Jesse and Jenn Lofthouse are the dynamic duo behind the lifestyle shop Lofthouse Living. Located in the heart of London, Lofthouse Living is filled with a collection of one-of-a-kind antiques and local artisan offerings. All neutral in tones, earthy in textures, and beautifully curated with bright highlights of greenery. Combined, Jenn and Jesse have a passion for fashion, woodworking, and uniting the community in London. All of this comes through in everything they do. Discover the full conversation here, where the effervescent couple shares their start in London, and their aim to go beyond curated interior goods and move toward their own signature collection.
HOW DID LOFTHOUSE LIVING COME TO BE?
Jesse: My wife, Jenn, started blogging when we lived in Winnipeg seven years ago, not knowing how the blog would evolve. Later on, Jenn discovered that Fanshawe offered a fashion merchandising program. She decided to attend and continued blogging while studying, going a little above and beyond with all that she did. We’ve found that it is always going above and beyond that leads to opportunities down the road, so I think that was Jenn’s idea with continuing her blog.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU
TO STAY IN LONDON?
Jenn: We came to London to get our fix of schooling and had planned to go back to Winnipeg. However, we were charmed by the clean, friendly, “not too big not too small” vibe of London. It’s this perfect little place.
Jesse: Over the years we've built a great network of friends and started to enjoy it. We've come to love our life here and before we knew it, it was six years.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST UNEXPECTED REWARD OF OPENING UP A SPACE IN LONDON?
Jenn: Business-wise, I know a lot of older shops that have been here for a while and are starting to close down. That’s sad in a way, but also exciting because we are able bring in some new life and ideas.When travelling to Toronto, New York, Winnipeg, or Chicago, you’re seeing more and more concept shops.You’re seeing all of these cool ideas — a barber shop and café mixed into one. Our generation is different, and not as traditional, that’s something we want to bring here. I don’t think this space lends itself to sit down and have a cup of coffee, but we want it to be. Right now we want to figure out ways to connect through workshops and pop up shops.
SO YOU ARE OPEN-MINDED AND WILLING TO EVOLVE AS A STORE.
Jesse: We want to push custom furniture, which is something I do, and we’re also open to collaborating with local artisans. My background is painting and woodworking is a hobby of mine. We have been collaborating with Lila, who makes pottery mugs and has crafted our own Lofthouse Living collection. We also want to grow into hosting events, art shows and pop-up shops.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
Jesse: I am inspired from following people on Instagram. Jenn travels a lot to buying shows, she gets inspiration through that exposure. We went to Chicago and I was inspired after that trip. Wicker Park had such a cool vibe that we loved, and hope London can find something similar, too.
Jenn: It’s in everything, really. I’ve always been a fan of the colour white, shades of white, and neutrals. That was always rooted in me, I’ve always loved those women who wore full linen or white two-piece outfits. There was always the practicality that white is unrealistic, that it’s going to get dirty and I loved the challenge of that. That’s always come through in me, with every project or artistic endeavour I did, and when it came to a store this inspiration spilled over. Everything nowadays is so inspirational, you could go on a trip, look on Pinterest, browse through another store, notice someone's personal style or home. It’s one thing to look at a magazine that’s had a huge budget to style everything, and it's another thing to go into someone’s home who’s in the same salary bracket as you and see how they’ve transformed the space — I find that very inspirational. I have a few friends and people I know throughout Winnipeg and London, you go into their home and go — I didn’t know you could do that with that!
ANYONE IN LONDON INSPIRING YOU?
Jenn: I would have to say a huge inspiration to me is my boss, Gail-Lynn Gastaldi (of Saffron Road). She’s had a local business in London for 28 years, She does her own thing in fashion and is so fashionable. It doesn’t have to be the designer name, she is really big on supporting local Canadians. She’ll give anyone a shot if they're working hard, she can respect their product, and loves the quality. Dan and Shawna Verslout have a wellness group called the Live Well Community that involves exercise and cooking, building community. I really like what they are doing with the business they’ve created. It’s all about community and relationships, I like when people focus less on money and more on people and the wellness of those within the group. I think coming from that mindset is when you're the most successful and, even if you're not, you’ve done a nice thing. Sarah Clark has a studio in Winnipeg and I love everything she does. She shares a space with Jill Sawatzky who has a collection called Tony Chestnut. It is so cool and I want every piece that’s in the collection! It’s so authentic and true to who they are.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON
Jenn: We’ve been interested in creating a Lofthouse linen collection with products such as table runners.We also want to become more involved in the local markets, such as the Boho Bazaar, where we would sell all our homemade products.
WHAT'S ONE QUESTION YOU WISH PEOPLE ASKED YOU MORE?
Jesse: What makes you thrive — what makes you come alive? I would love people to come into this store and not feel like they have to buy something, but rather feel like building relationships. At the end of the day, I go home happy when I’ve built relationships with people in the community. It is super easy to get wrapped up in money, and we tend to forget that relationships are what makes the world go 'round. I find it hard not to get wrapped up in how many people are coming in the door. You have to trust the bigger picture and hope it works out. I find that the best success stories are when someone is genuinely a good person that does not get caught up in the business aspect of the store.
Story by Kerry Ssemugenyi,
Photography by Rachael Helm