Crafters still going strong after 20 years

Irene Hume and Karen Nelson at The Crafters' Melrose shop.
Irene Hume and Karen Nelson at The Crafters' Melrose shop.

A co-operative of Borders artists and designers is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, having survived and thrived against the odds.

The Crafters, a group of 13 artists and designers based behind the shop of the same name in Melrose’s Market Square, is the only one of its kinds in the Borders.

The Crafters.

The Crafters.

Founding member and treasurer Irene Hume said: “This is a big year for us. We have got a lovely group of crafters just now, and it’s a unique set-up. There’s no other one like it really.

“Everyone takes ownership of different parts of the business, and we don’t employ anyone. It’s not so much a shop as a co-operative, and it has worked that way right from the off.”

Originally established as the Scottish Borders Craft Association back in 1998, members paid a subscription and got one craft fair for their money. After that folded due to lack of interest, the Crafters was born.

“A group of us wanted to show and sell our crafts on a more regular basis,” Irene said. “We set about finding premises in Melrose High Street, took legal advice and registered at Companies House.

“It was a learning curve for the lawyers as well as us because this set-up had never been done before.”

Fast-forward 20 years, and the team of 13 crafters are happily settled at their 5 Market Square base.

“We learnt a lot in those first few years and there was a lot of doubting Thomases at the time, but we have proved that it really does work,” Irene added.

In fact is has worked so well the shop was named Best Melrose Business at this month’s Borders Business Award.

Aside from running the shop six days a week, the team also organises an annual art and design fair attracting around 2,000 visitors.

This year it’s taking place at Springwood Park, Kelso, on Saturday, November 17, from 10am to 5pm.

The Crafters is celebrating the major milestone with a year-long fundraising drive supporting six different charities. To find out more about that visit: www.thecrafters.co.uk