Neighbourhood Meets: Jake Hobson of Niwaki

Neighbourhood Meets: Jake Hobson of Niwaki

From the moment we opened our new Chiltern Street store, we felt at home in the heart of Marylebone, thanks largely to being alongside old friends and new. One such familiar face is Niwaki, the gardening tool and accessories brand founded by husband and wife duo Jake and Keiko.

“We started selling the shears on our website and they sold out within the first week,” Oli told the Financial Times, who recently declared the British-born, Japan-inspired brand as  ‘the fashionable gardener’s favourite’. “Then we realised that there were a lot of gardeners out there who are really scruffy, so we launched clothing with them, which shared the same qualities as Niwaki’s tools — utilitarian and stylish,” he added.

Two capsule collections and many tools sold later, it feels right for us to be united in W1U. Ahead of their appearance at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024, we popped by the Niwaki store to meet Jake and the team, as they styled themselves in their pick of our recent collaborative capsule.


Oliver Spencer: Jake, thank you so much for inviting us into your beautiful store. Of course, we know you well but could you introduce yourself, and Niwaki?

Jake Hobson: You're welcome. I'm Jake Hobson, founder of Niwaki. We opened our shop here on Chiltern Street just over two years ago now, but we started the business a long time before that, over 15 years ago now. We're based down in Dorset, just outside of Shaftesbury and we basically sell great stuff from Japan; it's garden gear, it's amazing garden tripod ladders, woodworking tools and kitchen knives, things like that.


OS: How has Marylebone area impacted Niwaki?

JH:  It's been really interesting. This was our first retail venue anywhere apart from our Dorset HQ and we were initially unsure about Marylebone, we were even unsure about London. But we ended up choosing Chiltern Street because it has this lovely balance, it's central London but it's slightly off the thoroughfare. It’s a lovely street, with the right people visiting and we love the shops around us too. It is a destination for people and it's lovely that so many of our Niwaki customers come here as a sort of pilgrimage. Then there are the customers who might not be familiar with Niwaki and come in to discover there really is something for everyone.



OS: What do you know now that you wish you knew before you opened?

JH: Oh, that's a good question. That we could have had a bigger store!


OS: What do you think about Oliver Spencer moving opening on Chiltern Street?

JH: I think it's great. It’s nice to have more friends on the street. For me, Oliver Spencer is casual, not too stuffy. It's stylish, but it's informal. There's a danger that as an outsider, menswear can feel a little stuffy and I think Oliver Spencer offers something that's approachable.


OS: What does a perfect day on Chiltern Street look like to you?

JH: Oh, it's probably early summer and it's warm. People are sitting outside cafes, enjoying their morning coffee as I stroll down from Maida Vale. People are in the shop when I arrive and we just have a steady flow of customers throughout the day. So that's a mixture of Niwaki customers, a few tourists, and a few interesting creatives. There are quite a few creative people that work nearby, as you know.


OS: Do you have a favourite local coffee shop or any other recommendations that you can share?

JH:  Well, actually, we make a really nice cup of coffee downstairs in our kitchen and I try to do that as much as possible. But I quite like a bacon sandwich from the cafe down the round, Tasty Corner.


OS: What advice would you give to anyone daydreaming about starting a garden today?

JH:  Oh gosh. get on and do it. Stop dreaming and start planting. You know, the thing with plants is they always take a year or two to get going, so just get a move on. 


OS: Finally, as we approach Chelsea Flower Show weekend, what excites you most about tomorrow?

JH:  The growing interest in gardening, with workwear and gardencore coming together too. Niwaki has ended up somewhere in the middle of it all, which is very nice for us. So we're keen for more of that and being on Chiltern Street helps! We're going into more shows than ever and the Chelsea Flower Show is a big, big thing for us. Then, we’ll be traveling. Strengthening our contacts in Japan is something we spend a lot of time doing because our relationships with Japanese factories and manufacturers is a crucial part of the business.


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