Studio 54 Furnishings is a vintage and retro furniture brand stationed at Cardiff Fashion Quarter. Founder, Beth Thomas, 27, speaks to The Lady is a Revamp in an in-depth interview. From the New York clubbing scene to the sales of Formica tables and Desperate Dan’s, it really is an interesting read! Sit back and relax as you take in Beth’s humble story.
Why and when was Studio 54 Furnishings developed?
Set up in May 2013, Studio 54 Furnishings was born out of a love of all things retro.
In February last year I was walking around the Pumping Station, (which is an antique centre on Penarth Road) when I saw an empty unit advertised.
At the time I was working, but was feeling bored and in need of something to keep me busy and learning. When I saw the unit I remember thinking, “I would love to have a little stall in here” and before another minute passed, I knew it would sell retro furniture and home-ware from the 50s to the 70s.
The next morning in work I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I called Sue at the Pumping Station. She told me the stall had gone but I could be added to the waiting list. The following week a unit became available!
With a loan from my mum, and a month to collect stock, Studio 54 Furnishings was born!
In August last year, Womanby Street hosted the HUB Festival. Manager of Cardiff Fashion Quarter, Cyrus Shafa, offered me a free -pop up space at CFQ during the weekend of the festival, which I of course snapped up!
It was a great festival, I had great fun, and the people and the place had such a cool vibe to it, so I decided to keep my space in CFQ.
Is there a story behind the brands name?
I chose the name Studio 54 after the 70s New York nightclub.
Frequented by the likes of Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol, the club was the place to be and the place to be seen. It was cool and became iconic, which was exactly how I wanted my business to be.
Another big part of choosing the name for me, is how people were treated when inside. It didn’t matter if you were a shop girl or a showgirl, if you were inside, you were cool, and you were treated as such. Which is also how I wanted Studio 54 Furnishings to be.
I wanted somebody to be able to come into the store and be able to take a piece of retro home with them, no matter what their budget was.
I don’t think retro or vintage has to mean expensive, I love the idea of a student being able to come into my shop and be able to buy a picture for their first house at university, or a young couple buying their first dining table together.
Where does the shop’s stock come from?
I get stock from everywhere! EBay, car boot sales, charity shops, house clearances to name a few. As I’ve been trading for a little while, a lot of people get in touch with me if they have something they want to get rid of and they think I might be interested in it.
Most of the pieces I source need little or no work done to them. I prefer picking up pieces that are nearly shop ready, I still work full time at the moment, so time is a luxury I don’t have! Quite often I will clean or oil a piece to bring a bit of life back into it, actually, my partner bought me a power sander for Christmas, and I’m pretty sure it was the best present I’ve ever had!
Sometimes I will customise pieces. I’m currently working on a fabulous antique cabinet. It has a great shape, with glass doors and beautiful legs. I’m playing around with different colours and ideas, but I think it will be an interesting piece, if I ever finish it!
What has been your most popular and extraordinary pieces?
I will list them for you! (photos are shown in gallery below)
1. My first big sale was a Beautality sideboard that I collected in Carmarthen, I was so chuffed I cried!
2. When I was getting set up and hunting for stock, I came across this fantastic artist called Yash, he sent me a picture to trial in the shop and it was on the wall for ages. As soon as I moved it to CFQ it was gone straight away! This picture was called Curtain Lady. I’m looking to get more in stock soon.
3. I had a great yellow Formica table with a black pattern all over it and four black chairs it was very unusual. I sold it to Cyrus Shafa but I could have sold it ten times over, it had so much interest!
4. Desperate Dan is by far my most unusual item! He’s a cookie jar and his hat comes off. I picked him up in Cheltenham.
5. A beautiful piece that was sold to another trader was a Civic Radiogram. It was such a beautiful piece and with a little work and tlc could be restored to full working order.
6. Recently, I’ve had a few of these great café table and chairs, they’ve been in various colours and table shapes, but the most popular has been the blue round table with multicoloured chairs. I picked them up from a church hall, with the help of a lovely lady called Pat.
What is it that you love about retro and vintage?
I love it because it’s individual, unique and has such a look to it.
I love the shape of the furniture, particularly the tapered legs and curved wood. Teak is a beautiful wood and warms up a room without being garish like pine for example.
I think it is also important to reuse and I love the idea of having something that someone else loved and cared for. Take a chair for example, a couple may have bought it for their first home in the fifties, read to their children, consoled their grandchildren in it and slept in it after a large Christmas dinner!
Vintage has history and memories attached to it as well as character, and once it’s been upcycled, you get to make your own memories in and around it.
God that’s corny!
Alternatively you can contact Beth via email Studio54furnishings@live.co,uk or phone 07919331392