In the ravenous and fast-moving consumer times that we live in (I am no angel I can assure you), I am always keen to promote designers and boutiques that give design-led shoppers the chance to purchase homewares that are both stylish and ethically responsible; both factors being of equal importance.
Only recently has the gap between style and responsibility started to really close in the interiors world, and no one illustrates its progress better than the lovely Hanna Jaaskelainen, who recently set up a new online boutique called I Like It Here. She got in touch to tell me about the project and I think it is great. In fact I have been online all day coveting pretty much everything in stock – from rugs to handbags and necklaces you didn’t even know you needed.
Offering carefully curated home and fashion accessories from Kathmandu, Stoke-on-Trent and Brooklyn, I Like It Here is a sophisticated, eclectic and colourful online shop that appeals to nomads and glamazons alike. Sourcing its products from three very distinct yet specialised locations, its stock is a cut above your usual socially responsible offering and is blazing a trail for a new generation of directly sourced artisanal goods that are as stylish – if not more so – than their mass-produced counterparts.
I asked Hanna about the inspiration behind the store and its signature style:
How did the concept for the boutique come about?
I wanted to reflect my mixed background, feeling like a slight outside observer wherever I have lived. It is rooted in my travelling a lot and experiencing different cultures, and my constant search for good design – from the smallest of objects to the grandest of furniture.
How did you settle on your three chosen locations?
The three locations were my starting point to show consumers that a small, ethically-minded luxe boutique can source products globally and intelligently. The idea is to bring one world and its crafts, materials and traditions into one lifestyle store.
I chose Brooklyn because I travel to New York for inspiration, and on a sabbatical struck upon the amazing Etwas bags we now sell; Stoke-on-Trent because I was attracted to the heritage of the area and strongly feel it’s about time to make these neglected UK towns fashionable again, and I wanted to help represent the best of British craft-manufacturing.
And with Kathmandu, I had an opportunity with my recent travels to meet some amazing people and visit the social enterprise projects they are involved in – in the factories and studios I saw first-hand how the handicrafts are created by women’s enterprises – like the colourful woven pouches.
Do you think consumers are becoming more aware of the origins of their purchases?
Absolutely. The emotional connection with the shopping is so important: the origins, how it’s made, who made it and the whole story behind the purchase, small or large. Many high street shops celebrate their eco-ranges of Fair Trade cotton, for example, but how far this socially responsible attitude goes is ambiguous. With I Like It Here I wanted to set out from the start with an open policy about the products sold.
What do you look for when you buy something?
First comes emotion: what do I sense when I see something? And then the practical aspects of the purchase: ideally it’s ethically made, and in general quality is important. I’d rather buy less, but get good value from the purchases I make.
The boutique reflects my personal taste at the moment; all items are chosen by me and I would not sell an item I wouldn’t have bought myself.
What is most important to you?
Finding happiness and that people close to you are safe; living intelligently and responsibly without forgetting to have fun.
What are you currently reading?
Isprinsessan by Camilla Lackberg (translated it’s Ice Princess) – a Swedish Crime Detective novel.
Where is your favourite place?
It varies. You can’t beat Helsinki in August or Zanzibar in January, Portland Oregon in May… and funnily enough I quite like international airports.
You can visit the bouqtiue here.