Interior Inspiration and Independent Shopping in York

Interior Inspiration and Independent Shopping in York

As a small independent brand our retail partners play an intrinsic role in helping us grow and sustain our business. We think of them very much as part of our team spreading and sharing the love of our multi-talented peshtemals and we want to return the favour in letting you know a little more about them. This week we caught up with Helen from interior and home store Owl and Monkey in York to find out where her inspiration comes from and what she loves about the city she calls home.

In a few words tell us a little bit about Owl and Monkey.

We are a homewares and lifestyle store that is all about simple pleasures that spark joy in daily home life. The shop is an eclectic mix of all those things we feel helps to create a happy home from a carefully curated range of homewares to changing art displays, stationery and organic flower deliveries to name just a few.  We source all the range with its story in mind, selecting products that try to do some good and where passion of the creators behind them really shine through.

What is the inspiration behind the store - did you always want to run your own bricks and mortar store?

 We had always dreamt of running a storybook shop full of beautiful objects and simple treats, a place that when visited bought a smile to your day. When a traditional corner shop became available in our neighbourhood we jumped at the chance to create a place of creativity filled with everyday pleasures sourced with good ethics, sustainability and joy in mind. 

Where did your love for interiors come from?

I think for us our home is a really important place, it isn't about being 'on-trend' or fitting into a specific style but about a space that is your little nest, a place of comfort and happiness to share with friends and family.

We believe that being able to get that space to function well and look beautiful is really helped by good products. We love meeting creative people and seeing the items they make so having a space to share those finds with people is a real pleasure.

Which new brands that you are working with are you really excited about this season and why?

We have been working with a range of studio potters such as Eradu, Rachel Cox and Tim Fenna ceramics. There is something wonderfully tactile about pottery. One of the artists we work with said she loves how you are holding the same piece of creativity as the potter's hands created, there is something very connective about that.

We have also been really thrilled to host Luks linens in the shop, they perfectly fit the ethos we source by with their versatility, quality, beauty and ethics.

Why is it important to you as a retailer to be working with small / independent brands?

There is so much soul in what they create. People love the story behind the products and the knowledge that it is helping to support someone in their creative journey is wonderful.

What makes your store unique?

It is the eclectic mix that makes us unique, it all has a strong style and function but the selection is all very joyful, we are very happy for pop-bright Italian stationery to sit alongside utilitarian brushes and a small deli range (loose leaf teas and welsh NomNom Chocolate) to be available at the same time as the art exhibitions. It is all a part of a joyful home so we didn't want to limit it.

What interior trends are you excited about for 2018?

We are really excited about the wabi-sabi concepts coming through. Its acceptance of the imperfect is something we find really refreshing. We love products that embrace an organic, tactile nature and part of their beauty is often the imperfections that really give it its character.

What does an average day at Owl and Monkey look like?

We quite often start the day with deliveries such on Thursdays when our organic, local flower grower, Ducks & Daffodils, drops her flowers off.  We then get the shop open and looking lovely with the new additions. When we are not serving our lovely customers we will be researching new suppliers, placing orders and updating things like the sales sheets for the artists we represent as well as keeping people informed of what we are up to on social media.

What makes York special to you?

The friends and family we have here are a real plus but York is also an incredibly beautiful place to live. It has so much history, we love spring when the daffodils come out on the banks of the city walls. It is also really growing in vibrancy. There are lots of interesting things happening, it has a great artistic community, wonderful independent restaurants and cafes, an independent business group called Indie York and new ventures such as Spark York (a social enterprise container installation offering street food, independent shopping and community initiatives) have added to the colour and vibrancy of the city.

Can you give us your top three tips for people coming to visit York?

We would definitely recommend they get a copy of the Indie York map. It highlights the many streets such as Fossgate, Gillygate, Fishergate/Heslington Road and Micklegate where there are a range of great independent businesses to visit from galleries such as Lotte Inch and The Blue Tree on Gillygate to Botanic (a fabulous new plant shop) on Walmgate. For good food then we are spoilt with restaurants such as Partisan, Skosh and The Rattle Owl offering fabulous menus or do try Bison (just opposite our shop) or Fossgate Social for a great coffee. On a sunny day a walk round the city walls is a beautiful way to view the city as well and we personally love walk down the river to the Millenium Bridge. The super-cute ice cream boat may even be there selling Yorvale ice cream from its little moorings.

What do you do to relax after a a hard days work?

We love to go for a walk by the river, it really helps blow any cobwebs away and it changes so much with the seasons that it is a lovely reminder of some of life's simple pleasures. Alternatively a lovely cuppa in our sunny garden with the smell of the Jasmine is a real joy at this time of year.

We also enjoy a relaxed evening meal either with a simple super at home (the candles lit and the wood burner on in the winter) or  an evening out at one of York's great restaurants is always a great treat.

Rachel Ward

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