The story so far - Part one
Chums since 13, our friendship is based on a love of coffee, sitting in the sun, being very silly, singing along to Whitney in the car, but most of all, our love of all things interior, vintage and antique.
After school we went our separate ways. Harriet studied Textiles at Goldmiths in London, and went on to work as a Display Artist at Anthropologie. I studied Fine Art in Bristol. Following this I decided I wanted to open a French café, so I took a business start up course, and then spent several years working in cafes and French patisseries, to learn all I could about the trade.
When we were 21 we bought an Interail ticket to travel around Italy, and spent the latter part of the summer behaving very badly up and down that beautiful country.
It was on this trip that we decided that one day we would work together. We ate amazing food, drank too much cheap Italian wine and most importantly, found some beautiful and inspiring flea markets. It was also on this trip that the name Closet & Botts reared it strange little head. I would include more details but there was rather a lot of afore mentioned cheap wine involved, and even we can’t entirely remember how these nicknames came about. Sorry!
On returning from Italy we went back to our normal lives, but over the next couple of years we seemed to be having regular conversations about how dissatisfied we were with our working lives.
In 2012 we decided to do something about it. We both quit our jobs, and bought a beautiful white shiny Ford Transit van that we lovingly named the Pearly Queen.
We started very small. We both put £200 into a pot and started buying from car boot sales and charity shops, building up our collection carefully. We started selling our wares at some of the larger Antique fairs in the South of England, such as Kempton and Ardingly, as well as arranging Pop up shops in our hometown of Lewes. It was at these pop up shops that we decided a permanent shop needed to be our end goal. We loved setting up our little shops. Spending hours and hours working on displays that would only exist for a couple of days.
We loved meeting the people kind enough to venture in and take a look at our higgledy piggledy little set ups. But feed back was positive. People seemed to like what we were doing. So we continued.
We got ourselves a little storage space on a farm in Firle, just outside Lewes, and spent afternoons using the lovely bricked backdrops to photograph our newest treasure for the website we had now created.
We started to venture further afield. Our trips to France and Belgium were as tough as they were fun. Sleeping in the back of the van in -4 degrees. Not having a proper wash for too many days. We became very close!
We made sure to never miss out on the culinary offerings everywhere we visited. Feasting on moules frites at the Braderie de Lille. The tooth achingly sweet hot chocolate that was a lifeline at the sub zero markets just outside snowy Brussles. Shot of Scotch optional! Scaling it up a bit on the Ile de re with some exceptional platters of fresh oyster and langoustine washed down with lashings of dry and crispy white wine. Mon Dieu!
But there was something special about those cheese toasties on sweet white bread served with pickled vegetables at Liege market that felt so wrong, but oh so right.
Don't worry, there were few less successful meals along the way as well. Arriving at our destination after everything was closed so a feast of Soupe de poireaux from the vending machine was a particular low point!
And all the coffee. Coffee after coffee after coffee. Our dear friend coffee.
But my god it was good for buying! Waking at 4am was always worth it to get the first pickings. Although buying in the dark can be the antique dealer’s nemesis. Like the beautiful set of old spice drawers we snapped up for 10 euros that seemed too good to be true - and often it was. We collected the drawers in daylight, only to find them painted an awful shade of sludge brown with a heavy sprinkling of live woodworm….. But for every mistake (and there were a few), there were many more purchases that made us squeal with delight.
On one occasion, after our last market of the trip, we found that we had bought far more than could possibly fit in the van. We had to remove the entire contents and repack it. After being awake since the middle of the night and with a 6 hour drive ahead of us it wasn't pretty. But as ever, Whitney’s “Queen of the night” and “I’m Every Woman” at full volume helped us through. God bless you Whitney!
In the late summer of 2013 we heard that a lovely little shop on Lewes High street was coming available. We went to view it and that was that. Our decision was made. We were to open a shop. . . .