FIVE TOP TIPS FOR ASPIRING INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES – FROM FELICITY HOY, FOUNDER OF COMMON PEOPLE

Nikki Allan speaks to Felicity Hoy, founder and director of Common People – a community interest company made to support, promote and encourage independent creative enterprises in Sheffield.

Felicity Hoy at the pop-up shop in the Winter Gardens
Felicity Hoy at the pop-up shop in the Winter Gardens

Common People was founded by Felicity in 2013 after she received a grant from an enterprise scheme which helped her set up a shop on Division Street for 6 months. At the end of the six months the shop was taken over, however “the council saw how good the shop was and how it was giving people opportunities so we now have the Winter Gardens pop-up shop,” she said.

“Common people is about common people coming together to create a stronger force with people with common interests.”

Felicity believes that the city centre independent community needs to be stronger as the council now have plans to demolish Devonshire Street, a hub of independence in Sheffield city centre. “There have been no talks about putting an independent quarter in the city centre and that’s what we need to be fighting for, otherwise there’s not going to be any places left for independent people.

“Independent businesses are the only thing that make a city interesting. Independent culture is the culture that people who live in a city bring and it’s what connects people together and strengthens the local economy.

“With larger chains you’re just taking the money out of Sheffield and putting it back into the hands of bigwigs.”

FELICITY’S TOP TIPS:

1. ASK AROUND TO SEE WHETHER THERE’S A GAP IN THE MARKET

“If you have an idea for a service, product or shop make sure you ask around to see whether there’s a gap in the market. Look at other local businesses doing similar things so you can see what’s working and what isn’t.”

2. TEST YOUR MARKET

“If you decide to get started then test your market as much as possible in lots of low risk ways. Markets are the best way and there’s lots in Sheffield to choose from. When you’re ready to have a pop-up shop, meet the public and gauge their opinions. Don’t just ask your friends as they’ll just be nice to you.”

“Our Winter Garden pop-up shop allows people to test the market and hopefully that will push people to take on their own shop. The Winter Gardens is one of the most affluent places in Sheffield so if it works there it could do really well.”

3. DO WHAT YOU LOVE

“The most important thing when growing your own business is to love what you do. You will have to work all hours of the day for little to no money for a long time so you have to know that you’re doing the right thing. If you don’t feel passionate enough then you won’t make it through!”

4. BE INNOVATIVE AND DIFFERENT

“Stay true to your independence and innovate constantly. Work out what makes you different and then think of ways to create new products or new services that can expand your business but still represent your brand.”

5. NETWORK AND COLLABORATE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

“Networking doesn’t have to be boring and uncomfortable, it can be as easy as getting in touch with someone you admire on twitter and grabbing a coffee to find out what they’re up to. Collaborating is a great way to innovate and think up new ideas, it keeps things fresh and you can create something really amazing!”

“Collaborations are really important. A network has been created around our Winter Garden pop-shop for collaborations such as Sheffield Skincare Company collaborating with Birdhouse Tea Company. Everyone meets each other, gets to know each other and carries on working together and that is really promising.”

Events:

Source: www.twitter.com/peopleincommon
Source: http://www.twitter.com/peopleincommon

Common People is a partner in Union Street, a co-working space in the city centre. Next year on Independence Day – July 4th – Felicity hopes to start a citywide independence event. “We want the businesses to celebrate their independence and for them to able to thank their customers.”

Common People is holding a female networking event of May 14th at Union St for £4. “It’s going to be very cool, creative and chilled out with donuts, booze, talks and live music.”

Felicity is now offering social media support to new start ups and advice sessions on social positioning and opportunities in Sheffield. http://www.felicityhoy.co.uk/

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SHEFFIELD’S BEST KEPT SECRET? ‘THE HIDE’ – CREATIVE ART AND RETAIL SPACE NESTLED IN THE CITY CENTRE

Nikki Allan talks to Dave Gruner about ‘The Hide’ on Scotland Street – Sheffield’s off the beaten track art and retail space.  

The Hide is a vibrant yellow 1920’s building located on Scotland Street housing a café, event and retail space and ten artist studios. Hidden from sight behind the café – Mugen Tea House – ‘The Hide’ reveals a huge events and retail space.

“It’s quite a big building and a lot of people don’t realise that there’s this huge part behind the café. They just think it’s a café at the front,” 34-year-old Dave said.

The Hide opened just over a year ago after Dave realised he wanted to combine his passion for art and retail.

“When I came here it was the perfect combination of retail and the events and the arts space. It was just the perfect building for me to get my teeth into.”

Formerly an artist himself many years ago, Dave always had an interest in street and abstract art, furniture and accessories. After having units in the emporium on Abbeydale Road and in the Nichols building, Dave ultimately wanted to run his own centre.

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The retail area showcases various eclectic furniture and art gathered from auctions and antique fairs.

“We try and keep it quite industrial with salvage and reclaimed things because we don’t want to go down the vintage route that other centres have done. We want to keep that particular artistic edge.”

Upstairs the unique building houses different artists whose work is also sold in the retail space. “We sell work from a mix of local independent traders and the studio and workshop holders we have in the building. We really want to push to support them and we all co-promote each other,” he said.

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As well as the retail space, the events area is used for food markets and exhibitions. The Hide run a food market which falls on every third Friday of the month run by Sheffield company Percy and Lily’s. Each event has a different theme such as South American or Indian and there is a DJ and customers can browse the retail space and do some late night shopping.

“When we have an event here it transforms the area because there’s lots of people around and there’s more of a buzz about the place.”

Exhibitions also take place in The Hide, with the next one scheduled to take place on the 1st June with local graffiti artist Coloquix. In the summer, various eclectic artists will have a wall each to display their work.

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In five years’ time, Dave hopes that they will be running exhibitions back to back and have events booked for the full year. “I envisage it to be full of people and for all the local artists, dealers, studio holders and the café to be doing really well. I just want everything to work in unison and to create a real collective of like-minded people.”

WHEN POPULAR CULTURE MEETS JEWELLERY DESIGN

Not since the pop art days when Andy Warhol made tinned soup seem ‘cool’ has popular culture conversed with craft, but now it’s making a comeback.

Emily Shoesmith, 21 who goes under the pseudonym Little Fox, has launched her own line of jewellery, creating pieces with a difference.

Little FoxThe Sheffield Hallam student says, “I like to pick out things that are pop culture themed and incorporate them in to the jewellery I’m making.”

Based in Crookes, Emily first decided she wanted to be a jewellery designer so she could financially support herself whilst studying.

“I previously worked as a lettings agent but whilst being here at University, I was finding it really hard to get a job.”

“I kept getting declined from every job I applied to and my boyfriend one day suggested that I should open an Etsy store as I was always making my own jewellery.”

The Film and Screenwriting student admits she’s always been making jewellery since she was young, but it was only since last year that she decided to launch her own range.

“I used to create chokers for myself out of ribbon, cord and charms for a long time as I love wearing them. But my shop has only been opened since 29th July 2014.”

She is the sole creator of her jewellery but admits she gets help from her boyfriend in other areas of the business process. The self-described technophobe says her boyfriend helps her run various social networking sites. “I really don’t get Twitter!” she jokes.

“My boyfriend is a great help as he also ferries the majority of my packages to the post office for me.”

She specialises in Tibetan silver charms, enamel charms and cabochons but here’s where the quirk comes in.

“I fill the jewellery with recycled Pokemon cards. However, I am starting to bring in some resin charms that I make from scratch.”

“I had an issue thinking that my designs weren’t unique enough so I branched into pieces of jewellery that have been up-cycled.”

The process can range from ten minutes to a few hours and prices start at £3. She says her design process is constantly changing along with her mood.

“My personal style mixes between quite dark and edgy to very light and cute depending on how I’m feeling that day!”

But who does this unique range appeal to? Emily says, “A range of people buy my jewellery, I feel I do a lot of designs for different types of people.”

“I do basic chokers that are popular at the moment.”

Emily says she wants to visit places where her jewellery would be appreciated the most: “I would really love to get to more events with my stall and have been contemplating going to crafting and comic conventions.”

To appeal to these niche market, Emily has designed pieces to appeal to specific enthusiasts.

“I do items related to fandoms such as Sailor Moon, Harry Potter and Pokémon.”

She says the best thing about jewellery design is the fact she can run things by her own rules, “I would love to be able to run my shop full time as my main job and not just have it supplement my funds.”

“I love being my own boss and creating things, it’s what I enjoy doing.”

Visit Little Fox’s online store at http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LittleFoxCraftz to see some more of her unique pieces.

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TIME TO GIVE A HOOT ABOUT ‘THE OWLERY’

‘The Owlery’ is a shoppers dream.

Beautiful badges, handcrafted cushions and greetings cards, handmade journals and trinkets line the store.

The impressive home and living room products have all been designed and crafted by Benjamin Partridge, 26 with some help from assemblers.

ben the owlery“I design all of my surface patterns and make most of my products myself, but some of these I send out for others to build as they are experts in their field.”

The Chesterfield born designer realised crafts were the fit for him when he first learnt the skills to create. “I learnt to lino cut through a teacher training course and when I saw that people were interested in buying my work it really pushed me to start selling it.”

The former Sheffield Hallam student says his business is only in its infant years.

“It’s only been about a year and a half since I created the business but the whole process has been a bit of a whirlwind!”

“I work from my home in Sheffield – I recently bought a house and turned the attic into a home studio.” He describes his style as modern, clean product based printmaking.

“I use simple animal motifs based around the British Woodland and Coast.”

He favours the forestry theme but his designs change depending on what his customers want. “I gain inspiration from the British countryside for the majority of my designs but new commissions and requests shape my work and change the directions that I go in.”

But how long does it take to make the crafts? “Some items can take a matter of hours, and others days.”

“To create a piece which I think is truly finished and ready for the market can take months – lots of rejigging and reworking of designs to make them ‘shop ready’.”

The budget friendly products range from £2-£60 depending on the size of the project. The designs are often favoured by women but he admits that he appeals to all sorts of people interested in homemade trinkets.

But is the business profitable? “From the work I do, a lot of the funds are reinvested initially but over time the profit should be more noticeable: I don’t earn enough to do it full time but that is the goal!”

He has the advantage of having a unique theme.

“I haven’t ever seen designs the same – I think it is important to be original.”

His aim is to develop his art print range and create new surface designs for his best-selling products. “In the future I would love to be working on my business at least 2-3 days a week; but this will all depend on my ability to sustain myself!”

“It’s my dream job and I would love to do this full time. If my mortgage reduces and I can support myself I will.”

Visit The Owlery’s website at http://www.theowlery.co.uk/

VINTAGE DESIGNER BRINGS HER OLD FASHIONED CLOTHING RANGE TO PRESENT DAY SHEFFIELD

Victory rolls, a multitude of pleats, prominent petticoats, and distinct collars: the 1950’s marked the beginning of a fashion frenzy showcasing the boldest colours and brightest patterns accentuating femininity in society more so than ever before.

Victoria Collins spoke to Lollo Boston Wilson, a former fashion student at Sheffield Hallam University, who brings this wartime era back to Sheffield with her vintage designs.

At only 21-years-old, Lollo has spent nearly half her life envisaging her own business in fashion, “I studied fashion at college and University for seven years. I draw inspiration from whatever catches my eye.”

lollo wilsonOriginally from Macclesfield, Cheshire, she admits she’s been fashioning up designs from the get go. “My mum taught me to sew from an early age so I’ve always been creating little things.”

But now she’s sewing the seams into her new business, with a fifties fashion collection tailor-made in Sheffield befitting to the wardrobe from a bygone era.

“I started thinking about having my own business when I was studying fashion at college; I think it stems from me wanting the freedom to do my own thing. So I thought starting something of my own would be the best way to go!”

“Mostly my products are for everyday wear, aiming to add a bit of vintage femininity to any wardrobe.”

But how long does it take to make these fifties style frocks? She says, “The design process is long and time consuming, from initial designs to fabric sourcing. However the actual manufacturing of a garment takes half a working day.”

Some of the designs are so unique that there is sometimes only one of it; “I buy fabric in short runs and nothing is mass produced.”

“Some products are completely one off, to others where there is only one available in each size.”

As a former undergraduate, she understands how to work on a shoestring budget and keeps her tailor-made designs reasonably priced for her target audience.

“All my tops are priced at £25, and skirts at £35. I try to ensure that I can keep my prices affordable and in line with high street shops.”

She admits she appeals mostly to “students and young creatives” looking for something that no one else will have.

“Hopefully in five years’ time I will have my own little shop in Sheffield. I love the idea that my customers can see how the garments are made.”

The self-styled vintage doyenne’ plans to expand her clothing line to more dresses and vintage inspired underwear. “I want to bring in original printed fabric designed by myself to expand my brand also.”

“This is my dream job! I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing, it would really be a dream come true to see people wearing clothing I have made.”

Visit Lollo Made in Sheffield’s Facebook page and check out her designs on https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lollo-Made-in-Sheffield/

SEBASTIAN’S KITCHEN OFFERS A COSY CAFE ON SHARROW VALE: “IT’S THE KIND OF PLACE THAT PEOPLE COME EVERY DAY FOR LUNCH.”

Sarah Carroll talks to Abbie Higgins, about her café, Sebastian’s on Sharrow Vale Road.Bt-uv5oIMAEEo43

Sebastian’s, which is named after her Son, opened on Sharrow Vale Road, almost two-years ago.

It sells a range of salads, sandwiches and cakes which are popular with the locals.

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“It’s the kind of place that people come every day for their lunch, we have a lot of regulars, who work at the schools and businesses nearby”

Thirty-year-old Abbie, always wanted to own a café and managed one of the National Trust cafes in Edale. Once she had her son it was too far to travel so looked for work close by.

“I lived round the corner so got a job here before it was Sebastian’s. The girls who used to own it sold the business to me when they were going elsewhere.”

“I basically cook the things I like to eat”

Food at the café is made fresh, especially to Abbie’s taste. “I like things to be really fresh – light and seasonal but really tasty.”

“I want them to be filling and I want people to want to eat them – everything is really wholesome and nutritious but still tastes good.”

The café is home to a lot of regulars ranging from students to Grandmas. “It’s really mixed. We get a lot of family groups which is real nice, and get a real range across the ages and genders.”

“The salads are by far the most popular thing – it’s different to other places. In terms of sandwiches the New York Deli is popular, and the cakes – probably the peanut butter brownies.”

“I like being my own boss”

Her other half is also self-employed which means they get to spend a lot of time with their son, Sebastian.

“I like being my own boss. I think it’s really important when you have a family. We work full time hours but have the freedom to spend a lot of time with him as well.”

“The pressure is all on me”

Not only is she responsible for her business but also has to make sure she is in charge of her staff. “The books stop with me, I’m responsible for paying the wages of six other people.”

Everyone at the café has food hygiene training, and they know what good customer service is but if anything goes wrong it is down to her.

“It’s a scary thing to do, but we have worked hard and we are lucky we have a really successful, busy, popular business.”

“Any sort of advertising for Sharrow Vale is really important”

Sharrow Vale is becoming more and more popular and more people are finding out about it. It’s a very old fashioned proper high-street.

“You can get anything – people who live and work here just don’t really use supermarkets anymore. We all shop locally and I think we are really lucky to be able to do that.”

“We have such a strong village community. As a business owner I personally feel really supported by all the other businesses on the street – I think more people should come to Sharrow Vale.”

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PEDDLER NIGHT MARKET RETURNS TO ARUNDEL STREET, SHEFFIELD, FOR THE 4TH TIME

 

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Arundel Street, Sheffield, was packed with locals grabbing a bite to eat, and craft beers, on Friday, at Peddler’s Night Market.

The Market, which occurs every two months, showcases some of Britain’s best street food, and brings top quality food to the heart of Sheffield’s Cultural Industries Quarter.

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The market offered a mix of award winning street food, craft beers, live music and art.

People at the market were in full-spirit on Friday evening. Kelly Van Waterschoot, 21, who attended the market said “It’s great to see everyone here, supporting the independent businesses. It’s a great atmosphere.”

The event is run by Ben Smith, Jordan Roberts, and Heather Gilberthorpe who know a lot about food and drink. Ben also works for the well-loved Tamper Coffee, which had a stall at the market.

They organise a variety of Sheffield’s favourite street food traders such as; Nether Edge Pizza Company, Cowboy Burgers, Crepe Lucette, Percy and Lily’s, Wrap Scallion and many more.

The event continued on the Saturday, with a different selection of traders.

Shabaz Ali, 20, who also attended Peddler said “It’s amazing to see so many people enjoying themselves, and enjoying what the street food stalls have to offer.”

Everyone also joined in on Twitter to say about their experience at the market.