The softly spoken and fabulously unique, Amy Steele is laying on a vintage chaise longue, wearing a fascinator with a working carousel music box on top, as she talks about her magical shop Stay-Gold in Bedminster.
“I’ve always had an artistic outlet, so for me the Stay-Gold shop is like an artform”, says Amy, who also works as a stroke specialist nurse at the BRI.
“People used to ask where I got things from when they came to my house and I thought maybe I should get a few things together and start trying to sell them. I’m not a hoarder”, laughs Amy. “I’m a collector that got to the point where I had to become a seller!”.
The Stay Gold shop is an emporium of spectacular vintage fashion and antiques, elaborately decorated with tasselled lamps and hangings, sparkle adorned clothing and disco balls, luxurious velvets and silks, mid-century furniture and trinkets. There isn’t a corner left undecorated from the vintage boat shaped bar to the cosy under the stairs dressing room. It feels like a home, not like a shop, at Stay-Gold you are positively encouraged to try stuff on and get involved.
“I have a whole collection of dressing up clothes and a lifelong collection of vintage and antique clothes which I’ve collected since I was a little girl” says Amy. “My sisters used to go horse riding on the weekends but I’d go to the antique fairs with my Dad! I’ve got utility issue war time dresses, turn of the century costumes, and things I’ve picked up on my travels, from the turn of the 20th century up to the 1960s, there are some more modern bits that are really fun too”.
During November, Amy paired up with local creatives, Jemma Bursnell from Emotional Waterfall and Karen Davis from Let’s Make Art to create a space for local creatives (and those interested in being creative) to come along, meet new friends and learn new skills, at the first Stay-Gold pop up sewing circle event.
“I’m a pattern artist, I paint murals and objects”, says Jemma, “Amy and I are neighbours and we want to get more people to visit the shop. It used to be a horrible old taxi rank, but Amy has created this amazing space”.
“With the sewing circle we wanted to invite lots of local people to the shop, we did some customising and had great fun sewing, sharing stories and supporting each other, there was lots of laughing.
“Events like these encourage people into the shop, putting it on the map. It’s like a community hub and a shop”, says Jemma.
“It was a pleasure to join the sewing circle and run one of our workshops here at Amy’s emporium”, adds Karen. “One lady, who had recently moved to Bristol, came along to meet local creatives. She worked on her own project and left with an amazing green vintage dress and marabou feather jacket from the shop!”
Based on West Street, Stay-Gold is one of a handful of shops that remain in this once booming shopping area. With plans to use the space for more creative, social events Amy is passionate about making the shop part of the local community that she lives in.
“We are trying to make West Street the best street again!”, champions Amy, “I have turned the room out the back into a little theatre, I’m hoping to run some workshops and to show films too. Jemma and I would really like to screen The Outsiders here, on an old projector”.
“In the film they reference an old poem (Nothing gold can stay by Robert Frost) about being gold when you are young and over the years you tarnish and lose your gold and that you should try and stay gold.
“I think Bedminster is gold and The Outsiders tell each other to ‘Stay Gold whatever happens’ and I’d like to share that with my shop!”
Amy is determined to keep the beating heart of Bedminster going and the Stay-Gold shop collaborators have a unique way of reflecting this.
“There are lots of creative people in Bristol, who are working from home, perhaps whilst their babies are asleep, or when their kids are at school, running their little cottage industries when they can. It would be great to bring us all together as a community of creatives” says Karen.
“It’s hard to work from home, there are so many distractions, sometimes you need to leave the house to get stuff done!” adds Jemma.
As creative parents themselves Amy, Jemma and Karen understand the struggle to keep up with creative endeavours whilst running a family or working full time jobs.
“There are some limitations to running the shop. I work as a nurse and also have a young family and, at the moment, the shop is limited to opening on Mondays and Thursday’s as that is all the time I can spare”, says Amy.
“Using the space like I do is better than it being a horrible, abandoned taxi rank. I don’t need to be open all the time. I also have people who are keen to sell things like antiques and artworks in exchange for opening the shop for a day, so we will now be open on Tuesdays too!”.
Collaboration and creativity are big things at the Stay-Gold shop and it is clear, from the constant laughing going on, that this is a safe, friendly space, where creatives can get together and make art.
“I’m very much about sharing knowledge”, says Amy “in my profession as a nurse, we wouldn’t make progress without being open to research and development, I think it’s important to share knowledge in any area of life”.
“Bristol, more than anywhere else is a place where people get an idea and they have the confidence to run with it. We accept people’s ideas no matter how crazy they are. I think you should expect the unexpected at Stay-Gold!”.
With sewing circles, film and theatre nights on the cards, Amy is also interested in finding more people to collaborate in the running of this fun, creative and inclusive space.
“Stay-Gold is a magical emporium of dressing up and fun, an escape from the everyday, when you step into this beautiful space, that Amy has worked so hard to create, it’s a joyous experience and so much more than a shop”, adds Jemma.
“It all happens here! I’m used to running shops but all rules are out the window with Amy! I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Stay-Gold is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 80 West Street, Bedminster, BS3 3LL
Read our fashion editor Emma’s blog No Debutante