Friday, 14 December 2012

People that Inspire Me: Emily Chalmers

I first came across Emily Chalmers through my sister, who, despite already working 6 days a week, loved interiors so much that she found this beautiful shop in Spitalfields Market where she wanted to work on Sundays, too. The owner was wonderful Emily, and the shop was 'Caravan', a famed interiors store in East London.

Emily is also a renowned interiors stylist with many great books under her belt and currently lives in East London with her husband, baby Bunty and two cats. Her most recent book, 'Modern Vintage Style', can be purchased here and every copy bought is signed and wrapped by Emily herself.

How long have you lived in London?

I am terrible with time and never know events and years etc. But I was only thinking about this the other day and I've been in London now for just over 20 years!
I first moved to Brixton, then Camden and then East London, where I've stayed put for a while....

When did you open your first store and how did it come about?

Caravan as a store first opened on Cheshire Street back in 2004 - I shared a shop there with a friend who called his 'half' of the shop 'This Will All Turn To Dust'. He's now an estate agent and I've moved into my fourth shop premises!
We started by opening only at weekends and during the week I worked in the shop basement on styling and book projects.
The shop wasn't started as a serious venture but it did relatively well and one thing led to another - before long I found myself with a much larger space that was open every day!

Describe your style...

I always find this a very tricky question as my style can change day-to-day depending on my mood. Sometimes I want to be bright and buzzy, other times dark and minimal, and sometimes just calm and white...
My over-riding style, interiors-wise, was once coined by Michelle Ogundehin, editor of Elle Decoration, as "Vintage Floral Bohemian" - I'm happy with that!

How did you feel when your first book was published?

It was lovely! Though my book projects have always taken around a year from the initial meeting to the actual publication, by which time you tend to be swallowed up in other projects.

Were you approached or did you approach a publisher?

I was lucky to be approached by a publisher, Ryland Peters & Small, and I've since worked on six titles in total with them.

You have definitely dabbled in a few business ventures. Are there any new projects you are working on?

Over the last few years my main body of work has been interior styling, books and my shop, Caravan - these all exist under the banner Caravan Style.
Since moving shop premises from Redchurch Street in Shoreditch I am now setting up again nearer Columbia Road and the flower market.
Caravan always seems to have been located near a market and always very near my home and I love that sort of lifestyle.
The new shop location is literally right around the corner from my house, so I can stay very hands-on with everything.
So far the recent largest project has been getting the new website (with larger online shop) up and running. We should launch within a couple of weeks.
The other big project is the physical space and this time the new shop floor is being put together very slowly as I am now a full-time mum to baby Bunty who is nearly a year old.
There will be another book on the horizon too, hopefully over the next year, so do watch this space!

If you could live in any other city in the world, where would it be?

If I was to move right now it would be Berlin. I adore the way of life there, the individuality and the fantastic weekend market culture over there.
My brother lives in Amsterdam and I love to visit him there - again, the markets are fab and I do like the Dutch style generally....
New York is also fantastic, though I am sure it can be quite exhausting and I'd want to escape sometimes.
A couple of years ago I visited Buenos Aires...that was wonderful...
There are many cities I've not yet visited so my preference may change...

What does 'frugal' mean to you?

I like the word frugal and what it stands for. To me this means being careful with money, not being extravagant, etc.
It is also associated with wider connotations for me such as un-pretension and integrity; and to be more mindful generally.

£19.99, Caravan


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