businesses we identified was already using print in diverse and creative ways. That’s a great sign that they appreciate the power of print when it comes to growing their businesses. So here they are, the three Leigh-on-Sea businesses that are partnering with Solopress to take it to the next level in 2023.
The Latham Street store in Leigh tells you all you need to know about the brand. Shining out from the window is the Latham Street logo depicting a glitched acid house smiley face rendered in bright yellow neon. This nod to club-culture-with-a-twist tells fashion hunters that they can expect a modern twist on retro themes, and that’s exactly what they get.
Take a trip to Latham Street
Stepping inside, signage featuring photography depicts youth trends, while the fragrance of of the custom-made scented candles lets you know that the brand extends beyond the striking garments that surround you.
The store itself has been established for 5 years, but founder Lorna Minter has been involved in the vintage apparel trade since 2006, trading online, at vintage clothing fairs, student events, festivals and from their former stall at Spitalfields Market.
The tagline ReUsed, ReMade, ReLoved truly sums up the company’s ethos:
Because the fabrics that go into Latham Street’s original creations are sourced from second hand clothing. Lorna is very aware of the humanitarian and environmental issues caused by our insatiable appetite for new clothes. Rather than using virgin fabrics to produce new pieces, Lorna uses her hard earned experience and contacts to source vintage and second-hand clothes. These serve as donor-garments whose fabrics and fastenings find new life in Lorna’s atelier.
Because Lorna and the team take those existing pieces and create something entirely original. Fabric from disused garments is harvested, cut and resown to produce a new piece with an updated design. Sometimes the pieces retain part of their original form and function, but often they are entirely remixed into a totally different garment.
Because Latham Street’s approach is the antidote to fast fashion. These threads may have been disposed of once in their life, but once they have passed through Latham Street, they become a piece to be cherished for years to come.
The name ‘Latham Street’ comes from the road in Preston where Lorna and her friends shared a house as students. The group of friends quickly became involved in the club culture of the 90s and early 2000s. When they weren’t enjoying nights out in Manchester and Liverpool, the party was usually happening at The Latham Street house. While the gang has grown up and moved on, Lorna’s brand still carries the Latham Street spirit.
In fact, the attitude and aesthetics of the rave scene are stitched throughout the Latham Street brand. Names of products and ranges such as ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Good Life’ will often quote the titles of classic tunes, while even the choice of fonts hark back to the warehouse party flyers of the nineties.
People love Latham Street for a bunch of reasons. After all, so much about the brand is unique. Pieces from the ReMade range, while made to a master design, are each as individual as the materials that went into their construction. The eco-angle is attractive too for shoppers that want to avoid fast fashion. The aesthetic that merges retro looks with youth trends appeals to coming-of-age clubbers even more than it does to those that remember it all first time round!
We’re really excited about working with Latham Street this year, because they’re hitting such an eventful phase in their journey. We’ll have front row seats as Lorna evolves the brand, introduces new lines and potentially launches a new leasing service. That’s at the same time as she remodels the Leigh-on-Sea store and develops her offering for the wholesale market. Exciting times!
Cookies & Cones
In addition to the delicious aromas that hit you when you enter a Cookies & Cones, you’re struck by the simple yet distinctive style of the place. The elegant decor provides the perfect backdrop to allow the treats do the talking. It’s a genius balancing act that allows the space to feel like comfortable for young families enjoying a treat, teens hanging out or couples enjoying a date. Cookies & Cones caters for all tastes without being confining itself to vanilla. Quite literally.
Getting stuck in
The rapid expansion of this dessert restaurant chain has been fuelled by the energy and ambition of founder Mathew Davis. Matt gathered management experience in the sweet-treats sector working with other established local business before striking out on his own. Inspired by the US phenomenon of the dessert restaurant, Matt spied a gap in the market and set about bringing the concept to the UK.
Not all business models survive the trip across the Atlantic, but the public have shown their love for Cookies & Cones with their overwhelming support. As ever, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, but sometimes, it’s also in the Instagram photo.
Cookies & Cones has hit the social media zeitgeist with perfect timing. The brand’s meticulous attention to producing consistently attractive drinks and dishes has certainly paid off in a huge way. Diners flock to the restaurant to enhance their feeds and reels with delicious imagery. Yet more diners are attracted by those pictures! It’s a win win for Matt and Cookies & Cones.
When we met with Matt at the very first Cookies & Cones location in Leigh-on-Sea, he was keen to stress that pretty much all of the confections on offer are handmade from scratch. The pictures he painted of the huge sacks of flour and sugar that they order felt like belonged in a Roald Dahl book!
As if vertical expansion weren’t enough, Cookies & Cones is expanding in every direction you could care to mention. That one restaurant became a chain of ten within a mere five years, with an eleventh due to open imminently. Having established a strong network within South Essex, Matt is now looking to London and beyond.
It’s not just sales through restaurants that Matt is chasing. The business has already diversified into areas including home delivery, weddings and events, and wholesale. In fact, an exciting aspect of working with this brand is not knowing where it will head next.
Whatever direction they choose, Solopress has the catalogue to support an expanding business of this type. That could be exhibition print for wedding shows. It could be café barriers and parasols for pavement dining. Maybe staff will need updated caps and uniform. And of course, we’ll always be on hand for promotional print, menus and brochures for both direct and wholesale customers. We can’t wait to see where that journey will take us,
On Leigh-on-Sea’s busy high street, there’s one shopfront in particular that exudes calm and creativity. Through its grand, glazed fascia, uncluttered but for some conspicuously expert flower arrangements, you can usually spy some sort of artwork taking shape.
That might be a group of mature water-colourists exploring their medium with quiet industry. It might equally be an energetic after-school club, taking excited steps towards discovering the passion of a lifetime.
Art’s in the right place
The address of this shopfront is number 98, the inspiration for Create 98’s tuneful name. If you explore beyond the first airy space you encounter and venture downstairs, you enter a second, more of a den-like workshop. This room feels like the sort of place that encourages you to hunker down and get stuck into something constructive.
This was where we first spoke with Christine Wyatt, owner and director of Create 98. Christine has not always been involved with the arts, having previously worked for IBM in the US. When looking for her next challenge, though, Christine decided she wanted to establish a business that would serve the emerging ‘experience economy’.
Recent years have seen a marked increase in our appetite for personal development through learning new skills, and it was this trend that Christine sought to tap into. Painting and drawing are of course popular with courses covering inks acrylics, watercolours and pastels, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s on offer at Create 98.
With a huge roster of talented tutors on the books, Christine is able to offer classes in a diverse range of creative media. Away from paper, there are fabrics and textiles courses, floristry, jewellery making, ceramics, photography and much more. In addition anyone that’s into writing, gardening, floristry and cooking will also find a class to cater for their interests.
Setting the standard
We first partnered with Create 98 to produce their seasonal brochure. This key document sets the agenda for the courses and activities the business will offer in the following three months. As you can imagine, it’s full to bursting with pertinent info and beautiful imagery.
With business values that prioritises quality, it’s vital to Create 98’s brand integrity that everything they turn out is produced to a high standard. For the brochure, that means design, choice of materials and finish and print quality must all be on-point so that it looks and feels classy and flawless. After all, this is a document that represents the business in the hands of potential customers at that precise moment when they make that decision whether or not to get involved.
Smell the coffee
Christine draws an analogy with the type of coffee that she likes to provide for attendees at Create 98. She insists on serving freshly ground coffee in a nice mug from a cafetière, as she feels this sets the tone for the experience you can expect at Create 98. If you were handed a chipped cup of instant, you might develop a very different set of expectations…
It’s a great attitude to have, and it’s one that informs Christine’s approach to both the environment and the marketing materials she has developed around Create 98. In our forthcoming instalment about print choices, we’ll explore more about what this means for marketers tasked with curating a premium brand.
With Create 98’s Summer 2023 brochure about to hit the press, we’re excited about how we can support the business in the year ahead. Christine has identified that loyalty is crucially important to her business model, so finding novel and interesting ways to keep that audience engaged will be a fun challenge to tackle. Subscribers to the Create 98 membership scheme will certainly among those to benefit as we explore how customised promotional items can make fantastic branded gifts!
Grow with the pros – so now you know
Now you’ve had a chance to learn a little about the companies we’ll be following for this project, we hope you’re as excited as we are about what we’ll learn along the way. Make sure you stay up to date with Grow with the pros as we explore all manner of strategies to take your business from good to great.