Yesterday I met a lovely woman being bullied by her boss. Signed off with stress she wandered into my friend’s interiors store, Casa Morada. I’ve spent a substantial part of my life eschewing controlling, abusive people so immediately emphasised with her situation. Customers come into Eva’s shop because the wall lighting is soothing and the fairy light chandeliers reminiscent of clear night sky. Several never want to leave, suggesting she turn the back room into a coffee shop (something Causewayside could do with) so they can genuinely linger longer. Eva’s always welcoming – equally happy for people to chat to her or just take in the peaceful atmosphere and absorb her quirky finds.
Knowing who your customers are was touched on in Abigail Ahern’s retail masterclass. Beyond knowing my customers were working women with busy lives (who prefer a vintage sofa to a wedding dress) I hadn’t really thought much about it. This morning I realised more precisely who they are. My customers are seeking refuge from the harsh realities of life. They’re not looking to transform their home, (they love their home), but something isn’t working and they’re not sure what it is. Something’s missing, needs rethinking, or simply doesn’t quite add up.
They’ve no desire to replace everything (although they may have replaced a few people in their lives). They’re coming to terms with stuff and need a cosy, familiar environment ever changing for the better. Their decoration ebbs and flows. Not for them the whirlwind makeover that first eradicates and then rebuilds everything in its path.
Anchoring my home to my identity and things I love has been life changing. I hope to sell beautiful, quirky stuff that helps other people do this. I want functional beauty that helps people relax. Stuff they love that welcomes friends and family. Things we draw comfort from owning. This isn’t Laura Ashley, more LA3D – Life after Debt, Divorce and disaster.
I create interiors for people that have lived. For whom homes are a refuge not a statement. People who seek interior drama, inspiration and excitement in their homes to counteract the drama in their lives, not to say something about them.
My style of decorating is all about embracing darkness in your life. Therapy is one option but I feel real achievement and fulfillment comes from doing stuff not talking about it. I love focused retail therapy, not the willy nilly kind. People may well buy stuff because they’ve had a bad day, but I want them to go on to treasure it because it fills a void in their home and adds something positive to their life.
People like and seek escapism. I escaped reality by working but now I’m older I no longer want to escape things. I want to address dilemmas in my life, be at peace with them, to change or terminate dysfunctional relationships. I want to fix things for the better not just paper over cracks.
I’m so obsessed with my interior business that this morning I awoke having dreamt about my website. I know exactly what I want. Four rooms you can take a virtual tour through: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. 3 rooms in my house are already themed this way although I achieved the look subconsciously.
I don’t want traditional interior collections, but core stock items alongside a developing range of quirky themed accessories. I want modern classics and vintage finds my customers will love for their practicality and admire for their beauty. Things they’ll always want to keep. You won’t find the perfect vase in every colourway or size, but a retail experience you’ll never want to leave. Somewhere you feel welcome even if you’re not sure what you’re looking for or don’t need to purchase anything. I want a visual feast of cosiness. A home away from home where you can browse for what inspires you and bring together what you have. It might be a vintage sofa, but it could just as easily be a tealight. Interiors that gently coax you back to life.
I love the shabby chic and quirkiness of Anthropologie, and for a time I loved the crisp white interiors of the White Company. But it doesn’t represent my life. I could never live like that. I grew up happy enough in white interiors when I was young and innocent, but for me these brands are reminscent of the men in my life slightly childish, ruthlessly aspirational, highly impractical and somehow not grown up. I could live like that in Malibu or some other hot climate, but now I live in a cold climate that needs constant warming up. A lot of stuff has happened to me and my home needs to reflect that. I’m going to sell the products that inspired me, I couldn’t find or live without. Nordic Black is the brand I’ve created for the life I’ve pieced together after my own LA3D.