Lockdown divided the nation into two categories: The outdoor explorers and the Netflix binge-watchers. And one local clothing brand is catering to both.
Lunar Thorn adventure apparel was launched in lockdown by Paige Rose – a Mancunian single mother who wanted to create eco-conscious adventure threads that doubled as loungewear.
Whilst Paige has been passionate about exploring for years, the first lockdown felt like the perfect time to get her concept off the ground – providing t-shirts and hoodies with wanderlust prints for people turning to nature for freedom.
“People started to explore the outdoors more, simply because they couldn’t do anything else,” says Paige.
“It was the release we all needed when confined to our homes.”
After becoming a new mum, Paige felt her entire life shift to focus on parenthood – and it changed her perspective on things.
“I was so focused on being the best mother I could be, I forgot what I liked to do,” she explains.
“My entire purpose in life shifted to accommodate the bundle of joy that I’d made. And in that I felt that I lost some of my identity whilst also gaining a new one.”
As lockdown ebbed on, Paige found solace in nature and started using her daily hour of exercise to visit local parks and sights.
“The outdoors just has the most serene effect on a lost soul,” she mused.
“It was exactly what I needed.”
Paige’s reignited passion for exploring led her to establish Lunar Thorn – which had been a dream of hers for years.
After lots of hard work, Manchester’s latest adventure apparel brand was officially launched – targeting a gap in the market for sustainable outdoor clothing that was comfortable enough for TV marathons.
“You can find adventure anywhere!” says Paige, encouraging everyone to get outside and experience the sights around them.
“Whether that be in the big city, a small town or even at home in your heart. It all starts with that spark and drive like it did for me.”
Despite living on the outskirts of Manchester, Paige hasn’t let the city inhibit these experiences.
“Manchester has so many hidden gems – from the scenic routes along the canal to the bigger parks and even the country roads that link some of the towns.
“The possibilities of adventure in the borough are endless.”
Paige has always been fond of the outdoors – and some of her best childhood memories involve exploring.
“I grew up the eldest of 4 siblings on a council estate,” she says.
“Although our mum worked hard for everything we had, we appreciated the smallest of things because we knew money was tight.
“The one thing we looked forward to wasn’t the material things but spending time with the family as a whole. Whether that be going to local parks, a walk down the canal or for a drive to the beach.”
Not only have these memories lasted a lifetime for Paige, but she is also keen to pass down these experiences to her son via Lunar Thorn.
The brand is also committed to giving back to the environment through its sustainable efforts – with products made entirely of organic or circulated cotton and produced in renewable plants/factories to minimise impact on the planet.
Lunar Thorn supports numerous charity events, too, including the One Tee 1kg campaign which helps to clear plastic waste from the ocean and the Buy One Get One Tree project, which co-operates with various tree planting organisations in Madagascar.
It is these small acts of charity that are really making a difference.
As for the future, Lunar Thorn is ambitious as ever. While the company will continue to create more products and collections, the main focus is to raise awareness for the brand and amazing causes it stands for.
“My final goal is creating something worth passing down to my son,” Paige states.
“And giving him the start in life I dreamed of when growing up!”
Their entire collection of adventure apparel is available to purchase on the Lunar Thorn website.
ANOTHER bargain variety store has opened in Manchester – and some of the items in Miniso are adorable
There’s another newcomer to the high street in Manchester, and this one’s got some seriously cute items at low prices.
Miniso has taken over a 2,903 sq ft unit in the Manchester Arndale, joining the hugely popular Flying Tiger as new shops spring up across the shopping centre.
The Chinese brand specialises in family lifestyle and design-led products, selling everything from handbags to homeware to cuddly toys.
Its range also includes toys and gadgets, stationery, homeware, fitness and beauty, with a philosophy of ‘simplicity, nature and good quality’.
Miniso is another place shoppers can stock up on all your Christmas stocking fillers without having to cripple yourself financially, with adorable gifts priced from £1.
For just a quid, you can get superhero phone cases, greetings cards, and colouring sets – and even the most expensive products in store won’t cost you much more than £30.
Miniso sells gadgets like Bluetooth headphones, wireless speakers and electronic cleansing face brushes for way less than most other places.
There is an ENTIRE WALL of plushies – soft pale piglets, squishy Minions, cute plush penguins and even cuddly fried chicken.
You can also grab a ‘mystery box’ between £2.50 and £4.
In the accessories section, there are handbags scattered with pink love hearts, purses with whiskers and noses, as well as more simple backpacks and totes.
Water bottles, travel coffee mugs, makeup brushes and tools, yoga mats, gaming gadgets like keyboards and headphones (with cat ears on, naturally) – Miniso’s got it all.
Popular Japaneses snacks like Hello Panda (a biscuit with different flavoured fillings) and Yan Yan (biscuit sticks with different flavour dips) are all sold here too.
Saad Usman, COO at MINISO UK, said: “We’re delighted to announce the launch of our store at Manchester Arndale. We believe that the opening of this store, our first in the North West, is the perfect place for us to continue our expansion in the UK.
“At MINISO UK, we’re committed to getting the retail industry back on its feet, demonstrated not only by the investment into our fantastic new store, but also the creation of 10-15 new jobs in the local market.
“With innovative and exciting products that are high-quality and great value, we look forward to welcoming customers of all ages through our doors on opening day and beyond.”
Bubble CiTea is also opening in the Arndale, selling traditional Taiwanese bubble tea with flavours including Mango Fruit Tea with Rainbow Bubbles and Taro Milk Tea with Crystal Bubbles.
Colin Flinn, spokesperson for Manchester Arndale, said: “We are delighted that Bubble CiTea and MINISO have selected Manchester Arndale as their first locations in the city, and we’re looking forward to welcoming them alongside other recent arrivals such as Gilly Hicks, Clarks, and Jamaica Blue.
“It’s great to see the centre continually attracting both fantastic home-grown brands like Bubble CiTea and big-name international retailers such as MINISO.
“With such exciting leasing activity taking place it is clear retailers have confidence in the long-term future of the centre and its position as a leading retail destination.
“With Manchester Arndale now almost fully let, it will continue to attract millions of visitors from across the North West and beyond, with its dynamic and constantly improving line up of exciting retail, F&B and leisure offers.”
Sostrene Grene, the gorgeous Manchester shop with affordable prices dubbed ‘little Ikea’
You don’t need us to tell you that everything is costing a fortune these days and finances are looking generally grim for most of us.
But that feels particularly upsetting with Christmas now on most people’s minds – no one wants to be cutting corners when it comes to spoiling our loved ones and celebrating together.
So we’ve found the solution to all your festive budgeting woes, in the form of a tiny maze of a shop in Manchester city centre.
Sostrene Grene, a Danish retailer based in The Royal Exchange, is an absolute haven for tasteful gifts and trinkets, as well as homewares, craft supplies and those all-unimportant-but-absolutely-magical Christmas decorations.
The brand is often labelled a ‘mini Ikea’, thanks to two things – one that it sells just about everything you can think of for your home, the other that shoppers are taken on a one-way maze through the departments.
It’s a place to buy all the annoying things you can never think where to go for – like napkin rings, nail clippers, kids’ craft kits, and egg cups – which also makes it a great place for gift inspiration.
At this time of year, you enter into a little Scandinavian Christmas wonderland, with a forest of decorative pine trees made from wood, ceramics and even paper, as well as dangling paper snowflakes.
There’s a whole wall of reasonably-priced wrapping paper and gift bags (£1.54 for wrapping paper is a darn sight cheaper than some of the big brands nearby).
Further into Sostrene Grene you’ll find even more Christmas wonder, like an eclectic range of baubles, so you could have a sparkling panda peering through the branches of your pine tree or a glittery croissant dangling amidst your fairy lights.
There’s even a festive section in the craft area, where you can pick up the bits to make your own wreath or build your own Scandinavian nativity scene, down to mini felt deer, tiny post-boxes and even miniature fairy lights.
Elsewhere, craft fans can browse a massive range of yarn and string, canvases and paint brushes, jewellery-making kits and more.
Things that are normally incomprehensibly expensive, like picture frames and mirrors, are far more affordable here than you might expect (around £25 for a huge mirror that looks straight off a Pinterest board).
The same goes for things like candles and decorative jars – there are rows and rows of candlesticks and pillar candles in a rainbow of colours for just 40p each.
You can buy things like a back-scratcher here, or a ceramic loo brush that’s so beautifully made you’d be tempted to display it on a shelf (if that wasn’t gross).
The surprising bargains continue in the kitchen section too, with things like glass and wooden jars in various sizes for around the £4 mark – we can never understand why other shops charge so much for these things.
There are pizza cutters and place settings, colanders and cutting boards, baking trays and beautiful ceramic bowls.
You can even buy retro sweets while you’re queueing up for the tills – we’re talking the sort of hard-boiled fruity sweet that your parents would also chuck at your intermittently to keep you quiet on long car journeys.
Sostrene Grene looks better than ever now that Christmas is nearing, each window transformed into a welcoming scene.
Would the staff judge you for pulling up a chair at the dining table covered in dishes and novelty festive glasses? We might go and find out.