Victoria Suffield, founder of smart, stylish homeware and fashion store The Hambledon on what the best dressed home will be wearing this summer, the delights of Winchester and poltergeists in the men’s section.
Where does the name of your shop come from? My mum has a shop called The Hambledon Gallery in Dorset, so it’s a homage to her. It’s named after a hill.
Why did you decide to open The Hambledon? I used to have a mailorder business called House, and we had a really weird concentration of customers around Winchester so I thought we should open a shop there. That honestly was the full extent of my market research.
How do you decide what to sell? I knew that I was interested in fashion but not to the exclusion of homeware or kids’ stuff or books or beauty, and I wanted to have a go at selling it all. I thought we could have a kind of department store vibe but super edited.
What’s your favourite thing in the shop right now? Pied de Poule plates [see above and bottom]. It’s such a simple idea – vintage French china which is then refired with a pink fluoro stripe or flash.
This summer, the best-dressed woman/man/child/home will be wearing… So much to chose from! She is wearing a Samantha Sung Audrey dress with some Jacksons espadrilles, he is wearing an Oliver Spencer jacket with a Gitman Bros shirt and some Norse Projects chinos, the child is wearing a pixellated Molo dress with some fluoro leggings. I think our homes should be full of simple glass vases, bottles and jugs full of fresh flowers.
Ten years in, what top tips can you give to budding entrepreneurs? Do what you love. You’ve got to do it every day, after all. And don’t focus on being an entrepreneur – so much of retail is the daily detail and not the big picture.
What’s a typical day in The Hambledon like? When we’re in the shop – a cup of coffee, lovely customers, some remerchandising, a bit of bill paying, blogging or photography and some kind of chat about a cunning plan. When we’re buying, lots of cups of coffee and lovely suppliers, clothes and things.
Did you find any Norman archaeological treasures when you renovated your basement to create the new men’s section? We found a bone which my daughter took to the local historical society to be identified. It was a very recent dog bone. A dog’s chew bone, not a dog’s femur or anything really creepy!
And is it true it’s haunted? Apparently there’s poltergeist activity. It does feature in a book about haunted Winchester but I’ve never seen anything…
Tell us about your colleagues. All lovely. And I think they all love each other (not in a complicated romantic way, though, that would be awkward). With only a few grumpy incidents over the years, it’s a pretty happy ship.
How did Rob Ryan get involved? I just loved his illustrations – we approached him and he was available. It was before he went absolutely stellar so it was a bit of a coup for us.
Tell us about your home, how do you decorate it? We moved to a tumbledown Thirties house last year and we’ve spent the past 12 months rebuilding. It had really lovely period details like parquet floors, Crittal windows and a larder which we’ve kept, and horrible bathrooms and a falling down roof which we’ve replaced. I love it. It’s white or grey with a bit of colour and not too much stuff but it’s a family home. Don’t imagine it’s always tidy!
What’s Winchester like? Share some top activity/shopping/dining tips pretty please. I am the Winchester evangelist. It’s a lovely place to live, particularly with kids. The Green Man for a drink, The Black Rat for dinner, The Railway for a gig now and again, the Cathedral for a bit of awe and the Water Meadows and St Catherine’s Hill for walking the dog.
Which outfit makes you feel brilliant? My new Cacharel dress which I wear with jeans and some very clonky Repetto shoes. I feel pretty good in that.
Describe your perfect weekend (when not working). Lots of sun! And watching my kids play football and rugby in the morning, lunch in the garden and friends for dinner. I’m a real homebody.
What kind of music do you like? I love Elliott Smith. I love Wilco (and I mean I properly love Jeff Tweedy). A bit noisy, a bit guitary, a bit folky and a bit wistful.