Hiya, I'm Ffion and I am the person behind Zonnelijk! I distribute the work of dutch designers in the UK. I sell their products wholesale (to shops and galleries) and retail (on this website!).
I started the business in 2015 when Jurianne Matter's previous distributors decided to pursue new things. My Mum stocked her work in her gallery at the time, so they approached her about taking over. I was just finishing my last year of university (Software Engineering!) and to be honest I didn’t really have any big plans. But that’s not the reason Mum passed on the question to me, it’s the Dutch connection.
We had next-door neighbours from The Netherlands when I was younger and I adored them. I still do (and miss them so much). I have always found it fun to learn languages, so when I was with them I would often ask, “how do you say…”, “what does … mean”? It was probably annoying. But they inspired me so I carried on studying it. It’s a really beautiful language, maybe somewhere in between English and German. I’m almost embarrassed to write the next part because of the cheeeese but had I not learnt Dutch, I wouldn’t have met my partner Domenique, who’s from Belgium. The way things unfolded makes me enormously grateful and I don’t regret asking Monique and Jill to translate words like, “fireplace” for me cause love is bigger than that and we all feel it when it’s there.
Domenique helped me think of the name ‘Zonnelijk’, (pronounced zon-uh-lik) which is an archaic Dutch word, meaning, ‘like the sun’.
Of course another factor involved in my decision to take this on, was that I think Jurianne’s work and ideas are beautiful and soothing. Paper and stationery make me happy. In fact a good notebook can make me shiver with delight. She chooses colours, shapes and patterns that are simple, warm and elegant. And I love that the products have a DIY element to them. Nothing dangerous or strenuous, but you bring them to life with your hands. This intentional energy exchange adds to the finished creation and you (or the person you give the gift to) will be reminded of that mindful act every time you look at the decoration on display.
Jurianne also cares a lot about the sustainability of her materials and production and works HARD to ensure that strict standards are met. Her collection is largely inspired by nature, so it’s only right that it’s kind to nature in return. And definitely not actively unkind. That resonates well with me and I try to use recycled and recyclable packaging for orders as well so the entire chain is responsible.
I also still stock some work by talented Dutch pattern designer, Jessica Nielsen. Her focus now is more on pattern licensing, rather than making her own products (though she is selling some gorgeous original acrylics at the moment), but I hope we can work together more one day because her designs are cheerful, clever and uplifting.
Connecting with the people behind other small businesses is something I also love about this work. Seeing (and being a part of) the shop-spaces they pour themselves into is heartening. Independent shops are a crucial part of our communities. Now more than ever, use them or lose them! If you can think of a good excuse to use Amazon, let me hear it. Grrrrrrrrr.
I’ve definitely gone on way too much, but it just started flowing! Alongside Zonnelijk, I have also carried on programming and I build websites at Ff&B., in partnership with my lovely friend Becky who designs them!