A Week in the Life of John Lewis Leeds

The last few months have been one big, beautiful whirlwind here at Shedid & Parrish. Our feet have barely touched the ground since winning Best Shampoo & Conditioner at the Natural Health Beauty Awards and we’ve had the pleasure of announcing several partnerships with high-profile brands like Yuty and Curls Allowed.

But there’s one achievement that we’re particularly proud of; getting up close and personal with our fabulous customers in our first physical space.

We owe this incredible opportunity to our partners and good friends at Beautifully Biracial. Run by Leeds based Terri & Odion Akan, Beautifully Biracial both make their own and champion partner products and brands that represent and cater to multiracial families. And we’re super proud to count ourselves amongst their stocklist.

So, when they got in touch with us to say they’d been offered a week long, pop-up spot in John Lewis as part of the Great British Exchange, we jumped at the chance to join them and headed North with as many products as we could fit in our suitcase!

Once there, we set up shop in Leeds’ beautiful Victoria Gate. There was something truly special about seeing our range alongside Beautifully Biracial‘s curated selection of satin pillowcases & bonnets, dolls, books, greeting cards, and hair products – all designed to represent dual heritage and mixed-race families.

When we started Shedid & Parrish, we did so with the intention of standing for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t fit neatly into any one category. To be a safe and nurturing space for curlies of all genders, races and ages. Especially those whose identity is multifaceted like ours. So, to spend a week in the company of both products and people who share that vision was truly inspiring.

It was also heartening to meet so many customers (both old and new) who resonated with our brand’s ethos. We had so many relatable conversations with beautifully curly customers. Many of whom were struggling to manage their hair. Being able to offer them a solution through our afro hair products was such a privilege. And our heads are still swirling from their wonderful feedback. Some marvelled at the delicate, natural scent, others were astonished how lightweight the products were and all were delighted that we exist to represent them.

We also had many, many vital conversations about the environment. As a 100% natural brand, it was uplifting to hear how pertinent our vegan accreditation is and it made all the hard work sourcing the right ingredients and sustainable packaging worth it.

And of course, it wasn’t just our curly haircare products in the spotlight. The satin pillowcases and bonnets sold by Beautifully Biracial were also praised for avoiding unethical silk. But it was the diverse dolls and books that particularly grabbed people’s attention.

We lost count of the number of times people exclaimed how great it was to see black dolls on offer in somewhere so accessible as John Lewis. But comments like, “I never see black dolls anywhere” were somewhat bitter sweet.

Because whilst it was amazing to have teacher’s hunting our stall down to purchase resources that represent their pupils, there’s also something quite sad about the fact that they have to rely on a pop-up start-up. You can’t help but wonder why they can’t access these products through more mainstream means.

Which I guess made our time in such a prominent spot in one of the UK’s most popular department stores even more poignant. For one week at least, from 10am-7pm every day, we were just as visible and viable as the beauty hall, gifts and menswear we were nestled between. It also has to be said that the support from John Lewis and their team was second to none. We’d like to thank them for proactively talking about our brand and sending customers our way. It seemed like the staff were genuinely delighted to see the range in their store so let’s just hope that means they can’t wait to have us back! Because a pop-up is great but imagine how many more people we could reach if we had our own patch permanently!

But until then we’ll start plotting our next takeover. So, watch this space to see where we’ll be popping up next!