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LOVE Bristol: Harry Blades & Angry Daves

February 2, 2015
harry blades angry daves

For the first LOVE Bristol of 2015 I’m really excited to have Brad from Harry Blades & Angry Daves give an insight in to his daily routine and what life is like as the owner and co-founder of HBAD. I happen to have had my hair cut with Brad since before he opened up his shop on the Christmas Steps, and since starting up this blog i’ve always wanted to feature him as one of my interviewees. 

Please give a warm welcome to Brad :)


Hi! Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell me a little bit about your background, and what brought you to Bristol? 

It’s a long story but basically came to Bristol as a stopgap in between jobs. I had been based in Oxford and doing a lot of work in London up until then. Some of my best friends lived down here and decided to take some time out in the West Country and that was almost 10 years ago. I fell in love with the city very early on and haven’t wanted to leave.

Why did you choose the Christmas Steps as the location for your shop, and what was your biggest challenge in opening it?

Mainly because the rent was affordable enough for us to do it. We also really liked the area. It was not as vibrant as it is now but we loved it and thought that it would totally fit with what we had in mind for the store. We always wanted the shop to be somewhere that people discover rather than it being in an obvious location. A risky strategy but it has paid off. I like the idea of the shop being a badly kept secret.

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Where does the name HBAD come from?

HBAD stands for Harry Blades & Angry Daves. Dave already had a shop called Angry Daves that sold streetwear and limited edition imported trainers, when we decided to add the hair element to the business we felt that Angry Daves may project the wrong image a little so we added the second name to soften the blow. Initially Harry Blade was chosen because it rhymes with Angry Dave. A bit of an anti-climax answer but I think a lot of these types of things come about like that.

What’s a typical day for you?

My typical day usually consists of parenthood (early starts for the school run) and cutting people’s hair off (very late finishes).

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I imagine you mostly cut guys hair, as opposed to girls – is that right? If so do you ever imagine that you would only do men’s hair? (Please say no!! ha!)

We do a lot of men’s hair, yes. It has always been a huge passion of mine. However I love doing women’s hair however I have always been hugely dissatisfied with the atmosphere and approach of most hairdressing salons. At face value we lean way more towards barbering, but what we are trying to do is give people a third option. There is hairdressing, barbering, then a small collective of shops that are approaching things in a similar way to us. I would far rather people see us more like a custom tattoo shop but for hair. The dynamic within the shop is way more informal much like a traditional barbershop but as we do women’s hair too that changes things slightly compared to it being an all male environment. What we are trying to do is introduce a new approach for women, much slower, and less mass-produced. Something that is totally customized for them. No condescension, just working with the client to bring out the best in what they have, and to fit their personal style rather than pigeon holing them. There are a million high street salons that can do that.

I feel that in recent years women’s hair has become slightly maligned and is not seen as being nearly as ‘cool’ as barbering is for the guys. I lay the blame for this directly at the feet of the ‘industry’ for turning hairdressing into a cartoon of itself. This something I would definitely like to play my part in changing.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I have a fantastic team that I work with and spend a lot of the day laughing with them. They are brilliant and a total joy. I am very proud of what we are achieving together. That and the relationship I have with my clients and the creative satisfaction that I have from working hard for them and them being excited and pleased with the work that we are doing. It is not the easiest job sometimes but I love everyday that I am behind the chair. It is where I belong.

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Where do you look to for inspiration? 

Everywhere. Walking around, Magazines, Blogs, Social Media, and I am enormously privileged to be able to travel and work with other professionals from all over the country and the rest of the world. I feel like I am constantly learning.

What advice would you give to any other aspiring start-ups?

Never borrow more than you absolutely have to. A good accountant is always useful, and to stick to your strengths. Don’t try and do it all. I have nearly burnt out several times from taking on too much. I have a fantastic relationship with my business partner and we have both found that we excel in very different areas and when we work together, but stick to our strengths, things go a lot better.


What’s next for HBAD?

We are currently in the process of building a Barbershop on Park St underneath Fifty Fifty. It will be a slightly different concept. I definitely have no intention of the original store becoming a chain. It will also give me the freedom to showcase more of the women’s work at the Christmas Steps site as well as the gentleman’s barbering. I think that will be more than enough for this year.

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Lastly, some questions about Bristol: where’s your favourite spot in Bristol, and what do you love most about the city?

That is impossible to answer. I adore the city as a whole. The rough and the smooth. Bristol has largely been responsible for making me everything that I am now, and will always be deeply grateful to the city and the people in it for giving me that. I hope that what we are doing will return at least a little bit back.


Thanks so much Brad! 

Find out more about HBAD on their website, through Facebook or you can follow Brad on Instagram


You can read more of my LOVE Bristol posts here – I do these because I want to promote local, independent shops and love learning about how our city thrives on them. If you’d like to be featured on one of my LOVE Bristol interviews, just send me an email or get in touch on Twitter!

<3 Sofia

Bristol, Love Bristol

LOVE Bristol: An interview with Pod

December 15, 2014
the pod company

This month, i’m really excited to have Pod as my guest on LOVE Bristol. Back when I was a fresh-faced graduate out of Bristol University, Sian – the owner of Pod – gave me my first ‘proper’ job, and so I became their web manager and worked with them for around 2 years. I learnt so much about working in retail, on websites and social media, and it was great to have the opportunity to work in such an iconic Clifton Village destination. 

So, without further ado – give a warm welcome to Sian.


Let’s start from the beginning, could you us a little bit about how Pod started out, and where the idea came from?

I started Pod in 2000 when I moved with my family from London to Bristol.  I had been working in PR, looking after retail accounts and I’d always fancied the idea of moving over to the other side!

Where does the name ‘Pod’ come from?

When I first started Pod the emphasis was more on home accessories rather than gift and lifestyle products as it is today. As a pod is ‘home’ for peas I thought it would make a good name for a shop selling accessories for human pods! Also it was before iPods were launched in the UK as so the word was not as overused and…  I like the fact that the word works back to front as well as front to back!

Can you give us a little insight in to the inner workings of the Pod team? Who does what, and how many of you are there?

Pod has around 25 full and part time employees between the office and three stores in Bristol, Cheltenham and Oxford.

In the Bristol office Shannon Haswell makes all the buying decisions with me and is in charge of the office when I’m not around, Jess Wallwork is our Web Manager and designs our catalogue and Heather Ballantyne, a recent Bristol University graduate, helps with marketing and PR and a host of other things. In the Bristol store Sorcha Milne-Smith is Store Manager and Samantha Manning Assistant Store Manager. Sorcha is incredibly creative and talented and is responsible for many of our lovely window displays.

the pod companythe pod company

Two of the window displays that Sorcha created – the top one is based on the Nutcracker products that they are selling in the shop at the moment for Christmas, and the other is the unmistakeable Orla Kiely pattern, promoting the homeware and fashion accessories.

What might a typical day be like? I know it’s very busy around this time of year so can appreciate it’s not as typical as the rest of the year!

Things are incredibly busy at the moment but retailing generally is a labour intensive business. People who come to work for us are always surprised at the volume of goods going through the business and also the range. We have over 10,000 items on our EPOS system and over 200 suppliers so keeping on top of it all is a challenge! We are also constantly changing our retail offering so we always have lots to do!

Why did you choose the Clifton Village as the location for your first shop, and what was your biggest challenge in opening it?

I love Clifton Village and feel very lucky that I am able to work and live here. Pod moved into the current site because it just happened to come on to the market at the right time and was so obviously a fantastic location that I jumped at the opportunity. Opening Pod was a huge challenge because I had little or no actual retail experience. I have definitely had to learn on the job!

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The interior of the shop is packed full to the brim of beautiful, inspiring products.

Was it difficult deciding where to place your next two shops and are there any plans for any more?

I wanted to open in towns and cities relatively close to Bristol so that I could get around the shops without having to stay away overnight. We have considered Bath and Cardiff too but at the moment I’m thinking about parts of West London for another shop if the right site comes up at the right price.

Do you have a favourite item you stock? (I don’t know if I’d be able to decide!!)

This year one of our best selling products is the HangIt frame – available in white and wood finishes – it seems to have hit the spot for lots of people. Some customers are using it to display photos, memorabilia etc, others are using it to display their children’s works of art! It’s a great price and will fit into any room – kitchen, study, living room, playroom etc.

One of our most popular books is ‘Mug Cakes‘ – how to get instant satisfaction! All you need is a microwave and mug and some basic ingredients and you have instant warm cake in 5 minutes.


Where do you look to for inspiration? 

Everywhere! In magazines, on holiday, at friends houses… anywhere and everywhere. I always have Pod at the back of my mind. Obviously I go to lots of trade shows too.

What advice would you give to any other aspiring retail businesses?

You have to really love the product, otherwise it will not work.

Lastly, some questions about Bristol: where’s your favourite spot in Bristol, and what do you love most about the city?

It’s very obvious but my favourite spot in Bristol is overlooking the suspension bridge. I walk my dog Polo up to the Observatory Tower every day and think how lucky I am to be here!


Thanks Sian and team Pod! 

For those of you doing your Christmas shopping online, Pod’s last posting dates are: 

UK Mail

Tuesday 16th December – First Class and Recorded Signed For
Monday 22nd December – Next Day Delivery
Friday 19th December – Next Day Delivery with Saturday Guarantee

International Mail

Thursday 4th December – Far East (including Japan), Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Europe, USA and Canada
Wednesday 10th December – Western Europe

Otherwise, you can go and visit their Clifton, Oxford or Cheltenham shops, and to find out more about where they are click here.


You can read more of my LOVE Bristol posts here – I do these because I want to promote local, independent shops and love learning about how our city thrives on them. If you’d like to be featured on one of my LOVE Bristol interviews, just send me an email or get in touch on Twitter!

<3 Sofia

Love Bristol

LOVE Bristol: An interview with Rhubarb Jumble

November 3, 2014

I’m very excited to kick off this new series of LOVE Bristol posts with an insight in to one of my new favourite vintage shops, Rhubarb Jumble. Amy and Malcolm, who own the shop, were very kind to let me ask them a few questions on them, the shop, and what makes them tick. 


Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell us a little bit about your backgrounds – how you met, what brought you to Bristol and where the idea for Rhubarb Jumble came from?

Malcolm and I met through friends at university, became flat mates and after several months got together! We had lived in Edinburgh for several years, decided to go traveling for a year and when we returned, wanted to live in sunnier climes, bristol was our first stopped and we never left. We’ve been in Bristol for 8 years now and it truly feels like home. 5 years ago, I wanted to sell some vintage clothes and bags that I didn’t wear anymore, so Malx booked us a stall at Start The Bus Sunday market, it went well so we spent the proceeds on more stock and did it again a month later, that went even better and we were hooked!

rhubarb jumble

Amy and Malcolm – owners of Rhubarb Jumble

I love your name! How did it come about?

We have always been fans of puns and it just evolved from messing about with names, I don’t even really remember it happening, it’s just what we always called it. I do really love our name though, it represents the playful side of our business and we have had some very amusing typos, ‘rubhard jumble’ is a particular favourite!

Why did you choose to come to North St to set up your shop?

We traded at Tobacco Factory market for a long time and loved the attitude of the customers and found they liked us too. I’m a great fan of independent shops and really like areas that support this kind of consumerism. We did some research and thought it was a good risk to take. The part of North St that we occupy still needs a lot of support and development, but it is constantly evolving and I’m proud to be a part of that.

rhubarb jumble

How important have the markets you have traded at, such as Tobacco Factory market, been in establishing your customer base and your ‘brand?

It’s been so vital for us, we traded on markets for years and learned a lot about who we are and where we want to be. It’s such hard work doing a market, so it was a good test to see if we were cut out for it when I decided to do it full time. The first 3 and a half years of market trading was a hobby as Malcolm and I still had full time jobs. 18 months ago I took the plunge and decided it was time to give it my all.

Could you tell us about a typical day for you? (if there is one)!

Nothing is really typical! I’m always searching for stock and establishing new relationships to ensure I have something exciting and different in the shop. I work in the shop approx 4 days a week and am out at meetings with sourcing contacts the other 3. When I’m at the shop, I’m prepping new stock to go on the shop floor, chatting to customers and eating cheese toasties!


Amy and Malcolm have such a great eye for detail, and each and every product looks perfectly placed within the shop.


What’s been your favourite item you’ve ever stocked? Or to put it another way, what’s the item you’ve been most proud of stocking in your collection (if you can choose just one!)?

Crikey, that’s a tricky one to answer! Most recently I had a 1975 slot machine in the shop, I bought it initially as a display item and so many people came In Just for a look. I recently sold it and was so sad to see it go, although getting the space back has been an advantage. I also really love the Lea Stein brooches I stock. Malcolm gave me a Lea Stein brooch on our wedding day and I’ve been hooked ever since!

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I would find it so hard to work in a vintage shop – I’m sure it would be a case of “2 for me, 1 for the shop” the whole time! Do you find it hard to resist keeping things for yourself?

I see the beauty in everything I stock even though it might not be something I would wear or have. I buy with someone else in mind which helps when parting with it and there is a real joy to seeing an item go to the perfect owner. Also we live in a terraced house and space is limited!!!

Where do you look to for inspiration?

I’m not a big fan on high street shops but I do occasionally look around to see what people are buying. I also do a lot of people watching! It’s great to see how individual and unique people are. But I just follow my nose. I love good tailoring, design and shape of clothing.


What advice would you give to any other aspiring start-ups?

Do something you are passionate about and have a genuine interest in. Start small and grow your business slowly. Take risks when you know what the risk is. Have fun with it and enjoy your job!

Lastly, some questions about Bristol: where’s your favourite spot in Bristol, and what do you love most about the city?

A bit of a weird one, but I love collecting pine cones and greenbank cemetery has loads. pine cones make great fire lighters which leads me to my next favourite spot, by the fire in our living room with my beloved cat on my lap! I am a home bird!

Bristol has a great energy, there are lots of creative like minded people who genuinely care about the city they occupy. It’s not too big and feels personal. Hurrah to Bristol – you rock!


Thanks so much Amy and Malcolm! Rhubarb Jumble is open from 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday, and 11am-5pm on Sundays. They’re on Facebook, and you can also find out how to get in touch on their website (holding page). And if you enjoyed this post, you can read more LOVE Bristol interviews too.

Sofia <3

Bristol, Love Bristol, Tuesday Link Treasury

Merry Bristmas! Your guide to what’s on in Bristol this weekend

December 3, 2013

Bristol is looking and feeling very festive this year, and there are plenty of markets and goings on to keep you busy over the festive period! Here is my pick of the things you can look forward to this weekend (6th-8th December).

Friday 6th

From 5pm-12midnight the Eat.Drink.Dance first ever market is on at the Island. It’s described as “Bristol’s first street food event combining local breweries, artists, music and all things local. A magical night of eating, drinking and dancing…” Sounds awesome!

There is also the Antlers Winter Shop, which launches on Friday 6th from 6pm-9pm. It sounds like they have some awesome chefs cooking up a warming winter stew, and as ever a select group of designers to showcase. Again, more details are available on the Facebook page.

Saturday 7th

It’s the Bedminster Winter Lantern Parade! Starting at South Street Park (i’m going to have a lovely view!) at around 4.30pm – get involved!

Before you head to the Lantern Parade, why not check out the East Street Christmas Market?

It’s markets galore on Saturday – on the other side of town the Royal York Gardens Christmas Market is happening on Royal York Crescent in Clifton. I’ll be there, supporting the lovely Bramall & Smith with their first Christmas market.

If wandering around markets in the cold isn’t really you’re thing, how about checking out the Made in Bristol pop-up shop at the Architecture Centre? More details are available on the event Facebook page.

The Bristol Old Vic are showing The Little Mermaid – it looks spectacular!

Sunday 8th

Sustrans have organised a ‘Santatastic’ cycle ride, so expect to see lots of cycling Santas and reindeers from M Shed on Sunday from 10.30am-2.30pm!

Swingin’ at the Spiegaltent – “Swing Dance Bristol presents a night of retro indulgence, with music from the 1920s to the early 1940s.” There is dinner, dancing, and the dress code is strictly Gatsy, 20s glamour.

There are so many more things on, as well as the usual markets in St Nicks and the Harbourside market…what will you be going to this weekend?

Big (Christmassy) love! :)


Love Bristol

{LOVE Bristol} Miss Radida – the Queen of the skies!

September 17, 2013

aerial silks

Morning! For this month’s LOVE Bristol I asked the inimitable Miss Radida – my silks teacher – to shed some light on what she does, her love of aerial and circus arts and what makes her tick. Enjoy!

From reading on your website, you offer a multitude of circus acts for shows including silks, hoop and fire breathing, no less! You were studying fashion and drama, so how did you get in to studying circus arts?

Haha, no I definitely do NOT do fire breathing, though this is a very common error. I do fire EATING, which involves putting a small flame inside your mouth and extinguishing it. Fire breathing is completely different and very dangerous, as it involves actually placing fire fuel into your mouth and breathing it out all over a flame to make a MASSIVE fire ball.

Back to your question though, as a little girl I always wanted to be a famous actor. So I studied drama until about the age of 21, when I realised that I wasn’t that into it anymore. During my childhood I also had a keen interest in fashion and costume, and studied Textiles and Design at school alongside Drama. When I decided that I didn’t want to act anymore, I went back to college to study Costume Making, and gained a Diploma in Fashion. During my first year of fashion studies one of my fellow students came in one day talking about how she had flown on a flying trapeze in Byron Bay (Australia- where I am from) and I was so excited by the idea that I just had to go and try it for myself. This was the beginning of my love affair with all things circus, and in particular my love of aerial arts. It’s funny, because I remember going to see a circus show in outback Australia when I was really young, and seeing the flying trapeze act and getting really excited about the idea that I could do that. It wasn’t until about 20 years later that I finally got the chance!

What brought you to the fine city of Bristol?

My family and I wanted to travel the world, and decided to come to the UK because we were able to get 5 year ancestry visas here because my Grandpa was British. When we first arrived, we spent a few months touring with a traditional circus and met a few people along the way. I had also met a few circus artists at a festival in Australia called Woodford Folk Festival, and some of them were based in Bristol. We went up to Edinburgh Fringe Festival and met some other artists who were based in Bristol, and when we came to visit we fell in love with what was happening here. Bristol is quite a unique city with a huge population of artists in every sense of the word- circus, visual, music, photographers, street artists- it is quite a melting pot of talent. We got heavily involved in The Invisible Circus’s project at the Pro-Cathedral and then The Island, and it just made sense to stay.

I know you are also an accomplished costumier who regularly makes costumes for yourself and others in the circus and arts industry (and of course you’ve helped me out with my unitard from Asos which needed some ‘adjusting’!). Do you find it hard balancing your sewing work with your aerial work?

Not at all, in fact it is a perfect combination. As a circus artist myself, I understand what a costume needs to survive, both in the air and acrobatically, and am aware of all of the things that make a circus costume work. There are a lot of things you need to take into account when making specialised costumes such as safety, comfort and strength. And it means I can always make costumes for myself when I need them! Sometimes I wish there was more time in a day though to get everything done…

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Is there a costume you have in mind that you’ve always really wanted to make, but haven’t had the opportunity yet?


What might a typical day involve for you? Is there a typical day?!

Hmmm, well it really depends…. I guess a typical day involves getting up early to get my daughter off to school, checking emails and applying for work etc, doing a few hours of sewing, then training for a few hours and either heading home to make dinner etc or teach my weekly silks classes if it is a teaching day.

How do you keep yourself motivated? From the little silks training I do, it can sometimes be quite hard to keep going when you have ‘off’ days. I’d like to know how you keep those at bay!

We all have off days, that is for sure! It is difficult sometimes to be motivated to train, particularly if you don’t have any gigs coming up, but then at the drop of a hat it can change and all of a sudden you have multiple different apparatus to train at the same time. So it pays to stay on top of your training!

What’s been your proudest moment(s) so far in your silks/aerial career?

I guess it probably would have to be performing aerial harness in The London 2012 Olympic Opening ceremony as one of the flying Mary Poppins’s in the biggest show I have ever done with the biggest budget I have ever worked with. That was pretty exciting. Though on the other hand, creating Carny Ville with The Invisible Circus made me feel very proud – that show really showed what you can achieve with very little budget but a LOT of love and enthusiasm when a group of ridiculously talented people come together just to make it happen because they want to. Seeing the looks on people’s faces as they entered a world of fantasy and magic that we created was a really proud moment in my life.

miss radida

Where do you look to for inspiration?

Absolutely everywhere – movies, internet, youtube, pinterest, fashion designers, you name it!

What words of advice would you give to anyone looking to go to circus school or was thinking about getting in to aerial arts?

DO IT!!!!!! It will change your life!! Well, it changed mine anyway. There is no better way to stay fit, focussed and flexible if you ask me. Though it does take a crazy amount of dedication so I guess it’s not for everyone.

Lastly, some questions about Bristol: where’s your favourite spot in Bristol? And what do you love most about the city?

Seriously, my favourite spot in Bristol would have to be the garden in my new flat. I just love sitting out there, especially in the stunning summer weather we’ve had, and having my breakfast or watering my veggie garden. The thing I love most about the city is the amount of creativity it has – live music everywhere, and soooo much circus! The sense of community here is very special.

Thanks so much Rada – as ever you’re an inspiration!

If you want to find out more about Rada’s classes, or to book her for an event, you can go to her website or email her at

Big circus love <3


Bristol, Love Bristol

{LOVE Bristol} Spending time in Bedminster

June 6, 2013

graffiti in bedminster

This week’s LOVE Bristol is all about the area of the city we will be moving to in the next few months: Bedminster! But i’m going to have to apologise for what will be a fairly image-heavy post – I took a lot of photos!

In the past couple of weeks, Tony and I have spent a bit of time in the area of Bristol which has been for much of our life in this city, almost completely off our radar. Having always lived in North Bristol, mainly around the Gloucester Road area, we only recently started venturing South because of close friends living there, and also because of the sheer amount of awesome events coming out of the area. I suppose cost of housing is another of the major reasons we decided to make the move down South. It is almost impossible to find any affordable housing for first time buyers in the North Bristol area, but hey, that’s a conversation for another time!




One of the events that has come out of Bedminster is Upfest. Over a long weekend at the end of May, the streets of Bedminster and Southville are transformed as artists from all over the world descend on Bristol to draw, spray paint and stencil to their hearts delight all over the shutters, walls and designated drawing areas throughout the area.

There are obviously pieces which appealed to me more than others. However I think what was obvious from all the pieces just how individual the pieces all were. I can’t believe this one below – apparently this is all done with spray paint, can you believe it?!

graffiti in bedminster




The Masonic Cat

I think two of my favourite pieces of the day were the two below. I didn’t manage to snap a photo of the Ship Shape Bristol Fashion finished, although I have seen it since and it looks great. It’s almost a shame that it isn’t more visible on the street, but then I suppose you can’t have it all.


The other one was the one of Fernando Pessoa. I came across Pessoa in my degree when we studied his book ‘Mensagem’. I loved it, and the piece of graffiti below really captured my imagination. I especially like the quote, and it’s even better in portuguese:

Para ser grande, sê inteiro: nada
Teu exagera ou exclui.
Sê todo em cada coisa. Põe quanto és
No mínimo que fazes.
Assim em cada lago a lua toda
Brilha, porque alta vive.


Bramall and Smith at Retroville market


Last weekend I stayed in Bedminster all weekend to help out at my friends first stall at the Sunday Tobacco Factory Market Retroville. Bramall and Smith sell re-purposed furniture, homemade home wares and quirky vintage finds, and I was so excited for them – I absolutely love their collection! They haven’t got a website yet, but I hear it’s in the pipeline…this certainly won’t be the last you’ll hear about them on this blog!

bramall and smith

Being in a different area of they city you’ve lived in for 10 years really does open your eyes up to a world of possibilities. Tony and I always thought we wouldn’t be able to move away from the Gloucester Road area, and who could blame us? It’s got everything we want, it’s familiar and quite a few of our friends live there too. However, the excitement and anticipation of moving somewhere new, whilst not really going that far at all is just great! We are so excited to be able to explore and fall in love with Bristol all over again. And I totally have our southern friends to thank for that!

Big Bedmo love <3

Bristol, Love Bristol

{LOVE Bristol} Howkapow

May 16, 2013


I’m very excited to be bringing you a new feature, where I look at the amazing independent retailers and businesses that Bristol has to offer.

For this first instalment, i’d like to introduce you to Howkapow. Those who frequented Cabot Circus over the Christmas period might have seen their lovely little pop-up shop in Quaker’s Friars. I’ve been a fan of Howkapow for ages, but had never actually bought anything online (god knows how much I visited their site though!). I was excited when I heard that the pop-up shop had opened, and I made sure I visited as soon as I could. Seeing all the exquisite products on offer just brought it to life. After having a quick chat with Cat and telling her how pleased I was for them to have opened the shop, a seed was planted in my mind about having them featured on the blog. It has only taken about 6 months to come to fruition, but we got there in the end!

Howkapow specialise in “quirky home accessories and unique gifts” which I think suits them to a T. Their eclectic and colourful product choice immediately appealed to the colour-magnet in me. Some of my favourite items they stock are the simplest, such as tea towels, mugs and cushions. They also have the most wonderful selection of jewellery, which i’ve treated myself and friends to on a couple of occasions. As you can probably tell I love their shop and their unique collection, so I will leave you to read what Cat How has to say about their fantastic business.

Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell us a little bit about your backgrounds – how you met, your backgrounds in design and how Howkapow came to be?

We both met at Bristol University in 2002 – Rog was studying Electronic Engineering and I was reading English Literature. It was at a Christmas party and involved a passed out, half-dressed Santa and a dodgy grotto. After graduating from uni in 2004 we worked in different fields – I was a journalist for Metro newspaper and Rog worked for GWR radio. In 2006 we decided to head to Australia where I re-trained in graphics and Rog continued to work in radio. After 2 years in Melbourne we missed England too much and we moved to London where I started my MA in graphics at Central Saint Martins and Rog started working for the BBC. Still as restless as ever, even before I had finished my MA we were looking at houses again in Bristol as we wanted to move back and settle down. We had been married for a year by then and in 2010 we took the plunge, moved back to Bristol and set up Howkapow from our home studio in the space of a few months. The rest is history!

Where does your awesome name come from?

We merged our second name – ‘How’ – with the fact that all our products are bright, loud and in-your-face, so ‘kapow’!

Of all the cities in the world, what brought you to Bristol?

We wanted to work together on something that supported creative people and built community. We also wanted to start building a business in the place we love and both met in: Bristol.

howkapow Can you give us a little insight in to the inner workings of the Howkapow team? Who does what, and how many of you are there?

I’m the Creative Director and Rog is Managing Director. We have Jess who works on our PR, Luke who is our art director and a couple of interns. Rog and I actually work together pretty well, I think because we have well defined roles – both within the shop and in our household! Rog handles the accounts and our marketing, while I do a lot of designing and the hunting out for new products. We try not to discuss work too much when we clock off for the day, but more often than not meals out and long car journeys can be overtaken by discussions about the shop.

What might a typical day involve for both of you?

After a smoothie and a double espresso at 8.30am I sit down to work at the home studio I share with Rog (my husband and business partner). The first few hours are spent replying to emails, tweeting, blogging and updating news on our Facebook page. We then tackle the orders, making sure everything is carefully tissue-wrapped and accounted for. The rest of the day could be anything in an ever-changing rota of writing to journalists, designing press releases, taking photos, managing stock and liaising with designers and manufacturers on upcoming orders.

inside howkapow

What were the first things you sold on the Howkapow site? And were you surprised by what they were?

We sold tea towels and cushions when we first opened, but some of the first things we had on the shop are still some of our best sellers so we’re not that surprised by what they were!

What’s been your favourite item you’ve ever stocked? Or to put it another way, what’s the item you’ve been most proud of stocking in your collection (if you can choose just one!)?

Very happy to stock Karen Mabon’s amazing silk scarves.

As you’d been predominantly selling through your website, what was the most exciting thing about opening your ‘real’ shop for the first time?

Yes, we’re selling through our website now until we find our next shop. It was great when we had our last ‘physical’ shop as we were able to meet our customer and fan base face to face and get some great customer feedback. It was lovely to see so many happy smiling faces!

howkapow bristol

What creative sources – digital or otherwise – do you look to for inspiration?

Pinterest, Tumblr, the Tate, markets, the garden, design shows like Pulse and Top Drawer and the London Design Festival.

Are there any plans for another shop in the future?

Yep! We’ve got one taking shape as we speak :)

What advice would you give to any other aspiring start-ups?

Work hard, don’t give up and believe in yourself.

Lastly, some questions about Bristol: where’s your favourite spot in Bristol, and what do you love most about the city?

I love the city because we have so many friends here and Bristol is such a wonderful, inspiring and independent place. My favourite spot in Bristol is a little bench which looks out onto the Clifton Suspension Bridge – it is where Rog and I had our first date almost 12 years ago!

Thanks Cat & Rog, I look forward to coming to say hello in your new shop.

Big love