WORKING as an architect by day, Allistair Burt was looking for another, more immediate outlet for his creative skills, and embarked on various projects including exhibitions of his illustrations.
Several years later he has turned his hobby into a thriving one-man business, Hole in my Pocket, with about 40 stockists selling his products and eyeing l expansion in the US and Asian markets.
Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Burt says that after graduating in 2002, he won various creative competitions and used the prize money for projects, like hiding 100 £1 notes around Glasgow, and his exhibitions.
He explains: “Every time I was doing an exhibition people were always asking ‘can I get a copy of that as a print’ or ‘would you do that as a T-shirt’? I wondered if I should maybe design some things to sell specifically rather than turning old exhibitions into things to sell.”
This side “grew arms and legs and became its own thing,” and for three years he has been designing and selling items including greetings cards, badges and aprons as well as T-shirts and prints.
Burt says he even sells via outlets in New York, Germany and a distributor in New Zealand.
Closer to home, he sells Hole in my Pocket products, as well as his Scottish-themed product line Eat Haggis, via online marketplace notonthehighstreet.com, which hailed a “successful” Christmas period this year with 25 per cent year-on-year growth for the four weeks leading up to 24 December.
Burt says his December sales have grown by 26 per cent year on year, and he believes customers are “becoming more socially aware of how they spend their money” and looking to support small business.
“Even the personalised experience of buying gives them a story behind the thing that they’re buying,” he says.
Other projects Burt has carried out under the Hole in my Pocket brand have included building a Victorian Storytelling Machine for the Shetland Museum.
His plan now for the business is to expand sales of his products in the likes of the US, Korea and Japan, as well as eventually hiring more staff and moving to larger studio premises.