Welcome to our Inspiring Confidence series, where we delve into personal interviews with influential Varley women. By focusing on instilling quiet confidence, we uncover their unique journeys, experiences, and insights, celebrating the remarkable perspectives of women who inspire us.
This month, we sat down with Louise Roe, renowned fashion journalist, mother, and founder of Sharland England, a celebration of all things nostalgic. From elegant wicker to antique chairs and aromatic, scented candles, every item at Sharland is thoughtfully handmade, with a commitment to creating beautiful pieces that stand the test of time.
Q: Can you tell us about your journey from fashion journalism to founding Sharland England?
I began my career in magazines, working as News Editor for Vogue.com and as a features writer for Elle and In Style. Some of the articles I wrote touched on interiors, and to be honest, I think the love for creating something aesthetically pleasing bridges fashion and interiors. Years later, after a decade living in LA and having moved back to England, I had been searching for something new to create, and the idea slowly formed to design rattan furniture and tabletop. It took me a solid couple of years of research and learning to get there, but we launched 18 months ago!
"I had been searching for something new to create, and the idea slowly formed to design rattan furniture and tabletop."
Q: How has your personal style influenced your approach to interior design?
The older I get, the more I rely upon a paired-back wardrobe, one filled with truly quality pieces. I'd rather have one immaculately tailored blazer than 15 jackets that I sort of like. Conversely, my interior design aesthetic is pretty maximalist: I love layers of warm colours and rich textures, full of antiques and pattern. I'd say my fashion sense and interiors sense are actually quite different.
Q: Sharland England is known for its handmade, timeless pieces. How do you believe thoughtful interior design contributes to instilling quiet confidence in the home?
Exactly that! Investing in a beautifully handcrafted statement piece (which doesn't have to be huge, it could be a vase), is a great springboard for inspiring the rest of a room, whether that be the colour palette or the general atmosphere. Rooms should tell a story, so I always like to have a mix of old, new, imperfect, antique - things that have sentimental value too.
Q: We're excited to have your candles as the scent of our King's Road store. Can you talk us through how you chose the scent and how you see it adding to the overall atmosphere?
I am thrilled too! It took me two years to create the five scents we have just launched at Sharland England. The candles are hand-poured into amber glass, which I think brings warmth into a room. The scent at the Varley store is our newest launch, Amber & Suede. To me, it feels like a moody, cosy, elegant Autumn afternoon... it makes me want a cocktail! The fragrance notes include grapefruit, amber, sandalwood, suede, and elemi.
Q: In a world where trends come and go, how do you balance timeless design with personal style when curating the collections for Sharland England?
I don't do it purposefully; I think I have always been drawn to rattan and timeless items that don't really date themselves. The brand is inspired and named after my great-Granny Marjorie Sharland, whose antiques and rattan furniture I grew up surrounded by. I like to update with accents like the flowers on the table, things that can be easily changed.
Q: What challenges have you faced in building your brand, and how have they shaped your journey?
It was a big risk, and still is, to launch my own homewares brand! There are challenges every day, and like any business we are constantly learning. But I have been lucky enough to have support and advice from those I trust - Varley founders Ben & Lara included!
Q: What role does confidence play in your business philosophy and the experiences you aim to create for your customers?
That's a great question. I think because we are still small, and self-owned, we are nimble when it comes to decisions. The area I have most confidence in, is design and styling - I know exactly what our DNA is, how I think our imagery should look and how our presence should be felt by the consumer. When I design a new product, I am enjoying myself - I have a confidence in the direction we are going, visually.
Q: What tips or advice do you have for our readers who want to create a space that reflects their personal style and instils a sense of confidence?
Two areas to begin with: where does the natural light fall in the room at different times of the day? For example, this could determine where you put your desk or table. Secondly: paint colour. I usually create a moodboard full of images from books, Pinterest, even National Trust properties, and I get ideas predominantly from the paint on the walls first. The colour will set a mood, you can then think about painting the window frames or bookshelves to match, and the room begins to come together.
Q: Looking ahead, what excites you the most about the future of Sharland England?
I'm excited at how the brand is growing in the US and have a couple of trips planned to host dinners and trunk shows. I'd love one day in a few years, to open a shop of our own - and of course, I’ve already made the moodboard...