A STALYBRIDGE town centre business has won an award for its excellent customer services.
Florence & Amelia’s, a vintage inspired shop on Corporation Street, was recognised for its customer service at the Greater Manchester Business Awards.
And it follows on from a nomination for the start-up business of the year at the 2015 Tameside Business Awards.
It is less than three-and-a-half years since Nicola Buckley, a former PA to a partner in a Manchester law firm, decided to make a drastic career change for family reasons.
The mother-of-two wanted to turn her hobby of restoring furniture and love of making things and being creative into a career.
She explained: “I had always been practical and the handyman at home as my husband Steven, a lawyer and tribunal judge, is a pen and paper man.
“When it came to doing jobs like putting up shelves, I would do it myself as a hobby.”
It was in July 2014 that Nicola spotted her shop – it was Heritage Joinery and Annie’s Florists before that – up for letting.
Nicola continued: “I made an appointment to look at the building and saw the bare bones and thought I could make something of it, though my husband thought I was mad.
“I put a business plan to the bank and opened that October so it happened very quickly.”
The shop’s unusual name is in memory of her two grandmothers.
Nicola said: “Florence and Amelia were both my grandmothers and both their husbands died at a young age.
“They stuck together and were the head of their families and truly inspirational women.”
Nicola says the business, that specialises in up-cycling projects, vintage and shabby chic furniture, home accessories and gifts for all occasions, has gone from strength to strength.
That is underlined by the business having 11,000 Facebook followers, 10,200 on Twitter and 980 on Instagram.
And there is also a buoyant online shop as Nicola explained: “We receive a lot of orders from across Europe and we have recently had one from Istanbul, Turkey, for some of our unique gifts.”
Nicola is also passing on her knowledge by holding monthly workshops that are proving popular.
She said: “Due to the size of the shop, we can only accommodate six people at a time, but I have a waiting list.
“It is very sociable as we have tea and cakes and those attending learn about restoring furniture.”
Nicola, who is looking to expand her business into an adjoining property, receives help from mother Pauline Murray and local girl Freya Healey, who is a student at Tameside College.
And of the award, Nicola said: “I was thrilled to win as it was the first time I had entered it.
“I am a people person and enjoy focusing on customer service as do Pauline and Freya.”