Creative Industries

Nigel has been working with Designers and Designer/Makers for a number of years – providing practical, hands-on support, from general business questions to specific detailed issues.

Support can take the form of mentoring, coaching or project work. It can be short -term or long-term, working with you to move your business forward, helping small businesses become great businesses.

So if you are in Fashion, Textiles, Interior Design, Ceramics, Jewellery, Furniture, Music & Entertainment, or any other kind of creative industry – as a designer, designer/maker, or as a provider of services or manufacturing to the creative industries – the chances are that we can help you to start, grow or consolidate your business.

Whatever issues or obstacles you are faced with, give us a call or drop us an email via the contact page.

  • Finding a Manufacturer
  • Managing your Manufacture
  • Efficiency/Productivity Improvement
  • Sales Order Processing
  • Production Planning
  • Product Costing and Pricing
  • Studio Layout (for designer/makers and manufacturers)
  • Business and Financial Planning
  • Basic Financial Record Keeping
  • Internal Systems (development or improvement)
  • Business Strategy
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Growth Strategy
  • General Business Issues
  • Employment Issues
  • Cost Reduction
  • Project Management (tools and techniques)


Cockpit Arts LogoERDF Logo
Business Support Project with Cockpit Arts – ‘Commercialising Creative Content’

Cockpit Arts, the award winning Social Enterprise and creative-business incubator for designer-makers, launched a project in 2011 aimed at helping small creative businesses to take the next steps in their business development, expansion and manufacturing strategies.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the project matched specialist advisers with designer-makers to provide support over a number of face-to-face sessions and group workshops.

Thornback & Peel studio, Cockpit Arts, Holborn. Photo: Vanessa Swann, image courtesy of Cockpit Art

Thornback & Peel studio, Cockpit Arts, Holborn. Photo: Vanessa Swann, image courtesy of Cockpit Art

Nigel Rust, one of three specialist advisers working on the project, ran two group workshops on ‘finding, selecting and getting the most from manufacturers’ as well as taking on a number of clients on a one-to-one basis. Ten designer-makers, all with studios at Cockpit Arts in either Holborn or Deptford, were selected to work with him, including: interior product designers, ceramicists, jewellers, a fashion designer, high-end wallpaper designers and giftware makers.

The clients each had their own specific needs that were identified at the start – some wanted to reduce the cost of outsourced manufacturing, some wanted to increase productivity in their studio, some were looking to rationalise or expand their product range, some simply wanted to improve their management skills and systems, some needed help with research into alternative manufacturers and some wanted a combination of these areas.

Over the course of about five months Nigel worked closely with each client helping them to make immediate practical improvements and developing on-going action plans. All the designers involved were able to make big strides forward in their business development.

Nigel observed: “All the clients were enormously enthusiastic and able to move forward at a surprising pace.”

After one session one of the clients emailed: “Thanks for an inspiring meeting this morning, we are all very excited at the prospect of becoming more efficient.”

Another estimated that the project had already: “Improved productivity by a third.”

And from the group sessions: “Nigel’s session gave me the confidence to go into manufacture.”

“Nigel’s talk provided a lot of useful tips on how to go about manufacturing. I was very impressed with the relevant background research that went into this session. It was very useful.”
Designs from Lizzie Allen's range of wallpapers and soft furnishings. Photographer Jamie Trounce, image courtesy of Cockpit Arts

Designs from Lizzie Allen's range of wallpapers and soft furnishings. Photographer Jamie Trounce, image courtesy of Cockpit Arts

Ellen O’Hara, Head of Business Development at Cockpit Arts, added: “We were delighted that Nigel was able to provide his expertise as part of the ‘Commercialising Creative Content’ project. His professionalism and in-depth knowledge of the manufacturing sector made him a pleasure to work with. The businesses that he mentored have all commented on the significant impact that he has had on their productivity. We look forward to working with him again in the future and would highly recommend him to other creative businesses.”

For further information on Cockpit Arts please visit:


Suzy Reed Ltd was created by fashion entrepreneur Suzy Reed and world-renowned music photographer David Redfern.

Suzy designs and markets unique textile products, including tees, cushion covers and silk scarves and is moving into a quirky and colourful fashion collection of dresses, skirts, tops and waistcoats.

Mick Jagger T Shirt

The products use either the original David Redfern photographic image or digital interpretations with a creative twist. The range includes iconic images of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Miles Davies, BB King, Louis Armstrong, Blondie and the Rolling Stones.

In preparation for the development of her fashion collection, Suzy attended a series of workshops for fashion businesses, run by Nigel Rust in collaboration with Fashion Enter under the title ‘Be Business Ready’. These workshops are aimed at fashion designers who are either just starting out or have been running for a while and want to improve their business.

Topics covered included: Fashion production (finding and working with a fashion manufacturer); Making It Happen (planning and doing); Finance; and Sales & Marketing.

Suzy commented after the first session: “At long last I feel I’m getting the knowledge I’ve craved + I’m in the right place – Thank You.”

And at the end of the course : “Have learnt so much + now feel ready to put everything I’ve learnt into action for 2011. Thank you Nigel.” Suzy


Since doing the course Suzy has continued to take advantage of Nigel’s mentoring services.

Nigel says: “Suzy is a great character and is brilliant to work with. Her business is growing and she now has a practical insight and a number of business tools at her disposal to make sure it continues to grow.”

For more information on Suzy Reed visit

Textile & Interior Design

Further case studies will be uploaded shortly


Further case studies will be uploaded shortly


Sjm – ‘words & clay’

Sarah J Miller runs a business producing beautiful ceramic decorations and witty graphic gifts. Based at Cockpit Arts in London, the business was established in 2000 and now employs a staff of 3 people engaged in product design, manufacture, sales and despatch.

Sarah J Miller in her studio<br />John Jones

Sarah J Miller in her studio
John Jones

The business has grown significantly and Sarah realised that their organisation and working practices, particularly on the production side, needed to catch up with the way sales have expanded. Nigel was called in to help sjm as part of the ‘Commercialising Creative Content’ project run by Cockpit Arts and funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Improving efficiency was a priority in order to:
• Keep up with demand
• Maximise profitability
• Make the most of limited studio space

All of these aims were achieved over a remarkably short period of time and a very small number of practical sessions involving Nigel and the sjm team. The sessions concentrated on learning and applying ‘lean’ principles in the workshop.

The sjm team put what they learnt into immediate practice by a straight-forward re-organisation of the workshop layout, making changes to the way things are stored and the way various operations are carried out.

After monitoring the outcome Sarah estimates that they have improved productivity by as much as a third (33%).

“We are better able to respond to high customer demand during busy periods such as the run-up to Christmas, we should even be able to manage without temporary labour to help with the pre-Christmas rush; we no longer need to work late into the evening; we have better stock control and are in a far better position to plan ahead.” Says Sarah.

The sjm team working on improving their procedures

The sjm team working on improving their procedures

Nigel says: “The ‘lean’ sessions are very hands-on and are designed to be of immediate practical use. Sjm were able to make cost savings and efficiency improvements during the first team session. I was particularly impressed with the enthusiasm of the sjm team and the desire to make a difference.”

“And, what is even better, the ‘continuous improvement’ philosophy will ensure that even more savings will be made in the future.”

For further information on sjm please visit:

Music & Entertainment

Further case studies will be uploaded shortly