29 Jul 2016

Judy’s Attic: Hull’s crafty little hideaway

Judy’s Attic helps over 40 local makers sell their hand-made art through local sales outlets in Hull. As well as running their adorable shop, tucked away behind Zoo Cafe on Newland Ave, Judy’s Attic offers people the opportunity to learn and share their crafty skills through a range of workshops in a fun and friendly environment. Whether you’re new to the world of handmade or you craft so hard you sweat glitter, Judy’s Attic offers the ultimate procraftination.

We popped down for a chat with founder Pru Todd and chair Jenny Johnson to find out where it all started.

So what is Judy’s Attic and how did it all come about?

Pru: Judy’s attic is a local crafters’ co-operative. Over 40 local makers sell their art and craft items, as well as their hands-on workshops, through our local sales outlets. It’s also a development programme, where we work predominantly with women (but not exclusively) to help local makers get together, become more organised and be more visible in their own communities. We also help artists and makers get more recognition for the work that they’re doing.

I was studying my masters and I’ve done 20 years of community work so I really wanted to do something with the community again. I also just wanted to get back into making! My mum passed away and I inherited a house full of craft materials, so I thought I’ve got to do something with this. Even now I’m finding new stuff! She was called Judy, so that’s where I got the name from. I wanted to build a social enterprise of people working together and being something that was totally sustainable, where we didn’t have to rely on funding and where we didn’t have to worry about it shutting down. We’re all volunteers and we run Judy’s Attic on a zero budget.

You work closely with local businesses to sell items from Judy’s Attic. How does that work?

Pru: We offered to put up shelves up in local businesses which doesn’t cost them a penny. They take 10% of the commission from selling the items and another 10% goes to Judy’s Attic which then pays for us to run events, our marketing and produce materials if we need them.

Judy's Attic – photo © Patrick Mateer

How many volunteers does it take to run?

Pru: Aside from the two of us, we have a fundraising and marketing team, a secretary, a treasurer and a small group of shop managers. Altogether there are around 28 of us.

You sell a wide range of items over at Judy’s Attic. What can people expect to see if they’ve yet to visit?

Jenny: The types of items we sell are anything from greeting cards to pottery, photography, artwork, jewellery and even bunny cushions! A lot of gifts and household items really. Different makers specialise in different things. One lady makes crafts for work, another is a fine artist. We also have three potters, two illustrators, four seamstresses, a jewellery maker, the list goes on!

We also have quite a few Hull-themed items. One of our makers Kirsty creates a lot of illustrations and prints of Hull’s Old Town and The Humber Bridge. We also sell coasters, buttons and jewellery.

Judy's Attic – photo © Patrick Mateer

What are your most popular items?

Jenny: We always sell cat toys and buttons, the pottery is very popular and also the hanging fabric.

Pru: If we haven’t sold a cat toy we know it’s the marketing that was rubbish! Our I Love Hull coasters always sell really well. We sold four yesterday which are being sent to the south of France. A lot of fine artists struggle to sell their work so we decided to take original pieces and put them on mugs and notebooks and t-shirts. They’re doing really well because people can’t always afford £700 on a piece of artwork. Consumables generally sell better. We’re in partnership with a guy called Tony who has a mug printing machine so that helps!

How have people ended up becoming members of Judy’s Attic in the past?

Pru: Usually if someone has wanted to become a member, they send an email through the website or people will find out about it when they visit the shop. We’re very friendly and approachable here and quite active on social about it. We also tend to meet people at local markets to see what they’re doing themselves, so they get to know us that way.

Can you tell me more about your business skills course for creatives, and why you decided to develop this?

Pru: Our makers for business skills course was something we developed in partnership with the Lonsdale Community Centre. We saw a demand for local makers to learn how to become more professional and business like, so we devised a ten week funded course and trained up a group of eight volunteers to help run it.

Judy's Attic – photo © Patrick Mateer

Are you ever surprised by the types of people you get through your doors?

Pru: I suppose everybody is a surprise because it a co-operative. Everyone has a unique and dynamic personality. If anything we would ideally like more men! In the past the men we have worked tend to work a lot in wood and resin which is always interesting.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your jobs?

Jenny: One of the most rewarding parts of my job is that it’s confidence building. I never in a million years thought I would be doing something like this. Originally, I just started messing around and making jewellery and then I was introduced to Judy’s attic. I went to a meeting and that was it really. It was lovely to get positive feedback from them and wanting you to be involved as much as possible.

You learn a lot about other areas too. I’m learning new things about pottery which I never knew about before.

What do you think about the craft scene in Hull at the moment? Is it fairly active?

Pru: There’s a lot of people making and selling and a lot of people trying it out. People can get frustrated because it is a difficult market to get into. A lot of our members know which markets to aim for now which is great. It’s difficult to price the work at times as you know it takes hours to produce some of the pieces but it still needs to be affordable for the public.

Where would you like to take Judy’s attic in 2017?

Pru: We want Judy’s Attic to continue to be accessible and help involve as many people as possible. We also don’t just do Hull, we try to be inclusive by including other cities. We also want to continue to be a warm and welcoming environment by sharing skills and experiences as well as helping our makers to promote their business and generally, have a laugh!

Judy's Attic – photo © Patrick Mateer

To keep up to date with all crafty happenings from Judy’s Attic, hit them up on Facebook and Twitter.


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