Homerton woman brings wool shop back to Clapton after 20 year gap
PUBLISHED: 12:05 17 May 2014
On a wet and windy day nearly 30 years ago, Anna Felman and her sister were trying to hitchhike in Norwich.
A man who stopped to give them a lift told them they looked “wild and woolly”. The phrase stuck in the mind of Homerton resident Mrs Felman. So much that her new shop, which she opened after quitting a high-flying career in the City, is named after it.
The mother-of-two, of Mehetabel Road, has started up a funky and contemporary wool shop in Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, in April – next door to the site of a former wool shop which closed 20 years ago.
It’s something she had dreamt about for years but the 43-year-old former web developer had a “now or never” moment in November and quit her full-time job soon after.
She said: “I’ve dreamed of opening a wool shop since 1999.
“Knitting has been a big part of my life and I was getting increasingly serious about it. I was going to classes and imagining what it would be like to run a shop.
“A friend said: ‘You know what’s going to happen? Someone’s going to open a wool shop in Clapton and then how are you going to feel?’. So I thought I’m 43 and I’m not getting any younger. If don’t do it now, I’m going to have to stop thinking about it.”
After resigning, she did a course at education charity HBV Enterprise in Dalston Lane, Dalston and learned how to put a business plan together.
“They made me feel it was something I could do”, she said. “It was a psychological thing they did for me.”
She then started looking for sites and fell in love with a former hair-braiding shop which she converted using local designers.
Her love affair with knitting began as a child. “When I was six or seven years old, my Austrian gran taught me how to knit. She taught me the continental way of knitting which is different from the standard way we do it in the UK.”
The former Oxford graduate has spent her life working as a web developer for national governmental organisations (NGOs) which included being posted to Johannesburg in South Africa to work on projects about press freedom when the internet first started.
When she moved back in 1999, she and her husband set up home in Hackney and have been here ever since.
And she’s got no regrets about leaving her career behind.
“Wool shops were part of local high streets until 20 years ago and they died out in the 1980s”, she said. “Older generations have come in to say it’s nice that there’s a wool shop in Clapton again. It feels like picking up a thread.
“Then there’s a group you would totally imagine consisting of mums in their late 20s and early 30s who have money in their pockets. There are fashion students in their early 20s – they like all the colourful and unusual wools.
“There’s older women from different backgrounds – particularly Turkish. It’s the mix you would expect from a borough like Hackney. We seem to have a lot of skilled knitters.
“It a response to the increased time we spend looking at screens. People want an antidote and to do something with their hands.”