Holly and I first met at Fargo Village in Coventry, a beautiful inclusive space set up for independent creatives to have a space to express themselves.
We both love makers markets; the vibe, the chat, being able to talk about what we make and to meet like minded makers and supporters of what we do.
One thing was very clear in our minds and that was the fact that where we lived in Stourbridge, we didn’t have a Fargo and we got to wondering why that was. We both knew a good number of makers/artists/creatives in the area but we couldn’t put our finger on why we weren’t connected in the way we thought we could be. So, at the back end of 2018, Holly and I decided to try and do something to bring people together and Makers Market Midlands was born.
Our vision was always to have a space for makers to come together. This would be in the traditional sense of face-to-face markets, where we could showcase the work and bring people into the interesting spaces that exist in Stourbridge; spaces like Claptrap and General Office. There is a symbiotic relationship to be had by supporting independent venues with creative activities, sharing the ideals of collective endeavours and showing people that spaces and events can be different and less corporate in their approach and ethos.
It quickly became evident that there was an appetite for the coming together of makers. We had a great response to putting on markets and we began to understand the true extent of the numbers of individuals out there who were making amazing things in spare rooms and garden sheds and once we discovered this interest, we began to become more focussed on giving this community of makers a platform in which to operate, outside of their own websites and social media.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, it was clear that we were going to have to make a shift in our support for the collective. This was not only in providing on-line market options, but in trying to instil a sense of group, to show that we all had each other’s backs in these really difficult times. Having a website was, therefore, a natural extension to the face-to-face markets, a place where we could host the collective group, showcase their work and provide a link through to their individual sites. As we all got more used to being online through the lockdowns, popularity began to grow in how the website was providing support and a shop window for the group, as well as letting us explore things like social media chats, online market events and giving locals a directory of makers that exist on their doorstep.
Strength comes through a collective approach and building our community in the virtual world has helped us and everyone in the group feel less isolated and more connected during lockdown. We don’t know what’s around the corner, but in some ways the restrictions of the pandemic have helped us develop another string to our bow for our makers and while we are craving the need to get back to face-to-face markets, to meet our customers, and share a coffee in one of the amazing spaces we have in our neighbourhood, we have learned an important lesson in adaptability and diversity.
Roll-on 2021 and roll-on collective community!
-Written by Rick Sanders of Willis Design