Out of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people we’ve sat down and conversed with over the year, whether it be a boutique owner with a textiles degree from over the water or a debonair bar manager turned entrepreneur, there has always been one question that we have habitually asked, “What is your business to you?”
This is an off the cuff question that is met with groans of confusion which is so sub-conscious in our chinwag that we don’t even think about it. We’ve asked a lot of people, but never ourselves. If you were to ask the valiant people of Liverpool who have supported us this year, they’d tell you Independent Liverpool is a card, Independent Liverpool is a website dedicated to telling the story of independents and the odd few would call us militant hipsterpreneurs which you can’t get mad at, that is poetic. However you define us, we got your attention. For us, Independent Liverpool is much more than that. One day the card won’t be accepted in your favourite independents and you’ll have to pay the extra quid for your Hasbean flat white and your artisan bread and one day we’ll forget to pay our hosting fees and then make the decision whether it is worth buying an extra month to keep the website going. Independent Liverpool isn’t something you can measure in the time as the notion is something that’ll last forever. There is no validity date to be checked by an astute waitress who glares at your out of date card with reproach, it is a movement that captured a nationwide distain in a localised way. We aren’t professing to be the next Che Gueveras, we don’t suit a beret and we always forget the protocol and inhale our cigars by mistake. We didn’t help build any of the independents by laying bricks. We don’t bake the bread, we don’t grill the bacon each morning, nor do we roast the beans. We didn’t do any of this, you and the independent owners did. We aren’t underselling how hard we’ve worked but what we have done is brought you all together in a forum where we can show our admiration to the work of the little man and woman.
We’ve been so preoccupied recently that the first anniversary of the card crept up on us like a stranger in the night. Time turned on that imperceptible pivot where days became weeks, weeks became months and months become a solid year. It feels like yesterday we were frantically refreshing the transactions page of our PayPal account after releasing the news the card was available to buy. The unexpected start of our serendipity. Over the next few days our bedrooms soon evolved into a conveyor belt style postage room where we had parents packaging, friends folding and siblings stamping. Near the end we were quite a team and Independent Liverpool alone must have resulted in a 400% increase in the sales of Pritt stick. That feeling of someone buying the card has never depreciated. Since then there has been some quite incredible milestones and this is the part where we look all pensive as we revel in nostalgia. There are just about 5000 cardholders out there in total, we made it into a national newspaper (the Independent, quite aptly), we hit a 1,000,000 visits to our website but out of all of that, the best feeling has been people telling us they’ve discovered new places and independents saying they’ve had new people in. That’s all the card was ever designed to do, like a slightly broken compass that slid into your wallet, in that it may not have directed you home, but it sure helped you find a new place to call just that.
There’s a sad statistic that dictates 3 out of 4 startups fail within the first year. Well, thanks to you, yes, especially you, we can say we’re lucky enough to be writing this and as long as you fancy sticking around, we aren’t going anywhere either. The current card is available to use until the end of August so from September onwards you can buy the new one off our website or at Utility Design on Bold Street. We have a new card design, a new website coming and updates to the app based on your feedback that are hopefully going to make sticking around worth your while. It still blows our mind that we can make the difference we’re making with all your help. To continue, we’re going to need your help to have a really striking effect nationwide and in the end a conscious change. It doesn’t really matter what the product is, whether it be a card or a discount voucher, the most important thing is the outcome. Keep checking our website, buy yourself and your friend a card and actively seek and support these places that are trying, with your help, to make and keep Liverpool great.
I think what we’ve loved personally so much about Independent Liverpool is that it has accentuated and displayed every idiosyncrasy of Liverpool we already loved. It hasn’t made us fall in love with Liverpool, it has reminded us why we fell head over heels in the first place on an everyday basis. We never expected any of this to happen and to be quite honest, we haven’t sat down and processed it as we’d probably have a panic attack. We never want this journey to end but if it was to, we could walk away with a lifetime of gratitude. In the least preachy way possible, if you have a dream, go for it. We’re just two best friends, we grew up together from toddlers and there’s nothing special about us at all in the grand scheme of things. Everybody has an idea, don’t wait until it’s too late, you just never know.
Here’s to another year. A bigger and better one.