Today sees the launch of Made-Here’s city-wide celebration of all that’s local and lovely. And its array of home made, home designed and locally sourced goodies are officially on the SevenStreets Christmas list – as we sincerely hope they will be on yours.

The pop up shopping festival will run from November 15 to December 24 with shops and stalls located throughout the retail heart of the city centre. We caught up with Made-Here’s Kate Stewart, and bought ourselves some nice tighty whities and cool wooden models of the Metropolitan Cathedral while we were there…

Has it been a good year for independents and creatives in Liverpool?

The independent sector in Liverpool is really coming into its own – I blame Percy Gulliver’s Printshop and Social for kicking it off last year! There are some real serious players in Liverpool’s independent retail and leisure scene – you know who they are. Coffee shops, gift shops, indoor festival venues, theatres…

There’s a real buzz and hunger amongst small businesses at the moment. When there isn’t much cash around, people do start thinking about spending it carefully.

Customers of our made-here pop-up shops (the first was in Liverpool ONE, the current one is in Metquarter, upstairs) include visitors to Liverpool from as close as Manchester to further afield like Dubai, the USA or Norway. They’ve all told us that they’re disappointed that our high streets are full of the major chains and that they thought there’d be more independents in Liverpool.

The reality is that, as SevenStreets readers know, there is a wide range of independents here which reflect the unique culture of Liverpool much more closely than the major brands, however, these independents are a little bit hidden, as both the rent and rates price them out of the main high street locations. And yet, so many of our high street shops are still empty…..

So we’ve decided to do something about putting Liverpool’s Independents on the map…by creating one!

The Guide to Independent Liverpool is a fold out map commissioned from a local artist – there will be a new one every quarter and we hope that as a piece of artwork it will become collectible in itself. There will be a sneak preview on the flyers for Liverpool Pops-Up for Christmas…

What about your curatorial process – how do you decide what makes the grade?

Our customers have always commented that our collection is well put together and this is something that we do pride ourselves on. In the shop it’s been about making sure that products on offer are ‘retail ready’ and our skill in supporting the designers and artists to get the best packaging, the right price point and branding etc will be put to use in mentoring students and graduates of theJMU, Liverpool Community College and Hope University.

You’re obviously passionate about this: but it must be a labour of love?

Definitely, have only had two weekends off since February and there are practitioners who are regularly earning more from selling their work in the shop than we make from it – the overheads in retail are really high, which is why a pop-up is a great way to trial a business concept before committing to a full lease.

What can we expect from the pop ups?

Liverpool Pops-Up for Christmas is something that we wanted to create to support other small business to try out new retail concepts.

So we have 4 new shop concepts open for the whole festival:

dot-art will be creating a gallery with prints and originals by local artists.

we walk…. will be bringing us their collection of hand printed fashion garments and canvases inspired by their travels.

Laura’s Little Bakery will be selling her divine individually boxed cupcakes, whole cakes and themed collections of cupcakes in a retail concept with complimentary gift items for sale too.

Pop-up Department Store – the top floor of Clayton Square will become a pop-up department store, full of a changing collection of mini pop-ups. Just like one of our major department stores, there will be pop-up ‘concessions’ that will include ceramics, prints, photography, jewellery, fashion, cards, hand massage and other delights.

Of course there is also the made-here pop-up shop in Metquarter and there will be other performance related events to be announced as we go along – some of which I’m really looking forward to – including theatre, music, fashion shows, creative workshops and others

How cool were the council in all this?

We’ve had a lot of support from various councillors and council staff across several organisations – the positive economic impact that the work of made-here has had on the city and the work we have done to promote the city and it’s talent in a positive light to visitors is what started the conversation. Councillor Nick Small invited the college and universities to a meeting to discuss how we could formalise the mentoring process made-here offers, and the idea for Liverpool Pops-Up for Christmas came from that meeting.

Having the direct support of the Mayor’s Office and partners such as City Central BID and Vision has really helped in the slightly difficult journey to convince the major landlords to participate and allow their empty spaces to be used.

What’s stopping a pop up from being for life, not for Christmas?

Truthfully, I believe the biggest issue is that rateable values are based on several storeys of retail in spaces that only use one floor and that these are based on unrealistic rents that have been increasing upward only for years. In addition, Liverpool has a serious lack of smaller retail units suitable for start-ups.

Landlords and the council really have to work together to address how to make our high streets more accessible to startups.

So please support the entrepreneurs that are taking the risk this Christmas. It’s a fabulous opportunity to buy some really unique gifts and also know that you are doing something important for Liverpool when you are spending your cash It’s definitely a case of use them or lose them…. but we wouldn’t be doing this if we hadn’t already been told by the local shopping public that they love the concept of supporting local and independent retailers.

If you’d like further info on how to take part in the Liverpool Pops-Up for Christmas Festival or the Guide to Independent Liverpool please email Kate.

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