For Jean Rowney, it all started by selling her handmade jewellery at craft fairs.

But fast forward to today, and she is about to celebrate 20 years of her much-loved Middlesbrough boutique, Concept.

The Linthorpe Road store opposite the Dorman Museum will be a familiar one to many – known for its unique furniture, homeware, jewellery, scarfs, and gorgeous gifts.

And while the high street has had many ups and downs while Jean has been in business, her shop has stood the test of time and has gone from strength-to-strength.

From what was once a pizza shop, Concept is now double in size to what it was 20 years ago, and now stocks exclusive items you would struggle to pick up at big-name retailers.

Jean is even going to be on billboards around town as part of a Visa campaign supporting local businesses.

“I think it is because we put our heart and soul into this shop,” said Jean, 60, when asked how an independent like hers has survived the tough times.

“I love doing it – I loving buying stock and choosing new products.

“We have such loyal customers too. They keep coming back. Some have been shopping with us since day one.

“We love our customers. They are like friends now.”

Concept is very much a family affair for Jean. Husband Andrew now helps her to run the shop and her daughter Sophie has also been integral over the years.

Explaining the shop’s origins, she said: “I started off making jewellery and selling it at craft fairs, and from that I decided that the next step was a shop.

“There were two available on Linthorpe Road at the time and we got this one.

“This was a pizza shop and we put put our heart and soul into it to make it right. Then six years ago we got an extension to double in size.”

Another pivotal moment came a few years ago when Concept was chosen to stock Annie Sloan Chalk Paint – a renowned furniture paint that is only stocked in handpicked independents.

“It was amazing to be chosen – it has made a huge difference,” said Jean. “We get people from all over coming to buy it.”

Jean added: “Looking back it is amazing to think we have been here 20 years.

“The shop is ticking along nicely and I couldn’t ask for more than that.”

To celebrate its birthday, Concept is hosting an anniversary shopping event on Saturday, November 24, from 10am until 5pm.

There will be 10% off everything in store, a raffle, a free gift with every purchase, and complimentary drink and cake.

© 2018 Tees Info

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