SOPHIE HOLLOWAY

"Life is too short to spend it doing something that doesn't make you tick."

 

WE CHATTED TO ALPHABET FOUNDER SOPHIE ON LIFE AFTER ART SCHOOL, SETTING UP HER OWN BUSINESS AND WHERE SHE FINDS CREATIVE INSPIRATION.


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"Alphabet is an online vintage homeware shop that aims to bring its audience a selection of the most unique and beautiful time-worn treasures that money can buy. Our ultimate aim with Alphabet was to bring our customers a unique online retail experience that meant that they could still savour the same satisfying feeling of discovering the perfect vintage treasure, with the accessibility and ease of the modern online shopping culture. We're all about the juxtaposition of displaying old pieces in a contemporary and minimal environment.

Myself and my partner Nick have had a passion for vintage and antique homeware for as long as we can remember and we've both always felt like it was something that we'd like to pursue and try to build a career from. We were both working full time design jobs for almost 2 years and although we enjoyed the work and the atmosphere we just felt like we weren't able to be as creative as we'd like to be. So about 6 months ago we left our jobs to focus on building and launching Alphabet and although the journey to get to where we are today hasn't been easy, it's been more fulfilling and rewarding than we ever could have imagined. It was scary taking that leap but we're both so glad that we did!"

 

"We’re both graphic designers and we met on the degree course at the Colchester School of Art. Straight out of uni I went to work for the footwear and accessories brand, Dune London as their Junior Graphic Designer and Nick began working as the Junior Designer for Fenwick. Our jobs were what really allowed us to gain the skills that we needed to learn in order to be able to build our own business and I think that working for such prestigious brands also taught us how to be perfectionists in everything that we do.

For us as graphic designers, the identity and overall look and feel of Alphabet has always been and continues to be just as important as the products that we sell. Right from the get go we knew that we wanted to build a business that wasn't just a shop but more of a lifestyle. People often ask us if we stock homeware from a particular era or movement but for us it's all about choosing pieces that we feel fit into the Alphabet aesthetic."

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"We tend to find inspiration in so many forms. In terms of retailers, we find a lot of inspiration from places like All Saints, COS and & Other Stories, all of which are completely different in their aesthetic. We've always admired the dark and rustic feel of All Saints yet the clean and contemporary style of COS appeals to us hugely. We would like to think that our thought process and influences are visible in the way that we've styled and built Alphabet.

If we're feeling a bit of creative block, our go to source for inspiration is usually found in the magazine aisles! There's a series of Country Living magazines that we go back to regularly and each of the issues that we own is jam packed full of post it notes with scrawled annotations. The magazines are basically just full of beautiful shots of peoples homes and artisans workshops and they're usually centred around vintage and antique pieces. We always go back to those magazines when we're looking for ideas of new products that we'd like to stock on the site."

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"Our blog acts as a place for us to give our audience a bit of an insight into the people, places and things that inspire us to do what we do. Sometimes we also use the blog to show the influence behind some of the pieces that we stock on our site, but most of the time it's just used as a place to be a bit more casual and to give our viewers more of an idea of who we are and what makes us tick.

When we first started taking photos for our blog it made us feel a bit vulnerable,  it's not always easy to look or act relaxed when you're having your picture taken in a busy place or in front of an audience but it's something that we've gotten used to over time. We just try our best to keep focused and remember what we're aiming to achieve and how rewarding it is to get home and upload that blog post. We've got lots of posts coming in the future as there are so many places that we've been exploring lately and we're desperate to share those with our viewers!"

 

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"I'm not going to lie and say that building our business has been an easy process, because it absolutely hasn't. There are days when we both think that giving up would be the 'easier' option, but when those days happen we find that it's useful to take a break and step back from the problem to remind ourselves why we're doing this, we're doing this because we love it, because there's nothing else on this earth that we'd rather be doing!

Before we left out jobs to focus on Alphabet full time, we had spent the past couple of years prepping and planning for the launch of our business. Something that we would stress is that it's really important to enjoy the prepping stage as we believe that it's not something that should be rushed. Very often the foundations of a business are the most important factor to determining it's success, so make sure that you've done your research and have a very clear idea of where you want this business to go and what you hope to achieve in the long run. 

Most importantly, make sure that what you're doing is fun and makes you happy. The moment something stops being fun and starts being a chore is the time when you should consider if this is something that you really want to do. We put our heart and soul into Alphabet and I think that's why it has been received as well as it has - because people can see that we absolutely love what we do and our excitement, passion and determination makes them feel excited and inspired too!

Just remember that we all spend the majority of life at work - so make sure that whatever you're doing is something that makes you feel fulfilled, satisfied and happy. Life is too short to spend it doing something that doesn't make you tick."


Find Alphabet at www.shop-alphabet.com