Prescott and Mackay is a truly unique craft business. They teach part-time DIY enthusiasts in London, San Francisco and Melbourne how to make shoes, bags and more--in as little as one weekend! We spoke to founder Melissa Needham about the vision behind the growing craft empire and what's in store for 2014.
What prompted you to start up Prescott & Mackay and what guided your decision to expand your offering to courses in areas other than footwear?
I wanted to offer access to high level tuition to people who may not consider themselves 'creatives' in their professional pursuits but nevertheless knew they had a creative streak, and found the world of accessories and leather craft something they wanted to explore - just for fun either, or to combine with some of their existing skills. When I started Prescott & Mackay with our short courses format, it was a hit as the only alternative to lengthy college courses. We decided to expand to other areas in response to current students wanting to expand their subject areas.
How does Prescott & Mackay position itself with so many other craft enterprises now existing in London? What's your USP?
Prescott & Mackay's USP is that it has always concentrated on the technical side of accessory design and focuses its classes on delivering practical, core skills that open up an understanding of the making process right from the start. This leads to better design ideas and concepts.
People learn quicker than others and it's really fulfilling to both me and them when they completely exceeded their expectations.
What has the process of teaching taught you personally over the years?
The process of teaching has taught me to realise that with the right approach, anyone can learn accessory design and making. Some people learn quicker than others and it's really fulfilling to both me and them when they completely exceeded their expectations. The benchmark for this is when someone feels, as a novice, they have created an item that they consider good enough to have been displayed in a shop.
With shoemaking there's a lot that can be achieved at home with very little.
If someone comes on one of your 2 day classes, what can they expect to achieve on their own at home alone and what advice can you offer them about life after class?
With shoemaking there's a lot that can be achieved at home with very little. You don't need much space, shoes can be made from a limitless variety of materials and even if you did need to source or make something particular like a distinct heel, the process in constructing a pair of shoes is all very achievable.
Any new plans for 2014 for Prescott & Mackay?
2014 is going to be an exciting year; We have new courses in wallet making, with an expert who has been crafting bespoke wallets using exotic leathers for a very high end market for many years; a very special hand made trainers class which is unique; and two new sandal classes including a wedge option which is sure to be popular!
Here are some of the classes on our Christmas wish list (vouchers are available here)!