With a name like Vivian Westwood, an interest in fashion probably isn’t that surprising.
I was brought up in a small village in Bradford where my parents had their own bakery, where in between serving customers, some of the staff taught me to knit.Vivian Westwood,
For a 6ft 1ins, well-built man with tattoos, opening a traditional wool and knitting shop in Blackpool might not seem the most likely career choice.
But that’s exactly what Vivian has done.
And he has named his new store, on Topping Street, Vivian Westwools – naturally.
The idea for the new business came out of frustration at trying to find the range of wool and knitting products he needed on the high street or in local stores.
Vivian took knitting to help him with stress and he hopes his shop will provide resort knitters with a nice, relaxing spot where they can browse, look at patterns and even sit down with their needles and a cup of tea, and have a natter.
Vivian said: “I was brought up in a small village in Bradford where my parents had their own bakery, where in between serving customers, some of the staff taught me to knit.
“I wanted to become a fashion-designer and focused on dress-making, but went on to spend most of my adult life working in retail management. The stress of this became too much and my health suffered, with high blood pressure and so on.
“One day, I found a crochet hat kit and it re-sparked my interest in yarn.
“I took up knitting again and realised how therapeutic it was, and how relaxed it made me feel.
“I then became addicted to knitting and had something on the go all the time.
“I was finding it impossible to find the supplies I wanted locally and brands I wanted were only available online.
“I became so frustrated having to buy everything online I came to the conclusion I may be the only man in this situation in Blackpool, but not the only knitter.
“I might not seem like a likely knitter – I am 6ft 1ins tall, well-built, covered with tattoos. But I love knitting.
“When I set up the shop, I wanted to create a welcoming environment for like-minded people to be able to come and get what they want, without any hassle.
“Quite a lot of knitters are of the older generation, so I have put in sofas for them to sit down to look through patterns. Or they can just sit and chat and do some knitting together.
“The company has not been set up to make a huge profit, it’s been set up to fill a missing gap in the market.
“Even if people don’t buy anything, they’re welcome to come in and browse and sit down for some knitting.
“With my background in retail, I will focus on customer satisfaction. If I don’t have something someone wants in stock, I will try my best to get it.”
Setting up business hasn’t been without its challenges, but Vivian says it’s worth it.
“When I first started contacting suppliers, they weren’t sure what to make of it – some thought I was taking the mick, with my name being Vivian Westwood. But it’s worth it – I have met some lovely people already.
“I’ve already had great feedback – including from one lady who runs knitting holidays and she’s delighted her groups can come here.”
n Vivian Westwools Traditional Wool Shop is open Monday to Saturday, 9am until 5pm, and Sunday, 10am until 4pm. Call 07453 546211 or visit www.vivianwestwools. com