Vintage, without the pink, roses or bunting. Jan Williams creates her shops’ industrial style by sourcing older, well-made items for the home and upcycling them with today’s people in mind. Based in Pontcanna and Roath, the style of her shops is a reflection of her own home and, like a friend, people are welcome to come and browse, talk, find ideas and get advice for their latest home projects.
What does your business offer?
My shop sells vintage furniture, gifts and homeware. I recycle old furniture myself, finding unique pieces in auctions where I look for shape and quality. Most of all, I imagine how my customers will want use it. Often people later buy for just the reason I thought they would! I also help people decorate their own furniture and paint surfaces in their homes. I sell an eco-friendly Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan and teach people how to use it. Or I can do it for them. I’ve painted furniture and homes.
Who’s behind the business and what are your values?
I’m doing something that I really love. Six years ago, I took a gamble and opened my first shop in Pontcanna. The business represents my style – quirky things, old tools, measuring tapes, pharmaceutical measures… It’s a taste you can see in my house and one I can indulge in the shop. We want people to enjoy coming in to browse. Some customers say it’s a ‘bit of calm’ in their day. When people do buy an item, we’ll wrap it in tissue and raffia to create a special experience.
Tell me about a project you’re proud of
I was asked to design the interior of Chez Francis, a restaurant on Cowbridge Road four or five years ago. We transformed an old burger joint into a glamorous French restaurant. We did it on a budget and to a tight schedule. I then was asked to work on a bigger restaurant chain in Penarth. The transformation was amazing. When I go outside at night and see it lit up I feel a pang of pride.
How has your business changed and learnt over time?
I had never had a business before. I knew I had to sell more than I bought. I’ve learned an awful lot about how much to buy and what to buy. I opened up a second shop, took on more staff and had to learn to manage them both. I’ve learned how different areas in Cardiff can be – something can mysteriously sell in one shop but not in another.
What’s your local tip for working on your home in Cardiff?
Before you buy anything new, do your research and see if you can buy something older, better quality and make it what you want it to be. Go to an auction or charity shop. It’ll take a while but you’ll have something unique to you rather than mass produced.
Detail of an antique oak French cabinet, one of the antiques Jan sells
Console table painted at Beti Biggs in Annie Sloan paints pictured behind
"Can't sing praises high enough. Thank you soooo very much. Amazing customer service from a very lovely lady."
"How did I not know about this beautiful shop before?! Thank goodness for a friend who told me about Beti Biggs. Will definitely be going back for a proper look without my "busy" 6yr old. So many lovely things I have the feeling I will be spending too much money in this gem of a shop."
"This is an amazing shop that is really a feast for the eye and owned and run by wonderful people very knowledgeable and brimming with style ! You must go explore."