Today we’re combining a house tour with a new shop launch so you get to nose around this rather lovely house and discover a new place to buy lots of lovely swag for your own. It belongs to the journalist Emily Mathieson who recently founded a new homewares site called Aerende but read on for the full story.
As a student Emily was always at the Amnesty International marches. She was always protesting for social justice and, as she puts it, stomping about in her Doc Martens. But eventually most of us have to earn a living and Emily went into journalism, writing and commissioning lifestyle pieces for The Guardian and Conde Nast Traveller.
But she always had a Plan B – a secret yearning to run a shop and yet she couldn’t square that with her desire to stop all the rampant consumerism and owning shop encouraging people to fill their houses with more stuff went against all her principles. So, as many of us do, she parked the dream and carried on writing.
Then, one day at a craft fair she bought a basket from a person selling them on behalf of the people who had made them – people with learning difficulties. Chatting to the vendor she found she was the first person to buy anything from the stall. And yet the craftmanship was beautiful. And suddenly Emily had an idea.
“There are people with social challenges who can make beautiful things but can’t find a route to market,” she says. “I thought I could help with that.” And so Aerende – which means Care or Message in Old English – was born.
She has scoured the UK looking for products that are high quality and fit her pared back simple aesthetic. “It has to be beautiful enough to buy in its own right, the artisan element is an extra bonus and the whole purchase then feels good.”
Even the packaging, which is beautiful, is compostable. Emily’s partner works for Net a Porter so the couple understands the importance of the power of the whole shopping experience. Buying from Aerende benefits everyone involved from the maker to the buyer and even the planet.
“I am always looking for new suppliers. It is an area where there can be low expectations and low standards but there is also exceptional skill. I am commissioning pieces that fit with my aesthetic so I might ask someone to work with fewer colours or to pare it back a little bit so that the design can speak for itself. That way the final product can be more elegant and more commercial,” she says.
“There is huge potential out there. I have found refugee women who really want to work and have amazing skills and at this stage I am limited only by the number of customers I can bring them. I am now looking for knitters. Sometimes old people knit as occupational therapy and I think that these handmade products in natural materials and neutral colours are completely of the moment.
“It’s also showcasing heritage skills and creating timeless pieces that will never go out of date. Keeping the colours natural also uses less dye so there is less impact on the environment.
Emily hasn’t finished yet. She wants to offer a discount and loyalty card that will be sent out to customers on biodegradable paper filled with seeds. When the offer runs out simply bury the card in the ground and flowers will grow.
I should tell you that this post wasn’t sponsored. Emily contacted me to tell me about Aerende and I thought it was such a brilliant idea that I thought you would like to tour round her house and then perhaps take a look at her shop. Shopping this way is definitely a good deed and so justifiable.
Brilliant – just solved my dilemma for a wedding present for a DM wearing, protest going, social conscience driven gorgeous friend who finally married her partner after 3 kids and 20 odd years
Happy to be of service. What a wonderful way to celebrate a marriage!
Aerende – inspiring. Solving the dilemmas of consumerism, craft and even disability. The classic furniture featured adds to the credibility of the project. Now may we see the products please? We might all want to buy or support with seed capital.
Yes, emotions come into this, but why not?
Thrilled that you noticed our furniture – most of it is second-hand/found on the street which I always think is the best way to get your hands on a classic style. In terms of products, there are a few in some of the room shots in this post (chopping boards in the kitchen, stripey bed linen, cushion on the cream sofa) but you can see lots more on the site – http://www.aerende.co.uk. Always happy to answer questions about any product and to discuss investment options of course. I think emotions are a valuable part of the experience – we want everyone to feel good.
So glad you like the furniture Libby. Most of it is second-hand/found on the street – always a nifty way of getting your hands on a classic. Some of the products appear in the pictures (chopping boards in the kitchen, striped bed linen, soap in the bathroom) but you can see everything more clearly on the website – http://www.aerende.co.uk. Always happy to discuss investment opportunities, and completely agree with you on the emotions – we hope the Aerende experience has a feel-good that extends from customers to makers to the world…
What a great post. Very inspiring AND just where I think we are heading towards in terms of a look & feel for our new bigger kitchen. Totally love your posts. Those green tiles with the pink are going into our new build somewhere!
Am I going mad? What green tiles, what pink??
Thank you for writing this post. Like Fiona above, I absolutely love this business concept and wish Emily huge success supporting people who have huge potential to be given an opportunity to show their talent.
So happy that you like it Lina and Helen. In case it’s useful the kitchen is from John lewis (with counters, sink and tap sourced from eBay).
Gave me such pleasure reading this article. Thank you.
what a wonderful post Kate and what a great business idea. Being an interior designer I sometimes struggle with the whole exuberant consumerism that it often encourages but purchasing items such as these would sit far better in my consciousness so thank you for the introduction.
I know what you mean Fiona. It’s sometimes difficult to square desire for lovely things with an understanding of how harmful that can be for the world. Hoping we’ve come up with some kind of stepping solution – using capitalism to solve some of the problems it creates. Very happy to discuss commissions for private clients so do feel free to get in touch if there’s ever anything specific you’d like. Our refugee ladies are especially keen to take on sewing work as they think the things I give them are too simple!
Aerende – lovely idea, lovely things. Wish you every success Emily and thank you Kate for bringing this to us! Lovely home too…
You are too kind Madelaine. All these lovely comments have me walking on air this evening and I know the makers whose products were featured are really excited too.