Bohemia Design – Exotic Handmade Homewares & Accessories
There is a shop in Edinburgh we really want to tell our followers all about. Bohemia Design wants to play a part in the survival of traditional artesanal skills and are hence stocking beautifully crafted items made by artisans who work using traditional techniques in India, Morocco and Turkey. This is the place to shop at if you want to add that trendy bohemian vibe to your home or your outfit – whilst knowing you’re supporting a good cause.
The best way to tell you more about this fabulous business is to let founder Jenny Lockton take over. So keep reading to learn about the story behind Bohemia Design and to find out how to enter our competition where you can win a stunning Moroccan leather pouffe worth £100 that Bohemia Design is very kindly giving away!
1. What was the inspiration behind Bohemia Design and how did it all get started?
I started my first business many years ago as a picture framer working for artists, photographers and galleries in Edinburgh and further afield. Through this I met a lot of talented craftspeople and artists which lead to me opening my first exhibition space, The Blackadder Gallery, in Stockbridge in the 1980s. Over the following years I have opened innovative concept stores in some of the city’s most interesting streets, Broughton Street, Dundas Street, Morningside Road and Roseneath Street. Bohemia opened in Marchmont 11 years ago and occupies a fabulous corner property in this friendly, community-focussed neighbourhood.
Bohemia came about as an extension of my interest in travel and handcrafted products. My degree in Social Anthropology also sparked a fascination for understanding how small, family run businesses operate, and how artisanal skills are passed down from one generation to the next. In India for example, each craft technique belongs to a specific caste or tribe and we work here with traditional hand block printers, pom pom makers and jewellers.
I have always believed in fair trade and see this as an essential way forward in helping people work with dignity and respect and allowing them to support their families and communities through their own efforts. I am also passionate about the crafting process and the value this has in preserving tradition and culture. These skills are gradually being lost as people opt for cheap, mass-produced goods but there is so much beauty in work made entirely by hand from natural materials that we want to play our small part in their survival.
The Bohemia journey first started almost 20 years ago when I visited Marrakech in search of artisans to produce for me. On this trip, after days lost in the souks, I was lucky enough to meet Hamid who makes the most beautiful leather babouche slippers. We have been working together ever since and his babouche slippers continue to be one of our best selling lines, along with his classic leather pouffes.
I opened our Roseneath store to showcase the products we design and produce, alongside other carefully curated lines of clothing, homewares, stationery, books and gifts. Our online shop followed and soon after, due to demand from independent retailers around the world, we began to wholesale our goods.
We now have an office and warehouse in Leith so that we can receive container loads of goods which we ship daily to a growing list of UK and international stockists.
2. What does a typical working day look like for you?
My working day varies hugely depending on where in the world I am. I could be exhibiting at a trade fair, so I would be up early to catch a tube or walk the streets of London or in New York to get to an exhibition centre. Or if I am in Morocco or India visiting our artisans, I could start the day sitting on a roof terrace in the early morning sunshine to eat a quick breakfast before heading to the workshops. I might be speaking in my almost forgotten French or using my few words of Arabic to communicate with our artisan friends. You may see me flying around the souks of Marrakech on the back of a moped to check samples or visit the office of our shipping company.
When at home in Edinburgh I aim to have an early swim before getting into the office at 9am where I catch up with a mountain of emails, work on our new designs and have lengthy conversations via Whatsapp with our producers to discuss orders. I have a great team at Bohemia and we work really closely together to look after our customers and to design ranges which we hope will delight and inspire them.
3. What are your 3 top sellers at the moment?
1. Our top seller for the past 2 – 3 summers has been baskets, and our round Florence basket is having a bit of a ‘moment’ all of it’s own since it has been picked up by influential fashion bloggers and Instagrammers as the bag of the season.
2. The original leather babouche slipper which was the very first Bohemia product and is still going strong.
3. And of course our Moroccan leather pouffes which are frequently featured by interiors magazines such as Living etc. continue to be a great favourite with customers.
4. You’re giving away one of your popular Moroccan leather pouffes – what’s the story behind them?
We first started making leather pouffes with Hamid after my early trips to Marrakech – we developed our own colour palette and the leathers are dyed by hand to produce a collection bespoke to us. As demand has grown we have added more artisans to our team and we appreciate every sale as Hamid, Abdelaziz and Idriss all have young children to support. The decorative embroidery work is hand-stitched by women in their homes which helps to provide them with an income while at the same time being able to look after their families. The cutting, dying and stitching together of the leather panels is traditionally men’s work and each pouffe takes a day to make. Our range continues to grow and we have the widest selection of colours and designs available online.
5. What does the rest of 2017 have in store for Bohemia Design?
It’s been a really busy year so far and shows no sign of slowing down yet! We will be exhibiting at NY NOW – a large gift fair in New York later this month. Our biggest wholesale market is now in the states where they love our ethical bohemian style, and as soon as the show is over we’ll be flat out processing, picking and packing their orders. Then it’s Christmas, so nonstop activity with artisan visits to India and Morocco fitted in whenever possible.
6. We’re all about Edinburgh, so we’d love to know what your perfect Edinburgh day would entail?
I would walk with my two kids and our dog from Trinity, where we live, to Stockbridge for brunch. We love to take the quiet walkways from Victoria Park past allotments and along the wooded paths to Inverleith Park as you would hardly know you were in a city at all.
We are happy that Stockbridge is a dog-friendly part of town so we have lots of choice when it comes to places to stop and eat. Last Sunday Phoebe, my daughter, and I popped into Hamilton’s where we had a really tasty breakfast. If it’s sunny and not too cold I really enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool at David Lloyd’s in Newhaven. And if we are lucky enough to have sunshine my favourite way to relax is to sit in our back garden with a good book.
My son is learning to drive at the moment so at every opportunity he has me out in the passenger seat as he navigates his way around the city. My first job on leaving university was as a courier driver so I know Edinburgh and it’s back streets and short cuts really well and we both enjoy the buzz of discovering new routes and hidden corners of the city.
A perfect evening would be a meal out and glass of wine with friends. We are spoilt for choice in Edinburgh with so many good cafes, bars and restaurants I don’t think I can name a favourite.
Win a Moroccan Leather Pouffe of your choice (worth £100)!
The competition runs from noon on Monday the 14th of August until midnight on Sunday the 20th of August 2017. The giveaway is open to everybody over 18 in the UK. We will pick the winner within 24 hours after the competition has ended and contact the lucky person through the social media platform they have used to enter the giveaway. This promotion is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
To be in with a chance to win a Moroccan leather pouffe by Bohemia Design choose from the options below:
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