Meet the makers: Jayne Rutland

Jayne is a hairdresser who started making and selling her own hair products under the brand Hairy Jayne in 2008. Here she tells us what it’s like pitching to the Managing Director of Liberty, and how she raised £3000 through crowdfunding.

Hairy-Jayne_0059How did you get into making hair products?

I’ve been a hairdresser since 2001 – I worked in salons for ages and got fed up. So I went freelance in 2008 and found I had lots more time, and I started dabbling with potions. I did an aromatherapy product-making course at Morley College, where the tutor said I could make my own hair products. I then found Plush Folly and did lots of courses.

My first product was a hair treatment with argan oil, which I bought when I went to Morocco on holiday. Since doing the aromatherapy course I’ve stuck to using essential oils and natural products.

And how is the business doing?

It’s a tough industry to break into! I break even now on the hair products but I am still cutting hair three days a week – that funds my work on hair products for two days a week.

I took part in Brand Amplifier, which helped me think more like a business rather than “I make this, would you like to buy it?” Then last summer the law changed and I had to have all my products retested by a cosmetic chemist, which cost £3000! To raise this money I went for crowdfunding through Indiegogo. For the video my husband Karl dressed up as me in a ginger wig – it looked great with his beard! We managed to raise the whole amount!

We hear you also pitched to Liberty on their Open Call.

Yes – I registered and got there at 8am, the doors opened at 9am, and I still queued for five hours! I was interviewed by [Managing Director] Ed Burstell – I recognised him from TV! He was very enthusiastic and nice. I pitched to him and then had to do it again so they could film it. They said they would take my pack of three hair perfumes! They didn’t talk any numbers so maybe I should have been suspicious, but when you shake hands with someone you think it will be OK.

Then I got the follow-up call when they said they didn’t feel their customer base buys natural stuff so they didn’t want to place an order.

That must have been so disappointing.

The biggest lesson is it made me think would I be able to fulfil an order that size at this stage in my development. But they gave me some useful feedback and advice – they suggested I try Fortnum & Mason, which I hadn’t thought about.

How have you benefited from being a member of Makerhood?

Makerhood was the first time I tried out going to talks to learn more about business development and being part of a bigger local network. I went to the series of pitching sessions they ran – and then went on to pitch at Liberty.

Makerhood gives me a sense of everyone being team players and helping each other. I was thinking about running some workshops and then Making Uncovered came along and gave me the opportunity. I really enjoyed that – I’ve always loved teaching, even when I was in the salon.

Karl and I were on a real high after the event, walking up the hill and saying what a great place Brixton is, meeting local people who share common interests and can put on a great event like that!

You can buy Hairy Jayne products online. Jayne is also selling at the following events:

2 November West Norwood Feast
22-23 November Renegade Craft Fair
30 November Crafty Fox, Dalston
6 December Crafty Fox, Brixton
14 December Craftacular

Meet the makers: Gill Scheuer

A passionate upcycler, Gill Scheuer of um-bags etc talks about her interest in creating new items from old and why she loves living in Lambeth.

Gill ScheuerWhere does your interest in upcycling come from?
I’ve always hated waste, and I’ve always liked making things from something else. When I was young I made things like clothes, props and furniture for my teddies. When I left school I made a belt from my old school satchel – so I was well ahead of the current upcycling trend!

And how did you get the idea for making bags from old umbrellas?
For years I’d see amazing patterned umbrellas discarded by the roadside. The fabric was fine but the mechanism was broken, and I thought there must be something you can do with that.

One November day it was really squally and I saw about six umbrellas near my house. So I got on my bike and collected them, unpicked the fabric (the official term is “filleting”) and played around with fitting the triangular pieces of fabric together.

I got excited about combining different colours and patterns. And it’s a double whammy – I’m not just reusing the fabric but also encouraging people to stop using plastic bags, as these are very light to slip into a pocket and carry around.

Is this the first time you’ve sold things you’ve made?
No. I used to make silver and resin jewellery, based on designs of old tattoos. But it’s been a few years since I put my work out in the open for sale. I took a stall at West Norwood Feast and invited loads of friends, who bought lots and were really positive about the idea.

I love the excitement of doing markets and talking to people and getting feedback. And with these bags I’m not having to outlay lots of money on materials!

How creative is your day job?
I’m a design and technology textiles teacher, so I spend my time devising projects for kids to make, like weaving with plastic bags or inventing slogans to screen-print onto organic cotton bags to encourage people not to use plastic bags. But I am giving up teaching in December, so I hope to spend more time making my own things then.

Why did you join Makerhood?
I heard about Makerhood through a friend and thought it was exactly what I needed – help with setting up a website, marketing and promotion, all the things I’m not very good at.

One of the big benefits was doing Lambeth Country Show. I’ve always wanted to do it but I’d never be able to outlay all that money on my own. And sharing the stall with others was great – not doing it all in isolation.

Meeting other creative people who live nearby is also great – it will be particularly important when I give up work!

Finally, what do you like about living in Lambeth?
I’m originally from Birmingham, but since moving to London I’ve always lived in Lambeth. I used to live in Herne Hill but moved to West Norwood 15 years ago. I love the mix of people – the mix of ages, class, race – and the liberal attitudes: anything goes. And Brockwell Park – it’s the jewel in the crown of south London!

You can see Gill’s um-bags and bike seat covers on the Makerhood website.

Meet the makers: Pam Williams

Known for her ever-cheerful presence at Brixton Makers’ Market, and her slightly surreal cartoon strip Eric the Fish in Brixton Bugle, Pam Williams tells us about her nomadic life and all-night stints of drawing at Smithfield meat market.
Your work features locations from around the world – Brixton, Greece, Hong Kong: you seem to like travelling!
My father was in the army, so I moved around a lot – we lived in Singapore and Germany when I was a child. So it seemed natural for me to go travelling after college – I went to Greece for three years and New York for three years. Anyone who’s been in the army knows you get the three-year itch!
Were you working as an artist on these trips?
I did all sorts of things! In Greece I lived with a family. I taught English, which helped pay the bills, but I also painted and drew whenever I could– I wanted to develop a skill.
I studied graphic design at Manchester University, and my love of drawing was triggered by a project where we were told to go out into the city and draw. So I took my pad and pen and went for a walk in Manchester. A pub gave me a pint of Guinness and let me sit on their steps to draw. I was completely happy – I just sat and watched and drew and drank! (Guiness is full of iron, I needed iron…).
When I went through the drawings a couple of days later most of them were absolute rubbish. But there was one – it was only small, about 2 inches by 3 inches – of an old man walking away, in his old coat and shoes, with a plastic shopping bag. It had really captured so much about him with a line, magical! I’ve spent the next 30 years discovering how I did it.
And you know now?
Yes! I used to be a watercolour artist in the 1980s, but I never drew for work – drawing was my freedom. I wanted to understand and keep that flow of expression. I worked out a system of how to manage it, and I’ve been teaching that method ever since– how to develop your own style.
I spent about a year going to Smithfield meat market, which started at midnight! It was when they were renovating it to meet European standards, and I would sit on the pavement three nights a week from midnight to 9am, drawing.
The traders pretended not to notice me – just left me alone to draw. Then one day one trader skirted past me, had a look and yelled “’Ere Jack, she’s got yer!”.
How did you get involved with Makerhood?
I’d been working on my ambition to be an artist since leaving college, and I’d had real highs and lows. There were times when I thought shall I just give up. I felt that as an illustrator my work had really developed, but as a recognised “artist” in society there was still a way to go yet.
Makerhood approached me via the market traders when they began to help explore their own ideas. It helped to regenerated energy and purpose for myself.
I started volunteering with Brixton Market, and when Brixton Village opened I got involved with running the community shop and met a lot of young artists and entrepreneurs – we had a useful symbiotic exchange. Then Makerhood started up and helped set up the makers’ market – they had this database of makers they could call on so it made it much easier.
I really appreciate how Makerhood supports artists with professional business advice. For me it’s been like a second chance – it’s been really timely to develop my revival and underpin the adventures I’ve had. 
Among other things, Pam is currently working on a book of memoirs about Hong Kong, based on a series of sketches and paintings she did in 1996-97, during the run-up to the handover back to China.
You’ll find Pam at Brixton Makers’ Market on Station Road on the second Saturday of every month.

Meet the makers: Kaylene Alder

Makerhoodie Kaylene describes herself as a “displaced/misplaced Canadian who has found a home in good ole Londontown”.  She lives in Brixton with her husband and two cats, Fury and Kafka, who were very keen to be part of this interview, as you can see from the photo!

kaylene-alder2Every month Kaylene provides an illustration for Brixton Bugle, based on an idea suggested by a reader, and her first solo exhibition “for some time” is about to open at Studio 73 in Brixton Village. Kaylene also illustrated the newly published Recipes from Brixton Village, written by Miss South, another Bugle contributor.

How did you get involved with the recipe book?

I got called by the publisher, who saw my stuff in the Bugle. Although Miss South also writes for the Bugle, I didn’t know her before this. We sat in the market and had a chat, took photos of the traders and chatted to everyone. They gave me a list of what they wanted, I did about 50 illustrations and just handed them over. So I didn’t see what the book looked like till it was published!

Have you tried any of the recipes yet?

I’m not yet convinced by African land snails! But I really like Asian food, so I’ll probably try the recipes from KaoSarn and Okan first.

Tell us about your exhibition.

The theme is “Ships in Small Water”. A friend suggested the idea, and it appealed to me because it’s a bit funny. I’ve done seven screen prints and it’s been a challenge! I’m still learning about screen printing, and I decided to do them on brown paper, which is thin, and it rolls up, it’s slippery, it moves around – it’s very fiddly! And they’re all three colours, so with seven prints that’s 21 layers! But I’m very happy with how they’ve come out.

So it’s been a very busy time for you.

Yes – because I work as an art teacher four days a week so I do the printing after work and at weekends. Recently, I’ve been illustrating educational materials for the South London Botanical Institute but have otherwise had a bit of time to think about new work and this exhibition which has been great.

Recipes from Brixton Village is available at Brixton Village, good local booksellers and direct from Kitchen Press, price £15.99.

“Ships in Small Water” is at Studio 73, Brixton Village, from 19 to 28 May.

Meet the Makers: Dumisami Nyathi of The Vegan Tart

 Baked goods by The Vegan TartThe Vegan Tart delightfully challenged my preconceptions – I didn’t imagine that vegan cakes and savouries would tempt me, or that their  ‘Head Tart’, Dumisani Nyathi, would turn up sporting a beard, but after talking to him I’ll be pigging out on a ‘lime & thyme’ cake at the next opportunity! 

Read on to find out what made The Vegan Tart special enough to win ‘Best in Show’ at the 2013 Brixton Bake-off.

Tell us a bit about The Vegan Tart, what you make and where you sell it.

I run The Vegan Tart with my partner. We make high quality vegan cakes and savouries. We bake traditional cakes but use our unique combinations of flavours to make them special.

Since 2011 we’ve been selling at the ‘Bakers and Flea’ market in Brixton on Station Road on the first Saturday of every month (next one April 5th). As well as the regular Brixton crowd, the Brixton Vegan Walkabout meetup comes along, bringing us up to 35 eager customers!

Our products are also available at The Lazy Rhubarb in Tulse Hill, and we do other ad-hoc markets and events, such as the Greenwich Food Fest in February and a recent vegan high tea at the Effra Social – these are listed on our website . We also take orders and are often baking away for a birthday or wedding, making sure there is great tasting food which can be eaten by everyone.

What inspired you to get started?

I’ve been vegan for about 5 years. Even before I became vegan, as an American, I found British cakes very dry, and after it was worse – the restaurants seemed to provide only dry bland offerings for vegans. I felt I could make better ones myself, and started experimenting. Then friends started to buy them, and orders started to take off in 2011. I was a support worker at the time, but after I went travelling to Spain and north Africa I began to think about working for myself, and decided to make baking a business on my return.

It doesn’t yet bring in enough to pay the rent, so I work 3 days a week as a gardener, but we are currently negotiating with the ‘cat cafe’ opening in the East End, and once we have two clients of that sort, I can bake full-time!

What makes your products special?

Besides them all being completely vegan, we do both cakes and savouries, and try to make our products a bit different from the usual – we mix it up a bit, jazzing up the flavours to give people alternative flavours eg a lime & thyme cake, a savoury fig & asparagus tart. We were also officially acknowledged as special by winning the Best in Show and Best Savoury categories at the 2013 Brixton Bake-off! There were over 30 entrants and the judges included the Mayor of Lambeth, Ms Cupcake, the manager of Morleys and Levi Roots.

It’s not just the quality of our products which makes us stand out though – we have quirkiness to our brand, such as our special apron and hat outfits, our branded granny trolley and army bag for transporting our goods, my job title (Head Tart), etc, which make  us stand out from the crowd – people often make comments or ask to take pictures. I’d like to have a branded cargo bike to transport my goods in. It’s all very fun and home made, for example a friend made the aprons and hats, and we used an old banner to brand our trolley.

Sounds exciting – how do you go about marrying unusual flavours?

Even as a child I used to try making weird concoctions of noodle packs, those were my first experiments in flavour! I suppose it meant I was used to trying things out… I also invested in the Flavour Thesaurus. It’s not that good for vegan produce, but can give good ideas, it makes us think about the way the food hits the taste buds. We also research into websites and recipes and when we see an interesting combination of flavours, try it out. That’s how I discovered the ‘fig and asparagus’ combination.

You have a section on your website for ‘themed and quirky’ cakes. What’s the strangest cake you’ve been asked to make?

It was a topsy turvy cake for the annual ‘time for tea’ event at the Mental Health Foundation. I made a ‘Mad Hatters’ cake involving big chunks of cake which had to be balanced at crazy angles – that was not an easy cake to make!

What attracted you to get involved with Makerhood?

I wanted to get involved from the beginning but at that time it was just in Brixton and we were in Tulse Hill, I could see all these great networking events and very personable emails coming out and I kept thinking ‘hurry up, hurry up and come to our area!’ so I joined as soon as it opened to Tulse Hill, about a year ago.

It’s great, very friendly and affordable and the events are very useful. I’ve been to events on ‘branding your stall’, social media, and a food taster where Jay Rayner of the Observer gave feedback and a local shop owner helped with pricing, it’s really nice to have that kind of help and diversity.

I’m now a member of the steering group for Makerhood Lambeth, which gives me an opportunity to interact with a wide group of individuals who have a passion for creating and sharing that passion with others.

What do you like about living &/or working in Lambeth?

I’ve lived here since 2003, and I don’t know what it is about Lambeth, it’s brilliant, so diverse – in a lot of people’s minds it’s just Waterloo or Brixton, but there are all these places you can go to and the communities are never the same, the shops are never the same – I’m glad that Lambeth hasn’t been “uber-branded”!

What’s your hot tip for a hidden pleasure or treasure in Lambeth?

Bonnington Cafe in Vauxhall. It’s one of Lambeth’s hidden gems. Also the Rookery in Streatham, which is never busy and is very secluded…and the things you see by looking up. Opposite the White Lion in Streatham is a building with 4 elephants, take a look next time you are up that way!

Dumisani Nyathi of The Vegan Tart
Dumisani Nyathi, ‘Head Tart’ of The Vegan Tart

You can try some of the wonderful cakes and savouries The Vegan Tart have to offer at the ‘Bake and Flea’ market in Brixton Station Road on the first Saturday of the month* , or check out the mouth-watering cakes you can order via their website

*next one is April 5th, but alas The Vegan Tart will be missing this month due to injury, so catch them on May 3rd 

Meet the partners: Anita Thorpe, Diverse

Makerhood has many partners and collaborators who work with us to promote the work of local makers and offer them special discounts or exclusive opportunities. So we thought it was time to shine a spotlight on some of them. Here, Anita Thorpe, owner of Diverse, an independent gift shop in Brixton, explains how she has benefited from her collaboration with Makerhood.


Tell us about how you started your shop, Diverse.
I was a self-employed trainer in the not-for-profit sector, training managers and their staff in how to do their jobs more effectively. I also traded at Brixton Market in Brixton Station Road at weekends, selling sterling silver jewellery. This was seen to be quite risky at the time, selling silver jewellery on a market stall in Brixton – because of Brixton’s reputation at the time – but it went really well and I realised it could work as a shop.

So I started my first shop in 1999 at 54 Atlantic Road. I was there for six years, then at 62 Atlantic Road for five years, then at 65 Atlantic Road for one year! Then the opportunity came up to be somewhere more central, on Coldharbour Lane, so I’ve been there since Christmas.

How did you get involved with Makerhood?
I got a call from someone asking if I could do a presentation at a Makerhood meeting. But I was still running training courses and I was doing a training session in the Midlands, so I asked Jane Doxey, with whom I was working at the time, to do the Makerhood meeting instead. Jane did the meeting and developed the link with Makerhood.

Then at Christmas 2012, Jane suggested bringing in local makers to sell in the shop. We’ve always bought from individual makers as well as from gift companies, but had never featured the makers in this way. So we set up our Makers in the Hood promotion – mainly but not exclusively with Makerhood makers. It was phenomenal – it worked really well. We got a lot of attention through the press and social media – one of the benefits of partnering with a local initiative is it creates a story.

So we did it again in the spring – we didn’t sell quite as much as at Christmas but it still went well. We learned from that, and when we did the Makerhood promotion this Christmas we had stricter criteria for inclusion (Makerhood members only), an interview procedure, and offered some higher value items.


What have been the benefits to you of collaborating with Makerhood?

  • Giving customers what they want – they like to hear about the provenance of what they’re buying and the story behind local makers.
  • Press/publicity – featured makers and Makerhood spread the word through social media and press. Sometimes makers come into the shop with their entire family!
  • Helping people to learn – this can be infuriating sometimes but I enjoy helping the makers to become better business people. That makes for an easier and more profitable relationship for both parties.
  • Helps keeping both the makers and my business in touch with trends and needs – I can give the makers customer feedback; they give me more insight into how things are developing in the creative world.
  • I’m a showcase for Brixton talent – as the area gets more visitors, this is important – and it helps keep money in the local community.
  • The work is unique – it’s not all over the high street; that gives my business a point of difference.
  • I get to make links with other businesses – for example, I had a call from a maker about another gift shop that might be interested in working with local makers in a similar way.
  • Positive perception of the business – partnering with local people really helps to integrate your business in the community. I often hear people referring to Diverse as “their” gift shop!
  • Social responsibility – it’s a way of building and giving back to the community that supports your business.

So what would be your advice to other businesses considering collaborating with Makerhood?
I’d say get involved! You will gain as much personally and as a business as the makers will, and on so many different levels – including the bottom line! It will affect people’s perception of your business in a very positive way, and help raise your profile.

I’d be very happy to talk to anyone who is wondering whether to become a Makerhood partner.

Diverse is at 390 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton SW9 8LF. You can follow Anita on Twitter @diversebrixton

Meet the Makers: Robyn Parker

Brixton-based textile designer Robyn tells us how her great-grandmother’s notebook inspired her brand, and of the links between creativity and mental health.

  • Tell us a bit about Archie Mac London, what do you make or do?

Textile design. It’s all about stories! I use these story-telling textiles to make cushions and purses, and I’m currently working on a range of washbags, make-up bags and iPad covers. In future I plan to create fashion-wear too.Robyn Parker

  • What do you mean by ‘story-telling textile design’?

It started from a project about childhood. I had the intention of bringing the fun elements of childhood into a more adult form of design.

I interviewed a friend who gave me a fantastic collection of childhood pictures from the ’80s. They were wearing garish T-shirts with Simpsons cartoons on, and I was fascinated by the hair shapes of the characters. I began to manipulate them and use them to create patterns. In this way the designs originated in elements of a childhood story, and carried them into the future. Icons of my own childhood, such as a headless doll, now feature in my designs.

  • What kind of processes are involved in creating your cushions?

I begin with childhood images and objects and create collage – using both old-style paper and scissors and computer programs – to explore these shapes and take them backwards and forwards. Sometimes surprising patterns result: some have come up with an Islamic look and then on the next iteration been reminiscent of African prints, others have the look of fractals.

The final designs are printed onto fabric, which I sew into cushions, bags and other items. Commercial printing is extremely expensive, so I’m currently learning screen-printing so that I can also do that part of the process myself in future.

  •  What inspired you to get started with Archie Mac?

The precious discovery, about a year ago, of an album my great-grandmother, Annie, had kept of her own notes and the charming sketches and cartoons of my great-grandfather, Archie McMillan. He signed each one with his monogram – AMcM, combined to make a little spider – and this inspired the name (Archie Mac) and logo of my brand.

It was so exciting to find this creative ancestry in my family. There has been something of a gap in creative expression in the intervening generations!

I didn’t come from an art background. Until recently I worked in social care, as a mental health support worker with the Community Options Team, and I repeatedly observed the importance of creative activity in restoring confidence and self esteem. This sparked the idea of setting up a social enterprise aimed at developing creative opportunities for other women (which I’ve recently started with workshops at the Eaves Centre in Brixton). Newham College recognised my enthusiasm and took a chance on me, offering me a place on their Fashion Foundation course, which gave me the opportunity to start experimenting with textiles.

  •  What makes your products special?  

The storytelling aspect. I’d love to create bespoke designs for clients which reflect what’s important to them – perhaps featuring images or icons from their own childhood, or those of their children – and incorporate these into textiles or products which are unique to them. A wedding dress, perhaps! I work primarily with fabric but there is no reason why the designs shouldn’t be used to decorate other products. Your own story-telling kettle, or toaster?

I currently hand-stitch my logo, derived from Archie’s monogram, onto every piece. I love that personal connection with each item of my work.

  • Tell us about the exciting new workshops you are involved with?

These are workshops in embroidery and beading at the Eaves Centre, a Brixton-based centre for supporting women who experience violence. Currently they are monthly, but I am keen to make them more frequent. The workshops teach new skills and an outlet for creative expression that bypasses any fear about drawing.

The women who attend are each making small panels. We’ve also been making up embroidery packs to send out to women who cannot or do not choose to come to the centre, to encourage them to participate. We are using the theme of ‘hope’ and will combine the small pieces we make into one large panel. We intend to display the final panel to raise awareness and possibly funds for the Eaves centre.

We’ve received a lot of support from local sources, including Simply Fabrics, Freecycle, and Fiona of Oh Sew Brixton!, for which we’re extremely grateful, as we had no funding for the project.

  •  What attracted you to get involved with Makerhood?

The network is such a wonderful precious thing: there is this lovely cycle of kindness there. It can be lonely being creative and it’s great to know that there’s somewhere so welcoming and supportive in the borough.

  • What do you like about living &/or working in Lambeth?

I don’t know what it is about the borough, but it attracts so many creative people. There is a really good network of creatives here, and I have received so much support from people such as Sinead of Crafty Fox, and Colin Crooks and Lydia Gardner on the ‘start your own enterprise course’  run by Tree Shepherd, and also getting  involved with Brand Amplifier has been amazing and brilliant!

Also, I greatly value that working in mental health gives me the opportunity to meet people with such different lifestyles and life experiences from my own. Being exposed to such a multicultural, multi-layered community is exciting and inspiring . For example, in the Eaves Centre workshops people bring so many different experiences and ideas to the table.

  • What’s your hot tip for a hidden pleasure or treasure in Lambeth?

One best memory I will take with me if and when I leave will be the conker trees by the Lido – I think I will always feel that childhood excitement from picking up shiny conkers!

To see more of Robyn’s unique, original textiles & products visit

Make Your Own Christmas: meet the impresario (and find out the line up)

UntitledMusician Andrew Clarke is Makerhood’s sometime impresario and was the brains behind the amazing entertainment programme at our Making Uncovered event last April. We’ve twisted his arm again to choose the musicians and performers who’ll be getting us into the party mood at Make Your Own Christmas. We caught up with Andrew to find out what to expect.

Why are you involved with Makerhood’s Christmas event?

I have been involved with Makerhood from the beginning. I helped to run origami workshops for children at the Lambeth County Fair in 2011 – the weekend Makerhood was launched. We all support a community in the best ways we can, and these things are different for all of us. I am terrible at making, but I can help organise events and I can perform at them, and I am very happy to support the amazing makers of Makerhood as often as I can.

What is the line-up and what are you looking forward to on the day?

The Pop-Up choir filled the huge space of the Brixton East gallery at Making Uncovered earlier this year, and they will be kicking off the entertainments at our Christmas party in similar style. It is a wonderful thing to have so many voices sing for you in a space, unfiltered by distance or by crackly sound systems. This will be a real treat.


Jane Ruby is also playing. Jane is a bit of a Brixton legend and, when she played at Making Uncovered with just her guitar, her voice and her stories of local life, she was the only person who could have followed the 20-piece Pop Up Choir and still won the crowd over. She’s marvellous, and we’re super-happy that she is playing for us again.


Next up are the Yada Yada Allstars, with Alex Fradera and four of the fabulous C3467X team – Carleen Macdermid, John Agapiou, Juliet Stephens and Shem Pennant.  There is a special electricity in the air with improv comedy that comes from both the audience and the performers having no idea what is going to happen next. This means everyone in the room is together and in the moment in the same way. This makes every discovery, and extreme silliness, that happens all the funnier. I can’t wait.

John and Juliet

Finally, we’ve got Gaia Marcus and A P Clarke. OK, this is me… I will excuse myself from commenting on my own abilities, but Gaia is a wonderfully soulful blues and folk singer who has been honing her craft around the London scene for the past few years and she’ll be singing a few standards and a few seasonal songs as the sun sets behind us. It should be an excellent afternoon!

You can book your free ticket here:

Gaia and Andrew

Images of Jane Ruby, Gaia Marcus and Andrew Clarke are by Andy Broomfield

Image of Julia and Alex are by Luke & Michael


Meet the Makers: Kaylene Alder

Kaylene Alder holding an example of her illustrationKaylene Alder is a Brixton-based illustrator. Here she tells us how she came to create the banner for the Makerhood West Norwood website, and how you could share an aspect of Brixton with other local people and win one of her prints at the same time.

1.      What kind of creative work do you do?
I’m a freelance illustrator. I work on magazines, books and also personal work such as cards, screen prints, and special occasion work such as wedding stationery.

2.      What inspired you to get into this?
Initially I did a degree in fine art, but at that time I found the fine art world in Montreal, where I studied, very exclusive and almost deliberately convoluted and obscure. I found I took much more easily to illustration, as a medium which communicates strongly and allows room for a sense of humour.

I have been working as a teacher, but I realised how important making and creating are to me and wanted to get it more prominent in my life, so I began to take up freelance work. I now teach part-time so that I can pursue this.

3.      What brought you to Brixton, and what kept you here?
Desire to travel! I came here first in 2001 and then travelled for nine months in south-east Asia, and worked in South Korea for a time, but teacher training brought me back here.

4.      Are you still teaching?
Yes, I work part-time as a primary teacher, both as a general class teacher and as an art teacher. I am hoping to be involved in an interesting project soon, integrating arts subjects such as art, music and drama, with other learning such as maths and science. Most kids have a lot of energy and find it hard to sit still, so having something physical to do will help to keep their brains engaged!

5.      I hear you designed the banner for the Makerhood West Norwood website – tell us more about how you got involved with Makerhood?
I saw the website by chance, and did one of the Christmas stalls outside Studio 73 – from there it just snowballed. I volunteered at the ‘Making Uncovered’ event, which was a great day, very positive.

It was thanks to contacts I made through these events and sharing a Makerhood stall at the Urban Art fair that I came to do the banner. After Mark, my partner, gave me an old map of Brixton as a gift, I was inspired to use maps in my illustrative work – I really like working over them, they provide such rich backgrounds. As a result I’d done some work for the ‘new cartography’ project at The New Wolf, looking at four areas of London which included some work in the West Norwood area that provided a basis for the banner.

6.      So Makerhood has helped you?
Absolutely! Making Uncovered (I got a commission there, too!), the stalls at Studio 73, Urban Art etc, making friends and contacts, the Etsy mentorship project, and the Diverse ‘Makers in the Hood’ opportunity, it’s all been really helpful.

Kaylene_Alder-217.      Now we know what brought you to Brixton, what keeps you here?
London’s so big and still so small, everywhere has a community, you just have to seek it out, but Brixton feels like a proper community. I like its hustle, the fact that it is close to central London but has so much available locally – the park, the Ritzy, Brixton Village, the windmill – I love that it has a windmill, it is just so weird and amazing!

8.      What’s your hot tip for a hidden pleasure or treasure in Brixton?
Prima Donna (a Brazilian restaurant in Market Row) is one of our favourite places, they have an amazing sticky date pudding!

Also, community initiatives such as the Brixton Blog and the free Brixton Bugle paper. I am in awe of the people who run admirable projects such as these and Makerhood – they have boundless energy and enthusiasm for generating a community spirit in Brixton – so I help to distribute The Brixton Bugle on Friday mornings and do a monthly illustration for it. To involve local people in this, I invite them to tweet in their ideas for the subject of the next illustration. If their idea is selected, I send them one of the resulting prints!

If you’d like to see Kaylene’s work, take a look at her website. Many of her illustrations show aspects of Brixton, some of which are available from local shops such as Diverse Gifts, and if you’d like to inspire her with a subject for the next Brixton Bugle illustration and maybe win your own print, pick up a copy on a Friday morning and tweet your suggestions!

Meet the makers: Ellie Laycock

When Makerhood launched two years ago, Ellie Laycock of Hunted and Stuffed was one of the first makers to sign up – and her journey over that period has been as momentous as ours! So we thought we’d catch up with what’s happened to Ellie’s business in the past two years.


• Tell us a bit about the products you make.
All of our products are inspired by the rare vintage textiles that we discover. It’s all about how to reinvent them into something modern, relevant, beautiful and useful for the home. A lot of people love vintage style but wouldn’t necessarily know where to find originals or how to bring them to life.

We do all the sourcing, editing, cleaning, designing and upcycling so you get the best vintage finds but re-imagined for the 21st century into something unique, current and beautiful.

Our main offering is a selection of cushions ranging from small throw pillows made from vintage handkerchiefs right up to large statement bolsters made from rare vintage Japanese wedding kimono silk brocades. Most pieces are totally unique (we only make one like it), others are very limited editions where we might make three the same.


Working with original vintage, it’s not like you can order five more metres of a popular design from your printer. It’s what you can hunt down that dictates the rarity of the finished pieces.

We’ve also recently launched a brand new range of luxury handmade aprons with upcycled vintage ‘kitchenalia’ tea towel pockets, made with all-British materials. They’re proving quite popular, and Country Homes and Interiors magazine called them their ‘Buy Of The Day’!

• You were one of the first people to sign up to Makerhood when it started – how did you get involved?
Makerhood started up at around the same time (and in the same place) as Hunted and Stuffed did. I was a new mum and had just decided to go for it with my new business, so when I heard that there was a new collective of like-minded people forming right on my doorstep, I didn’t hesitate in signing up straight away. I thought that there would be nothing to lose, it sounded exciting and like a good opportunity for both the business and for meeting more people in my community.

The things I love about Makerhood are the emphasis on community both online and offline, the friendliness and unlimited optimism – I like their attitude!

• You won the Platinum Brand Amplifier Award for female entrpreneurs – what effect did this have on your business?
Yes, I was very surprised and honoured. The biggest and most powerful impact of winning that award was to gain confidence in my business. Prior to the win I viewed my business as an experiment; after the win I started to view myself as a businesswoman, and that was a crucial pivotal moment for me.

ellie - brand amplifier

Also, all the finalists received mentoring sessions about PR, marketing, branding and other practical advice that helped us shape our business visions, and I found women in business who were willing to mentor me and offer the benefit of their experiences and vice versa. It was a very nurturing and encouraging experience.

ellie-book-coverOff the back of that I applied to the Startup Britain Pitch Up award and won the chance to pitch to a major British high street retailer.

I also plucked up the nerve to approach a publishing house with my proposal for a book on upcycling vintage, and they took a risk on me and agreed to publish it, for which I’m so grateful.

It’s called Creating the Vintage Look (Cico Books), features 35 step-by-step upcycling projects that repurpose vintage finds into beautiful homeware, and will be published worldwide in September 2013.

• As a single mother, how do you cope with running your own business?
Well, I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy – because it’s not. It’s a hard slog. I have certain times when I can act within my business and it helps me focus on what needs to be done. It’s working to deadlines all the time. Ones you impose on yourself but know will move the business on: create a new product, get that bit of exposure that might lead to new customers finding you.

I find myself thinking about work a lot of the time. I think the key may be to try and compartmentalise things a bit. Focus on what you are doing completely, whether that is the business, your family or time off, otherwise you lack effectiveness by spreading yourself too thin.

• And now you are at the School for Creative Start Ups – tell us what this involves and what you have learnt.
ellie-cushion1S4CS has been great. It’s a year-long course for creative start ups and kicked off with a three-day boot camp given by Doug Richard (a former dragon on Dragon’s Den). Doug is truly inspirational and has devised his course to get you to ask the right questions of your business and research where your place might be (although as Doug is fond of saying, “Just because there’s a gap in the market, doesn’t mean there’s a market in the gap!”).

We met every month and the course culminated in the Startup Showcase at Somerset House in spring, which was a fantastic venue to exhibit in. The course runs again this year and I thoroughly recommend it.

One of the many things I learnt is what my strengths and weaknesses are, which means I’ve identified the kind of help I’d like to employ/find and what’s holding back the business from certain goals.

• How has Makerhood helped you on your journey?
Without Makerhood (and especially the forums) I would never have heard of Brand Amplifier and won the award that kick started it all. The workshops Makerhood put on are great and contain really valuable information that is hard to come by for indie makers on a budget. I just think it’s such a fantastic endeavour to create a social enterprise that helps build a community and encourages people to flourish.

• What advice would you give to other makers wanting a successful full-time business?
Well, firstly there’s no shame in doing a day job to support another passion. We all have to eat. Use evenings and weekends to start with and get the foundations in place.

I would say make use of the excellent workshops and events that Makerhood put on. Jane Doxey’s workshops are great for demystifying the retail world and she is a real fountain of knowledge and experience!

ellie-cushion3Sign up for a market stall opportunity, because it will increase your exposure and even if you feel you haven’t got much to sell then you could always use it for market research. Take products with both versions of that packaging label you can’t decide on and ask people which they prefer and why, or research prices people would pay for your product. Talking to potential customers is the best way to find answers.

Starting a business requires wearing many hats. Find your strengths and let yourself delegate your weaknesses.

If you decide to do it, then really go for it. It will be tough at times, you’ll wonder what you’re doing, the little negative voice inside will pop up and try to ridicule you. Learn to ignore it -it’s just jealous.

Take stock of every success – you’ll progress in baby steps, but after a while you’ll realise that you’ve come a long way. Be proud of that.

Whatever you make, it’s all ultimately about people. Being nice is free. You’re an artist and you make things that bring joy to people, or feelings they want to feel. They’ll pay you for that. Then you can make more. It’s a simple and beautiful thing.

Creating the Vintage Look is published by Cico Books on 13 September. Hunted and Stuffed, in collaboration with Cico Books and The Old Cinema, will be presenting projects from the book and new upcycled pieces for sale  in a pop up exhibition from Friday 20 September – Sun 22 Sepembert at The Old Cinema, 160 Chiswick High Road,  London W4 1PR.  The Old Cinema is famous for championing upcycling in the UK. Pop along, pick up a copy and have a look at what else this amazing vintage and upcycling emporium has to offer.