I can't begin to tell you how much I love Sonali from Little Goldie Shop! We were both working our stands at the last Babyccino Shop-Up, when we both just started talking and hit it off! I loved her enthusiasm and her great chat! I had a wonderful time at the Shop Up mainly because of her company! We kept in touch and then decided to get a studio space together. I loved our talks in the studio about motherhood, being a mum boss and housing prices! I think there was more talking happening than actual work, but it doesn't matter, we had a great time! She has now moved on from our studio in preparation for the arrival of the latest additional to her beautiful family. I have missed our chats but I know soon we'll be catching up over coffee.
Sonali has an eye for beautiful, well-made, hand-crafted toys and home decor. The studio was filled with it! Staying true to her ethos, she only stocks toys and gifts that stand the test of time and that can be passed on and on and on.
I had the great pleasure of having a little chit chat with her about her business. Please read on to find out more about Little Goldie Shop and please head on over to her beautifully curated shop! And also check out her instagram!
1. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I live in London with my boys and grew up in the midlands then the north of England. I used to be a journalist, but quit when my toddler was born. But, when I was a child, I always wanted to be an artist or a writer. Or, y’know, a talentless rockstar!
2. WHAT SPARKED THE IDEA OF LITTLE GOLDIE?
I knew when I was pregnant with my toddler that I didn’t want to go back to my old career, but I had no idea what else I would do. I figured I had my maternity leave to work it out!
I got lost in children’s design when he was first born – I couldn’t believe how much beautiful stuff was being made! So I wondered: could I have a little shop, too?
In my imagination, I’d keep the stock in air-tight-boxes in the loft, and have a little packing station (I love stationery, so it was all very cutesy). It wasn’t as simple as I imagined – it was a lot MESSIER and BIGGER than I planned and did NOT fit in my loft. A huge amount of investment (all my savings and then some) and effort later, it’s still a lot of hard work, but I’m so proud that I gave it a go.
I love the saying “buy less, buy better” – because it can be so easy to just get an endless storm of toys and clothes for your kids. And it is pretty fun to indulge in that way. But then you end up wasting a lot, and children don’t really engage fully with what they have. And honestly, who has the space for all that stuff?
We’re moving into a time now when our children are (hopefully) going to become more thoughtful consumers than we were – I grew up in the 80s, the era of “must have! Buy! Buy! Buy!” I know it sounds ridiculous, because I have a shop, but I decided to change that former wasteful attitude about myself, and try to invest in things that have been thoughtfully made, environmentally friendly and built to last.
I have to admit, I struggle to do that with my own clothes, though. I don’t own a lot, but I do buy cheap stuff that really isn’t built to last. I am working on finding alternative brands.
3. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE TOY/KIDS DÉCOR DESIGNERS?
I really love incredibly well-made wooden toys. Grimms and Ostheimer are two of my favourite toy-makers; the quality is unbeatable. And they inject a little imaginative magic into all their toys, too.
I also love the Polka Dot Club bears for their nostalgic quality, too. They’re just so beautifully made – they are bears to keep for generations. And I love the handmade upcycled cashmere Snuggly Uglies and the super-cool wooden LexyPexy teethers... to be honest, if I stock it in my shop I love it. My shop is my own personal edit of my favourites!
4. DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE? DOES THIS INFLUENCE THE WAY YOU DRESS YOUR LITTLE ONE?
I love things that look classic, timeless and cosy, which definitely influences how I dress my kids.
When I was growing up, my mother handmade a lot of our clothes. She loved classic dresses and dungarees on children and – with nostalgia – so do I.
If something is well made, it has an unmistakable look about it. I am always impressed by my talented friends who hand-make theirs and their children’s clothes – I don’t have those skills, so I buy them!
For my kids, knits are my favourite – but the quality is paramount. Children are meant to get their clothes mucky and they’re meant to wear them a million times so they’ll need to be washed a lot. If I’m going to buy something, I have to be able to trust that the brand delivers that kind of quality.
I have boys, so I didn’t want to dress them as a stereotype right from the start: trucks and blue and ‘I love daddy’ slogans. (Though my toddler would probably LOVE a blue t-shirt with a truck on it that says “I love daddy!”).
I don’t know why we have to teach children that colours are for certain genders. Or even bother to make an effort to make a tiny baby look male or female. Who cares? It’s a baby! It should wear something cosy, not a stiff shirt or a pair of jeans. So I tend to gravitate towards things that are comfortable, gender-neutral, well-made and great quality.
Having said all that, when my 2.5-yr-old goes to his childminder, he wears cheap clothes bought in the sale, and not much else, as then he can lose it, slop curry on it, whatever, and I don’t care!
5. WHERE DO YOU GAIN INSPIRATION FROM WHEN COMING UP WITH NEW IDEAS FOR LITTLE GOLDIE?
I spend a lot of time browsing image-sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram. I love start-up brands and the beautiful things they make. There’s so much passion there, and so much talent.
6. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CAFÉ, BOOKSHOP, CLOTHING SHOP, ETC THAT YOU GO TO AND GAIN INSPIRATION FROM OR JUST GO AND HAVE A LOVELY THINK?
I don’t have a specific favourite, but I love wandering around Stoke Newington Church Street, where I live, and going into the shops along that row for a look around. The items are so well curated. I love my spot in London.
7. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO GO TO WITH YOUR KIDS?
The beach or a long walk somewhere that feels a little bit in the countryside. We live in Hackney and spend most of our days in this fun urban place. So on the weekend, I like to go up to Epping Forest or down to Camber Sands, or somewhere new and outdoors to have a walk and explore. Though Hampstead Heath will always do if we want somewhere closer to home.
8. IF YOU COULD COLLOBARATE WITH ANYONE WHO WOULD THIS BE? WHY?
Rather than collaborate with another brand, to be honest, I would love to try and design my own collection of toys. I’ve been talking about it since the shop opened and I am in serious danger of being “all talk” so we shall see if I managed to pull that off in the new year.
I’m about to have another baby, so those plans are on hold for a bit, just so I can enjoy his baby days.
9. WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN? WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO US?
Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.
10. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING LITTLE GOLDIE, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR SECOND DREAM JOB?
Hmm… maybe an author and an early years forest school leader, but both part time and at the same time - so that I get both solitary indulgence and outdoorsy fun with little kids in my life! I need to do something outside and with people - being indoors a lot drives me absolutely crazy. Just ask my husband!
11. FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY.
I had a lovely childhood so it’s very tricky to narrow it down to just one event! This may not be my favourite, but it’s the one I can think of right now that I really loved as I was just remembering it and telling a friend about it recently.
When I was maybe six-years-old, my pregnant cat decided she wanted to give birth in my bedroom at the bottom of my bookshelf. We cleared the space and laid out a little zone for her with clean towels and water. My dad told me that she chose my room because she loved and trusted me the most (who knows if that’s true, but I believed it!). It was just so exciting waiting for them to arrive and then having these tiny kittens in my room. I don’t remember her giving birth, she obviously did that privately, but I remember seeing the kittens for the first time and I can still remember the smell of them, sort of a soft smell, something warm and new.