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Exploring Manchester’s Independents

 

Manchester Fred Aldous

My Big Bruv, Dan, betrayed his Yorkshire roots a couple of years ago and moved to Manchester, but since I’ve got a little soft spot for the city myself, I have forgiven him. He lives near the airport too, so I’ve got a guaranteed hotel room and taxi to the airport for those early morning trips I’m always taking. He’s a pretty awesome Big Bruv.

My favourite thing to do in Manchester is explore the independent scene, which is far better than the one here in Leeds, so I headed over there last week to show you round their awesome small businesses. The spending money was kindly gifted by Hotels.com, so I could really show you the sights, but of course all my opinions are my own. If you don’t have your own Big Bruv bed and breakfast, check out their hotels in Manchester.

Manchester Indie Magazine Shop

Manchester is huge compared to Leeds, so there are lots of different areas to explore. My favourite, though, is the Northern Quarter, full of kooky shops and indie cafes and bars you could spend more than just a day out here. Grab a coffee at Fig & Sparrow to set you up right for the day and check out their range of gifts inside.

From Fig & Sparrow you can shopping spree the entire of Oldham Street, from Cow Vintage to Thunder Egg for all your clothing needs. If you get thirsty you can pop into Night & Day Cafe for a couple of beers, but be careful how many you sink as it may make those pennies slip out of your purse far too easily – not that I’m speaking from experience.

Piccadilly Records has a whole world of music for your ears, ranging from indie, to synthpop and reggae, all the way down to cosmic and “weirdshit”. The staff are totally great, too, which I find a luxury in some record shops. No one is too cool for any of your music tastes.

Manchester Craft Art Shop

Then onto Magma, the mecca for my English Literature schooled Big Bruv who can spend hours exploring the indie magazines in there. My favourite is their range of odd business books and beautiful illustrated books for kids, though. I bought a really fun copy of “How To Swear” with a bright yellow cover.

When you’ve exhausted Oldham Street, there’s more to see nearby in Afflecks – the Debenhams of Indie. Afflecks in a rabbit warren of independents and small businesses. Sprawling through the huge building is a bead shop, jewellery, ice cream parlour, another location for Thunder Egg (if the store didn’t have your size!) and piles of vintage clothing.

Manchester Mackie Mayor Pizza

 

Finally, my absolute favourite place in Manchester has got to be Fred Aldous, the indie God of craft shops. We have a Fred in Leeds, but the one in Manchester is it’s huge older brother with floors of gifts, paints, books, tools and a laser cutting studio in the basement. You could literally spend hours here and a fortune.

When you’re all tuckered out you can head to Mackie Mayor for a feed and some cocktails. Sadly I was starting to get the flu by this point in our trip, so I enjoyed a fresh homemade lemonade there instead and a giant pizza drizzled with honey called ‘Save The Bees!”. Those Manchester folk love their bees.

Have you been to Manchester? What are your favourite independents? x xx

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Moving From My Home Office into a Studio Space

home office into a studio space

Oof, it’s been a crazy first third (how is it May already?) of the year for me and I’ve made a lot of changes, one of which may explain my absence a little – I’ve moved into my first real studio space!! Today I’m going to give you a run down of the pros and cons of having a dedicated studio outside of home and because they believe that SMEs and entrepreneurs are the backbone of the UK economy (woohoo, high five!) Boost Capital asked me to let you know about how they can help you with financing via their Merchant Cash Advance.

office space old mill

Moving from my home office into a studio space for the first time has really changed the way I work, but let’s start with why I made the move:

I had completely outgrown running a business from home, physically.

Because I carry a lot of stock and equipment for my jewellery and accessories collections I struggle a lot with storage. My business was originally built from the kitchen table and over the years has outgrown that into part of a spare room, then into my very first office in the box room bedroom to my last home office in a double bedroom space in our current home. When you get a lot of large box deliveries and keep a lot of stock, working from home becomes a real chore. Everything work related spills into your home life and vice versa until you can no longer just shut the door to make it go away. I wanted my house to be a house again, not a business.

I needed a break.

I don’t mean a holiday. I desperately needed a regular break from work as I was working all day and all night into the evenings, popping into my office to finish this off or just get that organised for tomorrow. I’d find myself working until 11pm when my boyfriend would ask me if I was going to bed – I had only really nipped into my office to check off one thing from my to do list. Saturday mornings were always a last minute rush to get orders out before the last post was collected. If I couldn’t sleep I would get up and make jewellery at my desk. I was working 24/7.

I never left the house.

Literally I could go a week without going outside and without seeing friends. I was climbing the walls.

Do you recognise any of those things in yourself?

creating an artist studio

Moving from a home office into a studio space

Myself and Amy from Red Paper House met through selling at local fairs and we got together to discuss our issues, requirements and budget. I couldn’t afford too much on a studio space (I’m self employed!!) but if we joined forces that gave us double the budget. We spent about three weeks going to viewings, trawling Rightmove, Gumtree and Google for spaces to let and looking at everything from a box room in an artist studio space to a over-priced corporate office suite until we found our studio – a massive 500 sq ft space in an old textile mill.

office space inspiration

It was a wreck when we moved in, but we knew it had potential and with us both being artists we were adamant we could make it beautiful and within a week we were moved in with a fresh coat of paint, half a floor (lol!) and the biggest desks I’ve ever seen!! As we filled it with our work, fresh plants and colour it’s become a second home and I just love spending time here. We spur each other on to get up, get organised and head out to work – a luxury you don’t realise you have until you work from home alone. We come here focussed on working instead of thinking about putting the washing in or what to prepare for tea. My productivity has gone through the roof.

So what are the financial considerations?

You don’t just need to put aside your monthly rent, there are also a whole bunch of other things to consider:

  • Are bills included? Do you need to pay extra for water, gas or electricity? It was freezing here during the extra cold spell in March so we had to buy heaters that wouldn’t cost the earth to run, which was a lot of research.
  • Is it unfurnished? Mostly we had our own furniture from our home offices, but even then we had a couple of trips to IKEA and there are always things you don’t think about like a rubbish bin, extension cables for awkward to reach plug sockets plus a kettle, toaster and microwave.
  • Is it decorated? We used a lot of white paint to turn what was a grubby magnolia dungeon into a bright, airy and fresh workspace.
  • How will you get there? Can you walk – and will you walk every day? How much is public transport and does that fit into your budget?

jewellery maker studio

Our plans are to increase our income through having the studio space. We’re more productive, we’ve got more space to expand, buy equipment and store stock and having someone to bounce ideas off really helps, but how will you fund the move until you grow? If you’re getting some financial help make sure you have a back up plan to repay what you owe and make sure it’s affordable for your situation and that you’re aware of the risks, but honestly getting a studio space away from home is one of my best decisions of all time!

Loves x xx

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