Back in 2009 to 2010 Southend YMCA opened a social enterprise popup shop on Southend High Street called Etc, to give young people hands-on experience of running a business.
Etc’s inception was way before pop-up shops became a regular sight on the high street and it wasn't just a ‘shop’ either. Etc was a marketplace, a community & event space, a music venue, a coffee shop and above all else, a place our young people enjoyed spending time and were immensely proud to be part of. The aim was to provide young people with opportunities to showcase their art and fashion and gain real work experience.
Volunteers helped refit the empty shell, transforming it into a colourful space, which featured a gallery where young artists could display their work. The shop was also a space for young fashion designers to showcase and sell their clothes, a venue for live music events, as well a thriving community cafe.
Many of the young people involved with Southend YMCA and the Etc project have gone on to have fantastic careers in their fields, including TV personality, Stylist & Designer, Joey Bevan.
In 2009 Joey curated his very first catwalk show at the YMCA shop, with all outfits made from unsold or unwanted donations. "This was where it all began…where my career took off…it’s the most important moment of my career - the beginning…That little indie boy who had a dream!", said Joey.
Joey now has a very successful career in the media and fashion industries and is well known for his appearance on BBC’s fashion make-over series ‘You Are What You Wear’. His designs & styling have featured in magazines worldwide, on TV and music videos and he's worked with numerous stars including Lady Gaga, HRH Prince Charles, Little Mix & Jessie J.
Last week, Joey Bevan was kind enough to share our video of the fashion show to his 77K followers on Instagram.
Joey added: "The Southend YMCA shop, the concept store, was perfect! The amount of good exposure it gave young people, the little restaurant section where people did teas and coffees...it was such a community space. We had people who came in every single day to see us and buy stuff. It was such an amazing space where people could work and learn. I was devastated when it closed down...it's definitely something they should do again...I loved it."
We are so proud of Joey and all the amazing things he has achieved on his journey. The Southend YMCA shop was such a wonderful and inspiring space for young people and was ahead of its time in terms of having a multi-use space on a high street location.
Innovation and creativity on this level allowed young people to feel valued and recognised, as well as build confidence and raise their aspirations. The space was instrumental in helping young people improve key life skills and experiences and was loved by the local community. Working with young people and being able to see them go on to achieve their dreams, like Joey, is why we do what we do.