I absolutely love Harrop + Penny. I have long time coveted the majority of the items in their shop. I first came across them at Frome Artisan Market, and tried really hard to convince Dan that I needed a Yellow Enamal Mug, yes, it didn't work, I haven't stopped wanting it or the airam flask, the lemon squeezer and all the enamel ware that will fit into my kitchen. The shop is beautifully curated and well sourced with design classics and perfect kitchenware. I am over the moon that Tim and Lucy have joined me to celebrate my 1000 posts, here is more about them...
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do? / What was the inspiration behind starting the shop?
We’re Tim and Lucy. We run Harrop + Penny, an online store selling a collection of some of our favourite things. Tim decided to set up the business in 2011 shortly after we took an amazing road trip through Europe, travelling 3000 miles through France, Belgium, Italy, photographing a whole heap of stuff we really liked and drawing great inspiration from northern European design and homewares. Northern Europeans just do it so well; incredible craftsmanship partnered with simple, stylish, understated design. We’d been renovating our farmhouse for a few months and were searching for good things to fill it. We were feeling pretty frustrated with what was readily available and it felt like there was a real gap in affordable, quality products. We visited a lot of different outlets and brocante markets and the excitement grew from there really; we decided we wanted to put together our own collection of our findings and started with 40 items in our product line. We now have a collection of over 250 products which is continually growing; we often source from the northern countries of Europe and always from producers who share our ideals of quality and functionality. It’s a very exciting time!
Apart from Harrop + Penny what else do you like doing?
We tend to have one foot in the countryside and one in the city at the weekends – it’s good to hang out in the house and the garden as we don’t get so much time in the week, but enjoy going back to Bristol or Bath to seek out new places to eat or get a good glass. Bruton’s At the Chapel is a real treat. We’ll often spend Saturday mornings in Bath, swinging by the Farmer’s Market and Colonna and Small’s for coffee and Bertinet Bread is a highlight too. Tim’s big on film so Bristol’s arthouse cinema the Watershed is often on the cards at the weekends or Café Kino – brilliant for small, intimate gigs and a great place to discover new music. I’m in full swing of the car boot season at the moment so usually have an early start on Sundays to seek out thrifty bargains.
What is your favourite item in your shop and why?
Oh, that’s tough! Can we only pick one? Our fishbone blankets have to be pretty high up there – they’re just super soft and never fail to comfort. Our Airam flasks are also one of our favourites – an excellent picnic accoutrement or commuting companion.
Illustration Shana Murray / Rifle Paper Co. / Aaron Sewards / Hannah Waldron
Books The Independent Coffee Book / God is not great, Christopher Hitchings / The Wild Places and The Old Ways, a journey on foot - both by Robert Macfarlane / Dart by Alice Oswald / Wild Wood, a journey through trees, Roger Deacon
Shops El Dehilerin / Merci / Present and Correct / Herriot Grace / Roundhill Roastery / Something Else / Dille and Kamille / Albam / Cos / Here Shop
You regularly take part in St Catherine’s Market in Frome, can you tell us about it?
Sure. We’ve tried quite a few regional markets and this is really our favourite. It’s just undertaking a big expansion and set to become one of the biggest independent markets in the region with a great selection of designer makers and crafts folk. It’s always been a great place to buy really amazing artisan food – some of our staple purchases: incredible bread and pastries from At the Chapel, cheese from Tom Calver, and the best portugese custard tarts you’ll ever eat from Luso Deli. It’s been a really good place for us to connect with other young businesses too like Hatchet and Bear and Robin and Mould – they’re all doing really good things in the region and I’m not sure we’d have found them if it wasn’t for the market. Since we sell predominantly online, it’s really nice to make face-to-face contact with our customers too - it’s great to get some feedback on new products.
We’re lucky enough to live and work in a beautiful part of the country – right up on the top of the Mendips and both have a studio in the house, which is hugely beneficial for late night working and keeping things flexible. We both currently work around other jobs – I’ve worked as a freelancer in the arts for number of years and Tim is a garden designer, so sometimes it’s tricky to juggle everything but it also keeps things interesting to have other projects on the go.
Check orders, make orders, collate packages and trips to the post office; getting products out to customers is top of the priority list but we also carve out time for research and keep up to date with new design.
What do you love most about what you do?
The creativity. Finding amazing new items to add to the collection and hearing how much our customers enjoy using our products.
It has to be our favourite print by our friend Hannah James. She’s a super interesting young artist - living and working in Rotterdam at the moment.
We’d be pretty stuck without our dog Jean Jacques, but failing that, just one of our Chemex coffee makers and an endless supply of beans from Roundhill Roastery would be sufficient.
Which is your favourite local independent shop or eatery & why?
It has to be Colonna and Smalls - simply the best flat white going and such fantastic knowledge about coffee – we learn something new on every visit.
Happy, healthy and taking the store on new adventures - we’ve toyed with the idea of a stint in Belgium so maybe an outlet in Brussels or Ghent? Let’s see….
Thanks guys, you have some seriously great loves there, an evenings reading is in order.
Harrop + Penny have kindly donated an Airam Flask for one lucky Littlegreenshed follower. The Airam Flask, large. The best flask on the market. These vacuum flasks were designed for the north countries and first produced in 1934. They promise to keep a boiling fluid above 50C for at least 24 hours. 1.0 lt. Made in Finland. I NEED one! Perfect for adventuring.
Winner will be announced on 2nd July 2013 - good luck!