Have you been to ‘Made in Ashford’ yet?
Situated in Park Mall, Made in Ashford is a stylish shop-share showcasing products by a collaboration of local designer/makers and crafts people. It started as a pop up shop in 2015 but it never popped off! It is now a permanent home to 50 creative businesses in Kent and continues to be a council supported project as part of the town centre regeneration.
The shop is jam-packed with unique and beautifully made gifts and homeware, jewellery, clothing, art and toiletries. If you are after something truly unique and special then this is definitely the place for you. Due to the nature of the businesses many of the items are custom made and the makers are more than happy to take bespoke orders for personalised gifts. As the shop is run as a collective all of the staff you meet will have their own selection of products on display and some may even be beavering away on a craft project on the rare occasions that the shop floor is quiet. The makers have a real and direct connection with the customers which translates to excellent customer service. They are always eager to help with advice and recommendations but also thrilled to receive feedback and endorsements from the people who have chosen to buy their products.
But Made in Ashford is so much more than that…
“We offer a support network for our members who sell in store, we are a really close-knit community and we have all become buddies! We skill share and try to enhance each other’s businesses. The shop commissions our members to lead craft/market events creating more opportunity and the potential for a more sustainable business model. At these events we always have free crafts for kids (and grown-ups).”
Says Made in Ashford co-owner, Melissa Dawkins.
“There is a whole host of creative workshops, groups and courses we provide for the community. We believe craft & creativity to be brilliant for mood & wellbeing which led us to our aim of creativity to be accessible to all. Due to this value we have at least 1 subsidised place on all our groups, workshops and courses which are run by our members and beneficiaries and commissioned from our profits. Our current sewing business course has been fully funded by the national lottery community fund and Ashford Borough Council so is totally free for its participants. We are hoping to benefit about 40 people through this course!”
“Finally, we are not only a platform to support craft & art businesses but also to support our fellow social enterprises. We host & commission the weekly art club and photography club from Branch and brush. We are also the home of bare bazaar who are a plastic free grocery store. Fanny and flo regularly hold csp workshops in our store too! We try to collab with as many other soc ents as we can such as the beehive, Ashford vineyard and radio Ashford to name a few! ” Says Dawkins.