Indie Oxford Interview: Hilly Jo
Today I chat to Hilly from Hilly Jo Beachwear & Lifestyle Store. Hilly works with artisan producers from Turkish villages near her home town to create long lasting authentic Turkish textiles. >>
Tell us about yourself, and why you started Hilly Jo.
I am originally from Turkey and have lived in the UK for over a decade. After completing my master’s degree in International Strategic Management, I worked in the market research and luxury automotive sector in Oxfordshire. During this time, I have visited my family and friends regularly in Turkey and spend our summer holidays in my hometown of Izmir. Close to here is a small, very traditional Turkish village called ” Alacati ” with beautiful artisan products which inspired me to start my own business of bringing these lovely well-made items back to the UK and so formed HillyJo Ltd.
I was so inspired by the variety and quality of the traditional items being produced that I knew there would be great interest in the UK lifestyle sector. Our customers can now buy well-known Mediterranean goods such as Peshtemal (Hammam Towel) and high-quality lifestyle textiles from my home country.
Tell us about your Turkish textiles and how they are produced.
Our product range includes home textiles, beachwear and lifestyle items. The goods are generally produced and many handmade by family-owned artisan craftsmen from towns such as Buldan which is famous for traditional high-quality textiles.
Peshtemal (hammam towel) is our main product in the lifestyle textile range, which is a traditional towel that has been used for centuries in Turkish baths. With its quality texture and strong water absorption, this unique towel is also ideal for daily use. It can be used on the beach as a towel or sarong, at the gym or as a picnic blanket. Being lightweight it creates a practical and stylish accessory. Our 100% cotton throws, and kitchen linens are also must-have items from our home collection, sumptuously soft and wonderfully versatile.
Have you faced any challenges in your work, and what lessons have you learned along the way?
The past two years have been a big learning curve for me, not only the obstacles of creating a new business but the challenges of promoting a relatively unknown range of goods.
I have learnt that working with local communities is important and would help my business to grow organically.
How do you manage your relationship with artisans in Turkey?
We personally meet our producers regularly to ensure we can hand pick any new products to offer the best quality range to our customers. It is crucial they consistently understand the variety and the quality of items we want to offer.
How do you keep your range up to date with current trends?
We work hard at listening to our customers and watching carefully what sells well. Keeping up to date with lifestyle articles in national magazines is an indicator as to what is in fashion for us. Combining this with new and fresh items from Turkey ensures we are supplying what our customers want.
Visiting the latest industry-related shows and exhibitions to is an excellent way to keep up to date with the current trends.
Which are your favourite pieces at the moment?
Our peshtemal is our key product and most demanded. The kitchen linens are becoming very popular due to their quality and by far my favourite pieces at the moment. They are practical and very versatile products which fit well into stylish kitchens both traditional and modern.
What makes your range unique?
We feel we are offering textiles which are individual and high quality. Being sourced and produced in the traditional way sets us apart from mass-produced commercial market.
Our products are tasteful and stylish and offer our customers an element of individuality.
What are your plans for 2019?
From our recent visit to our key supplier, we are looking to build on our established products by offering not only colour diversity but the addition of more home lifestyle items. These will include a great range of household throws, high-quality tablecloths and a new range of napkins.
We will always respond to our customers buying trends and requirements, consistently looking for variety to offer.
Lastly, which are your favourite independent businesses in Oxford?
I am inspired by most of the small artisan businesses we are privileged to be associated with. One, in particular, is The Wonky Food Company who have been so innovative and creative finding an obvious place in the market. Their products are fabulous and fun so all credit should go to their creators for the vision of such a great idea in tackling unnecessary waste with a wonderful by-product. Most refreshing!
Hilly joined us for our Christmas Indie Oxford Market Place in The Covered Market, and was an absolute joy to work with. Hilly’s products combine beautiful traditional artisan craftsmanship with modern design trends, colours and, my favourite, lots of pom poms!
You can find out more about her on her Independent Oxford page, and read more interviews with awesome Oxford indie businesses to find out the stories behind your favourite shops, cafes, eateries and creative businesses.
Love, Rosie xxx