Category Archives: Accessories/Jewellery/Bags

An Interview With Handmade By Tinni

This week I’m featuring a brand – Handmade By Tinni – that is all about sustainability and joyful colours – jewellery and home decor signs using organic cotton rope and yarn. Let me introduce the lovely designer Paulomi Debnath onto the blog….

Hello, I’m Paulomi and I am a textile jewellery designer and the face behind Handmade by Tinni. I create colourful, bold pieces of designs that brings joy and inspire confidence. I am a coffee lover, passionate about jewellery (read obsessed!), slightly eccentric, a pretty good cook (Asian mainly and certified by my other half!) and a proud small independent business owner.

I was born in Kolkata, India, a colonial city with a rich heritage and history. Charming and extremely busy, my birth city holds a special place in my heart forever. When I set up my brand finally in 2020, I drew my design inspiration from the bright colours of nature, amazing places that I have travelled to over the years and most importantly from the rich heritage of India.I studied sales and marketing and started my career in hotel sales in India. I am passionate about travelling and have always found great pleasure in promoting hotels and destinations.

In 2004, I met the love of my life and in 2006, we got married in Kolkata. We both belong to this ‘City of Joy’ and very proud to have strong roots there. Soon, I joined my husband in London to start a new chapter of our journey together. With my experience in hotel sales, I was back in hotel sales management.

It has been a challenge – managing a creative business while working full time as a Senior Buyer, a wife and a mother of a 10-year-old boy (who always keeps me on my toes). You constantly need to learn to juggle a busy work & social life with loads of multitasking. But with constant support from my family, I always have been able to overcome that. When it has come to living my dream, I don’t want to resign into a life of missed callings and dreams.

My brand is all about sustainability and joyful colour. My vibrant, bold designs bring joy & inspire ethical living. I am based in London and make all my designs from my home studio.

What inspired the brand name of “Handmade ByTinni”? What made you decide to concentrate on textile jewellery? 

Tinni is my nickname that my family lovingly call me. It is like my alternate personality – cheeky, full of fun and colourful! When I was searching for an ideal brand name, I really wanted it to represent my soul and my passion for Jewellery. AND…… I am totally addicted to jewellery. My mum often teases me, and says that I am building a secret jewellery museum. And being an Indian by origin, I am spoilt for choices. I am extremely proud of my eccentric collection which is a mix of vintage and contemporary design. 

So, my brand name is my cheeky pet name and echoes that I design every piece of my jewellery home studio based in London. When I started Handmade By Tinni last year, I wasn’t even sure how far I could go with it, because everything was uncertain at the time. But I knew that I wanted a brand name that would mirror my passion and my hard work. My designs are handmade, and hence, it’s Handmade by Tinni. 

I also launched my home décor designs a year back and they have been very popular too. 

I love the Red Knotted Statement Cotton Necklace as well as the home decor signs. What items/colours are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you, Linda. That Red Knotted Necklace – Maya Necklace is one of my first designs and a all time favourite. The design is simple yet classic and very easy wear for all occasion. And not just in red, this necklace (and all others) is available in twenty-eight colours, which makes it popular as a gift too. 

In terms of colour, currently I am seeing an increased demand for Mustard, Fuchsia, Turquoise and Emerald Green. These colours are very vibrant and add glamour to any outfit. So, a great choice if you want something new that is not Red or Black. 

In terms of designs, I am so excited to see customers are increasingly embracing colours and experimentation. I am receiving more and more custom requests with design details, colours, shapes, and whole array of words when buying our custom word necklaces. I would forecast a lot more experimentation and adding a bit of glitz and glamour to classic designs. More and more customers are being open to statement pieces to show off their individual styles. This fashion forwardness really inspires me to create unique designs knowing there are accessory lovers who admire statement niche designs. 

Being a small independent brand, customers are also feeling confidant in approaching the designer to commission a custom, unique design that they will treasure forever. I am blessed to make someone’s dream design for them!

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

It is very hard to pick among all your creations as you put little bit of your soul in each of them. However, if I really must, I will choose the ‘Love’ word necklace.

This was the first design that really earned my place in our creative community and became my signature design. I have since created several custom word necklaces as I can make any word (4/5 letters max recommended) like your name or belief or fun words, into wearable pieces.

This is a unique piece of jewellery which is perfect to gift to a loved one. It makes a great valentine’s day gift, a Mother’s Day gift or a anniversary gift.


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

Absolutely. We can deliver worldwide. I would always recommend choosing tracked shipping when buying from international designer for additional peace of mind. 

We are also stocked at various boutiques in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, France, Italy and of course in UK. 

It always gives me greatest pleasure if I am introduced to a jewellery lover from overseas. Just a little appreciation for social media here, as without that, many small designers like myself might not have achieved a bit of global recognition. My own Instagram is so colourful with stunning, inspiring posts from all over the world, makers and buyers combined. Just make me very happy to see so much love for small creative industry especially over last 2 years. 

When designing jewellery to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, or bits of all those?

When designing a new collection, I do not follow any rules. I am influenced by nature and colours around nature. I keep myself updated around the colour trends and design influences around the world like minimalistic or geometric and incorporate that in my designs. I do rely on Pantone colour trends and colour charts when considering new colour collections. 

My custom designs are really a mixture of what the client envisioned and my creativity. It is so exciting to create someone’s dream design with a bit of my own twist. 

What do you enjoy most about making textile jewellery? What was the hardest piece of jewellery to make or the most unusual request you have had? 

There are some who would say you don’t choose the craft; the craft chooses you.

I love the whole look and feel of knotted jewellery but I am also very drawn to the art of repetition. I love the feel of knotting, the comfort of making the same movement over and over, and the oozy happiness when you create something with it. I take great pride in making modern wearable pieces of art using this traditional craft technique.

I’m self-taught in the art of rope knotting and I spent many days perfecting and learning the craft. Even today, I get excited about learning a new knotting technique, which I may or may not be able to use in my upcoming designs, but it is thrilling to do something new. The experimentation of mixing and matching different knots excites me too. Some of these techniques are ones I learned when I was trekking in the Himalayas.  

Hardest piece of Jewellery – Without a doubt my cotton wrapped collection. This wrapping technique is time intensive and requires precision. Each piece is unique and timeless. The delicate craftmanship makes them really ‘hard to find’ jewellery pieces. 

Most unusual request – I have designed plenty of custom designs and each are unique. From brand name to first name to their favourite word to special tangled designs, I have really done a spectrum of unusual designs. This particular designwas6 unusual as it challenged me to recreate a necklace design to a pair of anklets for a special customer. I had to carefully redesign to make it as close as to the original design they loved. 

 What are your top tips on looking after your Statement Textile Jewellery?

Very good question and I have a website section dedicated to product care

Please treat your jewellery / accessories with care, whilst it is durable, handmade jewellery / accessory still needs love and care! So, look after it well & it will last a long time.
 • Avoid contact with water, oil, lotions, insect repellents & perfume

• Please store away from extreme heat, strong sunlight, water or high levels of moisture & try not to drop it!

• To keep your Textile jewellery shiny clean, always use a super soft cloth to get rid of any smears & smudges. A microfibre cloth, similar to the sort you get with your reading glasses is a good choice  

• Jewellery with Magnetic Closures – Kindly open and close the magnetic clasps by holding the metal section only. Try not to pull the rope endings. They are glued and strong pull might unglue the magnets

. • Always ensure the cloth is clean, dust free & rub lightly to avoid losing the shape of the product. For more stubborn marks, a little bit of water or baby wipe should help

  • Avoid contact with body oils, and other chemicals, including household cleaners. 

• Remove when sleeping, exercising, or doing other physically strenuous activities

• Do not use chemical jewellery cleaners.(

• Do not wash. 

Storing jewellery whilst not in use: 

• Kindly always store the necklaces flat when not in use to maintain shape. 
• Try to keep them away from children’s hands as the shape is written in calligraphy way and manhandling can ruin the letters and / or writing.

• Store your accessory in a cool dry place.

Your company has partnered with Ecologi. What does that involve? 

When I began creating my statement jewellery, I knew that I had to do so sustainably. Protecting our planet is no longer an option, it’s essential. As a small business, I ensure I’m eco-conscious in every decision I make. I chose cotton as my main design medium as it is sustainable & bio-degradable, soft to wear and anti-allergic. My zero-waste collection ensures that every offcut is used so that I’m not wasting materials. Handmade By Tinni is also committed to sourcing materials ethically and continuing to find ways to reduce my business’s carbon footprint. One way we do this is by supporting Ecologi, a wonderful organisation dedicated to reforestation. Together with Ecologi, Handmade By Tinni enables the planting of 32 trees per month.

See Handmade by Tinni Forest here.

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

I am totally addicted to jewellery from early days!  I designed and dressed up my own collection. My aspiration was always around jewellery and I wanted to become one as soon as I finished studies. However, I followed my second passion at that time and started working in travel industry. 

I am a bohemian traveller at heart, and I have been very lucky to have travelled to many places over the years due to my work or simply holidays. Nothing inspires you more than the multitude of traditional art and craft, the people and textiles from different countries and cultures.

So, imagine my excitement when I could finally launch my own jewellery brand inspired by nature and the places that I have travelled over the year. 

Could you explain your creative process?

I am a dreamer! I dream a design and then work my way to it. Ideas can hit me at any time, so I carry my small sketchbook with my everywhere. It’s full of scribbles and sketches of designs. I also keep an eye on popular colour trends (Pantone has a helpful library of colour palettes to experiment with). Once I have an idea, I play around with the material, colours, different knots and patterns to find the best combination to create a wearable piece – although some of my designs are so intricate, they are only for galleries and exhibitions.

I like to find a quiet corner and just get busy with my ropes and accessories. Some days it’s easy and I can make the final design in one go. However, there are days when I need to work longer and harder before I can transform that thought in my mind into a design. Some days, I must start again from scratch. I guess that’s the life of an artist! It’s the best feeling, though, when you see your idea coming to life exactly how you imagined it

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Hypothetically speaking, if you could nominate a famous person (dead or alive) to be the “Face of Handmade By Tinni” who would you pick to represent your brand and why?

I am a HUGE fan of Iris Apfel. Her trend setting eclectic style of layering bright colors and patterns while pairing oversized accessories together, especially her signature black glasses, just makes me supercharged and inspired. Every time I see an image of Iris, I find myself just ogling! 

Given a chance, I would love to raid her wardrobe and just amass every accessory! (Iris Mam, if you are reading this blog, don’t judge me please. Many fashionistas have the same dream, believe me!)

So, it is only my dream to have Iris Apfel as the face of Handmade by Tinni. 

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

My brand reflects my personal style. Colourful, edgy, structured! 

Work-wear – I am huge fan of vibrant colours paired with eternal classics like blue denim or pleated skirt. For a more polished look, I just pair my outfit with a cotton blazer. I own quite a few structured jackets in an array of colours. 

Another look that I really love is printed dresses paired with jackets or blazers. 

I love prints and abstract colour combination. Most of my clothes are handpicked and from good brands to ensure long shelf life. 

Of course I always pair all my outfits with statement jewellery pieces. 

Holiday Look – Floaty dresses, pair of classy shades, long beaded / tassel necklaces and dark lippy. 

Indian wear – Due to my heritage, I am fortunate to own a huge collection of handloom sarees and Indian dresses. They are handcrafted, some are handstitched all over the body and just purely stunning. I dress up quite often when attending cultural events. 

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

I am a huge fan of Kate Spade New York and Desigual. I have a weakness towards designer bags, and I celebrate my big wins with a fancy purse few times. I have a Desigual coat, and it is a head turner! Whenever I wear that, I get compliments, and everyone wants to know where I got it from. Ted Baker – OMG! I love their design essence and own quite a few dresses, skirts, tops etc. Just love the simple, classic yet colourful designs. 

Is the rest of your personal jewellery collection is as bold and colourful as your work?

I have always been an avid collector of antique and hand-crafted jewellery. Here are some of the pieces from my own collection that are truly treasured and valued antiques. They hold very dear memories for me…

Pic 1: Gifted on my wedding by my Grandmother-in-law, who received this as a wedding gift from her mother-in-law. This armlet is at least 100 years. It is one of my treasured vintage pieces. I am truly humbled to own it.

Pic 2: Another weird-shaped silver piece! This was part of an elaborate Indian anklet. I only received this part and wear it as a choker. Thankfully, I don’t have thick neck!

Pic 3: This was a gift from my mother-in-law. The armlet belonged to her great grandmother. The main piece of the earring is a bit bent as it is part of an armlet (I only got them as those pieces) and I then designed it as a earring pair.

Pic 4: This was an heirloom hair accessory used by aristocratic ladies in a traditional Indian household. I transformed it into a statement neckpiece.

Pic 5: An original piece of antique Afghan jewellery, I bought this necklace and anklet set on a trip to Dubai, from a little shop in the souk. I absolutely love this piece – it’s entirely unique and was very hard to find. 

Pic 6: Look at this riot of colours! This awesome piece is from Sorrento in Italy. It features original Italian semi-precious stones and is very heavy but such a head-turner. 

Pic 7: An amazing piece given to me from my sister who bought it from a local designer in my hometown of Kolkata. I love the colours and simplicity.

Pic 8: This is another gift from my sister and was chosen by my little boy. My darling sister took him to a jewellery exhibition and apparently, he wouldn’t leave until my sister bought this necklace for his mumma. He knows I would LOVE it.

Pic 9: This is pure silver jhumka. It is extremely dear to me, although it’s quite heavy and not for the faint hearted! Gifted by my Ma.

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

I have spotted a Kate Spade quilted bag and that is definitely on my shopping list.  Also, I am eying the Kurt Geiger rainbow bag that is a stunning showstopper.

Boots or Shoes? 

It used to be shoes but slowly and steadily I am moving away from pointy heels, stilettos and replacing them with comfy, stylish boots or flat slip-ons. I own a pair of Kate Spade sparkly boots and a pair of Mulberry flats. Really comfortable and awesome style quotient. Love them both.

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

Website – https://www.handmadebytinni.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HandmadebyTinni

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ByTinni

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/handmade.bytinni/

What exquisite jewellery and I just love the colourful vibes! Thank you Paulomi for the wonderful tour of your jewellery loves and lusts!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Handmade By Tinni

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An Interview With Catherine Marche Jewellery

Add a little bit of ” Ooh La La” to your jewellery collection, as my guest this week is London based but originally from France – Catherine Marche Jewellery. Her jewellery is desirable with a French chic twist that simply oozes style. Without further ado, let’s say hello to the lovely Catherine…


Bonjour ! I am Catherine Marche. I love creating precious little things. I have been described as an ebullient, fun, passionate and elegant person and also as “very French”. Whatever that means, I take it as a compliment! I have been an expat most of my life. Growing up in 14 different houses and 3 countries. I feel like an eternal globe trotter, I love discovering new places, meeting new people, helping my friends, listening and playing music, dancing and eating good food. 

I feel happiest when near turquoise waters, bright blue sky, palm trees and white sand. I also love “sports de glisse” i.e. ski, waterski, snowboard, ice skating, roller skating, surfing … 

What inspired the setting up of “Catherine Marche Designs”?

I fell into it by chance. During a trip to Alderney, one of my friends purchased a set of jewellery pliers as she was thinking of enrolling into a class. I got one too and enrolled into a class on my return to London. Thinking about it, jewellery has always been part of my life. I used to make tiny necklaces for my dolls and designed my 1st gold piece when was 9, as my mother wanted my input for my communion cross. Thereafter, I used to purchase or commission jewellery wherever I went on holiday as a memento. I still have earrings from Carnaby Street I purchased on a school trip aged 11.

I guess I will always be fascinated by the world of colours, shapes and the way they make you feel. Jewellery is a great medium to express your creativity freely. Furthermore, jewels tell stories and are tokens used to represent emotional milestones. I realise I love the way jewellery spreads joy and love around. 

I do adore your Keshi Pearls Luxurious Cuff and the Queen Of The Sea Cultured Freshwater Pearls Bracelet. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

The Keshi pearls are quite popular indeed. This season, my clients have also loved the mini gold stacking rings, which they mix with colourful gemstones cocktail rings, the dotty collection and statement sculptural rings.

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

My favourites keep changing. At the moment, I am very fondof the Calypso ring with a muted orange spessartite garnet and a set of 18ct gold stacking rings. I am also layering several talisman necklaces on chains of different lengths and wear long gold earrings with carnelian. Seems I need a pep of colour to go through winter. I admit I like mixing them with items from my personal collection: creations by other designers, gifts from family and friends, jewellery picked up during trips abroad…

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

Yes indeed. I have a few online and brick and mortar stockists in France, USA, and Australia. 

Thankfully, international clients are able to indulge online from my website as I do ship to many places around the world.

When designing jewellery to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, traditional pieces, or bits of all those?

It does depend on the piece. I have to say bits of all those infused with my design flair. When I have a commission, what matters most is the person who is going to wear it. His or her input will fuel the design. For me, it has to complete them and they must enjoy wearing it with pleasure. I am always anxious when a client opens their little box to discover what I created for them. It is so fulfilling. I must say it might be one of my favourite moment in the process, when my client discovers the creation and is overwhelmed with emotions. I also receive lovely letters and photos which fill my heart with joy and keep me going. I am very grateful.

I know that you are an eco- responsible jewellery designer, working with recycled 18k gold, 22k gold, sterling silver, natural gemstones and pearls. You also enjoy remodelling old jewellery.  What was the hardest piece of jewellery to make or the most unusual request you have had? 

One of the trickiest piece is jewellery encompassing several techniques. For example, I made a hinged bangle which also features diamonds and rubies and 24K gold Keum Boh. It is textured with photo etching and has lovely fish details. Many hours of labour were involved in its fabrication.

Most unusual… I had a client who came with a beautiful piece of wood charged with meaning, which I  turned into a jewel for his dulcinée. I quite enjoy the special relationship with my clients around creating something special and when the commissioning process takes me beyond the realms of my usual daily routine. 

If you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection, where would you go and why?

I think I‘d like to go to India. There is so much ancient art, palaces, colours and history there. I have met and worked with so many people from India in the past who told me wonderful tales about their country and regaled me with stunning photos of their world. I am definitely enthralled and willing to visit it myself. Added bonuses: The food is delicious, the weather is amazing and it is a treasure trove for gemstones too.

I guess it will have to be in a few years once the pandemic is over (or has calmed down) and travelling feels safe again.

As you are originally from France, now based in London  -have you noticed any differences in jewellery tastes between France and the UK? 

It seems to me that people in France wear more gold and that silver is sometimes considered like costume jewellery (less precious). Children also wear gold. It is common to gift babies a gold medal or a name tag bracelet and offer children gold jewellery as different milestones. It is also quite traditional for a mother in law to welcome her daughter in law with heirloom jewellery or to offer, for example, a pearl necklace when there is a new baby.

Most people will say that gold below 18ct is not even gold as we have been used to 18ct and legally anything under was not able to be labelled gold.

One thing I have also noticed is that women in France definitely indulge in more impulse self-purchase than in the UK.

When French women like something, they do not need any justification or their friends or husband’s opinion to buy it. French women enjoy looking stylish and wearing items they hunt down and will not see on anyone else. They love using their hard earned cash to indulge in precious little things for themselves and people they love and are going to enjoy life on their terms as much as possible.

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

As most children, my aspirations have been changing thought the years. When I was little and  Claude Francois and Karen Cheryl were all the rage, I wanted to be a dancer and singer. Hopefully a Clodette. Later on, I wanted to be a school teacher in maths and drawing. (did both). In fact, I ended up studying computer science, maths and physics and worked many years as  an IT consultant for international companies. I was always inspired by arts and also studied arts and music in parallel. Some of my art is in private and public collections and I still enjoy playing a bit of saxophone.

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

Oh la la! I am not sure I have a definite normal… I can be a bit unconventional. I take fashion like a chameleon, I embrace change.

I love wearing vintage dresses, especially in summer when I can wear bright colourful fabrics in the sunshine. Thinking of a big flower power print dress? I have a few. 60s clothes? yep. Lamé dresses for the evening too. I grew up watching Bewitched and loved their fashion. In the winter, my main thing is being warm. I will layer silk, cachemire, wool, tweeds. I love combining them with long woollen trousers, Aline woollen skirts and boots. You will always see me with hat, scarf and gloves. And either woollen or fur coat. 

When I was pregnant, I definitely wanted to be able to close my coat on my bump. I tried a few coats but being tall, they did not fit me well (sleeves are usually too short). I ended up at a French fur factory designing and commissioning a special shearling coat made to my specifications. It has extra extra long sleeves and is super long too, almost touching the floor.  I still enjoy wearing it. So warm, comfy, soft and really just one made for me. Makes me feel ecstatic when I find and wear something special; Especially when it is one of a kind.

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

Since a girlfriend introduced me to thrift stores when I was a student, there has been no going back. I love American thrift stores. Especially the ones in Florida where retired old ladies will sell their amazing wares. Here, I like shopping in charity shops too. It is fabulous to be able to give another life to garments which will not end up in landfills and knowing that I do not contribute to fast fashion is a good feeling. For shoes, I love LK Bennett. For classic pieces, it can be tricky as I have to read every label to ensure there are no (or few) synthetics involved and the brands need to fit my tall stature. Some of the brands I favour are Hobbs, Max Mara, Calvin Klein, LK Bennett, Roland Mouret… Some brands make me dream like Oscar de la Renta. For special items, I like the website 1stdibds. 

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

Ooh, my list. It is ever expanding. I hope my husband is not reading this. He would love for my wardrobe to be smaller.

A very long, soft and luxurious bootleg type cotton velvet pair of trousers. Being a 36 in seam leggy woman, it happens not to be an easy hunt as I have ruled polyester out.

I also like shopping second hand. Definitely the best to ensure we help to safeguard the environment and for not seeing similar clothes on other people.

French navy style wool sweater and trousers (+ very necessary navy handbag of course), vintage Pucci silk top, another Hermes square, something feathery, a Westwood bustier dress or top…

Although I admit to having more than 50 pairs of shoes (ahem), there are always new things to add on to my little collection; for example: Some raffia and leather summer sandals, preferably with some shells, a pair of zebra print pony leather flats, tan leather square-ish toe pumps with a 60s vibe…

Boots or Shoes? 

Oh ! Do I really have to choose? In a way, I should say both. My wardrobe has many more shoes than boots. However, with the unpredictable weather we have in London, I realise I am wearing boots more often than shoes. I am sometimes going around in boots with a pair of shoes (usually a rather delicate, heeled leather affair) in my rather large handbag, doing a swift exchange when coming out of the tube.

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

Hoping to tempt you and connect with you, do get in touch, I love a little talk about fashion, jewellery and style.

My website http://catherinemarche-designs.com

To keep in touch via my newsletter : https://catherinemarche-designs.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=83a338d27cea890507e43b941&id=9d0301a04a

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

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

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.co.uk/catherinemarche

Twitter https://twitter.com/catherinemarche/

I also get trees planted using tree nation, here is a link to my little Forest. Maybe you’ll get inspired and start your own https://tree-nation.com/profile/catherine-marche

Thank you ! Merci beaucoup !

Merci beaucoup to you Catherine for chatting about your jewellery and your love for fashion & shoes! I absolutely adore your fashion & shoe choices (as well as your jewellery, of course!)

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Catherine Marche.

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An Interview With Perfino

What do you get when you cross essential oil scents with jewellery? Perfino, of course! Perfino is an innovative natural scent jewellery brand that combines expertly blended, 100% natural pure essential oils with exquisite jewellery. Intrigued? I caught up with founder Kim Brookes to find out more. Hi Kim and welcome…

Hello! My name is Kim, founder of Perfino natural scent jewellery and a natural fragrance obsessive. It’s on the gentler end of addiction but I find it hard to walk past a flower without putting my nose in it and just love the smells of nature.

What inspired the setting up of “Perfino”?

I was always a big fan of perfume until I realised how harmful it can be. 

Most perfumes are made of mass-produced synthetic chemicals. It may call itself rose but it won’t have any rose in it. In fact, you won’t know what is in it as ingredients are not disclosed. It seems strange that we are so careful what we put in our bodies but pay little attention to the synthetic chemicals we put on our bodies, some of which can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

So, I looked for a new way to wear natural fragrance so we could still enjoy great scents without compromising our bodies. I worked with some incredible jewellery artisans to find the perfect way to encapsulate natural essential oil blends into jewellery in a sustainable way,and immersed myself in the blending of natural essential oils, until I found the solution, which is Perfino.

I love the idea of natural scent jewellery – wearing scent all day without chemicals touching your skin!  Let’s get down to the basics – what does the jewellery set comprise of and where do you put the essential oils? 

The set includes a recycled solid silver or gold vermeil necklace, six super absorbent lava stones straight from mother earth, and 10ml of pure natural essential oil which has been blended to provide a fabulous scent. You simply add a drop of the oil to the stone which sits inside the necklace, close it, and wear it. Our essential oil blends give out a much gentler and natural fragrance than perfume, and one that can last all day long. The scent is gentle, discreet, and for the wearer’s own personal enjoyment.

Out of all your essential oils collection, do you have any favourites? What are the popular scents amongst your customers? 

My personal favourite is “…and breathe” as it is led by rose absolute, a gorgeous but very precious oil. It takes around 10,000 roses to produce a teaspoon of rose absolute, which I have blended with ingredients which compliment this incredible fragrance.

My customers really love “…deep love”, possibly as it has some wonderful neroli oil in there making it quite romantic and dreamy. It’s very popular as a gift for loved ones as it says it all.

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

Yes, we are based in the Somerset but we sell all over the world and have had orders from San Francisco to the Seychelles as there’s really nothing quite like Perfino out there.

A couple of hypothetical questions now!  Firstly, if you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection or to capture a new fragrance, where would you  goand why?

That’s a tricky one as the essential oils come from all over the world, often in very exotic sounding locations but ones where the harvesting provides badly needed fair trade income to the agricultural workers or pickers. I would love to go to deepest darkest Brazil where they continue to discover new plants and fragrances, and where there is a growing appreciation of how these should be protected.

Secondly, which famous lady would you pick to be the “Face” Of Perfino and why?

 Well, like Perfino she’d have to have a cool and subtle style and be a force for good …so I’d pick the Emma Watson, a truly fragrant woman of substance.

Growing up, did you always want to be a jewellery designer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere? 

As a child I loved fabrics and in my dream other life I might have been a fashion or textile designer. I made clothes for my teddy, then myself, and then my kids, but for jewellery design I have been able to spot talent in others rather than being the talent myself!

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

I have a mania for natural fabrics particularly linens and silks, and comfort – so anything that hangs well with a pop of colour, and a lovely scented necklace of course! As for shoes, I just adore Superga, but cannot resist a rubber fleece lined Tretorn Chelsea boot, whatever the weather.

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

I am a big fan of Ebay as it is such a great way to recycle, and many items are brand new. I enjoy Sezanefor great French style, and am in heaven immersed in any far away market.

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

A huge warm coat for immersing myself in after wild swimming which I am dabbling in but not yet convinced…and a new pair of Tretorns.

Boots or Shoes? ( & Why?) 

Shoes – boots make me think of winter and I am definitely a summer person

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

https://www.perfino.co.uk 

Instagram @perfinouk

Facebook @perfinouk 

Fabulous chatting to you about a fabulous product, Kim! I love it ❤️

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kim Brookes/Perfino

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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.

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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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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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An Interview With Driftwood Designs

Inspired by Wales – its beautiful scenery, language and culture – my guest this week is Lizzie Spikes, artist and illustrator based in Aberystwyth in West Wales. Lizzie founded her company, Driftwood Designs, in 2005, which she runs along with her friend Becky who apparently has a passion for spreadsheets! I caught up with Lizzie to find out more… Hi Lizzie!


Hi! My name is Lizzie Spikes and I’m the arty part of the partnership that runs Driftwood Designs.  I live and work on the West coast of Wales, near Aberystwyth, in a cave-like Welsh cottage with my two sons, our two hounds, two cats and our mildly grumpy goat.

What inspired you to set up “Driftwood Designs” ?

Becky Barratt and I have known each other since school,and we found ourselves as new mothers with complementary skills and the need to make a living around our children.  Driftwood Designs was conceived and created at Becky’s kitchen table with a handful of cards and a couple of poster prints run off for us by the friendly printer up the road.

I am always curious to know the origins of brand names, so why did you choose “Driftwood Designs”? Did you consider other names?

I came up with Driftwood Designs as a company name.  It was my second choice – I had my heart set on Flotsam and Jetsam Designs but it wasn’t available as a domain name and with hindsight would have been a bit of a mouthful.  Driftwood Designs was next on my list and it’s served us well.

You have a lovely wide range of illustrated products including posters, greeting cards, lampshades, cushions, tea towels, mugs and so on. What products and designs are proving popular amongst your customers so far?

Our cards are still our biggest seller and the pandemic has definitely increased sales as people strive to keep in touch.  Alongside this Becky and I both love the product development aspect of our work and like to dream up new designs and creations – hence the ever-increasing array of designs.  We try to put our imagery onto homewares that are both practical and beautiful.  

I particularly like the Colonnog Hearty design in the velvet cushion and tea towel.  Do you have a particular favourite design? 

I also love the hearty designs and now that we’ve found a British company who can make our textile products as bright and beautiful as we want them to be I would like to make more! Our china mugs bring me joy every day and I love my ‘Seasons’ lampshade.


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

We’re happy to send things overseas and our website is fully stocked with our many products.

What inspires 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? 

I find lots of things inspiring – nature, the changing seasons, quotes I hear or read, places and people. And I’m lucky that our customers send me ideas and things they think I’ll like.  I always have a working notebook on the go which is full of scrawls of the things I don’t want to forget.


I hear that you like to work with pieces of flotsam and jetsam driftwood that you collect from your walks on your local pebbly beaches. What was the hardest or most unusual piece of artwork you’ve created so far out of driftwood?  Favourite piece?  

I like Driftwood as a canvas – the pieces that wash up have always had a previous use and a history that makes them inspiring.  My favourite piece of driftwood treasure thus far is a wooden guitar that I found on a local beach one rainy April which I turned into a scene.

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

I have always painted and drawn and it feels wrong to go a day without doing so.  I studied Drama and Fine Art at university – I specialised in sceneography and costume design because it was another way in which to interpret, illustrate and communicate literature.  One day I’d like to revisit set design but for now I’m happy to illustrate things on my kitchen table on a smaller scale!

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

In my spare time I can be found out walking with my hounds and a flask of coffee or in the sea – swimming or trying to master standing up on my surfboard.  I like to be outside in all weathers.  I also like cooking, and eating, and my perfect weekend would be a hike somewhere new with good friends followed by a big meal, a glass of red wine and a warm fire.

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

I love clothes and have frocks in all colours, shapes and sizes but mostly end up wearing paint splattered jeans which are worn on the knees, jumpers and wellies!  On the days when I wash the paint off and head into town for work or meetings I like to wear less practical attire and can even be found in heels.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

My favourite online shops are a local coffee vendor called Teifi Coffee who delivers my favourite brew, an art materials supplier, ebay for new and old dresses and I hate trailing around supermarkets so I try to buy most of my groceries online too.  The boys and I get the occasional Gousto food box delivered – it means that we try different things and the boys are getting adept at cooking by following the instructions so it counts as a home schooling task.  Locally we’re very lucky to have some wonderful independent shops and if you ever venture to Aberystwyth, Medina is definitely worth a visit for food and supplies.

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

I definitely, absolutely need a new pair of Saltwater Sandals.  I had a gold  pair for years and they finally gave up at the end of last summer.

Boots or Shoes? 

I wear boots in winter and sandals in summer… I rarely wear shoes and have never really considered why not- they were a part of school uniform that I was happy to leave behind.

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

We can be found on the web at www.driftwooddesigns.co.uk or on Facebook as Lizziespikes-DriftwoodDesigns and Instagram as @drifteddesigns or in real life we have a shiny new shop on Pier Street in Aberystwyth and in Castle Arcade in Cardiff.  

Absolutely beautiful prints and illustrations, Lizzie, they definitely conjure up the spirit of Wales!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Lizzie Spikes/ Driftwood Designs

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An Interview With Luxe 39

Luxury with a capital “L” this week as we delve into the world of gorgeous, touchy- feely, colourful velvet bespoke cushions! My guest this evening is Helen, founder of Luxe 39, who makes to order these delightful cushions and she has an amazing array of over 100 colour options! Hi Helen …

Hello. My name is Helen Gilbert.  I’m a 40 something mum of 2 boys living in Clapham, London.

What inspired you to set up your brand “Luxe 39”?

In 2017 I was working in marketing recruitment in the city and was struggling to balance home life and work, especially in school holidays. At the same time we were at the tail end of a house renovation, finally at the interior decorating phase, and I couldn’t find velvet cushions of the quality I wanted.  I decided to dig out my sewing machine and make cushions for myself and started to mix various velvet colours together to make double colour cushions.  When friends saw these dual cushions they asked if I could make some for them and the idea just came together that I could work for myself and set up a luxury velvet cushion company.

I’m interested in the origins of brand names – so what does “Luxe 39” stand for?

The name ‘Luxe 39’ took a bit of thinking.  I wanted a name with a matching domain which was tricky as by 2018 so many domain names were already taken so I came up with the idea of adding a number into the brand name and as we live at number 39 that was set.  I played with brand names which included the word ‘cushion’ but worried that would limit the company in the future.  I arrived at ‘Luxe’ for it’s double meaning. Obviously it refers to the luxury nature of the velvet fabric we use in all our cushions, but it also is a play on ‘Lux’ which is the measurement of illumination and references the way cotton velvet bounces light, making the colours appear really vibrant.  And so luxe39.com was born.


With 9 cushion size options, square and rectangle, over 100 colour options, plus cushion covers and draught excluders – there is such a variety to satisfy almost every house decor! Which colourways seem to be the most popular this year?

I keep a tally of the most popular colours and it is interesting to see the gradual shifts of popularity over the years. This year Mustard Yellow is rising in popularity.  It is a gorgeous bright yellow and very like Pantone’s colour of the year, ‘Illuminating’. The single colour which defies fashion and remains most popular is Burnt Orange and the double colour cushion which sells the best is the really colourful combination of Burnt Orange with Bright Pink. 

Velvet cushions are so luxurious and sumptuous! what do you like most about working with velvet?

I love the depth and richness of colours you get with velvet.  Even neutral shades are truly beautiful in this fabric and that makes it great to work with.  It took a bit of trial and error to successfully sew velvet as it ‘creeps’ when you sew two pieces together, but I’ve had quite a bit of practice now and have it mastered.


Caring for velvet cushions – what are your recommendations on keeping them pristine?

The velvet used in all our cushions is 100% cotton pile and it is actually easy to care for.  Cushions need plumping every few days and this effectively keeps the dust off them. Try to avoid dropping food or drink on them as they can’t be machine washed, but if spills do occur then we recommend blotting with a lint free cloth.  We don’t recommend rubbing velvet as you risk flattening the pile which is the unique thing about the fabric.  Velvet can be dry cleaned if all else fails.

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

Our products can be sent anywhere in the world and we’ve shipped as far as Australia.  We used to sell a reasonable number of cushions to European customers but that has noticeably dropped away since Brexit as the cost of shipping has at least doubled and I think customers are wary of the risks of buying from the UK at the moment.

How long on average does it take to make a cushion from scratch?

There a a few stages to making a cushion and all are relatively time consuming. First you need to cut the fabric precisely. Next you need to finish the raw edges before carefully sewing in the zip (which can be made a feature of with our option of a contrasting zip colour).  The sides then need sewing and pressing to ensure the seams are crisp. We overstuff all of our cushions with larger cushion pads to ensure they stay plump so they have to be carefully inserted, and then we take a lot of care to package the cushions to make sure they arrive looking like a gift – so start to finish on each cushion takes longer than you would think.

Have you had any unusual or extravagant or different colourway cushion requests?

I started the website with the colourways which I thought would go together but a lot of the options now online came about through customer requests, and some of these have become my favourites.  Mustard and Bright Pink was requested by a customer and I really wasn’t sure of the combo, but when I made it I realised it was utterly stunning and it is now a popular choice online.  Also, simple colour combos came about from customer requests such as the two tone options of Silver with Dark Grey, or Navy with Royal Blue. When the orders were made I thought they may be a little boring but they are really stunning in their simplicity.

A percentage of profits from the business are donated to mental health charities – why is it important to you to support these charities?

I worry that mental health provision in this country has been neglected and underfunded for a really prolonged period and was already at breaking point even before Covid. Having grown up with a parent with mental health problems I know how essential it that support is there at the time it’s needed so that’s why it’s important to me to support mental health charities.

Growing up, did you always want to have a career in textiles or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

My previous career wasn’t in either textiles or interiors, but actually the skills I gained in marketing recruitment have been surprisingly transferrable.  Business development skills are useful in most jobs, and the understanding I gained of digital marketing has been incredibly useful in setting up an online


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

I work from home (before it was the thing everyone did) so I live most of my life in jeans.  I have a favourite pair of Paige jeans which I bought 10 years ago as a treat after losing my baby weight.  They no longer make the exact style so I buy replacements second hand on ebay with varying luck. You just have to hope that the jeans haven’t been shrunk in the tumble drier at any point, or altered over the years.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love clothes from COS as they take classic styles and add a slight twist.  I don’t find that patterns suit me but COS do some beautiful colours which mix and match really well.  Now I think about it, I dress a lot like my cushions, either wearing a single colour or colour blocking two contrasting colours.

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

I fancy treating myself to a ‘Me & Em’ dress once we can go out again as they’re expensive but are cut and sewn really well.  Again they are quite classic but often with a twist like a grosgrain stripe sewn into the side seem. As a seamstress I appreciate the construction, but I really haven’t got time to make clothes for myself.

Boots or Shoes?

It’s trainers and sandals for me as I like the laid back vibe and comfort of both.  I like wearing quite tailored clothes and relaxing the look with my footwear as I hate feeling too ‘dressed’.

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Links you would like to share:

We have accounts on both instagram & facebook @luxe39london.  
Website: https://luxe39.com

Hmmm … dear reader, spoilt for choice when it comes to colours …. what would you choose? !

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Luxe 39/ Helen Gilbert

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An Interview With Cup Of Daisies

Like a breath of fresh air, Cup Of Daisies, is a small Welsh fashion label that design scarves inspired by the work of the charities they support and by selling the scarves they look to raise funds to support those charities. I caught up with Oana to find out more ….Hi Oana!


Hi , I am Oana Balan, the designer of Cup of Daisies. I am working in developing the project part-time. 

What inspired the setting up of  “Cup Of Daisies”? 

There were various sources of inspiration but none fashionable. I was mostly looking at cups of tea ,  camomile tea  and different meanings in different societies. I have a Christian background , so I love the biblical story where Jesus is offering water to a Samaritan woman at a well, speaking about the idea of living forever. So the concept Cup of Daisies had to embrace  the idea of wellness, life and help. It had to bring together the essence and the values of what the brand would support.

I’m interested in the origins of brand names – so why “Cup Of Daisies”?  Were there other names you considered?

I considered my name for a while as in Oana Balan and  Cup of Daisies scarves. 

I particularly like the “Bird Song” scarf. What scarves are most popular amongst your customers?

The best seller is the “Blue Pineapples “ scarf , supporting Save the Children.

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

I like the scarf “Lady Red” supporting Tenovus . 


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

Yes, the products are available to customers abroad as we have received orders from North America and Spain.

When designing the scarves to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, the charities, your customer base, requests, traditional styles, current trends, or bits of all those?

I want to create a pattern which tells the story of the charities we support , transmitting the message farther. Also needs to be in fashion with current trends.

How long on average does it take to make a scarf from scratch?

It mostly depends on the quantity and the type of production. For this collection 300 scarves took 6 weeks , including screen printing and hand rolled hem.

Which charities do “Cup Of Daisies” support? Why were those particular charities chosen? 

I wanted to gather most of the basic needs of a human being such as shelter, hunger and treatments. Those are the charities I support.

If you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection, where would you go and why?

I would possibly go to an exotic beach in Thailand to do snorkelling, to have the chance to observe the nature underwater.

Growing up, did you always want to be a fashion designer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but the fashion industry is quite competitive, and I struggled in gaining experience in established fashion houses. So I wanted to have my say about the fashion industry and to create my own products.

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

I would wear a pair of ankle boots from Clarks and possibly a very minimal look, just a top and a pair of trousers  from Uniqlo . 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I buy from Uniqlo and Zara, I identify myself with their styles and trends.

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

Dr Martens Gladiator sandals are a want on the wish list! 

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are more practical specially with the weather in Wales.

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

http://cupofdaisiesstyles.blogspot.com
http://cupofdaisies.co.uk
@cupofdaisiesstyle – IG

Great to chat to you Oana! Love the scarves and your charitable aims!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Oana Balan/ Cup Of Daisies.

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An Interview With gtGDollwear

As a young girl I loved playing with my Barbies and Sindy Dolls – my father made suitcases for a living and had made me a vanity case which I filled with dolls clothes. I was never interested in the bigger baby dolls. Maybe it was the fashions that attracted me, I don’t know. My love of dolls hasn’t faded – and it was with great excitement that I was able to interview the delightful Dasha who, in my eyes has a dream job, as a fashion designer designing luxury doll clothing. Hi Dasha!

Hi, I am Dasha. And I think I have a dream job – I am a fashion designer and a founder of luxury doll clothing brand gtGdollwear – so effectively I spend all my time living my childhood dream – playing with the dolls 😊

What inspired the setting up of your luxury brand “gtGdollwear”?

I have been working in the City for a number of years, but I always felt I was missing something. At some point I started to feel that I needed to find my true calling. It was a long journey….

Through hours of Bible reading, repentance and spending time with God, I knew I would be able to discover my true calling, my talents – my “wells” in the desert of life, which would give me freedom, wealth and independence. 

I was particularly touched by the story of Abraham in Genesis: the wells he dug in the desert were a real blessing for him, but they were filled with earth by Philistines and his son Isaac had to work hard to clear them. This is a perfect analogy with our human life: we are born with talents, but sin made us bury our talents. We are afraid to acknowledge that there is a perfect plan for our life in Jesus. Instead we are giving the devil the ground that belongs to us.

One day I took my seven-year-old son to a birthday party for one of my friend’s daughters. There were Barbie dolls everywhere! The minute I saw a big box of barbies, I realised my prayers were answered as I remembered how much I enjoyed making dresses for dolls.

I’m interested in the origins of brand names – so what does GTG stand for?

Can you guess now? It means Glory to God. I am ever so grateful to Him for saving me!

As a young girl I had many Barbie/Sindy dolls and cases full of dolls clothes and accessories – my love of dolls hasn’t wained , I realised that fact whilst looking at the range of doll clothing on your website.  I love every set in your collection and the miniature bags are just adorable. What sets are most popular amongst your customers?

Thank you! You might be surprised to know that my customers are adult doll collectors. And they love everything! They love to see new things coming in my online store. I recently launched a sleepwear – tiny cute satin and lace pyjamas and nighties, with eye masks and gowns and those were sold out so quickly. I have none left in pink! I guess in lockdown loads of doll collectors are living their life through dolls and pyjamas are a big hit!

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

My favourite is Chanel inspired suit made of boucle fabric which is very challenging to work with as it frays into ribbons when cut. But the finished outfit was fabulous. As a general rule of thumb – the harder it is – the more satisfaction I get from the final result. The details that go into creating my outfits are insane, everything is so miniature!


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

Yes, I am based in South London, but gtGdollwear is an online destination that serves clients worldwide. I love to look at the map to track the geography of my clients – Hawaii, Australia, Japan, Europe. It’s mind blowing to realise that there are so many places I have never visited but my designs made their way to those destinations.

When designing dolls wear  to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, traditional styles, current trends, runway items or bits of all those?

It’s a bit of all those but most of all is what I would wear myself. So, I am not surprise when 90% of my clients keep saying to me: “I’d wear that!”. And of course I am very tuned into my customers feedback, I just want to solve their doll wardrobe dilemmas!

How long on average does it take to make a set from scratch?

It depends on a number of items in the set, but on average about a week as I do like to take my time. In my previous job in the City I used to work to very tight deadlines, so I just feel so blessed being able to set my pace now. My moto is “luxury in every stitch” and I take time to deliver that to my customers.

Do you take on bespoke requests?  If so, what was the most unusual or extravagant request? 

No, you see I am not a seamstress, so I would be unable to work on a request basis. When I design I rarely know what would be the final result, I make decisions along the way – my friends call me “a raw talent” 😀 So my customers are only those who love my creations!

If you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection, where would you go and why?

I’d go back to Paris to see my family but this time I would just sit in the café in the street and watch Parisians walking by (preferably without their face masks).

Growing up, did you always want to be a fashion designer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

When I was a little girl, my friends played with their dolls – but I much preferred making clothes for my dolls. However, for some reason I thought that you need to be an artist to be able to draw your designs on paper – a huge misconception! My parents encouraged me to find a career that was more practical. I have two degrees, one Master of Arts but I somehow managed to work in finance for the majority of my career, which was a great experience that helps me with my business now.

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

Ha ha – now when we are restricted by lockdown it is mostly UGG slippers 😊I am a jeans and trainers girl – a comfy pair of skinny GAP jeans and my favourite Armani trainers is all I need to get me out of the house!

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

Yeah, I wish someone could make a human size of gtGdollwear

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

Oh, I have accumulated so much that my next thing on the to do list is actually to get rid of some stuff!

Boots or Shoes? 

 Trainers!

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

Instagram and facebook @gtGdollwear

Website: http://www.gtGdollwear.com

Are not the mini fashions simply gorgeous? Thank you Dasha for letting me see a glimpse of your dream job !

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of gtGdollwear.

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