The Lewes Shop Owner

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Sharon Makgill is literally radiant. I don’t know how she does it but she just glows…

Not just because she loves colour and is always colourful, she radiates positivity and love. It sounds a bit panegyric I know, but I also know that if you met her you would say the same. Everyone does. When I ask her to tell me a little about herself she tells me that other people have called her “a walking rainbow”. This is the perfect description of her and the perfect description to someone who has never met her. She just is good to be around, and I am always happy to see her face when I visit her equally vibrant “colour and design inspired” boutique Popsicle in the Old Needlemakers in Lewes.

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One of things I love about Sharon is how authentic she is, I have visited her shop many times but have only visited her home once and when I did I was delighted to see that her home is as colourful as Popsicle and of course as her sunny self. She practices what she preaches, colour itself is her mantra both at work and in the home.

She is currently living in an apartment with her two children in the Southover area of Lewes. When I arrive her daughter is out and her son is getting ready to head out to Brighton to meet friends. I am always interested to meet ‘older’ children (my eldest is 8 and I like to see what might lay ahead of me), her son is polite and chatty to me and he showers his mother with multitudes of hugs, kisses and “I love yous” before he leaves the apartment. So, it appears Sharon is not only my biggest inspiration for having a positive outlook on life she is now my biggest inspiration as a mother. “How do you do it?” I say open-mouthed once we are both alone, she smiles and agrees, “he is lovely, both of my children are gorgeous”.

I am going to pin Sharon down on her parenting tips another day, for now she makes me a drink and chats happily as I take photos of her home and ask her about the stories behind some of the bits and bobs she has collected and displayed on the walls and in cabinets. She describes her style to me as an “eclectic colourfest” which is evidently true. Colour pops from every corner of Sharon’s house, even in little nooks between rooms there will be a bright print or an even brighter picture frame on the wall. Even the windows are decorated with bursts of colour in the form of pom-poms (Sharon has got me hooked on them) and paper decorations. When I ask her if she follows interior design rules her answer is “Hell No! Anything goes!” and of course, it does. Sharon just isn’t constrained by these things, although she does admit that “dark lacquered wood furniture” is a big turn-off for her.

I spot a print by brilliant local artist Olivia Bullock which I love and immediately covet (the Christmas present list keeps growing!) Sharon’s collection of art and artefacts come from near and far though, much she has collected from her travels around the world as well as supporting artists and makers in her local community.

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Print by Olivia Bullock

Her love of colour and her experience of travel and of life makes Sharon Makgill a fascinating person. I spoke to her about her unique style and her business.

What/who/ inspires your style?

I love the simplicity of classic vintage Scandinavian design by the likes of Verner Panton and Arne Jacobsen. But then I love mixing it up with more traditional artisan design from all over the world like Mexico, Morocco, Peru, India and Pakistan as their use of colours are so inspiring. I have a fascination with unique vintage finds too.

What do you most look forward to when coming home?

Putting on the fairy lights and rolling onto my sheepskin sofa.

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What is your favourite room in the home, why?

My lounge, as the colours and contrasts can really lift my mood, add the light that streams in and it’s the perfect spot to kick back and relax.

Are you following or interested in any interior trends at the moment?

I’m loving that people are starting to introduce more colour in their homes, but I also love all the introduction of plants and cane furniture, it really softens a room.

What is your favourite place in Lewes and why?

The Grange, my kids grew up in there and we’ve shared many fond memories there from birthday parties, treasure hunts to grazed knees and ice-lolly tantrums.

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Southover Grange Gardens

 Apart from your own home, can you tell me about another Lewes house that always catches your eye – what do you love about it?

I visited Emma Carlow’s house the other day and loved it, particularly the kitchen which felt so homely yet creative – filled with lots of local artist’s work and knick-knacks with great stories behind them.

Anna Starmer has another home to die for, she works in predicting next seasons colours and her home shows it in the flesh.

What did you do before opening Popsicle?

I come from a fashion background. I started window dressing all over the Westend in the 80’s which soon led on to fashion styling for magazines and celebrities. I moved to Brighton in 1999 and started a family, then begun my own mobile flower design business called Blush Flowers – doing flowers for weddings and businesses. I moved to Lewes and opened Popsicle in 2014. Since having my own shop I finally have the perfect playground to enjoy my passions and encourage others to use more colour in their life……it really is good for the soul.

What spurred you on to open the shop?

Encouragement from friends and financial help from family made it possible. Also an inspiring visit to New York made me see Lewes for the small and friendly town it is and that it really could be possible to express yourself in such an awesome town filled with such huge support and genuine encouragement.

How would you describe the shop to someone that has never been?

It’s like walking into a rainbow, it will put a smile on your face and warm your heart, which is all down to the use of colour.

What’s next for Popsicle?

I’d love to move onto the [Lewes] high street and maybe try a pop-up in Brighton as I have a lot of regulars there. But I’m just loving being able to support my family, do something I enjoy and brightening up everyones day!

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I literally skip out of Sharon’s home, maybe I left with a bit of her ‘rainbow’, whatever it was – I felt great!

Sharon told me, without deliberation, that the thing that makes Lewes special for her is “the people”. Well I know from my time with Sharon that ‘the people’ of Lewes would return that sentiment to her. I think everyone needs a bit of Sharon Makgill in their lives, pop in to Popsicle to meet her and you will know what I mean.

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