Business rises from the ashes to hit record £1m total sales

A social enterprise that set up as a small collaborative workspace just over a decade ago – and four years ago was devastated by fire – has this month hit a landmark £1m in sales.

Fabrication is a business that hosts more than 90 artists in its shops in Albion Street, Leeds, and Coney Street, York. 

The organisation will stage an exhibition on the mezzanine of its Leeds city centre store to mark its tenth birthday. It suffered a huge setback when fire destroyed its workshop in Kirkgate in 2015 which affected many local artists and small businesses. A city-wide crowd-funding campaign helped save the enterprise and it now has a workshop over several floors of an old supermarket off Edward Street. 

Fabrication founder Dawn Wood, a fashion and costume designer of 30 years, said: “The fire was devastating and there were times when I thought it might all be over. But the support we received from the people of Leeds was absolutely incredible. 

“We are so grateful to the city, to our supporters, and, of course our customers. Our business is all about being rooted in the communities where we are based and it’s wonderful to look back and see how far we have come.” 

The business began in an 18th century building near the Corn Exchange in Leeds city centre, that had been a home to crafts people and tailors since it was built; offering space that artists could rent by the hour.  

In 2011 it set up in a small shop in the Merrion centre and finally, in 2012, moved to a large unit in The Light shopping centre. This arrangement was meant to be temporary but it stayed there for six years.  By 2015 it had mentored and supported more than 200 artists. Many have moved on to run their own independent shops across Yorkshire and beyond.

Fabrication opened a pop-up shop in Coney Street, York, last autumn and moved to its Albion Street, Leeds, site in January this year, taking on a 10-year lease.

 Fabrication has an ethos of encouraging and supporting local artists and fledgling businesses while helping people explore their own creative potential through workshops and events. It also strives to support lone workers who, through the nature of what they do, can feel isolated and suffer from mental health problems. 

The exhibition, starting on 1 October, will showcase commissioned works of fine art, fine jewellery, clothing, wood craft, sculpture, ceramics, glass, textile work and photography.  “The exhibition is our way of showing how far we have come,” added Wood.

“Our artists have created pieces specifically for this event and it promises to be a real showstopper. We set a challenge for our sellers to create something without the restrictions of it being too commercial (after all, most of them have to ensure they earn enough to live on) and it’s been fantastic to see what they have come up with. “