“We’re a one-stop Valentine’s shop,” said Jayne Harrison, making the final preparations for a new store now open in Sheffield’s Winter Garden.
“People can come to us and get a card, a piece of jewellery or an embroidered token of affection,” she explained.
“It’s a commercial holiday, but if people want to buy into it, why not shop local, and shop independent?”
The venture – open until February 14 from 10am to 4pm daily – is intended as an antidote to the High Street’s approach to Valentine’s.
Four Sheffield manufacturers – Sorrel Botham, Ellie Mason, Angie Young and Jayne – have teamed up to take over the pop-up space in the Winter Garden, first launched in 2013 as a collaboration between community interest company Common People and Sheffield Council.
Through her company Maxwell Harrison, Jayne will be selling handmade silver jewellery, Sorrel – who trades as Dandelion Cocoa – is offering a special range of prosecco chocolates, Ellie has prepared a series of Valentine’s cards and embroidered gifts under her Fizzy Pigg brand, and Angie, of the Craft Tea Company, has been working on a ‘romantic tea blend’.
Angie was keeping ‘tight-lipped’ about the loose-leaf blend’s composition, as it was being worked on until the last minute, said Jayne, who set up Maxwell Harrison – Maxwell is her maiden name – 12 months ago.
“I’ve not necessarily made a special range, but I’ve focused on offering something affordable, handmade and unique – not something you would find mass-produced that every other girl on Valentine’s Day is going to be wearing.
“The thing that separates us from most of the other independent businesses is that we’re all very new. Most of us have only been running a year or two at the most.”
The four businesswomen met through their work in Sheffield, but they are also members of Etsy, the online marketplace for craftspeople that has played a role in the recent renaissance of making.
“Etsy runs a community programme called Etsy Team – there’s one in Sheffield for which I’m the team leader, and we’re all members,” Jayne said.
A big event was organised by the team at the Town Hall before Christmas, called Made Local.
“It was a bit of a runaway success, we had people queuing down the stairs to get in. It was a little bit difficult in terms of advertising because the team’s run as a community enterprise and not for profit – we had to rely on word of mouth and people using social media online. It really surpassed all expectations. The feedback was amazing.”
Jayne continued: “Sheffield has always had a strong manufacturing heritage – the steel industry goes back centuries and the city was the home of the first assay office – but I think it’s really strong at the moment.
“I think if you’re a young, independent maker, it’s a good place to start off, definitely. That’s the benefit of the team as well, there are a lot of people fresh to making and fresh to business. We help each other out with photography, getting things listed online and preparing people for their first markets.”
Trading face to face was ‘very different’ to online, she reflected.
“It was a bit of a shock for me, the first time.”
l The traders are giving away a goody bag worth £70 and four runner-up prizes to five people drawn at random. All entrants have to do is mark themselves as ‘going’ or ‘interest’ on the pop-up shop’s Facebook page. Visit www.valentinespopup.co.uk for details.