October 15th, 2016. The day of Leeds’ first Northern Craft Fair. Organised by two former members of Team Awesome (Sean and Carley) with 30 plus stalls from the UK’s (and the world’s) best creative craft minds, all wrapped up inside the wonderful Northern Monk Brew CO Refectory. Totally free and child & dog friendly. Sounds amazing, right? Well it was! We also had the immense pleasure of going along and screen printing NC tote bags!
We spoke to Sean Mort about the day’s proceedings:
HOW’D IT GO?
It was a great success from our perspective and the sellers all seemed to do well judging by the feedback. We had loads of people through the door, way more than we could have ever expected. The planning was crazy, four months on and off, it seems like such a small event but there’s so much behind the scenes work that you don’t think of. Or I didn’t anyway.
We haven’t had the full post mortem yet but we have sent out feedback forms for all of our sellers and we are hoping to make the event as successful as possible so we are open to suggestions to improve it. We had a few sellers pullout as we got closer to the fair but I think that is out of our hands. We love the venue, we think the branding works and represents what we are trying to do. We really enjoyed working with all of our sellers and the customers all seemed to enjoy it so it’s just about refining things as far as I can tell.
Originally we were just gonna see how it went, but now there is a clamour for more, the plan now is to run a second one in April. But life is currently getting in way. Carley moved to Minnesota today and I have a baby due in February so everything is currently TBD.
LIVE SCREEN PRINTING?
It was incredible. People lined up for it and the bags all went super quick once it got started. It’s great from my point of view as a screen printer because I can give people a real world experience of how my posters are made. It’s way better than explaining it terribly.
WHY DID LEEDS NEED SOMETHING LIKE THIS?
I have done three times as many craft fairs in Los Angeles in the last three years than I have done in Leeds. There are nice small events with good sellers but we want to show people that craft should be something people take seriously. Most of our sellers are full time artists and the rest of them are doing it to hopefully get to that point. Craft has a strange spare time reputation and we see it as something completely different. I’ve sold at fairs for 5 years now and I like to think I have an idea of what works and what doesn’t. We genuinely care about the artists and craftspeople and want to promote them as much as possible because without them, well we wouldn’t be a thing.
LEEDS CRAFT SCENE
I think it’s popular, certainly for certain things anyway. There are loads of microbreweries, loads of independent businesses, and there are lots of craft fair type events. But from my opinion as a stall holder, these tend to vary wildly in quality and size. I’ve done loads where they can’t even get the basics right and I think Leeds is screaming out for a quality event that is well organised and brings good crafts to people. Hopefully we can do this.
Other than Chip (Sean’s dog) & Dolly (AM boss) destroying each other outside my booth, I saw maybe 5 other dogs. I’m hoping for more next time.
Obviously without Awesome Merch we’d have really struggled to get off the ground. We had lofty ambitions but sitting down with Luke and Charlotte (AM founders) really grounded us, but in a good way. I think I need to thank everybody at this point. All the sellers, the customers, Northern Monk, everybody who chipped in, Chip, my wife, Carley & Joe. It was an overwhelming experience that was a long time in the making. Something to plug, I guess people should watch this space for Northern Craft 2.0. AT this point, you should maybe put our social media accounts there, maybe in italics or maybe even a different colour. I’m not telling you how to do your job or anything. (We’ve done this, thanks Sean).
If you went along and enjoyed it, send us a tweet and tell us!