Ellie & Sean of Selwyn House (3 min Read)

Radical Giving - Selwyn House

What's your life motto?

We don't really have one! We kind of know the life we want to have, so we're really always just aiming for that! If anything, our philosophy would be, 'it's worth a try'. We could plan and think about things for months on end but until we've physically done it, it means nothing!

What have you learnt so far?

We've been very lucky to have found suppliers who share the same values as we do, and I think that's key. They have such passion for trees and timber, and utilising this incredible resource sustainably and purposefully means more to them than just profits. That's been really important in cementing why we choose solely British timber - because our business supports not only ourselves, but is part of a whole supply chain who are invested in making sure we can celebrate and use each and every tree which has to come down.

Where is your favourite place?

Yorkshire Sculpture Park. We met on the same Fine Art course at Leeds College of Art 13 years ago, and YSP was one of the first places they took us on an excursion. In a sentimental way I think it's meant something to us ever since! It's a really peaceful place and brilliant to go for a walk around even if you have no interest in art! But if you do then the quality of the work there is incredible. Our favourites are watching the changing sky from the Deer Shelter, and then heading up the hill to try and spot the bronze tree roots hidden in the undergrowth.

Name your three favourite words?

Time for coffee. It's what gets us up in the morning, and what gives us an excuse to take a break from the workshop in the afternoon!

What do you think makes a good company?

Transparency, honesty and being personable. We're all just people buying from people! Unfortunately I think a lot of large companies are run by someone sitting in an office making decisions based on numbers on a spreadsheet, without ever having come into contact with a product! For us it's really important to truly make what we like - what we have in our own home, products which work and will last. And to continually try to do better!

Can you describe your workplace?

Very close! We are very lucky to live and work in the same space (especially so through lockdown). There's an old barn at the bottom of the garden which we use as the workshop - in it's life it's been used as a stable block and a car garage (there's still a chassis in one corner!). We have to say we've slightly outgrown it now, and every time it rains we're checking for and fixing leaks...so we're currently on the lookout for a nice new space!

What is your favourite food?

We love all food, I don't think we could pick just one! But we are excellent at hot sandwiches (and, if we need a backup plan we'd open a food truck with a rolling menu of delicious sandwiches…!)

What can you not live without?

Coffee. Our cat Sue. The telly! (we are unapologetically telly addicts!)

What is the last thing you bought?

For the business, sandpaper - we're always having to buy more! For ourselves, we mainly only buy food - but we treat ourselves every week to proper bakery bread, fruit and veg from a proper veg shop, and meat from a proper butchers.

What advice would you give to the younger generation?

If you've got your family, and a few great friends, that's all that matters. Jobs come and go, money comes and goes, but the best parts of your life are with the people that love you. Appreciate them.

Proudest moment?

Completing our mammoth order for Swiss department store Globus last year. We're a tiny tiny company, just the two of us in a little workshop at the end of our garden. We made hundreds of pieces that were sold in huge, established shops all over Switzerland. We still find it hard to believe! It took every ounce of energy to finish that order but doing it confirmed to us that we are making things that deserve to be there.

What’s next?

Hopefully a workshop move soon, when we find the right place. We dream of a clean space and smooth level floors! And this year is shaping up to be our busiest yet, with lots of exciting orders and stockists in the pipeline!

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1 comment

  • Sherry

    A wonderful, inspiring and warm interview from a great couple following their dream.

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