After weeks of closed shutters, Church Street seems to have awoken with a new found joie de vivre.
Tucked neatly alongside Array and Sonia Taouhid (a favourite new stretch) is the glorious and newly opened, Folka.
Bringing colour and playful vibrancy to the street, Folka specialises in objects of modern craft, folklore and one-of-a-kind pieces with a focus on handmade work from around the world.
The owner, Karolina is a skilled artist and maker from Poland and she aptly named her store, Folka which is a beautiful assimilation of the words Polka (Polish Girl) and Folk.
This week we popped in to say hello...
HUB: Out of all the places in London, what drew Folka to Stoke Newington's Church Street?
Karolina: 'I’ve been living in Stoke Newington for years now and here I feel like home. I opened Folka last year in Brixton Village which was quite far... When I saw that Olive Loves Alfie was moving, I thought this is a perfect space for my shop!
I decided to rent it before the Coronavirus and I feel it’s been the best decision I’ve made. I feel very welcomed by a local community which is very strong and it's very important for me to become a part of it.'
HUB: Tell us about Folka.
Karolina: 'The idea behind Folka is to revive old, forgotten crafts and bring unique pieces to the shop. I am an artist myself. I make traditional straw and paper chandeliers called "pajaki" in my studio in Hackney Wick. I am also Polish and it's very interesting to hear that most of my customers think it's a Mexican craft shop! Polish folklore is very unique as well and you'll always find it at Folka, together with other designers from London and different parts of Europe.'
HUB: What has been the biggest joy and biggest challenge to opening a new shop in these times?
Karolina: 'The biggest joy for me was to work on a new space. Because of the lockdown I had so much time to think about the colours, layout and display.
The challenge was to stay happy, motivated and not to give up... Having my shop closed for 3 months was very stressful financially and I was worried if Folka would survive.'
HUB: What are your most cherished 3 items in Folka right now?
Karolina: 'I am a big fan of Józef wooden carved animals. He turned 95 this year and he's so active and full of energy. He lives in a small village and sculpts animals he can see around his house. He's a self taught artist and each of his pieces is very unique. You can see his cats, storks and birds in the shop. My favourite is a hoopoe bird - he made feathers out of matchsticks.
I also love the colourful "pajaki" chandeliers made by a lovely artist Wiesława in Kurpie in Poland. Each chandelier is made with threaded peas and traditional paper roses. I will always have lots of them in the shop and you can order them in any colour you like! Tradition says they are supposed to bring you good luck and happiness and I believe in it!
And lastly, I would love to mention Folka silk scarves made in collaboration with a lovely local artist Caitlin Hinshelwood. Each scarf is handprinted in beautiful colours and depicts traditional folk crafts and designs from around Poland. You can see Józef's hoopoe bird and pajaki on them!'
FOLLOW FOLKA ON INSTAGRAM
AND SHOP HERE.