Why did you decide to open ‘Mockingbird’?
My husband had just finished his masters and I felt like it was my time to pursue my dream and this was my dream all along.
Have you opened any shops before or is this your first clothing store?
No but I had been doing fashion markets like the Christmas market and student markets in the Manchester Academy for a long time, as my mother, myself and my sister all make handmade jewellery, crochet hats and headbands (some of which are here in the store). For about six years I was also selling vintage clothing at the student market in Manchester Academy. Then I felt like I really wanted to settle somewhere properly and realised Manchester was home for me and that I should create a base for myself locally. So then this shop came up for sale (which used to be a stationary shop) and as soon as I came in to see it I fell in love with the building. I never even thought of not going for it.
When did the shop open?
I think it was Saturday the 6th of September. I was so involved with building and creating the store that I never fully understood the process of turning a building site into a shop, so when Saturday came and people walked in only then did I realise how beautiful the shop had become.
Do you choose the clothing style to cater to the student population or did you have another target audience in mind?
To be honest I just go out and choose what I think is nice and going to sell well. I try to have unique pieces as well, and not have too many of one thing, so I will have a maximum of six pieces of one particular item. But if it is really popular and somebody asks for it I will get another six if I can. I also choose all the vintage pieces, and a lot of them are what I have collected over the many years I’ve been selling vintage.
Where do you tend to get your vintage pieces from?
All over the place really, people also bring their own vintage into the shop to sell. Just the other day a woman came in and she had her own clothes from the 1960s and I found some treasures there alone.
Have you had a good initial response to the store?
I have had a brilliant response, which I wasn’t expecting! People have walked in surprised and say they forget that they are in Withington because it is so different! I have really had a great response and I am so grateful to the local people. Just the other day a man came in and said that I had a very nice shop even though he wasn’t even buying anything!
What kind of style would you say that Mockingbird represents?
Its quite hard to answer this question because my starting point was vintage so I can sense that there are classic and vintage elements to many of my items. I don’t like pieces which you buy that are strictly to fit in with fashion seasons as they then can go out of fashion and never get worn again. I like timeless pieces that you can have in your wardrobe for years and years. Some of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe are the ones that have stayed in there for years. It also means that I can then pass them onto my daughter.
What is the typical price range of clothing and Jewellery within the store?
The lowest item I have is 9 pounds and then with the vintage it can go up to 150 pounds. But there is a huge price range, and in the brand new clothing I have the highest at the moment is around 60 pounds. I will always stock items which are more affordable as I have many people to cater for. With the jewellery it ranges from 6 pounds up to 30 pounds for the vintage pearls.
Do you have any best-selling items at the moment?
The best selling items at the moment are warm jumpers, I think a lot of the students have been coming to the shop for them, maybe they are missing home or their boyfriends or something!
What is your favourite piece in the store at the moment and why?
This handmade vintage dress because I have no idea when it was made, but it doesn’t have any zips on which makes me think it must be a really old piece. Every single stich on it is handmade and it has a history to it. I would love to know who was sitting there stitching and what she was thinking when she made it. It’s a one off piece and I just love it!
Photo: Tilly Miller
If you had to sum up Mockingbird in three words what would you say?
My dream shop.