A CRAFT 'family' group is aiming to encourage more people to buy locally and support North East businesses.
The Newcastle Craft Mafia, which has 24 members, producing everything from children’s clothing to jewellery and art, is using the collective approach to persuade more people that bespoke is best.
Co-founder Leeanne Lowe said that despite the recession, not everyone wants to buy the same items that are available on the high street.
She said: “We’re getting a bit of a resurgence - lots of craft producers are offering something different.
“People are starting to think it’s important to keep local business alive. We’re seeing that with craftspeople.
“It’s a case of education as well. You’re paying for what you get. It’s unique - it’s not a mass produced product.
Part-time teacher Ms Lowe, who also runs the children’s clothing and gifts firm Sitting on the Wall, set up the group last year with US-born artist and crafter Cassandra Harrison.
Ms Harrison, whose Gee How Quaint business produces handmade bags, met an a craft event at Newcastle’s Centre for Life.
Ms Lowe said: “I was doing a project with my year 12 students, where they were concentrating on creating a live business for their coursework. Cassandra agreed to come in and do some workshops and we ended up going for a coffee and having a chat. It’s just evolved from that.”
The Craft Mafia is a worldwide organisation, which started in the US to bring individual creative businesses together in a stronger combined force.
“Mafia is a global brand. The original one was based on the mafia is a family - a family of crafters,” said Ms Lowe.
“We work independently and come together for events. To do them as a ‘family’ is a lot cheaper because we are sharing the costs.
“It’s grown very quickly. It’s scary - but fantastically scary.”