Glasgow boutique Made in the Shade prepares to move to London

Owners Carrie Maclennan and Clare Nicolson discuss expanding their horizons

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Glasgow boutique Made in the Shade prepares to move to London

As Glasgow craft and design emporium Made in the Shade prepares to move its HQ to London, Anna Burnside talks to its owners about their ambitious plans for 2012

Bad news for all Glaswegians who can’t get through the week without buying a quirky new tote bag. The Made in the Shade Maisonette, the spiritual home of the vintage fabric stuffed bird and curly moustache keyring, is closing its doors. Owners Carrie Maclennan and Clare Nicolson are leaving Glasgow for London and taking their peerless contacts in the whimsical cushion world with them.

The business will continue from a new base in London, have an even greater online presence than their current charming website and continue to make sure that no one needs to buy a birthday card from Hallmark ever again. ‘We’ve been running a small online shop via our website since April 2011,’ says Maclennan. ‘This year, we’ll be dedicating much more time to growing and developing that while also revealing a whole new stream of London-based Made in the Shade activity: events, parties, projects, collaborations.’ Nicolson adds: ‘By closing The Maisonette we can cast our Made In The Shade net – handmade, of course – a lot wider and can interact with lots more makers and customers in new and interesting ways.’

There will still be retail events in Scotland, ‘but we definitely want to put the “market” or “craft fair” tag behind us. We have two major projects underway at the moment and neither involves a trestle table or bunting! Our online parties on Twitter and Facebook have proved popular – not to mention a whole load of fun for us – so we’ll also be continuing those but with added features. We’re currently looking into video blogging and podcasting.’

Made in the Shade was born in 2008 when vintage queen Maclennan and textile maker Nicolson held their first sale at Glasgow’s Lighthouse. The Maisonette opened in 2009 and, since then it has been a swirly-printed whirl through live crafting to a country music soundtrack, writing The Busy Girl’s Guide to Sewing, a short-lived presence at the Barras and a TV ad for Nokia, in which the pair toured the country in a VW camper and hooked up with crafty types on their travels.

They started out at a time when cufflinks made of Scrabble tiles were very much a minority taste. Now the High Street is awash with mismatched fabrics and kooky old-looking stuff. ‘While businesses like ours are trying to expose amazing alt.craft makers and offbeat designers, and a handmade aesthetic is definitely identifiable on the high street,’ says Maclennan, ‘their prices are set so low that the wider craft campaign to promote handmade work by indie makers as valuable is kind of hampered.’

The pair are responding by taking a more structured approach to working with designers and makers, producing seasonal collections and making sure they are distanced from the crochet-your-own-cupcake junk flooding the market. ‘I think we’ve achieved what we set out to do,’ says Nicolson. ‘Now it’s time to move on. The last thing we would want is to be thought of as stale.’

Made in the Shade’s Sale-o-Rama runs from Fri 6 Jan–Thu 26 Jan, when the shop closes. There will also be an online award show in February 2012. See wearemadeintheshade.com for more info.

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