Owner of Henley boutique Calvert Jones, this textile enthusiast tells us about the joy of colourful brights, sourcing new products and how opening her shop has reignited her creative fires
Tell us a little about your work and your background.
At university, I studied Textile Design, but was pretty clear that I wanted to work in retail as a Buyer. I not only love product but I am also fascinated by people. I love observing what we all like and react to. I started my retail career after University, landing my first junior buying job, and then have worked as a clothing buyer ever since until opening our shop Calvert Jones in September 2020.
I have loved creating our shop, with carefully curated home accessories, gifts and plants. We focus on products that are simple, stylish, beautifully designed and consciously-made. The space is quite calm but we have lots of beautiful colourful products that seem to brighten our customers’ day - its a wonderful bonus to get such a fabulous reaction.
What made you decide to start your creative business?
I had been extremely fortunate to have worked in buying for over 30 years and have travelled the world with my job, but I had reached a point where I needed a new challenge and also to reignite my creativity. My husband and I have wanted our own business for some years - a business with its own identity and culture, and also importantly to help us develop and grow further. Where do you find inspiration and how do you source new products?
I find inspiration from all around; people, nature, contemporary culture and art. I am very inspired by the creativity and resourcefulness of artists and artisans; I love finding people who love and take care of what they design and make.
I am fortunate that pre Covid I had done my homework at some trade fairs. Since Covid, I have been reaching out to makers directly to work with them which is great as you can build a nice relationship.
Describe your typical working day
I am in the shop by 8.30, so that I can clean and unpack deliveries, deal with online orders and check the plants are happy.
I set my alarm on my phone for 9.45am so that I know I have 15 minutes to make me and the shop look decent. At 10am I open the shop, and greet customers which I love, especially if we have time to chat. I am very fortunate to meet delightful people on a daily basis.
Often deliveries arrive around midday so that can be a juggling act. We close at 5pm so that I can collect my daughter from rowing training, and then after dinner I will look at emails and work on any buys that I need to place.
What new trends are you seeing for this season?
Not surprisingly, bright optimistic colours are a firm favourite. Plants are still making us feel good, and there is still a focus on making our homes feel cosy and cool. There is definitely the appetite for self-gifting now that we are coming out of lockdown number 3, so jewellery is super popular.
Nugget of wisdom you can share with your fellow Creative Ducks?
Starting new enterprises, or getting behind new ideas is pretty daunting for all of us, but I am convinced that if you find the courage to step outside of your comfort zone then you can do great things, often much more than you believed you were capable of. Success is so much about confidence, but first comes courage, so you have to take a deep breath and go for it !