We were big fans of Ellie Tennant‘s first book, Design Bloggers at Home (Rylands Peters & Small), so we were pretty excited when we heard she had a new book in the pipeline. Chic Boutiquers at Home is the result and follows Ellie’s travels to some of the most inspiring homes you have ever seen, curated by the owners of some of the world’s most beautiful boutiques. Habitat caught up with Ellie so we could hear more about how this stunning new book came to be.
Tell us about Chic Boutiquers at Home?
In Chic Boutiquers at Home, I meet cutting edge ‘boutiquers’ – the characters and creative forces behind leading online stores around the world, from the US to Europe, and explore their beautiful homes in a series of inspiring case studies. The result is part-decorating book, part-shopping directory – a smörgåsbord of fascinating interiors from a new generation of online style gurus. Packed with plenty of ideas to use in your own home and a wealth of tempting new shops to explore, it’s a lovely book to browse but, if you dream of selling online yourself, the final ‘How to Launch Your Own Online Shop’ chapter is crammed with invaluable practical advice, comparing popular platforms such as Big Cartel and Etsy and containing advice from the online shopkeeper experts as well as plenty of insider top tips.
Where did you travel to during the making of this book?
We travelled to America, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and around the UK to shoot 12 stylish homes, from a lofty apartment in Copenhagen to a converted railway carriage in Dungeness.
Any funny tales from those trips?
We were in New York when there were severe blizzards and public transport ground to a halt. I did not pack my wellies and neither did the photographer James Gardiner – we were both wearing canvas pumps, which meant that our feet were constantly freezing cold and soggy for the whole week! We finished shooting too late every day to get to the shops to buy more suitable footwear, so we just had to dry our shoes out in the hotel at night and battle on!
How long did the book take to research?
It took a long time to get the right mix of houses and online shops, but we got there in the end!
How did you go about finding the retailers who feature in this book?
Some of the retailers are people I have met before or whose work I have featured in magazines in the past, while others we discovered online via their social media profiles or websites.
Did you have a favourite home or space?
It’s difficult to choose a favourite because they’re all beautiful in very different ways, but I love Sian Tucker’s coastal cottage (Sian runs fforest from Cardigan, Wales) which is very much my style – all reclaimed wood, natural slate and Welsh blankets. It’s simple but warm and welcoming and in an incredible location right on the beach. I also really like calligrapher Ylva Skarp’s home, which is a renovated school house on the banks of a stunning lake in a remote part of Sweden.
How do you think the landscape of retail is changing in light of what you’ve seen?
Online shopping is the future. Consumer trend forecasters from The Future Foundation report that 80 per cent of UK adults now buy online and, by 2020, 90 per cent of us will be engaging in e-commerce. Not only are we shopping online more, we’re changing how we do it, too, as we migrate from desktops and laptops to smart phones and tablet devices. Now, we can shop for our homes wherever we want, whenever we want. Without the expenses of a bricks-and-mortar shop, smaller independent brands can set up and start trading with ease, giving us access to a wider range of chic boutiques than ever before. The growth of online shopping also means that we can buy from brands that are based abroad, many of which have introduced international shipping at competitive prices to attract a global customer base.
The ‘chic boutiquers’ in this book all use social media to connect with their customers, creating communities and weaving personal stories around their products, which are either handmade or carefully selected. They do much more than just sell homewares – they inspire and delight their customers, too, offering glimpses into their gorgeous homes and covetable lifestyles via platforms like Instagram.
What tips can you offer to someone who wants to set up their own online shop?
Check out the final chapter of this book, which is packed with expert advice covering everything from how to do your own PR to how to package your products and design your own website. The chic boutiquers whose homes are featured generously shared their golden advice and top tips with me, so you can learn from the experts – people who are already running successful online stores.
All images taken from Chic Boutiquers at Home by Ellie Tennant, photography by James Gardiner, published by Rylands Peters & Small.