Apologies for lack of blogging, been slightly caught up in a few things! We had our our Artists and Crafters Fair not long ago, 50 stalls of handmade gorgeous work from local makers with customers really impressed that it was a real craft fair and not just a bunch of re-sellers and the standard this year was amazing! One lady I talk to on facebook reckoned they all took evening wear to change into, will have to check on that one.
The other reason for being a tad busy is that we're plotting again - and this time it's on creating a co-operative of artists and makers. Coming from a community worker background it was always the intention of the Hippos that we were more than just a shop, more than just craft fairs and it looks like it might just come off. We've held down 18 months of trading, not got much left in the bank but we are in the black and we are growing. The shop was never intended to make a profit for anyone, it was only ever intended to cover it's costs which it is doing. So far we've managed to offer over 150 local makers the chance to sell through us and some have done reallly well while others had the chance to experience and learn what it's like to turn yourself self employed through your craft. So it's all good stuff, and the people and friends that have come along is just lovely. For me that's what it's really about, creating a family of makers that want to be part of something bigger and not just in it for themselves. Sure, we all need to eat, we all need to pay the gas bill but none of us can work in isolation or grow without external support. You might do well for a season but can you sustain that? Can you take it up a notch and keep growing? The simple answer is that without others to bounce ideas with you might struggle - some manage it really well, but for the most part that group collaboration and sense of family is something they value as do we.
So, our next cunning plan! We've been in discussions with a very nice builder who has a rather large property that we could turn into small studio spaces, galleries, teaching workshops, cafe, bar and have the space to really put into action all the plans that have been bubbling away in the background but not got the space to at the minute. We love where the shop is in Shropshire and aim to stay there for retail but it just doesn't allow us to expand as we keep being asked to. We know so many artists wanting studio space, or wanting a space to come and learn something new or have offered to teach it. We know loads of fabulous foodie artisans that could support a co-operative style cafe and we could all munch around the world with their varied backgrounds - the idea of Latvian cakes is always a winner for me (thank you Sandija!), but then you all know I can be bribed with cake :)
Now the harder part, we have to go through the legal process. We have to come up with 3 years of figures for cashflow projection eek! And the name .... am having a little trouble with the founder members as they keep trying to call it Bloaters which is the collective name for Hippos, hmm not sure that's going to quite work somehow. I can see that board meetings are not going to be your traditional suits and notepads, more a bun fight of giggling as they try and convince me that Bloaters is the way to go. However, that said, that's all part of the fun; it's all part of how we want to work in the future and how we hope it will grow. There's plenty of sensible meetings I'm going to have to go along to and it's nice to be able to say 'Bloaters' and giggle to myself while dozing off to droning about sensible things!