Shop Spotlight

Places to Shop Spotlight: Heron Hawker

Specialising in terrariums and interior plant design, plant lovers paradise, Heron Hawker has been open since April, this year. Being a huge plant lover and this beautiful shop being on my then doorstep (I have since moved to Oxfordshire!) I wanted to get inside owner, Rob's head, and find out about the quirky name amongst other things!

When did you first start?

"I’d been making little terrariums at home for a while, around October time 2016. I’d made some for friends and I was talking to my partner and we decided we should get out there and run a market stall. We got in contact with Tottenham Green Market which is fantastic, and we had our first stall in Feb 2017. It went OK, let’s just say we learnt a lot. So we booked on a 5 more weekends and went back, each time tweaking our setup and the sort of items we were bringing along. We also learnt incredible fast not to buy a cheap gazebo for you market stall. Unless your plan was to hold onto it for dear life in the winter winds."

How did you come up with the idea of terrariums?

"One of my best friends is really into his plants, and I learnt a lot from him. He would often bring cuttings round when he came to visit, or I stole them from his plants when I was there. It was fun learning about all the different environments they like to live in, and what suites what sort of plant. It also gave me the chance to test out different plants and see which of them I could really get on with, that I could grow and also propagate. Then I started shoving them into little jars, I think my family was forced into a jar amnesty, and I stole some sand from my parents garage. Took it all back to London and started messing around with open and dry terrariums. There were a few people making moist terrariums, things with fittonia, ferns and other leafy things. At that point I was more focused on succulents and cacti and the uniformity in their patterns. Or the craziness of them not being uniform."

How did you come up with your quirky name?

"When I was a kid I was into my aeroplanes, and we didn’t live too far away from Duxford, or the RAF museum. Whether It was school trips or trips with my family, I seemed to go there often. I liked the old school fighter planes, the Tiger moths, Sopwith Camel and the Hawker Heron. I thought about how these machines were built to help destroy things, this is about how to grow things. So I explored turning each of them around. Heron Hawker just seemed to fit perfectly."

As those of you who know me well know, I am always fascinated by the part serendipity ALWAYS plays in people's businesses... Everyone's got a story to tell!

Where has serendipity showed up in your business?

"I’ve always been someone who’s dabbled in everything. Tried loads of hobbies, different jobs and things. When you’re like that opportunities tend to arise more regularly. By doing that you meet people and the chance of something amazing happening increases. Our biggest strike of luck was a buyer from The Conran Shop followed me, and I them on my personal account. They saw what I was making and we met up again and chatted around creating a range for those guys. It’s been a fantastic relationship, we love hunting down new vessels and trying things with them. The first big order from those guys gave me the last push to quit my job from the music industry and pour my time into Heron Hawker."

What is your fave plant?

"It changes! I think deep down it’s all the different types of Haworthia. They are so indestructible but so many types to explore and grow. They have pups like mad, so they’re a good one to start with and see how much you can expand your collection. I love a big of Alocasia Wentii as their foliage is amazing, but not necessarily practical as they take up a lot of room."

What have you learnt about running a shop compared to just being wholesale and running workshops?

"I enjoy meeting everyone that comes into the shop. I feel like if they’re up for it, we can really dedicate a bit of time to them and help them find something perfect. Sometimes it’s not in the store which is when the hunting mission begins to find the most bizarre little pants. The tricky bit is that with huge Instagram and Pinterest pages showing off the most unique things, it can leave a lot people trying to find something that just isn't commercially available in the UK just yet. Logistically it’s also a little crazy as we’ve got strict opening hours now. Our dog Yolk also keeps me company in the shop during the day. In our last workshop space he would be upstairs with me, so he wouldn’t always meet the people who would come in. Now though he thinks everyone is here to see him, and sometimes to be honest, I think the same!"

 

Tell me more about your workshops

"We run both corporate and public workshops. They are really fun as it challenges people to get creative but it’s also hard to be disappointed with what you make, so nobody leaves feeling frustrated. You either grab a bit of glassware here, or bring a piece along and then we teach you the essentials. After that, we set you free with all the gear. It’s fun as everyone has the same elements to play with, but they all end up looking so different. We’ve done them for 5 to 95 people."

What about your other services?

"We also help interior design firms to bring the plant elements of their visions to life, which is always great fun. We get to visit some cool spaces and collaborate with the owners and designers to bring installations to life. We also help to decorate events too and have our first weddings coming up this year which is incredibly exciting. We’re making a variety of centrepieces of all different shapes and sizes."

What exciting plans have you got coming up?

"We’re about to launch our creative workshop calendar. Alongside our own terrarium workshops, we’ll be having a variety of guest workshops. We’ve found some of our favourite makers out there and offered them the space outside of trading hours to host workshops in the shop. They’ll be for around 8 people at a time, which is always the best as you get to spend so much time with the host and get to fully understand how to making something beautiful."

Heron Hawker

210 Middle Lane, Hornsey, London, N8 7LA

https://www.heronhawker.com/

https://www.instagram.com/heronhawkerplants/

Places to Shop Spotlight: Hus & Hem

I want the entire range of German Blossoming candles shown here!

I want the entire range of German Blossoming candles shown here!

Tucked away from Ledbury High St, in the aptly named Design Quarter is the fabulous Hus & Hem shop. The Swedish named (House + Home) store captivates the senses as soon as you walk in. There are walls of brightly coloured objects to draw you in and an array of deliciously scented Skandinavisk candles, with names like Carved from Glaciers, Calm of the Boreal Forest and Dawn Embers (which incredibly does actually smell just like the fire the morning after!). Who isn't going to stop and smell a candle called Freshness of the Seas?!

Skandinavisk & German Blossoming candles

Skandinavisk & German Blossoming candles

Hus & Hem is not your average high street home store. It is full of all sorts of beautiful things you have never seen before. I asked Louise, the owner how she sources everything.

L: Regular trips to Europe to shows, but equally shopping in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Gotland, Paris and any other city I happen to be in. It’s the best way to find the hidden gems. We never stop looking.

I managed to catch Louise, en route to the shows in Stockholm and Paris, on one of these buying trips and asked her to share her story with us, and of course, how serendipity played her part. I always like to ask this question as she very often has a hand in things!

L: Hus & Hem opened on 1st May 2009 – just as the UK had plunged into a recession! It was a conscious decision to start the business at this time – the reasoning for this? if it works when times are tough then it can only get better! You also have to work harder and smarter, it makes you appreciate that every penny counts. It also helped that we opened on a shoestring and didn’t borrow (I originally opened with my best friend Jill, Jill sold her share of Hus & Hem to me back in 2014.)

K: Did serendipity play a part in you going into business and opening a shop at all?

L: It did indeed! An appointment was made on a chilly day in March 2009 to see an estate agent in Ledbury about the possibility of any shops coming up. The appointment was for 2.30pm, with a little time to spare I wandered into a little shop that was called The Orangery, it had always been one of my favourite little shops, a great location, perfect size, and off the High Street, all the requirements that were on the wish list. I walked around the shop and just as I was leaving, Mandy the owner, mentioned that sadly they were closing the shop! I said nothing and promptly went over to the appointment with the estate agent. I said I had found my perfect shop and what should I do. Go and tell them he said! We arranged to have a drink in a local pub that evening and Hus & Hem was born (well not quite Hus & Hem as it was nameless at that point). We had found a shop in 20 minutes and we opened in 8 weeks!

K: What do you look for when picking a supplier?

L: I am rather impulsive! I often have that moment of ‘I want it’ I stick with this gut instinct! It may be slightly off the wall, and often the girls will say no we are not having that (we tend to buy as a group, myself Lily (Louise's daughter) and Lucinda in various combinations. It can be easier buying as a group as obviously if we all love it then it’s a definite order) Sometimes I just have to have something, they both object and I buy it anyway, they are often the gems! And obviously I can say ‘I told you so’ only when it does sell really well, if it doesn’t I just say nothing! I have to really want it; we never have anything in the shop just because we think we can sell it. If I am quibbling whether to order then it’s a no.

All the colours!

All the colours!

K: Can you tell us about your brand ethos and what is important to you?

L: We have to love it - Simple as that! It simply has to make the heart sing. I could go on for hours about this question...

K: How do you get around a common problem in retail and beautifully merchandise when you have overstock?

L: We try not to overstock. We order small and often on the majority of products. We like to have new stock arriving regularly to keep the stock fresh and customers coming back, there is nothing worse than seeing the same stock in the same place month after month, this stops that problem, it also helps when you have a good relationship with your supplier! Many have become good friends.

Beautifully merchandised stock. Isn't this display very restful to look at?

Beautifully merchandised stock. Isn't this display very restful to look at?

K: Why is being off the high street important to you?

L: Rent and rates are cheaper!! Only joking, well sort of! We are so lucky we were offered our building at breeze block stage, we could configure it to our own spec – how often would you ever have this happen in a rural Market town. A brand new shiny building that even looks Scandinavian from the outside. The original little shop was also up an alleyway, 16 paces off the high street, it worked there, we reasoned the new one would too, although it was much further off the high street, it had a great approach, and more importantly you could see it from the pavement. People often say they are drawn up, I like this, they discover us and they have to put in a little bit of effort, they have to make a conscious choice to keep on walking up the alleyway. This makes customers feel as if they have discovered us, I think they like that. We can also have our doors open in the summer without the noise of the traffic; you just hear the birds singing.

K: What do you wish you had known when you first started Hus & Hem? What piece of advice would you give yourself back then?

L: Now I found this question really difficult. I can’t think of anything. I just asked Lucinda the question and she came up with ‘until you totally give up you don’t really know’. When you run your own business you just change something if it doesn’t work, I honestly can’t think of anything of any importance, obviously there’s loads of small things like paying in different currencies and the amount of paperwork you have to do on a day to day basis. Luckily I quite like paperwork!

I love Louise's attitude of starting "against the odds" during a recession, knowing that if you can survive that, you'll be just fine!

Next time you are in Ledbury be sure to pop in and try some of the INCREDIBLE salted caramel Lakrids liquorice sweets! They also have an online store with their beautiful homewares helpfully showcased by room and by brand, so you can shop to your hearts content!

Hus & Hem, The Design Quarter, 12 High Street, Ledbury, Herefordshire, HR8 1DS, UK

All images taken by Katie Spicer & may not be reproduced without permission.

 

Places to Shop Spotlight: The Goring Grocer

Trained chefs Stuart & Caroline Pierrepoint were moving to Dorset. They had sold their cafe in the beautiful village of Goring-on-Thames, next to the North Wessex Downs and were ready for the off! Their house sale fell through at the last minute, which serendipitously turned into them buying an empty shop in the same village and creating their third business and foodie heaven, The Goring Grocer, in November 2015

Lauren serving behind the counter

Lauren serving behind the counter

It is a total delight on the senses, as everything is beautifully merchandised and the food all looks and smells delicious. Owner Stuart creates the delicious food on site every day, along with the talented Alison. As you can watch them creating at the back of the shop, it is easy to ask them what they are making and whether things are gluten free (in my case, as I am Coeliac!). They are always open to suggestions from their customers.

Having been trading in the village for 16 years, they have already built up the know, like and trust factor and have a big fan base for Stuart’s cooking!

You only have to walk past the outside of the shop to know that it is definitely somewhere you want to go in.

 

The visual merchandising in the shop really makes the already visually appealing products even more irresistible. Caroline says she has no background in it but being on a small budget generally makes you more creative! Once inside, you know it is definitely somewhere you will be buying something, whether for your lunch or as a gift for someone else.

Two Cocks Brewery

Two Cocks Brewery

They have some really cool packaged products, such as the bottles from Two Cocks Brewery with real feathers on! This is entirely intentional and one of their brand values: to sell quality, interesting and beautifully packaged products from small producers in the UK.

Stuart + Caroline get their inspiration from Instagram and by reading up on products and visiting other farm shops and delis. Provenance is important to them and their customers and they pride themselves in stocking products you wouldn't necessarily find in the supermarkets.

They have some really cool packaged products, such as the bottles from Two Cocks Brewery with real feathers on! This is entirely intentional and one of their brand values: to sell quality, interesting, beautifully packaged products from small producers in the UK.

Stuart & Caroline get their inspiration from Instagram and by reading up on products and visiting other farm shops and delis. Provenance is important to them and their customers and they pride themselves on stocking products that you wouldn’t necessarily find in supermarkets.

The power of the independent shop is back on the up!

If you are passing I can highly recommend their squash, red rice, quinoa, rocket, goats cheese & sun dried tomato pot for lunch, especially if you are Coeliac like me!

The Goring Grocer, 17a High Street, Goring on Thames, RG8 9AR

All images taken by Katie Spicer & may not be reproduced without permission.