Minerva’s Owls – Bath’s First Interactive Sculpture Trail

In a first for Bath, the Minerva’s Owls of Bath sculpture trail will be interactive, allowing visitors of the trail to connect with sponsors and artists.

When it launches on 25th June 2018, the Minerva’s Owls of Bath app will be part of the Bath Directory and powered by Blispa Beacons.  Owl fans who approach a sculpture will receive information about it direct to their mobile device, including it’s name and background story. Also in the app are links to the owl sponsor and artist website and fun, interactive questions to answer that will help owl fans along the trail.

The app will provide a great way for owl fans to explore the city and surrounding region whilst on the sculpture trail this summer. What a hoot!

Sponsor and Owl

There’s still time for businesses to sign up as Owl Sponsors, and for schools or community groups to sponsor and decorate one of the smaller Owlets.  All profits from the event will be donated to four local charities including the new RUH Cancer & Therapies CentresB&NES Young Carers CentreRoman Baths Archway Project and the UK Little Owl Project.

For more information or to download Sponsorship packs, visit the Minerva’s Owls website, contact info@minervasowls.org or follow @OwlsofBath on Twitter.

Wylde Flower Diamond Competition

Your chance to win a £1000 Wylde Flower Diamond® in time for Valentine’s Day. Simply post a selfie in the competition form in the Bath Directory for your chance to win this diamond, unique to Nicholas Wylde in Bath.

This registered, patented diamond cut is quite simply a work of art, brought to you bythe the skill, artistry and love of award-winning visionary designer Nicholas Wylde, who has created the unique and achingly beautiful Wylde Flower Diamond®.

Each one created has 81 precisely cut facets – that’s 24 more than a brilliant-cut diamond – including 8 on the base which reveal a perfectly cut flower. This clever and unique cut allows you to see the stunning flower by looking through the ‘table’ of the stone and creates a brilliance and visual fire that often makes the stone appear larger than its actual size. You won’t find this diamond anywhere else in the world and Nicholas Wylde brought all his experience, dedication and love of beauty and art together to create this stunning masterpiece.

The prestigious Bath Good Food Awards 2017

The Bath Good Food Awards 2017 rewards the very best of the city’s restaurants, cafes and local producers in more than 30 categories. Mystery diners, consisting of a panel of well respected judges, will once again take part in a blind judging of the wares of local producers as well as visiting each shortlisted business. The winners will be announced at a Gala Awards evening, which brings together the stars of Bath’s food and drink scene to celebrate a year of fine food and drink.

Independent Profile: Instant Vintage

When did you first set up Instant Vintage and how did you come up with the name?

We started Instant Vintage in 2007. We moved from London to Bath and spent 6 months travelling around South-East Asia trying to decide what to do for work. We ended up buying lots of beautiful jewellery, accessories and a small range of custom made clothing to bring home with us. Then we spent a year selling at Spitalfields and Portobello Markets before eventually deciding to look for a shop in Bath. We opened Instant Vintage on George Street in 2008.

The name is a play on words, really. We wanted to convey that our collection has an eclectic timeless feel, often inspired by vintage or retro pieces but that they are new. The expression an ‘instant vintage’ also means an instant classic or instantly revered. It’s amazing how many people think we are actually vintage though so I think it confuses people at bit!

What background did you have for going into fashion?

Poppy: I have worked in fashion retail and wholesale my whole career, most recently running a showroom for Noa Noa in London. Fashion is in my blood though. My grandmother was a designer for a chain of department stores, my parent’s had an antique shop selling vintage clothing and later a business designing and making children’s clothing. I grew up surrounded by people designing, making and customising all sorts of wonderful things, we were never short of a fancy dress outfit!

Andy: My background is in quality assurance and production, my most recent role was working for Budweiser overseeing packaging and production across Europe. Now I organise all the manufacturing and import of our collection.

When did you add the men’s collection?

At the beginning of 2016. We had loads of guys asking for menswear, there are very few independent men’s shops in Bath. It’s going really well.

How do you manage running a busy shop and raising a family?

It’s a juggle! We have 3 boys aged 6, 4 and 2.5. They all came to work with us when they were tiny babies but now they are way too energetic and boisterous. We do a combination of nursery and working in the shop as well as from home, we both take turns to look after the children while the other works. It’s very important to us that the boys get to spend time with each parent and that they see both of us working.

What do you enjoy most about running a retail shop?

I love the diversity of the role, from the interaction with customers to the visual merchandising, there is always something to keep me motivated and I love being my own boss. My absolute favourite part is the process is planning a new collection and buying accessories and jewellery to compliment it. Everything seems so disparate and then it all comes together to make an exciting, cohesive collection in the store, I get a real kick out of that!

How do you market your business?

We try to keep our social media fresh with news and outfit suggestions, we have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the store. We also do a lot of direct marketing to our mailing list customers. We have special shopping evenings with drinks and a discount when new stock arrives and at Christmas. We have a really good loyal customer base who regularly attend our events.

What changes have you seen since you opened?

Bath has changed as a city a lot with much of the focus now being on the new Southgate development. I feel this has split the city with many of the larger retailers moving out of the Stall Street area, creating a bit of a void in the middle. There are still loads of lovely independents at the top end of the city but I don’t think tourists always realise that if they get off a train or a coach near Southgate.

I think people generally have less money to spend then when we first opened. Customers are much more discerning now, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I would prefer our customers to buy one thing that they will treasure and love wearing, rather than many things that they don’t really need.

What do you think is the biggest challenge an independent shop keeper faces today?

I think competing in a market where so many people are shopping online is difficult. We have tried selling online but our model doesn’t really work. People like to be able to see our collection as a whole with all the accessories and jewellery that compliment our range of clothing. They also appreciate the service and styling advice that we offer, it’s all about the shopping experience and making sure you offer something unique. It’s important to appeal to a broad audience without loosing brand identity.

What inspires you?

I’m also hugely inspired by colour and print and am constantly saving images online and in magazines for colour inspiration. I love searching through old magazines looking for retro and vintage shapes and embellishments that I can update and incorporate in pieces that are more wearable today. I love the creative side of putting a collection together right from the basic core items to the more statement pieces and accessorising for multiple looks. I love working with one key piece and styling it in many different ways to ensure it is diverse and offers the customer real value.

Where to shop in Bath

‘Destination Shopping’ is the opportunity for a day out in a different town or city, in order to explore new places and discover delightful independent shops and restaurants run by people who work hard  to bring something novel on the discerning consumer.  Whether it’s fashion, food or hospitality, we simply love to find those special and unique experiences, where service and quality enrich our day.

Designing a bespoke city guide that gives locals as well as tourists valuable information in the form of a directory of shops and business promotions outside their immediate neighbourhood means they can engage where ever their personal point of interest is.  Businesses get to reach the person just as they pass their shop, because the pedestrian may pre selected to receive promotions previously by choice. After download, the user is equipped to cherry pick from the hot tag menu, in order to filter out noise, but factor in alerts on which to take action.

The Bath Directory app not only rewards residents who are regular patrons of their favourite choice of business, it also provides tourists with ‘off the beaten path’ directions which means everyone benefits from the advantage of the information that our city guide has to offer.

Bath has several lovely areas slightly off the main drag at the north end of town, populated by a rich array of independent shops ranging from designer fashion, affordable boutique, art galleries, unusual homeware, antiques and great little cafes.

Bartlett Street Quarter

Bath has many side streets where independent shops are nestled and it’s worth taking the time to wander around the various quarters to find unique products, cafes, restaurants and fashions. In fact, these are the very stores that add richness to Bath’s retail experience. The first one we are highlighting is Bartlett Street, which sits on top of George Street which is at the end of Milsom Street.

As you walk up the picturesque street, the first cafe you encounter is the award winning Same Same But Different, which serves breakfast all day as well as tapas and a variety of light bites.  Rob, Chef and owner, is committed to using locally resourced suppliers and the staff are efficient and welcoming.

Just next door you’ll  find Yen Sushi, a kaiten sushi restaurant (where dishes loop pass diners on a conveyor belt), very popular with locals, visitors, especially Japanese ones. Which is commendation enough really.

Opposite you’ll see the art gallery, Edgar Modern,  launched by owner, Rachael Read, in 2002 to provide a platform for emergent British talent in the contemporary art world

Bibico is owned by highly experienced designer, Snow, who was inspired to create a line of ethically resourced fabrics that became her signature collection pieces. Beautifully made and elegant,  be sure to check out the eclectic collection and accessories.

Sisi & May is right next door. Stocking a selection of accessories and high end fashion, highly wearable pieces come together to build an elegant wardrobe.

Just a few steps up is Toast, which is a spacious store housing the complete collection for women and items for home design.

Above Toast, you’ll find Artizan (the Bartlett Street Salon). Launched in 1986 by current Director, Phil Thompson,  it is regarded as one of Bath’s best hair salons.

The next shop is Felix, which  specialises in  bespoke  designed and custom lighting and furniture,  either made in Britain or refurbished vintage lighting from around the world. Interior designers love this shop.

Loft, is situated directly opposite,  a comfortable and stylish cafe which uniquely connects to upmarket fashion store Blue and Blue Home.  Self described as ‘adventurous and progressive women’s clothing and homeware with designs that are seemingly impossible to find on the High-Street’,  they offer a very stylish selection of furniture and interior accessories that would grace any home.

A recent addition to Bartlett Street, which occupies the corner abutting Alfred Street,  is The Boston Tea Party , one of two in the city.  Dog friendly and wifi enabled, plenty of sofas and space make BTP a very chilled out space to visit.

Before you get to cross over Alfred Street, you will find Article, a bijou store stocking an ‘artisan emporium’ of delights as well as workshops, so check their diary for upcoming events.   Directly adjacent is David Simon Contemporary, run by the eponymously name owner,  an award-winning specialist in contemporary paintings, ceramics and sculpture.