On November 5th last year we began the second national lockdown, thousands of people were on furlough and the planet felt like a very uncertain place to be. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention and, during these most unpredictable of times, a crop of innovative, creative and courageous businesses was born.
To celebrate Brothers & Sisters reaching the grand old age of one, our next series ‘We Are One’ will tell the story of some of the independents we’ve watched grow over the last 12 months. Class of 2020, we salute you.
Set up by Louise and launched on November 14th 2020, Sukikoko is a gift & lifestyle webshop and pop-up shop. Sukikoko selects bold, bright and fun items to cheer up any dull day, home or outfit and, to celebrate one year in business, Louise will be sharing a birthday discount over the shop socials.
How did Sukikokocome about?
I was on furlough from Spring 2020 and started planning the shop over the summer, with a launch date pencilled in for November. Then lockdown 2 happened and the plan switched to 100% online…
What have been the best bits of the last year?
What a bizarre year for retail and in general to be honest! The website is stronger than ever and there have been some fantastic moments along the way. In December last year we hosted a few pop up shops in the Elk (bar!) in Hale. It was great and all the locals loved it. This gave us the confidence to head over to the Pop Up shop in The Stamford Quarter in Alty and do two week long stints! It was fantastic!
What’s been the biggest challenge in your first year of trading?
The tough part for me was the January Lockdown, having two young kids at home and a husband working full time made running a small business tricky. I’m proud I kept it all going and managed to do all the homeschooling – just bloody hope it doesn’t happen again though!!”
What’s next for Sukikoko?
We’re excited about what’s to come, our range has extended, we’re starting a kids’ collection and we hope to have our own candle range in 2022. We’ll be hosting more and more pop -ups in a range of locations and we’re currently discussing some evening Christmas shopping events too!
What’s kept you going over the last year?
All in all it’s been fantastic and the support from locals and online has been wonderful. When used for good and productively, social media can be great and it’s been an excellent tool for small businesses.
For the latest products and details of up-coming pop-ups follow Sukikoko on Instagram or visit the website.
Riding in the social media slipstream of International Women’s Day? You betcha. Although with a tonne of new female-led independents hatched over the last 12 months there’s a lot to celebrate.
In this weeks blog we are pumped to introduce indie bike shop Folk Like You. Based in Sale, Folk Like You is run by long time bike rider and L2 IMI certified bike mechanic Abby.
Stockist of super-cool bikes and accessories (can we get an amen for functional bags?) Abby set up shop last year and will heIp novice and experienced cyclist alike choose and fix the perfect two wheeled ticket to ride…
How would you describe Folk Like You to someone who hadn’t heard of it?
Folk Like You is a female-fronted bike shop for everyday people.
We offer a range of bicycles, electric bikes, clothing, and accessories. Everything we stock has been carefully selected for their blend of style and function, so that you can use your bike anytime, anywhere, for any reason, and feel awesome whilst doing it.
What did you do before opening Folk Like You?
My career has taken me from rural Aberdeenshire to Manchester via Edinburgh, Brighton, London and the Lake District. It’s involved office jobs and climbing walls, recording studios and festival stages, consulting rooms and coffee roasters, and along the way I’ve pedalled a pushbike.
Tell us about the ideas and the ethos behind the business?
Cycling in the UK has become a little bit exclusive and we wanted to change that. We want to explode the myths, explain the jargon, and cut through the BS you might encounter in cycling culture.
We believe cycling is empowering, it’s a healthier way to pick up your groceries, to get to the office, to visit your friends, to find a good pub, to enjoy the outdoors, and to blow raspberries at everyone who’s sat in traffic, shouting at the radio, as you pedal by.
Sure, Cycling is sport. But Cycling is also lots of other things too, Riding a bike is utilitarian, fun, sustainable and empowering. Cycling is for ‘Folk Like You’!!
How did you get the business off the ground last year?
Folk Like You was born out of a perfect storm of events; a move to Manchester, a morning commute where I was really challenged to think about how best to keep myself safe, a passion for more sustainable living and a firm belief that cycling is an empowering experience. Particularly for women. Ultimately, a belief that cycling is too good to be enjoyed by the few. I want to share the experience.
When did you open the shop?
Earlier than anticipated – by a decade. We had been planning a bike shop for some time, but the coronavirus put the household finances under a bit of pressure, so we thought, blow it, or words to that effect, let’s do it now.
We opened in September 2021, arguably 3 months too late having missed the springtime boom when Manchester was filled with more cyclists than it has probably seen since the 1960’s!
How did you decide where to open your shop?
Well I’m a big believer that you should try to work where you live or live where you work. It’s the easiest way to mitigate those transport headaches that put many folk behind the wheel of a car or on a rammed tram carriage. So we originally started looking in Stockport, where we live. But when it came to it, the right premises wasn’t available at the right price or with the sort of terms I could accept. So i had to think again.
As is often the way, I began to look at other parts of the city where businesses I like were beginning to put down roots. That led me to Sale, which is full of brave new independents, (and established ones too) and we just really liked the feel of the town.
At the moment, I cycle the 10-miles-each-way route from Sale to Stockport, as you might expect. But I might well be moving this way very soon.
How is the shopping experience at Folk Like You different to some other bike shops?
First and foremost we’re listeners. We want to hear how you live your life because we know that with the right bike and most suitable kit, we can help you to weave cycling into your weekly routine, and your weekend adventures.
We’re incredibly proud that through our approach, the first conversation we have with every manufacturer and provider begins with a question about ethics. We’re only interested in working with businesses, whether large or small who, like us, care for people and the planet, not simply profit. When you shop with us, you are shopping conscientiously and you are shopping responsibly.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to set up their own shop in Manchester?
Find your niche, keep it really simple and start small. Service is everything for the high street business; if a customer is confident that they know what they want they’ll very probably buy it online. But if they want your expertise, reassurance or ongoing support, they’ll come to you if you are knowledgeable, generous and approachable.
It’s well worth adding that in my experience, most tasks take twice as long as you think they will and business costs are higher than you think they will be, so it’s worth keeping aside a little money to keep things running smoothly early doors.
And finally what tips would you give to someone thinking about buying a bike for the first time?
Cycling is full of very appealing trends and fads, and that’s great, because it’s brilliant to be part of a rich and diverse community. But don’t let the trend determine what kind of bike you choose, let the bike you choose enhance the lifestyle you live, or deliver the lifestyle you aspire to live.
Also, if you’re budget-led, as most of us are, aim for the best quality bike you can possibly afford, which might mean putting a new lease of life into a brilliant, old, second-hand bike.
You want your first riding experience to go well, so give yourself the best chance you can with something well made and well serviceable, be it old or new. We love talking about this stuff, and working on projects, so if in doubt, just give us a holler!
Tucked away in Sale, Folk Like You offers a fussily selected range of urban bikes and e-Bikes from the Netherlands, Finland and the UK, alongside stylish accessories, bags that look good on or off bikes, comfortable saddles and waterproofs made from recycled bottles.
Big week in little Flixton. Not only has The Long Shot Exp. launched a fresh crop of caps but Mike, mighty milliner and founder of Long Shot, has put together a Top 5 of local independents for our web-based weekend exploration. Hold on to your, errr, hats…
1. Note Shop, Northern Quarter
First things first, skateboarding is not a sport. It is a wonderfully immersive way of life and the best people to guide you through this magical world are the ladies and gentlemen of your local skater owned skateshop. Note’s two shops in the Northern Quarter provide everything you need and more. During this past year it seems many kids have picked up a board for the first time and if I can give one piece of advice to parents it is take your children to the local skate shop, the staff may seem weird at first but they are fantastic and will open the doors to a positive cultural experience.
2. Bags of Flavor, Tib Street
Richie was one of the first people I got to know in Manchester over twenty years ago. He is a living subculture encyclopaedia and if you can get him talking you’ll discover gems of knowledge that the internet will never know. The shop is always chock full of treasure for your mind, body and soul.
3. Libero, Altrincham
The premise is simple, somewhere to watch the football with nice beers and no knobheads. Ian, Paul and Danielle have achieved this small but elusive dream in an Altrincham courtyard. Given the current situations, founder Paul (Rooney) will bring beer to your door with his DeliveRooney service. The bar is small and friendly with room outside in the courtyard if, like me, you not a fan of the match.
Figments produce small runs of high quality, unisex clothing. Made in the UK for the best part, influences come from Dutch Masters and Japanese woodblock prints as well as Rob and Gre’s backgrounds in skateboarding and tattooing.
5. Passion Fruit Coffee Roasters, Ayres Road, Old Trafford
Passion Fruit’s shop and roastery on Ayres Road, Old Trafford, is not only filled with incredible coffee but beautiful chocolate and various coffee related trinkets – I have no idea what they’re for but I want them nonetheless. I met Shen when I was looking for locally roasted coffee to package with Long Shot’s collaboration with Percy Dean Ceramics. She delivered the goods and anyone who copped a Long Shot Coffee Club set knows that’s the double truth Ruth!
Long Shot create meticulously designed and crafted headwear, made by hand, one at a time in Manchester. The first spring pieces have just dropped on their website.