If my mother were alive to day, she would be shocked that I had just interviewed Zoe Marsh, the owner of Yorkshire Stuff. My mother was born in Lancashire, was Lancastrian through and through, felt her roots were in Oswaldtwistle where her father was born. My mother was addicted to watching Coronation Street from the day that it began in 1960; when it was on, and for several hours afterwards, she would revert to a very broad Lancastrian accent. Yorkshire was a world apart from Lancashire to her, even though we spent many a holiday in Yorkshire!
Whenever I interview someone for In Conversation With… I am always both surprised and excited by how different all the companies are. With Radical Tea Towel Company they are looking to expand in the USA market yet Zoe’s passion is Yorkshire. “I sell Yorkshire stuff to Yorkshire folk. I’m Yorkshire born and bred, living elsewhere for most of my adult life, only returning to my home town of York in my mid-30s. I noticed that there were no products available to buy in York, featuring the Yorkshire dialect or expressing Yorkshire pride. This is surprising because so many shops sell Yorkshire themed gifts but they are all aimed at tourists. I’m really proud of the Yorkshire dialect and our culture and heritage. Yorkshire is the people that live here, and we’re great”.
I was interested to know what Zoe did before returning to York. “My background is quite varied. I have worked as a glassblower’s assistant and a systems administrator amongst other things. Before I moved back to York, I was a market trader in Bristol where I designed, made and sold jewellery. I started Yorkshire Stuff in January 2014 with just a few handmade greetings cards and badges on my market stall and have slowly built up my product range. I primarily sell through my market stall in York, every Monday. I’m there every week so my regular customers know where to find me. I also have an online shop and I attend events throughout Yorkshire. Over the next couple of months, I’ll be at Harrogate Flower Show and the York Balloon Fiesta”.
“I buy some items in, ready made, and make some myself. I also design some of my stock, and have it made up for me; that includes my tea towels. I have three tea towels that have been finished, and produced, and many more that I’ve been working on but haven’t had printed yet. I do everything; however, the team who do my printing for me are always very helpful in helping me understand what is possible to produce with a screenprint. It always makes me smile when customers assume that there must be more people involved somewhere. But, no, if you visit the market, I’m behind the stall; if you buy something online, I’ll post it out to you; and if you send me a picture on Facebook, then I’m responding to that too – as well as designing, making and doing all the other things that come with running a business”.
I wanted to know if Zoe had always dreamed of being a tea towel designer (I don’t think so!). “I wanted to be everything from an actress through to an engineer. I think that what I’ve always wanted is to have a job where no one can tell me what to do and this fits the bill”.
And finally, what is Zoe’s favourite design? “My favourite design, of mine, is the Yorkshire Dialect because it always makes people smile”.
My mother would definitely have approved of Zoe’s comment about having a job where you are your own boss. I am glad that Zoe found the Yorkshire Dialect tea towel in the Linguistics Collection of the Virtual Tea Towel Museum; it hasn’t yet been blogged about but I can feel a blog coming on. Originally, when I invited Zoe to be part of In Conversation With … she said “I can’t promise I’ll have anything thrilling to say”. That was certainly not true! Thank you Zoe for giving me your time for this interview.
Shop online at http://www.yorkshire-stuff.co.uk or visit Zoe every Monday at Jubbergate in York Market