If there was a person that sums up the ethos behind The Bright Emporium and what we are trying to do, it is Vicki Willden-Lebrecht.
Although this may not be surprising as she is the founder of this amazing space, and MD of our big sister, The Bright Agency. We talk a lot about what the Emporium is becoming, and less about where we have come from. Vicki’s recent article in the Sunday Times Business & Money section got us wondering why Vicki had chosen to open up the Emporium arm of the Bright Agency?
What is the Bright Agency?
For the last 15 years, The Bright Group has been one of the leading illustration agencies for unique children’s publishing. We work with artists to nurture and promote their talents creating all of the books and artworks that you see in The Emporium today. Books like Supertato, The Storm Whale, Time for bed Fred and The Bear and the Piano – were born of our artists’ ideas that we have developed with them, together with publishing houses to produce the stories you have fallen in love with.
And what is the Bright Emporium?
The Bright Emporium is a space with many faces; a shop, a venue for hire, and a gallery; but above all we are an immersive space. Every weekend, we open our doors, and with it children’s minds, delving into the imaginative world of their favourite authors and illustrators. Our aim is to encourage a generation of creators, not users; who can go on to pioneer tomorrow. We endeavour to run a wide range of creative workshops that encourage new perspectives, problem solving, confidence and free-thinking.
Why create the Bright Emporium?
“Everyone in children’s publishing has a duty to produce books with a strong positive message, and everyone in it feels that duty and does their bit.” - Vicki
When we moved the Agency office to The Bright Emporium two years ago, part of the deal was that we’d have a retail space at weekends. However for Vicki the Emporium has always been more than a contractual obligation to the landlords; it is first and foremost an opportunity for the agency to do our bit as part of the publishing industry – by spreading the news that creativity and reading are critical to our society.
“The power and the essential availability of books and reading to the next generation will greatly improve the future of the world, a big statement but one I absolutely stand by.” - Vicki
The importance of reading and creativity has often been discussed. We recently wrote an article on this topic which you can read here, but as a creative entrepreneur herself, Vicki has seen first hand how valuable these assets can be in her own life and successes.
“If you get your kids reading you’re half way there. As a parent you can give so much, but if you give your child a love of books and reading you will feed their mind with endless possibilities, viewpoints and experiences.”- Vicki
In a time when parents are spending four times the amount of time engaging with their screen as opposed to reading to or with their children (Book Trust), the Emporium gives us a platform to stand on and from which to jump in and swim against the current.
Of course, as an agency we can’t pretend our motives are totally selfless. We want to make our illustrators and authors into the likes of rock stars — as real talent and hard work should be celebrated.
“Fame should be a by product of talent, we want children to grow up aspiring to create and be originators. To value the thinkers, visionaries, the idealists and talent in general.” - Vicki
Our children are growing up in an era where the number of likes, retweets and FOMO (fear of missing out) rule the day – fame has become a destination not a by product of talent or experience, with 19% of children up to the age of 10 just wanting to be famous when they grow up. And by the time they reach 16, that number swells to 54% who would like to be a celebrity and when asked how, nearly a quarter stated – by going on reality TV (The Independent). Snap chatting the moment isn't living it - emotions captured through a lens aren't the same as feel them first hand - these are ironically the moments that add to our personality and character, drawing people to like us in real life.