We chat to Andrea Bates, founder of Future and Found, a design destination and concept store in Tufnell Park, North London.
How would you describe the essence of Future and Found?
Helping people to create relaxed modern homes they love to live in and which reflect their personality. We do all the leg work curating a cohesive collection from some of the best brands and makers out there along with an increasing number of our own brand pieces. Our relaxed approach means our collection is design led and aspirational yet equally understated and unpretentious. So when a customer or client comes to us they feel confident and relaxed in our environment and decision making should be a pleasure.
We're based in a converted factory building, a stones throw from Tufnell Park station in North London. The ground floor houses our lifestyle and interiors concept store, centred around an outdoor courtyard serving coffee. Above the store is our interior design studio and workshop space. So we’re really trying to create a mini design destination for like minded people to enjoy.
Tell us a bit about how Future and Found came about...
I was a retail buyer for many years working for brands such as Heal’s, Jamie Oliver and Paperchase. So I was lucky enough to travel the world finding amazing products and the people who make and design them.
I launched Future and Found in 2012 with an embarrassingly bad website and a small shop unit selling just accessories. I felt really passionate about independent retail and excited about bringing new products to market quickly. Since then we’ve moved to a bigger space, upgraded the website, grown a team of lovely and talented people and gained lots of gorgeous customers.
Can you talk us through your buying decisions - do you have a wish list for new stock or is it a more organic process?
A bit of both to be honest… We do have a bit of a wish list which comes from how we’d like to see the range grow but also in response to customer requests and feedback. Then equally we spot things which we know are perfect for us, which we totally weren’t expecting, and just have to order them. That’s the beauty about being an independent… you can be fast to market and a little spontaneous. We’re super excited to be working on our own brand collection at the moment. The first lines will be on sale from this autumn (fingers and toes crossed!)
How do you source your products?
As a buyer years ago, I'd rely on trade fairs to build our range and find new brands / products. Things have changed massively since then and often you have had visibility of products before it hits a trade fair via social media and blogs. So we have to scour online a lot more than we did – Instagram is a firm favourite.
Any favourite products? What are you current bestsellers?
Our best selling products include Playtype mugs, Tallow candles and Kaleido trays by HAY. But furniture and lighting is becoming a bigger part of our sale mix every month as our selection - and customer loyalty - grows.
How did you go about designing the Future and Found shop?
We’re very lucky to be located in an old factory building set in a courtyard off the main road. So it’s a great environment to be in. We really let the architecture and style of the building lead us as it was already so perfect for our brand. Clean, simple and unpretentious.
How do you balance a bricks and mortar shop and an online store? Is having a ‘real’ shop important to you?
Very. I certainly wouldn’t be so passionate about our business without the bricks and mortar store. Our curation comes to life and we get to play with displays and mixing things as well as getting such great feedback from customers which we learn from every day. Also, having a bricks and mortar I think gives people confidence making big ticket purchases from us as they know they can reach a real person and see things in the flesh.
You also run an interior design service and a variety of workshops in-store - was that always the plan when setting up Future and Found?
We feel it’s a natural extension to the store and our customer service. We like offering something over and above the norm. If someone is going to spend thousands with you on a sofa then need you to fill them with confidence on their selection and how their space is going to look and feel – that’s what our interior service aims to do. It's practical, down to earth, approachable and most importantly, fun.
In terms of workshops, that's been something of an organic process. We get approached by people once they’ve seen our lovely space. Increasingly, we also approach people ourselves - anyone who we feel would be a great fit for our demographic and customer base. Our workshops are always really relaxed and I like to think people walk away feeling like they’ve learnt or achieved something. It feels very complementary to our brand personality.
How do you approach marketing?
Instagram is the most valuable social media tool for us currently. We try to reflect our personality as well as showcase our great range of product. Stories are a great way to get new product deliveries and our store environment out there and give an insight into our day.
But we also do a lot of scouring and sourcing using Instagram now – it’s a great way of finding out about brands, stylists, stores, exhibitions.
What are the challenges of running an independent store?
It’s tough to stay focused on the bigger picture and the future development of the business as we’re a small team. The day to day operational running of the space and the store can easily take over. So each week I’m trying to set aside more and more time to work on our brand development – both in terms of product and branding.
And the best bits?
Working with gorgeous product and the best customers ever!
Any advice for aspiring indie store owners?
Be really focused on your vision. There is so much great stuff out there to select from and people are full of suggestions – so stay clear on what’s right or wrong for your brand. It’s very easy to lose the clarity of the offer in store. Also be prepared to become a bit of a jack of all trades and master multi-tasker.
What’s on the horizon for Future and Found?
We recently expanded our store space and opened a new lifestyle section. So at the moment we’re refreshing the furniture and interiors space as the collection grows. We’re so lucky to have such a beautiful space to work with.
Next on the list is getting our courtyard summer ready – lots of new furniture, pots and plants will be available to buy or customers can simply enjoy them over a cup of iced tea in the sunshine. Then this autumn, you’ll see the first of our very own brand product creeping into the range which we’re super excited about. It's going to be a busy year!
Future and Found, 225A Brecknock Road, Tufnell Park, London, N19 5AA