Homegirl London pays homage to Rowen & Wren. Having met at Nottingham Trent university back in 2003, Lucy and Graeme are now Rowen & Wren, the super stylish online store selling unique homes and interiors accessories. Lucy studied Textile Design and Graeme Real Estate Management and at first, they were just friends hanging out in the same halls of residence, then it turned into a relationship and here they are today, in business together. They decided to put their cash into starting up the venture rather than buying a new home and its paid dividends. Between them, they have a completely different experience and skills which combined really complement each other. They have cultivated an online lifestyle brand with a unique approach to home decor and interiors selling cushions and throws, lighting and lanterns, mirrors and frames, furniture and gifts – which work well in both classic and contemporary homes. I caught up with the couple to ask a few questions …
Q: Tell me more about how the idea of Rowen & Wren was born.
A: About 2 years ago Graeme and I were having dinner together and started discussing our dream jobs. Coming from a design consultancy I expressed an interest in having a shop which sold beautiful and unique home products. I tend to be overly cautious in my approach to things whilst Graeme is much more of a risk-taker, so it was his encouragement that led me to believe it was something that could be positive and also very successful. That evening we discussed buying our first home and decided to use the savings to launch a business instead. Due to the popularity of online retailing, we decided that a web store was a great way to begin the company, however, we hope in time to have a destination store where we can showcase our products in their collections.
Q: How did you arrive at the name Rowen & Wren?
A: Our real names are Lucy Uren and Graeme Purdy. Wren is a take on my surname. When my parents were dating (many moons ago) my mum used to address all letters to my dad with ‘Wren’ as she couldn’t believe his name was really Uren. The name ‘Rowen’ represents Graeme’s role in the business, we came up with this name several years ago when sat by the river in South London watching the ‘rowers.’
Q: Tell me more about the products you sell.
A: All our products are either individually designed or directly sourced by the two of us. Our priority with the products is to discover and create beautifully crafted pieces that have been ethically sourced. This means at times we do have to go a little further afield for the right pieces, but it gives us the opportunity to support some great projects for some great products.
Q: What sets your online shop apart from other homeware websites?
A: It would have to be our ‘Shop by Collection’ concept. On the website, we divide our products into 3 collections, which are currently Distant Home, Refined Rural and Timeless Living. This arose from our friends and family constantly asking ‘where do you find these things’ and ‘can’t you just go and shop for me?’ It soon became apparent that people are so busy nowadays that they don’t have time to shop around or put together a group of pieces that sit beautifully next to one another, not in a matching way, but in an eclectic, sophisticated way. From these constant requests, our ‘shop by collection’ idea was born. (See below for a flavour of their 3 concepts).
Distant Home: refined pieces to reflect your global taste – warm, moody neutrals with ethnic accents (Natural Horn Teaspoon, £4 / Hand Blown Glass Tumblers £24 / Natural Horn Bowls £14-24)
Refined Rural: contemporary country style – rustic colours and rural, classic influences (Bray Linen Bread Bags, £11-18)
Timeless Living: vintage influences redefined in clean, contemporary materials – pared-down elegance in satin silver and chalky paint finishes (Limed Artichoke Tea Light, £12 / Limed Spruce Cone, £12)
Q: Tell me more about your ‘Room Service’ offer.
A: Our strength has always been pulling together collections and styles, so we try to utilise this to make life as easy as possible for our customers. Having assisted them with coordinating homewares, it seemed a natural progression to help those customers who wanted that little bit extra with an advisory service. We’re most frequently asked for colour advice, often having selected their accessories customers struggle to find the right soft furnishing and paint colours to complete their look, so this is where we step in to help them select the right shades to transform the room in question into a sophisticated living space.
Q: Do you have any of your products at home?
A: Absolutely, we try not to have too many, but as we always choose products we love for the store it’s impossible not to be tempted into having them at home, our most recent purchase from the site is a stack of Kilve dishes for our home.
Kilve dish, £148
Q: What’s it like working together?
A: We try to keep our business and personal life as separate as possible which can prove to be tricky at times. Our biggest challenge is switching off; it’s very hard not to spend every evening discussing the business so we try to enforce a no-business talk rule at home. We’re fortunate that we have very different strengths both as a couple and in business, so during the set-up of the company we established clear roles and responsibilities to match our strengths, we try hard to stick to them, however, Graeme likes to think he’s a bit of a stylist – which he is not! But seriously, it’s these different strengths that make us such a good team and inevitably are responsible for creating Rowen & Wren it wouldn’t have been possible without both of our involvement.
Q: What exciting things are coming up for you for the remainder of 2012?
A: We are currently finalising our fourth collection which is due out in September. We’ve been working on this collection for some time as we would like to introduce more unique, branded products, which tend to take longer to develop. We also have some gorgeous exclusive Christmas decorations planned which we are very excited about.
Do take a look at their website at Rowen and Wren. Below is a selection of their lovely products. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Rowen and Wren, special thanks to Lucy and Graeme.
Cottage Vine Candelabra, £58
Flori Tarnished Silver Pendant, £84
Hana Teapot with Wooden Saucer, £78
Iva Mirrored Screen, £488 / Mahlee Upholstered Footstool £86 / Arissa Turned Candlesticks, £88-£166
Dayani Button Backed Chair, £374 / Nuri Herringbone Throw £138
Bromley Wing Backed Chair, £554 / Finch Rose Cushion £58 / Hattie Striped Wool Blanket, £198