The Market Returns!


The Emporia Craft and Vintage market is set to return to Ashford this winter and we’re on the lookout for new crafters to fill up the pop up.


It’s been a very hectic year for us this year, what with planning the move to the new shop, actually moving the shop and then settling into our much, much bigger premises, so we’ve had to the market on the back burner for a little while. But now Christmas is coming and the time for a bigger and better Emporia market is here!


On Saturday 21st November 2015 we are taking over a huge empty unit in Park Mall and filling it full of amazing goodies to eat, drink, wear and enjoy; there will be a range of different crafters selling their unique wares and we’ll be having a fabulous festive tea shop selling all kinds of delicious treats to keep you warm and get you in the mood for a little bit of Christmas shopping. And that’s not all – our lovely neighbours Revelations St Mary’s are providing some live musical entertainment on the day, and the Ashford Christmas lights will be turned on that day too. Round the corner Father Christmas will be sat in his grotto discussing the prospect of being naughty or nice with the kids, and there’s bound to be plenty of other excitements taking place in the town, making it one big celebration of the start of the festive season.


So this year, what with all our extra space, we are not only inviting our old favourites back to the pop up market (Shell’s Driftwood, Richardson & Richardson, Doggie Yum Yumz, Everyone Love’s Cupcakes, Gorjuss Jutes etc) but we also want to encourage some newbie crafters to join the Emporia gang too. Like POLLEN jewellery and their gorgeously simple necklaces and bracelets, and Book and Cover who make beautifully covered notebooks. Whether you’ve been crafting for years and selling your stuff to friends and family or at markets all over Kent, or you’ve only just started out and you’re contemplating your very first market – we want you! The more the merrier is our motto, so if you fancy joining us and kicking off the festive season in truly crafty style, get in touch and show us your wares!


The Emporia Vintage and Craft market will take place from 10am – 5pm on Saturday 21st November 2015, in Park Mall, alongside the Ashford Christmas lights switch on. For more information on having a stall, email or check out the Facebook page here

And to everyone else who wants to browse, eat, indulge and generally feel a bit Christmassy, we’ll see you there!

February’s Emporia Craft & Vintage Market this Weekend!


Just a quick reminder that the pop up Emporia Craft & Vintage market will be in residence once again this weekend, located in the old Millets store in Park Mall – back where we first started! Come along and say hello, browse the stalls and grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake from 10am – 4pm Friday 27th and Saturday 28th February.


Stallholders for this month’s market include: Aye Aye and her gorgeous retro designed dresses, skirts and headscarves; Lotte Jamieson with her knitwear and accessories; Pickles Accessories will be livening up your February with their funky fabrics; living up to their name Everyone Loves Cupcakes will be tempting you with their delicious bakes; Mackcrafts and their knitty goods are also heading over to the market this weekend; seaside themed loveliness comes from Shell’s Driftwood once more; Jane Padgeham Designs is bringing her ceramic wares to the pop up for the first time; Goddard Ceramics are also keeping things interesting with their pottery selection; and Richardson & Richardson will have their stunning laser cut wooden and acrylic jewellery on sale too. And Mr Jimjam will be serving up tea, coffee, cakes and savoury treats on Saturday.


We are very excited by the first market of the year, and can’t wait to see you all there!

Small Business Saturday Discount


You may have seen the adverts on the telly or in the paper, or heard people talking about it when you’ve been in town – this weekend sees the arrival of Small Business Saturday. Giving small businesses like ours the chance to shine and take on the big boys, the day is all about supporting small and local businesses, and taking inspiration from business owners who have over come huge odds to create thriving companies with loyal customers.

The event has been taking place annually for several years now, and marks the first shopping day of December, thereby giving people the chance to think about shopping more locally and independently for their Christmas presents. So since we are a one of the surviving small businesses in Ashford, and we have a fantastically loyal customer base in and around Ashford, we are wholeheartedly taking part. We’re giving everyone who makes a purchase on all fabrics, haberdashery and vintage craft supplies on sale at Emporia Fabric & Craft, 20% off on the day.

So while you’re in town and supporting small businesses, we thought we would given you some inspiration on what to buy for your friends and family from some of the smallest businesses going – all the lovely designers at the Emporia Craft & Vintage Market pop up shop next door.


Still not got all your Christmas decorations out of the loft yet? Or if you have, are they looking a bit tired and forlorn? We’ve got bucket loads of Christmas tree decorations on the pop up tree, so whether you want Scandinavian birds, felt penguins or even fancy making your own from a Sew Brilliant kit, there’s plenty to choose from.


Shopping for teenagers is always tricky, given that in the space of one minute something that was really great is now deemed awful and ugly, and makes them roll their eyes at your utter stupidity for even suggesting they might like it. Save yourself the hassle and go for classic comic book cool with the Marvel furniture from Upcycle Sue, or a seriously on trend leather satchel in funky lime green and purple trim from Kamo.


Dads and grandads are another category that tend to be awkward when it comes to choosing presents. Ignore their requests for beer and whisky and get them something that will sort the men from the boys when it comes to looking dapper. Vintage style cufflinks from Taffeta Punk feature old comics and stamps, while these stylish bowties from Susanne from Bijoux Beading are perfect for those wanting to emulate Doctor Who No.11.


Mums, aunties, girlfriends, wives and generally any females in your life over the age of 12 will be thrilled to be on the receiving end of one of these gorgeous necklaces from Lucy Alice or Richardson & Richardson. Choose from wildlife inspired animals in wood cut and pastel colours, or go bolder with the laser cut perspex birds and bees.


Little children don’t always want plastic toys and noisy electronic gadgets for Christmas, sometimes little things like personalised bunting or a wash bag or pencil case made from bright and exciting patterned fabric will please them more than standard high street fare. Sew Brilliant can make up bunting for you with any name on it, and Aye Aye has a huge range of funky, bright and colourful bags in a range of sizes and shapes.


Not forgetting nans and grandmas this Christmas, how about a gorgeous coloured cat for her sofa from Lotte Jamieson or a pretty driftwood mirror from Bertie Bloom? Or if she’s a sucker for traditional presents, there are plenty of wonderful smelling soaps from The Soap Dragon, made with essential oils that will make her feel extra special.

And if you’re after a little something for yourself – and who isn’t this time of year – then there’s plenty of knitwear in the pop up shop to keep you warm while you carry on doing your Christmas shopping. Hats, bootcuffs and wristwarmers are all on sale from Lotte Jamieson, Baa Baa Designs and Susanne from Bijoux Beading.

Get 20% off in Emporia Fabric & Craft on Saturday 6th December 2014 as part of Small Business Saturday.

Pop Up Emporia Vintage and Craft Market


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.

Summer Holiday Craft Inspiration


How’s your summer holiday going? Getting plenty of time to relax and chill out, or is it just as crazy as usual? We hope you’ve managed to get some time for a bit of sewing or crafting, as there’s nothing better than having a quiet moment by yourself or in a group to feel inspired and get creative when you need a break. Despite having loads of projects lined and ready to go, (and several uncompleted ones shoved to the back of the cupboard – shhh) we still like to seek out new and exciting inspirational things to get us thinking. If you are feeling in need of a little crafty inspiration or feel like heading out and about this summer, we have put together a list of workshops, exhibitions, fairs and courses in and around Ashford that will get your creative juices fizzing with excitement. So check out the links below and be prepared to get your craft on:


Craft Club Ashford

Taking place on Tuesday evenings from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, the lovely Melissa from Aye Aye, along with several other crafty types, will take you through a workshop involving various different disciplines all on a theme – currently everyone is working on a collaborative project based around the idea of Water. Whether you have never attempted any kind of craft before or are a real magnet for any kind of creativity, this is a fun and friendly workshop session that will have you getting to grips with new crafts and exploring old skills in equal measure. Melissa says, “We skill share, so we all help each other develop in different areas. The idea is that everyone has some talent and we pass that on to each other through projects,  so we help each other as a group and explore together.” Located above Caffe Nero, the Craft Club is free to attend.


The Centre for Creative Enterprise

The CCE is a great place for crafters – full of local artists’ wares and inspirational people. If you are a crafty type or want to be one, this is the place to come to learn new skills or find out how to set up your own business. Combining networking and hot-desking with art and crafts workshops, the CCE truly brings together the creative and the corporate in the best way possible. New courses start up again in September, with a porcelain jewellery making course kicking off the new season on Saturday 20th.



Speaking of ceramics, Kippy’s is one of Ashford’s best kept secrets when it comes to drop in crafts. If you fancy decorating plates, cups, piggy banks or a variety of other pottery goodies, you can pop in and have a go, and then wait a couple of days for your item to get its turn in the kiln. Once it’s out and glazed, it’s yours to collect. An easy and simple craft for anyone with any arty skill or even none at all, its something you can do with the kids too. Prices start from pocket money level (£6.00) and go up according to the size and complexity of the original ceramic design, meaning it won’t break the bank as holiday entertainment.


Things We Do in Bed Quilt Exhibition

Curated by the historical fiction novelist Tracey Chevalier, this exhibition of quilting takes place at the gorgeous Georgian mansion that is Danson House in Bexleyheath. Running until the end of October this year, this show makes for a fascinating day out for anyone with a passion for sewing. Find inspiration in quilts new and old, and see what kind of bed quilt your grandmother would have made for friend’s wedding or for a new baby. Ranging from huge celebratory pieces from the 1700s up to present day artworks by the likes of Turner prize winner Grayson Perry, this show is a must see for anyone who is thinking about venturing into the world of quilting but needs a bit of a shove in the right direction.  Entrance to the exhibition is free alongside a ticket to Danson House – £8.00 for adults, £6.00 for children.


Hastings Town and Country Show

Taking place this weekend, 16th – 17th August, Alexandra Park hosts the annual Hasting Town and Country Show. Giving you the chance to make your own arts and crafts, as well as buy things from local makers, you can also indulge yourself with delicious locally produced food and specialties from farms in the area. All this plus birds of prey and working dogs shows, and plenty of other farm inspired entertainment, so there is loads to get interested in on both days of the show. Tickets are £5.00 for grownups and £2.00 for children.


Adult Education Courses

And if all that wasn’t enough inspiration for you, there are vast amounts of craft courses taking place throughout the year at various locations around Ashford. Pottery, lacemaking, silversmithing, bakery, woodwork and metalwork, upholstery and embroidery are just some of the subjects you can tackle on these courses. Lasting either a few weekends or an entire year, you can learn fantastic skills that will develop your own crafty knowledge and could even lead to you thinking about a new career – how much more inspirational can you get? Day and weekend courses run throughout the year, and new termly courses start up in September. Prices start from around £15.00 for a one off session.

Emporia Market is back! Yes, the market is finally coming back to Ashford and bringing with it all the crafty and vintage loveliness that you have come to expect. Taking place over the weekend of Friday 19th and Saturday 20th September 2014, the market will be crammed full of all kinds of delicious crafts from the usual suspects, including Lil’ Tea Tank, Aye Aye, Richardson and Richardson, plus loads more. Come and find us in Park Mall and give us a big old hug – we’ve missed you!

Interview with Clair Heal


This week we finally get around to having a little chat with lovely, lovely Clair, the woman in charge of all the crafty deliciousness that is the Emporia shop and market. Here she tells us just how the two came into being, how she got into crafting in a big way, and just what exactly is going on in her life at the moment.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Clair Heal and I own and run Emporia Fabric & Crafts and also organise the Emporia Craft & Vintage Market, which usually takes place once a month in one of Ashford’s town centre units.


How did you get into crafting?
I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. My Nanny taught me how to sew, embroider and do tapestry when I was small. When I left school I studied Clothing Technology at Rochester after which became a costume designer until my first son was born in 2002. I didn’t start making crafts to sell until my kids were a few years old after making a few felt Christmas decorations.

Who and what inspires you?
My family inspire me to keep going with what I believe in. I’m also massively inspired by the creative people around me and all the talented local crafters and artisans that I’ve met on my way.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
I really admire anyone who just goes for it, there are so many creative people in Ashford. I especially admire female entrepreneurs who have family life to juggle with, alongside the setting up and running of a business. In terms of fabric designers, I am loving Beth Studley’s collections for Makower – we stock her first collection Henna and her second collection has just arrived in the shop, which is called Meadow.

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
It kind of evolved by itself; I did my first craft fair at my son’s school where I made a few felt Christmas decorations which went down really well. This gave me the buzz to carry on, so I did a few more craft fairs – some good some bad. It was after doing a particularly badly organised/advertised one in December 2012 that I, along with three friends, decided to hold an open house to sell our crafts to the local community. This went so well I decided to organise a craft fair in our local village hall; I advertised as much as I could and on opening the doors there was a queue of people waiting to come in!


Next thing I knew, I was phoning around to get a shop space in Ashford town centre to put on my first craft market, and luckily a lovely lady at Park Mall said yes, so on the 10th & 11th May 2013 Emporia Craft & Vintage market was born. So far there have been seven markets in various empty units around town. Unfortunately, it became increasingly difficult to find somewhere to hold it so I then decided to open a permanent outlet selling both crafts made by local people as well as beautiful fabrics, as I was frustrated at being unable to buy fabric for my crafts locally – buying online is just not the same, as it’s so much nicer to see and feel it.

If you weren’t running a fabric and craft shop, what would you be doing with your time?
Sitting at home watching daytime telly!

How do you manage the day to day running of the shop, alongside looking after your kids? Who helps you run the business?
I wanted to be able to take my littlest to school every day, that’s why the shop isn’t open till 10am. My lovely husband Neil is home a lot and is a massive help, and I’m very lucky to have such lovely friends who help out with childcare when needed.

Speaking of kids, there’s a rumour going around that you might be about to have another one …
Yes, it’s true! Our third Bubba is due at the beginning of July, so from the next week onwards I’ll be taking a break from the shop.

What’s going to happen to the shop while you are away on maternity leave?
Don’t worry, it will be business as usual and all will be left in the capable hands of a few lovely ladies whilst I’m away.


Any news on the Emporia market for the summer? We miss it!
I miss it too, and all the lovely stallholders! At the moment it’s a victim of its own success and I can’t find a shop big enough to fit us all in. I am working on it though and also have plans for something else special – so watch this space!

What are your plans for the rest of the year – when are you coming back? And will the baby be joining you in the shop?
I’m sure I won’t be able to keep away, but I’ll officially be back at the end of September. And yes, the baby will be with me because of course he’ll be a perfectly behaved baby and sit beside my desk!

So there you have it – one more week of Clair and then the shop will be under the care of various crafty ladies (myself included – eek!) for a three month summer special. Now don’t go all stroppy on us, like teenagers with a supply teacher – we promise to have everything running just as normal and there will more info coming soon on classes, special offers and of course, all the usual lovely new fabrics and stock coming into the shop. All that’s left to say for now is: We wish you all the best with the impending arrival – just make sure you spend as much time sleeping and sewing between now and the baby arriving as you possibly can, as there probably won’t be much opportunity once he comes. Good luck!




Emporia Market this Weekend!


The Emporia Vintage and Craft market makes its first appearance of the year this weekend, bringing you all the loveliness you can always expect from our fabulous designers and makers. Taking place on both Friday and Saturday, you can expect to see a variety of different crafts and vintage pieces from lots of regular makers, plus some new ones too.


Regulars Aye Aye will be on hand with their vintage fabric inspired accessories and kids’ clothing, and Richardson and Richardson are sure to catch your eye with their laser cut wooden cards and funky perspex jewellery, and there will be more vintage style cards from Sandys Cards 4 All Occasions; Nasty Batsy will be bringing along her delightful rag dolls, and Shell’s Driftwood hanging hearts and chalkboards are certain to be one of the biggest hits with lovers of seaside themed designs.


There’s more nature-inspired crafts by Steve Beaney and his wood turning art, plus chunky knitted scarves and hats from Baa Baa Designs, plus lots more new designer makers bringing their wares to the market for the very first time, so you can be sure there will be plenty of lovely craft to get your mitts on and be inspired by. And for anyone in need of sustenance at the market, there will of course be plenty of tea and cakes on sale, and a selection of delightfully iced cupcakes to take home from Everyone Loves Cupcakes.

This week’s Emporia Vintage and Craft market is open from 10am -5pm on Friday 28th February and Saturday 1st March 2014 in Park Mall, Ashford town centre. Hope to see you there – whatever the weather!