Here is a great share from the Leicester De Montfort University website about our James and H&Co. How proud are we...
Pop into Harriman & Co, a stylish independent homewares store in St Martins, Leicester at the weekend and there’s a good chance you’ll be helped by a guy who’s about to receive an OBE. What’s more, he’s a graduate of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
James Hempsall, who left DMU in 1989 with a degree in Graphic Design, opened the fine-looking, tasteful store last autumn with his partner in life and business, Drew Harriman.
Impressive as it is, however, the store isn’t the reason James made the latest Queen’s birthday honours list announced today (Saturday) – that was for his leadership as National Support Director for the ‘Achieving Two Year Olds’ programme, a government initiative to deliver free early learning to two-year-olds across the country.
The more you talk to James, the more you’re astonished at the range and level of his achievements, with opening Harriman & Co seeing him return to the creative side of an extremely capable brain.
James’ post-DMU trail saw him become a freelance illustrator and part-time lecturer at a local FE college before his creative skills took him into various community arts roles with Leicester City Council, starting with a Saturday morning kids’ club. This prepared him for a high achieving career working with children and families as a trainer, consultant and researcher. He also picked up a Masters in Ethics of Social Welfare, at Keele University and will embark on a three-year part-time MA in Psychotherapy, this autumn, at Leicester University.
So what put James so directly back in touch with his creative side?
“I always liked art and going into Habitat as a youngster gave me a passion for home design, so I’d always fancied the idea of running a shop selling art, homeware or maybe even sweets, though probably not till my retirement,” James laughs.
“Drew had returned to Leicester after spending 10 years in Sydney and New Zealand working in high-end interior design and retail and so when he suggested opening a store, I thought what a great idea!”
While Drew is in the store serving customers Monday to Friday, James takes over on Saturday but still manages to take time out of his education consultancy during the week to work behind the scenes, focused on the buying, marketing and administrative side of running the business.
A key part of Harriman & Co is its commitment to showcasing work by local makers, including DMU arts graduates like ceramicist Tom Jupp. James and Drew first became aware of Tom’s work through their sponsorship of Fine Art degree shows at DMU. In fact, they liked Tom’s work so much they bought all that was left of his degree show, some of it going into the store but the rest being snaffled by James for his own collection (“one of the perks of the job”, he says).
The store is proving a huge success, its location opposite the new Richard III Visitor Centre attracting customers from all over the world to add to a loyal Leicester following of lovers of fine things for the home. A Richard III mug, designed by James, is stocked by the Visitor Centre.
“We’ve had an amazing response which tells me we’ve tapped into a gap in the market that demands independently produced, well designed homeware and furniture. This has come from what, to me, has proved a surprisingly large local community of appreciation of creative talent, especially local talent,” says James.
The incredible Richard III story gave a massive boost to Ricardians keen to emphasise the King’s renaissance qualities over popular, less than flattering legend – just a short stroll from his Cathedral resting place you’ll likely find a renaissance man of a more modern vintage, one who’s living life very much to the full.
- See more at: http://dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/news/2015/june/its-open-all-hours-for-dmu-renaissance-man.aspx#sthash.kKXXb4sd.bJcOijeM.dpuf