Independent Spotlight: Re-Discover Crafting at Longton Exchange!

Welcome to our very first independent spotlight, where we’re thrilled to shine a well-deserved light on the incredible small businesses that make up the vibrant tapestry of Longton Exchange. By supporting our local entrepreneurs and providing them with the space they need to flourish, we’re fostering a strong and resilient community that we can all be proud of.

Today, we’re turning our attention to “The Block,” an absolute gem nestled within the ever-evolving arts and culture quarter of Longton Exchange. The brainchild of Eve and Holly, The Block not only serves as a creative hub for their own businesses but also acts as a warm and welcoming communal gallery space, inviting other talented artists to showcase their work and mesmerise audiences.

Meet Eve, a true artist and circus performer with deep roots in our local area. Born into a circus family, she practically grew up on stilts, mastering the art of juggling, tightrope walking, unicycling, and so much more from the tender age of three. Embarking on an adventure beyond Stoke-on-Trent at 18, she journeyed far and wide, performing her heart out from the enchanting streets of Singapore to the very stages of our beloved hometown.Β 

Eve’s passion for sharing her circus skills and nurturing the talent of young people in Stoke-on-Trent is truly remarkable. Through captivating performances, engaging workshops, and one-on-one training sessions, she’s on a mission to ignite the same spark of wonder and joy that she herself experienced. Not content with being a phenomenal performer alone, Eve pursued a Fine Art degree at Staffordshire University, delving into a world of multi-disciplinary artistic expression. Her journey culminated in a breathtaking solo exhibition at the renowned AirSpace Gallery in Hanley. Eve’s undeniable love for the arts eventually led her to seek out a studio in Stoke-on-Trent, where she serendipitously connected with Holly of Hojo Hattery at The Block.

Say hello to Holly, the talented self-taught Hat Maker behind the enchanting creations of Hojo Hattery. With her innovative use of wool felt and the traditional technique of ‘felt blocking,’ Holly effortlessly combines timeless craftsmanship with contemporary flair. From elegant top hats to stylish fedoras, and from classic bowlers to whimsical boleros, Holly’s hat designs are truly a sight to behold. Her journey into the world of hat making began in 2019, as she embarked on a self-guided quest for knowledge. Armed with determination and an unyielding passion, Holly delved into YouTube tutorials, scoured forums for wisdom, and fearlessly experimented with different materials and techniques. The year 2020 marked a turning point for Holly as she took her artistic creations online, capturing the hearts of customers far and wide. Her talent and hard work have earned her international recognition, five well-deserved local business awards, prestigious museum exhibitions, and the privilege of being a guest speaker for The British Millinery Association and The Heritage Crafts Association. Most recently, Holly found her hat-making haven at Longton Exchange, where she embraced the freedom of full-time entrepreneurship in her magnificent studio workspace.

Inspired by the captivating world of “power dressing,” Holly delights in redefining hat styles that were once considered the domain of men. Drawing inspiration from films, ancient cultures, history, traditional tattoo styles, and a wide array of art forms, she infuses her creations with an irresistible and unique charm.

But Holly’s journey doesn’t stop at creating stunning hats. She has embarked on a mission to preserve the endangered craft of hat making and make it accessible to all. Sharing her skills and knowledge through engaging tutorial videos, Holly empowers aspiring artisans to embark on their own creative journeys. She’s even scheduled to be a guest speaker in schools across the country, where she’ll spread awareness about heritage crafts, the art of hat making, and the wonderful possibilities that lie within a craft-based career.

To gain even deeper insight into Holly’s artistic journey and the fascinating story behind her love for hat making, we highly recommend watching her captivating live guest talk with The Heritage Crafts Association. Prepare to be inspired and uplifted! You can find the full video here: https://heritagecrafts.org.uk/holly-johnson-in-conversation/.

For the latest updates on Holly’s incredible creations and to immerse yourself in the world of Hojo Hattery, be sure to follow her delightful journey on Instagram at www.instagram.com/hojohattery, like her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hojohattery, and explore her enchanting website at www.hojohattery.com.

Stay tuned for our next independent spotlight as we continue to unveil the hidden treasures of Longton Exchange and celebrate the extraordinary talents that fill our community with warmth and creativity!

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