Our first Member of the Moment in 2018 is the New Lanark World Heritage Site.
First up, can you tell me who you are, and a wee bit about your business?
My name is Melissa Reilly and I’m the Marketing and PR Officer at New Lanark World Heritage Site. New Lanark is one of Scotland’s 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of “Outstanding Universal Value” and welcomes around 300,000 visitors annually. Founded in 1785 as a cotton-spinning Mill Village by David Dale and Richard Arkwright, New Lanark became internationally recognised under the enlightened management of Robert Owen. Today, New Lanark is still a living and working community with over 100 residents as well as a range of tourism facilities including an award-winning Visitor Attraction, Mill Shops, Mill Café, Hotel, Hostel, self-catering cottages and outdoor Picnic & Play Area.
Once a powerhouse of the cotton industry in Scotland, New Lanark today now uses the historic textile machinery to produce a high quality range of woollen yarn. In 2015 New Lanark launched the world’s first ‘Organic Tartan’, fully certified by the Soil Association.
New Lanark is looking to expand its audience by introducing a programme of world-class touring exhibitions in its newly developed Exhibitions Gallery. The first of which will be ARTIST TEXTILES Picasso to Warhol, opening on 26th January and running until 29th April. This stunning exhibition explores 20th century art in fashion and textiles with highlights including prints of work by artists such as Picasso, Warhol, Matisse and Dali.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me always starts with a cup of tea! (in my favourite ‘Addams Family’ mug which my musical theatre society performed in 2016). As a force of old habit, my first task on the computer is always to check all of New Lanark’s social media channels for activity, comments and posts that have went up through the night.
Every day can be different at New Lanark, one day I might be meeting a foreign TV company to facilitate their filming at the site, and the next I might be designing a press advert for one of our upcoming exhibitions.
I usually check my emails in the morning and then turn Outlook off so that I’m not constantly distracted through the day by emails coming through – if someone desperately needs me there is always the phone!
Where does your passion for the industry stem from?
One of my earliest memories is playing with my ‘Fashion Wheel’ and wanting to be a fashion designer when I grew up! I have always been interested in creativity, crafts and design and this is no different today.
Did you study? Where?
At University I studied for a BA HONS in ‘Applied Graphics Technology’ which was a diverse course covering a whole host of creative subjects from website design and product design, to HCI (Human Computer Interface) and video production. Since University I have worked on a range of freelance design projects and I regularly assist my musical theatre society with the design of their promotional materials.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
Before working at New Lanark I was the Social Media Executive for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Being so closely involved in the successful delivery of the #BestGamesEver and to be in the heart of Glasgow during the summer of 2014 was something I’ll never forget! I’m also very proud to have been awarded the ‘Rising Star’ award at the 2016 ASVA Awards (Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions) which recognised my contribution to New Lanark.
What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline for the near future?
As I mentioned before right now I am very busy delivering the marketing campaign for ARTIST TEXTILES Picasso to Warhol which is opening at New Lanark at the end of January! After that I’ll be moving onto working on promotion for our next textile exhibition ‘Making the Great Tapestry of Scotland’ and then it’ll be summer before we know it and GAME PLAN Board Games Rediscovered will be opening.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
New Lanark is such a special place to work, not only because of the village’s fascinating history but because of the beauty of the natural surroundings. There’s nothing better in the summer than sitting with a New Lanark Ice Cream cone by the Waterwheel and watching the river (and the world!) go by.
What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career so far and how could it be avoided?
I’m not sure if it’s a ‘mistake’ but a learning I have gained over the past year has been the importance of managing visitor expectations within marketing, in terms of the imagery and wording used. Something as simple as using the phrase ‘enjoy a day out…’ can lead to people believing that the activity being advertised will actually fill a full day. Thinking back, I accidentally posted a picture of a cheeseboard I was enjoying on a Saturday night to a corporate account I was managing through my phone due to an Instagram glitch!
What does your workspace look like?
Right now my workspace is overrun with ARTIST TEXTILES marketing and Picasso quotes – not a bad thing at all!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It has to be the Scottish granny classic - “What’s for you won’t go by you”. I very much believe in this and through past experience it’s turned out to be very sound advice.
Any final thoughts?
As we move into 2018 I think it’s a really exciting time for the textile industry and attractions in Scotland, to develop our offerings to allow more people to engage with textiles through new and innovative events, exhibitions, workshops and activities.
New Lanark are running a Textiles Design Competition to celebrate the travelling Artist Textiles Exhibition. Check out their website here.
Melissa Reilly interviewed by Kimberley White.