Interview: Lucy Barnard

Lucy has her own dreamy shop, called Forty Four. Since the shop first opened, it has blossomed with artwork, illustrations and quirky gifts. I was lucky enough to have an interview with Lucy about her shop and how she runs her own business.  

Hello Lucy! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

I am great thank you!

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I've always had an interest in the arts. I studied art, media, music & textiles at school, followed by lens based media throughout college & university. 

Describe your shop in three words. 

Quirky, colourful & fun!

I adore your business. What made you decide to set up Forty Four?

First of all, thank you for adoring my business! It really is appreciated! I didn't set up Forty Four! It was set up by the lovely Angela in 2005 who had an artistic background too. We announced in April 2015 that I would be the new owner of Forty Four after I helped her choosing new stock & loving the place even more than I did before. I used to attend Lincoln art college & I'd visit Forty Four after my lessons to drool over the beautiful notebooks & jewellery cabinet! Still feels weird to think I own it now!

Why did you call your shop Forty Four?

Angela chose its name because of its address: 44 Steep Hill. I decided to keep the name because of its reputation on Steep Hill & it simply sounds right!  

What is the reason behind the logo and the design?

The logo was designed by Root Studio in Lincoln to resemble a postage stamp. There's a variety of designers & artists in the shop so the illustrated look of the logo gives it an individual image. I'd always loved the swirly style of the numbers 44 and happened to stumble upon the same font style so I chose to have 'Forty Four' written above the door too in the same black and white! It's super cute & quirky, just like shop! The turquoise coloured background was to match the colour of the shop. Angela secretly wanted me to keep the turquoise when I took over (something I was totally happy with!) Because it's so bold and a happy colour! It's surprising how many colours go with turquoise!

How has your creative process changed since the start?

I've learnt so much from my customers! I get requests for certain products which kind of restricts my creative process to put my customers first but as long as they're happy then so am I. I'll sometimes get a product in that's completely different (this year, it was a slow loris lampshade printed by Lush Designs) that nobody had asked for but it's gone down a storm! It's good to know me and my customers are on the same wavelength haha!

How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?

By taking in customer feedback! I'm the kind of person that can chat to anybody and it really pays off! I do my own research into new designers/artists as well but I will ask my regular customers their thoughts on new things. 

Have you always wanted to own your own little shop?

When I was at art college, I would go in Forty Four and think 'I'd love to do that!' Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would end up owning Forty Four itself! It really has been luck/perfect timing. After graduating, I carried on earning money in an office job that was lovely/lovely colleagues but it wasn't the same as being your own boss and choosing the latest tea infusers haha! 

What do you sell in your shop? 

Simply things you don't realise you need in your life until you see them! Unusual gifts, homewares, stationary, jewellery and greetings cards (pretty much anything gift'y!) I don't sell soaps, candles or food because I don't like stepping on the toes of my neighbours that sell those kind of products. I like selling things you can't find in your ordinary/high street stores. 

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

Being an arty styled shop, my main customers love visuals! It's important to show my customers colourful images of the latest products on platforms like Instagram that my customers are checking on a daily basis! It shows people who aren't local to Lincoln the latest stock updates and advertises new products. Instagram has been the biggest social media hit for me (customers will pop in and compliment me on my Instagram pages!)

Who inspires your shop?

It's a mixture of new designers & what my customers want to see! There's a hint of scandi influence with our large moomin collection that's always popular. 

Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment from your shop?

I love the work of Lush Designs! Their lampshades are all screen printed scenery and animals (I've got a list of lampshades I want to keep!) like their large lion lampshade! It's bright orange and so beautiful in person! I love Little Moose too! Their quirky laser cut jewellery is all handmade by a lovely couple I've met on a few occasions! They even made me a personalised name necklace with a turquoise 44 charm hanging from it. I full on burst into tears when I opened it because it was so unexpected (and incredibly kind!) I'm also loving the new Hug A Porcupine jewellery we've got coming in a few weeks! There's origami styled dachshunds, giraffes & arctic fox brooches in the collection (plus many more!)

What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Facebook page, Instagram and your work?

Spring themed things! I'm ready to see florals, summery cocktail treats & some new products by favourite local designers coming soon! 

What are you currently working on?

I'm currently preparing for spring/summer17! There's only a small window for these type of products before I have to start thinking of Christmas again! (Christmas 2017 will start in march!)

What’s your typical working day?

Lots of tea (loving apple & cinnamon at the moment!) checking emails, chatting to customers (selling a bit too!) I sell a lot on social media to people who aren't from Lincoln so there's always at least one trip to the post office (big shout out to Simon & the lovely ladies!) And it's pretty close to a couple of bakeries for lunch. My shop is also across the road from Pimento's tea rooms which is far too convenient when I need a slice of cake! I buy a lot of my from regular stockists online which is easier because I already know the quality is perfection, they're popular bits and my customers will be happy to see them in the shop again!

What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?

Forty Four was already an established business when I took over. 

Tell us the most important business lesson you've learnt. 

Listen to the customers! Take in feedback! I learnt within my first year to plan further in advance than I thought so. When introducing a new product, I'll only order a small quantity to see the original feelings on it, again simply by communicating with customers. 

Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

We'll be launching our newly built website along with our partnership with Shoptiques which connects Forty Four to the states! We are now one of their carefully selected small boutiques of the world (how cool is that?!)

What are your career plans with your shop?

To remain an independent store & and a successful shop! I support independents as much as possible. 

What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?

Be true to what you like! If you want to wear a purple Cheshire Cat necklace you work it! 

Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own shop?

Be prepared to work even when you're not there! I never switch off (it annoys my fella) but I'm constantly working on the next big thing! You've got to totally love what you do and put your all into it! 100% committed! 

What’s next for Forty Four?

Keeping it quirky, colourful and fun! I'm on top of the world right now and I have no plans on coming down anytime soon! 

What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?

"In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different" - Coco Chanel 

A quote I've always related to! 

If you would like to follow this lovely shop, please check out their wonderful Facebook page ‘https://www.facebook.com/fortyfoursteephill/’ and their Instagram ‘Forty Four’. They have some wonderful stock in at the moment and Lucy is constantly updating the shop. 

Rhiannon BrittenComment