Stockist of the Month: White Gecko Craft Lounge

Originally founded as a craft show retailer in 2013, the White Gecko Craft Lounge was opened in the summer of 2015 with the aim of bringing a range of crafts to the local community.

The different tastes of Sara, Sarah and Sian have enriched White Gecko Craft Lounge with a wide variety of  fabrics and their combined creativity has developed some wonderful quilt designs including the "Love Liberty" quilt created from Liberty's new Cottage Garden collection.

Co-founder Sarah Kear-Smith tells us more about the business, their future plans and what makes them successful.

Tell us about the history of your shop and the team?

Sian & I started White Gecko Events in 2013 and alongside full time jobs, ran a successful craft show at Cardiff City Stadium. When a local shop came up for rent in the summer of 2015 we asked close friend Sarah-Jane, to join us in opening up our little venture. The idea being that we wanted to bring a range of crafts to the local community. During the first year we quickly discovered that it was the fabric & yarn side of the business that was most popular and decided to concentrate on that.
All of us have a love of various crafts which has helped us be creative with the décor, classes and overall feel of our shop.
 
We’ve all crafted in different ways for many years, dabbling in beading & sewing, printing & knitting & crochet. I learnt to knit & crochet from my gran, then started patchwork and quilting about 11 years ago after doing a visual arts degree and discovered my love of textiles.
Sarah-Jane has sewn fancy dress since teenage years and more recently excelled in jewellery making, before learning to quilt & crochet once we’d opened the shop. Sian has more of a graphics background and has always been interested in screen printing & homeware but has recently learnt to crochet.



What do you offer that makes you stand out from other retailers?

Definitely customer service! We pride ourselves on being a friendly place that people can pop into whenever they want, whether it’s for a complete quilt kit or a couple of buttons, everyone gets attentive service & advice. We have made some wonderful new friends within the community that started out as new customers. We are also known in the area for the small café that is in our shop and find many non-crafters enjoy visiting us just to see what is going on and look at our lovely stock.
 
I firmly believe that it was our service, as well as our stock range, that made people want to vote for us in this year’s British Sewing awards and we were very lucky to win Best Independent Haberdashery in Wales. A very proud moment for us as we are still a relatively young company.


 
What are you passionate about?

We are passionate about our workshops and classes and we are firm believers in sharing the ‘Crafty Love’ around. Being able to teach someone a new technique or pattern that will inspire them and make them fall in love with a new craft, whether that be sewing or quilting or crochet, is really important to us. We love it when people leave the shop with a new string to their bow and something that has sparked their creativity.  Our passions for crafts is reflected in the reputation we have within the local area – people often seek us out on the advice of others and we can turn their passion for crafts on too!
 

 
How do you choose what you stock?

Over many heated debates & a G&T! No … We’re very lucky that the 3 of us have very different tastes and interests so it allows for the shop to stock a variety of prints & patterns. Attending shows across the country, blogs & social media gives us a feel for what’s popular and customers in the shop are always asking for new products or type of fabric & yarn. Our supplier reps also understand our style and what sells well. They will often point us in the direction of a great new range or style that they think we can promote.

 
 
What do you love about quilting?

It’s very difficult to quantify a love of quilting, it’s so very personal for everyone. For me it’s the design aspect, choosing patterns & prints that work, changing blocks to suit and the visual  surprises that can come from different combinations. For Sarah-Jane, it’s the colour, she does love a rainbow! Rich colours & jewel tones particularly on a batik fabric definitely make her smile!  A finished project gives all of us a sense of achievement. 

 
 
What projects are you working on at the minute?

We’re just putting together liberty kits, both quilt & cushion, using the gorgeous new Cottage garden range and a pattern I’ve designed, aimed at beginners or those that want a quick but stylish make. Sarah-Jane is currently working on a quilt for her husband to take to yoga using an amazing quirky fabric by Willow Creek for Elizabeths Studio, which depicts farm animals in a variety of yoga poses! Siân is working on some lampshades and what fabrics work in which spaces.
 
 
Are there any future plans you wish to share with us?
 
We’ve just launched our new website, www.whitegeckocraftlounge.co.uk, which over the next few weeks will have a full range of fabrics on it but mainly to promote the sales of the June Tailor Quilt-as-you-go packs as these are incredibly popular within the shop & particularly at the shows we attend.  The website will also help us promote & sell our own patterns & kits.  Our ideas bank is never less than full so you just don’t know what pattern, scheme or general bright idea we may have so keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram page for all the up to date information on our attempted craft world domination!!
 
Sara Kear-Smith
Sarah-Jane Fowler
Sian Morse

Connect with the White Gecko Craft Lounge online:

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