Beth Izzard has fingers in many pies. From her pop-up events company Bzzaar, to her newly-launched online platform The DIY Supermarket, the ventures she runs all support independent artists and designers.
Inspired by a pop-up shop that she ran last year selling Christmas gifts made by local artists, Beth came up with the idea to create a platform for independent brands and creatives to showcase and sell their work. By October, her idea had formed into The DIY Supermarket.
“The DIY Supermarket is curated like a shop, except I don’t hold any stock,” explains Beth. “The designers ship their own stock and unlike other online market places like Etsy, they don’t have anything to do with the back end of the site. At DIY Supermarket I do all the things they hate doing, from uploading their work to the marketing and admin.”
With her events company Bzzaar, Beth runs Christmas markets, fashion pop-ups, jumble sales, vinyl markets and an art vending machine named Baz. With the concept already going very well in Bristol, what separates it from The DIY Supermarket?
“At Bzzaar events, people started to ask if they could buy all the stuff from the pop-ups online but I didn’t want Bzzaar to be an online store,” explains Beth. “I was inspired to take the website idea in a different direction. I had a vision of what I wanted, so I created The DIY Supermarket as a brand-new online company and I’m keeping them totally separate.”
Amazingly, there is no team behind either Bzzaar or The DIY Supermarket. Beth runs both companies solo, with a little help from local creatives to collaborate with. “Yes, it’s just me!” laughs Beth.
Despite the small size of her businesses, she is making a mark in Bristol: “I’ve got a really nice collaboration with Jamaica Street Stores which will run for six months. We have a set of cubes on a big shelving unit and that’s DIY Supermarket’s visible store. Each artist has a cube that they hire and display their stock in and it’s all available to buy. It’s been really well received already, so maybe it will become a permanent thing.”
Beth had a little help to create The DIY Supermarket branding from artists including Alfie Allen and illustrator Anna Higgie, who together designed the fun DIY Supermarket logo. Videographer Amie Nowlan from Cut Film created the fun, retro-style promo videos, and the business even has its own theme tune produced by local DJ Joe Reddick aka Remotif.
“The idea for DIY Supermarket also came from a frustration with online market places,” Beth says. “I find that when you go on these websites and search for an independent artist’s work, you can’t find anything. It drives me insane! Their search functions are ridiculous too, you can type in ‘hand-painted mug’ and it comes up with a china doll and you are like, ‘that’s not even close to what I wanted’!” laughs Beth.
“I want to help people find more niche stuff. With the pop-up shop, people said we had really different items and I wanted to keep that up, so I started attending more arts fairs and finding artists on Instagram, including people who haven’t been stocked anywhere before, to give them a platform to promote and sell their work.”
The DIY Supermarket website is branded as a lifestyle store and features easily navigable collections of clothing and accessories, ceramics, textile art and homewares, prints, original pieces of artwork, zines, cards, pannier bags and a just-dropped collection of bike helmets.
Not content with running two solo projects, Beth is also the studio manager at Two’s Company Studios on Old Market, where she has her own studio. Beth has curated an exhibition, The DIY Supermarket Exhibition + Pop-Up Shop, at the studios, which will run until December 28. She describes it as an edited version of the DIY Supermarket, showcasing just some of the 35 designers from around the country who feature online, and selling art, ceramics, homewares and jewellery.
The local artists that feature on the platform are eclectic. Embellished streetwear from Neat Frontage sits comfortably next to Rowanberry’s inspiring bags, made from recycled scraps of fabric and leather left over from Totnes-based designer Rowan Strugnall’s main job in upholstery.
“We also feature Limb Morph, a new Bristol-based fashion brand who create really cool T-shirts, all hand-printed with bold primary colours,” Beth says. “They are not online but are sold exclusively at Jamaica Street Stores. Work by Figo Studio, who create textile art and jewellery, and artist Jessie Rose McGuiness are also available in store.”
As a big supporter of independent artists and local creatives, Beth is keeping it local when it comes to buying Christmas gifts too by launching a range of gift cards for the DIY Supermarket, available online and in Jamaica Street Stores. Her pop-up Fashion Front Bzzaar, which she runs with local fashion designer Fran Rennison, will also return to The Love Inn on December 15 to allow people to shop in person.
“We are hoping that we will keep getting bigger and bigger,” Beth says. “I hope people will be able to find cool stuff a lot more easily now!”
Read our fashion editor Emma’s blog No Debutante