Shopping local this Christmas has never been easier. Found in New Brighton, Concept Corner is home to a number of local independent businesses led by artists and artisans. Under this roof, you’ll discover an eclectic mix of luxury homemade jams and fudges to bespoke real wood plaques and vegan candles. Hayley Matthews is the mastermind behind this new unique concept of high street store. After a lengthy career in the police force, Hayley was faced with redundancy and took the opportunity for a new beginning: “I was a police officer for 26 years and the job started to take its toll. I have children at home and I decided that the lifestyle that comes with being a police officer wasn’t for me anymore.” After speaking to local creatives across Wirral, Hayley decided that area needed a space for makers to showcase their work. She dreamed of creating a supportive environment for quality local independent artists and artisans to trade and grow together under one roof in the heart of New Brighton. With 25 years in the public service, Hayley didn’t know the first thing about starting a business: “as a police officer, I may be able to oversee football fans up and down the country, but writing a business plan felt like a whole different game – I didn’t know where to start!” Hayley sought business advice from The Women’s Organisation where she was supported under Enterprise Hub business start-up programme to begin working with Senior Business Adviser, Claire Pedersen. Claire helped Hayley create a business plan and apply for funding which would allow her to purchase a building in New Brighton to home Concept Corner – a big ask for a newly established business. On supporting the campaign to ‘shop local’, Hayley said: “We have tried to create a welcoming space where there is something for everyone. I think people are slowly going back to shopping local and appreciating the time and care independent artists put into their designs.” Concept Corner currently has over 20 independent businesses working out of the space and has now expanded to deliver workshops. The shop boasts a busy diary offering everything from How to Boost Your Teenagers Confidence, Enhance your photography skills, Basic Sewing, Crochet and various upholstery Courses through to a yoga class for beginners and even business and marketing concepts. Hayley is a Wirral-proud woman with a vested interest in supporting the local economy of New Brighton, Wirral’s seaside resort which has undergone a £60 million redevelopment scheme in more recent times. Hayley said: “I’m really proud to be based in New Brighton. It’s very cosmopolitan – you can feel the buzz in the area and the footfall coming through. When you shop at Concept Corner, it goes straight back into the local economy and that’s important for me.” Recognising the difficulties older people face in getting out to complete their Christmas shopping, Concept Corner now takes its art to the community running craft fairs and coffee mornings across Wirral making sure art is accessible for everyone. And to mark a year of success, Hayley was awarded ‘Retail Business of the Year’ at The Women’s Organisation’s awards, Celebrating Enterprising Women. Nearly a year into her new business, Hayley said: “I love the building, the concept of the shop and meeting new people every day. I really believe in what I’m trying to do. I feel so proud coming to work every day. The shop is exactly how I envisioned it when I met with my business adviser all those months ago.”
Hayley won an award from the Women’s Org in Liverpool. She was delighted so here is the blog they wrote about her and Concept Corner.