After a whirlwind 15 years, 2022 saw the Sussex-based cult online interiors brand Rockett St George expand further. Bethan Andrews catches up with the founders to find out more
You only have to glimpse on Instagram to catch the frenzy and excitement that surrounds interiors brand Rockett St George. And, after an incredibly successful 2022, it’s clear that 2023 is looking to be just as explosive, with them being one of the most popular interiors and design brands in the country.
Set up by Jane Rockett and Lucy St George 15 years ago, the brand’s ethos is to always provide inspiration for customers to be brave enough to express themselves creatively in their own homes. And inspiration is something that comes naturally to the duo, with their own founding of the brand an inspiring, homegrown success story. So, where did it all start? “Jane and I had been friends for a long time, we were originally mum friends, and after years of hanging out together and always discussing our own homes, interiors and ideas, we decided to pool our resources and start a business,” explains Lucy.
“We went online and I don’t think we realised quite how bold that actually was 15 years ago – it was quite early in the online shop world. Jane has a background in PR and marketing and I had a background in retail, so we pooled our own financial and personal resources and gave it a go. Fast forward to now and we’ve got 50 staff and six warehouses in Sussex. It’s been a wild ride!”
From the early stages of the company, it’s clear that passion for interiors and a hunger for thrifting and creativity was something that came naturally to the pair. “We both worked, had young children and had our own homes, but we didn’t have a lot of money, so we would spend our time moving our furniture around, poring through Living Etc and going to car boot sales,” smiles Jane. “We wanted to make our interiors stand out from the crowd and we noticed our friends were asking us to source things for them. There weren’t a lot of interior shops out there at the time and I remember thinking, unless you’ve got an awful lot of money, where do you go for exciting interiors things? We did everything ourselves, we got SEO for Dummies, Websites for Dummies, and rang everyone up asking for advice, and we just went for it. I’d love to say we had a big business plan and investment, but we didn’t!”
It’s fair to say that the duo didn’t see the monumental success they’ve achieved coming. But Jane knew how to put a good press release together, and their first call was from none other than Vogue. “From that point on, we bent over backwards for magazines, and we became a bit of a go-to because we were efficient and we never said no – pre smartphone, that was huge,” says Jane. “We will be ever grateful to the support from magazines.”
I wonder what the highlights have been from the last 15 years. “Our first catalogue was a real thrill and our first proper warehouse was really exciting, but being asked to write two books has been amazing,” says Lucy. “We’re really grateful for the success we’ve had and a real highlight for us is meeting our customers – we’re all like-minded people, it’s like we’ve found our team. Having a concession at Liberty and being asked to do that was a really big thing for us, too.”
Speaking of finding their team, for Jane and Lucy, Sussex quickly became the ideal spot to base their business, nurture their baby and grow it from the ground up. For Jane, who was born and bred in Sussex after growing up in Linfield and now lives close to Lewes, it was a no-brainer, but even for Lucy, who lives in London, the county made perfect sense for the home for Rockett St George. “The warehousing is in Ditchling, in the middle of the common,” says Jane. “The space allows us to have six warehouses here, and that incorporates photography spaces as well as the goods spaces. It’s a really nice environment to work in, and I don’t think we’d get that anywhere else.”
For Lucy, coming in from London, she enjoys getting out for lovely walks of a lunchtime on Ditchling Common. “It’s very pretty and lovely,” she smiles. “But it’s really accessible to London, where our store is and I live, too, so Sussex works well.” Jane agrees, quite clearly, that the rural surroundings can really help in the running of the business and achieving a work/life balance. “I love being in the countryside, it’s beautiful,” says Jane. “I initially left for London because I wanted to be in the city, but I really do like the countryside and it’s really good for your mental health. I live near Barcombe, near the river, and it’s just beautiful. If I’ve had a hectic day at work and I’m exhausted, a walk in the countryside really does it for me so Sussex makes sense.”
We talk about how brilliant the creative scene is in Sussex, too, and how this plays a big part in the county making sense for being the home of such an exciting and design-led brand. “We’ve got access to such a good pool of talent, especially on the technical side as Brighton’s a real hotbed of designers and SEO talent,” says Jane. “Brighton is a really, really cool city with a real creative edge to it and there’s lots of independent shops there. It really helps us to keep inspired.”
Speaking of inspiration, Lucy adds: “We often like a trip to Ardingly Antiques Fair which we do regularly for work for inspiration, and a bacon sandwich. A lovely cuppa and a bacon sarnie, while walking around Ardingly is one of the best days at work!”
I wonder where Jane heads to wind down after work in the county? “I like The Ram at Firle. In fact, I love Firle, it’s dog walk and lunch at The Ram and I’m very happy,” she says. “I also really like going to The Hurstwood, they do the best Sunday lunch I’ve ever tasted. Charleston is also really inspiring, and I love going to the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. The interiors there are spectacular and the kitchens are mind blowing. Of course, I love Lewes, it’s just beautiful to walk around and the architecture is just stunning.”
As we talk through plans for the new year, it’s clear that there’s a lot to watch out for with Rockett St George this year and lots of exciting projects in the pipeline, many of which the duo can’t talk about yet. But what they can talk about, is what they foresee happening in the interior trends this new year? “I think we are going to see a lot more colour,” says Jane. “We need to create cheer and happiness. People are finding things hard at the moment and colour helps with the mood and promotes happiness, so I think there will be lots more rich colours as opposed to the neutrals. I’m excited for this, I like change!”