New home page

If you visited the Makerhood website over the weekend, you may have noticed that we have a new-look home page! Many thanks to developer Andy Broomfield for all the work he’s put in on this over the past few weeks.

We had really good feedback on the look of our original site, so we didn’t want to change the feel drastically. But because we’ve got so many other activities going on, we wanted the home page to showcase more of what we do.

So we’ve got a greater range of goods on display, some of which will be chosen by guest curators as their favourites. At the moment we’ve highlighted items with a Christmas theme, but if you have any ideas for someone who lives or works in the area covered by Makerhood who would like to choose their favourite items on the site, let us know.

We’ve retained a featured stall and featured workshops, but we’ve also got more social features. So you can see the latest items on the blog as well as photos of some of the Makerhood community – our friendly Makerhoodies!

And of course you can still see the latest forum discussions, advertised workshops and goods for sale, as well as keep up with our activities on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.

We hope you like the new home page – do let us have your feedback so we can continue to improve the site for everyone!

Win £15 to spend on Makerhood!

As an extra incentive to support local makers as they start off online, we’re offering a weekly prize of £15 to spend on Makerhood.

Every week from 18 July to 4 September, we will pick one name at random from everyone who has bought something from the Makerhood website that week. The lucky winner will get £15 to spend on any item they like on the site.

So visit Makerhood Brixton, support local makers and start spending now to be in with a chance!

A flying start

children's workshop
Makerhood sketching and origami workshop with Pam Williams at the Lambeth Country Show

It’s been a frantic weekend, with a Makerhood stall at the Urban Art Fair in Josephine Avenue, a Makerhood workshop with Pam Williams at the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park, and handing out Makerhood flyers at the show and around Brixton Village.

Chris Patton of Eight B Design shows his cards to a buyer at the Urban Art Fair

Oh – and did we mention that the Makerhood website went live at noon on Saturday? Since then, we’ve had more than 1,000 unique visitors and almost 12,000 page views. More importantly, we’ve made our first sales and had lots of new members signing up. People have also started chatting on the forums.

Some of the great comments we’ve had so far:

  • “The website is a brilliant idea :)”
  • “Can you set one up in provincial Mozambique?”
  • “It looks marvellous…Congratulatio​ns!”
  • “Just found out about Makerhood – what a great idea! From first glance the website looks fab. Will be investigating further when back home.”
  • “Makerhood is a fantastic local community resource and the outcome of a very participatory design process.”
  • “South Londoners, Makerhood looks cool and very promising!”
  • “Everyone, check out Makerhood & buy locally-made stuff in Brixton – after a year of hard work, they went live today!”
  • “Makerhood – loving your new site guys – thanks for what you do and well done!”
    As we’ve explained, the site is still in beta – this means that you can buy and sell through the site, but we’re still adding new features and styling and ironing out any bugs. So do go and have a look and let us know what you think!

    Makerhood survey – key conclusions

    We recently ran a survey to ask people what they thought about the Makerhood concept and the ideas which underpin it. In this post, we’ll provide some of the key feedback we got from the 106 people who completed the online survey. You can also see some nice graphs / more detailed results here.

    Why this mattered to us

    The survey has helped to reinforce much of what we have learnt from previous offline research; reflecting attitudes which show a strong interest in local goods, local issues, handmade/crafts, and environmental concerns arising from how people shop – and what they buy.

    But it has also given us a strong steer about how these attitudes might manifest themselves via a local website. Your feedback and ideas are therefore integral to refining the vision for Makerhood, as well as the features the full website (launching soon!) will offer.

    Conclusion 1: Lots of support towards buying and selling local goods

    • 100% respondents said they are interested in buying local goods
    • 39% were interested in selling things they made

    The key reasons for wanting to “buy local” included:

    1. supporting the community
    2. reducing environmental impact
    3. supporting local economy
    4. encouraging creativity locally

    There was also a widespread belief that local products were often more interesting, fresher, unique, and often had a strong story behind them. Respondents were also keen on the idea of having a face-to-face relationship with a real person, which they saw as the anti-thesis of department stores/supermarkets, mass production, and the “throw-away”

    Conclusion 2: Local means different things to different people

    • 72% defined local as goods “made in their neighbourhood”
    • 72% also defined local as “goods made in your town”.  (People could choose more than one option.)
    • Only 18% agreed that “made in the UK” constituted local.

    Where we gave people space to say more, some felt that local should be:

    • “within 1 mile of where I live”
    • all of Lambeth
    • London and its surrounding environs

    Views varied for a number of reasons, including a recognition that some products are hard to make in London, such as dairy or certain agricultural items. But, generally speaking, the consensus seemed to be “buy local” or “as close to local” as you can.

    Conclusion 3: Buying local can be difficult, and this prevents people from doing so (even when they want to)

    Around 75% said they didn’t buy as much locally as they’d like to (only 6% said they do), primarily because of the problem of finding local products. This of course is where Makerhood comes in!

    Main reasons for not buying local goods:

    • I don’t know where to look (55%)
    • Cost (38%)
    • Time (33%)
    • Choice (32%)

    The results also suggested that many people try to shop from small local providers / shops but they are unsure about how much is actually made locally vs. simply being transported from other areas. It’s a moot point.

    Conclusion 4: Makerhood Brixton can play a role in supporting local makers and community needs

    When we asked users how they might use a local online marketplace, the overwhelming response was to buy gifts (84%).

    One-off purchases such as furniture (65%)  and everyday necessities like food and toiletries (56%) were also popular.

    However, it was clear that community and social relationships are also an important part of this mix.

    • 84% told us they would use Makerhood to find out what’s going on in the area
    • 57% wanted to find out about the people who make things (so descriptions and stories are important part of the marketplace)

    Conclusion 5: Frequency of use will depend on products

    What Makerhood offers, both in terms of choice and quality, are clearly key issues for potential buyers, but in principle the majority of respondents suggested that they would use the site once a month (38%) or once a week (31%).

    What happens next

    We are going to continue to pore over what you’ve told us, and of course we also have a number of upcoming sessions with potential sellers, which will offer us some great opportunities to garner further feedback and ideas.

    We’re aware that the survey isn’t statistically representative due to small size and the likely bias among respondents towards supporting local goods compared to average population. But we think it’s a fascinating and useful snapshot nonetheless.

    Thanks again to everyone who took part – and do keep those ideas coming!

    If you are a maker, grower or artist and would like to join in, come to Makers’ Meetings

    Our survey is now closed!

    A MASSIVE thank you to the 106 people who completed it. Your help and input is much appreciated.

    We’re pouring over your thoughts, and hope to share the conclusions in a couple of weeks.

    Remember that one person who completed the survey, chosen at random, will get a lovely hamper from CornerCopia. We are going to pull the winning name out of a (metaphorical) hat later this week and we will announce the winner on Friday.

    Keeping fingers and toes crossed for you!

    Final call for contributions to our online survey

    Update. Wonderful news: Nadia Gilani of South London Press is doing a piece on Makerhood for Tuesday’s edition! We’ve extended the survey so that SLP readers could contribute their views.

    Thanks to everyone who has entered our online survey which Karen wrote about previously. We’ll be closing the survey on Thursday, 26th May. So, if you’ve not entered yet, then please do!

    A reminder that one entrant, chosen at random, will get a lovely hamper from the Brixton deli CornerCopia.

    Of course this won’t be the only chance to feed into the development of Makerhood, but we won’t always be able to offer you such a lovely prize as our way of saying thank you!

    Remember, it’s just ten questions, and will take about five minutes of your time to complete. If that.

    Go on, you know you want to….

    Ten Questions

    As we’re busy working on the new local online marketplace we’ve begun to get excited about what you all might do with it! We thought that if we knew what you thought then we might be able to tweak the site to reflect that and make it even more useful to you. So we’ve put together a little survey to help us capture your ideas and feedback. While your answers will inform our pilot Brixton site the questions are exploring attitudes to locally-made goods regardless of where you live or work. So everyone, please take part!

    There are ten questions and it should take only take a few minutes to complete. There’s even a prize! Locally-made, of course. One person, chosen at random, will get a lovely hamper from CornerCopia.

    You can find the survey here:

    We really appreciate it and look forward to finding out what you think!

    Thank you!

    Making meets the web: the idea behind Makerhood

    At this Wednesday’s Green Drinks, organised by Transition Town Brixton, Duncan Law and I got into a long conversation about community trading schemes. It was fascinating to find that we shared so many values and metaphors. It also made me realise that a longer post on the goals behind Makerhood is well overdue (if you’ve spent any time with us you’re likely to be very familiar with this!).

    Karen wrote earlier about how the project came together last year. Many lovely, passionate and talented friends have since come on board to help. We are a diverse bunch – what unites us, I think, is the belief that buying things made locally can go a long way towards solving some of the biggest economic and social problems we face today.

    We also share a paradoxical discovery: that the “new”, intangible, global medium of the web can help support “old” local cultures that deal in physical relationships and tangible things. Hyperlocal sites have demonstrated this time and time again (see a great map by OpenlyLocal here). Brixton’s very own Urban 75 – probably the oldest local web community in Britain – is a great example. If this works for our social habits, then why not also for our shopping habits?


    The metaphor we often use when thinking about it is one of Traditional Village: a community where people rely on each other for their livelihoods. Where acquiring things is a meaningful social experience, not a purely economic transaction. Where our skills contribute to the community, and we derive a sense of identity and satisfaction from this. Where objects have a past and a future (as in, you know how they were made, and what happened to them once they were sold) – where stories of things are part of a broader web of local relationships. This is very different from how we often buy and sell today.

    At Makerhood we are building a website to help people in Brixton, Herne Hill, Camberwell and Stockwell to buy things made in these areas. When designing it, we’ve been thinking of a Village Market – the ones you used to have on the main square. Local makers will have their own Stalls where people can shop, chat, and share stories. This is work in progress, so any ideas for features are very welcome!

    We would love it if, once launched in a couple of months, the site brought benefits to people who live in our communities:

    • For customers, a fun and meaningful experience whereby they get unique local things
    • For makers, an easy way to sell online locally without having to set up a shop while benefiting from a greater pool of customers
    • For new entrepreneurs, a way to try out a new skill or set up a new business in a low risk environment.
    • For everyone, a great way to meet people locally, and to enjoy making things – one of the most fun and creative activities there are!

    If this takes off, there could be great benefits:

    • economic, as our communities become mored40_101202_003resilient in the face of global recession
    • environmental, because no long-haul delivery is involved – we are hoping most will be by foot, bike or environmentally-friendly transport like Brixton’s forthcoming low carbon delivery scheme
    • digital inclusion, as those currently not doing e-commerce could benefit from local support networks to help them get online.  This could be particularly relevant for older people, many of whom have traditional crafts skills.

    If the idea proves to work in South London it could be taken up elsewhere. In the long term it could help change our consumption habits all together.  This may seem a long way away, but if you have a plan, it might just happen 🙂

    In working towards these goals, it’s been wonderful to be part of a long-standing community movement in Brixton. We are learning a lot from projects such as Remade in Brixton, the TTB Food and Growing Group, London Creative Labs, The Brixton Pound, and Spacemakers, among many others. It is also fantastic to see new initiatives springing up in South London, like the SW Crafts Club and the Crafty Fox market, doing great work promoting skill-sharing and handmade goods.

    It is going to be a busy few months for us as we are starting to build and test the website. Next week we’ll talk about volunteering opportunities if you’d like to help. Meanwhile, keep in touch! We’re always happy to get feedback, suggestions and questions.

    Images by Emily Wilkinson and Lostwithoutwords – thank you!

    What we’ve been up to in 2011… That’s right :)

    It’s been a busy start to the year here at Makerhood, so we thought to update you on what’s been going on.

    Building on all the great input and feedback we got last year, our lovely developer Andy Broomfield is about to start putting together the first bits of the Makerhood pilot site. We always wanted it to be open source, but there was some debate as to whether we should use Drupal, Ruby on Rails or another platform. Drupal won in the end as we felt it was best suited for building a simple user-friendly interface for the pilot. Andy will be using blocks made by other developers (the beauty of open source!) as well as write custom software for features that are unique to Makerhood.

    We have also been working on the legal aspects of the site. Granted, it might not be the most exciting bit. But it is really very important as it defines relationships between users, and also the things one can do on the site, like buying and selling, creating groups and taking part in discussions. We are drafting the User Agreement ourselves (thank internet gods for its collective goodness!) and have had the benefit of some excellent pro-bono advice.

    This exercise reminded me of my work at the London School of Economics in 2004 on Digital Business Ecosystems. It was experiment to help small businesses start doing e-commerce – we found that legal issues were a huge barrier for many. Speaking of which, we do not have a legal expert on the team yet, so if you are one and would like to get involved, please let us know.

    But, really, isn’t what matters most *what the site will look like* ?  🙂 On that front we are so very lucky to have two wonderful Brixton-based artists making sure that is as pretty as possible. Carolina Valleijo, a wonderful interaction designer, writer and globe-trotter with wealth of digital experience is looking after site design. And the fantastic Emily Wilkinson, an illustrator and graphic facilitator (among many other things) is coming up with great ideas for our logo. We can’t wait to pick one!

    We will be writing more about all of this in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, get in touch if you have questions or tips for us – all will be gratefully received