‘Independent Businesses are Wonderful’ will form a series of blogs that take a closer look at Bristol Pound businesses around the city. Written by Michaela Parker. Photography by Emily Coles.
My Bristol Pounds are burning a hole in my pocket as I wander around Workshop 22, an utter treasure trove of delights. From the tiny stuffed owls and foxes from Mirjami Design to Stoke’s Croft China creations, the shop is full to the brim with jewellery, trinkets and other gifts to make any girl want to set up a birthday wish list immediately- something perfectly possible, owner Sarah McCallum tells me with a wink as she hands me a beautifully designed card on which to record such gift ideas.
As well as a shop filled with locally sourced products from all over the west country, Workshop 22 is a jewellery studio and workshop too, holding classes in everything from beginners’ jewellery making to tailor made progression courses and bespoke sessions including their sought after ‘Make Your Own Wedding Rings’ days, something they’re keen to do more of in 2013.
Sarah, Lucy Lyon and the third owner Jackie Beavington are all jewellers and work on their own commissions as well as teaching in the shop cum workshop on Upper Maudlin Street. “It’s really nice to be able to work out here and then as soon as you’ve made something, you can put it out on the shelf and see how it’s received,” explains Lucy.
The trio source products for the shop mainly from Bristol and the south-west but admit it’s sometimes nice to find jewellery for the store from further afield too. “It actually works really well because they’re not often stocked anywhere else in Bristol. We have a leaning for Bristol and the west country but we’re always trying to find things that complement it.”
As supporters of Bristol Pound from the very beginning, Workshop 22 have taken Bristol Pounds from customers since September and are now finding their feet with TXT2PAY too after completing their first transaction just a few weeks ago. “It’s just so easy,” says Sarah with surprise. “From a business point of view, it was unbelievably straighforward.” Lucy adds, “I think it’s great because you need something to keep up with the fact that people don’t always carry cash around anymore.”
The girls admit that at the moment, most people are using paper pounds in their shop and are keen to let unknowing people know about the currency. “We like to raise awareness by giving a little bit back as change and we always keep examples of the notes in the till so that we can show them to people too,” says Sarah. “A large chunk of our customers would definitely use TXT2PAY once they get the hang of it though.”
Some of the artists stocked by Workshop 22 have offered to be paid in Bristol Pounds too, something the girls are excited about and starting to introduce. Currently, Lucy, as a Gloucester Road regular, enjoys using the currency taken in the store as part of her earnings for her shopping needs on the famously independent stretch of shops. “It’s fun and we’re really happy to be part of it,” she smiles. “It was a bit of a no- brainer that we’d get involved. It’s raising awareness. It’s a force for good. I can’t see any negatives and I think it will become a sustainable currency.”