Home design and gift retail is in some kind of state at the moment. When you think about it realistically, your choices are limited to the death march of Ikea or trudging through the jumble sale that is TK Maxx hoping to strike gold. When did this happen?! Habitat and Muji used to offer some solace when it came to stylish homewares, but they’re a thing of the past (or at least confined to department store concessions spread few and far between.)
Do not depair! There’s a style store on the Leeds scene that offers value and great design for all tastes. And it’s a shining star in the North of our city for those looking to get a home bargain of their own.
Chirpy in the heart of Chapel Allerton is a cute home design haven without the chintz. Nestled snugly amongst the up-and-coming terraces of shops, you could almost be forgiven for missing it. But taking a closer look inside, you’ll discover fun and finesse like no other gift store in Leeds. A strong contender at our #leedsindieawards, we spoke to the owner Harriet Vaight about establishing herself and her business in the fastest growing area of the city, the things that make her tick and the personal touch…
Who are you and how did you get here?
We are Chirpy, a small independent design-led gift shop and workshop/creative party space in Chapel Allerton, North Leeds.
We stock contemporary goodies with personality and character including cards, wrapping paper, prints, jewellery, stationery, baby and kiddy gifts, kitchenware, smellies, cushions and lampshades, by UK designers and makers. All our products are carefully chosen to put a smile on your face – Design to Make you Feel Fine!
We also host a range of day, evening and Saturday workshops and creative parties, led by local artists and makers in our cool upstairs space. These range from bunting making, papercutting, weaving, screen printing, chocolate making and cheese tasting, perfect to attend on your own or as a hen party or corporate group.
Don’t know about you, but we’ve always struggled to find inspiring stylish presents on the high street. After scouring local craft fairs and arts trails, we realised there were so many amazingly talented designer, makers and small manufacturers in the UK which didn’t have a store outlet here in Leeds.
People prefer buying things which are more unique and personal, so we searched high and low for Yorkshire and UK based emerging independent designers and smaller manufacturers, and set about creating a lovely shop full of all those quirky, usually hard-to-find treasures, making it easy to buy presents that really stand out.
Hence Chirpy was born! Chirpy is 2 years old now, and is well established in the Chapel Allerton community.
What do you offer that other places in Leeds don’t?
Many of our products are unique to Leeds, and we’ve commissioned a number of designs such as our quirky Chapel Allerton and Roundhay range. We’ve also worked hard to create a lovely homely shopping atmosphere, with unique personal touches- we have cool tunes on the stereo, quirky shop furniture, a colouring table for little’uns to sit at and colour whilst parents shop, a customer loo, and there’s a buggy/cycle park outside too.
What’s your favourite product available at Chirpy?
It’s soooo hard to choose! We love everything in the shop, it’s all been handpicked by us for its high quality and uniqueness. But at the moment, it’s probably the fun retro animal coasters and placemats by Ketchup on Everything – how can you not love a weightlifting walrus and scooting red squirrel!
What’s your most popular item?
The most popular product in the shop is our fun cards, we really make an effort to find a cool range of quirky greetings cards with a bit of humour, and that would brighten up any birthday.
Event wise, ‘Make Friends with your Sewing Machine’ is our most popular workshop, people love actually being able to dust off their machines that they might not be confident at using and finding out what everything does, and making a cute washbag to take home at the same time.
What can people expect from Chirpy?
A friendly relaxed environment in which to shop, great customer service, quirky products with personality that you won’t find elsewhere in Leeds, fun workshops where you can be creative and get away from the real world for a few hours, and personal creative parties in a homely space.
What do you think makes Leeds so awesome?
It’s a really compact city so you can get out and about really easily, and it doesn’t take long to get places. The people also make it great, Chapel Allerton especially as there’s a real community spirit to the place, everyone is so lovely and supportive. And we’re particularly enjoying the Leeds foodie scene at the mo, amazing places to eat are popping up all the time, it’s hard to keep up!
Where do you like to hang out in Leeds?
Team Chirpy can often be found watching movies with an ice cream and peppermint tea at Hyde Park Cinema, trying out the yummy new street food vans in Trinity Kitchen or out for a walk and bird spot in Meanwood Woods.
Finally, describe Chirpy in 3 words…
Friendly, fun and chirpy!