Meet Steph: Founder of Homework, lover of good design and TCM

Can you share more behind the mission of why you do what you do and how it all began?  

Homework has developed since we launched in October 2019. What started as a creative outlet from my day job as a graphic designer, I wanted to create something that was more aligned to my beliefs in sustainability, design and living in harmony with the environment. Since then, it’s evolved even more into a celebration of my family heritage and culture. Taking inspiration from TCM and the healing power of nature, we’ve developed our own line of home fragrances and natural skincare. 

What  has been the biggest 1) business success and 2) challenge you’ve had to overcome that you are most proud of?

The biggest business success so far for me has been opening up our studio/retail space at Design District in North Greenwich. Having this space will help us grow and we wanted to open up our studio to invite customers to come and see where we manufacture all our products, thus being more transparent and open about our processes. 

The biggest challenge, it’s difficult to pinpoint one we’ve had to overcome, but I definitely say that starting your own business has it’s little challenges that you have to overcome everyday. Boring things, such as licensing, shipping internationally, supply chain issues etc. All of which has been made more difficult and complicated this last year. Solving these challenges and learning from them is definitely something I’m proud of.

What does the creative and development process look like at Homework?

Coming from a background in design, our creative and development process always starts with a brief and lots of research. We also like to consult my parents for their advice as they’ve been practicing TCM for over 35 years in the UK. We like to ask them the best herbal ingredient to use in particular products. For example, our dandelion soap bar. Something that is considered a weed in the West is actually considered a powerful remedy in the East and has been used to treat eczema and psoriasis for centuries in TCM. With this knowledge, we infuse dried dandelion leaves and roots in olive oil to create the base oil for the soap bar. This in turn produces a soothing soap that leaves skin feeling refreshed.

For the TCM novice among us, what would be your top tips as to how to embrace more in life (and why!)

TCM is all about balance. Balance between yin and yang, hot and cold. I like to embrace this approach in life and believe in the importance of self care and setting some time aside for yourself to take a step back and reset. 

Another core belief is living in harmony with nature. Embrace the outdoors more, enjoy what nature has to offer. 

Ideally, what does the next 5 years look like for Homework?

The next 5 years for homework, we’d love to grow our product offering and explore innovative packaging, growing ingredients ourselves and using them to create products. 

We’ve recently launched our workshops in our new studio and hope to grow this offering too. We’d love to teach people how to make their own skincare or home fragrances to reduce the use of plastic in their home. 

Are there any people/business you’d like to give a shout out too? Who else (doing amazing things with botanics) inspires you most?

 A business that inspires us would be Neighbourhood botanicals. What we admire most about them is their authenticity and approach to sustainability in everything they do, from behind the scenes to their new re-fill scheme, On Repeat. 

What is the one luxury that money can’t buy?

TIME. You can never get enough of it.

When you are looking for a new home, what is the one thing that is a must-have? 

Natural light. Something that I appreciate most at home or work is a bright space as it really affects my mood and outlook to the day. 

What is your favourite scent and why? 

I love earthy woody scents such as patchouli and cedarwood as it reminds me of the smell of the dried Chinese herbs my parents would have stored at home growing up.

Which classically ‘bad’ smell do you love? 

There’s a delicacy in Shanghai which literally translates to “Smelly Tofu”. A form of fermented tofu. It’s a smell that I’ve only ever experienced in China and one that I actually miss as it always reminds me of trips back to visit family.

What actions have you done recently to help your carbon footprint?

We recently sold our car in exchange for bikes. Can’t believe we didn’t do this sooner. 

Favourite shop/place in your neighbourhood? And why?

Host of Leyton is one of my favourite places in our neighbourhood. It will always hold a very special place in our heart as it’s where we had our first pop up and it’s a wonderful space for you to grow your business.