Clare is the creator of the wonderful world that is Mustard in Herne Bay, Kent.
On arrival to the shop you are hit with an extraordinary window display full of eclectic delights. To the side of this is lettering which states that you are about to discover ‘vintage treasures’ and ‘quirky curios’ and wow it does not disappoint!
I literally have to ration my visits to this place. I just cannot be trusted! I will leave with no end of lushness, including a multicoloured fairground light crucifix, an 80 cm tall gold Jesus ornament, amazing vintage prints in gold frames, flamboyant dolls, a trio of cat ornaments and these are to name but a very few!
The first time I met Clare was when I happened to chance across a small warehouse type antique/vintage shop called Attic 72. At this time she was renting the back part of the shop and I was instantly greeted by her warm hearted nature and knew straight away we would become friends. Clare has an infectious enthusiasm for all things vintage, design and especially maximalism! A girl after my own heart! We talked for ages and I remember my daughter just staring at her, spellbound.
It wasn’t long before Clare was beginning her journey into creating her own shop at Mustard which has now established a very cool community within the seaside town of Herne Bay.
I wanted to find out more about Clare’s journey to what she has now created and it is just as awesome as I imagined!
Read on to also discover more about the legend that is J Clare Richards.
What’s your design/creative background?
I went to Ravensbourne Art College then Southampton to study Fashion Promotion and Communication.
I worked in the model industry as a Booker and Scout. Was an extra on Eastenders and was a judge on the Big Breakfast back in the 90’s. This sounds glamorous but it wasn’t fulfilling me.
Then I went back to University to get my PGCE in Art. Taught Art and Fashion and Textiles for 15 years , mostly in PRU (Pupil Referral Unit) schools for pupils with behavioural issues.
It took its tole. I wanted to do what everyone told me I was good at. Interior design and selling quirky treasure – hence my shop.
How did this lead you to create the gem that is Mustard?
Clients enjoyed my home a little too much so a shop was the next step.
You are a total maximalist! Tell us about your journey into the world of maximalism?
Maximalism is my middle name – growing up with a father who is an artist and the family home having a studio and basically a gallery, the walls were always filled.
Your house is phenomenal! How does maximalism influence the design choices in your own home and in the shop?
As soon as I bought my first flat it was time to create my own museum. Being close to Greenwich market meant I was spoilt with second hand finds. Bootsales filled my Sunday’s and resources for still life’s in my art room only made me buy more. I became obsessed and inspired and that in turn only fuelled my pleasure for teaching and introducing the next generation about recycling and re loving items.
You have many collections! Birds, dolls heads, religious artefacts. What are your favourites and why?
I am obsessed with a collection and it can literally be anything that catches my eye. A group of the same object really appeals to me. It’s like a happy family! I’ve collected babushka dolls, geishas, birds, bird cages, religious statues, tin toys, floral paintings to taxidermy and tins. My favourite has to be vintage beaded white purses that hang on my wall. They’re delicate and intricate and glamorous and small so totally not functional.
What decade and design movement do you feel you are drawn to the most?
I’m a 90’s girl simply because that’s when fashion really hit me. I modelled for older students and enjoyed going out clubbing in clothes that nobody had ever seen as they were young wannabe designers. Also I loved the garage, house and dance scene and clubbing in London – good times!
Who/what inspires you?
Many people inspire me. My first girl crush was Paula Yates because she was quirky and unconventional to me. Vivienne Westwood inspired me again because she was cool and edgy and full of talent. Nowadays I’m full of love for Iris Apfel and her home. She blows my mind.
Not only are you a guru for design and interiors but you rock amazing, eclectic outfits too! Tell us about how you create your daily looks?
Believe it or not everyday I’m influenced by someone or something but choose to create my own look as I don’t want to copy. I love the idea of dressing like a clown and try and buy second hand items as much as possible so I don’t look like anyone else. The comment I get most is – if I wore that together it would look awful but on you Clare somehow it works. My response is I don’t give a s#$t anymore! I love makeup and being a woman and expressing myself through “dressing up” not getting dressed. My mental health and break down (Clare suffered a breakdown after the first COVID lockdown) has given me a new lease for life. I’m much more blasé about things and take more risks now. It empowers me and helps me feel happy about myself at 50. I like myself more and going grey is totally liberating.
Mustard is so much more than just a funky, vintage shop in Herne Bay. How would you describe what you do in Mustard for someone is yet to visit?
Mustard is my third child. It’s an extension of my home and myself. I take it seriously more so now as I have business partners who have brought so much to the mix.
- We now sell cake and coffee.
- We now hold events – LGBTQ+.
- We now hire out the space for parties and events.
- We now have a fashion boudoir encouraging ladies to be more creative in their dress. It’s really satisfying to see someone’s face light up when I put them in a dress they thought they couldn’t rock. I’m flattered to be taken seriously as a stylist and my girls are too. I’ve seen confidence erupt in front of me.
- We have so much to look forward to and provide through Mustard as we grow. We don’t see why there should be boundaries and the kind of customers we attract agree. We have created a safe community and are opening Christmas Day for homeless and those who can’t face it alone.
- We are really into making sure when you leave us you want to come back – we feel like a family and thrive on all the support we get from locals after such a difficult time.
Mustard is located at 154 Mortimer Street, Herne Bay. Get yourself in there today!