For our latest member spotlight we caught up with Claire Selby, Commercial Projects Manager at Kingston University, and Grace Richards, Business Development Manager at the university’s Union of Students, who recently opened creative meanwhile space Not My Beautiful House on Fife Road.
“It’s been a whirlwind year already for Grace and I – if you’d said to us this time last year we’d be opening a new concept store on Fife Road in an old PC World, in a pandemic, we would have thought you were mad!
Back in February we decided to apply for Mayor of London’s Make London funding. We already had an idea of what we wanted to do and were lucky enough to have been offered a space rent free from the landlord.
We briefed students from Kingston University BA Interiors and BA Art Direction and Design Marketing, CCI and they came up with an interiors plan, furniture, branding and a name. “Not My Beautiful House” was born out of the fact that comfort is overrated and the students felt strongly about challenging the public to experience something different. They kept asking us our budget, at that stage we had no idea apart from around £15,000 set aside from other projects.
In fact, by Mid march we knew we had £30,000 from the Mayor, an additional £27,000 from RBK and the rest from crowdfunding. We were off with £70,000 – way ahead of schedule.
We picked up the keys at the end of March and put a lot of blood sweat and tears into opening on the 7 May. We’ve had to deal with working under Covid restrictions and delays on materials for our build and furniture due to worldwide shortages.
Not My Beautiful House is now celebrating a month of being open – we have welcomed 3,400 visitors, all with an average spend of £22. The project is a collaboration between the university’s creative agency Studio KT1 (which Claire runs) and the Union of Kingston Students. The space displays, showcases and sells the work of students, graduates, alumni and locals to help reinvigorate the high street and provide a more ethical and different high street experience. The stock is rotated regularly and the displays change every few weeks as we have an open call for products.
The shop is open 11am until 6pm Wednesday to Saturday. The next exhibition will be “William Morris, Wallpaper Man” opening on 25 June. Food and drink vendors who would like to try out an idea can get in touch here.
We love hearing from our members how things are going. If you would like to write a Member Spotlight, contact Joelle.