Shop Local: Entrepreneur, 21, sells masks supporting Kenyan makers at Crouch End pop-up

Pili Wilson, who runs Mzuri Masks

Pili Wilson, who runs Mzuri Masks - Credit: Pili Wilson

A 21-year-old entrepreneur is inviting independent businesses in Crouch End to rent a space in their pop-up shop in the lead-up to Christmas. 

Pili Wilson began selling masks online during the first Covid-19 lockdown in March, as a small project to support Kenyan workers who had lost their usual income. 

The Kenyan-born creative postponed her university plans to launch PoPuP in Topsfield Parade in August, bringing in local makers to share the space. 

The masks are sourced from Kenyan makers

The masks are sourced from Kenyan makers - Credit: Pili Wilson

Pili told the Ham&High: “Rent prices are so high, it’s not sustainable for one maker, and it gives the opportunity for lots of independents to keep a physical outlet going. 

“It’s been a real learning curve for me. I’m quite young and I’ve never done this before, so managing a business is all very new.  


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“I think it’s incredibly important now to support local makers, because we’re not really getting a lot of help from the government, and Christmas is the last chance to help us before the end of the year.  

“If people don’t support the high street and they go to Amazon, you’ll lose a lot of independent crafts, and there’s a quality in handmade stuff you can’t get online.” 

The young shop owner sources handmade masks, fashion and homeware products for her brand Mzuri Masks from Kenyan makers, who she said aren’t currently earning their usual income from tourism. 

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Kenya’s economy has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics showed that within the first three months more than 1.7 million Kenyans lost their jobs. 

The pop-up store in Topsfield Parade

The pop-up store in Topsfield Parade - Credit: Pili Wilson

Pili, who moved to the UK 10 years ago, had planned to start a fine art degree at Goldsmiths University but instead seized the opportunity to open her Crouch End store. 

She hopes to visit her family in Kenya over Christmas, who she hasn’t seen since January, when she will also source products for the shop. 

PoPuP houses a mix of brands including Grapesweets Ceramics, Hora Vintage and Sol Jewellery.  

Pili added: “It’s really a team that we’re building, and we’re looking for more people as well.” 

If you’re a local creative or store manager email popupcrouchend@gmail.com 

The Ham&High’s Shop Local campaign is designed to highlight the hidden – and not so hidden – gems on our high streets. If you run a shop in our area we should be shouting about, contact our reporter Michael on michael.boniface@archant.co.uk or 07805 403 545

READ MORE: Independent Crouch End clothes pop-up calls for move away from fast fashion
READ MORE: Shop Local: Crouch End mother’s online marketplace runs Christmas scheme for Haringey schools

The Ham&High's Shop Local campaign is encouraging readers to support independent traders over Christmas. Picture: Archant

The Ham&High's Shop Local campaign is encouraging readers to support independent traders over Christmas. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

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