Our very own Indiana Jones, David Leech, continues his expedition to uncover the shops and businesses of Stone and the people behind them.
Part 7: Jolu Accessories Boutique
When Carnarvon asked “Can you see anything?” Howard Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things.”
Howard Carter and his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon had spent a number of years and a lot of money searching for a ancient Egyptian tomb they weren’t even sure existed. In November 1922, they found it. Carter had discovered not just an unknown tomb but one that had lain nearly undisturbed for over 3,000 years. It turned out to be the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh, King Tutankhamun.
Now, you might say to compare the hidden gems discovered in the valley of the kings of ancient Egypt with those in Radford Street, Stone is a bit of an exaggeration – but it’s no exaggeration to say that once you enter Jolu’s Accessories Boutique, you too will discover “wonderful things!”
This beautiful boutique based in Stone is owned and run by mother and daughter partnership, Val Durham and Jodie Blair and among all the ‘wonderful things’ to discover is a great variety of beautiful handmade cards and unusual gifts as well as bespoke jewellery, made by Jodie herself. “What began as a hobby about four years ago has turned into a very popular part of the business,” she said.
The idea came about after visiting a craft village and she saw an opportunity to produce hand made jewellery at home. Although she had gone along with the original idea to produce hand made signs, producing jewellery seemed a much better option since she likes “to produce anything that sparkles.” She specialises in occasion, bridal and sterling silver jewellery and each piece is designed and made using high quality ’Swarovski Elements,” crystals and pearls with sparkling Shamballa balls. However, if someone wants to design their own, she has a colour matching and repair service also, “as long as it’s not too complicated” and her bespoke service also includes personalised name bracelets and stretchy silver rings suitable for young children and the stretchy rings are popular with people that suffer from arthritis too! Her jewellery is also available in at least five wedding shops throughout Staffordshire, including Newcastle and Lichfield.
This is very much an ongoing project for Jodie since she aims to take the service further by eventually producing head dresses to order and is planning on enrolling in a suitable course providing her with inspiration in developing her ideas and techniques.
In addition to producing her own unique range of jewellery items, Jodie and Val like to support other local people and companies that produce unique, hand made gifts items and cards.
“We like to offer things that are a little bit different,” explained Val, “We select all the products ourselves and we are constantly trying to come up with something new to offer.”
Since they first opened their shop in November 2006 they have tried out various lines to ascertain what appeals to people, They didn’t stick with one thing, they have always tried to re-invent what they have to offer and have gradually developed the shop into what it is today, a truly unique shop with a huge variety of products including handbags, scarves, fragrances, unusual cards and wedding and baby gifts.
They pride themselves on being the main leather handbag stockist in the town too, with brands such as Modalu, Yoshi by Lichfield Leather and designer fashion bags by Fiorelli, Claudia Canova and Nica.
When I asked them what factors had contributed to their success, they looked at each other with sparkles in their eyes and smiled. “We love retail and we never fall out with each other,” they said, “We love what we do and enjoy meeting people.” Their enthusiasm, creativity and passion for their business is infectious and working together they inspire each other and are clearly in touch with the future they want to create for the business. The results speak for themselves, they constantly offer a friendly, helpful and personal service and this is evident by the number of regular customers they serve and the fact that business has greatly improved since moving into the their current premises in March 2013.
Val went on to say, “There’s a lot of passing trade here and the business has grown in the last twelve months or so, although like many others we were affected by the recession in recent years, but by offering good quality products and value for money, we have been able to develop and grow.” I’m sure they will continue to do so for a long time to come.
Remember, back in 1922, Carter and Carnarvon weren’t even sure the ancient tomb they were searching for even existed. Until now, you may not have realised our lovely town of Stone had this “hidden gem” either.
Now you do, so take time to have a closer look one day soon and you too will discover “wonderful things.”
Jolu Accessories Boutique
8-10 Radford Street,
Tel: 01785 817244
Monday to Saturday 9.45am – 5.00pm