In our latest instalment of ‘Stockist Spotlight’ we meet Zoë, the manager of Bluebelle & Co, a gorgeous boutique in sunny Brighton that stocks a wide range of Powell Craft products. Zoë kindly took the time to tell us all about her background, the beautiful shop she runs, and her favourite Powell Craft products. Over to you, Zoë……..

Tell us about how Bluebelle & Co got started and what kind of products do you stock? 

Bluebelle & Co. was founded 12 years ago by Kate Powell. It is a treasure trove of gorgeous gifts, ladies’ fashion, homeware, accessories & children's clothing in Brighton’s famous North Laine

Bluebelle stocks many different products but the two core brands are Powell Craft – we appreciate  the beauty of design and quality of material in the nightwear, quilts, and children's clothing that we stock and House of Disaster for fun and quirky homewares and accessories, including ceramics, lamps, handbags and wallets.

What is your background and how did you develop the skills to manage the business? 

I’ve been in retail for 20 years, starting as a young 16-year-old Saturday girl in my local florist in Crawley. The lead up to Valentines and Mother’s Day were crazy busy, but brilliant fun and I just loved being a part of a 60-year-old family run business, with loyal and supportive colleagues, who I am still friends with to this day! I studied Fine Art, specialising in Print, at the University of The Creative Arts in Canterbury, and embroidered “granny doilies” with naughty text messages for my final piece. After graduating, I got myself a job at The Body Shop, where my artistic flare soon landed me the position of Make Up Consultant. I entered many competitions within the company, and won the title of Regional Make Up Artist, where I was then able to visit different branches around the South, helping with training and providing top tips on improving sales.

What do you like best about running the business and what are the day-to-day challenges?

Although I’ve worked for many big high street retailers working my way up to management and all the responsibilities that entails, I keep finding myself being drawn back to the North Laine. There’s something very charming about being ‘the face’ of a small independent retailer and bringing my skills and experience to a small family run business is really rewarding. It’s a good feeling to be part of the local community and saying hello to other traders each morning and getting to know our regular customers. 

My favourite aspect of the business is helping find that perfect pressie for a customer. We pride ourselves on delivering a personal service with free gift-wrapping, and a nice chit chat whilst we do so! Afterall, that’s what sets us independents apart from the main high street.

The challenges we face day to day are spreading the word of who we are and what we are about. Social media is a great tool for creating content, but there is so much competition now that it can be difficult to get noticed.

Have you ever had any exciting celeb customers? 

Nick and Susie Cave have been spotted having their breakfast in the café next door, and will often pop in to Bluebelle afterwards to buy a handful of our Powell Craft Victorian inspired nightdresses!

How long have you been stocking Powell Craft products, and which are your favourites?

For forever! Being the ‘Home of Powell Craft’, we are lucky enough to receive new product to the shop as soon as it lands, offering our loyal Powell Craft customers a fantastic choice. We introduce 2 or 3 new prints to the shop each season across the pyjamas and dressing gowns, with their matching accessories, such as cosmetic bags and eye masks.

The quilts and kantha throws are my favourite products. They are stunningly beautiful!

Which social media platforms do you use to promote your business?

Facebook and Instagram. We also have a newsletter that customers are invited to subscribe to so they can hear about new products, offers and discounts directly to their inbox.

You run Bluebelle’s website in addition to the store. Online selling became a crucially important market during the pandemic. How do you see the future of e-commerce?

We were very lucky to have a user-friendly and attractive website to help us get through the tough times of the pandemic. Customers turned to lounge and nightwear while stuck at home and homewares were also hugely popular, with people spending more on making their homes a warm and visually interesting space. We noticed that a lot of gifts were being ordered for friends and family through our site.

The website sales have slowed to a normal pace once again, but people are out and about, visiting Brighton and spending their money with the wonderful independent retailers we have here. That’s so much more important than gathering likes on Instagram (in my old-fashioned romantic opinion of course!)

How much importance do you place on sustainability in your business and how do you try to achieve this?

We are really keen to stock sustainable products and reduce wastage – I love Powell Craft’s eye masks which are available in a huge variety of prints and colours. They are made from offcuts of fabric from the nightwear production in India. Bonus for us as this also means the eye masks can be matched with our pyjamas sets, cosmetic bags and dressing gowns!

We wrap all your purchases in sustainable packaging, carefully wrapping items in acid free tissue paper, and use recycled paper, card, and starch packing nuts to protect fragile items, within cardboard boxes or recycled polythene mailing bags. We also arrange recycling from all our goods deliveries that we receive to the shop.

Where and how can customers reach you?

We love welcoming customers to the shop, so feel free to come say hi and have a browse! We are located on the road directly underneath Brighton train station, in the bustling North Laine area.

Address: 80 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, BN1 4EB



Phone: 01273 685026 

Facebook & Instagram: @bluebelleandco

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