Bellwoods Lifestyle Store

The Story Behind Bellwoods Lifestyle Store

Bellwoods Lifestyle Store in Whitley Bay is all about giving back.

Not only does it stock some of the coolest eco-friendly homeware and fashion items from independent designers, it also works closely with local charities to make a lasting positive impact in the North East.

The brainchild of Nathalie Bouleau Chabot, Bellwoods started out life as a lockdown pastime before establishing itself as a gorgeous bricks and mortar shop.

I recently sat down with Nathalie to find out more about her passion for helping others and stocking some of the most unique goods on the high street…

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got your start in retail?

I moved to Toronto on a year’s Visa in my 20s and I ended up getting a job at Urban Outfitters over there. I worked in visual merchandising before moving into operations.

When I was over there I ended up working for a bunch of other different retailers, both big and small brands. From those experiences I had learnt quite a bit about the retail sector.


How did Bellwoods Lifestyle Store come to life and what was your inspiration for opening your own shop?

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I never really had the time, the money or the confidence to do it. Then I was on furlough from my day job during the lockdown, and I thought I’ll just make a little online shop for something to do.

I didn’t really intend to open a proper shop, but I kept walking past this unit in Whitley Bay on my daily walks. So one day I thought I’d just have a little look at it and then I just took the plunge and went for it!


How long did it take for your online shop to catch on before you opened the Whitley Bay store?

I was quite strategic and I didn’t get loads and loads of stock – I started quite small.

Bellwoods is actually run from my spare room shelves. Obviously we couldn’t go anywhere in the first lockdown so all of the stock just stayed there – I used to make local deliveries.

That’s when I thought it might actually be possible to open a bricks and mortar store. It’s great because you get people coming in from all over the North East, who’ve travelled in just to visit the shop.


Bellwoods is all about environmentally friendly items and nice things for your home – why is it so important to you that you stock ethical goods?

Because I don’t want everything just being trash in a landfill. I really like seeing things that people have made with their own hands, seeing things that you can’t get anywhere else.

Also, I like buying things from people who share the same values as me, so I stock items from people trying to minimise waste, businesses that really care for the things that they make and are just trying to do some good.

I want to show that retail can be a force for good. You can still have nice things in your life and buy things whilst being aware of where they come from and how they’re made.


How do you go about sourcing and curating the items you sell?

I have a mix of established brands and independent designers – it’s a bit of a hobby of mine – I’ve always done it. It’s all things that I love and pretty much own myself.

Things from designers I’ve bought from myself in the past, so I already know their stuff is good.

Otherwise it’s just people I come across – I’m always on social media looking for new creators, but I’m quite picky on what I choose, it has to fit with our brand and sit next to the other things that are already sold in the shop. I make sure all the items I stock belong together!


You do a lot of work in conjunction with charities too, where did all of that start and why is it so important to you?

I’ve always volunteered in various charities when I was working other jobs. There’s just a lot of great organisations I’m aware of, some of which I’ve worked with first hand, and I know what important work they do.

The shop is a drop-off point for East End Women’s Food Bank and every month, on the last Friday of the month, we host a 10% donation day, where we donate 10% of our daily sales to a not for profit/charitable organisation.

We really try to spread the love!