When one of Shrewsbury’s most vibrant and successful businesswomen decided to expand her brand – the end result must be good.
So when Michelle Jamie, the creative force behind national award-winning shop Wysteria Lane, opened her third store in Birmingham this week, it can only prove a winner.
As reported in the Chronicle, Michelle was courted by Birmingham City Council bosses who had heard about the proliferation of Shrewsbury’s independent shops and in particular about the award-winning Wysteria Lane.
They wanted to replicate a little of this retail experience in the city and so invited Michelle to open the flagship store in the revamped Pavilions centre which adjoins Marks and Spencer.
And so, a champagne launch was held at the 1,300 sq.ft. unit in Birmingham last weekend.“It was a great day,” Michelle said.
“We were given just two and a half weeks between signing the contract to opening our new shop so it was incredibly hard work but all worth it.”
It had always been Michelle’s dream to open a shop and after a high flying career with retail giants Sainsbury’s and Mars, which involved regular travel to Strasbourg and Chicago, this former Newport Girls’ High School pupil took the plunge four years ago.
With the help of just her mother and a few close friends, she acquired the lease of the 17th century London House in Dogpole, a former merchant’s house which had also been the Hen and Chickens pub in a previous incarnation.
After extensive refurbishment work Michelle has converted it into a stylish four-storey sales emporium crammed full of fashion, gifts, shoes, jewellery and accessories.
Leading brands include Ouiset, St Tropez and B young; French sole, Cath Kidston, Cowshed, Yankee Candle, Nougat and Bombay Duck.
Wysteria Lane at Home was launched two years later in Grope Lane when Michelle saw a gap in the market for stylish furniture and home accessories.
In 2009 she was the proud recipient of the UK’s ‘Independent Retailer of the Year’ award in the best gift shop category.
And now on-line shopping is also available from a beautifully-designed website.
But customers from throughout the country continue to pour into the stores and Michelle is convinced it is their level of personal service which draws people in.
“Customer service is paramount. We have about 30-40 job applications a week but everyone at Wysteria Lane is hand-picked and nobody leaves.
“I am passionate about retailing and so are they – we are all creative, enthusiastic people who have one aim…to give the best possible service, and this is what we do,” she concludes.
So Birmingham has gained a little gem of a shop and Shrewsbury has benefited with the creation of more jobs… and potential visitors from the Pavilions Centre.
Who knows where Michelle will go next…