Business Profile – 19
‘19’ – The Emporium of Inspirational Interior ideas in Clevedon
‘19’ is a vintage and artisan shop which opened in Clevedon in November 2013. It offers an eclectic mix of vintage homewares and hand-crafted products, showcasing interesting and unique goods in a setting that shows how they could be displayed in a home.
The business is the creative dream of twin sisters Victoria and Becky Saunders, both from North Somerset, bringing together everything they love and enabling them to source and present furniture, vintage and lighting items with a host of other beautiful products, some of which they have designed and created themselves.
Having achieved a first degree in Surface Design at Plymouth University; Victoria previously worked for Laura Ashley as a Field Visual Merchandiser. Two years ago, she set up her own business, Saunders Creative, with the help of North Somerset Enterprise Agency and the Prince’s Trust. Saunders Creative specialises in applied surface design and graphics, working to briefs for bespoke design products and commercial work as well as producing its own product range which includes cards, prints, framed artwork and display decals, designed and created by hand from its own studio.
Becky studied Drawing and Applied Arts at the University of the West of England before working as a Visual Merchandiser for H&M. She has since returned to the local area to set up ‘19’ and became a partner in Saunders Creative.
Now the sisters run their studio for Saunders Creative as a visible and accessible working space situated in the back half of ‘19’.
This enables them to offer their customers a unique glimpse into a design studio and to run their two creative businesses side by side.
“Both coming from visual merchandising backgrounds, we aim to use our skills to great effect in our emporium, creating different displays that we hope will inspire our customers.” explains Victoria. “We have chosen Clevedon as our base because, as well as being born and raised in North Somerset, we couldn’t envisage a more suitable place to open an interiors-focused emporium than in a beautiful old Victorian seaside town.”
All of the products found at ‘19’ with the exception of the vintage, are designed, crafted and handmade by UK makers, many of whom are from the South West. Furniture, vintage and lighting products are all sourced through small independent businesses. The space therefore champions and supports other small firms.
“We wanted the emporium to celebrate the wealth of quality products made by individuals in the UK.” explains Becky. “Our customers love discovering a unique independent on a day out. After taking in the culture of the area they want to be inspired by what they see. People, who will enjoy visiting ‘19’ love creativity, are interested in the stories behind the items they see and want to invest in their homes to create a space that reflects their personality and their lives. “
‘19’ is already retailing products by distinctive, high quality suppliers. Most recently the business has become a stockist for Annie Sloan chalk paint, a highly original manufacturer who works exclusively with chosen independent suppliers, choosing only one in each area.
When considering running her own business Victoria took part in North Somerset Enterprise Agency’s three day ‘Starting in Business’ course before going on to complete The Prince’s Trust Enterprise course. North Somerset Enterprise Agency provided further help and support when the sisters decided to make Saunders Creative a partnership, when they took on new premises and with business and marketing advice for ‘19’.
“Networking is important – through working with other independent vintage or creative businesses we meet some amazing people, source products for the emporium and spread the word that ‘19’ is here.” says Victoria. “For reaching potential customers, social media works well and we get involved in hash-tag events on Twitter. We have been featured in posts on inspiring blogs, we have invited a selection of local bloggers to our Emporium and invited them to write about the space and we are active on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
“Our customers love being involved in the whole business – from our inspiration, to glimpses behind the scenes at our Emporium and in our studio.”
Victoria and Becky enjoy working together and advise other would-be entrepreneurs to have a clear vision and work to this, to stay true to yourself and not be led by others, to work out your USP, to keep going by working through the problems and challenges you will face along the way and above all, to do what you love!
“We always knew we wanted to work together on something that was ours – we were just looking for the right project.” says Becky. “The hardest thing in a small business is that it’s not something you ever stop working on! Our days off are spent out and about finding suppliers or sourcing vintage.
“You definitely need to love what you do and I think it helps if you love the people you work with and can have a close relationship.”
Going forward Victoria and Becky want to build 19’s reputation as the “go to” place for beautiful and unique homewares and plan to keep their offer fresh by continuously introducing new products. They are also enjoying building a community of creative people and helping to support Clevedon as a visitor destination.
“For us it’s about keeping going, staying creative, positive and enthusiastic and being open to new avenues.” concludes Victoria. “With workshops and events being added into the mix very soon we hope to be busy for many years to come.”
North Somerset Enterprise Agency’s business advisor, Abdullah Ali-Ahmadi, says:
“It has been a great pleasure supporting Victoria and Becky and the impressive ‘19’. The business has great potential and both sisters have clear visions and we are applying strategies to develop and grow ‘19’ into a thriving and famous name in the area and beyond.”
19, Alexandra Road, Clevedon, North Somerset, BS21 7QH Tel: 01275 340563 Visit: www.19alexandraroad.co.uk