Ruth Battersby Tooke: entrepreneurialism

Transformers case study
Pin Money is a project which aims to create replica products based on objects from the Norwich Museums Costume and Textile collections.

By moving away from commissioning products from a company and towards commissioning from individual makers and artisans Ruth Battersby Tooke, the senior curator, costume and textiles, at Norfolk Museums Service (NMS), hopes to ensure that the local economy benefits as well as NMS.

The idea is that the control of the final product and packaging remains with the curatorial department and, crucially, the end result can be branded as hand-made in Norfolk with information about the object that it is based on.

Battersby Tooke says: "What the Transformers residentials and training have given me as someone who has always worked in a local authority context is the chance to find out more about the way that national and independent museums work on a very practical level, which was eye-opening and encouraged me to view my own context from a different perspective."

In order to develop the idea, it was key for Battersby Tooke to advocate the concept, building stronger internal relationships in NMS and developing external partnerships with both direct supporters such as the Norwich University of the Arts and also with groups that could be potential partners such as the SHARE East Retail Forum.

It has also offered Battersby Tooke the chance to work more closely with the NMS retail manager Maria Wong. They decided not to renew an existing licensing agreement but instead to commission a design layout of a Norwich shawl design so that the service can have fabric printed for several different projects.

Battersby Tooke says: "This way of working, taking the production in-house, is in the spirit of Pin Money and we have felt empowered to embrace this new way of working."

As Transformers wraps up Battersby Tooke is transitioning to a new scheme called Business Innovators as part of the HLF-funded Catalyst scheme. This includes a training programme and support to form business partnerships to achieve income generation targets and through this, Pin Money will continue to develop.