As a small business it's important to be an active part of the local community
Lisa Birkett is the owner of Happy Hare, a fabric shop based in Chapeltown. After over twenty years as a vocational rehabilitation consultant, helping people to return to work following catastrophic accidents, Lisa decided that a complete change was called for.
She opened her fabric shop in February 2016 and specialises in selling quirky cotton fabrics. She also runs craft classes and social making sessions.
Lisa was born in Cumbria, and lived in the North East, Manchester and Surrey, before settling in Hillsborough almost twenty years ago.
As I write this, I am sitting on the wrought iron bench in the yard outside of my shop. It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining. Although I can hear the cars passing on the main street, I can also hear the finches singing on the chimney pots, and magpies chattering on a roof further down the street. Over the rooftops, I can see the trees in Chapeltown Park, and a family of five buzzards riding the warm air thermals high up in the sky.
The yard is definitely one of my favourite places. We’ve got a lot of plant pots all around, which we keep filled with whatever is prettiest every season, and it just looks so lovely as you come in.
Over the Summer, whenever the weather is nice enough, we try and take any hand sewing classes outside. Of course, my Irish skin means I have to sit in the shade, as I burn in about five minutes. Last summer, when it was really hot, we even had a paddling pool out there, which my nephew loved. We have a freezer in the store, which we keep filled with ice lollies. There really is nothing better than sitting with your feet in a paddling pool, eating a lolly.
I do love live music, even if I don’t see as many concerts now as I would like. I love the way City Hall has some really big bands in the main hall, and then bands which attract a smaller audience round in the Memorial Hall. Even the main hall isn’t so big that you are miles away from the stage. I hate the kind of gigs which are so huge that you can only see the band as little dots on the stage, and you wouldn’t even know who you were seeing without a video screen. The last concert I went to was the Deacon Blue 30 th Anniversary Tour, which was pretty disturbing, as I first saw them when I was a teenager. I struggle to believe it was so long ago!
I really do love my food, especially curries. I first went to Aagrah in Leopold Square a couple of months after it opened in 2007. I prefer to support other independent business, rather than large chains, so Aagrah fits in with that, being a family run Yorkshire firm. Their food is fabulous – always freshly cooked. Where possible, they also use locally sourced ingredients, which is another thing I am keen to support. Both of my nephews learned to cook using the Aagrah cookbooks. The youngest is now working as a trainee chef, and I hold Aagrah fully responsible for that.
As a small independent business, I think it’s important to be an active part of the local community. Knitting and sewing can be solitary crafts, so we arrange sessions which allow people to come into our workshop space to undertake their hobby in sociable environment. As people live longer, often alone, social isolation can be a real issue, and we are keen to do what we can to reduce the impact of that. We also participate in the community through crafting for charity. Our customers make patchwork quilts and incubator covers for babies and adults who are in hospital. We also make crochet octopi, which some hospitals use with premature babies. Jessops don’t engage in that programme at the moment, but we still send them to Sheffield Hospitals Charity, as they have found that they are useful for people with dementia and for other people who find hospital visits stressful.