Last week I popped over to Chatsworth Road to check out new fashion & homewares boutique Darling & Gold. A wonderful mix of British and Scandinavian fashion brands and lots of lovely homewares including my favourite Bloomingville …
I had a fantastic chat with owner Holly Drew who talked me through her wares while I made gooey eyes at the Hades embroidered cashmere, Ivy Lee Copenhagen boots, mbyM knits, Bloomingville mugs, jewellery by Tilly Sveaas and delicious smelling Park Minster candles. Holly and I chatted for ages and she told me all about her life as an actress, growing up with antique dealer parents and starting Darling and Gold… So, let’s begin!
Why did you start Darling & Gold?
I’d been working as an actress for ten years having gone to RADA in 2005. When I had my daughter in 2014, the type of acting work I was taking changed as I needed to be based closer to home whilst she was little. I also wanted to do something more for us. The shop was a way to channel my creativity and make something special – the idea had been germinating for a while and I was already dealing in mid-century furniture and vintage clothes at markets and online. My parents had had shops, which I worked in since I was young, so it was something I felt I knew about. I wanted to create a shop with beautiful products that people could really afford.
What type of products were you keen to include?
I love the idea of a tiny department store, where there is a curated style. You can buy everything without questioning the quality or price because that’s been done for you. Great style that fits and good pricing are key when I look at brands. I want people to come into the store and love everything. You do sometimes get things wrong though, and I have made some mistakes but then you just have to adapt and move on!
Why the mix of fashion & home?
I’ve always loved the 50s and 60s and I love mid-century furniture, which has a heavy Danish influence. I liked the idea of lifestyle; curated things under one roof, so I wanted to do a more English version of that – more complicated, more colour, more punk! I couldn’t understand why there only seem to be very Scandinavian lead design stores filling up east London, everything very white & grey and whilst quality products, not always affordable. We stock brands from all over the world. I think what’s important to me is great quality products at a really good price point.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
My background is in theatre. I auditioned and won a place at RADA when I was 17, signed with an agent and worked in theatre, TV and film, which I still do. My parents were decorative antiques dealers, so I was dragged around antiques fairs and auctions as a child. I always loved the mid-century pieces, so I knew there would be an element my shop. I love Chatsworth Road and looked at two shops in 2010 and again in 2012 before I eventually found the perfect one.
How did you come up with the name Darling & Gold?
I had the name for ages before I told anyone. It was rhythmical and memorable, I like the way it sounds old, like two people’s names. Lots of customers assume they are family names (mine and my husband’s) which make me smile. I also like the contrast, one is soft and tender the other is strong and rich… echoing what we sell, it’s both and everything in between.
What pieces are proving favourites with customers at the moment?
It’s clear our new brand MKT Studio is going to be a big hit, it had a big response in the first few days. I love and would wear every piece – there is a great sense of fun and rock and roll to it. The Eames jacket (an American style letterman bomber) by Dutch brand Another Label is really good and a great price. For guys Afield is alway a bit hit, the quality of the clothes is lovely and it’s a British brand which people really connect with.
What do you enjoy about living in Clapton?
Oh so many things. I love the fact there is always something new and a real, positive feeling of growth. There are loads of independents and I get a sense from my customers they are committed to independent shopping and helping that side of the Clapton community thrive, which is wonderful.
What’s the next step for Darling & Gold?
We’re having an event in store for Clapton based knitwear designer Amy Hall at the end of the month. We’re always looking for new makers, brands and designers to work with. We’re also opening a second shop near Shoreditch at the end of this year and, of course, we’ll be joining in the fun of the street fest on 9th of September. (Ed’s note: see deets below!).
Do you think we, as shoppers, expect different things from shopping online and IRL (In Real Life)?
I think the way people shop online is very different. It can sometimes be difficult to get the sense and heartbeat of an independent store from a website. It’s really hard to do as the way we buy online has been conditioned; when you’re a little fish in a big pond, e-commerce is hard to do, to give a sense of what we offer as a small boutique when landing on our site. I really do encourage shoppers to use and buy from the independent store websites rather than just the big brands. Trouva is a great way to discover new cool independents all over the country.
What new pieces due to drop soon are you excited about?
Our beautiful sets of Jindrich Halabala chairs reupholstered in different bold velvets. There’s something elegantly robust about Halabala designs and I’m loving people embracing velvet. There is something so wonderfully indulgent about a velvet chair – I think every house should have one. And I’m really excited about our new brands for men and women dropping now for Autumn.
CHATSWORTH ROAD FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND!
Also do pop over to Chatsworth Road this weekend, Saturday 9th as there will be a mini shopping festival taking place – with street stalls, 10% store discounts, a jacket giveaway at Darling & Gold (see my Insta later this week!), live music & drinks as well as screen printing at The Hackney Draper, taster treatments & make your own skincare classes at Botany and face painting at Hop of Hackney. Most things will be happening Saturday but a few things on Sunday too along with the regular Sunday market.