A husband and wife team are helping to showcase some of the North East’s most talented craft workers and artists with the launch of a new retail shop in Whitley Bay, Love of the North.

(l-r) Paul Hall with business Advisor Tracy Clarkson and Lucy Hall

Love of the North is the brainchild of Whitley Bay residents, Paul and Lucy Hall. The pair opened the shop to shine a light on the dazzling selection of quality artwork, crafts and giftware available from local suppliers following help and support from the North Tyneside Business Factory and TEDCO Business Support.

The enterprising duo launched the new retail outlet on the back of their website, For the Love of the North which started trading in early 2017 selling a range of cards, prints, artwork, giftware and decoration from independent makers based here in the North East.

Paul Hall (42), co-owner of Love of the North comments:

“We actually launched the website initially to help provide a platform to some of the regional suppliers I met and worked with during my time in the tourist information centre in North Tyneside.”

“I’ve always known that we have such amazing independent artists and craftspeople right here in the region that often go unnoticed by retailers and consequently, customers and I wanted to look at ways to provide a retail platform that collectively profiled their amazing work.”

“After consultation with Tracy Clarkson, our business advisor, we set up the website as an e-commerce site with a wide selection of products available from our list of North East suppliers. Tracy has been working with us now for well over a year, challenging us on every part of the business to see where new opportunities lie. Her help and guidance has served as fantastic support to new business owners who have never owned or managed a retail outlet before.”

After witnessing the success of the website but also frustrated by the number of items they wanted to sell but proved too difficult to deliver, Paul and Lucy decided to diversify the business and open Love of the North as their first retail space.

Lucy comments:

“Having a physical presence in the centre of Whitley bay opens up so many new avenues for us and also our suppliers. We are able to deal direct with customers and offer new services such as workshops and classes to deliver something extra to the community.”

“Principally it means we have space to showcase the work of our amazing artists and crafts people to customers and also operate a gallery space which promotes the work of a different local artist. It also means we can position ourselves as a central point of information, using Paul’s background in tourist information to sell tickets, provide advice to visitors and keep a rolling collection of flyers and brochures detailing what is going on in the local area.”

“We love where we live and promoting Whitley Bay and the work of local craftspeople and artists is a real dream come true for us. We couldn’t be happier to bring the products which have been so lovingly created to our customer base both online and in the shop and look forward to seeing how the business progresses in coming months.”

Paul and Lucy have worked with The Business Factory, which is funded by the ERDF and delivered in North Tyneside by TEDCO Business Support. Their business advisors helped guide Love of the North through the initial start-up phase and beyond with mentoring and one-to-one advice sessions covering every possible area of running a new venture.

Karen Westgate, Business Development Officer at North Tyneside Council, said:

“I’m delighted that we were able to support Paul and Lucy to open their new retail shop in the heart of Whitley Bay.”

“You can really see how much this means to them. They have worked incredibly hard and are full of creativity and ideas.”

“I would like to wish them the very best and hopefully they have a long and prosperous future here in North Tyneside.”

Love of the North is located on Whitley Road in the centre of Whitley Bay and is open from 9.30am – 5.30pm on Wednesday through Friday and from 9am on Saturday.

Tracy Clarkson, Business Advisor at the Business Factory comments:

“I have worked with Paul and Lucy from the very early days of their business idea and it has allowed me to really build a rapport with them and understand what they each bring to the venture. I have been able to help them understand the growth potential of Love of the North but also support that growth in helping with the process of finding premises, and moving from an e-based business platform to a retail outlet. It really has been a pleasure to see their business grow from idea to trading retailer and with their contacts, product range and passion, I have no doubt that Love of the North will go on to be a successful enterprise for them both.”