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February 3, 2020 —

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Freight HHG

Located in the heart of Lewes, Sussex (a dreamy haven of independent stores), lies Freight HHG - a lifestyle store showcasing UK-made wares, that are made to last well and wear even better.
Shelley Welti
91 Magazine online content editor,
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Freight is owned by mother and daughter team Helene and Adele Adamczewski, who are passionate about collating and designing products that add style to everyday. We caught up with Adele to hear all about their store…

Photo: Sarah Lou Francis
Photo: Sarah Lou Francis
Photo: Sarah Weal Photography
Photo: Sarah Weal Photography

When and why did you decide to open Freight HHG?

I had finished my Part II in architecture at Brighton and wasn’t keen on heading straight in to a practice/ an office job. I wanted to explore other areas and Helene, having previously had a shop, was keen to get her head back in to a project. A shop space that she owned and rented became vacant and we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to trial a pop up shop for Christmas in 2013. We then decided having found some fantastic UK-based manufacturers and suppliers that we might like to launch our own brand. So Freight HHG was launched in November 2014.

Photo: Sarah Weal Photography
Photo: Sarah Weal Photography

What had you done before? Did any of these skills help?

Helene set up a shop in 1999 called Adamczewski selling all sorts of beautifully crafted goods. From brushes and brooms to BTC lighting and Limoges porcelain. At the time it was considered a unique shop and raised a lot of interest. However Helene’s interest in it wained when many other shops started to appear using the same suppliers etc. Hence why Freight avoids working with other brands. We tend to look to produce our own products where ever we can or when we feel it’s warranted.

I had done my architecture masters and was keen to explore more small scale design possibilities. Bringing my creative skills that were honed, over those six years, has enabled us to work from scratch on designs. Sketching, modelling, drawing and editing have all had to come in to play to get to the final items you see available on our shelves.

Photo: Adele Adamczewski
Photo: Adele Adamczewski

How did you decide on the name?

It was Helene’s birthday and whilst having a Skype meeting with our branding agency we discussed what it was we felt the new brand was aiming to deliver. We originally thought we wanted to move goods around in a heavy goods vehicle, get an HGV license and have no fixed location! Clearly that was more of a headache than we hadn’t quite worked out yet. But the idea of moving goods around the country brought us to Freight.

HHG means household goods and can be found on the side of shipping containers. So we nabbed that as we felt it was quite fitting. Little did we know we would end up producing clothing, knitwear, socks etc. But they are all domestic items in essence, I guess.

Photo: Caroline Rowland
Photo: Caroline Rowland

How would you describe the interior style of the store?

Having now had four different shop spaces (appropriate given our name) it’s hard to say exactly. We work differently with every space we are given. We love to work with natural materials, keeping things as uncomplicated or over-stylised as possible. We tend to stick to our mantra that less really is more, constantly stripping back. However the current shop space we have we have outgrown and it’s beginning to feel far too cluttered for our liking. We are relocating to a bigger space soon. In the new space we are aiming to have more movement, less fixed shelving and storage; a more adaptable space that we can play about with depending on the items we are producing. It will also give us the chance to manufacture some larger items.

Photo: Sarah Weal Photography
Photo: Sarah Weal Photography

You’re passionate about selling quality UK made goods – why is this so important to you?

We discovered early on that if you want to have something made to a standard and your design without making it yourself then being able to collaborate with those who are creating the product is key. Being able to hop in the car and visit our potter in Stoke on Trent or our knitters in the Midlands, for us, is invaluable. We cannot imagine not being able to learn about the process first hand and understand the skill and techniques required to create an object. Working overseas for us was just not realistic.

There are so many wonderful opportunities to work with British manufacturers. You could say we were ahead of the Brexit curve! Now even more people are becoming aware of where their purchases come from, how far they have travelled, how and who made them etc. So really we were just being as informed as possible from the off. It works for us and we hope is clear to see in our produce.

Photo: Sarah Lou Francis
Photo: Sarah Lou Francis
Photo: Caroline Rowland
Photo: Caroline Rowland

How do you source your wares?

There are, on odd occasions times when we feel that certain pieces would really complement the goods we already have made. So if something crops up such as the knives we sell or the pans then we will take on an external supplier.

Food products we always outsource as they are particularly niche and exclusive to the areas they are made in. We would never look to mess around with those types of items, for instance.

Sourcing for us is often a gut reaction when we see something. It might be an old product that we then trace the roots and history of to see if anyone is still making it, such as our brass pepper mill.

Photo: Adele Adamczewski
Photo: Adele Adamczewski
Photography by Adele Adamczewski
Photography by Adele Adamczewski
Photo: Sarah Lou Francis
Photo: Sarah Lou Francis

Do you create anything in-house?

Almost two-thirds of the goods we sell are designed by us and manufactured exclusively for us. This is something we aim to grow year on year. The wholesale side of our business is really starting to expand so this has become even more important for us.

Which item is your bestseller?

Our knitwear. We launched our first range in 2015. We have never designed clothing before in our lives. But we got excited finding British manufacturers and wonderful yarns that we wanted to give it a go. From the first collection we still sell the same designs, they have become cult classics for Freight. We never expected that it would become one of our biggest successes.

Photo: Sarah Weal Photography
Photo: Sarah Weal Photography

Why do you think that is?

People love the idea of finding a garment which is a) made in the Uk and reasonably priced, b) uses British lambswool, c) is super soft with no itch at al, andl d) is fantastically lightweight to wear – there is no bulk in our knitwear. You can layer it up, wear it year round and there are no heavy side seams.

Many of our customers have been back for more than one when they realise that they live in their Freight jumper!

What item is your personal can’t-live-without?

Helene: BBC Radio 3 & 4 although not an item, it is one of the most singularly important things in my life! If transported to a desert Island I could not live without books or Lady Grey tea.

Adele: My bicycle – it gets me to work on a daily basis (unless the wind and rain is raging). It gives me head space to start the day without any emails, calls, Whatsapp etc. Just a good music playlist and the South Downs. Heaven.

Photo: Adele Adamczewski
Photo: Adele Adamczewski
Photo: Adele Adamczewski
Photo: Adele Adamczewski

What do you enjoy most about running Freight?

Adele: I enjoy finding manufacturers, working with new materials, designing objects that are entirely functional, creating new pieces that challenge my own design ability and constantly learning how to best work with the opportunities available to us in the UK!

Helene: We have no rules and as a natural rebel knowing that I can do pretty much anything I like (within reason) is bliss. The creative challenge is always exciting and when Adele and I go off on one of trips it’s heaven and bliss.

Photo: Adele Adamczewski
Photo: Adele Adamczewski

What has been your career highlight (so far!)

Adele: I absolutely loved setting up a pop up shop space in Marylebone last Christmas. I was there for six weeks and, in that time, I met some truly wonderful people. It refreshed my ideas as to why we run a shop and gave me encouragement to want to push it forward. I guess you could say it renewed my confidence in what it is we do. That was invaluable.

Helene: Working with Adele has been a wonderful opportunity to push beyond my usual boundaries and be more adventurous. Despite being rebellious I am slightly risk averse!

What is the local neighbourhood like?

Lewes is full of local shops. It prides itself on the number of independent stores for a small town. It’s a lovely place to visit and easy to get to with a convenient central station. There are a number of fabulous independent makers also based here, who may not have their own shops but whose creative presence is felt throughout Lewes.

Over the past year or so we have become more protective of our independent status and rally together more to support one an other, which is so important for the towns preservation. Avoiding having too many large brands diluting the town, we feel is really important.

Photo: Adele Adamczewski
Photo: Adele Adamczewski
Photo: Sarah Weal Photography
Photo: Sarah Weal Photography
Freight Lewes

Do you have any advice for those thinking of starting their own store?

You need to have a clear idea of what it is you want to set out to do. Having a shop is not just a case of finding products you like and selling them. If you do not believe in the goods you are selling then customers will not be convinced either. Setting out with a strong vision we feel really helped us to stay true to what it is we love doing.

We have avoided falling off the strict guidelines we set ourselves. That way we know that what we do is truly our own. Anyone can copy others but if it doesn’t come from your own interest or passion then the lustre will soon fade.

Find Freight at 71 High Street, Lewes and online via their website and Instagram.

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