This week Nicki spoke to Tillie, Founder of The Pop Up Club, a social enterprise which showcases independent makers via her shop in Chelmsford.
A few years ago, Tillie ran the Bearded Gypsy markets in Chelmsford, bringing together vintage clothing, artists, designers and emerging brands through a variety of events. She has now re-branded, running collaborative events and a shop in Chelmsford, and she has a brand new event to talk about too!
Tell us more about The Pop Up Club
We were tired of seeing copy and paste high streets everywhere we went – especially all those empty spaces that seemed impenetrable for small businesses like ours to access!
Starting out small, we held pop-up marketplaces – taking over our local high street once a month and giving other small businesses like ours the opportunity to test and sell their products to an increasing audience.
We built an amazing community and realised that there was power in that collective! We demonstrated the value we brought to the local area, and were determined to go bigger.
The Pop Up Club is a community. We take empty spaces and make them beautiful – not just aesthetically, but through the values we champion: sustainability, diversity, uniqueness, and affordability.
This is a community that knows no bounds…
How does The Pop Up Club work?
The Pop Up Club identifies and transforms unused public spaces with the intention of adding cultural and commercial value to the local area.
The aim is to flexibly use empty, dilapidated, and difficult spaces in an imaginative way on a temporary basis, and transform those spaces into attractive, vibrant, and unique community assets.
Our aim is to nurture and facilitate the growth of our traders, reducing financial risk whilst providing the opportunity to grow and engage with new audiences, increasing the diversity of businesses in the local area.
We’ve talked a lot about businesses evolving this year. How has your business evolved?
I listened to Holly Tucker’s podcast (Holly is founder of Not on the High Street) which inspired me, as she once ran markets too (definitely give her podcast a listen!). I used to sell vintage clothing at Chelsmford High Street market, but got kicked off as I didn’t sell food. From there, I ended up spotting the niche and realising that collaboration and diversity is the answer, and from there ended up running my own markets!
We did various pop-ups and markets under The Bearded Gypsy Fayres, and in 2019 we ran our second Christmas pop-up shop in Bond Street in Chelmsford, and were asked to return in Spring. However, with everything happening with Covid our plans had to change. We had booked 6 weeks in a shop but only managed complete one due to lockdown! I’d just employed another member of staff too so it was a bit of a nightmare.
However, we had wanted to re-brand for a while, so we spent lockdown working on that and evolving into The Pop Up Club, getting everything prepared to re-open and luckily our landlord was super helpful in allowing us to carry on with the shop after lockdown.
We hope to continue bringing various small businesses together both in the shop and at markets, when we can.
What’s next for you?
This year, tons of markets were cancelled, especially in London, so lots of people had their Christmas market plans cancelled. Street food brand Kerb currently run Seven Dials Market and another five outdoor markets around London, so we were aiming to run a 7 week market there, taking over as a pop-up. It should have run from 16th November to 3rd January, however with the current lockdown we’re not sure what date this will go ahead! Watch this space for updates.
Check out Nicki and Tillie’s chat on our IGTV channel – click here.