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HLN meets: RE Corbridge

REad on to discover the joint founders – Jenny Vaughan and Simon Young – stories in full.

By Bekki Ramsay

Here at High Life North, we’re big believers of shopping both local and small, so it brings us great pleasure to announce that this week, we were given the opportunity to speak to the wonderful duo behind @REFoundObjects.

For those that don’t know, RE is a wonderful converted workshop in Corbridge, which sells an eclectic homeware collection that is REmarkable, REcycled, REscued or REstored. Now, REad on to discover the joint founders – Jenny Vaughan and Simon Young – stories in full. 

Tell us RE's story... What were both of your backgrounds before RE, and why did you decide to create the store?

RE went from fantasy to reality between 2002 and 2003, before RE we both had careers in fashion design. Armed with years of experience designing, developing collections, planning and compiling comparative store reports, we decided we wanted a new challenge – to set up shop, selling lifestyle and home accessories.

Vintage and antique items have always been a passion of ours and were always going to be an important part of the RE offer.

What does RE stand for - not only the name but the store's values?

Whilst on a visit to Paris we came up with the name RE, the letters R & E feature as a prefix or suffix in many words – perfect for use in-store and online. The next day we were at a marche aux puces and found 2 large metal letters R and E – it was meant to be!

REcycling, REusing and REspecting the environment have always been mainstays of RE, well before it became fashionable. We have never used plastic bags in store, preferring REcycled paper shoppers stamped in house. Our mail order packing is 100% paper based and we ensure, wherever we possibly can, that our products are environmentally friendly, Fairtrade, and made from sustainable materials that are REuseable or compostable.

What makes RE different to other stores?

We started with a vision for RE; to create a unique retail environment and customer experience. It’s a great space, an old industrial building with its own charm and character, and with the aid of scREens, sheds and rooms, all on wheels, we divided it into different environments; garden, kitchen, textiles, china room, haberdashery, plants, toiletries, ‘the shed’ and moRE – creating an ever changing and exciting space. We want customers to have a unique experience in store with colour, pattern, music, fragrance, humour, and the unexpected, around every corner.

To differentiate the brand, and as creative entrepreneurs, we developed REgd., our own range of unique products designed in house and produced by local crafts people or trusted manufacturing partners around the world.  Although our products come from far and wide, we have a strong philosophy of working with Fairtrade organisations and local co-operatives, where we can, to ensure fair pay and working conditions. We are proud to work with companies who produce beautiful homewares for us fairly and ethically.

Since those early years we’ve gone from strength to strength, winning Homes & Gardens Retailer of the Year in 2011. In the same year we opened a pop up in the prestigious London store Liberty, followed by a concession in 2012 which ran successfully for the following two years. In 2014 we opened a Christmas pop up at The Baltic Gateshead.

What would you say were your five most popular products?

It varies seasonally, but the REgd. range is really popular because it is unique.

  1. Hungarian bottle lamps with African fabric shades (sadly they sell out very quickly as the larger bottles we use to make them are very rare).
  2. Ombre lambswool rugs designed by us and manufactured in 100% lambswool in Scotland – very special.
  3. Fairtrade Guatemalan baskets which we import in large quantities making them good value.
  4. Velvet portrait cushions inspired by 20th century paintings given a contemporary look with block colour.
  5. Paper decorations are our signature Christmas item which we have made in Eastern Europe.

What are your hopes for the future of RE?

We recently launched a small trade offer for other retailers which is becoming increasingly popular. We plan to develop and extend both the REgd. and trade ranges by introducing more unique and exclusive products, and who knows… maybe some new and exciting collaborations?

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