This month we spoke to Adam Duckett from Covers, a graphic design studio based at Creative Works in Walthamstow. We spoke about the importance of connecting with local businesses and found out about some podcasts that keep him inspired.

Tell us about your business 

Covers specialises in design for places to stay, eat and explore. Projects vary in size – it could be the brand identity and website for a place to stay in the far reaches of Scotland, to a postcard for a food concept on the south coast. It’s exciting working with clients in the world of hospitality and telling the stories of people and places.

When did you set it up and why? 

Covers started as an idea in 2016 and has been building gradually since. The inaugural project was for Harlosh and involved the brand identity for their two architect-designed holiday homes on the Isle of Skye and this project started in late 2017.

There have been ideas along the way with smaller projects helping build the purpose and direction for Covers. All of those ideas led to formalising the studio at the end of last summer. The name Covers brings together a number of meanings: it comes from the term in the restaurant sense, in relation to places to sleep in hotel and holiday architecture, more broadly the concept of an identity wrapping around a business, as well as a journey and the distance travelled.

 Why Forge? What urged you to apply?

I learnt about Forge when I moved studios to Creative Works last year. The offer of business development with like minded businesses in the area along with being in a focused geographical area (for businesses in the Blackhorse Road area) led to applying for Edition 4 and I am really pleased to be a part of it – there is so much I have learnt already.

What are the challenges and opportunities that your business are currently facing during the pandemic? 

There have been many challenges since the start of the pandemic. From that initial week in mid-March where it felt like industries in the UK disappeared overnight. The main issues my business faced were projects which were being pencilled in, then being significantly delayed or not going ahead and the impact that this caused on day-to-day businesses. The pandemic inevitably has changed business’s outlook and confidence for the months and years to come and needing to anticipate a challenging future ahead.

The effect of the pandemic and lockdown on client’s business and the hospitality industry has been huge. In recent days there has been some hope looking to early July for reopening however 4 months of the lockdown has seen a number of well-loved places closing their doors permanently.

During the last few months I have started a programme with the London Growth Hub with monthly development sessions. I have also been a part of East End Trade’s Guild meetings – a chance to discuss issues facing businesses in East London and a chance to raise issues with the local authorities. On a weekly basis there have been events such as Hive which is a chance to network and join talks over Zoom with local businesses. It’s been a good opportunity to be a part of these networks with some projects being discussed.

How have you had to adapt? What measures did you have to put in place? 

It has involved pausing and working on developing Covers. Being part of the Forge programme during this time has been really beneficial. For many hospitality and tourism businesses the pandemic has meant a complete pause of their business and I have been looking at ways to help locally.

Having a small office space at Creative Works has meant I was able to return there safely, with it just being me in the office most days. There’s been many Zoom calls during the time to, and for the time being it works as a good replacement for meetings in person. Seeing materials and samples takes a while longer though!

How important is connecting with other businesses to you?

It’s very important. Through speaking to people and businesses, really exciting projects and partnerships start to form. One conversation springs to mind, during a chat with Nat Harrison of Ayama Coaching, she made the point that in just a 30 minute conversation you can tell if a potential client is a good fit for your business from the language you’re both using – one I’ll consider going forwards.

What kinds of businesses or individuals would like to connect with through Forge? 

I’m looking for collaborators such as architects, photographers, developers and illustrators. It’s also really beneficial to learn about other businesses in the area too for sharing details of projects that I discover, or clients looking for a different set of skills.

Tell us something we might not know about you

Good question! At the start of lockdown, following the announcement ‘restaurants should stay open, but people should not go’, I wanted to do something to support local businesses. I started Open Near Me, a directory of food and drink places in Waltham Forest. It works as a central place for people in the borough to visit and explore. It’s great to see how useful it’s been to people over the last few months to find and support local business. On the back of the directory are a series of videos about the people behind the business, where I wanted to find out more about what they do and how they do it.

What inspires you? 

One that springs to mind is Courier magazine. They have been a main inspiration point recently. Their podcasts, magazines and content is always inspiring – there are many points that can be learnt from the people and businesses they chat to. In the past I’ve learnt about local places like Deeney’s – their toasties and journey to Japan from East London – as well as Square Root soda – who are manufacturing their drinks about a mile away. During lockdown they’ve been doing daily podcasts which are a good listen. Off to listen to another now!

Covers join the Forge community as part of the fourth and final edition, Cohort 4.