Women-only street market opens in London

By Winnie Agbonlahor
BBC News, London

Image caption,
Lady Lane Market opened after Tower Hamlets Council found that most stallholders were usually male

A women-only street market has opened in London's East End.

Lady Lane Market, which forms a part of Petticoat Lane Market, features nine stalls although more are due to open in the coming months.

All stallholders have been given council-funded business and social media training.

The project is part of a Tower Hamlets Council and City of London initiative to regenerate the area, at a cost of £2.7m over four years.

"Markets have played a crucial role at the heart of the East End for generations but they have traditionally been male-dominated spaces," Ann Sutcliffe, a corporate director at Tower Hamlets, earlier told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Susanne Nicholas, 55, and Marilyn Crew, 53, founders of Mazsu Naturals, sell homemade organic skin and hair care products.

Image caption,
Susanne Nicholas (left) and Marilyn Crew sell organic skin and hair care products

"We sell at other markets, where stall holders are often quite surprised to see women traders," Ms Nicholas said.

"It's really nice to be amongst other women here."

Amiira Ismail, 30, of Poplar, sells a homemade traditional Somali chilli sauce.

"I don't like cooking except for making this sauce," she said, adding: "It took me nine months to create this flavour."

Image caption,
Amiira Ismail sells a home-made traditional Somali chilli sauce

Ms Ismail lost her job in 2017 and has been selling her sauce - Bas Baas - for the last year, once a week at Roman Road in Bow.

But she hopes this project will help her be able to start selling to shops and supermarkets.

Anila Babla, 35, from Shadwell, a freelance graphic designer and art therapist sells vintage and retro pin badges, along with hand-made bags and purses.

Image caption,
Anila Babla sells vintage and retro pin badges, as well as bags and purses

"I think this council project is amazing and so exciting," she said.

Jayne Amoah, 62, from Bethnal Green, sells hand-made textile art and jewellery.

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"I've always done crafts," the former Job Centre administrator said. "This is such a great opportunity to sell my art."

Image caption,
Jayne Amoah sells hand-made textile art and jewellery

Lottie Lee-Gough, 31, from Bethnal Green, sells home sewing kits.

She said: "All the other women have been so supportive and all the guidance and advice I've been given has been really helpful."

Image caption,
Lottie Lee-Gough sells home sewing kits

Alice Firmeza, 43, from Bow, sells imported jewellery at the moment but hopes to build up a customer base so she can eventually make and sell her own designs.

"I used to be project management officer in the banking sector, but I've always liked jewellery," she said.

Image caption,
Alice Firmeza sells jewellery

Former child minder, bus conductor and school kitchen assistant Audrey Aymer, 60, from Bethnal Green, sells crochet and knitting baby blankets, scarves and throws.

"I had to stop working for health reasons, and until recently have only been making these to give to friends and family," she said.

"But my son encouraged me to start selling them."

Image caption,
Audrey Aymer sells crochet and knitting baby blankets, scarves and throws

Kirsty Valentine, programme manager for high streets and town centres at Tower Hamlets Council, said 31 more women were due to trade after completing their training programme.

Lady Lane Market on Wentworth Street will be open between 10:00 and 15:00, every Friday.

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