A few Musings on Small Business Milestones in the Current Climate and our Second Birthday

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We’ve been getting a little bit reflective of late – with all of the news of local businesses opening and closing and changes to the City landscapes, and with our second birthday just around the corner we started looking back on our time so far….

On 13th June 2013 Our Handmade Collective opened our doors for the very first time.  Looking back now it’s hard to believe it was so long ago, yet at the same time it’s just the tip of the iceberg for us.  We have something different to offer.  We are a handmade, handpicked gift shopping experience, comprising of almost 60 local designer makers, based in Grand Arcade, Leeds.  Run by two friends, Claire and Natalie, with the help of many of the makers involved, most of whom are local to Yorkshire, we specialise in a different kind of shopping experience – relaxed, calm and unhurried, with friendly, knowledgeable staff who are always happy to chat.  We have great tunes playing (and love hearing customers humming and singing along!), we have exclusive, high quality handmade products, and we do hope that we’ve created something as special as we set out to do. You’ll always find something a little bit different with us, that’s not readily available on the mainstream ‘High Street’.

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It’s crazy to think that we are holding our second birthday celebrations on 13th June 2015. This is a huge milestone for small independent businesses in the current climate – and let’s face it, it’s tough for the little fish to survive out there in the big corporate chain pond, never mind to become successful and dare we say it, to flourish.  And we do think we are flourishing.  We’re going from strength to strength with an ever growing customer base (for which we are very grateful to each and every one of you for taking the time to visit us).

From our inception in June 2013 we have increased the number of makers on our shelves from 19 to 58, proving that the want and need for handmade products is very much alive and well. Yorkshire has a rich tapestry of artists, designers and crafters from all works of life, and our aim always has been to showcase the best of them. We’re an award winning shop, containing award winning stockists. We’ve been lucky enough to be ranked Number 1 on Tripadvisor for Shopping in Leeds (a status we have maintained for over 12 months now) and we were voted Best Place to Shop in Leeds for 2014 in the Leeds Love Affair Independent Business Awards, further proof that our customers love what we do and that we are a flourishing business.

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We chose to set up shop in The Grand Arcade, Leeds, which, up until a couple of years ago was a rundown, forgotten Arcade on the wrong side of the Headrow.  Well, not any more! Along with the other Independent Businesses in the Grand Arcade we are working together to create something pretty amazing, which people keep saying hasn’t been seen in Leeds for a long time. Between us all we set up the Save The Grand Clock restoration fund in August 2013, and by December 2013 we managed to get the clock chiming again for the first time in over 20 years! But many people still aren’t aware of the regeneration the Grand Arcade has undergone over the last two years and that the Arcade is now at almost full capacity for the first time in over 30 years. That’s a huge achievement!

So help us to raise the roof of the Arcade (figuratively not literally!) this weekend, and lets celebrate our second birthday in style – lets show the City that Independent businesses are alive and well and enjoying their success!

Join us from 10.30 – 6.00pm, Saturday 13th June for our 2nd Big Birthday Bash!

Claire & Natalie x

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