The people behind the gifts in Brixton


As you hurry to finish your Christmas shopping in increasingly difficult times, keep a thought for the locals who create and provide them. Simone richardson I met some at Lambeth town hall in Brixton…

Market organizer Lee Wilson

The market hosted by Lee Wilson at Lambeth Town Hall was such a success that the council’s events team will use it as a case study.

“Design LED creates unique shopping experiences in iconic places,” she says. “What better place than Lambeth City Hall to end the year with our Sustainable Manufacturers Market?

The event was a huge success and Design LED will be releasing new dates and more locations next year, ”said Lee.

One of the main contributors was Calandra Smith’s Brixton Gin.

“We were in our apartment on Rushcroft Road with a newborn baby and nowhere to go,” Calandra explains.

“We couldn’t believe Brixton didn’t have its own gin, so we decided to make some.

“We bought plants locally, including honey from Brixton Bees.

“We have also partnered with Urban Growth, an organization that turns disused urban spaces into flourishing gardens.

“They cultivate wild violets, coriander, angelica and juniper for us. You’ll see them in the gardens around Brixton, including Pop Brixton.

“It’s not your usual origin story, but the result is something delicious and delicate that stands out.”

couple poses at covered market stall
Brixton Gin ‘Calandra and Andrew

Once an aspiring actress, Calandra studied wine and gin in her spare time, hoping that one day she would be able to use her knowledge.

“And then I had a baby and the lockdown took place. It was my moment! Step out of the hamster wheel and step into the life of a business owner… ”

Born in Hong Kong to New Zealand and Irish parents, Calandra has lived all over the world, Brixton is where she fell in love and had her baby.

“It is one of the most diverse places in Europe and a place that has welcomed me with open arms,” she says.

“My life and gin partner Andrew Murray-Watson is a Brixtonian who has lived here for almost two decades.

“Brixton is a great melting pot of everything I love in life: people from all over the world, delicious food to feast on and a community that embraces you like nowhere else I have ever lived. “

You can buy or taste a Brixton Gin in Brixton at any of these shops or bars – Guzzl in Brixton Village, Wine Parlor, The Laundry, Brixton Studio social club at Piano House, Sushi Revolution, 384, Shrub and Shutter, the Satay Bar, and Karakana.

Those over 18 who prefer to stay at home in the current uncertainty can order a bottle online.

man with wooden food boards
Damien tansey

From cabinets to catering boards

Damien Tansey was born in Croydon and lives in South Norwood.

He studied 3D graphics and animation and worked in hospitality after college, but also did carpentry and construction work part-time.

Now with his own business he builds bespoke furniture, cabinets and shelving in South London.

Damien has recently started creating one-of-a-kind, handmade food serving boards that he sells in local markets.

“I spend a lot of time in Brixton both for work and for social activities,” he says.

“I spent many evenings listening to live music at Hootananny and enjoying the local bars and pubs.

“One of my favorite things about Brixton is the wide array of fantastic dining venues, offering culinary delights from all over the world.”

Check out her work on Instagram or her website.

the man is holding a children's book
Denhue harris

Our favorite place to do business …

Kids expect Father – or Mama – Claus, if they’re single moms like me, to sort out filler gifts.

Denhue Harris’s children’s books could have a place on anyone’s list.

Coming to Britain from Jamaica at the age of three, he grew up in North London. Now he’s in Putney, “down the road” from Brixton.

From an early age he had a passion for airplanes and engineering which began with a visit to Gatwick Airport.

“I remember being amazed by the hustle and bustle of the airport and, in particular, by the spectacular airplane.

“This early interest started me on a journey to learn all I could about aviation.

“What followed years later was a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Technology from the University of Hertfordshire, where I studied aircraft flight in detail and more.

“In the real world, I have applied this knowledge for 15 years in the airline industry, traveling to countless destinations around the world, applying everything I have learned to ensure the highest levels of safety are respected in airlines. “

But he changed course.

“Natalie Bent, my co-founder and partner, had an informal conversation about the difficulty, as new parents, of finding large-scale books for young children with a primary portrayal of black people in particular.

“The data paints a problematic picture. One third of children in English schools come from an ethnic minority group. However, in the UK only 5% of children’s books feature a main character of non-white origin.

“Children are 8.2% more likely to see a main animal in children’s books than a non-white character. “

Denhue now divides her time between “keeping the airline I work for safe” and children’s books.

He writes them down; Nathalie illustrates them. And they both care for their “busy bee” of a little girl who “has always been the fuel that has kept us going for such a crucial time.”

“Our goal for the future is to help diversify the classroom by donating our books and learning resources to schools and nurseries.

“Only 6.2% of UK students enrolling in a STEM-related subject (science, technology, engineering, math) are black.

“Because of our background in STEM, we want to provide a platform that encourages black parents to embrace STEM for their children, because it is an industry that creates the innovators, leaders and inventors of tomorrow.

Little Scholars Playground was born in February 2021 – “with one mission to create engaging and diverse children’s literature, addressing this imbalance”.

Natalie grew up in the Brixton / Oval and their dating has seen them frequent the area.

“I’ve always loved the vibrancy and strong Jamaican culture associated with Brixton,” says Denhue.

“Brixton is truly a multi-ethnic, welcoming and warm community.

“As our products appeal to everyone, regardless of their origin, we couldn’t think of a better place than Brixton to engage with our customers face to face.

“You will regularly see us trading in the markets as we present our products to customers. Right in the heart of Brixton, it’s still our favorite place to do business.

More on Instagram

woman displays ornamental pillow
Terri Dean

Find a treasure in Brixton

There was another Putney connection to the Town Hall Market. Terri Dean was born there 67 years ago – although she certainly doesn’t look like it!

She then lived in Upper Tulse Hill, walked to the Brixton underground to get to work, and got married at the Brixton registry office.

“Our room was the [now disappeared] Hop Poles, where we had our wedding reception. We were poor as church mice, but still had a wonderful day.

Later, Terri moved to Crystal Palace and then to Anerley, where she still lives today.

She won a place at Croydon School of Art, but her parents refused to let her go. “It was 1969/70 and LSD was rampant. I suspect they thought I would be misled! ” she says.

“My mother taught me to sew and knit when I was a child. Since then, my creative drive has led me on different paths.

“I have a City and Guilds in interior design and took a course at the London College of Fashion for wedding dresses.

“Throughout my life, no matter what job I did, I always found time to express my creative side, whether it was art or making clothes and knitting sweaters.

“I also worked for a florist in West Dulwich – a wonderful way to make a living. Once again, my creative side rioted.

Terri’s day begins with walking her own dog, Ralphie, and four other people who she says keep her “fixed and focused.”

Sewing then continues throughout her day with breaks for herself and her dog.

“During confinement, I completely redecorated my apartment,” says Terri. “It made me relax and feel very grateful for what I have.

“I also experimented with color, painting the ceilings in my bedroom and bathroom gold and the ceilings in my living room and kitchen pink! Why stick to the boring old white?

“I did a little bit of sewing, but not too much, because the pandemic has thrown all plans into the air.”

Although she no longer lives in Brixton, Terri travels there often, mainly to Simply Fabrics.

“They have a great selection of designer fabrics at the end of the roll, they are helpful and friendly, their haberdashery is like a treasure. I like it there.

“I like to walk around the area for a while before going up the hill. It’s such a colorful and vibrant place, I hope it never changes.

See Terri’s work via Instagram.

Applause for the group

South London’s teens, the Mocktales, played for the people coming in and out of the market. They were spotted by Lee Wilson who saw the band participate in a “20 concerts in 20 days” charity challenge.

their own songs, Newsflash and Victims of a ballroom dance makes people applaud, says guitarist Matthew.

And, says his sister Isabelle: “Everyone from the stand builders, the organizers and the employees of the town hall supported us to play there and we were told that we would perhaps be given the chance to play on the stage. of the Assembly Hall in the near future. future, which we would like to do.

And Ice also beats her drum for Brixton. “We always love playing in Brixton because the people are really supporting the live music and the songs in our set,” she says.

“Brixton especially likes the covers we do of The Who, Sex Pistols, The Jam and Clash. In the metro station at midnight went very well and was well acclaimed!

The Mocktales recently opened for The Libertines at the Kentish Town Forum. On Saturday January 8, you can see them at Nambucca, another venue in North London, supporting the Priscillas at a Bowie birthday concert.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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