A Feather in your Cap – Fashion Nest Birds Yard
It's been a hard few months for the high street. Retail giants have struggled, and it feels like one big name after another is announced in administration stories across the news. I can't help but look to the positive though…
No-one can predict how the High Street will look in the next ten years – undoubtedly different – but with many people becoming more reliant on the convenience of internet shopping, I still think there is a sustainable niche for browsing in shops, in person.
This is Bird's Yard on Chapel Walk, the stunning new work space for independent retailers to set up a small section of the shop to show off their wares as a platform to grow their businesses and get the publicity they deserve.
Behind the revolution is founder Michelle, and Ellie and Nicole, who are a full-time support to the store. It's a part of a wider initiative to kickstart the high street, and though this isn't directly leading onto Fargate, the beauty of it being out of the way makes it all the more loveable as a destination.
From a spectacular array of beautiful vintage wares in pristine condition, to handmade illustrations and knicknacks quoting Arctic Monkeys as inspiration, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye. Many of the artists work in the shop itself, so chances are your new purchases will be lovingly handed over in person! I had a quick chat with Michelle, actually…
Claire: Hi Michelle, thanks for chatting to us – how are you getting on at Bird's Yard?
Michelle: I absolutely love it! I'm loving the challenge, loving the creatives and especially loving the customers reaction.
What attracted you about starting up Bird's Yard in Sheffield?
I always had ambitions to expand but when the opportunity arose through the Mary Portas funding to do a shop supporting Sheffield based creatives, I jumped at the chance. I'm also working to generate the rest of Chapel Walk so it's a really exciting time.
How is Sheffield different to Leeds?
Oooh you could get me in trouble here… [laughs] I think the shop location is very different to what I'm used to, meaning sales are much higher, which of course keeps people's pockets happier. As an ex-Oasis shop it was very clinical and corporate when we first got it, so I'm doing my best to rough it up a bit… in the nicest possible way of course! Leeds will always be closest to my heart but Sheffield is definitely my shiny new baby, and I do feel that Sheffield seems to be a bit more loyal to the cause. For example, in Sheffield, if people can put the money back into the City whence it came, then they will do that.
Where are you looking expand to next?
Well I'm always being asked that by people around the country who have found us and would like to see one near them. Ultimately there are many similar shops popping up now due to the economy and changing face of the high street. I would probably still like to keep my hand in so it would have to be commutable.. maybe Manchester? Then I would love maybe Brighton.. then overseas.. hey if you ain't got ambition!
Photograph by Marek Payne
It's a beautiful place, and it makes my heart soar to see so much creativity, passion, and SUCCESS on the independent scene. This is what retail should be about guys. Not looking like clones, wearing the same get up that girls and boys across the country can buy for a tenner. Nope, to keep our city centres alive, seek out those haunts that have had an injection of money and colour, and support your community through these smaller boutique concessions, just like Bird's Yard.
Over the next few months I'm going to be spotlighting some of the stall holders at Bird's Yard, finding out more about what's on offer and some of the stories behind the talent. Watch this space!