As part of raising money for our graduate fashion week we were lucky enough to be offered a pop-up retail space in Dukes Lane, Brighton. To contribute I hosted a stitch ‘n’ bitch workshop where individuals of the Brighton community were invited to pick up their knitting needles and start knitting. I found the event was extremely insightful and interesting as it brought together a handful of individuals from all walks of life, giving those who turned up a space to relax and socialize. My grandmother came along to join in and act as moral support. When asking her if she had enjoyed it she said that she had a lovely time, explaining that it was lovely to do something different and talk to new people. She got to meet my uni friends and socialize with others who turned up. What was interesting was the fact we all started talking about knitting, learning how everyone learnt to knit and the different styles of casting on and knit styles people knew, something that I will be taking with me within my knitting experiments. Conversation then flowed into the sustainability issues of the fashion world, highlighting the importance of valuing your clothing. My tutor, Emma, turned up. I took this opportunity to talk to her about my campaign where she helped me to come to a clear message of what I want to spread within all aspects of my campaign, and, as we were talking in front of those who turned up to the workshop they all helped me to come to a conclusion as to where my project will be leading to next. Due to the fact that I have been very stressed whilst completing my final year I have struggled to make a decision and stick to it, however, as I was knitting whilst talking to Emma and the rest of the table about my project I was very calm, the knitting allowed me to think and talk clearly, thus, allowing me to insistently feel less stressed, reducing the dread and confusion I had for my research.
I explained that I already had looked into austerity, the capabilities of craft and the hand and how I was going to start looking at the mindfulness of the craft, as well as, how the craft brings communities together. Also, I explained that I wanted to inspire the use of craft to make and mend clothing, which allows those to value their clothing due to the personal attachment to the garment, instead of throwing the garment away to replace with another mass-produced product which adds to the sustainability issues surrounding the fashion industry at the moment. Effectively I wanted to re-brand the idea of knitting, showing individuals the fun of knitting and making it in the next craze, instead of thinking it’s a dated pass-time, something that your nan would do. Emma suggested that I look into the 14-17 year old market as lately many schools have been marching to raise awareness of environmental issues. Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, is at the forefront of this fast-growing market and has even been nominated for a noble peace prize for her efforts. I will be looking further into this in the next section of my research.
The overall experience of setting up and running this workshop week was interesting as it gave me a valuable insight as to how best to set up a retail space. This included fire health and safety training, a risk assessment and briefing regarding the do’s and don’ts of the retail space. All of these things are extremely important when running a space like this as the safety of the shop and the people in it is fundamental to the smooth running of each event. It also opened my eyes to the amount of work needed to be put in to run a space like that but also that marketing is key to getting an audience. As we were rushed for time we were unable to have the time to market as much as we would have liked, thus, strongly relying on social media platforms. The shop itself was tucked away in Dukes Lane and from the outside looked a bit dark, in hindsight, we needed a big board outside that advertised the events in big writing. From the outside the shop did not look friendly or bright and as the weather was miserable people were not walking past which resulted in a small footfall for our events. All in all, we raised £120 which is not as much as we were hoping, however, we are extremely appreciative of everyone’s generous donations and to Dukes Lane for kindly allowing us to use the space.