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.