Nora and Luna Interview 14th May

Independent Design Collective is a craft based gift shop located in the vibrant Southville area of Bristol, featuring and promoting designers and makers from the local area. We were lucky enough to interview Chitra Tarling about the shop.

Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

I’m great thank you!

What made you decide to set up Independent Design Collective?

From a very young age, I have always wanted to own a shop selling my own designs. I studied furniture design at University and have worked in retail for over 20 years. Since moving to Bristol (from London) 5 years ago I have been selling my own pieces of timepiece jewellery, stitched art work and wooden candle holders at local markets.

I met plenty of local talented people at these markets and wanted to include them in my dream. The shop I found was the perfect size, location and with stunning windows and a beautiful door. When this opportunity came up I couldn’t say no, it was a ‘now or never’ moment.

What does your shop sell?

My shop sells a variety of pieces made by Bristol local creatives. We stock work from over 25 different artists. We currently sell, prints, photos, greetings cards, coasters, beauty products, string art, jewellery, candles, crochet pots, plant holders, tote bags and much much more.

Why did you call your shop Independent Design Collective?

I went through a number of different names and asked friends and family for their ideas too. After a lot of discussions with my husband it just came it me and sounded ideal. I know it is a bit long, but it can easily be shortened to IDC.

Have you always been into design and craft?

I have always been interested in art and design from a young age. My grandmother taught me to draw and my mother taught me origami and craft. From then I was hooked and I eventually choose to study furniture design at UCE in Birmingham. I worked in furniture sales while I lived in London but I was desperate to follow my dreams and so we moved to Bristol a few years ago. Bristol is a vibrant city full of independent businesses supported by the locals. I stated out with a small box of my jewellery, candles and cushions to sell at a local market. Each market I attended I learnt something new and my business grew slowly and steadily.

Where do you source your independent stock?

I met many Bristol artists when I was trading at the markets for 4 years and so when I first opened the shop I contacted them directly to see if they wanted to join my venture. Now, artists approach me and as long as they are offering something different and are local to Bristol I try and take them on and fit them in the shop

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

Social media is everywhere and if you are not a part of it you are not moving with the times. Social media is a form of free advertising and has helped massively in growing my business and even in selling products. So many people browse Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all day and then want the items they see.

Who inspires your shop?

I have honed my own style over the years, but everyone takes influence from others around them.  I have admired several independent shops in London and Bristol and have tried to emulate their style in to my shop.

Do you have any favourite pieces from your shop that you adore at the moment?

That is a very difficult question as I adore everything I have in the shop. If I wasn’t 100% on the pieces we have in store, I would struggle to sell them. I am passionate about each piece and every designer has their own merits.

What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram page?

I will continue to showcase new artists and designers joining the shop.  I will also promote our workshops happening throughout the year. So far we have held beginners crochet, beginners knitting and make your own face mask is coming up at the end of April.

Can you tell us a little bit about the events you are currently holding?

There are a couple of events coming up, firstly we are taking part in the Southbank arts trail on the 12th and 13th May. One of of jewellers will be stamping silver rings with shapes and letters for customers while they wait. Secondly it’ll be our 1st birthday on the 29th July and so we’ll be celebrating by holding a raffle. It will be happening over the same weekend as Upfest, so I’m sure it will be very busy.

What’s your typical working day?

We are open Tuesday to Saturday 10am till 6pm every week. I am here most days, but every so often we have a few volunteers help cover the shop. I normally post on Instagram and Facebook first thing. I then check the displays and make sure they are looking tidy and smart. I also try and redo the window displays each week, just to feature something new.

When it is quiet the shop also gives me the opportunity to make more timepiece jewellery for my other company Karve Design.

What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?

We are only 8 months old, so still relatively new. I think the hardest part has been advertising what we are and what we offer. Getting people through the doors and looking at all the pieces made my local artists and designers. Being a small independent shop means budgets are low and anything we can achieve through low cost or free advertising is very important.

Every purchase helps, not only me and the shop but also all the artists who sell with us. We are strong believers that every penny spent in a local independent shop goes back in to the community.

Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

The workshops we are holding in the shop is the biggest challenge for this year and they are already quite popular. As I said previously, we will also be celebrating our 1st birthday, so I’m looking forward to that.

What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?

Be unique and always be yourself.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own shop?

Research, plan, sort out your finances, find a good location, try and keep your overheads low and believe in yourself.  It takes time and effort but if you really want if to work if will.

What’s next for Independent Design Collective?

We haven’t got many exciting plans at present as we are still taking each month as it comes, but hopefully next year we’ll be more established and will be able to see what’s next on the horizon.

What’s the best piece of creative advice you’ve ever been given?

I have been given a lot of cliches as advise, such as, ‘follow your dreams’ ‘if you can dream it you can do it’ but strangely I never really believed it to be true.

I just kept my head down, worked hard everyday and here I am running my own shop. I couldn’t be happier.

You can take a look at their website ‘‘ for more information about the shop. You can also find Independent Design Collective on Instagram ‘’.

Happy New Year – 2018

Happy New Year Everyone!! 

At the start of this year I was lucky enough to be relaxing on a beach in Tenerife and so the shop was closed for about 2 weeks.


Worth it though! What a stunning place with amazing food. #needtogobacksoon


The rest of January was as expected, cold, grey, damp and miserable.  On the bright side though we had plenty of people visiting the shop and commenting on how warm and inviting it looks.

We also had quite a few new artists join the shop… Ransom Design, Quantum Design, Polly Baker Art, Wool Quarter, Iduna and Sophie Helen Design.

Below are a few photos of their work and more inforation on each artist can be found on our ‘Local Designers‘ page.


Something new for 2018, we have decided to introduce workshops at IDC so stay tuned for future updates.  First up is a beginners Crochet class followed by a beginners Knitting class.

February is proving to be quite a steady month and hopefully this will continue into the year. #shoplocal


It’s All a Blur! – Nov/Dec 2017

To be honest there is not much to say about these two months as each day blurred into the next. 

November we featured the following 4 artists and their work – Chimps Tea Party, Seaurchin, SC Knis and Red Bird Makes

Here are a few images of their work:


December was manic from start to finish in a really good way! The locals were starting to notice us and beginning to buy their Christmas presents from us! SUCCESS!

BRING ON 2018  🙂


New Stockists, New Shutters and Late Night Opening (Sept/Oct 2017)

The past two months have sped by and we are now officially in the run up to Christmas! I have enjoyed chatting with all our new customers and have been slowly filling our shelves with beautiful products made by local artist and designers.
During September we took park in the first ever Bristol Arts Trail ( which was taking place all over the city from the 1st to the 3rd Sept.
‘The Bristol Arts Trail offers the opportunity for everyone living and working within a Bristol postcode to open their home, studio, shop or gallery to the public. In creating Bristol Art Trail we wish to support the creative community throughout the City and unite everyone in a single event from the center to the edges of Bristol.’
On the 29th Sept Macmillian Cancer Support were holding the worlds biggest Coffee Morning and I wanted to take part as its a charity very close to my heart. I baked two different types of cake and offered tea and coffee on the day and I am pleased to say that we managed to raise £50 for this worthy cause.

In September we were pleased to announce that two new local artists joined our shop …
Button and Brew – All products are currently made by Siân Marie in her home studio in South Bristol. The embroidery is designed on a computer and sewn using a digital embroidery machine using high quality thread onto 100% cotton fabric. The items are then completed by hand. The make-your-own kit instructions are written by Sian Marie, each pack is put together by hand using a variety of recycled materials, mainly from clothing, and hand dyed yarns.

Simone Potter Ceramics – Simone Potter lives in South Bristol and makes pottery at her studio located at In Bristol Studio in Barton Hill, Bristol. Most of her pieces are made on the wheel and designed for commissions for galleries, restaurants and private clients. She enjoys developing and designing new work, experimenting with different clay bodies and exploring the chemistry of glazes.

Marbled M


As the nights get darker and we move closer to celebrating bonfire night, people start to think about Christmas! As a result of this and still being relatively new to the neighbourhood we thought it would be a good idea to start opening late on Thursday nights. These extra couple of hours gives customers the perfect opportunity to come in for a quick browse on their way home from work to view all of our fabulous products.
So from now on we will be open from 10 till 7pm EVERY Thursday night from now until Christmas!
This month we featured in a write up by Studio Cotton and Bedminster BID who popped into the shop at the beginning of the month to find out what we were about.
I have listed the links below:

North Street has always been famous for its street art and being the ‘new shop on the block’ I felt I needed to comply by having my shutters painted. The only person who sprang to mind was Lucas Antics ( and her amazing animals.  

20171011_094517  20171017_095459-e1510584867734.jpg

During October another 7 new artists joined our merry team, selling everything from cushions and crochet pots to ceramics, jewellery and other homewares.

Wisteria Workshop – Five years ago I started learning the craft of upholstery, combined the two and Wisteria Workshop Upholstery started.
I love trawling around markets, car-boots, and any second – hand shops looking for a fabric and chairs to transform.
At my workshop in Ashton I take commissions, make cushions and hold the odd class in basic Upholstery.


Chimps Tea Party – My crocheted plant cozies were designed as a way to add some bright colours and pom-poms to my house plants – I now want to put pom-poms on everything!


Seaurchin – Lisa works from her small home studio near Bristol Airport, taking inspiration from coral reefs, flowers, geology, moss and lichen. Most of the work is made of high-fired porcelain clay, which can be translucent when held up to the light. Wall sculptures and bowls are small-scale, delicate and decorative, often the creamy white of pure unglazed porcelain, or vibrantly coloured using stoneware glazes, underglaze or melted glass.


SC Knits – Her product collections and tonal palettes are inspired by the vibrant surroundings and textural surfaces of nature. With a distinctive bohemian style, her lively knitted textiles and innovative products demonstrate her passion for colour and surface texture.

SC Knits - Pom Pom pot Hangers (1)

Red Bird Makes – Red Bird Makes’ eclectic mix stems from her love of vintage and the simpler things in life. Find nostagic quirky porcelain charms alongside her more minimal and modern geometric brass and silver work.

Smithson Gallery Forge 09 Jo Hounsome Photography

So Spiffy – The tea towels are all designed by Sylv, then printed and returned to Sam who packages them in their spiffy punnets and dispatches them to their new homes. Their first products were a range of tea towels celebrating the joys of Devon. Nostalgia at its very best!! They continue to add new designs, while bringing in a range of other homewares.

tea towels 8

Anna Lees – Anna Lees creates playful compositions by recycling images from discarded books and forgotten photographs. She is focused on the process of deconstructing and reconstructing found imagery to create rearranged realities, playful portraits and imagined landscapes.


Logo design and building furniture (July/August 2017)

These past couple of months have flown by and I can’t quite believe we are now open and trading.

July mainly consisted of sanding, painting, more painting and checking in on the builders.

Once the main building work was completed and majority of the painting was done, ordering the furniture and fixtures was next on my list of tasks.  The main furniture pieces came from a company called Moreplan. They are based in Hengrove, but also have branches in London. This shop sells anything a shop Ower could want or need…. It is fabulous and the staff are super friendly and helpful.

The rest of the furniture came from second hand shops around the city.  I’ve made use of old tea chests, scrap wood from a building site and even an old cable reel. The other pieces came from a shop on West Street called ‘Dear Old Thing’.


Whilst the final preparations for the shop were getting done, I was frantically looking for someone to help me design the shop logo.  I knew what I was looking for but didn’t have the skills to produce the final version.

In my hour of need a friend from London offered to come up with a few designs. As soon as I saw the first design I knew this was it! It was well presented, stylish, eye catching and sexy.  I loved it! Independent Design Collective now had a logo a brand and a colour scheme.

I would like to thank Dominic from Dominic Payne Design who came up with this stunning logo. Thanks Dom 😀