In January 2021, I set up my lockdown side hustle – @LLGFOUND, selling beautiful antique and vintage china, homewares, furniture, paintings and studio pottery. It’s been *quite* the experience.
I’ve always loved both telling stories, and wondering about the stories behind the people I meet, and the objects I come across. Truly, there is a story in everything and everyone if you just take the time to think or ask.
That’s why I have always had a thing for antiques, and for what we now call vintage. (Although for a lot of us vintage simply means the things with which we grew up.) I love to think about the reasons an item was bought, maybe that canteen of cutlery was a wedding present or a retirement gift, that beautiful tiny Victorian jug that has managed to survive 150 years, maybe it was a birthday present, or a much cherished souvenir of a holiday? And now by owning those objects ourselves we get to create another story around the object.
So I’ve never been able to resist a junk shop, a flea market, a charity shop, an auction or a handed down gift from a family member or dear friend. And so my home is overflowing.
About five years ago I took a look around my home with its cabinets and cupboards, stuffed with vintage china and glass and thought I really need to rationalise my collection. At the same time I was travelling every month for work, coming across beautiful things and so the idea coalesced: I would open up a website selling things I had bought on my travels, along with vintage and limited edition finds of my own
I set up an Instagram account, @LLGFound at the end of 2015 and started pulling together an edit. But then, daunted by the idea of building yet another website and e-commerce platform when I was so busy elsewhere, I put the project to the back of my mind so, whilst I carried on thinking about LLG Found in the back of my mind, that’s where it stayed.
Until I had a light bulb moment somewhere around five months into the 2020 pandemic when I realised I didn’t need to build a website or a Shopify platform to get started: I could simply just run an Instagram feed. Instead of investing in a digital infrastructure, I could just post the lovely things I had sitting in teetering piles of dusty cardboard boxes and see if the idea had legs before I started worrying about building a bigger selling machine.
When I made the move from Camden to the Cotswolds in August last summer I swore to myself I would finally get LLG Found off the ground: there is nothing like hefting countless boxes of vintage china in a heat wave to focus your ambitions.
So I spent the autumn building my inventory, buying flower bulbs, and sourcing tureens. And then, on the 10th of January I decided it was time to press the button. I posted a small initial collection of seven items, and hoped for the best. They all sold out within a couple of hours. I had barely promoted the feed in the first couple of weeks because it was supposed to be a soft opening, yet with just a couple of mentions on @libertylndngirl’s Stories, everything I posted continued to sell out. I quickly initiated a twice-weekly drop, on Sunday and on Wednesday nights at 7 pm because I was being inundated with messages from people saying they had missed new products going up.
Frankly, it’s been a whirlwind: Three weeks later I’m just putting my 200th item into my burgeoning inventory spreadsheet, when I had been expecting to sell four or five pieces a week. It’s been a huge learning curve: when I sold the first seven items I hadn’t set up any spreadsheets to track inventory or sales, nor any templates for emails or invoicing because I wasn’t expecting this to become a fully-fledged business in under a week.
And I’ve been chasing my tail ever since. In fact it’s been so busy that I am now moving my drops to once a week for the next fortnight just so that I can catch up: I haven’t cooked a meal in two weeks, relying on the freezer and microwave, and I was horrified to discover 10 loads of laundry waiting to be done.
I’d like to make it clear that I am categorically not complaining – making a success out of my lockdown side hustle has been a gift beyond compare. With companies sitting on invoices for sixty, ninety and 120 days, using lockdown staffing as an excuse not to pay, it’s been a very welcome fiscal boost. And I had forgotten how much I like a spreadsheet – yes, I now have more than a few, from inventory control to purchases, expenses to newsletter info.
But the absolute best bits, beyond endless data entry and wrestling tissue paper and biodegradable packing peanuts? That will be making connections with people all around the world who are as passionate about stunning objects as I am, and sending off these multiple parcels containing beautiful pieces to new homes, knowing that they will continue to be part of someone else’s story.