Amelia Harker’s firm, Pampas & Bloom, specialises in sourcing and selling pampas grass and dried flowers. She has moved into the recently refurbished Mending Rooms at
the pioneering mill complex.
This is the latest in a raft of new lettings at Sunny Bank, which is now established as one of the most successful mixed-use developments in West Yorkshire.
Ms Harker decided to launch Pampas & Bloom during lockdown because she had time on her hands as she was studying on-line at home and could see a real opening for a dried flower business.
“Although I live in north Leeds, I am half Danish and – together with my sister Louisa – discovered the resurgence of popularity for pampas in Scandinavia when we visited Denmark a couple of years ago," she said.
"That ignited my passion and I saw how pampas and beautiful dried flowers could bring joy to everyday life."
She started sourcing and selling bunches of natural, hand-tied dried flowers online from home and soon, her bedroom was overflowing with flowers.
"My parents were very understanding. Their house had soon become overrun with bunches of dried flowers," she said.
"My mum, Susan, is incredibly hands-on with the business. So we started looking for business premises in the Leeds area and Sunny Bank Mills fitted the bill perfectly. It is a stunning environment, a beautifully refurbished old mill, full of creative businesses. My own studio in the historic Mending Rooms is absolutely gorgeous, light, airy and spacious, while our landlords the Gaunts have been incredibly helpful and supportive.
“I couldn’t be happier. I am going to complete my degree remotely from September and carry on my business at the same time. There is a real synergy between my studies and Pampas & Bloom, so this dual role will sharpen my focus, rather than putting too much pressure on myself."
Ms Harker said there is no doubt that lockdown helped her.
"Not only have I had the time to devote to my business, but there has also been a revival of interest in interior décor, as people have had to spend much more time at home. “And mine is a sustainable choice, so that ticks boxes as well.”
William Gaunt, co-managing director of Edwin Woodhouse, the owners of Sunny Bank Mills, said: “Pampas & Bloom really adds to the diverse mix of retail and leisure occupiers we have at Sunny Bank.
“In particular, we want to encourage young, brave and ambitious entrepreneurs like Amelia, who has shown remarkable vision and courage, as a 21-year-old, to launch her business in the midst of a global pandemic. She deserves our support – and we look forward to helping her prosper.”
John Gaunt, co-managing director, added: “Pampas & Bloom is a worthy and exciting addition to the Sunny Bank Mills community.
"We now have beauticians, hair salons, cafes, restaurants, a yoga studio and a massage studio, all providing a variety of services for the many companies who are now based here.
“It is this attractive offer, which we work so hard to achieve, that makes Sunny Bank Mills not just a wonderful place to work but also a great place to visit and spend time at as well.
“At the same time, we have recently invested £2m in the Weaver’s Yard project at Sunny Bank, which has opened up the centre of the mill, creating a magnificent performance area and 95 new car parking spaces.”
Altogether there are now 75 companies with more than 350 employees on site.
Sarah-Jayne Lishman, of marketing agents Dove Haigh Phillips, said: “The owners of Sunny Bank Mills took the brave decision to invest heavily in their mill and this decision has paid dividends.
“This is one of the most significant mill regeneration projects in Yorkshire. Steeped in history and with massive potential, Sunny Bank Mills is now one of the prime business locations in the West Leeds area.”