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Exeter Cultural Partnership: Mattie’s Speech

Mattie was recently asked to give a talk at the Exeter Cultural Partnership conference in Exeter Cathedral, an event exploring the City’s cultural offering and the issues surrounding it. We thought we’d share with you her speech here, a very honest account of her personal experience of running an indie business for the last 14 years. Enjoy!

Partnerships for Enterprise: My Experience

One of the hardest things about running an independent business is when the customer that comes into your beautifully curated shop complains that you’re not on the High Street (let alone that they’ve had to walk up a hill or encountered a wobbly pavement) as they do to get to the wonderful independent traders of Fore Street.

I always want to say to them that the businesses that aren’t on the High Street are the ones worth stumbling over a pavement for (this isn’t to say that I’m not obsessed with the getting the pavements of Fore Street mended). We’re the businesses that keep corners, old buildings and back streets of cities thriving. We’re the reason that the city centre is bustling. Independent businesses bring something to the city that it has chosen to trade in, that no other city has. We bring jobs for local people, are here for the people of the city 9-5, 6 or 7 days of the week and are often the first to highlight any problems within the community.

For me, this is why Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is so important to Exeter – it’s also very similar to the role Culture plays in the city. The unique mix of business, culture, heritage, sport and education is what makes this city what it is, and keeps it developing and thriving.

I believe that in the Life of a City, every sector has its responsibilities and part to play in bringing all the pieces together. I want to live and work in a thriving, strong, exciting city, and I believe Exeter is well on its way to fulfilling its potential.

It can be hard for business to understand that everything else that goes on in the city centre has an impact on their sales and footfall. When you’re running a business, often alone with few staff, feeling like you have no support and cash flow nightmares, it’s very easy to put your head down and work your hardest on what you’re passionate about. I really believe that we, the independent business community, all need to look up. (We also need lower business rates, better city wide street signage and more support, but that’s a different talk!)

My teenage years where spent in a city that knows how to celebrate its indies, I often use the example of Brighton to show people where my passion comes from, it can be done! When you think of Brighton, do you think of the massive shopping centre, do you even know the name? Or do you think of the Lanes, and probably the Pier! Brighton celebrates its differences and diversity to give it its unique selling point. It’s a great example for Exeter.

My experience of enterprise and culture in Exeter is that we haven’t managed that much collaboration. Whether that’s because of the time constraints from both the business and culture perspectives, or the lack of money to make ideas actually happen. I really hope and believe that through work with Exeter’s BID we can start making ideas come to life, because we have a team with the resources to be able to make things happen, who are business focused but understand that a vibrant cultural life in the city will aid footfall, customer retention and hopefully spend!

I really hoped that the Exeter Trails project would lead to the independent businesses of Exeter having a singular, strong voice with which to communicate with the rest of the city. But the work it takes to keep 100 businesses involved, happy and attentive has proved too much without a dedicated, full-time team.

It can be very frustrating watching all the exciting events in Exeter happen up in Bedford Square, even ones that would be much better suited to being in an indie area of the city. There are, obviously, exceptions, the very wonderful Animated Exeter show on the buildings on Fore Street was woefully attended but was one of the best things I’ve seen in the city. We are lucky enough to have the Bike Shed Theatre at the top of Fore Street, a brilliant example of using a building inventively, and giving Fore Street a much better night time reputation. The amazing reaction to the loss of the West Gate Mural at the bottom of New Bridge Street shows how much the community values its artworks, and we’re trying to work our way towards having a mural in that position again.

My question to you is what is the way forward for collaboration between business and culture? One that gives us all the outcome that we need to carry on performing, creating and developing our businesses, ideas and city.

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How to: Chunky Crystal Necklace

This awesome necklace design came into the world because of what I can only describe as a…slight excess….of certain colours in our crystal hexagon range (also know as: we have one million orange crystal hexagons dear lord let’s make something with them).

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Despite this creation of convenience, this is one of my favourite designs that Mattie has ever come up with, essentially because it is massive and heavy and looks super cool in all colours….I photographed the blue version here, but I hear that the orange is particularly beautiful.

You will need (to make an 18″ necklace):

120 x crystal hexagons (we sell these in the shop in bags of 30 for £1 – BARGAIN)

1 x chunky toggle clasp

1 metre of tiger tail

4 x crimp beads

Flat nosed pliers

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The technique here is very similar to that of the wave necklace I wrote about before – it’s a straight forward tiger tail necklace, made special by the way the beads all sit when they’re tight together.

First off, pop 2 crimp beads on the end of the tiger tail. Put on half of the toggle clasp on next, and then feed the end of the wire back through the 2 crimps. Use the flat nosed plier to give the crimps a damn good squishing!

We’re using 2 crimps here instead of the normal one because it just adds a bit of extra safety to the necklace, necessary because all that crystal does have a bit of weight behind it.

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Now you can thread your beads on, pushing the first few over the end of tiger tail that will be sticking out near your clasp to cover it.

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Continue threading beads on until you’re happy with the length, try holding it up around your neck to double check where it’ll lie.

Once you’ve reached your desired look, thread on your remaining two crimp beads, and the other half of your clasp. Again, thread the end of the wire back through the two crimps and through a few beads at the end, pulling everything together tightly so that you don’t have any unsightly wire sticking out. Squish your crimps! And trim off your wire.

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Tada! All done. These are so cool, I just can’t get enough of a statement necklace. And ridiculously, they cost less than a fiver to make. Madness!

Thank you for reading 🙂 And come hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, if you like.

 

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Creative Kids Line Up!

Hello!

So a couple of weeks ago we finally achieved one of those jobs I’ve been putting on the back burner for months – writing a beautiful organised list of all our Creative Kid’s sessions for the next 12 months – hurrah!

These sessions run on the 3rd Saturday of every month, and you normally find amazing Amber teaching Jewellery Making between 10.30am and 12pm, and Lily (me!) teaching sewing between 2pm and 3.30pm. It costs just £5 per person, which includes all your materials and some kind of tasty biscuit (I’m convinced some of the children are just coming for the snacks…) You don’t have to book, you can just rock up on the day and squeeze in around the table (but if you do book, you will guarantee yourself a space!)

If you fancy booking you can do by clicking here, or give us a call on 01392 437377

So here you go, a full schedule up until August 2017:

September 17th 2016

10.30am to 12pm – Friendship Bracelets

2pm to 3.30pm – Ribbon Brooches

October 15th 2016

10.30am to 12pm – Button & Bead Necklace

2pm to 3.30pm – Mini Cushion

November 19th 2016

10.30am to 12pm – Earring Making

2pm to 3.30pm – Decoupage Letters

December 17th 2016

10.30am to 12pm – Christmas Decorations

2pm to 3.30pm – Christmas Decorations

January 21st 2017

10.30am to 12pm – Charm Bracelets

2pm to 3.30pm – Mini Pouches

February 18th 2017

10.30am to 12pm – Button Necklaces

2pm to 3.30pm – Happy Owls with Felt

March 18th 2017

10.30am to 12pm – Wire Animals

2pm to 3.30pm – Cross Stitch

April 15th 2017

10.30am to 12pm – Knotty Necklaces

2pm to 3.30pm – Embellish a Bag

May 20th 2017

10.30am to 12pm – Decoupage

2pm to 3.30pm – Sew with Felt

June 17th 2017

10.30am to 12pm – Seed Bead Bracelet

2pm to 3.30pm – Strawberry Pin Cushion

July 15th 2017

10.30am to 12pm – Button Hearts

2pm to 3.30pm – Paper Bunting

 August 19th 2017

10.30am to 12pm – Tiger Tail Necklace

2pm to 3.30pm – Mini Tote Bag

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Fore Street Flea!

We’re getting really excited now about the very first Fore Street Flea Market! Taking place on Sunday 18th September, we’ll see the road being closed from the Co-Op down to the Boarding House & loads of traders spilling out on to the road selling their treasures…

We’ll have second hand goodness from a fabulous mix of people, as well as food trucks, live music, and even one of The Real McCoy’s £1 yard sales inside the McCoy’s Arcade! There’s going to be so much lovely stuff going on, I’ve got no idea when I’ll have time to actually sell anything.

The event will be taking place from 12pm to 4pm, and lots of shops (including us!) will also open up for the day – so you can stock up on crafty goodness on your way down to the authentic greek food truck….

And we’ve still got room for more! If you’d like to have a space to sell anything you like (no guns or puppies), or you’re a busker who’d like to come down and entertain the shoppers for a while, please get in touch on forestreetflea@gmail.com, and I can book you in. This is our very first event of this kind, and we’re really keen to have lots going on so we can figure out our best plan for the next one in November…

Exciting! x

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How to: Turquoise Wire Earrings

This week’s How-To is these ridic pretty turquoise and rose gold earrings, since a) we haven’t delved into wire wrapping yet and b) I think about rose gold all day every day. It was suggested a couple of days ago that I should take off one of my many rose gold accessories, since wearing them all while typing on my rose gold macbook (oh yeah that’s right) was potentially ‘too much.’ I laugh in the face of ‘too much.’

Anyway, these are really straightforward to make once you’ve mastered the art of wire wrapping, which can be a bit fiddly to get to grips with. Luckily we sell craft wire in big rolls so you can practice lots…

You need:

2 x turquoise chunks

2 x rose gold earring hooks

6mm rose gold craft wire

Flat nose pliers, round nose pliers & wire cutters

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My camera hates me for trying to take photos of big and small things at the same time.

First of all, pop a turquoise chunk on a 10cm piece of wire. You want it about two thirds of the way along…

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Now, take the longer end of wire and wrap it all the way around your bead, a couple of times if you can. Use your fingers to push it close to the surface on the turquoise – we don’t want any unsexy gappage here.

The aim is to meet the two bits of wire at the top, like so:

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Now, this is the bit that can take a bit of practice. What you want to do is wrap the long piece of wire really tightly in a lovely coil around the short piece of wire, at the point where it comes out of the bead. This photo will help explain this:

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I find it helps me to really pull the wire hard outwards, as I’m rotating it around the other wire, to ensure a beaut tight coil.

Once you’ve smashed that step, use your wire cutter to trim off the messy piece of long wire that’s left. You should now have what the children in my workshops call ‘a bead on a stick/a balloon/a lollipop.’

Trim the remaining straight piece of wire down to 1cm.

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Now take your round nose pliers and bend the 1cm of wire over to a nice right angle.

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Gripping the wire right at the very end, roll your pliers over to make a lovely loop. Again, this might not be perfect first time, but that doesn’t matter! The great thing about wire is you can just chop it off and start again until it’s how you want it.

And that’s it! Just use your flat nose pliers to open the loop on the bottom of your earring hook up, pop the turquoise dangle on there, and close it again.

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Isn’t the lighting in this photo nice? That’s because I went and stood in the street to take it, like a lunatic.

Is it important to mention that you have to do all the above stages twice to get two earrings? If you’re sitting with just one and you’re tired just pop it on a chain and have it as an extremely pretty pendant.

Happy Friday! xx