91 Magazine curated collection

I’ve always loved the idea of having a beautiful shop. In fact I did run an online shop for a while about 10 years ago, but there is something particularly alluring for me about an actual bricks and mortar shop. The curation of lovely objects, the display and styling, the textures, the smells… all the things that can only be experienced IRL. It’s a bit of a pipe dream really, I mean lets face it, I’ve got enough on my plate! But, in the last few weeks I’ve managed to make the next best thing a reality….

91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection

I have curated a collection of beautiful items from UK makers and designers which are for sale in Mad Lilies - a wonderful independent florists and homeware store in my own village of Banstead in Surrey. When I moved here a couple of years ago, I found myself often popping in here for a browse or to buy shoot flowers and soon got to know the lovely owner Alison and her team. Alison started stocking the magazine in the shop, and collaborating together became an obvious next step.

91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection
91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection

I’ve taken over a small section of the shop with a tightly curated range of items from some of my favourite indie makers and designers - some very local to us here in Surrey, some based further afield, but all within the UK.

There are ten brands included in this collection and many of the items I already have in my own home. We have ceramics by two local makers - Raquel of Glaze Me Pretty and Hilda Carr - plus the dreamiest of organic skincare products by LA EVA - whose studio space you may have spotted in our last issue. We have beautiful illustrated prints and stationery from designers The Lovely Drawer, Hattie Maud, Katrina Sophia, Traces of Magic and Maggie Magoo. The cutest little woven pots by La Basketry and candles (which have been personalised for us!) by Helm London.

91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection
91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection
91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection

I’m super passionate about supporting and promoting independent business, so it’s been such a joy to work with Mad Lilies and with all the designers involved to put this together. The plan is for the range to be on sale for an initial three month period, and then we will review it. Ideally, I’d love to continue and to add and rotate some of the work in the collection.

If you are ever in the North Surrey area (Banstead is near to Sutton & Epsom and not too far from Reigate and Dorking) do pop into Mad Lilies for a browse. There is a lovely cafe opposite called Fego, perfect for lunch or even a few cheeky cocktails, and while you’re here, drive 5 mins out of the village to Louisa Grace - three barns packed full of gorgeous vintage and industrial furniture - it’s amazing. The Lavender fields are right there too (although they don’t open until June) or you can nip over to Banstead Woods where there is a Narnia trail and an amazing bluebell walk which should be coming into bloom soon.

If you can’t make it for a visit in person, then Mad Lilies will soon launch their new Mad Lilies at Home website where you will be able to purchase items from the collection direct from your sofa. I will keep you posted on that via social media and our newsletter.

91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection
91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection
91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection
91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection
91 Magazine x Mad Lilies curated collection

Thank you to Alison at Mad Lilies for giving me the space to promote the wonderful independent creative community right here in my local village!

Visit them at: 84 High Street, Banstead, Surrey, SM7 2NN

@mad_lilies

Photography: Jemma Watts

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Dowse

Located in the heart of Brighton’s vibrant North Laine (brimming with independent stores and cafes), Dowse proudly flies the flag for indie design.Creating jewellery and prints in-house and sourcing wares, with care and consideration, from designers across the world (especially from the super-stylish Scandi countries), this beautifully curated shop offers thoughtful design which is accessible to everyone.We spoke to owner Susannah Dowse to hear more…

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Hi Susannah! First things first, why did you decide to call your store Dowse?

Dowse is my family name and the name I designed under before opening the shop. The name comes from dowsing - a technique for searching for water, minerals, or anything invisible. The name was too perfect not to use for a shop where we search out and showcase emerging designers and makers.

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Why did you start the store? 

I’d been working from a home studio for many years and had decided that I wanted to get out and interact with the world again! I was originally going to get a space in a shared studio, but then I begun to think about having a studio that was open to the public and I could showcase the work of other designers alongside my own.

I live in nearby Hove, and one day a shop in my neighbourhood, that had been boarded up for years had a note in the window saying it had recently been renovated and was now available. The timing was too perfect. So I decided to take the space and opened a month later. So it was less about a big plan and more about taking an opportunity that arose and running with it. I ran the shop in the Hove space for five years and have now recently moved to the North Laine area of Brighton. 

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What did you do before starting Dowse?

I have quite a varied career history. I did a very conceptual and theoretical Fine Art degree, but that hadn’t really been a good fit for me. So when I graduated I drifted a bit, djing, designing & making clothes, basically indulging all my other interests. Eventually I pulled those experiences together and began working freelance in fashion, working for many different kinds of clients creating garment samples, surface print design and illustration. I also worked with a textile recycling charity as the head designer of a clothing range made from recycled textiles, with this my interest in sustainability and ethics in design developed.

This lead to a period lecturing in art colleges on sustainability in design. Alongside this, I had a friend who is a jeweller and I began working with her on a range of jewellery. And it was from here that Dowse, as it now exists, developed.

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How would you describe your style? 

I’ve always had a love of abstract and pop art, mid-century interiors and the clean fluid lines of the Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics. Geometry, simple lines and forms feed my aesthetic and influence what I design and also what I’m attracted to in the work of the other designers that I showcase in the shop. 

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As well as making Dowse’s jewellery and art prints, you also stock wares from others. How do you source your products?

Many of the things I find are from keeping an eye on the usual suspects like Pinterest and Instagram. Getting out there and not just visiting the big trade shows is important to find new exciting people, they’re normally found at smaller art and design markets.

I also go to Copenhagen every year and discover wonderful things every time I go. I don’t stock things that have been mass manufactured in the Far East. I just can’t trust that someone hasn’t been exploited in a factory and that doesn't sit well with me. So everything we sell is made with care and consideration on a smaller scale by the designers and makers.

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What are your favourite finds so far?

One of my most significant Copenhagen discoveries was Studio Arhoj. A ceramic studio I started stocking about four years ago and I believe I was the first shop in the UK to carry their range. They're now much more established and have a real cult following. I send their pieces all over the world, as people hunt down their special and unique designs and glazes. The recent revitalisation of ceramics by the new wave of young makers has been wonderful to see. And it seems there are quite a few ceramic addicts out there!

One of our current lines that’s a big favourite are the hand made ceramics by Quartier Ceramics, made in Lisbon by one man, Romain, at his potters wheel. I can't wait till our latest delivery from him arrives next month! I also love the well designed, simple and British made wares of Studio Wald. They make great paper goods and a lovely flower press. 

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You're clearly passionate about what you do. What do you love most about your chosen vocation?

As a designer, being able to interact directly with my customers and see their response (good or bad!) to new designs is great.

As a shopkeeper I really enjoy being able to tell the story of the person behind the objects we sell. Highlighting the process that goes in to the making of these beautiful things by an individual rather than a big company. Supporting emerging designers and sustainable practice is a big part of why I do what I do. Finding good design that's actually affordable and not out of reach is also something that's a challenge that I love. I'm on a bit of a mission to make good and thoughtful design accessible to everyone. 

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If you could choose just one product from the store right now, what would it be?

I love the sculptural forms of the Hana vase series by Arhoj. One will be making it home before too long. 

Oh, they are gorgeous! Do you have any advice for other people thinking of setting up a shop?

Make what you sell matter, be passionate about it. This will carry you through the tricky times.

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You have such a lovely Instagram feed - how does social media help your business?

I love Instagram. It's inspiring and impressive what amazing feeds people create. I wish I had more time to concentrate on it, it can be an art form in itself. It is really important to reach the right audience for what you do, so for any small business or designer it's as a really great tool to do that. 

Your new location in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine is renowned for its many independent stores. How does it feel to be part of the community?

I love Brighton. It's got a vibrancy to it that you don't often get in cities this size. New people are always arriving and so it's constantly evolving. I don't think there's many places with this many indies in such numbers. It's great to be a part that community. 

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What has been your Dowse career highlights so far?

There have been many great moments, mixed with challenging ones! Moving to a new shop space after five years of running a shop, that in itself felt quite a big achievement to do on my own with no investors - remaining truly independent. 

As a designer, it was a real highlight being commissioned by The Design Museum to create a collection of jewellery exclusively for them to accompany an exhibition on architect Louis Kahn. 

Photography: Emma Croman

Dowse, 27 Gloucester Rd, Brighton

dowsedesign.co.uk / Follow on Instagram

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