Thursday, 5 February 2015

Meet Bird...

We thought you'd like to meet Michelle, the Bird behind Bird's Yard, and find out a little bit more about her inspirations and plans for the future. These questions are often asked by our lovely customers in the shop...

bird's yard chapel walk sheffield
Michelle... aka Bird

How did you decide on the name Bird’s Yard?

My nickname is Bird ... and I worked with the Leeds landlord at the beginning of Leeds life on a courtyard called Lamberts Yard.. The idea was to nurture new businesses in the hope that they may one day move across into this courtyard, maybe collaborating with other designers to open a shop. It was about taking small steps rather than big scary ones. So the Bird and the Yard went together.

Why did you set up Bird’s Yard?

I have wanted to have my own shop since I was about 20, but many times got to the business plan stage and bottled it. I remember one time was a question about how much electricity I would use. I thought how would I know that and thought because I didn't know these things that I clearly couldn't open a shop or do my own business... Don't want to show my age but there wasn't a fraction of the assistance around as I was growing up.  It's brilliant now.
I eventually sold my house just to have the funds to go it alone without the business plan and after a short term let in a shopping arcade (now Trinity), which I found incredibly frightening and lonely, the foundations were set in my mind for the Bird's Yard concept. 
 "It's one hell of a rollercoaster... but I'm so glad I hung on tight!"

How does Bird’s Yard support local business/makers?

As mentioned, it's about the small steps. Lots of creatives never worked outside their studio or bedroom and it was a huge void to fill from there to having a shop. I took lessons learned from me doing it and tried to put them into place in helping others to do/not do what I did.
A lot of shops have opened as a result of Bird;s Yard and whilst that is a great success, I still see those that realised retail/shops are definitely not something they wish to pursue as a great achievement. This has prevented somebody signing a few years of their life away and possibly a lot more, by jumping into something they don't fully understand . The name above the door and the being your own boss are bloody amazing, however the responsibility, hours commitment beyond any you could imagine - family sacrifices, money troubles, every man and his dog having an opinion on your business, self esteem, stress .. I don't think I need to go on do I?  I don't mean to put people off, I love what I do but it's one hell of a rollercoaster... but I'm so glad I hung on tight!

 "Anything I think 'ooh' to, I get in the shop"


How do you select products for the shop?

In all honesty, it's me being a super great shopper! I came from a pretty poor background and had friends that were pretty spoilt. When you needed to be seen in the latest jumper from Benetton but would never have gotten it, I soon learnt my only way was to dress in my own style. I used to get most of my things from second hand shops (when they were really cheap, you wouldn't be seen dead in one but had eclectic pieces like today's version of vintage). I still have some handbags and items from then.
Throughout my years I have tried to mix vintage and modern. I've slipped into skinny jeans and a cardi a lot lately but when I feel the need I throw on a beautiful one off dress and pop down the shops or to work. A good hat and red lippy also add to the glamour and you feel really noticed in a world of what then feels like beige! 
Using these skills I've found it pretty easy to add on the jewellery and homewares.. Anything I think 'ooh' to, I get in the shop.
Bird's Yard Sheffield
Proving she has taste...Bird picks up two Style Awards in Leeds

How is Bird’s Yard different from other shops?

There is only one Bird (me) and therefore there is only one Bird's Yard. The concept has been copied over and over but I don't find this at all threatening. The many awards and accolades speak for them-self. My brand is my brand just like the little black dress can come in many forms .. I would like to think my little black dress has all the sparkle and detail!
Since moving to the high street we are standing up with the big boys and holding our own. You will find much less craft items and a lot more which are excellently made, branded and all round coveted from locally and around the globe. Many items I discover, I ensure that I am the only stockist at least locally and quite a few I am the only UK stockist.. so hopefully people might travel to shop in Sheffield for this reason. My aim is to move from the sofa (internet) as a buyer and actually travel the world to find even more designers. This is a few years off as I have a son at school age, but it is very much my long term plan. What a job!! 

 "There is only one Bird ... and therefore there is only one Bird's Yard."

What do you love about the shop and its customers?

I absolutely love my days at the shop. I'm so very proud of how much I have achieved on my journey. There isn't one day that I am in that at least 2 or 3 customers don't totally swoon over the shop. Tell me they love it, it's beautiful, the goods are excellent, how they are going to tell all their friends and family and then circle the shop trying to think of who they need presents for. I am literally bursting with pride and then start to wonder where I will put them all at peak times. This Christmas was amazing, so if these people tell other people and so on, this Christmas will be one in one out!

What do you think the customers love about the shop?

I think they love its individuality. They love the brands, they love that a lot is local and the whole aesthetics. And with our range of local candles/cosmetics/bath and body products, It smells pretty darn good too.

Sheffield Shopping Bird's Yard
Inside Bird's Yard...

What plans are there for Bird’s Yard’s future?

I'm always looking for exciting designers to join the nest. We like to keep things fresh for the customers. The main plan this year is to get fully online for sales. And finally, thinking how we will fit all those extra customers in!

Sheffield Shopping, Bird's Yard

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