If you’re a regular Grace Tales reader, you’ll know we love women with a side hustle. And we also love interiors (and staying at home for four months hasn’t helped our interiors obsession)...
Which is why we’ve been so excited to share this story with you. Meet Sunny Bodger, the lawyer who has just launched Alba Atelier, a beautiful and thoughtful collection of furniture and wares. Her first four-piece collection includes the Repose daybed, the Drop mirror, the Hattie lamp and the Serpentine lamp – and they’re all on our wish list. “I have always adored the idea of a daybed as it somehow creates a casual elegance in a room – I also love that it is a low-rise piece that lets the eye flow uninterrupted across a space,” she says. “I have a lamp obsession as I think they create such beautiful balance and interest in a room depending on their height and material and everyone needs a beautiful mirror to provide depth and dimension.”
So how did she get her new business off the ground? Here, we meet the talented creative to find out more about her background and how Alba Atelier has come to life.
To order, go to @_alba_atelier
Alba Atelier Repose day bed, Drop mirror and Hattie lamp
Tell me about your ‘why’ for launching Alba Atelier?
I have worked in law for many years and while I’ve always enjoyed it, I often felt creatively frustrated. I have always loved the process of creating a warm, safe place to come home to surrounded by beautiful things away from the chaos of a 9-5 job.
When I left corporate law some years back and decided to set up my own practice, I initially spent a lot of hours at home working while I grew a client base. This is when I really took stock of my surroundings and realised how profoundly a beautiful interior affected my mood, productivity and general well-being. A calm home creates a calm mind! Over the years since, I cultivated my aesthetic and really honed in on what I liked in a space – a mix of the primitive and refined – and obsessively spent months trying to find the perfect pieces which has led me to this point. If you can’t find it, get it made!
You’re a lawyer - have you always had a creative side?
As a child, there was a time when cooking (and old-school daytime cooking shows!!) was my obsession. Other times I would become completely immersed in pottery or sewing. During my uni days, when I stayed at my parents’ house one weekend, I decided their carpeted bedrooms were not up to scratch and spent the entire two days ripping them up so the beautiful floorboards beneath could be exposed. That instant aesthetic gratification was addictive!
What led you to pick law as a career?
I think like most people that age, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with myself or which path I wanted my life to take. I found myself in the position where a law degree presented itself as an option and I ran with it. I ended up in the industry for a decade. With age comes confidence and while I still practice, I’ve come to realise that I can do both.
The Hattie lamp
Tell me about the pieces you’re launching with and why?
I decided to keep the first capsule very tightly edited. Two lamps, a daybed and a mirror. I have always adored the idea of a daybed as it somehow creates a casual elegance in a room – I also love that it is a low-rise piece that lets the eye flow uninterrupted across a space. I have a lamp obsession as I think they create such beautiful balance and interest in a room depending on their height and material and everyone needs a beautiful mirror to provide depth and dimension.
You’re a homebody - tell me about how you create a warm, calming home environment?
I think understated tones and textures create such calm in a room particularly in a similar colour palette. I’ve always been drawn to light interiors for the way they reflect the sunlight and absorb candlelight. Lighting for me is huge – it’s incredible how a few well-placed lamps can really create instant intimacy or mood in a room, After that I love unexpected and unique Italian and French antiques for accents to add interest and depth. Oh and flowers make absolutely everything better!
How do we order Alba Atelier pieces?
I’m in the process of launching my website which will allow for pre-orders if a piece is sold out. So for the moment, DM me on Instagram. Each piece is meticulously handcrafted by artisans – this means a ‘slow’ lead time of 6-8 weeks.
Can you share 3 styling tips for a beautiful home?
Buy well, buy less: I think a few well-chosen investment pieces on a large scale create much more drama and impact than many smaller affordable pieces. I also think large-scale furniture and objects make a small space appear much larger than it is. Lighting! Lamps can make any room the best version of itself. Foliage. A large vase filled with large-scale greenery (fresh or foraged!) creates a real entrance.
Talk to me about entertaining - what’s your favourite way to entertain and what’s always on the table?
I prefer having everyone over to graze over the course of the night rather than a sit-down 3-course meal. Tablecloth, candles, little vases of flowers, beautiful glassware and ceramics. I always start with a large cheese platter and cocktails. Little plates of anchovies, guacamole, bread and olives round it out throughout the evening and provide the perfect saltiness with wine and champagne. I always make an effort with dessert and bake something special because it’s the most important part of the meal!
What’s your advice to other women wanting to launch a side hustle?
It’s scary because of the unknown but I really think the idea of starting is the most intimidating thing. Take your time, go slowly and before you know it, you’ve got enough to start a little hatchling of a business. Even the most seasoned entrepreneurs started somewhere!