Mid Sussex businesses take top spots in Muddy Stilettos Awards 2021

The winners of the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2021 have been announced and ten Mid Sussex businesses have come first in their categories for Sussex.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 7:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 11:03 am

These awards are now in their eighth year and celebrate the best independent businesses across 25 counties.

Readers of the popular lifestyle website – muddystilettos.co.uk – get to nominate and vote for their favourites in 27 lifestyle classes.

Hannah Miall, owner of Miall’s Sussex Cocktail Sorbet, which won Best Food and Drink Producer.

This year 75,000 businesses were nominated across the country with 752,000 votes cast, making the 2021 Muddy Awards the most popular so far.

The Urban Sanctuary in Sussex Road, Haywards Heath, won Best Beauty Salon.

“It feels amazing to win, especially after the past 18 months, which have been such a challenge for so many businesses,” said owner Gemma Kent.

She said The Urban Sanctuary offers top of the range face and body treatments, like holistic and wellbeing massages.

Joanna Dennis, owner of JoJo Boutique, which won Best Women’s Fashion Store.

Gemma thanked her ‘fantastic clients’ for their support and loyalty, as well as her team for their dedication.

The Nutmeg Tree in West Street, Ditchling, won Best Cafe and offers quaint, 1930s and ’40s style tea rooms, complete with uniformed waiters and waitresses.

Annette Sparshott, who owns the business with her husband Doug, was thrilled to win.

“I had to get one of the girls to read it to me because I wasn’t sure I’d read it right,” she said, adding that she and her husband have worked hard on the business since opening in Ditchling four years ago.

From left: Mary Collins and Charlotte Kell from Kell & Collins in Lindfield, which won Best Interiors Store in the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2021.

“Now we’re completely full and we’ve got a beautiful courtyard garden,” she said.

Annette added that The Nutmeg Tree has a Dame Vera Lynn room and is involved with the late singer’s charity.

She and her husband are also friends with Virginia Lewis-Jones, Dame Vera’s daughter.

Annette said a ‘huge thank you’ to all of her customers and The Nutmeg Tree team.

Turning Pointe School of Dance in Haywards Heath won Best Children’s Business.

“We are thrilled and delighted,” said owner and principal Julia Canneaux.

“We have had so much support from past and present students of the school who are also delighted at gaining this achievement after such a difficult 18 months.”

Julia said Turning Pointe offers dance classes for all ages ‘from one to 100’, teaching ballet, modern/jazz, tap, musical theatre, contemporary and pilates.

This September there will be new specialised classes for parents and toddlers (Tiny Turners) and the over 55s (Silver Swans).

Turning Pointe also has a Performance Company made up of senior students who get to perform on stages or at open-air events across Sussex.

“We were determined to keep going throughout lockdown and hoped that some of our families would join us,” said Julia.

“We had no less 280 families dancing in their bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens and garages via Zoom throughout the lockdowns,” she added.

“They created a beautiful film, Somewhere Together, which is available on Vimeo and we now have 470 pupils dancing with us and are bigger and better than ever,” said Julia.

Julia thanked assistant principal Lianne Carter as well as her teaching and admin staff, the pupils and their families for their support.

The Lockhart Tavern in The Broadway, Haywards Heath, was named Best Destination Pub and director James Cuthbertson said it was ‘really lovely’ to win.

“It’s just great for the team that worked particularly hard during lockdown, doing deliveries and doing community stuff,” he said.

“And, of course, it’s voted for by the customers, the people that know us,” he added.

The Lockhart Tavern is a craft beer pub with a daily changing menu and a selection of beer, wine and spirits.

James thanked pub manager Lydia Mills, 21, and the fantastic team that she built.

Kelly Harding, owner of Bella June Flowers in Keymer Road, Hassocks, said she is proud that her business won Best Florist.

“After the past 18 months it is exactly the morale booster we all needed in the shop,” she said.

Kelly described her business as a ‘planet friendlier florist’ that takes the time to research and use eco friendly suppliers and sustainable materials.

“We do all this and still provide the best and most beautiful flowers for all occasions and events,” she added.

Kelly thanked her customers and everyone who supports the shop in other ways, like sharing social media posts and recommending the shop to friends.

She said these people are ‘the best army a small business can have behind them in such a crazy, uncertain world’.

She also thanked her helpers Jackie and Charlotte who ‘never fail to impress’ with their arrangements.

“You don’t have to spend a load of money with us to support us,” said Kelly.

“Find us on social media, follow our crazy shop videos and share our posts – it’s free for you and means the world to us.”

Indigo in Keymer Road, Hassocks, won Best Gift Shop.

Indigo prides itself on sourcing exciting products and aims to be different to high street stores, said owner and director Dawn Madigan.

The shop regularly introduces new lines and its range includes jewellery, accessories, ‘smellies’, women’s clothing, home wares, and gifts for babies and men, as well as a full selection of cards and gift wrap.

Dawn said it was ‘brilliant’ to win the award.

“It was a really nice surprise,” she said, thanking all of her customers for their support and her members of staff for their teamwork.

“Its just a nice, friendly experience to come shopping here,” she said.

Hayley Elphick, the owner of Reflex @42 in Keymer Road, Hassocks, said she was ‘surprised and humbled’ to win Best Hair Salon.

“We were up against some really tough competition and to have come out on top was a complete shock,” she said.

Hayley added that it felt special to be voted for by customers, friends and family because of the belief they had in the business.

“Reflex isn’t just a hairdressers, as cliché as it sounds,” said Hayley.

“As a team we have all known each other for years and we are one big family.”

“I feel we offer our clients a safe space, where they come and off-load, chat, laugh and cry, then leave the salon feeling lighter and with hair that looks fabulous,” she said.

Hayley thanked everyone who voted for Reflex @42, as well as her team for their hard work and for standing by her through pandemics and floods.

Kell & Collins in Lindfield won Best Interiors Store.

“It’s very exciting and we’re thrilled,” said co-owner Mary Collins, who opened the store three years ago with her business partner Charlotte Kell.

“We sell vintage and contemporary homewares, furniture, gifts and all sorts of things like textiles,” she said, adding that they also offer lifestyle products and perfumes.

“We’d like to thank all of our customers because they voted for us and they’ve been hugely supportive over the past three years,” she said.

Mary said Kell & Collins started a successful website during the first lockdown last year and a ‘click and collect’ service.

This year’s Best Food and Drink Producer was Miall’s Sussex Cocktail Sorbet in Lindfield.

Owner Hannah Miall, said she feels ‘absolutely elated’ at the victory.

“It’s such a joy producing and suppling cocktail sorbet to the people of Sussex (and maybe one day beyond),” she said.

“I was in category with truly wonderful food and drink producers so it is a real honour to have won.”

Hannah said Miall’s produces Great Taste Award-Winning cocktail sorbet with seven cocktail inspired sorbets (in two sizes), made using fresh fruit juices, purées and alcohol.

The business uses gin from Generation Distillers in North Chailey and rosé from Bolney Wine Estate, selling most of its sorbet through www.mialls.co.uk and delivering it to residents’ doors.

“We also supply farm shops, delis, cinemas and more,” said Hannah, adding that her top selling sorbets are Passion Fruit Martini, Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito and their new Peach Martini.

Hannah said she was grateful to many people, including her mum and dad for supporting her in her venture in 2017 by ‘turning half the kitchen into a sorbet making room’.

“Secondly, I’d like to thank Cathy and Sally and the whole team at Muddy Stilettos for all their hard work in making the awards happen,” she added.

She also thanked her customers.

“Producing, supplying and delivering sorbet to them is what it’s all about and it’s a real joy,” she said.

The award for Best Women’s Fashion Store went to JoJo Boutique in Cuckfield.

This friendly ladies fashion boutique offers independent fashion advice, clothing, footwear and styling.

Owner Joanna Dennis said it felt humbling and special to know that her customers voted for her.

“We’re all in this together,” she said, adding that JoJo Boutique cares about being part of the local area and is not interested in hard-nosed business practices.

“For me having a boutique isn’t just a 9 to 5, it’s part of me giving back to my community,” she said.

“We’ve always done lots of charity events and give to charities and we very much see ourselves as part of the bigger picture.”