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A Phoenix Rises in The Secret Courtyard

February 22, 2014

I know the title of this post sounds like an episode of “Game of Thrones”, but the story I have to share with you could easily come from the pen of a television drama writer.

Those of you that follow me on Twitter or Facebook may already know a little about vintage headband and tiara maker Sheena Holland and the grim saga that her life became towards the end of 2013.  For those unfamiliar, here’s a quick “Previously On…”

Sheena Holland has worked for fashion legend Katharine Hamnett and as a professional florist (providing flowers for HRH The Queen Mother, Elton John and Michael Jackson).  She’s even sung at The Brit Awards (backing Sting and M People).  In 2003 she began making one-off vintage headbands and spent the next decade building her business.  Clients included Alan Carr and singers Pink and Lily Allen.  Having latterly taken the plunge into high street retail with her own shop on Queen Street in Derby, in early 2013 she moved into larger premises where she expanded her stock range to include all manner of exquisite vintage goods.

Sheena Holland's scaffold-enclosed shop in Derby

At the beginning of October 2013 the building housing her shop was encased in scaffolding.  The motives of her landlords, Derby City Council, were laudable – to renovate the building, including offices above, for creative start-up businesses to use – but their execution left a lot to be desired.  And I mean a lot.

Sheena’s shop was almost entirely hidden from view to customers and trade plummeted.  I can’t say much more because there may still be further legal wrangles to come, but in spite the incredible efforts of Sheena and her many supporters the situation became untenable and Sheena was forced to close her shop just before Christmas.  In less than ten weeks, all that Sheena had worked so hard to build up had been razed to the ground.

Well, I’m delighted to say that, like the proverbial phoenix, Sheena has risen from the ashes and opened a new shop in The Old Blacksmith’s Yard, Derby and I went to pay her a visit last week to find out how she was getting on.

Sheena Holland's new shop in Derby

I say “new”, but this shop is actually 600-years old, or, at least the front of it is.  It was a merchant’s house and stood originally in the city’s market square, but had been hemmed in and hidden away over the years by neighbouring buildings.

The half-timbered merchant's house in Old Blacksmith's Yard

It was revealed in 1977 during demolition work to make way for the new Assembly Rooms and was meticulously dismantled, brick by brick and put into storage for twelve years before finally being reconstructed in 1982 in what became known as the Old Blacksmith’s Yard.

Old Balcksmith's Yard sign

Blacksmith anvil

Sheena’s new shop looks fabulous in this splendid “secret courtyard” just off Sadler Gate in the heart of Derby’s Cathedral Quarter.  The interior is just as charming as the exterior.

Vintage sheet music wallpaper

Sheena Holland's shop in Derby

Antique headbands

Antique and vintage jewellery shop

Vintage Oertling display cabinet

Vintage mirrors

The shop is packed with vintage loveliness and Sheena’s beautiful handmade tiara’s and headbands look great in their new home.

Sheena's wedding headbands

Sheena Holland's feather side tiaras

Vintage pearl side tiara headband

handmade wedding headbands by Sheena Holland

Feather headband side-tiara

Sheena has really made the shop her own – I love the vintage sheet music adorning the wall behind the counter.

Vintage sheet music decoarating the wall of Sheena Holland's shop

As if bouncing back from her previous woes to open a new shop in the Old Blacksmith’s Yard wasn’t enough, Sheena is now aiming to completely revitalise the fortunes of the whole courtyard by running a Vintage, Arts and Food Market there.  The first is on Saturday March 1st and Sheena is planning to make it a regular fixture.

I’m so pleased that Sheena has managed to find another outlet for her work.  Independent makers and sellers on our high streets are to be celebrated and encouraged and I look forward to seeing her business go from strength to strength.

Find out more about Sheena Holland by visiting  Her new shop is at 10 The Old Blacksmiths Yard, Derby DE1 3PD and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am til 5pm.

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