Two staple craft spots on the Islington scene have revamped and refreshed. We catch up with both Drink, Shop & Do and Ray Stitch to find out what’s in store since their re-launches
Both having just undergone major facelifts, Drink, Shop & Do and Ray Stitch – with the latter moving locations altogether due to expansion by popular demand – have burst back onto the creative Angel scene with a bang. From the off the wall approach Drink, Shop & Do have taken with their vividly colourful interiors and Ray Stitch’s wonderful new premises that gives them more space to conjure up quirky fashions, both of these local favourites are back, better and ready to rumble…
DRINK, SHOP & DO
Co-director at Drink, Shop & Do Kristie Bishop says her and the other half of the director duo, Coralie Sleap, have been friends since 1996 and came up with the concept of the craft spot, restaurant and bar on a sunny afternoon at the pub, where all great ideas are born. She explains: ‘We were sat on a pub bench in Balham and discussed our dream jobs of owning a venue where people could come and make things, while drinking beer, eating cake and shopping for wonderfully designed products. Though it was all a little out of the ordinary, we decided that our idea sounded like something that lots of people might like, so we thought we’d make it happen!’
And the rest is history. The venue’s eye-catching new design was a combination of both Bishop and Sleap’s inspirations and neither of them held back. ‘Our love for design sits at the heart of our brand and we’ve always revamped the interior at least once a year,’ explains Bishop.
‘This refurbishment was a bit different; it was much larger scale than our previous overhauls. This happened because we were super inspired by Wes Anderson and got a little carried away with our vision for the Spritz Bar. It’s hard to stop yourself once you get going with adding in all those extra touches.’
For us it has always been about the importance of play, it’s good for the mind and soul
Bishop says that her favourite pieces are the brand new blue marble counter top, along with their handmade blue tassel chandeliers. She also comments that the striking orange and pink gridlines took what seemed like a lifetime to mark out, but once completed gave her ‘such a great sense of achievement’.
Zoning in on the craft element of Drink, Shop & Do, Bishop says that it’s what separates them from being ‘just another bar’. She explains: ‘Seven years ago when we first launched, the idea was always to get adults doing something other than just vertical drinking. Back then it was a fairly new concept and quite a few heads turned when we first set up, unlike now where there are several venues around London and the world doing similar things. For us it has always been about the importance of play, it’s good for the mind and soul. Often adult life means we forget how to play, but it’s so enjoyable and hilarious after a few glasses of good wine!’
While their crowd favourite craft workshops are remaining, such as Lego Robots, Papier Mache Pinatas and Play with Clay 90s Style, they have some exciting new summer contenders in the pipeline too, like Sass Your Sunnies, Pimp Your Pineapple and their ever-changing themed dance classes where you can show off your moves to Beyonce’s universal ladies anthem Formation. They’ve even started opening for 7am to give busy commuters their coffee and croissant fix (or homemade Bircher muesli for the health buffs) before braving the tube.
Founder Rachel Hart had always been partial to a spot of sewing, but often felt that fabric shops were wholly uninspiring, describing them as ‘tired, mumsy looking or just rather shambolic and unkempt’. She explains: ‘What was missing was a good, well set out, stylish fabric shop with a comprehensive stock of fabric and full range of tools and trims. A one-stop-shop you could go into with a project in mind and come out with a full set of ingredients and an exciting plan. That’s what I set out to create.’
The store has recently moved from 99 Essex Road across to 66 Essex Road, allowing the Ray Stitch brand to expand. During the six years they were at no.99 the business grew rapidly until the time was right to relocate. Hart says: ‘We had a little café in the old shop to begin with, but had to lose that as our range of fabrics expanded. We were holding more and more sewing classes downstairs and our online business started to grow, before we knew it we were just very short of space.’
If you invest time and care into choosing fabrics and creating something that is exactly what you want, you are less likely to throw it away
Since making the move, they now have double the space with more room to play and learn. Hart describes the new spot as ‘a lot more relaxed with people being able to take their time to browse, whereas in the narrow aisles of no.99 you always had to step out of someone’s way. There was a lot of excusing me’ing!’
For intrigued newbies, Hart suggests beginning with their starter projects and then moving up the levels through to intermediate and then advanced. The USA’s Gretchen Hirsch, a sewing blogger, visited the store recently to teach and inspire, while the Great British Sewing Bee winner Charlotte Newland will be imparting her wisdom onto keen beans in store during May and June.
A huge pioneer of slow fashion, Hart feels that the idea of making your own clothes completely rejects the current culture of cheap, mass produced clothing, ‘putting meaning into what you wear’. She says: ‘The production of cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging industries in the world. If you invest time and care into choosing fabrics and creating something that is exactly what you want, you are less likely to throw it away. You’ll value it, and who cares if it’s not in season, if it’s unique to you, it’s a win win.’