In Conversation With Aliss Oxley at Workshop

Workshop is an independent craft and sewing café in Headingley, visited by this writer many times for a slice of cake and a coffee. 

I had wondered about joining one of the many craft workshops on offer, so on behalf of Leeds Living, I recently attended a fabulous macrame workshop there.  Last week, I went back to meet up with Aliss Oxley, the owner and manager of the space, to talk about the Workshop’s past, present and future. 

How Workshop began

Aliss explained that after graduating from fashion, she had worked as a fashion designer – dreaming up new ideas for bags, shoes and furniture. Although she enjoyed the work, after a number of years, Aliss had wanted a change, and was keen to do something for herself and the community. She saw a gap in the market that would allow her to combine her passion for fashion and her desire to help the community, opening a craft and café space in Headingley. 

What Workshop offers

Workshop opened in 2018 with the aim of being an accessible coffee shop and sewing space, offering something for everyone, from craft classes to coffee and cake. Since the opening of Workshop, just a little under 2 years ago, Aliss has focussed on three streams: craft workshops, the café, and the sewing shop (which offers a collection of simple patterns for people to use on their sewing journey). 

Aliss explained that although she loves the craft side of the space, she is keen to keep the space accessible. Therefore, she wants to ensure that the café is good enough to stand alone without the craft extras as she is aware that craft and sewing, in particular, could push some people away. As a result, she aims to make sure that there are plenty of tables for people wanting to relax with a coffee and read a book and offers a fab vegetarian menu which provides great food and drinks from local, organic and independent suppliers. 

Plans for the future of Workshop

Workshop seems to be going from strength to strength, but I wanted to find out what plans Aliss has for the future. She told me that in addition to continuing with the three streams mentioned, she is keen to grow the café and all that it offers. She explained that one of the first additions for the new year is the opportunity to make private bookings, for example for hen dos and baby showers. In addition, she is keen to increase the menu offering, currently exploring options for more savoury dishes. 

There are at least 10 cafes in Headingley, but Workshop offers something different, with craft workshops alongside a fab seasonal vegetarian menu.

Macrame Workshop  Photograph by Gemma Bridge

I enjoyed speaking with Aliss this week and am keen to see what more Workshop has to offer in 2020. I am certainly looking forward to trying out some more savoury dishes and giving some new crafts a go.  After all, there are a lot of options, enough to engage beginners and those who already have some experience:

Creative Upcycling, Conductive Thread Embroidery, English Patchwork Accessories, Felt Landscape, Introduction to Dressmaking, Making a Leather Journal, Improvers Crochet, Sewing Class – Tote Bag, Beginners Lino Cutting, Improvers Lino Cutting, Baby Mobile, Beginners Knitting and more.

It’s clear to see why Workshop appeals to a wide range of people, from those who simply want to relax with quality coffee and cake to those who are keen to explore their creative options in a fresh and bright environment with like-minded people.  You can find out more here.

Unless otherwise captioned, photographs are provided by Workshop.  Feature photograph is of Aliss.

Gemma’s Macrame Workshop review is  here.

Dr Gemma Bridge

Gemma, who works at Leeds Beckett University, has been writing for over 10 years and loves to share what's going on in and around Leeds. She is also an international athlete, artist and the creator of Leeds Food Guide. You can find her on Instagram at @GLB_racewalk or @Leeds_FoodGuide

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