In celebration of their 3rd anniversary, Razz reporter Stephanie Cross, caught up with the founders (Nathan and Hayley) of this unique and charming creative clothes and illustration outlet, to discover more about the brand No Guts No Glory.
The first thing you notice about No Guts No Glory in McCoy’s Arcade on Fore Street, Exeter, is that in the words of the founder himself; ‘it is a rather small shop’. However, this is no reason to dismiss it, as the illustrious content inside clearly makes up for this.
As another customer left the shop with a brimful of goodies from NGNG I finally got the chance to sit down and ask Nathan and Hayley some questions about this intriguing brand:
What is the best thing about running your own creative business?
H: You get to do something you like and you have the opportunity to work with so many creative individuals and discover so many engaging ideas on a day to day basis.
N: Also, you get to spend your days doing what you want…
H: Well within reason..!
N: Well what I mean is you get to decide how you make a living and exactly what you want to do with your life and you have the independence of being your own boss.
What advice would you give to a struggling artist/someone in the creative industry?
N: That’s a really difficult question. It is all about persistence, time and patience. You shouldn’t place so much emphasis in trying to break into the industry. It is important to be nice and get yourself out there in an active way by meeting people and attending fairs.
H: Being friendly is the best way forward in this industry.
N: It is also important to finish the product to a high standard and of course have a friendly persona about you too.
Were there any times you thought you wouldn’t make it in the creative business?
N: Yeah, there have been hard times but I am satisfied with having the shop open and if it all fell through tomorrow I would be happy with what I have achieved. However, there have been struggles, in the last two years; we couldn’t get financial backing, so we all had to scrape together.
H: We tend to adopt a creative problem solving approach so we think of ideas to combat any problems we may come across. We will think about new ideas or come across a new project and this energy keeps us going.
Have you always wanted to create your own business?
N: No, although I did get drawn towards it as after I left uni, I got fed up with working for other people and the ‘hierarchy’ you had to climb before your work got noticed. This annoyed me, so I decided that actually I want to be my own boss and do my own thing.
H: I have always wanted to set up a creative business as it offered opportunities to create and combine projects and develop them.
Due to the recession, have you noticed a reduction in creative artists and designers coming forward or has it had the opposite effect?
N: Yes and no, we strive to make art affordable but also understand that art is a luxury and we try to ensure that everyone has a fair share. I have noticed though that it has made artists more determined and so are doing more to get their art noticed.
H: We have also noticed that people are falling back on their passions and decided to do something proactive with it.
N: There are more art collectives popping up as people are realising that working on your own you often do not have the money or the voice to push their work out there. If in a collective you can work with the different skills available and can often create an effective group.
What designers do you admire?
N: Where do I start! There are so many. At the moment I like the approach that Sandra Dieckman takes as she brings across a positive attitude. Her work is her life and she creates pieces that she likes rather than for pleasing others. She also has a great work ethic.
H: She has great positivity and it always good to hear when she has done well.
I noticed that the clothes you sell are organic; do you feel that shoppers are becoming more ethically aware in their choices or should more be done to promote organic/ethical clothing?
N: We have some customers who come in our shop and they know nothing about what ‘organic’ means. They are probably unaware as it is not a big thing at the moment but once you explain the different concepts such as the way it is produced and the way it is manufactured, people seem to embrace it, as they realise the values behind it.
H: However, we are also aware of the importance of keeping it (organic clothing) affordable as well as sustainable. In regards to doing more; there aren’t enough organic producers out there at the , so more awareness of the benefits of organic produce is important.
N: We offer ‘climate neutral’ clothing, so they are shipped rather than flown over, so often it takes five to six weeks for the product to reach us. Some big businesses are concerned about profit margins and they often don’t have the time to wait for products and so I would argue that a whole new attitude is needed to the way we consume and create our clothes.
Where do you see the business heading in the next three years?
H: We always have lots of new ideas, grand plans, dreams and aspirations. We would really like the project to grow and incorporate more of a community space, so people can take part in workshops and just generally hang out with us!
N: Our ideas often evolve quicker than the shop does but this means that we have time to think about the next step and we can just allow the shop to take its natural course. It is just exciting to see what happens next.
Throughout the interview I found Nathan and Hayley to be extremely passionate about NGNG and both engaging and friendly. Their hard work can be illustrated by the well organised event for their 3rd anniversary, which brought together local artists and the local community. Furthermore, their recent feature in Grazia magazine suggests this is a creative company to keep an eye on in future.
Interview conducted for Razz by Stephanie Cross.