Hi Russelle, how would you describe your store?
Lively is a conscious brand that cultivates the power of nature’s everlasting beauty – a minimal, slow-living store that promotes timeless products with intention.
What’s the story behind the name?
It’s a sweet short story, I had a couple of names on my mind at the time, and my little sister didn’t think they suited how I described the shop. So she said: “call it Lively – it’s what I think of you. You’re always full of life.”
Tell us about your location and community…
We’re located at the canal town of Stone, in Staffordshire. We have a lot of walkers, being close to the Peak District. The support we’ve had from the community is overwhelming. I have regular clients that visit frequently.
What did you do before setting up your business?
I used to own my own cake company for seven years, before I joined TJX Europe, the company that owns TK Maxx and Homesense. I learned a lot about the business model during my three years there.
What inspired you to set up your business?
I used to play shop a lot growing up, and saw my dad with an entrepreneurial background. I enjoyed the idea of providing a service. It was something I’d missed since I stopped making cakes. Then lockdown 2020 happened and it reignited my passion for doing something you love. Chasing the idea that life is short – do it, make mistakes and continuously learn. We had no clue where to start but I believed that if you really want to, you will learn and find a way. A year later, me and my husband opened Lively.
What is the ethos behind your business?
The ethos is simple; conscious slow living. It’s what can you change today to have a sustainable and healthier lifestyle, be passionate and put soul into what you do. I’m very grateful for the support we’ve had so far and can’t wait to give back more.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
Travelling and making precious memories, whether it be a simple coffee date with a friend or just living in the present moment. It’s a very fast life if you don’t find the time to pause and be present. However busy I get, there’s always time to be in the moment, it’s when new ideas pour out.
How do you curate and source your items?
As the business develops through its infancy I look at the current and upcoming trends, if I see something that suits the aesthetics and matches the brand ethos, I find myself getting in touch with the brand straightaway. I build a list of what works with my location too. I love when a client says: “it’s so unusual and beautiful, I could just buy everything.”
How did you approach the design of your space?
I remember sketching so many versions of how I wanted the space to look, there was a specific image in my head that just came to life. The building had a lot of red brick pillars everywhere, we painted it all white, even the ceiling, and the floor is white too. It’s minimal and complements the products so well, as we brought in a lot of natural and neutral tones.
Has your business evolved since you began?
When I look back at the 12 months before we even began, from having plan A and B that didn’t work, we just continuously pivoted towards what worked. We are still slowly establishing the brand DNA and sometimes, it really is difficult – it’s like walking on the high wire blindfolded, you just never know if your next move will get you closer to your goal or if you’ll fall and have to start over. But, we love a bit of uncertainty, it makes you find your strength and the courage to develop your capabilities.
Is the online community important to your work?
Absolutely! We ‘re living in the information age. Time is the most expensive commodity if you ask me. Online communities are how we can leverage our online presence as well as learn from others that you admire. One of our biggest objectives this year is brand awareness and PR.
Working as an independent store owner – what are the joys, and what are the challenges?
The definite joys are the response I get from the clients, I’m passionate about what I do and when I see how they enjoy just mooching in the shop, that alone brings me a sense of achievement. The challenges have been having to balance the time to switch off – it’s a constant mind battle.
How do you approach marketing and PR?
This past year, we’ve been continuously growing organically with local publications, advertising and word of mouth. We have a lot of plans to further our reach, and brand awareness is our highest priority for 2022-23.
Do you have favourite makers or products that you sell?
I always say that if I won’t buy it to take home, I won’t sell it in the shop. I love Lindform ceramics, my husband gave some to me as present on my birthday and I fell in love with the brand. I remember having to contact them straightaway. It’s one of our best-selling products.
What have been your business highlights so far?
For the first few months after we opened, I remember waking up every day saying, “we’ve got a shop!” It took a while to finally sink in, from the initial idea to the opening day was six months apart – it’s a quick turnaround. Offering the sustainable alternative with intention – every day is just wonderful.
What does your ideal day off look like?
I’m still trying to figure out how to have a day off! But honestly, it would be reading a book outdoors, with a gentle breeze on a sunny afternoon. Just bliss!
Find Lively Concept Store at 23 High Street, Stone, Staffordshire, ST15 8AJ