London Life Shops

souvenir – a treasure trove in highgate

February 7, 2013

By now, readers of my blog know that i tend to stumble across places. Often it’s while looking for bijoux flats, other times it’s because i’m out and about looking for inspiration. This was the latter. I drove by the shop window and just had to stop. In i went!

Souvenir opened its doors for the first time just over a year ago. It’s a space showcasing the work of exciting british-based artists and designers. You’ll find hand-made products like prints and illustrations, jewellery, textiles, homeware, stationery and gifts. There’s also an ever-changing selection of vintage treasures.

The shop currently only opens from wednesday to saturday. Come on in, let me show you round!

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Meet cassie ostwald, a graphic designer and former set designer. I wanted to know what made cassie open a shop so asked her a few questions!

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What is your background? Do you come from a creative family? I graduated as a graphic designer and then worked as a set stylist before opening souvenir. My family are all creative – my parents met at central st martins and both had creative careers. My father was a graphic designer, then moved into directing TV commercials. My mother was a fashion designer before opening several of her own successful shops.

How did you arrive at opening a bricks and mortar gifts boutique? Did you ever consider only online? I’d been thinking for a while about opening a space showcasing the work of exciting new artists and designers. Then the shop in highgate came free and i’d grown up in the area, so knew it well. I wanted an actual space, rather than just selling online, so that I could create an environment for people to step into and experience. I like being able to use the windows to create eye-catching displays and I enjoy the process of meeting customers and seeing their reactions to different pieces. You can’t get that from an online shop.

How do you choose the products you want to stock? I look for pieces that are unusual, well made and affordable. The idea of the shop is that everything looks like an illustration, whether it’s a cushion, an eggcup or a necklace. I like things to be functional as well as beautiful. If it makes me smile or it’s something i haven’t seen before, then i’m drawn to it. There’s an animal theme in the space, particularly foxes – this wasn’t planned, but has turned out to be what most customers respond to.

You specialise in british-based artists and designers. This is a refreshing approach….. I decided to focus on british-based artists and designers as we have so many talented people here. I also wanted to be able to meet the artists whose work I showcase, and to support our economy.

What are the ups and downs of your first year trading? The first year of trading has gone by so quickly. The ups have been meeting all of the different people who step into souvenir and hearing their amazing feedback about the space. When people stop in their tracks as they walk past the windows and start smiling at the pieces they’re seeing. The amount of people who say they were driving past and had to stop and come in. How enthusiastic everyone has been about the shop, especially local people who are so pleased to have it in the area. Being chosen by ‘time out’ as one of London’s best new shops was wonderful. The downs would have to be the current economic climate, but we’re still doing well in spite of it, which makes me feel positive.

Do you have a vision/dream for the future of souvenir? In the future I would like to also sell online, we’re already having a lot of enquiries from other parts of the world asking us to post pieces out. I want to continue to discover new and exciting artists and designers. It would be great to eventually expand to other locations.

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I love all these lamps, always have!

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I loved many of the products but these handmade vintage velvet greyhound and fox cushions were by far my favourite. I think they are elegant and sophisticated and each one is different due to being handmade. The greyhound one is such a perfect present for a man, do you agree? They come in 2 sizes. A true find and exclusive to souvenir!

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The hand-painted hamster and badger jugs are gorgeous, aren’t they?

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Major pug love here, in the form of salt and pepper shakers!

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Now, for those who saw my post earlier in the week, you might recognise this fella! I will use him as a sugar bowl.

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I’ve always had a soft spot for tin toys.

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A few more products that appealed to me.

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This vintage tri-ang baby walker was kindly donated by a customer who thought it would add to the souvenir decor. Apparently it has already enchanted many small people.

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Laugh at me all you want, but I completely fell in love with these handmade superheros keyrings. Yup! I had to have them all (well a girl needs protection, right?). I say all, but in the end i bought the following: asterix, obelisk, yoda, mr t, superman, spiderman and batman! I tell you, they really make me smile and are settling in well. Now, for those clever sleuths, which one did i not take home with me? 

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I’m sure you’ll agree with me that if the uk had more shops like souvenir, our high streets wouldn’t be in such array and this would give the growing online shopping industry a run for their money.

I live locally to souvenir so can drop in as and when. I hope that some of you will visit and others will wait for the online shop to open. It was rather a pleasure to be there and purchase my goodies. I certainly left with a smile on my face!

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37 Comments

  • Reply annie February 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Well that’s a lovely shop and God knows Highgate needs something other than Costa and Carluccios!
    We have that grand prix game. Evan loves it. x

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:26 am

      Haha. Is that how you see Highgate?

      I LOVE that Grand Prix game too x

  • Reply sue February 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    once again, what a lovely find! yes, i wish these shops were the norm & not the exception! think you scored with the owl indeed!

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:26 am

      Thanks. LOVE my owl and well spotted… yes always happy to support independent shops.

  • Reply Melissa February 7, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    The vintage woodland animals are so cute! Especially loving the greyhound and fox cushions. Excited that this is all in London too! I’ll have to check it out 🙂 Keep the beautiful pieces coming! x

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:28 am

      Hello Melissa and thank you for stopping by;-)

      Yes, those cushions were my favourite. If you get a change, do check it out.
      Thank you x

  • Reply Louise de Miranda February 7, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    what a cute shop! If I had kids I would shop here. Need to go here in March to get some presents for my friends’ kids

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:29 am

      Then you’ll need a ride from your friend. Fancy the Vespa??? x

  • Reply Parisbreakfast February 8, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Super fabulous shop! I could not resist a thing here…like candy
    IRresistable!
    Bonne chance to Cassie and thanks for sharing!

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:29 am

      Ha. Maybe in March we’ll go for a trip here…. it is rather irresistable.
      Merci Carol!

  • Reply owls house london. February 8, 2013 at 9:28 am

    A great find! I know Highgate quite well (I thought) but I didn’t know this one.. Thanks for aharing it. I’ll take a couple of those matching soldier egg cups.

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:30 am

      It’s not on the High Street but the other side. Hello, and thanks for commenting:-)

  • Reply Doris February 8, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Such a lovely shop! I’m going to pop in soon as I need to get some goodies for friends and family when I go back to Oz. Thank You again!

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:31 am

      When are you going to OZ? have I missed you already???
      Do pop in, you won’t be disappointed! x

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey February 8, 2013 at 11:17 am

    A real curiosity shop it would seem. And a curious selection of products. It looks like a Highgate-esque shop. Somewhat quaint and eccentric. I can’t say I like this place – I don’t dislike it either – but I do admire Cassie Ostwald’s spirit and desire to have a physical location that is about giving customers a creative shopping experience.

    It’s not my taste, but that will come as no surprise to you. And if you were to give me that greyhound as a gift, well I’d be a little bit miffed 😉 My minuscule kitsch side however would like that Baby Lapin Lamp.

    I wish Carrie all the best & hope her future plans come to fruition.

    And was it Super Mario you left behind?

    Gxx

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:13 am

      Ha. Don’t worry, I would never gift you the velvet greyhound. I think that would be a big faux-pas;-)

      I wonder what I would gift you? Oh, yes, I just need to go to Fritz Hansen or Skandium or…. I think I could find 100’s products for you.

      Yes, love that Cassie gives her customers a ‘creative shopping experience’.
      So, I think we won’t meet up there, right?

      YES, Super Mario, didn’t like his figure:-)

      xx

  • Reply Chi @ 106 February 8, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    What an adorable shop and such a laudable philosophy behind it! L and I could lose ourselves in its array of goodies for hours, I’m sure.

    Are you kidding?! I LOVE the superhero keyrings. Would you just look at Mr. T in all his finery?! So funny. Asterix and Obelisk were childhood favourites of my brothers and I growing up.

    You left the Super Mario one behind, didn’t you? Definitely one for the Nintendo generation. 😀 x

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:16 am

      I can just imagine you and L in there. I wonder who would be more enchanted???

      Oh, great. Love that you LOVE the superhero. I know, isn’t mr T just the coolest?
      I also grew uo with Asterix and Obelisk xx

  • Reply WeHeartHome February 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    A true wonderland this place!! I can imagine you had a great time and your pride taking your little super heroes home 🙂 And I think your readers know you well, Tina … I’m guessing you ditched Super Mario too.

    I LOVE those birdie book marks! And the image is STUNNING.

    Thanks again for taking us on your adventures, always such a pleasure.

    Xx. Holly.

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:17 am

      Yeah! Ditched Super Mario.. who is he anyway? You know I don’t like online games etc.

      Glad you enjoyed the tour xx

  • Reply Michaela February 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Wow – it’s like an Alladin’s Cave – and that greyhound cushion is so cute! (I love greyhounds!!) Thanks for sharing Tina, reminds me of the good ole days in Highgate!!! xx

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:18 am

      I also love greyhounds and it’s really quite classy (not classy enough for Mr Grey:-) but I assure you he’s grand!!! xx

  • Reply Alison Sye February 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    You sure do find some wonderful places, Tina. Those collars on the greyhounds are so lovely. I’m now on their mailing list.

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:19 am

      Yes, and each one is different. I thought the same thing. Thanks Alison. x

  • Reply caroline @trend-daily February 10, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Lovely place! Have the very same key rings for the kids.Just love them 🙂 x

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:19 am

      Ha. Great minds think alike etc etc xx

  • Reply leah of sang the bird February 11, 2013 at 4:09 am

    Oh my this shop is darling! I would love to spend some time checking it out. I love the little blue figurine with and the bunny and mushroom. Such a cute trio. You discover some of the coolest places!! I imagine that you left Mario behind… Much love honey xx

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:21 am

      Yes, adore the Baby Lapin Lamp and also the others. They would make a good trio!
      Thanks love xx

  • Reply Anya Jensen February 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Tina – OHHH I am in shop love really. What a fab place and the stuff is just adorable. I am swooning over the white antique looking cabinet – so beautiful, and I need me a super hero key ring too – Mr T is hilarious:)
    Happy day to you – today we woke up to a blanket (and I mean blanket) of snow – bring on spring pls:)
    Axx

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:23 am

      Ha, Mr T is so fab, really!!

      That white antique looking cabinet is rather gorgeous, I agree.
      I hope spring will be upon us soon xx

  • Reply Nicola February 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks Tina, I didn’t know about this shop so must have last been to Highgate over a year ago! It’s very quirky – and quaintly British, yet modern don’t you think?

    I wish her all the best with her shop x

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:23 am

      I didn’t know you were a regular in Highgate??

      Yes, British, modern and lovely xx

  • Reply geraldine February 12, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I had to do a double take when you said Highgate. I’ve never seen this shop before. What an amazing place. Will definitely go to explore and most all to support. Lovely seeing you on sunday and thanks for the books again xx

    • Reply tina February 14, 2013 at 1:25 am

      Had thought you would know it. Always happy to introduce you to new stuff, you know that!

      Yes, you’ll find great things for the kids and maybe for yourself too. Really worth a visit.

      Greta to see you too love and happy you’re enjoying the books xx

  • Reply Margarida February 17, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Oh gosh! What a nice shop 🙂 I think I’ll have to go there on a treasury hunt.
    Thank you for sharing <3

    • Reply tina February 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

      It’s really charming and worth a trip:-)

  • Reply Shona March 11, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I love the look of this shop – especially the cushions. Thanks for another inspiring blog post with lovely photography – I must pay a trip. Shona

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