LJS tutor hits the High Street – UPDATE

Congratulations to LJS tutor MaryAnn Nelson. Her Zarafa Designs will be among the first jewellers in the country to be part of a scheme that throws open empty high street shops to small businesses looking for an outlet.

Zarafa Designs, will join five start-up brands in a Richmond shop for two weeks in August in the first PopUp Britain store to be opened.

The StartUp High Street initiative is part of national campaign StartUp Britain’s vision for the future – that by providing an opportunity to fledgling retailers it can pave the way for more people to start a business as well as helping to rejuvenate UK’s flagging high street scene. It could be very good news for jewellery businesses wanting a higher profile

MaryAnn said: “It was as a result of working on business development with Fashion Angel, the fashion industry business support experts that they helped secure the space in the pop up shop in Richmond for me, along with a fellow jeweller, Tess Blenkinsop from Oxford.

There are very few opportunities for jewellers like us who design and manufacture their collections from beginning to end themselves to gain a High Street presence and the idea of sharing a space that would otherwise be empty with other start-up brands is very exciting. ”

Emma Jones, co-founder of the national start-up campaign, said: “We’re seeing record numbers of people setting up businesses, and this new wave of entrepreneurs are starting out small and online.  This initiative offers them a chance to test out new markets as well as get their products in front of big names like John Lewis. By giving start-ups access to empty shops across Britain, we hope that as StartUp High Street evolves, it will help provide a much-needed adrenalin shot to the local British shopping experience.”

MaryAnn teaches Resin , Polymer Clay and Metal Clay classes at LJS. We wish her the best of luck in her first high street experience.



We asked MayAnn to let us know how her pop-up experience went and this is what she had to say:

“It was a very  interesting two weeks  not only due to the opportunity to meet potential clients  in a genuine High Street retail scenario , but also due to meeting and working with 6 other independent retailers.

“When we arrived to set up , the unit was empty apart from some basic furniture – and after a few words of welcome, the organisers left with the words: ‘This is your shop now , do with it as you please.’

“It didn’t take very long for us to get together and put together a plan to quickly promote what was now our shop to the local residents , rearrange the layout and décor and dress the window to best effect. Over the next few days we  were constantly re-evaluating how to run the business effectively and pooled resources to have flyers printed to hand out to passers-by and to do leaflet drops in the surrounding residential neighbourhood. A late night shopping experience helped drive awareness while the second week we held a PopUp Party in the evening  and invited employees from some of the bigger businesses in the town as well as members of the local council and members of the  town centre management committee.

“We closed the doors for the last time on Sunday afternoon –  although exhausted we had all benefitted not only in terms of the sales made but also by the positive experience of being part of PopUp Britain.  I would do it again and recommend it to anybody looking to expand their client base and to gain general retail experience. “

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