Being an entrepreneur and small business owner, I love to hear success stories of talented people who started companies, with the goal to make a difference and to to bring something new to the market; people driven by a vision, a passion, a curiosity, and a determination; people with a mission.
Today I would like to introduce you to Alicia from Cloudberry Living. Disappointed she couldn’t find the right accessories for her home, she co-founded the online shop with her partner Steve. Together they handpick a selection of homewares, furniture, gifts & accessories to create a timeless and unique home, with beautiful quality products which last a lifetime. I wanted to know more about their success story, and Alicia kindly agreed to answer some questions.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself / Who are you, and what do you do?
A: My background is in interior design & property developing, all aspects, from creating living spaces to the objects we decorate our homes with, they have always been of interest to me. I love all aspects of design and being creative especially with the space you live in that we call home.
Q: What inspired you to start your shop?
A: Having to source for interiors and projects for clients & for my own home, I found it frustrating that I could not always find the type of products that I loved, so it was a natural progression for myself and my partner to source those wonderful design pieces that we were searching for and that place became Cloudberry Living.
Q: What sets your shop aside from its competitors?
A: At Cloudberry Living we carefully select our ranges from furniture & lighting, through to soft furnishings, tableware to natural Danish slippers. We source from Iconic brands that stand the test of time as well as the new designers. Each brand that is chosen has to have a strong ethos of great quality & design of course but with sustainability, ethical trading, often handmade or using traditional techniques. Each piece must have the aesthetics and beauty but must also have the functionality and add to your everyday living. I only choose products I love & believe in and would want in my own home and really feel a passion for. We endeavour to make our customers buying experience as easy & informative as possible. We try to stock as much as possible, unless it is the larger items of lighting or furniture or a handmade to order product, otherwise we will do our best to have stock available. We are also known for a more personal approach to our customer service, and where ever possible to go that extra mile for our customer’s , if they have a certain request or need a little more information, whatever it might be , our team will endeavour to help as quickly as possible to assist.
Q: Who or what influences your style? To what do you attribute your wonderful aesthetic?
A: I have always loved clean lines, purity and a mix of nature as well as beautiful looking objects. I love airy & bright spaces and have been influenced by many things over the years but the simplicity of Japanese and Scandinavian styles and the mix of nature & textures as well as the vivid colours of the east. These all seem to be expressed in many Scandinavian designs, which are not just pure and clean but bright and quirky too. I love taking a piece of furniture or a home accessory, put it together with something slightly different & your own pieces you have collected to create your own story. I am also not afraid to try different looks with things that others might not think of mixing together, adding your own personality to the space. That is what gave me the confidence to do design, as people always loved my home and pieces I had chosen & how I put them together. I believe that the things we surround ourselves with make a difference to our everyday well being, so I am drawn to beautifully made pieces that have a lasting timeless quality that you can make them your own.
Q: How do you find the pieces/products for your store?
A: We do visit the trade shows in London and Europe and we are often approached by many new designers and brands who feel they will fit our style, but I also check out blogs, and interviews or talking to someone who then tells you of a great product, I will look it up to find out about the brand. You never know where you might see the next great product. Whatever it is I have to love it or I feel I cannot sell it with real integrity.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face with running your own store?
A: As a small & expanding company there is always something new to learn, you have to diversify. Neither myself or my partner had ever had any experience before with websites or retail, my only experience was working in a handmade tile & kitchen store, but that is nothing compared to running an online store today. Keeping fresh & relevant & constantly striving to bring new & exciting brands and experiences for our customers, we all work as a team to achieve this and to move forward with the pace of today. One of the hardest things is to switch off when at home as there is always an idea or something you want to talk about that concerns Cloudberry Living whatever time of day it is.
Q: What do you love most about having your own store?
A: Both myself, and my partner love working for ourselves. Neither of us have ever been that conventional, so working for others has always felt a little restricted. It is great to have a vision & try to create that it is also quite scary too! Getting to choose all the products is a definite perk, as I never tire of finding beautiful pieces for the home.
Q: What are you proud of?
A: I am proud of how we have changed Cloudberry Living over the last couple of years, new branding, new website and a much larger selection and these changes have been received positively by the press, bloggers and most importantly our customers.
Q: Do you have any special projects in the pipeline or exciting future plans?
A: We are starting our own blog, soon, mainly to inform our customers more about our products their background stories and how they are made & created. This will hopefully make it easier for choices to be made as well as engaging with our audience to. We are also expanding our ranges with more personal accessories and a wider selection of all things for the home as well as getting out there more with our customers and sharing their purchases and homes and creative ideas with others.
Q: What are your favorite pieces/products at the moment?
A: We have some great new brands on and some old favourites too!
Q: What are your top gift ideas from Cloudberry Living?
- A scented candle by Skandinavisk
- A Utlima Thule serving bowl from Iittala
- A graphic cushion from Lapuan Kankurit
- A vase with a touch of brass from Stelton
- A glass candle dish with a leather detail designed by Holmegaard
- A soft blanket by Lapuan Kankurit