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Launchpad: The KiosKiosK

What is it?Some call it a "pop-up-shop" but I’d call it a low cost retail solution for creative entrepreneurs and small businesses. It’s the latest brainchild of design crusaders Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway.

Who is it aimed at” Anybody working in the creative industries – design, fashion, craft, music etc – needing an affordable outlet to sell their wares. The initial focus is London but if successful, expect to see the funky kiosks in cities throughout the UK.

What’s the pointAnyone trying to get their goods listed in high street retailers will know how difficult it is to get an appointment, let alone to agree to stock your product range. The alternative of renting your own retail space somewhere with decent footfall may be a little cheaper in the current environment, but is still out of reach for most creative entrepreneurs. KiosKiosK aims to give these young businesses a helping hand until an alternative is within reach.

How is it different”The only other outlets for small creative businesses are the likes of Camden Market and Manchester’s Affleck’s Palace, but space here comes at a premium. Other kiosks exist in city centres but most look like converted sheds and sell tourist tat or burgers. In contrast, KiosKiosK will provide a premium retail experience in busy areas where there is a high chance of impulse purchasing. However, what makes this idea truly unique is that it is FREE to traders who can have sole use of a kiosk on a temporary basis. Initially at least, hopeful occupants only need to persuade the organisers why they deserve the use of KiosKiosK, although if the scheme rolls out a more structured approach may be necessary.

Who thinks it’s a good idea The initiative is supported by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and has the backing of the London Sustainable Development Commission (not sure what they do but they seem to love kiosks). It is being trialed over the summer as part of the Design Museum’s Super Contemporary exhibition on the Southwark South Bank. Presumably, if the trial proves successful, more kiosks will appear across London. Clearly there are enough high profile names associated with KiosKiosK to get it off the ground but the ongoing involvement of the Hemingways is not clear. What could possibly go wrong”The KiosKiosK initiative has to be applauded and could provide an invaluable lifeline to budding creative entrepreneurs. The use of three capitalised Ks in the branding is unfortunate but is not a showstopper. Success for both the traders and the initiative itself rather depends on the basic retail principle of getting the right products under the noses of the right people at the right time. If the selected merchandise is too niche for the mainstream consumers the kiosks will attract then it will ultimately fail. The reason places like Camden Market serve the creative traders so well, is because they attract the very people interested in buying their kind of wares. The danger for KiosKiosK is that it creates a mismatch – colliding American tourists with urban club wear may sound amusing but it won’t help anyone make money.

Let’s hope the organisers get the product selection and kiosk location right, because it’s one of those ideas you just want to succeed.

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Justin Wright is a founder of Mangrove Consulting, a specialist innovation consultancy advising companies on how to grow through innovation and entrepreneurship, and is a director of several small businesses. His life has not been the same since the launch of the 5 blade razor – he finds it hard to remember what life was like with only 4 blades…Related articles Launchpad: the Tata Nano Business humour and "Inventions of the week" 24-hour pizza vending machine Let’s Pizza launches in Italy


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