Disclosure: Abby designed two projects that were published in Mollie Makes, one in 2013 and another in 2015.
Many crafters were disappointed to learn last week that UK-based craft magazine Mollie Makes will cease publication. The January 2023 issue, the magazine’s 151st, will be its last.
Managing Director, Marie Davies, said, “With increases in costs across print and a reduction in newsstand, it’s time for Mollie to close her doors. This is a very sad day, but we’d like to take this opportunity to thank our readers for their loyalty and passionate following over the last decade.”
Subscribers will be receiving Love Embroidery magazine going forward.
A standout magazine
Mollie Makes stood out in the craft magazine market for its fresh, modern projects featuring a wide variety of crafts. It was an immediate success. When Future Media first launched Mollie Makes in June 2011 the magazine had record-high sales numbers, breaking the company’s record in its first month. The print run for the first issue was 26,000 copies according to the Press Gazette at the time.
The Mollie Makes brand expanded into book publishing when, in May 2012, Collins & Brown acquired the rights to publish a series of Mollie Makes how-to craft books including Mollie Makes Christmas and Mollie Makes: Birds. Over a dozen Mollie Makes books were published altogether including the most recent titles, How to Crochet and How to Sew, which came out in May 2020.
The brand also created the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards, awarding makers in categories such as Best Illustrator, Best Established Business, Best Product, and Handmade Champion.
One aspect of the magazine that made it stand out in the market was the small, shrink-wrapped craft kit attached to the cover. The kit was truly a highlight of receiving each issue for many readers. For designers, the opportunity to design one of the kits was a dream come true. Embroidery designer Susan Fitzgerald had that opportunity in 2017. “It was a little stitchable wood piece that came with thread and a bunch of patterns,” says Fitzgerald.
“The kits were one of my favorite things about the magazine, and I loved that they often worked with independent designers to create them.”
A publication opportunity
It was an exciting and momentous moment for many designers to be published in the pages of Mollie Makes as well. Embroidery designer Rebecca Page of Stitch Ambition recalls, “I was honored to be featured in Issue 138, and to see my creations in real-life printed material was incredible. Being an artist can often feel isolating, but being able to share my craft with readers all over the globe was heartwarming.”
Two years after its UK debut, Mollie Makes entered the US market in April 2014. “While many craft publications focus on a narrow subject, such as knitting for example, Mollie Makes U.S. Edition covers the whole spectrum since today’s crafter appreciates handmade in all its forms,” then editor-in-chief, Katherine Stevenson, said at the time.
The print magazine world has experienced a lot of turmoil over the last two decades, and Mollie Makes road quite a few waves of buyouts. A month after the US launch, Future Media’s sports and crafts titles, including Mollie Makes, were acquired by Immediate Media. Then, in January 2017, Immediate Media was acquired by Hubert Burda, the Munich-based technology and media company that also owns Burda Style.
Changes in direction
To the disappointment of many readers, in August 2020 the magazine announced it would no longer be including a craft kit in every issue citing rising production costs. Although this was an unwelcome change, readers still loved the magazine’s content.
But in May 2022 Mollie Makes showed signs of trouble. The magazine rebranded as Mollie, and the magazine shifted away from crafts and toward lifestyle content. The press release described the change this way: Mollie is aimed at creative individuals looking for inspiration for their homes, wardrobes, craft projects, and gift ideas. It will cover trends, green living, fashion, interior and the first issue, themed around ‘New Beginnings’, includes features on homes, DIY, clothing, and food, all with an ecological and ethical focus.” Many longtime subscribers were unimpressed with the overhaul and expressed frustration that the magazine had veered so far from its craft roots.
On the Instagram announcement about the redesign, comments were predominantly negative. “Yes, make it a new version but why take it in such a different direction. Used to look forward to reading, now 10 mins flip through and that’s it. Sadly no longer for real, serious crafters,” one person wrote. Another wrote, “Disappointed with new glossy ‘fashion’ look to the mag. Really don’t like this, have bought/subscribed for years faithfully. It’s totally changed.” Just eight months later, Mollie is closing down.
Although Mollie Makes is no more, its impact continues to reverberate. Yvette Streeter was editor of Mollie Makes from 2018-202 and had worked on the magazine since 2016. Reflecting on the impact of Mollie Makes she said, “I definitely considered it a place to inspire and champion creativity, and it was a real honor to be a part of that. Whether we were sharing new ways with craft and interiors, sparking ideas, or showcasing makers and independent businesses, we tried to celebrate handmade wherever possible.”
“I was really lucky to be part of an amazing team who were equally passionate about Mollie and its audience.”
Lara Watson worked on the Mollie Makes team from 2011 through 2015 and served as editor of the magazine for two years. About the impact of the magazine Watson said, “Mollie Makes launched in 2011, at exactly the right time to inspire a new wave of online crafters and makers using what were then new apps and platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Etsy to share or sell their creations. It was a step away from the traditional craft magazines that had been available on the newsstand before, appealing to those living a creative lifestyle rather than being a hobbyist of one specific craft such as knitting or needlework. It covered interiors, fashion, culture, and small biz tips as well as modern projects and patterns.”
“It was an instant success,” Watson said. “Working on the magazine from the very first issue was a dream. My first role was setting the tone of the editorial voice, and then I joined full-time as Creative Editor, before stepping up to Deputy Editor and then Editor for three very happy years where the brand expanded into all sorts of markets, from books to industry awards to retail. We very much encouraged ‘wonky’ makes, imperfection, and crafting for well-being and fun, bringing a human touch to every project. We were quirky and whimsical, colorful and unique. It was a pleasure to be at the center of an emerging, global community exploring their creativity and referencing Mollie as their inspiration.”
“We were passionate about creating the most gorgeous, inspiring, and useful hub for our community and the Mollie alumni are all heartbroken to see it close,” Watson said. “Eleven years is a huge achievement though, especially in these tough times for print. What a privilege to have been a part of it.”
Abby co-founded Craft Industry Alliance and now serves as its president. She’s a sewing pattern designer, teacher, and journalist. She’s dedicated to creating an outstanding trade association for the crafts industry. Abby lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.