Mad Elizabeth is an exciting, colourful vintage womens clothing and accessories store in the newly fabulized Corn Exchange. Starting out in the markets of Birmingham, their stuff is now being worn all over Leeds and is regularly featured in Leeds style blogs.
Like the best grown-up dressing-up box ever, the shop boasts an impressive range of genuine vintage items as well as its own range of marvellously reworked pieces. Their fashion gems are also available on ASOS Marketplace.
Claire and Heather are the beautiful, bubbly Brummie babes at the heart of the operation…
Who are you and how did you get here?
We are Claire Bissell and Heather Rogers, two friends from Birmingham, and we own Mad Elizabeth. We started out selling vintage and reworked clothing at a local flea market on a Saturday and from there we moved on to touring the country at vintage fairs and Brick Lane Market in London. We knew fairly early on that we wanted our own shop and when the opportunity came up for us to have a pop-up shop in the Corn Exchange in November 2010 we went for it (our friends in Leeds were kind enough to let us stay while we tried it out). We loved it so much we decided to move to Leeds and get a permanent lease on the shop.
Moving all the way to Leeds was a bit of a risk what made you decide to take the plunge?
Heather has lived in Leeds before so we already knew the city and had friends here. We really couldnt have done it without our friends letting us crash with them while we sorted ourselves out we are eternally grateful to them for helping us start up our business. We love what we do, we knew we wanted to make this a fulltime job and because of their kindness… here we are!
What do you think makes Mad Elizabeth unique? What do you offer that other places in Leeds dont?
We are both really passionate about vintage but the two of us have very different tastes so customers can be sure of a real eclectic mix of clothing. We also rework some of our vintage to give it a fresh twist and have our own collection of clothing which adds another dimension to the shop. We have a wide mix of people and age groups that buy from us but our main customers are students and young people so we try and keep our prices as low as possible.
Whats your favourite item of clothing that you sell?
At the moment we are loving our reworked denim shirts. We have been customising them with vintage fabrics and studs and theyre going down a treat at 20 each.
Whats the most popular item?
People always say were the best place to get blouses from. We have a massive selection, mostly from the 70s and 80s. We have some pretty amazing colours and prints and theyre all only 8 each or 2 for 12.
Who is Mad Elizabeth? Do you get asked that all the time?
If we got a pound every time someone asked us which one is Elizabeth we would be very rich ladies!
Mad Elizabeth is a little line from the Cribs song Be Safe. We were trying to come up with a name and had thought of all kinds of crazy stuff. The Cribs are our favourite band and we had them on in the background, we thought Mad Elizabeth would be a great name! and that was that.
You upped and moved to an entirely different city to bring your vintage wares to Leeds what do you guys think makes Leeds so awesome?
Leeds is such a fashionable and stylish city without the pretence you tend to find in London. Theres always something going on and it has a great music scene, great bars and great people.
Where do you like to hang out in Leeds?
We love lunch at Primos downstairs in the Corn Exchange their picante hotdogs are the best. On a Wednesday we often go to Normans for a thai curry and glass of wine after work. We like to go drinking all over the place; gin at the Mavern, an ice-cold Jever beer at Wax Bar and teapot cocktails at Dock Street Market.
Finally, describe the experience your customers get in 3 words…
Colours, prints, bargains!
Mad Elizabeth is open 7 days a week on the balcony level of the Corn Exchange.