Pretty Fly: Independent designs in a contemporary store

Each month in 2016 we’ve published a spotlight on individuals or organisations based in Dundee that focus on design or innovation to tie in with Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. This month we spotted Pretty Fly, a brand new store on Broughty Ferry’s Brook Street which provides a platform for independent jewellers, illustrators and designers to sell their products in a store run by local jeweller Nicola Morrison and her husband, Gregor Fletcher. Nicola and Gregor are both Duncan of Jordanstone alumni, where Nicola studied Jewellery and Metalwork Design while Gregor graduated from the Time Based Art degree before working in the games industry as a sound designer.

In addition to selling an impressive array of products, Nicola will use the Pretty Fly store to make her own jewellery and offer workshops in her studio space, tucked away behind an intricate wooden desk made by The Wood Neuk in Blainslie that proudly features the store’s logo carved onto the top right corner.

Tell us about your journey to setting up Pretty Fly Workshop?

Nicola: “I graduated from the Jewellery and Metalwork degree at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 2003 and set up a workshop called the DD4 Workshop with 3 other jewellers from Glasgow on what is now known as the hidden lane. We were there for about 5 years before we went our separate ways and I moved back to Dundee. In Dundee I shared a studio with another jeweller before moving to WASPS Studios at Meadow Mill and had been there ever since. I hadn’t thought about leaving until the opportunity for the shop came up and I grabbed it with both hands! The shop used to be a chippy so we began by ripping all the aluminium interior out and took it from there.”

Why do you think it’s important to stock independent (and local) designers?

Nicola: “There’s such amazing talent in Dundee, and across the UK, so we wanted to bring it into one location to make people aware of what they can get. There’s an increase in awareness of having handmade products nowadays – for the same price as something mass produced, you can support independent designers who have hand-made their products (which can sometimes be completely unique pieces of work). We have a passion for handmade products because they’re different and beautifully made. Being a jeweller myself I’ve always loved knowing that there’s someone, or a story, behind a product rather than it just being made by a machine. We’ve started putting out bios for all the designers we stock so people can learn more about the individual and their influences in order to establish a connection with them.”

“We do sell a kids range from France which is mass produced however this allows us to offer something different from other shops.”

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Can you describe a typical working day?

Nicola: “We’re a brand new shop so we also get a lot of people coming in to learn more about us and what we stock. The majority of customers have been from Broughty Ferry or Dundee which is great, we like to talk to our customers and explain that around 80% of our stock is from Scotland.

We’re also working with a jeweller in Carnoustie who does repairs and commissions for us as well so we can offer another service to our customers – we’ve just had our first commission so that was great!”

How has being based here impacted your business?

Nicola: “Because I’ve moved my workshop from WASPS, it’s a bit more simplified for me because I can make products here whilst managing the shop. I’ll be offering workshops here in future so it provides people with a space to learn about jewellery and metalwork before viewing (and purchasing!) products by independent designers. Opening a shop has also allowed my business to expand, and Broughty Ferry is the perfect place to do it as the local community are great. Gregor and I have also been able to expand our skills set because we’re not just focusing on one thing.”

How do you find designers to stock in store?

Nicola: “Before we opened, we contacted Craft Scotland to put a listing on their website for designers and artists as they have an opportunities section where makers find out about events, exhibitions and retail opportunities. We also put a call out on our Facebook page which also got a great response. As a result, we were able to get Snuggledust Studios who have only ever sold their products online so we have are an exclusive retailer of their products. The woman behind the brand, Suzanne, is actually from Broughty Ferry so she thought it was a great fit to have Pretty Fly as her first retail venture!

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What has been the biggest challenge of setting up a shop like this?

Gregor: “Getting skips to line up with builders and electricians and getting everyone to communicate. Time juggling was the biggest issue.”

Nicola: “Also trying to find people to work with, and making sure it was all cohesive. We had to be quite resourceful on how we went about designing the store as it was something new to us. Luckily it all came together in the end.”

What do you think the future holds for Pretty Fly?

Gregor: “We have a brand that isn’t tied to a specific street/location so it would be great to have stand-alone cabinets in other places such as hairdressers to profile independent designers and add to the shopping experience.

Nicola: “We’re looking to increase awareness of the store so that people come in and see the great, independent stock we have available.”

Gregor: “We’re also hoping to develop the workshops with one-to-one tuition and we’re interested in having other makers coming in to do art, textiles and design workshops.”

Nicola: “In the shop we will rotate designers and bring in new stock so we’re aiming for people to come into the store regularly to see new stock, knowing that they can come in and pick up something special for themselves or as a present. We’re also going to provide makers with feedback on how well their products are doing and offer advice for increasing sales so that they get the most out of being stocked here.”

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How did you engage with potential customers to get feedback on your plans to open up a shop?

Gregor: “We were a wee bit in the dark. We looked at the market in Broughty Ferry a few times and were surprised that there wasn’t much of a contemporary jewellery scene and knew we were offering something a bit different. The response to the store has been phenomenal!”

Nicola: “We didn’t do any market research, but our joiner did a little bit for us though! He decided to go out onto the street and ask passers by what they thought of the name.”

Gregor: “This is still our trial period as we’re new. Already we can tell what could work and areas to change, and I think it’s difficult to plan how well something like this will do until you actually take the plunge and open up. Before we opened we spoke to Nicola Donnelly who used to own Time Boutique and she had some great insights into retail which really helped us.”

What advice would you give to people looking to be stocked in the store?

Gregor: “We’re going to make a page on our website that features a guide to selling with us. We’ve seen some that are good which basically says do not bring your products straight into the shop – it’s best to send a good presentation via email. It’s best to come into the store first and look at the other products already here to see if your products will work before making the presentation.”

Nicola: “Once our website is up and running it’d be good to have a look at the other stock that we have to see if your products would be a good match. We want people who are passionate and professional.”

Gregor: “A great example of this is that we’ve had some students who have gotten a first degree and produced great products, but they didn’t fit well with our other stock as degree show pieces will always be different to commercial items.”

Nicola: “We’ll sometimes take show pieces that are a bit quirky for display items but our main stock should be commercial, made well and well designed. The best way for us to consider stocking a designer is if they send over images, prices and all the information we need.”

Gregor: “Also taking into consideration file sizes help – using Dropbox, Flickr and WeTransfer to send files or links help cut down email sizes which we really appreciate!”

Keep up do date with Pretty Fly Workshop by following their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.