Diverse Gifts and Gallery is a gift shop based in the heart of Brixton – at 65 Atlantic road – run by Anita Thorpe.
This week Diverse is running a showcase of 12 Brixton called ‘Makers in The Hood’. Locally made prints, greeting cards, beauty and hair products, accessories, textile artists and much more is on offer. The event ends on 28 April – be sure to check it out.
Diverse also co-sponsored Making Uncovered on 20 April. We caught up with Anita to hear her story and why she supports Makerhood.
How did Diverse come to life – and what do you love about selling gifts?
I started Diverse in the mid 1990s with a jewellery stall in Brixton Station Road.
I had the idea because back then Brixton was great for lots of things but good silver jewellery wasn’t one of them – and I am a real jewellery fan. I felt sure other people felt as frustrated as I did about what was on offer locally, so I decided to try and fill the gap. I knew nothing about retail and so had none of the constraints that a better knowledge of retail might have placed on me – I just did it. The stall was hugely successful and what started as a weekend hobby became a full-time business. I started adding some handmade gift products from Africa, and in 1999 we moved into our first shop on Atlantic Road.
What’s your mission – and how do you choose what to stock?
The mission is to bring well designed, affordable, uncommon gifts to Brixton. Over the last few years we’ve returned to our ‘handmade’ roots as the interest in craft has grown.
I like to think we are helping customers by providing a convenient alternative to the West End but we are also helping people appreciate and connect with local making talent.
Diverse stocks a wide range of work – art, jewellery, accessories, natural body products – even locally blended teas!
We select stock by attending craft fairs and trade shows, and we have held open calls for shop events like the ‘Makers in the Hood’ showcase, which we started recently.
What are your future plans for Diverse?
I’d like to keep expanding our handmade offer. There is a real interest in products with a provenance; where people can see design that’s original, learn about who made it and how it’s made, and appreciate the work that’s gone into making something. That local connection has become increasingly important to customers.
Also, for me as a retail buyer, it makes my job more interesting. It means I’m always coming across fresh new ideas and I can commission exclusive products for the shop, so I always have something different for our customers to see. It feels good to know I am helping other local enterprises to grow as well.
Why did you support Making Uncovered?
We have worked successfully with Makerhood members in the past and it was a chance to show our support for local makers. We are also holding our Spring Makers in the Hood event at the same time as Making Uncovered, so I hope people will come to see the work of other Makerhood members at Diverse. ‘Makers in the Hood’ ends on 28 April – hope to see you there!