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.
Nina is one of them. She founded INGREDIENTS LDN with the goal to curate products that infuse everyday life with value and meaning; products that can make the ordinary extraordinary. Her shop is filled with beautiful, handpicked and useful accessories for the considered home. Lovely essentials in neutral colours and quality materials. Her philosophy is definitely along the lines of what hygge is, and maybe that’s why we love INGREDIENTS LDN so much.
I was curious as to find out more about Nina and the story behind the shop, and she kindly agreed to answer my questions.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself/ Who are you and what do you do?
A: I am a dreamer, a thinker and a critical optimist. I am someone with many interests and even more questions. I run a small online concept store called INGREDIENTS LDN. We are an interior and lifestyle store inspired by scientific, philosophical and cultural perspectives on wellbeing.
Q: What inspired you to start your shop?
A: My foundation is a combination of two distinct fields. On the one hand my background is in psychology. I spent several years working as a clinical psychologist supporting people to move forward from depression and anxiety. On the other hand I also spent some time developing and consulting brands on strategy, positioning and consumer insights. ILDN is a combination of my passion for the big and wonderful ideas coming out of psychology and philosophy and my interest in translating these into a tangible brand.
Q: What sets your shop aside from its competitors?
A: We are a concept store with a theoretical and not just a visual concept behind it. We use ideas about wellbeing as the inspiration for all aspects of our brand from our visual aesthetic and product selection to what we write about in our journal. Our content and products are linked to ideas and are meant to inspire thought on how we can use our surroundings to design for wellbeing.
To be clear, our products are not meant to create wellbeing but to inspire the people who use them to create wellbeing. This to me is an important distinction because wellbeing is not something that can be bought but instead is something acquired through a long and conscious process. A life’s work so to say. Our aim is to inspire people to give that journey some consideration.
On a more basic level we offer quality products with a focus on a timeless aesthetic and natural materials. Our pieces are selected with the aim of being able to stand the test of time both from a design and a durability perspective. Many of the items in our store are hand made out of quality materials like solid wood or pure linen. The idea is that they should get better with time and use, allowing the patina of the users own story to be carved into them.
Q: Who or what influences your style? To what do you attribute your wonderful aesthetic?
A: The single biggest influence on all aspects of the store is my continuous reading in psychology, philosophy and sociology. I am fascinated with the insights coming out of these fields and hold a genuine belief that these are ideas truly worth spreading. The challenge is to spread them in a digestible and accessible way that can be relevant to many people while still staying true to the original idea. I most certainly do not always succeed at this attempt. But I think the key is that these ideas are slowly being woven into the fabric of our daily vocabulary. Terms like mindfulness and flow are everyday terms now that many people are familiar with. I am proud to be able to contribute to this.
But our aesthetic also has a strong conceptual influence from ideas outwith psychology. For example, the modernist Scandinavian design aesthetic is rooted in social changes that occurred in Europe in the 1950s. The ideology associated with this movement is linked to aspirations to make design democratic and available to all while not stripping it of beauty and the functional qualities that have the power to enhance everyday life. In line with the values of this era, some of our aesthetic influence lies in modern Scandinavian design.
Finally our aesthetic is strongly influenced by the seasons – we try to create a warm and cosy feel in the colder seasons and a bright and airy feel in summer and spring.
Q: How do you find the pieces/products for your store?
A: Our sourcing is highly eclectic. We often use a concept as our starting point such as a desire to find a cup that will slow its user down when drinking from it (such as our sipping cup) or a blanket perfect for sharing with loved ones due to its size and comfort (such as our hand-loomed cotton blanket). Then the search begins. We spend a long time looking for brands and artisans whose products meet our requirements and fit our aesthetic. We love working directly with makers who are passionate about their craft. They are more likely to work with natural materials and their ethics and values are often in line with our own. But sometimes sourcing can be quite serendipitous and wonderful objects seem to find us.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face with running your own store?
A: We are new to this line of work so there are many aspects that are challenging for us. One of the biggest challenges we face is how to create a profitable business while staying true to our values. A strong focus on the bottom line runs counter to why many people from our generation start businesses. While I think we are all working hard to change the rules of the game we have to bend and comply to some extent if we want to survive. Disentangling those aspects of our vision we are willing to compromise on, and those that are essential is a never-ending learning curve. Personally I find this journey incredibly exciting as it propels me forward at a much more rapid pace, helping me to solidify what I truly believe in and those aspect that are not core to who we are and what we stand for.
Q: What do you love most about having your own store?
A: Oh the vision! The opportunity to translate our ideas into something tangible that can engage other people is a dream come true. Creating a virtual world that is in line with our vision that others can interact with is incredibly rewarding. I am grateful for every bit of feedback and every single transaction we make. Almost one year in I am still humbled by the thought that others may have an interest in what we are trying to create. That will never cease to be motivating.
Q: What are you proud of?
A: I am proud to be able to share some of my biggest inspirations with other people. For example, the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is someone whose work has strongly influenced my life. He is a man with a wonderful vision of the world and some amazing ideas on happiness, creativity and ‘flow’. To have the opportunity to perpetuate ideas like his is something I am very proud of.
Q: Do you have any special projects in the pipeline or exciting future plans?
A: So many! From refining our brand to new products to exciting collaborations. The only question is how much will we be able to squeeze into the next year? Our first year was very heavily focused on getting the store up and running. Now that we have settled into the daily running of it our focus for next year will be on refining everything from product offer to content.
Q: What are your favorite pieces/products at the moment?
A: I adore the simplicity of linen. It is such a wonderful material because it is so uncomplicated, natural and its beauty and comfort increase over time making linen products wonderful heirloom pieces. So I love all of the linen items in our store. That being said I adore our black cutting boards. They are handmade by an artisanal studio in Brooklyn from a single piece of beautiful solid oak. They are not dyed; instead the black colour is brought out from within the wood through a natural reactive process. This makes them such a unique item and a wonderful gift for self or others.
Thank you very much for your interest in our store.”
Make sure to visit INGREDIENTS LDN for well-curated design, and don’t forget to bookmark this lovely shop!
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