Former social worker opens gift and wellbeing shop in Holt

Breanne Cook, 39, at the Pied Wagtail, a gift shop in Holt.

Breanne Cook, 39, at the Pied Wagtail, a gift shop in Holt. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

A former social worker is taking on a fresh challenge after opening a gift and wellbeing shop in north Norfolk.

The Pied Wagtail, located in the Appleyard, a shopping mall in Holt, is run by Breanne Cook, 39, who said the idea came to her last year.

She said: "I'd been spending time caring for my mum, who died last February. I took some time off. Covid and death make you re-evaluate so I thought I wanted to enter into a bit more of a creative phase and try working for myself."

New gift shop the Pied Wagtail at the Appleyard shopping mall in Holt.

New gift shop the Pied Wagtail at the Appleyard shopping mall in Holt. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

At the time, she was working for the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), managing its recovery college based at Hellesdon hospital.

She said that deciding to leave that role for the shop was "a huge decision".

"I'd been a social worker for many years, before I worked for the trust, so it was a huge change, not something I'd ever done before. I'd always worked in the public sector."

Her shop started its life online, where she sold a small range of stationery products bearing photographs she took herself.

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That was in July. By September she was looking for a brick and mortar shop.

She found the premises in the Appleyard in October. While the lease was being arranged, she ordered stock and wound up her NSFT job.

Breanne Cook, 39, at the Pied Wagtail, a gift shop in Holt.

Breanne Cook, 39, at the Pied Wagtail, a gift shop in Holt. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

The shop will focus on three different areas: selling gifts, exhibiting photographs and promoting wellbeing.

Ms Cook said: "Because social work has been such a huge part of my life, I didn't want to leave that behind."

The Pied Wagtail, a new shop in Holt

The Pied Wagtail, a new shop in Holt, sells gifts, photos and wellbeing books. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Wellbeing gifts include books and resilience and kindness cards, handpicked from Ms Cook's experience in mental health work. 

"Some of the cards are very validating for people with low self-esteem, they remind you that life is hard and you're doing well," she said.

The Pied Wagtail Holt

The Pied Wagtail, a new shop in Holt, sells gifts, photos and wellbeing books. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

She is planning to launch a wellbeing book club in July, as well as a "catalyst gift box" with a lucky dip of wellbeing gifts from the shop.

She will also start online courses on wellbeing.

"It’s more than just a shop. I have a lot of plans. The wellbeing part will grow," Ms Cook said. 

Breanne Cook, 39, at the Pied Wagtail, a gift shop in Holt.

Breanne Cook, 39, at the Pied Wagtail, a gift shop in Holt. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

"The locals have been nice and supportive," she added. "Everything is a learning curve. Working for myself, growing a business, I’ve never owned a business before, and learning to run one is a huge challenge."

The Pied Wagtail is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.