As Graham & Green launch their new Bayswater store, they talk to us about their Notting Hill roots
If there’s one thing that Notting Hill is really good at, then it has to be the community focus and the raw authenticity that can be found in the dozens of family-owned businesses. And if there’s one brand that epitomises this, it’s Graham & Green.
The company first began in 1974 when the mother of current Managing Director, Jamie Graham, opened her first shop with a friend in Notting Hill. Inspired by her travels around the world as a child, the eclectic vibes of the area and growing up in a home filled with Persian rugs and exotic textiles, Antonia Graham developed an innate eye for interior design. This eye for unusual products has allowed the local company to spread its wings and expand across the country – most recently, with their new flagship store in Bayswater.
Jamie loves that fact that his upbringing has allowed him to describe his style as eclectic – something he believes is key to the ethos and success of the brand. ‘Mum’s eye for unusual products is definitely the key to our success, and it enabled us to open another store in Primrose Hill and grow our online collection,’ he says. ‘Nowadays, we have three stores in London, a stunning catalogue that is released four times a year and a huge range of furniture, lighting and home accessories online.’
Jamie has now taken on the role of Creative and Managing Director of the store, while his wife Louise is Marketing Director, and it is, again, the influence of his relationship with Antonia that instilled the value of a close-knit business ethos into him. ‘Growing up, I was always accompanying mum on trips around the world and helping out in the shops, and I went on to study furniture design,’ he explains. ‘We’re a very close knit company and I like being involved in all areas of the business from designing products for our autumn collection to picking paint in the new store.’
The brand’s ethos works around the importance of surroundings and reliability. ‘We mix together old and new products, which tell a story and inspire,’ says Jamie. ‘Working with the same suppliers we’ve worked with for years really helps us maintain our ethos and unique style. As long as it’s got a bit of colour, character and quirkiness then it will always shout Graham & Green.’
The new Bayswater store has given the company the scope to take things bigger. ‘We wanted to create a large, creative space for both retail and trade customers to come and really get lost in the Graham & Green world,’ says Jamie. ‘Because the space is so much bigger than our Notting Hill and Primrose Hill stores, we’re able to showcase much more of our large furniture pieces for customers to see and feel, which also means we can use the space to host events for fans of the brand.’
Aside from the west London community ethos, why was Bayswater the perfect location for this? ‘For us it was all about being in a central and inspirational location, and Bayswater is exactly that. We’re just around the corner from Westbourne Grove in an area that’s thriving with interiors inspiration,’ he explains. ‘The store space gives us enough room to showcase many more products than ever before, and it’s also a great hub for customers to come and spend a little more time with us.’
Graham & Green has come far since 1974 – and is going much further afield than the capital. ‘We’re just about to open our first shop outside of London in the beautiful city of Bath. This is quite a big deal for us as we’re also moving our family home and head office to the West Country,’ Jamie smiles, before adding, ‘but expect exciting plans in our London stores.’ Watch this space.
2 The Colonnades, 36 Porchester Road W2 6ES; 020 8987 3752; grahamandgreen.co.uk