Virgin StartUp of the Week: Rose-May

When many people think about the word 'startup', they automatically think of Tech City and million pound VC rounds. But startups are at the forefront of  supporting traditional industries and skills too - they're completely essential in this area. One such startup is Rose-May The Handmade Shop, a shop selling  a variety of unique handmade products in North Yorkshire. We caught up with founders Robert and Tracey over a cuppa.


Business name: Rose-May The Handmade Shop

Founder(s) name: Robert and Tracey Wilmot

Loan funds received: Start up Loan £10,000

Based in: North Yorkshire


Twitter: RoseMayHandmade

Facebook: Rose May the Handmade Shop

1. Explain your business in the time it would take the kettle to boil.

We only sell handmade items that have been made in the UK. We specialise in soaps and gifts, and make many items ourselves. When we decided to start Rose-May we had one aim in mind; to give everybody a chance to show their talents, from people who just make as a hobby to those who do it as a full-time job.

2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?

We are located in a little town called Norton, Malton, in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. Rose May is a shop on a busy street, so we get lots of passing traffic and have a large window to display everything. Ryedale, although very rural, has many artists and creative individuals. The talent of people never ceases to amaze us, and that is what made us decide to celebrate everybody - and what better way than in a big shop window on the busiest street in Ryedale?


3. How did you come up with the idea?

We came up with it through our passion for making things and wanting to share this with others. The shop has a workshop area where we make our own creations. Tracey spends her days here and has a love for sewing and making teddy bears. These are sold in the shop and on our website. On show are the vintage sewing machines we use and the spinning wheel Robert uses.

4.  What’s the business model?

To stay true to what we started and only sell items handmade in the UK. By choosing every piece ourselves, from learning how it is made towhere the materials are sourced and hearing the stories behind how people started creating their wonderful items, makes our job a pleasure and enables us to pass on the provenance of each piece to customers.

5.  Who are your competitors?

Lush, Etsy, folksy, gift retailers. We are very fortunate to not have any direct competitors on our own high street.

6. What’s unique about your business?

We only do handmade in the UK, nothing else, and we sell one-off items mainly made by ourselves. Some of our stockists are only stocked in our shop. Our shop door is always open for people to browse and chat about their interests in handmade items.

7.  What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?

We had been open a couple of months but needed help to fine-tune our business and get the building more up to date and suitable to trade in.

8. How have you used it to grow your business?

We have a new website to sell from, enabling us to widen our customer base and build an online market. We have developed our marketing and advertising, purchased more stock, rebranded and carried out some building maintenance, such as installing new plumbing and heating.

9. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?

Syed Shah. He has been a great help, and given us direction. He told us exactly as it was from an outsiders' view, which was great, as a fresh pair of eyes on your business can be really helpful.

10. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?

Jenn Crowther at Yorkshire Coast Enterprise. Without her we would not have gone to Virgin - she gave us the belief that we had something worth working on.

11. Biggest achievement so far?

The Lady magazine ringing to ask us to advertise with them for their Made In Britain feature for the Queen's birthday. It is released this week - we are very excited!

12.  What’s next for your business?

We're looking to be able to stock a lot more individual handmakers, and promote their talents by expanding our gift range. By doing this we hope to offer something for everyone, so will be looking for many new makers to stock.


Get the Virgin StartUp Business plan