Category Archives: Accessories/Jewellery/Bags

6 Discoveries I Made In 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve decided to make the last post of 2016 one which I share with you some discoveries that I have made across  the board – fashion, footwear, beauty, food, etc.  These discoveries might not actually be “new” but they are new experiences for me 🙂 So, in no particular order, here are 6 things I discovered this year….

1. The Jack-it Bag   –  I love it as a jacket but it can easily convert into a bag.  Catch my interview with the brand HERE.  The jacket I’m wearing is made of velour and has a strong satin lining.  I’m looking forward to wearing it more in 2017.

2. Salted Caramel.  Since the end of 2015 when I discovered Tesco Salted Caramel Cream Liqueur and Wilkins Salted Caramel Spread, I have had an indulgent love affair with salted caramel throughout 2016 – cheesecakes, ice creams, chocolate – and then, at the beginning of December, I found this ultimate shower cream from Avon ….. Yes, it’s “salted caramel & almond” …..

3.  Chocolate Red Wine.  This year, courtesy of my darling husband, I discovered chocolate red wine.  It is a combination of 2 of my favourite things – chocolate & wine!  It is pretty sweet, smells divine and tastes heavenly – it is akin to port rather than your standard glass of red.  My new favourite “liqueur” to date.

4.  Contouring.  I was a little late in embracing this make up look and couldn’t quite “get it” until I came across this delightful contouring stick by W7.  It is a 2-ended stick with a highlighter at one end and a bronzer at the other – plus clear and handy instructions on how to apply on the box. 

5.  Slippers.  OK – not quite a “discovery” BUT I used to hate wearing slippers as I always received furry ones or memory foam style slippers which I felt were uncomfortable, made my feet sweat and I couldn’t walk in them! I needed to find a pair that I could wear indoors – and I found these leather Moroccan style ballerina style slippers from NEXT.  They not only look stylish but they fit well, are comfortable and I now wear slippers indoors! No more stubbed toes that used to occur when I walked about barefoot.

6.  Fitbit.  Coming home on a flight from Madeira in August I was listening to a podcast on my phone that was talking about the health benefits of walking 10,000 steps. It motivated me to move more.  A Fitbit was on my Xmas list but my lovely husband treated me to a Fitbit beforehand.  I love it.  I have gone from being a slob to being on the move and although I don’t always hit 10,000 steps every day I am pleased with the 8000 steps + a day I  do currently hit and my twice weekly 10,000 steps +. Love the turquoise colour strap too.

What did you discover in 2016?  Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos by Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Jack-It Bag London

Sometimes I come across an item that is so totally different and useful that it is fantastic when I do get to interview the founder/designer concerned.  Today’s blogpost features such an item. Is it a bird or a plane? Is it a jacket or is it a bag? Crazy as it may seem, this item is both a jacket and a fully functional bag.  I caught up with mumpreneur Jo Tribley recently to find out more … Hi Jo and welcome…

Hi, I am Jo, a married mum of two daughters; modern foreign language teacher and now founder and creative director of Jack-it-bag, London. Jack-it-bag , London is a newly launched company, selling unique, stylish jackets that magically convert into neat, compact bags, perfect for busy, style conscious people, who like to live life to the full. The dual-functioning jackets/bags provide a burden free experience, whether at a festival, on a day out, out shopping, at parties, globebetrotting or just out walking the dog!

Your mission is to create stylish outerwear with dual functionality, but what inspired you to create the Jack-It Bag in the first place?

The inspiration for the ‘jack-it-bag’ came from my daughters’ reluctance to wear a jacket or coat when going out to clubs and gigs. They didn’t want to queue for the cloakroom and didn’t want to be burdened with a coat once inside the club, preferring to freeze instead, as winter hit and the temperatures plummeted. After numerous debates/disagreements, I decided I would try and invent a jacket that could be slipped off once inside the club and be quickly converted into a bag. My daughters gave me plenty of criteria that the “jack-it-bag” would have to conform to. It would have to be stylish, so as not to ruin the all important party outfit. It would have to have room to contain all the essentials for a night out, such as their money, phone, keys, lipstick etc; it would have to be easy to convert into a bag, without the need to remove any items; and finally it had to be a neat compact bag, so that they could enjoy a burden free party experience. After much thought and experimentation, I finally designed a prototype, which ticked all these boxes and more besides. The design ensures that possessions are zipped away in secure pockets, some of which are concealed within the bag, thereby ensuring that valuable items are safely tucked away. Some of the fabrics are also wipe clean ,so that if a drink is spilled, your jacket isn’t ruined.

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

My background isn’t in fashion or textiles and nor did I have a particular passion for it. As a young child, I always liked making things and liked sewing, but then I really wanted to be a ballerina!

I love both the Velvet Crush and the Rock Chic Jack-It Bags. What items are proving popular amongst your customers?

The Rock Chic has been very popular as has the Olive Longline bomber jacket and the Relaxed fit bomber jacket.

Out of all your Jack-It Bags, do you have any favourites?

The Rock Chic and Olive longline bomber are also my two personal favourites, although I do like the Party Shimmer. It looks great on and is really eye-catching. The Rock Chic is great because it can be wiped clean and the Olive longline bomber is a fantastic fabric and great when I am walking the dog in our very changeable weather.

I read one review on your website that said: ” (The Jack-It Bag is) one of those things you don’t realise how useful it is until you’ve got one”.  As a fellow mum, I can see it’s usefulness – what did you feel the Jack-it Bag’s main attraction?

The Jack-it-bag is so versatile and I am forever discovering situations when it has really proved so useful. Most recently, whilst Christmas shopping at a very packed Christmas gift fair, it was great to be able to slip off my jacket but not be burdened with having to carry a coat and bag around in addition to all that Christmas shopping. Yet that same jacket also was a great addition to my suitcase for a recent trip to Singapore. Its versatility and dual functionality is definitely the main attraction.

Looking towards Spring/Summer 2017, are you planning to add any new ranges or new colours?

I already have my eye on some great fabrics that pick up on the key colour trends for Spring/summer 2017. I also hope to add some additional ranges including a festival jacket and a gym buddy jacket.

Your company is based in London – is the Jack-it Bag available to purchase worldwide?

The Jack-it-bag is manufactured in London but it can be purchased on the world-wide web at www.jack-it-bag.co.uk. I am happy to ship overseas.

When choosing the Jack-It Bag outer look 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?

The Jack-it-bag is designed to be a classic jacket, either collarless, bomber style or parka style with added hints of the seasons key trends. The classic style is updated to reflect current trends, be that in the choice of fabric, e.g velvet/ checks ( a key trend for autumn/winter 16/17), colour ( Olive green), style ( fitted, longline, relaxed) or with features such as eyelets, pom poms , tassels. The current fashion trends are definitely taken note of but they are quite subtly introduced to what is otherwise a classic style, which will not necessarily date. The customer base is really very varied; in fact there is a jack-it-bag for everyone and I try to choose outers that will suit a multitude of different users, be that a school child with no room in their locker for a school coat to a gap year student to a retired globetrotter.

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

I am a natural classic. I suit structured, tailored, fitted clothing, which is nevertheless comfortable. That doesn’t mean I go around in tailored suits. I love a classic pair of jeans, ankle grazing trousers, cosy knitwear, stripy t-shirts and tailored dresses. You will never find me in anything floaty or frilly. Regarding shoes, I love boots, classic pumps and kitten heels, which are comfortable to wear but still make your legs look amazing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite shops are The White Company, Hobbs, Zara and Pure. For shoes I like the Dutch company, Panara.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

I would love a shearling gilet.

Boots or Shoes?

I love my flip-flop sandals. They look good with trousers or dresses and I just love the summer and having the chance to wear them. Maybe it’s because the summer in Britain is so short-lived.

Links you would like to share:

Jack-it-bag, London has its own e-commerce site at www.jack-it-bag.co.uk. You can also follow us on www.instagram.com/jackitbag or on Facebook : Jack-It Bag, London

It has been great talking to you Jo and thank you for introducing us to your fabulous Jack-It Bag.  I think it’s a brilliant idea.  Dear readers, what is on your clothes/shoe/bag wishlist?  Is it a Jack-it Bag?  Do share – as always I love reading your views!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Jo Tribley.  The photography was by Tess Salmon Photography; the model is Olivia.

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Five Go Sparkly

Recently I’ve come across on Amazon adult spoof books written by Bruno Vincent based around Enid Blyton’s old children’s books of the adventures of the Famous Five  … such as Five On Brexit Island,  Five Go Gluten Free,  Five Give Up The Booze…. and they do look like fun books, so I decided to base my blog title around Bruno’s idea.  That’s where the similarity ends…. well sort of….

The number 5 is certainly true and my post takes place on Brexit Island (UK) …. But the giving up booze part… Nah, not happening! Here’s the story….

I kindly received some sparkly fashion jewellery from the delightful  Belinda of Belinda’s Handbags & Accessories to review. Belinda sells some really nice handbags and shawls too as well as some fun, sparkly fashion jewellery – ideal for parties, dates, gifts, weddings … and for nights out on the town with the girls.  So with the wine in full flow, my  5 friends and I road tested the fashion jewellery on our recent night out…

Becky favoured these sparkly earrings  – and they were the overall favourite earrings of the evening as voted by all us girls.  Becky liked the way the earrings blended well with her other studs – a bonus if you have more than one piercing on an ear.  Very stylish for a glam event!

Vicky chose the long, long  goldtone necklace and it really did look super with her black dress.  It was one of those necklaces that looked better once on  and was certainly not for the shrinking violet!  A really fun fashion piece.

Ella chose the sparkly flower & teardrop earrings which were very cute and elegant looking.  Ideal for the party season and beyond!

Harriet’s choice of earrings were these large goldtone ones with a  green simulated gemstone.  At first glance, I must admit,  I thought they were rather big and OTT …. but they have now wheedled their way into my affections.  I do love the colour green – and the green/goldtone setting of these earrings make them a good choice especially when worn with black.  Again, maybe not for the shrinking violet!

Tracy has beautiful hands and nails, so I wasn’t surprised that she chose to model the sparkly cluster ring with an adjustable band.  Stunning on, it wasn’t obvious that the ring was a totally affordable fashion jewellery item.

There are still a few days left before Christmas and New Year – if you need a gift for somebody or if you need that sparkly item for that works party or New Year Ball – or you would just like to treat yourself –  have a look at Belinda’s online store and see if something tickles your fancy! You can find Belinda’s full range here:

Website is www.belindashandbagsandaccessories.co.uk

Facebook business page is https://www.facebook.com/belindashandbagsandaccessories/?fref=ts

Facebook group is https://www.facebook.com/groups/75930301624/

Twitter https://twitter.com/BelindasHandbag

Pinterest https://uk.pinterest.com/bagsandjewels

My thanks goes to Belinda for sending me the pieces of jewellery to review (all opinions are my own)  and thanks to my friends who agreed to model the pieces for me … Becky, Vicky, Ella, Harriet & Tracy.

Linda x

All photos were taken by Linda Hobden.

 

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An Interview With DBR Bags

Ethically made bags is the topic on the blog today as I meet  Diana Rennie, founder & creative designer of DBR Bags – a brand that combines on-trend designs with ethical beliefs – ideal for the stylish, cosmopolitan and socially conscious woman.  Hi and welcome Diana….

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Hi! My name is Diana Rennie, I am the founder and creative director of DBR Bags, a recently launched independent luxury leather handbag brand. The handbags combine unique designs, expert craftsmanship and are ethically produced and they appeal to a diversity of women who love fashion and appreciate being on trend.

What inspired you to launch DBR Bags?

A few years ago my mum passed away at a relatively young age, following a short illness. My mum, whilst still alive, would have loved for me to pursue what she called my life’s purpose – fashion design… After she passed away, I needed something to let a little light into my life, a different focus. I thought I’d make a handbag – just a couple of hours, a little indulgence to take my mind off things for a little while. So, maybe you can say it started with that one handbag. A handbag, my mum would have loved, no doubt, as she loved fashion as much as I do and handbags held a special place in her heart. That one handbag turned into 20 as everyone I knew loved it and wanted one. That’s when I came up with the idea of the DBR brand – a collection of handbags of the highest quality, unique, head-turning, limited edition designs, ethically produced.

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Have you always had a passion for fashion & bags?

My love for fashion and handbag making began in my teens if not even earlier. Obsessed with the latest trends, I’d spend hours teaching myself pattern cutting and sewing in order to duplicate the latest designer fashions as seen in Vogue or Elle. However, when the time came to apply for a University place, I lacked the confidence to follow my passion in fashion design and instead I chose a degree in French studies. I embarked on my University studies determined to focus on my studies and put behind me any thoughts of fashion and design. But, choosing French as a degree meant spending a year in Paris which in turn meant – you guessed it! – not being able to escape fashion! Hard to escape fashion in Paris! I remember getting to the last 3 months of my stay in Paris, leafing through my study folder and wondering how I’d managed to find my way to every fashion show in town not to mention put together over 100 sketches of clothes and accessories yet not find the time to get to a library and finish my dissertation… So, here I was again saying to myself to focus on my studies and put that fashion thing to one side. And yes, I did finish that dissertation, got my degree and pursued a very enjoyable career in teaching French until very recently.

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When designing bags to add to your collection, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

I only design when guided by inspiration. And I find inspiration in many places, some unexpected, some predictable. Sometimes, it could an element in nature like the shape of a leaf, or the colour of some striking flower like the bougainvillea. Sometimes it could be a casual remark made by friend or customer. I also love leafing through the Vogue editions of the 50s and 60s as they provide a wealth of ideas and inspiration.

I am personally rather smitten with the DBR Elodie Shoulder Bag. What bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Oh, thank you. One of my personal favourites too! The Fleur and Valentina bags were very much in demand in the summer months perhaps for obvious reasons. They’re both light hearted, flirty handbags that go hand in hand with a summer holiday vibe. Over the past couple of months we’ve had a great demand for the Sienna Tote and the Madison Satchel. They are both very versatile in that they can be worn in the daytime with smart clothing but come the weekend they can be worn just as elegantly with a pair of jeans.

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Out of all the bags in your collection, what is your favourite?

It’s such a hard call! I fall in love with each and every handbag as I design it and then I fall in love with them all over again when I see the finished product. I might forget about a certain one which I might have designed a while ago, only to see it again and re-discover its beauty. Sometimes, when I revisit a handbag after a while, it takes me by surprise: ”Can’t believe I designed this one myself! It’s gorgeous!”

As a brand, your company strives to do its best by its customers, workforce and environment. You aim to do that by combining on-trend designs with ethical practices. So, how are your handbags produced ethically?

Firstly, I wanted the women wearing the DBR handbags to do so with pride, knowing that the handbags were created with respect to the workforce and the environment. To that extent I spent months finding the ideal factory which would enhance the lives of the talented and skilled people working there. The factories I work with, not only pay their workforce a fair living wage, but they also invest in the training and skill upgrade of their workforce, too. Besides, they engage in zero-waste sample making, creating minimum material waste and consuming as little energy as possible in production – all of which are key principles of reducing the environmental impact of production.

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Hypothetically speaking, which famous lady (dead or alive) would be your ideal “face” of DBR Bags?

The face of DBR Bags is every woman who finds joy in wearing the handbags! The designs are varied in order to appeal to women of all different ages, from all different cultures and backgrounds, which luckily, indeed they do.

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2017 – what styles/ colours do you hope to introduce to your collection?

Without giving too much away, let’s say that the accent will be on pastel colours and miniature shapes.

As you are based in the UK, are your bags available for overseas customers to order too?

The bags are available for sale worldwide and we also offer free shipping and returns worldwide.

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

I am quite a girly girl, so I feel most comfortable wearing a well-fitted dress and sky high heels, always accessorized with a DBR handbag, of course! In winter, I also love a nice Ted Baker coat as they are so beautiful and made to last. I know, high heels and comfortable it’s a bit of a contradiction but I can’t even walk in flat shoes, I constantly trip up in them!

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

I do! I love to shop for pieces that I can wear time and again as I don’t appreciate the fast-fashion concept – too damaging to the environment. I love Ted Baker, Karen Millen and Coast as their designs are quite unique and the finished product is guaranteed to last. I also love Gucci shoes, their designs are jaw-dropping! I started saving for a pair a few years’ ago and I’ll let you know when I’ve managed to save enough!

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

At the moment I’m focused on the next handbag collection which is not far off from being completed. Then, ideally I would love the opportunity to launch a footwear collection.

Boots or Shoes?

Possibly shoes to start with, because as a designer a shoe collection would stretch your creative abilities more and I always like a challenge!

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

Yes, you can find our online shop at www.DBRbags.co.uk and we would also like to offer your readers an exclusive 30% off website wide by using the code DBRTAKE30 at checkout.
Also, we would love for your readers to say hello to us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DBRbags/
or twitter: @DBRbags

Thank you so much the discount offer Diana – that’s Christmas sorted or perhaps a New Year’s treat for yourself.  Dear readers, I’ve been wondering – do you buy handbags to match your footwear or do you buy bags that just catch your eye?  I buy a bag because it catches my eye, irrespective if it actually matches my outfit or footwear.  I remember in the 1970/1980s the trend was matching shoes and bag ensemble… So I acquired many bags in all colours to match my shoes…. Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Diana Rennie and DBR Bags.

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Spotlight On Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel

Snow has already descended on parts of Canada, USA, Scotland and Northern England, heralding the start of the winter ski season in the Northern Hemisphere.  It seems most fitting, therefore, to introduce onto my blog one of the finest, if not the finest (in my opinion), alpine designer fashion  & ready-to-wear ski wear shop in the world – Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel.  Founded in 1975 in Courchevel, Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel  was named after the famous alpine skier.  Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel is more than just a shop, as I found out…..

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Why did you pick Courchevel as the location for your shop?

Courchevel is a luxurious ski resort located in the French Alps, with one of the largest ski areas in the world: 3 Valleys.  The ski resort hosts the most prestigious international clientele.  This ski paradise is also one of the most luxurious places in the world with a high concentration of 5 star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and unique boutiques.

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What are your most popular products?

Just like every year since forever, Moon Boots are very popular.  The most popular shoe brand is Jimmy Choo, so it stands to reason that their moon boots are a great hit.

What’s new for the 2016 winter season?

Chiara Ferragni  Moonboots, some exclusive Fendi Sportswear, and the launch of Balmain Man at Bernard Orcel.

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What makes Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel special?

Maison Bernard Orcel offers customers the chance to unwind and relax by being surrounded by beauty and quality.  Florence, the Head of House for 25 years, knows and recognises the very dear Bernard Orcel clientele. Like a real concierge, the whole Bernard Orcel team supports our customers during their stay in Courchevel for any of their requests. We offer our customers a shopping service at home. The collections (ready-to-wear or skiwear) are presented by a personal shopper from our team. Our seamstress is also at the disposal of our customers throughout the season to adjust and retouch their purchases.

Although you are in France, do you deliver worldwide?

According to the client’s wishes, we offer the possibility of a delivery service any time in Courchevel, and all over the world.

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What brands do you stock (ready-to-wear)?

Balmain, Brioni, Brunello Cucinelli, Chiara Ferragni, Dsquared, Fabiana Filippi, Faubourg 32, Jacob Cohen, Maison Ullens, Sartorial Tramarossa, Simonetta Ravizza, Stefano Ricci…..

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….And Skiwear?

AZ Atelier, Bogner, Dsquared Ski Capsule, Fendi Ski Collection, Jet Set, Kru, Toni Sailer, Zai, Zero Ski.   We also provide sales services and ski rental delivery directly into the hotel or chalet in Courchevel.    This service also includes the possibility to try and buy our skiwear collections. A full service from the ski outfit to the technical equipment!

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….And Shoes?

Buscemi, Emma Salimova & Ugg, Guiseppe Zanotti, Jimmy Choo, Ludwig Reiter, Santoni, Tod’s.

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Fashion & Art

Bernard Orcel has invited the famous artist Leo Caillard to exhibit his work as a tribute to the classic sculpture. The exhibition, entitled “Hipster In Store”, offers an unique alliance of fashion and art through sculptures of antiquity. Dressed in a contemporary way, the gods Zeus, Hercules and the goddess Diana enter our era wearing shirt, jeans and a little dress.

Shop Details

Bernard Orcel, Rue du Rocher Courchevel 1850, 73120 Saint Bon Tarentaise.

www.bernard-orcel.com 

Instagram:  Bernard Orcel

FB: Bernard Orcel Courchevel

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So, when you next go skiing in the French Alps check out Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel  and have a browse amongst the rails and enjoy the unique art exhibitions too! What a shopping experience!  Dear readers, do you enjoy partaking in winter sports? Do you have a favourite skiing location?  

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel.

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A Hug In A Box

Every now and then we all appreciate a hug – a hug to lift our mood and alleviate stress.  Sometimes a person is around to give that said hug  but if nobody is around when life is stressing you out, occasionally a virtual hug will have to suffice.  That’s when a BuddyBox can step in – it’s a virtual hug in a box – created for ANYONE who could benefit from a boost.  Love to know more?  Well, I wanted to know more so I caught up with Jayne Hardy, founder of Blurt to discover all…. Hi Jayne…

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Hi, I’m Jayne Hardy, Blurt’s Founder. I lost most of my twenties to
depression. At the height of my illness I was unable to work, leave the house or even undertake the most basic acts of self-care. When I founded Blurt in 2011, my chief goal was to prevent others from feeling as isolated as I had done. Having experienced first-hand the powerful connections that could be fostered via social media, I deliberately focused Blurt’s activities online – providing interim support for those struggling with depression and challenging the stigma around mental health. I’m also a Mum to two-year-old Peggy and live in Cornwall.

What inspired you to launch the BuddyBox?

We applied for some grant funding from UnLtd to develop our online shop, as we’ve always wanted to be sustainable long-term. In the initial meeting, our grant manager, Julie, was speaking to us about her daughter’s struggle with mental ill health whilst at university and how Julie would love for there to be some sort of ‘wellbeing’ box that she could send. The idea struck a cord and BuddyBox was born.

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BuddyBox is run by your organisation, Blurt. Can you explain a bit about Blurt and the work that you do?

We’re dedicated to helping those affected by depression. We’ll help you understand depression and what it means for you. We’ll support you, listen to you and introduce you to people who’ve been where you are. We’ll help you break down barriers and broach the subject with those closest to you. We’ll help you help yourself, with a little knowing nod. We think people who’ve experienced it know best, so we’re passionate about peer support – connecting those who have been through depression with those who are currently struggling, to provide reassurance and comfort during a very scary time.

I love your idea of these boxes – packed full of thoughtful, mood lifting treats – “A hug in a box” indeed. I know that the range of products for filling the boxes are a closely guarded secret, but what sort of items do you include?

We aim to provide a ‘self-care’ experience for the recipient and so we include products to nourish, comfort and inspire.

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What subscriptions are available? Are you able to purchase a box as a “one off”?

We have several options available – a monthly subscription, quarterly subscription, 6-monthly subscription and an annual subscription. And of course, the one-off boxes.

Where do you get your ideas from when sourcing and looking for products to fill the boxes? Do you get customers suggesting particular products?

We come up with a box theme in the first instance and then we look for products which fit within that theme but also work together to provide an experience for someone. We’re still relatively new and so we’ve been trying new things and seeking feedback to help us grow and improve.

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Any plans to expand your range of boxes in the future?

We’ve got ideas aplenty but it’s knowing whether they’re good ideas and also whether there’s a need for them. We’re taking our time and working with focus groups before we commit to anything.

As you are based in the UK, are your boxes available to purchase overseas?

Yes, they are indeed! We’ve recently opening up international shipping which was an exciting change and so we now ship worldwide.

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Apart from receiving a BuddyBox, of course, what do you personally do or use that helps you to de-stress/ feel pampered?

I’m an introvert so I’m most recharged when I’ve spent some time on my own – reading a book, having a bath or watching a series of something on Netflix. I also enjoy running and spending time with my family, my daughter is 2 years old and I’m loving seeing the world through her eyes – finding the joy and excitement in simplicity.

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

I’m pretty much always in a pinafore dress, dungarees and jeans. And on my feet? Flip flops.

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

I’m a bit of a lazy and unimaginative shopper when it comes to clothes and so I like ASOS because I can find everything all in one place. I also love Preta Portabello and LUSH.

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

I need some winter boots.

Boots or Shoes?

I don’t really like having anything on my feet which is why I love flip flops but during the winter, I can’t bear feeling cold so I love boots to keep my feet warm – with thick snuggly socks.

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

Website: https://www.blurtitout.org

BuddyBox: https://www.blurtitout.org/BuddyBox

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

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/blurtalerts

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

A fantastic idea Jayne and thank you so much for introducing your boxes on the blog!  Opening a box of goodies would cheer me up no end … whatever it contained… Skincare, bubble bath, make up, hosiery, lingerie, chocolates, prosecco, books, perfume,  teabags … dear readers, would you appreciate a hug in a box? If you opened a surprise package, what would be inside to put a smile on your face?

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of The Blurt Foundation.

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An Interview With ByNina

East meets West this week on my blog as my guest is Nina Paul who grew up in India but has spent her adult life in England.  Nina is founder and director of ByNina, a fabulous clothing and jewellery range with Indian influence but tailored to western trends.  I caught up with Nina recently to find out more….hi Nina!

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Hi! I’m Nina .. and I have just launched a luxury, ethical clothing and jewellery range. My aim is to provide “pieces of art” that shows off the beauty and craftsmanship that can come for materials produced and made out of India.

What inspired you to set up your brand, ByNina?

I’ve been working in the corporate space for over 15 years but despite launching several innovative products, I lacked a sense of satisfaction. I was helping myself, but really.. was I making a difference to the world? NO. So when I went back to India and realised that my one true love,which is handmade fashion, was declining rapidly, it became my mission and goal to help revitalise this and give people back their faith.

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

To be honest ..fashion is what you make it. My passion as always been about finding pieces that mean something. Of course I love looking at all the amazing shoes, clothes and jewellery out there, but recently I’ve come to realise these are just material things. When you buy something that has an impact (no matter how small) on helping an entire economy and combined with the fact that it it is a piece of art.. no matter how small or big the art is, it just makes you feel all the more precious. Every piece in my collection comes from loving hands and made with pride and care.

I love the Peach Flower Dress, the Sheer chiffon kaftan dress & the Silk Chiffon contrast kaftan dress! The colours of all the items in your clothing collection are gorgeous. Have you got a favourite item from your collection?

My favourite from the collection is the sunshine dress… but I love them all. We worked so hard to create each piece it would be like picking your favourite from your own kids, Impossible! The best part is seeing the artisans go from “What is a cuff??” to actually coming up with their own designs.. it doesn’t matter how weird or wonderful, they each have a special place in my heart as I know the care that has gone in to them, and the fact that it is bringing back FAITH and HOPE.

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Although you love travelling, India is your 2nd home as well as being the place you spent your childhood in. What is it particularly about India that has captured your heart?

India is a land of colour. I was inspired by this but also by the hospitality of the people. When you first land to when you leave, you will realise you can’t forget India 🙂 There are people that either love or hate it, but hey. that’s fashion right?

Apart from fashion, you also design some exquisite jewellery using gemstones sourced from mines all over India & crafted by artisans in the “city of gems”, Jaipur. Do you have a favourite personal gemstone? What gemstone is popular at the moment amongst your customers?

As I said .. that would be like asking to pick a favourite child. I love them all, but I would have to say the sapphire range and the sunshine dress are my babies. The sunshine dress was the hardest to create as it was one of the first in my range and we went through several versions, till they finally got it right. You truly do feel like a princess. The sapphire range.. well sapphires stand for themselves, beauty, strength, purity, sparkle, colour. And a whole lot of people involved in every piece 🙂

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Your company is based in England – are your designs available to purchase worldwide?

Everywhere, and everyone. The more you buy the more I can keep the artisans at work. But it’s not just me, you only have to visit India and find out for youselves.

When designing outfits/jewellery 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?

Well… shy as they may be, my artisans have a mind of their own, While I did take in to account what I liked, I also let them run riot. Why not… let creativity flow 🙂

Your outfits have been tailored to western tastes for ready-to-wear looks. When discussing your ideas & designs with the artisans, was it easy to get your ideas across? Is there an east/west fashion taste difference?

Well.. yes, the funny part now looking back, although it definitely was not funny at the time, was teaching them that short is OK, see-through is OK, frills NOT ok:) So many stories and adventures, I hope one day I can put them all down in writing. For now I am storing them in my memories.

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

I LOVE clothes, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE shoes even more. But, then again I’ve had time to reflect.. now that I have put everything in to the business, I actually wear my own stuff ..not so much to show off but it just reminds me of the care that went in and how proud I am of the people behind each piece.

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

Everlane, people tree, independent boutiques round London (So many it’s hard to pick!)

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

My wishlist .. I “wish” … that will be a long time to come. My next list is to have a jewellery range that is based around star signs and birthstones, but I’m going to let the artisans come up with their own ideas and name each piece after them.

Boots or Shoes? 

Both.. boots for walking, and shoes (in my world these are slippers or heels) for flaunting 🙂

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

https://www.instagram.com/byninadesigns/
https://www.facebook.com/byninadesigns/
https://twitter.com/ninasdesigns

It was great to chat to you Nina and I hope you do put a book together detailing the many stories and adventures involved in setting up your fashion business. It is fascinating how different cultures approach fashion, eg the Indians liking frills, the French smart dress sense etc Dear readers, have you ever bought an outfit from a different country than your own?  What differences in style did you find? Do tell, I’d love to know,

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from ByNina/Nina Paul

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An Interview With Goldgenie

I’m going for gold this week as my guest on the blog is Laban Roomes, founder of high-end brand Goldgenie.  Specialising in luxury personalised gifts and items using pure 24K gold, Rose Gold, Platinum and Diamonds… in fact, they are best known for their decadent designs and blingworthy materials. From 24K gold shoes and embellished Apple watches to a 24K gold bike worth more than a Ferrari, there’s hardly anything in the world that can not be given the Midas touch.  I caught up with Laban recently and used the golden opportunity to ask a few questions…. Hi Laban !

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Hello 🙂 My name is Laban Roomes, founder of Luxury Gift and customisation services company, Goldgenie. I developed an innovative portable plating device that can gold plate pretty much any item that is conductive. Our clients include The Oscars and Emmy awards in Los Angeles, HTC, Samsung, BlackBerry, AMEX and our flagship client Lexus as well as iconic retail outlets like Harrods and Selfridges, plus a host of Celebrities including the Beckhams, Elton John, P. Diddy, Denzel Washington, Rhianna and Mark Wahlberg to name just a few.

What inspired you to launch your business venture, Goldgenie?

The business suited my character as someone that always had a keen interest in luxury goods and services. I thought better to develop something that I can do and live with a passion then just do something for the money… It just so happened that money came anyway. I also believe that the self development that occurs mentally and spiritually for oneself can be profound if approached in a certain way.

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Goldgenie featured on BBC television’s programme “Dragons Den” and received backing from James Caan. Was it a nerve racking experience? What surprised you most about the experience?

Yes it was a nerve racking experience and as time went on and I was losing the support of the Dragons something switched on inside of me, the fighting extinct came alive as there was no way I was going home without the investment! What this confirmed to me is that people really do buy into people and the more you let your light shine the more powerful you are and the more you radiate and exude confidence,which everyone wants a piece of. The biggest shock was that the stairs I walked up on the Dragons Den was on a set 2 miles away from the actual studio that I appeared on and got my investment.

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What products are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season for embellishing with pure 24K gold, rose gold, platinum & diamonds?

The iPhone 6s remains triumphant so far and close second is the Apple Watch and iPad. Ever since we customised the first ever iPhone way back in 2007 this has without a doubt been our best performing product to date. Finishes available are 24k Gold, Platinum, Rose Gold and Diamonds.

Out of all the products you’ve decorated, do you have a favourite item?

Not really as everything is still so fascinating to watch and see the total transformation a product undergoes during our processes – but the two I have been most proud of to date is the Neasden Temple in London and the range of Swarovski crystal encrusted iPods I personally designed for Elton John to raise funds for his EJAF charity.

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Adding the Midas touch to everything from new technology to footwear, what has been the most unusual item you’ve decorated in 24K gold?

This has to be the Sultan Of Brunei’s toilet.. Or maybe a top of the range vibrator Ann Summers commissioned us to do for a well known celebrity I’m not at liberty to mention.

Your collaboration with designer shoe maker Deeasjer has resulted in an awesome limited “Pure Gold” capsule collection of Deeasjer shoes each incorporating 24K gold embellished heels & featuring Deeasjer’s signature brand symbol – the Rose. How did the collaboration first come about?

Goldgenie sponsored a fashion show for Deeasjer many moons ago, when the owner Charlene Beckett was designing the “Pure Gold” Capsule collection she asked me to be involved in the designs – I just had to,of course, feature 24k Gold heels.

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You have expanded from the UK into the UAE … Have you any plans to expand elsewhere globally in the future?

Yes we have expanded recently to the UAE with our first retail store opening in the first week of July and have plans to open a shop in Los Angeles or Puerto Banus in Spain next year – hopefully we will be able to do both.

As you are based in the UK, do you offer embellished products or services overseas too?

Yes we do and have an award winning service that can pick up your item anywhere in the world with our secure and trackable courier service, have your item customised and returned within 14 days of pick up.

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

I am fortunate that whatever I put on because of my build I look good in (not bragging, of course) but I do like brands like Sisley and Paul Smith or I will get my suits made. In saying that, I also buy clothes for the fit more than the brand behind it. For footwear I love Clarkes and Cruyff shoes, brogues without a doubt are a key part of my wardrobe and Adidas.. keeping it simple.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Yes, I have a passion for watches and do like online watch sites like Rolex, Patek Philipe and Brietling – I have great admiration for the Apple brand including their online and retail stores. Steve Jobs is one of my all time favourite entrepreneurs and his success to me has really made a positive impact on the world, anyone that starts their business with little or no money from a garage and grows it to be one of the richest and most cutting edge companies in the world, you just have to admire.

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

I intend to buy myself some fresh tracksuits and trainers – you can never have enough trainers.

Boots or Shoes?

That will be more Cruyff shoes – they suit me down to a T.

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

Web: www.goldgenie.com
Twitter: @Goldgenie
Instagram: goldgenie_uk
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/GoldgenieGoldPlating/

Thank you Laban for joining me on the blog and giving the blog a touch of golden glamour.  So, dear readers, have you any items that could benefit from the golden touch?  I do love the golden heels and I’m sure even my trainers would benefit from a lick of gold! Wouldn’t a golden Harley Davidson look cool too?!? ..as always, share your ideas, I’d love to know what you think!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Laban Roomes/ Goldgenie

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An Interview With Grannies Inc

My granny loved to knit! My cousins, sister and I all had some rather colourful pieces every year in our Christmas stocking.  My two boy cousins had fetching tank tops in colours trending at the time – burgundy was a big favourite.  For my cousin Jane, my sister and I, well, we had bright turquoise & white ponchos and white roll neck “ski” jumpers with multicoloured stripes.  My husband’s granny knits pullovers and blankets for our children.  My guest this week, Kai Poldoja of Grannies Inc has a vision of spreading the love of granny-made knitwear throughout the world and by employing talented knitting grannies to produce a range of bespoke knitwear,  they are endeavouring to do just that. Intrigued? I was! So, I caught up with Kai to find out more….

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Hi! Grannies, Inc. was launched in 2009 .Grannies, Inc. strives to connect people who love wearing unique, quality handmade garment with knitters who love knitting. Our knitters are passionate, experienced and most importantly, they love knitting.

What inspired the launch of Grannies Inc?

My grandma was a passionate knitter and I remember all the warm socks she knitted for everyone in the family. Most of the time she knitted more than we could wear and all my friends loved  my grandma’s socks. That made me think that it would be great to establish a website that connects all those grannies like my grandma with all those people that don’t have a grandma like mine.

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If I wanted a particular knitted item design, how do I go about ordering the bespoke item?

Ordering bespoke items is very simple. Just go to www.granniesinc.co.uk and send us some photos of what you want knitted. Our grannies can replicate almost anything from a photo, or they can make your sketch or drawing come to life.

What’s the most unusual or strangest knitted item that has been requested?

We are often asked to knit miniature garments for objects, like bottles. We had a season where we knitted more items for objects than people due to some corporate orders. We once knitted giant socks for a massive statue in the US. But the strangest requests are usually the ones our grannies are asked to knit up: some “special occasion” garments. I won’t share any more details 🙂

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To date, what has been your most popular knitted item ordered?

It’s our fingerless gloves, especially the Norwegian Selbu fingerless gloves. People love them, because they keep their hands warm, yet the fingers free to use their smartphones or type. They are super cute too.

Out of your knitted items, has any item been a bit of a challenge for your knitters?

I remember a 5XL jumper. It was knitted to a very complicated pattern. It was quite heavy due to the size and the knitter was struggling to hold the weight of it whilst knitting. In the end it was so big that when we laid it out flat we had to climb on ladders to take a photo of it as the whole jumper wouldn’t fit on the photo. It was a truly beautiful item however. The customer was over the moon.

Your knitters only use 100% merino wool that has been sourced ethically in South Africa and spun in a yarn mill in Devon. Why did you pick merino wool over other types?

Merino wool is one of the highest quality yarns. It’s suitable for various types of garments as it is very robust, yet warm. Whilst keeping you warm it doesn’t overheat. It’s an absolutely gorgeous fabric, all natural with nothing synthetic. It is sustainable and doesn’t damage the environment. We love it.

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Your company is based in the UK – are your knitted items able to be made to ship to customers overseas?

Yes, we often have orders around the world. We sold to more than 100 countries, from Greenland all the way to the other side of the world, with one item having made it to a South Pole expedition.

The talent of your workforce is clear to see – and they obviously have a passion for knitting. What do you look for when hiring your knitters? 

We look for passion and skill. Our items aren’t the cheapest around, but we like to think they are the best hand knitted items one can buy online.

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

On cold days I like wearing my merino base layer and a nice woollen jumper on top. In my view wool is the best fabric one can choose for clothing.

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

Website: http://www.granniesinc.co.uk/

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

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/granniesinc

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So, dear readers, do you or did you have a granny who loves to knit? What was your favourite knitted item that they made?  Or, perhaps you are a grandma who knits? If so, what do you like knitting? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Grannies Inc.

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An Interview With Maison De Marrakech

I’m being inspired by all things Morocco this week as I explore a London-based interior and fashion design online shop specialising in Bohemian lifestyles and Moroccan charm.  Think kaftans, Argan Oil beauty products, leather poufs, gorgeous colour palettes ..the list is endless!  It was with great excitement that I caught up with  Reina Hagen-Cherquaoui, founder of this paradise online shop – Maison De Marrakech.  Hi Reina!

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Please introduce Maison de Marrakech …

Maison de Marrakech is a bohemian lifestyle company. Our motto is to bring that beautiful, peaceful, elegant, yet simple lifestyle of Morocco into the lives of every woman (or man, of course!). I initially started by creating small numbers of kaftans or tunics that I thought would bring exotic-ness and beauty into the everyday lives of women around the world. Marrakech has a uniqueness that enriches your life, and awakens all your senses, and Maison de Marrakech is a place where you can find products that re-creates that beautiful ambience. Therefore, although we are known for our kaftans, our ultimate goal is to introduce the bohemian ‘lifestyle products’ into people’s lives. Also, as most items are handmade, it creates that feeling of directness, and you can feel the history in each product. Each product of ours has a history, not just anonymous.

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What inspired you to set up Maison de Marrakech?

It was definitely love at first sight. I felt my passion and enthusiasm come alive the moment I stepped into the Medina of Marrakech.
Marrakech, to me, was very mysterious, rustic, elegant, simple, rich, colourful, bohemian, deep, new & old, so much diversity and depth. To me, it felt like, “I had found what I was looking for all my life”. Moroccan design/art/crafts, had every element I looked for in beauty, and gave me that peace of harmony & happiness in life. For me, looking at beauty is pleasing to the eyes, and being surrounded, living in that space, creates happiness. It’s exactly this blissful moment, this happiness and richness that I wanted to share with everyone. This is how I started my company. It’s simply to share what brought me happiness, and to visually share this with the world; as well as to help women feel absolutely beautiful and exotic about themselves, to encourage their self esteem, and to bring out their inner beauty.

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As you were born in Japan, what attracted you to Marrakech?

Marrakech gave me every element I was looking for in beauty. Its richness, simplicity, complexity, colours, passion, harmony, and elegance was hard to resist. What’s really surprising is that, Marrakech (or Morocco in general) could have 2 completely different elements, but they blend so well together, eg.  rich, yet simple; passionate yet calming. I loved the Japanese traditional arts, and have seen much beauty around the world, but for me, Moroccan art gave me a feeling of ‘coming home’. This is what attracted me to Marrakech, and still does.

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I love the Turquoise Leather Pouf – it’s gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our popular items are definitely the ‘one size’ Marrakech Resort Kaftan series, the tan Moroccan poufs, and some more trendy kaftans we are creating such as the ‘zigzag Zahara kaftan’.

Out of all the outfits, accessories, beauty & boho interior products in your collection, do you have any favourites?

I must say, I do agree with my clients, in that my favourite will be the same as my customers: the one size Marrakech kaftans, our new boho style kaftans & the Moroccan leather poufs.

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Your travels around the world have left you with a profound appreciation of arts & culture – this is evident through your love of Marrakech. So, what place is now on the top of your travel bucket list?

I love travelling to places where the ambience is beautiful and peaceful – somewhere you could have gone 100 years ago and would have still been the same as today. For this reason, I’d love to travel to places like: Florence in Italy and Rajasthan in India.

Your shop specialises in promoting Bohemian lifestyles – which famous lady and man would you love to see as the “faces” of Maison de Marrakech?

It would have to be a type of person who has the gorgeous exotic look that could pull off a simple kaftan and make it look absolutely stunning, and also lives a kind of bohemian lifestyle: Kate Moss.

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Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016, what new items will you be introducing?

AW2016 will be quite exciting for us, as we will be creating new boho-style Moro inspired jackets, and create a new look, where we’ll be creating new tunics, that you can layer with a turtle neck, or with any winter clothing. We will also introduce more of the accessories, bags and Beni Ouirain types of rugs to keep your home nice and cosy for the coming winter season.

As you are based in London (& Morocco), are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes, we are an online based company. All products could be purchased via online , shipped to anywhere around the world.

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

I do incorporate a bit of the trend, customers taste, but I always am loyal to what I believe and use the Moro traditional charm as my base of design.

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

I used to wear only high heels from Karen Miller, Anne Klein and Jimmy Choo, but now with raising children and juggling work, I tend to wear sandals from Tory Burch (they do have beautiful elegant sandals!)

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

Yes. I love the boho vibe of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.

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

I’d love to get one of those gladiator sandals, they look fab and bring a flair of glamour to any outfit but especially with short skirts/shorts. Or a pair of tan boots (with heels ). I would also love a golden bling Jimmy Choo type of party high heels, just to keep myself feeling feminine!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are always great for a walk in the woods or for picking up kids –  you could wear them anytime, anywhere (except for holiday beaches). You just pop them on, and they’re so practical. So, I love boots!

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

You can find us on :
www.maisondemarrakech.com
www.etsy.com/shop/maisonmarrakech
www.maisonmarrakech.com
www.instagram.com/maisondemarrakech
https://www.facebook.com/Maison-Marrakech-135621059788738/

Thank you Reina for chatting on the blog today and I absolutely adore your products – oh the colours!  I love your travel ideas of going to  places virtually untouched by the modern world…. I visited once a village called Greffeil in  the foothills of the French Pyrenees … some houses still had hay in the basement/ground floor to house their goats overnight, the goat herders still shepherded as they had always done for years … It was like stepping back 100 years.  Have any of you, dear readers, visited places that have remained virtually unchanged? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Reina Hagen – Cherquaoui / Maison De Marrakech

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