We first met the founder behind The Beaux Store, a London-based home-ware store specialising in unique antique rugs and portuguese Birkin baskets, at her Pop-Up in Notting Hill. Awed both by her beautiful collection and cool-girl vibe, for the week or so to come, we reverently kept referring to her as ‘The rug girl’. Now, some coffee dates later, we have taken to just calling her Ashley. The description remains spot-on, though. The Californian-turned-Londoner Ashley Brenn really radiates such a passion for her hand-picked home-wares and rugs – I’m sure she wouldn’t object at all to being ‘The rug girl’.
I’ve always had the travel bug. All I ever wanted for birthdays was trips and experiences! Since my first trip – I went to Paris when I was twelve and picked up some things for my room – on every single trip I’ve sourced something for myself. Now I basically buy one for me, and one for the Beaux Store. My trips naturally inform what’s available.
The store is also an extension of her eco-conscious way of life. ‘I try to eat locally and make my own skincare and over the last few years this awareness has expanded onto home goods and fashion. I know how much waste is involved in these industries and I’ve always wanted what I do to reflect my personal values.’ Since Ashley personally sources all the items during her travels her approach to the curation of her shop is a naturally sustainable one. She offers a selection of only thoughtfully made pieces that will elevate any room and stay with their new owners for a long time. ‘Everything I sell is thoughtfully chosen and since I have to be able to carry it, it’s naturally all available in small quantities.’
Her stunning antique rugs are one-of-a-kind, completely unique pieces that are sourced by hand from all over England. ‘I just love rugs, so this was a natural entry-way into home decor. My rugs were woven mostly by women in these small communities, around a hundred years ago. It’s so fun to think about how they got from point A to point B and after all the places they’ve been, they have arrived in England now.’
Being the rug-enthusiast that she is, in the beginning, it was proving hard to let go of the treasured pieces. As one left her hands, rug-FOMO would often set in, making her second guess the decision to sell it. But with practice, she’s been getting less attached. Having that strong personal connection to the memories and experiences of a past trip has always been important to Ashley when it came to accessorising spaces. Her love for the items she curates lies at the core of what she does.
I’ve never been keen on having a home that was mass-produced. I love pieces with History! It automatically adds depth to a room.
Ashley got her start in interior decorating enviably early on – throughout her childhood, she had always been involved in re-doing homes together with her parents. After making the transatlantic move over to London (if, like us, you just asked yourself why anyone would trade in LA sunrays for London fog – it was for love) and launching her blog, she felt that the time had come to start her own home decor shop at last.
The road towards having her business has been anything but linear for Ashley though. From going to college for theatre and neuroscience, then starting multiple businesses together with her brother, to working as a fashion buyer and photographer, she’s dipped her toes into a potpourri of vocations. But it has come in handy, and having started up companies before left her equipped for the challenges of her current endeavour. ‘It’s made me develop a very broad skill set.’ Ashley says when recounting her professional past. ‘I literally did everything. It’s been such a non-linear journey and if any of these steps hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be here.’
We agree that entrepreneurship can be daunting, especially when it is built upon something that has such great personal meaning for you. ‘I think the key to anything is to just jump in and learn as you go. No one knows how to run a business until they start – being my own boss has always been important to me but it is a little bit scary because it’s just me.’ Still, despite all the uncertainty, it feels inspiring to hear that your journey doesn’t always have to be planned ahead and that things will always work themselves out just fine. ‘Just take a chance and embrace the learning curve. I think every experience, good or bad, makes your life so much richer!’