Founded eight years ago, Folksy has become the most popular site for independently crafted and designed gifts, all lovingly made by UK designer-makers. They’ve created a wonderful hub for creative folks, be they professional, portfolio or hobbyist designer-makers, to reach a mainstream audience and grow their businesses. We sat down for a chat with James Boardwell, who started it all back in 2008…
Tell us a little about the area of Sheffield you work in.
Sheffield feels like a bit of a secret in that those who know it never want to leave but not many people know it! There are three reasons why I love it and why I live here. Firstly, the Peak District and countryside are within minutes of where I live and are my playground for running and cycling and walking my dog, Lenny. Secondly, it’s friendly. I’ve lived in various other cities in the UK and none come close to the way in which people treat you here. Lastly, it’s a good size, an amalgamation of six towns that form a city, it feels like you can know it easily yet still find things that delight you.
What’s the best thing about running a business in Sheffield?
Folksy could be anywhere really and most of the partners and people we work with are London based, so in many ways it’s not actually the best place for us to do business, but there are some brilliant people here, with energy trying to make their ideas work, and there’s a real buzz to the place.
Where’s your favourite place in Sheffield?
Wyming Brook. I walk and run round here a lot. It feels quite alpine, and a world away from the city itself, yet it’s only five minutes away from my home. This just pips being sat with a pint of Landlord in The Sportsman pub in Lodge Moor or with a cup of tea in the Botanical Gardens.
From its humble roots in 2008, Folksy has come on leaps and bounds. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Remaining relevant in a fast-moving world. Craft and handmade is now more mainstream and there are many more ways for people to sell and market their work now than in 2008. We offer something that thousands of sellers and buyers find useful, but we have to work hard to keep evolving and to remain relevant on a very small budget.
One for your diary. Folksy are hosting the Weekend of the Maker event at ROCO Creative Co-op on 26-27 November. The event will explore the many elements that go into being a maker today and will include: a craft fair featuring more than 40 designers and makers on each day, craft workshops, business development sessions and an evening social-come-party. Free entry.
Interview by Felicity Jackson
Images in order of appearance:
Hole in the Road, Sheffield, by Illustrator Kate
Autumn Moorland Bracken by Sian Hughes (who also works at Folksy)
Carved Birds by LJ Bird Carving
Sarah Myatt Glass