WHO: Toby Findlay, 28, and Maja Gliszczynska, 26, living in Kennington
What: Ceramics, glassware, candles and spoons – especially the spoons! – sourced from independent manufacturers across Europe and currently not stored elsewhere in the UK.
How they started: The couple met in December 2019 and were casually dating when the lockdown hit in March 2020. Maja scampered off to Toby’s apartment “for a few days” and never left.
Both have serious but “uncreative” day jobs, Maja in corporate law and Toby in financial risk insurance and were looking for a creative outlet during the lockout.
Toby and Maja from Artemis Deco in Sicily
A visit to Maja’s parents led to a discussion of their collection of ceramics, accumulated over years of family vacations to Spain and Italy, and the realization that none of the pieces were sold in the UK, and Artemis Deco was born.
The couple’s first vacation was a supply trip to Sicily in mid-August, where they deposited € 600 for a selection of jugs and coffee mugs at a family ceramist in Caltagirone.
Becoming a director of a company on Companies House was another proud moment for the couple, who had no previous professional experience. Now Toby takes care of most of the administrative aspects, while Maja takes care of most of the supply.
They have two guides for choosing products to add to their collection: “We like that? And have we seen it elsewhere? ”
Acrylic salad servers, £ 42, Artemis Deco
Item sold: “We’re a brand of choice and mix, people buy the same colors for everything in the entire collection, from spoons to glassware to ceramics,” says Maja. But the star of the show are the acrylic salad servers, £ 42, made in Germany by the same family since 1862. Laura Jackson even took a few.
WHO: Léa Zana, 36, living in Highgate
What: Colorful vichy ceramics, designed by Léa and made by a ceramist from southern Spain.
How it started: Licensed by Asos in 2019 and next job failing due to the pandemic, former shoe designer Léa found herself in an impasse of epic proportions last spring – “the product I had made all my life was totally unnecessary at that time. “, she says.
Léa Zana from Tableware
“But shoes are one of the most complicated products you can make, so I thought I should be able to try my hand at most things.”
A passion for ceramics gleaned from years of visiting flea markets in her native France steered her towards housewares, using some of her layoff money to produce the initial collection.
In June of last year, Lea started looking for factories in Spain and working on design and branding. As soon as the borders reopened in July, she flew to Mallorca where she spent a month developing the product with a ceramist.
“I figured if it didn’t work out as a business I would have some nice plates for my own home. Samples arrived in September when the travel restrictions tightened again, doubly stressful because Lea was not happy with the quality, so she found another manufacturer in southern Spain who now manufactures the entire 29-piece range for her.
Ceramic in Vaisselle’s signature vichy
Having started on Instagram, Léa is working on expanding the business and increasing her list of resellers. “I hope I never have to be a shoe designer again, I’m so much happier now.”
Item sold: Oily Baby, £ 65, a red checkered and so French oil dispenser that can double as a vase.
Planters from Ruut Home
WHO: Jamie Boyle, 32, living in Hackney Wick
What: Jesmonite planters, candle holders and coasters made in-house by Jamie.
How it started: “I never thought about starting a lifestyle business until last year,” says Jamie Boyle, a former recruiter whose previous creative endeavors didn’t extend much beyond GCSE pottery.
Jamie Boyle from Ruut Home
Jamie was fired when the lockdown began. “I bought a lot of plants last year because all I could do for fun was go to the garden center, but I wasn’t impressed with the selection of pots available. One day I was bored so I decided to try my hand at making one myself.
He researched the materials and techniques and purchased enough equipment to make a small flowerpot from jesmonite, a popular resin material for casting and molding. The next time, he bought enough to make four: “I didn’t want to invest a lot of money.”
His biggest expenses were the website and simple equipment to take good product photos. “It’s really snowballed, I had over 200 orders.”
From £ 22: Oahu Planter by Ruut Home
Item sold: The Oahu Coral and Turquoise range has proven surprisingly popular, says Jamie. A pair of candle holders costs £ 16, planters from £ 22.