Meet the team behind Simply Cheshire at Arley Hall
PUBLISHED: 17:47 12 May 2015 | UPDATED: 15:27 19 May 2015
This month sees the inaugural Simply Cheshire shopping event at Arley Hall, a showcase of the best our county has to offer residents and visitors
The event is the brainchild of Suzie Dickens and Sally Jones, close friends with a passion for putting producers and buyers together in the perfect environment. Their different career histories and complimentary skill sets have come together to create what should be an outstanding weekend.
When devising the Simply Cheshire concept, Suzie says that their aim was to showcase independent designers, artists and producers from within Cheshire and to provide them with a platform to promote and sell their work to a wider local audience.
Suzie says: ‘It’s about connecting the area together, raising the profile of the county and supporting what Cheshire has to offer –whether through the buying and selling of bespoke products or connecting local businesses. It is also about keeping Cheshire desirable and relevant and nurturing creative businesses; encouraging them to stay and thrive in their own county.’
Sally says: ‘Simply Cheshire will only support local companies and will provide them with a platform to present their produce. We also want to encourage new and emerging talent; to introduce them to the local audience and to give them a platform to showcase their work and talents.’
Here we meet three, of the more than 80, exhibitors bringing their businesses to this special event.
Anthony McDonald trained as a pattern cutter from the age of 16 and for 25 years learned the business of cutting and making-up garments. He says however that is wasn’t until he established his own business that he realised just how very different every individual was.
‘I started out making only garments for women and soon found that every woman is different. Standard sizes and patterns really only offer a rough guide and to get perfectly fitted clothes requires the taking of many, many measurements. We don’t work like any other tailor – it all starts wit the measuring, we create all our own patterns and ensure perfect fit every time.
Tony learned to sew at the age of 14, taught by his mother and always enjoyed designing and creating clothes and his natural creativity is perfectly allied with his intensive training and attention to detail.
Interestingly he has a nationwide client case, ranging from the county’s top barristers and business people to young entrepreneurs and soon-to-be married gentlemen seeking to equal their bride in the style stakes, but has very few clients in Cheshire, where he lives and works, hence his participation in the Simply Cheshire event.
‘It’s hard for people to truly appreciate what we do when they just read about it,’ he says. ‘But being able to talk to me, to understand how I work and what I can do for them, in a face to face environment - that really makes a difference.’
Ruth Sarah Designs
Ruth Smith trained as a landscape designer and still runs her practice, but today on a more part-time basis, having established her art studio just six months ago.
Ruth says: ‘I work in a range of landscapes from urban to rural spaces and enjoy seeing projects come to life, this could be a wildlife habitat or a urban shared space. I was lucky enough to get involved in the RHS Chelsea flower show last year and I’m hoping the experience is going to show in some of my work I’m starting to develop.
‘I’ve gradually been building up over the last six months working on commissions and attending the Artisan markets around Cheshire. I work in my studio on my days I’ve not got my landscape architect hat on and in evenings and weekends. The feedback I’ve received has been amazing, it’s a motivating feeling knowing that all your hard work is paying off and it’s a tremendously exciting journey.‘
Ruth has chosen to join the Simply Cheshire event because of its strict regional parameters: ‘I love the idea that people want to buy local, support small business and appreciate designers, makers and artists. You never know when a new opportunity will be presented to you but at the moment it feels like it’s gathering its own momentum and Simply Cheshire is part of this.’
Orsom is a new range of cheeses produced at the Heler family dairy just outside Nantwich. The Heler cheesemaking story goes back over 50 years, to when Joseph Heler founded the dairy and they’ve been making their cheese by hand using traditional techniques and recipes ever since.
Orsom has been launched to enable them to more firmly combine their rural, handmade heritage with new, modern flavours and a touch of personality, which is entertainingly apparent on their fun and quirky website.
Cheshire and cheese are a match made in heaven, with lush pasture providing the ideal starting point for a great product. At Simply Cheshire Orsom will introduce lucky visitors to four superb cheeses: a rich, intense cheddar named Winston; a dreamy, creamy white named Grace; Woodew, smooth cheddar cheese smoked naturally over cherry wood and Orsom Blue, a smooth and mellow blue cheese that is possibly the most moreish blue you’ll meet this side of the Alps.
Orsom launched just last year, but has already found a home at many local delis, cheese shops and farm shops in Cheshire and the team at Orsom see Simply Cheshire as a perfect match.
‘We’re proud to be a cheesemaker from Cheshire,’ says David ‘and know what a wonderful area this is for real handcrafted produce. Showing Orsom alongside some the best independent producers from the county means a lot to us and we really enjoy speaking to the people of Cheshire as they know their stuff when it comes to good food – particularly cheese!
View our Pinterest board of Simply Cheshire exhibitors