One year ago, when independent shops were considered to be in decline across the country, a collective of local independent start-up businesses came together to open a brand new shop in Park Mall, Ashford.

Made In Ashford opened on Friday 23rd October 2015, run by Ashford Borough Council who designed the original branding and signage for the shop. Instantly a platform was created for innovative businesses to test their products on the high street. 

Made In Ashford is a key element of the council’s belief that independent shops should be the spine of the reinvigorated Park Mall and create a unique selling point for Ashford town centre. Indeed, the possibility and viability of such a shop is due to the success of PopUpAshford, which allowed businesses to test the high street back in 2013.

Showcasing unique businesses in a friendly, quirky environment, Made In Ashford offers its businesses flexible tenancies (starting from a minimum of three months), ideal for this early stage in their life-cycle.

Interest in joining the collective has been constant and the venture is stronger than ever. Six businesses were part of the original collective and ten are currently in the shop, the presence of which has helped to increase footfall in Park Mall significantly. 

Here's what some of the business owners had to say about their Made In Ashford experience:

We have been with Made in Ashford from the very beginning. My businesses and my family have expanded within this year and without the flexibility of our shop share it may not have been possible to run a business alongside my new addition. 

- Melissa Dawkins (Aye Aye Clothing)

I've really enjoyed being involved with Made in Ashford. Working from home can sometimes be lonely and isolating, so it's been very beneficial to be part of a creative group. You can support, motivate and inspire one another.

- Alix Leeds (Little Red Hen Jewellery)

What is being done in Park Mall is something I fully support and is regenerating the town. What is good for the heart and soul, be it a person or a place, benefits that around it so I expect that the regeneration of the Town Centre will improve all of Ashford in the future. Made in Ashford has energy and has been the perfect ground to test my product, meet customers and develop a network of other people in similar cottage industries.

- Gregory Daines (Circa 1990)

I have always been pleased to have a retail space in Ashford representing fine and applied arts alongside so many talented designers, makers and craftspeople. The standard in the shop is consistently high and I love to see customers returning to us as the town's gift shop. 

One of my best experiences has been the business mentoring arranged for us. It has been so useful for me as a creative start up, I am truly grateful.

- Judith Tosland (JuJu Art)

To mark the shop's one year anniversary there will be cake and bucks fizz for customers, who will also receive 10% off their purchases on Thursday 27th, 28th and 29th October. Anyone who makes a purchase over the three days will be entered into a prize draw for a £20 Made In Ashford voucher. Competitions will also be running on the Made In Ashford Facebook page throughout the coming week. 

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