OPENED IN NOVEMBER 2009, MAIDEN sits comfortably on Shoreditch High Street, a transient road of bars, shops and restaurants all randomly eclectic in their offering. Maiden is a shop that has everything you would ever want, yet not necessarily need, the little things that make your life nicer and brighter.
MR: What in the shop would you buy for your Mum?
NC: I think I would give her something animal based, I know she loves animals. So I’d probably give her a waving cat, the type that can be found in Chinese restaurants; they bring you good luck and good fortune. Or maybe an animal face eggcup, they’re the best selling line in the entire shop, very Beatrix Potter/ Wind in the Willows - they remind me of the things I had as a child. In fact when I was selecting the children’s books for Maiden my Mum helped me to choose them because she still has all my books at home, we went through and ordered all the titles that were still in print. Customers come into the shop and see books likeFunny Bones orBurglar Bill and they are literally ecstatic to see them again - it brings back so many fond memories.
NC: A lot of the major bookshops have row upon row of brand new titles sitting there and it feels a bit dead, so for Maiden I wanted to select the best of new titles from fantastic publishers like Phaidon, Thames and Hudson and Laurence King alongside an eclectic selection of vintage titles, which I think customers will love and cherish.Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life proved an instant hit, Agatha Christie Penguin titles go like hot cakes, I had two customers tussling over a copy ofDeath on the Nile last week. Our selection of vintage Ladybird books is the favourite by far though.
MR: Was retail always something you’d planned to go into?
NC: No, what I wanted to be was always changing as I grew up, as I think it does with everyone, when I was six years old I was adamant that I was going to be the Archbishop of Canterbury! I eventually found myself at LSE studying philosophy at the same time as working weekends at Burberrys on Regents Street. At that time it was a classic English store, not like Burberry is now. It was like ‘Are You Being Served?’. I just thought it was really good fun, there were staff who had worked there for 35 years, they took real pride in their product knowledge and customer service, that’s what made me fall in love with retail.
NC: Absolutely not, because what other job would give me the opportunity to meet a hundred nice people a day. Each morning I just think to myself... there’s a whole world out there - I’m just going to get out there and sell things to it and because we have an online shop (www.maidenshop.com) I can literally do that on a daily basis!
MR: So did you always want to open your own shop? How did it come about?
NC: I’d been saying to people for the last five years that I’d like to have my own shop, I had just never summoned up enough courage to take the plunge - I thought it wouldn’t give me the security that I had working for someone else. With over ten years of retail experience from from reputatable stores including Harvey Nichols and Heal’s. I was Head of Retail at the Design Museum for two years and spent time running the shops at the Royal Academy and at Southbank Centre. I came to the conclusion it was time to strike out on my own. So I did and that’s why Maiden is here!
MR: I’m curious as to the location choice, why East London/Shoreditch High Street in particular?
NC: I’ve lived in East London for five years; it’s the first place in London that I’ve truly felt at home. I love the sense of community here and the mix of people - it's full of life. East London has one of highest populations of artists, designers and creatives in the world. I really like it and can’t see myself living anywhere else for the foreseeable future.