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Yorkshire Lady Love #1: Hattie Crook of Mauds House, Skipton

For a while now I've been wanting to start a series on my blog that celebrates women and creativity in Yorkshire. I know I always feel incredibly inspired after reading interviews with ladies who are killing it when it comes to their careers, or their creative pursuits. So, here we go! Starting off I'd like to introduce you to the super talented  Hattie Crook, who at the tender age of 25 has just opened her own independent shop in Skipton, North Yorkshire. 


Hi Hattie! I’ve known you for quite a while now, but why don’t you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and about Mauds House?

We have! The last time I saw you we were taking pictures in a photo booth after a Michael Cera gig. I didn’t feel too wise the next day.

Well, I’m Hattie, Lancashire born, Yorkshire bound since 2008. I initially moved to study a BA Hons at Leeds College of Art and Design, but I dropped out in 09 and then worked my way up the ladder for a few years in various retail and design agency roles before opening M.H this June.

Mauds House is a bricks and mortar lifestyle concept store in Skipton, North Yorkshire. I sell design-led gifts and homewares and focus on showcasing illustrators, designers and creatives in the U.K. Mauds House has an online shop too and is a Trouva boutique.


I’d love to hear more about the planning process for M.H. When did you first realise that you wanted to open your own shop? What was your vision for the store? How did you go about putting your dreams into action? 

The idea of Mauds House has been on the back burner for a couple of years. After a brief stint managing a boutique in Saltaire I felt even more inspired and motivated to have my own shop. So when the owner told me last November she’d be closing the shop to concentrate on her work in London and I’d be unemployed by July, it was the kick up the arse I needed to get this plan in action. Whilst I was working there, Jonathan (my boyfriend) and I were becoming busier and busier with our design & illustration practice Little Tail, so by April I left the boutique after finding the perfect shop location over here in Skipton and to concentrate on our own businesses.

The shop needed to reflect my own design aesthetics and personal taste. I suppose that’s the best bit about owning your own shop, it’s like shopping for yourself but on a bigger scale. It’s very fun, but you have to be careful and make more accurate choices and reign in those urges to push too many boundaries, especially since my shop is based in a traditional market town out in the Dales. So, Mauds House is curated to fit the needs of the typical local working family who need a specific gift, or are doing up their first home perhaps, as well as the niche market that seeks out design-led pieces, like Jonathan and I do.

My vision for the shop is just to build a community in the area for like-minded people who enjoy the works of talented creatives. A place to talk about design, music and all the day-to-day stuff. A ‘home’ for some as well as a shop -- somewhere that you feel comfortable visiting and spending 20 minutes having a browse and a chat. Mauds House isn’t just a shop, it’s somewhere you can build a friendship if you want to. It's a place to get some space from the busy High Street or work, whilst admiring some pretty wonderful things.


What made you choose Skipton as the location? Was it crucial that you be based in Yorkshire?

I never really wanted to open up in a city. I'd spent several years living in Leeds and I think they’ve got enough going on there at the moment without me putting something into the mix. It was about sharing something new and diverse with people who may not visit the city as much but desire the sort of shop which you’re likely to find in the indie areas of Leeds or Manchester. Busy working families are spared the expense of travelling far away to find something unique and well made without ordering online, paying for travel and the stress of dragging your children around a busy city centre.

It was always Skipton for me. I live for the simplicity and peace of the countryside, and we have all that as well as a bustling, lively and energetic market town; all in one place. It’s ideal. Jonathan is from Farnhill, a beautiful village just outside of Skipton and my family is now only a 30 minute drive away across the border to Lancashire. Being closer to my family was really important when making this decision. I’ve spent so many years far away from them that I'd really love to settle down somewhere that they’re able to travel to with ease. In fact this month we’re moving into our new house in Cononley village, which we’re really excited about!

What’s been the best thing about opening the shop, and what’s been the most challenging?

The best bit would be meeting new people, making new friendships and sharing things I love with the public. The most challenging bit so far would be finding a rhythm, I’m in the shop 5-6 days a week but work 7 days a week because of the online shops. I’m hoping to hire a weekend staff member in the new year though to ease the pressure a little bit.

Your curation skills are really astounding – you’ve got such a great eye! I love that all the beautiful homeware you sell is carefully sourced from Denmark and The Netherlands, while you also actively support UK illustrators and designers. Why do you think this so important to you? What details do you look for when purchasing stock?

Jonathan and I are both self employed; we run Little Tail as well as the shop, so we have a real empathy with small business owners and budding illustrators/designers. We really understand the importance of supporting small businesses, and so I have a number of suppliers who are from a similar background. We know how difficult it is to get your name out there in the creative world and we’re still working at it, so if we can do the same for other creatives then we will without a doubt. At the moment we’re championing Papio Press, an illustrative duo who met each other at university. Their work is whimsical and magical. We've also spotlighted Hilda Carr, Susie Purvis, HOBO, Lee-May Foster amongst others. Of course, I also stock bigger brands such as House Doctor, Leitmotiv, Present Time and House of Rym, but all these brands came from honest creative backgrounds too. I think the balance of stock is right.

I look for quality, attention to detail, innovation and commerciality and most importantly design talent.

You’ve spent time at creative agencies in the past, as well as freelancing with design. Which did you prefer? What would say to people that are thinking about making the move into being self-employed?

My role in design agencies was pretty administrative to begin with, and I always lacked the confidence amongst so many egos to share my true opinions. I had mixed experiences from my time working within agencies... I had a lot of great times and a lot of frustrating ones too. I learnt a lot working for Thompson Brand Partners, where I met some of my close pals! My time there was priceless. It’s a hard industry to work in and I respect my friends and ex-colleagues for sticking at it.
I hands down prefer working for myself and alongside Jonathan with Little Tail. Being self-employed has it’s own struggles though and it’s not just 9-5pm. Work becomes life, and it’s very difficult to switch off.

I loved your blog and vlogs you were doing a little while ago! The Mauds House blog is beautifully put together, too. What would your tips be for building a personal brand, and being successful across all channels?

Be consistent, create great content, use lots of imagery and have a well thought out brand which reflects what you’re about. Most importantly be yourself, I can’t stress this enough! Don’t follow trends, don’t do what you think you should be doing, just concentrate on being you, The most successful blogs come from people who are true to themselves. Chat to everyone, build relationships with other bloggers, readers or viewers, and they’ll keep coming back.

How do you stay motivated and productive?

I think because I love what I do, it comes naturally. Lots of sleep! I’m such a saddo and go to sleep at 11pm and wake up at 7.30am everyday (including most weekends). Routine really helps me.

In this social media driven world we live in, it can often be pretty difficult to fully disengage, as you said earlier. How do you relax and wind down after a day running the shop?

You’re asking the wrong person! This is my biggest pitfall. I’ve suffered from anxiety for around eight years now, and I find it difficult to switch off. My top tips would be… turn off your phone when you get in for 2 hours to give your eyes and mind a break, maybe take yourself for a walk to unwind. We’ve got a dog so we’re out lots with him which is a good stress reliever! Watch YouTube. I love watching bloggers and creators talk about their day to day life, it really helps me unwind, but obviously this isn’t for everyone. My boyfriend, for example, hates watching vlogs. And remember there’s always tomorrow, don’t be too hard on yourself and get lots of sleep!


Which other women are inspiring you with what they’re doing at the moment?

Jonny’s Mum has been a huge support in this whole process, which has been great when I’ve needed a quick second opinion. She was here nearly everyday whilst I was decorating the shop helping where she could, along with Jonny’s Dad. She was the one who really got the ball rolling and gave me the courage to open my own shop. I'm very thankful for that. She’s got an amazing work ethic.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to open their own shop/ to pursue passion projects/ to change things up a bit in their careers?

Just do it! Do what makes you happy.

Finally, what’s next for you and for Mauds House? Where do you see yourself in the next few years – do you have any plans for expansion?

It’s very early days, so I'm taking every day as it comes. I’ll be in this spot for 3 years, but I’m already slightly out growing the space so I may look to expand within High Corn Mill. I’ve also been asked to consult on a couple of interior design projects, which is a bit of a dream come true. I’m looking forward to seeing where that may lead to.

Check out Mauds House online at www.maudshouse.co.uk or in person at: 3, High Corn Mill, Chapel Hill, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1NL

1 comment

  1. Oh I love this interview! This shop looks like my idea of heaven and I'll definitely be adding it to the list next time I visit Skipton.

    Exctied to see who is next on your hit list :) x
    Sophie Cliff

    ReplyDelete

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