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MerseyMade revamp set to create growing community hub in the heart of the city

7 months ago

MerseyMade revamp set to create growing community hub in the heart of the city
Merseymade's Nataliia, Sean & Vicky

Since its launch in 2019, MerseyMade in Liverpool has provided a platform for city creatives wanting to showcase their talents and sell their work, and become a haven for shoppers looking for the chance to buy a well-thought gift and support them.

Now, four years on, it’s back to the drawing board after a transformation to continue the work it does while expanding into a community hub at the heart of the city, encouraging and celebrating everyone’s creativity.

Book events, comedy nights, an evening food menu, and even language lessons, are all part of the new future for the Paradise Street venue.

And even its founder Vicky Gawith admits: “It’s developed a life of its own.”

Two Merseyside in Business Awards (MIB’s) under her belt – Creative Business of the year 2022 and, this year, Retailer of the Year – and two spots in Liverpool Tourism Awards’ 2023 shortlist for Independent Tourism Business of the Year, and the Taste of Liverpool Award – Café/Bistro of the Year, are an acknowledgement of the success of the enterprising venture based in the Grade II-listed Chancery House.

Merseymade - The Guide Liverpool

But far from standing still the 51-year-old mum-of-four from Woolton has decided on a re-design and a new look for the Liverpool favourite. She says: “Changing the space has enabled a lot more to happen.

“We will be able to showcase and sell work from more local artists and we will be able to develop into a busier events space which will become an even bigger part of the community, and draw more people from the community in.

“I want people to get to know us for this too.”

Vicky, who now lives in West Kirby – where another MerseyMade shop was opened this year – came up with the idea for her business in 2013. A former chartered accountant and fundraiser, who’d also worked in larger stores and cafes, as well as charitable organisations, she says: “All around this time, I would go out to makers’ markets with my mum and friends and I would see all these wonderful craft items. My gran paints, my dad paints, and I do lots of sewing and things; I’ve never sold anything but have always been creative.

“I felt there wasn’t a route to market for all those wonderful makers, and it was my dream to help our community and create one, so as the children got older I decided the time was right and I was going to make it work.”

With the help of friends and makers Emma Johnston and Jenny Dunlop, she established MerseyMade in 2019 and went from showcasing an initial 30 local creatives and selling their work, to putting the spotlight onto more than 150 artists today.

But a revamp within the flagship Liverpool shop has created a new look MerseyMade which will allow it to develop even further.

* The studios have gone which has created more space to show the work of even more artists and add to those already well-known, from food producers, crafters, illustrators, painters to jewellers and more, all based within a 50-mile radius of its city centre base.

* The MerseyMade café now takes centre stage at the front of MerseyMade with Sean Millar, formerly head chef at the Side Door in Hope Street and The Other Place in Allerton Road, now its head chef and Katie White a well known plant-based chef who used to run Pod on Allerton Road and Real Food Kitchen in Neston as café manager and chef.

As well as the much-loved coffee made from locally roasted beans, they have increasingly popular cakes made by in-house pastry chef, Natalia Semenova, who previously ran her own café in Kiev, Ukraine.

MerseyMade café is expanding their menu – it will be offering a Christmas menu too – and opening in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays from mid-November: “If it’s successful, we will increase that,” adds Vicky.

* A new book corner has been set up to support local authors and there will also be some book events and author spotlights with Q&A sessions. Beatles authors Spencer Leigh and Colin Hall will be among the first, along with Through the Wall writer Caroline Corcoran, among others.

* Toddlers groups are planned, along with language lessons, and even more workshops like those held now, with the chance to learn how to make candles, the art of calligraphy, Christmas decorations, video game design, and more.

* There will be wine-tasting, comedy nights, and a wider variety of events being planned. 

Merseymade - The Guide Liverpool

“We want it to be a place that the whole community can come to,” says Vicky. “It’s been a long hard slog with Covid, increased energy costs, and the cost of living crisis, but there has been so much support, and there is a great team of people working here at MerseyMade with me. It’s very much a team effort, and what’s wonderful is that everybody believes in what we are doing, and what we are trying to do.

“It has got a life of its own and we are constantly developing it to support and showcase many different creatives.

“I think, especially with what’s going on in the world, and everything that has gone on in recent years, people are making conscious decisions about supporting local artists and local independent businesses, as well as putting money back into their own community.”

Vicky adds: “We are really pleased with how well MerseyMade has done so far, and we are so excited about all the future plans.  

“What’s lovely is that those plans involve the community so we are giving people the chance to grow with us.

“Because it’s not just about MerseyMade and me, or about the business, it’s about the creatives and the community. That’s who we are doing it for.” 

Visit the Merseymade website HERE.

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