Award Winning, 2 Years In & We Still Need Your Help!


I think I firstly need to say that this is being written from the heart, so possibly not very well written or grammatically correct.

I have read these sorts of blogs before from brave souls who have bared all when things were tough and I have always been impressed that someone can be so open and honest about their business situation. However, these types of blogs have usually been written when their business has sadly closed, and they are looking back. I have been thinking about writing this for some time now, but today, this week, feels right. I need to ask for your help, this is your call to action to support all your local independents.


The space before we decorated.

It was Make’s second birthday this week, we have been open for two whole years! Where did that time go? We have grown our brand, our workshops and our offering in that time and become an Award Winning retailer. What an amazing achievement, and yes I do feel so proud of myself, (being blatantly honest there) But is it enough?

Make sprang from my original shop Funky Poppy which was a button shop. Whilst running my first small business I saw that Plymouth needed a space like Make, a creative outlet for people to come, to share, to get involved and learn. It was a few years in the planning and I found the perfect space, lost it, found the premises I am in now and took the plunge. For those of you who aren’t local and don’t know Make, it is a café, shop and workshop space in Plymouth, UK, selling lovely fabrics, gifts and haberdashery, baking and making lovely savoury goods for our café and running lots of workshops, sewing and other creative things.

All the things at make

I think the perception of Make is that we have made it! People say on a daily basis "It's going so well, you have so many workshops running, it's' so busy". I agree we do have a lot of workshops, it is going well and yes we can be busy sometimes but I'm afraid we haven't "made it" yet! 

Experts say (I don’t know who these experts are mind) that it takes three years for a business to really start to make money. Is this the case anymore? We are in difficult times, with uncertainties in Britain’s future and I increasingly worry as this is affecting my business.  Uncertainty brings a nervousness in spending and a rise in costs from every angle makes just the weekly shop more of a struggle for people. I know my immediate family and friends aren’t as well positioned financially as they were say two years ago.

I am going to give a few honest truths in this blog post, as I told you I am writing from the heart so be warned! It is tough, I work a lot, sometimes not having time off, I work up to 5 evenings a week added on to the 6 – 7 days, starting at around 8.45 in the morning and getting home around 9.45 in the evenings. My partner spends a lot of his time on his own having to entertain himself (not really something he signed up for when we got together). He is amazing though, so supportive, listening, cuddling when I need a cry and advising when I am able to listen to advise.

It is after all, my business and I am honestly happy to be working these hours as I believe it will be worth it! I am not looking for sympathy with this blog, I am just speaking from the heart and reaching out. 

I try my hardest to be productive when I am at work and get done all of the millions of things that need doing, but spend most of my time beating myself up that I haven’t done enough, that I need to do more.

Here is one of my business secrets and I know it is one of the most important things when you set up a business, that is to always take a wage. Well I haven’t, not yet! This fabulous space that I love, that you may love, is swallowing up more money than I am able to produce!

I bet you’re wondering how I have lived, well I am lucky enough that my partner can support me partly and also I earn a small amount from a flat I rent out which goes towards food and bills.

I pay my staff on time, that is very important to me, after all they are the people that work so hard to create Make. I also make sure I pay the other small businesses I may buy from on time as this is so important. The others sometimes have to wait, which I hate as there is always a money worry, will I have enough? Can I pay that now? Can I order more stock? It's a constant worry and one that I have never found myself in before.

Make is my life at the moment and I am totally and utterly devoted to making this place work, but honestly, I don’t know how long I can survive. I don’t mean because I am working too much, but because of the debt I find myself getting into to make it work!

According to the Herald (local paper) 32 new businesses have opened in Plymouth so far this year, majority of them independent.  Fantastic! Now help them stay open! All of us need to take on ownership to support these local businesses to stay open thrive and be successful.

Help is good, our local economy needs it!

Picture of lizzy

Business Person in training!

I am a business person in training! I have made some big mistakes that have cost me a lot of money and I make mistakes everyday learning as I go, but despite all of this and all of what I have said I really am enjoying the journey.

I guess what I am saying through all of this is help! Not in a desperate way but in a “I think you like what we do here so tell your friends, spread the word, come and visit us and see what new things we have coming up or going on.” Keep us in your mind when you are meeting friends, whether it’s for coffee, lunch or to do one of our in house kits. Come and pay us a visit online if you need some yummy fabrics, use us for our knowledge, come and learn a new skill, you have us, take advantage and make it worth your while us being here!

My landlord said to me a couple of weeks ago.......

“They will miss you when you’re gone”

It is true.

But, I really don’t want it to come true! I want to be celebrating my third birthday next year with you all, not having a closing down sale. You have been such an amazing support so far and we would not have made it where we are now without you, we just need you to spread the love further, don’t keep us a secret!

Thank you all for the past two years it truly has been an amazing journey and I am so grateful for all of your support and all of my fabulous staff I have shared this journey with. They have been amazing and have worked so hard, thank you from the bottom of my heart (and if this was being written with ink and paper it would be a little water marked now!)

That’s it from me, thanks for taking the time to read my emotional download and please support your local independent, whether it’s a butcher, greengrocers, café or haberdashery, they really need your support.

Lizzy xx



  • Sam

    I’m so pleased to read that these messages of support has spurned you forward and that Make is moving on upwards. I have only just read this refreshingly honest account of what a start up really is and you have the positive attitude and tenacity that is needed to make it even more of a success (if success in the first instance is simply staying open and getting rave reviews you’ve smashed it).
    I tell many about Make and we’re looking forward to visiting from Bristol in April. Keep pushing on lovely Lizzy xx

  • Tracy

    I have just chanced upon your post after scrolling through the house that jack built’s home on facebook. Your post made we weep with frustration as I too used to be part owner of a craft shop in Plympton, the strains of the business however saw me have a breakdown and I signed the business over to my business partner to carry on – the shop has since closed (although Karen did her very best to keep it going). I retrained and work in care, but I miss my crafting roots. I used to get so angry with customers thinking it was all fun, fun, fun, make, make, make. whilst customer interaction is fun and workshops are sociable, No one really understands the rents, rates, and general business charges for utilities etc are crippling. My heart goes out to you. nearly 4 years from leaving the industry, I am tentatively getting back into my love of craft, I am an indie yarn dyer and sew bags. I do it as and when it takes my fancy, small scale. I just wish that Plymouth City Council, landlords and government would look at small independants different to large chains, and realise open shops with independent sellers with adjusted rents/ rates are more appealing to people than closed empty shells and charity shops. The shops could be divided up so several independants could use one unit. Even Plymouth City Pannier market to me has unrealistic rents for stall holders starting out. Independants also offer better customer service and a sense of community.

    Sorry for my ramble, I admit I am one who keeps meaning to visit but my heartache of the struggles of craft shops is raw to me and hurts. I will try to correct this soon and enter your shop of which I have heard amazing things. I Hope you find a solution to make your business a success even if that is down sizing and moving premises. Sending a hug. Tracy xx

  • Mary

    Well I think you are doing a fantastic job, and want to be wishing Make a happy 3rd birthday too (and 4ht, 5th, 6th …) so will continue to introduce new people, book for courses, buy fabric, and I’m sure I can manage to fit in some extra cake-eating :) It’s so important to support local businesses, especially one as great as Make, so hope everyone can rally round … xx

  • Jill stickley

    Keep smiling as ever Lizzie. You are very much needed xx

  • Eileen

    A very heart rending story , it is true we should support our independent sector
    I am guilty as many I’m sure , that I pass the shop on the way through the Barbican
    and always say I must call in there one day and see what’s going on , even if it starts
    with a coffee and cake , and leads to coming to a work shop .
    I will keep my promise see you soon .

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