Once a former Victorian coal store in the middle of King’s Cross, now a buzzing new shopping and dining district, there’s a lot to discover in Coal Drops Yard. Who better to get the inside scoop on the area from than some of the people, brands and businesses that call Coal Drops Yard home? We caught up with Niko Dafkos and Paul Firmin, founders of lifestyle brand Earl of East, to find out how they turned a love of fragrance into a business and what they love about their new neighbourhood.
How was Earl of East Born?
Paul: Earl of East was born in 2014, out of a desire for us to do something a little more creative together outside of our day jobs. We are both fairly curious and I think we really looked for the new and next around our home of East London. That meant that if there was a new café or store we were there. It inspired us to talk a lot about what our thing would be. After doing this for some time we decided that we would start a brand selling our favourite items. We booked a spot at Netil Market and curated a stall of things that meant something to us. These things were all related to scent and our travels and that became the foundation of our business. Then the following summer we decided to launch our own line, to sit alongside our favourite things and it all went from there.
The set up in Earl of East within Coal Drops Yards is pretty stunning, what are some of your favourite things about your shop?
Niko: We are still such a small brand, so this space really was created on a minimal budget. It’s really personal to us, and we were heavily involved in the design and project management of the build. The best bit has been watching our customers interact with the space, and the products we stock. Having a breadth of product combined with a coffee offering has made it a space that people seem to like. We also hold some classes here and have a pouring room meaning we make the candles for the store, in the store and I think that has really brought our own brand products to life.
Why did you choose Coal Drops Yards as the location for your second store?
Paul: Without sounding cliché it felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. The redevelopment of the area has been incredible, and seeing the other brands that were going in to Coal Drops Yard we felt that we just had to give it a shot. We knew it was going to be a huge risk for us, and most definitely a stretch in terms of what we were capable of, whilst still doing this as our side project, but we just needed to be part of it. Now, just over a year in we can say it was the best decision we could have made. We’ve grown from a team of 5 to 18 in the last 18 months and seeing Coal Drops Yard come to life and being a part of that has been brilliant.
If you could live out your dream day in Coal Drops Yards, what would this entail?
Niko: Luckily I think we get to do this most days. We start early, set up the coffee machine and open up the doors. Having coffee has meant we’ve gotten to know a lot of our neighbours and its become quite a social space. We have a lot of lovely customers and even those who are most transient, just passing through on their way somewhere seem really responsive to chat, which is a big thing for us here in store. When we have time we always go and grab breakfast from Bodega Rita’s; we are huge fans of their porridge with peanut butter and jam. We try and take time to visit the stores whenever possible, it’s good to see what’s new, and there is a lot to choose from, so you can spend a lot of time exploring. A perfect day would definitely include a haircut in Manifesto, a walk along the canal and round Gasholders with the dog and lots of food. We love El Pastor. After work it’s great to grab a drink in Spiritland, there is always a good vibe there. Coal Drops Yard really covers the bases.
Go check out Earl of East and explore the amazingly beautiful Coal Drops Yard.
87 Coal Drops Yard, London N1C 4DQ