Today we hear from Ellen Young, owner and founder of Harriet’s Table. She tells us all about her ideal client and how her hire collection creates very different ‘looks’.
Q. Please tell us briefly what Harriet’s Table specialises in.
A. Harriet’s Table specialised in vintage luxe tableware. It’s a collection of gold gilt crockery, crystal glassware and silver cutlery.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for the business?
A. I guess it was around three years ago when I started receiving enquiries (via Vintage Flair) from creative couples asking if I had dinnerware rather than afternoon tea sets. They could envisage the gold gilt crockery on rustic wooden tables and it went from there as demand increased.
Q. We know you also run Vintage Flair. What are the main differences in your customer base compared to Harriet’s Table?
A. Vintage Flair has been going for over 10 years and supplies luxury afternoon tea events. I have a huge collection of tea cups and saucers, once again all gold gilt, and I supply a mix of weddings, baby showers, corporate events and celebrations with afternoon tea essentials. Harriet’s Table focuses on dinnerware and serviceware. If you compare them both on Instagram you will see very different styles.
Q. Who’s your ideal client?
A. My ideal client is Harriet! She’s a creative gal planning an outdoor wedding, most likely in a tipi or barn and wants to add personality to her tables. She’s conscious of the suppliers she works with and has sustainability in mind. Harriet is a practical dreamer who dares to be different. She wants a life filled with colour and is planning a wedding that’s anything but ordinary with a touch of bohemian spirit.
Q. Where do you source your hire items?
A. The majority of my stock comes from antique fairs which I visit all over the country. My mum lives in Yorkshire and is spending her retirement antiquing for me. I grew up surrounded by vintage pieces from furniture to crockery – she knows what to look for.
Q. In what kind of setting/s does your tableware work best?
A. My hire collection looks perfect when styled on rustic wooden tables. I love the informal style of long trestle tables and the contrast between the sparkling crystal and shiny gold gilt on the wooden tabletop is perfect.
Q. Who’s Harriet/what did you want to achieve with the name and the branding?
A. Harriet is actually a name I’ve loved for ages and it was my ‘girl’ name shortlisted when I was pregnant. I have two boys but I also get to have my Harriet as it was the perfect name for this venture. Harriet’s Table branding is all about the boho luxe vibe.
Q. What are your thoughts on the trend for vintage in the wedding industry over the last decade?
A. 10 years ago, afternoon tea was huge for weddings. While there is still demand for afternoon tea, the trend for informal catering has emerged with sharing platters and grazing adding a more relaxed feel to wedding receptions. The term vintage covers so many styles from floral chintz to 20s glamour but generally conjures up images of bunting and tea parties. There is definitely a place for vintage pieces in weddings as they are beautiful and the most sustainable option for wedding hire, but perhaps we should refer to them as ‘heirlooms’ or ‘antiques’ when creating a style away from the more common use in tea parties. It’s definitely a tricky one to explain to people. As soon as I say vintage they assume tea parties and then I show them my Instagram feed and they then get it.
Q. What criteria does tableware have to meet to make it into your hire collection?
A. This bit does drive my mum a little crazy as I’m VERY particular about the items I add to the collection. All of the crockery has to be fine bone china with gold gilt. It has to be in perfect condition and with a white background – this is what ties the collection together. My glassware has to be crystal and my dinner cutlery is all silver kings pattern.
Q. What does the future hold for you and your businesses?
A. This is Harriet’s Tables second year of trading and I’m over the moon with how well its been received. I initially launched with a mix of coloured crockery and have now just launched a collection of white and gold plates for those wanting the more luxe/neutral feel. I find that couples prefer one or the other so I can now supply two weddings per weekend. 2020 bookings are looking good and enquiries are now coming in for 2021 and 2022.
Q. Can you tell us what you like to do when you’re not working?
A. I spend a lot of my time walking our dog, Rosie and also renovating our house. We moved into an Edwardian house in 2018 and we’re working though renovating the whole property. I love pottering in the garden which is also getting an overhaul.
Q. What inspires you?
A. Oooh that’s a good question. I love seeing unusual weddings and couples being bold and brave with their plans. I’m surrounded by super creative wedding suppliers and I love seeing the styled shoots they create. I wouldn’t say I’m naturally very creative so I love it when my stock is used to transform a tablescape.
Q. How would you describe your personal/interior style?
A. I would say my ideal interior style is industrial Victorian which is the look we are hoping to achieve in our house. I wouldn’t really say that I have a particular personal style as I like what I like rather than a style or trend. I do love a bargain and have so many clothes from charity shops and vintage fairs. I often go looking for stock and come out with clothes!
Q. If you were getting married again what kind of vibe would you go for?
A. Hmm that’s a tricky one as there’s so many options these days. If I was to get married in England I think I would choose a renovated barn venue such as The Cherry Barn but if I could go abroad then I’d love a French Chateau with alfresco dining and I’d definitely bring on board Helaina Storey to plan it for me – with my collection of course!
Q. Do you use vintage tableware when hosting at home?
A. I used to but since moving house we’ve hardly had time for any ‘hosting’. Half of my old kitchen is still in boxes and my temporary oven is pretty useless! I do plan on lots of hosting once we’ve knocked through a few walls and I have my dream kitchen completed. There will definitely have to be a display cupboard for my personal collection of vintage crystal glasses. The money I bring in via my work goes towards the house renovations – this is a HUGE motivating factor to run them successfully.