Heavy Gretel


PUBLISHED: 7 October '21

This week in ‘Unwrapped’, Independent Worthing talks to Hanna Mawbey, owner of Warwick Street’s art, craft, design and plant shop Heavy Gretel.

Hanna is a wonderful human: interesting, friendly, passionate about the community and supporting independent makers, and a talented jeweller, teacher and designer in her own right. Hanna shares the building with her partner Bob, who runs Noble Rose tattoo studio upstairs.


IW: What inspired you to start your own business?

HM: Heavy Gretel came about after my partner wanted to move his tattoo business (Noble Rose Tattoo) to a bigger premises and I had a loose plan to open a shop showcasing handmade work by independent makers for a number of years but the time never quite worked, or the commercial properties weren’t quite right. The perfect building came up so we could start something together on Warwick Street! After graduating from the 3D Design & Craft degree at the University of Brighton, I did various creative jobs, including lecturing in Architecture and Interior Design – I love knowing how things are made and helping people to realise their creative ideas. When we got the keys to our shop, I was able to exercise my interior design skills and passion for craft.


IW: What is the best thing about what you do?

HM: There are a few things that I love about my job! The most important: Getting to interact with and talk to customers about all the amazing makers whose work I stock. I have about 50 different independent suppliers that I have cultivated great relationships with. I believe passionately in the power of making, the importance of telling the stories of the makers, knowing the costs (environmental and labour) that go into the work I stock. I’m trying to encourage a slightly more conscious form of consumption at Heavy Gretel, not buying things for the sake of it. All the items in my shop have a low carbon footprint as they are made in the UK, and the people who make the items are getting paid properly! Businesses throw around words like ethical and sustainable a lot, but I know that my shop is both those things because of all the research and care I put into choosing items. I love being able to do this as a truly independent high street shop.


IW: What pearl of wisdom would you impart to anyone wanting to set up their own business?

HM: It depends what type of business, but the main pearls of wisdom are: Do lots and lots of research, learn about who your ideal customers are, save money to start up with, write a business plan and check back on it regularly. Have a clear vision for your business and stick to it. There are really good courses available for independent businesses – I joined Indie Roller as the membership offers so much support for small businesses like mine. Also, know you will make mistakes and that is totally fine, own the mistakes and learn from them!


IW: What are your ‘go to’ local businesses?

HM: So many to mention, but here’s a quick summary: For shopping I love Found Shop & Studio on Gratwicke Road and Inspired Worthing on the seafront next to the pier – we actually opened our businesses within weeks of each other! For food I am a big fan of Cactus Kitchen Gals at the end of Warwick Street for Sophie’s incredible vegan cakes, Thai Street Food on Bath Place for Yamin’s friendly atmosphere (and amazing food!) and finally a new favourite – The Green Trailer on Warwick Lane because they make amazing burgers!


IW: What do you get up to in your spare time?

HM: I enjoy walking and go ‘up the Downs’ regularly, we’re so lucky to be so close to such amazing places to walk and get out in nature. Now things are opening up again, I also really enjoy live music – both watching and performing because I am in a ska band called The Meow Meows. I’m so excited to experience live music again, I’ve really missed it!


IW: What’s your guilty pleasure?

HM: Hahah, where do I start? I will keep it brief but I love watching animal rescue videos, especially ones about dogs because I’d love to have a dog one day! I have two cats, one of which is a complete territorial nutcase, so I will just have to keep dreaming about my future rescue pup!


IW: What’s your favourite way to start the day?

HM: Coffee and sitting down to read for a little while as I am waking up, while my cat purrs on my lap. Preferably the coffee has been made by my partner and brought to me in bed!


IW: If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things could you not do without?

HM: Music, books & coffee


IW: What plans do you have for the future?

HM: I have loosely started developing a body of work that I would like to exhibit at some point. During the various lockdowns I started collecting pieces of wood and other objects that I’ve started incorporating with silversmithing. In terms of the shop, I’d like to develop the online side of the business further because since we’ve reopened I haven’t been able to devote as much time to that. We started screen printing at the shop, so I also plan to develop more of my own products to sell. Finally I have started thinking about employing someone else to help at the shop, so I can actually do aforementioned the web and product development!

IW: Anything else you would like to add?

HM: Thanks for asking me to do this, it was really enjoyable to reflect on my business!