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Emma takes the hassle out of shopping

Experienced retailer opens her own lifestyle store in town centre

Sarah Bosley


01635 886655

Emma takes the hassle out of shopping

EARLIER this year, Emma Bees realised her lifetime dream. She opened the doors of her very own store – B the lifestyle shop.

And it has been a real family affair, with Emma crediting her ‘brilliant’ husband for bringing her creative ideas for the shop to life.

Having grown up in Newbury, taking her GCSEs and A-levels at St Bartholomew’s School, Emma has spent her whole working life in retail.

“I have always been a store manager or visual merchandiser, starting with a job at Marks & Spencer,” she explains.

“My first job as a store manager was for Bay Trading in Newbury.

“I then became a dual-site manager, before going to run the Reading store, which was a top-turnover store.

“In that role I worked closely with the area manager and was there for around three years.

“I have always really liked being involved in retail because it is really very varied.

“A lot of the work is about the people and helping them to grow, which then makes your job as a store manager easier.”

After Bay Trading closed Emma moved to River Island, running the Newbury store, before leaving to have her second child.

After an extended maternity leave, she returned to work as the store manager of Fat Face in Parkway, while she continued to save for her ultimate goal – her own shop.

“This shop has been in planning since January,” she explains. “We had to save up enough money to do it, which took a while.

“In the beginning it was just an idea. I Googled as much as I could and would be up until midnight every day researching business rates, or creating spreadsheets so I knew how much I needed to make every day, every week and every month.

“As every day and every week passed it got stronger and stronger as an idea.

“Then I started looking for a premises and then I started trying to find stockists.

“A lot of planning has gone in to it.”

Because Emma didn’t actually have an open shop, she says that getting some stockists on board was tough to begin with.

But she wasn’t deterred and today has a shop, in Newbury’s town centre, brimming with beautiful clothes, books, toys, jewellery and homeware from a range of independent stockists.

“The shop is a lifestyle shop,” Emma explains, “which means it is basically a store that represents a way of life.

“Life is so busy and time is precious, so if I can take the hassle out of shopping for people, that’s great.

“I have handpicked the best of the best unique and different products for people and it is all in one place.

“A lot of my stockists are independent designers from the UK, which allows me to offer that individuality and uniqueness.

“There are hardly any independents in Newbury and I was a bit apprehensive to open as I wasn’t sure there was the appetite here.

“But everyone has said it is just what the town needs, which is great to hear.”

The effortless beauty Emma discovered during visits to Norway and Copenhagen has certainly inspired her and the shop is awash with Scandi simplicity.

She said: “I always want to strive to be different and so with the décor there was a lot of drawing of ideas first.

“I am very lucky to have a brilliant husband who built it all for me too.

“I wanted the shop to have design elements but for the stock to stand out on its own.

“It is about keeping it simple; I didn’t want it to be too overbearing.

“It is almost like an edit of on-trend items for your life.

“Consumers are more conscious of what they are spending their money on nowadays and that is where independents have the edge.”

The store opened on August 10 this year and an online shop is now also up and running.

When I met Emma she had been involved with Trouva, an online shop for independent boutiques, for just over a week and was already reaping the rewards of that partnership too.

It isn’t all about selling goods for Emma, however; she also runs workshops from the Wharf Street shop, which she says ‘represent what the shop is all about’.

Wheeling the rustic plywood table that is the centrepiece of her shop to one side for an evening gives Emma an expansive space to host events in and these have been sell outs already.

Yoga and meditation, as well as macramé (remember those knotted rope plant hangers?) and Scandi wreath-making workshops have proved a real hit and Emma is already planning lots more events for next year.

Looking to next year, Emma says she hopes to continue to grow the presence of her brand in the town and online and is excited about the possibilities the Trouva partnership can offer.

She currently has two members of staff, which gives her the opportunity to have some family time too, and she hopes to increase that number in the coming months.

Emma will be open late on November 26, during the Newbury Santa Parade, and will host a ladies’ shopping night on November 30, where G&Ts and prosecco will be flowing.

She is also offering a ladies’ Christmas wish list service and a men’s shopping night on December 14, when the lists will be on hand to help with the purchases.

B the lifestyle shop is open from 10am until 5pm Monday to Saturday, and from 11am until 3pm on Sunday.

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