The Hackney Made Collective bringing sustainability to Spitalfields
PUBLISHED: 14:52 24 February 2020
Walk through Spitalfields and you may be surprised to see an endearing shopfront with “Hackney Made Collective” displayed in the window.
The reason for this name lies in the back story; the collective has its origins in Hackney Road but can now be found in E1.
Founded by Nadien Klages and Ellie Pearce in 2018, the collective is a shared space for small businesses and creatives who make and sell sustainable products.
At any one time they can have 20-25 creatives displaying their wares, benefiting from the space without the burden of single-handedly financing a shop.
This is a huge part of the motivation according to Nadien: "We consider it a social enterprise, because smaller businesses cannot afford huge rates by themselves - we're a sustainable community".
She and co-founder Ellie met by chance in 2017, enjoying a friendly chat before being thrown together at a pop-up in London Fields months later.
On that day the two worked side by side, with Nadien carrying her two-month-old daughter in a sling. Both are fashion designers and conceivably could have been rivals.
Nadien laughs at the notion, remarking that "it's better to be friends than rivals. Ellie and I can achieve so much more together".
Nadien recalls feeling inspired by being able to sew and sell in one place, and from there the idea for a collective was born.
In 2018 she and Ellie were offered a space in Hackney Road. They started with eight designers, but as word spread about this blossoming community more creatives wanted to get involved.
The collective counts fashion designers, jewellery makers and skincare experts amongst their current crop, with one shared thread: "All our brands are centred around sustainability and eco-consciousness, making ethical, fair-trade and local products."
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Though the dedication to sustainability remains, the location has changed. Nadien emphasises that, although happy in Hackney Road, the chance to move to a more accessible site was too good to miss.
The collective moved to Middlesex Street in November last year, and is now within walking distance of Liverpool Street, Aldgate, Aldgate East and Shoreditch High Street.
Now settled, the same objectives remain for Nadien and Ellie. Sustainability is the name of the game, particularly in terms of the business model.
Nadien and Ellie follow the collective model; each creative pays a proportion of the rent relative to the amount and quality of space they occupy within the shop.
The true innovation lies outside of this. The Hackney Made Collective is a place where designers can display, sell and work. Nadien and Ellie made this decision because they understand the nature of this ebb and flow industry.
The designers can work in the shop to subsidise their income, building relationships with customers in the process. For Nadien it embodies what "community" is all about.
Like any self-sustaining business multiple income revenues are important, as Nadien explains: "We have a space downstairs for art displays, and an area upstairs which acts as both an event and workspace. This generates greater footfall in the shop".
They also rent out the window space, which Nadien says draws the attention of intrigued onlookers who see creations taking shape as they walk past.
This all bodes well for a prosperous future, and the pair have big plans. Shared workspaces company WeWork have already contacted the collective, and a collaboration with blogger Alice from Hai is also in the pipeline.
The immediate focus is to keep growing, with the upcoming "Slow Living Event" an ideal way to do that.
On February 27 the collective is hosting an open talk on how to live more consciously in every aspect of life, with tickets only £5.
For Nadien it feels like a long time since she and Ellie worked side by side in London Fields, where the idea of a shared space was little more than fanciful.
Less than three years on the collective is a thriving reality, with the best yet to come.