Guest blog by Clare Honeyfield, Founder of Made In Stroud Shop and stockist of Emily McNair Products. It was always about creating community, Made in Stroud. It started as a series of makers markets, grew into a farmers market and then morphed into a shop. We opened our doors on 1st December 2000 – Stroud’s Christmas late night opening event. Originally a makers’ cooperative, the landlord had bought two small old shops at auction and had done an eco conversion into a large shop premise. His wish was to find an ‘ethical retailer’ to take on the space, so he was delighted when I approached him. which has a heat transfer system, hand crafted stained glass panels and is conveniently situated right in the centre of town.
I’d been working with makers for some time, saw a newly refurbished shop in town, was lucky enough to get the lease on it. No start up costs – well a £500 loan from my parents as my credit rating didn’t allow me to get a bank loan. That was paid back after the first year. The shop, which sold the work of 25 makers initially shared space with the farmers’ markets office.
Nowadays we have expanded, as has the market, which has its own office and is now completely separate. Made in Stroud currently sells the work of over 140 makers, most of whom are based in the Stroud Valleys. The shop’s ethos remains to provide an outlet for the handmade work of Stroud artisans, with the planet and people very much at the heart of our vision.
It’s very much a hub. The community notice board and the friendly welcoming vibes attract people from all around the UK and all around the world. We very much think of our customers as friends and we enjoy watching people’s babies grow up and becoming little people!! We even have a basket full of lovely wooden toys to make it easier for families to shop. We try to take part in all of the town festivals and to contribute in meaningful ways to local charities, being more than ‘just a shop’, being a vital part of the town.
The range of products on sale is now vast, ranging from top notch artisan food and drink to natural cruelty free beauty and lots of home wears and gift ideas. All of the soap is palm oil free, the vegan chocolate is fairly traded, organic, raw and rain forest friendly. The shop is a champion of the plastic free movement, having used paper bags since opening. Our paper bags are still individually stamped by hand, as are our luggage tags. In the 19 years since opening, the interest in hand made, ethical and planet friendly has really gone from being extremely ‘niche’ to mainstream which means the shop holds its own on the high street. The online shop www.madeinstroud.co.uk generates a great deal of interest and we offer coaching services and have a book coming out with a publisher. We have great plans for the future including on a new project to run alongside the shop coming soon.
Emily McNair products are exactly the type of collection which Made in Stroud is here for. We love the range and quality of her products, the ethos behind her enterprise, and the fact that she delivers everything in person, on foot from the studio! From Emily’s super popular jersey tops which our customers love for yoga/pilates, lounging and casual wear with jeans, to the handbag collections made from Stroud cloth which are often purchased as gifts. Our customers regularly choose from Emily’s eclectic range of pouches and purses as gifts which both unique and easy to post. Emily’s hand embroidered and beaded silk wedding purse collection, is very much sought after, to the point where we often sell out, the next collection always being eagerly awaited.