Handmade in Britain was set up by Piyush Suri in 2007 with a vision to promote independent British designers and craftspeople. 13 years on, Handmade in Britain has grown from strength to strength.
We have partnered with world renowned organisations such as Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Edinburgh, and Waterperry Gardens, Oxford to curate, organise and execute international craft festivals, which has provided new market opportunities for British Craftspeople to sell and promote their work to new audiences.
Workshops and business mentoring are also key to our mission to support the craft communities. To this end, we provide a comprehensive support programme for new crafts businesses. This support is provided in terms of financial support and free business development workshops on how to participate and sell in a craft fair, with a focus on pricing, marketing and selling.
As a way to ensure Handmade in Britain is able to grow and evolve alongside the rapid change in technology and consumer behaviour within the craft sector, we launched our online shopping platform in 2019. Since its launch, our online shopping platform has provided artists access to international customers far beyond local craft fair networks. This drive to support British artists and elevate their craft to a global audience is what is at the heart of our company.
2020 has been the hardest year yet for all involved in the craft sector. COVID-19 has impacted the livelihoods of many in the sector and has seen both businesses and craftspeople forced to cancel and postpone lucrative events. However, this pandemic has pushed us all to think differently.
Since April 2020, we at Handmade in Britain have been developing Handmade Interact, an online platform that allows artists and customers to stay connected through interactive online workshops and live question and answer sessions. With changing customer needs, and consumer behaviour tilting towards on-demand access and convenience for all products & services, we see this as a huge opportunity for artists even once the pandemic is over.
Handmade Interact allowed us to launch Handmade Chelsea Online, our very first interactive virtual craft fair. The virtual fair featured over 60 UK-based artists, 40+ interactive workshops, demonstrations, and live question and answer sessions streamed straight from artists’ studios, 2500+ products to shop, and an online chat forum, all within one dedicated online platform. From 10 – 15 November 2020, over unique 15000 visitors from all over the world visited the virtual fair and were able to shop directly from our artists. We, as a company, are proud to have been able to provide artists with the opportunity to continue to sell in spite of the devastating pandemic.
The use of new technology has influenced our future strategy. Through interactive virtual craft fairs and e-commerce marketplaces, we are focusing on digital strategies to diversify our business. In the short and mid term, this will help us sustain and cope with the challenges posed by this pandemic.
Post Covid-19, our work to support marginalised groups will be extremely important. We are now focussing on supporting craftspeople, particularly D/deaf and disabled people, those from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds, women, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and young people at the beginning of their careers, to diversify their routes to market. We will offer more support to these groups at our craft fairs with financial support and free business mentoring workshops to encourage them to restart their business activities and market their work.
We aim to create long term economic value for society, with our main objectives being to promote British crafts and to reduce operational costs for craftspeople.
Our goal is to deliver informative, interactive and free-access content both for people interested in craft or learning new skills, and to build a bigger craft community in the UK.
Whatever the future holds for the UK craft sector, we are positive that we will continue to find innovative ways to elevate handmade British craft to a global audience.