In our Retail Therapy column we are going to be getting to know some of the specialist, independent local retailers who help make our towns and villages such interesting places to shop. For this issue we spoke to Mark from Walker & Walker in Ross on Wye.
Q. Who are Walker & Walker?
Walker & Walker are me, (Mark), my wife Nic and also our daughter, along with Amy which makes up our team of 4 staff. We run a responsibly made clothing and lifestyle boutique here in Ross-on-Wye and make all of our clothing and the wealth of our fabric homeware in our workshop above the shop. Nic designs, cuts and makes all our clothes, I make sure our customers are happy and feel welcome and always find exactly what they are looking for.
Q. How did it all get started?
Nic and I have always worked in fashion, for some of the big brands like M & S and Austin Reed. Nic had always wanted to do something different and work on her own designs. We started out in Newent, doing dressmaking. In fact, the last thing she did before lockdown was to design and make the formal outfit for the female High Sheriff of Gloucestershire. This got a lot of attention – a stunning piece for her big occasion.
But then COVID came and we had to close the dressmaking business. We started making PPE: scrubs and masks, when they were most needed for local care homes and NHS workers. Then, as everyone was stuck at home at the time, Nic did some sets of loungewear pieces and put them online to see if they got a response. They started selling as fast as we could make them.
This gave us our direction for the future, but we knew we didn’t want to be a 100% online business, so we looked for a shop and found our current premises in Ross – 7th May 2023 marked our first anniversary here.
Q. What’s the Ethos at Walker and Walker?
There are two strands to that, firstly, we try our best to be as responsible as we can be with our fabric choices and where we source them. Alongside this we aim to minimise waste, so we try to use every scrap of the fabric. What doesn’t go into our clothes we use to make napkins, facecloths, or scrunchies. The really small bits we offer in scrap bags which are great for crafters.
We’re also about “living and lounging”. We aim for all our clothes to be simple and easy shapes with a relaxed style, customers should feel equally at home in our outfits going out to lunch or loafing on the sofa at home. Our aim is for our clothes to be comfortable and stylish with the wearer in mind. It makes us happy when we can see people of all ages, shapes and sizes walking past our window in our designs.
Q. Tell us about the Shop?
The shop is one of the first things you will see when you disembark the Daffodil Line bus in Cantilupe Road, Walker & Walker is on the corner of Gloucester Road and Henry Street, almost opposite the bus stop.
The shop was a much-loved florist for many years and we have a bouquet of dried flowers, made by one of the florists who used to work there in our window. We have lovely big windows on two sides, so the space is light and airy and filled with hand-chosen pieces for you to treat yourself to. There are our clothes of course but also local honey, coffee, Belgian chocolate, and handmade homeware. Our prices start from £3.50 for greetings cards to £145 for a made-to-order quilted jacket of our own design – so we hope we have something for every budget.
Q. What’s Your Best Seller?
Probably our Saffy top. The Saffy is a relaxed T-shirt style top with elbow-length sleeves, made in wonderfully soft double gauze cotton. The material is slightly textured, dries really quickly when washed and doesn’t need ironing, so it’s great for travel. The top is available over 10 different colours and different lengths, either off the shelf or through our made-to-order service. It’s priced at £52 or £50 with your Daffodil Line Bus ticket.
Q Tell Us About Your Made-to-Order Service?
Our made-to-order service allows us to give customers a huge amount of choice whilst keeping costs down and minimising waste. Simply visit the Ross shop, try the styles and sizes we have on display – if you find exactly what you want then you can buy it off the rail and take it home straight away, if we don’t have the exact colour or style you want in your size we will make it up for in 14 working days at no extra charge.
Q. What gets you out of bed and into work in the morning?
For me it’s coffee! We stock a wonderful local blend called “The Sunday Roast” from James Coffee – roasted right here in Ross on Wye – a cup or two of that gets the day started.. For Nic, she doesn’t really see it as work, she lives and breathes designing and making, so even on days off she’ll quite often be tinkering with new designs.
Q. And what about those days off, what do you enjoy doing then?
We enjoy good food and wine, and travel. I do gardening, sometimes not because I love it, but just because it’s a jungle out there! And then there’s Ross, it’s such a nice town it’s easy to spend a day just walking around the area, taking in the river and local bars/eateries.
Daffodil Deals at Walker and Walker
Redeem your ticket! Get £2 off with your Daffodil Line bus ticket at Walker and Walker on purchases over £10
Walker and Walker, 18a Gloucester Road, Ross-on-Wye HR9 5BU