Category Archives: Accessories/Jewellery/Bags

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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An Interview With The-Bias-Cut.com

Are you a lady who is 40,50,60,70, 80… and beyond? Are you frustrated trying to find an outfit that wasn’t dowdy/frumpy/boring/unflattering?  Jacynth Bassett’s mother was frustrated and Jacynth became saddened at her mum’s frustration.  So Jacynth launched her own online boutique and blog, the-Bias-Cut.com, for women who know that age shouldn’t limit style.  I caught up with Jacynth recently to find out more. Hi Jacynth and welcome…..

Hi! I’m Jacynth. I’m 24 and the founder of the-Bias-Cut.com – Shopping With Attitude. It’s the first multi-label online premium fashion boutique that truly celebrates style at every age. I founded it straight out of graduating from studying law at Cambridge – where I was also president of the law society – using my minimal savings and some insurance money after my suitcase got stolen off a train with all my belongings in it (including some amazing Emporio Armani sandals that had been recent birthday presents from my mum!!). I developed, built and created the business entirely on my own, and now I’m one year in I can’t believe how much it’s already taken off!

What inspired you to set up “Bias-Cut.com”?

Since I was 14, my intention was to become a lawyer but, by my second year at uni, I realised it wasn’t for me. Instead my mind started to drift to business, and I knew if I were to start up my own one, it would need to be in an area I really loved. So fashion was the obvious answer. I then started thinking about how frustrated and saddened I’d become at seeing women, like my mum, being treated as invisible and irrelevant in the eyes of the fashion industry – largely because of their age and changing shape. My mum and I are very close and for years we would go shopping together, but she’d often end up fed up by a demoralising shopping experience. I began speaking to lots of other similar women, and realised there was a real problem. So that’s when I became determined to create a boutique that actually empowered and celebrated women like my mum as much as everyone else.

Your brand name certainly stands out from the crowd. – but I was wondering, is there a meaning to why you chose “the-Bias-Cut.com”as your brand name?

I wanted the name to have a direct link to fashion, and to ‘cut on the bias’ is the fashion technique where someone cuts diagonal across the grain of fabric rather than along its lines. But equally we’re about cutting through bias and ending prejudice, largely based around age, in the fashion industry. So the name is a double entendre.

I am totally in love with the “Gigi Nude Brogues” – totally gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

They’re a lot of people’s favourites, and one of our best sellers! This season our new label POM Amsterdam is doing really well – from their fabulous fun scarves, to their jackets lined with the scarf prints. They are cut really well, and they just bring a smile to your face. But also our cashmere and our 100% cotton poplin printed shirts are always a big hit throughout the year.

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

Personally I’m a little bit obsessed with the sashenka moon midi skirt by Baum Und Pferdgarten. It is such and elegant shape, and it has pockets! And I love a cool print that also incorporates texture. Baum always cuts everything so well, from their trousers to their tops.

Your boutique is for those who like to shop with attitude – where ageism is never in style. On your website your designs are all modelled by normal women – different heights, shapes and sizes. I’m also impressed that you can search on your website for items by your body shape as well as size. Hypothetically speaking though, which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of “Bias-Cut.Com”?

Thank you! They’re certainly feature that have gone down very well. If I’m honest I don’t see any particular famous lady being ‘the face’ of the-Bias-Cut.com, just because we’re about encouraging our customers to aspire to be the best versions of themselves, rather than someone else. But, with regards to celebrities, it would be an honour to have women such as Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kristin Scott Thomas, Viola Davis and Christine Baranski as brand ambassadors. They all have great individual style and fabulous attitude, which is exactly what we’re all about celebrating.

You feature in your online boutique an impressive number of designers, the latest being Cove Cashmere. Are there any other new designers you are hoping to feature this year?

Yes! We have a fabulous Dutch label called Fabienne Capot coming in September with a range of lovely embroidered cotton tees, blouses and an emerald velvet blazer I keep dreaming about. We also have a few other surprises but I don’t want to spoil them all for you!

Looking ahead, what colours/patterns/styles do you predict will be popular next season (Summer or Autumn)?

Constellation map prints are going to be big in Autumn – stars are always popular, and it’s a cool progression from the classic pattern. In fact, space all round is going to be big; there’s going to be quite an intergalactic feel! Plus the other big pattern is going to be lightening bolts. Velvet is still going to be very popular, as are bell sleeves and ruffles. And forest and emerald green is going to be seen a lot, as is red. If you look at the trend reports, there are lots of other looks that are forecast to be popular, as well as lots of contradictions. But, in my opinion and from the research I’ve done, these will be the big ones.

As you are based in London, do you offer worldwide shipping?

Yes we ship to 33 countries, and have lots of happy customers overseas! And at the moment it’s free worldwide shipping on all orders over £50 to celebrate the opening of our first public pop-up shop in Greenwich, London later this month (25th-31st)!

When choosing outfits/designers 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 have a set of rules I go by:

  • Everything I select has to be of a flattering cut. In other words, you shouldn’t have to be 6ft or size UK 6 to look good in it. In fact I often use my mum as the fit model as she has a very common apple shape.
  • Everything I select has to be of excellent quality for the price. I’ve spent a lot of time researching fabrics, so I know when it’s good or bad, or when the wrong fabric has been used. Sometimes I come across an awesome piece, but a very impractical fabric has been used, so then I won’t select it. Equally, I make sure to study the technological developments of fabrics, such as polyester, so that I don’t discard it straight away, and can spot the good quality from the poor.
  • Everything has a modern twist combined with a timeless appeal. Our clothes are premium, so they are more of an investment than highstreet. So the last thing I want is for a customer to feel it’s outdated within 6 months. With that in mind, I do consider the trends, but only pick pieces that subtly reference them.
  • I don’t want to wear the clothes, why should my customer? We’re all about celebrating style at every age, so we refuse to sell brands that patronise the older customer, or offer frumpy clothing. So I have to like everything that we sell. But equally, I make sure to keep my customers, their comments and their feedback at the forefront of my mind, so that I never end up choosing something that’s just for me.

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

That’s a very good question… I’m quite a style chameleon really and I have a rather excessively extensive wardrobe that reflects that. Every outfit is a reflection of who I am and what I’m feeling that day, but that might mean wearing a girly dress and brogues one day, and on another black jeans, ankle boots and a leather biker jacket. But if I had to define my style generally it’s feminine with a funky edge.

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

I adore Maje. Their aesthetic is very me – feminine yet cool – and their cuts work well on my figure. And I wear a lot of Whistles too. Designer wise, I love Brand for their quality jeans, and for shoes I wear a lot of Rupert Sanderson and Miu Miu. I also love traditional Moschino; I’m less of a fan of it now since Jeremy Scott has taken over as I find it a bit OTT, but I have a lot of the brand from before him, and still enjoy finding vintage pieces.

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

Idealistically, I would love a badass cape and a pair of Malone Souliers heeled sandals. Realistically, it’s a new crop top/sports bra and some Nike trainers for dance class!

Boots or Shoes?

That’s a tough one. It would have to be shoes because there are more varieties, so then I have more excuses to need a new pair. Plus, because I’m short, knee-high and thigh-high boots don’t work on me. But ankle boots trump all shoes for me, because they are so cute and sexy whatever the heel height!

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about the-Bias-Cut.Com.

www.the-bias-cut.com

facebook: www.facebook.com/thebiascutcom

facebook forum: www.facebook.com/ageismisneverinstyle

Instagram: @the_bias_cutcom

Twitter: @the_bias_cutcom

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/the_bias_cutcom

Thanks Jacynth … and your galactic prediction sounds mighty fine to me.  Just remember dear readers to look out for those stars and lightning strikes! I am so pleased that all sizes are considered at the-Bias-Cut.com – I am a UK size 10/12 and I find that a lot of companies geared towards the older woman have a starting size of UK12/14. Same goes for shoes – my feet are narrow – and a lot of shoes offered are wide fit, or extra wide. What fashion frustrations do you have, dear readers?

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of the-Bias-Cut.com

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An Interview With Coruu Silicone Jewellery

Finland bound this week – Coruu Silicone Jewellery is a Finnish women powered company whose exquisite jewellery pieces are designed by three talented Finland based designers: Satsuki Hata, Tessa Ojala and Sara Tuuli.  Coruu Design Finland is owned by Mrs. Sari Jokinen and Mrs. Maarit Fellman. Not having come across silicone jewellery before, I was intrigued to find out more …. so I put some questions to the owners & entrepreneurs Maarit and Sari.  Welcome ladies….

What was behind your choice to concentrate on silicone jewellery?

The story of Coruu goes back to 2014, we were long-time colleagues and decided that it was time to give entrepreneurship a go.Our focus was on training in marketing and ecommerce, but at the same time we decided to start an online store of our own.
Silicone jewellery came to mind. For a shop on the Internet, Coruu products are ideal, as they are easy and cheap to ship, including internationally. No massive amount of storage space is needed, either. We found three Finland-based designers, who were excited to jump at the new kind of opportunity. The selection has recently expanded with a range of Moomin characters. With the license to sell Moomin jewellery, now we are hoping to enter Asian markets and UK. Now Coruu has one full-time employee looking after the online store and a few part-time staff members.

Hypothetically speaking, what famous lady (dead or alive) would you love to see as the “Face” of Coruu Silicone Jewellery?

We would like to see Marilyn Monroe as the face of Coruu.

I love the “Flowery Necklace”in both black & white; and the “Studded Necklace” in white. To date, what has been your most popular jewellery item?

Our popular necklace is black Flowery and black Feather earrings.

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

Our favourite earrings are Feathers in all colours and Studded necklace.

Each piece is so lovely and unique – where do the designers (Satsuki Hata, Tessa Ocala and Sara Tuuli) get their inspiration from for their collections?

Our designers seek inspiration from the natural world and graphic patterns. Only the best and most showy design will be included in the Coruu selection – the genuine statement pieces!

Are you introducing any new items to add to your collection into for 2017?

All the time we are designing new items. At the next summer, we launch couple of new bracelets necklaces and earrings. For example, Aster bracelet and necklace.

As Coruu Silicone Jewellery is based in Finland, are your pieces available to purchase worldwide?

Our webshop is worldwide and we have free shipping to all countries.

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

Maarit like jeans and high heels. Sari like jeans also and colourful clothes but wear comfortable shoes.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Maarit like sailing so her favourite shop is www.pellepetterson.fi. Sari loves dogs her favourite shop is www.zooplus.fi.

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

Maarit is planning to buy new sailing coat from Pelle Petterson shop. Sari will buy a new shirt from Design by Pias.

Boots or Shoes? 

High Heels 

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

http://www.siliconejewelryshop.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CoruuSiliconeJewelry/
Instagram: @coruu_jewelry

Thank you for enlightening me about silicone jewellery – the pieces are certainly exquisite.  Dear readers,  I have used my native tongue spelling of “jewellery” throughout this post (I am a Brit after all!) but please note that the company links spell it the American English way.   So, dear readers, do you wear silicone jewellery? What type of jewellery do you like wearing? Do share your views, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been printed with kind permission of Coruu Design Finland.

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Happiness Is PomPoms

A few weeks ago on the blog I interviewed the UK charity Living Streets (read the interview HERE) and the charity were preparing for the UK’s National Walk Month  this May.  One of the events they mentioned was #HappyShoesday on Tuesday 16th May.  That date is not quite here yet, I know, but it got me thinking about happy shoes! One of the current summer shoe wear fads this year is footwear with pom-poms.  Adding a sense of humour to your outfit, this fad is not “new” by any means, the 2017 twist is plimsolls with a pom-pom on top… 

So, what is a pom-pom? Pom-pom comes from the French word “pompon” which refers to a small ball made of fabric or feathers; an ornamental round tuft that originally adorned hats.  Even Napoleon sported a pom-pom or two on his hats.  

Pom-poms on shoes are not entirely a new idea either.  Pom-pom mules called “tauranwari jutti” have been around since the early 16th century in the Pakistani province of Sindhu.  They are perfectly suited to the hilly, sandy environment of the region – the pom-poms cushion the foot at the front whereas the open back of the mule makes it easy to flip out trapped sand.

Over in West Africa, in Burkina Faso, brightly coloured leather flip flops were worn with pride in 1965 … and still fashionable today!

In 2015/2016 fur pom-poms were a winter fad – in 1950, Ferragamo made laced up shoes dominated by a white mink pompom.  In 2015/2016, real fur and its implications were shunned and there were plenty of vegan fur pom-poms around so that you can express your style without supporting an industry that kills animals.  

Coming back to this summer, I have spotted many sandals sporting colourful little pom-poms – such as my high heeled sandals that I bought from La Redoute:

If you are really into your crafts, why not have a go at creating your own pompom created sandals?  Shops like Accessorize or ASOS have pompom shoe clips … or grab a bag of tiny pom-poms from a craft shop or even in your local supermarket (I spotted lots of sparkly ones in Asda yesterday :))  There are plenty of YouTube videos explaining how to do your pompom creations.

You can’t deny that pom-poms do bring a smile to your face – brings back memories of making wool pom-poms in Girls Brigade! Did anybody else enjoy making wool pom-poms in their youth?  Do share your pompom stories… I’d love to hear them 🙂

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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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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