I’ve been living in the city of Nottingham for 4 years now. I first came here after graduating from the Uni of Sheffield, when I was offered a grad job on the outskirts of Nottinghamshire. I’ll be honest… I knew very little about Nottingham at that time. But through the years, I’ve really come to know and love this city. From its thriving creative scene, to its rich history (Robin Hood!) – it’s a city I’m proud to call home.
One of the key reasons that I love Nottingham is that it’s bursting with indie businesses and creative people. Did you know that it has the UK’s highest concentration of independent businesses outside of London? Or that it has its own Creative Quarter, which receives dedicated government funding to boost the local economy? I’m proud to be a part of this creative scene, and have so many friends who are too – whether that’s fellow bloggers, Etsy sellers, freelancers or shop owners.
A celebration of Nottingham independent business…
Last weekend, it was #SmallBusinessSaturday, a celebration of indie businesses. In honour of this, I had a jam-packed day of celebrating independent Nottingham! The day kicked off with the always-awesome Etsy Made Local market with @NottinghamEtsyTeam. Over 40 Etsy sellers came down to showcase their incredible makes – and, as always, I was blown away by their quality and diversity! I actually helped to organise the market this year, so I felt especially proud to see it all come to life so successfully. Roll on Etsy Made Local 2018!!
After spending the morning at the market, I then hopped across town to meet with the It’s In Nottingham team. They’d invited me along on a day of exploration, to discover some of the best independent businesses across the city. I was there with a bunch of other bloggers and vloggers, each armed with a camera and excited to get going! First stop: Made In Nottingham…
Made In Nottingham is a retail shop in the Broadmarsh Centre. It exclusively sells items that have been handmade in Nottinghamshire, about Nottinghamshire or by a Nottinghamshire maker. These range from clothing and jewellery, to art prints and upcycled ornaments. It really is a little treasure trove of trinkets and gift ideas! I actually know a couple of the makers who sell their items in the shop – so it’s always nice to pop in and see their work on display.
Whilst in the shop, we had a go at making our own Small Business Saturday badges (yay crafts!). I’ve never used, or even seen, a badge maker before – so I was keen to have a go. Turns out it’s the easiest thing in the world: insert the layers of the badge, pull the lever to compress them, and out pops your finished badge. Easy! After having our fill of craft inspiration, we were feeling pretty peckish… luckily, the next stop on our Independent Nottingham tour was the wonderful Malt Cross!
I looooove Malt Cross. I’d even go as far as saying it’s my favourite place to eat in all of Nottingham! I’ve had so many good times there, from craft workshops, blogger meet-ups and even last summer’s Craft Off event.
The venue itself is beautiful. Originally built in 1760 as a public house, it was soon adapted to become a riotous Victorian music hall. It’s now one of the last of its kind in the entire country… yet it still draws in the crowds night after night! The original glazed arched roof is still intact, and stands out as one of the most impressive architectural features in Nottingham city centre. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area! (If you do visit, be sure to stop by Handmade Nottingham next door, too!).
Whilst at Malt Cross, we were treated to a pretty impressive afternoon tea… a triple tiered feast of sandwiches, cakes, scones and fruit, accompanied with mulled wine and tea. Delicious! Of course, bloggers gonna blog – so we had to have the obligatory food photos before we could tuck in!
After our afternoon tea, we donned our coats and walked across to Studio Chocolate for a special masterclass…
Studio Chocolate is a bit of a hidden gem in Nottingham… Founded by the awesome Ellie Wharrad, it offers a whole host of chocolate classes, workshops and products to buy. The hand-painted truffles are particularly wow!
We spent a hour or two at Studio Chocolate, learning all about how chocolate is made. We tasted raw cocoa beans and a series of different chocolate types (ranging from 85% dark all the way to white). After this, it was time to get a bit messy and make our own! Working from a big vat of melted chocolate (YUM), Ellie taught us how to make our own filled caramel chocolates. It was really good fun! I filled mine with a range of orange, banana, coffee and pumpkin spice caramels… delicious. 🙂
After having our fill of delicious handmade chocolates, we headed off to the final stop of the day; Beauty Temple…
Now, I was a little hesitant about Beauty Temple at first, simply because it’s very much a girly venue! Think: glittery pink cocktails, nail bars and pedicures. However, the team were very accommodating and gave me a choice of which treatments to go for. I went for the hot stone shoulder massage, followed by a hand and arm massage. Believe it or not, these were my first EVER professional massages… and my god they were so good! After being told that my shoulders were “as tense as rocks”, I left the massage genuinely feeling looser and more relaxed. I think I might be booking myself in for another visit soon!
With that, the day came to an end… we were all suitably relaxed, wined and dined after an awesome day. It was SO nice to spend some time exploring new independent businesses, and rediscovering ones I’d not been to in a while. Better yet, I got to enjoy it with some really cool fellow bloggers – we’ve since started a group chat and are arranging to meet up again next week! That’s what I love about Nottingham: the creative scene is so collaborative and open, where everyone works together to make it a city to be proud of.
Thanks so much to It’s In Nottingham for organising such a great day. If you’re in the area, make sure you check out their list of Nottingham’s indie areas – you’re sure to find a new favourite! Until next time – Mike.