Make Holt evolved from the very popular Fresh Artisan Markets, which were started in Norwich in 2016 by Aviva Leigh, founder of Make Holt. The makers' markets were held in The Shoe Factory Social Club, an old shoe factory building on the North side of the city. Known as St Mary's Works the site has lots of character and at the time was used used for art exhibitions, film and photography locations.
Aviva curated each market, choosing a varied selection of contemporary, high quality craft from different disciplines, including ceramics, glass, print and illustration, textiles, woodturning, and photography. Many of which continue to work with Make Holt to this very day.
Fresh Artisan also moved into North Norfolk in 2019, holding monthly markets at Back to the Garden which attracted a new set of followers from North Norfolk. In the spring of 2020, following the cancellation of so many indoor markets, Aviva was invited by Love Holt to organise a series of outdoor events based in and around Appleyard in Holt.
These markets were incredibly popular, the fact that they were mostly held outside meant that safe distancing and one way measures could be in place and gave the makers a much-needed chance to get out and sell their work again after the various ‘lockdowns’ in 2020 and 2021! Street food and music added to the relaxed ambience and drew visitors back into Holt on a Sunday. Many of the shops responded to this by opening their doors and by the end of summer it was agreed that the concept had been a great success.
We were encouraged to look for a permanent home in the town of Holt and didn't hesitate when offered the chance to set up shop in the ground floor of The Shirehall, in a great location close to the popular destination of Byfords.
The building has quietly become the home of curated, contemporary craft with a touch of the hand.
At a time when high streets are under threat with even large chains vanishing, we feel there is a greater need than ever for a more personal shopping experience, to buy unique, handmade items with a story attached.