An introduction to the Folken folk…

The sun was shining, the beer was flowing and I had a delicious Homebaked pie in hand… Is there a better way to begin an evening of deliberating debate and captivating conversation on the grassroots business scene in Liverpool? I don’t think so.

I’m talking about Folken.

Located inside the stunning ‘Terracotta Palace’ that is Cain’s Brewery, you’ll find Red Brick Vintage, a hidden gem in the heart of the Baltic Triangle, and our setting for the evening. Wandering into this treasure trove of vintage delights, excited for the evening ahead of us, I took my seat amongst stacks of retro National Geographic magazines, mannequins dolled-up in vintage attire and collectible crockery displays. The quirky and cosy atmosphere introduced the evening perfectly; surrounded by well-kept treasures of the past, I listened to the tales of a type of business that is as old as business itself – grassroots.

Folken’s inaugural event shone the spotlight on Liverpool’s burgeoning grassroots business scene, through a series of short talks from some of the city’s most interesting and exciting traders and businesspeople.

First to take to the stage was Jim Noakes, Incubator of Change founder and Liverpool city councillor, setting the context of the evening perfectly by telling us of the city as a concept, its history and its fundamental links to incubating grassroots business. Following Jim’s interesting insight into the city as a space for development and change came a conversation between two local grassroots success stories…

Becka Griffin, Liverpool-based illustrator and director of Becka Griffin Illustration, was joined by Liam Kelly, director of Make Baltic (previously Ninety Squared) and the all-new Make Liverpool – a maker space nestled in the heart of Liverpool’s north docks. Becka taught us that through grit and determination, it’s possible to transform a skill or hobby, into a full time business. An anchor resident of Make Baltic, Becka went on to advocate the importance of community in the workplace for the success of a budding grassroots business. This notion was seconded by Liam, who spoke of his motivations behind founding coworking spaces Make Baltic and Make Liverpool as a way of tackling social exclusion for sole traders and small businesses.

Up next we heard the poignant tale of Homebaked Anfield. Mesmerised by Britt Jurgensen’s telling of Homebaked’s history, we learnt about the little bakery which brick by brick, loaf by loaf, built itself up to become a stalwart member of the Anfield community. Leading the discussion alongside Toby Wallis from the Architectural Emporium, Britt spoke of how alongside their peers in Anfield, the cooperative bakery is taking matters into its own hands, with regards the future of its community in North Liverpool.

Our final talk came from Tony Seasman, founder and director of the Liverpool Craft Beer Expo. The beer expo, which as Tony explained ‘isn’t an expo, but is.’ was the brainchild of Tony and Andrew Beattie who formulated the idea on agreeing that craft beer was their passion and seemed to be lacking in diversity in Liverpool. Now three expos later, and the fourth taking place next week (we’re offering half price tickets through Folken… so keep your eyes peeled!) Tony’s story proves that passion prevails when it comes to grassroots success.

After some live music from local guitarist and singer, Dan Wilson, we entered into a lively debate on myriad topics ranging from creatives to corporates and how a little slack can go a long way…

I’ll admit I was a little disheartened that the evening had to come to a close. But there’s plenty more Folken to go round, with four more events scheduled in over the next two weeks. I’d advise anyone who lives, works and plays in the city of Liverpool to register for a future event on the Folken Eventbrite.

Folken is an alternative festival that Wordscapes is running this summer alongside our partners, Social Bot and Ethos. The events, which are sponsored by the Beautiful Ideas Co., explore the state of our city’s independence, through a series of talks on the grassroots, money, independence (and independents) and protecting our city’s creative spaces.

Lucy x

For more information visit the Folken website, or the Eventbrite for more details on the upcoming events. All photography credit to Graham Smillie.

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