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Hub sisters shut up shop after 22 years on Church St



It’s the end of an era for sisters Georgie and Lou as they close the doors to Hub and hand the keys to a former employee.

 

After 22 years of selling beautiful clothes and accessories, many of which they designed themselves, mounting post-Brexit import costs and falling trade in the wake of the cost-of-living crisis have forced the duo to call it a day.


Charlotte Gascoigne, who has worked at the store for the past 18 years will soon be opening the doors to her store Hilda there – selling a mixture of vintage and new clothes, shoes and accessories.

 

Georgie Cook said: “We are delighted that the space is going to our lovely friend Charlotte – she is going to do beautiful things here and we are completely behind her.”

 

Hub began 25 years ago when Lou Power opened her first store in Manchester – she’d finished a degree in ceramics and found herself drawn to designing clothing. Three years later, Georgie was living in Stoke Newington and longing to get back to work after taking time out to have children.

 

Georgie said: “One Christmas we were at our family home in Carlisle in Cumbria enjoying a glass on wine and a chat and began talking about how amazing it would be to have a Hub in Stoke Newington.”

 

They found the space on Church St (an old health food store) and set to work converting it on a shoestring budget.

 

Lou said: “At that time, I was living in Manchester, but I sat in the rose garden in Clissold Park one day (I was 27) and I knew I wanted to move to Stoke Newington. I didn’t know anyone but Georgie. Three months later I met my husband on a trip to New York – it was quite a year!”

 


Georgie added: “We opened the doors on June 15th 2002 on a beautiful sunny day -the Stoke Newington Festival was on and there were crowds in the street.  We hardly had any stock and were cleared out straight away.  

 

“As our confidence grew we started looking for really beautiful clothes – what started out as an alternative gift shop soon became clothes and accessories.

 

The business lived with the threat of Brexit for five years; as buyers they struggled to know how to price when there was so much uncertainty over import costs. Then came the pandemic; the sisters did much of their buying via zoom and say they made some mistakes and the loss of trade during lockdown was hard to recover from.

 

Georgie added: “Our buying process had always involved feeling the fabrics and trying every piece on. Buying collections on Zoom was really difficult. The pandemic also had far-reaching effects. It changed people’s buying habits.”

“More people started working from home – they weren’t dressing up in the same way,” explained Lou.

 

The business pivoted; selling comfortable everyday wear made very locally and they launched their own knitwear range with a maker in Scotland. The designs were practical and utilitarian. 

 

But when Brexit happened their customs charges increased by around £10,000 per year. While they switched to British brands, their determination to be sustainable and to ensure their makers paid a fair wage, meant prices in store had to rise.

 



Georgie added: “The response to us closing has been amazing; very emotional. Hub has always been about the people who walk through the door.  So many people have had to reduce their spending lately and we completely understand, but it has been too hard and too stressful and we’ve had too many sleepless nights so we’ve made the difficult decision to close.”

 

Georgie is looking forward to spending some time with her granddaughter and having some breathing space to decide the next steps and Lou is heading to the studio to rediscover her love of ceramics.

 

Lou added: “We’ve had a lot of laughs here and have had amazing staff who we’ve become great friends with. Two former staff members opened a shop together in Ramsgate, Shane took on our menswear shop when we closed that and now runs Array and now Charlotte is going to do great things.

 

“Georgie and I have always been close – running a business together brings times of stress and we’ve remained close throughout. It will be nice to just be sisters again; without the extra pressures of work!”

 

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