How the Happy Planet Store happened

The Happy Planet store, a sustainable product shop in the Manchester Art Gallery, has been open since January 26th this year. In the last few weeks before the store closes, we review how it happened. 

Why use museums & galleries?

Blue Patch founder, Jane Langley, is an artist herself. She has exhibited in The Textiles Long Gallery, Room 101 (V&A London), the Museum of Design and Architecture (MoDA), Abbot Hall in Cumbria and Pitzhanger Manor (Exploding the Teardrop). She says, “Exploding the Teardrop took us to the Paisley Museum and other archives, seeking the root of the buta and the socio-political narratives woven into paisley, from an ancient reference to the tree of life to global commodity.”

Jane Langley in her studio in front of a painting.
Jane Langley in her studio in front of a painting. Jane says “the pinkie painting with flowing balls and pods is from the wildlife meadow, so the continuing cycle of life seen in nature is applied to the Blue Patch model. Nature is our very best teacher.”

As an artist, Jane feels like museums are a second home. It was only natural then, that she would be open to the idea of working with museums and art galleries. She says, “Museums and art galleries are ‘places that foster free education and creativity”’.

Many of the Blue Patch members are artists & creatives, working on their own or in a small production team. They look for support in the wider creative community.

Large commercial businesses have long supported the creative arts. Some examples are the Tate (supported by Henry Tate of Tate & Lyle sugar), the Whitworth (founded in memory of the industrialist Sir Joseph Whitworth) and Lord Sainsbury’s support of the National Gallery.

The Blue Patch retail outlets are an experiment. The aim is to see how larger institutions can support smaller enterprises and highlight the creativity & inventiveness of sustainable businesses.

The Power of Positive Shopping

Jane started the Power of Positive Shopping project as a way to give back to the member community. The project helps participants to showcase their products to a wider audience. The first pop-ups were held in Dulwich, Marylebone and Shoreditch.

The first gallery collaboration was with the Whitworth in Manchester in 2019. The Happy Planet Store was initially planned for 2020 but had to be postponed due to the pandemic. A virtual presence, provided by the gallery through an online shop, was hugely beneficial in the tough economic times. 

The Happy Planet Store is showcasing products from over 30 different members . Products include furniture, toys, bath & beauty, textiles and homeware. Manchester Art Gallery has also provided an online store for those who are not lucky enough to be able to visit while the store is open.

Activity days have allowed members to meet and interact with the public. Visitors to the gallery can take part in the fun activities. These include playing math games, making bracelets, and drawing. The next activity day is this Saturday 26th March. 

Manchester Art Gallery have been delighted to work with Blue Patch on the Happy Planet Store, showcasing a curated selection of the very best in sustainable design and product innovation. Our visitors rightly want to know that we are supporting suppliers who value sustainability. Working with Blue Patch has been a great way to introduce customers to new, environmentally conscious suppliers. The partnership has generated valuable funds to support the wider work of the gallery and has shown that there is real demand for ethical products within the City.

Commercial Lead at Manchester Art Gallery

The museum has seen upwards of 63000 visitors since the store opened in January, which is incredibly exciting in terms of the opportunity for their products to be seen by the general public. 

Blue Patch are working on future collaborations with a selection of potential venues. Watch this space. For more information on collaborating with Blue Patch on a project, please contact us.

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.