Small businesses from across the region were yesterday given the chance to show their wares to prestigious buyers at a pioneering networking event.
Northumberland County Council hosted its first Meet the Maker, Meet the Buyer event, with the aim of boosting the sale of locally-made goods across the county and beyond.
The event saw more than 130 producers from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and Durham mingle with around 290 buyers from across the region, at three venues in Morpeth – the Chantry, Town Hall and Riverside leisure centre.
Buyers included popular tourist attractions like Alnwick Castle and Garden, Bamburgh Castle, Beamish and Durham Cathedral, as well as representatives from Hexham Abbey and St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle. Teams from the National Trust, Northumberland National Park, Northumberland Coast AONB were also present.
Among the “makers” at the Chantry was Jane Jackson, whose Bright Seed Textiles company produces dry-felted “paintings” from Harris Tweeds and yarns.
She said the event had allowed her to make new contacts and been a good networking opportunity.
Jane, who has a permanent stall at the venue, added: “I think even just making contact with other makers has been good. It brings everyone together. We work in isolation and scuttle out to deliver, it is good to socialise with other makers.
“It shows what a wealth of talent there is in the area.”
Another at the same venue was fellow stallholder Catherine Wylde, who runs the Northumberland Tartan Company from Warkworth.
She said: “It has been helpful to speak to people that I know already but also to get some new contacts with new businesses. It is really good of them to do it, everything helps. I think it has been really well organised.”
There was a famous face at the town hall, or so it appeared, as Newcastle-based Gary Tiplady – the renowned lookalike of James Bond character Jaws – showed off his sculptures.
Val Tyler, the council’s policy board member for community, infrastructure and culture, said: “The idea behind the event is to allow our local suppliers to meet up with prospective buyers within and without the region to increase the knowledge of just how many small local businesses we have working in Northumberland who are very very clever and very creative and they are missing out if they do not take the opportunity to come and be part of this.
“It is the first event we have done, hopefully it will be the first of many.
“It has been very worthwhile, from the feedback so far.”