We catch up with Fox & West and Nook co-owner Lucy Fox to discuss how her dream of opening an independent shop with friend Hannah West became a reality.
Before their change of career, Lucy was head of visual arts at Cotham School, and Hannah taught as head of technology at Bristol Free School.
“We used to have girls’ night once a week where we’d chat and daydream, imagining opening a shop together. It started as a joke until we realised we could actually make it a reality.” Lucy explains.
An opportunity arose to take over the space at Gains Greengrocers in Totterdown due to its closure. This is when Lucy and Hannah took the leap of faith and opened Fox & West in 2017 - an independent shop with a deli and café, providing fresh, local produce and zero waste products.
“The local community wanted a similar shop to the greengrocers, so we created a space where people could still buy fresh produce as well as lots of other amazing products. It’s been so well supported by the community; the people here are really amazing.”
After the positive response from the community and a successful four years at Fox & West, Lucy and Hannah recently opened another space further down the road in Knowle, called Nook.
Nook opened just over two weeks ago - a creative hub stocking local artwork, crafts, gifts, and homeware. As well as a café with amazing coffee and cakes, with plans to start serving food from the 1st November.
“Hannah is an amazing cook, the café will be serving dishes including overnight oats, paninis, and beautiful colourful salads which will of course be made with our own veg from Fox & West.” says Lucy.
Nook will follow in the footsteps of Fox & West where they donate anything they don’t use to food banks Redcliffe Food Club and Victoria Park Baptist Church Food Bank. “They were struggling over lockdown, so we made a commitment to take them fresh fruit, veg and eggs on a weekly basis. We ensure any left-over food gets eaten, used, or passed on.” explains Lucy.
There is also an event space in Nook, created for the community to hold small events and workshops. “Local artist Catherine Knight is exhibiting here now. We’re running it as a rolling programme of exhibitions on the walls. The space will be available for people to meet in groups, we really want it to feel full and vibrant.”
All produce in Nook is local, from small Bristol businesses or independent wholesalers. “We want to keep the store as independent as possible, bustling full of unique products you won’t find on Amazon. A lot of our customers are very conscious shoppers, so we are very selective with the products we stock ensuring they are eco-friendly and cruelty-free. We have so many wonderful products here. One of my favourites are these amazing ceramic slugs from Slugrings – a family-run business also producing copper rings that protect plants and repel slugs and snails - it takes talent to make a slug look that beautiful!” Lucy explains.
Lucy and Hannah were instantly drawn to Knowle to be home to their next location for their unique shop. “We know Knowle well, and we already felt so supported by the local community. On our first day, there were some regular customers from Fox & West waiting for us to open Nook, it was the most amazing feeling to see some familiar faces on our first Monday morning. This area is so warm, we feel really wanted here and supported to succeed.”