From a young age my weekends consisted of visits to charity shops and jumble sales, think black Friday madness but in a village hall with 100's of middle aged woman fighting to get their hands on some genuine Levis (albeit these memories are from a child's eyes, I recall it being pretty scary). I learned from a young age the importance of making considered purchases and my love of sustainability started early, we didn't have a lot of money growing up so we bought home accessories that would last. This was evident when we started the clear out of my childhood home when my papa took ill, still hanging on the walls were the wooden framed mirror, the peacock chair nestled in the corner, the cane dressing table, vases and past up-cycled projects found in every room - you name it he kept it - all bought in the 80s/90s still in perfect condition.
Then came fast fashion and fast interiors where things became mass produced and more affordable so products became more accessible, accompanied by Social Media swell. The need to have the latest trends took on a whole new level, we saw a home we loved and wanted everything in it, not thinking of whether or not that suited our home, or would fit in our home, it didn't matter, we wanted to be with the 'In Crowd'.
I had my own personal Instagram at that point called 'Keeleytara' and I remember falling deep into the rabbit hole. My home has been painted in Hague Blue (it was the colour of the moment), bookcase wallpaper (If you know you know), the bright coloured velvet sofa and countless other trends that 'I had to have', it took me further away from who I was and made me increasingly unhappy.
My Instagram love affair led me to meet some of the most wonderful people, people who share a common interest and have since become friends in real life. The initial change started when my Insta-wifey Sam and I took the decision to tick off a bucket list item, dive in and write a book about the homes of Instagram, with no previous writing experience. That process of researching a collection of homes all from different genres highlighted the diversity of the homes we featured, not just those that we found in our interior style bubble at that time - this started to bring me back to what I loved.
A wonderful soul Nicky Kelly ( who I also met via Instagram) told me that I needed 'neutrals' to bring the calm, and 'colour' to feed the soul - she hit the nail on the head there and that started the journey back to me. Fast forward 12 months and I find myself sat having coffee with Emma (Cabyn), who I was introduced to by Sarah (White Rabbit Interiors) both met via instagram, but actually lived within walking distance of each other... yep it really is a crazy world, anyway I digress. It was following this conversation that along with Nicky (Joy interiors), Interior Junction became real. The first ever Interior Festival in the Midlands, backed by some of the best names in Instagram.
We were on cloud nine!
Back to my home life, I was already evolving, the endless house clear outs had started, much to the eye rolls of the husband and the 'What are we getting rid of now' comments. The truth is I had started to feel claustrophobic in my own home with all the stuff around me, 'why did I need it all?'- the truth is I didn't.
One day we were meeting at the venue and my partners in crime highlighted the fact we were launching an interiors event, but I didn't have a business. They both have successful interiors brands, where I was just passionate about interiors, so the seed was set. Despite the fact I was working full time, 80 miles away in Leeds, had only 4 months prior lost my dad, I thought 'yes lets do this' (by now, you're probably building a picture that I am bonkers, you may have a point)
In true corporate style, the mind-map was created, brainstorming and Post-it note activities took over. 'What was my niche - what brands did I want to stock - what was important to me - what did I want to gain?' all questions I went over and over...
This is what I came up with :-
Products had to be design led, not trend led
They had to be handcrafted and sustainably made
I wanted to become a lifestyle brand
Following a coffee, cake and car park catch up with my Insta-wifey Sam - Milk Home was born. Making Interior Living Kind
The Interior Junction event was a success - Milk Home launched - then along came Covid - and that is an entirely new story.