A popular Stroud shop is celebrating a business milestone.
Today, December 1st, marks 23 years since Made In Stroud started trading in Kendrick Street.
Owner Clare Honeyfield recalls the day she spotted the empty building, she explained: “I’d been walking along Kendrick Street and noticed a To Let sign in the window. At the time I had a desk in the Stroud Valleys Project office who’d been helping me with the farmers’ market.”
Clare had been organising the farmers’ market for a couple of years and it had gone from monthly, with 25 stalls in the market place, to twice monthly with stalls on the street.
Clare added: “The makers had been asking me for some years, since I first started the Made In Stroud craft markets, to open a shop for them but we had four young children and I hadn’t felt ready. I also didn’t feel standing behind a counter was really me.”
Clare saw the empty building, with stained glass panels and plain white walls, and felt it could house an office and a shop.
She said: “I got in touch with the agent, met with the landlord and struck a deal for the rent. He told me they were looking for an ethical retailer.
“We had two weeks from signing the lease to opening. I wrote by hand to all the makers I knew and 20 of them turned up on the day of opening, with their work to exhibit and former mayor John Marjoram officially opened the shop.
“My parents very kindly lent us £500, as the bank had refused us a loan saying the council should fund the project as it wasn’t commercial, and the council had said I should get a bank loan as it was a commercial venture. We bought a second hand till, painted the mismatched floor boards as our budget didn’t stretch to new flooring, got a counter and a desk built, bought some Ikea shelving and moved in. Gerb (Gerbrands) ran the shop and I ran the office – a farmers’ market information point.
“That first Christmas all the sales were recorded by hand writing each one in a book, we had no packaging and no branding.
“The shop went on to become a makers co-operative for seven years, then a Community Interest Company, taking over the whole shop when the farmers market business expanded and needed larger premises.”
The shop has many environmental policies, and uses only renewable energy from Ecotricity, only paper bags, and does not allow the use of palm oil in its beauty products or soaps, many of which are vegan and all of which are hand made and animal friendly.
The Made in Stroud has become the most awarded gift shop in the county, and a model for many similar shops around the UK, now selling the work of around 135 makers. Clare’s son Ry Gerbrands joined the business five years ago, bringing a wealth of knowledge and a new dimension to the business.
Clare added: “I had to change a lot about myself to be part of making the shop the success it is today. Tony Robbins says that running a business is a spiritual experience and I agree with this. Personal development has played a huge role in my success and I could not have done this without the support of mentors and coaches.”
Clare has since trained as a high performance coach, helping women business owners to live fulfilling lives which align with their own values whilst building a successful enterprise.
Ry helps artisans and independent retailers to redesign their websites and manage their social media to engage with the community and build their brand.
The shop is about the hand-made, about skills and dedication to craft, about community and fair trade and working towards a better future for people and the planet.
Artisans Noemi Gregoire and Patrick “Fish” are designing and building a Christmas window ready for Goodwill Evening, and new products will be appearing on the shelves daily.
The shop is celebrating their 23rd anniversary with late opening on Stroud Goodwill Evening, tasters from Jacquie of Beau’s Bakery who will be launching her rather tipsy vegan and vegetarian Christmas cakes, some surprise guests throughout the day and the usual warm welcome and an even bigger range of hand-made gifts.
There will be taster days throughout December showcasing local food and drink, a ‘build your own hamper’ scheme and the shop is now open seven days a week until Christmas.