Why shopping small is so important to me

I’ve been a supporter of the ‘Just a Card’ campaign since hearing about it on Twitter a little while ago. The idea is to spread the word that even the smallest of purchases matter hugely to small businesses.  Whether it be a card, badge or other item that only cost a few pounds, those few pounds from everyone who walks in the door can be the difference from a shop staying open and closing forever.

R.I.P Purple & Black

Supporting of small shops is very close to my heart having built up and lost my own alternative gift shop in a very short space of time. The frustrating thing is I had a group of regular, really enthusiastic customers that completely loved what I was doing, but they didn’t act or spread the word quick enough.
A good few years on with the power of social media it’s so much easier to get the word out about great products and businesses, and, crucially, free. So if you love a shop, designer or even your local butcher, baker or candlestick maker – tell everyone and use them. Often! It might be easier for businesses to reach their customer than when I was doing it but with ever growing rent, rates and a billion other costs being thrown at them it’s tougher than ever. My partner now has a high street print and IT shop so once again, our household relies on two small businesses to keep ticking over. Will we ever learn? No. Because we love what we do.

I design and make my jewellery from my home studio and sell through a cooperative gallery, The Art Shed, online through Etsy and also through a handful of the most wonderful quirky independent shops and galleries run by amazing people. The prompt for this post came when I learned this week that one former stockist had recently closed it’s doors and another has been forced to close at the end of the month. This makes me truly sad. It makes me want to go into my local Tesco superstore and march all those people in that greeting card aisle out and down the road to their nearest independent instead!

Being part of a cooperative, I get the best of both worlds. It’s like having a little bit of my own shop again as well as an outlet to sell my work. We sell items costing £1 and items costing £1000. Sometimes I think people feel embarrassed spending just a pound or two but if I told you that some days, gift shops get through that day ONLY selling cards then you see the importance. I want to give every single customer a little hug, but don’t because that would surely guarantee I’d never see them again.

Here’s a few of the small businesses mentioned:
The Art Shed, The Medicine Garden, Cobham, Surrey.
Click, Save & Print, Walton on Thames, Surrey.

If you want to see all the amazing shops that sell Shutter Jewellery see here.
Check out the Just a Card campaign here.

And to prove this isn’t just for personal plugs, here are a few small businesses I have absolutely no affiliation with, but I’d be pretty devastated if they ceased to exist:
Pug and Puffin, Lyme Regis : Funky dog stuff
Juju, Brighton : Amazing quirky clothing
Sophie’s Chocolates, Chesham : Chocolate only for people called Sophie(!)
The Dough Shack, various locations : THE best pizza
Khao Sarn, Walton on Thames : THE best Thai
The Simon Drew Gallery, Dartmouth : My favourite illustrator, with the best puns
Pixxie Rose on Etsy : Handmade clothing in insane fabrics
RichardsonRichardson on Etsy : Acrylic jewellery (my best friend and I want about 70% of their collection between us) 
Littlehampton Exotics : Great reptile shop, of which so many have closed in the last few years
Pampered Pets, Hersham : Where my mutt gets his hair chopped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art Shed at The Medicine Garden

In January 2017, I joined a cooperative of 15 artists who together run The Art Shed at The Medicine Garden in Cobham, Surrey. The garden is a stunning location and perfect for such a group as there is much inspiration to be found in the grounds and surrounding countryside, which is reflected in many of the artists’ work.

There is a varied mix of work at The Art Shed, with disciplines including glasswork, photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics and textiles. Below are some of my favourite pieces.

Above : Naomi Beevers (mixed media), Joe Szabo (glass/ ceramics), Oorla Morgan (jewellery), Su Rogers (ceramics), Pratima Kramer (ceramics / mixed media), Terri Smart (ceramics), Louisa Sullivan (glass) Below: Jojo Rowley (ceramics)

The gallery is open from 10am, seven days a week, each day manned by an artist who displays their work here. You might even see some work in progress. Below: Photography by Sue Roche with ceramics and glass works by Jojo Rowley, Su Rogers and Louisa Sullivan.

Above : Linda Walsh (textiles),  Pratima Kramer,  Naomi Beevers, Stephanie Wright (ceramics),  Clare Hardwick Wilson (Painting / contemporary art) and Pratima Kramer, Jojo Rowley, Jo Mabbutt (Lace / Decorative Art ) Below: Oorla Morgan, Sophie de Taranto (Jewellery)

For more information on the Art Shed visit here. We hope to see you soon!

Above: Joe Szabo

 

 

Molesey Makers

molesey-makers-signMolesey Makers November Market,   12th November 16

Saturday was the third Molesey Makers event I’ve taken part in and it was another success, despite the rain! The pop up shop, held at Refresh Cafe in Molesey, brings together a variety of makers from Molesey and surrounding areas and gives them a chance to showcase their products to local shoppers.

molesey-makers-stallholdersThere is always a great mix of handmade items with stalls over two floors selling jewellery, accessories, cards, kids clothing, homewares as well as cakes, sauces and other edible goodies. The stalls are accompanied by a pop up tea room which makes it a more than just somewhere for a spot of shopping. It’s real community event with a great atmosphere, somewhere to catch up with friends and enjoy a cuppa with some vintage tunes playing in the background.

fairplay-clothing

Thanks so much to Charlotte and Ellie for having as all and putting on another great event. The next one will be part of Magical Molesey and held upstairs at Refresh (no tea room this time, but I hear there’s wine!) It starts at 5pm on Wednesday 7th December. Come along!

Some of the Molesey Makers and where to find them:

Juliet Turnbull – Juliet is a textile artist and makes a variety of beautiful items including wall hangings, jewellery and greetings cards.

Smiley Cat Arts – Original handmade crafts by local artist Jo Head. Prints, illustrations, family art and bespoke pieces.

Off the Hook – Handmade Crochet items including cosy scarves, gloves and blankets.

Do a little dance designs – Colourful kids clothing and accessories made from a mix of modern and vintage fabrics.

Ooh La Lily – Stationery items, gift tags, cards and other handmade pretty things!

Fairplay Clothing –  Handmade kids play clothes with a conscience.

Marg Dier Embroidery – Stunning jewellery pieces hand embroidered using precious silks, printed cottons, metal threads and vintage glass beads.

Amiya Sweet Vanilla  – Homemade cakes that taste as stunning as they they look. (I’ve done the research!)

And if you visited the Shutter Jewellery stall and wanted to see any of the items, the Etsy shop is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Craft Gallery, Merton Abbey Mills

I’ve been busy organising and delivering work to a flurry of new amazing and quirky shops and galleries recently. One with a very special story is The Craft Gallery in Merton Abbey Mills, SW19, which I visited last week.

craft-gallery-merton-abbey-mills-rs
The Craft Gallery, Merton Abbey Mills

Abbey Mills is somewhere that naturally attracts creative types, having formerly been a textile works used by William Morris and Liberty & Co. The gallery itself is situated in the building that was the old Apprentice Shop, used by Liberty to train their apprentices. Each of the buildings in the complex had it’s own job when the mills was making beautiful textiles. While it’s very easy to get distracted by the occupants now (restaurants, shops, galleries, coffee shops, theatre) it’s worth stopping to read what each part was originally used for. Even wandering around completely oblivious to all this, however, the mills is still enjoyable for just being incredibly pretty, right on the river wandle.

merton-abbey-mills-wheel-clock
The water wheel and clock
He likes his new bowl, just a little disappointed it's not full
He likes his new bowl, just a little disappointed it’s not full

The Craft Gallery is home to a diverse selection of locally made items such as cards, ceramics, glassware, jewellery and, of course, textiles plus craft making items, especially ones for those good with a needle and thread. (Sadly, I am not one of them) While I wanted to buy one of everything, as I often do with places like this, I managed to deliver more items than I left with. (Very proud!) I wasn’t, however, able to resist an adorable little pottery dog bowl by Margaret Haslam, handpainted with ‘for a very fine dog’ – a must for Socks!

shutter-jewellery-craft-gallery
Shutter Jewellery @ The Craft Gallery

A selection of Shutter Jewellery is now on show and for sale at The Craft Gallery including sterling silver drop earrings, stud earrings and necklaces as well as a selection of rhodium plated cufflink sets.

More info on The Craft Gallery here

More info on Merton Abbey Mills here

List of Shutter Jewellery stockists here