In the first of a new series highlighting some of 91’s favourite places to shop, we visited Home by Kirsty and chatted to owner Kirsty Patrick about the inspiration behind the shop, the importance of celebrating home-grown design and getting lost in Cardiff…
Can you tell us a bit about how Home By Kirsty (HBK) came about?
As a designer-maker myself I have always loved finding independent homeware shops. I felt there was a lack of design-led shops in Cardiff, and so my main aim in starting Home By Kirsty was to change this!
What would you say is the essence of Home by Kirsty?
I love Scandinavian style, so the essence of HBK is beautiful, design-led products, all sharing a clean, contemporary aesthetic. I want the shop to be a welcoming and inspirational space which encourages my customers from Cardiff (and beyond!) to fall in love with good design across the board - from homeware, unique storage to jewellery, stationery and unique gifts.
Your customers are greeted by a beautifully modern, playful interior – what were your influences when designing the space?
Ah thank you! I wanted the space to be inviting & show the products off to the max. I also have a secret (not so secret now) love of OSB chipboard! I worked with Sarah of Ongl Design + Make - who is not only a great friend, but a super talented interior architect - to come up with the final shop design.
You also run an online store, how easy is it to combine the two?
It’s pretty tricky and you need to be good at multi-tasking. The online side of things is still growing and I’d love to get more traffic to it but slowly, slowly, catchy monkey right!?
Do you still feel it’s important to have a ‘real’ shop?
Totally. As great as online shopping can be, I think it is so important to see, touch and feel beautiful objects. Purchasing lighting and homeware is all about its texture, size, colour and how you envisage it in your own home.
You obviously take pride in stocking products from Welsh and British makers and designers... how important is it to you to support local creatives?
Incredibly important. Supporting and celebrating Welsh / British designers is at the heart of HBK. I want to introduce my customers to the amazingly talented makers and designers we have in the UK and inspire them to incorporate the work into their own homes.
You’re also a lighting designer – how does running Home By Kirsty influence your design work, and vice versa?
Well, I have been making my lights for the last seven years so the lights originally influenced the shop really, but now I am thinking about a new homewares collection which is inspired by the shop! Full circle!
Do you have a wish list of designers you’d like to work with, or do you take a less systematic approach to sourcing stock?
I’ve been exhibiting my own byKirsty range at shows across the UK for a few years now, and at each show I’d collect business cards and postcards from fellow designer/makers whose work I loved. I always hoped that one day I’d be able to stock their work… and now I do!
So, I don’t really have a strategy, and my favourite thing is going to shows like Tent and finding amazing new products & designers. For example, I was exhibiting next to Tom Pigeon at design junction four years ago and now I proudly stock her work. I love the fact that I know every designer in the shop.
What’s your current bestseller? Do you have a personal favourite?
The best sellers at the mo are the simple shapes necklaces by Custom Made. Tom Pigeon is a firm fave too!
How much attention do you pay to trends when considering what you’d like to stock?
I keep an eye on the trends & go to London Design Fair every year, but I like to think all the products at HBK are timeless. Sadly, we live in a throwaway world and I think it’s important to invest in classic pieces which will last rather than go straight to landfill after a couple of months.
How important is Cardiff’s creative community to your work?
I am so proud to be part of the thriving independent scene in Cardiff. Myself, Sarah (Ongl Design+Make) and Jon (Diagram Creative) (who work above the shop) set up Studio 16 - an indie business collective for Cardiff. We invite local indie businesses to join us at the shop every quarter for informal drinks, nibbles and indie business chat! It’s a great opportunity to network and generally support one another.
How important is social media as a driver for business?
Massively important. I try hard to give people a taste of the shop & the products that I love. My favourite thing is when a customer tags the shop or #HBK with their new product in their home! It’s such a thrill to see a product in its new home!
What’s next on the horizon for Home By Kirsty?
I’ve been busy recently with the launch of my new project - Get Lost in Cardiff - an independent map and guide to Cardiff’s best independent retailers, coffee shops and galleries. The aim of the map is to encourage people to discover new places, and to share their inspiration, routes, favourite places and purchases via twitter or instagram using handle @getlostincdf and hashtag #getlostincdf
Then, Home By Kirsty will turn two years old in August. I’m not sure where the time has gone! We’ve got lots of fun birthday celebrations planned, all will be revealed so follow @homebykirsty to get involved…
If you had one tip for an aspiring indie shop-owner, what would it be?
Research, research and… you guessed it - more research. Be prepared for the hard work - setting up a shop is the hardest thing I have ever done. It pushes your boundaries and takes you to new levels of tiredness - but for some crazy reason I still love it!
Thank you Kirsty - it's been wonderful finding out about your shopkeeper journey and other creative projects!
We are thrilled that Home by Kirsty is a 91 Magazine stockist and still has a few copies left of our S/S issue in store and online:
All photography by Kasia Fiszer