Tell us everything we need to know about you.
I’m Sharon Jay and I'm the designer behind The Artizans, launching the shop and brand about 2 years ago now with my husband Keith. We’re mad about dogs and love nothing more than getting out and about in our 1976 VW camper bus with a good playlist blasting. That’s us really! We have a thing about good music, art, great design and something a little different, so you’ll see and hear these elements at the shop!
Can you tell us a little bit about how your shop began?
We love beautiful things for the home and so welcomed the opportunity to bring something a little different to the high street.
How do you choose what to stock in your store, and how closely do you work with the makers?
It’s finding a business balance and since our launch we’ve promoted collections crafted from recycled materials and worked with suppliers who have transparent ethical credentials, like Nkuku - a lifestyle brand who focus on artisan goods made the right way. It’s all about people and the planet first.
Can you tell us about the refill station and how it works?
Our Refill Bar offers shampoo, conditioner and body wash which are made of natural ingredients by Faith in Nature and household cleaning products from Ecoleaf.
The objective of The Refill Bar is very straightforward. Just bring in your container, we weigh it, fill with product and re-weigh again so you are only charged for exactly what you’ve refilled.
How else do you work towards being as plastic-free as possible, what obstacles do you face?
We’ve made big changes in this area but we must and can do more. The barriers for us is sourcing suppliers who are also reducing their plastic usage.
We stock a range of products that are packaging free and our beautiful Fairtrade baskets handwoven from waste plastic have been very popular. I love the collection of table linen and home textiles we sell that are ethically made from waste cotton and recycled plastic bottles. It’s good to work directly with suppliers who want to make conscious shopping as accessible as possible and so you’ll find a good selection of products at the shop that have been up-cycled or crafted from sustainable materials.
Is there a plastic-free ethos across Overton? If not, how can would you suggest working towards a plastic-free town?
There is! Overton is a bit of a trail blazing village. Our friend Laura Harrison asked the parish council to declare a climate emergency last year and Holly, who works with us, has registered Overton with Surfers Against Sewage to work towards plastic free community status. There’s now a Sustainable Overton group working towards raising awareness of the issues and promoting a change in mindset on plastic, carbon emissions and waste reduction.
How long have you lived in Overton and what makes it such a lovely place to live?
Though I live in Oakley, Overton does feel like a second home and I’m beyond grateful that the local community has embraced the shop like they have. We’ve met some fantastic people and made so many good friends.
Can you tell us about an exciting memory/experience from working in the store?
There’s too many good memories and good experiences to count, seriously! Despite the challenges, we really do try and find a laugh in the everyday and it’s the people that visit the shop that make for our good experiences. Though the day Mary Portas called in is imprinted on my memory!
Does The Artizans have any exciting plans for the new year or 2020?
We never stagnate at The Artizans and our pledge this year is to source even better by increasing the volume of products at the shop that are crafted from sustainable materials. We’ve made big strides and there’s still much work to do. We’re learning all the time, responding and making changes for the better.
In conversation with Callum Knowles.