Vintage shopping is seeing (another) renaissance on Instagram right now, and with the rise of online shopping thanks to the current climate, more and more creatives are turning their skills to sourcing and selling unique items through the app and beyond.
One such creative, is Sophie. We first met (and worked) together over 7 years ago in our past lives as an event manager and PR.
Sophie has recently turned her love for vintage and one off pieces into a thriving business.
I sat down with her (virtually!) to chat all things homeware, sustainable shopping and new trends to keep an eye on.
Hi Sophie, we’ve known each other for years. Would you mind giving a little intro to yourself, who you are, what you do, and where you're from…
Hi Tabara! Of course - I’m Sophie, the founder of One Off Piece, an online homeware shop and sourcing service that launched in July 2020. After living and working in London for 9 years, I have recently relocated to St Leonards on Sea in East Sussex, where I’m loving the slower pace of life and beautiful scenery.
Though I do miss London, and once the world is on its feet again, I can’t wait to travel in for projects, collaborations, and of course to see friends.
Let’s talk about One Off Piece, your online vintage store selling beautiful, unique pieces. You mention that the name came from an instant love for a green marble-topped cabinet sink - could you tell us a little about that? Do you still have it?
Yes, I do! It’s currently sitting in the garage at my Dad’s house, whilst I find somewhere more permanent down here, which is a crying shame! But I’m hoping to be able to install it soon.
I actually bought it down here a couple of years ago, from a local maker who upcycles vintage cabinets and pairs them with antique bowls to make beautiful vanity units.
When I bought it, my family asked me why on earth I was buying a vanity unit down here when I lived in a rented house in London - my answer was “it’s a one off piece”. I knew I’d never find the exact same piece again, and so despite not having a home or bathroom to put it in, I just couldn’t let it pass me by!
That's brilliant! When you know, you know. What inspired you to launch One Off Piece?
I am never happier than when pottering around antiques markets and shops, looking for treasure, and I love finding items with a story and a past life that will inject character and individuality into a home.
"I soon realised there was a real demand for unique, beautiful pieces, and One Off Piece followed"
For years I dreamed about running my own homeware shop, but until recently, I didn’t have the time or the confidence to go for it. So, when, like many, I was furloughed from my job back in the summer, I decided to use my time to do something creative, and set up an Instagram account to share my love of vintage homeware.
I soon realised there was a real demand for unique, beautiful pieces, and One Off Piece followed.
How has it been to start a business during an incredibly tough and constantly changing time?
Some days it can be tough, simply because you’re stuck at home all the time, and can’t go out and meet people and be inspired by your surroundings.
"it also gave me the opportunity to launch something that I really love, so for that I am very grateful"
But I’m very lucky that I can run the shop remotely, and although the past year has been challenging for everyone, it also gave me the opportunity to take a step back from the distractions of the day-to-day, and launch something that I really love, so for that I am very grateful.
When you were still living in London, I loved how you were cycling around and delivering orders in person! What would you say is the most exciting thing about your business?
No two items are the same, and I think that’s what excites people!
The element that I find most rewarding is sending off orders to customers, knowing that these beautiful pieces with stories behind them will soon be enjoyed all over again in new homes.
And the most challenging?
Working alone, and having to source purely online whilst markets and shops aren’t currently open - I can’t tell you how excited I am to get out and source pieces in person again - even if it does usually mean getting up at the crack of dawn so as not to miss out on the best pieces.
Early bird catches the worm!
It's clear you have a passion (and fantastic eye!) for vintage, is there one piece you were planning to sell but can’t let go of?
I’m totally amazed that so far I haven’t caved in and kept anything for myself. I think it helps that I’m just too excited to share finds with my customers to keep anything to myself.
I am very tempted to keep a set of beautiful vintage French pink stemmed glasses that I’ve just sourced, but I will resist!
You mention that vintage is not just unique, but also a sustainable way to shop. Is this something you see growing in interest for the average shopper?
Absolutely. There is definitely an appetite to shop more sustainably and more locally, as people become more aware of the issues with mass produced homeware.
"Not only is buying vintage the most sustainable choice, you are filling your home with truly unique and quality pieces"
But, as with fast fashion, there is still a long way to go. Not only is buying vintage the most sustainable choice, it also means that you are filling your home with truly unique and quality pieces that you will treasure.
What trends should we be keeping an eye out for? Your pieces are, as the name suggests, one off - so what can't we afford to miss?
I love how interior trends come back around, meaning amazing vintage pieces from decades ago are now back in demand!
My favourite trends at the moment are anything gingham, scalloped or shell shaped, and you’ll see all these trends reflected in the shop.
New trends to look out for are porcelain and onyx decorative fruit, and anything chequerboard, thanks to The Queen's Gambit! But I also love classic blue and white ceramics because they are always beautiful, and will never go out of fashion.
"New trends to look out for are anything chequerboard, thanks to The Queen's Gambit"
Rattan will also always be a winner. I have some beautiful bamboo and rattan lamp shades arriving soon, which I can’t wait to share.
I’m a big fan (of course!) of the woven ceramics you currently have, do you have a favourite product right now?
That’s easy - I have a gorgeous and rare 1960s Italian ceramic basket planter in the shop currently, and I just love how chunky the weave is!
A growing online presence, a feature in British Vogue... what's next for One Off Piece?
For now, I’m focused on finding the best vintage pieces I possibly can for customers, but in the near future I plan to collaborate with artisan makers on some limited edition bespoke One Off Piece products, inspired by my favourite vintage finds - all one of a kind, of course.
I am also excited to get stuck into some more commissions, including sourcing for a boutique staycation project launching this year!
Thank you so much Sophie!
Don't miss One Off Piece's next drop on Tuesday 20 April 2021 and follow on Instagram for the heads up on fortnightly stock drops.