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Design Students Find a Creative Outlet

Design Students Find a Creative Outlet

5pm,19 March 2007 for immediate release
Vanilla Design Store has teamed up with Otago Polytechnic design students to sell their innovative products internationally via a new website.

Design Students Find a Creative Outlet
Otago Polytechnic design students are now selling their products to happy customers around the world thanks to a new website set up by Dunedin entrepreneurs Brent Wilson and Mark Colley. Mark and Brent were inspired by the designs they saw at the annual Otago Polytechnic design exhibition in November 2007. Working with the Design Department ( and local web developers emedia ( the Vanilla Design Store ( was launched on the 29th of February, 2008 and is already attracting international attention.

Specialising in modern furniture and homewares that are "simply designed" they have sold student-designed products to Japan, the United States of America, Europe and in New Zealand. "We see the site as a platform that enables anyone with a good product to reach their market" says Mark. "Designers are often frustrated with the business aspects such as sorting out production, marketing their products and getting retailers interested in stocking their products - we take a lot of the hassle out of it for them and let them focus on what they are good at and enjoy, which is coming up with great products".

Mentoring the students through the commercialisation process, the Vanilla team will either license the design and pay a royalty or stock the product outright but offer alot of flexibility in terms of inventory and marketing requirements. "The incremental cost of carrying a product on our website is incidental compared to the cost and risk for traditional retailers" says Brent. "New Zealand is a tiny market in international terms so its really hard for a designer to make a living if they are only selling locally - we intentionally set out to brand and market the website internationally, opening up enormous global markets that New Zealand designers haven't been able to reach before".
Co-founder Mark Colley said "International customers are looking for well designed, innovative and authentic products that fit their lifestyles - that is what we offer with Vanilla".

Vanilla Design Store have a large number of products still under development. "We view what we have done so far as very much a starting point, as we build our market we expect to grow the list of products we offer exponentially - there are so many exciting products waiting in the wings" said Brent. They also hope to use their customer base to review prospective products and provide feedback to the design students. "This is a great chance for the students to get something out in the market and learn a lot more about what it takes to be successful - it really enhances the student's education and opens up an enormous range of opportunities for the future, we can't wait to see where things go in the next 12 months" said Brent.

About Vanilla Design Store
Vanilla Design Store is an online business selling modern furniture and homewares. It was started in February 2008 by Brent Wilson and Mark Colley and is based in Dunedin, New Zealand. The founders met when Brent was a business coach with Kickstart ( helping Dunedin tertiary students start their own businesses. They identified that the talented product designers in Dunedin and elsewhere were developing interesting and useful products but lacked the opportunity to promote their offerings to a wider market.


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