Cefinn Sirens - By Alice

We are delighted to introduce our latest Siren - Vintage Antiques Expert and Founder of By Alice, Alice Wawrik @by_alice_home. We spent the day with Alice in her fantastic West London studio, based in Excelsior - an inspiring creative community of studios and workspaces. Alice styled her edit of our summer collection while we talked interior thrifting tips, super model clients and lockdown career highlights.

Tell us about you and the concept of By Alice.

I source vintage, antique furniture and home accessories for my online store - by-alice.co.uk as well as for private clients and designers. I spent a lot of time travelling and finding small craftspeople collectives and I sell their work or have them create my designs.

How did it all start?

I have been an avid collector of oddities since childhood, collecting antiques from car boot sales, noting addresses and names of makers from every holiday I’ve been on. It got to a point where I was fed up with passing my knowledge and passion on to other businesses and I decided I must start my own (which I did in 2019 with £200!).

“My ethos is to work with independent makers and support dying crafts, whilst focusing on sustainability”

What sparked your interest in vintage interiors?

I was brought up by my grandmother, so I was surrounded by old glassware, furniture, china and heirlooms. This drew me to the romance of how old pieces hold stories and memories, they have much more of a soul than mass-produced pieces.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Travel – without a doubt! That’s what makes my heart beat. Travelling to typical destinations such as Paris, Rome and Florence to the Burmese jungle, the deserts of Jordan and indigenous communities of Mexico. Seeing what people have on the walls in their homes, what they wear and what colours bring them joy.

“I’m working on lots of exciting bits, hopefully something with one of my favourite hotels, more info soon!”

What are your favourite pieces to source?

I have a thing for chairs – from antique Chippendales to Magistretti Carimates.

What has been a career highlight for you so far?

During lockdown I went to visit a friend in Naples who is a refugee, they had been put out of work and a friend and I went out to help set up his business. We spent three weeks there getting it going and sharing with all my customers. His business is now thriving and I’m so happy to have been a part of that! - incasabypaboy.com

On more of a teenage girl level, my favourite supermodel bought all her Christmas presents from me last year.

What are you most proud of?

Something else that I’m super proud of is the auction which I hosted in order to raise funds for the crisis in Ukraine via my friend’s amazing charity Choose Love. I got in touch with a bunch of great brands and I was overwhelmed with donations! Seeing everyone come together in a time of need and raising over £25,000 was so special.

“I love watching old disused pieces being transformed into new, glorious works of that that will go on to love another life and make more memories”

Tell us about your amazing studio, it has such a community feel.

I had been working out of my flat for two years which was chaos to say the least. My friend @flurlondon and I accidently stumbled across Excelsior and moved in almost immediately. It’s in the Park Royal design district where lots of old spaces are being transformed into artist studios, so there is a real hub of independent creatives. Yinka Ilore, who is super inspiring is also based at our studio, having people like that around is motivational.

What is the best advise you have ever been given professionally?

You are one person; you cannot be good at it all. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses but as a one-woman business it can be easy to put yourself down if you’re not a great all-rounder, which I’m not at all!

Any interior thrifting tips?

Always check old wood for little holes – you don’t want to be buying anything with woodworm.

“I love Cefinn’s playful colours yet grown up shapes, perfect for work in the day and easy to dress up at night”

How do you dress to accentuate your amazing figure?

I’m short (5’5) and as I hit my thirties my metabolism certainly changed. I used to get away with little mini dresses and short denim shorts, now it’s more about figuring out what suits my body type as a woman.

Accentuating one’s best features so a bit of cleavage and leg out never harmed anyone. Own what you have – there’s always Spanx! I love a heel for an event, who wouldn’t want to be taller.

What features in clothing do you look for?

Quality, whether the fabric will age well and if they are made in audited factories. This is so I know that the makers are being treated fairly and are looked after.

What pieces are your favourite from the current Cefinn collection?

I really love the Delany dress paired with a relaxed jacket and a cowgirl boot. Also, the Voletta in the red which makes me feel so grown up, it is very figure flattering and looked great with a heel.