Category Archives: Accessories/Jewellery/Bags

An Interview With Enchanted England

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What inspired you to set up Enchanted England website?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah, wearing an Enchanted England face mask

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

For pinning later. © Linda Hobden

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

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

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

Linda x

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

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An Interview With Tot Knots Of Brighton

Tot Knots of Brighton specialise in turban hats, headscarves, tot knots and headbands made exclusively with Liberty of London fabrics. Owners Katie and Susan, wanted to promote their beautiful headbands from a completely different angle – as a great stylish addition to gym/sportswear. Gifted with a lovely multicolour graphic Liberty of London headband, my friend Tracy and I put the headband through its paces as part of our gym gear and took it for a run, walk, aerobic exercise, yoga and Pilates… here are our results…

Disclosure: I was gifted the “Multicolour Graphic Liberty of London Headband” in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are entirely my ownand Tracy’s imput too!

Photo by Linda Hobden

REVIEW

THE WEBSITE: Lovely site full of lovely looking headbands, turbans, headscarves for both adults and children in a variety of colours and Liberty of London prints. From a gym/sports point of view : if you like to be colour coordinated, then I’m sure you’ll find a headband to match. The headbands are virtually bespoke – the headband needs to fit as snug as possible, especially when doing exercise – there is an easy to follow measuring guide on the website.

Photo courtesy of Tot Knots of Brighton

DELIVERY: Nice packaging. The headband print and colour matched the description on the website. It was silky and soft to touch. You can see at a glance that an awful lot of love, care and attention had been put into the making of the headband. There was a guide enclosed if the headband needed to be altered further – my headband was spot on. Very impressed. Taking it for a yoga and Pilates spin, the headband was soft to wear. My score: 8/10

Photo by Linda Hobden

Taking the headband for its energetic spin, my friend Tracy put it through its paces with a high powered walk, running and an energetic aerobic session ! Tracy ‘s opinion was that the headband looked good and was fine with the high powered walking, yoga and Pilates sessions; however, it was slightly too bulky, as it gets very sweaty, when it came to running and the aerobics sessions. During an energetic workout, the silky headband struggled to stay put – soon remedied with some clips though. Tracy’s score: for sports wear 3/10 ; for general use, as it looks good & is comfortable 8/10

So, who are Tot Knots of Brighton? I caught up with Susan & Katie to find out more… welcome ladies 😊

Hello. We are a mother (Susan) and daughter (Katie) team creating accessories and beautiful handmade headbands, hair ties, turbans and eye masks for little and grown up people. We specialise in Liberty prints and luxury, natural fabrics, perfect for delicate skin. I (Katie) recently left my role as Picture Editor on a UK national magazine to fully focus on Tot Knots and my family.

What inspired you to set up “Tot Knots of Brighton”? 

We were on holiday together with my little girls and were struggling to keep summer hats on their heads – especially as my littlest had cradle cap – so my clever Mum fashioned a turban headscarf al la land girls 1940s out of a handkerchief and e voila it worked! – not only did it stay on but they loved wearing them and got loads of attention from everyone we met.  So when we got back home we decided to develop this further and create our first kids readymade turban and see if there was a market for them – and there was
.

Your products are created using the beautiful Liberty of London fabrics, lined with 100% cotton or 100% silk. What do you like most about using Liberty of London fabrics?

Liberty fabrics are iconic and synonymous with quality and design – and, in fact, my mum has been working with them since the 70s. She used to make smocked dresses for us and private clients in the 80s. Tana Lawn is still believed to be the best cotton on the market, and it is exclusively produced for Liberty.  It is so lovely to work with and feels beautiful to the touch, and one of the best parts of the job is being able to handpick from a huge range of beautiful colours and prints for each of our collections.. For us it is really important that we only use the highest quality fabrics we can find – be it silks / velvets / cottons and wools to give our loyal customers the best quality products we can.


I personally love the multicolour graphic print that you kindly sent to me to review  –  and I love the new season Yellow D’anjo Floral design too. What items & prints are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season? 

We love the Merchant graphic we gave you and think that is going to be a big hit for us this season too.  The red and white Marco is proving to be our best seller – as it seems to bridge lots of seasons, but we’ve had an overwhelming response to our first summertime preview – in the yellow floral D’anjo – so we have high hopes for the new collection which is going to be fully released on 1st May.   

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

We love the twisted turban headbands as they are really vertisile  – can be worn to dress up an outfit, rectify a bad hair day – great on holiday sunbathing on the beach, or keeping your hair back during a work out.  There is no occasion it can’t be of some practical and stylistic use! They are classic and timeless and seem to suit all ages really well.
 
You currently offer a wide range of products including turban hats, headscarves, headbands – for adults & children alike. Have you got any new products in the pipeline?

Our summertime collection is going to launch on 1st May with a host of beautiful new prints.  We are very excited to be launching our ultimate luxury silk turban collection this month (date TBC) – this is going to be a very exclusive and limited edition using Liberty printed silk and silk crepe instead of Tana lawn, for the ultimate in luxury. 

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

Yes, we ship worldwide.  Mostly to the USA, but also to Australia and we are very popular in Europe.
 
When choosing print designs/colours to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm, colour or bits of all those?  

Bit of all of those – it is quite an instinctive process – when we see a print we absolutely love it’s hard not go for it. 

Have you got any advice on how to keep your turban/headband in tip top condition? 

We recommend dry cleaning or handwash carefully in tepid water, with a very gentle silk / wool wash detergent but our top tip to give any of our products a refresh is to get the iron out and gently press them back to their beautiful crisp cotton, boxfresh-ness!

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

Yes it’s been part of Susan’s world since the swinging 60s when making clothes for herself and friends she realised she not only had a passion but a real talent for it – handed down by her own mum.  For as long as I remember there has been a family ‘cottage’ industry of sewing and handcrafts.  Being creative has always been part of our family life. 

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

I (Susan) have quite a modern classic style – slip on pumps, cut off trousers, and a cashmere or cotton knit top suits me just fine!I (Katie) love denim of all kinds – it’s so versatile and great teamed up with a plain, crisp, white shirt, big statement earrings and topped off with a tot knot twisted headband or Alice band for a splash of colour!

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

Susan loves Bimba and Lola, Pure, Paige Jeans, and loves a designer bargain.Katie loves Cos for classic basics and great cuts, Top Shop Moto jeans are affordable and fit  well, Whistles and Sezane for something a little extra special 13.

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

Susan –  Another Missoni dress (preferably in the sale!)Katie – I am always on the hunt for a pair of denim dungarees! I love Rockthejumpsuit.com and one day I will buy a pair of Chloe Susannah boots (crossing fingers!)

Boots or Shoes?

Boots – total comfort and work all year round not just for winter but look great with summer dresses and a good denim or leather jacket.
 

For Pinning Later

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

https://totknotsofbrighton.com/
Summertime collection goes fully live  on 1st May: https://totknotsofbrighton.com/collections/summertime

Thank you both for the headband and for chatting to us today about your lovely headbands & turbans. The material, products and prints are exquisite. I remember walking through Liberty store in London in the 1980s, a treasure trove of textiles! I adored the place.

Linda x

My thanks to Tracy Cook for reviewing the headband on my behalf.

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Tot Knots of Brighton, Tracy Cook and Linda Hobden.

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Spotlight on The British Craft Trade Fair

Every April for the last 45 years, the British Craft Trade Fair has taken place in the pretty town of Harrogate, Yorkshire – a real celebration of all things British and handmade. It is probably the most important event in the UK that supports British- made products. There is a very strict criteria for exhibiting – nothing mass marketed or imported, guaranteed to have been made in the British Isles or Ireland, using handcrafting techniques and, wherever possible, local materials. Various craft disciplines are exhibited, including fine art, wall art, glassmaking, paper products, baby and children’s wear, metalwork, ceramics. The exhibitors themselves range from newbies to old hand exhibitors. In 2020, the first ever public opening day was announced for Saturday 4 April, followed by the trade only show from April 5th – April 7th. Alas, the Coronavirus outbreak has put the spanner in the works for 2020, and the first public day will now be on 10 April 2021, followed by the trade show 11-13 April 2021. So, for 2020 the British Craft Trade Fair will be a “virtual” exhibition… http://bctf.co.uk

I have spent some time scouting the exhibitors catalogue, and as the trade fair is not going ahead now in the conventional sense, I thought I would highlight 10 exhibitors that impressed me… not an easy task as all the exhibitors were worth a mention…

AMANDA CRUMP CERAMICS – SHEFFIELD (http://amandacrump.com)

Amanda’s artwork is an investigation into the relationship between ourselves and the creatures we share our world with. Her influences include storybooks, her young son, fashion design, day to day happenings. Her artwork is ceramic “almost” stoneware fired along with other objects such as feathers, horse hair, vintage buttons. I’m not sure what attracted me to this particular model – perhaps because it’s a dressed up cat! The detail though is quite exquisite, especially in the cat’s face.

ATLANTIC DESIGN STUDIO – NORTHERN IRELAND. (www.atlanticdesignstudio.com)

Stunning jewellery by designer & silversmith Lou Gillett. I love these earrings – the pleated look to them that is material like.

BEASTIE ASSEMBLAGE – JEDBURGH (www.beastieassemblage.co.uk)

Linda Lovett makes assemblage and jewellery incorporating vintage China and other found objects. I particularly picked this assemblage as it is full of the joys of Spring and the colours work well together. I love how the bits of vintage china have been incorporated into the scene too.

BEBANNE ART – STOURBRIDGE (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BebanneArt)

Bev Bernhardt-Bridges is a fine artist with a passion for art, creativity and colour. She is an established silk artist with a selection of exquisite colourful silk scarves. Inspiration comes, predominantly, from the Natural World; from its shapes, colours and hues. Why did I pick these scarves? I love the vibrant colours.

COMPASS ROSE SOAPS UK – ROCHESTER (Facebook.com/CompassRoseSoapsUK)

These soaps are made to a premium olive oil based recipe, scented with essential oils and flower absolutes. They also have a collection of vegetable butter bath melts and sold foam bath balls. I was attracted by the colours and intrigued by the bath products.

DIANE JONES – BRADFORD (dianejonestextiles.com)

Colours again caught my eye! These sumptuous devore silk velvet scarves are hand painted. So, so pretty 😊

DREYA GLASS – NEWQUAY (www.dreya.co.uk)

Coastal inspired fused glass art at its best! Dreya Glass is based in Newquay, Cornwall. The fish look eerily realistic and are stunning.

HOLY LOCH POTTERY – DUNOON (www.holylochpottery.co.uk)

Inspired by the ancient Scottish landscape, these handmade ceramics are made from either an earthy buff or black high-fired stoneware clay. I do so love all textural things like this.

JANIE KNITTED TEXTILES – NOTTINGHAM (www.janieknittedtextiles.co.uk)

Using British and Merino wools sourced from UK suppliers, these colourful handmade interior accessories, lighting and soft furnishings have just put a new spin on “knitted items”.

KEREZ LTD – LEEDS (www.kerezltd.com)

Using beads, Kerez Ltd’s main products are cute bead handbags and bead art.

There are so many good exhibitors in the catalogue that I didn’t have the space to feature them all here! I hope that in 2021 the fair goes ahead as planned and for 2020, visit the virtual fair and see what talent is alive and kicking in Great Britain and Ireland.

For further details about the 2021 Trade Fair, 2021 public day, the virtual fair 2020 & catalogue, if you want to be considered as a future exhibitor, contact: http://bctf.co.uk

For Pinning Later

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of British Craft Trade Fair

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An Interview With GuanAnAn London

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

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

What inspired you to set up “GuanAnAn London”? 

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

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

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

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

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

This is a very enjoyable designing process for me. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haha, a lot.

For Pinning Later

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

Website: http://guananan.co.uk

Instagram: @guanananofficial

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

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

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Ju Guan

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Review: Trendhim

Men’s jewellery is enjoying a bit of a revival, especially when it comes to bracelets. In the past, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, gold curb and rope chain necklaces and bracelets were in vogue. Chunkier the better, and yellow gold was the colour. I remember shopping in Corfu Town in 1992 and there were jewellery shops selling gold rope and curb chains by the length. Pop icons such as Wham enhanced this fashion for men. Spring forward to 2020 and men’s jewellery is enjoying popularity again but with a more subtle approach – beads and leather bracelets in blacks, browns, and other shades are worn either on their own or in a stack – teenagers, businessmen, musicians, young, old, bikers, cyclists… you get the drift. It’s a trend that you can wear on any occasion too. Having the chance to review a bracelet for Trendhim, a company based in Denmark – my husband Adam, a fan of leather bracelets, was pleased to take part, of course!

Disclosure: I was gifted the “Lucleon Pleated Black Leather Bracelet ” in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are entirely my ownand Adam’s imput too!

For Pinning later

SO WHO ARE TRENDHIM?

Trendhim are a menswear/accessory brand founded in late 2007 by Sebastian and Mikkel. Their products are designed in Denmark and they currently offer 13 unique house brands and they launch several collections a year. In 2014, Trendhim expanded into Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands. At the end of February 2016, they had further expanded into 11 new countries, hired 43 translators as all 3000 of their products and website had to be translated into 8 different languages! In 2017, Trendhim became the 10th fastest growing company in Denmark. In 2018 Trendhim has opened up in 12 new countries including Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Canada, NewZealand and the USA.

THE WEBSITE

https://www.trendhim.co.uk/

https://www.trendhim.com

Apart from the main Trendhim website, there are also dedicated websites for both the UK and USA. I looked at both the USA & UK websites and found them to be very slick, informative, good selection of products, easy to navigate and reasonable prices too. The pictures on the website are pretty much what you get. For the bracelets, selecting your size was pretty simple: you need to measure your own wrist – my husband’s was just under 7.5 inches. The sizes then go by wrist size and whether you want a tight fit or a loose fit. My husband opted for a loose fit, and it was true to size.

Showing the fit of the Lucleon Pleated Black Leather Bracelet, in large (7.5 inches) loose fit.

PACKAGING & DELIVERY

There were two options of delivery available – standard delivery quoted as being 3 – 5 working days; and next day delivery by DHL. I did feel that the next day delivery charge to the UK was a bit steep at £12. The standard option was £4 ( in some cases free). If you are a regular reader of my reviews then you’ll know that I do have a wee browse in the reviews of brands left by customers. I am pleased to report that the majority of customers were very satisfied, but those that did have a grumble wasn’t anything to do with the products but delivery times. It was being reported of waiting up to 10 working days for items – it was around Christmas time so that might have disturbed the apple cart. My experience – I opted for the standard delivery; I received tracking details. I could see that the company had processed and despatched my order within 24 hours. And then Brexit happened. Things slowed down somewhere between Denmark & UK . I am not going to lie – I did get anxious. When it comes to deliveries I do like a quick service… but I waited 5 days…. the parcel came on working day 6. Not too horrendously late. Trendhim are working to try and improve delivery times, but unfortunately they are tied by the efficiency (or non efficiency) of the courier companies. My advice? Learn to chill! If you are ordering for a special occasion, order 2 weeks in advance or go for the next day service. The bracelet came in a strong “climate controlled Jiffy- type bag envelopealong with 2 yummy sherbet lemon sweets (gratefully devoured after the photo was taken). The bracelet was not in a box or pouch – there are available extras: personalised engraving, gift box, wrapping & gift tags, wooden jewellery stand – details on website.

Inside the package
The Envelope

THE BRACELET

Our chosen bracelet was the Trendhim brand Lucleon Pleated Black Leather Bracelet. As my husband Adam is a Leo, the brand’s lion logo instantly appealed. The bracelet is double thickness plait design – he already has a Pandora leather single plaited bracelet, so Trendhim’s bracelet compliments his “stack”. The clasp is magnetic, which is unusual – there is no locking mechanism although it is highly unlikely that the bracelet will come undone . The workmanship of the bracelet is really good – the leather is good quality and it is visually stunning.

Close up of the plaited design
The logo
Magnetic clasp

MY VERDICT

Trendhim’s website and newsletters contain a wealth of information regarding how to care for your jewellery, how to wear bracelets, how to create your perfect stack, how to wear your bracelet with your watch…. signing up to the newsletter would also give you the chance to get free gifts with your orders such as socks etc .

Adam has given the bracelet a score of 8/10 – it is very well made but his only fear was the clasp coming undone, although his fear might be unfounded.

My thanks goes to Trendhim for gifting the beautiful bracelet for this review.

Linda x

All photographs are copyright © Linda Hobden




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An Interview With Lucy Jade Sylvester Botanical Jewellery

If you are a big fan of nature then you are going to adore the botanical jewellery by Lucy Jade Sylvester. Inspired by her love of the British countryside and coastline, Lucy makes each piece by hand – beachcombing for shells, scouring the countryside for plants and grasses and insects such as flies and moths. Her wedding jewellery is simply stunning too. I caught up with the lovely Lucy to find out more… hi, Lucy!

Hi! I’m Lucy. I’m a countryside living jeweller, mum of two cheeky boys Archie and Alfie. Vegetarian for 32 years, lover of discovering new places, Chilli, log fires and strong cups of tea (I don’t take the tea bag out.) I have bee, butterfly, beetle and forget-me-not tattoos on my feet and around my ankle bone. I’ve always been a nature lover, on walks as a child my pockets would be filled with snail shells and leaves.

What’s your jewellery design background?

After a college Foundation Art course, I studied jewellery at Birmingham’s School of Jewellery, on completion I worked on my own pieces alongside teaching jewellery at a local college. A few years later I went back to University to take an MA in jewellery and metal work, this is where I focused and developed using nature in my work.

I started working on a website while I was teaching, so doing both on a part time basis. The college changed dramatically and asked staff who wanted to take voluntary redundancy, which I did, it gave me the push to leave my safety net and work for myself full time. This was the first time I applied and got accepted to have a stand at London’s Chelsea Flower Show.

What inspired you to specialise in botanical jewellery?

Nature has the most beautiful lines and textures, so I use it as directly as possible.

I take moulds from delicate woodland finds, dead insects, twigs, fallen leaves, and cast into the cavity they leave, this process allows me to create exact replicas of life in solid silver and gold that retain the finest details.

My insect based jewellery designs are all made from naturally deceased specimens, found by me or sent to me by people who know my work.

I give the specimens a new life in solid silver or gold, modern day fossils of the wildlife we have today.

These natural forms with beautiful textures would decay into the ground and be gone forever, with direct casting from them I’ve created something that will now be here forever, to be worn for a lifetime.

I love the Netted Dog Whelk Shell Pendant and the botanical wedding rings – very beautiful indeed. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

The most recent collection is the coastal collection, the shells and sea urchin shells have the most incredible textures, I can’t wait to add more to the collection in 2020.

Living in Oxfordshire means we have to plan trips to the coast, the coastal pieces have evolved after family trips to stunning beaches on the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Cornwall and Wales.

The Coastal collection is currently silver, but we will be creating it in gold too, with many barnacle covered mussels and limpets set with diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

The coastal work is perfect for the summer, so now compliments the leaves and seed heads that can feel autumnal or wintery.

Acorn pendants are very popular, bought to mark a birthday, new job, new adventure or to remember a loved one, I can make them to enclose ashes.

Simple twig rings are bought as wedding bands, they also work well as stacking rings.

The designs for the botanical bridal and woodland wedding collections are growing, engagement rings from twisted twigs and leaves are created from grass, leaves and twigs that wrap around to form rings, the fragile veins and stems clearly visible with a scattering of diamonds.

Set with brilliant cut, rose cut or uncut diamonds these engagement rings can be paired with woven grass, leaf vein or lichen textured bands providing a timeless alternative for countryside lovers.

And moths are popular, too.

What are your favourite pieces?

My wardrobe essential is the Stag beetle necklace, I wear him or a long or short chain depending on what I’m wearing.

He is a lovely weight, his smooth wing casing makes him extremely tactile. He always creates a reaction from people, most love him, some aren’t sure, but I love that.

The stag beetle necklace is versatile, I wear him with jeans in the day or out for the evening.

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

All our jewellery is inspired by, and made in the UK, but we ship all around the world.

We use a tracked and insured postal service.

I’m very jealous of some of the destinations we’ve posted jewellery to!

You must have come across some interesting finds whilst beachcombing and countryside walking. Do you go out with an idea to look for something specific or do you fill your pockets at will every time you venture out?

My studio is filled with skip salvaged science jars filled with woodland and beach finds.

I love just coming across new inspiration, it could be a leaf on a path while on the school run.

Some finds I save to use at a later date, some finds I keep just to marvel at the magic of nature.

Wasp nests with the coloured stripes from different woods, bird nests blown from trees entwined with feathers, twine, grass and sheep wool, such incredible feats from these small creatures.

My mouse nibbled hazel nut pendant came from my garden when we moved house.

I’d seen a mouse occasionally run along a wall in our garden, under some tiles I discovered a stash of nut and seed husks, including the hazel nut shell, now in solid silver.

This necklace was created after buying a collection of Australian boulder opals, I set them with silver and 18ct gold twigs, hawthorn leaves, snails, bees and a stag beetle set with a round brilliant cut diamond. 

What was the hardest or most unusual piece you’ve created so far?

Technically the flies were the one of the most challenging to make, getting the wings and legs to stay intact took some time.

I occasionally create larger one off necklaces, usually after buying stones.

Have you always wanted to be a jewellery designer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

I originally wanted to print fabrics, I loved using screens and squeegees.

It was during a college course that I discovered saws and blow torches and changed what path I would take at University.

I recently discovered cyanotypes, very different to metalwork, but I loved it.

Your Hawk moth and poppy seed head ring was chosen by costume designer Michele Clapton to be worn by Sansa Stark in the hit medieval TV series Game of Thrones. Did it feel strange seeing your jewellery being worn on TV?

Michele’s love of craftsmanship can be seen in all her costume designs, the detailing is amazing, a huge honour to be involved with such an iconic programme.

The Hawk moth ring and the matching necklaces are very popular, many have flown across the sea around the world, especially to America.

My jewellery is owned by some incredibly inspiring people, I have a letter from David Attenborough and wonderful card from Dame Judi Dench. I’m not sure my work could be in better hands, both have such a love for the amazing world we live in

What recommendations would you give to help look after and maintain your botanical jewellery?

Our jewellery just needs a occasional rub over with a jewellery polishing cloth, we recommend taking it off before bricklaying or anything to rough!

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

I love flip flops, I’ll wear them for as long as possible but in the studio I have a pair of Timberland  Nellie pull on boots.

I also love converse, I have 2 pairs red, and leopard print.

I tend to wear jeans, with a simple black or khaki top. I accessorize with my short Hawk Moth or  Stag beetle necklaces

My latest buy was a gold leather bag from Clarkes shoes. 

I tend to use Ebay for much of my shopping or re buy things from the marketplace on Facebook, you can pick up vintage or new, and it comes straight to your door through the post.

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

I’ve just discovered a hole in my Joules Bumble bee wellies, I guess these need to be my next buy!

Find out more about Lucy Jade Sylvester Botanical Jewellery:

https://www.lucysylvester.co.uk/

https://lovefromengland.tumblr.com/

https://www.instagram.com/lovefromengland/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-sylvester-aa192416/

https://facebook.com/LucyJadeSylvesterJewellery

https://pinterest.co.uk/lovefromengland/

https://twitter.com/lucy_sylvester

Fabulous talking to you Lucy – it’s amazing what you can find when beachcombing or countryside rambling and I find it even more amazing at your talent to be able to make stunning jewellery out of the moths, shells, leaves…. I once found a fish head on Chesil Beach, Dorset camouflaged against the shingle and shells!

My gruesome beachcombing discovery!! © Linda Hobden

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Lucy Jade Sylvester (apart from my fish head pic!)


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An Interview With Mosaico Jewellery

Brightening up the dullest day, the colourful & fun designs of gemstone jewellery designed by Mosaico Jewellery have been inspired by the combined Brazilian/South African/British heritages of the two lovely ladies whose designs and expertise are behind the brand. I caught up with the bubbly ladies, Paula and Jenny, to find out more about their designs and what lurks in their wardrobes… Hi ladies, please introduce yourselves 🙂

P: Hi! I’m Paula. I’m a married mum of two boys, and live in Maidenhead, Berkshire. My best friend Jenny and I co-founded Mosaico Jewellery. We met while working in a jewellery boutique about 15 years ago and we clicked right away, Jenny was even bridesmaid at my wedding. Needless to say, we absolutely love natural stones and jewellery!

J: I’m Jenny and I live with my fiancé in East Molesey. Paula and I did absolutely click when we met! We were even told off a couple of times for chatting too much on the job 😊 Now, our brand offers semi-precious gemstone jewellery that is luxurious, yet affordable. Designed and handmade in-house which means they are very unique and exclusive.


What inspired the setting up of “Mosaico Jewellery”?

P: I had the idea for the company for many years, but had always been busy building my career and then starting a family. I got to a point that my job was causing a great strain on me emotionally and physically, and I was no longer enjoying the work, the long hours away from my son and flexible work was apparently not an option. So I quit my job and after I had my second son, I did a post-graduation in Digital Marketing. I felt that somehow gave me a bit of a boost in confidence. I think that sometimes you can find yourself in some sort of inertia and lacking maybe the confidence to go ahead to pursue your dreams. Any change is scary as it comes with a great share of uncertainty. I kind of knew that it would be challenging, but I just felt that it would be better to try than keeping myself wondering “what if?…”. I had also done my research, I knew it was a great idea that had a chance. I then invited my friend Jenny who is so creative and talented to join me on this idea, and without much hesitation, she said yes to it. We work really well together and that reflects on our brand.

Specialising in jewellery crafted from sustainable sourced top grade gemstones & metals, I do so love your range of colourful jewellery, obviously, but my personal favourite is the Lava -Carnelian, Jet Crystal & Agate Lariat  – very beautiful indeed. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

J: Oh the Lava Lariat is gorgeous. It is definitely one of our most popular ones too. Lariats are so great as you literally buy multiple necklaces in one purchase, and you style as you like, like you do with a scarf. It is all about you and how you like to wear it. Our gorgeous Esther necklace, ocean jasper beads threaded in an overlapping pattern is always eye catching at fairs we attend. Our Leaf earrings, Constellation and  Vivien necklaces are also some of our bestsellers, together with our Flor-de-lis necklace. I think often it’s the unusual that stops people in their tracks. The variety we are able to bring to the collections mean there is really something for everyone, which is great.

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

P: This is a hard question for us. One of my favourite pieces is the Aurora necklace. It is a long Amethyst necklace featuring one large stone at the end, with such particular markings! On top of that, Amethyst is my birthstone… so I just love that piece. I’m a big fan of earrings too, so I also love the Marigold, Alyssia, Caroline and Arabella earrings.

J:I love the Melissa necklace as you can see the work done in between the Tourmalines, it is so artistic! And I also love the Dahlia and Papillon earrings –  definitely personal favourites.

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

P: Yes they are. We ship worldwide. Although we have focused on the UK market so far in terms of advertising, we have already sent pieces as far as Hong Kong, Thailand and Canada. We have customers all around Europe too. We offer free global delivery and complimentary gift wrapping in our premium signature boxes to everyone.

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

J: We do have a bit of personal taste taken into account, and we both have a look at upcoming trends (such as upcoming shades for that year). We also take into consideration requests and popular stones from previous collections. However, this doesn’t dictate the collection to come. We look for stones that are unusual by shape, markings and/or colours, and then build the designs from there. We want people to express their individuality through colours and designs that are as unique as they are. So trends won’t help us with that. 

You do a bespoke jewellery service – what was the hardest or most unusual request you have had? 

P: We had a request for one bead. One nice interesting bead that would have great properties and energy attached to it. This was a gift to be given in a Blessingway ceremony. It was great to source that as the ceremony is historically a beautiful and unique way to honour a mother-to-be, to instil her with confidence and strength. We weren’t aware of these kind of ceremonies before but we loved sourcing the bead, which would be so full of meaning and part of such a heart-warming gift. That was super special.

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

P: Jenny and I pick the stones together and exchange ideas, but ultimately, she puts the designs together and I make the business tick. If we had to go somewhere for inspiration, it would probably be from our heritages – Brazil and South Africa. For me in particular, it would be the beautiful island I was born on, called Florianopolis, just off the South-East coast of Brazil. Jenny is British but has family in multiple places in South Africa. They are stunning places with dozens of beaches and nature. People are outgoing, fun and colourful in every sense of the word in both of these places, so you can’t help but be inspired by how people live and the style they express.  

J: In one of our first magazine reviews, the editor described our jewellery as ‘not for shrinking violets’, and that made us smile, as it sums up how expressive both cultures are and the inspiration we want to reflect in our pieces.

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

P: Sofia Vergara! We would love her to be the Face of Mosaico. She has the perfect mix of bold, elegant, fun and colourful which is with our brand stands for. We are all unique and we want our jewellery to reflect this uniqueness in you. Sofia Vergara does that beautifully.   

J: Oh yes, that would be great!

10.  What recommendations would you give to help look after and maintain your gemstone jewellery?

P: We believe you just need to use your common sense and if the jewellery is well made, that should be enough. To clean it, you can use a soft cloth after you have worn it, and place them in your jewellery box, maybe inside a jewellery pouch or in a place where it won’t get tangled. 

J: Also, don’t ever wash them, instead you can use an old toothbrush and some lukewarm water and scrub very gently behind the stone, where dust can collect. Each of our pieces come with care instructions, and a card that outlines the properties of the main stone of the design. We are also introducing jewellery pouches, so if you buy a necklace, you don’t need to keep the box, instead you will have a pouch to store your necklace securely.

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

P: You will find me wearing jeans and long, sometimes baggy tops. Another reason we like jewellery is that it can just take any outfit from simple to trendy. 

J: We do believe it is all about the way you accessorise. I vary my outfits a bit, but weekends you will most likely find me in jeans and a nice top too.

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

P: Most shopping I do nowadays is for kids! Jojo Mama Bebe is fantastic. I also love this brand for kids clothing called Bluezoo. I am a big fan of online. It is just so easy to browse in the evening, when the kids have gone to sleep. If I need anything for myself I tend to go to the House of Fraser website at the moment as some of my favourite brands are available there.

J: I do quite a bit of shopping online too nowadays, but when I go on a shopping spree you may find me in Zara, or in womenswear at Selfridges.

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

P: I need to buy a pair of jeans. I am that kind of person that goes shopping for (needed) trousers and end up buying more (not needed) tops 😊

J: Boots, I just need a new pair of boots at the moment.

Boots or Shoes?

P: Nowadays I say boots! A good pair of comfy Boots! I’ve lived in the UK for 15 years now, but my South American side still needs to be wrapped up warm, particularly between October and March! A good pair of boots and I’m good to go in all weathers.

J: I guess you know now what I will say….. Boots it is! For similar reason, just comfortable and they go with everything.

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

www.mosaicojewellery.co.uk

Instagram: @mosaicojewellery

Facebook: /mosaicojewellery

Sofia Vergara, if you’re reading this, you know where to contact the ladies!! Thank you Paula and Jenny it has been great chatting to you, and I wish you continued success in 2020.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Mosaico Jewellery.

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5 Reasons To Choose Wool

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


Photo::Linda Hobden

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

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

Photo: Celtic & Co

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

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

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

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

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

Linda x

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An Interview With Village Leathers

Established in 1974 by Tony & Angie, Village Leathers is a small family-based business based in London that specialises in a wide range of belts, bags and accessories for both men and women. They began as street traders, growing to stores in Covent Garden, now online too. Although a lot of their styles are classics, their latest accessory ranges are very colourful and very much on trend. I caught up with Verity, part of “Team Village Leathers” to find out more about the very swish bags that she and the team make! Hi Verity!

Hi! I’m Verity from Village Leathers, I’ve been working here for years and I’m part of the team who hand make our leather goods. Village Leathers is a family owned business which started out by selling handmade leather belts from a suitcase on the streets of London in 1974. Since then we’ve grown to have two small shops in Covent Garden’s Jubilee Market and more recently set up a website too. We’re still a small team with just 10 of us in total split between the shops and the studio where we produce leathers belts and accessories in small batches by hand.

Starting life as street traders, progressing to shops in London’s Covent Garden (one of my favourite London spots) and now online – what challenges have you had to face (business or personal) in each selling arena, eg adapting to selling from a market stall to a shop environment or adapting to online technology etc?

When we started selling online it was a big learning curve for us. We do all the photography and website maintenance in house so we had to learn a whole new skillset as well as keep up with the production of goods. It was challenging but such a brilliant experience. The other issue we face, which I know many small independent business’ struggle with, is online exposure. We’re a small fish in a big pond so competing with bigger brands was a little tricky at first, luckily our customers soon found us and valued our ethos. They recognise the craftsmanship and quality of materials we’ve sourced for our range of handmade goods. This means our customers can buy better products, fewer times, supporting the growing number of people trying to reign in overconsuming tendencies.

As for our shops we’re having lots of fun at the moment redesigning the layout ready for a refit next year. As we are based in small shops offering a wide range of products and colourways showcasing all our designs is really important for us but can look a bit overwhelming to shop visitors. To make it a pleasure to shop with us we’ll be implementing sections and adding much more signage throughout the shop that communicates everything you’ll need to know about our leathers, sizing and collections. It’s quite an undertaking but it will make such a difference as I think it’s been about 15 years since the last one!

I love the brightly coloured Leather Belt Bag – a sophisticated version of the bumbag/fanny pack! Your latest ranges, Chroma and Roam collections, are available in a stunning range of bright colours- Yellow, Red, Green, Sky Blue, Tangerine Orange – they are all simply gorgeous! However, what bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season? Is there a difference between the popularity stakes of items purchased from your shop and those purchased online?

I’m so glad you like the Belt Bag, it’s new territory for us as we haven’t entered that market before but it was so nice to design such a contemporary product and the response so far has been really positive. Over this season we’ve definitely seen customers both instore and online being drawn to the more fruity and vibrant colours like the sunny yellow of the Chroma Shoulder Bag, zesty Orange Roam Clutch Bag and now that we’re entering Autumn we’re seeing the Tan, Olive and Grey colourways come into their own. In terms of bag design I think the Chroma Shoulder Bag has pipped it this season, it’s such a nifty little bag, ideal for days out and it looks stunning. With a simple silhouette and secure turnlock it means you can pair it with every outfit effortlessly. 

In the shops we have a lot of people come in looking for a special gift to take back from London for their friends and family at home, that usually takes the form of something like a Roam Clutch Bag and matching zip purse. It’s so nice to see people really thinking about which colour or design their loved one will treasure the most. It’s only right they treat themselves to something as well for being so considerate! 

Have you got any personal favourites?

So, one of my favourite products we make sounds so basic but I get really excited telling people about it so here goes. It’s our Classic Black 1 1/4 Belt, the reason I love it is because it is the epitome of a wardrobe staple. I think everyone should own one. It’s made from delicious, thick Italian vegetable tanned leather. This kind of leather is made in the most eco friendly and natural ways by using tannins found in some plants and bark. It’s a very old artisanal process and only a small percentage of leather goods produced worldwide use veg tanned leather because it is slow to produce, therefore more expensive per foot. But, the quality of the leather is so high, rich in colour, supple and ages beautifully. We actually guarantee our Classic belts for 25 years, that’s how good it is, and what’s more is that at the end of it’s like the leather is biodegradable! The other great thing about this belt is that you can swap the buckles really easily to suit your outfit. And yes I have a favourite buckle – Westend Silver, its solid brass!

Your company also offers a bespoke service. Have you had any bizarre bespoke requests?

That’s such a great question! We’re often asked to tweak designs or emboss a meaningful date or name onto pieces to make them extra special. We once individually monogrammed some belts for a group of Groomsmen and one of their nicknames was ‘Snake’, I didn’t ask how he got that!

We work closely with the theatre a lot too and we once had a project that required us to make a bumbag which could hold a cabbage…

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

Yes! Absolutely, we send our goods worldwide. It’s amazing to think there are people all over the world enjoying our products that were made in our little workshop. Recently we had a customer send us a picture of a Bag she’d picked up from us in Covent Garden in 1988, she’s been using it daily in Australia since then!

When designing/producing products to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, vintage quality or bits of all those?

All our designs must first meet our values; affordability and handcrafted quality married with classic and practical design. We have a core range of products which have remained practically unchanged for years and years. The idea is they are classic wardrobe staples that can be paired with lots of outfits, the perfect balance between form and function. We make them using highly efficient, time-tested leather crafting techniques so they can last and build patina as they are worn and used, this means the designs are  timeless, reasonably priced and of unparalleled quality. 

Having this core range of classic products allows us to flex our creativity by designing small batches of seasonal products that consider customer needs and micro trends. A good example of this would be our Belt Bag or Hair on Hide Leopard Bag strap, as we manufacture the products ourselves we can make near instant tweaks based on customer feedback such as swapping a popper closure for a push lock on the Belt Bag. This means the customer gets exactly what they need and the design process is more collaborative. 

When you are not making & selling bags and belts, what do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?

Well, as you can imagine we love to make stuff in our spare time but not always from leather. At the moment two of us are making patterns for some dungarees we’re hoping to have done by next summer if we can find the time. If we’re not working on craft projects we like to ride our bikes or enjoy some of the amazing exhibitions that are always going on in London. We love organising staff outings too as an excuse to enjoy some of the great restaurants around Covent Garden, most recently we went to Padella in London Bridge where we ordered two rounds of food.

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

I opt for practical shoes that will protect my toes from any dropped tools or hammers in the workshop, that being said I want to feel chic and stylish at the same time so I’m usually rocking a pair of 1461 Doc Martens. We’re all big fans of Luck and Yak trousers and dungarees which are so comfy to wear at home or work and made in an ethical way. Outside the workshop, when we’re not going to get filthy and covered in thread or leather we really like to dress up and wear our own creations. I go for minimal, comfortable silhouettes made from organic cotton and linen. At the moment my favourite colours are rust and cobalt blue, I’m lusting after a lot of L.F Markey designs at the moment. Obviously all our outfits are accessorised with Village Leathers bags and belts.

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

As a fan of timeless designs I really love having a look around Labour and Wait in London. They offer amazingly curated homewares, I don’t know how they’ve found them but they stock loads of independent makers from all over who make beautiful and functional items that bring me joy. When I’m thinking of adventuring I like to browse Patagonia, I really relate to their brand values and the latest “Black Hole’ collection of bags is amazing as its made from recycled bottles. Online I love looking at Cool Machine Shop for their brilliantly fun, contemporary  and colourful offerings. Locally to me in Crystal Palace you’ll always find me in Lowie or Elkins for their gorgeous womenswear, books and homeware. 

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

I’m saving up for a Rust corduroy Boilersuit I’ve got my eye on. Effortless, chic and functional, what more do you need? 

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – simply because I’m too impatient to bother undoing the laces on boots and nearly cause myself an injury pulling them on and off.

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

https://www.villageleathers.com

@villageleathers on Instagram 

http://instagram.com/villageleathers

https://facebook.com/villageleathers

For Pinning Later

Thank you Verity for your fabulous insight into the company you work for. I love the quality of your products and your small Aladdin’s Cave of a shop in Covent Garden is certainly worth checking out!

Linda x

All photographs are published with kind permission of Village Leathers.

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An Interview With Wilde Ones

This week I’m featuring on my blog one of the oldest independent stores in the heart of Chelsea, London – Wilde Ones. This store houses the largest collection of Native American jewellery and interiors in the UK – sourcing directly from Zuni, Navajo, Hopi, Yaquima, Apache and Sioux artists. A store that is unique indeed and I caught up recently with founder Greg to find out more… Hi Greg and welcome 😊

Hello! I’m Greg Ohanian, founder and owner of Wilde Ones, Chelsea, London, UK.

What inspired the setting up of Wilde Ones?

Having just come out of fashion college, I had an idea which took off. The idea was to create a range of hats with feather trim and without. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, the world music and ethnic fashion scenes were just emerging, yet there were no such accessories to fit the look. We introduced a silk embroidered skullcap which we sold from Browns, Liberties and Harrods, to shops in Europe and department stores in the USA. That’s how Wilde Ones started in 1987. Eventually we sold all the way to Top Shop. We also did trade shows like The London based British Designer Show. Originally we started off at the famous Blue Bird Fashion Market on The Kings Road, then we moved to our present premises and expanded into crystals, gemstone jewellery and Native American artefacts and jewellery.

I’m always interested in the origins of brand names, so why did you settle for “Wilde Ones” and were there other name considerations?

The name started off simply because one of the owners’ surname was Wilde but we also liked the fact that we were in Chelsea, the home of Oscar Wilde. It was really a combination of things which brought about the name.

Your company has the largest UK collection of Native American jewellery and interiors. Are there differences in style, subtle or otherwise, between the artists of different Native American groups? 

Indeed, each tribe and region distinguishes itself with its own style and design. We’re lucky to have established strong relationships with amazing artists from the Zuni, Navajo, Hopi, Sioux, Apache, Acoma, Santo Domingo, Taos Pueblo, Yaquima and Huichol People. For example, Zuni artists specialise in inlay work, Santa Domingo in graded bead necklaces, Yaquima in feather earrings, etc.

I love the range of jewellery, obviously, but my personal favourites are the Native American Acoma Pottery. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Those Acoma pots are truly stunning. Interiors have their ebbs and flows like all the other myriad items in the shop. This season it’s the handmade tie-dye clothing which we has been selling from day one. All the major designers are onto it but they have a hard time copying our designs because we have an artist designer friend in San Francisco, CA, who has been supplying us exclusively for the past 28 years and his skill is second to none. He produces a wide range of t-shirts, shirts, dresses, camisoles, trousers, sarongs, socks, in silk and cotton. This year the tie-dye hats are proving especially popular as they’re a new item as well as the silk velvet capes. We are also introducing a new line of hemp t-shirts because we feel hemp is a much more sustainable fabric and want to promote its use. 

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

That would be like picking your favourite child! We love them all equally. Personally, I’m a Navajo rug addict and they’re one of my favourite things. We currently have around 200 unique antique pieces, carded, spun, woven and dyed by hand between 1880 and 1950. They’re very special.

As you are based in the heart of Chelsea in London, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

Yes, our products are available on our website www.wildeones.com and we ship worldwide.

When choosing jewellery/pottery/clothing to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

It’s definitely a combination of those. When I’m buying I choose for our long time loyal customers to add to their extensive collections. People often come in and say over time they’ve filled their homes with our products. Or that they have most of our jewellery and that I need to go get some more.

Looking ahead, are you looking at adding any new designs or products to your current collections?

I’m always looking to add to our collections and so I keep having to travel further and deeper into uncharted territories. You never know what you’ll find next. Lately I’ve been going to the Huichol tribe in Mexico. They create the most beautiful animal sculptures with incredibly intricate beadwork.

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

Aside from our own tie-dye clothing I’m very happy wearing Element clothing from California and Clarke’s Originals shoes. I also love to wear and collect vintage clothing.

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

The Cloth Shop in Soho and The Vintage Shop in Covent Garden.

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

I want hemp clothes and hemp shoes and all items made of hemp. Hemp products are the future so we should encourage the use of this wonder plant.

Boots or Shoes?

Clarkes Originals. In between boots and shoes and just very comfortable.

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

Official website: www.wildeones.com
Facebook page: Wilde Ones Shop  
https://www.facebook.com/wildeonesshop/ Instagram: @wildeoneslondon https://www.instagram.com/ Twitter: @wildeoneslondon = https://twitter.com/wildeoneslondon

For Pinning Later

Thank you Greg for giving us a virtual tour of the “Wilde Ones”. I must say that the Mexican animal sculptures sound like an interesting addition to your already impressive range. Are you ready to delve into the wild side and check out this store, dear reader?

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Wilde Ones.

Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.


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