Updated: Apr 21
The small town of Frome in Somerset has been topping various lists of 'best' and 'coolest' places to live in the UK for years. I have to say that I completely agree - but having lived and worked here for 8 years myself I am a little bit biased. With a thriving independent high street, a scattering of venues and theatres and a real community spirit - not to mention a brilliant monthly market in The Frome Independent that has been sorely missed this past year - it's not hard to see why it's a popular place to be.
There are an amazing selection of independent shops throughout the town that are keeping at bay the invasion of the high street giants. Here are a few of my favourites that can help locals and visitors in their quest to live more sustainably.
Slow Fashion Champions
Amongst the array of shops in Frome you can find clothing ranging from the unique to the chic and lots of them have a slow fashion ethos. Many of my favourites are situated on the famous cobbles of Catherine Hill and Stony Street. Once you start making your way up the steep hill you won't be the only one needing to take a break to catch your breath. Take the opportunity to head into Truly Sopel, a dream for lovers of all things cute and pastel. You'll find Truly's staple cotton frilly knickers - the ultimate comfy pants - in a variety of kitsch prints alongside fun doll-inspired loungewear that is designed in-house and made in the UK.
A bit further up the hill and you'll find the menswear shops Nomad and Assembly situated next door to each other. Both champion quality design and British manufacture, with high quality, durable items that will last a lifetime.
After grabbing a tea or coffee halfway up, you'll find yourself at Poot Emporium, a shop full to the brim with handmade and vintage clothing and accessories. Run by a collective of designer makers and vintage sellers including myself, you can browse the rails of one-of-a-kind pieces - the majority of which are made using vintage and remnant fabrics - whilst also chatting to the people that made them.
You've almost made it to the top, so treat yourself by diving into Dandy Lion, a vintage shop that has a great selection of menswear as well as womenswear which is a rarity in itself. With rails full of workwear, 80's jumpers, American tees and summer dresses, you can't really go wrong.
If you love rummaging through a charity shop, then when you head back into the town centre pop into my Frome favourite Dorothy House, which has a special vintage rail that always has a few treats on it.
If you are trying to reduce your plastic consumption, Denude on Bath Street is refill heaven, one of a couple of refill spots in Frome. From cleaning products, to pasta, flour, dried fruit, spices and even a peanut butter making machine, you can fill your boots (or tupperware) and leave thinking about all the single use plastic you've managed to avoid. I can't visit without leaving with a little pot of seaweed peanut crackers for my walk home.
For that one-off time that you need a pressure washer, angle grinder or even some disco lights, there is the Share Shop, a 'Library of Things'. "The average drill is only used 13 minutes in its lifetime" it states on their website, so why not borrow one instead! An ingenious idea of a shop, you can register for free and borrow items for as long as you want.
If getting your nails done or having a cheeky facial is your idea of the perfect treat - trust me you deserve it after this hellish year - then I recommend booking into Hop, a tiny little beauty salon that uses only vegan and cruelty free products. You can even add on some classy nail art to your gel polish booking if you're feeling a bit extra.
If you're looking to slow down your consumption and buy quality, handmade, second-hand or plastic free when you do, these shops are great places to head to. Shopping local helps those independent retailers that are part of the slow fashion and sustainable living movement, supporting local talent and reducing environmental impact. So grab your reusable coffee cup, give yourself a nice day out and then a pat on the back at the same time.