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An alternative arty gift guide

This year, a lot of us are more aware of the importance of supporting small businesses where we can. Normally, this time of year is crucial for independent artists and makers, with crafts fairs happening all over the country.

However, with restrictions on shopping in person, we’ve decided to highlight three amazing Manchester collectives selling beautiful hand-made products online.


Etsy Manchester

colourful illustration of a deer with the name "Katie" on a bauble

Personalised Deer Decoration by Sophie Heywood, £12

Etsy Manchester is a collective of over 1500 designer-makers, artisans, vintage and craft supplies sellers, all based in Greater Manchester, and their products are sold on You can search Etsy for items made by their team using the team tag, etsymcr.

The team coalesced in 2010 and since then they have held pop-ups around the city, a wedding fair at The Whitworth, annual Christmas Markets at the People’s History Museum, and, for 2020, their first ever Online Market!

They have also got a directory of team member shops on their website which will keep updating over the next couple of weeks. Check out their Instagram and Twitter for more updates!



colourful bee print pocket mirror

A 76mm pocket mirror featuring an original design by Holly Ramsay, £6

Islington Mill

Islington Mill has been home to a huge amount of talented artists and makers since 2000. They’ve been a long-term safe haven for many artists at a time when other creative spaces are being lost across the north. 

The Mill was built on an ethos of experimentation, creativity and inclusivity that has evolved and clarified over time. More than just a physical venue, the Mill told us that they see it as part of their mission to unite people. The organic network they have forged continues to evolve because of the actions of the community of artists and buyers who get involved.

Check out their website, Facebook, and Instagram for more details.






Manchester Craft and Design Centre

stack of colourful leather purses

Unisex purses by Devine’s Design, £18. Photo: Eden Photography

The iconicManchester Craft and Design Centre, which once upon a time stood as a Victorian fish and poultry market, is now an astounding cultural hub where 30 of the region’s most talented artists, makers, and designers sell a wide array of beautiful gifts, fashion, accessories, and homeware. 

Not only is everything crafted on site with a personalised touch, but visitors can also meet the makers – hearing about their processes, and what inspired them when creating each piece.

The Centre is opening its doors to the public once again on the 2nd of December from 10 am, and will stay a place where customers can safely browse special gifts for loved ones until Christmas Eve. Pieces can also be purchased online, with the Centre’s website providing the makers’ websites and contact details.

Tags: alternative gifts, artist, christmas shopping, gift guide, independent business, Sustainable

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