Now this is going to be a collective post and so I’m going to need you all to chip in in the comments and if you come to this later on make sure you read the comments too. With the news of a second lockdown and the plight of small businesses once again pushed to the fore, I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of them so that if/when you do your Christmas shopping, or even general shopping we can focus on the small sites and stores and hopefully bring them through this second lockdown with us. You in?
I came up with the idea yesterday when I read this piece in The Guardian about a new online bookstore that is pitching itself as a socially conscious alternative to Amazon: “Bookshop was dreamed up by the writer and co-founder of Literary Hub, Andy Hunter. It allows independent bookshops to create their own virtual shopfront on the site, with the stores receiving the full profit margin – 30 per cent of the cover price – from each sale. All customer service and shipping are handled by Bookshop and its distributor partners, with titles offered at a small discount and delivered within two to three days.”
This is in addition to Hive, where you buy a book online and choose which bookshop (perhaps local to you) that you want to receive a percentage of your money. So that’s the books, which, as we all know, make brilliant presents at any time of year and, I might point out, while the bookstores get 30 per cent of the cover price, the author gets a bit too – around £1 a book when the book is sold at full price – so another good reason to buy books.
So onto other things. At this stage I think we are in no particular order as, as usual, I’m writing this less than 24 hours before I publish so there might not be time to make it pretty but I’ll do what I can. It’s loosely alphabetical and even more loosely into a few umbrella categories but if you have time scroll through the full post as I’m sure you will find new places. There are some black-owned businesses and, where, it might be relevant I have mentioned locations for bricks and mortar stores. Obviously, this is but a drop in the ocean but it’s a start. And every time I log out I think of another.
Alijoe Designs, who I have supported for many years and whose work I have bought. Debbie makes gorgeous upcycled plates and send you a set of velcro strips so you can hang it on the wall too. And, as I have said before, a round item is a perfect contrast to a gallery wall full of rectangles.
Art & Hue is not just stylish pop art prints and cards but also is the designer of this very blog. So he deserves your support for that alone. From series celebrating The Avengers to Architecture via Americana there is truly something for everyone. And you can even order a bespoke print of your pet or your house.
Diane Hill paints the most gorgeous chinoiserie-inspired pictures has also created phone cases (good presents those) and you can buy prints from £45 as well as original pieces. If you loved the De Gouray post from the other day and can’t run to the actual wallpaper, this is a good place to come.
Gail Myerscough, whose illustration is at the top of this post, makes Christmas cards, cushion covers and artwork including mugs.
Vinegar and Brown Paper etches witty sayings onto bottles and jars. I bought the Extract of Genius jar for the 19yo when he was doing his GCSEs and I love these refillable (and therefore sustainable) amber glass bottles.
Aerende sells “life-affirming homewares” made by people facing social challenges so there are beautiful linen stitched by refugee women in Essex, wooden chopping boards carved by young men with learning difficulties and eco-friendly soap and candles. It’s non-profit and the stuff is beautiful.
Akojo Market is a platform championing independent ethical (mostly female) designers from across Africa, in the homeware, clothing, accessories and beauty space. Designers and brands are vetted to ensure they meet high standards when it comes to human rights and environmental practices. There is lots of fashion and beauty as well as homewares ranging from baskets and placemats to coasters, tea towels and throws. And these are tea towels you might want to frame and hang on the wall.
Bespoke Binny, designs, makes and sells African-inspired homewares from oven gloves and aprons to bedding and blankets. Although may I tactfully suggest if you are giving someone oven gloves for Christmas you included a voucher to their favourite restaurant for post lockdown.
Craft Editions launched in 2017 to celebrate and promote craft. Founder Brian Waring travels extensively throughout Ireland, South Africa and the UK , meeting master craftspeople and selling their wares. Usually they would sell through Christmas markets but as those have all been closed this year it’s all about online. Look out for hand embroidered napkins created by the team at Mogalekawena Craft Art Development Foundation. The foundation specialises in the rediscovery of local craft skills such as beadwork and candlemaking and supports the makers through computer literacy schemes etc.
Dar Leone is a London-based design studio founded by Sierra Leonean-American, Isatu Funna whose upbringing and memories have inspired this a globally-inspired range of jewellery, textiles, wallpaper, cushions and objects including ancient Nomoli figures carved in soapstone and found in Sierra Leone, to the romarang pots and mugs using the traditional geometric and lozenge designs seen all over West Africa.
Florence Broadhurst began as a place selling beautiful lamps with shades in the Australian designer’s signature graphic prints and has now expanded into rugs, cushions and stools. If you love her prints you will love this.
Grain and Knot is run by Sophie Sellu who carves vases, brushes, spoons and other gorgeous pieces by hand. The next drop is 8 November and as she works alone you need to visit then and place your order. Her work makes beautiful and thoughtful presents.
Hammade by Jo Robinson is a long time favourite with her gorgeous rabbit designs on mugs, prints and tea towels.
House of Flora, sells a range of household goods, gifts, furniture and accessories run by Sonal, a trained interior designer (and early sign up to the Design for Diversity Pledge. It’s a lovely place for a browse.
Inside Store has everything from lighting and furniture to accessories and candles and it’s all impeccably curated.
Lucy Tiffney, formerly of The Great Interior Design Challenge, is going to from strength to strength with her painting and her shop now includes, rugs, wallpaper, facemasks, rugs and cushions. And a pretty facemask might be the new mug when it comes to Christmas presents this year.
Objects of Use calls itself a modern day hardware store (in Oxford) and it’s the stuff of cleaning fantasies. If you have to clean or cook or work and aren’t keen on any of the above, then this might just make it all a little more exciting. Fabulous notebooks, luxurious feather dusters and dust brushes alongside wooden towel racks and big blocks of Marseille soap will soon have you in the mood. Or at the very least you can photograph them for instagram.
Osime Home sells colourful African-inspired cushions, masks and storage pots via her Etsy shop.
Polkra make gorgeous candles (see below) and also sell cushions, tea towels, rugs and fabulous matches. Buy someone a mug and a box of fabulous tea or a candle and some matches. You know the drill. Throw in a book and a throw (start the budget small and build) and you are creating the most fabulous, personalised gift that you can alter to suit each recipient.
Prints and Press is based in Manchester but also sells online, and has a range of mid-century inspired placemats, coasters, cushions and teatowels.
Print Sisters Archive has a range of archive fabric and wallpaper prints dating from the 1800s that have been reworked and revived into limited editions of 50 each. A great way to buy something affordable and original for your walls.
Reste is based in Hastings and sells artisanal and handcrafted products from around the world using traditional methods and materials. Look for dried flowers, tableware, candles and stationery.
Rowen and Wren is an old favourite of mine selling everything from tables and chairs to handmade candle holders and handmade pasta bowls. If you’re buying for a teenager then a pretty mirror and a great lipstick makes a lovely present.
Tinsmiths, in Ledbury, is a feast for the eyes both online and in real life. There’s a huge amount of fabric but look out also for hardware, rugs and cushions as well as the most lustworthy collection of ceramics. Just look at this plate.
WA Green, Zoe was forced to move her bricks and mortar shop online at the start of the last lockdown and stocks a really. fun and colourful collection of homewares, including a Tiger King Christmas tree bauble and lots of glassware, candles and accessories.
FURNITURE AND ACCESSORIES
Abigail Edwards makes handpainted wallpapers, fabrics and cushions inspired by natural and fairy tales.
Anna Hayman makes wallpaper, cushions and lampshades in her own incredibly rich and detailed designs.
The Curious Department have a gorgeous, and richly designed, collection of wallpaper, fabric and cushions.
Divine Savages (such a good name) also make fabrics, wallpapers and cushions and have recently added carpets to their collection.
Elizabeth Ockford is another wallpaper designer whose designs range from delicate floral to whimsical (lobsters) and bold geometrics.
Fenwick & Tilbrook, family-run paint firm based in Norfolk. Paint is all made to order fresh to minimise waste and delivered the next day. Names include hares tail, heavy sky and daybreak. Fans of Greg Penn, aka @manwithahammer can see their paint all over the walls of his massive renovation.
Floor Story make stunning rugs and one day I will have one.
Lorna Syson also makes wallpaper with native bird prints and floral designs based on her childhood in Warwickshire and Cornish holidays.
Maven, is based in Northern Ireland and run by sisters Catherine and Patricia McGinnis who sell a mix of Scandinavian and Irish products by brands including Hay, Menu and Ferm Living as well as Mourne Textiles and Øxmantown skincare.
Pinch Design makes high-end beautifully crafted future heirloom pieces. I love it all.
Re-found Objects is an old favourite selling everything from lights made from old jelly moulds and colanders to old absinthe advertising carafes.
Rose and Grey sells everything from furniture to small accessories and gifts and it’s all beautifully photographed so it’s a happy place for a browse.
SundayandStory sells gorgeous Moroccan rugs ( I bought one) in all shapes, colours, sizes and vintages. Definitely a good place to start a hunt for a rug.
Trouva is a great place to look for small businesses. A online portal that gathers hundreds of independent and small stores from all around the UK into one place on the proviso that they have bricks and mortar premises. It’s a huge site but every time you shop you are helping a real life small business.
Check out The Modern Vintage Collective a group of small businesses selling 20th century, mid-century and modernist pieces.
I have written about good vintage stores before so do look at those posts (all of which have links) if that is your shopping preference.
Woven Rosa sell the most gorgeous rugs and soft furnishings sourced from all around the world (working with skilled artisans and paying fair prices) and have also written post on 43 of their favourite independent stores here.
houseof was set up by two former high street lighting experts and their products are simple and graphic and come in a range of seasonal colours at really good price points.
lovefrankie began with lampshades and has now branched out into homewares. There is a shop in Totnes, Devon and a huge range of colourful shades that will revamp any room quickly and easily. Lampshades are often overlooked in favour of cushions when it comes to a seasonal refresh but they’re a good place to start.
Matchi matchi make customisable lights so you can be confident of getting something nearly original. The idea is that you can adapt and customise and change with your decor as often or as rarely as you want.
Original BTC has often featured on these pages before but if you want classic British-made pared back designs that will last for ever you won’t go wrong here. Look out for the bone china shades which cast a particularly beautiful glow. Great desk lamps too.
Pooky Lights are another brand that will be familiar to many of you. Founded by Rohan Blacker, formerly of Sofa.com, Pooky sells fun and colourful lamps for every room in the house. I particularly love the resin bases and they have recently expanded their bathroom range to include lots of pretty shades and colours that wouldn’t look out of place in the sitting room.
Tom Raffield is at the luxury end of the market but his steambent lights (I bought one in a seconds sale)are almost works of art and this is exactly the sort of craftsmanship and technique that mustn’t be allowed to go out of business.
Make sure to add your own recommendations in the comments below and let’s build this into a really diverse, useful and beautiful selection of places to shop. And then let’s do the shopping.