Tucked in the corner of the famous, cobbled West Yard is a vintage shoppers paradise – think colourful leather shoes, boots and a myriad of sparkly accessories, hats and bags.
Married owners Mark and Emma met by chance a few years back and have gone on to run one of the most successful and well-loved vintage shops in London frequented by rock legends, movie stars and the late, great Camden Queen, Amy Winehouse.
London’s Stories spoke to the owners about how their vintage journey began and how it continues to go from strength to strength…
How did you guys meet?
M: It was back in 2002. We met at the Flowers Gallery on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch. Emma had been roped in for a days work stuffing envelopes.
E: Mark took me out for a fancy lunch of jacket potato with cheese and beans at a greasy spoon called the Titanic Café. He invited me along to his art show and the rest, as they say, is history.
Mark, you started the stall on Brick Lane, is that right…
M: Yep I started it three months before Emma and I met. I used to wheel the stall there every Sunday all the way from deepest darkest East London to sell sunglasses, vintage fashion and bric a brac. After we met, Emma started working on the stall too.
E: I was a teacher back then but decided to give that up to work on the business full time. There were a few raised eyebrows when I gave up my ‘sensible’ job to pursue this instead.
What led you to Camden?
E: It’s the second most visited tourist destination in London which means every day is busy.
M: Plus, it was only possible to have the stall on Brick Lane on Sundays. By moving to Camden we could open every day. We went from having just a stall at the market to having our first shop as well. We slept in the shop for a while too which was handy but God, so cold!
E: We opened the second boutique just upstairs in 2009 after our loyal customers started demanding clothes as well.
What do you think it is that has made Berty & Gerty stand out in a city so full of vintage shops?
E: All of the vintage items are hand-selected. We sell a mixture of high quality period items from the 40′s and 50′s as well as selling vintage quality on-trend street fashion like ankle boots and denim shorts.
What do you like about being based in Camden Market?
M: We live and work here so we know a lot of the locals, it’s a real community.
E: Such a variety of people visit Camden. Fashion designers, singers, tourists, fashion students, actors, stage and screen costume designers. We are always meeting new people, catching up with other traders and waving hello to neighbours. It’s a just a great part of London.
Any favourite customers?
M: Meatloaf came to the store and snapped up a cheap £20 cowboy hat – he was later snapped wearing the very same hat at the Kerrang Music Awards. That was pretty cool.
Has being a couple ever caused any problems – any creative differences?
E: Not at all. We are both very creative and see the same point of view. Mark is more involved with the accessories shop and me with the clothes – we have been known to enter into a spot of friendly competition every now and then though.
What’s the best part about running your own business?
M: Everyday is different and it’s wonderful to be your own boss. We both love Camden and the North London area.
E: We live and breath the business everyday which is fantastic.
Do you have any favourite places in london?
M: We love the Russian Tea Room on Regents Park Road in Primrose Hill.
What’s next for Berty & Gerty?
At the moment we are concentrating on updating our online shop on the website weekly fashion blog and our new website launches at Easter.
Follow Berty & Gerty on Facebook here.
Visit their website by clicking here.
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