Crafter Sharon Crosby and her pop-up pals are showcasing their skills every week in the mall at Middlesbrough’s Dundas Indoor Market.
Sharon, who is 58 and from Billingham, has always been talented in arts and crafts but it took COVID and a holiday with her mum to realise her potential.
“During lockdown I was a bit low, so I asked my family to challenge me to make things and they were pleasantly surprised with what I came up with,” said the former complementary therapist. “The last challenge was to make a unicorn snow globe – and I did it.”
Sharon went to Devon on holiday and was inspired by seeing Brixham Angels – good luck charms which celebrate the bravery of local women who rescued seamen during a deadly storm in the 1860s.
She started making her own versions – Billlingham Angels – when she came returned to Teesside, set up a business called Sharon’s Homemade Crafts, and has not stopped since.
She has opened a shop and workshop in the indoor market and has her stall in the mall on Thursdays with her pop-up pals – fellow crafters Joanne’s Floral Crafts and Creations and Woolgathering, alongside Heaven on Earth.
The four traders met at boot fairs and markets and have built a close relationship. “We get on really well and all help each other learn new things. We’re the Billingham pop-up gang but I’m definitely the boss,” she said.
A couple of times a month the friends share an empty shop in Billingham and sell their gifts to raise money for different local charities.
For now Sharon is busy coming up with ideas for what to make for Halloween and Christmas.
David Harris, the Manager of the Dundas Indoor Market, said the pop-up pals brighten up every Thursday. “They’re a really happy and talented bunch who make and sell unique gifts.
I’m really pleased to welcome Sharon into the market and I’m always happy to speak to people who are serious about starting their own business but are a bit nervous about committing to a unit.
“We will be running pop-up events in the near future and they’re probably the best way of finding out if customers like what you’ve got to sell.”
In recent months the Dundas Indoor Market has seen an influx of retailers and services. As well as Sharon’s Homemade Crafts, Toni’s Gift Boutique, I.M. African Hair Designz 4 U, The Protein Café, Bubble ‘n Sweet and The Norseman York have all opened for business. They have joined well-established traders such as Alta Ego, Leo Libra Pet Supplies and CAM Family Meats as well as the longest-running business at the market, Jean’s Kitchen.