Where: Afflecks, 52 Church Street, Manchester, M4 1PW
When: Weekdays 10:30am-6pm; Sat 10am-6pm
What: Given that we’re up to our hips in economic difficulties, it seems that negatives steal all of the headlines and there are very few success stories at the moment. A lot of the small businesses are experiencing problems but there are some examples of people pushing through the hard times and managing to (borderline) make a living out of doing something they’re passionate about.
Affleck’s Palace is one of Manchester’s shining lights when it comes to independent businesses, as well as being a city landmark in its own right. Despite the incessant rumours of closure or gentrification, the labyrinthine alternative shopping centre is still going strong.
Soon to be one year old, this tiny boutique is the solo offering of young entrepreneur Tamara Haswell. After studying Marketing in Leeds and having various jobs in retail and events management, Tamara decided she would like to move into on-line retail but quickly realised she wanted a tangible business. Sourcing her clothing from independent designers and direct from wholesalers, Off The Cut offers a range styles and prices to suit the times.
I went along to the shop to see how business is going:
It’s been predictably quiet here at the shop in January but its usual for the time of year. A lot of people move in here and expect to be making millions. It’s tough.
So what are your neighbours like here?
They’re neighbours are great. I am next door to Vanisha from Vanisha’s Design Boutique and we look out for each other. You definitely need a pal in this place that you can trust to cover.
It must be difficult running the place on your own…
I only get 1 day off a week! Some weeks I can’t even pay myself but I have grown so much in just nine months and I have still lots to give so hopefully the futures even brighter.
Then again, I suppose there are lots of positives too…
There is nothing like being your own boss! I have a free range to sell what I want and express myself through Off The Cut. The variety is great and its not hard to motivate yourself when its your own project.
It seems you’ve settled in well. Where’s best for lunch around here?
If I am feeling naughty I love Bread and Butter. Eatery is a new cafe that makes lovely home made soup and sandwiches. Loaf is good for baked potatoes.
…and a liquid lunch?
I am a fan of Black Dog Ballroom as its so handy and the foods good too!
It seems things are going well, I believe you’ve recently been added to the asos.com website, how did that come about?
My mom told me about asos.com marketplace when it was first launched, and I know a few other independent designers that have boutiques on there. Its great to be a part of something so successful.
So what’s ‘hot’ in store at the moment?
My must-have item is an amazing Black Feathered Dress… It’s a real statement piece!
And your personal favourite?
My favourite item is the sequin mini skirt I have in Black and Gold.
You certainly seem to know your stuff, where next for Off The Cut?
I love the shows and doing the events. I’m expanding the amount of events I do each year as I love the buzz of organising them. My store and online sales are growing all the time so hopefully my sales will continue to grow. All I want is to make myself a decent living doing what I love.
Thanks for your time, it seems you’re well on your way to becoming one of Manchester’s Finest.