Polly Smart is a familiar face in the Nailsworth shopping quarter, running James Lear of Arundel for more than nine years.
She started the business with her mother, selling locally made products from chutneys and jams, Westonbirt Arboretum wooden chopping boards, hand-thrown pottery, cushions to decommissioned fire hose bags and candles.
Polly soon spotted a gap in the market and moved into menswear and more recently womenswear. The shop offers an eclectic mix – step downstairs and you will find candles, handmade Bristol pottery, glassware, Afghan rugs, British blankets, bags, bamboo, wool, and cashmere socks, aromatherapy, and greetings cards.
We sat down with Polly to delve into her innermost thoughts.
When are you at your happiest?
Probably when I’m dancing, I’m not great at it but I just LOVE it. I have had the privilege of leading The Bristol showgirl Academy & the professional troupe The Flamming Feathers in the Bath carnival two years running & it’s just the best confidence boost ever!
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Singing Disney songs or musicals in the car with my other half.
Who is the most famous person in your phone?
I’m very fortunate to have several famous customers who come into the shop but it would be unfair of me to share who.
What is your favourite smell? In the shop, we sell a range of candles by Cornish company St Eval & every candle is divine, I can never pick a favourite but my top 3 are possibly- Sea Salt, Bay & Rosemary, & Embers.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
I did a poll about this on my Instagram & I got ladies like Gemma Atterton, Felicity Jones which is awfully kind but I also got Miranda Hart as I’m big, tall & sometimes rather clumsy.
What do you like most about living in the Nailsworth area?
I couldn’t pinpoint one thing but Nailsworth, it just has such a great community, a fantastic variety of independent businesses, it’s accessible to lots of cities but also surrounded by stunning countryside.
What would you improve about Nailsworth?
Probably that we aren’t ‘on the map’ as such when it comes to places to visit, the Cotswolds… yet it’s such a great town & has so much to offer, including Free parking!
What is your ideal weekend?
A Saturday off from the shop wouldn’t be right without a visit to Stroud Farmers’ market especially for Salt Bakehouse cinnamon swirls, croissants & Sourdough. Plus there are so many great stands to get vegetables, pies, micro salad, falafel, cheese… so then that’s also lunch sorted.
A wander around the Nailsworth shops & if I haven’t picked up lunch at the Stroud market, probably lunch outside at Egypt mill, if it’s a nice day. An evening drink at The Black horse Amberly, which has stunning views of the valley (they also make the most delicious beetroot burger) followed by supper at The Ship in Brimscombe or Stroud Brewery, mainly because I can stagger home afterwards.
Sunday somewhere for breakfast like The Canteen in Nailsworth or The Felt cafe Calford. A long walk with family/friends or a paddleboard up the Stroud canal from Stonehouse into Ebley & back, followed by hot chocolate &/or food at Stonehouse court.
What is on your bucket list?
Too many things really, but one would be to have a farm shop, well it would be much more than a farm shop but I can’t share too much in case someone steals my idea haha. I even know exactly where I would like it to be as well.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That there are many chapters in the rollercoaster of life & that people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
What book and song would you take with you if stranded on an uninhabited island?
Oooo I should probably say something profound or life-saving but book-wise, I haven’t read many I’m afraid. Having struggled with being severely dyslexic it takes me forever to read a book, I have to be calm or on holiday to focus. I did enjoy ‘A year in the Merde’ (which took me about a year to read) as I spent 6 years of my childhood growing up in France & can relate to it a lot. Song wise Gypsy Kings- Bamboléo because it reminds me of my childhood with my family.
Find out more about Polly’s business HERE