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Toys & Gifts for Kids Annual 9

TALENTED ceramic designer, Sam Gibbs set out to open a gallery and succeeded in creating one of the most sought after children’s shops in Leicestershire.

With an artistic eye and a determination to offer only good quality, stylish products, she has created a loyal customer base who return to her small shop again and again. The success of Nest as a

children’s shop is a credit to Sam’s entrepreneurial skills since she carried only a small stock of hand-made toys when she first opened as a gallery. Her initial aim was to create a showcase for local artists and to have a retail outlet for her own work.

She said: “It quickly became

clear that people wanted high quality toys and gifts for children and that they were having trouble sourcing them. I started increasing my stock and the business just took off.”

Nest is based in a unique setting on the outskirts of Leicester where two streets of upmarket shops have been attracting well-heeled customers for years.The shop is light and uncluttered and still retains its initial gallery style. But towards the back Sam has

created a beautiful area, packed with colour and imagination and a range of toys and gifts not easily

found elsewhere. “I decided early on not to go for the licensed market or big brands or logos and

‘I look at boutique ideas overseas’

to look instead for small design-led companies. I also wanted products that were fairly traded or produced locally and to find products that had an ethical background.”

Sam has two small children of

her own now – Poppy (2) and Henry (8 months) – and she uses her own experience as a mother to help choose goods for the

shop. “I want beautiful things for my children so that they can get back to the grass roots of creative play and using their imagination.”

Sam spends a lot of time

researching and although she visits Top Drawer, Pulse and the Spring and Autumn Fairs she uses her computer at home to do a lot of the leg work – including travelling all over the world late at night when the children are in bed.

“Now that I have Henry and

Poppy I can’t visit as many shows so I look at a lot of boutique shops

overseas and investigate what they are selling. I have picked up some great ideas from America. “Particular favourites are the

Italian, Sevi handmade wooden toys and Ebu from America.The Haba range of jewellery has proved particularly popular because the jewellery is well made and designed for children and not little adults.”

The success of Sam’s buying is

evident in the range of customers she attracts. She said: “I have

regular customers from London who say they can’t get what they want in the city but know they will always find it at Nest. This shop isn’t what I initially set out to create but I absolutely love the business because my customers are always so enthusiastic.”

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