The inspiring Ouseburn shops up for national awards this week

Jessica Penrose at The Find in the Ouseburn, Newcastle
Jessica Penrose at The Find in the Ouseburn, Newcastle -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

The growing reputation of the Ouseburn as a flourishing hub of independent businesses is being given a further boost as two shops are currently in the running for national awards at a ceremony to be held this week.

The arty area of Newcastle is home to a variety of businesses, many of them refreshingly different from the norm, and two of them are currently enjoying a share of the spotlight. The Find along with Bibelot Nook have been short-listed - in separate categories - in the Small Awards taking place in London this Thursday.

Launched in 2017 by Small Business Britain, which champions small companies across the UK, the intention is to spotlight the little gems often overlooked by awards events. The Find, described as a 'lifestyle shop' which was opened by Jessica Penrose in Lime Street last July, is one of 10 finalists in the New Kid On The Block category.

This best newcomer award is aimed at those which have started up within the last 18 months and have demonstrated considerable progress in growth and development. Jess, from Heaton, is delighted to make the finals, saying she has put her "heart and soul" into her "tucked-away" shop.

Selling high-end vintage furniture and artisan goods, The Find - like some others in the area - is not just about one business: it supports 26 local makers and sellers. Shoppers can find everything there from glass, art and ceramics to vintage goods and the likes of hand-made soap, candles, chocolate, leather bags, jewellery and skin care products.

“Opening a shop in the economic climate was a risky move," recalls Jess. "I have put my heart and soul into making this work and it’s been tough.

"To be shortlisted for the small business awards has given me a real lift. I feel like my efforts have been recognised.

Dan Douglas in Bibelot Nook under Byker Bridge
Dan Douglas in Bibelot Nook under Byker Bridge -Credit:Iain Buist/Newcastle Chronicle

"It’s tough right now for small businesses." The 44-year-old added: “I’m very proud of the shop and the quality of work we sell here."

The Find's customers can browse what's on offer in a relaxed atmosphere against a background of vinyl sounds and scented candles. "Everything I sell I hand-picked and the stockists are some the best the region has to offer," says Jess.

Nearby, Biblelot Nook - a vintage treasure trove in Stepney Road run by Dan Douglas - involves a collective of around 12 businesses and recently marked its first birthday. It is among 10 finalists in the awards' Bricks and Clicks category which spotlights the skilled and innovative use of multiple channels in order to develop business.

Dan, whose shop promotes 'conscious shopping' and re-use of vintage furniture, especially loves seventies and eighties items and his rapidly-changing stock has included such one-offs as a retro ball chair and a 1900s industrial cabinet. He said of the awards: "We have only been open a year and so it is very exciting for us."

The Small Awards ceremony will take place in London on Thursday evening with winners - chosen by a panel of industry experts - to be announced in 11 categories. They will include an overall Small Business of the Year.

Michelle Ovens, founder of Small Business Britain, called both of the Ouseburn businesses "deserving nominees" and added: “The Small Awards is all about celebrating the inspiring small business owners who are at the heart of the economy and their communities.

"They are an opportunity to recognise and applaud the passion and resilience of the nation’s small firms, particularly amidst such turbulent times."