When Leanne Pollard of Hattie Lloyd Home suggested she would like to interview Natalia Wilmott the Parisian turned Yorkshire business woman who expertly guides people towards meaningful gifts and interiors, we didn't hesitate to say "yes please".
Natalia Wilmott shared her incredible journey from The Louve to York and how she was inspired to create two businesses by the things that lay close to her heart.
Being an interiors geek, Yorkshire has been a fantastic place for me to meet other brilliant Interior focused business owners. I attended a networking event at Harewood House, and there I met a lady who was offering something incredibly unique to her customers. I wanted to find out more and asked Natalia Willmott if she minded ‘sharing all’ with our readers and me at Yorkshire Businesswoman.
I was delighted that she took me up on my offer.
Quite a few months later, due to the pandemic slowing us down, Natalia invited me into her home, which is in an idyllic village a few miles from York. I entered the very welcoming period cottage and her beautiful little dog Dexter made me feel at home instantly.
I tried my best to listen to Natalia but was getting utterly distracted from all the beautiful items we were passing while walking through the hallway and kitchen. We sat down with a coffee in the Sitting Room full of more lovely things such as unusual lamps and textile art on the walls.
Natalia has a gorgeous accent; I was almost sure she hadn’t always been a Yorkshire Lass. So, my first question had to be about how and why Natalia came to be in Yorkshire. "I was born in London, but when I was 3 my mother met my step-father, and we moved to Paris’’ Natalia explained ‘’I was educated in a bilingual school so have a good grasp of both English and French".
In her teenage years, Natalia had a growing passion for art. She then joined the prestigious, École du Louvre, which specialises in the study of archaeology, art history, anthropology, and epigraphy which is quite a mouthful for me to say. As the name suggests, the school was inside the famous Louvre Museum giving her access to some of the incredible art in the world.
"I then wanted the experience of living and learning in another country and was accepted to study Art History at Oxford University. I settled in, loved it, and passed with Distinction. I also met my husband Greg at Oxford University, we both began our family in London where I worked as an Indian and Antique Textile Art Dealer for 7 years. Before we had the children, we had a romantic getaway to York, I thought it was a lovely place. Years later, we were thinking of moving out of London, then my husband was offered a role in York. I love trying new things and gaining new experiences. My life, to that point, had been very cosmopolitan, I was spoilt with easy access to museums and cultural events. There were things I had never experienced, such as having a spacious home of my own or even a lovely garden. It was exciting, so we went for it and moved to York".
I was really impressed with Natalia’s academic success and her amazing educational experiences, she was very modest, warm, and friendly, which makes her story more charming. I was interested to see if her love of interiors and art was rooted in her from a young age or sewn in by her studies. ‘’Looking back, I always loved collecting things when I was young" she answered ‘’It began with me collecting ‘Do not disturb’ signs from hotels. My parents always helped with the collection by bringing them back home if they travelled without me" Natalia smiled as she told me about her collection of over 100 perfume bottles that she catalogued like it was her own museum ‘’I also loved displaying things in my childhood bedroom, and every few weeks I would have a complete overhaul and rearrange all my items into new displays. My business actually started in this room under the sofa you are sitting on''. Of course I jumped up to look under where I was sitting. Natalia told me how her visiting friends loved her portfolio of antique textiles design that she kept under the sofa, they then began asking to buy them from her.
Years later, this is how Natalia Willmott Home style still works. Natalia holds informal events in her home and presents unique, beautiful items to her visitors. With her first-class knowledge of art and history, she descrbes each piece, and it's story which really does draw you in connecting you to her products. Natalia's home is where people can find unique, unusual, captivating homeware, art, and jewellery. As people have been unable to visit her home during lockdown Natalia has overcome her nerves of using video and has gained new customers using Instagram to present her products. She has also acquired a new audience and sales from overseas with her Pinterest account. Lockdown allowed her to spend more time learning these new skills. Not being a constant chauffeur to her children was definitely another perk to her lockdown experience which most parents can relate to.
Her items, to me; are something you buy to be a permanent part of your home for life, due to the story, quality, and investment. Natalia's items feel full of emotion and purpose, and this leads me on to her other business ‘My Billet Doux’ which translates from French to English as ‘My Love Letter’.
This business actually gives me goosebumps. Natalia revealed her beautiful product and why she created it. She opened an alluring orange branded "My Billet Doux Box". Inside was a stunning silk, handmade cushion decorated in antique ribbons sourced by Natalia’s contacts from the world of art. A gold charm on the back opened a secret pouch. Inside the pouch, I found a beautiful notebook and a silver pen.
I asked Natalia how she had thought of such a lovely idea ‘’I rediscovered a love note that my husband had put in my pigeonhole at university" It read ‘You have got the keys to my heart so here are the keys to my flat’.
It was the first ‘I love you’ gesture from Greg. Finding this note took me back in time, and I relived the feelings from all those years before. I thought it would be nice to have somewhere special to put something so meaningful and valuable to me personally. I wanted to create an interiors piece that was a gift, where priceless notes can be treasured from people we love and care for. Do you remember when you used to snap away on your camera then be so excited to see how the developed photos turned out? Natalia asked ''it was so fun and exciting receiving the developed photo's. I wanted to bring that same feeling back, the excitement of receiving the unexpected, so that's why I designed the hidden pocket for a notebook so loved ones can exchange notes and look forward to finding one".
We agreed that real, thoughtful, romantic gifts are hard to come by today. Many gifts sadly, are missing the sentiment to give you a feeling of joy 30 years later when you come across them again. We questioned if these thoughtful, romantic gifts could possibly become extinct? My Billet Doux would definitely prevent such as tragedy from happening.
Natalia’s businesses unite all her passions within her two businesses. She only sells items that she loves visually and has a real connection with. My view of Natalia is she really knows how to treasure things and gives solid objects a kinetic value. If you are looking for a thoughtful gift or something for your home that adds charm and brings conversation, Natalia Willmott is the lady to call upon.
To see Natalia Willmott Home Style’s Interior and Jewellery edits visit:
For the most elegant & affectionate gifts visit:
And visit https://mybilletdoux.com/ to see more examples of these gorgeous gifts.