All posts by Linda

An Interview With Topaz Luxe

2021, along with 2020, haven’t been great years as far as travel and exotic beach holidays are concerned. As Autumn approaches the Northern Hemisphere, and the gradual easing of travel rules, have made the prospect of catching some winter sun very enticing indeed. Those in the Southern Hemisphere have got long summer days to look forward to. So, now is a great time to introduce a young emerging talent in the field of swimwear – Natasha Griggs, founder of Topaz Luxe and talented designer of swimwear. Hi Natasha and welcome!

Hi! My names Natasha Rose Griggs, I am the Creative Director and Founder of Topaz Swim. I am 29 years old living in Cheltenham. Below is a little bit of background behind my career:

 I graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a degree in Fashion Knitwear Design. During my 4 year degree I was lucky to land myself at high end designer Alexander Mcqueen for 10 months followed by a few smaller internships. After graduating I struggled to find a paid design job, so I spent the next 18months working unpaid for a number of fashion houses including, All Saints & Julien Macdonald, where I hand crafted 2 floor length gowns that were featured on Kourtney Kardashian & Eva Longoria Parker. One of my proudest moments. I continued to work at a number of suppliers and learnt a lot about the fashion supplier industry. It wasn’t until I landed my first paid job in the industry at Superdry where I was taken on as the Junior Swimwear designer. It wasn’t long before I noticed a huge gap in the market for a boutique brand that represents high quality, luxury and individuality at a competitive price. This is where Topaz really began. Within a year of registering the business I took it upon myself to leave Superdry and focus more on business plans and development of the product. I then went on to become Womenswear Designer at Holland Cooper Clothing for the last 3 years.

What inspired the launch of Topaz Luxe?

It wasn’t until I landed my first paid job in the industry at Superdry where I was taken on as the Junior Swimwear designer. It wasn’t long before I noticed a huge gap in the market for a boutique brand that represents high quality, luxury and individuality at a competitive price. This is where Topaz really began. Within a year of registering the business I took it upon myself to leave Superdry and focus more on business plans and development of the product. This was something I dreamed about, I honestly was very scared and backed the brand after many many pitches to investors and banks with a large amount of investment to go all in on the brand.


I’m interested in your brand name – Topaz Luxe – why did you specifically pick that name? Were there any other contenders?

The brand, which takes its name from the crystal of love, good fortune and attainment of goals, is made up of the finest aqua marine colours which all reflect the beautiful array of the colours of the ocean. I spent years collecting precious stones and crystals, which is what inspired me for brand. Something I loved and was passionate about. 
Topaz is also my birth stone, a stone of which I have many of.


I love the Lana Bikini in Ink Marble from your collection. Simply gorgeous. What designs are most popular amongst your customers at the moment?

The Lana bikini in Ink Marble print design, was purchased from an Australian Print house, which is unique to Topaz Swim. I would say the best selling style currently is Our Sienna Luxe Swimsuit in White and Black and Our Lana in Sparkle and Ink Marble follow closely second.

Do you have a favourite item from your collection?

The Lana Bikini in Ink Marble is my favourite too, The print is so beautiful and Vibrant. I am also obsessed with all my hardware details which are completely bespoke to the brand. These signature details make us really unique and luxurious. Completely designed by myself. I also absolutely love the Sienna Swimsuits, I think they are personally the perfect fit and so flattering. 

When designing swimwear to go into your collection, do you go for popular trendy styles and colours, customer requests, personal favourites or do you take all 3 into account?

I don’t really like to follow trends, I designed the brand based on what my customer would like, the customer really being myself. Aimed at a 29 year old, with a steady income, loves fashion and style, and appreciates slow luxury fashion. Enjoys Yoga and health and fitness and wants to look their best in a swimsuit.  I liked to design what is right for the brand and the customer I am targeting. When I first started Topaz Swim, I found it very hard to find a brand  in the UK that not only was stylish but had high end quality and was luxurious. Finding styles that suited both Smaller chests and Larger chests was also always a challenge. 


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

Our Collection is  currently available to be purchased online, and we ship to internationally. I would like to expand into Resort Hotels abroad, these plans have been in my business plan from day one and am already looking at making the connections to make this possible at the moment. I would love to stock in the leading Resort Hotels around the world. 

For every swimsuit sold, you donate to the Marine Conservation Society. What is special to you about that particular charity?

Yes  correct, for every swimsuit sold we donate £1 to Marine Conservation Society. I chose Marine Conservation Society because I loved how heavily involved they are with beach clean ups. They work with alot of companies that do charity events to help clean our beaches and protect our oceans. This is something I would love to be involved in in the next couple of years as a company to bring together a community of people that love the brand and want to support the charity and host an event. I also was drawn into the below 3 goals MCS have set out to achieve by 2030:-

A third of our seas to be truly protected, so nature can recover

Ocean pollution levels to show a clear downward trend

Our fish stocks to be at sustainable level.

Your brand has now become a Zero Waste Company – so how did you achieve that aim?   

I have a very good relationship with my suppliers and I really wanted to build into my brand from the beginning of my first collection other ways to make the brand sustainable. I worked closely with them to save all left off fabrics/ scraps to recycle and produce matching scrunchies. None of our leftover fabrics are sent to landfill. This is something I am really proud of. 

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

Personal faves : I love a skinny jean, boxy tee with a oversized blazer and white trainer;  Ribbed cycling shorts with an oversized shirt or tee and longline denim jacket; High waisted mom jeans with a cropped cami and blazer; or I am a heels, jeans, cami and leather biker kind of girl. Or a blazer. I love a blazer.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Thanks Lavish Alice – Dresses – I usually buy Occasional Dresses from here; Zara & H&M – two of my go to faves; Ella Palm Jewellery – my favourite gold jewellery brand;  Gymshark or Nike for Sportswear; TKMAXX – always get some great bag bargains in TK MAXX; Silk Fred is great for summery dresses; Holland Cooper Clothing – Most of my wardrobe is Holland Cooper.

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

I am looking for summer clothing right now, I love a cute ditsy flower wrap dress. I am also currently looking for some nice summer sandals and high waisted mom jeans with rips. 

Boots or Shoes?

Boots and shoes but with heels. I feel like a heel scream “Take Charge, Boss Mode” and I always feel like my outfit is complete with a heel of any kind. I also do love a white trainer with anything 🙂

For Pinning Later

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

Please find below links:www.topazluxe.com
https://www.facebook.com/topazboutiqueswim
www.instagram.com/topaz.swimwear
Also Topaz swim can be purchased for boutique Retailers at the below address, https://www.faire.com/brand/b_986w2nr2cu

Are you dreaming of that white sand beach yet????! My thanks to Natasha for joining me on the blog for this interview and for sharing her beautiful designs with us.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Topaz Luxe

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Spotlight On Glamorous Gifts – Football Memorabilia

Football season has started in the UK – soccer for my US friends – and if you are or you have a football fan or two in your life, football memorabilia such as a mug, print, book, is an ideal solution for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries or “Just Because”. Official football merchandiser, Glamorous Gifts, have a fabulous range of gifts from all the teams in all the Leagues … and I’m chatting to David, founder of Glamorous Gifts, about his business and his love of football. Hi David!

Hi, I’m David and I live in Leyland, Lancashire (unfortunately) with my wife and my two sons, aged 11 and 8.

What inspired the founding of your company, Glamorous Gifts?

I was inspired into setting up Glamorous Gifts as I really wanted to run my own business. I also felt that I hadn’t really used my knowledge in computing that I’d gained at university so it was a chance to put those skills to use in building and maintaining a website. It’s also nice to be self-employed, though I do miss a regular salary and I hardly ever get a day off!

Although you sell a variety of gifts, you are also an approved retailer of Official Licenced Football Club memorabilia.  What is currently the most popular type of football memorabilia and/or, dare I ask, the most popular football team?

We do sell a variety of gifts, but our speciality is that we are an approved retailer for Official Licenced Football Club memorabilia.  This means that we are one of only a small number of retailers that have products featuring the official club badges and photos. Our mugs are the most popular product and there are many different designs. But we also see that our framed prints are popular as they make such unique presents for the recipient. We have all the top football clubs, though of course the big names such as Manchester United, Liverpool etc are the most sought after.

I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan, my husband & youngest sons support Ipswich. What’s your favourite football team?

I’m a Liverpool fan, so I’m used to suffering and pain! It was a difficult slog for the most part of the last 30 years until things got much better last year with several trophies. Sadly, this season has seen a return to a more familiar pattern. 

Can the football products be customised like your other gifts?

All our personalised football products can be customised. Most can have a name added of course, but we also have many products where the recipient’s name and a chosen number appears on the teams’ shirt alongside the other real players in the dressing room or being held up by the teams’ manager. We also have a large range of non-personalised official merchandise.

Do you cover other sporting memorabilia apart from football?

We have a small range of rugby league clubs merchandise but we are hoping to expand this and other sports in the future.

When deciding gifts to add to your  collections, do you select by what has proved popular with other gift outlets, current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of those things?

We occasionally add new product designs, based on trends and events, such as when a team has just won a trophy (so no new Liverpool FC products recently sadly!)

As Glamorous Gifts is based in the UK, are your products on the website available to purchase & ship worldwide? 

Glamorous Gifts is based in the UK, where all the products are shipped from. At the current time we are not shipping abroad due to brexit uncertainties and delays caused by the current global situation. We will be looking to do this again once things have settled down.

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

For me personally, I find I’m starting to settle into a typical middle aged fashion sense where I basically live in jeans the whole time and wear something as comfy as possible. No skin-tight clothing for me thank you!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I typically shop at the likes of Next, Topman, Burton etc

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

The next thing on my clothes wish list, is probably yet another pair of jeans!

Boots or Shoes?

I wear my trusty brown or black shoes pretty much everywhere, though summer gives me a chance to break out the Converse’s !

For Pinning Later

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

The range of products I’ve mentioned can be seen at: https://glamorous-gifts.co.uk/collections/personalised-football . 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Glamorous Gifts – apart from the Pinterest/Featured Photo which is by Linda Hobden ©

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Review: Smart Screen Gold Edition

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The Smart Screen Gold Edition has been supplied by Smart Screen for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

If you have tablets, smartphones, reading glasses … do you clean them often? I hold up my hands and admit that I had rarely given cleaning them a thought unless they were really sticky. But since Covid-19 struck, keeping things as clean as possible is of paramount importance and along with your hands, surfaces etc, keeping your high tech equipment just as pristine should be a priority. But what should you use? I was sent a Smart Screen Gold Edition to try out and here’s what I thought….

THE BRAND

Smart Screen is a London based start up brand founded by David and Amanda Sant, propelled by lockdown creativity. On a mission to make sure every device is as clean as possible, the cloths have been produced predominantly for phone and tablet use but also can be used for reading glasses or camera lens. Serial entrepreneur and businessman, CEO David Sant, has been a leading interiors and lifestyle designer for over 20 years and he got the idea after observing fellow commuters on the train , incorrectly wiping their smartphones with their jackets, handkerchiefs, tissues, wipes … and it occurred to David that there was a gap in the market for a compact, highly efficient and effective cleaner.

THE PRODUCT

I was sent the Smart Screen Gold Edition cloth – and very impressive it is too! It has been designed to appeal to a fashion focussed audience and my 16 year old son thought it looked pretty cool as he merrily “borrowed” it to clean his phone and tablet, which were pretty grubby with chocolate fingerprints over them! It is a microfibre cloth – but what makes this one different is that it is made of a gentle microfibre with a silver ion antibacterial liquid infused in its fibres. Basically, this means that 99.9% of bacteria is killed on contact – bacterial infections that could potentially cause food poisoning and other nasties – and, although covid-19 , colds and flu are viruses, with the current heightened awareness of cleanliness in mind, it still all helps. The anti bacterial remains effective for up to 15 washes. There is a popper attaching the cloth to the bag for easy removal for washing.

THE TEST

The fun part! I wiped clean my smartphone and tablet, before my son commandeered it! There was a definite difference straightaway. The cloth seemed heavier and a bit more substantial than my usual glass cleaning cloths. I was really chuffed with the results – just wiping the screen with the dry cloth cleaned the marks off without smearing or needing other cleaning products or water to help. Here are the before/after photos of my screen:

CONCLUSION

A smart handy product – the cloth comes in a small pouch that fits in pockets easily. There are other cloths in various colours, so if you would prefer a white cloth rather than the navy/gold then that’s no problem. I liked the cloth – I thought it looked good, was handy and did the job well.

For Pinning Later

For more information, check out the website: www.smartscreen.store

Facebook & Instagram: @smartscreen.store #SmartScreenSaviour

My thanks to David and Amanda Sant for the Smart Screen Gold Edition Cloth.

All photographs are by Linda Hobden

Linda x

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Review: Sfizzio Tea Infusers

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The Sfizzio Tea Infusers have been supplied by Sfizzio for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

I love a cup of tea. I love a mug of tea. Breakfast tea with milk, whatever time of the day. I don’t mind an Earl Grey or an iced tea too on occasions. Flavoured teas are not my “cup of tea”though. Whatever your brew of choice, a good cup of tea is of paramount importance . I was therefore thrilled to receive a set of 3 cute Daisy Tea Infusers from Sfizzio to review… a teaholic’s dream review job!

THE BRAND

Sfizzio is a London based company that sells its tea infusers via Amazon (both in the USA & UK). The name Sfizzio was inspired by the Italian word which means whimsical or for fun. These tea infusers are definitely cute and add a fun look to your kitchen shelf as well as being practical too.

THE PRODUCT

The tea infusers come as a set of 3 Daisy tea infusers each with its own flower pot drip tray. The brightly coloured petals serve as a stirring spoon, and can hook onto the rim of your cup while the tea leaves are steeping. The small holes on top of the stem allow full immersion. The specially designed bulb is ideal for medium to large leaf teas, preventing unwanted tea leaves from seeping into your cup but allowing the tea to infuse.

THE TEA TEST

The tea infusers are made from BPA-free silicone and the bulb was extremely easy to fill with the loose tea. I filled the bulb up to the brim with loose tea and fixed the stem on. I hooked the tea infuser onto my cup’s rim and poured in my boiling water. I used the infuser to stir the water allowing the tea to brew. Very quick and easy.

THE CLEANING TEST

Cleaning used tea leaves out tea strainers/tea infusers isn’t a pleasant job at the best of times. I compared cleaning the Sfizzio tea infuser with cleaning a rigid metal tea strainer:

(a) emptying the used tea leaves into the food recycle caddy. With the metal strainer, it was a couple of taps on the edge of the food bin and the bulk of the tea leaves went into the bin. With Sfizzio, the flexible silicone means that you can turn it inside out – all the tea leaves went …. in the caddy, on the floor, up the walls ….. oops!
(b) Putting the infusers into a washing up bowl of hot soapy water to clean, the metal strainer took a bit of time as stray tea leaves were stuck onto the wire edges; the Sfizzio tea infuser cleaned, no problem. The Sfizzio tea infusers are also said to be dishwasher safe although I haven’t tested them in the dishwasher.

ECO FRIENDLY MERITS

There are a few eco benefits of using Sfizzio tea infusers :

  • The tea infusers are reusable.
  • Many teabags contain microplastics which are not present in loose leaf tea.
  • Sfizzio tea infusers are made from BPA -free silicone.

CONCLUSION

My previous experiences in making tea from tea leaves in a cup using a metal infuser left a lot to be desired so I was very impressed that (a) although I had almost overfilled the bulb not one tea leaf escaped into my cup; (b) the flower pot drip tray proved very useful; and (c) a decent cup of tea was made in a teacup rather than via a teapot with the minimum of fuss.

Sfizzio Tea Infusers are available from both Amazon UK & Amazon US.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07YHXLWJL?ref=myi_title_dp

https://www.Amazon.com/dp/B07YHXLWJL?ref=myi_title_dp

For Pinning Later

My thanks to Sfizzio for the cute tea infusers.

Linda x

Photographs are by Linda Hobden.

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An Interview With Sussex Special Candles

Have you ever wanted to capture the unique scent blend of your favourite place ? To bottle up that essence of the sea, the spices, the woods, the flora? My guest this week is Maria Hallas, founder of Sussex Special Candles, and she has made some highly scented candles inspired by the English county of Sussex and also her personal experiences of her travels around the world….from Brighton beach to the smells of the Orient. I was sent the Brighton Essence and the Dark Nights candles to review (read my thoughts later in the post) and needless to say I was looking forward to chatting to Maria about her delightful products. Hi Maria….

Hello 😊 My name is Maria Hallas. I’m the founder and the owner of Sussex Special Candles, an entrepreneur and pastry chef by profession. 

What inspired the founding of your company, Sussex Special Candles?

The company was inspired by my family, as a stay-at-home mother with a young toddler I wanted to do something to support my family, that at the same time allows me to continue to be creative and artsy. 

You have 5 distinct collections: Sussex Special; Boutique; Limited Edition;Treasures; Charisma.  What are the main characteristics that set each collection apart from each other?

Sussex Special collection is inspired by iconic places around Sussex with the desire to experience the spirit and to bring this great outdoors inside in the comfort of our homes. 
Boutique collection is a collection with our first signature bestsellers with scents which are mirroring emotions and occasions. 
Limited Edition collection is for experimental and seasonal candles. For limited time we release some of the candles, in this collection you might also find our holiday themed candles. 
Treasures is a collection inspired by personal journeys around the world. 
Charisma is a collection created with the idea to bring charm and beauty through the fragrance of the candles. 

What is currently the most popular candle fragrance and/or collection?

The most popular collection naturally is The Sussex Special collection as the most purchased candles are the Brighton Essence and Enchanted Forest candles. 

What’s your most favourite candle fragrance or collection?

My most favourite collection is the Sussex Special collection, this is the collection that so far is the result of our longest labour and is the most intertwined with memories, emotions and experiences. As my most favourite candle fragrances are the floral River Adur, the citrusy Elegant Touch, the fruity Lucious Gem and the musky Golden Rush. 

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?

I believe that a successful candle business is original and unique and must craft products that are different from what’s already available on the market. That been said Sussex Special is a customer orientated company and we do listen to our customers, for instance the Hurst Meadow candle is inspired from a customer who was looking for a freshly cut grass candle. 

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

As a consumer I do enjoy the clean and the long burn of a soy candle and as a candle maker I appreciate the lack of any odour in the soy wax that might eventually interfere with the fragrance oil and affect the finished product. Candle making as a hobby might be therapeutic, but as a business owner, the therapy of making candles is somewhere lost along the lines. 

As Sussex Special is based in the UK, are your products on the website available to purchase & ship worldwide? 

Our online shop is hosted on Shopify, we do also have Etsy and Amazon shops and our candles are available for purchase worldwide. 

Hypothetically speaking, if you could travel to any place to inspire a new candle collection, where would you go and why?

I loved this question, thank you for asking! As a matter of fact, I have already been inspired and I’m currently working on a new collection that will be ready in the next couple of months. So if I were to be newly inspired, I would love to travel to Asia to experience a burst of spices, flavours, smells, colours, and textures. I’m absolutely fascinated by the Asian culture and so far, we have 2 Asian influenced candles Oriental Delight and Dragon Heart. 

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

Normally I wear smart-casual with outweigh on jeans, t-shirts, and trainers. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

In our family we mainly shop online, from a variety of online stores. My latest obsessions are the home décor items, which I’m using for props, since at the moment I’m the photographer and the content creator of Sussex Special. We also do quite a bit of Amazon and eBay shopping purely because of the convenience. 


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

Dresses and jackets are always on my wish list, I just love a nice, feminine, and elegant dress combined with a chic jacket. 

Boots or Shoes?

To be honest, before I dived into the motherhood, I had a shoe addiction, I was the type of woman who bought shoes for the sake of buying shoes, as most of them has never been worn and were still packed in their boxes. But since motherhood creates substantial lifestyle changes, I would now answer boots to this question, mostly because of the weather in the UK. 

For pinning later


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

Our website is: https://www.sussexspecial.co.uk/ 
As you might also follow us on the social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sussexcandles/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sussexspecial/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sussexcandles

MY REVIEW

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The candles have been supplied by Sussex Special Candles for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

Hmmm…. Candles! These are certainly one of a kind. Smartly presented in glass jars – I particularly liked the fragrance notes that come with each fragrance. A bit like a wine connoisseur- you can read the fragrance notes, take a good sniff, light the wick and then take your bath luxuriating in your bubbles and the heady aroma. Out of the two candles I tried, Brighton Essence was a favourite with both myself and my daughter. You can definitely smell the jasmine, sea salt, and other fruity aromas …. I just love the smell of jasmine! I can’t decide which fragrance to try next … possibly the Mountain Dream limited edition 😊. Thanks to Sussex Special Candles.

Linda x

All photographs (apart from the featured /header/Pinterest photo of Brighton Essence/Dark Skies – that was taken by Linda Hobden) have been published with kind permission of Sussex Special Candles.

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Spotlight On GO2 Essential Oil Sticks

The benefits of essential oils and their ability to support mental health and well being has been known for over 6000 years. After the last couple of years, enduring the pandemic, essential oil products have definitely been needed and appreciated. I think the essential oil sticks are the bees knees! There is one for every situation – to calm, to boost energy, to support sleep quality, and to aid concentration. I caught up with Marc Shipman, MD of GO2, to find out more about his well being business. Hi Marc…

Hi, my name is Marc Shipman and I am the Co-founder of The GO2 Brand. We produce on the GO common sense wellness products resulting in a better you!

What inspired you to set up “GO2”?

The idea came to me in my time of need, due to a very hectic lifestyle in running various businesses, 3 small children and at the time Free Style Wrestling for Wales, I guess like so many others life just caught up with me despite not wanting to accept the doctor telling me after 4 visits that I was suffering from anxiety.

Looking back, it now explains the terrible chest pressure I was experiencing. Having had tests it was confirmed – Gastritis that was brought on by stress.  I found myself at a crossroad and had to decide whether to take the medication that for me had longer lasting adverse effects or look for an alternative.  After all, stress starts with the information we process in our minds and if I could control my state of mind, slow it and calm it down, then I knew the rest will follow.

After many months of trial and error I found essential oils and so the journey began.  Bottles of essential oil blends in my pocket or bag was not ideal and I remember my light bulb moment when I thought, surely essential oil blends in a device like an inhaler stick made more sense!

Having more Energy, Focus, Calm etc on the GO in the most convenient and practical way is what I needed and that is quite simply when the brand was born! We worked with a very experienced and knowledgeable aromatherapy consultant to produce what we have today, 4 amazing 100% natural blends that are now helping people all over the world. 

What are the benefits of essential oils?

We have used essential oils for the last 6500 years for all their benefits. When inhaling the GO2 stick the odour molecules are released. The olfactory receptors in our nose are activated and send electrical signals to the higher region of our brain, the neocortex and limbic system which is the part of the brain involved in our behavioural and emotional responses. 

The limbic system then sends messages to our hypothalamus, the area of the brain which through the pituitary gland sends messages to the other parts of our body, different odour molecules will result in different messages being sent. 

Out of the 4 essential oil sticks (Calm, Energy, Sleep, Focus), which sticks are the most popular at the moment?

I would have to say B.Calm and Sleep which under the current COVID situation and mood of the nation, we are not surprised. 

What are the ingredients in each of the 4 essential oil sticks? 

We have used tried and tested but most importantly much researched essential oils. 

ENERGY – Eucalyptus – Peppermint – Lemongrass

FOCUS – Rosemary – Peppermint – Lime 

B.CALM – Cardamom – Lavender – Bergamot – Sweet Orange 

SLEEP – Lavender – Red Mandarin – Frankincense 

When I have been anxious in the past I have used the B.CALM stick & it did help.  What is your favourite stick to use?

That’s an easy one, I love them all but B.Calm is my baby and the one that started our wonderful journey. 

Have you any other new products to add to your range in the pipeline for 2021?

We have a few new amazing products coming in the second half of 2021 so watch this space!

Have you always been interested in aromatherapy? 

Before being told that it was anxiety causing my issues, no. I had not used essential oils prior to this and now I we want to tell the whole world about the amazing benefits of essential oils.

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

We pride ourselves that we are “Made in the UK” this was so important to us that we sourced and produced from UK supply. 

Growing up, did you have career aspirations in the medical field or something entirely different?

Definitely something entirely, as a kid I was always fascinated by the Wild West and thought one day I’d become a rancher and you know what, I made that dream come true…For a while, anyways, I lived in Montana USA where each day I rode the vast wild plains, herding cattle and chasing down wild horses.  I always had a deep connection towards the wilderness and the great outdoors. However, I fell in love with a wonderful woman and moved back to the UK. 

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

Oh no, OK, as my wife always tells me, sometimes it’s OK to look a little less comfortable!!!!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I do like Next and ASOS

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

Sorry, not the answer you really want to hear, but a good pair of dog walking boots

Boots or Shoes?

Dog Walking Boots!

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about GO2.

www.thego2brand.com 

@thego2brand

Thanks for the chat Marc – is has been fascinating learning about your essential oil sticks ….. and your life as a rancher in Montana!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Marc Shipman

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An Interview With Glezant

I’m investigating unusual and fun gadgets for the home this week with my guest Antonina Glezer of Glezant, an analytical chemist turned designer. Antonina has always had a passion for interior design and her products are fun yet practical. I caught up with Antonina recently to find out more..Hi Antonina!

Hello, I’m Antonina. I was born and educated in Moscow. I studied at Moscow Institute of Fine Chemical Technology and later I worked at various Moscow research institutes. I changed my professional activity from lip-gloss development to chromatography at the Institute of Organic Chemistry. Then I flew on an airplane – lab over different regions researching air pollution.

Since 1991 I`ve lived in Israel. For over 25 years I worked as an analytical chemist for a university and for a pharmaceutical company. When my children have grown older and I got tired of chemistry I have decided to go ahead and start studying something which was a passion of mine all along. First I have completed courses of interior design, then project management and, finally, I have graduated from the Holon Institute of Technology majoring in design of industrial products. Now I can afford myself to work at what always has been a hobby of mine – design.

I specialize in the creation of products from industrial leftovers. I use natural materials and also recycle them.

I could not calmly watch how the veneer of valuable wood species was thrown away. Using my knowledge of chemistry, I created a new veneer-based material. Later I used it to create fun wall stickers for my design items. I create unusual and fun gadgets for home decor and storage. In my work, I use a combination of handicraft and high-tech technologies such as laser cutting.

I have been selling since 2012. During this time I’ve made over 2,500 sales across stores like Dawanda, A Little Market, GLEZANTdesign on Etsy and AntGl on Etsy.

What inspired you to launch Glezant?

My disappointment with the new policy on the Etsy marketplace and a heightened sense of justice, desire for even greater freedom and independence.

You have designed a range of home items, accessories and utensils – what are your most popular products?

Oddly enough, my very first product that I made as soon as I finished my studies as an industrial product designer. This is Shelf-Sheep for wall decoration and toilet paper storage. My blog has this story and you can take it in whole or in part.

Have you got a favourite product out of everything you have designed?

This is the Sheep and her relatives again. It is also popular among those who use other people’s ideas. Long ago there were Sheep made of metal, standing on the floor and hanging on the wall, as well as all sorts of other animals and birds. I also love my Owl. It appeared much later, but it`s way to the market was more difficult. At some point, I even had to take her off the market until I found a more suitable material for her head. A lot of imitations of it also appeared.

When designing products to add to your collection, do you consider current trends, product usefulness, customer requests, your own ideas or bits of all those? 

You know, I tried to ask my acquaintances about their needs for household goods. But nothing interesting came out of this. I am rather inspired by the interesting source of material I find, the desire to give it a new life. After all, if I see in it an opportunity for a new life, then it is very difficult to accept that it will be thrown away. It could even be a new product made by a bad designer out of a good material. So I made a dress and a handbag out of a sweater too overloaded with details. Unfortunately, my sizes quickly went beyond the dress and I did not use it, but I still hope that this set will find it`s mistress among thin girls. Maybe someone will fall in love with it and this kit will start a new life..

Have you any other new products in the pipeline to add to your range for 2021/2022?

Yes of course. But I don’t have enough time to finish it to the final stage. And prematurely showing the model is leading to plagiarism.

Have you always been interested in designing gadgets or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere? 

As far as I remember, I always sewed and altered something for myself. In my student years (and I studied to be a synthetic chemist) I made an original hat from my mother’s unnecessary wide woolen scarf with a fashionable at this time round bolster around the face and a “ponytail” with a knot on the crown. Or made fashionable beads from rattles for babies (rattles made of good plastic were already available, and there were no beads made of large bright balls yet). But to create a new veneer-based material, then develop a product, and also figure out how to package it for mailing – this is only after studying at the College of Technology.

As you are based in Israel, are your products available to purchase worldwide? 

Thanks to the internet, of course. My customers are mainly from Europe from Poland to Portugal, Scandinavia and English-speaking countries and continents. The Israelis also buy sometimes, even the Russians buy, but less often than the Japanese. And it’s not just the cost of goods, but different ideas about beauty. My products feel like a stranger amid the predominance of Byzantine taste.

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

I understand that my answer most likely will not find understanding among your readers, but the truth is more important to me. I rarely buy in brand stores. I mainly buy from second hand stores. And, as a rule, I compose something of my own on the basis of these things. Then for a long time I can not part with the item that I fell in love with, I redo, modernize. I reassure myself with lines from Akhmatova: “If only you knew from what rubbish poetry grows without knowing shame.”

 Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (

I am a bad customer, I do not like to waste time shopping even on the Internet. Except when I am abroad, there is a hope to see something unusual. I love boho clothes, but in the past as a chemist I couldn’t afford to be a black sheep. Now I am a pensioner, but again restrictions – I move around my town on a bicycle, and skirts and dresses are bored in the closet and hope for something else.

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

It is not a problem to find clothes. Rather a way of life  that makes it possible to wear things which express your nature and embellish you.

Boots or Shoes?

Neither one nor the other, but sandals, we mostly have hot weather.

For Pinning Later

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

https://www.pinterest.com/anglexclusive/pins/

glezant.com

I love your attitude around clothes, Antonina! Thank you so for chatting to me about your fun products, your work history and your motivations!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Glezant (Antonina Glezer)

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Spotlight On FYX

FYX is a delicious new collagen infused spring water drink – one designed for giving a beauty boost ; the other a general body boost. A healthy way to be healthy and hydrated! I was fortunate to interview founders Theresa and Andy about their products and how they managed to get hydrolysed fish collagen to taste good. Also intrigued? Then read on….

Hello, we’re Theresa, Founder & Managing Director FYX, and


Andy – Operations & Marketing Director FYX

What inspired you to develop your new collagen drink, FYX? 

T: I have always been interested in health and beauty, and there are many brands of collagen products that I’ve tried over the years. Unfortunately, I never found one that I would enjoy and stick to, whether it came in a powder, tablet or gel form. It either smelled and / or tasted unpleasant or the texture wasn’t great. It was also time-consuming, especially when having to mix the powder that sometimes became lumpy. After many years of research and looking what was currently available on the market, I wanted to create a healthy, feel-good drink for men and women which would have collagen and added functional benefits. A drink which required no mixing or measuring, that tasted great and had the consistency of water,which could be consumed anytime during the day or night. The most important thing what l wanted to achieve was to bring a premium collagen drink to the market that everyone would enjoy and could actually feel the benefits of at an affordable price. With Andy’s wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise in marketing and brand development we are both very excited to share FYX with the world.

FYX comes in two varieties – BODY and BEAUTY. Which variety is the most popular?

They are both equally popular.

What is collagen? What are the main benefits to drinking FYX? 

Collagen is known as the glue that holds your body together.  Collagen is one of the main structural proteins that forms the connective tissue throughout your system, making up 30% of your body and 70% of your skin’s natural protein. Collagen is found in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as skin, hair and nails.

There are many benefits to drinking FYX but here a few key ones: • Hydrating as mixed with spring water, plus it has the consistency of water.• FYX BEAUTY has 2500mg of Marine Collagen and a blend of antioxidant ingredients to replenish your body from the inside out and enhance your skin, hair and nails.• FYX BODY has 2500mg of Marine Collagen and is designed to help replenish your body’s recovery pre and post exercise, as well as helping to repair any damaged ligaments, plus improve joint health.• Sugar free to prevent sugar crashes.• Less than 31 calories per bottle.

Was it a challenge to put together suitable recipes for your both FYX varieties that lived up to your standards? 

Yes, very much so. Anything is a challenge if you want to do something different. There is so much competition and there are so many brands to choose from in today’s market. You have to think outside the box and create something that will have an impact and stand out from the rest, whilst considering what consumers would like. For many years l had the vision and l knew what l wanted to create. Trying to get the recipe and ingredients, flavours, taste and texture spot on takes a lot of time and patience.

As you are currently based in the UK, is “FYX” available to purchase worldwide?

FYX is available to purchase at www.fyxme.co.uk and from the 10th of May we will be shipping globally.

Is FYX suitable for everyone ( eg vegan, gluten free, sugar content etc) or are there any exceptions/recommendation

FYX is gluten and sugar free and is suitable for men and woman of all ages and for young adults. It isn’t suitable for vegans as it contains fish (marine collagen). 

Have you always wanted a career in the health food/beverage sector or were your career aspirations elsewhere?

Andy and I have been close friends for over 20 years and we’ve always been interested in food and health. We both love to cook and lead a healthy lifestyle. During one of our many conversations we discussed several opportunities and we have spoken about opening a spa or restaurant overseas one day. 

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

Theresa – l prefer casual clothes whether it’s a pair of jeans and boots or sports loungewear with a good pair of trainers. 

Andy – I prefer casual and colourful clothes generally. You need to feel comfortable in everything you do.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Theresa – Las Vegas is like my second home. l love shopping there. You are spoilt for choice – there’s too many to mention!

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

I haven’t really thought about it! 

Boots or Shoes? ( & Why?)

Boots – I go for comfort these days.

For Pinning Later

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

https://www.facebook.com/fyxhealth/

https://www.instagram.com/fyxhealth/

Thank you Theresa (and Andy) for the chat about FYX . The drink looks good, tastes good and does you good – so it is a win win! I will point out though, that if you are pregnant or breast feeding then consult your doctor for advice before taking marine collagen. Recommendations change regularly so always best to check! During each of my 7 pregnancies, there was always a different new food or drink or practice to avoid!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of FYX.

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An Interview With Pineapple Fibre Art

Art but not exactly as you know it this week – bespoke vintage inspired crochet wall art created by Emma of Pineapple Fibre Art. Using gorgeous hand dyed yarns, these intricate art pieces are certainly pretty and you can see the painstakingly amount of work that has gone into each mandala. And the size of them! I was gifted the Pale Green Penny mandala (thank you Emma) and it amazed me how big it was and how stunning it looks too. I couldn’t wait to ask Emma about her works of art … Hi Emma!

Hello, my name is Emma and I live in Devon halfway between Dartmoor and the sea.

What inspired the setting up of “Pineapple Fibre Art”?  

Pineapple Fibre Art is based on my love of vintage doily patterns and gorgeous hand dyed yarn.  No one really has white doilies under their fruit bowl anymore, but the patterns are so intricate and beautiful that I wanted a way to allow them to be enjoyed in a more contemporary setting.   The ‘pineapple’ in my business name comes from a motif that is frequently found repeated in my work and loosely resembles, you guessed it, a pineapple.  I love to crochet, I love turning a skein of yarn (merino/nylon blend for preference) into something beautiful, the possibilities in that skein of yarn are endless and that is so exciting.

Your crochet mandalas are made using gorgeous hand dyed yarns in a variety of doily patterns. What mandala patterns and colours are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

This season the colours have been more muted, and my most popular pattern has been the Maggie, with her tight central swirl and pineapples around the outside.  This is a 60cm design, a stunning statement piece of art.  I’ve also seen an increase in my pattern sales, which makes sense with the world still partially closed due to Covid-19.

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

I’ll always have a soft spot for the Fran, a graceful 70cm hoop.  She was rather tricky to get right at first, but it was so worth it.  Despite her size she is light and airy and looks beautiful in any colourway.  This one in the soft mint green was the first and I love her!

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

Yes of course!  Obviously Brexit has made shipping to the EU more expensive, and prices for shipping have been shifting, but I am happy to set up shipping to anywhere; my parcels are light, but big so courier services are usually required.

When designing the doily patterns to add to your mandala collection, do you base your designs on original vintage pieces or do you prefer to make up your own pattern combinations?

It’s a real combination!  Many of my hoops are based on vintage patterns, tweaked to fit within the perfect circle of my wooden hula hoops.  Over time I may amend the pattern further to suit my tastes and tension, the sizes of hoops available and the size the customer wants.  I have designed from scratch my own 60cm hoop, Patience, named for the time and effort required to get it right!  I also sometimes use motifs from various patterns in tandem to suit the yarn and size I am aiming for.

How long have you been crocheting?  Can you also knit?

Ooo, I’ve been crocheting for around 12 years now I think.  A friend started me off and I got the rest from Youtube.  Knitting however… that’s much more tricky: I have knitted a scarf, and one sock.  I can sort of knit I suppose, but it’s hard going and I’d rather have a crochet hook in my hand!

Growing up, did you always want to be a designer/creative field or did your aspirations lie elsewhere?

I think like many people I didn’t come into my creativity until later.  I don’t paint or draw and wouldn’t have called myself artistic or creative when I was younger, despite always making jewellery and, later on, bags. I don’t think I ever had a particularly firm idea what I’d do as an adult after the two weeks work experience in a primary school when I was 15 told me I didn’t want to be a teacher.  I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, and I’m 36 now, I’ll just keep making it up as I go!

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

Dresses!  In winter I love colourful tights especially Snag mustard ones, yellow legs make me happy, in summer some chub rub shorts.  Less worry about what goes with what, and more comfy!  Teals, navy and purple figure predominately.  I’ve worked out what I like and tend to stick to it now, even if I can be a bit predictable!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love Folksy and Etsy for beautiful unique hand made things, Seasalt for clothes, but I’ve never been much of a high street shopper and 2020 removed my desire to shop in person even further.  I could do with a couple of more summery dresses though, so I might have to brave the shops soon!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots, with crochet socks!  I hate wet feet and boots mean I can walk the dog without my feet freezing off.  And I don’t do heels, I never really learnt to walk in them.  Am I allowed to say that here?!


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

Website https://www.pineapplefibreart.com/

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

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

Thank you very much for the crochet mandala ( it is very beautiful) and thank you for telling us all about your crochet works of art. My Nan always had lots of crochet doilies scattered around her house and she would have adored your work too.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Pineapple Fibre Art (apart from the header photo and the Pinterest photo which were by Linda Hobden).

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An Interview With Hill & Ellis

Encouraging people to get on their bikes, cycle bag brand Hill & Ellis have designed and manufactured a wide range of colourful and stylish cycle bags to keep your iPads, mobiles, paperwork, books, sandwiches etc safe whilst you are cycling to work, to a picnic or just cycling for pleasure. Although Tour de France in full swing, for those who prefer a more sedate cycling pace, I caught up with Catherine Ellis to find out more. Hi Catherine!

Hello. I am Catherine and I am the founder of Hill & Ellis, a cycle bag brand who manufacture stylish cycle bags and baskets. 

What inspired you to set up your brand, Hill & Ellis?

Cycling! I cycled to work every day as a TV producer but couldn’t find a bag that would fit to my bike but that wasn’t really ugly! After years of fruitless searching I decided to set about designing my own. I was stopped at traffic lights by cyclists asking where the sample bags were from, and I knew then I was onto something.

Your panniers are a modern-day twist on the classic school satchels, designed for bikes and ooze sophistication.  What was it about the classic school satchel that made you plump for that design for your bike? 

I’ve always loved the school satchel style, it’s quite classically British which also appealed, but I wanted to put our own twist on the design so that it was more original. We also have a range of other bags styles, including cotton tote panniers, scooter bags and wicker bicycle baskets.

The panniers come in a funky range of colours – I particularly like the yellow/grey combo. What colours/styles are proving popular so far?

The yellow grey is really popular and has been since we launched it as a limited edition 6 years ago. It was so popular it stayed! As well as the yellow, the burgundy, black and tan are our most popular and in our totes it’s the black and the leopard print. 

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

Yes, we are based in England, we manufacture in London and Portugal and we ship internationally. 

When designing the panniers and deciding the colours, are you influenced by current trends, old favourites, customer requests, personal tastes or bits of all those?

A bit of all really. We don’t really feed into fashion fast trends as we aren’t a fast fashion brand, we want to make bags which can be used for years. But we do get inspired by prints and colours from trends.

 Can the panniers be personalised? 

All our leather bags can be personalised, as we have inhouse embossing. They look great with initials on, the perfect gift! 

Have you both always been into textiles or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?

I have always loved textiles and I studied design at Central St Martins (a few years ago) which helped with the bag design and pattern cutting. Much of the inspiration comes from cycling, married with inspiration from prints, colours and classic designs. 

As a brand, Hill & Ellis, with every bag sold ensures that a tree is planted in its place.  Which other projects have you been passionate about so far? 

As well as planting a tree for every bag, we also carbon offset our workforce. As we have done this over the last year we have supported a range of projects.

We have also run various donation weeks  – where profits are given to charity and these donations have gone to FareShare – who support food banks and the Bicycle Charity who re-fit old bikes in the UK and send them to people that need bikes in parts of Africa.

What do you personally enjoy about cycling? 

The freedom. In the days when you went to the office you could pedal home and after just 20 minutes you would have left the day behind you and find yourself so much more relaxed. Even now, just going for a ride calms the mind. I also love the way it’s a really easy way to get some exercise into the day and you get to explore where you live. 

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

Often jeans or tea dresses. Always something that I can pedal in. I have learnt from experience to test the outfit before getting on the bike. 

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, mainly because I have many more of them to choose from. Boots in Winter, though.

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

For Pinning Later

www.hillandellis.com

I/T/P: @hillandellis

F: @hillellis

Thank you very much Catherine for chatting with me about your gorgeous cycle bags.

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Catherine Ellis

Linda x

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