We are all very excited here at Hettie about our feature in the Sunday express S magazine this month
Our first major national interview which we are very proud to have been asked to do. The S Magazine covers everything lifestyle from entertainment through property diet and fashion. For a young expanding lifestyle brand such as Hettie it was the perfect place to tell everyone a little bit more about us and our brand .
In case you missed it , here is our feature below.
Words by Lisa Byrne
Photos by Tom Wood Photography
Sipping a refreshing G & T surrounded by family and dogs , including her "daft " boxer Bruce , and Mabel a French bulldog cross, Sian Reekie is full of passion. The glamorous 55 year old , who together with her son Tom Wood, 28, and daughter-in-law Stephanie, 26 , launched hugely successful company Hettie in 2016 , is a staunch believer in the positives of making the leap from traditional employment to follow your dreams.
"Thankfully the image of work has changed dramatically over the past few years " Sian says."Flexible hours have replaced the nine to five , so there's never been a better time to immerse yourself into doing a career you love or creating your own. Life is too short ."
This is exactly what happened to Sian's family after striking up a conversation over a barbecue in the garden of their 300 year old home near the Warwickshire village of Princethorpe. " As a family , our main passion is spending time together out in the countryside with our beloved dogs " the former pharmacist says. " A few years ago we were having one of our many family suppers and the idea for Hettie just seemed to come together. "
Former teacher Tom , who also owns a photography business , his wife , Stephanie who runs an interior's business , and Sian , spotted a gap in the market for high-end accessories for people and their canine companions. They were committed to ensuring the brand was quintesstially English and used UK-made fabrics for their range of products.
"It just made sense " says Tom. Us British are renowned for being so in love with our dogs. But we noticed there was a lack of beautiful products that both owners and pooches would love."
Taking in the view of rolling hills and valleys from the garden of her Grade II listed home, you can understand why the family was inspired to create a classically English company. Sian , who has another son James , explains, "Hettie was born with our family brainstorming over dinner in this stunning part of the country about how we could work together in a business , share our passions and utilise all of the skills, knowledge and experiences that we have "
The family was inspired by the environment."We live in the beautiful countryside of Warwickshire and have many stunning walks and villages right on our doorstep " says Sian."We wanted to make a country-inspired collection, and a range of accessories seemed a perfect way to start "
Sian , who is married to her second husband Ian , whose expertise has proved helpful thanks to his background in logistics , had many meetings with her son and daughter-in-law.
"Steph made some samples and we visited a lovely manufacturing team in Blackburn to chat about the best way to make them. We've worked with them ever since and they've been a huge part of the creative process"
Stephanie , who gave birth to baby Ben 8 months ago, adds "I chose bag styles that I would personally buy and use , that offer both practicality and style , and added a touch of Hettie to them. As dogs are a huge part of our lives ( the couple have a Labrador and a Patterjack ) , it made sense to try and incorporate them and make it a lifestyle brand for all of the family to enjoy.
"My husband Tom is a great photographer and specialises in fine reportage style. His eye for natural photographs has really helped us make our branding soft, subtle and exactly right "
Wanting a quintessentially English name , the trio agreed on Hettie - the shortened version of Henrietta, which has always been a family favourite .They set about investigating which fabrics to use , deciding on the best in the business Abraham Moon, , established in 1837 , the year Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. The classic brand is inspired by the British landscape and aims to reflect the natural colour tones found within the countryside .
"It was a no-brainer," says Stephanie . " As well as running the interior's business my parents had careers in the interior design and upholstery industry , and knew of the incredible fabrics of Moon. It was obvious they would be perfect fit for our country-inspired collection"
The family is committed to being environmentally conscious and promoting sustainability.
Stephanie adds ,"In today's consumer society it's really important to create long-lasting products. Having had a background in home interiors, I loved both Abraham Moon's commitment to the environment and modern twist on traditional patterns- that's what gives Hettie that exciting , vibrant edge compared to other country accessories "
Sian agrees,"We believe it is important to take care of the world we live in.Frankly it's ridiculous and upsetting the amount of things that people buy just to throw away. In contrast our collection is made from natural wool which is bio-degradable and eco-friendly ."
With orders coming in from across the globe, including Europe , America and Canada , the Hettie team is thrilled with this burgeoning success.
"It's just amazing to get this kind of positive feedback on a worldwide level " says Sian. " I can't explain how incredible it feels to have created a lovely brand between us and learn so much along the way. I didn't know what a hashtag was at the start of this adventure- I'm a real pro now though "
Accessory wise , Hettie boasts a pet collection that includes dog bandanas, bow ties and coats , starting at £15 . For people a phone case starts at £40 while a family favourite is the Ella bag. Stephanie stays , "it's great for city escapes. I recently took mine on a jaunt to Rome. It's the perfect size for travelling essentials , such as water ,travel guide and sun cream , and can be worn across the body for those Segway tours "
Running a successful international accessory company can be all-consuming , but the three ensure they switch off. " It can be a little overwhelming , especially as we are committed to learning every aspect of the business ourselves ," says Sian , a grandmother of three with another grandchild on the way.
"We all work from home where everything is at our fingertips with mobile phones and IPads, but we make sure to leave them in a different room in the evenings so were are not tempted to look at them.
"Plus , I always take a break every few hours to go for a dog walk or bike ride to clear my head. And I love writing lists. There's always one on the go , and I write everything down that pops into my head "
So which famous owners and dogs would they like to see in Hettie ? "David Williams has two cheeky looking pups Ernie and Bert , who would look amazing in Hettie ," says Sian. 'As would the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's divine cocker spaniel Lupo, perhaps with Kate twinning with him wearing our Kate tote bag ".
Next Hettie is launching accessories for children and in the future hopes to introduce iconic British fabrics into the collection like Liberty prints.The team would like to help spruce up the UK's declining shopping centres.
"My grandparents ran a department store in Wales called Jones and Richards , which they opened in the 1940s," reminisces Sian . " I used to love working there as a little girl , we used to have copper tubes which sent money between the floors.
"It would be a dream come true to have Hettie lifestyle stores on the high street, where VIP guests would always be dogs , who would be made very welcome indeed "
For more information visit www.hettie.co.uk
Quintessentially British luxury accessories for adventures from rural to city