Hi Donna! How would you describe Trapeze Kids?
It’s a children’s design store bringing together the best of independent kids’ brands. We handpick a collection of creative, original, and stylish clothing, toys, books and gifts for babies and children, with an emphasis on brands who are working in ethical and sustainable ways.
What’s the story behind the name?
I liked the idea of having a circus theme to the store and Trapeze felt like it encompassed the right elements; it’s playful and fearless, also stylish and confident which seems like a great metaphor for kids and for the brands we select too.
What did you do before setting up your business?
I’d worked in childrenswear for 12 years since university. I studied fashion and textile design and after graduating I worked in buying departments for high street retailers then progressed into working for smaller brands and stores where the roles were a little more all-encompassing. My first role out of university happened to be in a childrenswear department and I just kind of rolled with that niche. There has been a real explosion of creative kids’ brands so it has been a great environment to be involved in.
What inspired the idea of setting up your business?
Opening a store myself felt like the next natural step with the experience I had. I was contemplating a move out of London and felt there was a gap in Sheffield for the type of store I envisioned. I knew the brands I was interested in working with weren’t available in a physical store here and the space came up at just the right time. From there, things moved quite quickly and we were open within a few weeks of signing the lease.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
I’ve always loved fashion magazines and have a stash of old titles to rifle through when I need a boost of inspiration. I also enjoy a good gallery exhibition, but just wandering around a new city and other creative spaces I think you can pick up inspiration all over the place!
How do you source your collection?
There’s a bit of variety; having worked in the industry I already knew a lot of the brands I wanted to work with. However, I attend a couple of trade shows each year to look for newness, and often smaller brands will get in touch directly to show us new collections, plus Instagram has been good source to find new brands too.
How did you approach the design of your space?
I kept things quite clean and neutral with the aim that the focus is really on the products. There is usually a lot of colour and print in the collections in store so the space needed to let the them be the frontrunner in creating the personality of the store. The fixtures are all flexible too, which allows quite a bit of freedom to change the store configuration around as needed and keep things fresh and exciting. I also wanted to make sure it was welcoming for children, so we have kids’ drawings on the wall, a little vintage desk for colouring in, and a bench out front where we can draw hopscotch on the pavement, so hopefully the space feels friendly and welcoming.
Tell us about your location and community…
We are located on a small, independent high street just outside Sheffield city centre, and it’s an area with a really strong sense of local community. We have a lovely selection of cafes, bakeries, grocery stores and antiques shops, so it’s quite an eclectic mix – a great spot for a stroll around which I think it has been really valued by the local community over the last couple of tumultuous years. There has been a strong sense of solidarity with all the small independent businesses in our little corner of Sheffield.
As an independent store owner – what are the joys and what are the challenges?
The joys, I think, tend to come from having customers return time and again and seeing them appreciate our product selection and just enjoying being in the space.
And the most challenging is learning to wear all the hats; there are always lots of plates spinning at the same time, from new season orders, marketing, managing the website and bookkeeping… nothing ever really feels ‘done’ as the list just perpetually evolves.
Which are your favourite makers or products that you sell?
Bobo Choses is one of my favourite clothing brands. Their collections are always original and playful with irreverent prints and a stylish colour palette. They are also continually improving their processes and fabric selections to work in an increasingly sustainable way.
What have been your business highlights so far?
We were recently listed in the Sunday Times Best UK Independent stores, which is an absolute highlight. It’s an honour to be featured alongside so many brilliant stores in the UK.
What does your ideal day off look like?
A lie in! A tasty brunch. Sunshine and a trip to the beach.
Any good advice for aspiring store owners?
Stay on top of your cashflow and give yourself a break… it can be all consuming, so being able to switch off occasionally is really important.
308 Sharrow Vale Rd, Sharrow, Sheffield