Shopkeeper Spotlight: Tailor & Forge

Previously working within the worlds of design, marketing and interiors, boutique owners Scott and Driss brought their extensive experience and passion together to create a bricks and mortar store which oozes style, sustainability and offers affordable wares. 

We chat with the duo from dreamy curated home and lifestyle boutique, Tailor & Forge, located in World Heritage Site, Greenwich Market, to hear about how they turned their online store into a must-visit boutique, sourcing sustainable products and the importance of community…  

Photography: Nuraan Ackers

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First things first, why did you set up the store? 

We have a great passion for travel and experiencing the world, so wanted to create a business that helped us to achieve our goal of combining work and travel - essentially running a business online from a laptop anywhere in the world.  

For the first year or so, Tailor & Forge was trading online and started to gain momentum; however we quickly realised that the curated ‘store’ we were creating needed to be fully experienced to allow customers to enjoy the product ranges. We believe that there is a shift starting to happen in online shopping for lifestyle products in that, many of us now want to experience a brand, see and feel product in the real world and then order online. As a result, we decided to create the boutique in the real world with a bricks and mortar store. Starting off as a pop up in Greenwich, Tailor & Forge has now developed into a permanent store on Durnford Street in Greenwich Market. Somewhat of a shift from the original intention of combining work and travel – but all for the best.

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How would you describe Tailor & Forge's style?

Tailor & Forge is all about curating high quality products from the UK and around the world; products which are on-trend, as ethical as possible but also practical and affordable. We believe that there is a limited ‘middle ground’ when it comes to homeware; stores are either top-end or mainstream mass market, often resulting in an inability to purchase due to exclusivity or so run-of-the-mill that the love and excitement of a great interior just disappears. By curating our product range and style through research, we’re able to source high quality, beautiful and affordable products which won't break the bank, but will bring pleasure and joy to customers’ homes.

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Speaking of your products, how do you source them? Which have been your fave finds so far?

We spend a lot of time researching the fashion, interiors and designer-maker arenas to understand what the latest trends are and what the next season(s) may hold. This could be a certain pantone, a motif or material. There may be one element which resonates, or there may be several, but the intention is to curate the boutique with personality and practicality. We attend industry shows but also keep our ears to the ground by actively seeking out quality products and exceptional designs from a myriad of places - online, print, social media and events. 

Social trends have an influence; with vegan and sustainability being extremely important social topics at the moment and also into the future. It’s great that we are all becoming more aware of our responsibility to the environment so ensuring that we have products made of bamboo, vegan leather and provide products which have come from fair trade producers is extremely important. It can be tempting to purchase mass produced products from certain countries, but often the environment, social responsibility and quality are compromised; something which we do not believe is necessary or justified in todays diverse world.

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As well as curating stock from other makers, you also make your own products. Can you tell us a little about them?

After experiencing in our own lives, an emerging pattern of low quality, mass produced furniture which was flooding the market and on the opposite side of the spectrum, high-end furniture which was not only hard to find but was extremely expensive; we felt that there needed to be a much more real and achievable balance between price and quality. We reached out to a Fellow of the Institute of Carpenters - Steve, who has over 40 years’ of experience, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience designing and making beautiful furniture with an all consuming love and passion. We work together to design and make anything from white minimalist contemporary desks to solid reclaimed oak dining tables with inset Corian pieces and unique triangular shelving installations amongst many other things!

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Do you have any advice for other people thinking of setting up a shop?

Setting up a shop or any business takes dedication and hard work. But for us, it’s all about a genuine passion and love for what you are doing. If your product and your business is created with an authentic joy then this will resonate with your customers and your brand will come to life.

Location and being part of a community are also extremely important; which are two of the main driving factors to why we decided on Greenwich Market for Tailor & Forge. 

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What other factors made you choose Greenwich to become home to your boutique?

Greenwich is one of those places where you just don’t feel like you are in London! It’s a globally renowned destination which is full of culture and history. At the same time, Greenwich has a strong community where the locals, market traders and tourists all have a great vibe and spirit for the area. It was extremely important that Tailor & Forge was in a location where it could be part of a strong community and also be able to contribute to it. 

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If you could just choose one favourite product each from the store - what would it be?

Driss: This is a real tough one….however, my choice would the centrepiece natural handmade rattan day bed, adorned with a variety of cushions and throws filled with texture and colour. 

Scott: At the moment, it’s the valet mirror stand, a super, handmade mirror combining a phone holder, tray and coat hook all in one sleek modern design and hand made from French oak – beautiful, practical and affordable.

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What has been your Tailor & Forge career highlights so far?

It has to be meeting amazing people! Meeting fantastic customers and designer-makers, to local traders and other business owners who all want to engage and be part of the local Greenwich community. 

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Finally, do you have any exciting plans for the future?

We are constantly evolving the boutique, with new products every one to two weeks; the layout always changes too so there is always something new to discover and experience. As we enter into the summer, Tailor & Forge will shortly be announcing a range of masterclasses including talks on interior design, gardening in the modern home, mindfulness at home and many other topics. So watch this space!

9 Durnford Street, Greenwich Market, London, SE10 9BF, UK.

www.tailorandforge.com