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Meet Local Maker Provide
Provide designs clothing and lifestyle products inspired by Birmingham, to celebrate the city and the people who make it. Since starting life in 2012, they have maintained a focus on good design and quality manufacturing, working with a number of local producers to create their exclusive range.
What first fuelled your passion to make/ create your designs/ products?
Birmingham is such an interesting place with a rich and complex history, but its stories are rarely told well. I think the stories of Brummies past and present deserve to be heard, so I wanted to use my experience in product design to provide a platform that celebrates Birmingham through high quality products and artwork.
Tell us about the origins of your business.
Provide started out as a small boutique in Digbeth, selling a mixture of products we designed and some from other brands and designers. After a couple of years the Provide products were outselling everything else, so we decided to focus on growing our own range.
What’s your motto?
'Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.' William Morris gave this advice at a lecture in Birmingham in 1880, and I think it's a great motto to live by.
How would you describe your designs / products?
Research led products with purpose, inspired by our surroundings.
What was the first success / landmark moment for your designs / product range?
I can't pinpoint one moment in Provide's history as a turning point; it's always been about consistently taking small steps in the right direction.
Tell us about your materials - where do you source your materials from?
We work with a variety of suppliers, all of whom are amazing at what they specialise in. Sometimes we provide our own materials, and sometimes we work with them to source materials from their existing network. If we can source something in the Midlands, we will, but if the quality isn't available locally we'll look for the very best option further afield, taking a number of factors into account including quality and sustainability.
Tell us about your design process?
I'm big on visual research. We'll explore a range of source material before starting to develop designs, then start sketching ideas out on paper before moving on to the computer. We work closely with our suppliers to make sure our designs are maximising the potential of what they can create, so it's a very collaborative process. We're based in a studio that we share with a few other creatives, so if I want another pair of eyes on something, someone is always around to run concepts by.
Have you ever had any interesting commissions?
Collaboration plays a big part in what we do at Provide. We've been fortunate to work with brands including Carters of Moseley, Selfridges and Birmingham Pride, to name a few.
Do you have a favourite of the Birmingham museums? If so, why?
I love Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, because of its variety of exhibits and central location. It's the city's flagship museum, and the Edwardian Tearooms are a great place to debrief once you've explored the collections.
And finally, a tourist arrives in Birmingham for the first time ever, where do you take them?
We'd meet at Faculty for coffee and cake, then walk through Digbeth to see what's new at Moseley Vintage Hub. Heading back into town, we'd stop at Stag in the Custard Factory for a drink, and make our way to Damascena for lunch. Then we'd have a wander around the shops, taking a break at The Wellington, before heading to Eat Vietnam in Stirchley for dinner.