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Wanna find out what it's really like to run a local business? We chat to some entrepreneurs in our area about why it's so important to get behind them, and how we can all do our bit.

With our #inlovewithlocal campaign well under way (watch this space for our Herts & Beds Christmas gift guide for plenty of local shopping inspo!) may we introduce you to some of our favourite local business owners. We talked to them about running an indy biz, why we all need to get behind shopping local, and what’s on their festive wishlists…

Jessica Rose, Maggie J Jewellers, Tring

Photo: Image Bliss Photography

Maggie and I have been running the shop as a mother and daughter business for around 20 years but it’s been a jewellers on Tring High Street for over 80. I get to be surrounded by beautiful jewellery and accessories – my passion – and I love chatting to my customers and advising them on selecting that special gift or treat for themselves. At the moment we’re stocking the gorgeous Les Georgettes bangles – they have an interchangeable leather strap so you can choose different colours and styles to suit your mood. Any lady would be happy to find one under their Christmas tree!

Shopping local is key for our business. Loyalty from our customers is overwhelming but high street shops have constant battles from online shopping and big brands. I have found that collaboration with other Tring businesses is a great way of bringing people into our high street through local events and building community spirit. On that note, we’ll be celebrating Shop Local day in Tring on Saturday 14 December, with exclusive discounts in store and we’ll be open right up until Christmas Eve for all those last minute shoppers!


Hatty de Barnard, Nude Tin Can Gallery, St Albans

Photo: Ian Scott

The gallery has been going for almost five years now. We’ve always taken a bit of a risk with what we show and sell, featuring new and emerging artists as well as more established ones, and many of our artists are local! We are a mix of  art gallery and art retail… of course we’d love everyone who walks in our door to leave with a painting, but we really welcome visitors to come and enjoy the exhibitions too. Art is a bit like matchmaking. Everything has to fall into place – when an artwork meets the perfect buyer it’s love at first sight. We simply help them meet each other!

The best thing about running a local business is the relationships you build with customers, whether they’re new or regular – many come back because they like what we do, but we get new people through our door every day, too. Local people are amazingly supportive and I’ll always eat and shop at independents whenever possible as I know they are a big part of what makes St Albans special. We’re doing a late night showcase on 20 Dec (6.30-9.30pm) where there’ll be complimentary drinks with some of the artists and the chance to buy something special.


Tobias Trigg, Tobias Oliver Interiors, Berkhamsted

As an Old-Berkhamstedian I have always loved our local High Street, which is the main reason I decided to open our showroom and design studio here in July this year. I have been an interior designer throughout my entire career but wanted to bring exemplary design to our local community – helping people fulfil their aspirational lifestyle is what fuels my ongoing passion. Opening a store (as well as providing interior design services) has been a fast learning curve.

What I love about the retail side of the business is that we get to connect with the general public day-to-day. Also, we have an extraordinarily close relationship with our fellow local business owners, and how we support and complement one another is very important to us. I’ll be adding our gorgeous new Christmas ornaments to my gift list this year and I love our duck lamps as they are fabulously unique and timeless. We’ll be welcoming customers into the store with a glass of bubbly and mince pies as well as offering a special 10% discount (quote MUDDY10 in store or online) throughout December, to encourage people to shop local!


Kate Marston, Puddingstone Distillery, Wilstone

We’ve just celebrated our 3rd birthday and still get such a thrill when people’s eyes light up as they walk through the door to see what Ben (my husband and co-founder) and I have created. We started the distillery from scratch and do everything from recipe creation, distillation, bottling and labelling through to marketing and selling our gins. I like to buy from actual producers and makers myself, so we love finding out about how our customers discovered us and empowering them with a bit of extra knowledge about how our gin is made.

Collaborating with other small businesses is one of the best parts of the job. We’ve run cocktail and cheese and charcuterie pairing evenings with local delis and producers, and in the New Year we’ll doing a Gin & Chocolate pairing event with Yvette’s Chocolates – an awarding winning chocolatier in Potten End. Our shop is usually only open on Fridays and Saturdays, but we’ll also be open on 8, 15 and 22 December (10am-2pm), 23 Dec (9am-5pm) and 24 Dec (9am-2pm). Then we’ll be having a jolly good rest and I’ll be putting my feet up with a Christmas Day bone dry martini, made by Ben – our winning recipe at the World’s Best Martini competition earlier in the year!


Suzanne Taylor, Taylor Benfield Candles, St Albans

I’ve been running Taylor Benfield for just over two years now. I’ve found it really hard work being responsible for everything from the finance and administrative side through to the marketing of the brand, but it’s hugely rewarding when you see the orders coming in. I get so excited even now, and dance a happy dance! Getting orders from local customers is the absolute best thing as it makes you feel truly supported by your local community, and when I shop local, I know I’m helping another hard-working person succeed in their dream, too.

To make a change from the traditional spicy candles around for Christmas, I’ll be burning my Citrus & Lemongrass ones this year – it’s a really refreshing, zesty scent that awakens the senses – just what you need when skies are grey. So especially for Christmas I’m offering Muddy readers 25% off my zesty collections (Floral & Ginger, Summer Haze and Citrus & Lemongrass) when you quote MS25 at checkout.

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