Saturday, 1 March 2014

A West End Treasure Trove


I mentioned in the previous blog I was going to interview various crafty and arty types, well I have a fabulous gallery which sells lovely art and crafty goodies from Scottish crafters and artists.

Janet and John is located in the De’Courcy’s Arcade on Cresswell Lane in the West End of Glasgow and is a treasure trove of Scottish art and crafts.  The lovely husband and wife team, Janet and John Turner, opened just last August and they have already established themselves as the place to go for unique cards, gifts and homeware with everything from the pretty to the geeky.

Janet has her own business, Baljaffray Handknits, and uses locally sourced wool including New Lanark wool and Strathearn fleece and fibre to knit hats, headbands, scarves and gloves, cushions, tea cosies, hot water bottle covers etc.  She sells her makes through Janet & John, The Magpie's Eye Gallery (Govan), The Loch an Eilein Gallery (on the Rothiemurchus estate near Aviemore), the New Lanark Gift Shop and also at craft fairs.  

Baljaffray Handknits
Janet’s inspiration comes from the croftswomen of Skye where she spent the summer in 2009.  She was visiting the island with her family after a difficult few months during which her mum had passed away from cancer.  During her stay in the Highlands they visited a number of local village halls where the local croftswomen were selling arts and crafts to tourists to supplement their income.   As she couldn’t face going back into teaching again at that time, Janet was contemplating a change of career and was drawn to their knitting, something she had done a lot of when she was younger.  A few weeks later Baljaffray Handknits was born.

Circumstances played a big part in deciding to open Janet and John.  As many crafters will know, craft fairs can be difficult places to make a profit, especially by the time you pay for the table and travel costs.   John found himself out of work for the second time at the beginning of 2013, so therefore making a profit through Janet’s  Baljaffray Handknits became a priority. 

“I had been doing very well at The Loch an Eilein Gallery but, despite attending far more fairs now John had more time, they didn’t bring in any profit.  We decided that selling more through shops and galleries was the way forward.”

Janet then approached several businesses in the West End of Glasgow and met with almost universal rejection.  “I began to realise that there was a gap in the market for arts and hand crafted goods and began to think about opening a shop myself.  I had also met many artists and crafters in a similar position to myself.  I researched further without saying anything to John, worried that he would say “No” straight away.  I was nervous, though, so part of me hoped he would.  When I finally plucked up the courage last June, he actually said “Yes” without hesitation.” 

Ginger Pidgin's 'A Wee Hug'
Janet and John chose the prime West End location partly because rents were so reasonable there but also because Eli Handmade in the arcade was closing and they actually bought most of her shop fittings for Janet and John.  The gallery is tucked away upstairs in the De’Courcy’s Arcade on Cresswell Lane just off Byres Road with a lovely tea room next door. It features many crafters and artists handpicked by Janet and John including Ginger Pidgin, Libby Walker, Hannah Longmuir and myself.  Initially they went round local craft fairs and selected people they knew and then once they opened they were approached by other people (and still are) They sought out a few items ie soap and candles but now they have strict rules they go by when selecting new artists and crafters.

“There are a series of questions we ask ourselves.  The first is ‘Have we currently got room for
Libby Walker's 'Kelvinbridge'
more?’ the answer to which is usually ‘No’.  On the occasion it’s ‘Yes’ or ‘Maybe in a month or so’, we ask ourselves if what is being offered is sufficiently different to what is in the shop at present.  We plan to work in 6 month phases, reviewing our stock and contributors in January and July.  We are learning as we go along, what sells and what doesn’t.”

In Janet’s spare time she still enjoys knitting especially hats, and also designing patterns which she tries to publish online on her blog, although she doesn’t have as much time as she would like for it at the moment. She would also like to learn crochet and has done tapestry in the past aswell.  Her focus however is Janet and John, watching the reactions of customers who feel they’ve found a treasure trove and maintaining their online presence on their website and Facebook.

One day Janet hopes they will have premises large enough to not have to turn so many artists and crafters away and possibly sell online.  Keep your eye on them and you never know, one day there may be another branch....

Janet's three recommendations......

I’m going to recommend 3 related businesses in Glasgow:

The Yarn Cake, 148 Queen Margaret Drive, G20 8NY

Brilliant for knitting, crochet and spinning supplies and help.  They run an evening drop in clinic and knitting group.  It also has a wonderful cafe.

The Magpie’s Eye Gallery,  795 Govan Road, G51 3EW.

Great place to start exhibiting for crafters.   Low commission rate, and that goes to the Starter Packs Glasgow charity.  

The Cup & Saucer Vintage Tearoom, upstairs in De Courcy’s Arcade,  Cresswell Lane, G12 8AA

Situated next door to Janet & John, we highly recommend their soup and cakes!

Janet and John are open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5.30pm and Sunday 12pm to 5pm.  They are also available on Facebook 

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