How to build a successful retail brand, for creatives and makers with Ruth Lawrenson

Ref: SWE29498

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About this course

Discover how to dissect your product proposition, evaluate effective ways of working commercially without losing artistic integrity, and work together to identify a strategy and direction that will help you stand out from the crowd. This course aims to instil confidence in you, when selling to your ideal/target customer.

Course Description

Whether you run an established retail brand and you are wanting some expert advice as to how to grow your business; or if you are a designer-maker starting out and wanting to gain further exposure by looking at ways to develop your online presence; or you are an experienced maker, maybe stuck in a rut with your product ranges and not sure why your customers aren’t interested any more, and need some guidance on how to re-invigorate your product collections, then this course is definitely for you. This two day course will instigate or re-invigorate the passion you have for your creative business' success.


• To provide a step-by-step course that will serve as a creative business skills tool kit for designer-makers, independent retail brands and retailers.

• To develop your existing knowledge of the industry and recieve expert advice and support that will enable you to improve your product offer and services; commercially planning to increase sales and brand awareness, without losing artistic integrity.

The objective is for makers and skilled craftspeople to confidently be able to:

• Strategically plan and discover creative solutions, building on your business acumen, learning how to create a commercial proposition.

• Gain an insight into ways to run a business based on tried and tested systems and processes acquired from relevant industry knowledge and expertise.

• Add value to creative decision making, building and completing strategic plans and learning how to implement and execute a creative product strategy.

• Confidently explore ideas that will benefit future retail business opportunities that are current and relevant.

The course will cover the following:

Know your market – influence and interpreting trends, conducting comparative/competitor analysis. Conduct a competitive analysis for your brand/products identifying areas of interest e.g. VM, online presence, brands and product ranging, price architecture.

Know your customer – create an ideal/target or redefinition customer profile. Investigating and using market segmentation to speak to, engage and connect with as well as design and define your product ranges.

Brand Identity – brand values provenance, sustainability commitment, USP, creating brand authenticity/trust/purpose/integrity.

SWOT – what works, what doesn’t – reacting to performance, capitalising and optimising sales. Collating product performance, best and worst sellers. Sales reports and actions.

Product and services – product strategy, range building, price architecture and wholesale and retail collaborations/partnerships, packaging, personalisation and digitalisation.

Online and offline presence – marketing, trading and promotional strategy – social media and digital ecommerce.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course the tutor will supply some materials including worksheets and presentations.
  • Some paper for mind-mapping and post-its for brainstorming are also provided.

What students need to bring

  • Any physical product or collections you have
  • Any imagery of your work or product you wish to share
  • A laptop, tablet or smart phone that can enable access your website, social media accounts and Google – laptop is recommended but not essential – smart phone or tablet.
  • Smart phone for photography or camera (optional)
  • Pens, marker pens and paper/sketchpad for mind-mapping

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Additional paper and writing implements

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Ruth Lawrenson

Ruth is a qualified Fashion Business Management lecturer at UCA and as a former buyer, runs a retail buying consultancy to support her professional practice working closely with designer makers, brands and retailers on product and brand development. Ruth's lecturing specialism is within luxury and retail experience and design. Ruth has a PGCert in creative education and is currently studying for her Senior Fellowship, writing a  paper on research methodologies in the creative industries.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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