Sophie Likes … driftwood sailboats and bright striped deckchairs and honeysuckle candles in tins and frothy tutu skirts and rows of colourful printed bunting and … much, much more.
Sophie Hartley likes lots and lots of things, all of them beautiful and many of them now gathered and displayed in her shop, Sophie Likes, which she opened earlier this year on Beulah Street in Harrogate.
Sophie sells gifts and objects of beauty for the home, plus fashion and jewellery and then there are those fabulous deckchairs, of which more later. Everything is sourced and sought out personally by Sophie, who has a keen eye for style and fashion, emerging trends and what people will really lust after.
Sophie started her business in 2010 after a Fashion and Marketing degree at Northumbria University, followed by a job in London working for a handbag retailer. She says: “I decided I didn’t really like London or working in that environment so I came back to Yorkshire and tried to get into fashion up here, which is not that easy.
“I always wanted to have a shop so I decided to test the water doing markets and shows and events and little school fairs, and just got a little bit of stock and started selling, and realised there were loads of shows out there.”
So Sophie set off and headed all over the country to agricultural shows and fairs and markets and also launched her website.
“I kept in mind that I wanted a shop at the end, because all the travelling and getting up, it’s really hard, so last year I found this spot,” she says, adding: “It’s been a crazy year, launching the shop and getting married.
“It’s a huge huge risk and that was my biggest fear, because shops are shutting left right and centre.
“I always thought if I don’t give it a go, I’ll never know. I have learned from the shows what’s sold and what hasn’t, but it’s completely different in the shop. It’s keeping things reasonably priced. I always think that if I think that it’s reasonable and worth the money, then other people will too. Keeping things accessible.”
The products at Sophie Likes come from all over the country and the world. “Travelling round and doing the shows, I’ve met a lot of companies who are one-off. There’s a lot of locally hand-made.
The sail boats are made by a designer-maker in Newcastle, “She sources all her driftwood from the Northumberland coastline and makes the sails from Liberty fabrics,” Sophie says. They retail from £30 to £45. “The stripes she originally didn’t do, but we were next to each other and we both said how fun they would be on her boats, so we worked together.”
The bunting costs £22 for five metres and the recovered deckchairs are £75 each.
In fact, the deckchairs form another important strand of Sophie’s business as she also hires out her own cache of deckchairs for festivals, events, parties and weddings. She has 200 of them.
“We buy old deckchairs, knock them into place, some of them need a lot of work, some of them don’t, and the older the more sturdy they are – they’re amazing – and we recover them in this bright striped material and this gives them a new lease of life, and they look great, really really fun.”
She’s right, they do – and anyone who wants one at a bargain price can recover their own, because Sophie Likes also sells the deckchair canvas for £12 a metre.
Then there are clothes, which are proving to be popular, including draped one-size dresses and colourful wrap tea dresses, which Sophie sources from a company in Helmsley.
“I try to sick to things you don’t really need to try on so people can come in and say, ‘yes I can see that’.”
Particularly popular are the frou-frou net layer tutu skirts that Sophie stocks in a range of colours, skirts for girls, £35, and grown women, £50. “They are soft as well, not scratchy,” she says.
So now all us wannabe Carrie Bradshaws know where to head.
Sophie Likes is at 26 Beulah Street, Harrogate, and online at www.sophielikes.com.