I met the designer and entrepreneur Alice Walsh of Alice Made This when we were sat next to each other at a lunch in London and was immediately struck by both her focus and her passion for her company.
One of the things that really resonated was our conversation about making the space to be creative when you have a business to run. It’s something I worry about frequently: Writing requires headspace, and it can be hard to find that amongst the daily pressure of meetings, overflowing inboxes, pitches, family and the rest.
I was impressed by Alice’s solution and of course immediately asked her to write her Day in the Life for LLG.
Over to you Alice…
As the founder and CEO of Alice Made This, no two days are the same. We’re a small but growing creative accessories brand for men, celebrating British manufacturing, industrial engineering and raw materials.
Over the last eight months, we’ve grown from a team of 1 to 4 so time managing all the tasks in hand is key to our success. Instead of a day in the life, it makes more sense for me to do a week in the life as I currently try and compartmentalise my days to accommodate my role in Alice Made This.
My day begins at 6am at our house in Peckham, where Ed (my husband and business partner) and I get a morning greeting from our 2year old son, Rocky. He has perfected the art of escaping his cot unharmed and is now our natural alarm clock! After some family cuddles we all dress and ‘get ready for school’, checking our emails and answering any from different time zones in advance of the studio time. Rocky makes smoothies with us to “give mummy vitamins” (I’m currently pregnant with our second child) before we walk to his nursery for 8am, where he arrives for breakfast with his little buddies. Ed and I head for the studio at the Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey, where we plan our day over a bowl of porridge and a pot of local Monmouth coffee.
MONDAY – Studio day – Team catchup
I always try to ensure that I’m in the studio on a Monday. We have a Monday morning meeting first thing. Each member of the team has different areas of the business to track and report on, so we use this time to share our thoughts, highlight our business gains, flag any concerns or plan events, shows, and key dates. It’s a lovely way to start the week. An informal and concise post weekend catch up that focuses us for the week ahead.
The rest of the day is spent working with the team. Our critical path is something we try and stick to closely – if one aspect of the business ends up having a late delivery it impacts everything else. This, together with our budget, provides the skeleton of the business to build upon.
TUESDAY – On the road
I try to visit a factory every week, especially at this time of year. We produce everything in Britain, meaning I can either drive or hop on a train to see the manufacturers. We currently have 7 dotted across the UK. We develop the products by working closely with the factories and their skilled workers. They’re the experts and we can learn a lot from watching them work, designing to suit the machines that they use. With my career history in product design, our factories usually produce pieces for aerospace, electronic, automotive or medical industries so we can offer something unique to our customer in terms of materials, processes and finishes. I love being in a factory – it’s one of the Alice Made This principles and a true passion of mine.
WEDNESDAY – Rocky Wednesday
My Rocky Wednesday is my little sanctuary. It allows me to switch off completely from Alice Made This for a few hours. A 2year old boy doesn’t give you the headspace to focus on work, so Wednesdays are focused Mum time with Rocky, play parks, swimming, drawing, and being outside as much as possible. Museum trips are a great source of inspiration for my collections and Rocky loves these too. As any mother will tell you, the perfect balance is near impossible so it’s a matter of doing what’s right for you and your family. Of course, I’m always on the end of the phone…
Ed will come home to bath Rocky and allow me to catch up on emails and any urgent matters from being out of office for the day.
THURSDAY – Design & Development
The main reason for segmenting my week is to focus my design time. The creative side of the business comes the most naturally to me so this tends to get squeezed by the elements I’m less experienced in, such as accounting and logistics. The product is key to our success so I need to ensure that it gets the dedicated time for ideas through, to design development. The most efficient way for me to focus this is to dedicate a day per week to fully focus. The day is spent sketching ideas, making mockups, focusing the range, doing technical drawings and liaising with our manufacturers for any new samples.
FRIDAY – Production and Logistics
We hold stock of all of our products and sell both at wholesale and direct through our website. Stock levels, quality control, customer service and ensuring that all our orders are packed and shipped quickly, cleanly and efficiently is key. We have a small warehouse in Peckham that holds our stock and we go between here and the studio to ensure everything runs smoothly. Our factory relationships enable us to work with interesting materials and production methods so we work closely with them to produce the collection. Ed and I look at the sales and accounts each week to forecast what we will need going forward.
Together with this, our online proposition is backed up with our social engagement. As a men’s accessories brand, we believe that the customer requires more than just a beautiful product – they’re buying into you and your brand as much as the pieces.
We use our Journal, our newsletters and our social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to tell our stories and directly connect with the customer. Stories of industry, British skills and Alice Made This are generated using photography, film and content. Amelia manages the site and our social channels, always with the customer in mind.
I would love to say that our week is consistently as ordered as this! Each month varies of course, with Fashion Week shows, look book shoots, online launches, and international travels and working closely with our retailers to tell our brand story and merchandise it correctly.
Our evening clock strikes at 5:30pm when we leg it to nursery to avoid any late fines and collect an exhausted but happy Rocky. We spend an hour catching up with his day’s events before it’s bath time, stories and bed.
One of us may go for a run or pop to yoga before Ed and I have dinner together at about 8pm / 8:30pm and catch up on the day.
A final email and social media scan is done before heading to bed at 10pm. I’ll always write a to do list before bed for the next day – it clears my head and allows me to sleep without a list running in and out of my mind.