NOTHS nonsense

You may have heard of If you have been eagle eyed, you might have spotted its sporadic yet polished TV adverts. If you like unique, handmade products you may well have even bought something from the site.

noths logo

I have been a seller on NOTHS from its inception in 2006 and I remember its founders Holly and Sophie coming round trade shows looking for interesting makers to promote on their site. Over the years I felt the emphasis change from an organisation which supported its makers to a slicker operation which exploited them. These two women built their business on the backs of craft makers like me and made themselves millionaires in the process.

The business was sold in 2015 and it then appointed the chairman from …. wait for it…. Poundland. For me, that was the writing on the wall.

Sure enough the email came on the 31st January this year saying that I had not brought my products in line with their curation policy and so they were closing my storefront on the NOTHS site.

Unfortunately I was a little distracted as I was due to give birth that day, so I wrote to them asking for an extension to the deadline. I was given an extra few months to update the products in my virtual storefront so I took the time to read their curation policy


Frankly there was nothing in there that I wasn’t already doing – I had my brand story, I had good quality photographs, my products are not mass marketed. What it seemed to boil down to was the accompanying document that was intended to be a guide to trends.

And oh Lord, do I wish I had taken a screenshot of that while I could!

The nonsense that comprised their trend guide was a master document in the art of marketing bullsh*t and encapsulated everything I hate about our consumerist culture. Nebulous themes such as ‘Family’ were illustrated with images of young models interacting as though they might vaguely know each other, and these were asserted to be the upcoming trends for Autumn/Winter 2016.

What?! As though somehow ‘Family’ was cool this season but we’d all be over ‘Family’ by next season! As I say, total nonsense.

So I wrote to them to ask for some clarification.


NOTHS wrote back with this advice – and I quote verbatim – “I would suggest increasing the amount of newness you add”. In the context of all the other documentation I took this to mean: “Make new products that we tell you to make”. 

In that moment I decided that I was having none of it.

I want no part of an organisation whose only language is marketing-speak. I want no part of an organisation which prides itself on its unique product offering, but then issues edicts based on mass market trends. I want no part of an organisation that builds its reputation off the hard work of makers whom it then screws with punitive financial constraints while its shareholders make their millions.

So after 10 years of selling my glassware on Notonthehighstreet, my products have been withdrawn from the site. I would suggest that if you are keen on unique handmade craft, you also withdraw your custom from the site. And tell your friends to do the same.

And for anyone who is still shopping there, I urge you to look at the Axed Nothsters page on Facebook to see just how many makers they have done this to.

16 thoughts on “NOTHS nonsense

  1. Jane Johnson says:

    The new policy of using trends to decide what will be sold on NOTHS certainly contradicts the whole concept of unique, high quality and one of a kind items. Marketing based on trends is actually supporting the sale of mass produced products because in order to identify a trend there has to be mass purchases by consumers. Glassmaking has already suffered from cheap mass produced imports made using cheap labour and fuel subsidies then sold at rock bottom prices and I expect these are the items that NOTHS have used to identify the consumer trends. NOTHS are not only dictating to you and other makers of unique style items what to make, they are are also trying to dictate to customers what they will like and buy based on their own market research taken from what customer base I wonder? Poundland ? Shoppers looking for unique one of a kind items are not looking for trends, quiet the opposite they want something different. NOTHS seem to have lost the whole concept the store was based on and I expect we can look forward to the type of items sold in Poundland appearing on the site because they are the trend – cheap. Not that I\’m totally knocking Poundland who sell things like Andrex toilet wipes at £1 and not £1.99 rrp – however, Andrex toilet wipes are, well just Andrex toilet wipes, but a piece of ALex R glass IS A PIECE OF ALEX R GLASS, a concept well beyond the Poundland marketing mentality that has been adopted by NOTHS. I use the wipes as an example because there couldn\’t be a wider comparision between products and it seems that this is the direction NOTHS is going, so far away from the original concept that it is, well, frankly going down the toilet.
    Custom withdrawn as of now.

    • Alex R says:

      Well said! And the worst shame of it all is that customers think they’re being discerning by shopping at NOTHS…. if they checked a lot of the goods that are being sold on the site now, they would find the exact same product more cheaply on Amazon. If you’re interested there’s a facebook page for sacked NOTHS sellers which talks more about this.

  2. Sam says:

    I had the same happen to me and I was completely gutted. I joined in 2008. I worked my backside off. I was doing well and making enough money to get a mortgage and put some money by for my son. I had a very difficult pregnancy and labour and got back after three days in hospital to finish my many outstanding Christmas orders before taking my maternity leave. I started working again in september and it all went back to being busy. Then in January I got that awful email telling me I was not inline . I also followed everything they told me to do. I juggled looking after my baby and trying to jump through hoops to make them happy but they kept telling me I was still going to have my storefront removed. The final straw was when they sent me a link to another seller and told me to copy them! After years of having my ideas taken and then promoted over me, I was told to do what I would never do. I\’ve been trying to rebuild my shattered business ever since and been struggling financially. Every time one of those stale, over polished adverts come on I have to hold myself back from pummelling the tv screen. They are disgraceful.

    • Alex R says:

      Oh Sam, I really sympathise. It is hard enough as a self-employed maker, let alone one juggling a young family. In the early years the people working at NOTHS seemed to be striving – just like all of us – to create a good, positive business structure. I think the point when I realised that the fine balance had been lost in favour of out and out commercialism, was when their promotional catalogues removed the names of the individual businesses they were promoting (which had each paid for a space in the brochure) and replaced them with codes to anonymise them… that, I’m afraid, says all you need to know about NOTHS – it is now nothing more than pure unadulterated exploitation. You are spot on to describe it as disgraceful.

  3. Great insight, thankyou. I applied 3 years ago and was rejected. I make a completely unique product (a holly wreath made from aluminium) and had to passify myself with the fact that they were selling fire pits that you could buy from B&Q. I\’m so glad I\’m not with them.
    Its hard enough for us crafters to make a living because we are feathering these online retails pockets so well. After a recent trade fair which was so poorly attended I felt there was a need for a back to basics approach where the makers reaps the rewards not the retailer. To this end I am investigating a new website which links makers to all buyers (trade and retail) and to have a unique resource to show makers how to do, where to go etc.

    • Alex R says:

      Thanks for your comment. Do let us know the results of your research, if you feel it’s a good resource for independent makers. I am just beginning to look into the market again to see what the best alternative websites might be… of course, I’ve never looked elsewhere because of NOTHS prohibitive regulations about selling on other sites, but now I am no longer constrained by their controls it’s time to see what else is out there.

  4. Tammy child says:

    The same happened to me. They were more than happy to take my approx joining fee of £700 then said exactly the same. My products were not in line with the feel of the site and not unique enough for their customers. They sell so much mass produced personalised crap in there now , i was outraged. They closed my store.

    • Alex R says:

      I didn’t pay a fee as I was on board from almost the beginning when they were desperate for makers to join. But there’s got to be some trading law against kicking you out after taking your money. If it’s any small consolation to you, I think I got the last (albeit very little) laugh. I was amazed to have been contacted by Felicity from NOTHS a few weeks ago following up on the 6 month reprieve they had given me and wanting to see my new product lines. I was shocked – only because I assumed it had all been flannel from them, and merely an excuse to get rid of me. I wrote back immediately and took immense pleasure in referring her to my blogpost in lieu of a written response. Incredibly she came back even after that, pressing me for new products and writing “I want to emphasise that we really don’t want to lose you as a Partner”… well, frankly, NOTHS can stick their emphasis where the sun don’t shine!

    • Alex R says:

      Good point, Adam. We true makers would never dream of operating like this… it just goes to show how little regard NOTHS now has for real craft and design.

  5. Nicki says:

    And then there is the huge commission that the monster that is NOTHS take from each and every supplier. Unfortunately the public are unaware of their business practices and the way they treat their market traders. I know of people who are literally jumping through hoops, desperately trying to keep pleasing NOTHS each time they move the goalposts. It is now a massive money making machine that appears as a cutesy market place. It cleverly gives customers the impression that they are somehow making an ethical choice and supporting small businesses, nothing could be further from the truth.

    • Alex R says:

      You’re not the only one Nicki. I just heard from another maker privately by email who said she had jumped through all the hoops set by NOTHS – she spent three months rephotographing all her work and updated everything, liaising with NOTHS all the way through, and then they still closed her page with no explanation.

  6. Same for me. I Didn\’t comply and left. I don\’t think it\’s original any more and I won\’t buy. Like you I thought the whole curation and trend thing beyond ridiculous. I feel liberated to be off there and not having to abide by those utterly ridiculous rules. ! Xx

  7. This all makes interesting reading and all too familiar. I too built a business, increasing my turnover year on year and I quadrupled my turnover in the last 2 yrs on NOTHS. They took the fee and the hefty commission for 6 years.

    I just don\’t understand why they would ask me to drop my high turnover items and concentrate on items which provide less return. If an employee suggested that, I would be considering their status of employment with me. Anyhow, the axe still fell.

    I did point out to them that there was a particular seller selling same item on Ebay for £2, on Amazon for £4 and on NOTHS for £6. They said they couldn\’t comment on any other partners! He is still selling there.

    I have blocked their emails, won\’t watch the TV ads and advise all to avoid buying on NOTHS. You can get exactly the same thing by doing a search and paying much less for it.


    • Alex R says:

      I do wonder what Holly and Sophie – the founders who set NOTHS up – would make of all of this. I doubt they were aspiring to have sellers with products on Ebay and Amazon at all, though I suspect the fact that the seller’s product sold for triple the Ebay price on NOTHS was the crux of their business plan…. people will pay a lot for quirky and cute. When it’s handmade in Britain then that’s fair enough, but when it’s a front for selling cheap imported goods, then the customers are being duped. I’m sorry that you got exploited too.

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