When is a shop not just a shop?
When you have philanthropic owners supporting people on the other side of the globe, promoting sustainability, where all products are handmade, upcycled, restored or renewed and their audience is taught how to do it too.
Hidden down a back street in historic Canterbury, is a White & Faded – a small shop that holds big ideas to help make an impact on poverty and financial independence.
Their ethos is all about restoring, reusing, handmaking and supporting small suppliers. Each product tells a story, is sustainable and the supply chain is ethical – deliberate choices from the owners.
Dutch Janet Parrella-van den Berg, with her background in interiors is the creative influence and designer, whilst Swiss/Italian husband Dino Parrella is the business brains.
The name White & Faded comes from Janet’s design interest in everything white; faded refers to breathing new life into older or unused items.
From online to retail
They opened their doors in November 2021 – at a time when the high street was closing shop after shop.
They saw an opportunity to move from successful online to retail – and Canterbury was where they wanted to be.
Janet, an interiors expert and photographer who has shared her own home renovations on social media with audiences of 100,000, specialises in white.
Her home is all white, the shop is all white – it’s all about using white or faded, as the company’s name suggests.
For 10 years they have sourced and sold products online and having now opened the shop, they are hoping for 2022 to be a better year, drawing on what Canterbury has to offer.
Dino said: “We chose Canterbury for its history, culture, diversity, arts and creativity. It really fitted so well with us and so this is where we found our ‘home’.”
“To be able to see the products, feel them, and know their story is important to us.
“Our products are all about the good they do and the shop is all about the experience – it’s a place where the customer comes in and feels welcome, loved and enjoys our passion for what we do.”
Product lines are high quality – fitting in with the company ethos of buy better, but only once. In our throw-away society, the message is to simply not be wasteful.
The company ethos is to support unique artists and studios of quality products – you won’t find anything mass-produced for sale.
Janet said: “It’s important to us to stock good quality products from good sources and knowing our small suppliers makes such a difference. We know their stories and where their creative passions come from – every one of our products can tell a story.
“We try our best to reduce freight mileage too, so suppliers close to home are ideal.”
Janet’s background in antiques, coupled with her seamstress skills, means that upcycling and restoring are her natural pull.
Her design passion is also there too – the quilts they stock are designed by her and made in India. When Janet was sent a photo of the village women who stitched them, she felt very emotional; attached to them in a way she wasn’t expecting.
They have linens for the home from Lithuania, pottery and hand-poured candles from Kent, handmade soaps from London and chocolate from Scotland.
Even the now-familiar hand-sanitising gel on the counter is botanical – delicious-smelling figs.
Janet, as well as being an interiors expert and photographer – you’ll see her work across their website, social media and in magazine features; also runs an Academy to teach others how to restore, through online tutorials.
She’s also a published author, having published a book about interiors, but how they have threaded through her life over the last few years alongside the ups, downs, tragedies and triumphs of her life.
Throughout lockdown, Janet continued to host Zoom tutorials under her Academy, which had started as an online resource in June 2020 for people who suddenly had time on their hands at home or who were lonely.
Sessions included challenges and teaching people her tried and tested best methods for restoring and creating.
Private ‘Ask the Expert’ design sessions were also booked with her, for people to ask her questions ahead of their own renovations, restorations or room makeovers.
She said: “I always get asked which white to use, but of course one white on the same wall can look different colours anyway – on the skirting boards, coving and walls themselves, plus when the sunlight travels past, they keep on changing – it is always changing.”
Dino comes as a successful businessman who is not only the company’s investor, but also an investor overseas, including in Texas and Uganda.
In the former, he is building a White & Faded village; he has bought land and had three ‘shotgun houses’ transported over, ready for the White & Faded interiors experience, before being rented out.
The project is underpinned by the company ethos of restoring – instead of building new homes he is restoring century-old ones instead.
As part of the project, land has been gifted to his man on the ground in Texas – to help them to build their own, independent future.
In Uganda, it’s early days in a project to create the country’s first ‘social bank’ – to help kick-start sustainable self-employment with investment, training, coaching and mentoring.
He wants to get them out of dependency and into financial freedom, through education of how to look after money and ultimately, see a generation of parents send their children to school to carve out their own careers.
Plans for this year include adding more of Janet’s own designs to the product lines. They’re also looking at hosting activities in the shop including restoration events and interior design workshops and a second shop in another vibrant city is also the aspiration.
White & Faded awaits you – and your spend there, makes a true, real difference.
COVERAGE TO DATE:
South East Business – January 21st, 2022