How to create the perfect tablescape with elite event stylists Olive & Co. We spoke to the Co-Founders of Olive & Co about launching a business during lockdown, their first foray into tableware & their top three tips for creating the perfect tablescape. Event stylists for London’s elite, Milly Simmonds and Amelia Duncan know a thing or two about magical tablescapes. If you’ve got an upcoming birthday, wedding, delayed celebration, you should head straight to Olive & Co for styling tips and inspiration. Their whimsical style and expert eye for mixing tableware and flowers will elevate your event to the next level. West London-based design duo, first met as if by fate on their first fashion photoshoot at the age of 16. Both moving to London to pursue a modelling career, Milly and Amelia were drawn to each other through their similar interests and creative eye. They’re already on call for the fashion industry and London’s hospitality scene; with clients including: Dubarry of Ireland, Gold Notting Hill, Cabbages & Roses, Farm Girl and Country Life. Whilst the pandemic sparked a renewed love of home interiors for many of us, Milly & Amelia were busy launching Olive & Co. Locked down together, dinners became creative brainstorms and exciting meetings. We caught up with the event stylists just as they launched their first tableware collection, Midsummer Bliss. Where does your love of styling come from? M: Our love for styling and interiors comes mostly from our mothers! Both of our mums taught us the importance of making a home a home by putting their own stamp on their properties, from redeveloping to choosing the paint, to the soft furnishings. My mum was an art work producer and owned The Portfolio Collection, which design and make bespoke frames. She was also an interior designer before getting into the art world. I remember reading her interior magazines lying by the fire and dreaming about designing and creating beautiful homeware products one day! Setting the tables was always my job at home. I would pick wild flowers from the garden and style them in vases, make name tags, find out ways to make the napkins look more interesting and loved just laying the table with my mum’s eclectic collection of glassware and crockery. A: My mother has a shared love for interiors, and our house always had an abundance of fresh flowers. We actually named The Victoria Placemat after my mum! My family love to travel and explore markets both abroad and closer to home. My flat and family home are full of eclectic finds. My family home is dominated by women, so pink gingham and floral patterns feature heavily amongst antiques and more contemporary pieces. How was Olive & Co started? M: Olive & Co was an idea I had before the first lockdown. I always wanted my own business to run alongside modelling and being a mummy to Olive (the namesake of our brand). I kept going back to tablescapes, interiors and lifestyle. A few months down the line and COVID-19 hit. We were all locked down together and every evening over supper we chatted about the brand. Amelia, who has a creative and business background, had so many exciting ideas and it just seemed like the perfect fit for us both to take on the business together and we have never looked back! The hospitality and events industry has taken a big hit over the last year. How did you find starting a business in the midst of a pandemic? The hospitality and event industry has taken a huge hit due to the pandemic, but we have seen just how resilient people have been and that’s massively inspiring as well as exciting. We actually decided to build the business on purpose in the pandemic, so that we were ready to go when lockdown lifted and the timing was perfect. The idea to design our own tableware collection was always on the cards, but we were going to do it next year. Because of lockdown we decided to bring it forward as we saw a huge demand for on-trend, beautiful tableware. The pandemic allowed people to spend more time cooking, laying tables and sitting together as a couple, group or a family. Events are finally back on again, how are you both feeling about this? Obviously very excited and it’s amazing to be recognised as event stylists in an industry that has so many talented creatives within it already. Wedding season is in full swing so we have enjoyed finding inspiration and sourcing for these special projects. How would you describe your style? Bohemian, eclectic and romantic, modern with a vintage twist. Where do you get your inspiration from? Nature, vintage markets, travel (although granted, travel abroad has been restricted somewhat!), collaborating with other brands and creatives. How do you work creatively together? We feel incredibly lucky to be best friends and business partners. We are open and honest with each other and have been from the beginning. If one of us doesn’t like something we tell each other but we can usually read each other before we even get to that point! We laugh a lot. Both of us have our own roles, which unfolded in an organic way, but the creative process takes both of us and we totally compliment each other. We have similar styles but inspire each other every day. We are more like sisters than best friends! You’ve worked with some amazing clients already. What has been your favourite event or job you have done to date? We love working with Gold Notting Hill, where we are the preferred event stylists. The team is as incredible and cool as the venue itself so it’s always great fun. In May we styled Dubarry of Ireland’s campaign at Lucknam Park in Wiltshire (just released earlier this month) where we had bunnies amongst our romantic tablescape and a feature from Teddy the Shetland! When you get given a project, what’s your starting point? After receiving any brief from clients we start moodboarding right away. We pull inspiration from previous jobs, the location, their brand or preferred aesthetic. What do you enjoy the most about event styling? We love working together and meeting our clients. Being trusted to creatively direct an event is something we take very seriously as we want our clients to love what we deliver! What are your top tips for creating the perfect tablescape? 1. Tablecloth One of our first starting points is often the tablecloth. This is the base for your table. Don’t be scared of bold colours or prints, as this can help you draw further inspiration. 2. Layering We love layering, whether that be with a placemat, or with napkins or favours atop beautiful crockery. 3. Candles They bring ambience and romance to your table. Exquisite hand painted candles have become a huge trend in 2021, and we feel they can also be a fun talking point! Congratulations again on your first collection Midsummer Bliss, it’s beautiful! How did it come about? Thank you so much!! After styling, especially for our private dining clients, we noticed just how many people wanted to purchase new tableware; anything from tablecloths to placemats to candles. So, we decided to create a collection that was inspired by our love for laying tablescapes and featured timeless pieces alongside modern designs. Describe Midsummer Bliss to us? Midsummer Bliss is inspired by our love for laying tablescapes and very much centred around nature. It’s romantic, playful and hopefully there’s something for everyone! With sustainability being of paramount importance to us, we make a concerted effort to keep as much of production in the UK as possible, with packaging also being carefully considered and using recycled materials and eco-friendly bubble wrap. How long were you working on it? We started working on the collection at the beginning of the year. We collaborated with local artisans and brands that we love, such as Issy Granger who designs the most elegant, mouth-blown glass candlesticks. The collection also includes more eclectic finds from our sourcing trips, which have included Mexico, Italy and the UK. We started collecting many of our unique, one-off pieces last year and they have inspired tablescape designs. We hope to share those on Instastories when each item is listed on our website to buy. A tough question now, what’s your favourite piece in the collection? Our Victoria placemats, designed by us and handwoven by artisans in Colombia, are definitely up there! They are elegant yet modern, and the iraca palm brings nature to the table which is what we’re all about! Placemats are such an effective way of layering and add texture which we think is really important when considering your table design. They’re available in natural, dusty pink (see above) and yellow. We love playing around with the colours. We also love our vintage pieces as each piece has a story behind it and they’re all one of a kind. What’s next for Olive & Co? With restrictions lifted and events resuming, we are thrilled to be styling more again and continuously sharing our new collection! We will at some stage bridge over into fashion, so watch this space…A hospitality project could also be in the mix but one thing at a time! One thing that we are also so excited for is to travel again. We can’t wait to fly to destinations and find bustling markets and local artisans who inspire us! What exciting plans have you got coming up? We’re working on our next collection, which features collaborations with other incredible brands which we can’t wait to share. Expect more table linens, ceramics and some really cool candles! There are wonderful new restaurants and venues emerging too, so stay tuned to see future venue styling at some cool spots both in and around London. Hair and make-up by Secret Spa.