Creating a Good Life
The Goodlife Centre is very successful creative and inspiring learning space situated near Tate Modern, Central London. They offer practical boutique workshops in DIY, Home Maintenance, Decorating, Upholstery, Woodwork & Carpentry, Furniture Upcycling & Restoration and various traditional heritage Crafts led by traditionally trained crafts people.
The large workspace is situated in a renovated 1950’s cardboard factory, decorated with vintage magazine ads and articles about carpentry & DIY, and boasts quirky intriguing features in every nook and cranny. It’s a cornucopia of creative ephemera and one of my favourite places to explore and simply soak up the retro atmosphere.
I talked to founder, designer-maker and chief bottle-washer, Alison Winfield-Chislett about running an analogue business in a digital world.
M: What stage are you at with your business:
A: 6 years
M: Describe your business:
A: A non-accredited practical workshops in diy, woodwork, upholstery craft and home interiors.
M: What’s your role in the business?
A: The boss
M: Do you have any partners?
M: What is/was the biggest challenge to starting up?
A: Finding the perfect space close to my home. I wanted to walk to work.
M: When did you know it was going to work out?
A: Stepping into that perfect space.
M: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
A: That I can trust my own decisions.
M: If you started over today, what would you do differently?
A: Too exhausting to imagine! The unknown is exciting and full of potential.
M: Who are your customers:
A: People who are curious about making things to gain a sense of fulfilment. Mostly city workers that spend their days on computers and feel a bit out of touch with doing practical and creative things with their hands. We give people back some independence by teaching them lifelong skills that are no longer being passed down through generations – such as fixing things around the home or making a shelf out of wood. It’s therapy with a very practical result.
M: How do you market your business to them?
A: A friendly website that conveys our character, driven by a smart cookie who understands SEO and all the things I don’t.
M: Do you use social media? If so which ones and how often do you post?
A: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. We post daily. We have a lot of interesting stuff to see.
11. Name one thing you want to know about social media?
A: How much does it matter what time of day we post?
11. What’s next for your business – how are you developing it and nurturing growth?
A: We are still expanding to fill our five studio factory. Its always special to meet new tutors who want to teach amazing skills in our studios.
M: What’s the first business-related thing you typically do every morning? And last thing at night?
M: What’s the biggest challenge you currently face?
A: Making sure we keep track of all the queries as our customer base grows. We manage a lot of workshops and have a lot of customers. Our sales are managed digitally yet we are a very analogue space. It’s challenging to balance online sales without losing our focus on the quality of our workshops, which is what I am most passionate about.
M: If you had more time in the day, how would you spend it?
A: Tinkering by myself in the workshop. I still love making things.
M: Do you have any wisdom for anyone else starting out?
A: Don’t be in a hurry to grow fast. Take time to grow well.