North East businesses fashion a unique collaboration

Published by Alison Gittins

Two North East businesses that met via Twitter are now harnessing the power of the web to help each other out, and it’s all based around their shared passion for fashion – and Stockton-on-Tees.

Stockton-based gemstone jewellery maker, Marianne Robson, and retail marketing expert and DBC member Graham Soult, who runs Gateshead-based, are running an online competition via Graham’s Fashion & Style Directory website. Marianne is supplying one of her unique handmade necklaces as the prize, while Graham is leading the marketing push.

There’s a wider Stockton-on-Tees connection, too. While Marianne’s shop, Made by Marianne, is located on Stockton’s High Street, Graham has been a longstanding champion of Stockton’s charms. A judge in the Stockton Town Centre Business Awards back in 2011, he has subsequently provided support to many of the town’s independent retailers, and runs the Twitter account @stocktonshops, helping to raise awareness of what he sees as the town’s increasingly strong retail offer.

“People still like to be able to come into an actual shop, to see and feel my jewellery”, explains Marianne, “But selling online, via both my website and the Etsy marketplace, is becoming increasingly important.

“And it’s not only about selling online – I find social media is a really valuable way of letting people know that my shop is here on Stockton High Street, and encouraging them to pay it a visit!

“However many online followers you’ve got there’s always a need to reach more potential customers, and Graham’s Fashion & Style Directory has built a great following in a short time among women who love fashion and jewellery.

“It is a pleasure to be able to offer a prize for a competition on the site, and in turn benefit from the extra exposure that it will bring my business.”

“Made by Marianne is, quite literally, one of Stockton’s hidden gems”, says Graham. “And like many independent retailers these days, Marianne’s business is based on combining a physical shop on the high street with an online store that serves shoppers all over the world.

“My Fashion & Style Directory site has a reputation not only for showcasing interesting shops and products to fashion lovers across the UK, but also for giving its readers some great competitions to enter.

“The competition to win Marianne’s beautiful necklace, handmade from pearls and quartz especially for the giveaway, is a fantastic way to drive even more traffic to the Fashion & Style Directory, and encourage the site’s visitors to keep coming back.

“At the same time, it’s a pleasure to be able to showcase Marianne’s unique creations, and hopefully help her – and the wider delights of Stockton-on-Tees’ fantastic independent retail offer – reach a bigger audience.”

Entry to Graham and Marianne’s competition is via Twitter or Facebook, and runs until 16 March. For all the details, visit