Trader uses lockdown to launch digital space for Broadway Market

Broadway market re-opens with social distancing measures in place on August 8. Long time stall holde

Owner of Jess It Up London, Irina Diva, with her wares on Broadway Market - Credit: Archant

A Broadway Market trader has launched an online platform for independent and sustainable local businesses.

Owner of Jess It Up London, Irina Diva, wants to reunite her fellow market traders after creating Broadway Market Online last month, which allows traders to continue operating during lockdown.

She said: “It got to the point when I realised that we definitely need some sort of online platform as a collective. So, I sat down and built a website by watching YouTube tutorials.

“I decided to start as the trade markets started: start small and build on that. I really like the fact that, being online, we're not restricted to a physical space, which enabled me to have traders which [were] no longer on the market, but were there at the start.”

The platform now has over 10 registered businesses, including Lucky Bird printmaker Kim Jenkins, who has not traded on Broadway Market since leaving the area but has now returned on Broadway Market Online.

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Irina continued: “It’s a good way to have her back. As the area changed, the demographics of the area changed. It made it difficult, if not impossible, for artists to be in the area, which is the sad bit about gentrification.

“In a way, the people that have made the area could no longer afford to be in the area, which again, gives me great pleasure to give them a platform to be back.”

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Another business which is not on the street market but has returned to the website is Usual Objections, which sells swimwear made out of sustainable material like recycled plastic bottles.

“That was a lucky find,” she added. “The more I go into this website and speak to people, I realise that there are loads of fabulous businesses in the area that just simply don’t have a chance to be on the market.”

Irina said she is now looking for local funding to cover shipping costs, so the prices of items online can be on par with the street market.

“Because we are a micro-businesses, when we come together as a whole market then we are like a businesses business,” said Irina.

“Give me another pandemic and I'll build a rocket by watching YouTube tutorials. The biggest loss that I suffered during the pandemic was actually having chats. And now I can have chats with my fellow traders.”

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