Who's Who: The Craft Coop

Photo Courtesy of Craft Coop

We are introducing a new feature here on our little blog, we are going to be interviewing some of our favourite, people including, small business owners, designer/makers and other general crafty types. We are calling it Who's Who. 

So this week I had a little chat with Deborah Jones from the Craft Coop in Maidenhead to find out a little bit more about how they started and what they are all about, lets get started...

What is the Craft Coop?
CraftCoop is a sort of a support group for craftspeople (it’s like AA but without the stopping of anything!).  This means that there is alot of sharing and co-operation from all of the “Coopers” that are involved, with the emphasis on the community of craftspeople and the wider community of Maidenhead or wherever the pop-up shop is. 

Teresa and I act as the administrators and the members are loosely centred around Maidenhead, mostly coming from 15 miles or less away, but spreading from Ealing to Newbury, and Oxford to Bracknell.  We get lots of members from word of mouth and people who hear about our pop up shops, but we also approach craftspeople whose work we admire - so make yourself known to us if you haven’t already!  We have over 130 “Coopers” now, so it’s growing all the time.

Where did the Idea come from?
Originally the idea came from Teresa Mills, when she visited a beautiful craft shop in Denmark run by 17 women as a co-operative.  They have also been inspired by groups such as Made in Newcastle for their pop up shops and community centred approach.

Photo Courtesy of Craft Coop

How did they start?
Craft Coop started 3 Christmases ago, with their first CraftCoop and Happy Cakes Christmas Fair in Cookham.  At the time, I was working with Maria Evans at Happy Cakes, and the 3 of us organised the fair, and again the year after - this time with more craftspeople.  About a year ago, the Enjoy Maidenhead team approached us and asked if they could organise something for one of the empty shops in the Nicholson’s Centre, and the Pop Up Shops were born! – we take over an empty unit and transform it into a shop, with 10-16 local craftspeople and the Vintage CafĂ© from Happy Cakes.

In the last year, we have organised 5 more pop up shops in the Nicholson’s Centre and we also had a craft shop in Wokingham using MoreArts Wokingham's empty shop/gallery space, and not forgetting their third Christmas Craft Fair in Cookham, with their fourth coming this year!

So what’s coming up?
On the 11th and 12th February the Craft Coop are once again taking over the Nicolson’s centre to have our Valentine’s Pop-up shop, with around 20 different craftspeople coming over the 2 days.

We are also working with many other local organisations to bring more craft into people’s lives. We have dreams of having a shop for a longer period, with chances for people to do workshops, buy crafts, generally hang out and relax and opportunities for schools and craft groups to explore more of what the crafts can offer people.

Thanks for chatting with us today Deborah

Becoming a Member!
So if you like the idea of what the Craft Coop are doing and want to get involved, but want to know more, then read on as this bit is for you:

Firstly the main important bit, there are not many rules to becoming a member, as that kind of spoils the fun of the idea but there are two which they try to follow:
Rule 1: People must actually make at least 85% of what they sell.
Rule 2: The product or idea should be high quality. 

Craft Coop members are listed on the website, and can post any events, new products, etc on the Facebook page, and they will have first refusals on stall space at any event the Craft Coop organise.  Some events fill up quickly so it might well be fastest finger first!

They also pass on any information they receive about other events there members might be interested in and they have put together a directory of services (insurance, business cards, website design, photographers, etc.) which is given to each member. 

We at Live it.Love it.Make it are really excited about what’s coming up from the Craft Coop and seeing how they develop.  We think it’s a great idea to help Craftspeople to share and collaborate as too many of us fear that people are ready to steal our ideas and forget that being part of a very creative group can actually make us better individuals and you never know who you might meet and could collaborate with! If you are in the Berkshire area I would definitely check out the Valentine’s fair on the 11th and 12th February.  You can then check out what they do first hand and maybe even take home a few new items for yourself!

Live it. Love it. Make it