Friday Folks: Keeley Harris

'Vintage Arcade This Way' sign

We first met today’s Friday Folks interviewee, Keeley Harris, quite a few years ago now. She was, and still is, the organiser of a vintage fair we attended that was held at the beautiful Victoria Baths in Manchester. Since then our paths cross regularly, both online and in person. We’ve featured her on our blog before, when we’ve talked about the fair and when we reviewed her book – more of that and much more below – read on!

Keeley Harris

Who are you & what do you do?

My name is Keeley Harris and I’ve been head honcho at Discover Vintage since 2009, running various vintage events each and every year. My biggest event is the Festival of Vintage, which happens once a year at York Racecourse. That’s the one I’m planning for at the moment as it’s this month (23rd & 24th April). It takes 6 months of preparation as it offers lots more than just a typical vintage fair. We are two stages filled with entertainment, workshops to organise and a massive classic vehicle display to arrange amongst other things. Visitors come from across the UK; I’m proud that it’s seen as a key event in the Vintage Social calendar.

Festival of Vintage head-in-the-hole board

How did you get into the business?

I’ve always sold vintage, even with my dad as a child (quite a few years ago). When I moved back to Leeds in 2008, I started selling at fairs. I quickly realised that I could use my skills as an event manager (former proper job) to create really fab vintage events! Hence Discover Vintage was launched in 2009. Then, in 2011, I started the Festival of Vintage as I noticed a gap in the market for a large-scale festival in the north of the UK.

Vintage bread and biscuit tins on a stall at the Festival of Vintage, York

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by my customers each and every day, the stall holders and visitors are the ones that give me ‘light bulb’ moments for new ideas. I love chatting to them to find out all about what they want from an event. My inspiration drives me to create new events that are unique and interesting, offering something people don’t always expect. I’d also say that entrepreneurs and the wider business world give me massive inspiration and make me feel that anything is possible. I’m very driven and love working hard to create the best events I can, there’s no better feeling than the end of a fabulous event!

'Style Me Vintage -home' book by Keeley Harris

What has been your greatest success?

Writing a book is my greatest success. I have mild dyslexia, so writing doesn’t come naturally to me and I had to lock myself away from everything for a few months so that I could put every effort into getting it just right. The huge sense of achievement in seeing my book on the bookshelves of many stores gave me a warm glow of excitement. However, I have to say that planning a big festival all by myself is probably a close second!

Vintage stall at the Festival of Vintage in York

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the vintage business?

I would advise not to treat a vintage business as a hobby and give it real commitment if you want to succeed. Value your customers and look after them, they tend to return again and again. Embrace social media in all its forms. Be prepared to spend a percentage of your income on advertising as you can’t expect people to come and find you!

Vintage VW campervan at the Festival of Vintage, York

All images (except book) ©Laura and James Adams, Grandma Eileen’s

Bookmarks: Style Me Vintage – Home

'Bookmarks' blog post banner

'Style Me Vintage' book by Keeley Harris


We’ve been looking forward to reviewing Style Me Vintage – Home by Keeley Harris. It’s just our cup of tea!

'Style Me Vintage' title page | H is for Home

We first met Keeley a few years ago at the Vintage Home Show at Victoria Baths, a regular vintage event she curates (the next of which is happening this Sunday – 15th March).

'Style Me Vintage' 'Where to start' chapter page | H is for Home

As well as the VHS in Manchester, Keeley organises the Festival of Vintage in York, owns the Vintage Emporium – which has concessions across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. She co-runs the Vintage Academy and weekly Twitter chat #VintageBizHour with fellow vintage expert, Kate Beavis. In addition, she regularly writes for and contributes to various vintage magazines and appears on TV. Goodness knows where she found the time or the energy to write this book!

Collection of vintage art glass vases in various colours | H is for Home

Anyhow, on to the book! If you’re only just putting your toe into the water of vintage homewares and interior decoration, this book is a great starting point.

'Style Me Vintage' '1920s' chapter page | H is for Home

There’s an initial overview on how to get going, writing checklists and possible sources for items.

'Style Me Vintage' 1960s vignette | H is for Home

The book then breaks down the collecting & styling into eras – the decades from the 1920s through to the 1970s. Each decade is further sub-divided into useful sections.

'Style Me Vintage' 'Design Influences' section | H is for Home

‘Main Design Influences’ – the external factors that filtered through to home styles – think Art Deco and Hollywood glamour in the 1920s or Pop Art and the space age in the 1960s.

'Style Me Vintage' '1930s' chapter page | H is for Home

‘Get the Look’ – takes the home, room by room, and advises on key furniture pieces & accessories that will help you achieve the feel and appearance of an era.

'Style Me Vintage' '1940s' chapter page | H is for Home

‘Details’ – those essential touches such as wall coverings, lighting and artwork.

vintage enamelware | H is for Home

Peppered throughout are lots of tips on what to look for and home owners’ quotes such as this from Ste & Kat, “We’re big fans of simple design and smooth lines with masses of functionality and think most classics from the Midcentury have both in bucket loads. We like to mix Midcentury with modern and classic design”. Our thoughts exactly!

'Eclectic' chapter | H is for Home

If you happen to be ‘old hands’ like us, this book is equally satisfying. We love having a nose into other people’s homes. All the interiors featured within are ‘real world’ spaces; no unattainable staged sets here!

stove-top vignette | H is for Home

The are lots of familiar vintage items but it’s always a treat seeing how homeowners put them together and juxtapose with the new.

'Industrial' chapter | H is for Home

Towards the end of the book are chapters covering ‘Eclectic’, ‘Industrial’ and ‘Shabby Chic’ styles – popular looks that don’t sit easily into any particular decade.

vintage 1950s Alfred Meakin 'Circus' pottery tea set | H is for Home

There’s also a double page spread where Keeley recommends vintage shops, events and specialists that you can visit to help make your dream vintage home a reality… and we’re included – yay!! 🙂

vintage kitchen storage | H is for Home

We’d highly recommend this as a source of inspiration & information for both newbie and more experienced vintage homeware fans. Get your copy from the publishers or Amazon.

[Many thanks to Pavilion Books for the review copy]