The Little Yorkshire Candle Company, How I helped Alex open her shop in just seven days
Welcome, hope you’re well and surviving lockdown. I worked on a project for Alex of The Little Yorkshire Candle Company back in November last year, I’ve been meaning to share the project on here for a while and managed to find the time this week to finally put this together. Here I share how I worked with Alex to help her open her shop in just seven days, yes seven days from getting the keys to opening her doors of her shop in time for York’s annual Christmas rush.
Alex had very clear ideas of what she wanted her little shop, a seven hundred year old listed building within York’s city walls, to look like. Alex had been dreaming about her little shop for quite some time.
Opening a shop is no mean feet as there is so much to consider, but we had just seven days to transform the shop from top to bottom, create a beautiful facade and stock the shop ready for opening. Alex’s enthusiasm and excitement for the project shone through and it was clear to me from the off that the shop would open in time.
At the point I became involved with the project Alex had already appointed a joiner, flooring contractor and electrician, liaising with the trades as well as surveyors and solicitors was taking up valuable time as Alex was also having to pour enough stock to open with as well as focusing on her own supply chain ensuring raw materials arrived on time. All of this at the busiest time of the year for any candle maker. With time running out Alex found that her ideas became less clear which is when she reached out for help.
I consulted with Alex over the phone but the usual site visit wasn’t possible as Alex didn’t have the keys, it became clear that Alex’s vision was for a light bright store, inspired by nature, just like her beautiful products.
I set about to create a series of mood boards to nail down the design and the key elements that would be referenced throughout in order to communicate my design to both Alex and the team who would be working on the shop.
The Starting Point
Nature was the reference point I kept returning to, from the colours I chose, natural materials such as jute & wood which were used and the botanical elements with their soft natural hues. The use of glass in the form of mirrors, vintage green vases, lighting and vintage display cabinet would all increase the feeling of space and light as well as reflecting the beautiful product which filled the shelves.
Fixtures, Fittings & Product Display
With the shop being so small it was really important to get product display right, Alex was already working with a joiner who had designed a couple of minimal rustic style shelving systems, these would ensure there was sufficient space to display Alex’s stock. The same joiner also designed an Apothecary style faux chest of drawers counter, which Alex could would use for her till, but could also be used as a design feature too. Alex had been scouring Facebook Market place for weeks and managed to get hold of a beautiful square rustic table, which would sit in the centre of the shop to display more stock. I sourced repro vintage wooden brick moulds from Hobby Craft, which were perfect to display Alex’s range of greeting cards.
The day before the shop opened I headed off to Newark to source vintage mirrors, hooks and glass vases.
Shop Exterior, Window display & Paint Colours
With Alex’x shop being a listed building there were many restrictions as to what could be done with the exterior as well as the interior. Alex originally wanted the exterior of the shop painting in Farrow and Ball Downpipe, I suggested we go even darker and decided on Farrow & Ball’s Railings in the end. Alex commissioned a local sign company to produce decals for the shop window and the front door. Alex’s acorn logo and and business name looked perfect in gold, a very high end pairing with the Railings.
Farrow and Ball’s Pointing was used for walls, ceiling and woodwork in the interior, it proved to be the perfect backdrop for the other elements which were used in the design.
As Alex planned to open in December a beautiful Christmas window to lure shoppers in was essential. A friend of Alex’s created the most beautiful winter scene on the window, using Alex’s Midwinter candle packaging design as inspiration for her design. I installed a wooden bough, which hung from the ceiling, from which vintage silver baubles were hung from fishing line. Natural branches, pine cones and wooden toadstools where used in the window to further echo the winter woodland theme of the window. A Christmas tree planted in a galvanised pot greeted shoppers on the street outside.
I asked Alex how she found working with me on her project.
Anna sorted the detail, what paint colours I should use, gave me a sounding board and put together a mood board for all of us to work to . Myself and a band of friends spent 6 days day and night working on the shop to get it opened, on the seventh day Anna arrived and brought some semblance to it all and turned what had felt like a workshop for the week into my shop . She came with calm, dried flowers and display items, she worked all day with us and by the close my shop looked amazing. Anna was the help I needed in this time of chaos to make my dreams into a reality.
Here are Alex and I on opening day.
I’m really sad for Alex that the current pandemic has meant the shop she had become so fond of has had to close temporarily. Alex is still offering all of her beautiful products online and has indeed increased her offering to include items such as cashmere bed socks, handmade soaps and is even launching weekly feel good boxes, the contents of which change weekly and include such goodies as tea, brownies to accompany Alex’s own products. I have no doubt that Alex will bounce back from this and will once again be found in her small but perfectly formed shop on York’s historic Goodramgate. Alex’s future plans for the shop include renovating the first floor space to allow her and others to deliver workshops.
I’m currently running a Little Yorkshire Candle Company giveaway on my Instagram feed, you can win a Sleep reed diffuser and a Sleep travel candle.
If you own a retail space and are looking for help to design the interior please do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.