Williams & Blake: How Not To Start A Business
A while ago, the big cheeses here at Spilt inc. got an email introducing them to Williams & Blake: a fashion brand inspired by the poet William Blake. A simple and clever idea, Williams & Blake produces clothes and accessories inspired by the world of poetry and literature. I don’t really get it, but it could work. The problem is, the word “could” is very important here; the idea could work but it doesn’t, not one bit. Let’s start with the clothes themselves. Firstly, there are only four things that you can buy, which if you ask me, isn’t a particularly good selection. Secondly, you either get a t-shirt, in one of two boring colours, or you get a bag, in a random strawberry shape (which has seemingly nothing to do with the brand itself, except that maybe they like strawberries), or a “free” tote bag, at the low, low cost of one penny. Get your costs right at least.
Let’s move onto this Goethe Tote Bag, and we’ll ignore the fact that even though 1p is an insignificant amount of money, it’s not technically free, so you can’t advertise it as free: that’s cheating. The little blurb describing the bag is all wrong. Firstly, there’s debate about whether Goethe even said what they’ve printed (badly) on the back of their bags, and secondly, when you’re trying to sell a bag, sort out your tenses, punctuation, and at least try to make sure what you’re writing actually makes sense.
Now, let us assess the website in general. All I can say is: I really, really hope this is a joke. I hope this is sarcastic, and that they actually realise how many mistakes they’ve made. Otherwise, this makes me sad, oh so sad. As an online company, I would say that your website is pretty darned important. It’s the first thing prospective customers see, and if you’re claiming to be all about literature, I’ve got a bit of advice for you: learn to spell, use grammar correctly (you can’t just put apostrophes wherever you fancy), and for goodness sake, please proof read. Whoever has written the website clearly has some sort of issue with capital letters – perhaps they had a falling out back in Year Two when joined-up writing wasn’t so hot either. They’re used erratically and for the strangest things. Looking at the section on the inspiration behind the brand, they’ve capitalised “Inspiration”, but decided that the start of a sentence should be in lowercase, as should the word “i”. Somebody needs to remember that names ought to be capitalised as well, every time, not just the favourite ones – “…poets such as: Goethe, socrates, Alexander Dumas and oscar wilde…”. When I wrote this out, my auto-correct wouldn’t even let me leave those in lowercase, somebody needs to make use of Word Processing. (Look at that, capitals!). What’s more, half of what is written on the website is nonsensical – the founder talks about being inspired by a teacher who reignited a love for reading. However, he clearly didn’t inspire any thirst for the English language. To quote rather a large chunk of the website, I can point out so many errors that your head will explode:
“Williams and Blake was inspired by my teenage years, when i was younger i disliked reading books, i thought they are long & boring, its wasn’t until had a great teacher called Mr Ikeda who re-sparked my thirst for reading , Mr Ikeda once stated “reading allows one to connect with the great thinkers and writers and draw wisdom of the great ocean of humankind,” he also remarked that “its mystic human beings are the ONLY life form on earth with the ability to read”
Wow. Just, wow. Firstly, if your brand name is Williams & Blake, that’s not the same as Williams and Blake. Make your mind up. Ampersands aren’t interchangeable with “and”, although you seem to think so. Also, learn where to put commas, and where not to. There’s also a great little thing called a full stop, which is pretty damn handy when you want your readers to take a breath. Like that. Simples.
Moving on to a little treat I found about packaging. Apparently, Williams & Blake are pedantic about it. Ironic, considering they’re not particularly pedantic about spelling. “pendantic packaging” is the title of the blog entry where this brand really starts to get on my nerves. If there’s one pet peeve about grammar, it’s not being able to use “your” and “you’re”. Come on now, it’s really not that hard.
One last thing about spelling, and then we’ll move onto the big stuff. Emily Dickinson is NOT spelt Dickenson, and if you want to honour a writer such as Charles Dickens with a neck tag (what all writers dream of, I’m sure), then at least put the apostrophe in the right place.
Right, onto the gallery – a really nice idea. Everyone who buys a product gets to have their picture uploaded onto the gallery page. I do like this, it means that all of the models of their clothes are real people of all shapes and sizes. The thing is, it doesn’t send out such a great message when there are only eight pictures, one of them being yourself, and one of a man who really doesn’t know that he’s being photographed. It’s also 100% definitely somebody’s Dad. I can’t fault their clothes because, well, I don’t own any. In my experience, unisex t-shirts are never flattering on girls; they’re ill-fitting and shapeless, because no boy wants to wear a t-shirt with a waist. However, I don’t actually know anything about the clothes themselves; they could be of superb quality. The creators don’t seem to think so though, there’s only one picture of them actually wearing the t-shirt. Probably could have thought that through a bit more.
Let’s finish with the picture here on the left. Firstly, the quote is wrong: they’ve missed out the second word, and here’s the kicker – THEY SPELT ‘THAN’ INCORRECTLY. It’s a four letter word.
In summary, a nice idea, but it needs to be followed through, and the concept needs to be backed up with some proof reading. Make sure that what you’re professing your passion for is backed up by being able to spell. If you want to tweet these guys about it, @williamandblake is their incorrectly spelled twitter name. While you’re doing that, I think I’ll start my own line of literature inspired fashion; watch this space for the stunning new line from Jane Weyre.