Carmel is thriving on the French connection; Dawn Collinson meets the owner of a little shop that offers continental taste.Byline: Dawn Collinson
CLASSIC elegance has always proved a successful selling point selling point
An aspect of a product or service that is stressed in advertising or marketing.
Noun 1. selling point - a characteristic of something that is up for sale that makes it attractive to potential customers for Carmel Blackwell Black·well , Elizabeth 1821-1910.
British-born American physician who was the first woman to be awarded a medical doctorate in modern times (1849). . For 20 years she was counter manager for Chanel in John Lewis, selling classical French beauty to her Liverpool clients.
But in 2003, Carmel took the leap into self-employment and, along with husband Karl, opened her first Little Room interiors shop in Allerton.
Now she's the one who heads to France, to source everything from grand mahogany mahogany, common name for the Meliaceae, a widely distributed family of chiefly tropical shrubs and trees, often having scented wood. The valuable hardwood called mahogany is obtained from many members of the family; in America and Europe it is imported for beds to pretty decorative items for their business.
Her judgement has proved to be so in tune with the city's booming property market that the Little Room has been named as one of the top 100 non city centre interiors stores in the country.
For Carmel it means that customers are travelling from as far as Yorkshire to shop here, and it has more than justified her massive lifestyle change.
The couple, who live in Allerton, had no previous experience in home retail when they took over a tiny shop on Rose Lane two years ago.
"But in a way, it wasn't such a huge leap from what I'd been doing because it was still about luxury items and timeless quality," explains Carmel. "So really we were aiming for the same market and when we opened I saw a lot of the same faces I knew from Chanel."
A combination of personal experience and TV-led trend convinced them the time was right, and they decided that south Liverpool was the perfect location.
"With the TV going so much towards interiors and homes programmes, everybody was being more geared towards everything housey but there was nothing like this in Liverpool, especially in the suburbs.
"We used to go to Leeds or the Lake District for what we wanted, so we were sure there were plenty of other people who were having to do the same."
Going to trade fairs and buying directly from France and Germany, Carmel, 41, has relied on her own taste to choose stock.
"I always stick to the principle that if I like it then I buy it," she says, "and actually I find it hard to buy things I don't like. Everything is my taste and, luckily, it's tended to be what other people like as well."
With the business taking off beyond expectation in its first year, Carmel and Karl opened a second shop in Woolton Village in January this year and moved their original shop to larger premises on Rose Lane.
Now, says Carmel, while she's abroad and getting by with some school-level French and a few well-placed "parlez vous Anglais?", Karl and their team are involved in the day-to-day running of the two sites.
"I do trust Karl to do the buying and he's actually very good at it," she teases, "but he also does all the paperwork and completely runs the office and we have five marvellous staff who we really couldn't manage without."
She admits their Little Room empire has totally turned their lives upside Upside
The potential dollar amount by which the market or a stock could rise.
This is basically an educated guess on how high a stock could go in the near future.
See also: Bull, Downside down, but it's been worth it.
"It is hard work, absolutely hard work, but when it's for yourself it makes such a difference and I love it," she says. Receiving national recognition from English Home magazine has, says Carmel, brought a fabulous response. So much so that they are intending to reopen re·o·pen
tr. & intr.v. re·o·pened, re·o·pen·ing, re·o·pens
1. To open or be opened again: Officials reopened the airport after the snow was cleared. Schools reopen in September. the original Rose Lane shop, and they're looking at branching out into garden sculpture The predominant garden types in the ancient world were domestic gardens and sacred gardens. Sculpture of gods and kings were placed in temple compounds, along with sacred lakes and sacred groves. and furniture.
And, she says keenly, Christmas isn't far away and the decorations are already out of their boxes and ready for display.
"Christmas for us came a few weeks ago ... and we've still got another one to look forward to