Cultural Spotlight: Makegood Festival, London (+ Business Resource)

Cleo Rocos in conversation with Mark Dolan
Cleo Rocos in conversation with Mark Dolan 

Makegood: A festival of culture, creativity and entrepreneurship in the centre of London with over 200 pop-up stalls representing brand new or re-imagined creative businesses.

Makegood is such a feelgood name, and the atmosphere didn’t disappoint. All the stall-holders had come through the School for Creative Startups (is that a great name for a school or what?), and the festival was the equivalent of launch night, or their ‘world premiere’. I’ve never seen so many business cards, post cards and samples change hands in one place.

I was keen to visit for a number of reasons, the school had been on my radar for a while; I like happening creative events, especially when they are on my doorstep; I enjoy meeting new people face to face; I look after ideas people; it’s the kind of initiative I’d get involved with; I have my own creative work on the go, and I enjoy observing how these types of event unfold in real time – it has to be said they did a great job with the portable loos. It’s the kind of thing that can let a mass event down, but thankfully not at this one.

As well as the stalls, there were a number of how-to events, interviews, discussions, panels and one to one sessions. I attended a few including the Stephen Greene talk on Rockcorps, an innovative social enterprise that is turning young people on to volunteering in return for tickets to high-voltage, big name music concerts all for a worthy cause. And the inspiring Cleo Rocos interview where she charted her move from the world of entertainment to the frontiers of business.

The Old Selfridge Hotel where the festival was hosted, is essentially a huge shell of a building that you can rig up as you will. It’s raw, unrefined interior added to the creative, handcrafted, real-world atmosphere of Makegood.

The event ran from Friday 30 May to Sunday 01 June. I thought, for some reason, that the Friday was an evening do. It wasn’t. So by the time I checked the schedule to work out when I needed to arrive, it was too late.

Never mind I more than made up for it over Saturday and Sunday. I had lots of chats with imaginative people who are running diverse startups including:

Miss Goodweather – waterproof fashion clothes for the summer festival season. If you know England you’ll understand why that is a good idea.

Vintage and Floral
– handmade quilts. Jennifer Campbell Kirk has a remarkable story, of how her business is rooted in time spent with her Texan mother-in-law, learning quilt-making after losing both her parents in quick succession.

The Acrojou stand with its huge wheel of a prop made me want to run off and join the circus. They combine acrobatics, hand-crafted props and imagery to create unique circus theatre experiences for events across the globe.

Helen Howard of H&RH Escargot
s – Yes, she sells snails (try saying that fast). Helen asked me whether I liked snails, my honest answer was ‘no’. They aren’t a personal delicacy of mine. But that didn’t stop me admiring her enterprise. She started cultivating (growing, rearing? Oh farming),  snails in a bedroom at home, and now supplies well-known restaurants, as well as bespoke kits for home use.

Now for an idea that involves the concepts pf ‘online’ and ‘dating’ but with a nifty twist, The Secret Date Club – a heady mix of adventure and romance for modern day lifestyles. Michelle Roche explained that she puts together mystery dates for couples. But you do get some clue as to what you are signing up for, the idea of course is that you are suitably enthused rather than biting-fingernails-petrified. Current examples from the summer collection include ‘a dreamy daytime date for two’, ‘your secret wonderland’, and ‘starry, starry night’.

Well I could go on, but instead I’ll let you find out more about the other stall-holders here. So that’s it in a rather generous nutshell – plus I also met a prospect interested in some PR consultancy.

If you are running a creative project or business or considering one, you may want to have a read of this book – How to Start a Creative Business: The Jargon-Free Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs.  The book’s ten chapters take you through ten questions to help you create your startup. Going through it myself, I’m impressed with the straightforward language, enagaging visual illustrations and of course the real life case studies of creative entrepreneurs who have cracked the code of mixing business with their unique brand of pleasure. I don’t get any commission for recommending this book. I simply recognise a valuable resource when I see one. Go and Makegood.

“Be prepared for success.”

Cleo Rocos
Comedy actress turned Tequila entrepreneur, and speaker at Makegood Festival

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