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February 5, 2024 —

Meet the maker: Fryth

Born out of a desire to reduce waste from their bespoke cabinet making sister company, Nina Varnham created Fryth; an independent wooden homeware company, which honours functional design and simplicity.
Artisan wooden bowls and wooden chopping boards inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop
Artisan wooden bowls and wooden chopping boards inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop
Shelley Welti
91 Magazine online content editor,

Photography

Rachel Hoile
Photographer,
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Hi Nina, why and when did you decide to start your business? 

After relocating from London seven years ago, I retrained as a cabinet maker and was lucky enough to secure a place as a trainee at Shawstephens, owned and run by Ed Stephens. Ed had been looking for an idea to use the lovely offcuts from the larger projects. So, between us, the concept of Fryth was born. After three years in the Shawstephens workshop, I sidestepped and started building Fryth. 

Nina Varnham founder of Fryth sustainable wooden homeware, inside her Devon workshop

What had you done previously?

Before we moved to Devon, I was a makeup artist. I worked in and around London on jobs ranging from TV shows to editorials. I enjoyed the diversity and creativity of the job and was lucky enough to work with some really interesting people. After I had my second child, we relocated to Devon to be near the sea, and I decided to change my career.

How does your location inspire you?

Living and working in this beautiful location is a constant source of inspiration. The ocean, in particular, has greatly influenced the creation of our Wave Bowl. With our workshop offering a stunning view of Noss Marina, I feel truly fortunate to be immersed in the beauty of this environment every day.

Artisan wooden bowls and wooden chopping boards inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop

Artisan wooden bowls and wooden chopping boards inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop

“We turn offcuts into timeless homewares”

How would you describe the brand’s ethos and your signature style?

Fryth is committed to sustainable living. We turn offcuts into timeless homewares, celebrating the characteristics of wood and allowing its natural grains, knots, and imperfections to shine. Each piece tells a story of authenticity and craftsmanship, and because we work with what we have at any given time, new designs are constantly emerging.

Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?

Our processes are adaptable and responsive to the rhythm of the main workshop. If the workshop is busy, most things can be made within the Fryth studio using smaller machines and jigs. I turn all the bowls, and other skilled team members craft different items. Every piece is hand-finished and treated with a couple of coats of food-safe oil.

Creating artisan wooden bowls and wooden chopping boards inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop

Artisan wooden bowls inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop

Which is your most popular product?

Our little and large chops are our most popular products. I think this is because of their simplicity and practicality. 

Hard question: do you have a favourite?

Each creation holds a special place for different reasons, but if I had to choose, it would be the small chop, based on how much use it gets at home. I also think it makes a lovely gift. 

Artisan wooden bowls and wooden chopping boards inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop

Artisan wooden moon decoration inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop

What does a typical day look like for you?

I like to start the day with either a swim in the sea or a quick walk. When I arrive at work, I prioritise getting orders out the door and responding to enquiries. I spend a few days a week in the Fryth workshop and a day at home focusing on PR and marketing. 

Speaking of marketing, how do you approach PR and marketing?

For my PR, I use a brilliant company called PR Dispatch. They provide training and access to a database of press contacts and weekly support. I’m trying to get better at newsletters and blogs. Keeping it genuine and interesting is the most important thing to me. I hope it grows authentically and we build a following of people who love the brand and what we do. 

Artisan wooden bowls inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop

“Building a community around sustainable living and craftsmanship has been incredibly fulfilling.”

Artisan wooden bowls and wooden chopping boards inside Fryth sustainable wooden homeware's Devon workshop

If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business – what would you say?

Just give your ideas a go. And give them time. I’ve been known to pull products before they’ve even had a chance to gain popularity. Things take time. 

What’s been your highlight so far? 

Our collaboration with Piglet in Bed has been the most exciting project we’ve worked on. I love the brand and was so happy they wanted to work with us. It feels incredible when customers share how Fryth pieces have become cherished parts of their homes. Building a community around sustainable living and craftsmanship has been incredibly fulfilling.

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS

Describe your work in three words: timeless, practical, sustainable.

What are your creating rituals? Finding inspiration, sketching ideas, selecting materials.

Tea or coffee? Coffee.

Mountains or sea? Sea.

Night owl or early bird? Early bird.

I wish someone had told me… It’s okay not to have all the answers. Building a business is a continuous learning experience. 

www.fryth.co.uk

@fryth_made

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