We are extremely lucky to have some brilliant shops near to Nicholas and White HQ, one of which is the fabulous Sugden and Daughters Barn shop at Yardley Hastings. Sugden and Daughters is very much a family affair, run by Louisa and Mark Sugden, with many of the beautiful objects they sell having been designed, handmade and crafted by the husband and wife team for our pleasure. With the tagline ‘fabulous things for individual living’, they are passionate about upcycling, repurposing, with a strong belief that good design and quality will always be ‘on trend’. Many of the treasures they sell have a history to them and part of the appeal (for N&W anyway) is that history. Louisa and Mark are also stockists of fabulous fabrics by the likes of St Judes and Cloth & Clover, paints by Little Greene and Grand Illusions Vintage Paint and wallpapers by Astrid & Rudolf – you can bedeck your whole home in the leafy surrounds of Northamptonshire then nip over the yard to the Red Lion pub for lunch!
Let’s start with an easy quartet of quick fire questions:
• Your favourite quote? ‘There are two ways to be rich; Earn more or want less’ (unknown). I have no idea who said this but I read it somewhere years ago and it really changed the way I look at life. I have had it scribbled on a chalkboard in my kitchen ever since. It had a major influence on us when we were deciding to start Sugden and Daughters. The quote has made such an impression on my life that we have recently worked with a printmaker and had it produced as a print for our shop, printed on a 1940’s printing press.
• Ultimate relaxation? Hmm, this is a difficult one. I’m not sure ultimate relaxation actually features in my life. The last time I recall feeling so relaxed was when Mark & I had two nights in Byfords, a luxury B&B in Holt; Egyptian cotton sheets on a Kingsize bed, Bang and Olufsen sound system streaming into the ensuite, candles, wine and a decor that Sugden and Daughters very much approved of. The weather was cold and miserable outside so we stayed in our room most of the time. We slept for England and in between sleeps I indulged in luxurious candlelit baths.
• Books or magazines? Interior & Lifestyle magazines. I love reading but rarely get the time to sink into a good book which is a shame. Magazines allow me to keep up to date with interior trends & indulge my passion for design and interior design.
• Most memorable meal? Mark & I love food and eating out and we have dined in some amazing places but the most memorable meal is eating fish and chips in Suffolk. We had a rare child free afternoon so we drove to Walberswick and caught the rowing boat ferry over to Southwold. We bought fish and chips from a hut nestled amongst the fishing huts and sat outside in the fresh air looking at boats go by. It was one of those happy moments when I realised how happy & content I was with my life. I love simple pleasures!
Sugden and Daughters have been trading for almost two years now, how do you manage to juggle design, crafting and business commitments with those of being a wife and mum? Are you an expert delegator or are you just super organised? Another tricky one to answer. There’s no one to delegate to so it can’t be that. I suppose I am pretty organised. Very early on I realised that I can’t do everything so I have had to let some unimportant things slip. Friends & family are very important to me so no matter how busy I am I always make time for them. If my housework suffers so be it.
Could you give us a little insight into the why and how of you launching Sugden and Daughters? Pre children I was a career girl but post children my priorities shifted. Living life seemed so much more important that being on the career hamster wheel. I felt a strong desire to break free from the corporate world & thankfully I have a very supportive husband. Following a back operation and weeks off work I dreaded the thought of going back into an office so I walked away from my career. Mark was in his final year at college & we suddenly had no income. Sugden and Daughters was literally born overnight. It sounds irresponsible now but having a passion for decorative antiques and interiors already we felt confident it would work with hardwork and determination.
Is there anything you would maybe do differently now with hindsight (without giving all your secrets away of course!) or advice you would give yourselves now if you were just starting out? Actually, no.
What top tips do you have for harmonious living or possibly more importantly, anything that should be avoided at all cost when working together for yourselves? Thankfully Mark & I work really well together. We have naturally fallen into different roles within the business and where we have a skills shortfall we work through it together. Probably the top tip is to talk to each other. We talk all the time so nothing gets bottled up or forgotten about.
You stock a lovely wide range of products, where does your inspiration come from when you are upcycling or repurposing items? Mark & I are both creative thinkers so we just throw ideas around. Both my dad and granddad were upcyclers long before it became a buzz word. I suppose they are my ultimate inspiration. I think my granddad was the original Womble.
One of the many things we love about your barn is that although you are constantly changing the stock, you always seem to have something that catches the eye (fans of ‘Show All Sunday’ here!) whether that be a gorgeous scented candle (the Black Rose and Frankincense is just divine, though am partial too to the Lavender and Geranium and..!) or a handmade soap, notelets, coffee pot lamps, mugs, fabrics… you have a real knack for not only finding great pieces, but also unusual ones: how do you manage not to buy EVERYTHING for your own home?! We are not currently in our ‘forever home’ so not keeping things is easy. Everything we sell is a step nearer to moving house. I think when we’re in forever home it will be a different story but for now we have a rule; everything is for sale. We occasionally caretake pieces that we can’t bear to part with straight away. It’s turned into a bit of a joke where Mark sells the things I covet and vice versa.
Alongside stocking Little Greene Paint and Grand Illusions Vintage Paint, you are now branching into paint courses, is an upcycling course on the cards for the future? Good thought. We hadn’t thought of that one. If there is a demand we’d certainly do it.
Finally, what’s next for Sugden and Daughters? We are opening another barn shop in September. We’re sticking to the theme of a barn next to a pub. Location number 2 is at The White Horse, Old, Northamptonshire. We’ve also started importing antique French & Indian furniture. Mark is also looking for a workshop premises so that he can concentrate on making country industrial style furniture. There’s no rest for the wicked!
Sugden & Daughters can be found at – 89 High Street, Yardley Hastings, Northants NN7 1ER or online at www.sugdenanddaughters.co.uk.
Also found at Kempton Antiques fair – see Twitter & Facebook for dates