How it all began

A project called ‘The Junk Fashion’ was setup for young people aged 10-20 to up-cycle waste materials, textiles and furniture to sell in a pop-up ’empty’ shop in Barnard Castle. They recruited a group of young people from County Durham who wanted to develop employability, volunteering, canvasing and business skills.

They delivered a series of workshops for the young people to give them the skills necessary to up-cycle clothing and furniture, business skills to develop marketing and budgeting plans for their own enterprise and retailing expertise to equip them to run a pop-up shop selling their upcycled products.

The Junk Fashion project allowed young people to reflect on the effects of waste and throwing away clothing rather than recycling. It challenged their perceptions of The Bowes Museum, and engaged them in an intensive two-week project.

Making a difference

Awareness of the Museum and its innovative projects was increased in the wider community through the retail exercise. On the day of the selling in the pop-up shop on the high street in Barnard Castle the young people spoke to many people about their experiences, and there was a sewing machine in the shop and each young person, as part of the Arts Award qualification had to teach a member of the public how to thread the machine and do some stitching. Perceptions of the Museum were changed in the town that day and in the few days before when Museum staff were working in the empty shop and cleaning it ready for the young people. Passers-by would stop and ask us what was happening. It was a great advertisement for the Museum on the high street, and the young people were passionate and energetic about the project and passed on their enthusiasm to the public and wider community.

With thanks to you

“I looked at the Catwalking exhibition which I enjoyed as there were lots of dresses that inspired me. I learned how to use a sewing machine better and how to set up and run a shop.

I have improved talking to people and being more confident approaching somebody. I have worked as a team and I have handled money, so I have more experience. I am better at selling things now and working at a counter.”

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