As one bungles through life knocking into other human traffic on their own respective journeys, it’s impossible to avoid at some point becoming unwillingly embroiled in debates one may find boring.

For me, one such divisive topic of discussion is the economy. I know it’s all very important in many ways, but competitive craic over whose city is ‘the best’ or whose industry makes the greater contribution to public coffers always leave me wishing I’d gotten into crack and brought some along for the occasion.

I’m certainly aware of the financial contributions made to the ongoing development of Leeds. It’s legal and financial sectors are second only to the ‘English Vatican’, The City of London Inc. Manufacturing is a key industry and our engineering and medical education systems are internationally respected institutions.

During conversations of this nature, the annual migrations of thousands of new students never misses a mention and rightly so. Leeds really has become one of the cities for students looking to explore diverse subcultures, open minded attitudes and exciting career opportunities.

But there’s one industry that underpins all of the above sectors, as well the many I haven’t mentioned: the hospitality and service industry.

At almost any hour of day or night, somebody somewhere is available to provide you with some sort of food or beverage. OK, we have yet to reach Berlin levels of 24/7 r ‘n’ r, but it’s safe to say that the service industry is the sector that doesn’t sleep.

Having spent the best part of a decade with at least one foot in this colourful, crazy world of hard graft and late nights, I’ve met some wonderful, unique and incredibly talented individuals, many of whom are involved in an array of extracurricular activities they’re seeking to someday turn into a full-time income.

Or not, as the case may be. Some just do cool shit because they have the urge to do so, and that’s more than good enough for me.

Over the coming months, DIY Leeds will be showcasing the individuals that truly keep this city running. They serve us drinks, they listen to our woes, they bring us food and even clean up after our drunken hides, so lets show ’em some love and find out who they really are.

Our first crafty grafter will be recognisable to any who frequent The 212 Cafe & Bar, one of Leeds’ finest electronic music venues.

Tell us a little about yourself and your Outside Interest
My name is Sian Richards, I’m 27 – 28 on bonfire night – and I live in leeds.

I have worked in hospitality for over 10 years now, from pubs to restaurants to bars… It has always run alongside other commitments such as studying or working in retail/as a hair dresser.

I’ve always had a passion for craft – especially sewing and crochet – from and early age. I have drifted between these skills over the years, picking them up when I felt I needed a hobby or a distraction and then dropping them when life got too busy.

I began making crochet homeware items out of recycled textile yarn as gifts for friends and family. It was the power of social media that turned my hobble into a little side business. Before I knew it I had orders coming out of my ears! Which I am forever grateful for.

Sian Richards Crochet DIY Leeds

Are you able to apply this to your full-time job in any way?
I cant apply the actual skill of crochet to my bar work, however I crochet around jars, bottles and tins, so I often recycle items from work and turn them into [reusable, saleable] items which otherwise would have just gone in the bin!

What do you like most about the Leeds bar scene?
I work in The 212 and have done for nearly 3 years now. I love the passion and dedication people have to just listening to quality music on a great sound system. There are so many little individual bars/clubs on the Leeds scene now it is often to hard to choose what night you go too!
I often end up heading out after work just to catch the last of someone’s set and there’s always such a friendly buzz about the place; I just love it.

And the down sides?
The only down side is there isn’t enough days in the week to enjoy the scene!! Hopefully one day¬† I can crochet and drink coffee all day and party all night Haha!

With the current explosion in homemade crafts, have the public developed a new appreciation for the value of handmade goods? (basically, do people tend to question the cost of things or do they understand its labour intensive work?)
I find people often comment that I’m under charging [or they] seem surprised at the cost of my products. I think people tend to assume that ‘handmade’ means more expensive. In most cases it does but you get what you pay for. My creations are usually one-offs or limited to a very few [numbers] so you are getting something no one else has. And helping the planet in the process!

You can view Sian’s Instagram here

Words: Josefus Haze

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