It can be stressful running your own business and whoever said you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure probably knew what they were talking about. Is it wise to go into business with one of your best and oldest friends? Probably not. But over the last three decades Heather and I have been through everything else together - marriage, kids, divorce, so how hard could it be?
Shabbie was born out of our shared love of all things vintage, quirky and eclectic. When we stumbled on traditional hand made quilts from India which were unlike anything we had ever seen before, it was love at first sight and we knew we wanted to sell them and use them to make unique cushions and throws.
Being two empty nesters of a certain age it seemed like the perfect opportunity to reinvent ourselves. We had spent most of the last 30 years on opposite sides of the Irish sea bringing up our respective children, me in Belfast, Heather in Sussex, me running my own business, Heather working as a chef amongst other things. Neither of us have any formal training in anything arty, but we know what we like. Put us in a room with a hundred different fabrics and we’ll probably both choose the same one as our favourite.
So Heather upped sticks and moved into my big old empty house. Now we house share and run Shabbie together and we’re having a ball. It’s hard work and we can’t remember the last time we had any serious time off, but when you’re doing what you love it doesn’t really matter. We love the hustle and bustle of markets and we’re never happier than when we’re run off our feet.
Reinvention is the name of the game not just for us but also for our products. Vintage quilts arrive from India often looking a little tired and the worse for wear - the parallels continue! – we wash them, tidy them, patch them when needed and the ones that have really had it, we turn into beautiful cushions, mini throws and bolsters. It’s all about seeing the potential in something that has seen better days and it gives us immense satisfaction to give something with faded beauty a new lease of life.