Welcome to BEARS SHARES: in this monthly blogpost we love to share some insight into the superhuman(s) behind local businesses in our hood. Finding out about their work, passion, lightbulb moments, likes and tips for a happy life. Now, more than ever, we love it when we can inspire you to shop local and support local. Dive in and enjoy the read. Email us here if you have a suggestion on which local business you like to see featured here next month.

This month in BEARS SHARES we are featuring the amazing artist and creative entrepreneur Auriol Herford, founder and driving force behind the local creative gem we all love so much, Kite Studios. Auriol grew up in Tewkesbury, west of London on the Gloucestershire-Worcestershire border, she is one of 4 and her parents aren't artists but they're creative. Her mum is an antiques dealer and her father runs a holiday cottage and bed and breakfast business. She has been in W12 since her mid-20s, living above Kite Studios with her partner and 3 kids. Kite Studios is well and truly part of our community since 2005.

Kite Studios has become known as a little creative oasis in Shepherds Bush, a place where all ages, needs and abilities are welcomed to get involved. The focus is on art education, pottery and printmaking however there are other small businesses. Projects have evolved over the years with all kinds of partnerships from local nurseries, schools and businesses to festivals for Facebook and team building for banks. Auriol and family have always loved where they are in London as there is such a strong sense of community and having a 15 year old son with disabling barriers has meant that the sense of support and accessibility to life in and around the Askew road has meant so much to them. Building Kite Studios has been in tandem with the need to build an understanding and supportive community around her son Kallum and others like him, making Kite Studios an inclusive and diverse place to be. They feel very grateful to the individuals and organisations who have helped make this happen.

How did you become an artist, creative entrepreneur?

I studied Fine Art at Wimbledon but then completed my degree in Santiago Chile where I met my eldest son’s father. He had set up a collective printmaking studio. I got involved as it was my first step into being part of a truly creative community where we could make things happen. It was then a matter of making the seed grow in London and Kite Studios was created. Having just a few people believe in the vision with me and be prepared to take some risks at the start was key.

What does an average working day look like for you?

Currently during Covid it is quite different to the rhythm I have known for years. Due to the second lockdown we have had to temporarily close the studio and so, instead of being on my feet everyday teaching (we cater for a range of ages - from 18 month-old children to adults) I have to reflect, develop resilience and push on with innovation. Thanks to an incredible team at Kite we have found the gift of time has enabled us to get closer to our core value of inclusion and making the creative process accessible to everyone. We are currently about to launch Kite Kits being put together by our neurodiverse team.

How’s your work life balance?

Still working towards the balance, the problem is when you are burning with ideas the only way of making them happen, in my case, is by involving the whole family so inevitably boundaries are blurred. Currently we are working on our online shop selling pottery, prints and art made by our talented neurodiverse Kite Community so do watch this space!

What is the best advice you have been given?

Life is no dress rehearsal and that you only regret what you didn’t try! The first draft does not have to be perfect. In fact we positively embrace the creative process and emphasise this so that trying numerous times takes away the fear of failure and although the outcome is celebrated it is not set up as the motivating factor.

What advice would you give? 

Explore and try something more than once.

What’s the biggest misconception in your industry?

That you need an inherent talent to be creative. Drive, confidence and curiosity are core.

What’s your most loved London restaurant?

We love Sufi on the Askew road, their bread oven has always had a magnetic pull and have had many happy gatherings there.

What’s your favourite weekend activity?

A long walk which also involves finding materials for making things, most often with my children first and then with a workshop in mind. Currently creating inks from all things wild is a favourite.

Your film recommendation?

Pat & Mat (short Czechoslovak slapstick stop-motion animated series) great for all the family as they are silent so you have permission to talk along and see how the process of problem solving can take you down many paths

Your book recommendation?

I recently re-read 'The Baron in the Trees' by Italo Calvino, all about resilience and innovation, current qualities we are all being forced to embrace.

What superpower would you like to have?

To be able to be in more than one place at one time!

What’s your favorite Bears ice cream and why?

Fresh Mint and Chocolate Ice Cream - as it's such a treat to find one that really hits the spot.

Who would you like to invite at your dining table and share a Bears ice cream tub with for dessert?

Yinka Shonibare, an inspirational creative force who builds creative communities that fill me with awe.

Tell us a little secret about yourself....

I love fish and chips on a freezing cold sandy beach.

Kite Studios | Auriol Herford | Bassein Park Road W12 | www.kitestudios.org | IG @kitestudios


May 19, 2022 — Vera Thordardottir