Tucked away in a picturesque little corner of Harrogate town centre, Susan Gaunt Boutique is a treasure trove for those who love to seek out enticingly beautiful, well-made designs, objets and pieces, made ethically and priced reasonably.
Susan Gaunt Boutique can be found at Montpellier Mews and it is full of simply wonderful, high quality, unusual products – clothes, bags and purses, jewellery, scarves, ceramics and homewares and curios.
“Part of opening this shop was to do something positive, instead of everything being made in China,” Susan says.
It’s open seven days a week, although you do have to know where to look to find this intriguing and very pretty little quarter of Harrogate, so here goes: Walk past Betty’s down Montpellier Hill, turn right into Montpellier Street and you will find Montpellier Mews on the left. There is a great antiques market and gorgeous curios shops to be found here, by the way, and Jenny’s Cafe. Walk right through the mews to find Susan Gaunt Boutique on the right. “Once people find you, they come back,” Susan says.
There are too many lovely labels to mention them all but, as a quick selection, in terms of clothing, Susan Gaunt Boutique offers bamboo tunics by Braintree at £75, clothes by The Outsider and Stella & Alf, and knitwear by Needle, the Northallerton based knitwear company we have featured before, which is great because it means people can try on there if they don’t just want to order through the Needle website (or indeed the Susan Gaunt Boutique website, where you can see lots of Susan’s stock).
There is jewellery by Fiona Hutchinson, fabulous soft cured hide and suede bags by Dutch company Donchoo, and printed scarves by Moira Walton, including ones of Harrogate and the Yorkshire moors. “These are probably my best-sellers,” says Susan. “They are all one-offs and people come back for the scarves.” They cost £82.50-£175.
“Sometimes you source with your head and sometimes you source with your heart,” Susan says. “It’s a gut reaction. Ethical can be chic. It’s not all tie-dye and it needn’t be expensive. That’s what I am trying to say.”
As an award-winning fabric designer first and foremost, Susan has a special expertise and a special touch. “Coming from a textile background, I really know how things are made and how to ask the right questions,” she says.
Cloth is Susan’s speciality and she was born to create it. Her family of weavers made fabric at Sunnybank Mills in Farsley, Leeds, for four generations, until it was sold five years ago. “My love of textiles just came through,” she says. “We designed fabrics that flew all over the world. This was my training.”
It’s fitting then that Susan Gaunt, who also has her own fabric design consultancy and business, has been key in creating the Tour de Fleece woven Yorkshire cloth designed to celebrate the Tour de France’s Yorkshire Grand Depart, while showcasing the creative and manufacturing talents of the cloth industry in Yorkshire.
Made in a beautiful, vibrant blue, it has been turned into a man’s tailored jacket – one that Welcome to Yorkshire’s Gary Verity has been sporting with pride to Tour de France pre events – and has travelled just 40 miles from sheep to finished garment, so its eco-credentials are as perfect as its exceptional quality.
It can be found and ordered at Susan Gaunt Boutique. As well as her family heritage and work experience, Susan trained at the Scottish College of Textiles then studied for an M Phil in Textile Design, so she knows her stuff … and her cloth.
Under her Susan Gaunt Design label, she offers services including woven fabric design, bespoke interior design, handmade bespoke interior design products under her Susan Gaunt Design Collection label, colourist advice and works on independent collections.
She admits it can be difficult to divide her time between designing and sourcing and selling for the boutique. “It’s quite a challenge. I’m very efficient and focussed.”
The Tour de Fleece cloth is a project she worked on with Suzy Shepherd of Leeds Fashion Works, and they have also been working together on fabric for Armley Mills in Leeds.
“Fabric is my passion,” Susan says.
Susan Gaunt Boutique is at Montpellier Mews in Harrogate.
Check out www.susangauntboutique.com and www.susangauntdesign.co.uk
Susan Gaunt and her Tour de Fleece fabric will take part in the Grand Depart Fashion Show and Textile Showcase, organised by UK Trade & Investment and the Campaign for Wool, at Carriage Works, Millennium Square in Leeds, on Thursday, July 3, with fashion shows at 2pm and 4pm.