Today I’m here to share the third interview in my new Behind The Biz series. These interviews explore small businesses, the people behind them and their business journey.
Today’s interview is with Paul, the co-founder of Vintage Matters.
Where did the inspiration for Vintage Matters come from?
Vintage Matters is the brainchild of sourcing & merchandise specialist, Paul Cody and creative designer and interior architect, Tom Edington. Paul and Tom live in Camberwell, South London and it is their shared passion for vintage homeware, typography, architecture and well-designed product that has shaped Vintage Matters.
Our aim is to help curate a unique personality for your home or business, with an eclectic mix of product, both vintage and new, that happily sit alongside each other. We enjoy the excitement and anticipation of finding characterful pieces on our travels, then taking those pieces and curating them with new product to bring an environment to life.
We are working in the commercial sector supplying designers, retailers, restaurateurs, hoteliers and set designers, as well as curating COLLECTIONS for our online store.
Today’s consumer has so much choice, it often limits people’s creativity, which is why Vintage Matters have chosen to compose COLLECTIONS of product that compliment each other, offering a limited number of collections at any time. You will still be able to shop from PAST COLLECTIONS, but we want to continually surprise and delight you with our new finds.
We want to create an engaging platform that is constantly evolving, to keep people and businesses inspired!
How did you decide upon the name of your brand?
It was a “eureka” moment – I just woke up one morning with the name in my head and it suited what we were doing perfectly!
What did you do before starting Vintage Matters?
I had worked for over 20 years with a specialist American homeware retailer, called Williams-Sonoma, who also own Pottery Barn and West Elm (who now have a store on Tottenham Court Road), managing their UK Office. We worked with various suppliers all over Europe, sourcing and working on product development, as well as buying antiques and vintage pieces for the stores.
In November 2014, the decision was made to close both the UK and French offices, which gave Tom & I the platform to launch Vintage Matters, something we had been talking about for a while.
Tom still works as an Associate Director of Branded Environments at a London-based design studio, but helps out hugely on our various buying trips, pop-ups, photography and editing.
Did you always plan to be self-employed?
No, not for a long time. However, after working in a corporate environment for so long, it was refreshing to be away from all of that and to be my own boss and focus on something that we are both passionate about.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Keeping on top of social media and to try to make it interesting and relevant.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
Social media is crucial to us as a small business to help get our brand name out there, so people and businesses will remember us, when they happen to look for something vintage, for their home or workplace.
Instagram is our favourite, as it is so visual and it is a great platform for showcasing our various products that come online. We have almost 600 followers in 6 months and 500 followers on Twitter.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
Our launch on October 1st 2015, after many, many months hard work and seeing the website go live.
Also, a project to supply vintage furniture and accessories to a new commercial space in Old Street.
We were given a brief from the designer’s to source and supply vintage and characterful pieces for the welcome, social and meeting spaces throughout the office. We went out into the markets sourcing leather sofas, armchairs, school chairs and various accessories that reflected the personality of the brand. It was hugely satisfying to see it all in situ, in the new space.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Keep at it and don’t give up! Be patient, which is hard sometimes, but work hard and diligently and the business will start to grow.
Spend time working on the social medias channels, or focus on just one, as this will really help get your name or brand into the marketplace.
Tell me more about your vintage letters:
We source our letters from all over the globe, from the USA to Europe and have now become one of the largest retailers of vintage letters and letter lights, with more than 150 available online. Our customers really connect with these, as they are so personal.
Our vintage letter lights are hugely popular, but they generally come to us in a very run down state, so we start by giving them a really good clean, making good any dents and removing all the old neon tubes and wiring. We then recondition them with LED’s and a new UK 3 pin plug.
Who have you recently supplied?
We have recently supplied the following with either furniture or accessories:
Shinola – new Soho store in Foubert’s place
Le Labo – new store in Berlin and London
The Life Goddess – restaurant in Store Street, London
Ludlow Blunt Salon, New York
Taskmaster – props for the comedy series on TV Dave
Where do you hope to take your business in 2016?
We want to work more in the commercial sector, supplying vintage furniture and accessories to businesses, retailers, restaurants, hotels, cafes and bars.
We are also looking for an ideal location to have our first store, most likely somewhere in South London.
Thank you so much to Paul for taking the time to be involved with Behind The Biz. I really enjoyed finding out more about Vintage Matters and I hope you did too. I can’t wait for the Vintage Matters store.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed today’s interview and don’t forget to check out last week’s interview with the founder of CHASH Tea. If you fancy getting involved with Behind The Biz please leave a comment below or drop me a message over on Twitter.