It's no secret that I love shopping. My heart skips a beat when I discover and step inside a beautiful new store to explore, and that's exactly what happened when I laid eyes on The Hambledon a few years back. I loved it so much I even featured it on the cover of my book! If I live closer I'm sure I would be in there on a weekly basis. In lieu of this, I enjoy keeping up to date on the goings on at the shop via their website and newsletters, and was recently wow-ed by their current collaboration with super fun party & homeware brand Meri Meri.
I'm such a big fan of creative collaborations, they just seem to make so much sense, bringing together brands that can support each other, and share their customer base. I wanted to find out a little more about this partnership, so had a chat with Victoria, owner of The Hambledon, Maria, one of Meri Meri's visual merchandisers and Stef, Meri Meri's Creative Director's Executive Assistant....
PH: Victoria, Can you tell me a little about the Hambledon project space as a concept?
Victoria (TH): We have a mezzanine level at the back of the shop which, in the very early days, was our menswear department. When menswear moved to its own floor in the basement we decided to turn the area into a collaborative space. We wanted to work with selected suppliers on a pop up/exhibition basis. It's a kind of fun outreach programme!
PH: I know this isn't the first time you've worked with Meri Meri - but how did you collaborative relationship come about? And how does this project differ from the first one in 2015?
Victoria (TH): When we first worked with Meri Meri we had already organised a number of Projects with other suppliers (but on fashion and homeware) and Meri Meri gave us the opportunity to showcase a more kid centric area. The first Project focussed more on their party ware. This time around they have just launched a new range of children's bed linen and soft furnishings which is the main emphasis for us but we're still selling a lot of the smaller pieces (we can never have enough tattoos and patches and pins!).
PH: Stef and Maria - What is it you love about the Hambledon shop and the space?
Maria (MM): Walking down the cobbled side passage to find this little treasure trove is a lovely, unexpected surprise. It's such a beautifully curated space, which is so thoughtfully edited, making for a very enjoyable, shopping experience. It feels a little bit more like you're walking into someone's home rather than a retail shop.
Stef (MM): The people! The Hambledon staff are so lovely and make us feel right at home. They have a great space but what makes it is their products; there is careful thought that goes into the selection and merchandising. They have a formula that works and it keeps the customers continuously coming back for more. The Hambledon give us free reign with the space which we have found quite rare when collaborating or doing pop ups with other brands. They choose the brands they like to collaborate with and then trust them to deliver. I think this makes it even more interesting for the customers as they never know what it’s going to look like next!
PH: What do you believe are the benefits of collaborating with like minded brands?
Stef (MM): Like minded brands have like minded customers and by collaborating with them we extend our customer base and reach out to other customers that are much more likely to buy into Meri Meri. They may not have even heard of us before but by collaborating with other brands they may follow / like it gets us in front of them as well and gets our name out there.
Maria (MM): Creative collaboration with other brands is always exciting for us as it gives us an opportunity to develop ideas and ranges that might not fit into the exact handwriting of the Meri Meri brand, but do work as a collaboration and bring another dimension to it.
Victoria (TH): It's a way for us to reinvent the space every few months. It gives us something fresh to communicate with our customers. It's usually fun to organise and I hope it shows that we can look beyond our four walls and shake up The Hambledon aesthetic. I don't want the shop to feel too precious.
PH: Finally, Meri Meri also did a wonderful collaboration with Liberty. Do you have any tips or advise for small independent designers and brands on how to go about collaborating with influential brands?
Stef (MM): Keep at it. It is hard work to get your foot in the door but once you do it is worth all the work. Collaborating with influential brands is a great way to get exposure and catch the eye of potential customers. It also keeps your designs fresh and on trend.
Maria (MM): Be prepared and well planned. Think of it as a partnership. If you're drawn to a particular brand, think about what it is specifically about that brand that your drawn to and what it is about your brand that you feel compliments theirs and work from that.
Thanks for that insight ladies! Isn't it just a gorgeous space filled with gorgeousness!? I definitely think a day trip to Winchester is on the cards! If you can't make it there though, you can check out the Meri Meri range over on The Hambledon's website.