A craft business which has grown from humble beginnings in a university bedroom is now opening its first retail outlet in a £500,000 investment.
Crafter’s Companion was launched by Sara Davies in 2005, while she was in the second year of her management degree at York University, roping in housemates to take calls and book orders while she was at lectures.
By the time she graduated – with a first – the business was already accruing sales of £500,000, but a decade on and the hobbyists haven is turning over in excess of £11m a year and employing around 60 people.
That figure is now set to grow with the creation of a craft supplies store which will include themed shopping sections covering papercraft, arts, sewing, home décor and haberdashery.
Focused on education, inspiration and enjoyment, it will also house a coffee shop, two dedicated demonstration areas and a central hub for workshops and group sessions.
Based next to the company’s new corporate headquarters at Aycliffe Industrial Park, the flagship store will give craft enthusiasts the chance to learn about craft, experience the brand and socialise with a like-minded community.
To help with a recruitment drive to staff the store with craft enthusiasts, the company will be holding a job open day on March 7 that will give the region’s crafting public a chance to apply and show off their skills.
Mrs Davies, founder and sales director at Crafter’s Companion, said: “We are delighted to be opening our flagship store in the North-East and are inviting anyone interested in working for us or with us to book a slot at the job open day.
“The new centre is intended to be a destination outlet, where people can come and enjoy a day out, take a class, learn something about craft, visit the café and get involved with the demos.
“The idea behind the concept is to give Crafter’s Companion a physical presence and give our customers the chance to interact with our brand, staff and products and experience what we’re all about.
“Along with engaging with avid crafters and craft groups from across the UK, we’re also hoping that it will attract people outside the crafting community to get involved in craft.”
The 7,000 sq ft site, which is set to open in around eight weeks, will also house a ‘Retail Centre for Excellence’ intended to support retailers from across the UK with training and consumer insight.
Until now, Crafter’s Companion’s crafting tools and products have been bestsellers sold online via its website, on TV shopping channels across the world and by independent retailers.
The opening of the new store in Newton Aycliffe will be of significant benefit to the local economy and will coincide with a move to the company’s new corporate headquarters, which will be situated next door.