Category Archives: Accessories/Jewellery/Bags

A Visit To The Orla Kiely Exhibition

Earlier this week, fellow blogger Carol Cassara and I met up in Bermondsey, London to visit, among other things, the current Orla Kiely exhibition “A Life In Pattern” being held at the Fashion & Textile Museum.

The Fashion & Textile Museum was founded in 2003 by the zany, iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes – who happens to be one of my favourite designers ever! I was very tempted to knock on her studio door just a few yards away – perhaps another day as this particular day Dublin -born designer Orla Kiely was the focus of my attention.

Orla Kiely’s career really started when she was commissioned by Harrods to design wool felted hats – but she very quickly expanded into bags.  And what lovely bags! As soon as Carol & I entered into the museum foyer, there was on display of the most gorgeous private collection of big, bold Orla Kiely bags. I loved them all. Carol headed straight to the gift shop to purchase a bag or two… disappointingly for her, no bags were available to purchase at the shop.  As Orla Kiely products are available in over 33 countries, we quickly googled & found an outlet to ensure we get our “bag fix” another day! 

Orla Kiely’s textile patterns are very distinctive – she is recognised globally as the designer of the iconic “stem” pattern…as well as various flower designs.  Not only are the patterns replicated onto bags but on a range of other items including scarves, shoes, pumps, flower pots, notebooks, and even a birdhouse ( which Carol took a liking to).  

Orla shares my love of the colour green – she uses every shade of green known to man (!) from moss green to seaweed.  The colours she uses reflect her Irish background – the greys, browns, and mustard yellow represent the Irish skies, the rolling hills and the gorse & wild flowers of the roadside verges. I did wonder about the splashes of orange, though. I then read in the book that accompanies the exhibition, that her colour preferences were also influenced by her family kitchen that had olive green worktops and  units …and a vivid orange shiny ceiling. Mmm… not creating a delightful picture to me but I can understand where the orange colour fits in! I wonder if she had an avocado green bath too?!

 

The main room of the exhibition that really stood out was the “Alice In Wonderland” room. Hanging from the ceiling were enormous dresses and coats, made of fabric. Along the walls were dolls wearing the same outfits but miniature versions of them.  Really well thought out and fascinating.  The outfits themselves were very much of the late 1960s/early 1970s era – very Mary Quant – I remember my mum wearing similar styled dresses when I was very young.  Carol & I both preferred the colourful trench coat – the  colours & pattern were eye catching – great to wear over a black polo neck top,  black drainpipe jeans and black knee high boots! 

The museum had a cafe (delicious cappuccino) and a small gift shop  which sold lots of knick-knacks (sadly no Orla Kiely bags) – but they did have a superb collection of fashion coffee books  including the book published to accompany this  exhibition – “A Life In Pattern” by Orla Kiely, published by Conran Octopus Publishing.

The Fashion & Textile Museum in Bermondsey was a little gem. The museum receives no public funding – it holds exhibitions such as this one, and hosts some fabulous workshops instead. The museum was founded by Zandra Rhodes, but is owned by Newham College London (one of Europe’s largest further education colleges).  It is the only museum in the UK solely dedicated to showcasing developments in contemporary fashion. It also provides inspiration, support and training to those working in the industry.  Lying south of the River Thames, close to the Shard and between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, it is definitely worth checking out next time you are in London.

The Orla Kiely exhibition runs until 23 September 2018. The Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 11am.  The next exhibition will be “Night And Day: 1930s Fashion And Photographs” from 12 October 2018 – 20 January 2019. 

For more details check out the website: www.ftmlondon.org

All photos are by Linda Hobden.

 

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An Interview With Tesalate

Ahh …Summer Sun! In the Northern Hemisphere the summer season has begun in earnest with the UK, USA, Canada and Europe warming up nicely with an impromptu heatwave …. and there is no better time than now to introduce Australian brand, Tesalate, to the blog.  Tesalate towels are not only beautifully designed but they are super absorbent and, most impressive of all, they are totally sand free. Co founder Jacky was lovely enough to answer my questions about her vibrant and eye catching designs. Hi Jacky!

This is Volkan – Jacky was too shy!

Hi! I’m Jacky, co-founder, designer and beach bum (tester). Volkan is my business partner.

What inspired the launch of Tesalate towels?

Volkan and I were hiking to a remote beach in the Royal National Park near Sydney. On the hike back, our towel was heavy, smelly, and filled our backpack with sand. So, we figured we can make something much better.

I love the eye-catching designs of the towels – my favourite is the Phoenix design. To date, what has been your most popular design?

In every country, a different one is popular. What we love seeing is that people are often adventurous. They will buy something really colorful and out there. 

What’s your most favourite design in your collection?

To Tuscany, but then again I’m a sucker for turquoise. 

I’m often interested about origins of some brand names – and Tesalate is one brand name I’m intrigued about. What is the reasoning behind the name?

Our original designs were all tessellations (repeating patterns).

Apart from being beautifully designed the towels are compact, super absorbent, lightweight … and astonishingly are totally sand-free!  What are the towels made of? How do you care for them to help maintain their absorbency?

We spent a year developing our own fabric called AbsorbLite. It’s made of a form of microfiber, which means it has a lot of performance features. Our finish and processing allow it to be completely sand-free. 

Growing up, did you all have dreams of being a designer or did you have other career plans?

I always knew I wanted to create something. Design for us is more than the towel. It’s how we interact with customers and it’s the environment we create for our employees.

As Tesalate is based in Australia, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

We ship worldwide for free. In fact, we have shipped to over 100 countries since we’ve launched.

If you could visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a new towel design collection, where would you go and why?

Sydney! Luckily we live here. There are a hundred different nationalities, and every area has its own subculture. I’ve been to a lot of amazing places, but I have never been to a place where it is a mix of so many cultures. Plus, we have a world city, we have amazing beaches, and we are surrounded by national parks. Can you tell I love Sydney?

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Beachwear or anything that is comfortable. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

There are too many to mention. But generally, I like to shop at sites selling beachwear.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Nothing definite comes to mind right now. But quality should matter most when it comes to choosing any product. 

Boots or Shoes? 

Neither. I like going barefoot since I love going to the beach.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Tesalate.

Official website – www.tesalate.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/tesalate

Instagram – www.instagram.com/tesalate

Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/tesalate

Wow, dear readers, what do you think about those towel designs? I love each and every one of those designs and I still think that being totally sand free is just amazing!  Thank you Jacky for taking the time to chat on the blog about your fantastic product. 

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission of Tesalate.

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An Interview With Mandala Dream Co

I’m talking HEMP this week with Jul from Mandala Dream Co.  Jul lives, breathes and talks hemp.  From bed linen and fashions to beauty and skincare…. in fact, over 30,000 products can be made from industrial crop.  Hemp is eco friendly, ethical, sustainable and kinder to both people and the planet.  I caught up with Jul to find out more about this versatile crop and why she is so passionate about hemp…

Hi! I’m Jul from Mandala Dream Co, living & working in Kobble Creek, Queensland, Australia. A beautiful little pocket of the planet, living & loving life, my family & my role as the one man band for Mandala Dream Co. (In truth I do now have the luxury of having a seamstress & pattern maker who work with me & make my life soooooo much more manageable). Nonetheless I’m the blessed being who sows & cultivates our plants for our eco dyeing, harvests & ferments the hand eco dyes, dyes, designs our range, formulates our skincare, along with chief of photography, marketing, blogging, newsletters, website upkeep & all the fun things that make my life full, joyous & satisfying.

What was behind your choice to concentrate on hemp?

Bring on the Green Revolution including all things Hemp I say 😊
My first love was textile art, specifically hand eco dyeing utilising natures botanicals (plants, barks, roots, leaves, kino etc) specifically using organic & sustainable fabrics. After using all manner of fabrics including peace silk, organic cotton, bamboo & hemp I simply could not bring myself to advocate for anything other than humble hemp. It’s impossible once learning about the growing, the water wastage & the manufacturing of other fibres to use anything else in all good conscience. 

The natural beauty we can create with this textile is inspiring, as a little cottage organic hemp creator of bedlinen, eco fashion & skincare I’m proud of our pioneering movement even on this small scale, the fabrics are so very beautiful, becoming softer with each use, heirloom fabrics that last a lifetime and are also resistant to stains, odours, mildew & mould, highest UV factor of all natural fibres, naturally antibacterial.

No pesticides or synthetic fertilisers are needed to successfully grow hemp (unlike the chemically laden crops we currently grow in Australia & on our beloved planet) you could grow it yourself easily. The plants dense roots stave off weeds, and the growing process improves the soil’s nitrogen, making the soil even better for other crops in the future, a perfect rotational crop for farmers and the health of our soils, which are incredibly sour here in Australia. The growth cycle of hemp is generally only four months, so the option to harvest two times in one year would create a huge relief for struggling farmers. Research states that just one acre of hemp produces more oxygen from CO2 and methane than 25 acres of forest, not to mention the water savings (we save 9000 litres of water (compared to traditional cotton bedlinen) with just one sheet 😊

More about my favoured Hemp:

Hemp Biodiesel can replace our need for fossil fuels.
Hemp seeds & cold pressed oils are superfoods containing essential amino acids & easily digested protein. High in the omegas with a naturally perfect ratio. It’s so nutritionally superior you can survive on hemp seeds alone for a long period, can you imagine what this could do to those in famine around the world?

Its oils are used in our Skincare –  it plumps up dry skin & even helps your skin to retain more moisture over time with its use.

Nil petrochemicals from plastics are produced with hemp plastics, from plastic wraps for food, bottles and everyday items all the way through to auto parts, with no harmful BPA. Hemp plastics are not only heat resistant and durable they are 100% biodegradable.
Housing construction materials (such as hempcrete) made from hemp fibres have been found to be far superior to most materials used in housing construction in our era. Inexpensive hemp can be made into a huge variety of building materials, hempcrete, insulation, blocks, plastics, board, even carpets, whilst being so much stronger and will last soooo much longer than what’s being utilised now. Did I mention they are also fire resistant? mould & mildew resistant? rot free? totally non toxic? & good for us and our planet-and totally natural! Have you any idea how many toxic chemicals and compounds are in our newly built housing? So much of the materials used are processed with toxic chemicals that are released into our living areas (with our loved ones) for years and years. In essence anything wood pulp can do, hemp fibres do far better. 70% of our worlds forests have already been eliminated…and yet we pretend we don’t know why our existence is threatened. Hemp paper can be recycled 8 times, whilst from our beautiful century old trees it’s only 3 to 4 times.

 I love the gold coloured hemp cushion covers/bed linen. To date, what has been your most popular hemp item?

The gold colours are infused on the fabrics utilising onion skins, chamomile, turmeric, calendula petals & marigolds (or whatever I have available in our storage & ferments at the time) – I generally harvest our plant dyes all year round. Our most popular items currently are our Natural indigo dyed hemp wrap pants & our Meraki skincare & beauty range.

 

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

For me it’s the bedlinen, we are so in love with ours (one set for life) we take them to hotels when we travel. They start off their life a little stiff (like a good old fashioned linen in your grandmother’s  cupboard), but over time they soften up  & ‘wear in’ becoming at one with your bed & its occupants. They stay fresher for longer (meaning we only wash them every 2nd week) and as they are stain & odour resistant they just make everyday life that little bit more comfortable. They have a far superior wicking factor meaning they are highly absorbent & climate reactive keeping us warm in the cooler months here in Kobble Creek; dry, cool & fresh in our hot summer months. We guarantee our bedlinen for a lifetime, it will last that long, & market them as one set for life.

I’m impressed with the gorgeous colours – and the fact that each colour is organic, free from pesticides, treatments or chemicals. Where do you source the ingredients and what ingredients make up the rich colour tones?

Generally if it grows & is non toxic. I have at least attempted to eco dye with it 😊 Most of our ingredients are grown right here on our 5 acres, though I do have a regular supply of onion skins from our 2 local organic fruit & vegetable producers…which is just as well as we use a lot of those. We collect bloodwood kino (sap) on our family walks from our local trees when they naturally produce; grow our own indigofera, turmeric, berries, cherries, moringa & neem.

I use hemp hand cream daily as it is the only product that keeps my hands soft and crack free. What other hemp based beauty products do you sell? What are the advantages of using hemp beauty products?

Our Meraki range (which is a Greek word meaning created with love & devotion…a little piece of our souls in every formulation) currently includes Hempseed Oil based- Face Serum, Body/Hair Butter, Bath Salts/Soak, Pit Potion Deodorant, Toothypaste, Fragrance, Hair Serum & Dream Mist. We are currently working & trialling a new range which includes Hemp CBD oil, which will be a specific anti ageing range. Hemp seed oil is a little miracle (both topically & nutritionally) with the perfect ratio of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids it’s vital for skin health. The high presence of Vitamin A, D & E ensures repair & rejuvenation of cells, whilst the gamma linolenic acid is a powerful anti inflammatory reducing redness & soreness. Hemp seed oil increases elasticity, is ideal for eczema, psoriasis, rosacea & acne breakouts by naturally balancing the skins oil production, the natural wonder of hemp seed oil teaches our skin how to stay hydrated for longer with every use. Top all that off with how good Hemp is for our planet & you start to feel why I’m such an advocate 😊

Are you introducing any new hemp items to add to your collection into for 2018?

Yes as above (re the new Meraki range). We are also hard at work designing an ethical wardrobe capsule starter kit which will be created using a lightweight Hemp knit blend which will be a lovely easy option for travellers also: 7  initial pieces which can all be worn in different ways (a jacket that doubles as a wrap shirt, a pencil skirt that can be worn comfortably at different lengths etc). We’ve always been a ‘low waste’ business very aware of our environmental footprint (which is why we hold little stock & create to order), using our fabric remnants for a long time in our labelling, hand stamped business cards etc, & are now starting to produce eco wraps (similar to the beeswax eco wraps used in place of single use plastics, sandwich bags etc) but with a twist. The average eco wrap is non organic cotton, dyed with synthetic dyes & uses bees wax & jojoba oil in the coating. Ours will be 100% vegan using our remnants, organic hemp, botanical eco dyes (leftovers, which are also thickened with soy powder to use as block print inks) & candelilla wax (a plant wax) & hemp seed oil creating a far superior wrap which is vegan for the conscious mums packing their beloveds lunches & snacks. (p.s. our youngest attends a Steiner school so I certainly have a ready made market right there) 😊… This photo is of a hemp canvas backpack we recently made for our youngest Kingston, along with hemp drawstring pants for our little people.

As Mandala Dream Co is based in Australia, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

Yes absolutely my biggest market at the moment is Canada (which are hemp early adopters…and just ‘get it’) I’ve also created for clients in the UK, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, Mexico, Cuba, Alaska & even a marines barracks in Fort Benning USA. Delighted to offer to anyone it really speaks to.

Choosing brand names can be a hard task at times, especially when you are trying to pick a name to encapsulate the essence of the brand. What made you decide to pick the name “Mandala Dream Co”?

It was a very personal choice for me & though it doesn’t shout out ‘hemp’, it represents what this little cottage industry meant for me. Mandala Dream Co was born out of me finally finding the calm amidst the chaos., though it took more than a few knocks on my skull before I woke to it. A separation of old wants & new needs really. The Mandala represents the oneness of the psyche with the cosmos, & for me that’s exactly where I found myself in ‘oneness’.
The Mandala is a sacred symbol laying down a map for finding our own way to our self, it represents our connection with our earth. My dream was to renew eco sustainable practices & ancient eco dye practices, whilst delivering humble hemp into every household…..& of course The Co. is you, the company we keep…our clients who we wish to heal body, mind & spirit. With eco, sustainable, organic hemp bed linens & bed sheets, slow fashion, skincare & beauty creations, made by hand with love & devotion to enhance your health, wellbeing, sleep & beauty.  So…for me it’s the essence of the brand, the ethos, the ethics we follow in our business & our every day life, leaving things better than we found them & attracting what’s needed & letting go of things that no longer serve.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now I’m a bit of a ‘hippie’, a tree hugger, a greenie? Generally you’ll find me wearing something casual & comfortable & usually one of our creations, certainly a lot of hemp clothing, samples we’ve made for photography, marketing etc, failed attempts at eco dyeing that had to be reworked etc. Many days it’s just torn jeans & a blouse or a hemp tshirt.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Oh yes indeed, during the week I wear lots of hemp tshirts from www.superegoclothiers.com : wonderful quality & cool (perfect for when I’m working with the dye vat at 60 degrees). My favourite is in one of the photo below worn by our eldest (Sahara) which has the caption ‘Cut From a Different Cloth’ #cfadc, which of course is the different cloth …Hemp. I adore this brand it’s very ‘urban’ with lots of street cred & will one day be collaborating with Tommie T Lark founder of this wonderful brand. Of course I occasionally get dressed up for a ‘date night’ with my gorgeous Jamaican husband Kaleel & then I’ll go all out & wear something I treasure from either an upcycled vintage op shop buy, usually inspired by the wonder Fashion Hound that is Faye Delanty, or a piece that I simply couldn’t live without buying.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Honestly I have no wish list, I’m one of those people who don’t usually purchase for ‘occasions’ as have collected & curated so much over the years I generally have all that I’ll ever need. In fact I’m whittling my wardrobe down to a ethical capsule wardrobe with just a few extra special pieces that I must keep for my sanity.

Boots or Shoes?

Oh if I could every single day it would be boots as I think they just give an entire outfit a better line & are so comfortable, but alas it’s often so hot here flat sandals are usually my go to.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Mandala Dream Co.

Website: www.mandaladreamco.com.au
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mandaladreamco/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/mandaladreamco/

Oh Jul, it’s great to hear you are a boots girl – even if it is in spirit only! :). Kobble Creek sounds idyllic, your farm sounds lovely, your children are adorable and your passion for hemp is uplifting – thank you so much for sharing your knowledge 🙂

Linda x

All photos were taken by Julie Grant and published with kind permission.

Models: Sahara & Kingston

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An Interview With Dress Code Nine

Whether you are going on a special night out, going to the Races or it’s your Prom night, nothing beats wearing a glamorous dress.  What could be better than going to an Aladdin’s Cave full of dresses, a specialist boutique, whose mission is to dress you up to the nines for your special event, regardless of your budget?  Dress Code Nine based in Kelvedon, Essex is the Aladdin’s Cave owned by Carla – she has over 200 stunning dresses, stylish heels, fascinators & jewellery  – plus a dedicated Prom dress department too! I caught up with Carla recently to chat about dresses….

Hi! My Name is Carla Lynch and I am the proprietor of Dress Code Nine which opened on October 7th 2017, offering evening and occasional wear for ladies all ages and sizes.

What inspired you to set up “Dress Code Nine”?

I love a dress and always have, I think most ladies do, but you can not always find the dress you need for the budget you have at the time. I wanted to address this with my boutique.

Although you do have dresses available to purchase, you have over 200 dresses available for hire from sizes 4 -24. What are the advantages of hiring a dress for that special event?

Not everyone has the funds or feels comfortable to spend so much money to buy a ball dress which you only wear once. This gives my clients both options: a hire collection and a purchase collection to choose from.

Your range of dresses include high-end designers such as Gino Cerruti, Jora Collections, Kiss Me Kate Designs, Eliza and Ethan – all are totally gorgeous! What dresses are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

It is the Jora Collection. They are gorgeous dresses at a very reasonable price. I love them, the quality and designs are stunning.

Out of all the dresses, do you have any favourites?

Oh yes the one which springs to mind at the moment is one of the Jora collections. It is a gorgeous wine/burgundy colour with a diamante back with a train coming down the middle. If you have a look on our website www.dresscodenine.co.uk under the Jora collection you will see this, it has proved to be a Prom favourite this season.

When going out for a special event, I tend to choose a red dress – occasionally I pick blue or green. My daughter, for her prom, picked a stunning black lace dress. Do you think age plays a part in picking a colour of a dress? Which age group do you find most adventurous when it comes to picking colours for dresses?

I do not think age plays a part, It is more what matches your skin tone, hair, eye colour. Ladies of all ages can be adventurous when you least expect it.

Not only do you have a stunning range of delectable dresses but you also have accessories too. What accessories do you offer to match the dresses?

We offer bags, Fascinators, Hats, Jewellery, Shoes, Wraps.

You have a dedicated department just for prom dresses – what do you feel makes a good “prom” dress?

A style which suits your body shape is a must, as well as colour. A good quality dress also is a big thing for the ladies that come and see us.

If a lady is going to a special event, for example, a Valentines Ball and is interested in hiring/buying a dress – how do they go about visiting “Dress Code Nine”? Can they purchase online, is it appointment only or can they drop by and visit your boutique?

We are appointment only so we can give that one to one service for each lady that comes to our boutique to find their perfect dress so they are dressed to the nines.

When choosing dresses to add to your hire collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

Everything you have said is important but the most critical purchasing decision for me when buying from designers is catering for my client base.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

A dress with 3 inch heels

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

The high street has its place and for me, it is great for mass produced but good value outfits. I do love a Karen Millen dress and heels.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

More dresses, sparkle diamante flip flops and shoes and another bag or two.

Boots or Shoes?

Has to be shoes. You can wear shoes throughout the whole year for different occasions where boots are more just for winter.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Dress Code Nine.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dresscodenine/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dresscodenine/

Google+: https://goo.gl/maps/Athj5F5Uoqy

website: http://dresscodenine.co.uk

Thank you Carla for giving us a glimpse into the world of dresses and I am so pleased to have your shop close to where I live! 🙂 

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Dress Code Nine.

 

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An Interview With Little Bits Of Bling

Time for a bit of bling this week on the blog and I’m so pleased to welcome Allie of Little Bits of Bling.  I came across Allie and her wonderful Etsy shop via Twitter a while ago. I was mesmerised by her range of lockets and aromatherapy jewellery. As usual I wanted to know more about the jewellery and Allie agreed to spill the beans…

Hi, my name is Allie , I live in the South West with my hubby and son and I am the owner and designer at Little Bits of Bling.

What was behind your choice to concentrate on floating locket & aromatherapy jewellery?

I love how versatile the floating lockets are and the fact you can swap charms around really appealed to me, oh and I’m a bit of a magpie too, so the fact they were very sparkly helped! The aromatherapy lockets came later whilst looking for new floating lockets – I came across these and thought they would make a great addition whilst keeping the locket theme.

I love the “Locket Bracelet” and the “Oil Diffuser Stainless steel Incense Lockets”. To date, what has been your most popular jewellery item?

My most popular item is actually my photo charm. I can shrink down your photos and make them into a floating charm which people seem to love, especially pet owners, I’ve done more animals than humans!

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

My favourite is the cuff bangle, I’m wearing that with Christmas charms in at the moment.

Each piece is so lovely, yet fragile – have you any tips on how best you can look after your floating locket jewellery pieces?

They do have a glass front, so for keyrings I do advise not to use with bunches of keys so as not to break the front. They can also show up fingerprints from opening and swapping charms so a quick wipe with a micro fibre cloth works great.

How do you go about ordering a floating locket? Can the lockets be personalised?

I have a website, www.littlebitsofbling.co.uk. They can be personalised as far as the charms you add to the locket, I currently have over 300 on the website, I can also personalise the backgrounds that sit behind the charms with words or a picture of your choice.

As Little Bits of Bling is based in England, are your pieces available to purchase worldwide?

Yes I offer international shipping on all of my lockets.

Have you always been interested in jewellery or did you hope to follow a different career path whilst growing up?

I never really had a career in mind when I left school so because of that I have had many different jobs. At the moment Little Bits of Bling is something I do between my day job and looking after my son. I have always had a love for the sparkly things in life so jewellery seemed the obvious choice.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Oh I’m definitely a jeans and trainers kind of girl.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I tend to stick to the high street and usually shop in Next, New Look and Matalan.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A complete new outfit for my hubby’s Christmas party next month.

Boots or Shoes?

Oh trainers and my sketchers for sure, I love to be comfy and can’t really do heels!

 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Little Bits Of Bling.

www.littlebitsofbling.co.uk
www.facebook.com/blinglittlebits
www.instagram.com/littlebitsofbling

Thank you Allie – your little bits of bling are truly delightful.  It is interesting to note that animal photos for the photo charms are more popular than the humans! Interesting but not surprising! My youngest son is always taking photos of our cats and he prints them off and proudly displays them in his room! I have a habit of always photographing mountains/scenery … dear readers, what do you tend to photograph most? Selfies? Bling? Family? Pets? I’d be interested to know so do drop me a comment …

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission of Little Bits Of Bling.

 

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An Interview With Akosee

Whilst the  days in the northern hemisphere in November are getting colder, those countries that straddle the tropics and those countries south of the Equator are welcoming the sun – so now seems to be a perfect time to introduce onto my blog the Singapore based resortwear brand, Akosee. Ana, the founder, hails from Australia  and she has designed a range of resortwear that draws inspiration from the beaches of Australia, Maldives, St Tropez & Goa.   Launching her latest collection this week, “The Elements”, Ana has once again produced a stunning collection that can be worn all year round, both on holiday and in everyday life. I managed to catch up with the busy lady to find out more about her latest collection… hi Ana!

Hi! I’m Ana, the head designer and founder of luxury resort wear brand Akosée.

What inspired you to set up Akosée?

My travels have been a huge inspiration in the creation of the brand, but starting a new life chapter has been my main inspiration. Enrolling in a Diploma of Fashion Design and Technology was the start of a dream becoming a reality. The thrill of learning something new was a huge motivation and from there, the first Akosée collection was born.

Have you always had a passion for fashion, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?

When I was younger I wanted to work in travel mainly because of a desire to travel, so I’ve been lucky enough to travel for pleasure as much as I have. But yes, I’ve always had a love and appreciation of beautiful, effortless clothes and that’s exactly why I created Akosée.

I love the Kaftanna green Paisley dress & the leather tie belt! What items are proving popular amongst your customers?

Our dresses and kaftans are always really popular as they are versatile, throw-on pieces that can easily be worn by the pool, beach or bar so there’s endless styling options. The most popular items from our first collection have been the Blue Mosaic Kaftanna and the Pink Mosaic BeachLyd.

Tell me about your new collection 🙂

Our new collection, The Elements, has been designed with comfort and style in mind and to be more versatile so we aren’t just limited to beachwear but rather offering a summer style element so that the garments can also be used for every day wear. The Elements should be seen as a capsule collection of everything you would need on a holiday, relaxed beach cover ups, casual shorts and top sets, no-iron travelling clothes and smarter dresses for evening and lunches. There’s plenty of mix and match separates that are great for different occasions, from a weekend brunch to easy everyday wear.

Out of all the outfits in your collection, do you have any favourites?

I can’t possibly say a favourite! We’ve got some amazing new styles coming soon in our latest collection so there’s always lots of new styles to get excited about.

Your travels around the world have left you with plenty of inspiration for your collections – Australia, Maldives, St Tropez & Goa – as well as pop up shops in glam spots such as Monaco and Singapore. So, what place is on the top of your travel bucket list?

I’d love to go to Machu Picchu in Peru and see something totally different. I haven’t been that far afield yet.

Which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of Akosee?

I have always loved Nicole Richie’s style, elegant with a touch of cool. She’s probably busy being the face of her own label though!

What new items are in the pipeline?

We have recently produced some luxury hand printed beach bags, made exclusively for Akosée in Bali, a beautiful matching tweed shorts and jacket set as well as dresses for day and evening, shorts, skirts, tops and more!

Your company is registered in Singapore, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, all styles on www.akosee.com can be shipped worldwide within 2 days of receiving the order. The delivery time depends on the courier company though! We offer free shipping in Singapore too.

When designing outfits to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional styles or bits of all those?

Our collections are constantly being developed to cater to our audience around the world and the luxurious fabrics we source mean that our customers can enjoy wearing something that is unique, relaxed and comfortable whilst looking stylish too! We always welcome feedback from our customers so this information often gives us some direction when creating new collections.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Silk shorts, I love tailored silk shorts.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I enjoy shopping on Net-a-Porter and FarFetch for designer pieces and I also like looking for bespoke vintage pieces such as accessories to mix my outfits up a little.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Red Velvet Yves St Laurent boots for winter!

Boots or Shoes?

Living in Singapore, the only way to go is sandals! That said, for evening I’ll wear heeled espadrilles, wedges or high heels from Jimmy Choo. I’m a fan of white trainers for day time too.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Akosee.

To shop the Akosée collection you can visit www.akosee.com or follow us on our social media channels here:

Facebook @akoseethreads – https://www.facebook.com/Akoseethreads/

Instagram @akoseethreads – https://www.instagram.com/Akoseethreads/

Twitter @akoseethreads – https://twitter.com/Akoseethreads

I hope your new collection is a success, Ana! I love the idea of a capsule holiday wardrobe – however I do tend to overpack still.  I found on holiday this year my most useful and worn item were my pink sparkly espadrilles – for beach through to bar at night! I nearly left them at home but decided to pack them at the last minute! Dear readers, what item of footwear or clothing did you find most versatile on holiday?  Did you pack anything that you didn’t wear or use? Do share your stories, I’d love to know.

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Akosee.

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An Interview With Canine Chic

In the past I have interviewed and been wowed by many jewellery designers – from pearls to silicone; silver to diamonds – we’ve read them all!  This week though we are talking about our lovable pooches and their jewellery needs  – yes, that’s right – jewellery for dogs!  My guest, Sarah Eyton is a designer and creative director of “Canine Chic of London”  specialising in pug pendants – luxurious and stylish identity pendants for dogs (and their owners).  I caught up with Sarah to find out more…. hi Sarah!

Hi! My name is Sarah Eyton (pronounced Eye Ton). I am a jewellery and fashion accessories designer from London.

What was the inspiration behind your choice to make pug pendants?

The idea came to me about a year ago, due to clients requests and realising a gap in the market. Within my profession as a jewellery designer, I had often been asked if I could work to varying types of commission. Several customers were asking if I could design and make personalised identity discs for their dogs’ collars. They were asking because they had searched everywhere for beautiful and stylish ID discs to adorn their loved ones’ necks but the search for them had not been fruitful. They’d looked and they couldn’t find anything that came close to what they were searching for – unique designer pendants that complimented or expressed their sartorial aspirations for their four legged friends. Equally important, they often wanted matching ones to wear themselves. They are called PugPendants because my first client was a Pug owner – the name just seemed sweet and appropriate.

Your pug pendants have been promoted by UK based celebrity dogs, including Marcel LeCorgi, Miss Marple, Monty the Frenchie & Coco the Frenchie. I’m fascinated by the Zodiac discs! To date, what has been your most popular pug pendant style?

Yes, I’m very fortunate to have attracted the support from some of the most famous dogs in the U.K! So far the most popular PugPendants are the individual star sign discs – most people know their Dog’s birthday and many owners are getting their own specific zodiac pendant to match. They make a lovely gift, as they come with a little printed scroll depicting the Personality traits of that particular Star sign.

Each piece is so lovely and unique – available in 24K yellow or rose gold plate with a crystal colour choice – where do you find inspiration from for the range of dog tag designs?

I am inspired by sacred geometry. The ‘Oracle’ and ‘Starburst’ PugPendant designs are both derived from this. Then I have fun with the colours of the crystals. Swarovski have such an amazing colour range.

As you are based in London, are your pieces available to purchase worldwide?

All PugPendants are shipped worldwide which is included in the purchase price.

Do you own a dog (or any other pet)?

I have a lovely cat called Eden! It may seem strange to design for dogs when I don’t have one but the truth is if I had my own – he would have been my model and my Muse, so I would never have met all these wonderful dogs and their Humans. They guide me a lot in the creative process by identifying what (in an ideal world) they would want for their furry friends and I can remain (slightly) objective.

You are also a “human” jewellery designer. Have you always been interested in jewellery or did you hope to follow a different career path whilst growing up?

I was a Professional Actress from the age of 14 till 26.
I thought that I would always do that, however in my mid twenties, my circumstances changed. I decided to do a Art foundation, which led to a BA Hons in 3 dimensional design and silversmithing at Brighton University. I consider myself fortunate to have been very involved in many aspects of design, from interiors to furniture and homewares. However, the last 8 years have been focussed on designing jewellery and fashion accessories, including handbags – and now dog apparel!

Your jewellery collection features a lot of Perspex bangles as well as other materials such as aluminium, precious metals, silver & gold. Why do you enjoy using Perspex, over other materials?

I love Perspex! The colours and its versatility. When I first started there wasn’t many fashion people designing with it and laser engraving was in its infancy. I felt like a pioneer and wanted to explore this arena. I wanted to change the impression people had of plastics being seen as landfill – obviously some is and that is a real problem! However, branded Perspex is about 3 x the price of glass, so I consider it a luxury material and treat it as such. As they are handmade, none of my pieces are mass produced.

Are there other canine chic pieces in the pipeline for the future?

So many ideas, so little time! I have a whole new range of products for dogs (and occasionally their humans) in production, mainly to be released in time for Christmas and next year.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love heels but they have to be comfortable. I’m better with quite tailored clothes and have to look fairly smart for meetings etc but am more casual at home.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I pick up most pieces in the High Street stores like TopShop and Zara etc but occasionally get a versatile designer piece to dress things up.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I really need some smart winter day boots to walk around town in.

Boots or Shoes?

I’m afraid it has to be both. It’s a London weather thing…boots in winter and shoes during our short and unpredictable summer…
I like ankle boots to wear with jeans etc and higher boots with skirts.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Canine Chic and your own jewellery collection.

Canine Chic of London is on www.caninechicoflondon.co.uk also please follow on Instagram, as that’s where the day to day stuff happens @caninechicoflondon 

My Perspex jewellery and handbags is at www.saraheytondesigns.co.uk and on Instagram I am @saraheyton

Thank you Sarah! I’m fascinated by the zodiac pendants for dogs! I wonder if pets exhibit the same characteristics as humans born under the same star sign?! I don’t have dogs but I do have 2 cats who were both born at the end of July, making them Leos. You certainly know they are there, they enjoy being made a fuss of and they love being brushed …. hmm.. just like my Leo born husband and son! What star sign are your pets? Do they show any characteristics usually linked with that star sign? Do share your opinions, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Sarah Eyton/ Canine Chic of London.

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An Interview With Oscar Francis

My guest this week is qualified architect, Sarah Evans, who established her London based studio “Oscar Francis” in 2013. Sarah has a passion for architecture – using that passion and her creative flair, she has diversified into producing architecturally inspired prints and textiles.  I caught up with Sarah recently to find out more about her business, her passion and her forthcoming book too…. welcome Sarah!

My name is Sarah Evans. I live and work in London with my partner and  two children. I am an architect turned artist/illustrator. I started my own business in 2013 creating hand drawn artwork and digital prints almost entirely inspired by modernist architecture.

What inspired you to establish your studio, Oscar Francis?

The idea for the company grew over a period of time and was born out of a series of events, which prompted me to strike out on my own. The London office that I had worked in for 6 years closed due to the loss of a very large project and we all found ourselves out of a job. I was pregnant with twins and about to go on maternity leave so I knew then that I would need to find a new job in a new office and cover the childcare costs for two. I had always wanted to be my own boss so I began to work on what I called my “alternative” plan. If I didn’t go back to a new job could I set up my own company? So I began putting together a plan of what I wanted to do, of what I would like to do. I had a clear idea early on that I wanted to create an art label inspired by my love of architecture, but I had to figure out the ‘how’. I worked on it for 18 months before I launched the website.

Why did you settle on calling your studio, Oscar Francis?

When I decided to set up my company I initially came up with the name “Pattern Architecture”. I then realised that this could be limiting if I wanted to reach beyond the urban environment and explore other subjects. So I had a dilemma, I wanted to use a name that meant something to me but that also gave me enough room to move in another direction if I so wished. I felt that my name was too ‘ordinary’. My twin boys are called Oscar and Francis…and it just felt right!

The majority of your current collection focuses on post war modernist architecture from the 50s to the 70s. The range of products available varies from prints to wash bags, mugs to tote bags, cushion covers to tea towels. What products/prints are most popular with your clients?

When I started out I assumed that the printed textiles would be the lead product and the direction the company would go but the giclee art prints are the most popular by far – which I am really pleased about!

Do you have a particular favourite product or print from your range?

It’s hard to pick a favourite. Oddly the most popular, best selling prints become the ones you like the least because you see so much of them! I suppose it’s like a band with a hit song that they have to keep singing over and over again. My favourite work is usually the most recent I have produced so at the moment its my latest collection ‘Landmark’. These are all inspired by modern cultural buildings from all over the world. It’s the first mixed international collection I have produced. I am very proud of it.

On October 15th 2017 (November 15th for the US), your book “Modernist London” – 22 posters of inspirational architecture – will be released. As you have a passion for architecture & city/housing types, have you got a favourite place/poster?

My favourite piece from the new poster book has to be Croydon No.1. It made the front cover, and rightly so. It’s really striking and I enjoyed creating it immensely. The hand drawing I produced prior to the digital work took a ridiculously long time, but it was worth it.

People have travel bucket lists, but I would like to know, if you could travel anywhere in the world to view a building/housing/cityscape, what place would be top of your bucket list?

There are so many! If I had to name a couple they would be the Church of Light by Tadao Ando in Osaka, Japan and the National Assembly Building by Louis Kahn in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I will get there, I will.

Oscar Francis designs and products have been featured in a number of magazines such as Grand Designs, Elle Deco & Good Homes. Your products are also sold in a number of UK based boutiques and gallery shops. As you are based in London, are your products available overseas?

The shop is online only but we ship all over the world. We are building up the stockist list outside of the UK so its best to check in the ‘Where to buy’ section on the website. Here you will be able to see the latest information on stores near you that sell my products.

Growing up, what were your career aspirations? Have you always wanted to be an architect?

I wanted to be an artist. I had huge respect for the discipline of architecture, but I loved drawing and painting and thought I would study fine art. However, when I was considering further education and university I decided to try architecture. The argument being that this route was just as creative but might also open up a wider range of job opportunities. My late father was an architect and he was, of course, an influence in this decision. I had been helping out in his practice since I was 15 years old.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

It depends what I am doing. This time of year, day to day, I am in fitted trousers or dark jeans and a jumper or blouse with heeled boots. I prefer classic and unfussy. I save my creative energy for my work.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I have a go to list of sites and blogs for everything from going out in London to cool homewares and interiors. Here’s a selection of my favourites: London on the Inside; The Nudge; Such and Such – interiors and homewares; An Artful Life; Laura Lea Design; We Built This City; RIBA – Royal Institute of British Architects; Design Milk Blog; London Design Festival; Indie Wire; Little White Lies.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

A stylish raincoat. It rains a lot here this time of year.

Boots or Shoes?

Usually boots. London is only warm about three months of the year so boots of all shapes and sizes are preferred.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Oscar Francis

Web:
https://oscarfrancis.co.uk
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/oscarfrancisprints
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/oscar_francis/
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/OFrancisLondon

Thank you Sarah and I love the fact that you named your studio after your twin boys!  My mum named her house years ago “Carlin” after my sister Carol & myself! Dear readers, have you ever named a business, house or boat after your offspring?  Have you got on your bucket list a building or other structure that you’d love to visit? I think the Taj Mahal is one building I’d love to see.  Share your views in the comments below, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission of Sarah Evans.

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An Interview With Bagsy Me First

A few years ago I interviewed Tink from Bedhead Boutique who made bags out of old vinyl records. This year I have discovered another lady who makes bags but this time out of books! My love of books and bags first attracted me to Kate Lowe’s website, Bagsy Me First.  In  June 2016, Kate was awarded #WOW Winner (Women In Business) and the award is well deserved too.These handbags are exquisite, and being inquisitive, I had to interview Kate to find out more. Welcome Kate…

Hello! I’m Kate, and I make purses, wallets and all kinds of bags out of books. (I do love books and I am very gentle with them, I promise. But if you shudder at the very thought of a folded page corner, look away now.)

What inspired you to launch Bagsy Me First!?

As a bookworm and inveterate ‘maker of things’ I was inspired by celebrity book clutches to evolve my own recipe for turning real books into bags. When people realise your bag is made out of an actual, for-real book… *Big smile!*

Where do you find the books to use to turn into handbags? Where do you source the fabric used for the lining?

I find books online and in second-hand bookshops/charity shops. Very occasionally a customer will supply a book. The fabric is from a local shop; sometimes online. It’s best to see/feel fabric up-close and personal.

You have an online shop and cater for custom orders. Have you had any unusual requests?

I’ve had custom orders for bags constructed out of gig posters and a ‘Goosebumps’ book handbag that lit up, for a stage show.

What are the most popular titles/authors requested/sold?

All the classics. And Harry Potter, of course.

What book are you turning into a bag at the moment?

Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ is on my sewing table right now and it’ll be a handbag tomorrow.

To start a company like this, you must have a love of books! What genre of books do you like reading? Any favourite book or author? Have you got a favourite book bag?

I have a weakness for vintage green Penguin paperbacks. My own wallet is made out of a 50 year old green Penguin paperback by John Dickson Carr (I collect his books) and using it daily gives me joy.

Do you read the books before they are turned into bags?

No, but I made it a mission to read some of them afterwards. If a customer wants a bag made out of a particular book then it must be special! I have a long list of handbags that I’ve now read, that I wouldn’t have read otherwise.

Growing up, did you always hope to have a career connected with books or were your dreams directed elsewhere?

Driving a mobile library around villages is something I’d love to have a go at. My ‘proper’ job is a graphic designer.

Where do you prefer to read – in bed, in a comfy chair, in a library surrounded by books or elsewhere?

Over breakfast with a cup of tea.

You are based in the UK, do you ship overseas too?

Yes; I have customers using my items in 30 countries (so far!) which feels pretty cool.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Mostly thrift-store dresses of varying vintage, and DM’s or pumps.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Vintage/thrift shops and second-hand book shops make me go ‘Oooh’ quite a lot.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

A pair of trail shoes for X-country. Going to give it a go this season.

Boots or Shoes?

Can’t beat boots for comfort (and stomping!)

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Bagsy Me First.

Oh, do come say ‘hi!’ Help yourself to a good ol’ rummage in my shop and if you fancy something made out of a particular book, just ask. The kettle’s on, and we have Hobnobs; welcome to Bag End!
http://www.bagsymefirst.com
https://www.facebook.com/bagsymefirst/
https://www.instagram.com/kate_bagsymefirst
https://twitter.com/Bagsymefirst

Did someone say “hobnobs”? Thank you very much Kate for joining us on the blog! I am having a hard time trying to think which book I would love to have as a bag… The Alchemist is a contender … and Lady Chatterley’s Lover … or perhaps, The Great Gatsby… dear readers, which books would you pick? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Kate Lowe, except for the black & white pin later photo which is by Linda Hobden

 

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Shopping Fairtrade Style

It’s September already and here in the UK, harvesting is in full flow.  It’s time to think about farmers around the world who toil endlessly – growing cocoa beans, coffee, cotton, tea, bananas, flowers.  I found out the other day that September is the time to celebrate all things organic.  When I think of “organic”, I automatically think of Fairtrade – The Fairtrade Foundation is the UK based organisation behind the Fairtrade trademark – although, to be fair, not all Fairtrade items are organic.

So, what is Fairtrade? Fairtrade is a global movement with a strong and active presence in the UK. There are over 4,500 Fairtrade products from coffee and tea to flowers and gold. According to Fairtrade’s website, their mission is “to connect disadvantaged producers and consumers, promote fairer trading conditions and empower producers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives”.  Fairtrade’s vision: ” a world in which all producers and consumers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on their future”.  Fairtrade has strict standards for companies, farmers & workers  as well as ensuring that worker’s rights are maintained, that payment is made of at least the Fairtrade minimum price and that extra money is given to reinvest in business/community projects of the community’s choice. By choosing to buy Fairtrade goods, you can positively help farmers, workers & their communities.

Buying Fairtrade products is easier than you think – products are on sale in supermarkets, independent shops, cafes, restaurants, catering suppliers & wholesalers, as well as online.  I’m lucky, my local village coffee shop/book shop is also the local mecca for Fairtrade goods from companies such as Divine and Traidcraft.  It’s great to see the crafts, products, jewellery and clothes – they make fantastic gifts and it is great to have a browse.

Divine chocolate – I love the plain dark chocolate but I am tempted to try the Dark Chocolate with Himalayan Salt! Divine is the only mainstream chocolate company 44% owned by the farmers who supply the cocoa!  Other Fairtrade chocolates include Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Green & Black’s Organic, M & S, Rawr Foods, Sainsbury’s “Taste The Difference” White, Dark & Milk chocolate bars, The Co-Op; Meaningful Chocolate Company, Raw Chocolate Company, Traidcraft, Waitrose “Seriously” & Belgian range, and Zotter Chocolate.

Traidcraft do some fantastic stem ginger cookies – I devoured packets whilst I was pregnant with my children ( ginger cookies and lemons/limes were my pregnancy cravings!)  Traidcraft itself has been at the fore front of Fairtrade since 1979. The company offers the widest range of fair trade products in the UK.  They even do Fairtrade wine – but I haven’t tasted it yet so I can’t comment.  I can recommend their range of spices, dried fruits and rices; their craft boxes, jewellery, socks, scarves are all pretty and make good gifts. Their clothing range is pricy but having said that the Fairtrade ethos is fair price to the workers and to be honest I rather pay a bit more knowing that the workers are not young children toiling under horrendous conditions to produce a t shirt. I know that they are getting a decent wage for their labours.

I have included some pictures of the Fairtrade items sold in my local shop … if you wish to find out more about Fairtrade or wish to shop/browse Traidcraft’s goods online, here are some websites you might find useful:

http://fairtrade.org.uk

http://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk

Happy Shopping!

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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