This innovative online hub is showcasing the work of creatives across Cambridgeshire
At a time when small, independent businesses need as much support as they can get, The Trove Cambridge is a project that’s bound to be appreciated. Founded by Cambridge local Stephanie Stott, The Trove connects creatives from across the county with their wider community, showcasing their work and services to support and promote small businesses and artists.
Since its inception in 2014, The Trove has progressed from being a personal blog, slowly but surely becoming a platform for promoting local artists across Cambridgeshire. “It’s developed over the past six years,” says Stephanie, “but it was about two years ago when I realised that I could really offer something to local creatives.” She set up a trial membership scheme, and had 70 members sign up in that trial period. “It was really encouraging; there was obviously scope in the market for me to try and do what I could through the website, blog and social media to support local artists and makers.”
The Trove connects creatives from across the county with their wider community, showcasing their work and services to support and promote small businesses and artists.
Stephanie is currently crowdfunding as part of Natwest and Crowdfunder’s Back Her Business campaign and Bring It 2020 competition, and is hoping to reach her target of £3,500 before the project ends at 1pm on Monday 30 March. “My crowdfunder is running at the moment and it’s doing really well,” says Stephanie. “I’m currently about 70% funded and there’s still nearly a week left to go. There’s been a really positive reaction to it which has been really good, and through that I’ve been signing up new members – I think I’ve had 15 new members sign up so far.”
Many creatives that sign up stay for the long run: “a good proportion of people who are members have been a part of The Trove for about five years,” Stephanie comments. “When I was first setting it up, I would attend events and approach people and tell them about what I was trying to do – so I formed relationships with quite a number of people who I’ve continued to speak with over those years.” The Trove offers continual support for creatives and creative organisations in the area, and is always looking to spark curiosity and encourage people to explore Cambridge’s creative scene. “There is a nice stream of people finding out about what I’m doing and discovering the website,” Stephanie adds. “They might find out about it from a leaflet that they’ve picked up at an open studio, or through a friend, or they’ll have found us online when they’re looking for workshops to attend. I get lots of lovely feedback from people saying that this is a great thing that I’m doing here.”
The Trove is now well established on social media, boasting a sizeable following and its very own hashtag. “I started to use the hashtag #CambsCreativeTreasures on Instagram on posts where I’d discovered local artwork, or to share something from a local artist, and then all of a sudden I had lots of people joining in,” Stephanie explains. “Over the last few years there’s been hundreds of artists and creative organisations using the hashtag, and we have just got to 10,000 shares on there. It’s become a really popular way not only for me to discover new people, but also for creatives to connect with one another and support like-minded individuals.”
It’s become a really popular way not only for me to discover new people, but also for creatives to connect with one another and support like-minded individuals.
So popular, in fact, that Stephanie now plans on launching a magazine to run alongside the project. “The vision we’ve got at the moment is of an A5 magazine,” says Stephanie. “It will hopefully be something we can put out in local coffee shops and community centres and have available at events as well. Mostly it will be featured profiles on our members specifically, so that we can incorporate them as much as possible – and a directory in the back with a list of all the members.” #CambsCreativeScene magazine will be a collaborative effort with local illustrator, graphic designer and printmaker Dario Fisher, who Stephanie has been brainstorming ideas with ever since the idea came about. “Dario got in touch last year and said he had an idea to put together a magazine featuring creatives to help promote their work in Cambridge. So when I decided to launch The Trove as a business, I got back in touch with him and we started coming up with ideas,” Stephanie explains. “We’re looking at having articles that aren’t necessarily time sensitive. We’re thinking of approaching local creative groups; Urban Sketchers Cambridge, Cambridge Open Studios, and – because I’m covering Cambridgeshire as a whole rather than just Cambridge – organisations out in Peterborough, St Ives, Ely and other areas of the county as well to get articles on what they’re doing. The idea being that the content in the magazine can hold up for more than a couple of months at a time, so that it’s something that people can keep referring to. And depending on how the first issue goes, I’m hoping that it’ll be something we can do more of over the next year!”
Stephanie has also launched a special ‘Treasures Box’ through her crowdfunder. With its theme of ‘Books & Bikes’ being a nod to Cambridge, the Treasures Box is a curated collection of work by five local artists. It’s available to buy through Stephanie’s crowdfunding page for £40. Stephanie hopes to integrate an online shop into The Trove’s website through the crowdfunder, enabling her to work with local artists and designers on a wholesale basis, but also potentially commission particular themed pieces for future Treasure Boxes.
Right now, Stephanie is working on facilitating an online/virtual exhibition and marketplace to support indie artists, makers and small businesses who have been affected by coronavirus and the cancellation of local events. Anyone who might be interested in getting involved can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Head to The Trove’s website for more information on how you can help support local artists, and to hear more about upcoming creative projects you can get involved with.
Head to The Trove’s crowdfunding page if you’d like to support Stephanie in her business venture, and help out many local creatives and small businesses in the process: natwestbackherbusiness.co.uk/the-trove-cambridge