Ribbons hang from the ceiling, gingham stockings adorn fireplaces, ceramics pile high and napkins, plates, cookbooks and tablecloths fill every surface, and to top it all off, freshly baked brownies greet us in a tin - welcome to the kitsch and wonderful world of homeware brand Tavola.
Founded by Skye McAlpine in 2021, Tavola was always going to be an instant success - due in part to Skye's huge following of over 230,000 on Instagram alone - and her delicious tablescaping skills. Look at Skye's cookbooks and Instagram feed and you will see tables brimming with decor and delicious food. Now she has ventured into pastures somewhat new with her first festive shop in Knightsbridge on William Street (open until December 17th).
The shop perfectly encapsulates Skye’s giving spirit, it’s stuffed full of items - and love - which subsequently is the theme of her latest cookbook, ‘A Table full of love’ which explores the nature of recipes, and how they can represent a different form of love and emotion.
Whilst sitting amongst the menagerie of homeware, and being fed brownie upon brownie, we caught up with the cook-cum-homeware-designer to ask about the challenges of opening a store, how to find inspiration, festive tips and tricks for those wishing to transform their table and wow guests, and the realities of being a small business owner during the holiday season.
AH: What’s the most magical element about having a store?
Skye: It’s so exciting meeting everyone that comes to the shop, the feedback has been so positive as well. As a small business owner who’s doing everything online, it’s amazing seeing all our stock in one space.
AH: How easy was it to find the right space for you? What made this stand out, we know you have a very focused aesthetic!
Skye: We loved the neighbourhood and we wanted to create a space that feels like a living room, a home for our customers.
AH: If you could describe your shop in three words what would these be?
Skye: Soulful, homey, fun.
AH: What was a challenge in creating a store you haven’t thought of before?
Skye: The short time frame and making sure all the details are there - I couldn’t have done it without the support of my team.
AH: What advice would you give to someone launching their first store?
Skye:Think about the stockroom. That’s very practical advice, but it’s something I wish someone had warned me about the first time I opened a store.
AH: What’s the first thing you knew had to be included in the space?
Skye: The colour pink - it’s my favourite colour.
AH: What tip do you have for someone to instantly give their shop or first pop-up an instant uplift - any decor tricks or tips to share?
Skye: My inspiration comes from my own home, there’s a lot of touches that make the space feel personal, customers love that.
AH: How does it feel to interact with your readers in person?
Skye: They’re so lovely. Having a physical store makes them all excited about seeing products in real life and also more confident in shopping online with us. It’s also great getting real-life feedback from loyal customers that have been following us for a while.
AH: What’s one thing your customers always ask?
Skye: People always ask if we have plans for a permanent store, which unfortunately we don’t at the minute.
AH: I am looking through your latest cookbook ‘A Table full of love’, all the different kinds of love described in it - what’s your love language?
Skye: It’s definitely cooking. Depending on the season, I love gifting my friends different things, currently it’s Christmas cakes for everyone.
AH: What's your best advice for anyone hosting Christmas this year?
Skye: Prep as much as you can the day before to keep the stress minimum.
AH: Christmas Gifting tips. What’s something everyone will love?
Skye: I’m telling this to all my customers, cookbooks and crackers are such great gifts that everyone can enjoy.
AH: “Food tastes better when shared with others” - If you could choose two people, dead or alive, to share a meal with, who would you choose?
Skye: It would be my family, it’s always better eating in the company of people you love.
AH: What’s your family’s favourite thing you make for them?
Skye: My boys have a very sweet tooth, they love brownies. But we also like to experiment with cakes, always trying new things.
AH: What’s next for you in 2024?
Skye: We have been working on our Spring collection with a lot of exciting products, and we definitely want to have some more pop-ups, maybe for Easter next year.