Building Blocks: some of our previous projects

This is a short origins story of how some of our previous projects and discussions with local entrepreneurs led up to My Block!

25 Pop Up was a retail project that some of the original BDW team set up around 2015/2016 to help make design affordable to the general public and help designers get their work out there. You know we love a good name - we called it 25 as our first pop up was going to be at Christmas and as all goods were sold at £25 & under. We discovered lots of great brands through 25, many of whom have continued to grow and scale and that we have met again on our other projects - a couple of these are Hunter Paper Co. + Lines & Current.

We set up the Small Town Big Dreams podcast in 2018 for creative entrepreneurs who wanted to know about what it's like to set up a business here in Northern Ireland. We wanted the conversations to be authentic (we're all about keeping it real!) and to include the tough times and challenging moments in a business' journey - let's face it, we have all been there. We had the chance to speak to all kinds of creative businesses - ceramicists (including Wendy Ward featured above), games designers, magicians & many more - and they were incredibly generous with their time, advice and stories.

At the start of lockdown in 2020, we did a series of Shout Outs for local businesses, some of whom were invited by us and others whom we discovered via open calls. The aim was this was to encourage people to buy from, commission and support "local" at a time when there was a lot of uncertainty as to what lay ahead - and unfortunately for many, this still continues.  What we love about opening up projects with open calls is that we come across some really amazing people that perhaps don't normally reach us due to social media algorithms or because of where we are based. All of these projects and the collaborative work we have done with so many individuals and organisations have led us to developing My Block as a natural next step.

We hope My Block brings new business and supports local products and services but that above all, it encourages a sense of community and identity as a collective of creative and entrepreneurial people based in Northern Ireland!