Easter Events and Opening Times


This week we’re all set to take part in the Ashford town centre Easter Egg hunt, pop on our hand decorated bonnets ready for the parade and then sit back and consume plenty of chocolate – and maybe find some time for a little bit of sewing on the side. How about you?


If you have small people off school this week then you might be keen to know that we still have spaces on our Easter kid’s classes. Make a rabbit on Monday, sew a drawstring bag on Tuesday, create an applique Easter cushion on Wednesday, sew a simple skirt on Thursday, or decorate an Easter egg hunting bag on Friday – there’s something for everyone in the run up to Easter itself. For full information, times, dates and prices, click on the Classes link at the top of the page and get in touch if you would like to book your little nippers into any of our sessions.


Emporia is also taking part in the Ashford town centre Easter trail from Monday 10th to Saturday 15th April 2017. All you need to do is pop into the shop, collect your Easter Trail form and then visit the various shops that are taking part to find the relevant letters and write then down on your sheet. Prizes will be handed out from the Love Ashford gazebo from 10.30am to 2.30pm on Saturday 15th April.

eastereggs (2)

And if you’re in town on that Saturday to collect your Easter treats, then why not take part in the Easter Bonnet Parade too? Kicking off from 2pm at the Love Ashford gazebo, you can really show off your creative skills with a hand made bonnet, decorated just how you like. And there will be prizes for the best ones, so there’s even more opportunity to win Easter chocs!


Our Easter opening hours will be:
10am – 5pm from Monday 10th to Thursday 13th April
1am – 2pm Good Friday 14th April
10am – 5pm Saturday 15th April
Closed Easter Sunday 16th April
Closed Easter Monday 17th April
Open as normal again from Tuesday 18th April onwards.

We hope you have a fabulous Easter weekend and enjoy plenty of time to eat chocolate and do some relaxing craft!



New Classes and New Stuff!


It’s a bit of a mish mash this week as we round off the summer holidays and get ready for a new season, that we hope will be full of even more crafty loveliness and even more sewing. We’ve got some spiffing new fabrics and buttons to show you, and a sneak peak of the new workshops that are coming your way from September onwards, so if you love the anticipation of new things and getting excited at counting down the days, then read on, dear friends, read on!


Brand new fabric hot off the press from Makower are these fabulous autumnal coloured sewing themes. Covered with cute little sewing machine drawings and tape measure patterns, these are just itching to be turned into any kind of sewing paraphernalia, like a machine cover, a needle case or perhaps a pin cushion.


These delicious yellow buttons are exactly the same colour as butter and we think they would look perfect as decorations on bags or right up the middle of a big snuggly cardy.


Melissa from Aye Aye has been busy again with a new selection of makeup bags. Lined with waterproof fabric, her three new additions to the shop come in this fabulously funky green and grey geometric print.


Since we got all hot under the collar about felt a couple of weeks ago, a few of you got in touch and said that yes, you would like to see some felt in the shop – so here it is! Lovely chunky felt charm packs, in gorgeous jewel like colours are crying out to be transformed into keyrings, little felt animals, badges and more. 15 squares of felt, along with two wooden buttons are £8.99 each.

As the summer holiday is very nearly over, we are starting to think about September and what will be happening in the shop. Despite Clair not returning until the end of the month, we are gearing up for more classes and workshops, including making a simple skirt, children’s clothes courses, and more sewing stuff. We are also branching out into the world of wool, as Lotte Jamieson starts some beginners knitting sessions. The shop will now be open on Mondays from September, and all day on a Wednesday giving you even more time to spend browsing our fabulous fabrics and stock.

We are also looking at hosting kids’ parties, so if your little one loves sewing and crafty stuff, they could be having their next birthday at Emporia! And of course, there will be the return of the Emporia Vintage and Craft market to Park Mall on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th September.

The blog is on holiday next week, taking a well deserved break – but we shall be back and raring to go for the start of term on Wednesday 3rd September. See you soon!

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!




Easter Opening Hours


Easter weekend is just around the corner, so we thought you should know that the shop will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday, but open as normal on Saturday 19th April 2014. So if you are in need of last minute Easter gifts or fancy a bit of fabric shopping to see you through the bank holiday, pop in, say hello and have a browse of all our lovely stuff.

As next week is all about bunnies, chocolate and having a four day weekend, the blog is taking a little break and attempting to enjoy some spring sunshine and maybe a spot of sewing. We will of course be back in the saddle and ready and eager to go the following week, so don’t go missing us too much. Maybe re-watch the entirety of the Great British Sewing Bee on iPlayer instead – we are sorry to see the end of the series, and can’t believe we have a whole year to wait before Claudia, Patrick, May and another round of crafty sewing enthusiasts are back on are screens. But don’t fret – we have Sewing Bee inspiration for you coming very soon!

Enjoy your Easter break and don’t eat too much chocolate. Alright, do eat too much chocolate, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.