As a new resident of Ashford, Kent, I've been seeking out local creatives. Our move from Brighton was, at first, a massive culture shock - but I'm pleased to have discovered a vibrant crafting community, with a strong undercurrent of creativity - ready to become part of the mainstream culture here. Local crafter Clair Heal has been striving to set up a regular craft market in Ashford - and last Saturday, the first ever Emporia craft and vintage market was a massive success. Taking over one of the vacant shops at the Park Mall shopping centre, Clair rallied together some top local crafters - for two days rejuvenating an area of the town which was starting to look more than a little abandoned.
A steadily heavy footfall proved a real local interest in this kind of venture. People may not have the spending power they used to, but a lot of visitors were very clearly interested in supporting local trade - and in being able to purchase unique items that you just wouldn't find elsewhere. Meeting so many local people with a huge enthusiasm for this kind of event really does indicate that Ashford is a community in the midst of positive change, with a wealth of creatives seeking this kind of opportunity.
I met a lot of really inspiring local crafters at Emporia, my only regret is that it was so busy that I didn't really get to chat too much (but I can't really complain about that).
Some shots of my stall at Emporia:
|My stall at Emporia|
|Collars and 1950s style half aprons|
|Fancy biscuits and hair clips|
|1950s style half aprons|
|Lace work vanilla sugar cookies and gingerbread biscuits|
|Hand stitched designs by House Martin|
|Children's clothes and home accessories by Made by MEE|
|Hand knitted and crochet accessories by Baa Baa Designs|
|Cushions galore - by Designs by Keighley Jane|
|Home baked dog treats! By Doggie Yum Yumz|
|Sandy's cards for all occasions|
|Nappy cakes and lovely baby gifts. by Mayla's Gift Cakes|
|Teens at the fair were going NUTS for these - Lash Bags|
|Early in the day, before the doors opened to the public|
|At the entrance|
A little bird told me that the council is keen to realise Clair's dream and make this a regular event, there has been so much interest, that it's likely the next event will take over two units at the shopping centre - and will be bigger and better. I can't wait to find out when the next Emporia will be, keep an eye on my workshops & events page for updates on my planned involvement in local events - and check out the Emporia Facebook page for breaking news on Ashford's next crafty event.