By Kate Marsden
So what are your plans for the summer holidays? I know I’m itching for a trip to the seaside and there are few seaside spots nicer than Southwold! The very stylish store Lift has been open for just over a year, and I think I need to head to Southwold purely to do some shopping there. Read on to meet owner David Frostick and find out why he gives £5 notes away to his customers…
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I’m David and I’m the owner of Lift. an indie lifestyle store in Southwold on the Suffolk coast. Its a long story, but I’ve come kind of full circle back to the East Coast, via North Wales, Liverpool, Manchester and London. I opened Lift last June after a big life change, to pursue my dream rather than spend my energy building someone else’s! I’ve got a degree in Drama and Communication but it seems I pursued my love of shopping instead! I’ve worked as a store manager for Muji, Paperchase, Selfridges, The National Gallery and my final job in London was managing the shops at London Zoo. This is my first time doing it by myself! I now live in Suffolk with my husband and my dog Rick.
What does a typical day involve?
There is no typical day really, I spend a lot of time chatting with visitors and searching for new and exciting product and designers. My time is also spent designing our own products, developing ideas and planning ahead. I’m always thinking about my next window and am currently designing Christmas decorations!
I’m lucky enough to bring my dog Rick to the shop, so a quick walk on the beach at lunchtime is a good head clearer and a definite perk of working for myself.
We give £5 to every 200th customer so they can ‘lift it forward’ to do something good for someone else. Be it support a local charity or buy a stranger a coffee. We ask them to tell us what they did via a postcard which we then share to inspire others to do the same. The highlight of my day is when I arrive at work to find a returned postcard on the mat!
Where do you work? What is your shop like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
Lift is a bright and uplifting design store. We stock stationery, cards, bags, home accessories, jewellery and lots more. I try and source products from all over the world and we design and make a lot of our own products. I’ve got some pretty strict rules when it comes to choosing product such as making sure they’re practical, exciting, affordable and long-lasting. Everything is totally gender neutral and animal free.
I did the shop fit with my Dad, we’ve used lots of OSB wood and pegboard along with two huge light boxes we made that glow in the middle of the shop. Its only a small shop so space is very much at a premium, I squash myself (and my dog Rick) in the corner!
I love running Lift so days off are a bit rare! When I’m not at the shop, I’m happiest in a wood or on the beach. I’ve never been very good at relaxing so I’m usually off doing something.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing shop/gallery owners at the moment?
Its a very challenging climate at the moment, no two weeks seem alike! I think general consumer confidence is low with people being reluctant to spend money. I think there is a big misconception about online shops being the way forward, but the reality is its very difficult to get yourself noticed.
Our strengths are definitely our ability to react quicker (without interferences from board members and head offices!) and to provide a much more personable shopping experience than the big chains. We’re also a really strong community, who support each other a lot.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I’ve only been open for 12 months, so I’m still finding my feet really. My ambition is small, just to have a successful, well liked shop! I’d like to add some worth to the community and high street, introduce people to new designers and brands and to ultimately lift people up!
Do you have any tips for fellow small business owners and designer/makers who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Make sure you test your idea, friends will always tell you to go for it regardless, you need to make sure people will want to buy what you’re selling. Also, make sure you’re doing it because you love it! It can be really tough (and often lonely) so make sure you remind yourself frequently why you’re doing it and be prepared to not get paid for a while!
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Totally. The campaign isn't just aimed at card shops, its for all indies, whatever we sell. Its about encouraging people to make a purchase however small and to never feel bad for only spending 50p!
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
Really important. It’s really encouraging how much us indies all support each other, and the JAC campaign is great at saying the things we’re often too shy to say.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently?
I heard about JAC via Instagram and picked up my sticker at Top Drawer last year. I use Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram is my social of choice for sure. Its a great platform for creatives, and makes me feel connected to people. I like that its a very ‘live’ platform where you can engage with people. It seems to be a generally happier and more positive place than Facebook and Twitter which is always good!
What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
Buy things! A compliment, or a ‘like’ helps boost our confidence, but we really need people to buy things IRL. I get so many compliments from people who ‘love’ my shop and gush about how wonderful it is to have nice independent shops but then leave empty handed.
I always make sure I buy something from a great indie whenever I see one, and make sure I follow and comment on their socials.