While the first iteration of the Scottish Design Exchange was founded in Leith back in 2015, their store here in Glasgow opened just last year and is about to celebrate its first birthday. We love SDX and everything they do, and hope they have an amazing second year!
What is the Scottish Design Exchange?
Dozens of local creative talents are supported through the amazing social enterprise that is the Scottish Design Exchange (SDX). Their two unique not-for-profit stores in Glasgow and Edinburgh give over 150 designers and artists living in Scotland the opportunity to sell their handmade, design-led products.
Artists have a need to sell their work in a collaborative way, and this was the inspiration for the Scottish Design Exchange’s first concept store, which opened in the summer of 2015. It explores the full breadth of Scottish talent. It allows members of the general public to invest in locally made products and trust that their makers are actually profiting from the purchase, and allows emerging and independent creators to share their work with the people most interested in seeing it.
The shop became hugely successful within just six months of opening. Everyone – from chocolatiers to painters – is welcome in the Scottish Design Exchange, allowing customers to experience work from a growing collective of creators working in a vast range of different materials.
A Successful Endeavour
It was the success of the first Scottish Design Exchange outlet that allowed Glasgow’s store to open its doors, and that success happened for a reason. In an interview with The Scotsman last year, Lynzi Leroy, founder of SDX, explained that “retail is dying. Our high streets are full of mass produced imports. This is true, not just in the UK but across Europe – in any city you will find the same products.
A new drive to support local economies and the individual’s desire to look for something unique or unusual, to stand out, are the driving force behind the Scottish Design Exchange. They aim to support both individuality and sustainability. SDX works to make it easier for customers to buy direct from local artists, and follows a business model designed specifically to compete on the high street. Artists enjoy 100% of all sales revenue from the stores, something you could never hope to get from a private gallery.
Some of the values held by the Scottish Design Exchange appear to have been inspired by its founder’s time in France, and specifically the way French people tend to regard their artists and makers. Leroy has stated that “What I love about France is that, no matter what region you go to, you find local artists’ works on sale.” She feels that it is easier for French people to purchase the art they care about, and that there’s more support given to artists to allow them to sell their work. Among the larger chain stores on the high street, you’re likely to find the odd little artisan shop where you can buy something made locally, and which is unique to that area.
Perhaps one of the most cheering aspects of the Scottish Design Exchange is the personal connection it allows between artist and business. It is a social enterprise with a strong sense of its own values, and the most important of those values is that artists should be helped and encouraged. As SDX grows, its artists and makers also have the opportunity to grow.
Leroy explains, “One of our great success stories is Whisky Frames, which began as a hobby for artist Kirsten Hunter who had made a few picture frames from whisky barrels at her home in Midlothian.” Their products are now stocked in more than 80 outlets, with an annual turnover of over £350,000. While the Scottish Design Exchange can’t take credit for the success of a talented artist and creator, they certainly did help them on their way.
Whisky Frames began with in investment of £1,000 of Kristen and her husband Ross’s money, but as of January 2019 were making over 350 frames every week.
Should I Sell through the Scottish Design Exchange?
We would wholeheartedly encourage you to look into renting a space in the Scottish Design Exchange if you’re an artist, maker or designer based in Scotland and create products and pieces you think people would like to buy.
From original artworks to mugs and coasters, SDX successfully sell a wide range of products. They take pride in not being an art gallery but a shop that sells products, which is why so many people choose them for their gift-shopping.
Items that can be used to decorate a house, and items that can be given as gifts, tend to sell the best in the store. Jewellery, prints and cards all do well. But really, if you make a product that’s worth having, people will want a chance to buy it.
All sales made in-store are commission-free, with artists claiming all profits, but it’s not an entirely free process. The space in which you display your wares is rented to artists at varying prices depending on the shelf space. Many artists find that the sales they make easily pay that rent, however!
If you want to find out more about the Scottish Design Exchange, you can read all about them on their website: https://www.scottishdesignexchange.com