Makers Corner: Alisha Lestrade

As a self taught sewer Alisha made her first dolls for her niece’s because they wanted dolls that looked like them, with skin colour and hairstyles like theirs, but couldn’t find anything similar in shops or online.

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She wanted to give making dolls a chance so headed to her favourite local market, Camden Lock, fitting in perfectly with its diverse and multicultural offering. Alisha opened Sugacandipop as a pop up shop in the Dingwalls Gallery area, next door to the Lower Market Hall in August 2012.

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Alisha made her dolls onsite and sold them 7 days a week and, with a lot of  help from her sister and a good friend, the shop soon became part of the tight community of market traders.

Initially only booked for a 2 weekk run, the Sugacandipop Pop-up Shop was so well received that it stayed open until December 2013.

It only closed when Alisha was due to have a baby starting a family of her own.

Her professional background is in childcare and playwork, specialising in crafts and she has worked with children for 15 years.

She has relaunched her diverse doll making business under a new name Thimble & Doll ready for Christmas 2017. The dolls are still designed, drawn, cut and stitched by hand by the lady herself.

 In 2012 she started with 5 skin tones but has now doubled this to 10! You can buy a selection of pre made dolls from Alisha’s online shop or make a bespoke order for you own doll. There are currently 4 styles of doll available and different sizes to choose from, with lots of customising options for that really personal touch.

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 “Diversity is a core value of my business and is important because representation matters. We don’t all look the same, we come in all different colours, so dolls should too!” – Alisha, Founder

Find Alisha and her amazing dolls on 4 May at The Beehive Pub (http://beehiven17.com/), Stoneleigh Road, N17 9BQ at our May Makers Market.

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Makers Corner: Bee Veronica Moore

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Once again, we have been catching up the talented members of the Crafty North Londoner Etsy Team who will be showcasing their handmade items at Etsy Made Local Tottenham on December 1st & 2nd 2018.

Today we have the pleasure of introducing the creative genius, Bee who heads up Witty Ditty Designs.

Who is Witty Ditty Designs? 

Witty Ditty Designs is a North London based company founded by myself, designer, creative writer and illustrator, Bee Veronica Moore.

I write children’s poetry and rhyme, which I illustrate and then print onto 100% cotton fabrics. From these fabrics I create children’s handmade soft furnishings. My aim is to encourage kids to have fun while learning to read – any time, anywhere.

We’ve discovered on our journey that grown-ups love Witty Ditty’s unique products too and Witty’s now has a range of unique homeware designs for the whole family.

Witty Ditty also believe strongly that in this multicultural world we live in, all children should see themselves reflected all around them, so we try hard to ensure our all our products do just that.

What inspired you to became a maker and please describe the making/designing process?

The idea for this unusual way of displaying my fun poetry for kids came about while I was a volunteer reading mentor at a local primary school where, for three years, I helped young children learn to read and in turn helped boost their confidence. 

Some of the kids had a difficult relationship with books and I soon realised that books were not always the best way for some of them and to enjoy reading. We were encouraged to pick ‘other’ things the kids loved reading such as comics, puzzles and quizzes, fan magazines, art and drawing. Using familiar reading materials made learning more natural and fun.

And so the seeds for my idea began to grow.

My experience of helping children learn to read, my love of designing, writing and illustrating fun characters; all combined to create a fun new company. With our quality, handmade poetry-covered cushions, duvet covers, placemats and more, Witty Ditty’s mission is to make learning to read as easy and as natural as possible.

Can you tell us what is it like owning your own business and like many, juggling multiple jobs?

It’s hard work, but I love it! I work from home and from a shared studio space where I can work on ideas, write rhymes, do sketches and make samples. I’m a busy mum and still work as a freelance graphic designer as well.

I love being a mum to my bubbly, creative three-year-old son and a step mum to my husband’s lovely nine-year-old boy. They both love superhero’s so Witty Ditty’s Everything A Boy Needs To Be A Superhero duvet cover for families of colour, is based roughly on them!

Thank you, Bee for sharing your story with us. Might you have some words of wisdom to inspire the makers/designers out there reading this?

If you have a creative skill you enjoy and want to become a designer/maker – go for it! Don’t let having kids, pets, a hectic home life or other commitments stop you.

It’s surprising just how many supportive people and groups there are out there in the business community, who are ready and willing to help you get started.

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Etsy.com

June 23rd TGGT Summer Makers Market & Garden Party!!!

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Preparations are well underway and boy do we have  great lineup instore for you!

Our designers and makers have been handpicked especially for you. They exhibit nothing short of perfection and you will not be disappointed. The products range from home decoration, clothing, knitware, jewellery, accessories, stationery and so much more.

We are delighted to announce two workshops, arm knitting by I MAKE KNOTS and geometric necklaces by Pink Mushroom Designs.

Bouncy castle, music, food and drink and most importantly, YOU, our community member.

This is an event for all, including our furry friends. Please do come along and say hi to old friends and new friends because let’s face it, our Tottenham community is pretty darn awesome, as it’s always been!

So, where will our get together take place? Funny you should ask! Nestled in the heart of North London, with excellent transport links and only 9 minutes on foot from White Hart Lane and 13 minutes from Bruce Grove Overground Stations, the market will be held in the prestigious Green Flag Award winner, Bruce Castle Park (The Pavilion- next to the tennis courts).

We look forward to seeing you!

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Photo credit: Hazel Brown, Discovering Tottenham

Application form here!.

Makers Corner: Victoria Tojeiro of Victoria Draws

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WHO IS THE LADY BEHIND THE ILLUSTRATIONS? 

Hi. I am Victoria Tojeiro of VictoriaDraws.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR DESIGN PROCESS, OR WHERE YOU TAKE YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?

Since I’ve been old enough to hold a pencil I’ve drawn. My infant sketchbooks are full of horses, unicorns, fish and even the odd princess, as well as scraps of stories inspired by my favourite books. I remember announcing to the family that when I grew up I wanted to “write stories and draw the pictures.” Bar the princesses and unicorns, my current sketchbooks aren’t too different, filled with sketches and stories of animals doing silly things.
My ambition remains the same, but having no formal art qualifications, I found myself floundering a couple of years ago and so started VictoriaDraws as a way to showcase my illustrations and to give me a sense of drive.
I’ve found the experience surprising, frustrating and totally exhilarating. I realise that I really enjoy creating artwork for people’s homes, and since starting the business, I have even been asked to design wedding invitations and create pet portraits; things I never would have seen myself doing a few years ago. My confidence has had a massive boost, and I find myself more energised and more determined than ever.
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WHAT IS IT LIKE OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND JUGGLING LIFE?

I work full time as a primary school teacher so there is a lot of juggling that goes on in my life! During the week I tend to stick to creating content for social media and my blog, as well as sketching out new ideas on the commute. I save the real work for the weekends and holidays, where I can be mostly found in our box room either painting or frowning at photoshop. I paint everything by hand, and then clean things up on photoshop, which I’ve had to teach myself to do but I’m getting there!

THANK YOU, VICTORIA, FOR TELLING US ABOUT YOURSELF. CAN YOU IMPART WORDS OF WISDOM TO INSPIRE THOSE STARTING OUT?

One of my favourite quotes (which appears as a print and is the feature image on this post- I love it so much!) is by Maya Angelou, and I find it in equal parts inspiring and also a motto to live by; “Nothing will work unless you do.”
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Makers Corner: Tamika Johnston of Afro-Puff Ltd

Screenshot_20171108-012638_1Who is Afro-Puff Ltd?

Afro-puff Ltd is a UK based African inspired children’s clothing line which captures the beauty of African printed fabrics. My handmade range brings together the vibrancy of African textiles with unique playful elements and meticulous craftsmanship.

What inspired you to become a maker?

I have always loved to sew and have very early memories of having great fun making clothes for my dolls when I was little. I studied pattern-cutting for a while and then gave up the course to do a more professional degree. Whilst I don’t believe you should have regrets because everything in life happens for a reason, I can acknowledge that I always missed having a creative element in my life.

I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment I decided make children’s clothing because I feel as if the idea had been in my mind for a long time without me even being conscious of it. I wouldn’t say I’m a procrastinator, but I do have it in me to put things off until all the conditions are perfect! The decision to use African fabric was inevitable, I had always been in awe of wax print, the colours, the textures the significance of it, was a pull I couldn’t resist.

About a year ago, we had a death in the family and at the funeral, I learned about all the things this person had achieved and experienced by the time they were my age and it was just like a switch for me; stop pussy-footing around and just get on with it Tamika!
Within a few weeks, I had registered my company, made some clothes and put them on Etsy! From then on, I have just continued to make clothes and I’ve been enjoying every moment of it.

I find the making process relaxing. I put some music on and I’m in my element.

How is it owning your own business and juggling life?

Owning my own business is exhilarating, scary and fun. I have a full-time job and two children so at times it’s a bit manic. Let’s just say there’s always frozen pizza in the fridge so the family won’t starve when the muse takes me!

Thanks you very and do you have any parting word?

My favourite words of wisdom are by Susan Jeffers, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”

Sometimes we are our own worst critic and when we put ourselves out there and succeed, the rewards are amazing.

Afro-Puff Ltd

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