Interview with Rosanna Clare

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We’ve been lucky enough to welcome several new crafters to our collection recently, so for a few weeks you can find out more about their work and what you can expect to find on the shelves of Emporia. This week we take a closer look at Rosanna Clare’s brand new recycled leather and wood jewellery and bags, and see what inspires her to run her business the way she does, as well as why she made the leap from teaching D&T to children to going solo as a professional crafter.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rosanna Clare Gethin and I am a designer and maker of all things wood and leather! I have 10 years experience of teaching Design & Technology in various schools across the UK, and I also undertook a two year stint at an international school in Switzerland teaching children how to make products in wood, metal, plastic and textiles. However, I have also been making leather bags and accessories for several years on the side. I decided to take the plunge and quit the day job to do this full-time in the summer of 2015. So far, so good!

How did you get into crafting?
My mum is a painter and picture framer and my dad is very good with all things DIY (his dad was a carpenter and he has a lot of his old tools), so arts/crafts are in my blood! I have two sisters and remember times when we were all sat round on a rainy day doing crafts like painting, drawing, papier mache, making clay sculptures etc. that my mum had shown us how to do. I always liked art & design at school and being brought up in a creative household, it was inevitable that craft would be part of my adult life.

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Who and what inspires you to create?
My friends and family are a great inspiration to me. I have four nieces and nephews and love to make them crafty gifts. I like to think that although they might not fully appreciate a handmade teddy as a two year old, they will treasure it in years to come (more so than an Xbox!). I have always loved Art Deco and geometric shapes and these often feature in my work.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
There are too many to name but there are many designer-makers whose work and ethos I admire. As I like to use upcycled materials and offcuts in my designs, I look to other designers who have been successful doing a similar thing: Orsola de Castro is the founder of From Somewhere, a company that makes clothes out of recycled offcuts of luxury materials; Peg and Awl based in Philadelphia, make products such as childrens’ swings from reclaimed wood; and I love the natural beauty and craftsmanship of the work by artist Andy Goldsworthy.

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What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
I have only just started, am no expert and still learning but I would say:
Support: having supportive friends and family is essential! Especially for times when you feel like giving up, having people who care giving you words of encouragement and advice is essential.
Research: this is important in every aspect of starting a business but particularly in pricing your work and how to do it. If you don’t price correctly and fairly (to yourself!) then you won’t have a business. (I’m still learning)
Planning: write a business plan! This sounds scary but doesn’t have to be. Just a simple one page document to start off with, stating your aims and objectives for your business, rough budget and expectations over a period of time. And keep updating and referring back to it, there is no point writing one if you never refer to it.
Social media/good photos: I’m no technology whizz but the web is an amazing tool for any craft business. Get an online shop going and post good photos of your work (or hire someone to do it for you); this is essential if you want people to buy your products online.
Determination & passion: Okay, I know this takes me six but I think these two go hand in hand and, in my opinion, you can’t have one without the other. Anyone can start a business but making it a successful one takes time and hard work, and if you are not determined and passionate about what you do then you will find it very hard not to give up when times get tough.

Name three of your most popular designs.
This is a tricky one as they tend to change on a regular basis but one of my most popular items is the waxed cotton and leather tote bag. I also make some brightly coloured coin purses which have been very popular. My range of earrings, both the leather tassel ones and laser cut oak studs, have sold well.

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Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
Yes, I run some workshops up in Camden and have done some smaller workshops in my studio teaching people to make bags and leather accessories. I have also run a workshop with the local WI which was a refreshing change from a class of 30 teenagers.

What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop this year.
I will be continuing to bring new and exciting stock of bags and jewellery to sell at Emporia as well as hopefully running some leather workshops there too.

Thanks Rosanna! We’re so excited to have your lovely pieces on sale at Emporia, and we’re sure there are several lucky mums around Ashford who will be getting their hands on some of your unique pieces this Mother’s Day. And if you’re still not quite sure what to get for your mum, pop into the shop this weekend and check out some of other talented crafters’ wares, who we will be interviewing here on the blog very soon!

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New Crafts on Sale at Emporia

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Over the last couple of weeks we’ve gradually been introducing a fantastic range of lovely new crafts and gifts onto the Emporia shelves, and now we’re seriously in the run up to Christmas, what better time is there to show off these gorgeous new things to you our avid followers? So if you’re on the look out for different and independently made local crafts to give your friends, family and children this year, Emporia is the place to start your shopping.

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Fink Clothing Co.
The Fink designs and and prints are made by the super talented Hannah Rushforth who has the enviable inclusion on her CV of having worked on the kid’s TV show Art Attack! when she was younger. Now working as a freelance arts project manager, she also produces an amazing range of screen printed t shirts, sweat shirts, baby vests and paper prints. And she promises more Star Wars inspired ideas will soon be hitting our shelves soon!

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P O L L E N
Gorgeous colours and tactile textures at the heart of P O L L E N jewellery – hand painted and finished baubles strung on coloured thongs can be paired with intricately woven beaded bracelets, making simple but striking additions to anyone’s wardrobe. Go for a multitude of spheres or choose a statement pair, either way these necklaces are destined to be filling up lots of lucky lady’s Christmas stockings.

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R.J. Laurenson
We haven’t had any ceramics on sale at Emporia for a long time, so these beautiful natural designs by R. J. Laurenson are a breath of fresh air to us. Covered with leaping and boxing hares, singing birds, leaves and floral patterns, these coasters and trivets have already garnered great praise from plenty of Emporia customers. And given that they are both dishwasher safe and food safe, we can see lots of people taking these home for Christmas this year.

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Peas in a Pod
Funky, funny and cute designs from Emma of Peas in a Pod come in all shapes and sizes, from cards and plates to badges and tea towels. We all know someone who can use a plate that bears the legend Eat Me, or a cushion covered in bottoms, so now you know where to look! Tea towels covered with cartoon macarons, notebooks proclaiming they are full of Incredibly Marvellous Stuff, and dinky badges covered with funny little Christmas puddings – take your pick and make one of your friends laugh every time they use your gift.

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Rose Hill Designs
Rose Hill creates portraits of a different kind – she has spent years making the coolest pet portraits in the world, and now even sells her wares in Harrods! So we are super flattered that she has decided to let us get our mitts on some of her amazing cards just in time for the festive period. Choose from frowny dogs wearing specs and surprised cats in bowties, or funky pictures of camper vans and rock n roll style celebs.

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Kim’s Kushions
At this time of year we all start to think about spending more time on our sofas, so what could be more inviting than a selection of plump down-filled cushions to lounge about on? These gorgeous designs are created by Jandi of Kim’s Kushions, which she makes using classic prints from the likes of Liberty and Cath Kidson. Soft and squishy as well as incredibly stylish, these cushions would make a fantastic addition to any living room.

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Black Rabbit
Another well renowned crafter from Kent, we’re very excited to have cards made by Black Rabbit of Margate join our throng. Selling her designs all over the world in places as far flung as Japan and America, Black Rabbit cards feature a range of different animals and different objects, including one of the designs on a badge – perfect for those of us who resent not getting badges on our cards once we’re older than 11.

All these delightful designers are now represented in the shop, with a variety of their ranges on sale direct from us, but since they’re an amicable bunch, many of them will make special creations just for you – so if you see something you like, but you fancy it in another colour or a different size, then they might just be able to help you out.

And of course, we’ve still got plenty of fabulous crafts from the likes of Richardson & Richardson, Aye Aye Clothing, Lucy Alice Designs, Lotte Jamieson Crafts and Pickles Accessories.

We’ve Moved!

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It’s taken two weeks and a whole lot of heavy lifting, but we have now finally moved into our brand new premises in Park Mall. With about a million times more square footage and plenty of room for buggies, mobility scooters and wheelchairs all at once (yes! all at once!) we have made a dramatic transformation from the tiny little place on Bank Street into a huge and spacious unit. We redecorated, restocked and remerchandised the whole place, and last night we relaunched, so if you haven’t managed to come and see us yet, what are you waiting for?!

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Gorgeous fabrics on display

The fabric wall is now about three times as big, and with more units due to arrive soon you can expect to see even more new arrivals from Michael Miller, Makower, Riley Blake, Swafing, Guterman and Camelot. Just to kick things off, a massive delivery from Makower containing a whole range of different coloured plains arrived just yesterday, so if you’re in need of any colours of the rainbow, we’ve got the lot!

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New rolls of cheaper fabric

We’ve also introduced a new larger and cheaper range, currently on sale on rolls – these nauticals, ginghams and floral prints are double wide and only £7.99 a metre – perfect for dresses and larger scale projects. More jersey has arrived in the shape of plains – including black, pink and pale blue, and we’ve also got plenty of netting now in stock, at only £2.50 a metre.

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Aye Aye’s superb collection gets plenty of room now

Those of you getting ready for Christmas already will be pleased to know we’ve got super wide felt in the shop, with festive red and green already selling to the super organised crafters of Ashford. Our selection of vintage buttons and fabrics has also expanded for those that love a rummage, and if you have a passion for vintage fashion too, you can browse the vintage clothes rail for some seriously unique pieces.

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Gorgeous new designs from R & R

More wool will be heading to the shop soon, including local brands and some big names – knitters and crochet fans keep your eyes peeled! And the craft selection is still very much in residence, and will be expanding as time goes on. Aye Aye and Richardson & Richardson moved in just as soon as they could, and you can now see a much larger range of their fantastic clothes and accessories on our shelves. New names are joining our old and well loved regulars, and you can expect to see mini interviews and in depth coverage of their products over the coming months as we focus on the unique crafting talent that has come under the Emporia wing.

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The brand new sign going up

Classes are taking place as normal, and we’re thinking of reintroducing Stitch and Bitch sessions mid week if we get enough takers – let us know if you’re interested! We’ve already had two classes take place on the shop floor, which fascinated customers and allowed us to be nosy and see the attendees make progress with their projects. Mandy Munroe’s sew and slash patchwork class is returning again next week (10am – 3pm Thursday 30th July 2015) , so if you fancy joining us for that, give us a ring or pop into the shop for more info.

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At the launch – tired and a bit shiny, but very happy

Other than that, it’s just business as usual – measuring, cutting, sewing, creating and loving every minute of working in our fantastic new shop.

Knitted Jewellery Classes

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A few weeks ago we introduced some knitted jersey bracelets into the shop, and ever since then people have been asking us how they are made, so now we are giving you the chance to find out by holding some jewellery knitting classes! If you are a knitter who fancies getting to grips with some new skills and a new way of wearing your knitting, then this is the class for you.

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The bracelets are made from jersey yarn which is a by product of the fashion industry, so essentially they are very long and very thin off-cuts. Available in as many colours as are being used by the current season garment makers, the jersey makes for some very exciting and very wearable jewellery potential, as the only limit is how many different stitches you know. Go for super simple i-cord style or mix it up with a chunkier bracelet, either knitted or woven with another colour. You can also make necklaces too, in exactly the same way.

Double colours in a chunkier style

Double colours in a chunkier style

The knitted jewellery classes will take place over the coming weeks, and everyone who attends will get the chance to make either two simple style bracelets, one more complicated chunky style bracelet (and possibly a simple one too, if you have time), or a necklace. Although this class is perfect for those who already know how to knit and purl, if you are a confident beginner, you should still be able to get to grips with the simple style of the i-cord. Materials are all supplied on the day, and if you want to take home your super chunky knitting needles so you can make more bracelets, you can purchase them at the end of the class.

Single i-cord style

Single i-cord style

The classes take place from 12pm – 2pm Monday 22nd June, 12pm – 2pm on Monday 13th and Monday 20th July 2015, and 1pm – 3pm on Saturday 18th July 2015, and cost £15.00 per person. Classes are limited to four people per session. If you would like to book a place on any of the knitted jewellery classes, phone the shop on 01233 612278 or pop in and see us in person.

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Interview with Lucy Alice Designs

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This week we are welcoming some very exciting new stock to the store as the delightful Lucy Alice Arnold has delivered her equally delightful designs to us. Impeccably crafted wooden jewellery, including brooches and necklaces, plus cards, prints and badges featuring a selection of British wildlife, are all now for sale at Emporia. So to celebrate their arrival and our inability to keep our hands off the hares, foxes and bird designs, we took the opportunity to have a little chat with Lucy about her work and what inspires her.

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Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lucy Arnold and I am the designer behind Lucy Alice Designs, a creative studio based in a seaside studio in Folkestone. It is a family run company specialising in handmade jewellery, greetings cards and home-wares, with all designs inspired by the animals around us. We call it our menagerie of colour and intrigue!

How did you get into crafting?
I have always been very creative and have always made things ever since I was little. I studied Textiles & Surface Design at Bucks New Uni which is where the designs you see in my collections today first materialised. I was approached to take part in a Christmas art market whilst at my degree show back in 2011 and that is how I caught the designer/maker bug.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Three of my favourites are the illustrator Nicola Rowlands, artist Abigail Brown and jeweller Helen Noakes. I love designers who do things differently and don’t necessarily follow trends. They make what reflects their own personalities and passions; their work is wonderful!

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What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
1. Know your brand – make sure you create a line of products that flow together and have a theme. Create a logo for your business and use the same set of colours and font across all of your packaging, on your website and on signage etc at craft fairs. It will make your business look so much more professional.

2. Keep it simple – Stick to a few products or designs at first and see what works well and what people like. It is so easy to jump in at the deep end and try to do everything at once when you are a creative person. Having a small selection of products is easier to manage at first and easier to market. You can then add new products every few months. Adding new products or collections gradually is also a great idea as it will give you something to blog about, tweet about and talk about to your customers.

3. Work out your pricing and don’t under sell yourself.

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4. Make things that you love – To be able to sell something you have to be passionate about it, if your passion shines through, people will fall in love with your products too. A handmade business should reflect your personality and let your talent shine.

5. Be brave – If you want to start your own craft business my advice would be to go for it! Create a small range of products, create your own brand, price it correctly and then book yourself a table at a local craft fair or start a Facebook page. Shout about what you do and see how people respond!

Name three of your most popular designs.
Anything with cats, birds or foxes on!

What’s new with your craft for 2015? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop or at the Emporia market this year.
2015 marks the official start of my journey into full time self employment. I am currently working on my new and improved 2015 collection which launches in April. You can find some of my new designs exclusively at Emporia including floral hare and fox brooches and little wooden bird hair slides.

Pop Up Emporia Vintage and Craft Market

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Now that Halloween and half term are done with we can start to get excited about the festive season: roaring fires, stockings, trees, decorations and of course, shopping for presents. Or at least shopping – it’s tricky to not look at things for yourself when you’re surrounded by lots of lovely gifts. Well, this year we aim to make Christmas shopping (and buying the occasional sneaky self-gift) much easier this year as the Emporia Vintage and Craft Market returns to Ashford next week.

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Sarahdipity Crafts

We know the market hasn’t been around much lately, and we’re just as sad about that as you are, but now it’s back and it’s not just here for the weekend. This winter the Emporia Vintage and Craft Market takes over the space next door for a whole six weeks, in a one off special Christmas pop up. Bringing you all the usual suspects in local craft, plus some brand new additions for the festive period, we’re really excited to have the chance to bring the joys of the Emporia market to everyone in Ashford for such a big chunk of time.

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Poppykins

Kicking off on Wednesday 12th November 2014, the pop up Emporia market will be open every day apart from Sunday, until Christmas Eve itself, giving you the chance to get your hands on fabulous handmade local crafts and unique gifts. Based on the collaborative market that usually happens once a month, this pop up shop will also feature the crafters themselves behind the tills on certain days of the week. So if you want to ask about bespoke items or getting an product made in a different colour or size, then you will still have the chance to chat to the makers and see if they can’t make your Christmas wishes come true.

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Aye Aye Missy

As usual we’ve got a fantastic selection of local makers selling their wares to the public, including many of the regulars who feature their handicrafts in the shop or at the market. Beautifully made jointed bears and cuddly owl cushions will be on sale from Poppykins, whilst Sew Brilliant will be stocking kid’s sewing kits and memory bears and bunting made to order, just for you. Sarahdipity Crafts brings you crocheted cushions, cross stitch pictures and scarves, while old favourite Aye Aye will be stocking her inimitable wash bags, hair bows, purses and glasses cases.

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Baa Baa Designs

Laser cut designers Richardson and Richardson will be bringing the bling with their amazing perspex jewellery and wood cut cards. Upcycle Sue is bringing her retro furniture that’s been reworked for the 21st century. Gorjuss Jutes have their painted bags on sale, while Handmade by Narjleen will be stocking sparkly beaded jewellery. Lotte Jamieson is bringing her knitted wares and Scandinavian style Christmas decorations, alongside her quirky fabric cats and birds. There’s more upcycled furniture from Wish Vintage, plus Baa Baa Designs will be on hand with more hats and scarves. Coasters and tea cup candles come courtesy of Pink Gecko, and our very own Saturday girl Olivia will be selling her super stylish vintage vinyl record bowls.

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Upcycle Sue

There will be plenty of super duper crafty loveliness going on throughout the whole six week pop up, and there are still more craft designers yet to be announced, so if you are missing the market, now is your chance to get as much Emporia magic in your life as possible between now and Christmas!

The Emporia Vintage and Craft Market pop up shop will open at 10am on Wednesday 12th November, and close at 1pm on Wednesday 24th December 2014.

Halloween Birthday Party

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You may not have noticed but we’ve been selling our gorgeous fabrics and crafts on Bank Street for nearly one whole year now. Our official birthday takes place on Friday 31st October 2014, so what with it being Halloween and all, we’ve decided to have a suitably spooky birthday party – and you’re all invited!

Head down to the shop on our birthday and you can expect to see all kinds of special events taking place: for a start, any customer who spends more than £10.00 gets to take away a fat quarter of their choice, absolutely free – nothing says Happy Birthday like free fabric we think. Once you’re in the shop, you can take a look at all our Halloween loveliness before popping out the back to indulge in some delicious tea and biscuits, or coffee and cake as the Casey from Lil’ Tea Tank spends the day with us, serving up her fabulous bakes. She will be in residence from 10am – 3pm, keeping out the chill with her tasty hot treats, and helping us celebrate our very first birthday.

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If you feel like getting some craft on while you munch on your cake, then fear not – one of our fabulous tutors will be on hand with a drop in felt brooch making class. Grab yourself some colourful felt and a button or two, and get sewing – all for £5.00. Kids won’t be left out on the day either as they will have the chance to make some suitably spooky makes too: choose from spiders, ghosts or Halloween masks made from felt and wool, for just £2.50 per child. And of course it wouldn’t be Halloween without a quick rummage in the treats cauldron on the way out.

If that all sounds like jolly good fun, then please do pop in and join us as we mark our first anniversary – it would be fantastic to have all our loyal customers come and celebrate with us on the day. And in the meantime, you can take a look at our fantastic Halloween crafts in the run up to the scariest night of the year.

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Perfect last minute dressing up aids like funky hair accessories, and the fantastic ghoulish headscarves from Aye Aye are just the thing to pop on your head and wear to your Halloween party. Modeled by Melissa from Aye Aye herself, and the lovely Casey from Lil’ Tea Tank, who will be here on the day, choose from horns, green brains, and creepy hands all perfect for  stylish yet scary dressing.

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If your kids are keen to get out and about in their Halloween best, then kit them out with some Trick or Treat bags in our funky fabrics – made by Lotte Jamieson, these cute bags are spot on for little and not so little children eager to get their hands on their share of sweets.

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Feel like spooking up your home with something a bit more grownup? These gorgeous witches’ cats also from Lotte Jamieson are just the job for sitting on the sofa or by the fire for your Halloween party. Plus, we’ve got a bumper crop of pumpkins sat in the window, waiting for someone to take them home and make them their own. And as if all this wasn’t quite enough Halloween fare, we’ve got bunting, bats, jewellery and a fantastic selection of spookily themed fabrics for you to make your own crafty creations with.

But most important of all – don’t forget to head our way anytime from 10am onwards on Friday 31st October for our special Halloween themed birthday!