Yorkshire oddities make fun gifts in the couple’s shop

Or perhaps discover a Yorkshire paint chart with colors like ‘flatcap’ and ‘Yorkshire pud’.

These quirky regional adaptations of familiar items are among the many fun and interesting products on sale at Lighthouse Lane, a design-focused gift shop run by husband and wife team Katie and Howard Shelmerdine.

The creative couple design and manufacture inventory for the company – our T&A Trader of the Week – as well as selling items from a carefully selected group of independent designers and manufacturers.

Katie is from Barnsley, while Howard is from Huddersfield. They met in York 18 years ago when they both worked for a major DIY chain. “So between us we cover South, West and North Yorkshire, which is very useful when creating our regional Yorkshire designs,” says Katie.

“We moved to Haworth nine years ago when we started thinking about raising a family – we love living here.”

After the couple’s son was born in 2014, Katie was able to take a year’s maternity leave.

“Being away from work and having a new little life to take on gave us the detachment we needed to assess what we wanted for the future,” she says. “I used some of my time to design five fabrics and prints for children’s rooms. I also painted a handful of local landscape scenes and started selling them at a local craft fair. »

At the end of their leave, the couple saw that a small shop on Haworth’s main street was up for rent. “Not really knowing what we were doing, we took the plunge, quit our reasonable jobs and opened up shop.”

Howard in particular had a background in retail and both love customer service and talking to different people.

“That first year was very challenging but equally exciting, and we were so determined to do something we really loved and make sure it worked,” says Katie.

And it worked. Soon after, they opened a second store in Skipton. “We visited shops in a few different places, but settled in Skipton because it’s an equally beautiful historic location and also has a bustling shopping mall that attracts visitors all week long,” says Katie.

The more designs the couple created, the more ideas came to them. “Being in stores is great because we can chat with customers, understand their likes and dislikes, and hear which designs are the most laughable,” says Katie. “Creating our own products means we can quickly try out new designs in small volumes.”

Katie has always loved art and enjoyed drawing as a child. It was her favorite subject in school but she fell in love with it in college. “I don’t think my job matched what was being taught at the time, so I ended up getting a degree in English Literature.”

She then worked in a bank for nine years “but I always knew something was missing and was inspired to start painting and drawing again after taking a short art course at a local college” .

Regional designs are Howard’s genius idea. “He’s got a quick, quirky sense of humor,” says Katie. “He looks for everyday objects that we all recognize, for example the rules of the road or an eyesight test chart, and thinks about how he can give it a Yorkshire touch. They are great fun to write because you have to get into the mindset of the Yorkshire dialect and think about how it would be written, while making the work aesthetically pleasing.

With a wide range of products, bestsellers may change seasonally. “We have some designs that still work really well – colorful Highland cows and giraffes are popular, as well as conversational Yorkshire AZ and the Periodic Table of Yorkshire,” says Katie. “We tend to sell a lot of framed prints because we all love a happy home that is personal to us. Small gifts like coasters, mugs and cutting boards are doing well as Christmas approaches.

The couple’s second son was born in 2017. Running a business while raising a young family can be a juggling act, but with both kids now in school, it’s “a little less frantic,” says Katie. “We always make sure Howard or I can run errands at school, and we have an amazing, supportive team of staff around us.”

She believes in letting others know how creativity can become a career. “We knew we wanted a creative career, but we didn’t know anything about working in the art world or had any connections. So, being quite stubborn and independent, we decided to do it ourselves. I went to our children’s school several times to talk to the children about it.

They sell on three online platforms that have grown over the past few years. “We know there’s so much more we could do with this and we can’t wait to see how it plays out,” Katie says.


Laura J. Boyer