Folklore opened in Islington in May of this year and is already one of London’s top design destinations. It’s a space that induces calm sighs of satisfaction: design at its quiet, understated best. With the ethos that “better living is possible through design” there is an integrity to everything co-founders Danielle Reid and her husband Rob do. I was delighted to catch up with Danielle to find out more…
What’s your background? How did you end up doing what you do?
My background is design. I’ve worked as a stylist and interior designer for the last 10 years or so. Rob’s background is in digital media.
What made you want to set up shop?
As a designer it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s been fun and very exciting to see Folklore come to life.
You say that “better living is possible through design” can you tell me more about what that means?
We believe that ecology and ethics should form an integral part of good design. It’s important to us to know the background of all of our products – who created them, where were they made and what materials were used.
Everyone is aware of the problems the world is facing as a result of mass consumerism and the resulting depletion of the planet’s resources. We believe that design can play a significant role in tackling these issues by developing new materials and products that are environmentally and socially responsible.
Folklore has a very clear aesthetic. How do you decide what stock to buy and what are you inspired by?
When sourcing, we look for simplicity, craftsmanship, quality and durability.
This involves seeking out suppliers and designers who share a similar ethos to ourselves. Aesthetically it is important that everything works well together so that our range has a cohesive style.
Short of buying all your products(!) what would your advice be on creating a similar look at home?
I would recommend keeping things simple and uncluttered, keep patterns to a minimum and tie different elements together with colour. Choose raw materials such as wood, stone and metal as well as natural fabrics like linen and organic cotton.
You seem very social responsible, from your sourcing policies to your charitable donations – what drives this?
The environmental and economic impact of population growth, overconsumption of resources and threats to biodiversity are real problems that we all face. Starting a new business in 2012 wouldn’t have felt right if we didn’t acknowledge this. In terms of donations, we hope that in the future Folklore can have a positive impact by helping charities such as the one we are working with this year, Shanti Microfinance.
Why was it important to you to have a bricks and mortar presence as well as an online shop?
Online has lots of advantages but we also wanted the company to have a traditional home where people can come and visit. The two work together and we often find that people buy online after visiting the shop or visa versa – they come to see the shop after they’ve found us online.
How do you cope with working with your husband? Doesn’t it all get a bit much sometimes?!
I can’t think of a better business partner! We are both very passionate about what we’re doing but of course there are ups and downs. We look after different parts of the business so we’re not on top of each other during the day. We’ve also become very good at leaving the company at the door when we sit down for dinner every evening!
What advice would you give someone wanting to get into design retail and perhaps set up their own shop?
The first thing is deciding whether to just do online, have a physical shop or both. While they compliment each other, they are very different – it’s almost like running two separate businesses. A good location is key for a physical shop and for us living locally in Islington has been a big advantage in helping to understand our customers. We’ve made lots of mistakes along the way but it’s important to learn and adapt as you go. We’re really enjoying it, but be prepared – it’s a lot of hard work!
And finally, what is your favourite colour?!
That’s a difficult one – it changes all the time. I keep track of images that inspire me on our Pinterest page. I categorise boards by colour – at the moment my favourite one is ‘Dusky Pink’.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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