To Liverpool this week where Nicola Holroyd and her husband Benji run Cow&Co. It’s a tiny shop that you are unlikely to find unless you know about it, but that’s not really a problem as most of their customers are already loyal fans. Cow&Co started out life as a Tumblr looking at nice products from emerging designers. Within six months they’d got 1,000 followers and thought "hmm there might be something in this" - and there was. In December 2010 they flipped the blog into an online shop and launched the physical shop in July last year. Most people who come in know who they are and love the brand already and they’ve found their customers like to actually feel the products, and get a bit more knowledge, rather than googling and hoping for the best. Death of the high street? Think again people. This is shopping 2.0
Who are you? Nicola Holroyd, co-founder, Cow&Co
Where can we find you? 15 Cleveland Square, Liverpool, L1 5BE or online at www.cowandco.co.uk
Describe your store in five words: Design. Superstore. Magnifique. Shop. Now.
What makes you different? Online and instore we're stocked to the hilt with the most unique products from around the world, from limited edition prints to knitted jewellery, lighting and stationery to magazines and books, gifts, vintage, garden and kitchenware - if you can name it we've probably got it.
How you decide what makes the cut? We search endlessly for products that show a high level of design and craft. Some of our products are fun others are practical but they have all been made with real passion and a mutual love for great design.
What were you doing before you did this? We also run a brand & ideas agency, SB Studio (sb-studio.co.uk) which is where Cow&Co was born. It's a labour of love more than a business venture; a hobby that has grown into a business and something we're very proud of. We used to collate a lot of nice products we'd find online and on our travels — things that were not accessible to everyone, or tucked away in the depths of the internet, so we setup a blog, gained a surprising amount of followers and then flipped the blog into a shop. SB (the agency) work with like-minded ambitious brands large and small, and a lot of our values cross over, so the process of setting up shop has been an organic one.
If you were starting again what advice would you give yourself? Write a business plan.
What are you most proud of? Our shop and brand and customers! We have a very loyal following and have always said we're keen to develop a customer service that's long forgotten on the high street. We care about the little things, the space between letters, the sharpness of a fold - those sorts of things. Because in the end, anything big is made up of big details, so if you look after those you look after everything.
Do you have a favourite thing in the store right now? My personal favourite is definitely the songbird mobiles, Simple, bright and fun.
What's hot for 2013? Lighting is very popular at the moment, the Strand Lamps proving our most popular and most recent addition. What's hot for the rest of 2013? A lot of new products will be on the shelves within the next month. Think BIG, BRIGHT, SHAPES.
Every Wednesday 'Indie of the week' celebrates the best independent stores around. These places sell interesting and varied collections of design-related things you don't see everywhere else. They may support young or local designers or be great at finding unique things from around the world. By thinking a little more creatively about what they stock they are fighting the bland homogenisation of so much of the high street. And since I'm down with the realities of modern life, online only stores count too, because a beautiful and easy to use website is just as delightful an encounter in cyberspace.
Do you you have a favourite store? I'd love to hear from you.