Our Story

What is Homeward Studio?

An independent interiors store selling a hand-picked collection of useful and beautiful goods for your home. We showcase a growing range of new, handmade pieces from a community of talented artists, craftspeople and makers.

We focus on providing good quality, timeless and functional everyday items, alongside beautifully handmade small-batch one-offs. 

We scour the antique fairs for good quality, useful items that will stand the test of time. We also hunt out pieces of furniture to restore and reupholster so that you can reuse these wonderful items in your homes.

We restore and reupholster vintage chairs too by classic British furniture brands such as Ercol and Ben Chairs. 

Opting for quality and authenticity over fads, fashion and trends, we look for good materials and well-made objects that have substance, style and stories to tell. We like to think that everything at Homeward Store is honest, thoughtfully designed and made with care.

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Independent interiors shop

We love a well-loved and lived-in home, made up of inspiring creative spaces full of personal and found objects – a feather, a pebble, something gathered from a walk, or a memento from a special trip, mixed with collections by your favourite designer, potter or artist. Homes are places to pause, relax and enjoy and being surrounded by these things is ultimately good for the soul.

This is Homeward Studio’s philosophy and we have built our collection with this way of living in mind.

Who is Homeward Studio?

Nicky Hancock, shopkeeper, shop front, independent shop, small business, support small business, high street shop, totally locally leek

Nicky Hancock is primarily a painter, who went on to be a specialist decorator in residential interiors. When she set up Homeward Studio in 2014, it was a culmination of nearly two decades spent in London – first at uni and then as a specialist decorator, experiencing everything great that London had to offer and time spent with creative folk and friends.

She set out on her creative path leaving school at 16 to do a BTEC in General Art and Design, exploring photography, textiles, pottery and mixed media, which led her to a Fine Art Painting degree at East London University. It was in her final year at uni that she got a part-time job at Neal Street East, a wonderful home and lifestyle emporium in Covent Garden. It was a well-loved and influential shop selling textiles, jewellery, cookware, books and prints from around the world with a focus on China, India and Japan. It was where her love of shop life and interesting artefacts and antiques truly began.

After graduation in the early 90s she tried out many things, briefly dipping into work in fringe theatre for a friend and then starting her first full-time creative job in a commercial paint studio creating backdrops and props for retail display.

She set up her own decorating business and as a specialist paint finisher and gilder, decorated anything from nightclubs, hotels and bars to beautiful homes in and around London. She spent the best part of 20 years working closely alongside people in their own houses and it was here that she developed a real sense of how important adding detail is to making a home. Acting as a sounding board for her private customers she was able to draw on her many visits to galleries, trade shows and design festivals and put her painting skills and colour sense to good use. This was the best part of the job – bringing a room together, advising on paint and unearthing a customer’s personal style. She loved mixing colour by eye to match a room’s wallpapers and textiles and she applied bespoke paint finishes to walls, furniture, and rooms, using traditional decorating techniques like gilding and glazing on architectural details.

Nicky returned north to afford herself a studio space and a bit of thinking time. She did a spell of volunteering in the wallpaper archive at Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery, helping sort through the archives and pattern books. This became a huge source of inspiration and nurtured her interest in the history of interiors and design.

Settling into life in the Staffordshire market town of Leek on the edge of the Peak District, Nicky was inevitably drawn into the world of vintage buying. She went to auctions and antique fairs, and sold at local markets and fairs like Treacle Market in Macclesfield, Makers at the Mill in New Mills Derbyshire and Haddon Hall near Bakewell. It was here that Homeward Studio took root, when Nicky combined her days as a specialist painter and interior consultant with her love of home and beautifully made things.

Today, she curates, buys and sources all this lovely stuff for her independent interiors shop. She loves nothing more than helping customers pick out fabric to restore a well-loved vintage chair and make it fit with their homes.

2020 saw us collaborate with Jacob Littlejones Furniture to develop and produce the Ette Range, a small-batch, made-to-order collection of handcrafted mid-century style stools and benches, with more designs, shapes and sizes added in 2022. We’ve added more makers to our folio too over the last couple of years as we strive to always keep putting the good stuff out there.

Homeward Studio is evolving and sees us open our very own retail space in Spring 2023! Watch this space! We are very excited.

Sustainability

We consider carefully what all our stock items are made from and how they are made. We look for quality and longevity and good design. 

As a small business we think hard about what we put out there. We aim to offer you items that are carefully chosen with genuine concern about the impact they will have on the environment. We focus on provenance, quality, the materials used to make them, their usefulness and lasting appeal.

It was during my time as a decorator and working in some beautiful homes that my eyes were opened to the fact that so much ‘stuff’ is bought without knowing where it was made, what it was made from, or who made it. For those who can, I think it’s important to invest in ‘good things’ and make your hard-earned cash count and make a difference.

With a background in making and process, I have a natural curiosity for how things are made and I feel an affinity with hand crafted and small batch. I feel a real connection with talented makers and practical folks. All this is at the centre of Homeward Studio and is what makes me happy. 

Running a small creative business that is mindful and tries its best to have sustainability  as a priority is a constant challenge, a continuing learning journey with lots of questions raised along the way. It inspires me to make my product range, business practice and the suppliers I work with as true, authentic and kind to people and planet as possible.

Below are the fundamental basics we have in place to manage and minimise the impact our activities have on the environment.

Save, reuse, repurpose

As natural hoarders, we hang on to lots of things that come through our studio. We will always save a vintage hinge or handle from a broken piece of furniture and would never dream of sending them to landfill. We carefully sort through remnants of cloth from our upholstery projects and turn them into new things like lampshades, cushions and seat pads.

Local traders

To minimise our road miles, we use local traders as much as we can. For anything we can’t do in the studio ourselves, we make sure to use local skills and services. Most of these people are within a 30-mile radius of our studio. Our tools, materials and general supplies are mostly bought from local businesses. For example our upholsterers are in Leek, Macclesfield and Stafford, our cushions are made here in Leek by a small local business and our Ette range is handmade just up the road from us.

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Natural materials

We choose items that are made from single materials as they can be easily recyclable, which means they can be used again and again and stay out of landfill

There are so many new exciting materials being developed using ‘waste’ from post-consumer, post-industrial sources, including sheet materials made from waste wood and waste plastics that can be made into furniture and home accessories.

We stock natural cork coasters instead of melamine or plastic coated board, we choose natural British beeswax and soy wax instead of wax containing synthetic fragrance or petrochemicals. 

We mostly use British wool cushion fillers or, as a vegan alternative, an eco fibre filling, which is made from ocean plastics. 

We are proud to be working with brilliant fabric designers who consciously make their textiles in the UK with natural materials such as flax, linen and wool and non-toxic water-based inks. 

When it comes to upholstery, we are deliberate in our choice of cloth. Some of our upholstery fabrics are made from 100% recycled post-consumer polyester. We are heartened to see that there are more clever environmentally conscious fabrics being developed by some of the larger fabric suppliers, including fabrics made from 100% recycled polyester and other recycled waste materials. We look for cloth made from upcycled cottons or post-consumer recycled plastic yarns too and we will continue to source and expand the range of fabrics which meet all these standards.

We look out for eco labels and environmental standards certificates on fabrics such as the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certificates, which certifies they have been tested for harmful substances. There is also the voluntary EU Ecolabel, which covers the environmental sensitivity of the product throughout its lifecycle, from extraction of the raw material to its production and fitness for use and we look out this this too.

Traceable sources

It’s important to know our products’ provenance and we’re committed to seeking out those with traceable sources wherever possible. 

For example, our Ette Range is purposely made with locally sourced timber from the Staffordshire/Shropshire border. The timber is felled and seasoned within its own estate and we are lucky enough to handpick it from a sustainably managed supply.

We will always double check our suppliers’ policies to ensure they aren’t just paying lip service to important issues in the supply of fair trade products and materials and we have to be confident in their conduct, supply chain and working conditions.

Small-scale suppliers

We prefer to source from small design studios, individual makers and independent small businesses, supporting the community by buying directly from them and selling directly to our customers. We like to think of our suppliers as people we’d like to hang out with, like-minded good folk who share the same concerns and ethics as us.

British made

Our product range is mainly UK made as we think it’s important to invest in our home-grown skills and craftspeople in order to help our local economy thrive. The ‘makers movement’ is booming and we love nothing more than finding talented people that have spent years refining their skills.

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Recycled packaging

We use recycled and recyclable packaging wherever possible. Most importantly, we reuse packaging we receive ourselves, so your parcel might not always be the prettiest. But rest assured, it won’t compromise the quality of your delivery – your parcel will be safe, secure and environmentally friendly.

Our goods are wrapped with recycled paper, our cardboard boxes are recyclable, our tape is made with brown paper and our void-fill chips are plant-based and 100% biodegradable. Even our ‘bubble wrap’ is made from recyclable paper. If you spot any plastic bubble wrap in your parcel, don’t worry we’ll be reusing stuff we’ve received already and hope that you can try and reuse it too and help to keep it out of landfill.

Made to last

We’re against throwaway culture and the single-use approach to products, so we sell things of good quality to treasure and keep.

We love the heritage, quality and provenance of vintage furniture, so we do our best to sympathetically restore and repair it. We love bringing perfectly good items back to life and up to date and help people to reuse and enjoy them in their modern homes for years to come.

If you have any questions about the sustainability of Homeward Store, please get in touch – we’d love to share ideas on how we can build a more ethical collection.