It’s undoubtedly true that travel has inspired many a small business. For Lydia Hutchings & Ella Sheasby it was the stunning landscapes and slow living mentality of Iceland that sparked their creative journey. In 2017, the friends, along with their partners, took a road trip across the island, taking in the country’s national parks, geysers, waterfalls, volcanos, and glaciers. Alongside these awe-inspiring scenes of natural beauty, the pair fell in love with the culture associated with the Nordic countries. “Being in Iceland was like coming home,” recalls Lydia, “it ﬁlled us with such a sense of safety, sanctuary and belonging, which as a result opened a window into a lifestyle we resonated with so deeply. We knew, somehow, we had to bring a little piece of it back home.”
After their return to the UK, the idea for a business inspired by their experiences bubbled away for a couple of years. With Lydia’s degree in International Fashion Practice and Ella’s in Visual Communication, there was lots of scope to combine their skills. Furthermore, since finishing their studies, both had worked in retail, Lydia in a gift shop and Ella in a pottery café, helping to build on their knowledge and understanding of the industry.
In line with their newly discovered ethos, time and care was taken developing their ideas through numerous brainstorming sessions in local cafes, and countless Pinterest boards. Their plans culminated just as the world found itself entering a global pandemic. Undeterred, the two women forged ahead, opening the virtual doors to their lifestyle store, Teppi, in April 2020.
Naturally, the name – Teppi – was derived from the language of their muse, Lydia explains: “For us, it’s the word that perfectly sums up our trip to Iceland, as well as being very ﬁtting to the character of our brand. ‘Teppi’ is the Icelandic word for ‘blanket’, which was in fact the object that both women managed to find room in their suitcases to bring home with them and clearly have real affection for. “These gorgeous wool blankets are the very essence of Iceland,” says Ella, “they encapsulate the ideals of simple folk living as well as the elements of comfort, cosiness, and a longing for home. These blankets are such a special reminder of happy memories of our trip.”
In the early days of their business, Lydia and Ella started out with a small but perfectly formed range, made up mostly of ceramics, alongside items that encourage taking time to slow down and reflect, Ella explains: “With the slow living aspect of Nordic living being the roots of our brand, we started with a simple product that demonstrated the beauty in those slow moments; our handmade Gratitude Journal, which continues to be one of our bestsellers today.” A couple of years on from their launch, their collection has expanded but is still carefully curated, keeping their values in mind during every buying decision.
The notions of longevity and nostalgia inform the design process of their ceramic range, as they aim for the pieces to be timeless, cherished and reused for many years. Lydia reminisces about how certain objects were present at each seasonal event of her childhood: “I remember growing up how we would always have a decorations box for Easter, Halloween & Christmas. Each item would be something special and unique that had been added to the collection at some point over the years. Most items would often have some kind of memory or anecdote attached to it, which would always be reminisced about, as we set to work, decorating the house for Father Christmas or the Easter Bunny.”
It’s these kinds of moments and lasting memories that Lydia and Ella want to create for other families through their products and they’ve since added candles, dried flower posies, skincare and of course those cosy Icelandic-inspired blankets to their collection. The pair say that their criteria for sourcing new items is primarily about values. They want to stock brands whose ethics align with theirs – longevity, sustainability, quality and of course simplicity. They currently compliment their own items with natural soaps by Isle Soap Co, aromatherapy shower steam by Goldrick and bath salts from Salt and Steam.
The goal for the co-founders is to eventually bring a bricks and mortar location to their local community in Staffordshire. This year, they’ve moved one step closer to this dream by moving operations from their respective spare bedrooms to a studio space in the creative hub of Woodings Yard Studios in Stafford town centre. It’s these small, carefully thought through steps that allow a business to grow organically, to cement itself slowly in a community, and the pair have a strong vision for what their eventual lifestyle venue will offer, Ella describing it as: “A place where people can go to feel comforted, inspired and gain a true sense of the ‘haven’ that is Nordic living.”
In the meantime, the brand is venturing into the wedding industry, with their floral and ceramic items lending themselves effortlessly to the personal touches required for a special day. The two friends clearly have ideas and motivation in abundance, not allowing challenging events such as a pandemic or financial crisis to hold them back. As Lydia concludes, “We have overcome many tough times and foresee many more to come, however our dream of Teppi exists within every ﬁbre of our being and we know our passion and resilience will guide us through.” A true representation of entrepreneurial spirit that drives small business owners with unabashed passion, hope and the strength to succeed.
Pictured is a selection of items from Teppi’s carefully curated range. Below are the details and links to the individual objects featured.
Lagom candle – £22
Handmade ceramic mug – £24
Gratitude journal – from £12.95
Green tipped matches – £9.95
Espresso cup & saucer – £26
Ceramic tag – £3
Magic Moments gift set – £19.95
Neroli & lavender soap bar – £6.50
Botanical shower steam – £17.95
Body wash – £20
To view their full range visit www.teppi.co.uk
Follow Teppi on Instagram to get updates and peeks behind the scenes from Lydia and Ella