Laura Knowles has been interning with us for a couple of weeks to get some work experience on her year out from Glasgow School of Art, we tell you all about what brought this gem to us.Read More
On the 13th (!!) day of INKMAS, this is true love and this is what we give to you...
As a special thank you for giving us the warmest welcome to The Vanilla Ink Jewellery School CIC we want to offer you a whopping 13% off EVERYTHING on the Vanilla Ink website!
Thank you so much for all your support since Scott joined the team in May and we expanded our endeavours! We can not get over how busy we have been. We have got lots of exciting things to announce over the week so please keep your eyes peeled but to kick us off enter INKMAS17 at the checkout to receive 13% off EVERYTHING!
**Please drop us an email let us know if it's a gift and we can get something out in the post recorded delivery on Tuesday so you can hand over a special Vanilla Ink Christmas card.**
If you don't fancy anything, don't worry just laugh at our c**k ups instead ;)
On the 12th day of INKMAS my true love gave to meeeeee....an experience you will never forget. 12% off our Make your Own Wedding Ring session.
For today only we are offering a saving on our 3 hour Make Your Own Wedding Ring, you get to work with Master Goldsmith Scott McIntyre to create your bespoke rings. You will also be treated to a Hidden Lane Tearoom high tea. Pictures will be taken throughout the day and you'll be given a memory book and a bottle of bubbly along with your finished rings.
The session is £295 and then we can discuss what materials you would like to use at an additional cost. Book in today and we can have a consultation in January! Use INKMAS17 at the checkout to get your money off!
On our 11th day of INKMAS we bring you 12% off our supported studio time. This is perfect for people who have a project but are looking for a bit of advise or have a project and need access to our equipment and tools. On every last Saturday of the month 10-6pm! Prices will be increasing in the New Year so get it cheep cheep just now!
Enter INKMAS17 at the checkout for our supported studio time.
On the 10th Day of INKMAS my true love gave to me...help to set stones ;)
For today only (13th December) we are offering 12% off all of our Stone Setting classes. Use code INKMAS17 at the checkout.
On the 9th day of INKMAS my true love gave to me FIIIIIIIINE BANGLE MAKING...
Enjoy 12% any of our bangle making classes with our promo code INKMAS17 until midnight 12th December!
On the 8th day of Inkmas my true love gave to me....8 students learning!
12% off our beginners class for today only (11th Dec) using the code INKMAS17 at the checkout. Give the gift of craft this year or make learning a new skill a new years resolution. Drop us an email if it is a gift and we can post out a voucher.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Well, no shit, Ferris. He couldn’t have been more right, eh? I know I certainly feel like that. I mean, I’m nearly bloody forty! How the hell did I get here?
It’s all gone by in such a rapid fashion. I’ve been doing this nearly 23 years, now. It’s odd, but at times I still feel like that wee 17-year-old boy with the floppy fringe, who first picked up a saw for his trial in early 1995. Oh, and I never broke a saw blade… SKILLZ! Fast forward to 2017, here I am, Director and Co-Founder of The Vanilla Ink Jewellery School and Studios.
You probably know our story. Finding a place in The Hidden Lane, a major crowdfunding effort, building our studios in record time, the launching of our new classes for 2018... it’s all been a huge effort, with an enormous amount of work gone into our new business from both myself and Kate. There’s no way I could have done this without her. I will always be grateful to Kate for asking me to join her on this epic journey and giving me fresh hope for my mental well-being.
You see, if you don’t know, I struggle with my mental health. I’ve always been very open about my battles, regularly blogging about them, with several pieces being published by online magazines. To us at Vanilla Ink, mental health is a personal and important issue. I have been dancing with the darkness for most of my adult life. It’s not been easy, but I reckon I’m on top of it and in control. By God, I still have my bad days though. But working here with Kate, creating this wonderful business, is fantastic for me.
Throughout our Kickstarter campaign, you may have seen us talking about Therapy Through Making. This is something we strongly believe in, with plans to create a programme where we will hopefully help a variety of people, who all suffer in some kind of way from mental illness, giving them a sense of achievement and belief that things can get better. When I’ve been at may darkest, I’ve always found that I’ve been taken away to another world when sitting at my bench. It’s as if I’ve been transported to another realm, free from pain and terrible thoughts. Instead, the intense focus required to create jewellery eases the suffering and brings a little sunshine to the blackest of days.
There is, however, another sting in the tail. Just why was I feeling like this? What could have caused me to suffer all these years?
I made a phenomenal discovery about myself. Through research for one of my children, I realised that I probably was the same. It was a strange experience, but it certainly now makes sense. It explains how I’ve been feeling all these years and why I never felt like I fitted in.
You see, last week, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Yep, I’m autistic. It’s been an odd time. But it absolutely makes sense, both to me and my family. Now I have answers to my questions. Now there is peace where there was once confusion. But it’s far from over. I need follow-up appointments and sessions with a psychologist. This has been nearly forty years in the making and I need a little help digesting it. On one hand, I have a little bit of balance in my life as my thoughts and actions are justified. On the flip side, I’m struggling to take it all in. I’ll get there, though.
The process of diagnosis was fascinating. I discovered a lot of things that I didn’t know about myself, which is both curious and upsetting at the same time. But this doesn’t mean that mean that I’m ill or suffering from anything. Far from it. My brain just works a little different to yours, that’s all.
It’s always been there since childhood and I’ve learned to mask it. In fact, I’ve hidden it so well, some of you who know me well will be slightly confused. So, allow me to tell you a secret. This guy you know, this Scotty Mac, the extrovert, the life and soul of the party, the King of the Room, the confident, assertive guy? He’s an act. He doesn’t exist. It’s not me. He isn’t who I really am. To be honest, I can count on one hand the people who really know me. And I don’t mean to be nasty to any of my friends and family when I say that, it’s just that I’ve fooled you all. And I’m sorry.
You see, the real me is terrified. I’m crippled by anxiety, fear and self-doubt. I hate social occasions. I never want to go anywhere, see anyone or actually talk to people. Yikes! I like where I’m comfortable. I like being at home. I enjoy coming to work, to the school that we’ve built, the place I wake up eager to come to each morning. That’s where I properly come to life. I love teaching so much, it’s my happy place, it’s where I can be myself. I suppose this is the odd part of autism – how can I fear social occasions but thrive on teaching? If you find the answer, could you let me know?
But maybe you’ve been at some of my classes? Have I ever gone off on one? Did I go completely leftfield and go on a rant about something completely ridiculous? Have I bored you to tears with my music knowledge (that’s my obsession) or tried to impress you with bizarre facts? That’s the downside! But I suppose it’s what makes me, me?
I also discovered that I monoprocess, which explains my vacant, blank expressions sometimes (Kate will testify to this!). It means that I only have the ability to process information from one source at a time. I can’t stand when someone else talks to me while I’m on the phone, it creates such a noise and fuss in my head. I hate two music sources at once, I hear them both perfectly but can’t split them. It hurts. But the worst of all is in a busy café or bar. I hear everyone’s conversations. And I mean everyone’s. It creates such a mess of chatter in my head that I just shut down sometimes. I can’t deal with it. It’s all too much. Occasionally, I completely flip out and have a wee meltdown. It’s hard to hear the world this way.
It used to happen to me a lot as a younger man. Out with friends in a busy nightclub or pub, the music, lights and chatter would get on top of me and I’d completely freak out. I would never understand why, and my friends were even more perplexed. Now I know why. More recently though, I’ve been avoiding any kind of social occasion with anybody. I know this has caused a great deal of resentment from some people, but hopefully they can understand why. Being out and about is constantly terrifying for me, the new situations, people and noises make me stressed and uncomfortable. There are times when I can cope, but most of the time I just want to curl and hide myself away.
In fact, just the act of doing anything at all can be confusing for me. It’s weird to think that I’ve been this way all my life but just assumed everyone feels the same. For example, a simple action like popping into the shop ends up being hell for me.
“What if I meet someone I know?”
“What if they don’t have the thing I wanted?”
“What if I can’t find it and have to ask?”
“I might knock something over and have to pay”
“I could forget my PIN”
“What if I get the wrong thing and people get annoyed?”
And so on and so forth. I thought everyone thinks like that. I assumed that everyone’s senses screamed at them until it hurts. I just didn’t know.
So, I’m a little different. I process conversation in a strange way. A simple interaction about the weather at a bus stop is awful for me. You don’t even think about it, you just reply that yes, the rain is particularly heavy but at least it isn’t cold. I don’t. I think, analyse, plan. Do anything to figure out why the random stranger has mentioned the rain.
“I bloody know it’s raining, why are you pointing it out?”
All this internal wrangling creates hypervigilance, which means I’m in an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity, accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviours whose purpose is to detect activity. It increases anxiety, which is exhausting, stressful and leads to social errors. And I’ve been doing it all my life. But hey, I’m good at masking it!
I also do a lot of the typical symptoms of autism. I’m not keen on any kind of contact unless I know you really well. My eye contact is terrible, but I’ve trained myself to do it. Sometimes I forget though, and my eyes wander. I like things to have a place and not move from there. That’s why nobody is allowed at my bench! I have a ridiculously high level of attention to detail. I’d never thought about it, but this is why I’m such a good goldsmith. And I obsess. Oh boy, do I obsess over things! It drives my wife, Karen nuts!
Life certainly does move pretty fast. I now know I’m autistic, but I have an amazing wife and family who support me. I also have a genius business partner, and I’m part of Vanilla Ink, the brightest and best damn business on the planet. What’s not to like?
The doctor described me as a chameleon, as I’ve been blending in to every situation I’ve ever found myself in. I hide, conceal and fit in wherever I can. Well, I no longer have to be a master of disguise. It may just take a little time for me to take off my mask.
Emma joined us from Laings Jewellers and spent a week with Scott, learning all things Stone Setting, with a flurry of repair techniques added in for good measure.
We asked Emma a few questions about her experience at Vanilla Ink. We wanted to share with you what it was like from a trainee's perspective here at the school.
Why Vanilla Ink?
For years I have followed Vanilla Ink and always loved the events, support and great opportunities they have provided. And then when I found out Scott had joined (having worked with him before) I knew it was the best place for me to continue my learning as I tend to doubt my skills. I find it easier to work with people I know will support my learning and push me to achieve the best I can.
How did you find your time in Vanilla Ink?
Awesome (as expected)! The support and comfortable environment not only makes it easy to learn and put you at ease, but you also get the chance to meet and work alongside some fab people.
What have you learned?
This time I was focused on learning all different types of stone setting. That included rub over, claw, pave and flush setting, as well as a whole host of other hints and tips to make my life easier as I continue my setting practice in work.
What will you take with you?
Everything! The whole experience in itself is great and you really feel like part of the jewellery community, getting to meet and speak with different makers.
Will you be back?
100%, even if it's just for a visit, Vanilla Ink is the kind of place where you will always feel welcome!
V A N I L L A I N K B E S P O K E T R A I N I N G
We offer bespoke, one-to-one training aimed at upskilling the jewellery industry. We want to work with jewellers that are time poor and need the help, but can't afford the resources to train someone up in the skills required.
All packages can be tailored to your needs. If you want someone to help you with finishing and polishing, we can train someone up in a day with the techniques required to finish your work to a high level. If you want them to help you stone set, we can do that over a couple of days depending on the type of setting. We teach them the way that you want to work so you don't have to.
It's that time of year that you could really do with an extra pair of hands so let us train them for you.
Get in touch with us for a price list or if you have any questions.
Last week we were invited by Paved with Gold to speak about our experiences with Kickstarter *insert manic laughing* we agreed, if anything, people can learn from our mistakes.
Although we were successful in our campaign and my now second successful campaign, it was one of the most stressful times of our career to date. But let's put things into perspective, we ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise £30,000, we raised just almost £32,000, not bad for a months work! It's totally worth it but you need to have nerves of steel.
We will be forever thankful to the crowd for supporting us again and we definitely would not be in the space we are now without the support of our crowd, however, we would suggest that if you are planning a crowdfunding campaign be prepared.
Be prepared to be pulling your hair out, enjoy sleepless nights, experience serious highs and serious lows and being completely exposed. Once you click 'GO' that's you, out there and in front of the crowd, everyone will see whether you succeed or fail.
Not everyone was able to make the talk so we thought we would share our tips. I personally have been through 2 Kickstarter campaigns...I compared it to getting a tattoo or childbirth, and while I have not experienced the latter I've been told you forget the severe pain just like having a tattoo. That once you are through it you want another and forget the pain. That's what it's like to run a Kickstarter for the second time. But perhaps it's different if you are more prepared?
Maybe it's plain sailing if you have researched, planned, pre campaigned and got your shit together...
We maybe did things a bit back to front...we knew the idea was good, we knew that the idea was needed, we knew that we had to move into a new space...so we got one! But perhaps we should have raised the funds first? Would people have trusted us, would they know we were serious and not just take their money and run?! We decided to sign a years lease on a new space, then raise the funds!
£30,000 is A LOT of money, we were asking for people to fund our dream, dreams don't come cheap. So here are my comments and nuggets about running a crowdfunding campaign;
*it takes longer than 2 weeks to build an awesome campaign - we decided to crowdfund for our project and launched the project in less than two weeks. If you would like to see your loved ones ever, I would recommend planning a bit longer to launch your campaign. Put the effort in to make your campaign look amazing, visually pleasing but most importantly tells a story!
*Pre-Campaign - this was a new concept, we sought advice ahead of the campaign but knowing that we only had less than two weeks, this concept didn't fit! This was taking the time to understand your crowd, who you were aiming it at, building your crowd and this meant your immediate crowd (friends/family), your networks (people you know in the industry) and your influencers (people who will help you to push your idea and push your campaign). This involves press releases, emails campaigns, basically warming the crowd ahead of the launch.
*Kickstarter Live is your friend - a new concept for Kickstarter is Kickstarter Live. A live feed for you to communicate with your crowd. This I feel is great for you to connect with your audience, allow them to see behind the scenes, allow them to understand you, your values and your passion. This is particularly important if you are trying to sell an idea, an ethos, a service.
*Use your networks - ask for help - think about your crowd, who can help you? Who can make your film, who can help with your rewards, who can offer you a shoulder to cry on. Don't tackle this on your own. Get the support when you can! I am part of a closed facebook group called W.E Mean business, a group for like minded, female business owners. When we were really struggling with our campaign we laid ourselves bare and asked the group to offer some critical feedback and they responded and played a huge part in our tipping point and allowed us some outside perspective.
*Cold call or find someone that will do it for you - I hate speaking on the phone, especially when I'm trying to 'sell' something! Scott played the part of car sales man and made his way through our list of industry influencers, local businesses and those who could help us raise the capital. A horrible job but one that made us be known to the people we wanted to know us. There were a lot of nos and a lot of heartache but something that turned in to cash towards our campaign.
*It's harder to crowdfund a service - we didn't have a product to sell, we didn't have prototypes, we had an idea and that's what we had to sell. I guess it's what everyone is doing but we had nothing tangible to sell but ourselves. This is where Kickstarter Live really helped to let the crowd understand us and what we were trying to do.
*Know your audience - We knew ours! Our crowd is the jewellery industry, the jewellers we want to serve, the jewellers we want to build but the issue was, they were skint too. This is why we had rewards set at various levels for people to access comfortably. We also sold the idea, we sold the classes we wanted to run ahead of us running them. Pre sales if you like! These seemed to work but we knew this couldn't be our main audience and we were excluding a huge audience by trying to target our small one. Once we changed the language and made it a bit more user friendly, others could see our concept for what it was and started to back us more.
*Don't just rely on Social Media - although it was our best friend you can't just rely on that. Press releases, influencers, blog content, kickstarter live, they all add to your repertoire and build your story.
*Make awesome rewards - Be clear, concise and be awesome! We understood that we are a service based in Glasgow and not everyone can access it so we had to make rewards where people can be a part of Vanilla Ink without physically being in Glasgow. Don't have too many, you want to make it easy for people and you want to make it accessible at all levels. Our lowest was £10 and our highest £1000. We can't wait to see people walking around with our Vanilla Ink hoodies on!
our kick ass hoodie!
*DON'T BE COCKY but BE BRAVE! As I said, this is my second Kickstarter and I fooled Scott into thinking it would be fine...£30,000 no bother! We didn't plan as much as we should have and we maybe should have taken less risks but if it's not scaring you or challenging you then what's the point?! You could squirm over every little detail, be too scared to hit send, think it's not perfect but it's never going to be perfect. Sometimes you just got to press GO!
Scott will be offering his installment of tips and highs and lows from someone's first time at raising funding through Kickstarter...stay tuned!