She may not think she's that funky and her name certainly isn't Olive, but one thing is certain; Sophie Handa's randomly named Funky Olive boutique is definitely worth a look. First of all, we have to ask about the name...where did it come from?
I get asked this question quite often and it always makes me smile as I don't think I'm that funky and my name's not Olive! When I first started out six years ago I just designed and made gemstone & silver jewellery. I wanted a name that would be a memorable one but also not remotely related to jewellery in the hope that one day I could expand the business into other areas. At the time of trying to find a name I was out visiting my parents in sunnier climes and one day I literally sat out with a piece of paper, divided into two columns, and just wrote anything and everything that came into my head. Drawing upon my surroundings for inspiration I came up with a shortlist of names, then when I got home, I did my research and ended up with Funky Olive. It's a name that's firmly stuck but also has allowed me to grow over the years.
How would you describe what Funky Olive offers to someone who had never seen the site?
Funky Olive is a collection of handcrafted jewellery, accessories and gorgeous gifts for you and your home. I feel our collections offer customers something a little bit different to what they would find either on the high street or online. Where possible, we support British designed and made products or, if not, products come from Fair Trade organisations and I think the quirky mix of the two sit well together. A lot of thought and love has gone into the choosing and manufacture of the products we sell.
Being such a small company, I feel we truly offer customers a good personal service, which in this day and age is rare but so incredibly important and hopefully always remembered! I also believe we offer customers good value for money and always strive to keep our prices competitive. William Morris's words, to: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" also applies to the Funky Olive collections, in that everything we stock we know to be useful or believe to be beautiful!
Which other homeware/lifestyle shops and sites do you love?
There are so many out there now and I think it's becoming increasingly hard these days to stand out and be different (something I'm always striving to achieve). I'm a huge fan of small online company Cox and Cox and although they're a competitor, I do find myself drawing inspiration from them and have ordered several things from them for my own home over the years! I also love Heals. There is also a whole host of design/lifestyle blogs out there and I could easily while away several hours reading them. These would have to include Style Made Simple by Victoria Harrison, Decor8 by Holly Becker and also The Row House Nest to name just a few.
You're about to add a vintage, recycled and antique section to the site – please tell us about that.
This has been something I've wanted to do for a long while now. Vintage is still huge especially these days as more and more people are adopting the 'make do and mend' mentality. I've also had a long standing fascination with old things, wondering who's owned them previously and how they've been used. My husband and I try to travel each year, and I always incorporate a buying trip to India at some point during the year to visit family & friends (my husband is Indian and was born in Delhi). I'm always on the lookout for unusual objects but there's always the difficulty of getting them home so things I pick up tend to have to fit into a large suitcase! Whilst I've collected a few pieces over the last few months mainly from antiques fairs, which are for sale in my studio, unfortunately 'life' has got in the way a bit and the project hasn't quite got off the ground yet...but watch this space!
You're a designer/maker yourself. Do you sell your own work on the site?
Yes I am and I do have a very small collection of pieces on the Funky Olive website. I've always been a sucker for both colour and shiny things so being a jewellery designer combined those passions perfectly! I'm in the process of making big changes to the website right now and am hoping to incorporate a lot more of my designs. Many of the pieces I make are one-offs or I limit the numbers I make of them, keeping them relatively exclusive but in turn it makes it incredibly time consuming putting everything on the website as they've often sold before I get the chance! But fingers crossed in the coming months, things will change and you'll see much more of my work online.
If you could only save five Funky Olive items from a fire which would they be and why?
Oh crikey...I was asked a similar question to this not so long ago as a photographer friend of mine was doing a project called 'Just One Thing' and you had to save just one thing if the house was on fire! I deliberated for such a long time over that as whilst I have many precious things, most of which would ultimately be replaceable.
My studio houses all my work and is also a showroom for the business and it's equally hard to narrow down exactly what I'd save. I think it would have to be my two beautiful vintage 1930s French mannequins, both of whom have seen better days, but that's what makes them beautiful and I love them. Most of my stock, whilst lovely, would be replaceable with my suppliers. However, I am keen to support small British designer makers so there are several pieces in my studio that have been exclusively made for me and are unique, never to be repeated so I would also have to grab them.
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