CRAFT fair organisers have gone back to the drawing board to organise a major two-day craft expo to increase exposure for traders.
Bartie’s Boutique started as a small-scale craft fair, raising money for Cancer Research.
Working with crafters from across the area, it progressed to a larger venue in Worthing’s St Paul’s Centre but with footfall continuing to struggle, it has teamed-up with Worthing Theatres to work on a new project.
Jess Escourt, who co-founded Bartie’s with Rachel Gilmour, said: “We have now hit a crunch point 3 years on where Rachel and I have decided that the current formula isn’t working and isn’t giving our crafters the audience they deserve.
“Worthing Theatres has asked us to bring the ‘art’ in Bartie’s to a bigger venue and a huge marketing database and work with them to produce a two-day weekend craft and art expo and we feel this is the right direction to take Bartie’s to.”
The event is in the early stages of planning but would be held at Worthing Assembly Hall in May.
Previously holding six events in 2014, it is hoped holding the one larger fair would create more footfall.
Jess added: “We have been at St Paul’s for three years now and there has been some great crafters and artists come through but the consistent feedback is there is not much footfall.
“We have doubled our efforts in terms of advertising and still haven’t had much difference to the footfall.
“St Paul’s have worked really hard to help promote us, too. They have been excellent. We have purely outgrown the space.”
The boutiques formed part of the duo’s wider business, Bartie Presents, which organises the Worthing Tide of Light festival among other market-based events.
They had considered stopping the boutiques altogether but are ‘excited’ by the new opportunity presented by the theatres partnership.
“We’ll be keeping prices as low as Bartie’s Boutique but creating an environment which will attract a dedicated audience through the heavy advertising which Worthing Theatres can offer us,” they told clients in their monthly newsletter.
“This event will be marketed as the central place to go in Worthing and the surrounding areas to buy art and craft and unique products and within a limited time frame.”
The decision to carry on in some form has deeper, personal motivations for Jess, who lost her mother to cancer last year.
The boutique was inspired by her mother, who was herself a talented crafter.
Jess said: “The premise of the boutiques were to raise funds for Cancer Research and we were really pleased to raise £3,000 in its lifetime.
“I lost my mum to cancer last year and she was a very talented seamstress and clothes maker, as well as being an interior designer, so to be able to continue that in her memory will be really special.”
For further information on the new event as it develops, visit www.bartiesboutique.moonfruit.com