Just A Card

If you have visited our shops you may have noticed the signs adorning the doors and windows the badges we proudly display that promote the Just A Card campaign? However, you might not necessarily know what the campaign is there to do. Well it is certainly a cause that is very close to our hearts as a small independent business. The campaign came about as a result of artist and designer Sarah Hamilton who had a read a quote from a gallery that had recently closed its door which read "If everyone who'd complimented our beautiful gallery had bought 'just a card' we'd still be open". And so Just A Card was born as a collective voice for artists, craftspeople, small independent shops and galleries who all have huge overheads in order to keep their livelihoods going and give them a future.

For ourselves we are hugely proud to be a small independent business and each of our shops are surrounded by a fabulous array of other small independents. By supporting ourselves you are not just helping For The Love Of The North but also the now sixty five plus artists that we now work with who through your help can continue to grow and develop their business.

We love to support independents and actively ensure that wherever we go either on a day out or a little escape we are giving something to them, even if it is 'Just A Card'. There are so many wonderful small independent’s out there so let’s have a look at a few we have visited in recent months ...

Photo credit: justacard.org

For our first we shall take a trip on the train down to Middlesborough and along the gorgeous Eske Valley Railway Line to one of our favourite escape destinations, Whitby. We had a trip recently to Whitby has a plethora of thriving independent businesses and there is a new addition to the town that opened in 2018 that really caught Paul’s attention.

Furbellow and Co. just about ticks every box Paul. Located on Sandgate on the historic side of Whitby it fits in perfectly and is a wonderful shop that caters for the gentleman. It has such an old-fashioned vibe to it harking back to then golden age of the shop keeper and a real emphasis on customer service. Paul is literally like the child in a sweet shop at all the gorgeous tweed jackets, waistcoats, hats, bow ties, bags and accessories. The fixtures and fittings have been so carefully selected and goes hand with that wonderful old fashioned vibe. In addition to the shop it also hosts a barbershop and it is an attraction in itself to see the chair and all the accessories that show this indeed a “cut above” experience offering a tidy up of the hair to a beard restyle. What we also love about Furbellow is that it has a traditional hand painted sign and you all know how important that is for us. The sign here is courtesy of Pete Witney – “The Whitby Signwriter”.

Photo Credit: furbellow.co.uk

Lets come back to closer to home and in fact practically on our doorstep in wonderful Whitley Bay. Boda Home proudly focuses on “tasty, interesting and affordable cooking”. The shop has so many wonderful ingredients and work with some fabulous local producers to provide a real taste of the North East and also plenty of treats from all over the world. It’s been fab over the past few years to see how Jade and her husband have evolved Boda Home over the past few years whilst still retailing that central concept.

On Fridays and Saturdays it hosts a deli right at the back of the shop with an amazing selection of cheeses and charcuterie so you can pick up something really special for the weekend. We enjoyed some of the finest olives we had ever tasted from the deli and it is wonderful to have this gem in Whitley Bay. There is also a fine selection of local beers and spirits and a brilliant array of organic wines. If you want to adopt the “Just A Card” ethos then there is plenty of opportunity at Boda Home. One of our favourite opportunities to do this is in the annual late-night shopping event each November that occurs on Boda’s stretch of Whitley Road and the independent businesses around it get involved too where there is always such a warm atmosphere. We love being part of such a fabulous array of independents in our home town.

Photo Credit: bodahome.co.uk

We’ve talked about shops so let’s now shine the light on those brilliantly talented creatives who produce beautiful things. Well you certainly know from For The Love Of The North that we proudly work with the very best of the North East’s creative talent. Lets just take a little trip back in time to before we set up the business and look at a creative who really inspired us to seek out the artistic talent of our region.

Kirsty Elson is a multimedia artist living in Cornwall and she makes beautiful things (photo). In her own words she loves the idea of “using unremarkable found objects and turning them into one-off sculptures”. Her work is influenced by the world around her and the materials she finds to create her one off pieces. Lucy has been a huge fan of Kirsty for many years and proudly owns a couple of her pieces. It’s such a lovely feeling to be able to support such talented creatives and have their work in our home.

Photo Credit: kirstyelson.co.uk

This coming September we are so excited to be once again travelling to London to attend the amazing Congregation of Inspiration. 2018 saw the first Congregation and you can read our blog all about last years event here (link). The event is the brainchild of one Holly Tucker MBE who created “Not On The High Street” and revolutionised selling for the small business. Now she has set up Holly & Co. which has its own workshop and cafe. The workshop describes itself as “A modern day community centre. Supporting the makers, creators and innovators”. When embracing the Just A Card ethos this is certainly a place we can’t wait to visit.

Photo Credit: holly.co

Being in Corbridge now we again find ourselves in such great company with regards to small businesses and we’d invite you to come along and discover the treats these offer for yourself.

So next time you buy “Just A Card” you are making a huge difference and supporting so many small independents.