Meet local sisters Aislinn & Sinead, co-founders of Ack&Mack: a new antique, vintage and art store
With so many of us looking for new and innovative ways to add character and personality to our homes, it’s no surprise there is such a thirst for preloved, unique and one-off items. With this in mind, we had a chat with sisters Aislinn & Sinead, Kensal locals and co-founders of Ack&Mack, a new antique, arts and vintage store offering one off pieces with fresh timeless appeal.
They sell carefully curated vintage and antique homeware, lovingly sourced from around the UK and Europe. Their collection ranges from lamps to limited prints, oil paintings to furniture, or in their words… “Beautiful things we love… that we don’t really want to sell.”
They release just one or two pieces a week, focusing on how and where to use each item in the home “Because it’s not just about buying a piece – it’s knowing how to style it to help elevate everything in the room” says Sinead, “Vintage pieces really do bring a sense of soul to any space, mixing them with modern pieces will always create a more layered, personalised space.”
What is it like working together as sisters? And where does the name come from?
Aislinn: For us, it makes total sense – we know each other inside out, we know what we’re good – and bad – at, and we can be as brutal as we like with each other!
Sinead: We’re so close, I can’t think of anyone else I could do this with. The name comes from our nicknames when we were kids.
Tell us a little about Ack&Mack, what inspired you to set up the business?
Sinead: Doing up our own homes! We kept getting asked where we’d bought pieces and it sparked the idea.
Aislinn: We started by sourcing items just for family and friends, and then late last year decided to take the plunge and start selling online.
What are your favourite finds?
Aislinn: Ooooo, tricky. Probably a pair of 1950s French candelabras, they’re supersize and made of wrapped rope. I’ve never seen anything like them, they deserve a really special home.
Sinead: Probably the ‘Lobster Pot’ ottoman by Franco Albini or the Hans Agne Jakobsson brass and smoked glass wall sconces.
Which types of antiques are proving to be the most popular?
Sinead: Lamps are always really popular as they’re so versatile, but in terms of materials, there’s definitely a shift towards dark woods again… ‘brown furniture’ is making its comeback!
How do you advise clients to style their vintage items or antiques?
Aislinn: Don’t just think about the item itself. Think about how it relates to everything around it. You want a space that mixes materiality, scale, texture and tone whilst also having a sense of commonality… it’s a tricky balance to strike, but when you do it really transforms a room.
Can you remember the first time that a vintage piece or antique had an emotional effect on you?
Aislinn: For as long as I can remember to be honest. It doesn’t matter whether it’s jewellery, clothing or interiors. I’ve always loved items that have lived a life before your own.
Sinead: I spotted the most beautiful burnished bronze sculpture in a Vide Grenier/market in France when I was 15. I still think about it to this day.
Where do you source your favourite pieces from? i.e. Antique markets, vintage shops, auction houses?
Sinead: All over, it could be a car boot or an auction house, antique fairs, eBay… it’s a very labour-intensive process, and often you’ll come back empty-handed, but when you find something special it’s all worth it.
Your collection covers a broad price bracket with everything from small, affordable items to rarer, high-end pieces. What unites them?
Aislinn: I think they all have a sense of uniqueness with a focus on craftsmanship and history.
Sinead: Ultimately, we buy what we like. I know that breaks every rule in the buying book, but why would you sell something you’d have no intention of having in your own home? It feels a bit disingenuous.
If there was one piece that you would recommend adding to a room – what would it be?
Sinead: You can’t go wrong with a beautiful vintage chair. They’re generally much better made than modern chairs and they add so much character.
Aislinn: Lamps and art really pull a room together – they’re often an afterthought but they really set the tone in a room.
You say on your Instagram, ‘Beautiful things we love…that we don’t really want to sell.’ With this in mind. What is the most cherished piece that you personally own (and would never part with, or sell)?
Aislinn: A Maison Jansen G-shaped coffee table. It was a wedding gift that all the guests chipped in too, so it’s got huge sentimental value – as well as just being a beautiful piece. To be honest, it’s so heavy we’d never get it out the door anyway!
Sinead: Probably a vintage gambling game I picked up on my honeymoon in Bali 18 years ago. It’s made of heavy wood and hand painted and hangs pride of place in the house.
Are there any other vintage and antique home curators’ works you admire?
Aislinn: So many – there’s a really diverse network of antique dealers selling on Instagram that all offer something different @two_poems for stunning sculptures and ceramics, @17_21antiques for eye-wateringly beautiful pieces and immaculate styling and @golborne_44 for unique large scale furniture… based just down the road so always good to support locals.
What brought you to the area?
Sinead: Love…my (now) husband lived in the area. We had our first date in The Salusbury over 20 years ago, it was a very different place back then!
Aislinn: Sounds ridiculous to say it now, but cheap houses. We all got pushed out of Ladbroke Grove in the early 2000s and up here was the affordable option. It was a lot of fun. It’s obviously changed dramatically since then but it’s still got a great community feel. I love it.
What do you like to do on the weekends to unwind?
Aislinn: Eat good food, see good friends… and get a good night’s sleep.
Sinead: I like to exercise, I’ve been going to Storm Ldn on Salubsury Rd since they opened, they have some great classes and instructors. Other than that, the usual, seeing friends, eating out, it’s great there are so many new restaurants opening up. You’ll always find me at the Farmers Market on Sundays, although it takes ages because you inevitably bump into lots of people you know but I love that sort of village feeling the area has to it.
Joke or secret – tell us one?
Aislinn: I don’t think I could put either of those in print.
Sinead: A man walks into a bar….ouch!
What song gets you on the dancefloor?
Sinead: Oooo difficult! Currently The Weekend ‘Blinding Lights’ but Lady Gaga’s ‘Just Dance’ or Aha’s ‘Take on me’ usually works.
Aislinn: Anything and everything.
What does the future look like for Ack & Mack, do you have anything exciting you can share?
Aislinn: We’ve got some exciting European sourcing trips planned and we’re hoping to launch our website towards the end of the year.
Sinead: And we’ve got some beautiful pieces dropping in the next few weeks, so follow now!