One of the things we have become known for in the shop is our plants. Some might say they’ve taken over! I used to get excited about getting up in the dark to drive miles to a vintage market, now it’s a weekly visit to the plant wholesaler! I could easily get them delivered. I now know what people like and what sell well, but I like to choose them all myself and work out what might work in each space. Our shop changes each week! I’ll explain why!
Our shop is called Vintage Style Living. Originally named as the sister company of our hire company Vintage Style Hire (more on that another day!). My whole ethos for both businesses is to use vintage furniture, paint furniture, recycle, rather than buying new! You can still have a relatively modern home and use vintage furniture. People are surprised to find out my taste is quite contemporary, mixed with vintage pieces. We’ve recently renovated our bathroom and it’s very modern. Matt Black taps, monochrome floor and black metal shelving, but filled with vintage bottles, French preserve jars and a chippy green chair. It’s all about balance!
Our vintage furniture is styled with a collection of new homeware. Beautiful lamps, vases, bowls. I like to show people how they could style the pieces in their own home. So once I get certain vintage pieces in, I then source the new homeware. I’ve always loved flowers in my home and would really love an in-house florist in the shop, not dissimilar to the one in the corner of Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden. A bit like my shop on steroids! Flowers were such a financial risk for me. If they don’t sell, they don’t last and whilst I don’t mind my home filled with an abundance of flowers each week, it doesn’t really make financial sense!
So I started buying a few plants to bring everything to life and then the pots to put them in! They started to become quite popular and each week I would buy a few more. I also loved styling the shop with them and whilst it doubled my workload, I enjoyed being in the shop so much more when I was taking care of them all. You've probably heard about Biophilic Design. Adding plants to the design of your home or workplace creates a more productive and healthy environment - in other words, plants make you happy!!
Over the years I’ve learnt so much. Firstly, how to keep them alive! That part is crucial in becoming a successful plant shop!! Every plant I bought, I would read up about them. Any failures, I wouldn’t buy them again. Simple! I now only buy plants that I know are easy to keep such as the Calathea, Monstera, Prayer Plants, Ferns (although not all!), Ficus Fig, Succulents and Cacti. It’s great to hear when complete novices come back time and time again to add to their collection. I gave a Monstera to my friend Hayley who said “Kate, I have a husband, four kids and a dog, I don’t want anything else to look after!” She begrudgingly kept it and Monty is the biggest I have ever seen! Tip here, always name your plants, you look after them better!!
Sometimes the shop is like a scene out of 'The Little Shop of Horrors'. I documented the growth of an Australia Tree Fern on Instagram! It unfurled in front of my eyes. I was a little terrified that one of the fronds would unfurl round my neck and I would come to an unsavoury end! I was saved by a lady who walked in one day and instantly said she had to have him! I felt slightly tearful as it was prized through our front door and into her hatchback!
So as I write this, surrounded by my own house plants, one of the things I miss most in lockdown is going to buy plants and sharing the joy with plant virgins and those that keep coming back for more! Buying them online isn’t quite the same for me as I have 'Plant OCD' and like to look at every leaf, but there are many companies that do very successfully, so perhaps give them a go!
A few recommendations:-