Barley Massey runs the successful shop/studio Fabrications on Broadway Market. Here, she reminisces over the last eight years on the Broadway and the growing interest in eco design and crafted work.
What were your first impressions of the Broadway when you set up shop?
When the Council agreed to rent me a derelict shop on Broadway Market ten years ago, some of my friends thought I was challenged! (They’ve since changed their tune.) But I thought it would be a great location to set up my textile design studio with a ‘window onto the world’. I was impressed with how creative the area was: such a mix of traditional and new shops, there seemed to be something for everyone. There were also a lot of boarded up shops at this time. It’s been exciting witnessing the arrival of new businesses and being involved, along with other BMTRA members, in setting up the Saturday market.
So what makes Fabrications special?
Since opening its doors in June 2000, Fabrications has been dedicated to contemporary textiles and design through regularly-changing exhibitions, displays, events and workshops run by me and other local designers and artists. And over the years our window displays have become notorious ‘ from dresses made from rubber gloves, a giant inflatable fabric heart filling the window at Valentine’s, to knitted vegetables and cakes.
Meanwhile, downstairs in the studio area I’ve transformed several tons of Hackney’s waste into beautiful and functional items. Old bicycle inner tubes from London Fields Cycles become cushions, floor mats, wall panelling, counter covers and costumes. Clothing from St Joseph’s hospice becomes shirt & tie cushions, throws and bags.
It seems you were one of the earlier creators of green products – have you noticed a change in people’s attitudes to them?
Oh yes, most definitely. When I first started my business I had to work hard to get away from some of the negative associations of working with recycled or reused materials. Now, green design is considered quite trendy! The demand for my products and services has gone up tenfold. As well as selling my designs at Fabrications I also supply a number of other ‘ethical’ shops including actor Colin Firth’s new shop ‘Eco’ in Chiswick and Oliver Heath’s (of ‘Changing Rooms’) EcoCentric.
And what about the original crafted work you sell?
The craft element has also been important. I think people are re-appreciating good quality craftsmanship, original design and buying local. There is also a huge movement towards making your own and getting crafty with your friends and family. Our knitting + Crochet classes (sewing coming up for the summer months!) have become very popular.
I hear your skills have been in great demand?
Well, I have been invited to pass on inspiration and share my textile skills at several London venues and events including at The Barbican, The Royal Festival Hall, The Newham Lord Mayor’s show, The Spice Festival, and last month I was at Hackney Museum teaching knitting with plastic bags to coincide with their current exhibition about shops in Hackney. I am really proud that I was invited to be included in the exhibition (along with a few other familiar Broadway shop keepers’ faces).
What advice would you give to a small business just starting up?
I am really happy with how my business has grown and is now flourishing. Hard work and perseverance does pay off in the end as well as the support and interest of my loyal customers ‘ Thankyou!
a: 7 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
t: 020 7275 8043