Category Archives: Home Furnishings

An Interview With Aubrey Bay

I’m talking about candles this week with Amy, founder of the luxury soy candle company Aubrey Bay. Candles are so popular at the moment and I particularly like the modern elegant minimalistic packaging of Aubrey Bay. The fragrances are divine, too. Hi Amy…

Hi, my name’s Amy Crossland and I’m the founder of Aubrey Bay. We make and sell handmade soy candles in the UK.

What inspired you to start your company, Aubrey Bay?

The inspiration for launching Aubrey Bay came from my love of candles. I always have candles burning in my home. I’ve tried many high-end candles from high street brands. Some I found better than others. I was always on the search for a candle that really would perform on all fronts. This led me to try handmade candles by small independent artisans. I remember the first candle I ordered in my quest for the right candle for my home- it did not get delivered and I had to ask for a refund. The second had little, to no scent throw. The third came wrapped in single-use plastic and didn’t burn very well. I then had a light bulb moment. I thought that if I wanted a candle that smelled divine, burned perfectly and was eco-friendly, I should give it a go myself.  And after months of testing, experimenting, learning and many sleepless nights Aubrey Bay was born. It’s this passion for the perfect candle that I infuse in all of our candles.

I’m always interested to know the origins of brand names – so why “Aubrey Bay”?

The origin of the brand name, Aubrey Bay, comes from two distinct sources. Aubrey has roots on my side of the family and is a nod to strong females in my family. Bay, on the other hand, comes from one of our favourite family places in the world – the beautiful Druridge Bay in Northumberland, UK. It’s a place with gorgeous, sandy beaches and rolling dunes. It’s actually the inspiration behind one of our popular scents, Wood Sage & Sea Salt.

To date, what has been the most popular soy wax candle fragrance?

Our most popular candles currently are Lychee Peony and Coconut Lime. The former for the beautiful soft, floral notes of peony and the latter for the punchy, holiday vibes. We specifically designed our range so there’s a fragrance for everybody – no matter what your signature scents are.

What’s your most favourite candle fragrance in your collection?

My favourite candle in the collection changes with the mood I’m in. If I’m looking for a relaxing atmosphere while reading a book, I may go for Black Amber & Lavender because of the relaxing vanilla notes. If it’s a scent to fill a living room or kitchen, then any of our range will work beautifully. Each candle will appeal to different customers and, I guess, that’s an enchanting aspect to individual taste.

When deciding fragrances to add to your soy wax candle collections, do you select by what has proved popular with other candle makers , current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of those things?

Our choice of scents is in informed primarily by what we like. If we aren’t willing to burn that particular candle in our home, then it wouldn’t be successful in the selection process. When we conducted our product development, there were many fragrances, from many different suppliers, that didn’t make it through our quality assurance processes. In the end, we chose scents that had that extra bit of quality, excitement and if we have to pay a little more for it that’s fine – our customers tell us so.

What do you like most about using soy wax for your candles? Do you find candle making therapeutic?

We love working with soy wax. It can be a somewhat demanding wax and takes artistry to get the best performance from it. We also believe that the health benefits from melting soy wax over that of paraffin is really important for healthy homes. Paraffin candles are made from petroleum, which is a nonrenewable source that contains carcinogenic substances. These substances may be released into the air while burning. Organic waxes, such as soy wax, are an easy way to avoid risking exposure to such chemicals. This really fits our ethical company values. We don’t skimp on the important things.


As Aubrey Bay is based in the UK, are your products on the website available to purchase worldwide?

Currently, our products are only available for UK buyers. We have a strong demand and we prefer to service our core market as best as we can. In the future, however, we may expand and our companies’ development is always at the forefront of our minds.

Are there any new candle fragrances in the pipeline for 2020/2021?

Yes! We are investigating new ranges of candles to expand our product suite. We are now in the testing stage and once we are satisfied that we have exactly the candles we want then we’ll introduce them into our store. We would also really like to grow into other areas such as organic soaps. We are starting small, but with the support of lovely customers, we have exciting plans. 

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

That’s a great question. Like all girls, I like to go glam, but most of the time you’ll catch me in comfy jeans and a pair of Converse trainers. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

As a huge fan of online shopping, I buy from several retailers both high-street and independent. If I like the piece, then I’m going to go for it.

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

There’s a fabulous online store called Silk Fred and I’ve got my eye on a beautiful willow high neck maxi dress with a frill helm and tie waist. It’s lovely!

Boots or Shoes?

I’ll go for boots. This is because I like the combination of cosiness and really beautiful styles that are available on the market. My boot collection is quite impressive, but there’s always room for improvement.

For Pinning Later

Discover Aubrey Bay here:

www.aubreybay.co.uk

Beautiful candles, beautiful fragrances. Organic soaps sound like a nice idea for the future too. And the fact you have a boot collection, Amy, has certainly made a good impression with me! Thanks for the interview 😊

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Aubrey Bay (Amy Crossland)

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An Interview With Doormate

I’m talking about “ Doors “ this week – not the musical group although there is a musical connection – but the home furniture variety. Sliding barn doors are all the rage at the moment – I came across a report by Zillow when I was in the process of moving house, that homes that listed “sliding barn doors “ in their description sold for 13.4% more on average than their expected value. Alas my house didn’t have barn doors. Even so, barn doors are a delight and who better to talk to about them is Terry from Doormate ….he can also explain the music connection! Hi Terry!

Hi, I’m Terry also known as The Dude or Spike to friends depending how you know me from music or just everyday life. I’m a well old punk rocker and a bit of an eco warrior. I played drums in a Punk band for over 30 years trying to spread the word on how to put the world right. A lot of the messages in our songs would include looking after the planet and each other. I’ve worked in the industrial door industry for over 20 years and had a great boss that would give me anytime I needed off with the band including a 5 week tour of the east coast of the States that actually inspired the name for our products. All our product names are places we played.on that tour. Through the years I’m often finding myself skip diving seeing value in other people’s so called rubbish. After leaving the band ( i just couldn’t play 100mph anymore lol) I had a couple more years with my former employer, Action Doors. I must give Gareth a “Shout Out “ here as well as being a really cool boss he became a close friend. I wanted to branch out on my own but I didn’t want to compete with Gareth, who specialised in roller shutter doors. So I set up a sliding door company – an area not covered by Action Doors.

What inspired the founding of Door Mate?

Being a punk and playing in a band most of my adult life, I’d never built up any financial stability. A lot of the gigs we never got paid for doing – a lot of charity & fundraiser gigs for great causes for humanity & the environment . I thought I’ve  got nothing to leave my children (Stefan & Tegan) when I pass on, so I started DoorMate. At least they would have jobs – they both help out and I hope to pass the business onto them, if we make any money of course, lol. Also when I was at Action Doors we used to rip out tonnes of all timber doors and frames for new doors or shutters that would be skipped. I just thought what a waste and they were going to landfill back in those days, soooo sad. So, I thought, let’s try and make doors from used timber (later to be known as reclaimed timber). Finally the world seemed to wake up to the senseless waste and reclaimed timber become recognised not only for the reusability but the sheer beauty it offers over force grown modern equivalents. Some councils / building control now insist a certain amount of materials removed from a property during renovation on a refurb now have to be reused in the property. Yeah!!



Your own sliding barn door hardware started being manufactured in 2015 & has become the most popular product from your range. What do you think has made them a top seller?

As well as offering the barn door hardware & barn doors, we also sell garage doors & steel doors, but for every 40 barn doors / hardware enquiries, we get 1 garage or steel door enquiry. I think it is part of the recycle, reuse, reduce attitude people have now adopted too, and we love it that way! Some of the reviews we get really warms my heart. We are so proud of what we create and when other people see it, it’s just inspiring. In my search for reclaimed timber, I reunited with an old friend a couple of years ago, who now owns a demolition company and he keeps me supplied with beautiful old beams & timber from old churches, factories & pubs, schools etc. I wish I could keep it all but unfortunately we haven’t got the room as our workshop is quite small.

You can use barn doors virtually anywhere in your house – what has been the strangest or most innovative use for barn doors that you’ve come across?

The idea behind the barn doors were to use in the home as a bit of a trendy reclaimed product. So it may sound funny, but probably the strangest was to make an actual barn door 4m x 5m!!The customer also had a more standard size barn door inside the house. I would like to point out the large door was made from new timber, as we do use new timber too. It is a great reference for customers asking how much weight our hardware will take, I just send the picture lol.

As DoorMate is based in Wales, are your products available to purchase and order worldwide?

We do offer worldwide delivery and have sent doors all over Europe but some of the shipping on the doors further afield can be quite expensive.

Have you always wanted a career in door manufacturing, or did you have ambitions elsewhere?

Well, I did want to be a rock star but having achieved this lol, manufacturing was next on my list. On a serious note, I love what I do now and I think it still allows the creative part in me to still be alive.


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

Sorry it’s a bit boring but jeans & tshirt, and a short sleeve shirt when I’m trying to look smart but that never works!  I’ve been told I would look like crap with a £4000 Armani suit on. Labels are defo not my thing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Not really not much of a shopper to be honest. I use Asda’s George or Matalan for clothes.

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

Defo time for a couple of new short sleeve shirts – I always seem to have the same one on in pics lol.

Boots or Shoes?

Trainers: Gola the only branded item I wear and they are known as the poor man’s Adidas. Perfect!

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

For Pinning Later

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Door-Mate-1173024366050268/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/mate_door
Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/terry-burnett-a74474116/
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiVCUZ4T_FR4SLo81Ecuzpw
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/doormate2015/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/burnett7776/boards/
DoorMate Newsletter Sign Up – https://doormate.us12.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=2601c576f4003a70ee25994fa&id=262612ee59

Absolutely fabulous chatting to you Terry … and I think t shirt and jeans are just fine!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Doormate.

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An Interview With Enchanted England

Inspired by the glorious English countryside – and who can blame her – my guest this week is illustrator/writer/painter Sarah Keen. All her designs are firmly rooted in the natural world and her prints/artwork are delightful. Being a lover of the English countryside myself, it was a pleasure to welcome Sarah onto the blog…. Hi Sarah!

Hello great to be here. My name is Sarah Keen. I am in my fifties and following a career change, I design prints, fabrics and gifts based on the natural history and folklore of the English countryside.

The Enchanted England range of products is aimed for people like myself who don’t really enjoy shopping in endless malls that all sell essentially the same product. All my designs are rooted firmly in the natural world and beliefs that are associated with them. 

I am inspired by the English countryside. As a child, I grew up in Buckinghamshire and spent much of my childhood roaming the chalk based hills and fields that surrounded my family’s home.

After living in Southampton for many years, in 2004 I moved to a nearby village set in Hampshire’s beautiful countryside and nearby shimmering seascapes. I never really saw things the same way again. 

Hampshire’s chalky, flinty fields and gentle countryside unlocked memories of my childhood growing up in the Chilterns where I had been surrounded by books and artists. The change of scene persuaded me into signing up for an M.A in Creative & Critical Writing with the University of Winchester and this gave me the confidence to write and illustrate.

On completing my M.A I was asked to illustrate a most magical book about the Hampshire Countryside. It was written by a herbalist who walked each day to collect herbs for her treatments. Her charming accounts of her walks became a seasonal diary that contained seasonal recipes and remedies.  Originally published as a blog, it had such encouraging feedback, I developed a range of cards and gifts based on the paintings for her book. The Enchanted England range has grown organically from this project.


What inspired you to set up Enchanted England website?

I needed a website to showcase the range of goods and services available from Enchanted England. In my past life I was an I.T contractor and web contents editor so I was fortunate to be able to draw on that skill set to design the site.

Sarah wearing the Enchanted England Bluebell Dress and holding an Enchanted England porcelain mug.

You have a lovely variety of gifts and your prints are very beautiful indeed. I like the “Garden of Love” satin tie – the print on it is exquisite. What gifts/prints are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you, Linda, that’s really lovely to hear. Immediately following the lockdown the shop had surge of interest in bird illustrations and cards.  I am not sure if that was connected with the glorious sounds of birdsong that surrounded us at the time, but it was a noticeable spike in demand.  So, my bird cards flew away.

Now, the new range ‘The Garden of Love’ is sparking a lot of interest – particularly for bridal and marriage services. I plan to offer a comprehensive wedding stationary and fabric package for 2021 The Garden of Love design was for my engagement and wedding this summer so it’s very close to my heart. Our wedding was postponed but we hope the new date in September will go ahead!

You use a variety of methods to illustrate and create your prints – silk, paper, pen, ink, natural textures & watercolours.  Have you got a favourite medium though to use? Favourite print? 

I am a huge fan of watercolour and waterproof pens on textured paper. I love the way watercolour allows you layer translucent washes. It is also a dangerous medium. If you make a mistake there is very little chance of rescuing your design. You can’t overpaint with watercolour as you can with oil or acrylic.

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

Yes, they are. The website offers shipping to most of the world and I would be happy to quote to send any item overseas.

Sarah, wearing an Enchanted England face mask

Living in rural Hampshire, you must have come across some interesting finds whilst beachcombing and countryside walking that have inspired your illustrations. Do you go out with an idea to look for something specific to draw? Do you draw in situ or do you take photos and illustrate from there? 

It’s been inspiring to live in this part of Hampshire, as there are so many walks and beaches to explore. Recently I visited a holy well on a local estate in a near village. This would have been passed by St Wilfred as he walked through the Meon Valley hoping to convert the pagans. This was one of the last areas to convert to Christianity. I find landscapes linked to religion and practice inspiring and spark my imagination.  I take photos and notes while walking. Then I use them for a starting point in my studio. 

Being an illustrator, some things must be easier to draw and create than others. What was the hardest or most unusual piece of illustration you’ve created so far?  

I could always draw animals and I love to use them in my illustrations. Recently I completed a set of illustrations based on the writing of Alice Gillington. She wrote about the lives of the Gypsies who lived and worked in the New Forest in the early 20 century.  I created some sunsets and technically these were very difficult but made spectacular backdrops for the gypsy caravans.

Have you always wanted to be an illustrator or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?

I have always painted and drawn animals but I never thought to become an illustrator. In the 1980s when I graduated I would have chosen to go into publishing. It was a time of high graduate unemployment however, so in the end I found work as an IT contractor, setting up networks, getting involved in the fledgling internet and website content and design. It gave me the technical skills to publish books and understand how to format photos and illustrations with software such as Adobe and Gimp, so I don’t regret my years with the INTEL chip but wouldn’t want to return to it.

Apart from illustrating, you have had some books published. Can you tell us about them? 

I have worked on three books and always looking to work with authors. The first book that was the inspiration to Enchanted England was ‘Blessed Be – an illustrated walk through a year in the English Countryside’ This is a beautiful and gentle book. It is packed full of recipes and remedies for each month of the year. I also designed the front cover for the ‘Hare and the Sword,’ an amazing autobiography of a white witch who lives in the New Forest. Finally, I illustrated the biography of Alice Gillington who wrote about the wildlife and people of the New Forest.  I am currently working on two new book projects.

When you are not illustrating or writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

I enjoy walking, cycling and gardening and spending time with my friends and family.

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

I love vintage clothing and am always on the lookout for dresses in various second hand shops near me. I enjoy wearing dresses and not often found in leggings or jeans unless decorating or working in the garden.  I love quirky, colourful shoes that make me smile.

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

Yes! I have two vintage high street shops – one is Labels in Bishops Waltham and the other is The Clothes Line in Winchester. They are not currently open alas – so I also keep an eye on the Vestiaireapp that sells ‘preloved fashion items’ and the online shop, Wolf and Badger who support independent and ethical brands across the world. For amazing shoes as art, I enjoy looking at Freya Rose designs in Southsea,

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

Well as my summer wedding was postponed I need a warmer wrap or bolero jacket for September and change from shoes to boots. So looking for a pair of slightly 18th Century style pair of boots, festooned with ribbons!

Boots or Shoes?

I love boots and often can be found in London Fly footwear as they make me feel confident, stylish and that I can walk miles in them.

For pinning later. © Linda Hobden

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

Please visit facebook.com/enchantedengland or email Enchanted England and sign up for a newsletter. It would be great to see you in Enchanted England.

Thank you Sarah – I wish you all the best with your forthcoming wedding ❤️ I think Victorian style gothic boots would look gorgeous!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Sarah Keen of Enchanted England; apart from the Pinterest photo and the header photo of trees which was taken by myself. Header pic was taken in Thetford Forest, Norfolk & Pinterest photo was taken in Holland-on-Sea, Essex.

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An Interview With Barlooon Germany

Hanging from trees, shrubs, gazebos and tents, waterproof lanterns known as “barlooons” give an alternative outdoor lighting option for your garden, patio or outdoor space. The barlooons are manufactured by Barlooon Germany using material that has been specially adapted to the climatic conditions in Europe. I chat to Hanna Barten, MD of Barlooon Germany to find out more about these colourful lights. Hi Hanna!

Hello, I am Hanna Barten, in my late thirties, managing director of Barlooon Germany GmbH and mother of two charming and lively girls.

Your company designs and makes weatherproof lanterns “barlooons”. What inspired the company to concentrate on this type of outdoor lighting?

I love lanterns! And I wanted them for our garden all year round. But the lanterns that existed before didn’t last long, because they were made of paper. And you couldn’t light them up either. So I thought to myself: There must be another way! The idea was born.

By the way: The name Barlooon is written with 3xO, because we have our lampions in three different sizes, namely with 30 cm / 50 cm and 70 cm diameter. And the 3xO stand for our 3 sizes. 

It is not unusual for Barlooon to be written with 2xO only, but always with the thought behind it, it will actually always be spelled correctly in the future.


What is the material used to make the barlooons? Are they suitable for leaving outside throughout the year? 

The material we use for our lampions is a very robust PVC material, which is also used for beach chairs and awnings. It is therefore designed for year-round outdoor use and is wonderfully suitable for our products. 

And: Yes! Of course our lampions can be outside all year round. In rain, snow or storms….. 

However, we recommend to clean the lampions if necessary, which is also possible without any problems.


There are some lovely colours to choose from including white, cream, yellow, orange, red, green, black – I rather like the dazzling orange, but which colour seems to be the most popular amongst your customers? Do you have a favourite colour?

In spring most customers choose our lampions in white, yellow and orange. In summer more for white.

Towards autumn, the orange and yellow ones are the most popular and the red lampion is mainly bought in the pre-Christmas period.

It is always very interesting to see how the year passes by in colours 🙂 

Our special colours like green and black are really very rarely asked for. But we are happy if we can also help customers with special wishes.

Furthermore, our customers also have the possibility to create their own personal Barlooon; with our “YOU-Edition”.

I personally like our white lanterns best. They are colour neutral and therefore blend in well in the garden all year round – no matter what is flowering or not.


Are there any new additions/colours to your range of lights in the pipeline for 2020?

At the moment there are no new colours planned. We are currently working on adding a stand for the ground spikes to our accessories so that the ground spike can be used where there are no beds. For example for roof terraces or terraces as such.

In addition, we are developing a very large lantern, which has a diameter of over one meter. We affectionately call it our “Megalooon”.

Are there any rules or recommendations about where to display these lights?

Our Barlooons can actually be used everywhere. Whether it is in a tree or positioned totally flexible with our earth spike and solar module. 

The solar module is recommended for use where it can also be charged by the sun. 

With the wired lighting solution, our lanterns have more power and shine correspondingly reliably, even in the dark season.

As you are based in Germany, are your products available to customers abroad?

The work on our English online shop is in its final stages! Therefore, from about the beginning / middle of March, customers from all EU countries will be able to order easily in our shop. 

Of course we are also happy to accept inquiries from other countries. However, due to customs formalities, it may take a little longer to process them. 

We are so happy that we have such a great response to our lampions!

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

As a rule I always wear quite comfortable clothes with even more comfortable shoes, because there are always situations where you have to help out. 

And besides that I am always on the move in my private life. That is not missing with small children. Spontaneous playing catch with the children in high heels is a bit unhappy. Besides, I’m already quite tall with a height of 180 cm and with high-heeled shoes, finding pants is really a challenge.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

Frankly speaking, I’m a bit of a shopping grouch. I have quite a lot of clothes in my closet, but as it is: Most of the time I always go back to the same comfortable clothes.

If I have the possibility I try to support the local retail trade here in the small town, even if it is maybe a little more expensive than in the online shop.

Moreover, most of the times you always meet some friends and get into nice conversations over and over again. 

If I am looking for something special, I am very happy about the medium internet and the possibilities it offers.

Online shops are great and it is impossible to imagine today’s world without them.

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

The garden season is coming up and last autumn my beloved rubber boots broke, so I urgently need new ones…..

Boots or Shoes?

I can’t even say I prefer any of them. It depends on the opportunity and what I’m wearing that day. And, of course, also on my mood 🙂

For pinning later

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

These are the links from our German social pages. We are in the process of creating English pages for this. These will be finished bit by bit. 

You can find our shop under www.barlooon.com

https://www.facebook.com/Barlooon

https://barlooon.tumblr.com/

https://www.xing.com/companies/barlooongermanygmbh

https://www.instagram.com/barlooon.wetterfester.lampion/

http://twitter.com/barlooon

http://www.pinterest.de/barlooon/

Many thanks Hanna for chatting to me . Do check out Hanna’s Instagram page, dear readersthe photographs are fabulous as well as the products.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Barlooon Germany

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An Interview With GuanAnAn London

Going oriental this week as far as textiles go, at any rate. GuanAnAn London was established in London at the end of 2018 by founder Ju Guan, and they have a fabulous range of cushions, wallpapers, lampshades and fashion accessories in unique prints based on Ju’s drawings of characters from ancient oriental mythologies. Ju has a passion for sharing stories through her drawings as I found out when I interviewed her. Hi Ju!

Hi! My name is Ju Guan, I come from China. I lived and studied in Glasgow from 2012 to 2018, then I moved to London and set up my brand here. I graduated from the Glasgow School of Art, and my major was Painting & Printmaking.

What inspired you to set up “GuanAnAn London”? 

While I studied at GSA, I found out a fact that I always have had a passion for sharing stories through my drawings and connecting with people on an emotional level through my artworks. So, I started this brand with a strong belief in the power of storytelling. When people buy a product, they do not just get a daily-use item, they will gain joy from the stories. This is the thing I always wanted to do. To bring something interesting into people’s daily life.

Your brand creates unique prints for luxury home decor and fashion accessories based upon inspirations from ancient oriental mythologies. What do you like most about drawing the oriental mythologies? 

Let me take the first collection “The Fish” as an example.  It’s based on classic Chinese mythology called the Classic of the Mountains and Seas……. Actually, I don’t know if I should call it mythology because the characters in the literature are described as real existed creatures over 4500 years ago, rather than characters of a story. It’s more like a dictionary of ancient Chinese mythological creatures.

“There is a fish called He Luo, it lives in a river in the North. It has one head and ten bodies, and it yells like a dog. People love it not only because it is one of the best-tasting fish, but also it can cure illnesses.”

I read the words and imagined what if they existed in a world just like horses and snakes around us today. Then I designed every single character by hand drawing on paper with watercolour and ink. When the characters had been completed, I used a drawing tablet to create the final illustration on the computer. 

This is a very enjoyable designing process for me. 

I personally love your He Luo cushions – in all the colourways! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Yeah, people are asking about He Luo cushions all the time. The octopus body is very eye-catching. And there are a lot of people like the twilly scarves for the fine details and rich colours. 

Out of all your collections, do you have any favourites?

I currently just finished the design of my second collection “The Blue Bird”. It’s a much bigger project than “The Fish”. I spent quite a lot of time on the feathers and I will say it worth of time. I love both the outcome of the design and the story.

The Blue Bird is much more popular in the oriental culture. The Chinese saying is: “There are three bluebirds. They have the most beautiful feathers, redhead, and black eyes. They are servants of the most powerful goddess. Two of them accompany the goddess all the time, and the third one is the messenger who represents the goddess.” You will see magpies(symbolises joy and good luck) are flying around the bluebird. So, that means the bluebird is bringing good news from the goddess.

You offer a bespoke service & are able to print your designs on any kind of fabric developing it into soft furnishings. What has been your favourite bespoke request so far?

I reupholstered two vintage chairs for my family. The reason why they are my favourite pieces is because of a special bespoke man-made suede. That fabric is the softest fabric I have ever seen, and it’s heavy. I have a velvet Calathea at home, the fabric feels to touch just like the plant.  That gives me an idea that I can make the whole interior a match, not only the patterns and colours but also the touch. 

You currently offer a wide range of products including silk scarves, silk kimonos, silk nightgowns, cushions, wash bags, lampshades, wallpapers.  Have you got any new products in the pipeline? 

I am planning to develop my designs into ceramics. I made a sculpture of He Luo with clay and talked to some ceramic professionals trying to build up a reliable production relationship. It will cost a lot to develop a new product, and I insist on high-end production that makes it harder for the plan to become a reality. 

As you are based in England, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

Yeah, of course. We can ship to overseas customers and we will be very happy to know there are more people in other countries that like our brand. 

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

As an independent brand, I would say the designs are very much based on a personal taste. I believe that if I can create interesting things and pass some joy through them to the customers, they will buy it. And I think the most important thing is not following the current fashion trends, it’s to lead a new trend. But, of course, customers’ requirement is important for me, that’s the reason I welcome bespoke orders.

Have you always wanted to pursue a career in art/textiles? 

When I was a kid, every time people asked me what do I want to be when I grow up, I say artist. The answer never changed. I started drawing before I can remember, and I was training painting skills for many years, since 7 years old. Then I learnt how to be more creative and finished my study at GSA. Developing a career in the art area is always my dream.

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

Casual. Comfortable is the most important thing, followed by style.

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

I love the concept stores supporting independent designers like me. I can always find cool things in Notting Hill. 

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

Haha, a lot.

For Pinning Later

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

Website: http://guananan.co.uk

Instagram: @guanananofficial

BTW, I just released discount codes on my Website for Mother’s Day gift. 20% off on everything and an extra 20% for the silk scarves.

Thank you Ju for explaining the background to the weird and wonderful mythological creatures … I wonder if they really did exist or whether somebody had a vivid imagination?!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Ju Guan

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An Interview With Salt And Steel

As I am currently renovating my home, I am beginning to enjoy looking at furniture and other home accessories in shops, on TV programmes and on websites. In fact, it has become almost an obsession! There is such a wide choice that it can be mind boggling – which colours and styles to go for, should you follow or buck the trend. One website that caught my eye is “ Salt And Steel” – it is the home of everything monochrome and textural. It is a site that made me go “all touchy and feely“ – I love textures and metal and most of the pieces on this website I hadn’t seen elsewhere. I caught up with the founder of Salt And Steel, Sarah, to find out more about her brand and her passion of all things monochrome and textural. Hi Sarah!

Hi, I’m Sarah, Founder and owner of Salt and Steel. I live in Oxfordshire with my two children and mad chocolate labrador. In my spare time I can be found at the gym, walking the dog or in the many coffee shops and beautiful restaurants around the county.

What inspired the founding of the brand, Salt And Steel? Why did you decide to specialise in all things monochrome & textural?

I’ve always loved interiors and having worked most of my working life as a business consultant I finally wanted to find something that I’m passionate about. I took the plunge in 2019 to start Salt and Steel and haven’t looked back. I LOVE anything with texture that is a little different and monochrome hues just fit perfectly.

I am particularly fond of the Hammered Metal Side Table – and the unusual  Metal Hand Hook. To date, what has been the most popular product from your range?

Oh yes I love them too. Now that’s a very difficult question to answer as I don’t tend to re-stock smaller items as I want to keep the brand fresh and forever moving.

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

I definitely can’t answer that! I love everything. That’s how I’m building my brand…if I don’t love it then I won’t buy it.

As Salt And Steel is based in the UK, are your products available to purchase and order worldwide?

As it’s a new business my focus is on the UK but of course I’m happy ship overseas on request.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were able to visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a new design collection, where would you go and why?

Probably India. I just love the detail and the craftsmanship that goes into their homeware. I try to source products that are handmade where possible.


As you have an affection for monochrome, do you personally like to accessorise with a shot of bright colour or keep it pale? Which colours?

Interestingly, I can wear colour but I just don’t like to have it in my house. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with me! I love wearing coral and electric blue.

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

I do love a heel…either a kitten or stiletto. Heels always make me feel better. I don’t tend to wear skirts or dresses. I’m usually found in skinny trousers or a jumpsuit.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Boringly no and for that reason I subscribe to Stitch Fix.

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

Summer dresses, I’m going to push myself out of my comfort zone. 

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. I love a boot. Boots always seem to be easier for some reason.

For pinning later

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

www.saltandsteel.co.uk 

Facebook: @saltandsteeluk

Insta: salt_and_steel_uk    

Thank you Sarah for chatting to me about your brand. The love of kitten heels is another passion we share – don’t you think the curviness of a kitten heel mimics some of the metal textural furniture and shapes?

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Salt & Steel.

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An Interview With Pepper Sq

I do so love watching those house makeover/interior design type TV programmes – the ones where whole houses have been renovated room by room. I love seeing how the clever use of colour, design, and furniture can transform a room. Even shifting furniture around a room could make a big difference in helping to accentuate the size of a room. I’ve come across a “one -stop online interior designer and furniture shopping destination” that really impressed me – Pepper Sq. Pepper Sq offer “Ready to Buy” Room sets – you can discover the best furniture for your space, estimate the total cost, assess the dimensions and visualise the room design. I caught up with Oxana, co-founder of Pepper Sq, to find out more about her brand, and her personal design loves. Hi Oxana!

Hello, my name is Oxana Yanushkovskaya, I am a CEO and Co-Founder of Pepper Sq.(www.peppersq.com) – which is an online resource for room-by-room makeovers, setting out interior ideas and offering carefully curated furniture.

What inspired the founding of Pepper Sq?

Pepper Sq. was launched in autumn 2018 with a mission to make ‘spacemaking’ simple and efficient. Following our own experiences of online furniture shopping, we noticed a gap in the market for a new entrant – one which provides vast yet considered furniture selection, digital ‘interior design’ tools and smart curation to foster better customer experiences. Our aim is to revolutionise the furniture retail, by creating unique customer experience and simplifying the purchasing decision making process. While a lot of people want to design their perfect homes, they find it extremely time consuming to shop in-store or search through thousands of portals on the Internet. Needless to say, many people don’t feel overly confident choosing furniture, as it involves dealing with sizing, colour and style matching issues and thus, money and time are wasted on sorting returns. This is where Pepper Sq changes everything, reduces noise that’s out there and lets customers hone in on precisely what they are after.

Simple 1.0 room set

I absolutely love the idea of the “Ready-To-Buy-Room” sets and the way your website offers the solution to visualise your room space, discovering the best furniture options for that space, and the cost of an entire room. How can customers utilise this facility? 

The platform features a new concept of complete room designs, which can be tailored by customers to suit their spaces and budget. The room ‘spacemaking’ function offer also comes with price reductions compared to buying individual items. All of the items featured within the room designs are also available separately. 

You can follow three simple steps: 

Discover – Browse our impressive collection of room designs, compare styles and find your favourite.

Design – Customise your favourite room designs, check dimensions, match colours, choose patterns or find alternatives.

Enjoy – Turn that space into a thriving reality. Click and buy – you’ll soon enjoy your new room design.

Every look comes with a visual reference so you can imagine how it might look in your own home, and you can see the actual budget.  Last but not least, you can find recommendations on finishes and décor, or get in touch with an interior designer who created the room you like in case you are looking for something bespoke and different.

Which room do you find is the hardest to makeover? 

There are three areas that give an emotional ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the house.  In my experience, these are often dining area, living space and master bedroom. It’s the heart of the home and really transforms the rest of the interiors, so it should capture your lifestyle, taste and vision. And it’s most critical to have it done right.

What room set is the most popular?

Oh! It’s a good question… Depends on a season. New rooms are always getting more attention. Last year there were a few rooms that were probably most ‘wanted’ by consumers and journalists (appeared in press): Simple 1.0, Sakura Dreams, Stone Island, Pastel Explosion, Eggnog Throff…  (our Christmas edition) .

I love the Hoxton Corner Sofa and the Yeux Rug. What’s your most favourite item(s)in your furniture/rugs collection?

The cane bentwood combo takes our heart this season. Rounded shapes and sinuous lines are known for giving a softer and more welcoming feel. We have a vast collection of bentwood and cane furniture, that’s extremely popular among our customers. Madrid and Lucien are my favourites. 

Janson is a statement sofa and is utterly elegant, you will be surprised with the level of comfort it provides. When I say you can sink into your sofa, I mean it. It can be complimented by an oversized Janson Armchair, that is designed to switch off from the outside world with a book or a movie, stunning and spacious.

Our transforming multipurpose furniture collection, that is perfect for a smaller space, includes Barbican and Levante coffee-turn-dining tables, Origami Folding Table or Flap Console-turn-Dining Table. My current favourite is Schasta that was recently added to our catalogue.

Malibu Console/Dressing table – beautiful in its minimal design, it functions as a hallway table, dressing table or a desk. 

The Vaquero Cowhide parquet rug that combines modern style and elegance, with it’stextured tones of calf hair that add subtle untamed luxury to any living space.

Flap Convertible Table

When picking items to add to your collections, do you select by what has proved popular in the past, current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of those things?

We love to be a trend setter, and every product added is hand-picked by our team members. The beauty is that we have very different life styles and cultural backgrounds, thus the tastes that make up our collections are broad, and (hopefully) attractive for many people.

There are two criterias we never compromise – quality and design. Our team hand-picks European furniture that is confident on its own, as well as part of our bespoke room design concepts.

Are you a big fan of the “feature wall” or do you think all walls should be papered or painted? 

I do not have personal preference, a space will dictate the rules…

Colour accent walls can add depth and dimension to a room, and make a room seem bigger, warmer, or brighter. If a room is small, a light colour accent wall can make the room seem more spacious. If room is too long, a dark colour accent wall can make the room appear more welcoming, and optically change proportions. 

On the other hand, you can use walls as a foundation … with single colour paint or same pattern paper, and go wild with wall décor. The benefits – you can change décor elements more often to create a new look .    

Have you got a favourite paint colour? 

I love Green colour, all shades of green really. My favourite paint is from Farrow & Ball collection – Mizzle 266. 

As Pepper Sq is based in the UK, are your products available to purchase and order worldwide?

The UK market is our primary focus for the next two years. It’s important to get it right. We are aiming to launch our service in a few other countries in 2022.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were able to visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a new design collection, where would you go and why?

I have been lucky enough to explore the world. I was born and raised in Russia, lived in Far East for a few years, and worked across many countries and continents. 

Two countries stand out the most for me … 

Peru, with the myth and mist shrouded Inca citadel and it’s breath-taking landmarks, is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. It’s the place to re-connect with the Universe, absorb wild colours of nature, and Inca’s most colourful civilisation too.    

China, with it’s calm balanced environment (natural and cultural)  – order and creation of harmony.

Caleido Cream

Have you always wanted a career in interior design, or did you have ambitions elsewhere?

I studied arts for 8 years, and had a few personal exhibitions in the meantime.  By irony of faith, being a creative soul throughout, I didn’t apply my skills and passion in full until starting this company. I chose to pursue the career in the commercial world (though within the creative industries) and never regretted it and all the opportunities that came with it. 

Prior to founding Pepper Sq, I worked for 10 years with Discovery Communications Inc., where I led commercial strategy and business development teams across several networks and continents.  Before Discovery I was in homeware & DIY wholesale businesses, working closely with the largest European retail groups, in addition to European and Far East manufacturers.

So, getting back to design space, it’s almost getting back to my roots. 

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

I almost have dual personality now!

I love designer clothes, and even more, shoes! My favourite shoe brands are Jacquemus and Nikolaos Kirkwood. 

However, nowadays, you can find me in quirky t-shirts, jeans and sneakers more often than not. There is no better outfit to run a start up!

Madrid Lifestyle


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I have been converted into ‘digital shopper’ many years ago, just never had time to visit physical shops. I still love to wonder through little boutiques shops when I travel, though. I am also a big fun of flea markets. My favourites are Place du Jeu Balle in Brussels, Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt in Paris, Grande Foire à la Brocante de Pézenas.

My favourite online shop is Pepper Sq. (of course)! 

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

More shoes from Jacquemus!

Boots or Shoes? 

Always stylish shoes ! Do I mention sneakers again? (Easier to style)

For pinning later

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

Site: https://www.peppersq.com/

Instagram: @peppersqcom

Facebook: @peppersqcom

Pinterest: @peppersq.com

Definitely food for thought – thank you Oxana. I do share your love of the colour green – all shades of green – my previous homes have been green colour based. Currently though, I’m attracted to pale colours for my interior walls (lemon, lilac, cream, white, baby blue); then I can go to town with bright colours such as yellow and orange accessories in the kitchen and bathroom. I absolutely adore Pepper Sq’s room set idea – it is great to be able to virtually visualise a makeover and have access to the ideal furniture all on one site. I hope you agree, dear readers!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Pepper Sq.

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An Interview With Radical Tea Towel Co

I’m being decidedly topical this week – the impending General Election in the UK next week, the current strikes in France, the ongoing criticism of Donald Trump in the USA…. what could be better than interviewing a homeware & giftware brand that has been inspired by radical thinkers throughout global history? Designing tea towels, aprons and other paraphernalia on topics such as democracy, the NHS, the Welfare State, Free Speech, Free Love, Votes for Women…. in fact, every topic done designed for those radical left and liberal minded people to proudly display their political and social beliefs. To find out more, I caught up with co-founder Bea of The Radical Tea Towel Company …..Hi Bea…

Hi! I’m Beatrice and I am a co-founder of The Radical Tea Towel Company.

Who or what inspired you to create the Radical Tea Towel Company?

It was May 2011 and I was looking for a birthday present for an elderly relative who was into left-wing and radical politics. His sight was poor so a book was not an option. I decided something practical like a tea towel with a political message on would be a great idea but, despite googling for over an hour, I simply couldn’t find one anywhere.

History & Politics abound in your range of Radical Tea Towels – how do you pick your design topics – do get ideas from customers, from what’s trending on social media?

It’s a combination of those things: customers do make suggestions all the time and we add the best ones to a list which we review each January. We also think about topics that are in the news, for example in 2015, when the refugee crisis was at its height, we produced our Refugee tea towel with the quotation by Emma Lazarus from the Statue of Liberty. 

Which topic/ tea towel has attracted the most attention so far? Have you got a personal favourite?

It’s probably the ‘Women’s March’ design.  It was based on a design by Margaret Morris for the song sheet of Ethel Smyth’s suffragette anthem “The March of the Women”. 

My personal favourite is the  ‘Rosa Parks’ design which shows her sitting on the bus in the run up to the Montgomery bus boycott just before refusing to give up her seat. What an inspirational woman! 

Although you are based in South Wales, are your tea towels available overseas?

Yes! We have websites in the US and Canada. but we get orders from all over the world! 

 Radical Tea Towel US

Obviously the tea towels can be used as tea towels, but some people have had them framed like works of art and even some have used them as ready made banners for activists at rallies. Where was the most unexpected place you’ve spotted your tea towels? 

I have 3 great examples!

A customer sent in a brilliant image of our ‘Women’s March apron’ hanging on a balcony in Galicia on International Women’s Day as part of a defiant protest for women’s rights. It’s a tradition in Spain to show you are on strike! 

Another one sent in an ‘LGBTQ tea towel’ from the McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The temperature was minus 40! 

And then Jeremy Corbyn brought out a ‘Tony Benn tea towel’ and read out the quote about hope on it at a speech he made to his supporters at the Sanctuary Pub following his September 2015 leadership victory!

Have you always had a career or a hobby in the homeware/giftware sector in the field of designing, marketing etc? 

No! I was a languages teacher for most of my working life! This business was a completely new departure for me! 

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

Jeans and stripy tops with a gilet and leather ankle boots.


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Yes, Boden for tops, M & S for footwear & jeans.

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

Some dark brown, calf length leather boots.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. I find them very comfortable and they keep my feet and legs warm and dry in wet Welsh weather!

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/Facebook etc

www.radicalteatowel.co.uk

https://facebook.com/radicalteatowel

https://twitter.com/radicalteatowel

Thank you Bea! There you go readers, if you’re stuck for ideas for gifts, for whatever the occasion, for that radical person in your life …. or if you yourself are a loud and proud radical, why not get yourself a tea towel or two!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of The Radical Tea Towel Company

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5 Reasons To Choose Wool

There are so many textiles in the world, and when you pick out garments for your wardrobe, do you really think about the material? After reading the reports by clothing brand, Celtic & Co, about the impact that microplastics have on polluting our waterways and that every time we wash our synthetic made clothes thousands upon thousands are released into our waterways via the humble washing machine; I began to look into the benefits of natural textiles such as cotton and, as it is currently winter in the UK, wool. You can read my blogpost about Celtic & Co’s report HERE. There is certainly more to wool than meets the eye – and here are my 5 reasons to choose wool:


Photo::Linda Hobden

WOOL IS A NATURAL PRODUCT. Wool is renewable. Wool obviously comes from sheep, but also wool is obtained from other animals including alpaca, llama, camel, goat, yak, beaver, otter, rabbit…. Wool has many eco-advantages over synthetic materials, such as polyester, acrylic and nylon: synthetic fibres all derive from plastic and wool, unlike synthetic materials, is naturally flame retardant. It is the flame retardant properties that makes wool the choice material for garments made for firefighters and soldiers – also wool is a natural insulator and is breathable. Have you noticed that wool carpets are used on trains and planes too?

WOOL IS RENEWABLE AND RECYCLABLE. When wool is disposed of, it naturally decomposes releasing valuable nitrogen-based nutrients into the ground. Recycled Wool is made by cutting or tearing apart existing wool fabric and then respinning the fibres, sometimes adding raw wool – this process was invented in West Yorkshire. It makes absolute sense to me to unravel old woollen items and respin or knit …

Photo: Celtic & Co

WOOL IS ODOUR RESISTANT. Wool clothing doesn’t smell, it doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria and is stain resistant too! Good news if you do perspire a lot, especially as wool is breathable so you don’t feel clammy. Wool doesn’t need to be washed as often as synthetic clothes – saving water, power, and you’re not releasing those microplastics into the environment either via your washing machine. Superwash wool ( or washable wool) technology first appeared in the early 1970s – this is wool that has been especially treated so that it is machine washable and may be tumble dried. So wool is even more convenient. According to Wikipedia, in 2007, a new wool suit was developed and sold in Japan that can be washed in the shower, dries off ready to wear within hours with no ironing required. The suit was developed using Australian Merino wool.

WOOL LASTS. Fashions come and go, but wool garments are usually very classical in style. My navy blue wool coat has been in my wardrobe for well over 20 years, might even be nudging 30 years old – it is a classic style that hasn’t dated, it is still immaculate, it still fits and it is still very warm indeed. Wool garments may be more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, but they do tend to last longer.

Wool clothing by Celtic & Co: Toscana Gilet, Flecked Funnel Neck Jumper; Aran Cable Beanie. https://celticandco.com

WOOL IS MICRO-CLIMATIC. Wool is amazing! Wool can keep you warm in winter, and can actually keep you cool in summer! Wool has a natural high level of UV protection. That is why desert peoples, such as the Bedouins and Tuaregs, use wool clothes for their insulation properties. Wool fabrics have a greater bulk than other textiles, and they hold air, which in turn causes the fabric to retain heat. Weather and geographical locations do influence wool in terms of quality and type of fleece – for example, Welsh Mountain Sheep have fleeces that are strong and robust – as the animals have to endure harsh weather; Lowland sheep have fleece that is often softer and finer, which is perfect for blankets. Sheep are resilient animals and can thrive in the hardiest of places where other livestock struggle to survive and crops can’t be grown. No wonder wool is one of the oldest textiles in the world!

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Thanks to Celtic & Co for their report on Synthetic v Wool; Wikipedia & MakeitBritish.co.uk for the facts about wool.
Photographs are by Linda Hobden apart from the Celtic & Co photos that have been marked as such in the article

Linda x

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An Interview With Concrete & Wax

Suffolk duo, Mr Concrete & Mrs Wax (aka Alex and Laura) are gracing my blog this week – Mr Concrete makes modular, stackable candle holders from hand poured concrete; and Mrs Wax makes the most delightful scented soy wax candles …or non scented beeswax candles (with a slight natural aroma of honey) to match. Coming actually from a fashion background, they decided to launch Concrete & Wax In November 2018. I caught up with them recently to find out more about their delightful products ….

Hi! We are married design duo Alex Sommer and Laura Keller. We live in a sixteenth century cottage with our 6 year old Marley and slobber-dog Boadiin the Suffolk countryside. We worked for over two decades in the fashion industry, the last 15 of which through our creative consultancy 2Som Studio, designing and providing trend forecasts to many casual and sportswear brands. In 2018 we decided to combine our creativity with a new focus and, after many months of development, launched CONCRETE & WAX, a collection of concrete holders and natural wax pillar candles, all hand poured in our Suffolk workshop.

After a background in fashion including the running of a trend and forecast magazine – what inspired you to start your company, CONCRETE & WAX?

After Marley was born we knew that we needed a shift in career so that we travelled less. We batted around a few ideas over the years but never both felt equally passionate about one in particular. A close family illness at the start of 2018 meant Laura was away for long periods of time and in the evenings Alex distracted himself by tinkering with concrete. This inspired Laura, when at home, to experiment with wax, believing that the two contrasting materials would work beautifully together. It was like a ‘POW’ moment for us – we knew this was what we wanted to do. Alex suddenly became Mr Concrete and Laura became Mrs Wax! Alex’s love for modular, intelligent design in clothing transferred easily into the stackable, interchangeable collection of holders and candles that we have today. We love to think that our customers can put together their candle arrangement depending on their mood, in the same way they might pull together an outfit from their wardrobe.

I am amazed at the colour versatility of the modular, stackable concrete candle holders – and the Wax candle essence range, especially the unusual “tobacco & oak”. To date, what has been the most popular colour candle holder & popular wax candle fragrance?

Our customers seem to love the monochrome colours the best: Grey, white, black and, for the more adventurous, a little snocam camouflage paired with our white soy wax candles. Lime, Basil and Mandarin is the number one fragrance for women and Tobacco and Oak for men. It always amazes us to see how our customers style the products they’ve chosen to light there space.

What’s your most favourite item(s) in your collection?

It’s hard to pick favourites really, because they all have such unique personalities even though they really are very simple in design. But, our favourite thing by far is the fact they are modular and so can be stacked in many different ways. During the design process it was critical that we created product that would stand the test of time. Knowing the concrete would outlast the candles, and not wanting our customers eternally restricted to buying candles from us, the fact each holder has been designed to fit any standard tealight is a design element we are very proud of. 

Mrs Wax, when deciding fragrances to add to your soy wax candle collections, do you select by what has proved popular with other candle makers, current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of those things?

It’s absolutely been about personal preferences. I’ve worn Lime, Basil and Mandarin perfume for most of my adult life so naturally this was my first development. The other fragrances I’ve added for the simple reason that I like them. There is nothing too sweet or overpowering because I don’t like to walk into a room and feel overwhelmed by a fragrance. 

We’re not quite at the personal request stage just yet in terms of our customers contacting me to ask, but I am completely open to that idea, so if anyone has a favourite they’d like me to look into then please get in touch.

I love that you are bringing to life candle holders using hand poured concrete – I love the smooth texture, the colours, the sheen & the fact that no two holders will ever look the same!  – they all look fantastic! Mr Concrete, how long does it take on average to make a concrete candle holder? Which part of the process gives you the most satisfaction?

Thank you. After pouring the concrete, it sits in its mould for 2-3 days, before I remove it – which is the best moment because it’s only at this point that I can see the unique characteristics of each piece, due to tiny air bubbles forming during the initial drying process. The concrete is then left to cure for two weeks before I add our branded cork foot to the base and apply a natural waxed oil protective coating. It goes back on the shelf for another week. Then it’s good to go. The camouflage concrete is always the most fun to pour because Mrs Wax helps me with this, as it is a two-person job. As there is no exact science to our pouring technique, no two pieces are ever the same and we love that fact.

Mrs Wax, can you tell us more about the different types of wax candles you make? What are the properties of the different type of waxes used?

I use only natural wax for our candles. The fragranced white candles are a blend I developed combining soy wax with a sprinkling of beeswax. The beeswax is important to add strength to the pillar candles because soy wax is a much softer wax, hence the reason it is usually used for container candles. And the yellow candles are natural beeswax. I just love the subtle honey aroma they throw out.

As CONCRETE & WAX is based in the UK, are your products on the website available to purchase worldwide? 

Yes – we ship internationally, but as we make concrete, it is a heavy product to ship and some countries are absolutely weight dependent in terms of shipping costs. This has an impact on the price we have to charge for shipping and we fully appreciate that many customers are not prepared to pay for that. All we can say is, as we get bigger and ship bigger quantities we’ll have more negotiating power with the shipping companies and then the costs will come down.

Are there any new products or candle fragrances in the pipeline for 2019/2020?

Yes, we have three new colours in concrete in a tranquil, calming palette. They are lovely. And we’re also working on a couple of new candle fragrances. It’s a little early to specify exactly what yet because many are still in early testing phase, but Mediterranean fragrances are the inspiration, such as fig, orange, rosemary and basil.

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

L: Jeans, a casual top and easy footwear. As I’m a working Mum to a 6 year old it’s mostly about throwing it on in the morning to get breakfast, hair style and tooth brushing sorted in time for the school run (all of those things for her by the way, not me). Once that’s done I’d love to say I come home and glam up, but I usually jump straight on to the computer or into candle making.

A: A rather more masculine version of what Laura wears! Or camouflage overalls when I’m in the workshop.


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

L: When I have an hour or two to spare I love a good hunt through the rails at TK Maxx as invariably you can find something special at a great price. 

A: Goodhood or End Clothing are my go-to sites.


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

L: Something glamorous for the Christmas season.  

A: I’m on the hunt for a vintage quilted leather jacket. 

Boots or Shoes?

We hate to admit it, but usually trainers. After working for so many years in the sportswear industry, it’s a tough style choice to shift because there are just so many great ones out there – and you just can’t beat the comfort. 

L: Although saying that I have been wearing a cute pair of pale grey suede Chelsea boots quite a lot recently.

For Pinning Later


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

www.concreteandwax.com

Facebook & Instagram: @concreteandwax

I hope your business continues to burn brightly – I really am amazed at the colour variations available for concrete!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of CONCRETE & WAX

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