The magnificent 17 set up shop in Coldharbour Lane

Lydia Gardner of Tree Shepherd in Diverse Gift ShopDiverse Gifts on Coldharbour Lane is hosting 17 new traders from the Lambeth Forest Network until the end of July.

All the makers were trained in how to start a business by social enterprise Tree Shepherd. Most of them had only ever sold at street markets and small events before.

The traders were chosen at a pitch night earlier in the year at the Tulse Hill Hub after a presentation to Diverse shop owner Anita Thorpe. For most of the newcomers it is their first experience in a proper retail environment.

Anita, a lead Tree Shepherd tutor and mentor to the Forest Network, said the 17 had an opportunity for feedback on products and pricing.

children's garmentShe sees her donation of shop space as an act of social responsibility which also enables customers to learn the story behind the local makers.

“Partnering with local people helps to integrate Diverse Gifts in the community and it helps keep money in the local community, Brixton in particular.

“The selection and retail contract process helps Forest members get a first taste of shop retail, preparing them for taking their products to other buyers in the future. If some of the traders do well at Diverse Gifts, who knows, they might secure a more permanent spot there.”

Lydia Gardner from Tree Shepherd added: “It’s a great example of how a local business and a social enterprise like Tree Shepherd are supporting low income local start-ups to go into retail.”

The Forest Fayre at Diverse Gifts continues till 28 July.

The Tree Shepherd work, supporting the Lambeth Forest Network traders to get into Diverse Gifts, is funded by Lambeth council’s New Homes Bonus, a fund that aids the incubation of start-up businesses.