SHOPKEEPERS are in the business of selling their stock and that’s certainly the aim of Fee Storey and husband Adam at their new concept store in Edinburgh.
However, Fee admits to having a soft spot for the taxidermy magpie that sits in the window, keeping an eye on approaching customers.
“It’s absolutely beautiful and I’m very fond of it so I don’t know how I’ll feel if someone buys it,” she says.
However, at £650, it’s one of the most expensive items in the shop and may be secure on its perch for the moment while customers snap up the less pricey accessories, gifts and homewares all created by British contemporary designers and artists, along with creations from Italian leatherworkers, Israeli jewellers and cutting-edge Japanese designers,
Affordability is a priority in Life Story, the store Fee and Adam have launched, determined to showcase less well-known design talent, as well as selling the home accessories, screen prints and clothing Fee designs in her on-site studio.
“Most of all, we want to keep the prices down. The most expensive dress is £80, T-shirts are £22 and jackets £75, because it’s very frustrating to find beautiful clothing and have to pay the earth for it. What matters is form, function and affordability,” says the Edinburgh College of Art graduate.
What the Storeys reckon makes their shop different is that they are independent and have a knack for putting things together, a magpie’s eye for the interesting, attractive and functional. They’re also keen to feed the demand for contemporary design created by the closure of high street giants such as Habitat.
Good design is a mutual obsession, with Fee, 32, having worked as a textile designer and graphics artist with international fashion houses including Eley Kishimoto, H&M and Marks & Spencer before establishing her own design company, Alphabet. Adam is the creative director of an international interior design business which has worked with Harvey Nichols, LK Bennett, Dune, Pied a Terre and Selfridges. With CVs like these, Life Story is a natural progression for the pair who want to showcase the talented designers they know about.
“We’re promoting emerging talent and determined to get it out there, because it’s very difficult for people to make a living at it. There are great people and stories behind the products, such as the family in the West Country who hand-make our beeswax candles, or the woman who makes our recycled perspex and wood geometric jewellery from Tel Aviv. We’ve a real mix … all linked by good contemporary design. It’s things we love, so we hope others will too,” says Fee.
“Our ethos is influenced by Japanese and Scandinavian design. We like their respect for simplicity and symmetry and the importance of things being functional as well as beautiful. There’s no fuss and it’s all stripped back and muted but they’re not scared to use bright colours too,” she adds.
One of the big draws in the shop is Fee’s own clothing design. Mainly pared-back monochrome creations in simple shapes, they’re the clothes she struggles to find on the high street.
“My designs are screen printed and I choose styles and alter patterns to create more interesting shapes and embellishments. Then I send them to a Japanese seamstress to make them up. The T-shirts are longer than usual and asymmetric in cut, and I like things you can wear two ways,” she says.
Refitting a shop might test the strongest of relationships but Fee says she and Adam relish working together. “We complement each other and enjoyed the design. Adam put in a lot of hours doing the labouring and I had to do the buying and make things look good. It took five weeks of hard graft, then I had a night to make the stock look good.”
Mission accomplished and the shop open for business, Fee accepts the couple’s love of travel may be curtailed. “Travel’s really important as not everything is on your doorstep and it opens you up to ideas. But for the moment we won’t be going anywhere. The shop is open seven days a week so we’re staying put.” A bit like the beautiful magpie – unless, of course, you just can’t resist.
• Life Story, 53 London Street, Edinburgh (0131-629 9699, www.lifestoryshop.com)