Tag Archives: fashion

Love Vintage?

4 Mar

Jo Abram has worked with disabled people for over ten years, but last year decided to follow her dreams and open her own vintage clothes shop in Bideford, North Devon.  She continues to work part time with people with learning difficulties to subsidise her self employed income.


I opened Jo Joe’s as I had always admired shops like The Real McCoy/Uncle Sams in Bristol, and American Classics in London.  I used to shop in them in my teens and even though I am nearly 40 (!!) I still love this kind of shop.  So last year, I decided to leave my corporate job, move back to Bideford and set up Jo Joe’s at Butchers Row in Bideford – they have small retail units which are ideal for a start up buisness, they are priced at £100 per month and are small enough for you not to feel too overwhlemed!  I also work part time helping people with learning difficulties find employment – I think it’s important to say that unless you have lots of savings or a rich husband (who does!!) that it is unlikely that you will earn enough on one of these units to live on, so most of us there work part time elsewhere too.
I researched the area and found that there were no other shops like this outside of Exeter.  I therefore felt confident that there would be a market for my kind of clothing in the area and I was right – the reception I have had since opening in October last year has been great, with a lot of people saying they will no longer have to travel to Exeter (to the Real McCoy) and so this saves them time and money as they can shop locally instead.
I market my business by leaflet drops, regular Facebook presence and also promoting it whenever and wherever I can – I always carry a stack of cards with me, and as I dress in a vintage/retro style myself, I often get asked where I get my clothes from, so I say ‘jo joe’s’, my shop, have a card!!!
The best thing about running my business is when a customer comes in and is unsure about what would suit them, I talk to them about what they like/style colour etc and then pick things out for them to try, almost always they are thrilled with the result and it may be something they would never have thought of  but they look great – they are often breaking out of their comfort zone but I give them the confidence to go for it and its great to see them really excited about their new look!
I don’t miss being employed full time but I must admit I do like the balance between running hte shop and office work 50/50.  I have worked with people with disabilities for 10 years and I am glad to still be involved in this type of work, there may come a time when I go full time in the shop but I actually enjoy the variety of having two jobs at the moment.
The advice I would give someone opening a shop is to LOVE YOUR PRODUCT.  I am passionate about all things vintage and retro, and I think this comes across to my customers.  I have been into many shops where the sales assistant looks bored and disinterested in what they are doing and I think this has a really negative effect on the customer.  I love what I do – sourcing the stock, the space I have created and the social aspect of the shop – I also believe you have to be hardworking and not expect to ‘clock off’ at 5pm.  I am often washing/ironing/steaming late at night, or updating facebook with new pictures, I work Saturdays and every time there is a special event on in town I will open the shop evenings and sundays etc so expect to be flexible and maximise sales opportunities when they come up!  Oh yeah, you’ve also got to be good at paperwork/keeping records and be organised!!!!

You can find Jo Joe’s on Facebook or at 6 Butchers Row, Pannier Market, Bideford.

Jo Joe's

An interview with Kate Garey – Designer

11 Feb

Just before Christmas, the notonthehighstreet.com catalogue came through my door.  Normally I try to hold back from looking at it too much as there are so many beautiful things in there and I’m easily tempted!!  But as Christmas was coming up, I did take a look.  I saw a few bits in there that I liked the look of, and went online to look at them in more detail.  I’m not sure if Kate Garey’s items were what I originally went online for or if I came across them later, but I came across her site and was really impressed by her range of beautiful, reasonably priced goodies.  I made an order and Christmas was pretty much sorted!

Looking at her website further, I saw that she has featured in many quality magazines and sells stock in shops all over Europe.  I meet so many customers who make lovely craft items, so it was fantastic to see someone who started off small and is still going – and growing – five years on.

Kate with some of her favourite pieces

How did you get started?

I started by accident really.  I have always been arty and crafty, but never really thought to make a career out of it.  I was selling some nice bits on a little online shop I had and wanted to make some felt brooches.  I kept drawing some cute designs and thought they’d look nice on a tote bag.  It escalated from there and I started my brand with a collection of matching totes, wallets and make-up bag… and some felt brooches.

How did you know your brand was going to take off?

People’s happy reactions.  Friends and customers seemed to like my quirky designs and said they made them smile.  Whenever I’m in the press I get lots of emails from new customers saying how pleased they are they found me.  But I still feel it is waiting to take off, to the next level. I’m very excited about the year ahead.

What are your plans for the future of Kate Garey?

I am planning to rebrand slightly.  This year will be my brand’s 5th birthday and as it grows I am growing with it.  I’m planning a more grown up look but still with the quirkiness I’m recognised for.

What advice would you give someone considering self employment?

Take the leap!  I started off with a small personal business loan that I knew wasn’t going to put me at too much risk.  I researched everything I needed to know via the internet and ‘for dummies’ books.  In the beginning I had no experience whatsoever but 5 years on I have never looked back.

Find Kate on  Notonthehighstreet, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, as well as her own website.