It was Richard Branson who said that when you have an “ah-ha” idea, you must pay attention. And it's true. Taking an idea that you're genuinely excited about and flying with it can mean the difference between a start-up that takes off, and one that never quite leaves the runway.
Fortunately for globetrotting sisters Sophia and Phoebe Leppard, their “ah-ha” idea emerged organically. A thirst for adventure and passion for authenticity saw the pair travelling the world, accruing an assemblage of treasures along the way. This set Yonder Living in motion.
“It just started as a hobby. We had no idea it would grow into the business it is today,” says Creative Director Sophia, having since taken the reins of the company. “We would always explore the local flea market and handcraft district wherever we’d go, choosing one unique item to bring back home with us. It became tradition.”
From brightly coloured Saharan pots to cactus silk cushions, handwoven baskets to vintage rugs, travel and a sense of adventure has remained an integral part of the Yonder Living collection. But getting their hands on the dream item hasn’t come without its challenges.
“There was a very beautiful – and very large - handmade rug in India that I feel head over heels in love with which meant I spent the next two months lugging it around all sorts of terrain in my rucksack,” she says. “It may seem mad, but I regret nothing. I love that my home is filled with an eclectic mix of items, each with its own story.”
But it wasn’t long before Yonder Living became more than just a hobby. Soon after opening for business from home, the startup caught the attention of an influential German blogger who came across yonder.living on Instagram and one blog post saw Yonder Living’s popularity skyrocket.
“I woke up one morning and my email was just crazy with orders from all over,” says Sophia. “I realised then that maybe this could be a serious business pursuit after all.” And now having amassed an impressive 10.2K followers on Instagram – and only set to grow – the company is making the most of this “incredibly influential business tool,” she says.
A devotion to detail and eye for the perfect shot seems to have set Yonder Living apart from the crowd. But despite striving for the perfect snap to create a flawless, aesthetically pleasing social media profile, Sophia is determined to show her customers that the company is still small and personable.
“We’re not a large company. It’s just the two of us and we’re proud of that,” says Sophia who works alongside just one other in the studio on a daily basis. Delivering that message to customers is key. “Sometimes it can be a hindrance to be too professional looking,” she says.
Since moving into Workspace’s newly developed the Fuel Tank in Deptford, Sophia has set up a separate Yonder Studio Instagram account to give customers a glimpse behind the scenes. Their light-filled studio is in the midst of a transformation into a Moroccan Souk-style showroom, and “it’s been the perfect opportunity to show it off,” she says. “It’s exciting and we want people to see what we are getting up to here on site.”
Once fully moved in, Sophia aims is to cover an entire wall, from floor to ceiling, in vintage Moroccan rugs from the Atlas Mountains, styled with sofas and furniture from their online shop to enable shoppers to view items in the ‘flesh’ upon appointment. “Workspace are really cool in term of letting you personalise your space which has given us the freedom to plan it out as a showroom.”
It’s been a big move transitioning into its own space, but in some sense, it’s been a move from home to home for Yonder Living. “When I came to view the room with my mum, we parked outside and she pointed up at the block of flats opposite, not far from Goldsmith’s art department. She said, ‘The one with the washing, that’s where your dad and I lived when we were your age’,” says Sophia. “It feels like this is the place we’re meant to be and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
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