We spoke to Alice to talk finding your ‘thing’, uncover her Scandi design tips and why she’s an advocate of buying better…
When and why did you decide to open Alice in Scandiland?
I began the Alice in Scandiland blog about 4 years ago, a place for me to share the changes we were making to our home, our life here in Cornwall with our girls and all the design inspiration I had swilling around in my head.
Last March I started selling vintage and preloved treasures from my garden shed, partly as a way to declutter, but also as a way of allowing myself the thrifting and hunting out beautiful things, but with an outlet for the excess. I try to be quite ordered at home and keep the “stuff” to a minimum.
I opened the Alice in Scandiland Shop – an Instagram page and before I knew it I had over 1000 followers and items sold out the second I listed them.
Fast forward 3 months, a few glasses of wine down and the decision to take over the shop at the front of my parent’s house was made. It became available at the beginning of August, I designed all the interior myself and my dad and I fitted it out in 4 days! I opened on August 15th, 2018.
What had you done before? Did any of these skills help?
I don’t have any formal training in anything I do, I didn’t do as well at college as I perhaps could have, I did a lot of very academic subjects and got overwhelmed, plus I exam terribly and before children just worked several different jobs, but nothing that felt like “my thing”.
When I started writing my blog something clicked and suddenly I felt I was doing the right thing. This has definitely been a huge help for the shop, there are so many crossovers between the two platforms.
How did you decide on the name?
Alice in Scandiland was actually the idea of Suzanne from This Modern Life. I was trying to think of a name for my blog, all those years ago now and her suggestion stuck.
It’s catchy and memorable, I get a lot of comments about it, but I can’t deny, since “Scandi” really became a faddy thing on the high street, after the blog was created, I have at times felt a little like I’ve joined the bandwagon. I hope I can weather the storm and my genuine appreciation for Scandinavian design shines through.
How would you describe the interior style of the store?
Homemade! We built everything from scratch, with the hope of achieving a space that felt contemporary, but also with a vintage feel. The shop is in a Georgian town house, the front window is the real beauty of it and I was conscious that I didn’t want the interior to feel at odds with the history of the building.
You’re passionate about selling wares from independents, along with a vintage mix too – why is this so important to you?
I love to champion independent makers, they are keeping amazing skills and crafts alive, putting their heart and soul into their creations. I firmly believe that it is these carefully considered pieces that add the meaningful finishing touches to a home and that’s not something you can buy for £3 in Primark. I am a strong advocate of buying less, but buying better.
It really doesn’t have to mean spending much more either, it you average it out over a year. It’s important that we all become more conscious consumers and support our local creatives. Add this with vintage, thrifted finds and it’s a total winner.
Amen to that! How do you source your wares?
Wouldn’t that be telling! I’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing brands through my work as a blogger/ stylist, so I already had an idea of who I would like to stock in the shop. I am a serial vintage hunter, I’m like a magpie, so am forever trawling eBay, Facebook Marketplace, antiques markets, on the hunt for those special, one of a kind items.
Do you create anything in-house?
It was always my intention to make some items myself to sell, but time is always a problem, I absolutely never have enough time for more than half the ideas in my head. As Christmas approaches more of my own little makes and customisations pop up, Christmas cards, gift tags, tree decorations, in a few weeks I will start to make Eucalyptus wreaths and I have plans for some lovely, homemade bath products to add to the bathroom department.
I also sell my wooden bead trivets, which have been a best seller for quite some time, long before the shop became a reality.
It is my hope for next year to somehow make more time for me to make and create, because it’s really something I enjoy.
Sounds great! Which item is your bestseller?
The wooden trees are such a popular choice, no two are the same, handmade in the UK and absolutely the best order to unpack. They come nestled in a box of wood wool, each one a surprise to me, pulled out like the lucky dip at school. I really love those little trees and my customers do too.
What items are your personal can’t-live-withouts?
Whenever something new from Fine Little Day arrives I cannot stop myself from taking at least one thing home, I love the handmade, folk feel to the designs and the way they instantly inject character and interest to a space. But I think the most used thing in our home are the handmade beeswax candles. I use candlelight as home to set the mood, to calm the children, to celebrate, to take some quiet time for myself. I adore the subtle scent of honey that fills the air.
What do you enjoy most about running Alice in Scandiland?
It’s incredibly affirming when someone visits the shop and you see them float around enjoying the whole experience – sight, sound, scent, we have it all covered I think and you can watch someone discovering things they feel inspired by. That is really lovely. A lot of what I did pre-shop was all completely online based and this can, at times, feel quite lonely. The funny thing about social media is that it can quite often feel very anti-social. Opening the shop has helped me to feel more connected and has definitely made me happier.
What has been your career highlight (so far!)?
In 2017 I won “Best Design Inspiration Blog” at the Amara Interior Blog Awards, an international accolade which was completely unexpected and really took things to a new level for me. But, having had the shop for over a year now and recently having my reports back from the accountant and seeing that that first year has been a really really good one, this feels like a hugely important highlight, even if it comes with less glitz and glam!
Do you have any advice for those thinking of starting their own store?
Don’t underestimate how much of your life will be affected by everything it entails, it really does completely take over. But if it’s right for you, it won’t feel like you’ve made sacrifices, simply that it’s just your new way of life. I can’t switch off from it, even if I wanted to!
And any top tips for those wanting to incorporate that gorgeous Scandi style in their homes?
We live in a relatively small end of terrace house, late 60s, devoid of most of the features my ideal home would have, but I think, through reducing the “stuff” and using a mixture of vintage and modern furniture, we have created an environment that reaches beyond it’s size and design restrictions.
My colour palette is virtually the same throughout, neutral, natural, calm. Lots of wood and what decorative items we do have have a story or a relation to their surroundings.
Don’t fill a space simply because it is there, take your time, think a little and enjoy the gradual collection of your treasures.
Find Alice in Scandiland at 28 Fore Street, Lostwithiel, Cornwall and online.
Photography by Rebecca Rees Photography