Bedlington shop French Grey Tales expands to new premises in Morpeth

What started as a hobby has grown to become an inspiring business in Morpeth for Layla Welsh

Layla Welsh pictured with Autenticos paint range
Layla Welsh pictured with Autenticos paint range

A firm launched through the love of crafting and a £100 investment has relocated to larger premises a year after launching.

French Grey Tales, described by owner Layla Welsh as a quirky vintage store, has moved from its start-up premises in Bedlington, Northumberland, to larger premises by The Chantry in nearby Morpeth.

Mrs Welsh initially crafted the idea of launching French Grey Tales when she was at home looking after Daisy and George, her two young children, both of whom had been born very prematurely.

She discovered chalk paint and, in breaks from caring for the youngsters, she would paint furniture in her garage, primarily for use in her own home – and she also began friends to do the same with their pieces of furniture.

Her husband then gave her £100 to invest in paint and furniture – and French Grey Tales was officially under way.

Originally setting up in her garage and using her garden summer house as a shop, the business blossomed until Mrs Welsh rented premises in Bedlington in September 2013, providing French Grey Tales with its first commercial shop front.

Since then, the business has continued to grow and create jobs and Mrs Welsh has appointed several team members who work both full and part-time, and two apprentice roles have also been created.

The company will also soon be opening One Lump or Two, a coffee shop where customers can relax and swap crafting tips.

She admits she is no stranger to launching a business as she was instrumental in introducing Costa Coffee to the Northumberland market town when it opened in 2006, providing her with the valuable retail experience she has applied to her own venture.

The adept upcycler and home crafts businesswoman said: “I have been delighted by the great response French Grey Tales has received. What started as a hobby has become a tangible expanding business selling more Autentico paint than over 200 other retailers across the UK, a range of other paints and quirky items for the home.

“When I spotted our new premises I knew straight away it was going to be the right move. Apart from needing the extra retail and workshop space the shop is located next to The Chantry, which showcases and sells items crafted by local people.

“I also believed that the increase in footfall would be significant, and it is. Going forward I want to continue to encourage everyone to have a go at making pretty things for their own home.”

In addition to selling home interior items and hand-painted furniture, French Grey Tales also provides a range of crafting workshops including lampshade making, furniture painting, dressmaking and wreath making. The shop is also hailed as vintage chalk paint Autentico Paint’s leading retailer.

Autentico Paints founder Eric Adams added: “I am not surprised that Layla is making such a success of the business as she oozes such passion and enthusiasm.

“Out of more than 200 of our retailers French Grey Tales is tops and has sold thousands of units since coming on board.”

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