I’ve spoken about Oates & Co. before, and it’s a company I keep returning to again and again. This independent homewares and home decor company champions local and British designer/makers as well as scouring the country for the best vintage finds. Each item is hand selected by founder Sylvia Oates, who happens to have impeccable taste when it comes to knowing how to decorate a home. I have bought several things from Oates & Co. already and as we inch towards (dare I say it)….Christmas (sorry)…it’s on my list to pay a visit. Personally, it’s great to know that I’m choosing pieces for my home that have a story and support innovate, independent crafters and retailers.
I was thrilled when Sylvia agreed to be part of my Q&A series – I couldn’t wait to find out the story behind this beautiful homewares business. Plus, I picked up some tips on home decor – never a bad thing!
1. When did you decide you wanted to start your own company?
I’ve always wanted to set up on my own – I think it’s just in you. My husband and I had our daughter Scarlett, in 2013. I was CEO of a small company and went back to work when Scarlett was six months. I realised I was missing so much of her growing up and, whilst setting up my own company was never going to be an easy option, it brought me more flexibility in terms of working hours. I set up Oates & Co. in the summer of 2014 – I haven’t looked back since!
2. What’s your greatest achievement to date, since starting up Oates & Co.?
It’s always really exciting to get your products featured in some of the magazines that I’ve been buying for years, such as Living Etc. and Elle Decoration. But I think I was most chuffed when the interiors editor of a major Sunday broadsheet placed an order with us – being in that role, you must come across some pretty amazing brands, so for her to choose to shop with us was just, “wow”.
3. And what’s the best part of your job now?
I absolutely love sourcing new suppliers. We try and do things a bit differently here at Oates & Co. so we try and find individual designer makers, which means visiting lots of design fairs, trawling the web and the like for unique and unusual homewares.
4. Your blog is a massive home styling inspiration to me. I’m curious, where do you get your inspiration from?
I love clean, simple design. I am not really a fan of decorating so I think you should choose decor for your home that you know you can live with for a long time. That means lots of well chosen neutrals, but with really exciting and interesting accents like accessories that you can change up regularly so you don’t get bored. I spend hours trawling Pinterest, I get a lot of ideas that way, but I also love visiting flea markets and vintage shops to get those unusual, quirky feature items that are the focal and talking point of many rooms in my house.
5. You have a lovely selection of one-off vintage finds on your site. Do you have a particular favourite ‘vintage era’ and if so, which one?
Ooh definitely the 1950s. It was a really prolific decade for simple, ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing design from all over the globe. You’ve got the obvious furniture greats such as Hans Wegner, Charles Eames, Finn Juhl, and then gorgeous ceramic pieces from names such as Stavangerflint and Michael Leland. I also love 1950s fashion – those dresses, those shades…*sigh*.
6. For any budding home stylists, have you got any tips you could share?
I’d say that you should trust your own tastes, try and set your own style, and buy things that you absolutely love. That way, you should never get tired of them. Try and mix old and new together, I love the way that vintage pieces just instantly bring a relaxed, homely feel to a room. Don’t be afraid to break a few interior design rules, either. Rules are made to be broken!
7. I’m sure it’s a tough decision, but of all the lovely homewares you offer on your site, which are your favourites?
That is hard! I think it would have to be all of the items by the talented Hayley Sutcliffe. We currently stock her enamel plates and original pen and ink drawings with metal details. She is a recent graduate but her work has a real maturity to it and is so expressive.
8. And finally, what’s next for Oates & Co?
We’re starting to sort out our Christmas collection, which will launch in mid-November. We have some really exciting designer makers that we’ve been speaking to, so I am just keeping my fingers crossed that they feel they can supply us on top of their usual Christmas rush! Next year, I’m also hoping to launch a range of Oates & Co. branded items, so that’s also been really exciting to get off the ground. Oh yes, and we’re expecting a little brother or sister for Scarlett just before Christmas, so there’ll never be a dull moment, I’m sure!