In a new series telling the stories behind some of our amazing Yuup hosts, freelance small business journalist Dan Martin speaks to Alice from Trylla.
Strolling down North Street, you really can’t miss Trylla, the shop that opened on North Street in Bedminster four years ago.
I arrived at the store as founder Alice Astbury was unpackaging some newly arrived stock. She asked me to go inside and on entering, I was immediately hit by a wonderful explosion of creativity and colour from the floor to ceiling shelves of ceramics and crafty goodies. Whether you’re looking for vintage clothes, beautiful ceramics, a make your own candles kit or even a toy troll, Trylla has something for everyone!
But Trylla isn’t just about retail; Alice has turned her expertise for working with clay into a studio where she teaches others to create their own pottery masterpieces. Through Yuup, you can book in to use the studio to make your own creations, book a group pottery making experience to learn from Alice or a one-one-one pottery wheel workshop for you and a friend.
Her experiences are going down a storm so I chatted to Alice to find out more about the business and why people love it so much.
How did you come with the idea for Trylla?
I had been working in other ceramic studios for quite a long time, and I got to the point where I wanted to open my own place. I find that ceramics isn't necessarily that accessible so I wanted to create a playful environment. Lots of people think of ceramics as a refined practice when you always need to create something perfect, but I approach it in a more experimental way. I wanted to open a creative hub where people could come and have access to the facilities. It’s quite hard to get access to things like kilns for example.
I planned the business for three years and it went through many iterations. I’m just one person so I had to make it something that’s was doable for me on my own. I always wanted it to be a place for different things that could be changeable and adaptable. That’s why half of the space is a shop and the other half is a studio. It means there are two sources of income and two ways to encourage people to come in.
Why did you decide that North Street was the right location for your business?
I had lived in the area for four years and I really liked it. It seemed like the right sort of place for my type of business to be. It’s such a lovely street with lots of other creative businesses and that has increased since I opened. I thought I’d be able to slot into the community well and provide something different.
How did you turn the business from your plan into an actual shop?
I don't come from a business owner background or knowing anything about marketing, so it has all been done in a very DIY kind of way. I refurbished the whole place myself and apart from getting a couple of people in to sort the electrics and fit the floor, I did it all. I put the sink in, all the painting was done by me. It’s very much a labour of love. I’ve retained that DIY vibe but that shows that it all comes from a very genuine place and it means people who come to the shop have lots of things to look at to inspire them to be creative.
How well do the local community support your business?
I've worked in retail for years and years but I've never worked in a place where people are this nice. I don't think I've ever had anyone that's been really grumpy with me since I opened! There is a lot of support in this area for independent businesses. The businesses support each other too. I’ve got lots of friends on the street and I've done a lot of my Christmas shopping with local shops. It's lovely.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on your business?
Just before the first lockdown I'd built up a lot of steam and my experiences were selling out. But then lockdown happened and boom, it all stopped. I reflected on what to do and turned my main experience into a takeaway kit. I’ve also been renting out my kiln to other ceramics makers whose studios are closed.
Why did you decide to sign up to Yuup and how has it been for your business?
I heard about it and it sounded like something that would work really well for me because I sell experiences. I think the whole concept of Yuup is great because the focus in on the experience, the space, the person that’s going to teach you. The fact that you're going somewhere that's local and supporting a small business is great and a real point of difference that I think people are interested in.
"I've seen so many Yuup posts about my experiences on social media, which is excellent because it makes you feel like you're being looked after."
My experiences on Yuup have done really well and lots of them have sold out. After being in lockdown people want to go somewhere and do something creative. It’s something nice you can do that is socially distanced. I’ve reduced my group numbers and I think that’s part of the reason that they're selling out because people feel safe and comfortable.
"Every time I go on the Yuup website and see lots of people have booked a voucher, it’s overwhelming to see how many people want to do the thing that I love."
If people buy one of your experiences through Yuup this Christmas, what can the recipient expect?
It will be educational and fun! My pottery making experiences provide lots of information and people will learn a lot but it’s all done in a playful way. The beauty of working with clay is that you can just squish it and start again if you've messed up so you don’t need to make something that’s amazing.
Lots of people come to the experiences intending to make a gift for someone else but once they’ve done it and had so much fun, they often end up keeping it for themselves! I have a lot of people who come back after they’ve done their first experience. I call it the ceramics bug.