Manchester eco-designer Hannah Beaumont opens her first store on Hilton Street
There’s no remnants of Kebabish at 49 Hilton Street now. In place of the Northern Quarter curry and kebab house are neatly arranged cacti plants, rails of contemporary organic clothing, flickering candles and elegant wicker furniture. It’s hard to believe they once sold tandoori chicken here at 3am.
Owner and designer Hannah Beaumont is busy looking for any sign of dust when we meet (there isn’t, the store is impossibly immaculate). As the first bricks and mortar store for her Manchester-made fashion brand, Beaumont Organic, there’s pressure to make a great first impression.
“It’s really just a space to showcase what Beaumont is all about - our style and our vision,” says Hannah, eyeing up a plant that could do with a refresh. “We want shoppers to come in, sit and have a cup of coffee – the store has a living room feel.”
Ever the 'homemaker', we first met the young entrepreneur four years ago in her stunning Didsbury home-slash-studio, where her staff-slash-family would work in the upstairs rooms. That was during the height of the fast-fashion online influx, when Beaumont’s ethical and organic approach to online retail still felt uncommon and niche. Times have changed.
“I’ve seen a massive change since 2008 when I started trying to sell organic and ethical clothing – people were like ‘no, I don’t want to buy hemp, I don’t want to buy cardboard clothing,” she laughs.
The small yet well-formed boutique looks as if it has been ripped out of Kinfolk magazine
“These days there are more brands like us doing ethical clothing well and selling better quality clothes. The media has also helped, it’s been a slow trickle, but it has helped. Of course, the rise in people eating organic and vegan foods have made people more aware. If you become more aware about the food you eat, then most likely you’ll become more aware about other purchasing decisions.”
Beaumont Organic’s new store does feel ‘of the now’. The small yet well-formed boutique looks as if it has been ripped out of Kinfolk magazine – it’s aesthetically pleasing, homely, conceptual and aspirational.
“We started looking around the Northern Quarter, and the more we looked the more we felt it right for our open store," she continues.
“It’s about the traditional shopping but adding something else. We’re going to be hosting workshops, from calligraphy to dreamcatcher weaving. We also want to link with the local community which is hard to do with wholesale and online.”
Beaumont’s online presence has grown momentously over the years and the brand boasts loyal customers in Japan, Scandinavia and the US. The brand’s popularity can be attributed to its commitment to ethical sourcing.
“Beaumont Organic is contemporary and conscious – because we are organic and ethical,” says Hannah. “The clothes are very clean, minimal and really good quality - the fabrics are a key importance for us and all are sourced in Portugal and England."
"Our core fabric is still organic cotton; every material is certified, our farmers are checked – it’s really important that they’re paid ethically and work fair hours"
She adds: “Our core fabric is still organic cotton; every material is certified, our farmers are checked. It’s really important that they’re paid ethically and work fair hours. Then we check the dye and knitting process – everything has to be fair trade. That’s still the core. We are opening up to other fabrics and in the summer we do natural linens, another eco fabric we use is lyocell, which is made from the pulp of wood and bamboo.”
The fashion industry is endlessly criticised for its poor working conditions and unethical practices, and Hannah reveals she is always looking for more ways to improve.
“When we go to the factories there’s so much fabric wasted it’s scary. So, if we spot 50 metres of fabric that we could make a number of shirts with we collect them and work with them."
And Beaumont Organic’s clothes are of great quality. They specialise in minimal, simple style clothing featuring cosy eco knits, oversized shirts, jersey tops and leather accessories in easy-to-wear colours. Unsurprisingly, the clothes are not cheap, and an organic cotton sweatshirt can cost above £100 – but that’s the price you pay for a clear conscience.
"Everything you see in the shop has been made or sourced in Manchester, and if not the rest in England"
While courting a loyal customer base throughout Europe and overseas, you get the sense a physical store is a huge, if not greater achievement for the designer and her team.
They rush about ahead of their grand opening - the plants are continually watered, the clothes are adjusted and Hannah has her hopes set on a busy shop full of people sharing creative ideas and a shared love for conscious clothes.
“It feels like I’m in a village. There’s a real community Northern Quarter," she enthuses. "Everything you see in the shop has been made or sourced in Manchester, and if not the rest of England – we’ve done it all locally. It’s about the community and you can’t do that online. You need community."
Find Beaumont Organic at 49 Hilton Street, Manchester