Lemonlu London offers rarely seen items from all over the world. Can you tell us how you built up your network of international artisan suppliers?
Imagine how great it would have been if when you'd gone travelling you'd had enough money and space in your rucksack to buy all the amazing things you saw in the markets along the way. Well now you can. Lemonlu London founder Fiona McBrien has gathered together a stunning collection of jewellery, homeware and gifts from all over the world, from Syrian recycled glass lanterns to metal buckheads from South Africa.
I source in two ways: 1. Over the years, whenever I've travelled, I've taken the details from interesting suppliers. I try to travel as much as I can now too, and even on holiday I'm on the lookout for new products to add to the range. 2. I'm always on the lookout for products imported by other European importers. I go to as many Europeans fairs as I can, and use a network of trusted contacts to find more potential suppliers.
You sum up your philosophy as "Urban. Ethnic. Chic." Can you expand on that?
Ethnic often has a certain connotation that unfortunately isn't always positive. I thought about not using it and then decided that it should be put into context. All the products are modern takes on traditional designs or production methods – ethnic in origin, but urban and chic in style.
Do you have a favourite country in terms of sourcing products for the site?
Ooohhh. Hard to choose... I love sourcing from Syria and I know that very few products make their way from there to the UK, which is a real shame. I also love Laos and have been working on sourcing products from there. Those products will be introduced in the coming months!
What are your top three current favourite products and what are the stories behind them?
I love the metal Buckheads and have a white one on my purple kitchen wall. Looks really funky!
I go everywhere with my Naughty Newspaper Sponge Bag. It spent 6 weeks squashed into my backpack recently when I was travelling around South East Asia and impressively still looks like new.
I also love the lemonlu tealight holder sets. I have 2 sets of them displayed on a windowsill in front of my white plantation shutters. They are the first product I designed myself and I'm proud of them! I started out wanting to have an etched version of Lemonlu's logo but found that it just wouldn't work – what we ended up with is even better than the original idea though!
What would you most like people to say about Lemonlu London?
That our range stands out from the crowd... that all the products are high quality, original and eye-catching.
What would you recommend from the site for: i) a best friend's birthday; ii) a wedding gift; and iii) a housewarming gift?
i) For the wow factor, all of our Ottoman jewellery range. In particular the Natural Turquoise earrings.
ii) The lemonlu lighting has been consistently popular on wedding lists – either the gemstone lights or the white painted lights.
iii) What better housewarming gift than a set of tealight holders lined with real gold leaf – chic, original and affordable! They throw a beautiful warm glow around the room and are always a talking point.
What next for Lemonlu London?
We've been overwhelmed by the amazing response to our lighting range and have decided to expand the range with more lighting from around the world. We already have a number of great lamps and lampshades lined up that will be added to our range in the next few months.