Origins Living may still be a new kid on the block compared to some of its peers, despite a near-on three decade presence under various guises, but convention and a same old, same old approach is not something that the company has in its DNA.
Based in the Little Heath countryside, a short trip away from cosmopolitan London, this company has grown and refined its portfolio of products to include just about every bathroom accessory going, as well as an assortment of bathroom mirrors in a range of stylish designs.
This growth has been aided by a combination of prioritising customer needs, adaptability to trends, and a stellar PR and marketing approach that has often pioneered an approach for an industry sometimes reluctant to embrace the new worlds of social media, influencer marketing, and digital-first shopping.
As it approaches its thirty year anniversary, and invigorated by a fresh rebrand that is a signal of the future ambition of the company, its passionate co-founder, Sofia Charalambous, spoke to Sanctuary Bathrooms to give customers an insight into the brand and why Origins Living should be a part of your next bathroom project.
The Inspiration & Aim
When talking about Origins Living, it is hard not to start at the most recent point with the 2022 rebrand from Bathroom Origins, and just where exactly the business sees its future journey, as well as how it is trying to adapt to customers. The dropping of the ‘bathroom’ from the title indicated a potential move into more than just bathrooms, as well as creation of products that were more universal for around the home. So, was this actually the case?
“Our decision to rebrand from Bathroom Origins to Origins Living was based on the idea that bathroom are no longer just functional spaces, but rather an extension of the living area in the home,” explains Sofia.
“By expanding our brand beyond just the bathroom, we hope to provide our customers with versatile and stylish pieces that can enhance any space in the home. The rebranding reflects our commitment to evolving with the changing needs and lifestyles of our customers, and our focus on creating products that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.”
It is this focus – coupled with a gap in the market – that led to the formation of the company in the first place. Sofia met her now husband Frixos, whose family owned a London bathroom showroom, while at university studying Business and Marketing. After leaving, they both went to work in the showroom and it is from here that they spotted a niche and set up the company, Homestyle Bathrooms, as it was known then. The opportunity that was spotted was that the availability of reasonably-priced, good quality bathroom accessories was limited with no middle-ground incorporating both elements.
“In the past, bathroom accessories were typically high-end and expensive, or cheap and nasty,” explains Sofia. “At that time, it seemed as though there was nothing in between. However, we strongly believed that good design should be accessible to everyone.
“That’s why we are obsessive about creating mirrors and accessories that are not only stylish, but also crafted with the quality materials and craftmanship. We are committed to providing products that strike the perfect balance between value and high-end design.
And on jumping into the world of business on their own, Sofia adds: “We had no fear in our mid-20s. Our early learnings were from the many mistakes we made.
“Working in the showroom was an eye-opening experience that taught us a great deal about the world of retail. We gained valuable insights. We discovered what not to do, and how to refine our approach to better meet the needs of our customers.”
Product Development and Heritage
One key inspiration factor, and one that many customers ask about, is the nod to the Mediterranean lifestyle that Origins Living likes to include. This is especially in relation to the Greek-Cypriot heritage of Sofia and Frixos, whom are both incredibly passionate about their roots and where these are notable influences in products.
Explaining this, Sofia says: “Our Greek Cypriot heritage has influenced our design aesthetic, inspiring us to embrace clean lines and a relaxed easy-living vibe. It’s the simplicity and elegance of our roots that truly resonates with us and continues to influence our work.”
Bathrooms – like many other industries – are incredibly fast-paced in terms of trends. So, how do the company generate unique ideas and take these from ideas to market, while also ensuring they appeal to customers, as well as balancing with a moving landscape?
“We’re always striving to stay ahead of the curve and be trendsetters in the world of bathrooms,” says Sofia. “To do this, we keep a close eye on what’s happening outside of our industry, especially at fashion, home interiors, beauty and wellness. It’s essential to stay relevant and fresh.”
Talking about how they go about using this information to develop products, Sofia explains that it starts by using these trends as a discussion point, before speaking to partners and consumers to get their take.
“At Origins Living, we believe that product development is the key to our success. That’s why we hold monthly forums where we brainstorm ideas and discuss emerging trends.
“Once we have a new idea in mind, we begin by distilling the concept and consider how it will work within the bathroom space. From there, we create initial designs and collaborate closely with our manufacturing partners to ensure that the product is commercially viable.
“Of course, our retail partners and their customers are always at the forefront of our minds during the product development process. We seek insights from them. By taking a customer-centric approach, we’re able to create products that truly meet the needs and preferences of our target audience.
“We take great pride in our products and are always looking for ways to improve and refine them. One of the key ways we do this is by listening to feedback from retailers and their customers. By taking a collaborative approach to product development and listening closely to feedback from our retail partners, we’re able to do just that.”
Negotiating Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Issues
As well as changing trends, companies also have to negotiate the growing social responsibilities expected by consumers – and in particular younger generations - in relation to topics around people and planet, while not just using this as a way of greenwashing or as a PR tool. This is especially the case when it comes to climate change, where there is a lot more pressure on businesses to demonstrate commitment to changing working practices to be more eco-conscious, as well as helping consumers themselves to be more eco-friendly.
“From the very beginning of our business, we’ve been committed to minimising our impact on the environment and working in a way that’s responsible and ethical,” advises Sofia. “As part of our Corporate, Social and Responsibility commitment, we’re constantly reviewing our processes and seeking out new ways to improve.”
This is something that Sofia believes will be a major issue for consumers to factor in when it comes to future purchases, as well as where the industry will evolve to.
“The next big trends in the next 5-10 years will evolve from where we are now. Consumers should be looking at businesses that prioritise sustainability, ethical labour practices and transparency in their operations.
“They should invest in high-quality products that are designed to last. Look for durable materials and well-made products that are built to last. Where possible choose products made from sustainable materials. These are better for the environment and often last longer than their non-sustainable options. Look for products that designed to be inclusive – future-proofing. This will help ensure that they can be used by everyone in your household.”
The World of Social Media & Influencers
Origins Living are one of few brands to truly embrace social media. From TikTok to Instagram, the brand is not afraid to jump on the new trends for brand awareness. They now have over 9000 followers on Instagram and 3000 on Twitter, while some of their Tiktoks have accumulated over 1000 views. So how vital is this in brand awareness and promotion, as well as providing inspiration to like-minded consumers about how they can use these products?
“Social media has been instrumental in raising our brand awareness. It has been a powerful way to connect with our retailer partners and wider audience. By sharing behind the scenes glimpses, showcasing our latest products in real-life bathrooms and engaging in conversations with our followers, we’re able to build relationships around our brand,” explains Sofia.
“But perhaps the most rewarding aspect of social media for us is the way it allows us to connect with our customers and wider audience on a deeper level.”
The Final Word
One of the biggest reasons behind the interview is to give consumers a bit more insight into brands they are considering purchasing, as well as giving the brands themselves a way of communicating to consumers to sell themselves. In the final word, what are the USPs and key selling points of the Origins Living brand?
“If I had to describe our own USPs and key selling points, I would say that it revolves around our commitment to ethical and fair practices and creating high quality products that are stylish and versatile,” states Sofia. “But what really sets us apart is our customer-centric focus. We go above and beyond to ensure that our customers are happy with every aspect of their purchase.”
Follow Origins Living:
- Website: https://originsliving.uk/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/origins_living/
- TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@originsliving
- LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/company/originsliving
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OriginsLiving/
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/origins_living/