Meet Seamus and Katherine, proud new parents, country walk enthusiasts and shopkeepers at Midgley Green.
Can you tell us a little about Midgley Green, how and why you started a shop and any ambitions for the future.
Katherine spent a few years in Ross-on-Wye whilst growing up. During this time she remembers visiting a shop (we use the word shop loosely as this shop is so much more than a shop) which was originally based in the town called Baileys Home & Garden. They sell the most beautiful & functional homewares, displayed in the most creative ways. Katherine remembers the impact of spending time in Baileys had on her even as a child. They’ve since moved their shop into a farm on the outskirts of the town. We still visit to this day and take inspiration from the way they approach retail. It was the seeds planted at this early stage that made Katherine want to one day have a shop.
Midgley Green came about because we both studied Fine Art at Falmouth, which was the absolute dream for us. We worked incredibly hard during the studio weeks and then spent the weekends walking the Cornish coast, mainly around the Helford Passage – it was bliss. After graduating we tried to continue this lifestyle by setting up studios in Falmouth but unfortunately we found living so far away from family in Cornwall and working hospitality jobs finally got the better of us. We had to leave Cornwall and ultimately take a break from making our own artistic work.
Katherine grew up in Portishead, and as we were moving from Cornwall Bristol seemed too big, so we rented a little apartment on the Portishead coast. Being by water is incredibly important for us! It took us a while to find our feet again, however once we did we knew we wanted to be creative again. Making our own work didn’t feel right so we decided to work with some friends of ours who had started crafting homewares from local materials. Thus Midgley Green was born, we curated British made products on a website. It wasn’t our own work, so we approached selling it in a different way.
Our website was the first step in the direction of being creative everyday for a living. 4 and 1/2 years on we now have a successful online business and beautiful shop on Alexandra Road.
At the moment we are focused on our shop and family life, making sure the two are in balance. For the future we have ambitions of adding an experience element to Midgley Green, a beautiful cottage in the countryside where you can relax, walk and stay in a cosy place away from everything.
Congratulations on your new arrival! How are you finding balancing family life and a family business?
It has been a shock to the system that’s for sure! I don’t think we really thought about the impact of having a baby would have on our business. The fact Malachy is a total joy to be around makes it all that much easier. The balance isn’t quite right yet, but we’ve managed 4 months so far and we’re thankfully still here. Can’t wait for the days when we can be at the shop and take turns to go down to the beach with him… skimming stones will wear him out right?!
Seasonal shifts must be an exciting time of year for you guys, with plenty of new products to celebrate the Autumn and Winter. What are your top picks for those looking to find something special? (Is it too soon to mention Christmas gifts?!)
When we first started our shop we were dead against seasonal products. What we sell is made for a lifetime and can be purchased in any season. This is not to say we don’t very much embrace the seasons. In fact, watching the weather turn, the leaves drop or the fresh green shoots burst out, is by far our favourite pastime. We adore the British change in seasons, we celebrate this by decorating the shop with greenery foraged from our local hedgerows and garden. Our products may not S/S or A/W collections but the feeling we paint with greenery around them certainly helps to add varying seasonal aethetics. At the moment we have some sculptural twigs that have old mans beard woven through them.
Saying all of this though, the perfect Autumnal gifts to yourself are of course our Devonshire Sheepskins, Welsh Throws, Beeswax Candles and our ever popular Wooden Cheese Knives. Our Pottery range is ever changing and always perfect as a thoughtful present. We love to think that we offer something different with our products mainly coming directly from British Makers around the South West & Wales.
In our book, Christmas can never come soon enough. We absolutely love it. The most exciting thing we get in for Christmas is Katherines mums famous mince pies. Most people come for one, or two of those before they even think about shopping for gifts.
The retail industry is fast adapting to a demand for more sustainably sourced, locally made products, something you have been showcasing since the start of Midgley Green. How do you see the culture surrounding how people shop and what people look for changing? Have you noticed this shift in Clevedon at all? Are you optimistic for a positive future for the retail industry in the town?
It is something we have been incredibly passionate about for many years. Shopping well, buying less but buying better, is definitely our mantra. We’ve found people are really enthusiastic about knowing where products come from, who they’ve been made by and as importantly what they are made from. We’re the anti-plastic anti- throw-away shop, and we think people have and are responding really well to that.
Clevedon has always had a strong support for its independent businesses. Theres a good spirit in the town for this. Thats a part of keeping our independents open, but we also have to work hard not to be lazy as shopkeepers. We can’t rely on that spirit alone. Offering that little extra service, displaying products in an exciting way, offering something not only different but also environmentally friendly are all important things to work hard for. Shops can’t all look the same and offer the same products, thats exactly why all these big retails are struggling. They are faceless, we are not. When you buy from us, we hope you know that every penny goes into supporting Midgley Green and the Makers we collaborate with. Honest, independent & transparent retail is what we need on our streets. We’re definitely optimistic for the future of Clevedon.
When you’re not in the shop, what do you like to do around Clevedon?
Gosh, where to start?!… We simply love walking. The Clevedon coastline is unique in its rugged good looks. A walk from the Pier to Ladye Bay and beyond is breathtaking especially when the sun is setting. When we’re not in the shop it’s important for us to be outside so Pullins is a favourite for picking up lunch to enjoy whilst on a walk. If we fancy a woodland walk we go to Clevedon Court Woods and for a taste of the countryside we regularly walk from the Crafts Centre across the moors following the water ways.
In the evenings you’ll often find us going to the Curzon to see a good film. We recently enjoyed Bait, a Cornish fishing story shot on old film and hand processed. Very apt for us, given the traditional craftsmanship we hope to offer in our shop.
Where are your favourite places to walk Bailey?
It’s rare that we’re not with Bailey, so he of course follows us on all the walks mentioned above. He adores the Sea Wall, because he gets to run like a mad thing, dive into the tidal puddles and generally get muddy & soaked. Ideal for him… not so sure we enjoy the clean up quite as much – as long as he’s happy.
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