If you follow me on Instagram, then you'll know that I'm a huge fan of indie homeware retailer YONDER.living's travel-inspired home decor - their Pebble Stripe Pom-Pom blanket is often found in the background of my photos, with the matching Pom-Pom cushion just in sight! I love their neon storage pots, but I also fantasize about throwing out all the mismatched mugs in our kitchen and replacing them with Yonder's beautiful Colombo cups - handmade in Sri Lanka and a terrific reminder of our trip there earlier this year.
From their brightly colored Kilim cushions (created from vintage 1970s Kilim rugs) to their oversized pom-pom blankets (handmade in the Atlas mountains), it's clear that the creators of Yonder, Phoebe and Sophia, have given a lot of thought to their store's beautifully and intelligently curated aesthetic.
I was curious to know a little bit more about Phoebe and Sophia's travels, the inspiration behind Yonder's products, and the process behind sourcing the items they decide to feature in their store (they work with local artisans and makers to produce each piece!).
Here's what they had to say when I asked:
Phoebe and Sophia, I absolutely love your store! Tell me a little more about it - what inspired you to start Yonder?
Phoebe: Yonder was launched earlier this year, with the view of creating a store that allows people to bring some of our favourite finds from around the world into their homes. With a strong focus on handmade and artisan products we celebrate the uniqueness in these pieces. Travel is so much a part of Yonder and has been key to developing our eclectic style, drawing inspiration and ideas from so many different places we have visited and explored.
Sophia: Long before we had even launched Yonder, I would always love exploring the local flea markets and handcraft districts of everywhere we visited. It soon became a tradition to bring back one item for our home from everywhere we visited (our travels), from chopping boards to coffee cups to hand-painted figurines. I once carried across India, for two months, a beautiful (and very large) handmade rug in my backpack, because I just so happened to fall head over heels in love with it on the first week of arriving. The result of such madness is we now have a home filled with some very special items that tell various story of our different adventures. While I would always advocate everyone to travel as much as they can, Yonder will hopefully also allow people to fill their own homes with pieces from the far corners of the globe, without having to scour the globe themselves get them!
You both have a terrific eye for great design and beautifully curated products. What are your backgrounds and what were you doing before you founded Yonder.?
Phoebe: I had recently graduated from Central St. Martins, having studied Textile Design, when I decided that I wanted to pursue my ambition to own my own company and to set up Yonder. Having always had a strong passion for design, colour, interiors & travel, Yonder seemed to evolve organically for me as what I wanted to do.
Sophia: I have always had a strong interest in all areas of product design, specifically interiors and I think a real turning point was probably when my husband and I bought our home. I was finally able to apply my personal style to it, unpack and display all of the items we had collected over time for our ‘future home’ from places we had visited.
I know that Yonder is hugely influenced by your worldwide travels - I loved your recent photos from Sri Lanka, one of my favourite destinations! What's the one country you've been to that you can't get out of your head? The one that pulled on your heartstrings and wouldn't let go?
Phoebe: Both of us have been to our fair share of places between us, however the place that I think will always remain special to both of us, but especially me, is Morocco. Having first visited about 10 years ago, I can still remember the atmospheric scenes across Jemaa el Fna square in my first night in Marrakesh. The smells, sounds and smoke billowing across the pastel sky from the dozens of food stalls, snake charmers, groups of story tellers huddled under umbrellas and of course the freshly pressed orange juice! It was all just all so different from anywhere else I had been before, all so totally exotic! Since that first trip it is now a place that we both know very well, and while we it may be much more familiar, it never ceases to inspire and surprise me.
Sophia: Yes, Morocco certainly has a special place in both of our hearts, (especially Phoebe who knows the souks like the back of her hand!), but one place that really has stayed with me was Iceland. I am secretly a bit of a nature nerd and the landscape there was totally awe inspiring, especially in the depths of winter when I was out there. I will never forget the almost otherworldly surrounding of the Blue Lagoon, watching the sky turn black over the endless snow covered mountains. I also love the way that folklore and traditions are so commonplace within day to day life; one morning I found myself caught up in a totally legitimate and serious protest against roadworks taking place because the area was known to be inhabited by Elves.
I also know that you work directly with artists and makers, which is wonderful and so rare to find these days. Can you tell me more about this process?
Phoebe: Yes of course, we are very proud of the handmade process that go into our products. We love nothing more than seeking out and building relationships with local makers in the countries we visit. For [our Pom-Pom blankets and Pom-Pom Cushions] we actually work with a team of makers, spanning two generations, with both father and son adding their own specific skill! Firstly the cotton or wool is coloured by hand using natural dyes and then hung out in the heat of sun to dry before being spun onto bobbins. Each blanket can then take up to 3 days for 2 men to weave, depending on size, using very large traditional wooden looms. The Pom-Poms are then each individually handmade and attached to finish.
Sophia: Most of the makers and artisans we work with are teams made up of family members, which we think also adds something special to process.
Your Instagram feed is stunning [seriously - go check it out!] - you sure have a knack for finding beauty in everything around you. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Phoebe: Thank you! We try hard to keep our followers inspired, and give them sneak peaks of all of our new products as and when we source or develop them. The running theme throughout our feed has always been travel, of course, but we always try to post little snippets of things that inspire us in day to day life as well as snaps from our travels!
Sophia: Although I have to admit we sometimes find it hard to remember to photograph things when we are away! We always get so totally wrapped up in where we are and what were doing and then suddenly it’s like ‘Oh wait! Photograph that! Instagram!’
Phoebe: We also love nothing more than seeing pictures from happy customers and how they’ve styled their Yonder purchases in their own homes! We always share these pics with our followers!
Thank you for this in-depth peek into Yonder, Phoebe and Sophia!
I hope you get a chance to browse Yonder's beautiful online shop, and that you'll fall in love with it as much as I have! As a special treat, Angloyankophile readers will receive 15% off the Pom-Pom blankets and cushions - just use the code ANGLOYANKxYONDER - enjoy! The code expires at midnight on 30th October 2015, so get your shop on!