Proactive people who are making things happen in Lymm
PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 November 2017
Lymm may be a small village but the people there have plenty going on, as Rebekka O'Grady discovers
It’s no surprise to find that Penny and Tim Rawson’s home in Lymm is as stylish as their fashion stores. I met the owners of The Edit, which has sites in Hale, Knutsford and Didsbury, at their family home to talk about their recent win at the prestigious Drapers Independents Award 2017.
‘We were just so happy to be nominated, so when we went down to the ceremony in London we didn’t expect to win at all,’ said Penny, who met Tim while they both worked as managers at Selfridges. The couple then left the designer department store to pursue different paths, with Penny launching the first Edit store in Hale in May 2016, and Tim then joining to work on the blossoming business a few months later.
‘It was super exciting when we were announced as winner of Best Store Design. We had won awards before when working for other big companies, but when you win for your own business it’s really special,’ Penny added.
The Edit was praised by the Drapers’ judges for ‘a cool and contemporary design and strong branding throughout the store which draws the customers in’. The business, which offers ladies fashion, shoes, accessories and gifts, was also shortlisted in the Best New Business category.
‘I had always wanted to set up my own store,’ said Penny. ‘I love fashion and also the social side of speaking to people. When we set up the store in Hale, the plan was for me to run it by myself six days a week but it became so busy. Now we have three stores and 11 members of staff.’
Penny launched The Edit as she wanted to fill a gap in the market for a customer like herself, who had outgrown the likes of Topshop but felt she was too young for Marks and Spencer. The business owner wanted to create a shop where it is easy to put together outfits in a stress-free environment; a mix of great everyday wear that can be mixed and matched.
Tim said: ‘We buy quality materials and fabrics, like silk and cashmere, rather than brands. All of the bags are leather from Italy. The rule is Penny buys what she would wear.
‘My favourite part is having a relationship with the customers. There’s something happening with the retail market at the moment where people want to invest in their local high street. It’s become fashionable to support shopping in towns and villages, and that’s encouraging more people.’
So would the couple ever open a store in Lymm? ‘We don’t have a firm plan for the future; it’s all grown organically. Lymm is a great town and we love living here, we wouldn’t move out of the town even if we moved house. It’s a lovely place to raise a family.’
Another Lymm couple reaping the rewards of launching a business of their own are Dan Wheatcroft and Amy Armitage. They left their office jobs of ten years to set up The Prosecco Pot, a vintage horsebox converted into a mobile prosecco van.
‘We’d wanted to do something ourselves for a while, to get out and about and meet new people,’ explained Amy. ‘I love prosecco and we thought why not launch our own mobile van? We’ve both been full time since launching in February at the Bride: The Wedding Show at Tatton Park. It was brilliant; we had a constant queue and such positive feedback and bookings.’
The van was dressed by the couple themselves who were inspired by a garden theme. The beautiful vintage horsebox has a rustic look which is perfectly fitted for all events from weddings and festivals to parties and even dry hire, where a customer can just hire the van and provide their own drinks.
‘We will travel all over England and Wales. We have just been in Portsmouth and we’re in Derby next,’ said Dan. ‘It’s been really enjoyable. Our lives have completely changed, to go to this from a 9am-5pm job. We have already seen so many different places and are learning loads; one of the best things is getting to work together, we’re a really good team.’
Alongside the normal glasses of prosecco, you can also purchase cocktails from a bespoke menu crafted by Dan and Amy. They have just finished finalising their Christmas drinks offering, where edible glitter will add a festive touch to the cocktails. ‘I love doing the cocktails,’ Dan added. ‘It’s been great to experiment with flavours and the names, like Tinsel Me Pink.’
As well as the van, the couple are looking at launching a prosecco bike, where you can serve bottles of prosecco from a Penny Farthing. This will be showcased for the first time at the Bride: The Wedding Show at Tatton Park in February, where Amy and Dan will celebrate the first anniversary of the business. ‘We will also be doing pump hire over Christmas, so people can have prosecco on tap in their homes,’ said Amy. ‘There’s a real culture around prosecco, you feel special when you’re drinking it.’
‘You’ve got to be creative in thinking of ways to attract visitors to a place. Lymm is a destination for people, whether they’re coming for a walk and some lunch in a café or an evening out. We want the Lymm Heritage Centre to be a focal point for people coming to the town,’ said Alan Williams, chairman of the new centre situated off Bridgewater Street in the centre. It opened in June after a two and a half year dream.
‘My wife has a collection of bygones and was talking about displaying them. We started to look at the bigger picture and once we spoke to other people about it, we realised we needed to have somewhere in Lymm that really represented its heritage.’
The only flaw in the plan was financial. The committee liked the idea of using the former Royal British Legion club but there were no funds for them to be able to afford the rent.
‘Our plans were finally made possible when Howard Platt bought the club for us,’ Alan added. ‘He said I can buy it and then rent it back to you at an affordable cost.’
The Thelwall businessman was so impressed with the committee’s idea that he also invested a six figure sum into the building to renovate it – as well as giving it to them rent free for three years.
‘It was a fantastic way for us to get started. Without him it wouldn’t have been possible so we are very grateful,’ said Alan, who explained that Howard has now taken a backseat as a benevolent landlord.
The centre is managed by a team of 12 and there are around 40 volunteers. ‘We also secured a £88,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further £12,000 was raised by the community. There has been so much support; people have been really keen to get the centre up and running.’
Since opening, there have been 3,000 visitors come through the doors. The current exhibition is a range of 19th century bicycles provided by Paul Adams from Walton Hall Cycle Museum, and Alan and the team are busy working on the next: Look at Lymm, 1860–1960.
‘We will be producing a book where you can walk around the village and see where photographs were taken back then and see what it looks like today. It will be more interactive. There will also be a core, permanent exhibition on the Trades, Transport and Traditions of Lymm, featuring local information and bygones, including a May Queen crown from 1926.’