Talking shopping: Life’s Little Larks a treasure trove of art and crafts

Posted on - 23rd October, 2014 - 8:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Business, Preston City Centre

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Tucked away down Glovers Court, next to Waterstones, is a wonderful little treasure trove of art and hand crafted gifts. Helena Clarkson set up Life’s Little Larks with her mum Elaine just eight months ago. Since then the shop has become a popular outlet for local and artists and makers looking to sell their wares. It is the perfect place to pick up a beautiful gift, quirky homewares or unusual Christmas stocking filler. Lisa McManus went to find out more.

What inspired you to set up Life’s Little Larks? It has always been a small dream of mine to own a shop and work for myself. I felt really inspired when I was studying at Huddersfield University. My Illustration course offered an option where you could set yourself up in business for a year; so I started off very small and it grew from there.

Another prominent reason was really wanting to give others a platform to sell their wares, I remember trying to sell my own work when I was a student; it was difficult and not many people would give me a chance – I always wanted to be able to give others that chance – and felt quite strongly about it so Life’s Little Larks came about.

I thoroughly enjoy being surrounded by so much talent and so many differing skills. I work on my own pieces too so it is also a great base for me! I put my illustrations on cards, bags, note pads and novelty earrings amongst other things.

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What has the response been? Along the way we have met so many positive people and so many customers have had the most encouraging things to say. We have reached more people because of their kindness passing along how much they like the shop to others. We appreciate word of mouth advertising and have found that the news of being open spread quite quickly this way! We are a little bit tucked away down Glovers Court so it helps when our visitors pass on where we are. Me and my mum feel like part of a little community here at the shop now because we meet so many lovely people and stop and chat with.

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Tell me a little bit about the range of products you sell. At the moment we have a wide variety of products here; textiles, wood, jewellery, art, photography, ceramics, sculpture and upcycled works. We aim to celebrate as many different kinds of arts and crafts as possible and new crafters approach us all the time, which is quite exciting for us as we try to make sure we update as much as possible.

All gifts here have handmade elements or are designed by hand – nothing mass produced. So a gift from Life’s Little Larks is a one off and bespoke. That way we are supporting handmade businesses, which is one of our main aims. We have around 50 makers stocking in the shop now.

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I saw that you stock the work of local artists, tell me about two or three of them. A lot of our gifts are ‘upcycled’, this is where the maker turns the undesirable into desirable again. One of our makers, Paul Flanagan, takes second hand books, saves them from the landfill and creates book lamps, he also make hub cap clocks and pens using the casing from bullets/shell casings.

Another maker called Upcycled Life uses reclaimed wood or wood he finds at Mere Sands. We also stock bread boards made out of old chapel seats which conveniently look like pieces of toast!

Zinc White turns rejected coloured pencils into jewellery. Another popular maker is Good Girl Designs who creates home wares and accessories such as rugs, cushions, peg bags but also brooches and glasses cases. She is available to create custom orders: if you find something you like but it’s not in the right colour for you, just ask! This is another service that we can provide which we feel sometimes sets us apart from other gift shops.   There is the option to personalise most of the gifts. Other textile artists include E3 who makes clothes and Tricia’s Tangles who creates textile art and scarves. We also have quilters and crocheters in store. We also have great artists such as Andrew Berwick who creates gorgeous screen printed wares and fellow illustrator Natalie Spencer who even has her own illustrated children’s books in stock with us!

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Lots of our readers will be already thinking about Christmas shopping. What is the price range for products? Coming up to Christmas we hope you will think of us! Help support local businesses! We have lots of lovely stocking fillers, jewellery, soap, handmade home wares and more. Prices start as little as £5.00 to the higher end prices of £100 plus. We aim for great quality and something special, beautiful and bespoke. We appreciate the time and effort it goes into making a lot of the work here but many of our makers pieces are incredibly reasonable and if you are wanting to buy something handmade we hope to help people realise it does not always equate to something overly expensive.

Overall we are really enjoying our time here at Life’s Little Larks and we are hoping we can carry on for more than a year. Me and My mum would like to thank all of you for your support so far.

Life’s Little Larks, Glovers Court, Preston, Lancashire.

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