Meet the makers: Jennifer Levet

Milliner Jennifer Levet discusses dressing Disney characters and making hats for opera and film

jennifer levet

1. Have you always been interested in hats?
Not at first! I started out in costume and that led to millinery. I grew up going to sewing clubs and tagging along with my mum to quilting shops. I have always loved pattern and the difference between different qualities of fabric. I studied costume design at Wimbledon College of Art, which included a module with a theatrical milliner. I loved it and I carried on doing other millinery courses after graduation with people like Jane Smith to learn more. It’s addictive, learning all the different skills involved, like blocking felt and strip straw.

2. So did you go straight into millinery after leaving college?
No – I wanted to practise and study all the skills involved properly, and part of my heart was in costume, so I did lots of courses and lots of dressing all over London, for places like the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre and English National Opera. I also spent 14 months working on a Disney cruise ship, looking after the wardrobe for the cast for the on-board theatre and of course one or two Disney characters! The cruises started in Florida and went round the Bahamas and Caribbean. That was a very different world! But these experiences have helped me to do other work better, such as where I’ve been working over the past year, making hats for Welsh National Opera. I understand that how the hats and costumes are worn and needed during the show affects how they are made and how durable and comfortable they are. You also understand more about the individual.

3. What sort of people buy your hats?
I sell through Makerhood and Etsy, but most of my hats are commissions. The work varies – from bridal and casual wear to period millinery. I do quite a bit of freelance theatrical work still: I recently made one for a famous waxworks museum (the display hasn’t opened yet!) and for a workshop at the London Transport Museum. I also help a few other milliners, including Jane Smith. I have helped her make hats for a coronation, Tudor berets for Shakespeare’s Globe and1850s felt toppers for a Charles Dickens movie.
I really love designing casual wear hats that the everyday person can afford, though – I would love to bring affordable, stylish hats back to the everyday person worrying about the pennies in their pocket.

4. What is it about hat making that appeals to you?
I think it’s a fascinating set of skills – working with different materials such as straw, felt and fabric. It’s also an enjoyable intellectual exercise – especially flat patterning [working out how a flat pattern will form a three-dimensional shape when sewn together]. But I still have to remember the rules about how it looks on the head when it’s finished! I can get lost in the jigsaw, designing a flat pattern or how the pieces work together, but at the end of the day it has to be a hat that is stylish and comfortable that someone wants to wear.

5. What are your favourite materials to work with?
I do a lot of felt hats. It’s a very rewarding material to work with. I’ll start with a felt hood that is already made into a cone shape and then steam it for a long time until it suddenly becomes more pliable so I can pull it into shape over a hat block in a crown or brim shape. I either use a wooden block or I carve my own polystyrene blocks, which is a lovely skill in itself – though it’s very messy, as those bits of white polystyrene get everywhere! I also love working with tweeds and interesting patterned fabric. It’s a good excuse to go to quilt shows with my mum and look at interesting fabrics that could be quite versatile, but ultimately produce a lovely finish. I use lots of vintage shades and deep colours but I do have a yellow houndstooth button hat for sale at the moment.

6. Why did you join Makerhood?
I heard about Makerhood through Handpicked Brixton on Facebook, and thought it was right up my street. I like to support local traders who have spent time training in skills and love the idea of connecting them to the community around them. The product photography workshop that you ran was really useful.

7. Finally, what’s your favourite bit of Brixton?
Brixton is the first place I’ve lived where there are three haberdasheries within walking distance of my home! There’s Simply Fabrics on Atlantic Road, Atlantic Silk Fabrics on Electric Avenue, and Morleys. I didn’t find out about the haberdashery section in Morleys for ages – it is very handy. I wouldn’t be surprised if you found me at the Ritzy later in the week either, and I’ve also been in Duck Egg Café twice this week..

You can buy Jennifer’s classic hats with a twist at http://brixton.makerhood.com/jennifer-levet-hats. Jennifer also has a stall at Crafty Fox on 24 March.

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Meet the makers: Jayne Rutland

Maya Kar talks to Jayne Rutland of Hairy Jayne about goats’ bottoms, allergies and the challenge of working in three dimensions

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1. Tell us a bit about Hairy Jayne – what do you make?
I’ve been a professional hairdresser for 12 years now. I cut hair and make natural hair products, fragranced with essential oils. There are two shampoos and two conditioners for different hair types, plus hair perfumes for freshening up between washes. Every product comes in three fragrances: neroli (musk), geranium (floral), and grapefruit (citrus). I also sell vouchers for haircuts.

2. What makes your products special?
I hand-make them myself, and as an experienced hairdresser I have a real understanding of what hair needs. Most of all, they smell good! My emphasis is on natural products, since I myself developed an allergy to PPD, a ingredient in hair dye, especially black dye.

3. What inspired you to get started?
Two things. Becoming allergic gave me an interest in creating my own products, and when I discovered the great one-day courses at Plush Folly in making your own toiletries, I twigged that I could really create the products myself. Finally I did one of their courses explaining the legal requirements of this type of business and got started. I started looking into hair oils. I did a trip to Morocco which really inspired me. I started experimenting, creating conditioners with natural plant oils but designed not to be too heavy.

4. Did you go to Morocco for argan oil?
I did try using argan oil, but made the mistake of buying the unrefined version, which smelt like a goat’s bottom! Apparently the oil is obtained by feeding the argan seeds to a goat, and processing what comes out the other end. It’s good but very expensive, and there are other excellent plant oils which I prefer.

5. The name and logo suggest you have a humorous side – how did you come up with them?
I was after a 1960s vintage style, and Hairy Jane rhymes with Mary Jane (shoes). It amuses people, so it’s memorable. I occasionally do a market stall and I always notice that people laugh when they see it. I used to be a graphic designer so I designed the logo myself. It’s strange how hard I found it when I first started hairdressing to deal with three dimensional heads after working so long in two dimensions!

6. What attracted you to get involved with Makerhood?
I was using sites like Etsy, and I really liked the idea of having a local version, and being able to check out what other creative locals are up to. I did the Makerhood pitching workshops last year and found them really helpful.

7. What do you like about living and working in Brixton?
It’s always changing, and so busy! I was brought up in Western Australia and I first heard of Brixton out there and wanted to live here ever since. I’ve been here since 1999, and I feel very at home here. I suspect a connection with past lives, perhaps ancestors, or something more spiritual – my surname is Rutland, and I found that name etched onto an old wall in Effra Road. I hope it keeps its character. I don’t think there are any other Brixtons in the world! It has its own individual style of energy, so many different cultures side by side, letting each other get on with it.

8. What’s your hot tip for a hidden pleasure or treasure in Brixton?
My favourite shop is the stationers hidden away above the Kingshield Pharmacy – I can spend hours in there!

Hairy Jayne’s handmade hair products are available at http://brixton.makerhood.com/hairy-jayne

Meet the makers: Juliet Carr

Top Makerhood seller Juliet Carr of Paperpoms UK muses on why her poms are so popular, and describes taking the leap of turning a hobby into a profession

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1. How did the idea of making paper poms start?
A friend was getting married and she asked me to get some table decorations for the wedding. So I went onto Google and saw some poms – I’d never come across them before. I found a tutorial by Martha Stewart, rushed off to Paperchase and bought a few packs of tissue paper. As soon as I opened up the first one I made I was hooked – it was such a beautiful, floaty item. So next day I bought some more tissue paper and started experimenting with different ways of folding and different numbers of layers.

2. And how did you start selling them?
A friend of my sister who’s a stylist saw some poms I’d made and asked if she could use them for a photo shoot. She couldn’t pay me but she gave me the professional shots in return. So I made some from newspaper and old dress patterns, all in black and white – and she kept asking for more. The photos looked really good – shop windows and fashion shoots – so I started buying tissue paper more cheaply on eBay, and set up a website. I also opened an Etsy store in February 2009, and later I joined Makerhood.

3. You are our top seller on Makerhood – why do you think this is?
That’s interesting. Although I’ve been on Etsy for longer, proportionally, more of my sales have come through Makerhood. I think my success has been down to timing – when I started, nobody else in the UK was selling poms – and also the professional photos and the work I’ve put into my website. I worked so hard at getting all the tags and search terms right – and a couple of weeks after I launched I came top in the Google search. And because poms are very popular for weddings, they’re seen by lots of people, so you get great exposure.

4. Why did you join Makerhood?
I love the whole idea of selling locally, and Makerhood has been great for that. I also have partnerships with local shops, like Beamish & McGlue [where this interview took place]. The shops love it, because they look good, and I get great exposure. For example, a photographer who works for Asda saw some of my poms in a hairdresser when he went in for a haircut and ordered £250-worth to use in a George brochure! South London Press picked up that story, and that was picked up by the BBC, which was seen by a Vogue stylist!

5. So you’re now a full-time maker?
Yes – I used to work for an events company, but when the poms started becoming more popular, my boss was very understanding and agreed that as long as I met all the deadlines I could work as and when it suited me. So if I had a big order for poms I’d spend most of one week making them, and work on events the following week. That allowed me to make the transition to full time production.

6. And now you employ other people as well?
My boyfriend, who’s a carpenter, works for me one day a week, or more if we have a big order. My friend Linda also works part-time and will take over when I have a baby in July. My role now is less making poms and more concentrating on developments like window displays. For example, we’ve been doing the window displays at Gap stores for the past four seasons. One year they wanted a tree with real branches and paper leaves for a Beatrix Potter display. We ended up in Brockwell Park sawing 3-metre branches off a fallen tree, cleaning off all the lichen and polishing them until they looked like something out of a Japanese emperor’s garden!

7. Finally, what’s your favourite local tip?
I love Beamish & McGlue. It’s a sunny place with a great atmosphere, nice energy, lovely owners and fantastic coffee and organic food.

You can buy Juliet’s floaty, ethereal paper poms at http://brixton.makerhood.com/paperpoms-uk

Meet the makers: Maya Kar

Rachel Stanners talks to Maya Kar of Bright Side, Dark Side about the inspiration behind her feathery fascinators and the changes she’s seen in Brixton

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1. How did you come up with the shop name Bright Side, Dark side?
I wanted to set up a shop on Makerhood, and Bright side, Dark side was initially intended as a project with my partner, because I love light and colour while he loves camouflage and shadows. He is amazing at making clothes but in the end he didn’t have the time to get involved. But I kept the name as it also reflected two sides to my own work at the time – bright flowery brooches and fascinators, and subtler items in natural materials such as feather, shell & semi-precious stones.

2. So how did you get into making accessories?
As you can see, this room is filled with of bits and bobs I have collected over the years: stained glass, mosaic, fabric, etc, reflecting my lifelong love of making things, so I was prompted into action when Makerhood started up, and particularly when the associated opportunity arose to have a stall at the Brixton Makers’ Market in Station Road. I had so many ideas and materials that I wasn’t sure where to start, but I’d recently bought a bunch of feathers to help a friend make earrings, so I began with those.

To my surprise I fell in love with the feathers and making accessories with them. I like that they are small and easier to handle than large items of clothing. I love creating every one of them. Each one is unique! I like them to be a bit theatrical, but not too formal – I prefer creating items with an asymmetrical, organic feel to them.

3. What inspires your work?
Exploring! For example, I travelled extensively in Asia and North and Central America. I volunteered at the Wolf Park in Indiana and travelled on to Colorado. I saw the Grand Canyon and the Valley of Fire. During those travels I was really inspired by Native American culture, but I also layer the fantasy image of the mythical wild west onto the accessories. But travelling is not the only form of exploring – I love history and volunteer at the British Museum, so I gain lots of inspiration from artefacts and legends from the past.

4. Why did you join Makerhood?
I used to house-share with Kristina, one of the founders of Makerhood, so I was around from the beginning. I took part in the user experience tests for the website and I thought it was a great opportunity to be involved locally with something positive and creative. Since I’ve been involved I have really enjoyed the physical meetups, the markets and the maker’s opportunities. It’s also fantastic how easy it has been to set up my own online shop!

5. You obviously are creative in a lot of different ways – have you got more ideas for Makerhood?
I plan to set up a second shop in Makerhood selling Brixton souvenirs that are humorous and a bit contentious! As well as the opposite – photos of places in Brixton that are unexpectedly beautiful! I have many which make Brixton look like a little country village.

6. You’ve lived in Brixton for almost half of your life. What do you love about living here?
I like that Brixton is eccentric and original, with a strong community feel. I find the types of people who are attracted to living here are often really interesting and unconventional. I’m proud of Brixton and I like that it has a bit of a bad reputation from the past but I am also really pleased it has changed. It feels a lot safer and happier than when I first moved in.

7. What are you favourite places in Brixton?
The quirky places like the Windmill and Brockwell Lido – I always feel like I’m on holiday when I go there! I’ve always loved the indoor market, even before it all changed – I used to take visitors there to see the giant snails in the African food shop and get a hit of its exotic feel. It had a wonderful feeling of stepping into another country. Last Valentine’s Day I went to Etta’s Seafood Kitchen with my boyfriend and we took a bottle of champagne to celebrate. It must have got shaken up in the journey because when we opened it sprayed everywhere! They’ve remembered me in there ever since!

You can see Maya’s delicate earrings and fascinators at http://brixton.makerhood.com/bright-side-dark-side

Meet the makers: Kim Winter

By Maya Kar

Kim is the creator of the eye-catching felts and indigo fabrics at Flextiles, as well as one of the three directors of Makerhood . Here she talks of the magical properties of felt and why she became involved in Makerhood.


1. What are Flextiles?
The name Flextiles reflects my flexible approach to the definition of textiles, as I use not just fabric but also paper, plastic and other unusual materials. At present I have two main strands to my work, wet felting and indigo dyeing. Wet felting feels an almost magical process… hot water, salt, and a lot of hard work transforms a light, fluffy substance into a very strong and durable but light fabric, with which I can create either two-dimensional  scarves or three-dimensional practical or sculptural items such as iPad covers and vessels. I particularly enjoy producing 3D work, as I am interested in form and texture. I use indigo to dye items such as silk scarves and also combine it with my love of wet-felting by using it to dye small felt vessels. These play on the tradition of blue and white porcelain and through this I feel there is a connection with my Chinese heritage.

2. How did your interest in textiles develop?
I used to be a journalist with Which?, and when I went freelance I had more time for
creative activities. I used to knit, and then I discovered a course in creative and experimental textiles at Morley College and I loved it! I still do one day a week there. Morley is a great college and the course is a combination of taught sessions and working on your own projects. It allows access to facilities which are beyond the reach of many makers. It also enables you to spend time with other makers, developing ideas, and there is an exhibition to work towards.

3. What are your sources of inspiration?
Almost anything! I can just be walking along and see a plastic sign, curling at the edges, or the colour of a flower … it has made me see things in a different light. I’m particularly inspired by forms from nature, but living in Brixton, I have to be open to other influences.

4. So why do you live in Brixton?
I moved to Brixton 25 years ago, initially because it was cheap and on the tube, but I loved
it here. Brixton doesn’t care what anyone thinks of it! It’s multicultural and has
good transport links, and there’s always something going on. Waves of people of different
cultures come in and out of the area, so it’s constantly changing, yet it also has a great sense of community.

5. How did you get involved in Makerhood, and what do you like about it?
I happened to take part in an online survey about the proposal, and thought it seemed a
good idea as I had recently started creating my textiles. So I offered to help out with
interviewing makers and writing blog posts. It kind of sucked me in – and now I do all sorts of things along with Kristina, Karen, Andy and our core team of volunteers! Makerhood is all about trying to create links: links between makers, between makers and local residents, between makers and local businesses. One of the unexpected but exciting results of the initiative is the strong physical (offline) community which has developed. The website provides a focus (eg for discussions, organising events etc) and a showcase, so the online side feeds into the offline. Since I got involved with Makerhood I have felt encouraged to go out and sell my work, and we have a stall at Brixton market. In the past I used to use Brixton as a place to sleep between going to work, but nowadays I often see people I know when I’m out and about here – it has really made me feel part of the community.

You can buy Kim’s unique experimental textile items including dramatic indigo-dyed silk
scarves and colourful felt vessels at http://brixton.makerhood.com/flextiles.

Meet the makers: Rachel Stanners

After a bit of a gap, we’re resuming our interviews with Makerhoodies. In this first one, Rachel tells us why she switched from set and costume design to printing with Prickle Press – and where to get great-value flowers in Brixton.

1. You studied set and costume design – so how did you end up making and selling prints?
In 2009 I was a year out of my MA in scenography for dance and was getting some odd bits of work as a designer while holding down a full-time job, but I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired by the work I was doing. At the time my partner was visiting from Australia and he bought a letterpress printer. Neither of us had done any printing before, but we loved it! Instead of being told what to do by other people, I could do exactly what I wanted. And it’s very tactile – I use sets of metal and wooden type, often really old. Some of the cards I have on Makerhood are made from vintage wooden type loaned from a shop called Mr Magpie in Brighton.

2. So you are now a professional printmaker?
Yes, I work from home, printing four days a week. Now we have a much bigger press, about 100 years old, made in the US. It’s a massive piece of equipment and weighs a ton – I’m worried about it falling through the ceiling into our living room below! Although I don’t have any formal training I’ve always done a lot of drawing, and I like to combine type and illustration. So I draw up designs, turn them into PDFs and then get them made into polymer plates for printing.

3. And how did the name of Prickle Press come about?
I wanted the name to be quite personal – something that meant something to me. Prickle is my partner’s nickname, because his surname is Burr. And Prickle Press rolls off the tongue nicely and is quite cute but with an edge – rather like my work! I like to create something that’s not too twee, that makes people think.

4. Why did you join Makerhood?
Last Christmas I did a market at the Living Room, and someone came round giving out flyers about it. So I looked it up but wasn’t sure how I could get involved at that stage. But then earlier this year I decided I wanted to meet more people in the area and get more of a sense of community, so I went to a volunteers’ meet-up. I really like the fact that Makerhood is creating a network of local artists and designers – working at home on your own can be quite isolating. And I can print bespoke business cards , so maybe I could also make new business contacts!

5. Do you feel isolated living in Brixton?
Not at all! I’ve lived here for five years, almost longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. I came back from Canada and my brother was living here, so I moved in with him and have no plans to leave. I think it takes a long time to feel at home in London, but I know where to find what I need here now. It’s changed a lot, but it’s quite exciting to see those changes.

6. So tell us about some of your favourite Brixton insider tips!
I’m a big fan of the flower stall outside Brixton tube – they sell the most affordable flowers I’ve found in London and always have some more unusual ones. And my favourite restaurant is Elephant in Brixton Village – the freshest, tastiest curry in London. If I could be guaranteed a seat I’d be there every Saturday evening!

You can buy Rachel’s  quirky, limited-edition letterpress prints at http://brixton.makerhood.com/prickle-press

Meet the makers: Viv Moriarty

Knitter, crocheter and embroiderer Viv Moriarty is fascinated by the link between thinking and doing – something that she puts to good use when teaching

1. How long have you been knitting and crocheting?
All the women in my family – my aunts, granny and mum – knitted and crocheted, so I’ve done it as long as I can remember. I was knitting even when it wasn’t trendy: I used to knit things for friends at school – remember those 1970s Patricia Roberts’ sweaters? My mum is 86 and still can’t sit in front of the telly without crocheting. We were great believers in the devil finding work for idle hands to do!

2. What about embroidery?
I made some dining chair covers in Florentine tapestry – it took me years. And then I found that they wear out in certain areas where people sit! I also did a Certificate of Technical Embroidery at the Royal College of Needlework – I’m currently working on the Diploma.

3. And now you teach textiles as well as teaching in your day job?
I did a PGCE after university and taught in a primary school for a while. I used to do felting with the children – it fulfils the science curriculum about changing materials! Now I teach practising teachers who are studying for MAs and PhDs – but I also teach knitting and crochet to residents of a residents’ association in Notting Hill.

4. The two types of teaching sound quite different!
Yes! There’s a lot of “brain work” with the MA and PhD students, and it’s very much about individual endeavour, working on a one-to-one basis. With the residents’ association, although they have their own knitting, crochet or embroidery, we are making squares for a blanket, so there is a collective outcome. I also have to be quite adaptable – for example, some people can’t hold a crochet hook because they’ve had a stroke or have Parkinson’s disease. But I really enjoy working with them – they are of the generation who appreciate how much time goes into making something by hand.

5. And you’ve run several workshops for Makerhood as well.
Doing workshops for Makerhood really helped develop my confidence. And talking to other makers has opened my mind to other techniques and possibilities, as well as widening my social skills. My day job doesn’t  involve talking to people about creative things like this!

6. What about selling your items at markets?
I started selling through Makerhood because I didn’t know what to do with all the stuff I make. I wasn’t quite sure they were good enough, but one of my friends was really encouraging and gave me confidence. So I do have a stall and I’d like to sell more – but I think I’m better at teaching!

7. And finally – would you like to share some Stockwell secrets with us?
There’s the house where Van Gogh used to live at 87 Hackford Road [currently up for auction on 27 March with a guide price of £475,000]. Di Lieto Bakery on South Island Place sells fantastic croissants. And Tony’s Greengrocers on Brixton Road is a great family business that sells very reasonably priced fruit and veg.

You can see Viv’s cute knitted toys, crocheted booties and elegant embroidered brooches at http://brixton.makerhood.com/viv-moriarty. One of Viv’s brooches is also featured in the March 2012 issue of Mollie Makes magazine.

Meet the makers: Chloe Morais

Chloe of Cheeky Suds makes bath and body treats, like soap in the shape of cupcakes, fried eggs and ice lollies, that could leave you foaming at the mouth!

1. You have a fascinating product range! What made you think of making soap shaped like doughnuts or coffee beans?
I buy most of my fragrance oils online, and you can get an amazing range these days – like birthday cake and banoffi pie! I made some soap for my brother that smells of freshly mown grass because he loves the smell. Chocolate is another favourite!

2. Do you have special facilities for making your products?
No – I use saucepans, a microwave and double boilers! It’s a challenge, as I don’t have space in my one-bedroom flat to hoard stuff, so most items I make to order.

3. What about safety and testing?
I have a cosmetics safety assessor who gives me lists of what ingredients I can use and in what combinations. If I stick to those I don’t need to test my products, but if I use other combinations I have to have them tested. I also have insurance just in case! I suffered from eczema when I was younger, so none of my products contain sodium lauryl sulphate, which is a mild irritant. I use everything I make myself, so I know they’re good for sensitive skin.

4. Do you have a background in chemistry?
No – my career has been in criminal justice, first as a prison officer, then in the probation service and youth justice! But then my contract ended, the public sector cuts came in and I thought I should do something else. I’ve always loved cosmetics, and I get bored easily, so this is ideal for me – I can experiment with different fragrances and ideas.

5. So you don’t get bored living in Brixton?
I’m originally from Manchester – I moved to London 14 years ago. In that time I’ve moved house 10 times – but I’ve lived in Brixton for the past eight years. Considering I get bored easily, there must be something about it that keeps me here! London is more multicultural and has a huge variety of restaurants. Whenever my brother comes to visit we try to go a different nationality restaurant.

6. Can you recommend some of the places you’ve tried?
The Gold Coast in South Norwood does good Ghanaian food and service. Bar Estrela, the Portuguese café on South Lambeth Road, does great mussels and paella. And I also like Asmara, the Eritrean restaurant on Coldharbour Lane. I love food. When I set up my own business I did think about baking rather than making cosmetics. And even now, when I see people selling food I feel a bit jealous!

7. And why did you join Makerhood?
My neighbour told me about it and asked whether I had any stuff on the site. I think it’s great for people to be aware that I’m in the local area, even if I don’t get many sales. And it’s good for finding out information – I was gutted when I was too late to get tickets for the local makers’ forum.

You can order Chloe’s gorgeous bath and cosmetic treats at http://brixton.makerhood.com/cheeky-suds

Meet the makers: Bronwyn Wolfe

Why did Bron come to London from Australia? So she could go to Paris for the weekend! Bron tells us about her love of travel, Brixton – and selling cakes and biscuits on her Wolfe market stall.

1. Like many Australians, you like to travel. How did you end up in London?
I came over here in 1985 because I wanted to go to Paris for the weekend! In Australia you’re so isolated – it takes so long to get anywhere. So I loved the idea that I could live in London and be somewhere with different architecture and language in such a short hop. I bought a one-way ticket to London and stayed with a friend – we’d go to Paris, stay in a cheap hotel, and spend a shedload on earrings!

2. So would you rather live in France?
We used to have a house in south-west France, but we sold it a couple of months ago. And I haven’t been to Paris for years! But I love London. No matter what you’re interested in, you can find it here – you just need to look for it.

3. And have you always lived in this area around Brixton?
Yes – I find Brixton endlessly fascinating, endlessly changing and evolving. This Friday food market [on Station Road, where this interview took place] is just part of that. The shopping is amazing – like all those shops on Electric Avenue where you can buy 2kg bags of cinnamon!

4. So how do you find being a market trader?
I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I’m really enjoying it. Having a market stall seems to give you a licence to talk to anyone and everyone! It’s a really nice group of people here. But if you’d told me a year ago I’d be a stallholder at Brixton market I’d never have believed you!

5. Because your ambition is to open a café?
Yes – I gave up my job at a shipping company to do this. I really hated the job, and I thought the worst that could happen would be that the café would fail. I never thought it would never take off in the first place! I’ve had problems finding a site – most of the places never come onto the market, and those that do have a hefty premium. But I’m still looking!

6. Is that why you joined Makerhood instead?
I got the email about Makerhood and joined up, thinking it could be a small income, though I never thought I’d sell much directly, as it can be difficult to sell cakes online. But it was through Makerhood that I heard about this market and got this stall, and now I’m selling to a couple of café s, so hopefully it will build up. And Makerhood has been really good for meeting people and making good contacts. It’s nice to have a web of other local makers to interact with.

7. Apart from finding a suitable site, what’s the biggest challenge you face?
My biggest worry is making the right quantities of food to sell. Some of the stuff that’s left over goes to an old people’s home for their tea on Sundays, and my partner Giles takes some to work on Monday morning – he’s currently the most popular person in the office!

You can order Bron’s yummy savoury muffins, cakes and biscuits at http://brixton.makerhood.com/wolfe. She also has a stall at the weekly Friday food market and the monthly makers’ market (second Saturday of the month), both on Station Road, Brixton.

Meet the makers: Elena Blanco

Elena Blanco of Dreamy Me Brixton waxes lyrical about her love of drawing and tells us why Brixton reminds her of Barcelona

1. Can you tell us a bit about your Spanish background?
I’m originally from Santander, but I moved to Barcelona when I was young and grew up there. Because of the different languages and strong regionalism in Spain it was like moving to another country. So I’ve always felt a bit rootless – always a foreigner!

2. Is that why you ended up in London?
I came to London 11 years ago to be with my British boyfriend – we now have children! I love London for its open multiculturalness. In Brixton especially, people are open to new things, like the Brixton pound – but you can still see the old Brixton in some of the market stalls. I also love Windrush Square since it was rebuilt – it reminds me of Barcelona!

3. You say in your profile that you draw every day. What is it about drawing that appeals to you?
Drawing is how I understand and communicate things best. It’s an emotional relationship – drawing something somehow makes it mine. It’s a journey of exploration, not just a means of producing something. It’s the same for many artists. I make a point of not carrying a camera, but taking my sketchbook everywhere. I remember trying to draw a giraffe at the zoo while everyone else around me was taking photos!

4. What do you like drawing best?
I like drawing everyday objects, trying to see them in a different way. I also love drawing people, but it can be embarrassing to do it in public! I think I would like to organise a drawing class or club for Makerhood, where we can sit and draw things without embarrassment. Many people say they can’t draw – I would love to help them get over that.

5. So what drew you to illustrating children’s books?
I read books to my kids when they were little, and it took me back to my childhood, so I started to draw. I took a short course on children’s illustrations at City Lit, which gave me lots of ideas. I love the freedom of illustrating kids’ books – you can put in whatever you want! And now I have three picture book projects that I am thinking of publishing as artist’s books, similar to my concertina artist’s colouring books. I’m also working on an ebook of The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, which could be quite interactive – you touch a flower on the screen and it opens up.

6. How did you get involved with Makerhood?
I heard about Makerhood through Locally Sourced, had a look at the website and went to one of the initial meetings. I was excited by the idea of selling, but the main attraction for me is the community – meeting people, attending workshops, learning about different events, setting up a drawing club! It’s a great, great idea, and I’ve met some interesting and very different people.

7. Finally, what’s your favourite place or experience around here?
I love Brockwell Park – the hill, the café, the walled garden. It inspires me a lot, as you can see from some of my illustrations!

You can see Elena’s illustrations of Brockwell Park and other subjects, as well as her popular colouring books, at http://brixton.makerhood.com/dreamy-me-brixton