Building a business

Glaswegian Allistair Burt spent 12 years working as an architect before finally pouring his heart and soul into his fledgling business, Hole in my Pocket. He tells Gift Focus more.

I've always known that I wanted to have a creative job. As a child I'd invent board games and create pop-up books for my little sister, and the joy from making someone else smile as a result of something I've made has never left me.
I studied Architecture at Strathclyde University and after graduating I started working for a large commercial office. Around this time I teamed up with a friend and we entered design competitions; winning the first one we entered.
There was a decent amount of prize money and I decided to use it to fund a creative project I'd had in my mind for a long time; Hole in my Pocket.
So for the last twelve years I've been a rather Jekyll and Hyde character working as an Architect by day, running multi-million pound building contracts constructing colleges, shopping centres and offices around the UK, but also running Hole in my Pocket by night.
My products have quite a varied selection of styles, from bold bright block colour work to fine art paintings and to pen and ink sketches.
Probably my most popular products are my greetings cards that share a common sense of humour. I've also developed a few themed collections, the most popular is the A Life on the Ocean Waves range which is a maritime/sea themed collection about a little ship's crew, it's incredibly popular in coastal towns and people love the little characters.
The range includes stationery, cards, prints, badges, textiles and it now also includes mugs. My other popular range is the Lucky Pine Sawmill collection that's about a little bear and a lumberjack living in the middle of a forest.
I've also developed collections about classic movies, a little Frenchman, a very grumpy little bean man and a best-selling range for men called; I should never have joined the army. My aim with all of my products is to create high quality work that makes people smile and that they'll want to treasure.
Due to the on-going growth of the business I've recently made the decision to stop working in the architecture office and focus fully on Hole in my Pocket. Working full-time on both was starting to prove tricky, even for someone who is a functional insomniac and who gets a few extra hours than normal people each day!
Getting a balance between both offices and life has always proved tricky and I'm very excited to see what can be achieved now I'll not be as stretched.
I now offer a full range of gift products from greetings cards and mugs, to t-shirts and homeware at www.holeinmypocket.com/shop. I also do a Scottish specific collection of work under the separate brand www.eathaggis.com.
The main plan for the future is to catch up with all my stockists and then look at getting a new studio space as we've outgrown the current home.
I always go back to a quote that the writer Kirstin Innes once wrote about my work; "Hole in my Pocket create work with a lopsided and utterly uncynical charm that makes delighted children out of the most serious of grown-ups."
Hopefully I can keep that inventive fun spirit with the new work I produce.
To find out more, visit: www.holeinmypocket.com.

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