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Sara Fenwick, Myriad interiors



Sara Fenwick, founder of Myriad, on her travels, shopping habits and running a successful business for 35 years

How long have you been working with antiques?

I’ve been in Clarendon Cross since the ’60s. Someone had a transport shop next door and I rented a window there. I started with £200, which I ploughed back into the business, so it grew and I realised I absolutely loved doing it. I’ve had Myriad for 35 years.

I was going to give up in April due to financial reasons. Someone was going to rent the property, but that didn’t work out, so we cut our overheads and opening times; I got in smaller, more affordable pieces and the business took off again. When we re-opened at the end of July we also decided to give a certain amount of our profits to charity [www.slumdogs.org].

How did you choose which charity to support?

My husband, Charles, and I went to Kerala for six weeks a few years ago. During our travels, a rickshaw driver took us a short distance to a restaurant. After we’d sat down, the driver came in with quite a lot of money which had fallen out of Charles’s back pocket. The driver refused to accept a reward, but joined us for lunch and we soon heard the personal story behind the problems facing street children and rickshaw drivers.

Do you travel a lot for work?

I used to go to France and Belgium a lot, but now it’s so much more expensive to transport the wares and I’ve been in the business for such a long time that people tend to bring things for me to see here or I go to markets.

Who or what sparked your love of antiques?

My late husband David Nickerson ran Mallett’s Bourdon House [the 18th-century house in Mayfair which is an outpost of Mallett’s of Bond Street]. But it’s also in my blood. My mama was very artistic – she painted, sculpted and acted. I grew up with antiques and then I’d go to the dead stock sales before it was fashionable. 
What era and type of antiques do you focus on?
I’ve always gone on the principal that everything has to have a use even if it’s not the use they were originally designed for, so we’ll also sell new items.  I started out with selling very cheap things. Now I can’t, but I hope we’re still very reasonable.

What is your most affordable item?

Our funny little frogs are £1 – they’re sweet to give to children.

And your most extravagant item?

The French 1820s boat, which comes from a merry-go-round, is £850. Also, if I don’t want to sell something I’ll put a high price tag on it, such as this chair [£2,200] made from old car pieces, by Baay Kaaly Sene from Senegal. You have to sit on it to know why I adore it – it’s so comfortable.

So you sometimes struggle to part with things you’ve intended to put in your shop…

Absolutely. I’ll often bring something in which I don’t price and then I take it home, but it may come back if it doesn’t work. I’ve also been able to bring things into the shop when I’ve had a change around, though.

Who are your customers?

We get lots of interior designers.

How would you describe your home style?

I like an eclectic muddle of things that I find beautiful.

What’s your favourite building in the area?

A wonderful house that looks like a French châteaux with gorgeous shutters and a magnolia outside, located on Ladbroke Road.

What would you save from a fire?

Wally [her pet dog].

Myriad, 131 Portland Road, London, W11; 020 7229 1709; Open Wednesdays and Saturdays 11am–6pm and by appointment

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