Tell me about yourself.
I grew up in Stockton On Tees, not the most buzzing towns to grow up in during the 90’s and early 2000’s but made the most of the music scene in Middlesbrough and travelled to Newcastle a lot in my teens for concerts. I was always a very arty kid. Much to my Mum’s dismay, I think she had much higher aspirations for me, but i kept myself out of trouble by taking up music photography while I was studying at CCAD, along with a stint as a DJ with a friend at the local Indie club nights.
What was your previous role to Shrimps House like, and what led to the career change?
I started out in London hoping to pursue a career in fashion photography – as I was studying it at University. However, an opportunity to intern in the music industry sent me down a path that would end around 11 years later, finally placing me in international artist management. Which rather abruptly came to an end when I unceremoniously lost my job due to falling pregnant. I chose to set up on my own freelance PR business when my son began to attend nursery, working in the interiors and architecture section of the industry. It was a sector I’d always been interested in – I was obsessed with Changing Rooms as a kid. To learn more about the world of interiors I took an evening course at Central Saint Martins in interior styling. This wrapped up just before my family and I relocated to North Yorkshire, where I decided the only way forward was to set up shop, quite literally. I wanted to put my new found knowledge to good use and champion independent brands; much like some of my beloved independent shops local to my old neighbourhood in London.
When did Shrimp's House launch?
The store launched right before the mandatory lockdown was announced on 22nd March, so from a new business perspective not the ideal time. I chose to go ahead with the launch out of loyalty to the independent makers who’d worked so hard to meet their shipping deadlines for stock. It almost seemed like a disservice to not offer their beautiful goods for sale and just keep them locked up in my home office until the pandemic blew over.
Who is Shrimp's House for?
The products on Shrimp’s House are for people looking to add a little bit of the quirk into their everyday interiors. Our customers believe in supporting independent makers and have a respect for the skill, time and effort that has been put into creating hand-made, one-off pieces. They perhaps also share my mindset that we should all be buying less but treasure the things we spend a little extra on.
What inspired the name?
My adventurous little boy! Maybe it’s a little cliché to admit you’ve named your business after your child, but ‘Shrimp’ has been his nickname since before birth. I always found it a little quirky, but endearing. It’s a name people don’t forget in a hurry, that’s for sure.
How do you select and curate your products and stock?
I spend an awful lot of my time on social media, on Instagram specifically, searching through endless amounts of profiles to really dig out the gems of slow design and small brands. I look for anything with a pop of colour or I don’t think I’ve seen mass-produced before. They have to be eye-catching and most importantly something I would have in my own home. I wouldn’t dream of stocking anything I wasn’t happy with owning myself. It’s also really important to me to champion these independent makers. I think the skill and artistry needed to create the products we sell in the shop can be overlooked when it’s so easy to pick up mass-produced homeware from any big chain with your weekly shop. Hopefully the shop can help shine a light on the brilliant creatives we’ve curated and raise more awareness of their talents.
How is business going for you?
Surprisingly well, given the circumstances! There is so much support out there for small businesses at the moment, not just from the general public but within the independent business community too. Everyone is rallying together to promote and support each other's shops and brands. I was quite worried the stock may be a little quirky for most people, but the response so far has been incredible.
What made you go online, rather than bricks-and-mortar?
Initially, I wanted a bricks-and-mortar shop. I’m a very social person, so the dream was very much to have a little shop on a small high-street. Unfortunately, for the areas I was looking at, the business rates were astronomical and it wasn’t feasible at all to do. So, while being solely an online shop wasn’t my first choice it has allowed me to keep costs down and invest more in small batch ceramics, where the return isn’t quite as high as other products, just because of my love for them.
What is your best seller right now?
Planters! House plants have definitely been on the rise in the recent years as far as interior decor goes, so people are much more conscious in how they display and house their ‘plant babies’. Both our Milo Made and Marilyne Blais planters with their colourful designs have been big hits since we launched.
We want to send a gift to a friend to cheer them up, what should we order?
Our Paddywax candles are a great pick-me-up for anyone. We stock everything from floral to woody scents but it’s really hard to get wrong, as they aren’t overpowering like some brands I’ve owned in the past. It doesn’t take long for them to sell out and they’re almost always sent as gifts for friends and family. I’ve put a lot of thought into sending gifts since it’s now much harder to get to the shops and give gifts personally. I stock a small range of cards in the shop so that every order can be sent with a handwritten message, every single purchase is hand-wrapped in colourful, recycled packaging and if something needs posting to arrive on a specific day that’s something I offer too. It makes buying a gift for someone that little bit easier and feels a lot more personal and thoughtful. I take great pride in being able to offer personal touches like these, it’s just one of the many beautiful things about being a small business.
What is your current wfh routine?
If not for my son waking us up at 5am, I usually get up around 7am and can’t function until I’ve had at least three cups of tea. I’m absolutely terrible in the morning, so don’t usually sit down at my desk until around 11am. My husband owns his own design agency and works remotely too, so we converted the spare bedroom into a studio, which we both share. Due to the nurseries being closed we now take turns with the childcare. If we have any calls booked in for the day, we will alternate between taking mornings and afternoons with our son. The shop's stock is mostly kept on shelving in the home studio, and that’s where all the picking, wrapping and packing orders happen too. Sometimes I'll have a pair of tiny hands to help me, but due to the fact I sell a lot of fragile ceramics, his help is usually kept to stickering and drawing beside me.