Long Live Paper Dress! #saveculture
Hannah started Paper Dress as a vintage shop in 2007 and over the years has added a coffee shop, bar, music venue and a yoga studio - not to mention a husband, Steve, to the business. Paper Dress was, until recently, a thriving grassroots music venue supported by Arts Council England and recognised as an important cultural destination in Hackney, a place where all are welcome, the beer is tasty and the people friendly...
Since the government announced that citizens should 'avoid pubs and clubs' and minimise social contact, we've sadly shut down our music venue and cancelled our regular timetable at Paper Dress Yoga for the foreseeable future (although we have been able to move some of our vintage treasures and yoga online).
We're worried about what this closure will mean for us and the future of our community, particularly our freelance staff, as well as the wider network of grassroots music venues across the UK who are all struggling with similar challenges - at the moment it's unclear how long this shutdown will continue.
A bit more about us...
With our signature black & white flooring and red curtains we've stamped our personal taste and passions all over the business; lovingly-curated vintage delights line the walls, the fridges are packed with local independent breweries and we throw all our love and dedication into every event. Imagine the elegance and style of an art deco prohibition bar with the pop art fun of 60s Biba....our trademark is a friendly house party atmosphere but with a world class sound system and plenty of psychedelic lights!
“A bit like stumbling into the house party of someone with an exceptionally curated wardrobe… a place to catch future stars at their most formative period”(Time Out London)
Next door to the venue we've built a fantastic community of yoga teachers and students with our welcoming studio - who'd have thought quiet yoga haven (shhh!) and a LOUD venue could co-exist hand-in-hand!
What's the current situation at Paper Dress?
As a small independent business operating on thin margins, we'll struggle to meet our outgoings if we suffer a prolonged period of closure.
We've calculated that our weekly expenditure is around £5k which includes rent on 2 properties, wages, loan interest, utilities and all the other demands small businesses are faced with. We have already lost our tenant for the gallery space due to the outbreak.
Whilst we hope that this shutdown will not last for too long we're preparing for the reality that we may have to close for up to 12 weeks (£5k x 12 = gulp!!), or longer, hence taking these early steps to get ahead of the curve with this call to arms...
Help us support our freelance staff..
We're also very concerned about the well-being of both our temp bar staff and our treasured & talented team of freelance sound engineers and yoga teachers who've seen their work disappear, from not only our venue but all their other clients. Finally now the government has announced a package of measures for the self-employed, however with with payments not landing till June that leaves them in a very precarious position. So this is for them too - pictured below during happier times!
How can we help?
Well... we've come up with a long list of creative options for you to support us, including delivering our beer to your door as part of our new virtual pop-up 'It's the end of the world as we know it' (thanks Hackney Brewery!), bar tabs, tickets for our relaunch weekend, online yoga classes and more (see the rewards tab)!
Even if you've never visited but like the sound of what we're doing and support arts, culture, underground music and good vibes then consider supporting us, and make sure you put that right when we're-open! #saveculture
Thank you for reading.
We will be back!
p.s. Support the NHS. Stay at home.
Firstly, we are mindful that this is a huge global crisis and many people are also suffering both financially and physically, and many far more so than ourselves. Compassion and kindness for ourselves and each other is key at the moment, and our thoughts are with all those who have been affected.
Secondly, we've been closely following the news from the Treasury about Government-funded support for small businesses. We welcome the suspension of business rates and the most recent announcement that government will cover 80% of wages for staff for 3 months is also a big reassurance to us. We watch with interest the small print around the grants available to small businesses. We've approached both our landlords about rent reductions and we await to hear what they can offer us. We're taking all efforts to be creative and keep ourselves afloat in these times of great uncertainty.
Here's a few quotes from some of our community:
"Just brilliant. A fabulous, small, friendly venue with a wide range of live entertainment. You will not get this close to the stage in many other places." (Neil T.)
"Love this place. Truly authentic and cool bit of East London. Great music. Fairly priced booze. Been a bunch of times and love it." (Bioux H.)
"Fantastic venue and shop run by great people trying to make a positive impact in hackney. Paper dress also hosts my favourite open mic every Sunday. Staff is knowledgeable, kind and professional. If you haven't already been, go check it out" (Jules B.)
"One of the best small venues to visit and host at with great local breweries on draught and in the fridges! (Steve G.)
"I've been here for two gigs now and both times the atmosphere and staff were sublime." (Andrew W.)
"Had a great time performing at the Paper Dress Vintage with @Halfpenny. really quirky and different. great atmosphere and fun night out." (Ian G.)
"So cute! Great drinks, lovely clothes, friendly staff and a really quirky and intimate music venue complete with a nice big shiny disco ball. LOVE !" (Jolanta K.)
"Very inspiring and feel at home place. Love the music and ambience." (Gabriel M.)