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  • Writer's pictureKiera McLaughlin

A chat with Jess from Contemporary

Our chat this week is with Jess!

Jess was one of the key developers of Contemporary, from the early days of selecting branding and values, Jess has helped build up Contemporary to what it is today! So, if you've ever wondered about why we started the pop ups?, How Contemporary was created? or even something else... Well grab a cuppa and keep reading as we have all the answers for you!

First question Jess, How was Contemporary created?

"The work we do with Contemporary now I had actually been doing since I joined Barker Proudlove a couple of years ago. I started working part time alongside my Masters degree and the more work I did, the more I knew we could make something out of this, it was very evident that there was a gap in the market.

Ideas were bounced around a few times, and then one day it all just seemed to happen and come together like we always knew it would. Before I knew it, we weren't just bouncing ideas around, but playing with names and aims! After that it all seemed to happen and come together super quickly! This was all just before and around when the pandemic was starting, so I actually spent a lot of the first lock down working on the concept and website. I hope the hard work pays off!"

What is the aim with Contemporary?

"My aim was always to create an additional stepping stone within retail property, that’s how I always saw it and how I still describe it today. It’s scary signing up to long term commitments, straight away, especially for newer and smaller businesses. Creating that short term opportunity to trial in between helps to give some reassurance that you can trial the high street before you press the button on committing longer term.

I feel like pop ups are a great way to give people confidence in the high street and emphasising its potential is key to ensure the future of these spaces is positive.

I hate when people say things like 'death of the high street'. Is it sad when a chain retailer falls? Yes. Of course it is. (I still reminisce over the Woolworth's Pick and Mix today) But we need to take lessons from this, most retailers started from smaller beginnings, M&S started in Leeds Market, Mike Ashley was from a similar background. So what does this show us? To me, it is that within our local communities there are a huge range of business owners with huge potential. We need to get those people onto our high streets and give them the chance to grow and flourish."

Why did you want to work on the pop up shops?

"I love what independents bring to the high street. Quality products, unique items, sustainable processes. A lot of people say that all high streets are the same, the same names, the same offering and I always wondered, what if every town had just that one shop

that was unique? What if that one shop turned into 3 and 5? All of a sudden there is something far more unique on offer and the chances of more people visiting surely go up.

There is joy in finding something different and I wanted to ensure I was doing what I could to push that."

Where do you see the pop ups in 12 months time?

"I would love to hopefully have a couple more locations on our list! I would love to keep expanding and be able to serve as many towns as possible. It would be nice to get another city on the list too... I know a lot of people want us in the city centres like Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle!"

Any tips/advice for small businesses thinking about a pop up?

"Go for it! Break things down to a day by day picture. If you’re worried about the cost, let's say you’re looking at £275 per week. That works out to just short of £40 a day. How does that

compare with your price point? How many products do you need to sell to recuperate your costs and pay for your time?"

Also consider how the price per day compares to other events you might do. If you are part of a local makers market in the wind and rain at £40 a day and succeed each time, the chances are in a warm, dry, well decorated shop you will do even better.

I always think breaking it down and processing it that way would help me analyse it better. I know it might seem silly! Also I would say, don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions. We’re on hand to help with any questions you might have. Just drop us an email or call if you want to sound anything out."

What's your favorite thing about working on the pop ups?

"It's hard to pick just one thing! I do love seeing the space transform every time. It is amazing how each person sees the space and uses it differently. I also love visiting and hearing from the business owners and seeing the customers love the shops too. I wish I had more time to do visits! I would be on the road every day to each if time allowed.

I also love getting feedback. It is so nice to hear business success stories. Honestly, it makes my day."

and finally, any small business recommendations?

"So many to choose from!

For stationery addicts: @OhLaura or @marthabrookldn

For gym/lounge wear: @KIHT – I love what Danielle stands for with the brand and I love being able to support her and her work. Shout out to both barrels for bringing Kiht onboard to their pop up!

I could come back with another 10 names but better not turn this into an essay!"


We hope you enjoyed this little insight into Contemporary! We love sharing our story and we hope that you guys love hearing about it.

If you would like more information, then give our site a check out: Pop Up Shops | Contemporary by Barker Proudlove (

We will be back soon with another chat, so stay tuned!...


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