Craft Focus - Page number 92 - October/November 2021 (Issue 87)

92 Positively Prior Beck Prior, Owner of Prior Shop in Bristol, talks hosting workshops, the positives of 2020-21 and how the pandemic has shone the brightest of spotlights onto ‘shopping small’ campaigns Tell us a bit about Prior, when did you open your brick and mortar store and why? Prior is a not-for-profit independent shop and workshop space in Bristol. We’re committed to creating a conscious and mindful shopping experience by only stocking sustainably-made modern lifestyle products. We support local brands and are a hub of information for local makers. We want to ensure everything we do creates positive impact for our local and wider community, and of course, the planet. 100 per cent of the profits that we make is fed back into community workshop provision, local creative projects to improve social issues, charity donations and more. Every January we will announce where the profits are being spent. We opened in 2019 and the journey here is slightly unusual. My intention wasn’t to open a retail shop, which I know sounds ridiculous because I’m just about to open my second! It’s funny how things change and develop when given the opportunity isn’t it? I’m the designer and owner of Priormade Ltd, a contemporary homewares brand that only uses sustainable materials and responsible design. I’ve been designing and making my products for more than 10 years and shared a fabrication workshop space with multiple designers. An opportunity arose to take on a retail unit that I could have a bigger workshop and a window to display my products. However, when viewing the unit, I felt it was silly to keep it all to myself. Opening a shop that showcased some of the best independent eco designers seemed an opportunity not to miss. My plan was to carefully curate a space full of exceptional craftsmanship, selling sustainable products that I can confidently vouch for. Do you also have an e-commerce site for Prior? Yes, we have an e-commerce site for Prior that we work really hard on and attend any website/ e-commerce marketing workshop that we can find! Having a great website was and is fundamental in our survival. We offer fully-tracked speedy delivery and gift wrap each order for free. We do this because even if it’s a gift for yourself, we think we all deserve the enjoyment of unwrapping something really special. The only challenge with e-commerce is insuring both the image and listing is clear and true to the product and that the inventory is perfect. You don’t want to sell something online that isn’t actually in stock. This is why we make sure everything is very organised. With so many one-off handmade products, an e-commerce site is actually more difficult than owning a physical shop as you need a lot more time for admin. That said, it’s helped us reach a far wider audience and we might not be here this year without it. The amazing positives of 2020-21 is how much indies have upped the online game; helping us reach a far wider audience and shone the brightest of spotlights onto the ‘shopping small’ campaigns. Independent shops had never competed with the big ‘faceless’ corporations, but this period of time has given us the confidence to shout louder. I feel there are minimal boundaries now to independent shopping. There has been a growing movement to shop with soul, to purchase mindfully, to buy less and buy better. The pandemic has supercharged this movement, given us the opportunity to reach a wider audience and I’m really excited about the future of our shop. Are there plans to open any more physical stores?

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