V a n i l l a t h I N K
Since its inception ten years ago, Vanilla Ink's journey has been one of success, empowerment and evolution. The company has worked hard to earn the respect it receives, with its place within the industry solidified by its status and results.
Starting life as an online platform in 2009, Vanilla Ink was a place where jewellers could find a safe space to discuss ideas, solve problems and share tips. Born of frustration, the company was created by Founding Director Kate Pickering. After graduation, she was looking for the help and assistance required to build a business from the foundations of education but soon realised opportunities were few and far between. There was nothing, so Vanilla Ink became the something.
In 2012 came the first shoots of growth, with the digital concept now becoming bricks and mortar. With a fully-kitted out workshop complete with bench spaces, the company now focused on assisting start-up jewellers with the transition from education to industry. A year-long INKubator Programme was born, the new workshop home to its first INKers, who were supported, nurtured and up-skilled, all with the intent of helping them find their feet within the jewellery industry.
The Programme successfully ran for two years in Dundee before the company decided to make the leap to Glasgow in 2014. Support from Creative Scotland for two years gave Vanilla Ink the chance to evolve, working to develop the Programme so that each INKer got the very best out of their time.
While the Programme thrived, a natural progression was to begin running jewellery classes for the public, which proved to be an enormous success. But success comes with people always wanting more from you. Soon, Vanilla Ink was being asked for more advanced classes, not only from the public but the INKers too. They were desperate for more skills but lacked confidence in their making ability - the business side of things was being catered for, what about the bench skills? Knowing that the current skills were limited and had reached a plateau, the business had to look to others to offer skills development. It was never a place to stand still for too long and always sees the benefit in being bold!
In 2017, Vanilla Ink brought on a business partner, Master Goldsmith Scott McIntyre. His knowledge, skills and ideas put together with Kate's drive, ambition and perception brought a whole wealth of incredible talents to the business. Kate was now freed up to use her creative ingenuity, while Scott could build a repertoire of professional skills classes. It altered the dynamic of Vanilla Ink for the good, and together they make a complete package for jewellery education. A crowdfunding campaign to move out of the boutique studio and move to the Hidden Lane in Glasgow’s West End was launched, raising £30,000 to do so.
Just a few months into the business partnership, Vanilla Ink expanded. With funding support from North Aberdeenshire LEADER, Aberdeenshire Regeneration Fund and Aberdeenshire Social Investment fund, Vanilla Ink opened up a second location in beautiful Banff, Aberdeenshire. The Smiddy: Centre of Excellence for Silversmithing & Jewellery in September 2018 which created two new job roles. While it sticks to the same successful blueprint of its older Glasgow sister, The Smiddy runs to a slightly different model to the Glasgow flagship school, focusing more on silversmithing. Its aim is to offer residencies, masterclasses and seminars, as well as the usual offerings of jewellery workshops and skills development.
The Smiddy has flourished in the short time it has been open. So far the team has worked on projects to help young people engage with making to build their confidence, collaborated with Craft Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland to deliver their Meet Your Maker Project to young people in the area, been commissioned by The Rotary Club to make a brooch for the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire and has had a visit from His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.
In the autumn of 2019, The Smiddy will have accommodation added to their offering in Banffshire. With support from North East Preservation Trust and Aberdeenshire Council, three townhouses will be developed on Bridge Street to offer visitors to The Smiddy somewhere to stay. To be known as ‘The Silversmith’s Quarters’, this will enhance our residency programme and weekend workshops.
EDUCATE | INSPIRE | EMPOWER
The Team - Glasgow
Scott is what we call the ‘Engine Room.’ He is a Master Goldsmith with over 24 years of experience in the jewellery trade. He has created amazing pieces for a wide and various number of workshops across Glasgow and Edinburgh. Fate led him to start early with his training, embarking on an apprenticeship when he was just seventeen in one of Glasgow's top workshops. In his career, he has picked up an extensive set of skills from a variety of Master Goldsmiths, while creating and finely tuning his own techniques. Scott looks after the workshop, creates bespoke pieces of commissioned jewellery and runs our professional and advanced level of classes and workshops.
Kate is the ‘Control Room’. She founded Vanilla Ink with the goal to bridge the gap from jewellery education into industry. Knowing that it can be difficult to find your place within the ever-changing landscape, Kate developed The Vanilla INKubator Programme, designed to support and promote jewellers in the early stages of their careers. An exciting and unique concept at the time, she was a true trailblazer within the industry. Having a degree in jewellery herself, she understands the difficulties new designers face when setting up their own business. Kate takes care of a lot of the things behind the scenes, you’re more likely to find her in our tiny office that in the workshop.
The Team - Banff
Megan is our Silversmith Technician. An experienced tutor who graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, she was the perfect candidate for the job. Megan has created a space that is welcoming to all and shares a great passion for teaching people how to make. Keen to develop her skills and continue to pass them on, as well as developing workshops and opportunities for audiences to engage and connect with making.
Alison is our workshop coordinator. A highly experienced project manager and designer, Alison was the obvious choice for this position. She graduated from Edinburgh College of Art, working in the Architecture world for some time before turning to creative project development. Most recently, she had been working as Arts Development Officer at Aberdeenshire Council and Project coordinator for Historic Environment Scotland. Alison is keen to develop The Smiddy’s range of experiences and opportunities to engage a wider audience with the process of making. She values the importance of skills development for young people and has big plans for our second home in Banff.
What do we want?
After transitioning into a Community Interest Company in 2017, we have a commercial arm as well as a community focus. We are looking to develop an Advisory/Steering Group who can help guide the business into what is a busy, but bright future - this will be our Vanilla thINK.
We are looking for people who have an interest in the creative industries who would love to help this company flourish and be a part of a really exciting business. Vanilla Ink will benefit from an Advisory Group to give us the opportunity to ask questions, report back, be held accountable, generate new ideas and learn from others. We are at a pivotal point in our company and could really thrive with the input of others to help steer us in the right direction.
We need people who can relate to our company values and would be interested in sharing their wisdom in this relatively young business. We want to pool together a diverse group of people who can give us input and connections from their respective industries and sector.
We are keen to hear from people who have or have had experience in the following;
Community Interest Company/Social Enterprise
Health & Wellbeing
Meet three times a year in person (can also be via video conferencing if necessary) - travel expenses covered plus refreshments (ad-hoc meetings may be set up with a smaller group if needed/required)
Donate 2 hours a month (average) - replying to emails/Slack conversations if necessary.
Annual Vanilla Ink Social with a wider audience - travel expenses covered
Informal but structured - this is an Advisory/Steering Group, it is down to the team to decide whether to implement ideas and how to run the business
Be our ambassador - be present at events/meet-ups that we can not attend and represent on our behalf. Champion what we do and our values
What’s in it for you?
You Give Back
Giving back to a community you live in or to a small business you have grown to love or respect gives you the feels. Your time is valuable, but the idea of developing our Steering Committee is to give Vanilla Ink a diverse group of people and skills to help feed into our not-for-profit organisation. You are giving back to a company that is trying to use making as a form of therapy, as well as instilling confidence and empowering a community.
You learn something
Understanding that you have skills to give to a business that lacks them is great and will make you feel valued, but you might also learn something too. Our Steering Group will be filled with diverse knowledge, with the opportunity to learn something from a fellow peer about a sector that you never knew about. It may even inform your own business and give you ideas to implement in your line of work.
We want to keep our gatherings informal and relaxed. We want to give the group a chance to get to know one another. ‘Networking’ is a bit too formal for us, so there will be a chance to hang out with some great people and share experiences.
It looks good
If having fun, meeting people and expanding your professional connections aren’t reason enough to join, then do it for this very simple reason... it looks good! Being on a Steering Group lends a certain gravitas to your CV. It is also a potential signalling device when/as/if you end up on the job market - the potential connections you make here can prove very beneficial indeed.
Please email your CV along with a covering letter stating why you would like to become a part of Vanilla thINK to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight Sunday 30th June. First meeting TBC.
Vanilla Ink Social
We will be holding an informal Vanilla Ink Social - an event for you to learn about our business, meet the team, hear about our vision and goals for the future, and a time for you to ask questions. This experience will allow you to get to know a little more about what we do, help us to get to know you, and gives you an opportunity to question if this would be the right group for you.
Where - Vanilla Ink Jewellery School CIC, Mercat House, 19 Argyle Court, The Hidden Lane, 1103 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8ND
When - Monday 24th June - 7-8pm