New artisan shop Feather and Twigs gives a nod to the past in Croston
Business development manager Nicola Blunt wanted to make a real difference to the community when she set up her new shop Feather and Twigs.
Following several passions, she set about helping local artisans in promoting their goods, by providing an accessible space for customers to browse their products.
Following her ethical approach, she sells vegan-friendly products and has joined the campaign to reduce plastic.
Nicola was also keen to retain the history of the shop front, in Town Road, Croston, which used to be a well frequented butchers.
It is a family-run business, as Nicola is supported by her husband, Martin, as well as her mother-in-law Liz Brown.
Her friend and colleague, Gemma Ainscough, also works part-time.
Nicola says: “Before we opened the shop in October, I had been running the business online for a year.
“I am a business development manager, so I am all about developing opportunities, so I started looking for premises.
“I had lived in Croston for 15 years and had always seen the old Daltons Butchers in Town Road and although it had a shop front, it had never been made into a shop.
“It was pure luck that when I approached the owner of the property and talked about my plans for the community, he liked the idea and allowed me to rent it.
“The property had not been used as anything since the late 1950s and was in the perfect location for us.
“I am passionate about retaining the site’s history and so have put up old photos of it as a butchers. I kept the shop front tiles as they were, which even includes the butcher’s old telephone number which was only three digits – 279.
“We are bringing some heritage back to the village. People say they remember coming into the butchers as a child.”
The shop sells a variety of unique hand-made gifts, created by local people.
Nicola adds: “We are passionate as a family business in bringing artisan brands into local hands, which is our slogan.
“I am helping artists to promote their beautiful designs.
“All products are either hand drawn or designed by different artisans from either Lancashire or Yorkshire.
“I am really passionate about finding out where materials are sourced and I am working hard to reduce the amount of plastic in our own packaging.
“We can’t promise we can get rid of 100 per cent but we use brown paper bags for our wrapping.
“We are trying to be ethical about where our materials are sourced and that it is naturally made. One of the items we sell is made from plastic water bottles and they are amazing.
“We use ethical and vegan-friendly products, because that is important to us and our customers.
“We work hard to source our products and educate customers about where they have come from.
“That is all part of our story, which is different to other shops, where you just buy something and walk away without knowing about the product and its journey.”
Nicola adds her interest in arts and crafts grew from family influences.
She says: “I have always been passionate about hand made, ethical products and interested in how things are made and their craftmanship, which has come from our families.
“My husband’s gran, Gwynn Brown was an artist and she owned an art gallery in Anglesey.
“My grandparents did a lot of woodwork and so that passion has carried through.
“I love working here because it is my own business.
“I am very passionate about what we are bringing to Croston and our customers.
“We are very unique in that we are working with the community to preserve the heritage and craftmanship.
“I want to encourage other people to set up shops and bring local business back to the village.”