Your local Indie Store stars, part 2
Five more of our favourite Indie Store entrepreneurs spill the beans on how they got started and have kept going through the pandemic.
Meet the women behind five fab Indie Store businesses in Somerset, Dorset and Bristol.
Lyndsay’s wellbeing lifestyle shop in South Petherton, near Ilminster, aims to making the world a better place, one product and one customer at a time.
Having left city living in Winchester and a corporate job to raise our family in the quiet of the countryside, running my own business wasn’t on my radar at all! I wanted to enjoy our little cottage and bumble along at a slower pace, with time to just be mum. But I also wanted to go back to University to study psychology and mental health sciences – having experienced mental illness earlier in life – and do something with my life that was authentic to who I was. I completed my studies by my 40th birthday, became a fitness trainer and found myself running community classes and wellbeing groups and the seed for Bloom Lifestyle was planted. At the heart of everything I do, is a drive to help others feel better about themselves and their life. Bloom Lifestyle is an amalgamation of everything I am passionate about: wellbeing, self-care, community, sustainable living and home comfort. The shop helps me more accessible, to connect and be connected. Just a five minute chat, a kind comment, a giggle about something ridiculous, a shared love of scented candles and bamboo knickers, can be enough to make all the difference to someone’s day and their mindset when they leave. I would never have had the joy of this had I not watched an episode of Escape to The Country nearly ten years ago!
Bristol-based Ibby’s ethos is ‘quiet beauty, simple, design’ and this is reflected in her range of slow and sustainable, artisan-made – gorgeous – natural bags and accessories.
It all started as a conversation with a friend over a cup of tea at my kitchen table in Bristol. I talked about my fruitless search for the perfect bag, and she said, ‘Why not make one yourself?’ So that’s what I did. You know when you see the perfect dress/painting/cake, across the room? And you catch your breath and rush towards it to see if it‘s as beautiful as you thought. Not because it’s showy, but because it is just right. And then occasionally, just occasionally, you reach out, and it’s as perfect as you thought it was. That’s what I wanted to feel about the perfect bag. For it to be something beautiful, discreet, simple, lasting, natural. Designing my range, sourcing sustainable materials, finding the right level of craftsmanship, has been an amazing journey. I love the process, the friendships I have made along the way. I love that the products I have made are both useful and beautiful. The quality speaks for itself, and I think our customers instinctively know when something is well made. When Badminton and Burleigh fairs were cancelled I had to become far more present online and find creative, alternative ways to show products to people. I run Zoom calls for anyone who wants a 1:1 virtual shopping experience. But as we all emerge, blinking, into Spring and our post-lockdown lives, I can’t wait to step back to the world where as well as being seen online, my bags, wallets and the rest of my range can be picked up, stroked, tried over a shoulder.
THE SALCOMBE TRADING COMPANY
We were sad to see the brilliant Bath interiors shop close its doors last year but never fear, Michelle’s starting a new venture on the outskirts of Bath (watch this space) in addition to her shop in Devon and online.
We made the decision to relocate to Salcombe in 1992 with our two-year-old daughter Emily (now a director of STC!). We moved into a gorgeous thatched cottage with no plans at all to open a shop. We were drawn to Salcombe by the beautiful scenery and the wonderful people. It was always such a buzz when the Easter or summer holidays came round, and thousands of people flocked to Salcombe. We knew we wanted a way to connect with the locals and visitors. When the first (tiny) shop came up we jumped at the chance and The Salcombe Trading Company was born. Since then we have moved into bigger premises and built our online retail side of the business. We thrive on finding amazing quality products and focus on British and Scandinavian design. We grew to a family of five and around 10 years ago, ended up moving to Bath whilst keeping the shop in Salcombe. We opened our second store in Bath, which closed last year, and we are currently working on a very exciting new project on the outskirts of Bath. We can’t wait for the visitors to return to Salcombe, but in the meantime we are focusing on providing the best service we can virtually.
WALLER & WOOD
Textile artist Carole Waller makes beautiful hand-painted silk clothing and artworks; husband Gary Wood is a ceramicist. They work from studios in their home just outside Bath.
We met 25 years ago when we had both just moved to Bath. I had thrown myself into the single life, working from home and painting silk in the basement of my tiny house . He could only get me out of the studio for supper by coming to help me with the ironing and suddenly we were co-directors of our small company. We share an absolute passion for handmade functional artworks and for the energy original pieces contain and radiate. We started to hold exhibitions from our studios and at the same time I sold to Harvey Nichols , Liberty, and their equivalents in New York and took a collection every six months to Paris Fashion Week. It was all consuming. So we decided to stop all that and open our own independent gallery, Waller & Wood, in the middle of Bath in 2015. We ran it until the middle of 2020, when we had to let go of a permanent retail space. We miss the interaction with the public so much, and were very sad to have to let go of the small independent shop we believed in so hugely. However, we now work from our studios again, see clients by appointment and remain independent.
LINDSAY PUNCH STYLING
Personal stylist Lindsay was on course to be a civil engineer until a little job in French Connection lead to a new career helping others to dress.
Twenty years ago, I was studying to be a civil engineer and working in French Connection to fund my shopping habit. I found myself managing the stores of FCUK, then Zara, the International Designer Rooms at Harrods and finally Ralph Lauren stores across London and Europe. But with a husband in the military living 170 miles away in Somerset, something had to give. I gave up the London lifestyle to become a new mum with a new country lifestyle and baby girl. I threw on the same easy-to-wear, uninspiring outfit every day. The amazing wardrobe I had accumulated from my years in fashion became a wardrobe I saved for best. I had forgotten that clothes were important, central to how we perform our identities and affect how we feel. I really didn’t feel like me. It wasn’t until I went back to work after maternity leave, when I had to show up and dress up, my husband said ‘it’s so nice to see you making an effort again, because, you went a bit, well, Mumsy’. Cue a big sharp intake of breath! But he was right. I promised myself I’d start to invest time in a little self care, created a uniform and didn’t save best for best. A signature style that was effortlessly polished, required little thought, re-ignited my style mojo and self esteem. After helping a few friends create outfits from their existing clothes the demand for wardrobe re-styles came flooding in and Lindsay Punch Styling was born in 2014. When I overheard a client respond to her friend that was complimenting her look by saying ‘I’ve been Punched’ I knew we’d had fun, while creating recognisable results. I take pride in helping real women to create effortless style and feel great about how they look. Every day and client is different, and guiding them to find their own unique style is a joy, whether that be online or face-to-face. With the pandemic, all of my style consultations are now online, and it’s been a juggle to run the business and create content across my social channels whilst teaching fractions and phonics to little ones! I can’t wait to physically get my hands on the wardrobes of the South West to help others out of their style rut, and most importantly have an excuse to dress up and sparkle again.