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Poplar Works celebrates first birthday in style


Poplar Works, a home for fashion in East London, celebrated its first birthday with a series of online events that brought together business owners, fashionistas and residents. Find out more.

Poplar Works’ birthday celebrations included the launch of a new business directory which showcases all the businesses calling Poplar Works home, Instagram takeovers, workshops, talks, and a special offer on food and drink at The Works café.

Poplar Works business owners shared their ups and downs from the past year as they reflected on the difficulties in adapting to moving online. Despite these obstacles, they talked positively about the strong sense of community at Poplar Works and the importance of supporting each other.

Key highlights from the year include:

  • A growing membership, with 39 small fashion, making and creative businesses – over 65% of which are from E14 and E3
  • London College of Fashion, UAL’s Making for Change initiative and the Emergency Designers Network producing masks and scrubs for local hospitals and community groups
  • A range of business support offers, coordinated by The Trampery, helping enterprises to navigate through the pandemic
  • London College of Fashion, UAL’s Making for Change initiative delivered its first fashion skills training programme, in collaboration with Newham College
  • Recognition of the scheme’s architectural and placemaking impacts, winning the Working Category in the New London Awards, the Pineapple Award for Contribution to Place, and being named as a regional winner in the Civic Trust Awards
  • London College of Fashion, UAL’s Centre for Fashion Enterprise has supported 7 fashion and fashion tech SMEs at Poplar Works

Celebrating their first birthday was also an opportunity to look to the future and plans for 2021. Poplar Works hopes to launch the second cohort of Making for Change, resume Asma Begum’s ‘Make and Mend’ sessions and some family open days in the summer. As soon as it’s safe to do so, they will announce dates on their website and Instagram @poplarworks.

In the meantime, The Works Café is open every day for takeaways. You can also follow them on Instagram @theworkscafeldn and you’ll find them on Deliveroo.

Raju and Saadi Rahman of Wear By Local, a local fashion business based at Poplar Works, said: “We’re residents from the local area and we’ve set up three businesses since joining Poplar Works. They’ve been a great partner, enabling us to collaborate with other members in Poplar Works and in the neighbourhood, as well as being really affordable.”

Juliet Herrera, Founder of The Reclaimery, a local fashion business based at Poplar Works, said: “Poplar Works has provided a welcoming space with a good sense of community where we support each other. It has motivated me to empower the wider community and create opportunities for them through my work.”

Asma Begum, who runs the Make and Mend sessions, said: “I really enjoyed delivering workshops in Poplar Works. The attendees really wanted to learn and found the sessions very therapeutic after being cooped up after the first lockdown. I guess in a sense I also needed the creative outlet as much as they did!The staff at Poplar Works and the other resident artists are very friendly and made me feel as part of a team. The eco-friendly, wood-clad building interior is a pleasant surrounding to work in and gets one in the creative frame of mind as well.”

Photo credit: JC Candanedo

Poplar Works website