Our Story

A wry smile spreads across my face every time I open a glossy, women’s magazine (a privilege confined these days to Doctor’s, Dentist’s and Midwives waiting rooms) and read the tales of glamorous mums who have single handedly set up their own businesses, whilst on maternity leave, apparently without breaking a sweat.

The Beginning

I was a student at Bristol university, and 13 years later, have never quite got round to leaving… although I don't think that’s unheard of in Bristol!

I started out as a Recruitment Manager of a National Law Firm until I left to have my first child, who was to join an already lively home, consisting of my 3 step children, myself and Gavin. At this stage, I had every intention of returning to work once little Luca was born.

But a very tricky 5 months followed and I found myself contemplating life in a new way. It wouldn’t have been financially possible for me to remain a stay-at-home-mum, yet the idea of going back to work full time, dropping my baby at nursery and collecting him again in the winter dark, no longer appealed to me.

The Eureka

Of course, as with all stories of this nature there is a turning point, a eureka, an electric moment of hope. For Pickles & Poppets, this came about through an unseasonal, and unreasonable, hot and sticky March. Although I had comprehensively supplied my baby’s needs thus far, alas alack, he was without a sunhat when the sun hit!

Bristol is a large city and has lots of families, so I was confident that I would be able to find Luca a sweet and unique hat relatively easily. But after walking, and walking, and walking, I had to admit defeat. I eventually stumbled into a well-known children’s shop and purchased a lovely hat, but one that was already being showcased by every other child in the park. Feeling, slightly deflated, I started to walk home. But it was on this walk that the lightbulb flickered on.


Adventure continues

At first there was a lot of stumbling about in the dark. I had not previously thought about how much energy setting up an independent children’s shop would involve. “What shall we sell?”, “How do we sell it?”, and, “Do we paint the walls aubergine or aqua?” Were just a few of the decisions we needed to make in those early days.

Having children ranging from 2 weeks to 16 years definitely helped in terms of relevant stock. Gavin became our local handy man, and the rest of the family chipped in to paint and plaster until at last, Pickles & Poppets Westbury on Trym was ready. We took our first sale of a wooden xylophone at approximately 9:30am on the last Saturday in September 2014 and have never looked back.

Now, about 50 xylophones down the line, Westbury continues to be, a wonderful place to have a business. It’s a real community with lots of lovely people whom we can now call friends, and Luca, I am pleased to say, is doing very well. Although, as surprising as it may seem, that is not quite the end of our story, or the children…

Excited for future!

Not long time ago our happy family got bigger again, with arrival of sweet little Gabriel. Now, it is a truly a Full House that, although challenges me everyday, brings tons of joy and new ideas! 

I have a lot of exciting ideas for Westbury and I really want to concentrate on continuing to make Westbury as fantastic as possible for children, parents, and anyone else looking for things for the pickles and poppets in their lives! With all our attention on Westbury, we are able to focus on more of what people want in this location as well as rolling out new exciting plans.

Yes, I am a lot more exhausted, not so glamorous and paddling frantically beneath the surface to keep myself afloat, but I wouldn’t change it for the world, and we love being a part of the Bristol, and wider, retail and toy scene.


Sussanna Di Palma,
Founder and Owner of Pickles and Poppets