Brighton is a city brimming with creative and art loving types and for a long time has been longing for a space where people can skill share, create and learn together. This is precisely the ethos Leigh-Anne has brought to the heart of Brighton’s North Laines by opening creative hub MADE; Make, Art, Drink, Eat. We spoke to owner and founder Leigh-Anne to find out more about how this creative hub came into fruition…
Who are the brains behind MADE?
I wish I could burden someone else with part of this idea and therefore part of the responsibility, but sadly it is all on me. I do however have a great support system, my partner Rory has been massively involved in the refurb and generally agreeing to be dragged along for the crazy ride. As well as our three children. Really it is their patience and belief that has enabled me to do what I’ve done.
What is the inspiration behind MADE?
The inspiration for MADE is born from Made with Love, my product and workshop business. Made with Love was born from my daughter 3 years ago, I wanted chemical free skin/hair care products both for myself through the pregnancy and also for her as a baby. Once I started researching what these long latin names actually meant I was pretty shocked. So I set about making edible products (not necessarily tasty, salt and oil tastes pretty yuk, but nonetheless completely harmless and edible).
Two years ago, when I wanted to take the business further, it was either sell out and make soaps, shampoos and all the others things that involve chemicals, or teach others how to do what I do and the things you cant sell, because they are fresh etc. This was really a game changer for me. One, I loved teaching, much more than product making alone in my workshop. Two, although making products I believed in felt good, teaching others how to do it for themselves felt even better. So I really invested in my workshops taking it from 1 to 4 different workshops (Learn to Make Fresh Organic Body & Hair Care, Aromatherapy Blending – Candles, Salts and Oils, Advanced Product Making -Moisturisers, Deodorants, Lip balms, Shower wash, Non- Toxic Cleaning Products) and teaching over 800 people in 18 months.
The feedback from my Made with Love workshops has been the inspiration for MADE. What I heard is that people want to be resourceful, they want to better themselves, they want to try new things, but they want to do this without having to commit a huge amount of time and money until they know what it involves. A lot of us might have romantic regrets, wishing we had become a florist rather than accountant for example, and a lot of the time just trying out these skills is enough to satisfy us. Also, like many romantic visions, the reality doesn’t always live up to it, so being able to try things out without making a massive commitment is essential. Many times I get students coming to class with the intention of starting a product business etc, and then I get an email a month later saying ‘this is hard isn’t it!’. But regardless, at least we/they can say we tried!
As a Brightonian I meet a lot of creative sorts, both in class and out. Often you will find a random workshop going on at the back of shop or at a village hall. I was shocked that actually Brighton didn’t yet have something centralised for all talents/skill sets to combine. It is hard to survive as one crafter/artist/teacher so coming together just made sense. Also, teachers have been really appreciative of someone taking on tasks that are imperative but that don’t interest them. Whether it be advertising, marketing, admin, organising etc. We allow them to turn up and do what they are good at!
My Made with Love workshops were in the North Laines and I found this to be massively helpful in getting students from outside of town also, knowing it’s central location makes it more of an event and a day out.
I have also taught at various small/local wellness centres/art houses so I have been able to identify what worked well for me as a teacher and what I felt was lacking. Number 1 being that the community seems quite small, and although not anyone’s intention, quite exclusive. Many of my students may be intimated to enter a wellness centre etc, wrongly believing they don’t fit in there, so making somewhere accessible and inviting to all was really important to me. The same with our Coffee shop, although we do serve awesome vegan, sugar-free, gluten free as well as glutenous, sugar laden and meat options, we don’t ram it down your throats, if your in the know your recognise the symbols, but equally you may well eat something sugar-free or vegan without realising.
What is your favourite thing to make?
Healthy and yummy dinners for my Family and Body Scrubs (so simple but SO effective).
What are your hopes for MADE in the future?
More teachers and more art. We are having a great response and we are looking booked up for the rest of the year already with exhibitions. Still scouting for teachers and am making a list of all the unique, weird and wonderful skills, craft, arts etc that people want to try so I can find the teacher to do it. I am so excited to be around all these creative sorts all day long, giving them this central platform to share what they do. Personally seeing how chuffed students are when they see what they have made is the best part of my job and now I get to see that ten+ times over with students of our other teachers. I hope in turn we share in the success of our students and teachers.
What can we expect to see coming up at MADE this summer?
We have a very creative Social Media/Marketing intern that is taking hold our our arts evenings (we are open every day, trialing wed/thurs/friday as late opening for shorter after-work classes and events). Title: MAD-Evenings. Evening showcases of Art, displaying anything from Spoken Word Poetry Performances, Murder Mystery Nights, Life Drawing sessions, Music Gigs, and various other Interpretative Performance Art: It is MAD, short for a Mad Hatters Tea Party. Like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, these performance nights will incite artistic curiosity into the minds of the beholders. We will be launching this separately around May.
We have lots of seasonal changes in workshops too, so expect something different every month.
This weekend we attended the MADE launch to check it out for ourselves and experience first-hand what Leigh-Anne was talking about. MADE, based in the centre of Brighton’s North Laines has taken up residence in what used to be the drum cavern. Birds has spent many hours trawling through various drum equipment in this building in its previous life with her husband and the amount of work put into the refurbishment is clear to see. What used to be dark cave like rooms on the lower floor have been turned into light and airy spaces for workshops and art exhibitions. There is an eclectic mix of current exhibiting artists including Anja Poehlmann, Finnley Elliott, Irvin Pascal and REQ – local graffiti artist who was spraying a mural on the building during the launch!
Upstairs on the ground floor you can find a cafe catering for all needs including coeliac, vegan, vegetarian, sugar free and carnivores. The cakes in particular won us over especially the matcha raspberry cake. For people who may be passing through and short of time – the cafe does takeaway too!
Along with the cafe on the ground floor were stalls with workshop tasters including director Leigh-Annes own workshops from her business Made With Love on natural, organic, raw and vegan body and home products. Other available workshops include raw chocolate workshop, screenprinting, felting, juicing…. the list goes on. See the full workshop calender here.
We loved MADE’s relaxed and friendly vibe. The workshop variety is huge already and set to expand in the future, already we are booking in our diaries to try several of the workshops and we are looking forward to trying out some of the arts evenings when they are launched later this year!
We are always keeping an eye out for new things to try! What workshops are you interested in?
Bugs & Birds