Lisa Brass opened her first bricks-and-mortar shop in Brighton after forging a career in interior design and property development. Fast forward five years, Design Vintage now calls a sprawling location in Chichester home, and there’s an expansion into London on the horizon. As well as a being a business owner and full time mother of three, you’ll find Lisa enjoying a beachside stroll or digging for gold at an antiques market in her precious spare time. We stole Lisa for a short while to talk shop and all things Design Vintage.
Tell us a bit about your background.
My career has involved various aspects of property design, building and developing and I have run my own interior design company for a number of years having trained at KLC college. My work experience gave me a unique insight into customer demand and the world of interiors.
How would you describe Design Vintage in three words?
Eclectic, stylish and unique.
What’s your favourite Design Vintage product at the moment and why?
I love the Liberty Print Cushion. The iconic Liberty print coupled with the soft cotton cover makes this a touch of luxury which can transform a sofa.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Long! We’re lucky enough to work in the beautiful Sussex countryside where I start my day answering emails and client enquiries. The rest of the day can be a mix of supplier meetings, meeting customers in the store and overseeing the day’s despatches. This is followed by a few hours at my desk managing our website and our Trouva page.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I started my own business five years ago. It came about after experiencing real difficulty sourcing vintage and Scandinavian products for my interior design clients; this led to the opening of our first little Brighton store and the business has snowballed since then.
What do you think makes your shop unique?
The way we blend vintage with Scandinavian design. I take pride in personally sourcing vintage furniture pieces and then mixing them with classic Scandinavian homewares. We are lucky enough to work with some traditional, authentic workshops and collectors across Europe allowing us to offer some really unique pieces which will last for many many years to come. Alongside this collection, we work with some of the finest interiors brands in Scandinavia and beyond.
I’m really proud of our offline retail experience complete with an in-store cafe where everything we serve is homemade. The personal touch throughout the business really makes us unique.
What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring shopkeepers?
It’s not for the fainthearted! Be prepared for a lot of hard work – it definitely isn’t a 9-5 but running my own business has been the most rewarding decision I’ve made.
Where do you like to shop?
I don’t have a lot of spare time so I mostly shop online, I also spend a lot of time at antiques fairs. The downside of owning your own boutique is that any shopping trip now has to incorporate work! If I’ve got time to spare then I’ll head straight for Liberty for a treat, I could lose hours in there.
What do you predict for the future of retail?
As more and more people are being priced out of living in London, there will be an increasing demand for destination stores out of town like Design Vintage. Complete with features like parking, an in-store cafe and beautiful products to purchase, a destination store focuses much more on the experience rather than the transaction; it’s somewhere customers can spend a whole Saturday or Sunday.
What does the future hold for you and Design Vintage?
Alongside our Chichester store, we are currently expanding with a second shop in London – watch this space!