One of the best things about the fine, fine city of Liverpool is the sheer number of hidden gems it has lurking around every corner. The bars, the restaurants, art galleries, bookshops - it's those places slightly off the beaten track that give Liverpool its real charm. And that's exactly what Independent Liverpool is all about.
We've stocked the Independent Liverpool card for some time and we're delighted to be one of the Independent companies featured by them. We recently sat down with David Williams and Oliver Press, the brains behind Independent Liverpool, to chat about how the idea came about, how they've kept it fresh and the favourite places they've featured. Here's what they had to say.
How did the idea for Independent Liverpool come about?
I’d love to tell you our idea came on top of some sort of mountain after a challenging trek through harsh conditions where we’d eventually overlook thousands of miles of civilisation and have an epiphany but truth be told, we were having a game of Call of Duty. Myself and Oliver have been best friends since we were 4 years old and it has often been the case that our best and worst ideas have been spun in a similar scenario.
After just finishing our degrees, we were looking for a hobby. We loved writing, we loved eating and drinking and we couldn’t understand why these local and more interesting places were not as popular as the chains. It was then we decided to go on this mission to shine a light on all Liverpool has to offer with an independent edge.
How do you decide which businesses to feature? Is there a criteria?
The word independent is a bit of a grey area. Many people have different definitions of it and our very own definition has evolved over time. For us we just want the places we work with to be unique to the city and work their hardest to support the ecosystem of local. We work with coffee shops, restaurants, opticians, artists and loads more.
How have you continued to innovate and build upon the idea?
Passion. We aren’t business men but we have somehow founded a really popular business. We wouldn't have been able to do half the things we’ve done without an equal cocktail of passion and good people around us. From the blog we’ve released a membership card, from the card we’ve released an app, from the app we’ve got into food and drink festivals, from there we’ve launched an online shop and the list continues. We just want to be at the forefront of independent culture and chronicle where Liverpool has been, where it’s now and where it’s going.
What does Liverpool as a city offer the Independent Liverpool ideology?
It’s the perfect place to do it, really. Essentially, our life for the last three and a bit years has been to tell really proud and tribal people, here’s more reasons to be proud. The whole city and UK knows Liverpool often does things a bit different. Whether it’s down to voting or partying, we’re proudly not like the rest and that ideology has allowed Independent Liverpool to flourish. We’re a city of risk takers and we like to support our own - we’re just the glue that brings that together.
Where is your favourite venue in Liverpool to grab a bite to eat and drink?
That’s a hard one! There are so many places that are special to us, for so many different reasons and I don’t think we could answer that. There’s just too much on offer!
What do you personally love most about Liverpool as a creative city?
If you look into the history of Liverpool, you’ll see that Liverpool has been responsible for creating a lot. What we love, is that hasn’t been lost. Whether we’re flying drones or creating apps, there’s a burning desire within Liverpool’s creative quarter to make something of it. Another huge thing we’ve noticed is the level of partnership that goes into it. Everyone seems to be working in synergy for the greater good of the city. The city comes before them and that’s just a wonderful way to work.
Which aspects of creating and growing Independent Liverpool gives you the most satisfaction?
The same aspects that gave us the most in the first place. Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing quite like running a food and drink festival and seeing thousands of people enjoying themselves but we’ve often found, the simple things are the best. Even just the other day, an elderly man commented on one of our Facebook posts telling us how well we represent the city and how proud of us he is. To hear that, from a different generation, is an absolute honour and we just want the rest of the world to see the Liverpool we see through our eyes.
How did you turn the idea into a business concept?
Like everything we ever done, very organically. Our audience and readers had grown huge and we merely suggested the idea of a membership card and people went crazy for it. Neither of us were working at the time so we borrowed a small amount each from our parents and bought some plastic cards with it and the rest is history.
Which profile has been your favourite so far and why?
That’s also a very hard one but it definitely has to be Interesting Eating Company. It was our first ever profile. We walked in with shaky dispositions and claimed to be from Independent Liverpool, a new blog to get people to shop local. I can remember what we ate, who was working, what music was playing and how funny it felt at the time. It’s funny to think that was the start of a journey we’ll both never forget.
What can we expect from Independent Liverpool throughout 2016 and beyond?
A lot more of the same but with some big announcements. We feel truly honoured to be where we are but we’re not resting there. Expect more food and drink festivals that will blow your mind, a hand held guide of Liverpool from an independent perspective, an app-based alternative of the card coming out very soon and a lot more. Well, a good magician doesn’t reveal all its tricks at once, do they?
Many thanks to David and Oliver for their time, and if you want to learn more, head over to the Independent Liverpool website. And if you fancy becoming a member, you can pick up a membership card at the Utility store on Bold Street.
Time for more Utility?