What is Homeward Studio?
An independent home store selling a hand-picked collection of goods. Our new and vintage homeware is sourced from antique fairs, markets, craft shows and open studios or bought direct from designers and creators.
We favour independent small-batch makers over bigger brands and the mass-produced. One half of our interiors shop is a growing range of new, handmade pieces from a community of craftspeople. These items are consciously made, always considered and never rushed.
The other half is made up of timeless functional vintage items, such as enamelware and hand-dyed vintage French linen. We pick up useful everyday items like Dutch enamel bread bins and vintage bathroom fittings whenever we spot them and we restore and reupholster vintage chairs by classic British furniture brands such as Ercol and Ben Chairs.
We look for good materials and well-made objects that have substance, style and stories to tell – we opt for quality and authenticity over fads, fashion and trends. We like to think that everything at Homeward Studio is honest, thoughtfully designed and made with care. We use natural, ethical and recycled materials wherever possible and often choose natural dyes, wool, linen, cotton and screen or block printed woven fabrics.
We love a well loved and lived-in home, made up of inspiring creative spaces full of personal and found objects – a feather, 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 surrounding 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 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 artifacts 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 in to the world of vintage buying. She went to auctions and antique fairs, and sold at local markets and fairs like Treacle Market in Macclesfield and Haddon Hall in Derbyshire. It was here that Homeward Store took root, when Nicky carried 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. She loves nothing more than helping customers pick out fabric to restore a well-loved vintage chair and make it fit with their homes.
Homeward Store is always evolving. 2020 has seen 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 products on the way. We have added more makers to our folio and we’re always trying to keep putting the good stuff out there.
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. 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 and cushions.
When it comes to upholstery, we are deliberate in our choice of cloth. 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, wool and cotton.
Its heartening to see that some of the larger fabric suppliers we use carry eco labels and environmental standards certificates for many of their ranges such as the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certificates which certifies they have been tested for harmful substances. There is 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.
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.
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.
It’s important to know our products’ provenance and we’re committed to seeking out those with traceable sources wherever possible. For example, we know Thorody’s printed linen is made from traceable flax as Vicky and Theo at Thorody have visited the Belgian mills and fields that are used to produce it.
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.
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. The beauty of this is that we can often ask for custom or bespoke colourways and designs, which guarantees the originality of our product range. Not only is this hugely satisfying and enjoyable, but it means we get to know our suppliers who naturally seem like minded. We only ever want to deal with good folks.
Our product range is mainly UK made. It’s important that we invest in our 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.
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.