FK talks to Neck of the Woods owner Nicky Crowley about her lovely shop in Manly, NSW
Tell us a bit about Neck of the Woods and the concept behind it.
Neck of the Woods; Definition: a particular area, Synonyms: backyard, locality, neighbourhood, region, stamping ground, vicinage, vicinity. I’m a Melbourne girl married to a local Manly boy. I love the area and the locals have been so loyal that it seemed logical to give the store a name that reflected this.
Neck of the Woods has an organic, 70’s kind of vibe, I wanted to make it warm and inviting, so I fitted it out with furniture from Op shops and the auction houses, daggy old paintings, old rugs layered on top of one another, old painters ladders with planks of wood for shelves and beautiful big branches suspended from the ceiling. The whole fit out cost us $700. It’s a bit like stepping into Nanna lounge back in 1975!
I love it when customers pick things up, touch them smell them ask who made them and just take it all in. I wanted to bring unique creative bits and pieces to Manly. Coming from Melbourne I just couldn’t understand why no one had opened a shop like this before, people automatically think you need to have a minimum, $20,000 fit out! I’m lucky it’s just come naturally to me, I’m a child of the 70’s so it’s in my blood. Coming from a strong line of shopaholics helps.
What was the inspiration with opening Neck of the Woods?
My old business partner and I had owned Pulp Creative Paper, a small boutique stationery store in Manly for 7 years and we had the opportunity to open a second store in a great location. It was very close to Pulp so we decided to stay away from stationery. There were so many fantastic crafts people around and so many great quirky home wares at trade fairs that it only seemed logical we go the home/lifestyle route. We sold Pulp and I bought my business partner out and renamed it Neck of the Woods.
What do you love about being in Manly?
Working so close to home and the beach and having a great variety of interesting customers who are accepting and open to new and sometimes strange things.
How do you find designers for your shop and what do you look for in their products?
I find a lot locally, a few through blogs, many on Esty and the rest at trade fairs, local markets and craft fairs.
What are some of your favourite items in the store at the moment?
Pepper stiches is a favourite with me and my customers, Mr and Mrs White, TMOD, Plain and Simple, Pony Rider, Avery & Olive, Free Range Baby, Have You Met Miss Jones and My secret macramé friend in Victoria who does awesome owls for me! We’re working on a special window display as we speak…
When you are not in your shop, what are you usually doing in Sydney?
I’m at my kids school Kamaroi doing craft or helping out. They have an amazing fair on May 21st which they’re making a lot of things for. I’ve never been to a school fair like it. Well worth the visit if you’re into handmade anything (that was a HUGE plug just in case you missed it!) I’m also a regular at a few of the auction houses in Sydney collecting the odd 20th Century vintage piece to fill any bare spots in the shop.
What is the hardest part about running a shop? What advice would you give to others?
The paper work for sure. I’m a creative person and a virgo so I like things to be done well, but I’m useless at paperwork. I try my best but it always seems to creep up on me and scare the life out of me when it comes to the end of each quarter. My advice to others would be find a very talented and patient book keeper. I have a great one and she’s been trying to make sense of my paper work for almost 7 years now. I love her!!!! My husband helps me a lot on that side of things. He’s a numbers man.
What aspirations do you have for Neck of the Woods?
After running Pulp and turning it into a very successful business, selling it and opening a second store, my aspirations are pretty achievable. I love being small and quirky, I love getting to know my customers and having the time to have a 30 minute chat in store if the moment calls for it. I have two small boys and the main reason I made the change from art direction to having my own store was to spend more time with them. I don’t want to miss any of these years so for me the biggest aspiration is to make family and Neck of the Woods work together. I do want NOTW to be known for it’s quirkiness and support for local artists and craftspeople. It’s only 12 months old and still evolving, I love the journey and just want to enjoy it, so going slow is just fine with me.
All the specific details
Neck of the Woods
185 Pittwater Road
Phone 02 9976 6688