With Covid-19 now part of our lives, it's more important than ever to shout about and highlight local businesses so our Seller Spotlight series is back and this time we're interviewing Danielle Mensah, a stain glass maker based in Tottenham. As she creates delicate items that are tricky to post, the website provided a perfect solution to her being able to sell locally.
Tell us about dmLDNcraft
I make stained glass homeware including mirrors, dishes and other small ornaments. 5 years ago I was looking for a creative outlet and therapy at a low time and as I've always loved looking at stain glass so I decided to do a traditional course in it. I absolutely loved it and felt like I’d discovered a new part of myself so continued making pieces after the course finished and I’ve been going ever since.
Tell us about your creative process
Most pieces take between to 2 to 7 hours to make and I use old traditional techniques including the copperfoil technique. I source old and vintage mirrors rather than buying new ones, I reuse stained glass and save smaller pieces of glass cuttings to work into other pieces.
What do you use as packaging?
As my items are made of glass, I must take care in packaging each piece well. I encase items in recycled bubble wrap and then use recycled paper materials to provide the extra padding in gift boxes.
How do you feel when someone buys something from you?
A little light comes on inside me, that someone has faith in what I've made is a huge deal. Each piece sold allows me to reinvest in creating more but moreover, the knowledge that someone enjoys my little piece of art is life-affirming and motivational to keep on at it.
What has been your proudest moment?
My first sales at craft markets were almost a surprise. I thought I had a good product but it's flattering when someone who has no duty to make you feel good about what you've achieved sincerely likes what you make.
What are the best and worst thing about running your own business?
I love every stage and seeing things through from ideas to a finished, functional product and being able to experiment with how all of that works. But I hate having to plug my own work. Making myself vulnerable to show what I've taken the time to create is nerve-wracking and doesn't come naturally!
How did you feel when Gifted Local contacted you to be part of the site?
I am so excited at the idea of a website that engages with people locally. It was something I hadn't heard of before and actually a fairly simple solution to the issue of waste and carbon emissions from all the online shopping we do, usually from huge, unethical corporations. Helen is a clever lady to found this and I'm so pleased to be involved. I love browsing the Gifted Local site!
What area do you live?
I've lived in Tottenham for a couple of years but grew up in Chingford. I grew up visiting Ghanaian restaurants in Tottenham and actually my parents had a restaurant there so I knew it pretty well before I moved here. I love the diversity of the area and it’s such an exciting place to live at the moment. There's now a host of cool pubs, breweries and growing independent brands by talented individuals.
How are you keeping yourself busy during the Coronavirus lock down?
There’s a lot of messaging at the moment that now is the time to be your most productive, creative self. I do have more time to experiment with design and that’s exciting but I’m trying to take one day at a time and not feel awful for having days where I haven’t worked on something. I’m watching films I’ve always wanted to and taking better care of my plants
What are you doing to support your local community in this time of crisis?
I'm grateful to the local convenience stores that have stayed open to allow access to groceries. I hope to see the usual salons, coffee shops and market nearby open up again soon. I'll be rooting for them by choosing to spend in them where I can and popping in to say hello and see familiar faces. It's the local businesses that make the area.
What are you most looking forward to doing when the lock down ends?
Enjoying London town for everything it is (hopefully in the Summer). There'll be no excuse not to visit the attractions here that I haven't yet, despite growing up in London. I look forward to parks and pop-up dining and celebrating exhibitions of art by not missing the last day of showing as I have done too many times. I'm aiming not to take things for granted. That goes the same for seeing loved ones near and far.
What is your best postcode secret
Roller Nation – a roller disco that plays amazing tunes to fall over to. Too much fun!
Finally, what is your Top Local Love?
It has to be the canal and marshes on a sunny day. On a rainy day too.