This August 2017, Emergents awarded Shetland based designer Mary Macgregor (who runs a Fair Isle knitwear business called BAKKA) a Go and See bursary to attend the Craft Scotland Summer Show and Selvedge Fair in Edinburgh. Read below a report of her time at both events. Find out more about BAKKA here: www.bakkaknitwear.com
The Craft Scotland Summer Show is an annual selling exhibition, held for 4 weeks in August during the Edinburgh Festival, on the second floor of White Stuff, George Street. It showcases contemporary design-led craft, and is well visited by both locals and tourists. I applied to be part of this event in January, when my website had only been launched for 2 months. I was therefore delighted to be accepted as one of the makers.
One of the commitments of each maker is to assure a presence for one day of the show, to talk to visitors about their work, and hopefully to be able to talk a little about every one else’s work too! The cost of attending was going to be expensive from Shetland, so I applied for and was awarded ‘Go and See’ Bursary funding to help.
Craft Scotland were very helpful given the distance that I had to travel, and arranged that the day when I had to be present was the first of the show. This meant that I could attend the Private View the evening before and then be present for the next day. And in fact, I enjoyed my time so much on the first day that I returned for some of the second day too.
The Private View took place on Thursday 3rd August and was well attended. I knew nobody, so every conversation was one of discovery. There were obviously often excellent networking opportunities. And I had a chance to meet most of the other makers exhibiting, and to discuss their work and techniques. You have to be out-going at these events, it does take an effort, but it’s rewarding.
On Friday 4th I talked to interested visitors and explained the aim and ambitions of BAKKA. I was delighted to find that some realised what I was doing without my having to explain! There was also a workshop being help in the space, on crafting a bespoke silver ring all of your own with CARVE, and I loved seeing the wonderful creations that resulted.
As for the Show itself, it was a well chosen mix of disciplines: homewares, textiles both woven and knitted, jewellry, furniture. Craft Scotland had arranged the space so that the ceramics were mostly on tables in the middle of the room, with jewellry and textiles around the walls making maximum use of existing shelving, and Hame’s original furniture in a corner.
The exposure that all the makers received from this Show is unmeasurable, but given the footfall, it certainly does contribute enormously to “getting the word out” about your business.
I recommend that all Scottish craft makers think about applying to be part of this event, it really is worthwhile. Thank you Emergents Creatives for your support.
Visit Craft Scotland’s website www.craftscotland.org for more information.
Polly Leonard, editor of Selvedge Magazine, invited me to be part of the first ever Selvedge Fair to be held in Edinburgh when BAKKA had been launched for only 4 months. Polly had apparently been one of the judges for an event that I had applied for, and so she had seen my work. I had never heard of Selvedge Magazine, so Polly sent me a copy of the current issue, and I was delighted with what I discovered. It is a beautifully planned magazine, full of very interesting and original articles, and loads of unusual snippets. So I applied for a stand, and was of course accepted.
The Fair was held on 19th August on the balcony of the Dovecot Studios, a venue renowned for its tapestries. The building used to house the Infirmary Street baths, Edinburgh’s swimming pool before the Commonwealth Pool was built. The tapestry studio is in the middle where the swimming pool once was, and the balcony which is about 3.5m deep runs right round the outside and looks down onto the tapestry studio below. It is a lovely space for events. All the makers could see each other: it was open and airy, but cosy at the same time.
The opening hours were 11am-5pm. We were allowed to set-up for a couple of hours the evening before, and again on the day before opening, so there was plenty of time to be organised.
BAKKA was busy, often swamped, from the opening of the doors until sometime after 4pm when it started to thin out. I talked non-stop, telling the story behind BAKKA, what I am trying to achieve and why. Fortunately I had a young friend helping who seconded me and manned the till. We gave out around 300 business cards, mostly to locals, and were fortunate to sell enough to cover the effort of attending. This was a textile fair (although there were a couple of non-textile makers boosting numbers) and many of the visitors were textile oriented, and so could easily relate to the makers. Compliments, encouragement: it was very positive feedback. I hope to see much of the interest generated at the Fair converted to sales either through the website in the months to come, or at Handmade in Britain, Edinburgh at the end of October where BAKKA has a stand.
It was also a fantastic opportunity to gather market research information; to ask the visitors what they thought, what they would like to see. The information that I gleaned, suggestions of new directions and products, is extremely useful, and stored away for potential future use.
I can recommend this Fair to any hand-crafted textile maker, small or large.
Thank you Emergents Creatives for your support.
For more information about Selvedge Magazine, visit www.selvedge.org.
Mary Macgregor, August 2017