Made in Ashford
Made in Ashford is a collaborative of local designer/makers and crafts people selling and supporting each other in a stylish shop located in the Ashford Borough Council owned Park Mall shopping centre here in Kent.
Our shop is run by us, Craftship Enterprise CIC, a social enterprise which aims to help support and nurture small creative businesses by giving them an affordable platform on the high street to showcase and sell their products. Craftship enterprise seeks to make creativity accessible to all and it is our mission to fulfil this. We know how good creating is for well being and forging a sense of community and that is why we are so passionate about it! Our social enterprise is an avid collaborator and we try to help as much as possible within our community to make our town an even better place to be. <3
Made in Ashford was a pop up shop that never popped off! Our shop has become a permanent home to many handmade in Kent businesses and creatives (47 of them at last count!) We continue to be a Ashford Borough council supported project as part of the Ashford town centre regeneration.
One of our founding members had tested Ashford's High Street with her vintage & retro inspired handmade clothing business, Aye Aye as part of the Portas pilot scheme to regenerate High Streets. This project was called pop up Ashford part of the pop up Britain group. It gave small businesses the opportunity to trade the high street at a low cost and for a short 2 week tenancy. Melissa Dawkins of Aye Aye had a great success there and contributed to the feedback which started the next natural phase:
Made in Ashford started in October 2015 as a 3 month pop up shop with the support of Ashford Borough Council. Melissa was approached by Ashford Borough council to take on an empty unit and make the next phase of small creative business support and High Street regeneration a reality. She immediately got her friend Lucy Alice Designs involved as she had just organised a pop up shop in Folkestone and the pair were on the look out for another pop up opportunity. They picked some other businesses from their own creative networks and set up a shop share between the 6 of them!
Since then the lives of Lucy and Melissa have changed quite dramatically as well as the shop. Lucy and Melissa each had a new baby and Made in Ashford evolved into a platform for many more businesses to sell on Ashford High Street. We have a gallery called The Stare Well Gallery on our stairs. In our upstairs we have Bare Bazaar selling plastic free groceries and a workshop space. We have recently become a CIC called Craftship Enterprise to help even more people find sustainable employment and well being through creativity.
Made in Ashford is our platform to achieve our social mission working with our fabulous team of businesses that have formed a creative community and help promote each other and look after our stylish shop. We all bring different skills to the table from the merchandising to helping each other get into trade shows or with social media. There is an enormous amount of knowledge and support in our team that we are happy to skill share and up skill our community. Melissa continues to manage the shop with great support of our members and especially the directors of Craftship Enterprise (Carla, Danielle & Sue) whilst working closely with Ashford Borough Council and the love Ashford team to form what it is today!
Throughout or journey our shop has changed and improved to suit the businesses within it and to help more be involved. Ashford Bourough Council have encouraged and enabled our vision and by working closely with them we are very excited about the future of our incredible social enterprise collaborative shop!