Pop-up shops: Creative Christmas

The building at 58 South Street in St Neots has had many uses in its history, originally built for BC & HE Co or the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Huntingdonshire Electricity Company in 1927. It’s been a job centre, nightclub and amusement arcade but sadly has been closed for nearly a decade.

We were delighted when the new owners contacted us to ask if we knew of anyone who could use the downstairs shop as they didn’t need it. We took on the venue during November 2017 for the St Neots Christmas lights switch on and hosted a free creative drop-in session that over 300 people attended. Families not only got to come in out of the cold and noise but got to create some lovely festive crafts and sample some delicious homemade soup made by local chef.

Donations for this event went to local charity Switch Now and we managed to raise £100 for their Christmas social. People were able to see the start of the cardboard town displayed in the window and sit on furniture on loan from The Shop at Forty.

It was our first taster of organising one of these pop-up events and we’re confident that the people of St Neots want more of the same (thanks to the handy feedback tags they filled out telling us so).

As an update to this post, we’re delighted to see the empty shop now back in use and that the shop has been loving converted into Elsie May’s Electric Lounge that was opened a year after our event. We think partly due to our pop-up shop.

Neotists involved in the project

  • Clair Slade
    Clair Slade
    Radio broadcaster and social media
  • Adele Gilpin
    Adele Gilpin
    Data designer, software developer
  • Claire Montgomerie
    Claire Montgomerie
    Textiles designer
  • Fiona Brice
    Fiona Brice
    Arts and creativity consultant
  • Nicola Westgarth-Flynn
    Nicola Westgarth-Flynn
    Product designer
  • Dave Fleet
    Dave Fleet
    Field recordist and musician
  • Maciek Platek
    Maciek Platek
    Food and interior photographer
  • Andrew Poodle
    Andrew Poodle
    Entrepreneur, engineer and MySQL specialist
  • Richard Slade
    Richard Slade
    Graphic and web designer
Clair Slade
Radio broadcaster and social media

Clair Slade has a background in radio, sound engineering, marketing, graphic design, health and childcare and is fired-up by learning new skills. She currently volunteers with local charities and is working as a marketing coordinator for an international telecoms company.

Adele Gilpin
Data designer, software developer

Adele Gilpin is has a background in database design and development and recently moved in to the realm of data visualisation and infographic design. At her previous employer, she identified a need to complement their rather hefty annual reports with snippets of data that were easier to access, digestible and visually interesting. While she doesn’t feel like a creative in the traditional sense, she feels that data can enhance everyone’s lives and her mission is to take the numb out of the numbers.

Claire Montgomerie
Textiles designer

Claire Montgomerie is a textiles designer specialising in knitting and crochet, constructing fabrics, garments, creatures and accessories which are fun, quirky and modern. Her main aim is always to reinvent the products of ancient and traditional needle craft processes while retaining all their intricacies and comforting charm.

Claire likes to keep her hands busy and so is constantly working on many different projects. She has made puppets for music videos, contributes patterns and articles to craft magazines and books, and writes, edits and consults on craft books. As well as this, she teaches textiles at many different levels and styles and contributes to Inside Crochet magazine.

Fiona Brice
Arts and creativity consultant

Fiona Brice has spent her working life bringing together creative practitioners and young people to raise their aspirations and broaden their creative thinking. She started out working in education programmes for orchestras in Newcastle and London and then moved to Creative Partnerships, which for many years was the Government’s flagship Creative Learning programme. This was a great opportunity to explore how a creative mindset could inform teaching approaches in schools and give a voice to young people both influencing the work of a range of practitioners and their own learning experience.

A move to Singapore in 2010 gave Fiona the wonderful opportunity to experience a range of different cultures at the same time bringing up a young family. She also joined a social enterprise who were delivering the global Design for Change programme to children in Singaporean schools. Fiona took the Design Thinking element of this programme and developed holiday programmes in innovation for preteen and young teenagers, usually culminating in an unusual collection of prototypes made out of recyclables.

Nicola Westgarth-Flynn
Product designer

Nicola Westgarth-Flynn is part of the St Neots based duo that formed Koti Studio in 2014. The creative design studio specialises in industrial design within the homewares sector. The studio has a growing portfolio of work, with high profile brands such as; Lakeland, Joseph Joseph and Joules.

Nic gained valuable product design experience working for Pearson Lloyd, Cambridge Consultants and TTP. She also freelanced for Charlie Oulten and Team Consulting. Her strengths lie in initial concepting, brainstorming ideas, and ensuring the products remain realistic, practical and manufacturable.

You can view more of Koti Studio’s work on their website and blog.

Dave Fleet
Field recordist and musician

Dave Fleet is a field recordist, electronic musician and photographer in so much as that he can point a camera at something that catches his eye in the same way as he point’s a microphone at something that catches his ear.

Maciek Platek
Food and interior photographer

Maciek Platek is creating a name for himself in the local area as young and upcoming food and interior photographer. He has several large commissions with well established companies including Wyboston Lakes and La Maison Chic successfully promoting their businesses through his photography. His passion is not only for food and interior photography, but also for architecture, examples of which can be seen in his portfolio.

Maciek is actively seeking new commissions and will be more than happy to discuss any photographic requirements.

Andrew Poodle
Entrepreneur, engineer and MySQL specialist

Andrew Poodle’s background is in online infrastructure and web application development and he has spent much of his career as a specialist in MySQL databases. Andrew is now more interested and involved in online business development and online strategy than being a hands-on techie, but his technical background serves him well in understanding what’s feasible and practical.

In a nutshell, Andrew is a serial entrepreneur with a focus on developing products and business strategy for the mobile and web markets. In recent years Andrew co-founded ski blog PowPowPow, online dating website Plenty More Fish, and tech-company Craftspeed

Richard Slade
Graphic and web designer

Richard Slade has over 20 years experience in the design industry working in the public, private and charity sectors with some of the top names in design. He produces highly creative work for brands and organisations across the UK and his work covers a wide range of disciplines, including web, print and corporate identity. As well as extending his skills into both marketing and project management, Richard is also a highly capable photographer and illustrator. A huge advocate of design and creativity Richard formed Neotists in 2015 as a way to promote local freelance talent and community engagement.