Craft Focus - Page number 93 - October/November 2021 (Issue 87)

93 RETAILER INTERVIEW Yes! We’re knee deep in paperwork at the moment as we’re taking on an enormous shop in Bristol’s city centre! It’s a few doors down from Apple and Harvey Nichols if that gives a sense of scale! As there are so many vacant properties, there’s a scheme where you can rent the space on a shorter six-month contract. Business rates are currently only 66 per cent so we thought it was an awesome time to test the waters. Our new shop will have nearly 200 different responsible brands and the story of each brand will be displayed with each collection. We’ll also be hosting a full schedule of workshops in both craft and business. We hope to be open by mid to late September, 2021. Have you seen a boom in the craft industry recently or a new type of customer? Yes, there’s been a huge boom of purchases in the craft industry. We’ve found that a lot of people want guilt-free shopping and we’re finding that people are proud to show off their eco conscious purchases. We have so many customers asking for the eco credentials of the product to go in the box with the gift. Customers want to make better choices and are craving transparency to make up their own minds about things. This isn’t just about being ‘environmentally friendly’ anymore; we all want to be diversity conscious, health and wellbeing conscious; we want to be awake and stop making unconscious decisions. We’re desperate for new, real experiences, and locally purchased, one-of-a-kind products that we can connect with. Tell us a bit about what you stock? We stock rich organics textiles comprising of clothing, rugs, cushions and blankets; some dyed with natural pigments. In our homewares section you’ll find contemporary lighting, statement plant hangers and original artworks. Our wellbeing collection consists of skincare using 100 per cent organic ingredients, aromatherapy blends, everyday products and home spa treats. To sell in Prior Shop there’s an application form of sorts where each brand tells us of their material choices to make their products, how they manage their waste and so on. Sustainability can’t be judged on one factor and we believe sustainable products combine four main elements: the choice of low-impact material, responsible manufacturing; longevity of timeless design and finally high-quality craftsmanship. It’s impossible to truly say you’re 100 per cent ethical so we just ask that designers are being as responsible as possible within their practice. What kits are you currently excited about? We have an incredible make-your-own Jesmonite jewellery kit from Promises Promises, home macramé kits from Knots and Shots, crochet necklace kits from Stitching me Softly and are soon introducing natural botanical dye kits from Prints By Nature. There are so many other kits joining our new shop but I can’t disclose that information until it’s all confirmed. You’ll have to visit in store on online! How has your product offering changed over the years? Have you seen trends come and go? Oh yes 100 per cent. People spent so much more time at home last year that plants, homewares, and ‘kits’ shot through the roof, and accessories such as jewellery become less popular. Now, we’re finding the sales of homewares returning to ‘normal’ and jewellery picking up again. Are you active on social media? How is this useful for the business? Hugely. People are now looking for a shopping experience and gravitate towards businesses that match with their life ethos. Everyone wants to personally connect to real life people. Shoppers too want more than just quality and trends, they’re looking for products and brands that align with their personal values. Social media is the most amazing tool for businesses to reach customers on this personal level. We’re finding customers love to be included in the choices the shop/brand makes, influencing stock, designs and even logistics via social media polls, voting and even crowdfunding. You also run workshops, why did you decide to include this into your business? People are drawn towards collaboration. We’re finding that people want to interact with brands that understand them, they want to be heard and become a part of the creative process. Whether this is being able to customise a product, learning to make products themselves via a workshop or watching demonstrations. In all honestly, we run workshops because we love it. We all love sharing our skills and empowering others to learn a craft whether it’s for business, pleasure or wellbeing. Do you have any tips for people looking to start their own retail venture? Oh, I have so many tips that I’m always sharing via my Priormade and Prior shop blogs! The first thing that came to mind is the more you invest in the brands you stock and local businesses around you, the faster you will grow. I would also say, do not under estimate how much time and cost a retail venture is. You’re open come rain or shine and are paying overheads even in painfully quiet months; plan and budget for the low points and never rely on passing footfall. My top tips are: build good relationship with makers and the local community, invest your time to create an easy-to-use website, have brilliant customer service and commutation, and a super organised inventory system. Also, go for it! You never know until you try and people really want to shop with independents, now more than ever! When you open, tag us and we’ll invite our followers to find you! PRIOR SHOP 58 West Street, St Phillips Bristol BS2 0BL NEW SHOP: Unit MS10, Quakers Friars, Philadelphia Street, Cabot Circus Bristol BS1 3BZ