Hi Caroline, how would you describe The Every Space?
It’s an independent gift, home and plant shop. We curate collections of homewares, apothecary, books, stationery and plants that we think make thoughtful and beautiful gifts.
What’s the story behind the name?
It was the title of a blog I intended to write after I left my job in interior design. I wanted to stay connected to that world and thought that writing about spaces and products that I was passionate about would be a good way to do that. As I developed the idea, it became obvious that what I actually wanted to do was curate a retail space of my own. I never wrote the blog, but I kept the name for the shop as it represented a positive phase of my life where I was exploring new ideas and possibilities.
What did you do before setting up your business?
I’m an interior architect and had a career designing store environments and working with clients on their store experience and retail strategy. I’m lucky to have worked with clients all over the world on all types of projects from concept stores to department stores and high street retail.
What inspired the idea of setting up your business, and how did you then develop it?
Quite simply, I love independent shops and the experience of visiting them, but there wasn’t much in my town that excited me. I knew that there were lovely products out there and that with time I could create a beautiful space for them, so I bought some stock and set up a stall at our local market. I had great feedback from the community which gave me the confidence to move to bigger premises. I’ve grown from a market stall to two shops in five years. It happened fast but organically.
What is the ethos behind your business?
In everything we do we try to be good for the body, better for the planet, and connected to the community. It’s in the forefront of our minds, whether we’re looking at the ingredients of the products we source or running an event.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
Inspiration for the shop is in things that make people more content. That might be nurturing a plant and learning how to care for it, or the scent of a candle that reminds you of something you love. I think that a good gift is something that shows you’ve thought about what might bring the other person happiness.
How do you source items?
We find our products on Instagram, at makers markets, and at trade fairs among other places, but it’s always nice when a new brand approaches us and it’s the right fit. We try to find a balance between smaller, local suppliers and those further afield which our customers might not have seen before.
How did you approach the design of your space?
I designed the new gift shop with simplicity and longevity in mind. I wanted a space that felt familiar, and warm and welcoming. Our background palette is minimal: cork, ply and pale timber brought to life by our colourful stock.
The plant shop designs itself in many ways. Each week it changes as we get deliveries of new plants, pots, and flowers. It’s a verdant and leafy experience that never feels the same twice. It’s a great space to browse and get immersed in plants. I let that experience take precedence over fancy fixtures and fittings. It feels very different to the gift shop, but both have the same touch.
Tell us about your location and community…
Our shops are in central Walthamstow. It’s a busy bit of town but we’re lucky to have other independent shops and cafes as neighbours, and our parade has become a destination because of that.
How has your business evolved since you began?
Our evolution stepped up last summer when we took on the second shop. When I started the business, the plants were never intended to have a space of their own, but they rather took over! When the shop next door came available to rent I saw it as an opportunity to give the gifts and the plants their own separate spaces . Also, recently I’ve now gone back to college to study for a horticultural qualification, so it’s been a time of professional growth as well as personal development.
As an independent store owner, what are the joys, and what are the challenges?
The joyful bits are the nice things the customers say; the incredible supportive and enthusiastic people I work with, and the shop experience that we’ve created.
The thing that I find most challenging is not having a business partner to share the work or responsibility with. There is always more work to be done, new ideas to process and action, and I’ve always got too many plates spinning.
Favourite makers or products at The Every Space?
In the gift shop we’ve just started working with Hübsch, a Danish brand whose colourful glassware always makes us feel happy. In the plant shop, I’ve got a huge crush on plant pots by Bergs Potter. I love how they take the form of traditional garden pots and reinvent them with coloured glazes and decorative flourishes.
What have been your business highlights so far?
We Crowdfunded for our new shop last summer; I’d invested a lot in the fit out of the new shop and I asked our customers, community, and friends for help to fund the hiring of new staff, as that was a big expense for us when cash flow was difficult. There was a moment before the campaign closed when I didn’t think we would make the target and the final push was quite nerve wracking. I went to bed not knowing if we’d do it, but when I woke up in the morning my inbox was full of notifications for donations. We made the target and then some. I was so grateful I cried. I knew we had amazing and supportive customers, but that really was a special moment.
What does your ideal day off look like?
A day of gardening, dog walks and hanging out with the kids sounds just perfect.
Any good advice for aspiring store owners?
Test your idea, meet your customers, and listen to their comments. Keep them front of mind in everything you do.
5 & 6 Central Parade, 137 Hoe St, London
Photography: Ami Robertson/ The Woman and the Wolf