High Street Impact Award

 

Category criteria

  • This category will recognise any business, team or individual that can demonstrate a significant positive impact in making their city centre or local high street more vibrant, welcoming or sustainable.
  • The judges will recognise and reward initiatives to create high street jobs, attract local residents and visitors, revitalise the public realm, or help with profile raising.
  • The judges will also look for impactful measures which have helped high streets to become clean, green, mixed-used spaces.

Dr M Sha

High Street Impact Award entrant

Dr M Sha is a first generation immigrant woman determined to create an empire from scratch.
The 35-year-old has launched an aesthetics and wellness clinic alongside her work as a GP.
She opened her first aesthetics clinic within M Club in Stoke-on-Trent in August 2023 and has ambitions to open a clinic in the city centre.
“When people talk about aesthetics they think about overly filled cheeks and lips. It’s so much more than that,” she said. “I want to specialise in menopause-related skin and scalp problems and to introduce aesthetics treatments for men.
“A very important part of the process is talking to people about why they want a procedure and whether to go ahead with it. We talk about whether their health and self-esteem is being affected because treating that is more important.”
Dr Sha, who works as an out of hours GP and also as an aesthetics trainer for The Harley Institute in London, says that Stoke-on-Trent doesn’t currently have many doctor-led aesthetics clinics.
She is currently the only practitioner at her clinic but says her husband, a research scientist, researches the treatments and products she offers before they are introduced.
Dr Sha added: “My small clinic is in the massive MClub Spa and Fitness Centre and its owner, Mo Chaudry is an absolute inspiration. I wish I could be the next Mo for Stoke-on-Trent and my family.”
She has entered five categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards – Small Business of the Year, Young Business Person of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Business in the Community and High Street Impact.

Andrea Harrison

High Street Impact Award entrant

An award-winning couture designer who won Collection of the Year at Graduate Fashion Week is making her one-off, bespoke creations in the heart of Burslem.
Andrea Harrison has been commissioned by The British Council, styled a fashion shoot for a pop singer and had a fashion show in Hong Kong.
After working as a fashion designer in London the 45-year-old moved back to the Midlands to set up her own business in 2017.
From her base in Price Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, she designs and makes wedding and special occasion wear.
“What makes me different is that I’m a couture designer,” said Andrea, from Biddulph. “I make one off pieces for customers who often can’t find what they are looking for elsewhere.
“My customers are often women who don’t want to go to bridal stores and want something personal to them. A lot of the time they want something a bit different, sometimes in different colours. They come to me because they can’t find what they’re looking for or want something more luxurious.”
Andrea began by customising clothing for herself and friends when she was still at school then took a BTEC in fashion and textiles at Mid Cheshire College.
“I realised I absolutely loved fashion. I loved all the aspects of it. It kept my interest because it’s so broad based.”
After graduating from a fashion degree at Northampton the mum-of-one exhibited at Graduate Fashion Week and won the prize for Collection of the Year.
That led to her being commissioned by The British Council to travel to Egypt to style a fashion shoot for the singer Natacha Atllas.
The British Council also later commissioned her to put on a fashion show in Hong Kong, after earlier flying her out for a research trip.
When Andrea completed an MA in women’s wear at Central Saint Martins in London she thought she’d completed her university education. But at the end of 2022 she heard about Staffordshire University’s Peter Coates MSc in Entrepreneurship.
As part of the first cohort of the course she has been working on plans to scale her business.
Andrea currently designs and produces all of her own pieces but is now looking to recruit a team of pattern cutters and seamstresses to support her work.
She added: “I wasn’t planning on doing anything like this course at all but after I heard about it I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s given me the time and space to work on my business instead of in it.”
Andrea Harrison has entered the High Street Impact, Alumni Business Person of the Year and Small Business of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Footsteps

High Street Impact Award entrant

Emma Priestman’s shoe shop is based in the Staffordshire Moorlands but its reputation is international.
Footprints, in Derby Street, Leek, regularly attracts customers from as far afield as the US and Denmark who make the most of the sort of service they tell Emma they simply can’t find back home.
A former children’s day nursery manager, Emma opened her specialist children’s shoe shop in 2006.
18 years later the business that was originally designed to fit around her young family is still going strong and Emma is diversifying.
After nearly two decades of focussing on children’s feet she’s now branching out into adult footwear too with a particular focus on ‘good shoes for the elderly’ and shoes for medical staff, hairdressers and others who spend their working life on their feet.
Emma is also working on a community element to her business where she takes her expertise into the likes of retirement villages, GP surgeries and mother and toddler groups to ensure people understand the importance of wearing correctly-fitting shoes.
“I’m really proud about what I do and the service I offer. I like to think our customer service is second to none,” said Emma, who currently has one member of staff but is looking to recruit a team to work for her expanded business.
“We have a lot of customers from Leek and the surrounding areas but people also travel to us from Cheshire and Derbyshire.
“We also have repeat customers from overseas who buy from us when they’re visiting family in the UK and say there isn’t a shop like ours where they live.”
Emma is currently studying on the Peter Coates MSc in Entrepreneurship, where she is honing the expansion plans for Footprints.
“It’s a fantastic course. It’s been like a breath of fresh air for me to be exposed to other entrepreneurs and so many inspirational speakers,” she said.
Footprints has been entered into the High Street Impact and Small Business of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards and Emma has entered the Alumni Business Person of the Year category.

Vellichor Books

High Street Impact Award entrant

Mitch Hughes says his partner is delighted he’s opened a book shop – because now he hoards books at work rather than at home.
The 30-year-old, from Fenton, opened Vellichor Books in Piccadilly Arcade, Hanley on February 3.
He sells new and preloved books, has a café area and has opened up a first floor community room that groups can use free of charge.
“I’ve always loved the idea of having my own book shop,” said Mitch, who previously worked as a teaching assistant and support worker.
“Maybe it’s because I used to watch the comedy series Black Books. It’s something I’ve wanted for so long.
“Then some friends of mine opened Geek Retreat in the city centre and I thought if they could do it then I could too. Once I decided to do it everything moved quickly.”
Community impact is important to Mitch so he created a room on the first floor, complete with chairs and beanbags, that he hopes will be used for book club meetings, book launches, artists’ workshops and more.
“I think it’s especially important to have this sort of offer in Hanley,” said Mitch. “It could even be that a group of friends would like to use the space as somewhere quiet to study. I want to sell books and I’d like people to buy drinks but I also want Vellichor to be a community.”
The shop sells books of all genres although Mitch says he has a personal interest in horror writing and will also be stocking comics.
He added: “I love reading and I just love being around books and collecting books. My partner is happy because now I’m collecting them at the shop rather than at home.”
Vellichor Books has entered the High Street Impact and Business in the Community categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

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