Makerhood has received a lot of attention since it started out a few years ago. Now, Lambeth Council is looking at rolling the idea out further afield. I went to find out more from its three directors.
If you enjoy buying gifts with a unique story and meaning, and you like to keep it local, you’ve probably heard of Brixton’s Makerhood.
Three years ago, Kristina, one of its founders, wanted to find a piece of furniture made in Brixton. She didn’t know where to go. An idea was born.
‘Now people that want to shop for local goods can do exactly that, either through our website, or the markets, shops and events that we support.’
Since 2010, Makerhood’s site has been showcasing a variety of goods including art prints, paintings, cards, clothes, homeware and jewellery. Many of the items are handmade or can be made to the buyers’ specification, providing a unique one-off purchase and an ideal gift (especially for Christmas, hint hint).
Their success in Brixton led to the creation of another club in West Norwood. Supporting this kind of activity is about supporting the economy and helping people in Lambeth to become resilient, especially in tough economic times.
After receiving requests from makers from other areas outside Brixton to join, the three founders decided to pitch to Lambeth Council Transformation Panel. They liked the idea and agreed to support a wider roll-out across Lambeth.
‘Funding from the council is helpful to cover some of the start-up costs, but we still have to put in some of our income to cover for the costs,’ says Kristina.
Requests continue to come in from other areas, such as Wandsworth and Southwark, but as a group run by volunteers, Makerhood’s capacity is not unlimited. Becoming a self-sustained social enterprise in the next three years, by increasing the numbers of joining members, is the ultimate goal.
Creatives across Lambeth can now join Makerhood for an annual contribution of £25. It means they will have their work showcased to a much wider audience than if they were working alone, including the clubs 2500 twitter followers.
But it’s not just the sales opportunities that attract people to Makerhood.
‘Sharing and discussing issues with other creative people is the biggest value Makerhood offers to its members,’ says Kim Winter, the second co-founder of Makerhood (and maker herself). ‘For many of them, working alone can be quite isolating.’
The club organises regular meetings, business development workshops and other discussion sessions. Those interested in buying or selling can subscribe to a monthly newsletter via the website that contains updates about makers, markets and events’.
Members also receive a range of discounts from supporting business, such as packaging services, printers, framing and art suppliers.
This year Makerhood has also teamed up with the independent retailer, Diverse Gifts, on Atlantic Road.
‘Its a great opportunity for our members,’ says Kim, ‘as many of them will not have engaged with retailers before.’
Members can also take part in larger events, such as the Urban Art Fair, or the Women of the World festival, through a cooperative Makerhood stall, thus splitting the costs and enjoying a shared experience.
‘We want to be a very local group that develops connections. We hope our members will bump into each other in the street,’ says Karen Martin, the third co-founder.
Volunteers are welcomed by Makerhood. There are a range of roles, from helping out with the website and events, to publicity, blogging and social media work. If you are interested contact Kristina Glushkova.
‘The support from the local community, makers and volunteers so far has been fantastic. We hope this carries on as we continue to develop,’ says Kristina.