FROM tea and scones to rock and punk, a Morpeth businesswoman has made quite a transformation.
Claire Nixon first began trading in the town four-and-a-half years ago when she took on Peppermint Tea Room in Newgate Street with her business partner Christine Appleby.
But when Ms Appleby decided to retire earlier this year, her partner was torn as she did not wish to continue the cafe without her, yet couldn’t bear to say goodbye to Morpeth.
The solution was to set up a completely new venture and Zephyr alternative fashion and lifestyle store was born.
The outlet in Oldgate couldn’t be further removed from the tea room with its rock, punk and gothic style, and brands such as Hell Bunny, Jist Jeans, Necessary Evil, Run & Fly and Phaze.
Mrs Nixon said: “When Christine said she wanted to retire I considered all my options and decided that it wouldn’t be the same without her so I decided to sell the business and do something completely different.
“It had to be different because I wanted to stay in Morpeth and I couldn’t do food because it wouldn’t be fair to sell up and then open another food outlet along the road.
“The fashion shop is aimed at a much younger customer than myself and it is quite alternative and different for people who don’t like mainstream fashion. It isn’t really difficult for me to do though because it is something I would have been interested in when I was younger and my children are interested in it now.
“It is very different to the tea room. I don’t see as many people now and don’t get to know them as well as when I worked in the tea room. It is a different type of trade and obviously people aren’t coming in and sitting down and having a chat, but it is still about being approachable and getting to know the clients and what sort of things they want, which are the same skills I used before.”
Although Mrs Nixon lives in Gosforth there was no question of her setting up her store anywhere else but Morpeth.
“I did look around when we sold the tea room for an alternative business and I went to lots of different places, including Newcastle, but I just didn’t find anywhere with the heart that Morpeth has got,” she said.
“The high street is fabulous in Morpeth, there are lots of independent traders, the streets are lovely and there is little crime. It is a nice town and people really do underestimate it.
“I wanted particularly to stay here.”
It seems to have been the right decision as Mrs Nixon is enjoying a roaring trade in her new shop.