As a new and certainly inspiring resident at our Green Dragon House development in Croydon, Maddy Duxbury juggles roles as an account director at a marketing and communications agency and as a freelance marketing consultant. In between that, she somehow found time to set up East Croydon Cool and Hotelinsta (a company that showcases the most Instagram worthy hotels in cities around the world). We caught up with her to ask out about life in Croydon.
Tell us about East Croydon Cool. What is it all about, why did you start it and how do you fit it around your day job?
Essentially, it’s ‘a curated guide to all things cool in ‘the Cronx’. It offers those living in the area, especially the increasing number of first-time buyers moving here, insight into all the great things going on in the neighbourhood. The name is slightly ironic, touching on Croydon’s previously not-so-cool reputation!
Initially, it started as an Instagram account. I realised (when researching the area on social channels in preparation to move here) that no one had taken the handle @EastCroydon. I’ve worked in marketing and communications for over 10 years and thought it seemed like a good time to start promoting the area (on the millennials’ social channel of choice) to the new generation of people moving here. The success of the Instagram account led to me launching the website. This includes a ‘Cool Places’ section (with suggested places to try), a ‘Cool Offers’ section (a monthly newsletter with special deals from local businesses) and a ‘Cool People’ section (where established Croydoners give their tips on the best places to go).
Whilst there is a strong focus on showing newcomers what the area has to offer, I am keen to develop it into a resource that people use no matter how long they’ve been here. Something that helps bring the community together. I was aware when I moved here, that there was some tension surrounding gentrification and am hoping to be able to show people the value of us ‘newbies’. I want to develop a ‘Cool Events’ programme to help new and established Croydoners to meet and also a ‘Cool Deeds’ section, that helps link people moving into the area with Volunteering opportunities.
What made you decide to move to Croydon?
I’ve rented in London on and off for over 15 years but had fully given up on the idea that I’d ever be able to buy anywhere. So my sister and I pooled our collective resources and with some help from family looked into buying together. Whilst flats within our budget were still limited, we felt we had struck gold when we found Inspired Homes. I was totally sold on the concept of city centre living in high-spec micro apartments, especially in a building that included dedicated communal areas. I hadn’t heard much about Croydon so did a fair bit of research online (https://thecroydoncitizen.com/culture/bought-croydon-flat-instagram/) before visiting a couple of times. The town had a good buzz about it and I could see there was plenty going on and lots more still to come (with Boxpark, Westfield and Fairfield Halls in the pipeline). Then, when I went to view the flat (well, it was a building site at that point!) the guy from Inspired Homes took me to Matthews Yard and that convinced me this was somewhere I wanted to live.
As someone who has come to Croydon having not grown up here – what were your initial perceptions and how have they changed since moving here?
If I’m honest, I thought it was a suburban concrete jungle that would be pretty limited in terms of interesting things to do. But I got that very wrong. Ok, there is a fair bit of concrete (!) but there are also LOADS of green spaces like Wandle Park, Lloyd Park and Park Hill. In terms of entertainment, I’ve been amazed at the variety on offer. I’ve watched films on the rooftop at Lost Format Society, taken part in an immersive theatre production at Turf Projects, attempted a hula hoop class at Matthews Yard, learnt about Street Art at a masterclass led by Rise Gallery, spun up a sweat at MYPT Beyonce vs Rhianna spin sessions, listened to a Q&A with Ken Loach at TMRW, seen new music talent perform at Project B, discovered a new talent for memorising lyrics at Boozy Bingo, been mesmerised by Spoken Word poets from Live & Unplugged, seen Eskimo Dance, So Solid Crew and Stormzy perform at Boxpark and eaten every cuisine going in the restaurant quarter…to name just a few!
What’s the best thing about living in a micro-apartment at Green Dragon House?
It’s so clean and shiny!!! I have always rented and however much you try, nothing looks clean like brand new looks clean! I am pretty minimalist so the size has never really worried me but the layout is well designed and with storage saving furniture (like my ottoman bed, extendable table and sofa bed) there is plenty of space. I also love the communal areas, especially the rooftop which I live on in summer. I’ve celebrated a lot of my birthdays on rooftops around London so it’s a dream come true to now have my own!
What do you think is the ‘coolest’ thing about Croydon?
Whilst I am aware the word community has become pretty overused in recent years, I have to say, in Croydon, it really does hold true. I’ve lived abroad a few times [Maddy has lived in the USA, Spain and Argentina] and always felt the reason it was easy to start again and meet new people was because everyone was a bit of a nomad, out of their usual social circle and clinging to anyone who would smile at them! I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be like that when moving to a new part of London (yes, Croydon is London in my book!) but the people here could not have been more welcoming, keen to show off their borough and happy to help others settle in.