Rachel runs a letterpress business from her Brixton studio, is a member of our Makers’ Club, and volunteers on Makerhood’s events. Rachel explains what brought her to Makerhood, and why it’s been great for her social life and her business.
I began to teach myself how to letterpress using a hand-operated 8×5 Adana press about four years ago, and I quickly fell in love with the medium. Prickle Press was officially established in 2010 when I got my first wholesale order from a beautiful bookshop in Copenhagen.
Last year I came across a much larger, foot-operated treadle press called a Chandler & Price on ebay. I left like I’d won the lottery when we got it! The press meant I could print larger sizes and much more easily.
I’m at the point now where I am launching a full range of greetings cards, approaching more shops for trade orders and receiving regular requests for bespoke work: wedding invitations, business cards and birth announcements.
I wanted to get involved in my community
I heard about Makerhood at a Christmas fair in Brixton a couple of years ago. I was immediately interested. At this point I had just started working four days a week on Prickle Press from home, and although I loved it, I was missing those day-to-day contacts and colleagues. I’d been living in Brixton for four and a half years but it was only once I started working from home that I realised how disconnected my life was from my local area. I wanted to get more involved in my local community and meet people with similar passions – to create and make – and Makerhood seemed like the perfect place to do that.
Volunteering and Making Uncovered
When I attended my first Makerhood meeting I enthusiastically volunteered for just about everything! I’ve since started interviewing local makers for the ‘Meet the Makers’ section of the website. A few months later went along to an events planning meeting. At this stage the idea of the ‘Making Uncovered’ event was underway but none of the details were set. I remember being so excited about it.
I’d originally trained as a designer for dance and theatre and also done some event planning on the side. Although I’d decided I didn’t want to pursue a career in theatre design I missed aspects of the event planning. Over the next few months I got as involved as I could, taking on small jobs which I knew I could manage like organising the volunteers for the event. We spent months planning Making Uncovered but it wasn’t until I walked into the venue – the Brixton East gallery – that I started to really imagine what it would be like.
In addition to organising the event, I ran a letterpress workshop on the day. I was terrified setting up the night before. I was sure I would be standing there alone looking like a wally all day trying to persuade anyone to have a go – how wrong I was! At about 11.15am a little boy with his sister and parents came by and said he would like to print his name – and I was away.
I have no idea how the rest of the event went because I barely had a moment to sit down. After six hours of solid printing I was shattered, but elated to have so much interest. I purposefully didn’t charge a set rate – I wanted everyone to have a go and not be put off by costs. And it turned out I sold so many cards and prints that I really didn’t need to!
It wasn’t until I watched the video of the event that I caught a glimpse of the event as a whole. The open and inclusive nature of the event meant there was such a variety of people who took part – and it felt like a real reflection of Brixton. I feel so proud to have taken part in a creative, positive, local event.
I think through the amount of publicity the event had my profile must have been raised because since the event I’ve had further requests for workshops and more bespoke requests than ever! I’m not sure but I wonder whether running workshops and being generous with your craft makes you more approachable so that customers are less nervous about contacting you for work. Either way I feel like since the event my business has really improved.
I went to my first Makerhood meeting about nine months ago and it’s done everything for me that I hoped: I have new friends who live locally and share a passion for creativity and I feel connected and involved in Brixton. The fact that it’s also boosted interested and sales is just an added bonus!
If you’re interested in getting involved with Makerhood drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you! Or, you can find out more about our Makers’ Club and how to join on this page.