Small Brand Spotlight: Late Afternoon

Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.

From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week, we chat with Rose Robertson and Claire Haddon-Lowson, the founders of artisanal homeware brand Late Afternoon.

How did Late Afternoon come to life?

We are very old friends of 27 years and the business emerged from a shared interest in homewares and a hobby of finding pieces, brands and solutions to problems when trying to create our own homes.

We were stumped by unattainable luxury, and put off by the homogeny of the high street; that feeling when you arrive at a mate’s house and they have the same cushion/plate/glass from the same store. But mostly, we hated that feeling of disappointment that comes when you buy something that looks incredible in the photos but when you touch it, you realise it’s a cheap version of something that could have been beautiful.

When you buy pieces that are well made and beautiful you feel delight when you unwrap them and pleasure in using them every day. We wanted to find products that could give you that feeling, at a price that was more accessible than the luxury market.

We had the advantage of on-the-ground access to makers in Spain that aren’t available in the UK market that answered the brief, which felt like a great place to start and our roots are with artisans, approach and colours from there, but our future is broader in scope.

What three words describe Late Afternoon?

Colourful, curated, artisanal.

Who is Late Afternoon for?

For those who really care about the pieces that they invite into their home. Those who are seeking pieces as unique as they are to create homes that reflect their personalities. They are proud to serve a negroni in a beautiful hand-made glass. They care that fabrics are made from hand-dyed yarns by fourth-generation artisans. They understand value beyond price (although fair pricing is an important feature of the brand). We call our pieces heirlooms-to-be because they will last long and hopefully be treasured for a long time.

How do you find your artisans? And what’s your design process?

It can be anything from sitting at our favourite restaurant in Madrid and asking about where they got a piece of pottery, to a deep dive into the best producer of a certain thing we know we want, such as the hand-painted fajalauza Granadan ceramics which have been made in the same way for hundreds of years. We also have some products that we really want to make because we feel they are an underserved area and we are in the process of finding the best people to work with.

It’s always so hard to say where a design idea comes from. Sometimes it’s a random thought, sketched on the bus. Sometimes, it’s a colour combination taken from a painting. Our new rugs collection is inspired by Meditteranean architecture absorbed on our travels, shadowed arches and strong, yet muted tones.

What does a typical day look like for you?

One day you’re dealing with logistics all day: trucks, delivery notes and VAT receipts. Next day you’re designing a collection of table linens and excitedly ordering samples. The day after that you’re on a shoot, directing a shot list with a photographer. Then you’re doing your accounts, writing a press release and building a newsletter whilst an HGV delivers two pallets to your studio. There is no typical day.

What’s the best thing about running your own business? And the most challenging?

The best thing is that you’re the creator of your own successes. And in the same vein, you’re the only one there to deal with the challenges. You learn so much every day, which is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes exhausting. Having your own business is continuous problem solving.

The best moment so far?

Walking into Liberty and seeing our pieces there, less than one year after we launched. Liberty is arguably the best shop in the world and a style icon, so we were extremely pleased when they approached us.

Which piece is your favourite?

Claire: The hand-made tumblers are my favourite (and the favourite in general). You can use them everyday and they really do bring such joy.

Rose: The Lumbar cushions are really fantastic. It’s hard to find anything like this on the market, especially at this price/quality ratio.

Anything exciting in the pipeline?

We’re very excited about our imminent launch of our first collection of handwoven rugs this March. Our production partner works with talented rural artisans in India, many of whom are women who would be unable to work outside the home. They also make sure working conditions are certified with the Good Weave and Rug Mark standards, meaning no slave labour, no child labour and decent working conditions.

We’re also very excited for our next line of pieces launching this spring at Liberty London – we’ve got exclusive colours and pieces that will only be available there.

YOU’s 3 favourite things:

terrazzo tumbler
Late Afternoon

Terrazzo Tumbler, £26, Late Afternoon

serving bowl
Late Afternoon

Pink Circus Serving Bowl, £42, Late Afternoon

stripe cushion

Garden Stripe Small Lumbar Cushion, £70, Late Afternoon

Shop Late Afternoon at lateafternoon.co.uk and follow @lateafternoon.home.