As you will have seen in Issue 4, our Shop Of The Month is Pash Directory, a simply fascinating cornucopia of beautiful prints, expertly salvaged furnishings, handmade items and much more, all displayed in the breathtaking surrounds of a former flax mill in the picturesque North Yorkshire town of Easingwold.
As you can see from the picture above, which showcases a very small selection of their wares, co-founders Shelley Kay and Paula Mansfield combine a brilliant eye for the unusual with an ability to source a wide range of uniquely decorative items. So we naturally had quite a few questions!
They graciously agreed to a Q&A, despite Shelley having returned from an “exhausting” buying trip, and both being in the middle of getting their upcoming range of jewellery certified by The Assay Office. When asked if the buying trip was like an episode of Salvage Hunters or American Pickers, Shelley replied, “Oh it was worth it but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth!” Ooh, that means they’ve found more goodies, then…
How did you two meet?
Shelley: We met at a Christmas fair selling crafts and homewares, and gravitated towards the same stands. Although we share an aesthetic for simplicity, we both have quite distinct styles – Paula is by far the brighter in the partnership and I tend to the neutral and love darker colours.
As you stock a huge range of items, who sources what, do you specialise?
Shelley: We both source separately. Occasionally, we are looking for something specific and have to try very hard not to get distracted. Again, we have our differences – I bought some peculiar medical slides which wouldn’t see the light of day in Paula’s home but luckily she has an easygoing nature.
Who’s the letterpress print obsessive?
Shelley: We both love graphic design, typography, print and packaging so the interest in letterpress is really an extension of that. Our original business plan was to hand-press greetings cards using small Adana machines but a change in family circumstance meant my taking on the backend of a lease on premises in Harrogate, and Paula thankfully agreed to join me.
With very little finance and even less time we had to fill what seemed like a large shop space in Harrogate. Both being resourceful and determined we drew on all our past experience of salvage, collecting, art and crafts, and encouraged collaborations with an upholsterer and a blacksmith. The shop was a great success the irony being that we never pressed a single card and still haven’t!
How did you come across the huge Heidelberg printing press pictured on your blog, and what do you plan to us it for?
Shelley: We bought the Heidelberg from a small printers which was closing down in Leeds and although it was some time ago we haven’t used it yet, but we are very close. We have a huge range of really interesting greetings designed, which will be launched in 2013.
Your new premises in Easingwold look absolutely stunning – how did you happen upon them, and did you encounter any unforseen problems with setting up in a former flax mill?
Shelley: Our new premises came about purely by a chance remark from a customer. When the lease expired on the shop we spent a few months trading from home and looking at alternatives. We knew we needed a considerable space in order to grow the business – the shop wasn’t big enough to restore furniture and often the doors not wide enough to even accommodate it! Now we have the space and the wide doors they just happen to be 10 feet above us now, which can be tricky!
The whole process of acquiring and converting the mill space on a slim budget has been challenging. We needed to partition areas off to satisfy the planners so rather than build walls we bought some old workshop doors and runners, and set about creating a more industrial style backdrop whilst also allowing us access to the showroom. It is still a work in progress and quite a chilly place but the response has been tremendous and we’ve already met some fabulous new customers.
When folks come and visit you, what else in Easingwold should they check out?
Shelley: Easingwold is a gorgeous market town situated at the foot of the Cleveland hills with fabulous scenery and stunning walks. Close to the National Trust property Beningbrough Hall. Easingwold town centre has a number of lovely shops for foodies – saunter along to Yorkshire Fine Foods on Long Street, the Sugar Mouse and Tee Hee on Market Place for old fashioned sweets or delicious food and The Olive Branch gift shop.
What are your latest finds for the shop that have got you really excited?
Shelley: Really tricky one that – the best and most exciting finds tend to be in and out, although we recently acquired the contents of a chemist and, dare I say it, I love the suppository moulds! We have also bought some beautiful hand-etched bone letter tiles, which we are making into jewellery.
And finally, what’s your ‘simple thing’?
Paula: Crisp clean white sheets dried on the washing line.
Shelley: My daughter has just gone traveling for a year, so it has to be reading her highly amusing emails!
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