A new shop has opened in Liverpool ONE and it’s making us suffer from a serious case of the stuff lust …
Wander over the road from Salt House Tapas or Duke Street Expresso, somewhere in the region behind Duke Street itself, and you’ll find Cleveland Square. A small and beautifully formed white wood and glass shop awaits, and if you’re lucky, a curly haired little black dog called Claude will greet you at the door.
This is Cow&Co, a design-friendly shop selling contemporary artisan gifts. You can buy anything here from arts magazines and illustrated city guides, to lighting and designer chutneys. It looks like a cross between a cool coffee shop and a design studio, and that’s kind of what it is. Fitted with bespoke shelving and till area, alongside table and chairs in the window ideal for meetings and magazine browsing, the agency that created the brand, SB Studio, lives upstairs on a mezzanine floor.
A passion project between partners Nicola and Benji Holroyd, as well as a natural sister company to SB, the relocation from Rodney Street to Cleveland Square for both businesses has meant bringing old fashioned customer service and attention to detail to the heart of Liverpool ONE.
“SB is the design studio upstairs, and we’re coming up to our third year,” Benji tells us. “Two years ago we decided to set up an online shop as a kind of experimental project. It became a platform for designer craft, for makers, artists, and to see how well it was received … I saw this space and thought it’d be a great way to bring them both together!”
A small team ‘driven by big ideas’, SB has designed for arts, culture, fashion and retail brands, including The British Ceramics Biennial, The National Centre for Craft & Design, The Brink, and Leaf on Bold Street.
“We’ve gone from strength to strength,” Benji adds. “We learnt from previous agencies that we’ve worked at, seeing them make mistakes, and we’ve tried to bring all the good things and wipe away all the bad things, and create a really nice, small studio that works for big clients but also small clients at the same time. To retain our size, as well, and not grow too quickly.”
What’s so nice about the shop is its studio feel; wooden walls and furniture and shelving lovingly made from painted pipes. It’s like stepping into an arty friend’s house. “It was a bit tatty before we moved in – it needed a bit of vision. After six weeks of working tirelessly, every evening, with joiners, we’ve set up!”
Everything is sourced by the team, and hunted down by Nicola (with the occasional help from Google translate for those far-flung suppliers). The search is always for items not normally found on the high street; beautifully made new products, and sometimes vintage pieces like enamelware and tin toys.
“I think that when we first set up the online shop, [we wanted to achieve that feeling] when you walk into a supermarket, and everything’s laid out in front of you … When you go online it’s very different, you have to click through a lot of online pages. We wanted it all to be in one space, all on one page, and there are so many items altogether … The products come from all over the world.”
Benji and Nicola’s favourite shop products are currently the Herb Lester travel guides (we bought the Barcalona and Madrid ones) and the Miller Goodman PlayShapes. Our favourite? Cow&Co stock good magazines – Little White Lies, Creative Review, It’s Nice That, The Gourmand – which have been absent from the city centre for a good while, especially since the closure of the FACT shop (RIP).
What’s next? The team are working on a Cow&Co newspaper, the first issue coming out in about two weeks, and pop-up shops are planned across Liverpool and Manchester. Watch this space.
Cow&Co is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, 15 Cleveland Square, L1