Interview with Darby and Joan English Vintage China
Karen Eggleton – Owner of Darby & Joan
Tell us a little about yourself and your company?
Darby & Joan is a Derbyshire company more than a little obsessed with china and accessories from years gone by. We love that vintage pieces have a story to tell & can add a little personal magic to any setting or event. We have a stunning selection of English vintage china, glassware, table linens & vintage accessories which add a touch of glamour and personality to a venue.
Our customers are so varied: a group of girls wanting a vintage styled hen party; couples planning a vintage themed wedding; a 21 year old birthday girl who is looking for something a little different for her birthday celebration; a grandma-to-be who would love an afternoon tea baby shower for her daughter…
We love to help create a memorable event, our china and styling add something special to any occasion.
What made you start your business & how long?
Darby & Joan was bubbling away for a while before I had the courage invest an enormous amount of time, love, funds & a fair few sleepless nights into being a business owner. Officially the leap was taken in 2009. I started the company because I felt confident there was space in the market for what I had to offer and that I would be able to do a “really, really good job”.
Simply put, I love what I do and I can’t wait to see how the business develops.
What services does your business offer?
We offer vintage china hire, a venue styling service & a bespoke afternoon tea party menu.
What words best describe you?
Happy, thoughtful, creative, romantic and a bit of a day dreamer.
What words best describe your company?
Vintage, beautiful, helpful, with lots of attention to detail.
What your favourite/classic package?
We pride ourselves on providing an intimate, personal & bespoke service and for that reason, we made a decision early on not to offer a package as such. Our pieces can be hired on their own so that our client’s can provide their own catering, or we offer a bespoke afternoon tea menu to be served on our china and sliverware and finally we also offer a styling service.
What’s going to be popular for 2012 / 2013?
There has been much talk about “vintage” weddings being over done and too contrived – not so!!
Popular trends come and go…and always come back again.
Vintage style is easily described as timeless and glamorous which is why it’s so popular as a ‘theme’ to draw inspiration from. It also covers many eras with each one having it’s own very different style. People like to plan their wedding to reflect their lifestyle, many are influenced by the timeless design of furniture & accessories from another era – not to be fashionable or to buy in to the “vintage” thing, just because they love it.
Vintage can mean a lot of things: masses of sparkling crystal vases & silverware for a sophisticated drinks party, complete with champagne saucers; a battered old suitcase filled with well-read hardback books & a teapot filled with flowers & chintzy bunting; a 1960’s inspired wedding bursting with colour, bright oranges & yellows, with the ladies finishing off their look with a structured handbag, gloves & pearls.
Stunning china or glassware can be used to add a chic, personal elegance to any setting, not to create a theme. Pieces of furniture that have history and a story to tell can be priceless and it is these thoughtful touches that will add a touch of glamour, interest & your personality to your event & bring a talking point to any table, room or party.
Modern vintage to me means a classic, elegant & timeless style – and that’s why it is popular, and will continue to be so for 2012/2013.
I apologise for going on, but I feel really passionate about this!
What inspires your designs?
I collect lots of frivolous things: old holiday postcards; bits of lace; old buttons; vintage scraps of fabric; old photo frames; vintage wedding photographs of people I’ve never met but still have their photographs in my studio…I am obsessed with visiting auctions and markets, searching for a bit of treasure, either to use for our hire business, or to hoard away.
I work alongside inspirational people…florists, caterers, photographers, cake makers, stylists, wedding bloggers, dress designers. Its easy to be excited about what you are doing when you are surrounded by talented and dedicated people.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
I love meeting couples for our initial chat about their ideas for their wedding. They are always in high spirits and excited about taking their first steps to plan the styling of their venue and wedding breakfast. Getting to know each couple is really so important, to see their personal tastes and plans, and to discuss how they envisage their day.
I invite couples to our studio where I can set up a wedding table. All our vintage props, accessories, china and glassware can be viewed, and we can start to put together a design brief.
It’s a lot of fun and its impossible not get caught up in their excitement.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
I would say that the hardest part is the constant packing, unpacking, washing, packing, unpacking, washing, packing, transporting, unpacking all of our pieces..you get the picture! Everything has to be handled with love and care, and it is very time consuming to wrap each piece and ensure safe delivery and storage. Sometimes I go to bed dreaming of bubble wrap and plastic crates. It isn’t hard as such, just very time consuming!
On average per year how many weddings are you commissioned for?
This year we have been booked for nine weddings and we have been asked to cater for eleven other events. We also offer a vintage afternoon tea service, with a lovely bespoke menu, which is very popular with hen parties and garden parties in the summer months.
How far in advance should clients book you to avoid disappointment or recommend placing an order/booking?
We are still taking wedding bookings for this year, so some couples are obviously still looking around at different suppliers and ideas for their day. I am confident saying that cost is a big factor, so they are taking their time, comparing prices and services offered. Having said that, we have three bookings already for 2013. We do still have limited availability for 2012, but wedding and hen party fever started immediately in the New Year and we are sending out quotes on almost a daily basis at the moment.
How do you relax after a busy day?
At the moment most days are busy – excitingly, the business is growing quite quickly and I am finding it difficult not to be thinking about new ideas every minute of the day, but I hope to get better at this relaxing business! I tend to catch up with paperwork in the evenings when my boys are in bed. My guilty pleasures are a large glass of wine whilst watching Masterchef or one of our many American Box Sets, currently we are spoilt for choice with Damages or The Wire.
Where can we find you?
Contact Karen Eggleton
Website/blog: Darby and Joan Vintage
Thanks Karen for the Interview with Darby and Joan English Vintage China