Present in the Laine is a gift and lifestyle boutique but essentially its a curated mix of products with colour, good design and style tying them together. Lots of people buy gifts here but also treat themselves. Tell us about your background and what inspired you to start the business?
My background is fashion merchandising - I worked for some big companies in London and locally before a short stint as a gift buyer for a startup in Brighton after I had my first child. In the end, I felt that I had to make my own opportunity to work in Brighton if I didn’t want to commute and I also felt there was a gap in the market for a shop like mine with a different (more colourful) product selection to what was already here. I’m lucky to have gained some varied experience in merchandising, sourcing, and worked for a startup when they were re-branding so felt I at least knew what I didn’t know and what help to buy in if I couldn’t do it myself. How would you describe the aesthetic and style of Present in the Laine?
Well it’s all the stuff I love, but I love colour so most things are colourful and pretty with lots of clean lines. I sell a lot of different categories from new baby gifts, jewellery and home accessories so hopefully everything sits well together and makes a nice selection for the shopper. I also like a bit of humour if its the right thing like the brands Lola & Gilbert, Nicola Rowland and Ark Design. There is also a fair amount of Scandi brands across most of the categories.
As a customer walking into your shop, what’s the first thing I’d notice?
Most people walk around to the left so handbags and sunglasses but the wallpaper gets a lot of attention and we get lots of comments on the lovely smell (thanks Chelsea candles), atmosphere and lovely selection. I’m also fortunate to work with an extremely talented window stylist so my windows always get a lot of attention as well. Being a Brighton business, what would you say is your favourite thing about being in Brighton?
The mix of different independent businesses not just shops, but restaurants and all the creative people here who are trying to do it for themselves. There’s always a fun vibe in the city especially in the summer when people are out for a good time. I also love that I can walk to work!
How important are independent designers and brands to you?
Really important. I love to support local, independent brands as it offers something unique to the customer and helps support the local economy. I’ve got some amazing independent brands like Jessica Russell Flint who is becoming quite big now but her artwork is gorgeous and her silk eye masks sell really well here. All of my greeting cards are from small brands like I Drew This and you guys, and I’ve got quite a few independent jewellery brands as well like The Midnight Deer and Claudia made This. What have been some of your highlights since opening?
My first Christmas shopping event which was packed out was a great highlight after only being open for 8 months. Also being shortlisted for best independent shop in Brighton was nice recognition.
What does the future hold for Present in the Laine?
Carry on with the shop and my current plan is to grow the online business to reach more people around the country. We are offering a free gifting service so trying to find our niche in the crowded market and grow the business that way. I’d love to open more shops or a bigger shop at some point, but this will have to wait until my small children are older!
Present in the Laine can be found at 34 Gardner St, Brighton. www.presentinthelaine.com