Carole Elsworth at her shop, No.56 in Penzance, Cornwall. Photo courtesy Natalie Coe.
With this post, I’m introducing a new series on Miranda’s Notebook, ‘Talking Shop,’ where I share interviews with owners of my most-loved independent shops, in London and beyond.
One of my very favourite shops in Penzance is No.56 on Chapel Street. Founded by Carole Elsworth, No.56 is a shopper’s haven filled with all manner of useful and beautiful items. I love the shop for its notebooks, handmade soaps, pretty linens and stylish enamelware, and I definitely blame No.56 for a much heavier suitcase whenever I return to London from Cornwall!
I was so pleased when Carole agreed to answer my questions about her tasteful and elegant shop.
MN: Would you tell me a little about yourself? What did you do before opening No.56?
CE: My training and background is in mens and womenswear design – but immediately before opening No.56 I ran a very small artisan bakery. I enjoy the making process so this isn’t as odd as it seems!
MN: What made you want to run your own shop, and what first brought you to Penzance?
CE: Since moving to Cornwall, I have been steadily moving further west – more by accident than design really – eventually arriving in Penzance which I really love.
I opened No.56 four years ago – I felt there was a gap in Penzance for the type of products I like to use and decided creating such a store would bring together all the elements I really enjoy – design, presentation etc.
MN: What do you love most about living in Cornwall?
CE: I lived by the sea until I went away to college, and always feel a sense of belonging by the coast. Cornwall itself is just beautiful – I love it here.
MN: How would you sum up the ethos behind No.56?
CE: Simply that well designed, beautiful objects can add pleasure to the everyday.
MN: How do you pick the products that feature in your shop?
CE: It is a very personal choice. On the whole items need to serve a purpose rather than being purely decorative (with occasional exceptions that I can’t resist!), and then I ask the question “does it make my heart sing ?” and go with that…
MN: Would you share one of your favourite pieces for autumn?
CE: All items are favourites of course, but I’m particularly pleased with the mohair throws from Ireland at the moment. Lovely colours and so cosy. (see all throws available from the No. 56 online shop here)
MN: What does a typical day look like for you?
CE: I do try to get off to an early start – I design and produce a small range of womenswear for the store under the HANDWORKED label, so I like to work on that first thing.
Then, I’m usually in the shop serving customers, placing orders etc – all the usual shopkeeping duties.
MN: Finally, what’s next for No. 56?
CE: Having moved to larger shop premises last year, it feels as if we are just settling in here, making small adjustments and constantly working to keep things fresh. We are now adding more products to the website and have plans to collaborate on a few items exclusive to No.56 – can’t say more than that …
I’m definitely intrigued by those upcoming collaborations! Thank you so much to Carole for taking the time to answer my questions. Isn’t her shop delightful? I always want to buy everything in it whenever I visit! Fortunately, there is an online shop for No.56, so you don’t have to be in Penzance to get your hands on much of Carole’s gorgeous stock.