Today is a special day. It has officially been 365 days since we had the idea of starting Independent Liverpool and what an incredible 365 days it has been. We were going to pay a graphic designer to make a pretty infographic with some statistics but we thought we would do it the only way we know how – through writing.
Epiphanies happen in the most strangest of places. Ours happened over a game of Call of Duty. We spoke about how our city was slowly but surely becoming overrun with chains and that eventually our streets would all look the same (Call of Duty must bring out the philosophical side in us). We sat and devised elaborate plans of revolt to make people realise how important it is to shop local before concluding the pen is much mightier than the sword (well, until the ink runs out…). To make a difference we knew we must travel through the hidden streets of Liverpool, unearthing hidden gems, praising unsung heroes and capturing people’s hearts and minds – one independent at a time. Within a few hours we had a Facebook and Twitter page, a website and a rather awful version of the logo we have now we had made ourselves in 30 seconds on paint. Nothing else mattered though, we had our little window to the world and we knew our love for Liverpool would get us through. Fast forward a few months and we had started our own little buzz with a few write ups and the growth of our social media. We sat down and tried to decipher how we could turn a modest but growing audience into a full pledged following whom support independents regularly.
And so The Card was born on August 1st – an incentive for people to shop local more regularly. To date there are around the figure of 3500 cardholders all using their card and tweeting us through their voyage. They say the places you choose to spend your money is a representation of the world we want to see and we can honestly say together we’re making Liverpool greater by the day. People tell us on a regular basis what a wonderful job we’re doing and as kind and humbling as these comments are we always tell people it’s the independents doing the hard work, and the people of Liverpool who support them. They’re the ones that have always been great – we just wanted to remind you. This goes a lot deeper than just a ‘discount card’. Together we are writing our love letter to Liverpool and capturing the essence of our city in the time we live.
On this journey we have been lucky enough to meet some of the most amazing and inspiring people. From the owners of the businesses we have visited, to the people who have been kind enough to offer us advice, and the people of Liverpool who have followed our project who tweet us every day. Talking to these people have gave us hope about the future: it is clear that within Liverpool there are thousands of alternative, radical thinkers who want to make a difference and will keep fighting the good fight to preserve the personality of our city – even if this only means drinking coffee in an independent coffee shop. This was our aim: to build a platform for everybody to come together to share their stories and to build a community who want to look after our own people.
Our project shows how anything is possible in the digital age. 20 years ago it would have been almost impossible for us to get this project off the ground as we would have needed huge amounts of money for advertising. Social Media has allowed us to reach out to thousands of people for virtually no expense at all, other than our time. All that is needed is a good idea and dedication and the rest will follow. As we have recently graduated from the University of Liverpool, in the beginning people couldn’t understand why we would dedicate so much time to a project that may never be a success when instead we could look for graduate jobs. But we didn’t think we could change the world that way. We had a dream of two best friends changing the world. We have still got a long way to go and we know we have still got so much to learn, but we are ready for it.
This is the story about two Liverpool lads with dodgy haircuts who wanted to make a difference but you don’t know if they’ll live happily ever after – you’ll have to join along the journey if you want to see how it ends.
Thank you for an amazing 365 days, here’s to another.