Basket Finds with Lisa Mehydene of edit58
Basket Finds is a series in which I chat to wonderful women who know a thing or two about ‘hunting down’ the perfect basket for their home or their personal style.
This month, I talk to Lisa Mehydene of edit58 about launching and running a small business, collaborating with artisans and our mutual love for baskets (of course)!
I’m really excited to connect with you and thank you so much for your time! I’m obviously very familiar with you and your beautiful business. How long have you been running it now?
We've been running edit58 since 2015. We started at the end of July, so this July it’ll be 6 years. It’s flying by!
I still feel really new, but when you say 6 years, it's not so new. Lots of other companies have come around in that time that can claim to be much younger than we are! But yes, we’re 6 years old now.
Do you still consider yourself a small business?
We absolutely are a small business.
I was in the advertising industry before this, and obviously there are much more stressful jobs, but for me, I found it quite stressful. I found the long hours and being at the beck and call of clients, quite demanding.
So, when I started edit58, I knew that I didn't want it to get to that point again. I didn’t want to get to the point where I was managing loads of people like I was before, where I stepped away from the things that I actually enjoyed.
With advertising, what I loved was the creative product and being at the heart of the process, and the more senior I got - I ended up at board level - I got to the point where I was no longer involved in any of the fun stuff.
You know, you suddenly turn around one day and you realise that you’ve climbed the ladder and that you don’t enjoy your job anymore. I wasn’t on shoots, I wasn’t a part of briefing the creatives and putting briefs together or getting to see the output of the work.
All I was doing was managing people issues, financial issues, clients and it was horrible.
Since launching edit58, I keep this front of mind all the time, so that I never get back to that point where I’m managing people and overseeing, but I’m not a part of the core of it.
I can totally relate coming from the events industry. Can you let us know how it all started?
I’ve touched on the fact that I’ve always been in the creative industry, so that was always a passion - creativity and being a part of the process of creativity.
I was living in London, about the age of 27 I moved overseas and then stayed for 7 years. I then had twins and realised I just couldn’t go back to advertising because it was just too demanding.
We decided to move home, and in the process of moving home, we needed to buy a house - which we did and we did it up remotely.
So by the time we moved home, we were at the point where we just needed to decorate, but we didn't have much stuff because we’d lived in rental properties.
I had imagined that there would have been, in the 7 years that I’d been away, a kind of evolution over in interiors in the UK. That there would be more artisan-led products, the more individual items, so that I wouldn’t need to go to Habitat or Anthropologie to buy.
I thought I could have a bit more of a bespoke feel to my home where it felt more like me and things I love.
The reason I thought that was because while I was away, I travelled quite extensively for myself and for work. We would shoot in places like Morocco or Bali or South Africa, so on my travels I would always make time for shopping.
I would bring things home and decorate my rented house with all these things and friends would come over and say "oh that’s beautiful, next time you go would you get me one?" So I did.
I kind of thought that kind of thing would be happening in the UK, and I would be able to tap into that and buy unique items. I got back here in 2014, and I realised not much had changed since I’d left.
People would go to West Elm to get a rug, or if you had loads of money you’d go to Liberty or you’d get your baskets and stuff from all the usual suspects. It’s massively changed now, but at the time I realised it was really dull!
I don’t want what my neighbours have got. I just wanted some kind of individualism and something that excited me, like the things on my travels but they weren't here.
It got me thinking. I wanted to go back to work but my children were still really young, so I thought could I start something that would fit around my lifestyle.
I’ve always loved interiors, friends always asked where I got things from, and there seemed to be a gap in the market in the UK. I thought I could do this online so I could be there with my kids, and so this nugget of a business idea just kind of emerged.
Over about 6 months I nurtured the idea, really thought about it and went on some buying trips to Morocco, where I had the biggest connection with artisans and suppliers thanks to my previous travels.
From January 2015 to the launch in July, I got a brand organised with the logo and identity, I got the website going, went on trips to buy items. It was always going to be a small little thing, to occupy me and feed me with creativity, and hopefully plug this gap of people wanting more individualised artisan based products from around the world.
So edit58 came to be.
It was always an edit of small items from around the world and it hasn’t changed much since the start.
We started with baskets, rugs, blankets, and cushions. We haven’t gone much further than that, our best products are still rugs, but we have also extended into ceramics and other homeware items. People know what they’re getting when they come here. We won’t suddenly start selling stationery or something, you know what you're getting.
I love this – it really resonates with me. What do you think has been a key driver in the success of edit58? As a small business owner myself, social media has been such a great tool to grow the brand.
Instagram had always been our window to the world.
A friend of mine, who is much more savvy than I am, told me when I was thinking to launch, that I should launch Instagram right then, because then I'd get people that were interested in the journey to starting a business online.
So that’s what I did, and people came along with me on buying trips and as we were getting the brand off the ground!
On the day of launch, we had around 2000 followers, which isn’t huge, but it meant that on the day I pressed live, there were people there and purchases on day one which was really nice. We had people championing it and spreading the word about it because they’d followed our journey.
Our feed is very much a reflection of me, my home and my life. It’s a great way to give a feel for scale and how you could imagine the product in your own life, what you can match it with etc.
Overtime, I’ve come to understand that even though I love interiors, not everyone does and not everyone 'gets it' either.
People come to me and say "I just don’t have the eye, I don’t know how to mix things up". You can fall into the trap of assuming that everyone does know these things, but interiors won't be everyone’s passion, so it helps to showcase items in situ.
I think that’s where we have a strength versus the larger chains because people don’t shop in stores like that now, they are at home they are on their phones.
One of our biggest selling times is 2am in the morning! It’s really interesting that we’re all shopping so different now.
I wanted to talk about the way you collaborate with artisans. Can you tell us a bit more about the process?
Basically, it all stems from the fact that I’m not an artist or an artisan or a creative in that way, not an artist of any kind - although that’s definitely come along throughout the process.
My previous creativity had me as more of a ‘doer’, I was always overseeing the process, so it was all about taking that model and bringing it over to my business. I knew who I wanted to get involved, in order to have a range of products that I loved and I thought would go down well with the audience.
As I said, I had been travelling with work and connected with people, I loved their products and bought lots from them, so when it came to starting the business, I went back to them.
Like the artisans in Morocco who make and embroider baskets, or who I source rugs from there, as well as in Turkey.
Collaborating with artisans is, from day one, how our business is stocked with product. It was just a basic principle that they had this amazing talent and skills, and I had the platform to sell those on in our market.
We still work with the same people now, if they’re in business, and their businesses have grown alongside ours.
It’s a beautiful cyclical system and I love that I can bring those things to my customers. Those individual, bespoke and different items, particularly now as we can’t travel so much, it feels like virtual travel through the products.
The market is completely different now compared to when you launched, your niche is the new ‘fast fashion’ – baskets and rattan everywhere! How do you feel about that?
I love it.
You always have to remember that there wouldn’t be all these businesses if there wasn’t a demand for it. Everyone does their thing and they do it in their way.
I like to think that edit58 holds a certain spot in the market, and everyone does their thing within their spot as well.
We like to think that we give great customer service and a great selection of products, as everything is very considered and carefully curated. It’s always been about the bespoke-ness. Every item, pretty much, is different.
It stems from when I came home and wanted to feel that everything was unique. I don’t want to see 7,000 of the same things out there!
I think that has become quite a thing; we’re all sharing so much on Instagram that you can end up seeing the same thing over and over, but if someone wants something more bespoke, I like to feel that people can come to us.
But I think there’s no harm in there being loads of businesses. It’s through the demand, everyone has their own niche and angle.
The past 14 months we've been stuck at home, so our industry has gone through the roof because we’re all looking around and want to change things up. We want to feel inspired by our surroundings because it’s all we have right now.
Everyone’s into making their spaces as beautiful as can be, so naturally that means that there are more people doing what we do, but it’s nice to see.
Make hay while the sun shines.
I am with you on that! There’s room for everybody. Seeing as you’ve not been able to travel or go on buying trips for the past 14 months, I’d love to know where have you found inspiration?
It can be anywhere!
Sometimes it's based on things I see. I had been at a vintage market and had seen something I wanted, and as I went to pick it up, someone else swiped in and bought it, I’ve not gotten over it! It was about 3 years ago, it was the thing that got away! I kept thinking about it, so I sent a drawing and hoped our supplier in Bali could make it, and they said yes.
Or generally, the products come from a need or desire for something in my home that I can’t find. Like the enamel jug, I wanted an art piece that wasn’t so precious that it would break if my kids knocked it over.
I get inspired by vintage shopping, I love a mooch around antique shops, museums and art galleries. Or by my travels or fabrics. Lots of things!
I read online that your husband gifted you a Japanese block print for your wedding, can you tell us more about it?
It’s really beautiful.
My bridesmaid gave it to me before we went to the church and it was so touching and unexpected, because it was so out of the blue and just amazing.
I love it. He had remembered that I had seen a similar print and really wanted it and got one for me - it’s an original from 1934.
It’s so nice to have such a memento of the day, I love art for that. We gift each other art for special occasions and it takes you back, it has that longevity and lovely connotations.
How would you describe your personal style?
I always say I’m quite traditional with a twist.
I like there to be something that’s a little bit off, it comes back to that personal thing. I love an injection of something that’s a bit interesting. Interesting colour or fabrics, traditional with an eclectic twist to mix it up.
As a fellow basket fanatic, I have to ask you, do you have one basket or woven product that's special to you in your home?
I’ve got so many baskets that I would pick!
One is a handbag basket. It's a box basket lined with a beautiful vintage fabric with a tortoiseshell resin handle. I use it every summer. I got it at a vintage market for £30 and it just makes me so happy. It’s one of those things that I wear and always get asked about it.
So, what’s coming up for edit58?
Lots of exciting things!
We’ve just launched our Rattan Ripple Trays and we've also go a cushion collaboration with Salvesen Graham, and then lighting! We've worked with a Cotswolds producer who hand turns beautiful lamp bases and we’ve made shades to go with them.
Lots of fun stuff coming up.
Amazing, we'll keep our eyes peeled! Thank you so much for chatting with us, we can't wait to see all of the exciting news things you've got planned.