I love pop-up shops. The whole concept has been big in Toronto for awhile, with even the big department stores jumping on the pop-up bandwagon. We have revolving pop-ups. Online retailers stage pop-ups. This year even Kanye West and The Weeknd opened pop-ups in T.O. Checking out the new pop-ups is one of my favourite things to do when I’m back “home”, second only to eating. It’s like sport to me.
Now the phenomenon is picking up momentum in Scotland, and it’s a much-needed fresh take on retail that’s been needed on the high street. Uniqueness is being celebrated, and people no longer want to look the same as everyone else. Cookie cutter aesthetics has been in steady decline, and I for one am SO happy about this.
The owner of the fabulous concept shop MAKERS an FRIENDS is Zen Zhou, a blogger and maker living in London; when I visited the Islington store, she told me her reasoning behind wanting to open a dynamic retail space. Zen has loved making beautiful handcrafted jewellery her whole life, and would sell her products at craft fairs when she was at uni. Having to sell as an individual designer was hard though. I have friends who do it, and whilst it might seem like fun in theory, the reality is quite different. Oh and when someone does want to take home something you’ve made? It probably still won’t cover the cost of the stall in the first place. Life as a creative can be frustrating.
With Makers and Friends, Zen wanted to do a collaboration with other designers, showcasing their work alongside her own and promoting the retail shop as a curated space. As a maker herself, she understands the frustrations a designer faces when trying to sell their products, and as someone who loves beautiful things, she also knows exactly what would work in a pop-up space.
The response was incredible. The current Edinburgh pop-up is the third venture, and features not only the work of a range of talented designers and makers, but also some fun hands-on workshops.