One of the themes that has emerged from the last few posts, be it about shopping for vintage furniture on eBay or finding new and unusual treasures from small stores, is that you do all care about where your stuff comes from and that it should mean something.
I particularly loved one of the comments yesterday from Anne who bought a vintage leather chair and heard how the seller’s Grandfather used to sit in it when he came home from World War I. Those stories are important and we should tell them.
I always say that every room should have something vintage like your Granny’s old chair but that it can quite happily be someone else’s Granny’s old chair- the point is the history and the character that such pieces bring. And they don’t have to be wooden. I missed out on my very first eBay auction which was a vintage plastic Verner Panton stool from the 1960s. Still not quite over it tbh.
Anyway, leaving vintage aside (for now) we come to today’s focus, which is this lovely new online store selling products which have been selected for their craftsmanship, beauty and functionality. And all three elements should have equal weight in an ideal world, although I’m sure I won’t be the only one who has fallen for the second at the expense of the third.
Into Mills was set up by Sally Ashen who has been selling to the trade and industry for over 15 years and wanted to found a store selling quality handmade goods with an emphasis on functionality.
“I like to know my customers too,” she said. “I spent three years researching – finding suppliers and visiting trade shows – and the aim is to sell products from small suppliers who, in turn, support artisan workers.
“My mission was summed up perfectly by one of my suppliers who said they want to work with ‘artisans in developing countries to produce unique, design-led homeware. We seek empower our artisans to use their traditional skills and techniques to reach a broader market and create better lives for themselves and their communities.
‘We want to help our customers make conscious and honest buying decisions’.”
To that end, Sally stocks this gorgeous pink china which is handmade and the perfect colour for now. Or you can pick the soft grey, or the dark navy, if that’s more your thing. I also love the wooden side plates which are perfect for a simple lunch of bread and cheese.
In the same way that a fabulous gift wrap can make even the simplest of presents more exciting, so the right plate or serving dish can elevate even a humble dish of peanuts. Worth remembering if you have to entertain unexpectedly or people turn up for drinks and you can’t be bothered/don’t have time to make fancy nibbles. Just make sure the serving ware is good and you will win at entertaining.
I’m also keen on the Sursock range, you can see the black and white bowls above. Into Mills seems to be the only UK stockist, and mugs, which come in different colours and designs, are presented in matching tins which make great presents should you be thinking of buying at this time of year.
Trying not to mention the C word for another week or two…
I’ll leave you to browse with this from Sally about her suppliers: “John is in his 70s and collects off-cuts of local wood – cherry, ash and beech – then turns it into the most beautiful wooden bowls.
“In Paris, earlier this year, I found an amazing supplier of handblown glass, a studio that supports master glass blowers who have learned ancient methods passed down from master artisans.
“Each handmade piece has a story, each piece is unique and creates memories to be passed down.”
So go forth and shop. You’re practically saving the planet by doing so.
And come back tomorrow for our November Guest Blogger, none other than Kelly Hoppen. I’m thrilled that she has agreed to drop into The Mad House and write for me and we’ll see if we can get her to answer any of your questions as well….