I recently enjoyed spending some time in the English Channel on a tiny private island off of a tiny island. A welcome break from an exciting and a rather hectic summer season for my little business. I spent my days sunbathing, exploring a tiny island, its white sand beaches and derelict forts. There was lots of delicious home cooking, refreshing swimming in the bay and waving goodbye each glorious day with a breathtaking sunset atop the fort with dear friends. A wonderful place to clear the mind and reboot for exciting ventures ahead.
I had the pleasure of partaking in the Lissome pop up this weekend with a handful of other ethical and mindful brands. On a lively Sunday in Stratford the day began with an insightful panel discussion and a Q&A. It was a beautiful day filled with meeting new faces and engaging conversations about running a small businesses and sustainable practice.
My friend Zoe and I embarked on a little project today - making our own natural deodorant. A part of living a mindful lifestyle means being an informed consumer, so when it comes to beauty and hygiene products I am definitely aware (and you should be too!) of the sticky issues surrounding a whole bunch of ingredients used in commercial products.
I've been a fan of and using natural deodorant formulas on an off for years now (on the off times, I just don't use any). Regular deodorants are known to contain a variety of toxic chemicals, carcinogens and pesticides that enter your bloodstream and reek havoc in your body. These harmful ingredients can cause everything from hormonal imbalances to cancers (yikes). Armpits being in such close proximity to your boobies means that whatever nasties are being absorbed by your pits, they're also traveling right down into your breast tissue. So, if it's something you've not been aware of, ditch your Dove and your Speedstick and get on board with natural deodorant. There are many natural varieties in store to choose from, many of which are naturally and beautifully scented, but you can also simply make your own! If you're up to the task, it's a fun project and you can customise your deodorant using organic essential oils or just leave it smelling of coconut oil. What I like about using this homemade formula is that coconut oil is really great for soothing any razor bumps. For happy pits and healthy humans, here's the recipe for the good stuff:
What you need:
- Organic tapioca starch
- Organic bi carb of soda
- Organic coconut oil
- A selection of organic essential oils
- A dark glass pot with lid
- Sticky label
Combine equal amounts of bi carb of soda and tapioca starch, then add coconut oil (warm it up in hot water if it's solid) until you reach a desired consistency. It shouldn't be too cakey, but slightly runny. Keep in mind that the coconut oil will solidify. Add 10 drops your choice essential oil. Et voila!
Pssst..! Catch us Sunday 25th June at RedYellowBlueE20. We'll be selling our little pots in an ethical fashion pop up curated by the Lissome.
Introducing two new styles - Judd and Marfa!
I'm very partial when it comes to anything stripy, so it will come to no surprise why I love using a simple stick/line/dash print in a lot of my work. I'm always looking for ways to reimagine this simple shape and continue coming back to it time and time again. It's also proven to be popular with you, my dear customer. It's no wonder, as it's an easy print to combine with other prints, it's gender neutral and there's something so clean and concise about it that it suits a myriad of environments and aesthetics. So, big love to stripy prints all around!
Back to the new collections, though. Both feature simple, broken line prints in two types of linen and colour schemes. Judd and Marfa were inspired by the work of American artists Donald Judd and his ranch in Marfa, Texas where his foundation and a lot of his work is located.
The Marfa colourway is warm like the Texan desert hues, printed on undyed, natural, medium and heavy weight linen. The Judd is printed onto light grey, melange linen using a palette of a muddy blue, mustard, nude and white. Colours were custom mixed to create two warm palettes and a touch of white in both designs give the linen a fresh, contemporary feel and look.
Coming soon to our online store - cushions, throw towels and table linen.
Linen is my first and main love, of course, but the truth is that I've been having a thing on the side with raw silk for quite some time now. Although linen can be worn in the cooler months as it does a great job of regulating temperature and keeping you warm, it's a hard perception to change when it's so symbolic of being a summertime fabric. This is why I've decided to introduce raw silk. I've been a fan of this type of silk ever since I came across it a few years ago. It's bubbly and cosy, almost flannel like texture drew me in, but I really fell in love with it when I realised that it's unfussy and is easy to care for. It's a silk you can wash and it gets nicer the more you do! I personally stay clear of any clothing that requires dry cleaning, as not only is it an inconvenience, an additional expense and the chemicals used in the process are bad for you and the environment. In addition, much like linen, raw silk does not require a heavy chemical treatment in its production. Needless to say, it ticks quite a few boxes for me and if any of the above mentioned things matter to you too then this may be a start of a textile love affair for you too.
I made clothing samples from raw silk and have been testing them for a year and I cannot get enough of this fabric. It's not widely used in fashion nor is it an easy fabric to source, so it is pretty special. I truly lucked out when I discovered a small family run business right here in the UK that stocks it and I am now able to integrate pieces into my collection that are a bit more transeasonal, thanks to this gorgeous, textured material. It drapes beautifully and is natural and breathable. The variety I use is undyed, in a natural off white colour, which looks beautiful on any skin tone. I'm working on some simple layering pieces for the cooler months, but am also releasing a couple of summer pieces too.
First item I designed with this silk in mind was the Provence Jumpsuit. It takes me back to the first roadtrip and the first holiday my partner and I embarked upon together. It began in the village of Bonnieux in the south of France. If you've had the pleasure of visiting, you may know what I'm talking about when I say that I picture a woman wearing this wide leg, floaty jumpsuit in one of the outdoor cafes on the main square that frames a large, rectangular pond. Oh hold on, you don't have to picture any of that, just watch the film A Good Year as the village is one of the locations (a soppy rom-com that does, however, make it irresistible to want to get on the next flight south). Basically, it's a chic little number that's comfy and easy to wear and ideally you want to be in France, savouring a glass of chilled rosè or at least that's the feeling I hope to evoke with this piece of clothing. That's the story of the silk and the jumpsuit, et voilà!
Otis and I are inside Dog Magazine, so if you're into dogs, or just like beautifully put together publications check it out. We're really chuffed to have been included among the other creative business owners and their dogs. Purchase the second issue to read about our living and working relationship :)
Henrietta Adams of Henri has kindly invited me and a selection of other like minded, ethical, English brands to join her at 274 Hackney Road (Get to know Henri here) for a seven week long pop up shop. We've only been open two days and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we are truly humbled by the warm and enthusiastic response we've had thus far. It's been reassuring and encouraging to know that so many of you are interested in ethical and sustainable nature of our brands and choose to shop small and support local.
274 Hackney Road | Wed - Sun | 11am - 7pm
Stepping into one of Toast shops you feel an immediately embraced of their warm and considered aesthetic. Gorgeous natural fabrics, re-envisioned in a contemporary and fresh way along side a carefully curated selection of home goods for a more mindful way of life. So it was truly an honour when their team approached me to host a block printing workshop for their customers in their Bath store.
Toast has brought out a gorgeous range of traditionally printed loungewear and clothing (Read about it here) and to celebrate extended this opportunity to their customers to try the process first hand. It was a beautifully creative evening with an inspiring group of women who really took to the process and I hope have walked away with a better understanding of the craft as well as appreciation for one of the most labour intensive ways of printing textiles.
I had an opportunity this month to take my block printing workshop on the road. First stop was Manchester, an Enterprise City festival celebrating creative industries, designers and makers and their cluster of five buildings that will house and support such businesses. A truly inspiring vision for redeveloping an area of Manchester to encourage creative enterprise and innovation. It was a spectacular day festival with over 30 events that included speakers, workshops, DJ's, food and beverage tastings and entertainment.
Photography by Anna Jacobsen
Otis and I had the pleasure welcoming Anna of We Are Here Now and her toy poodle Otto to my little studio corner last week. We had a lovely chat about our mutual love of Puglia while Anna photographed my work situation and our dogs chewed each other's faces off.
If you're not familiar with Anna's work, she's a consultant and a creative all-rounder who has a visually rich and very enticing online presence. If you haven't yet come across her instragram account or blog, please get up and leave your cave now. The rest you can find on http://www.wearehere-now.com/
Anyone who is fortunate enough to love their job will know how all consuming it can be and how difficult it is to break from. As a small business owner and the maker, not only is it physically difficult to get away, but it's even more challenging to mentally disconnect from work. Yet, I've come to realise that now more than ever taking that time out and stepping away is when it's most essential. Time for reflection, time to be still and time for inspiration. Taking time out from your normal routine is crucial for a well rounded experience in life and in business.
Most recently I embarked on a two week trip to Vietnam. It was a well balanced tour during which I visited the Mekong Delta, had a much needed dose of beach and sunshine on Phu Quoc Island, cruised on Halong Bay and book ended the trip with two incredible cities - HCMC and Hanoi. I left wanting more and did not miss a western diet, which says a lot after a very Pho heavy two weeks! I hope to return to this wonderful country for a more thorough exploration. In a nut shell - Vietnam absolutely blew me away. Everything from the warmth and hospitality of the Vietnamese people to the mouth watering dishes, to its charming cities, inspiring landscapes and the COFFEE. If it's been on your list of places to visit, I suggest you bump it up and make it a priority!
Cafe Hoang Thi, HCMC | Mango Bay Resort, Phu Quoc Island | Uu Dam Chay, Hanoi | Cong Caphe, Hanoi
Ren Clothing is now out and available to pre-order and I couldn't be more pleased this day has finally arrived! It's taken close to a year to get this venture on its way and I am so grateful for everyone who's helped me over the course. I've worked closely with local producers from the development of patterns and samples to the manufacturing. This experience has certainly taught me new skills and gave me greater understanding of the industry. It has also informed me that it is possible to produce locally, support local jobs and industry and deliver a product with integrity at a fair cost.
These first pieces are a good glimpse of what's to come as I continue to develop the range - simple, relaxed and wearable clothing in natural fabrics that transcend time, trends, and age. Clothing that compliments the home linen range for a slower, more mindful way of life.
To Paris and Back
I recently had a fantastic opportunity to catch up with my suppliers at a large biyearly exhibition, so I went to Paris for a little mid-week rendezvous with my fellow girlboss in tow, ZM Jewellery.
We stayed in the heart of the charming Le Marais in a family friend's apartment. It's a great little area of Paris that's brimming with classic French cafés and an extensive array of shops. Brand names such as A.P.C., Aesop, Han Kjøbenhavn, Margaret Howell, American Vintage, Diptyque and many more nestled among the quaint Parisian streets. Here you'll also find the Museé Picasso, and Centre Pompidou along with Atelier Brancusi are not to be missed for they are only a short walk away. If walkin' ain't your thing, there's transport nearby to access the rest of the city. But really... you should walk everywhere. It's Paris!
Getting there: Eurostar for a quick and comfortable crossing (book in advance for the best rates). Plus, none of this 100ml-only-liquids-business, which means you can return with bags-full of wine or shower gel... um, anyone as obsessed with Le Petit Marseillais as I am?
Eat/Drink: Camille is an ol' trusty in Le Marais for a coffee and a croissant and a bit of people watching. Always sit outside, no matter the season or weather. Marcel et Clémentine was a pleasant find in the 9th arrondissement with a great atmosphere and excellent food.
Don't miss: Atelier Brancusi and Museé de L'Orangerie.