My Herts Life: Hertfordshire Craft Collective's Suzanne Levy
PUBLISHED: 08:18 10 February 2015 | UPDATED: 08:18 10 February 2015
Hertfordshire Craft Collective founder Suzanne Levy is passionate about helping people create eclectic and interesting interiors. Sandra Smith talks to her about her 'weird and wonderful' vintage emporium in Radlett
What’s the ethos behind Hertfordshire Craft Collective? Within Battlers Green Farm we sell an eclectic mix of vintage, homeware and collectables. It’s a weird and wonderful selection with a real industrial feel. I have my own shop within the barn and I’m an agent for 23 other sellers, with a waiting list of people wanting to get in. I am quite selective and look for a mix of goods. Here there are lots of vintage dealers selling a variety of different styles from shabby chic to more traditional antiques plus vintage-inspired clothing.
Why is vintage so popular? It’s all down to the high street, which has become very boring and samey. And things aren’t made well. I aspire to buy and sell items which are relevant today. I want edgy, cool items which can work anywhere, from a modern home to a farmhouse.
People are realising that if you buy vintage you are buying something which is fun and full of character. Vintage pieces hold their value, too, so you’re not throwing money away. Some customers get vintage but others don’t necessarily want something which is secondhand, so we try to have variety. There is also a section selling vintage-inspired gifts.
What are your best sellers? Old school teachers’ desks are popular, plus apple crates, pretty china and bowler hats, along with painted and distressed furniture.
Our craft studio runs workshops for six to eight learners at a time covering crochet, knitting, patchwork, furniture painting, paper cutting, sewing and stained glass. People are realising there is a lot of satisfaction in learning a new skill and doing a craft, maybe even creating a family heirloom.
. How varied is your customer base? It’s a strong mixture, from students wanting to have some quirky pieces in their digs at uni to first-time buyers who haven’t got a fortune to spend and understand if they buy vintage they will get their money back if they want to sell it later. Then there are families – mums and dads with children; they get it and enjoy coming in.
What do you most love about your job?
Buying! I love the thrill of the chase. It’s like a treasure hunt every week. Buying is done early as markets open from 6am and I never know what I’m going to come across. I’ve been in retail for the past 15 years and always collected and loved vintage. I’m drawn to it. Now I travel the country buying via auctions and country-house clearances. My retail experience tells me what something is worth and I combine that with research on the internet and through contacts. Ebay is a good tool to determine the value of an item too.
I work with my husband Jason in the shop, which is great. I love meeting people, too. The farm is stunning, a rural shopping village. I love where we are. This is Radlett’s best-kept secret, a barn full of interesting sellers.