Links to recent articles about The Velveteen Rabbit.
The Velveteen Rabbit Pop up
A recent article featured on Evoke.ie
‘This is my passion,’ says Zoe Carney, 36, when we first meet at her pop-up store, a Pandora’s box filled with olde-worlde homewares, eclectic curiosities and charming shabby-chic reclaimed furniture.
‘People’s houses fascinate me. I love to hear a story, I walk in and am always “where did you get this and that?” and I’ve had that curiosity ever since I was a child, so about a year and a half ago I thought I have to see if I can give this a go.’
“This” being her new venture The Velveteen Rabbit, a business that deals in pre-loved, repurposed and antique furniture, aptly named after the children’s novel by Margery Williams and based around the principle that ‘old things are the best’.
Her stock includes a wonderful mix of pieces she buys in from far-flung exotic locations such as India, items she has scouted for in auction houses in Ireland and quirky finds she has made in antique fairs and markets on her travels over the past year across Europe – which she then completely re-purposes, salvages or alters in some small way.
‘A lot of the furniture you see here, I’ve cleaned, treated properly, sanded, waxed, polished and most things that I buy if I don’t salvage completely I do something to them,’
There’s a turquoise and buttercup dresser and sideboard that came from a kitchen in an Irish house and had never been moved since the 1930s; an old set of printer’s type drawers that, when she found them, were being used to store garden seeds and bulbs; hand-painted vintage birdcages; a 90-year-old rustic Slovakian working cart and a stunning gold-leaf gilded two-seater chaise in the window that a self-taught Zoe recently upholstered.
‘I am creative, so to just sell things I would find really hard. I love the idea of not totally changing something, but working on it just a bit to give it that finish that I really like, or a new purpose.’
A former designer, the 36-year-old Dubliner worked in fashion for many years, first creating her own label of handmade dresses. But when the recession hit, she got a job as a personal shopper for retail giant TopShop before becoming an independent personal shopper.
Looking for another avenue to explore career-wise, it was while on holiday with her boyfriend and shopping at an antique market that she realised homewares was the way forward. ‘I was busy picking things up and down and he (her boyfriend) turned to me and said “look at you, look how happy you are”,’ she recalls.
The move into homewares was not a difficult one. ‘I have gone from making a dress to a couch, it’s all the same, design is all from the same place.’
Initially she started out small from a little studio, doing up pieces of furniture and selling her creations to friends and then through adverts.ie. ‘It was a really good way to put the feelers out and see if any one likes it, and people found me and then came to the studio and bought from me.’
She now has a large showroom in the Harold’s Cross area of the capital where she can showcase her finished gems and also work from, and is due to launch the retail end of her business on January 26, online at www.thevelveteenrabbit.ie and by appointment at the showroom space.
The inspiration for her collection, she explains, is ‘my taste, it’s just what I like’ with an underlying influence from her mother who ‘has an amazing eye’ and taught her how to scour markets for treasures while growing up in Dún Laoghaire.
It’s a signature style and taste she has now communicated to the invaluable contacts made abroad who know exactly what she is looking for and now act as scouts on the ground, sourcing pieces for her in their respective countries as disparate as Hungry and India.
Besides putting her stylish stamp on these type of furnishings that will soon be available online, Zoe will in turn be acting as a scout, a personal interior shopper for her Irish or, indeed, international client base, a natural transition from her fashion days.
She admits that ‘one of my favourite things to do is to go and find something for someone’.
And if you would like a taste of The Velveteen Rabbit at your party, celebration or wedding, a selection of Zoe’s unique collection will also be available to rent.
By Kim Willoughby