Made in Ashford wins prestigious national award

Posted on 22 February 2021

Made in Ashford, the community-led craft shop in Park Mall, Ashford, has won The Good Retail Awards’ Retail District award for 2021. The shop was described as “a breath of bright, rainbow-coloured air” by one of the judges.

The Retail District category set out to find retail areas that produce innovative campaigns and customer-centric initiatives to create a buzz around the retail stores in their area.

The judges praised the innovative way Made in Ashford has adapted to supporting its retailers in the pandemic. Improving the website, holding online markets and offering a range of free downloads have increased website visits and engagement and raised the profile of the shop and its crafters.

Melissa Dawkins, Director of Craftship Enterprise, explained: “We had a website already but when the pandemic started, we went and put loads more products on there, fitting as much as we could from the shop to make sure we could feature everybody. It’s all been a bit of trial and error, as well as bouncing ideas off each other. We had live shopping events on social media that we started doing more regularly, then we added the online market nights which we hadn’t done pre-pandemic, because we wanted to be able to offer a way for our members and local businesses to be noticed.”

She continued: “Things like our free craft tutorials on our YouTube channel have brought positivity to so many in these tough times. Zoom meetings between shop members have also been great because our shop is a community hub and without this, the social element has been taken away. We’ve tried hard to make sure everybody is well supported throughout and can still have as much fun as possible. We’ve got over 50 businesses in our shop and we’re really lucky to have such a great community, so we all share our customer bases and expand our network.”

Made in Ashford
Made in Ashford

We’ve got over 50 businesses in our shop and we’re really lucky to have such a great community, so we all share our customer bases and expand our network.

Melissa Dawkins, Director of Craftship Enterprise

Alongside this, the team have worked hard on their social media presence, and have started using email marketing with events and different opportunities. The shop window has also been used to attract the attention of anyone out in the town centre during the lockdowns. They continue to make changes and try new things.

Melissa concluded: “Our customers have been fantastic and there’s been a big swing towards shopping locally. We’re delighted to have been recognised with this award, it’s a fantastic achievement after all our hard work.”

Cllr Paul Clokie, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Corporate Property, said: “This national recognition for Made in Ashford shows the excellent work they are doing to unite the creative community and make the shop a success even in these difficult circumstances. With so many different businesses under one roof there really is something for everyone, if you haven’t explored what they have to offer yet I encourage you to do so. Congratulations to the team, long may the success continue.”

Comments from the judges included describing Made in Ashford as a “small enterprise that delivers big outcomes” – Naeem Arif, Founder of NA Consulting; “a breath of bright, rainbow-coloured air. They are a wonderful community initiative and have had impressive results given the challenges of this year.” – Catherine Erdly, Founder of the Resilient Retail Club. Julie Driscoll, UK Regional Director of Hyve Group plc (Spring Fair) said: “What a great example of a retail platform that supports creative small businesses both in person and online to drive awareness and a sustainable revenue stream.”

You can find out more about Made in Ashford at