For our first ever stockist interview we couldn't chat to anyone other than Shoreham's very special Neighbourhood Store, fittingly, just after their 1st birthday! Their birthday party was on an incredible houseboat made from salvaged craziness (including a bus!) and it was just mind blowing-ly creative and welcoming, just like Neighbourhood Store itself! Honestly, we have never seen a shop like this before and Emma and Gary are both kind, generous and wonderful souls...the shop is called Neighbourhood for good reason! We're so chuffed and honoured to be stocked by them. We caught up with Emma to learn a bit more about this magical store...
Tell us a bit about Neighbourhood Store and how it came in to existence!
I've always wanted to open a shop, it's always been in there, so many different ideas, but always around vintage finds initially. Then I met Gary, who is the greatest enabler. Together we totally make things happen, so one day, while visiting our folk in Somerset we stumbled across this little vintage shop, and by the end of that weekend we decided to just go for it. Initially we were going for a much bigger unit so we could offer a roof to start up businesses, small rental spaces, everything from a coffee shop, vintage, artists, designers to a barbers chair. Though when the space fell through, which absolutely broke our hearts we decided to leave it for now. Then over coffee we decided to dig around to find out about what is now NS. We had to change the concept and business plan but bloody hell, it was fate. The whole thing. A fabulous landlord and estate agent that believed in our concept and boom, the rest is history.
What’s your favourite thing about running a shop? And LEAST favourite?
Theres no single favourite thing, we love everything and everyday in there. But dressing the mannequins and doing a window display is up there.
Hmmm, least... Gary moving all Emma's displays around when he's in here and I'm not, then Emma moving it all back the next day... (just joking, kinda)
Tricky, I guess it's the rare occasion when people think we are an overpriced charity shop or say things like 'I can get a t shirt in Primark for less'. It happens less & less now especially as we feel we have educated so many people about buying local and supporting the artists. We try to put a positive spin on it and see it as a great opportunity to explain the concept of the shop. People quite often then buy something and leave knowing we are not a charity shop! Though sometimes we just want to say, thanks so much for your non constructive feedback, now please leave the building... Politely obvs.
You are constantly adding new artists to the shop, do you look for anything in particular when choosing who and what to stock?
Bright & colourful a must, brave and bold good! It's gotta grab your eyes and hold them. We love it when we discover an artist who has never sold any if their work, let alone in a shop before. That's the main concept, putting a new artist on the map. Theres a definite look and style in store so the key thing is that everything compliments everything else.
Top 3 current fave things in store?
Our shop dog, Bandit
The Artist Window takeover - every different one!
Back Ganjei's work - it makes us laugh everyday!
Best shop snack?
Crumpets, usually cold as too busy to deal with them fresh out the toaster
You’ve hosted some awesome events in and outside of the store, can you tell us a bit about those?
Clothes swap - close to our hearts, trying to get the message out there about how unsustainable the fast fashion world is. Helping people to see how they can make a difference. It's always a fab night, a room full of clothes, beer but mostly kindness. The last one of this year is on 11th Dec. Tickets available in our bio on Instagram.
Movie nights - we just got a little funding help from the council to show proper movies throughout the darker months, for free for our community.
Bands & DJs - in store, a big passion of ours, it's all art and we are going to be showing kits more in the New Year
You recently adopted Bandit, a street dog from Greece and utter BABE...how does she like being a shop dog?
Ahhhh, Bandit dog! She's settling in pretty well, she comes in most mornings then she goes off with Gary for the afternoon when she becomes a van dog. She loves a fuss from the customers and is a massive brilliant distraction someday from doing shop admin. She's the best shop dog ever!
Last question! Any big plans for Neighbourhood Store’s Future? Any secrets??
Neighbourhood Nights - a regular night with local bands & DJs
Neighbourhood Kids - a chance for the kids to get involved in selling their creations. To show them they can do anything they set their minds to!
It's the most wonderful time of the year...Halloween of course! We thought we'd do a little gift guide featuring all of our favourite spooky and pumpkin-y things made by other indie businesses that we love! Come a little closer and we'll show you... *insert cackle*
We couldn't make a Halloween Gift Guide without shouting about the super talented and very lovely Liz Harry! How adorable are these articulated colourful skeleton enamel pins?!
Dick Vincent is a firm favourite of ours with his very distinctive style and awesome knack of tying in some clever culture references (Oh HEY Lizzo!) He is also utterly prolific and one of the hardest working artists we know.
I already have two collars by the very clever and talented Fairytale Collars but loooooook at this cutie pumpkin!! I have my eyes on all of Emma's autumnal designs, go and check out her shop and be ready to fall in love.
Chimps Tea Party is a another firm fave, not only does Pippa create her own collages by hand to then make her designs...every element she uses is also taken from her own photography. MIND BLOWING. Love these spookeh cake toppers she's created! Head to her shop for lots of cute homewares, pins, prints and for you organised folk, some VERY lovely Christmassy things.
We've been indie biz pals with Leigh from In Twos And Threes since the very beginning of hello DODO 8 years ago and we're totally in love with her embroidery work which is often witty, occasionally swear-y and ALWAYS beautiful.
Another favourite illustrator, love love LOVE the work of Sophie Heywood! It's cute, magical and always the perfect amount of weird. Sophie is another artist that blows me away with her productivity, always making yummy work. She now has a Patreon too so make sure you check that out!
LAST but definitely not least is our pal Rock Cakes who makes cute and clever jewels for all budgets (including our wedding rings!) She has lots of spooky/spoopy designs in her shop but these enamel pin dudes will always be our favourites.
SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT
Just a wee reminder that our new Halloween collection is only available to buy until November 5th when the clock strikes Midnight! Then it will disappear in to the night possibly never to be seen again! The plus side? Well skulls and cats and rhinos and Zombees are perfect apparel for the entire year, these are no novelty sweatshirts! If you're in the UK and can order today (24th) though we can get them to you before the big spooky day in one weeks time!
If we were to name one designer that has inspired us and had the most influence on our work over the last 5 years it would 100% be Dick Bruna, best known of course for his rabbit character Miffy, or Nijntje as she's known in Holland. Anyone visiting our house (in real life or through the squares of Instagram!) would probably assume that Miffy has always been a part of our lives but actually neither of us remember seeing much of her as a kid in England - my life mostly revolved around Eric Hill's Spot the Dog! It was only after we'd started hello DODO that we bought a Miffy book from the Tate Modern shop and she bounced in to our lives. It didn't take us long to fall down the rabbit hole (sorry, lots of bunny references here!) and become completely besotted with Dick Bruna's work in all of it's guises though. Although we didn't grow up with Miffy it was only a few years ago that I realised that other work by Dick Bruna was a part of my childhood when Jam bought me a bunch of hardboard cards (I think they're a game of snap/pairs) and I realised that I DID have them as a child and the bright and bold primary colour illustrations were so familiar to me it was bizarre.
Since becoming Miffy-obsessed she has found her way in to all sorts of corners of our lives. She is the first thing (other than our pug Hero!) to greet you when you enter our house in the form of a massive light. There's pictures of her large and tiny dotted all around our house. She's on mugs, bags, magnets and then there's our most treasured Miffy/Dick Bruna collection...postcards.
When on holiday in Amsterdam (the Netherlands being Bruna and Miffy's home) we discovered that many tourist and kids shops (yes we ARE big kids) had Miffy postcards. We THEN discovered that there was rather a few different ones to collect! In 2016 we took it one step further and went on a little Miffy pilgrimage! We went on a trip to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Dick Bruna's home of Utrecht. Whilst there we were on a constant treasure hunt for Dick Bruna postcards that we didn't have! If you're a lover of artist and illustration postcards we can highly recommemd Art Unlimited (Strooijonkerstraat 7) in Amsterdam, it's an incredible place and you need at least an hour in there to browse the rows and rows of postcards alphabetised by artist.
We were BEYOND excited to visit both Dick Bruna's replicated studio in Utrecht's Centraal Museum which is conveniently just across the street from the Miffy Museum. Now, as you'll see below we had a LOT of fun in the Miffy Museum and it was pretty quiet being September....we possibly maybe looked a bit mental though as a childless couple! JUST LOOK AT THOSE LOCKERS THOUGH. The Miffy Museum is incredible for kids and Bruna's studio utterly fascinating for parents (and us). We particularly loved seeing all of the objects and Miffy's people had sent Bruna from all over the World.
At the time that we visited Utrecht in 2016 it was just 6 months before Bruna died and although we heard that he had poor health there was this magical feeling that he was there somewhere. We found the Miffy mosaic (see below) in Jeruzalemstraat where his attic studio was and we hung around there for ages fantasising that we might actually see him. Eventually we gave up and continued our Miffy hunt! Which included the lovely bronze statue of her made by Bruna's son Marc and even Miffy pedestrian lights at a crossing.
Dick Bruna passed away on 16th February 2017....on my birthday would you believe?! In a way it makes me feel more linked to him though. He has been a huge inspiration to us and although our work isn't exactly the same, our love of very simple illustration, black lines and primary colours definitely feels like it has a slight affinity with Bruna. So where does our Miffy obsession take us next? I'd LOVE to visit Japan on a Miffy hunt as she has a huge cult following there. We'd love to revisit the Netherlands too and see if there's any postcards we've not discovered yet! We don't actually have that many Miffy books yet either so that definitely needs addressing! And although I do have a Dick Bruna tattoo I need a Miffy one!
HELLO! Welcome to our first ever blogpost on our shiny new website! We have LOADS of ideas about topics we want to blog about from screen printing to hiking to home renovations to our attempts to be better at cooking vegan food (equally excited and nervous about that last one!) We thought that for our first post we’d do a little Q&A though so we put it to our Instagram followers to ask us some questions! So here we go…
How did you first get started? First products?
Ali: We started hello DODO back in September 2011…well that’s the date we opened our Etsy shop but in actual fact we worked away on our branding and designs for quite a while before showing anybody. We also taught ourselves to screen print in our teeny tiny flat and there was a LOT of trial and error involved!!! At uni (where we met) I studied analogue photography… Jam:…and I studied graphic design.. so when it came to wanting to work on a project together screen printing felt like the right crossover for us both.
Ali:Aaaaand just in time to answer this question I’ve just discovered that apparently we still have a Flickr account so here’s some VERY early DODO photos featuring our first designs. Anyone else miss those Instagram filters?!
Did you both work ‘normal’ jobs before hello DODO took off?
Jam: Yeah! I worked in a graphic design studio and then freelanced from home for quite a few years. I worked on pretty varied projects and mainly specialising in conceptual, ideas based design. I loved a good branding job, well I still do very occasionally. Many projects were quite corporate with tight deadlines and others were super exciting with tight deadlines! Haha!
Ali:I worked in a whole load of different retail jobs. I even did a strange summer working at Legoland in the ride photography department…putting my degree to good use!!! I spent quite a large part of that job doodling design ideas on till rolls… From the very start I knew that DODO would one day grow to support us both so I refused all promotions that came my way and worked on gradually reducing my hours until I could feel comfortable quitting completely. How do you find a work life balance as you both run your business together?
Ali: We find it very very hard. We’re pretty lousy at taking days off as there’s ALWAYS a never-ending to do list and we have to keep orders shipping on time. Our pug Hero is the best thing that ever happened to us as he gets us out the house three times a day!
Jam: Even when we’re in a work frenzy Hero follows us around and looks at us with his little face that is the perfect way to de-stress! We need to book more mini trips as it’s only when we go away that we totally chill out, although we’ll still talk about DODO endlessly because we do bloody love it!
What’s your favourite ring on the hob?
Ali:LOVE THIS QUESTION. Our ring of choice is ALWAYS front right but if it’s pasta/rice/basically boiling anything then that goes back left.
Jam: The other two barely ever get a look in, poor buggers.
Where did the DODO inspiration/name come from?
Ali: We get asked this question a lot! Sooooo basically I was running my own fashion blog that was called “hello (SOMETHING)” - I won’t tell you the exact name incase there’s embarrassing pics still lurking on the internet (though I did get featured on Susie Bubbles blog once OMG claim to fame). I think we were just drawn to DODO because of the mythical feeling of the birds but also the shapes of the letters and the repetition suited that there’s two of us. The only other name contender was “Bob” and that would have been terrible for Google!
Jam:DODO as a word is equally as fun to look at as it is to say out loud! I think we always knew we wanted to make fun, sometimes silly work and DODO just immediately felt right. I’ve also always liked that we specialise in the old school printmaking process of screenprinting and you don’t get much more old school than a DODO!
Any advice for a newbie indie biz owner?
Ali: If you believe in your business then GO FOR IT! Work hard, ask questions, be prepared to learn CONSTANTLY, don’t give up at the hurdles (they’ll be a lot of them), be vulnerable, put yourself OUT THERE and shout it from the rooftops (or at least every social media platform!) It took what felt like FOREVER for DODO to have customers and followers that weren’t friends and family! You have to be the right amount of determined and stubborn to make a business work and grow (but also flexible and open to change!)
Jam:You can do it! Surround yourself with supportive people. Connect with other indie businesses and get out there to networking groups. It can feel lonely or overwhelming running your own business and you can’t know everything but everyone starts that way. Getting out there talking to other people can lead to amazing things for you and your business. I’m the worst networker to be honest! Any time people ask me what I do I usually mumble screen printing and do a strange screen printing-like-dance move! But getting out of the house and talking to like minded people has lead to so many great things like new opportunities, collaborations, friendships and skill swaps.
If you had to print in one colour for the rest of your life what would it be?
Ali: THAT IS SUCH A HARD QUESTION. I’m going with sparkly blue because it amazes me every single time we use it….it’s made of actual MAGIC!
Jam: Neon Pink! Even on a pink jumper it’s like Pow! Yeah I’m pinker than you mate! It’s also my favourite ink to print with. I actually find sparkly inks the hardest to print with so let’s not go with Ali’s choice!
What’s your favourite vegan meal to make yourself?
Ali:Vegan chilli! With extra chillis! It must have grated vegan cheese, a heap of nooch and vegan mayo on top.
Jam:Tricky! I would say a good roast dinner (although it takes ages and I usually create a mountain of washing up when I make one of those!) So actually let’s go with vegan bangers and mash! It’s super easy but I love a good gravy meal! The trick is making the mash with a bit of vegan spread, sometimes cheese and nooch and then frying up some red onion for the top. And kale! It needs some kale too.
Favourite extinct animal besides a dodo?
Ali: We both LOVE dinosaurs! We have a lot around the house including loads of Jam’s original Jurassic Park models from when he was a kid. My favourite is and always has been the Parasaurolophus.
Jam:Yep has to be a dinosaur! Brachiosaurus for me. I love them. They are so cool!
What’s your favourite Pick N Mix sweet?
Ali: I looooooove sweets but when I was a teenager I worked the Pick N Mix counter in Woolworth’s and it was kids licking sweets and putting them back ALL DAY. EEWWW. My favourite sweets are anything crazily sour though!
Jam:Can I have biscuits instead?
Do you plan on offering bigger sizes in the future at all?
YES we hope so! We offer XL in some t-shirts now and plan to do this with some sweatshirts too. The reasons we don’t offer more sizes is because we work from our tiny garden studio which is always bursting with stock! It’s also really hard keeping on track of what sizes and colours we are running low on. This is exactly why we started doing DODO Specials though! When we open our books for DODO Specials you can order tees up to size 5XL and sweatshirts up to 3XL. The best thing about it is you can choose the colours too (depending on what we can source at the time). DODO Specials are exclusive to our newsletter subscribers so make sure you’re signed up to hear when the next one is!
What’s your favourite vegetable?
Ali:POTATO, I’m not sure I’d survive without them.
Jam:Yeah potatoes have to win but cauliflowers are cool too.
Hero: Mmmmm carrots please.
What’s your favourite colour combination?
Ali: ANOTHER HARD ONE. Currently it’s our baby blue ink on pale pink sweatshirts.
Jam: Neon pink on pale pink was such a Eureka moment when we first printed it. I still love that combo.
Will you do more gull puns? I love gulls!
Ali: Welllllllll we do actually have a couple up our sleeve…. Should we release them?!
How do you come up with your amazing designs?
(I promise this was a genuine question!!!)
Ali: Coming up with design ideas is our favourite, we’re literally doing it EVERY DAY. When we’re cooking, watching TV, walking Hero on the beach, in the shower, in a cafe, sat on the sofa drinking tea… I mean, don’t get me wrong, most of the ideas are very questionable…probably 20% actually make the grade to become a product!
Jam: I’d say we’re actually addicted to coming up with new puns and playful ideas. Many have come from simply mishearing a word or spelling something badly. I actually did my final year dissertation at university on ‘where do ideas come from?’ There wasn’t a definitive answer at the end sadly ha!
How do you structure your working day?
Ali: We’re not really super early morning people - I start the day with Instagram at about 8am. After that we both take Hero for a walk and chat about what we need to do that day. Usually it’s a mixture of printing, heat curing, sewing labels and packing orders. Even though we both work from home we usually have separate tasks to do so don’t really chat that much until we break for lunch and walk Hero again.
Jam: I usually head straight to the studio to screen print some orders in the morning whilst Ali is social media-ing. There’s always a long print list! Most days end with a post office trip (luckily it’s less than a minutes walk away!)
Ali: We TRY to finish work by 6pm if possible. Then it’s another dog walk, sometimes to the beach if it’s nice before cooking dinner. If it’s Christmas season then there’s a lot more running around and frantically pulling our hair out involved!!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Ali: Haha questions like this scare us!! We would love to still be enjoying running hello DODO as a family and currently the DREAM would be to grow big enough to have a second larger studio space to work from that we could also occasionally open up for pop up events and studio sales. AND HAVE THEMED COCKTAIL PARTIES THERE. Also at the same time we’d have a DODO van so we could do mini pop ups all over the UK, maybe some festivals?? Oooooooh my imagination is getting carried away now….
Jam: Having fun, pushing ourselves and working as efficiently as possible. Making lots of newproducts (caps would be awesome!) and exploring different clothing cuts and styles. I’d also love to have finished our colourful home, studio and garden renovations. As we live and work in the same space it’s so important to make it the place we love to spend all our time.
We hope you enjoyed that little Q&A! If you have any other burning questions you’d like us to answer please feel free to leave a comment or shoot us a message. THANK YOU FOR READING!