Meet the Indie Store owners!
As we gingerly step back into the real world, it's more important than ever to support local. Here some of our Indie Store businesses in Glos & Worcs recount their journey and show us what makes them special.
Ros Watts says: “I took early retirement from my job as an Assistant Headteacher in a secondary school in 2014 and decided the time was right to set up my jewellery business. I named it after my beloved Basset Hound, Myrtle! My love for beads began about 30 years ago when I stitched over 3000 crystal and pearl beads onto my wedding dress. My husband’s job moved us to the north Cotswolds almost four years ago and it’s been wonderful getting involved with fairs, exhibitions and teaching across the area (until the pandemic stopped it all!).
“I make my creations using semi-precious gemstones, pearls, metals, shibori silk and polymer clay. I can get bored easily, so I’m always moving on to new designs! What I make is totally unique and won’t be found anywhere else. I personally design and craft each piece so a little bit of me goes into everything – in short I make everything with love.”
Clare (right) says: “I have always had a keen interest in home fashion and interiors so when the chance came along to buy the shop I leapt at it. My daughter Hannah graduated with a degree in interior design two years ago and joined me full time, it means my dream of a family-owned and family-run business became real.
“We take pride in sourcing beautiful products from around the globe, 2020 may have been extremely challenging but Hannah and I were thrilled to win two coveted titles for Best Display (The Great Awards for Retail) and Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020 despite the pandemic. We stock brands including the likes of Emma Bridgewater pottery but also a plethora of artisan products brimming with individuality. We love what we do and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Yvette Farrell says: “I moved to the Forest of Dean from London 28 years ago, I had no hesitation as I’d fallen in love with the countryside after several holiday visits. I had a bit of a business epiphany shortly after when I gave birth to my daughter. I decided to leave my job as she was diagnosed with an illness that involved a lot of medication. During this period I spent a long time walking the country lanes and hedgerows and my passion to do something with foraged ingredients and cooking took off.
“I ended up running an organic farm shop, then festival catering and teaching cooking. I opened the school 11 years ago now and it is now one of the leading recreational cookery schools in England. I love our ethos of ‘cooking for all’ and I am very proud of the number of people we have taught the art of cookery, good eating and the fun we can all have with food.”
Luke Jacks and Jon May say: “Having worked for large retailers for a number of years, we took the plunge to launch our flagship Mooch store six years ago together. It’s a stunning riverside spot in Stourport-on-Severn, set over three floors, and we used all our savings and credit cards to buy stock. We took on the refit ourselves buying fittings from Ebay and upcycling furniture from local charity shops – it was a true labour of love. Within a year we opened our second outlet in Bewdley and we’ve been thrilled that our range of unique range of cards, gifts and home accessories has been so popular.
Co-owner Bethan says: “The phrase we hear a lot is ‘I could never work with my brother or sister!’ but it works for us. It began five years ago when I was working as an interior design journalist in London and Joe was in e-commerce in Newcastle. We both fancied a career change and decided (on a bit of a whim!) to combine our skills and launch something together.
“I’m a child of the Changing Rooms generation and have always been obsessed with interior design. Home should be a sanctuary, with a style that reflects who you are, so the cosy and colourful blankets we sell encapsulate that philosophy for me. Our blankets, picnic rugs and scarves are woven at small mills in the British Isles. A blanket can be the centre of a Netflix night on the sofa, a birthday picnic or breakfast in bed. One of our mottos is “a blanket is a hug you can send in the post” and what better gift is there than that?”
Co-owner Louise Aiken says: “I opened our first store with my husband Derek (above) in Notting Hill 27 years ago. So we were really excited to bring it to Stroud and the new Five Valleys Shopping Centre in Stroud last year. I wasn’t always in retail though! I spent my 20s as a touring club DJ – one of the very first female DJs in the UK – mentored by Paul Oakenfold. And I was also the backing singer for Betty Boo in the early 90s! The 15 minutes of fame was amazing, but I love what I do now.
“We have the likes of Mica Paris, Tess Daley, Jodie Kidd and Angelica Houston regularly stepping through our doors and I have dressed a lot of rock star wives. But the ethos of our shop is to bring unique and affordable designers to the public. I love sourcing vintage and upcycled furniture, and limited edition rock star photos which you can buy in the shop – it’s a nod to my music industry past. If I can make people feel like they are shopping with a good friend when they come through the doors, I’ve succeeded.
CEO Beth says: “New Brewery Arts has been at the heart of Cirencester since 1990, but recent years have seen it grow into an incredible creative hub – we have galleries, a shop, workshops, a cafe and most recently The Barrel Store accommodation which opened in 2016. I look after the whole place and it’s an incredibly inspiring venue to work at. We get more than 250,000 visitors every year! Some come to try out the 200 classes we have on, others to browse our artisan craft shop or have a bite to eat. What people don’t know is that we are actually a charity too, connecting people with the hand-made, and supporting artists and the wider community. My mission every day is simple – to get everyone involved with craft! From making it, to seeing it to buying it. I can’t imagine a world where nothing was hand-made, can you?”
Co-owner Sue (left) says: “We’re a modern, eclectic website and Cirencester boutique, packed with playful designer pieces for your home and wardrobe. We like to offer inspiration, fun and ideas; our close-knit team offer useful styling advice to our wonderful customers. Established in 1973, we’re still a family-run brand, stocking exclusive fashion brands such as Bella Freud, High & Marc Cain alongside more cult designers including Munthe & Crea Concept; all hand-picked by us. We aim to provide a fun, relaxed shopping environment with a personal, tailored experience, whether in store or online.”