As a new website to promote Oxford’s independent traders is launched Jaine Blackman speaks to the women behind the bid to keep shopping interesting

In the face of new multiple retailers in the centre of Oxford, it is more important than ever to celebrate the unique and quirky businesses that make up the rich tapestry of the city,” says independent trader Rosie Jacobs, of East Oxford.

“Without indies, the city has no soul.”

And to spread the message, Rosie, 31, has teamed up with marketing manager friend Anna Munday, 25, of Sutton Courtenay, to create a website – Independent Oxford (

It aims to be a single, coherent place to find out about the range of independent shops in Oxford and provide the city’s inhabitants and visitors with a directory of interesting businesses – including shops, bars, cafes and restaurants – that make it the “unique place that it is”.

The site was launched last week at an event at The Annie Sloan Shop – one of the retailers listed on the site – in Cowley Road.

During the evening a collection of local independent traders showed off their favourite pieces and guests were entertained by live music from Oxford-based up-and-coming artist Julia Meijer, who has recently played at Wilderness Festival.

“The enthusiasm we received was even more than we expected,” says Rosie, who trades online as

“Nearly everyone we spoke to talked about a need for an online directory, a network of independent shops and many other ideas besides.

“Everyone said it was exactly what Oxford needed.

“This made us even more eager to push the idea further forward – even though we are both doing it in our spare time.”

So far 24 businesses are listed but more are being added all the time.

It doesn’t cost anything to be listed in the directory but as the website and brand grows, Rosie and Anna aim to offer different products and services and run events, which may be offered as paid-for extras.

“However, as we’ve either worked at or run our own businesses, we understand how small budgets are and know costs should be kept to the bear minimum,” says Rosie.

“At the moment we our self-funding the site and building it in our free time.

“Luckily my husband is a web developer so he has built the site for us and the talented Oxford-based designer Grace Ironside has created the branding for us.

“We want to prove that something like this can make a difference to the independent businesses in Oxford.

“In doing so, we hope that in the coming months or year we can secure funding to give the project longevity.”

They hope to list as many independent Oxford businesses as they can and feel they have just scratched the surface so far, with many more to champion.

“We have a great big pool of ideas for how we see Independent Oxford developing,” says Rosie.

“For the moment, we want the directory to establish a firm place within Oxford’s shopping and indie scene.

“As well as hold regular pop-up events and develop the idea of a support network for independent businesses.

“Following that we want to explore ideas that include a map, workshops, loyalty cards and who knows what else.

“The sky’s the limit.”

Rosie and Anna believe there are more than 100 independent retailers in Oxford and are finding more all the time.

And it’s not just those selling goods and services they aim to help.

“We hope that Independent Oxford will benefit both the shops and shoppers,” says Rosie.

“For the shopper, Independent Oxford aims to expose these businesses to a wider audience, make people aware there are alternatives to shopping on the high street.

“From our launch night on Thursday, the benefits are already showing for local indies.

“It is already creating a great network for indies to share support and ideas and makes them far more visible online, creating more awareness of their businesses and therefore visibility in the community.

“From the first few days of the website being live we have already had some great feedback from the public telling how easy the site is to use and how professional and stylish it is. Customers at our launch evening were saying that they can already discovered a whole host of independents through the website that they were not aware of before.

“This was one brilliant comment from the evening, and sums up our mission – ‘I’ve lived in Oxford for over 28 years and I hadn’t heard of over half of the shops on the Independent Oxford website. I’m going to be doing a lot of exploring.’”

As well as the website, Independent Oxford is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, and Rosie and Anna want to encourage people to tell them about their new discoveries, purchases and stories.

“We truly want to champion independents that offer colour, variation and fun to make sure our neighbourhoods still have destinations for communities, and provide interesting social spaces,” says Rosie.

“Ultimately, the more we spend at independents, the more money stays in our local communities, which benefits us all.”

Anna added: “Oxford has so much to offer in terms of independent businesses and we think that’s part of what makes Oxford the city it is.

“You can’t beat walking into an independent shop and the owner remembering you from last time or knowing that by shopping there you’re supporting to local economy.

“There are interesting stories behind each of indies and so much love and passion behind why and how they do it; that is what we want to share.”

Oxford Mail:

How businesses can join in

ANY independent business can be listed on the site as long as they are based in Oxford, including internet companies. 

Small Oxford-based groups or chains will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Independent companies based in Oxford which would like to be listed should email 

“Both brick and mortar and internet businesses have a desire to be part of a community of independents who want to see Oxford thrive as an independent shopping destination,” says Rosie.

The website is and find it on social media at;;;

Duo’s inspired idea to boost independents

ROSIE Jacobs and Anna Munday both had plans to start some sort of collective for businesses in Oxford, so when they met at Wilderness Festival last year they decided to pool their ideas and resources, and bought the web domain. 

“We really wanted to have a great website so that individuals and businesses could find local independent businesses easily,” says Rosie.

For Anna, she started thinking about the idea while she was working at the Old Fire Station as the marketing manager.

She recognised that there was a lack of a go-to website to find out about the independents of Oxford. 

She also realised, because of that, the independent shops in Oxford didn’t have a support network where they could share ideas, raise issues or even work on joint marketing. 

This is something she hopes Independent Oxford can begin to work on.

For Rosie, the idea for Independent Oxford arose out of her own business, Kinship of Oxford, which she set up in 2013 with the aim to support great UK designers and small businesses, showcasing them in a beautifully curated online store.

For her, Independent Oxford is an extension of this. 

She felt that by creating a slick and stylish online directory and organising events it will support other local businesses and designers by giving them a platform to reach a wider audience, and create a network with other businesses – ultimately helping to make Oxford a destination for indie shopping.

Once they got together, the women’s next step was to buy the web domains, set up social media and design the site.

“It has taken us about six months to design the site, our branding and gather photos and information, as we have been doing it all in our spare time,” says Rosie. 

“We also spent a lot of time talking to traders, walking around Oxford and visiting businesses across the city to find out if it was something that they felt would benefit them – to which we received a resounding yes.”