Meet Bianca Frimpong, founder and Managing Director of The Community Shop Newham
We caught up with Bianca Frimpong, founder and Managing Director of The Community Shop Newham. She shared her journey to creating an independent gift shop with a difference in the Royal Docks.
A few years ago I began volunteering with local community groups and found it so rewarding. There are loads of exciting projects and opportunities in the Royal Docks. The area is open to new ideas, innovation for business, and community wealth building. I really wanted to be part of it.
I have always lived in East Ham and have a love for crafting, making handmade candles, and bath and body products. One of my volunteering roles was hosting candle-making workshops in an empty shop unit on Freemasons Road, Custom House (now the Newham Bookshop).
Following the workshops, I enrolled on the Expressway Incubator Programme to develop a plan for a pop-up shop. There wasn't a place locally for local makers to showcase and sell their products. I was determined to change that. With funding from the Fight For Peace neighbourhood wallet fund we converted an old shipping container into a pop up shop. It was great as we could move the shop around. It was located at Royal Victoria Docks for several months. The shop was very popular so we decided to apply for a Projekt pop-up shop unit. Projekt is a leading workspace provider that delivers mixed-use affordable space for businesses, artists, designers, and creative SMEs in London. They manage amazing creative spaces in the Royal Docks including the Silver Building and Factory Project. We were delighted when they offered us the opportunity to relocate to a shop unit at Brunel Street Works for three months.
The independent gift shop was initially only supposed to be for one month. However, the Community Shop Newham quickly snowballed to success. Now, nearly two years later, the shop has a new home in Canning Town. From where we began to where we are now has been a miracle. It has also become a full-time role for me. It's been an amazing journey.
The shop is run by the community for the community...The shop is a fantastic example of the creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship in the Royal Docks.
Bianca Frimpong, founder and Managing Director of The Community Shop Newham
My role includes everything from keeping the shop running smoothly and working with our amazing community partners to developing new opportunities and projects for local makers. As a social enterprise, we are dedicated to showcasing locally handcrafted goods to the community. We put a spotlight on handmakers in Newham and surrounding boroughs, giving them a physical and virtual platform to sell their products.
We have showcased products from over 80 makers online and in-store. The current range includes jewellery, clothing, candles, toys, greeting cards, bath and beauty products plus much more. Shoppers can expect a diverse range of high-quality handmade products crafted by local artisans. We receive 100s of applicants applying to sell via the shop. We cherry-pick the very best products and ensure we meet the needs of our customers.
We aim to help small handmade businesses thrive and create a more sustainable local economy. We also provide them access to training and business development events.
By Linda Armitage
Royal Docks Team
The shop is run by the community for the community. The leadership team and makers volunteer to cover the shifts in the store. The shop offers a unique experience where customers can buy bespoke items, meet the makers, and take part in workshops and events hosted by our talented artists. Our customers range from Newham residents and tourists staying in nearby hotels to people working locally.
We are currently in talks with Newvic Newham Sixth Form College to provide work experience for A-Level students. There are opportunities for students to work in the store to build employability skills and confidence for their next working role. They’ll also gain qualifications on the job.
The future continues to look bright for The Newham Community Shop. In partnership with Projeckt, the plan is to develop the rest of the unused 3,000 square feet shop unit into a craft hub. It will be an enhanced creative space where locals can learn and use equipment including digital cutting and mark press machines, plus T-shirt presses. The hub will also incorporate artist studios for handmade businesses. The shop is a fantastic example of the creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship in the Royal Docks. This plan will enable us to offer even more opportunities to the local community. Watch this space!
Visit The Newham Community Shop to check out the exciting range of artisan products at 27 Silvertown Way, Canning Town, E16 1RD (next door to Sainsbury’s and directly opposite Holiday Inn). Open Tuesday – Friday 10am to 7pm and Saturday 11am to 6pm.
To find out more about The Community Shop Newham, shop online, and sign up for workshops visit communityshopnewham.co.uk
The Newham Community Shop is a brilliant example of the community spirit and creative talent in the Royal Docks. We have a bold ambition to be London’s Cultural Engine - a world class creation centre, inspired by the people and heritage of the area. Read more about our plans here
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