Local and small businesses are at the heart of our communities, often offering unique alternatives to the High Street. By working together we support each other, and in the spirit of sharing the love we want to shine a light of these gems. This week we caught up with Anna Sjostrom Walton from Chalk & Moss to find out what inspires her.
Anna, tell us a little bit about your store
Chalk & Moss is an online natural homeware shop, based on the ideas of Biophilic design. This interiors concept recognises that we have an innate need to connect to nature - indoors as well as out - for wellbeing; improving our immune system and reducing blood pressure. So all products are handmade and sustainable, in natural colours, textures and materials.
What was the inspiration behind Chalk & Moss? Have you always had a yearning to run your own business?
I’ve always been fascinated by watching crafts in action, and nature inspired my interior design studies. Personally, spending time in wild nature is very important for my mental and physical wellbeing. I’d wanted to start my own business for some time. So my interests coupled with a background in business development, online marketing and brand storytelling made Chalk & Moss a clear path.
Where did your love for interiors come from?
I’m Swedish and am influenced by the easy style of Scandinavian living, and how using natural materials isn’t an effort, it just happens. As a child, I loved visiting cosy cafes, pottery workshops and glassblowing studios, and I’ve carried this inspiration with me.
Which new brands that you are working with are you really excited about this season and why?
I’ve recently started working with Bric, who hand make really useful and fun lunch and foraging bags. Unlike most portable lunch bags, these hold hot or cold food directly in the bag without needing extra internal packaging. And being a keen forager myself (especially wild garlic, chanterelles and other mushrooms), I’m so exciting about a foraging bag that attaches around your waist! Bric liaise with Bristol University to advance the eco credentials of the materials.
The gorgeous scents from Join continue to push new sensory experiences with their vegan essential oil candles and diffusers.
I love supporting new sustainable initiatives by these small, independent brands.
How important is it to you to be working with ethical and sustainable brands?
I look at each new potential partner individually; how they run their business and make their products. This might include textile certifications safeguarding people and the planet, or their recycling practices of waste material such as porcelain. Nature connected design goes hand in hand with that which is ethical and sustainable, and this is evident from the Chalk & Moss customer base. It makes me so happy to read emails from customers, where they share their ideas on how to live better, often using the product they buy from me.
Why is it important to you as a retailer to be working with small / independent brands?
Running an independent online shop has taught me how easy it is to disappear among larger names with bigger budgets and more staff. It’s so important to stick together, so we don’t lose independent brands in years to come. That’s how we retain diversity and push boundaries.
What makes your store unique?
Chalk & Moss was one of the first shops dedicated to Biophilic design, with ethical products specially selected for wellbeing. The tactile materials, natural colours and textures all appeal to our senses.
What interior trends are you excited about for 2019?
I think people are becoming more aware of the impact of their personal choices, which opens up really exciting opportunities for more sustainable products on the market. Botanical design has been popular for a couple of years now, but I’m glad to see that nature connected and ethical design is here to stay!
What does an average day at Chalk & Moss look like?
I built the website myself, so spend a lot of time optimising it for google, speed and customer experience. Marketing is a large part of my job, sharing stories on social media, the blog and copywriting for new product listings. I get a lot of inspiration, trends and connections with new designers on Instagram. And of course I keep up with processing orders and admin!
What makes Shoreham by Sea special to you?
Chalk & Moss is online only, but I’m based in Shoreham by Sea, between Brighton and Worthing. It’s a lovely little seaside community, which in recent years has developed a great vibe for relaxing outside the city stress. The beach is fabulous, so calm and with rare plants growing (hello sea broccoli!). People always comment on how friendly and personal Shoreham is. We have such easy access to nature and lovely cafes. With a short walk, you can get to a chilled beach, great cafes, a beautiful river and the stunning South Downs National Park.
Can you give us your top three tips for people coming to visit Shoreham by Sea
Stroll from the centre to the beach, via the houseboats where artists and makers have created amazing homes and a creative community vibe. The beach is a calm antidote to Brighton’s party vibe.
Ginger & Dobbs café and fruit/veg shop has a gorgeous interior designed by Igigi and lovely lunches. Head to Tom Foolery for Shoreham’s best coffee. Their food is also great, with welcoming staff and a laptop friendly attitude Newly open Health Shack has fantastic smoothies and Buddha bowls.
Walk along the river and up onto the South Downs National Park, with expansive views. You might just spot some interesting wildlife if you look up too!
What do you do to relax after a hard days work?
I spend as much time in nature as I can, ideally camping for the weekend in a tent our little old caravan. It’s like our second home. I love to make discoveries in the woodland and going on long mountain bike rides. Daily, I try to do meditation or yoga.