HAM - A case study
One of the businesses we are thrilled to have struck up a successful relationship with recently is HAM, situated relatively close to us on the borders of Herefordshire and Shropshire. HAM is a highly original brand of homeware and gift products featuring the distinctive silhouette of Rabbit, whose adventures and escapades are brought to life by Fine Arts-trained, inspirational founder Jo Ham.
After leaving Oxford’s Ruskin College with a BFA, Jo took the unusual step of opting to work not in the arts environment but with a leading London-based marketing agency as a graduate trainee. It was a smart move as Jo took on training assignments across the business’ various marketing disciplines. She developed some great contacts and learned exactly what it meant to build a successful brand. Jo also praises her agency employer for having an enlightened, very positive approach to training young talent – something that has stuck with her.
But then Jo was diagnosed with a serious medical condition and had to take time out to recover. During her illness she took up sketching again – with a little Rabbit emerging as a protagonist and mouthpiece for positive musings on the world around her. Once fully recovered she returned to her marketing role but the creative itch had been scratched and within a year she had left the agency, established a studio and set up HAM. She launched her new range of Rabbit-themed ceramics and fabrics via a pop-up shop in Carnaby St, London, with a highly-successful publicity campaign.
That was the take-off Jo’s company needed which recently marked its 10th anniversary. It has been a stunning success. Her first collection was picked up by Liberty and her product range is now sold in over 30 countries via more than 250 stockists. In addition Jo has created bespoke Rabbit artwork for such leading brands as The Body Shop, Mini, Moncler, Eurostar and Nike.
So how does Riverside Training fit in? Jo remembered the great impact that her early in-house training had on her. She had spotted a talent within her own company, Ellie, who had joined as a studio assistant and quickly shown great leadership potential. Jo was keen to fast track Ellie through the business and felt targeted training could be of huge benefit to her professional development. A mutual contact put Jo in touch with Riverside founder Jane Preston and a conversation turned into a bespoke Apprenticeship programme being created for Ellie in Operations Management Level 5. The aim would be to up-skill Ellie for a senior management role within the company.
Jo is impressed with how the programme is going and sees some clear advantages to Apprenticeship training. Firstly, the cost of the course is 95% funded by the Government, which makes it very accessible for SMEs. Secondly it allows Ellie to train on the job. Jo runs a lean team of five and so to lose a staff member to a degree course would have a big impact on everyone’s workload. Thirdly the Apprenticeship course is not a theoretical piece of study – it is applied, drawing upon Ellie’s own work responsibilities. Ellie brings all her learning straight back into the workplace and adds tangible value to the company. For example, utilising her course knowledge Ellie has been able to draw up Personal Development Plans for team members and project-lead the creation of a new studio, using the experience as a case study for her course submissions.
Jo then talks about the role Riverside has played in supporting her and Ellie. The dedicated course tutor Alix, is just brilliant, striking up a great rapport and getting the best out of Ellie. Plus, Jo gets timely feedback and reporting on progress to keep her engaged with the programme without having to oversee it. But perhaps the most welcome help is that Alix and the wider Riverside team have managed all the logistical side of things – liaising with Government departments, processing data needs, managing contact with all necessary parties.
As well as servicing the needs of over 250 retailers worldwide, HAM offers its product lines via their website with all fulfilment and customer service managed in-house. The studio is always busy but it’s so important we find time for professional development. Having Riverside on hand to help get our people better-qualified is great she shares.
Jo’s plans for the future are very exciting. Licensing deals are very much on the horizon where there’s a synergistic brand fit. New product lines are constantly being developed and it seems highly likely that Rabbit will translate into new media formats which could see the brand explode with new possibilities. More success will inevitably mean the team will have to grow and the business will need people in place appropriately skilled to take on new responsibilities. Jo’s sure she’ll be calling upon Riverside Training to help HAM even more in delivering the critical people training and development that the company will need down the line.
We’ll say yes to that!
To check out the Rabbit product lines follow this link to the HAM website.