It seems that every time we pop in to the Corn Exchange lately there’s another fantastic new retailer that’s sprung to life and this month is no exception, with brand new home and gift store The Juju Shop opening its door with a well-stocked bounty of beautiful things.
Engaged Leeds couple Ian and Shara are the geniuses behind The Juju Shop which has a strict list of criteria when sourcing its gorgeous stock. With everything ranging from pink ponies to hand upholstered antique furniture, if you’re looking for something unique and extra special then this is the place.
Creating a platform for individual designers, creators and artists, Ian and Shara are committed to giving a fair deal to their suppliers and showcasing the best in local talent. They’re even hosting a launch party this Friday 23 November so that everyone can enjoy some nibbles while they find out what this great new place is about. What’s not to love?! We caught up with Ian and Shara in their second week of trading to talk about their exciting new venture…
Who are you and how did you get here?
Were Ian and Shara and we just opened The Juju Shop in the Corn Exchange. We’re an independent store offering our customers a unique variety of gifts and interior design led products. We have a hybrid concept of working together collaboratively with individual creators such as artists and ceramicists to larger scale producers. We stock gorgeous and unusual pieces and sell them in our store and online.
We started our journey with Juju at the beginning of the year with me working on it full time and Shara continuing to work full time at Leeds City College as a performing arts lecturer, supporting me at the weekends and during holidays. We managed to get the website up and running by July and also traded at a number of big country shows such as The Royal Welsh Show and The Royal Bath Show.
With the Christmas trading period approaching we were looking for opportunities to trade at Christmas Markets such as the one at Manchester. Thats when the idea of a proper retail unit came about as we didnt fancy standing in the cold for 30 days! Our hat go off to the people who will be, make sure you all wrap up warm!
What do you think makes your shop unique?
We stick to a strict set of guidelines when sourcing our products such as UK Made, High Quality & Handmade. We love to sell items that have a story to tell and are passionate about providing real value and (our hope is) a tangible difference to our customers lives.
Our business is unique due to the progressive approach were taking with our suppliers and with the actual product range were stocking now and aim to stock in the future. We have links with Leeds City College and the Enterprise team there to offer students, small scale suppliers and more established entities a platform for their work. Were always on the hunt to find unusual and quirky products and suppliers and even picked up a new supplier on our holidays!
What is Juju? Isn’t it bad?
People regularly ask what our name means! It is derived from an ancient West African Religion and literally means ‘objects imbued with magical powers!’ Sometimes they might be used for ill but mainly for good. We definitely use it as force for the power of good by giving our customers a quirky retail environment and our suppliers a fantastic deal.
What’s your bestselling item?
Our most popular products at the moment are our range of colourful stag heads and birdhouses which people are loving from 25.00. Also Sharas Dad, Chris, is a wood turner and his work is doing really well as he creates wonderful pieces which people are falling for. They start at 4.99.
What’s your favourite item?
We love most of the products we sell as the majority of them have wonderful provenience; we stock products from 50p up to thousands. Our favourite pieces at the moment are a limited edition print by Francoise Nielly who uses a palette knife to produce her work and are mainly portraits and massive canvasses at 980. We also love our sleeping bear bean bag (pictured), he gets loads of attention!
Where do you like to hang out in Leeds?
The great thing about Leeds is theres always somewhere new to go and try and weve hung out at loads of places. We had a drink at Outlaws Yacht Club the other day and a meal at Arts Cafe which was great. Were yet to discover where our new favourite haunt will be being in the Corn Exchange is amazing because were surrounded by restaurants and bars.
What do you think makes Leeds so awesome?
We are both Leeds born and bred and have seen many changes over the years. The thing that always strikes us is the creativity and resilience shown by its people, especially during hard times. I love the diversity that has occurred over the years too with people coming to settle down here adding to the vibrancy of the city making it a real melting pot of ideas and culture.
What can we expect from The Juju Shop in the future?
You can expect creative and quirky products with a difference and a product range which changes and updates every time we find someone new and exciting to work with. If you visit the shop youll also get the opportunity to connect or reconnect with the Corn Exchange which is such a beautiful building and place to work from. We feel privileged every day to be part of it, even though its been through challenging times more recently it is definitely worth a visit if youve forgotten about it!
Finally, describe The Juju Shop in 3 words…
Quirky, Friendly, Different.
The Juju Shop has now closed. Look out for further developments with their Juju Spectacular fairs.