Karen Harvey MBE remembers when horses used to come up Maryhill Road delivering coal.

This was Glasgow a while back and Maryhill isn’t as adventurous anymore, superseded by streets like Great Western Road which plays host to Karen’s Nordic interior design store, HOOS.

Born in Maryhill, Karen, 62, went to Dunard street primary school. “Maryhill Road was quite vibrant when I was a kid , there were lots of shops. It wasn’t like it is now”, she says. After living in England and working for the charity sector – vital work with children and communities for which she was awarded an MBE – Karen returned to Glasgow to open up HOOS.

“Running a charity is the same as running a business”, Karen tells me. “I sell things I really like.”

Karen chose the residential elegance of the independent shopping scene on Great Western Road, with its colourful reams of students, graduates, professionals and families. Half the charm of HOOS is, of course, it’s stylish and quality interior designs, but the rest of its allure comes from showcasing young designers and championing of independent businesses within the West End community.

“There’s so much talent out there because of the art school”, Karen says. “I employ three art school graduates on my team.

“We’ve been doing pop ups in the store, showcasing the work of local people: textile designers like Rory Hutton and Nikki Jones. It’s great to bring in local people with a great product. In November the Hug and Pint are having a music festival, and we might have some live music in the shop - maybe a DJ in the window.”

“Supporting young people if I can is dear to my heart. There is huge talent.”

Karen is also a member of the Love Great Western Road steering group, which has put forward a BID for the stretch of businesses on Great Western Road, from the Oran Mor to Charing Cross, which business owners have affectionately named “The Strip”.

The BID is a formal grouping of local businesses who have voted in favour of working collectively, to improve and invest in their pre-defined areas. If successful, the BID works towards building a more prosperous community not just for the businesses on the street, but everyone who comes through.

“Byres Road is dying on its feet at the moment, because the rents are so high” says Karen. “There are so many empty units, and it looks so sad.

“That’s not to say it won’t change, but it’s going through a really difficult period at the moment.

“The Botanic Gardens motor garage lay empty for ages – a beautiful, listed building – and now a Nandos is going in there. I’m really disappointed. It would be fab to get a really good food market in there, like other great European cities.

“Love Great Western Road is a district improvement. Our priorities are to get the environment to look better, cleaner; to make us feel safer, and to raise the profile of the area to bring more trade to Great Western Road.”

It’s fascinating that a shop aimed to make your home more beautiful is also working hard to make the city more beautiful, as well as safer, and more appealing for the people who live and work and visit it.

“My background is in community development, so of course I would want to be involved. I have had some challenging times in the shop - you never know who is coming through the door.

“At the same time, my shop is great - it’s like the village store. We’re all getting to know each other on the strip, as we call it. There’s aways pockets of greatness in Glasgow. It really is coming up on the independent world.”