Notes from Laura

Celebrating 15 years of Laura Hammett

I can’t quite believe Summer 2023 marked the 15 year anniversary of LH. Not many people know this, but before Laura Hammett Interiors evolved into a design studio, it started as a very small-scale homeware website back in 2008, where I sold my handmade cushions. When I was running that from my kitchen table - with the help of a dummies guide – the thought of a venture such as Laura Hammett Living seemed a rather unattainable dream. So, launching my own collection this year feels like a real full-circle-moment from that first homeware website in a way. If you’d like to hear it all from the beginning, let me share the journey of LH with you below...

 

New Beginnings

After finishing my degree in Interior Architecture, I did an internship at a start up interior design company and stayed there for a couple of years, then moved on to work for another small company. However in 2007 my personal life took a difficult turn and family circumstances meant I couldn’t hold on to a full time job, and had to come up with ways to bring in some income from home. I never set out to actively start a business, I just knew that I needed to do something positive for myself during what was a pretty dark time in my life.

I started making cushions to sell on eBay, with fabrics I got from the fabric shops in Soho (not having the confidence to go anywhere near the Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour!) I then taught myself Flash (thank you Dummies Guide) and built my own e-commerce website to sell the cushions under the brand Echo Interiors (don’t ask!) along with other handmade British homeware products. Then, along with a good friend who'd started selling works by emerging artists, we tracked down the landlord of an empty rundown shop we’d seen in our area, and pitched our idea of a pop up gallery/homeware boutique, with a rent free trial period.

Getting stuck in with the DIY
Our renovated pop-up shop

 

Amazingly they said yes and we had a week to pull it together before opening to the public. We did all of the manual labour ourselves, literally sanding back the walls and building display stands from MDF (see the photos for evidence!) Thanks to my wonderful mum for teaching me those skills. We kept afloat for around 8 months, tag teaming running the shop while juggling part time jobs, and we had such a fun time doing it (including lots of evenings drinking wine at the back of the shop after closing).

 

Sadly, the financial crash of 2008 took its toll on small retail businesses like ours and there just wasn’t enough footfall for us to keep going. I had thankfully built up a few local clients doing some interior design, from one off upholstery to bathroom designs. So luckily, I was able to carry on with local work and small projects. My big break was meeting a local property developer who had a project in Chiswick that needed full refurbishment. Without a strong portfolio, he took a big risk on me but the project was a success and we went on to do a number of projects together in the area.

During this year I also met my husband and now business partner, Aaron, who was a product designer at the time. He gave me so much courage and confidence to push the business forwards and make bolder decisions. He quickly became a behind the scenes partner on both the business side but also the design side, adding his experience in the meticulous detail and functionality of product design.

Aaron hates being in front of a camera, so naturally it's always funny
Bringing my son on a project shoot, I remember he just cried the entire time!

 

We got married in 2011 and within a few months were expecting our first child. I’d worked so hard to get the business off the ground but knew that if I was going to be the kind of mother I wanted to be, the business would take a real hit. So, Aaron bravely walked away from a company he’d been at for 9 years and I nervously prepared to hand over the reins.

 It turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made (aside from marrying him that is). The balance of our skills was everything the business needed to move from being a small lifestyle business, to something that was more scalable. As anyone who runs a business will know, there’s only so much you can do as a one-man-band. We worked like crazy during my pregnancy to get Aaron up to speed with the projects and day to day business running and hired our first junior designer to help while I was at home with our daughter.

 Putting that first person on the payroll is probably the hardest step for any small business because you can never afford it, but it’s essential to move forward and if they’re the right person, it will always pay off. I used to be the biggest control freak, especially when it came to the business because it felt like my first baby, but becoming a mother instantly adjusts your priorities and you naturally relinquish control, so the timing was perfect.

As I knew he would be, Aaron was a natural business owner and whipped the company into shape and it quickly became much more professional and productive. I’ve always been about the big picture and Aaron is all about the details and that makes for a pretty good team in design and business. Our working relationship with our developer became stronger and he took another leap of faith giving us an opportunity to pitch for his next big project, a mews house in Belgravia, which was way beyond any projects we’d done before in terms of spec and level of design.

 

We threw everything we had at the pitch, spending days and nights at the dining table at our flat with our designer so I could work while our daughter crawled around on the floor under our feet. The hard work paid off and we won the pitch. It really opened new doors for us within the Prime Central London property market and we started getting bigger projects, each one pushing us further and further out of our comfort zone and taking huge leaps forwards with our experience and capabilities.

We started to outgrow our little studio in Brook Green as our sample library expanded and we needed a meeting room. We were living in Parsons Green at that time and as if by some amazing twist of fate, the studio at the end of our road called The Glasshouse that we had fantasised about working in became available. In my usual obsessive way, I barely slept until the landlord agreed to rent it to us and had already designed every inch of it before our offer was accepted.

Our first proper office which I adored
Our original LHL team - such a talented group of people, we got very lucky

 

We were rattling around in what felt like a huge space at first, wondering how we were ever going to fill it, but our team began to grow steadily from 3 to 13 over the course of two years as we won bigger and better projects, along with a couple of design awards. Oh, and I had another baby too but the timeline becomes a bit of a blur around that time!

 

Much to my distress, we outgrew that studio in 2017 needing more space for the growing team and sample library, so we moved up the road to New Kings Road (I cried a lot on that day...) and the business has been growing and expanding since then, with another move to a bigger studio in 2019, where we are today. We’ve had the most incredible journey, filled with highs, lows, and dream projects with wonderful clients.

 

We now have a business we never imagined in our wildest dreams, a team of 27 talented designers, a product line and a portfolio of work we’re so immensely proud of. To now be launching an eponymous homewares brand is more than I could ever have imagined but has been made possible thanks to your unwavering support of my design journey.

 

I’ve learnt many lessons over the last 15 years, but the biggest one is that with a lot of hard work, passion and people who support you, you’ll discover that you’re capable of far more than you knew. And I can’t wait to see what the next 15 years brings!

 

 

Shop the collection

Explore the Laura Hammett Living range of Accessories

Adler Leather Basket - Smoke Adler Leather Basket - Smoke

Adler Leather Basket - Smoke

Regular price $503.00
Regular price Sale price $503.00
Adler Leather Memo Pad - Smoke Adler Leather Memo Pad - Smoke

Adler Leather Memo Pad - Smoke

Regular price From $104.00
Regular price Sale price From $104.00
Alto Cushion Alto Cushion

Alto Cushion

Regular price $284.00
Regular price Sale price $284.00
Dalia Cushion Dalia Cushion

Dalia Cushion

Regular price $232.00
Regular price Sale price $232.00
Phoenix Large Handblown Vase - Bronze Phoenix Large Handblown Vase - Bronze
Laura Loves

Phoenix Large Handblown Vase - Bronze

Regular price $580.00
Regular price Sale price $580.00
Wild Jasmine & Mini Blossom Spray - Medium Wild Jasmine & Mini Blossom Spray - Medium

Wild Jasmine & Mini Blossom Spray - Medium

Regular price From $335.00
Regular price Sale price From $335.00

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