Interior design

Independent homeware, fashion and food brands launched in lockdown to get on your radar

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Megan Murray
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Tea & Me

Get your hands on unique pieces from newly launched under-the-radar brands, before all your friends do.

In times like these it’s important to find the silver linings where we can and, although lockdown has been undoubtedly difficult, it has provided a catalyst for a wave of women to start their own businesses – which is incredibly exciting.

Since March 2020 there’s been an explosion of new, independent brands being born through Instagram. They use social media as a platform to showcase creative new ventures such as homeware, accessories and food.

In a world where women have typically been disadvantaged, many are finding their feet and nursing their creative passions to become their own bosses with brilliant business ideas that we can’t stop buying from. 

So, if you love finding under-the-radar brands with carefully made gems like candles, ceramics, t-shirts and brownie boxes, then you need to shop our edit of the best new businesses founded by women since the pandemic. 

This is the place to get your hands on unique pieces and support women at the beginning of their new business journey. You can thank us later. 

  • Selfmade

    Selfmade
    Selfmade

    In lockdown, we’ve been relying on candles to make our homes feel like warm, inviting spaces to cosy up in. Stumbling upon a must-try brand like Selfmade, then, feels especially exciting.

    Not only are Selfmade’s candles incredibly chic, they’re created with an eco-friendly ethos, too. Each candle has a plantable label which you can sow inside the candle’s glass jar once it’s burned out.

    All candles are hand-poured in London using sox wax and essential oils and 5% of profits go to supporting charity Black Minds Matter.

    Shop soy candles at Selfmade, from £24

  • Laylo wine

    Laylo wine
    Laylo wine

    Laylo is a shining example of an innovative indy wine brand, which was founded by friends and wine experts Laura Riches and Laura Rosenberger in July 2020. Together they decided to rid boxed wine of its bad rep and celebrating it for its eco-credentials instead by creating their own, complete with stylish packaging. 

    Their aim was to produce a premium boxed wine which anyone would be proud to display on their countertop with an ambition to make brilliant wine more accessible and easier to keep – something they’ve absolutely achieved.

    Their first wine is a deep Spanish red which they promise will transport you back to holidays spent nibbling and drinking in tapas bars, which is an image we could all do with right now. 

    Shop Tempranillo 2019 wine at Laylo, £34.99

  • Azaira Intimates

    Azaira Intimates
    Azaira Intimates

    Evangeline Poku initially founded her exquisite lingerie brand Azaira Intimates in 2017, but it was a period of reflection in lockdown which prompted her to pick back up the reigns after a two-year break. 

    And we’re so glad she did. With her line of beautiful underwear, Evangeline recognises that women with a fuller bust are often not catered for in a way that feels high fashion. Even underwear brands with a wider range of sizes tend to use hard, stong fabrics, leaving women looking for bras in larger sizes with few options. 

    Evangeline targets this by creating incredibly beautiful, and most importantly delicate, underwear in larger bust sizes. Using pretty, dainty fabrics with a luxurious feel, Azaira Intimates fits a niche which is often forgotten about by the industry. 

    Shop lingerie at Azaira Intimates, from £69

  • Leo Flowers

    Leo Flowers
    Leo Flowers

    In lockdown, the day-brightening effect of flowers has felt more important than ever. Couple that with the tablescaping trend and influx of homeware influencers and suddenly, having a good floral game is essential. 

    While we love fresh blooms, Leo Flowers offers something unique, creative and breathtakingly beautiful. Jessie Beaumont is a membership manager by day, working on (very cool) projects such as Peckham Levels, Pop Brixton and Hackney Bridge. But since November she has been turning her hand to the intricate art of paper flower making, with stunning results.

    She started by trying out different styles and sharing with her friends on social media, but within the last few days she’s gone live with her website (congratulations to Jessie!) and her creations are now available to buy. 

    Our favourites? Those huge peachy peonies that will, of course, never wilt and lose their petals, and the delicate Icelandic poppies with wiry stems and cheery yellow and red heads.

    Leo Flowers make a gorgeous gift in place of regular flowers or a must-buy for your own living room. We think you better ready your best vase.

    Shop paper flowers at Leo Flowers, from £15

  • The Good News Baker

    The Good News Baker
    The Good News Baker

    In 2019, Warsan searched for creative outlets to aid her anxiety and landed on baking as a way to help her heal. She shared her bakes with friends and family, continued to teach herself and experiment and saw a huge improvement in her mental health. 

    Over time her following grew and, in May 2020, she decided to make it official. Cue the launch of her brand The Good News Baker, which sells postable brownie boxes stuffed with gooey salted caramel and Biscoff concoctions.

    Warsan means ‘good news’ in Somali which is reflected in every part of the brand from the positive ethos behind it to the beautiful, bright colours used in the branding.

    Shop brownies at The Good News Baker, from £14

  • Aysha Bell Wellness

    Ayesha Bell
    Ayesha Bell Wellness

    Aysha Bell had left her day job to pursue her vocation as a yoga teacher, running her own space in a studio in Hackney and then… the pandemic happened. 

    Aysha pivoted to make classes available online but felt disheartened by not being able to create the right ambience for customers. 

    This prompted an idea to create a box which would help someone build a calming, inspiring space at home in which they could practise yoga and get the same experience as a real class. 

    There is a range of meditation boxes to choose from including items such as candles, sage, notebook, tea, healing stones and much more. Each box also comes with a recorded meditation, too.

    Aysha has a talent for sustainably sourcing specialist items such as abalone shells from New Zealand and small sage sticks from California, many of which are available to buy individually on the website.

    Shop wellness boxes and products at Aysha Bell Wellness, from £2

  • Vaisselle

    Vaiselle
    Vaiselle

    When Léa Zana was made redundant at the beginning of lockdown from her profession as a shoe designer she, like many others, felt that her life had taken a dark turn. 

    Inspiringly, though, she now says that this unexpected situation led her to her most beautiful achievement, creating her own brand Vaiselle.

    As a child growing up in France, Léa would often roam flea markets with her grandmother and inherited a love of homeware and ceramics which contributed to the large personal collection she has today. 

    While it hadn’t previously occurred to her to make her own, she began sketching in lockdown and came up with the playful, colourful designs that you can now buy from her website spanning oil pourers, teacups and saucers as well as dipping bowls.

    Since then she’s tried hard to find suppliers who match her passion, now working with a couple in Southern Spain who make and paint the pieces together.

    Shop ceramics at Vaiselle, from £25

  • Sasha Compton

    Sasha Compton
    Sasha Compton

    Sasha Compton is from North Yorkshire but for the last few years she has been based in Amsterdam, originally as a graphic designer for a Dutch fashion brand. 

    In January 2020 Sasha decided to make the move to go freelance, but, by March all the work had dried up due to the shock of the pandemic. With years of creative experience she decided to go back to basics and get her hands dirty, moving away from the digital work to make intricate art inspired by Grecian goddesses and the celestial. 

    Sasha’s works are very of the moment with themes rooted in the female form, mystery and magic and the natural world. She often uses rich pinks and blues alongside metallic touches.

    Shop art at Sasha Compton, from £55

  • Tea & Me

    Tea & Me
    Tea & Me

    Tea & Me looks at the relationship we have with tea, not only on our own but within communities, too. It seeks to nurture this relationship and make tea drinking more intentional by helping you choose ingredients which are specifically designed to enhance a certain part of your day.

    The brand is founded by Rianna and Melisa, who used 2020 as a time to start their business journey and begin redefining wellness in a more purposeful light. 

    Tea & Me blends are each handcrafted in the UK and use ingredients specifically chosen for their qualities and known benefits. Rianna and Melisa encourage customers to pick certain blends to become part of personal rituals throughout the day, such as a morning pick-me-up or unwinding at night. 

    Not only is the ethos behind Tea & Me impossible not to love, but the brand is also incredibly beautiful with packaging you’d be proud to display in your kitchen.

    Shop tea blends at Tea & Me, from £1.50

  • Rosily Roberts

    Rosily Roberts
    Rosily Roberts

    Dinner candles are all the rage right now, and an important contributor to that scene is Rosily Roberts and her joyful oil painted candles.

    Rosily was furloughed from her job in a commercial art gallery in London last year, before being made redundant as the pandemic carried on. 

    She had always been a gifted painter, something which is clear from her designs, and so after recognising her own passion for candles she brought those two loves together to create these one of a kind pieces. 

    Most of her candles feature rich, expressive interpretations of fruits and flowers, although she’s constantly coming up with new ideas. We particularly love her lemon design.

    Shop hand-painted candles at Rosily Roberts, from £6

  • Ms Campbell

    If there’s one thing we’ve taken from lockdown, it’s the importance of owning a good loungewear collection. 

    Days spent curled up on the sofa are absolutely no place for jeans and our softest, comfiest pieces of clothing have quickly become our most treasured. But, while we’re all for being comfy, who’s to say you can’t still do it in style?

    Enter Ms Campbell, the newly launched clothing brand from celebrity stylist Charlene Bent which focuses on staple pieces to lounge, layer or sleep in.

    With a long-reaching career that covers authoring styling how-to guide Intern to Stylist, her own show on MSN The Style File and celebrity clients, Charlene knows a thing or two about what should be hanging in your wardrobe. 

    From robes, dresses and vests to shorts and leggings (such as those pictured above), Ms Campbell is brimming with easy-to-wear options perfect for lockdown.

    Shop clothing at Ms Campbell, from £25

  • Pickleson Paint

    Rachael noticed a gap in the market for beautifully designed, truly sustainable paint after feeling that even the most established brands felt a little outdated. 

    And, voila – Pickleson Paint was born. The formula is water-based and low in volatile organic compounds which is better for the environment and dries quickly enough to re-coat within 20 minutes. 

    The best part though? The colours. We adore Sangria Pink, Artichoke Blue and Aegean Sage, but all are created with impeccable taste. Their fun names will draw you in alone.

    Shop paint from Pickleson Paint, from £29

  • Aya Aromas

    Aya Aromas
    Aya Aromas

    Aya Aromas was founded by sisters Georgette and Sophinne during the first lockdown after moving into a new place got them thinking about how important candles are to make a home feel cosy.

    Initially, they were just looking for a new hobby, but soon their passion for candle making evolved into a business based on reminiscing over sweet memories and promoting self-love. For example, each box is adorned with the words ‘self Love is the key to unlocking your greatness’ and each order is packaged with a self-affirmation card.

    Some of the founders’ favourite scents include tropical haven, sunset sweet and coconut sugar, each one imbued with nostalgia for some of their favourite memories. 

    Shop candles at Aya Aromas, from £20

  • Sunday Club

    Sister-team Bethany and Annabelle have had a lifetime love affair with the art world. Raised by a mother with impeccable taste, both with backgrounds at art schools and now each working in the creative industries themselves, they felt a shared passion to make buying art easier and less intimidating. 

    It started with conversations between friends about how they’d like to start investing in exciting artists but would have no idea where to start and ended with their pair starting their own web store showcasing hand sourced antique lithographs, exhibition posters and oil paintings. 

    You’ll find nods to well-known names but Bethany and Annabelle are both keen to push forward lesser-known artists and steer people away from being obvious or safe.

    Shop art at Sunday Club, prices vary

  • Palette Gifting and Roses

    Palette Gifting and Roses
    Palette Gifting and Roses

    Finding interesting and aesthetically pleasing ways to wish friends happy birthday and congratulations has become one of the learnings of lockdown. 

    But, while flowers always hit the spot, Palette Roses and Gifting offer an even more special way to send your best friend some blooms. The idea for a luxury gift box service started back in May and together sisters Emma and Hannah worked hard to have the product ready to launch by December. Impressive, huh?

    There are currently eight boxes to choose from, each one includes a bouquet of luxury, cream roses (we can vouch that they are every bit as breathtaking in the flesh) alongside an assortment of goodies such as face masks, chocolates, candles, bath salts and alpaca bed socks.

    All of this is packaged in pale pink box and tied with a black ribbon, for a ‘movie-style moment’ of delivery.

    Shop gift boxes and bouquets at Palette Roses and Gifting from £45

  • Maza

    Like many others, Maisie didn’t know what to do when she lost her job in beauty PR in the first lockdown.

    She had always considered herself a creative soul with a passion for interior design, but presumed that actually having a career in that industry was out of her reach, or at least difficult to get into.

    But when she started experimenting with candle making, she was excited to see that her creations came out better than she initially expected and before long family and friends were queuing up to buy them.

    Maza candles are inspired by art, design and sculpture and experiment with playful colour combinations that look gleefully stylish.

    Shop candles at Maza, from £8

  • Drop of Dopamine

    Vintage homeware Instagram accounts have exploded over the last few months, providing an easy way for all of us to feed our interiors addictions over lockdown. 

    For the women who have started them, it’s been an exciting venture and as the founder of Drop of Dopamine Fran Hewison says, also incredibly liberating.

    Drop of Dopamine is a curation of unique vintage home accessories such as candlestick holders, glasses and decorative bowls, often in pastel colours with a kitschy feel.

    Shop homewares at Drop of Dopamine, prices vary 

  • Ved Cooks

    Ved Cooks
    Ved Cooks

    Give your tablescape an organic feel with Ved Cooks unique selection of rustic-looking napkins. Each one is hand-dyed using the colour collected from food waste.  

    Verity was inspired to repurpose her food scraps after creating new recipes during lockdown. She didn’t want things like vegetable skins to go to waste, so she used them to add interesting hues to 100% Irish linen napkins.

    Shop napkins at Ved Cooks, from £56

  • Lit Home

    Lit Home
    Lit Home

    There’s nothing cosier than a flickering candle on a winter’s night and Lit’s 100% natural candles are perfect. 

    They are hand-poured and come in a range of delicious scents such as bergamot, cedarwood and orange. Lit candles look the part, too. With minimalist, monochrome packaging and a generous, rounded size, they sit nicely on any coffee table or mantlepiece. 

    The brand was only launched last October by Heather Gilberthorpe Pell, but is already a Stylist favourite. Heather had been blending scents and practising candle making since 2019 and after her jobs in events became endangered during lockdown she decided to follow her passion fulltime. 

    Shop candles at Lit Home, from £28

  • Art By Elle

    Art by Elle
    Art by Elle

    Art by Elle is your chance to secure a stunning original artwork for your walls to take your pad to a whole new level. 

    Elle was made redundant from her job in PR at the beginning of lockdown but instead of being stalled by what she admits was a “terrifying time”, she put her time into creative expression and nurturing her artistic talents.

    Since setting up her own Instagram she’s already drawn in a dedicated audience, selling an impressive amount pieces within a matter of months.

    Elle works with acrylic paints and gold leaf to create mesmerising abstract landscapes with ornate texture and a contemporary feel. They exude calm and serenity, perfect for gazing into with a cup of tea.

    Shop art at Art By Elle, prices vary 

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Images: Tea & Me / courtesy of brands

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.