10 Questions: Colours May Vary

The next instalment of our 10 Questions series is a conversation with Becky at Colours May Vary. Becky runs the business with Andy, and together they have created one of our favourite places in Leeds! They offer a fantastic variety of prints, artworks, books, magazines, gifts, workshops and exhibitions! But that's enough gushing, let's hear what goes on behind the scenes...

What do you do?
We are Colours May Vary and we run a design bookshop in Leeds.We also have a gallery space alongside the shop which hosts exhibitions and workshops.

What are you typically doing every day at 9am?
At 9am we are usually making our way from Shipley (where we live) to open the shop, sometimes we can be found in Laynes Espresso planning the day ahead or plotting something with someone.

What makes your job easier?
We work alongside some amazing designers, illustrators and independent businesses. Collaboration definitely makes our job easier!

Colours May Vary have an online shop, for beautiful books, a plethora of print, and completely unique artwork from local makers.

What makes your job harder?
As we are both a retailer and a gallery space we rely on the shop to support the gallery so we have to work super hard to keep things interesting for visitors. There has been an increase in competition both locally and nationally so we have to work extra hard to encourage folk to visit or shop online so we can support what we do in the gallery, enabling artists to show work without having to insist on gallery hire fees.

Dream job title?
I always wanted to run a shop - I think I always imagined it to be a sweet shop full of stuffed full gumball jars but it is kind of like that in a way! Andy always wanted to either a comic artist or run a record shop!

What is the most overused word in your workday?
Babs! For some unknown reason we refer to each other and most of our work mates as BABS!

What misconceptions do you encounter working in your field?
I think because the shop is calm and beautiful customers often imagine our idyllic lives where we sit reading books all day but there is a ton of really mundane stuff to do behind the scenes all the time!

Any advice for those who want to do what you do?
Our key bit of advice would be do LOADS of research. If you can trial your idea before you commit to a shop lease do that. If you are opening a shop make sure what you do is totally different to anything nearby or offers a combination of things that can’t be found nearby or online. There is so much overlap and copying (we blame social media) but being original and striving to do something that fills a gap rather than mimics is more likely to ensure longevity. It also shows you have integrity and a support of other independent businesses which we think is very important too. If you gain the support of that network you are rolling. If you cheese them off because you haven’t considered the impact on their livelihood then you stand to fail in gaining that support.

Just one wall of the Leeds city centre shop <3 <3

What’s your career high point?
There are LOADS of things we could mention but for us it has to be the installation of the Supermundane/Superleeds mural in Leeds Train Station with Leeds Inspired, It made me (Becky) cry with joy watching people walk past and look at in the morning after it was installed and it still brings us joy every day.

What makes your current job different from anything else you’ve done?
It is so different in every way really, mainly because we are our own bosses! This makes it amazing but it can be really stressful! The other hugely different thing is that we are learning almost every day, meeting new people, making new friends and discovering things we love and getting to learn about new stuff all the time.