How the Salvage House Collective helps creative start-ups in Whalley

Edd Marsh, co-owner of The Salvage House

Edd Marsh, co-owner of The Salvage House - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

Working together is bringing results for creative people and businesses in the Ribble Valley

Members of the Whalley Art Group; Irene Forrest, Lauraine Wall, Jean Holt and Frank Potter

Members of the Whalley Art Group; Irene Forrest, Lauraine Wall, Jean Holt and Frank Potter - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

We don't know if Albert Einstein was in Whalley when he declared 'Creativity is Courageous. Pass it on', but his words resonate here, particularly with brothers Edd and Tom Marsh, who run The Salvage House Collective.

'Whalley High Street is thriving but, as with all High Streets, it can be daunting for a small start-up business to find a place, so, we decided to form a collective in what had been an old commercial kitchen. Our business is quirky antiques and collectibles, which we sell and hire out but we decided to share the premises with creative start-ups. We're all fairly young: some have families, some have other careers, so we all pull together. It's the way of the future,' says Edd who also invites a different pop up bar in each month, complete with street food, giving the whole place a hipster buzz.

One member of The Collective is Lydia Ward, mum of three and a solicitor by profession, who owns and runs Winnie Nellie Jessie, a store specialising in Icelandic and rare breed British sheepskins, which she named after her grandmothers.

'I curate each ethically sourced piece myself, sometimes with my youngest son in tow. We love it; although we were once almost buried under a pile of them - death by sheepskin is not a good look! We stroke each piece and even have a sit down test on them because each breed has different qualities: Icelandic ones are perfect for winter evenings and if they keep Icelanders warms, they're going to - hopefully - do the job in Lancashire,' says Lydia, who allows her children to roll about on the rugs at home.

Lydia Ward at 'Winnie, Nellie, Jessie Sheepskins' company

Lydia Ward at 'Winnie, Nellie, Jessie Sheepskins' company - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

'They're practically indestructible, although I haven't yet changed a nappy on them,' laughs Lydia whose rugs have been used in wedding magazine shoots.

Fellow Collective member, fashion model Anita Cannon, named her jewellery design business, Earth Links in order to reflect the fact that, as well as semi-precious stones, she also incorporates handpicked freshwater pearls and raw crystals into her designs. Her work has appeared in wedding and fashion shoots and is now worn by A Listers such as designer, Karen Millen and her daughter.

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'She saw my work on Instagram and asked me to create a crystal crown, which then appeared on social media and everything went crazy. I love helping clients to realise their dream piece, whether it's a crown, bridal tiara, head-dress, or a simple piece of jewellery,' explains Anita who is entirely self-taught.

'Some models are told to bring along their own shoes for fashion shoots but I think I'm the only one who is asked to bring along her own jewellery,' says Anita who has demonstrated the camaraderie of The Salvage House Collective, by using her contacts to have fellow collective Kate Mottershaw's doodle jackets appear on the catwalk.

Rebecca Thompson's 'Spexbox'

Rebecca Thompson's 'Spexbox' - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

Kate, aka Kate Illustrate, is a fully trained artist - and doodler - who based herself in The Salvage House Collective, because her creative juices flow better when she is surrounded by like minds.

'This is so much more fun than working alone,' says Kate whose Instagram account showcasing her designs has made her a well-known name all over the UK. Her personalised doodle jackets - the ones attracting the attention of professional fashionistas - have been commissioned for weddings, graduations and birthdays. But when you start to doodle, you just can't stop and Kate is also known for doodling on walls for businesses and homes…by invitation!

'One couple commissioned a huge chalk wall that detailed every important event in their lives - almost like a newspaper,' says Kate who also draws personalised cards and tutors calligraphy.

Rebecca Thompson only opened SpexBox last November and she has already been a finalist in the Fashion Practice of the Year Award.

Rebecca, a degree trained dispensing optician, who prefers to call herself a glasses stylist fashionista, was delighted when she heard about The Salvage House Collective.

'It can be challenging for a new business to find premises, as they can be so expensive but here we share the expense and, as an added bonus, we laugh a lot,' says Rebecca who has been invited to visit boutique spectacle manufacturers all over the world to see what they have to offer but who also designs her own frames.

'Clients give me their prescriptions but the first thing we look at is face shape, eye colour and skin tone because you wear glasses all the time and they have to make you feel good. They're so flattering I have clients with 20-20 vision ask for plain glass because they love the frames. Wooden ones and mixed materials are on trend right now. One lady buys a pair a month: it's becoming a case of buy the shoes and forget sourcing a matching bag, get a pair of matching frames instead,' laughs Rebecca who also has a range especially for brides that don't overpower the face, can match the bouquet and can be inscribed.

Jonnie Shaw, the Bad Company barber who wears a designer three-piece suit under his apron, also takes account of face shape before he applies scissors to those who come to The Collective for a haircut.

'It is important to take the whole head into account if you want a good style,' says Jonnie whose high fashion cuts have appeared in fashion editorials and who counts Premiership footballers and more ordinary folk who just want a simple cut, among his clients.

The people of The Salvage House Collective value style and creativity and that's something that Jean Holt who tutors the prestigious Whalley Art Group would agree with.

'It's true that surroundings can make a difference to creativity and that's why we're so lucky to be based in the beautiful surroundings of the Old Grammar School, and good company helps too,' says Jean who began life as a geomorphologist but her skill for painting meant others encouraged her to hang up her lab coat and pick up the brush.

The group regularly exhibits in surrounding towns and there is a waiting list for classes which can only become longer as no-one is thinking of leaving just yet.

But that doesn't mean that you can't join Whalley's creative boom! Gardening was recently listed as a top creative activity and it certainly is for the Whalley in Bloom Group, who have a host of RHS Gold medals to their name and who are always looking for volunteers. 'Every year, we put up hanging baskets and tubs along the High Street, as well as looking after the abbey gardens and a community garden stocked with fruit trees. People make special trips to see them and villagers tell us that it lifts the sprits and encourages them to be creative themselves,' explains Jean Lord who adds that Whalley in Bloom have involved the children of Whalley Primary School in their quest to make Whalley the prettiest village anywhere. 'We call them the Gardening Squad. With our help, they plant all around the school and last year, as a result we won the RHS Best Planting in Schools,' says Jean who also encourages scouts to grow vegetables from seed before giving them away to villagers and visitors. Creativity is blooming in Whalley and, just as Einstein advised, they're passing it on!

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