In this guest post, the team at Makerhood describe their efforts to create a community of makers in Lambeth. Find out more by visiting their website.
When we started Makerhood three years ago our premise was simple: we believed that buying things made in our neighbourhoods was great for us as individuals and good for our local communities and economies.
In Brixton, south London – where our team is based – it was hard at that time to find locally-made goods in its wonderful market or shops. So we thought we could make it easy to find local makers and their work - whether that was jams or jewellery, art or armchairs - by setting up a website.
We worked with the local community, makers, and volunteers to make this happen. The website launched in summer 2010 – and set us off on a journey of great discoveries and new friendships.
In addition to the website, we started experimenting with real-life activities, from exhibitions to market stalls, and from business development workshops to community gatherings. These activities took off beyond our expectations, and have become central to our work.
In April this year we held our biggest event yet, called Making Uncovered – where 16 making disciplines were represented with local makers showing the work that goes into creating something by hand. It was organised by volunteers and attracted around 700 visitors.
Three years on: the Makers’ Club and Lambeth roll-out
Three years on, there is a strong makers’ community in Brixton, locally-made goods are available at local shops and markets, and Makerhood has many wonderful volunteers working together to run the project and put on events.
In 2012 we launched a new project in the adjoining area of West Norwood with the support of the Outer London Fund. It’s been fantastic to see another new makers’ community come together and make new local connections.
“Makerhood has been a very positive experience for me. I have learnt lots by talking to other people and attending meetings. I love the feeling of belonging to a community of artists and creatives trying to change the way goods are made and sold.”
Elena Blanco, Dreamy Me
The Makers’ Club also offers exclusive and collaborative local selling opportunities, discounts from local suppliers, business development events, and local promotion. We remain largely volunteer-led, and we ask for £25/year from makers to contribute towards the project’s costs.
The Makers’ Club has proven popular, and thanks to support from Lambeth Council we are in the process of expanding it across the whole borough – exciting times! From 6 November all makers in Lambeth will be able to join us.
Commerce with a human face
While Makerhood involves many different activities and brings together many people from different walks of life, there is one thing that unites them all: a belief in business with a human face. Makerhood is about exchanging skills, objects, knowledge and resources in our communities.
Business transactions embedded in real human relationships just seem to make so much sense. Knowing the story behind an item you have bought from a local maker is lovely. Organising events with people who share your desire to improve your area is fantastic. Sharing your experience with other local creative businesses makes you feel part of a community, rather than isolated in the tough world of commerce.
It is the inspiration of so many wonderful, talented local people who have become part of the Makerhood community that makes the project what it is. We’re immensely grateful to everyone who’s helped the project come so far.
Do you want to help us grow?
If you’d like to support the project you can do the following:
If you are outside Lambeth and interested in a Makerhood in your local area, please drop us a line at [email protected] The more interest we get, the easier it will be to start Makerhood projects in new areas.
We will be looking for support to roll out beyond Lambeth. So if you’re an investor, a local authority or funder interested in locally-focused social enterprise ventures, please get in touch at [email protected] – we’re more than happy to meet and talk.
We look forward to hearing from you.
We leave you with this video from our Making Uncovered event to give you an idea of what it’s all about.
The RSA and Etsy are exploring similar themes in a new project, The Power of Small.