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 Alice Lewin Smith, founder of Originals Studio, which sells a hand-curated selection of independent, vintage and homemade homeware and gifting products.
How did Originals Studio come about?
I set up an illustration business a year ago as a bit of a hobby, however, my real passion has always been interiors and I am a complete magpie with a real creative streak. I take huge pride and pleasure in styling my home and space and wanted to see if this was something I could translate into my own brand.
Over New Year 2020, after what was the most intense year of my professional life, working flat-out full time through the pandemic (I am Head of Digital Marketing at Oliver Bonas), I just thought ‘right, let’s do this as a creative escape and a passion project’. I spent that weekend building my website and sourcing my first few products and the rest is history.
I launched on 1 January 2021. My initials are ALS so that fits perfectly on the end of OriginALS (I got engaged a few months ago and luckily my initials will be the same even after getting married). The name really translates to our goal of showcasing unique products, which are usually small runs of carefully considered products or one-off vintage pieces that can be styled together in an original way.
What three words would you use to describe Originals Studio?
Unique, stylish, inspirational.
Who is the Originals Studio customer?
Our most regular customer is a forward-thinking woman in her 20-30s who seeks out unique and stylish pieces for her home and to gift her friends. That being said, we have all sorts of customers and we love absolutely every single one of them!
How do you source the pieces you stock?
The business and all my buying decisions are based on the premise that I will not sell anything that I would not have in my own home, or wear myself. I spend hours working with suppliers from all over the world and UK small businesses to source the best products for our ranges. I also handpick vintage one-offs which are sold alongside these collections, they make everything feel much more unique and special and I love to style vintage items with our other lines.
Is the brand striving to be sustainable in any ways?
Yes absolutely, encouraging people to buy preloved or vintage pieces is a great way to reduce waste and I hope we can inspire people to see how magic they can look alongside other more modern pieces. Our own brand prints and cards are printed on sustainable museum-grade eco Hahnemuhle Agave paper. Our packaging is also recyclable (paper tape and cardboard) and we reuse bubble wrap from our supplier orders so that does not go to waste.
Which piece is your current favourite?
We’ve just launched our new bag range which I have been test driving in the last month. I adore the large woven tote – it is the ideal summer bag and I have had lots of compliments already. Other than that we did a candle collaboration with the mental health charity Mind If I Share, which was so rewarding – we sold out in a few weeks and raised over £150 for charity.
Anything exciting planned for this year?
Well, I can’t really say for now but I will have much more time to focus on the business soon. Working full time and running a small business is a lot and now our social lives are happening again it is a big challenge. We have a beautiful new dinnerware range dropping soon and lots more exciting small businesses that we are in talks with – watch this space!