A pair of designers from ‘up north’ swapped the London life to embark on a new venture in the small Devon fishing town of Brixham.
Andrea and Jamie Carless left the smog of London behind after Jamie received some devastating news. He was diagnosed with a form of leukemia in 2015, which sent them searching for cleaner air and a nicer place to live. Jamie’s parents lived in Brixham, so they were familiar with the area, with Andrea saying it was “Brixham or nowhere”. They made the move in 2015 and shortly after they set up their shop on Middle Street, Maison et Vie (formerly Tooth & Claw).
Having both grown up in the industrial heartlands of the West Midlands with a desire to express their creativity, their love of style and design led them to move to London in the mid 1990’s to be in the creative hub of the city. Andrea worked as a designer’s assistant before moving into management for high end fashion and design brands such as Agent Provocateur, Vivienne Westwood and Tom Dixon. Jamie’s youth saw him working as a singer and songwriter with various bands, with his first foray into print design starting in the mid 1990’s – designing prints and hand silk-screen printing fabric and T-shirts for a small, independent fashion label.
Andrea, 52, said: “Maison et Vie has cool things for your home and cool things for life. We sell a mix of lifestyle products from t-shirts to skin care brands and homeware brands. We wanted to bring something to the South West that hadn’t been around before as far as we could see in Brixham.”
She added: “We weren’t sure if this was a good position when we opened. On the street itself there wasn’t much going on. We found this little shop and thought maybe we can do something with it. A cafe had just opened and we thought ‘this street could be cool’.
“Gradually businesses moved in. We were very lucky that at the time we opened the cafe next door was taken over by Curious Kitchen, which is an amazing place to eat and we love being next door to them. All of a sudden the street started to have a vibe about it and since then lots of other businesses have moved in – it is full of independent shops and cafes. People come from all over. We have a loyal customer base and visitors love to find a little shop that sells interesting things.”
Andrea added that being a business owner in Brixham can be tough, and that it requires dedication.
“Brixham is a great place to do business but it is not something you can do part time. You have to open the shop consistently and be dedicated. The town seems to be getting a name for itself now, it has less of a bucket and spade image – a lot of people come here for walking holidays, weekend getaways, so it seems to be a different type of customer coming to Brixham now. We are seeing it getting better and better and on the up really. It seems to be a great place to start.”
Andrea and Jamie hope to hold some workshops and take on some interior design projects in the future, whilst continuing to stock their shop with antiques, vintage items, jewellery and more.