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December 11, 2020 —

Shopkeeper Spotlight: KIN

Located in leafy Moseley in Birmingham’s suburbs, KIN is an independent homeware and lifestyle store, founded by Lewis Jenkins and Neil Houston who source their products from leading designers and makers from across the world.
Shelley Welti
91 Magazine online content editor,
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We spoke to Neil to talk timeless design, simple aesthetics and the joy of serving customers in-store…

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Hi Neil, when and why did you decide to open KIN?

Lewis had worked in the city centre and when the right moment came we opened KIN in 2017. We have a passion for good design and felt that there wasn’t a homeware and furniture store like we liked to visit elsewhere in our own city.

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

Lewis had worked in office management , while I still work in IT consultancy. Lewis brings great organisational skills and an ability to get things done, and I spends evenings and weekends making sure that the online side of the business keeps growing.

How did you decide on the name?

KIN was the name we settled on as it means many things to many people, for us it’s about family, friends and community.

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How would you describe the interior style of the store?

It’s a relaxed environment, with a simple aesthetic – designed to showcase the products and make it easy to spend time in. For us we want our customers to just enjoy being in KIN and finding new things that they haven’t come across before.

You’re passionate about good design – why is this so important to you?

All the brands we stock are ones that we personally use on a daily basis, and we have always believed that good design was timeless. When we look at brands to bring in, one of the things we always consider is whether the pieces will last and would we have them in our own home.

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How do you source your wares?

We often find brands we like whilst we are travelling, though we do try to stay focussed on what we introduce and make sure that it fits with our style and values.

Which item is your bestseller?

Everyone loves our Ripple Glassware by ferm LIVING – I think the fact that it’s made by hand, and is unique in its shape and how it catches the light. It’s one of our favourite pieces to display in the store and always gets a lot of attention.

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What items are your personal can’t-live-without?

We are lovers of good coffee, every morning starts with a pourover using items from our KINTO coffee range and when we are on the move we’ve got their Active Tumblers as well.

What do you enjoy most about running KIN?

It’s always lovely to meet and serve customers in our store, and just to know that people like to visit our store or browse and buy on our website.

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What has been your career highlight so far?

There’s been many, one of the most memorable has been when we hit 10,000 orders that was a great milestone for us and the fact that many years after opening we have been able to continue growing. It’s great to know that people appreciate what KIN is and what we do too.

What is the neighbourhood like? Do you have a community of independent stores around you?

Our home in Moseley is a great community, it has the feel of a village in a big city, and is full of independent coffee stores and places to eat.

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

Make a plan, and do your research – there is a lot that happens behind the scenes that often takes people by surprise. What people see in the store or online takes time to create and a lot of energy, so be prepared for the highs and the lows along the journey.

Find KIN at ww.kinhome.co and @kin.home

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