Category Archives: Accessories/Jewellery/Bags

An Interview With Bizi Buenos Aires

On this week’s blog I’m going south of the Equator to the land of the tango, cowboys. steak and leather… Argentina! I’ve been chatting (or nattering!) with the delightful Meredith who has designed some rather funky luxury handbags and accessories for playful personalities, all handcrafted in Buenos Aires and inspired by the energetic explosions of colour found not only in Argentina but throughout Latin America!  So, Meredith, a big warm Hola to you!

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Hi! My name Meredith Wilkins a Virginia girl, turned expat, accessories designer living in Buenos Aires with my darling dog Biscuit with the goal of creating accessories that are so yummy you might just want to eat them.

You spent years working in the fields of technology and real estate in Virginia, so what inspired you to change career direction, start up your business and move to Buenos Aires?

I have been a maker/designer of all kinds of things since I was very young. At age 4, I went to an Egyptian mummy exhibit and was floored by the ornate jewelry and decoration. Using items from my granddaddy’s junk drawers and workshop I made an elaborate headpiece inspired by my girl Cleopatra. I was so happy making it and even prouder wearing it around. These creative projects never ceased. But while I have a very creative mom, a creative career in my family was never given much attention. So I never esteemed design or art as a career for myself and I discounted my creative abilities because they didn’t feel like hard work. So this industry change has been coming for a while it just took me a while to figure it out. I moved to Buenos Aires for many reasons, but one was just the access to great leather and craftsman to make this possible. The outdoor cafes and handsome polo players don’t hurt either!

imageYour bags have been created for women with outgoing & playful personalities! When choosing designs/styles/colours for your bags, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends, your own tastes/needs or bits of all those?

I really don’t start designing thinking about any specific handbag trends, but I do think we are all exposed to a lot of the same art, culture and fashion, etc. so that there is a general wavelength from which all designers draw inspiration and it results in designs that may be considered “on trend.” I do like to make sure that I offer handbag shapes that are appealing and complementary to some of the current clothing designs and any prints I may be developing. For my next collections Fall/ Winter + Resort, everything started with an abstract painting and another one a random doodle, which I have developed into a print for leather and was the foundation for the whole collection. I definitely create pieces that I would like to wear.

How did you come up with your brand name, “Bizi”?

I always wanted a name that was easy to remember and a bit unplaceable. My feisty mutt Biscuit or Bizcocho in Spanish was christened by her Argentine amigos as Biz or Bizi. And quite frankly, she is a total inspiration to me every day in innumerable ways. So because this project was so dear to me just like her – it fit. 

imageMy absolute favourite of your bags is the very funky futuristic Llao Llao Pleiades Collection Large Tote. To date, what has been your most popular bag ordered from your repertoire?

Thank you! Actually it would be that one and the large frame in the same Pleiades collection. The Lucite geometric mirrors give what is a classic shape an ultra contemporary space aged feel. The silver leather is muted so it provides a nice contrast with the Lucite mirrors. And this silver leather is amazing, goes with everything and is a year round item.

imageOut of all the handbags on your website, what is or has been your favourite?

I love the same ones you do. The Pleiades Llao Llao bag is so striking, but also practical as it fits everything plus your small dog and so comfortable to wear. But I also ADORE the pink Nahuala Palermo Chico small frame satchel. The pink print is tribal but feminine, and I developed it from a collection of vintage Guatemalan textiles I have collected. I use this as a cross-body bag for running errands or going out to lunch. It holds all the essentials and the hand-forged custom frame hints of the fabulous French ironwork found throughout Buenos Aires. The Lucite rooster makes it a little quirky and upbeat. And it goes great with jeans or a dress. So quite a versatile little satchel.

Your designs cannot fail to be inspired by the energetic explosions of colour found throughout Latin America – from the sultry Argentine Tango dancers to vibrant flora colours of the jungle, the white sands and the azure seas….I’m dreaming now!! What place have you visited that really had the WOW factor and gave your imagination a real boost? What place would you love to visit for inspiration if you could?

The indigenous markets I have explored in Ecuador and Mexico have been great sources of inspiration for all their colorful and geometric textiles. In Latin America, I want to go to Guatemala and Peru next. These markets from what I discern online will be for me like walking into a colorful candy shop. Plus I love to see the process behind how their textiles are made and the love and pride that goes into their pieces.

India is right now is tops on my list. But if I go, I really want it to be for a month at least so I have to figure that out. And I think that will be after I am feeling better! Online, I am getting to know each region of India and the textiles for which they are famous. Also I am a fan of many a Bollywood movie with all their color, music and beautiful costumes, I could happily draw inspiration just from Bollywood for years to come.

imageTalking of women with outgoing & playful personalities earlier, and bearing in mind you’re based in Argentina, I could just imagine your bags would have been Eva Peron’s cup of tea as well as the feisty Madonna who plays her character in the film, Evita (one of my favourite films!) What famous lady, dead or alive, would you love to see wearing your handbag with pride?

Well, if you visit Buenos Aires you must visit the Museo de Evita, which is home to a lot of Eva Peron’s dresses, hats, handbags and shoes on display. Afterwards you can have a wonderful brunch in the outdoor garden café. It’s a lovely place, nestled beneath a green, tree-line street in Palermo Chico. Since you are talking along the lines of Eva Peron, then I would say I would be honored to have beautiful Argentine born, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands wear a Bizi handbag. Couldn’t get much better than that!

imageHave you got plans to extend your range in the future?

Yes! I am adding about 6-8 new styles and some complementary necklaces for FW and Resort as well as adding some coordinating solids that compliment the upcoming, featured prints. But still in interesting leather finishes that I think Bizi customers will love!

Unfortunately, you were diagnosed as suffering from the debilitating disease, Lyme Disease, which at first put paid to your designing ambitions. How hard was it to overcome the problems and actually get your dream career going in the end?

Well, very hard. I had just started with this business when I started getting sick, It took a long time to get properly diagnosed and this project was put on hold. But I regarded getting healthy as my new full time job and went about it with extreme intensity. A tube was placed into my heart, which was used to pump in strong antibiotics every day for over a year. This was the nuclear option and I made some good improvements, but eventually went downhill again. I then researched alternative treatments and one was extremely helpful. I am better in some ways, but not 100%. But I plan on getting there ASAP. So it is an added challenge because I still deal with a lot of unpleasant symptoms that I have to manage while growing a business. However, Bizi has definitely been a medicinal outlet for my own creative expression and a wonderfully positive distraction. I think when we go through trying times it is important to surround yourself with uplifting art, design, music and movies that energize you. And that is what I hope comes through in my designs because I am creating what I am most craving now! Bizi is meant for the girl who wishes to inject a little levity and festive whimsy into her life. For her life is serious enough, so fashion is her refuge for all things quirky fun and joyful!

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

Argentina is very casual. So when I “dress up” its mostly casual chic. I live in jeans and I like to dress them up with a cool top, statement necklace or colorful scarf and of course a great bag. I tend to gravitate towards expressive accessories paired with quirky basics as a general rule. But since I am at the dog park a lot and out visiting suppliers my day is more dirty than dressy and I can assure you this look is far less interesting and may even require a fashion intervention! HAH! Just keeping it real!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Well in Argentina, I love JT by JT because she stands out for being more experimental, Tramando for his futuristic clothes and interesting transfer prints. I also love Rapsodia for ethnic inspired clothes and scarves that are very wearable.

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

Like most expats living here, I have a HUGE clothing list when I head back to the U.S. There are amazing designers here, but there isn’t any consistency to sizes so most expats unless super petite can find shopping hit or miss. So I can’t wait to go home and stock up. Right now I want a really nice classic black leather biker-jacket, which I hope I can find here. And I’ll take most any shoe by Sophia Webster although I can’t promise I can walk well in them.

Boots or Shoes?

It just depends on what I am wearing and my mood. Because Buenos Aires has a short winter I try to get away with sandals as long as possible which I adore best of all. I am pretty clumsy in heels so flats are my friend. Come winter I live in boots because I am always freezing. Argentina is great because there are only 2 months that are really cold so the rest of the year I can try to get away with my beloved sandals.

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

I’d love to connect with your readers!

Also be sure sign up to our emailing list for 15% off your first purchase over on on our blog!

http://shopbizi.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shopbizi

Twitter: http://twitter.com/bizibuenosaires

 

I hope you find your black biker jacket Meredith, it’s the one item in my wardrobe that has constant wear – with jeans or dresses! Thanks for introducing us to your  fab bag collection and I am sure that many of my outgoing readers will be heading for your website for a taste of Latina fun! 

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission from Bizi Buenos Aires/Meredith Wilkins.

 

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An Interview With Mel Boteri

I’m talking bags again this week, although this time I’m chatting to Melanie, the gorgeous person behind the luxury handbag company, Mel Boteri.  Not only has she designed fantastic bags to die for, but she has written a bag guide providing an unique and exciting inside look into the fab world of handbags.  So, a big warm welcome to the blog Melanie:image

Hi! My name is Melanie Mueller, and I am the Founder and Creative Director of Mel Boteri.  My mission is to inspire women to discover their unique style and to express it confidently through luxury, one-of-a-kind custom and bespoke accessories.  

What inspired you start up your business? 

Shopping frustrations are what ultimately inspired me to start Mel Boteri.  There have been countless times where I envision something precisely as I want it – a dress, a piece of jewelry, a handbag – whatever it might be, and it would either be impossible to find the right size or the style simply did not exist. I felt stuck in the world of mass-produced fashion and wanted to make a change. Luckily these frustrations hit their peak while I was studying to get my Masters in Business Administration, so I was able to lay down the groundwork for my business during my last semester of school.

imageWhen choosing designs/styles/colours for your bags, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends, your own tastes/needs or bits of all those?  

I believe keeping up with current fashion trends is part of my job so that I can intelligently consult with my clients.  However, I do not believe each trend is appropriate for every individual.  It is all about incorporating the elements that work for you, your body, and your unique personality and style.  That being said, when designing my bags it is a bit of everything you listed – trends, client requests, my own taste – that directs the look and style of the finished bag.

You launched your brand in 2009, how did you come up with your brand name, Mel Boteri? 

The name came to me over a few glasses of wine with my parents.  As a first generation American (my mother is Colombian and my father German), it was important for me to incorporate my family heritage into the name.  Mel therefore stems from the German name my father gave me, Melanie, and Boteri stems from my mother’s maiden name, Botero. Oddly enough, soon after starting my business I discovered that my maternal grandmother also designed bags, which she hand-knitted for family, friends and neighbors in her small town of Calarca, Colombia. I guess I was destined to have this fabulous job.

To date, what has been your most popular bag ordered from your repertoire?

That is difficult to say since the majority of my orders are customized to the particular needs of each client, but most recently I have noticed the ‘Blake’ style to be quite popular.  I believe it is the perfectly-sized everyday bag, holding all of your essentials without looking or feeling too bulky.

imageI love your handbags, especially from your latest collection the cobalt blue “Sayde”shoulder bag with its gorgeous turquoise suede lining. What gave you the idea to line in suede?

Mel Boteri has evolved quite a bit from its inception until now, but one thing that has never faltered is the dedication to quality.  To me, suede was the most luxurious lining option against the fine Italian exterior leathers.  Lambskin lining is used in our new line of exotics, but the turquoise (my favorite color) is signature across the board.

imageOut of all the items on your website,what is or has been your favourite?

My favorite would have to be the ‘Boteri’ tote.  This was the second handbag I ever designed (the first being the ‘Mel’ hobo), and so it is the most representative of my personal style.  

Mel Boteri has partnered with luxury brands including Mercedes-Benz and Hideoki Bespoke to create both co-branded and private label accessories for a discerning and selective clientele.  If you had the chance to design a handbag for any famous lady in the world (living or dead) who would you like to see flaunting your handbag? 

Hands down Jennifer Lopez (I hope she sees this)!!  Even before Jennifer became as popular as she is today with all of her music, movies, and especially American Idol, I have always looked to her as a style icon.  She is the epitome of a confident woman, who knows how to take a trend and make it her own to flaunt her best assets.  I would LOVE to see what kind of handbag she would customize!!

imageAll your handbags on your website can be customised with a choice of leathers and hardware. What has been the strangest or most memorable bespoke handbag request you’ve received?

The most unique handbag I have created to date was a patchwork version of the ‘Cynthia’ tote.  I love a good challenge, so it was also one of the most exciting ones to bring to life.  

You’ve written the first of many bag guides planned, “7 Secrets of Handbag Shopping”, created to provide an inside look into the fab world of handbags.  With secrets including how to learn to select a handbag that will best flaunt your body, what are the most popular handbag mistakes you feel that ladies make?

To me, the most prevalent mistake women make is carrying a handbag simply because it is the current “It Bag” or because all of her girlfriends are coveting the same style.  A handbag, just like any other piece of fashion, should be personal and a representation of your unique style.  Bag Servant, one of my favorite sites for scoping out what’s new in the world of handbags, has a fabulous tool where you can shop by personality.  A “Vintage Queen”, for example, should not be carrying the same handbag style as the “Boardroom Perfectionist.” Once woman make this switch and begin to discover their personal style, they will look and feel much more confident.

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

I have a saying, “when all else fails, wear black and accessorize,” and with my hectic schedule, I often find myself doing just that!! Depending on the day, my shoes will either be part of the “all black” of my look or more of an “accessory” in leopard-print or a pop of color.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I cannot get enough of Net-A-Porter.com.  They literally have something for every fashion mood that comes my way – classic, trendy, sporty, girly, you name it and you can find a beautiful version of it on Net-A-Porter.com!!

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

I am a huge fan of Tamara Mellon, not only for what she created with Jimmy Choo, but more so for her innovative approach to business and the fashion industry specifically.  I am dying to get my hands on few of her #BuyNowWearNow shoes and clothing.  

Boots or Shoes?

It really depends on the season. During fall and winter, you won’t see me in anything other than boots, and in warmer months my go-to are strappy, platform wedges.

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

Sure!! Readers can follow me and Mel Boteri on the following sites:

Website – www.MelBoteri.com

Download “The Bag Guide” –http://shop.melboteri.com/pages/7secrets

Facebook – www.facebook.com/melboteri

Twitter – www.twitter.com/melboteri

Instagram – www.instagram.com/melboteri

Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/melboteri

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+MelBoteri

It has been great chatting to you Melanie – your bags are fantastic and I’m a big fan already.  I’m sure you’ve inspired a lot of my blog readers to check out your wares too!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Photos have been published with kind permission of Mel Boteri

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An Interview With The Miniature Perfume Shoppe

20140130-133720.jpgLove is in the air… it’ll soon be Valentine’s Day and what lady doesn’t like to be wooed by perfume? For this week’s interview I’m chatting to Leslie Ann and Allen Aaron White of the Texan based Miniature Perfume Shoppe – a perfume bottle shop and museum rolled into one. Leslie Ann White is the Founder and Owner of Miniature Perfume Shoppe. Her professional career of more than twenty five years in the cosmetics industry includes time spent as the Cosmetics Buyer for Foley’s (now Macy’s) Department Stores, and an Account Executive for Clinique Labs responsible for 24 accounts and $10M in annual sales. When not out on the hunt for the next great mini through either her travelling or surfing the web, most of Leslie Ann’s time is spent researching, processing, and professionally cleaning/restoring minis for Miniature Perfume Shoppe. As co-owner, Allen Aaron White (Leslie Ann’s husband), created the MPS website that launched online in 2009. With a varied and successful professional career that has included work as a retail manager, human resources executive, and ordained minister, Allen joined Miniature Perfume Shoppe full-time in 2011 where he currently serves as curator, photographer, and resident perfume historian.

A big welcome to you both, I adore your idea of a miniature perfume shop – it is the first & largest online store of its kind in the world devoted exclusively to the collector of miniature perfume bottles – where did you get your inspiration from?image
Leslie Ann : The inspiration for Miniature Perfume Shoppe began with a small sample bottle of Chanel No. 5. My mom had  just finished using a mini of her “signature” fragrance and asked me (I was thirteen and living in Scotland at the time) if I would like the empty bottle. Little did either one of us realize then that this would not only be the beginning of my personal miniature perfume bottle collection, but also my professional career in the cosmetic industry. Soon, I had two, then ten, then dozens of tiny perfume bottles. My collection continued to grow through the years (I still have that original bottle) with some of those minis ultimately becoming the first inventory for Miniature Perfume Shoppe. My personal collection today is less than a hundred bottles – mainly vintage Chanel minis – but being surrounded by literally thousands of minis every day, I feel a special connection with each and every one. It’s hard to let them go!
20140130-133731.jpgYou stock over 5,000 minis including limited editions,famous brand names, antique, vintage and new too.  What’s the oldest bottle you have, the rarest, the most extravagant, the priciest and the newest?
Allen: First launching with about a hundred bottles, Miniature Perfume Shoppe has since surpassed the 5,000 bottle mark (we currently have our eyes set on that 10,000 mini milestone.) Truth is, since we’re constantly searching for and buying minis from all over the world – individual bottles and entire collections – our inventory is constantly changing. With collectors in more than 35 countries our minis are often here today and gone tomorrow, and with hundreds of “new” minis arriving each week, every day is like Christmas around here. Through the years, some of the oldest (and rarest) minis we have had include miniatures from the mid-1800s, with quite a few regularly arriving from the 1920s such as a Grossmith Phul-Nana, Jaspy Myrodata, and a scarce La Mysteree by Lothaire. As for the most extravagant mini, well that is in the eye of the beholder, but it is hard to beat an Adrian Designs miniature or early Irice Czech glass bottle. Although most minis sell at our shoppe (on average) in the $10 – $25 price range, we also offer “Paris minis” as low as $2.95. Of course, scarcer, hard to find, discontinued miniatures in very good-to-mint condition sell for much, much more. The Priciest? A sealed Guerlain Shalimar “Umbrella” bottle from the 1950s, and a signed, numbered, Serge Lepage Botticelliana mini by Schiaparelli c1970s come to mind – each valued at around $200. We work hard to maintain as diverse a selection as possible with a mini for every taste and every pocketbook. As for the newest, well that depends on what arrives on any given day. Last week it was Wonderstruck by Taylor Swift and Flora from the Gucci Garden Collection.
20140130-133756.jpgTo date, what has been your most popular bottle requested?
Allen: There are some minis that are considered timeless and classic, usually because of either the bottle design or the fact that the fragrance has been discontinued or reformulated. Minis that we find very difficult to keep in stock (and usually sell within days of arriving) include: the original Shalimar, Lauren, Must de Cartier, Poison, and Anne Klein II.
What’s your most favourite perfume bottle?
Miniatures
Leslie Ann: Chanel No 5 from the 1920s-1930s
Allen: Champagne (with wire) by Yves Saint Laurent
 
Commercial
Both: Hedonist by Parfums Viktoria Minya, Paris
You also buy in bottles – have you any that you are particularly hoping to come across?
We are always on the lookout for very early Guerlain minis (especially Jickey and Shalimar) and early ornamental Czech glass minis – the older the better.
You’re a big supporter of the Institute of Art and Olfaction – every mini that is bought you make a donation to the Institute – plus you’ve made a donation of books for their perfume library.  How did you get involved with the Institute?
Allen: Since we first opened for business, we knew that at some point we wanted to partner with and financially support a worthy non-profit organization. That happened last year when we discovered the Institute for Art & Olfaction, based in Los Angeles. For us, it was love at first sight (or sniff) because in the IAO we found the best of all worlds: fragrance, art, and perfume education. When we learned they were trying to build a perfume library we jumped at the chance to help, so since their opening in January of 2013 we’ve supported the IAO monthly. We also donate 10% of any sale made with an IAO discount code. The Institute is involved in some of the most innovative, cutting-edge work being done in the perfume world today and we’re proud to play a mini part in their success.
20140130-133709.jpgThe Vintage Bottles are intended for display purposes and not for use as an everyday personal fragrance.  So, tell me, what is your perfume of choice for everyday wear?
Leslie Ann: Because our miniatures come from diverse people and places from all over the world, we seldom know for sure how a bottle has been cared for over the years. Ideally, minis are kept in a closed display case protected from light and extreme heat or cold, but we cannot always say that with absolute certainty. For that reason, we don’t guarantee that “the juice” in a bottle is still good or wearable. That said, often the perfume in a bottle may be perfectly fine – even after decades of sitting on a shelf, although more often than not some of the top notes have “gone off.”.  As for my personal perfume of choice? That’s easy. My “signature scent” at this time in my life is Hedonist by Viktoria Minya. I think it is the most beautiful, intoxicating perfume on the market today. In fact, I love it so much (and my husband loves it on me so much) that we now carry the line at Miniature Perfume Shoppe. But I also have a fragrance wardrobe that I can choose from based on the season or special occasion. Of course, I also have the luxury of being surrounded by thousands of minis and fragrances every day. Depending on my mood, I can wear just about any fragrance I want anytime I want.
You also sell very cute perfume pins/brooches – I love the Montana silver tone – what’s the most popular? What’s your personal favourite?
Leslie Ann: All of our perfume pins and brooches are adorable – that’s why they are so collectible (especially in Europe), but you’ll almost never find my favorite in stock. That’s because they sell as quickly as they come in – vintage sterling silver perfume pins by Judith Jack.
20140130-133805.jpgYou have a library/resource area too – a great idea – what sort of historical enquiries do you get?
Allen: There is no shortage of great books, websites, and blogs on perfume. Through the years we’ve tried to include links to some of the very best on our website. But we’re excited to have just launched a perfume project we’ve been working on for sometime – The Mini Museum. (www.TheMiniMuseum.com) Although our ultimate goal is to one day have a brick-and-mortar building for our collection (we’re looking at sites in Houston and Paris, Texas), our virtual museum and timeline provide a photograph, fragrance facts, and perfume history for “every” miniature perfume bottle in our collection. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re hoping over time it will become a great perfume resource not only for mini collectors, but lovers of fragrance as well.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Leslie Ann: Less now, than when I was in the corporate world, I have always enjoyed wearing timeless, classic, tailored clothing and accessories. Generally, some of my favorites include: Clothing: Christian Dior & Talbot’s, Cosmetics: Clinique, Handbags: Gucci and Coach, Shoes: Clarke’s (casual) and Vaneli (dress), Watch: Gucci, Coach, Mondaine
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
Leslie Ann: With my many years in retail, I do very little shopping at department stores anymore, preferring to do almost all of my shopping online. Besides, the internet is open 24-7-365 and delivers right to my front door! However, Allen and I both love vintage so we really enjoy “going antiquing” (and mini hunting!)
 Boots or Shoes?
Leslie Ann: Always shoes, maybe an ankle  boot. I prefer comfort and simple elegance. For me, I find boots too constricting – like I can’t breathe, lol. Besides, more often than not here in Texas the boot of choice is the cowgirl variety. Definitely not me.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about the Miniature Perfume Shoppe
Miniature Perfume Shoppe
Spring, Texas 77388 USA (Near Houston)
 
 
(New) Instagram/Miniature_Perfume_Shoppe
Thank you both very much for chatting to me…I love perfume and have found your shop and museum really fascinating. Hedonist is the featured fragrance of the Miniature Perfume Shoppe this Valentines Day – so don’t forget to sniff out a bottle soon…
 
Linda  x
 
Photo credits:  Photos have been published with kind permission from Allen Aaron White and for the Hedonist photo, with kind permission from Parfums Viktoria Minya, Paris.
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An Interview With Petra Jewellery

Tonight I’m really pleased to welcome onto the blog the delightful Mitch from Petra Jewellery. Hi Mitch, please introduce yourself and Petra Jewellery:Mitch

Hello, I’m Mitch! I am a local Hampshire girl, happily married with one gorgeous daughter. Look out for her as she sometimes models for us! I took over from my Mum, Petra who started the business, about 8 years ago.  I’m a mechanical engineer grad, ex Royal Engineer officer, investment banker and construction project manager – actually all proven to be perfect training to become one of the best jewellers in Hampshire!

What’s the background to your business?

My Mum started the business when she met my dad (on a ski slope in the Alps – he was an Army Officer, she spoke no English) and he’d left the Army. They arrived in Basingstoke needing her to make some money.  She did not speak any English, so had to do something with her hands! The only thing she could do was make jewellery (trained with a Master Goldsmith in Germany).  My Mum has always insisted we keep her high German standards in terms of product offering and also customer services – we take huge pride in both of these!

Capture_00018The company description is the “Not So Traditional Traditional Jewellers”…the Champagne Design Experience for engagement couples and the Engagement Offer in association with Tylney Hall .. are just two examples of the little extra you offer. What’s the inspiration behind these ideas to highlight the engagement of couples?

Our official description is the “Not So Traditional Traditional Jewellers” And we’re sticking with that! We take such time in getting to know our customers and understanding exactly what they want and need.

The recently launched, Champagne Design Experience for engagement couples at our workshop that really helps make the moment even more special! And the Engagement offer in association with the local, beautiful Tylney Hall are just two examples the little extra special bits you get with Petra!

We always Mystery Shop at other jewellers – including some big names in London and were shocked at how little enthusiasm and compassion the retail assistants demonstrated as we posed as customers looking for engagement rings.  So we’ve decided to blow our customers away with the most amazing engagement experience ever, that they will remember for ever with tons of expert design advice thrown in as well. So you come away with a unique experience rather than just hearing the tills ringing as you leave!

As well as offering a comprehensive range of jewellery services and you have your own exquisite jewellery range too – where do you get your inspiration from?

Anything and everything: I’m constantly taking photos of things that inspire me, I’m a magazine junkie, I always ask to look at people’s jewellery even if I’m not in the shop, trade fairs… but the underlying emphasis is creating beautiful jewellery that lasts a lifetime.  Not many designers seems to care that much about how their designs are actually going to suit the lifestyle of the wearer.Unbenannt-1

What’s the most unusual item of jewellery you’ve designed or have you had any strange design requests?

Loads of unusual and wonderful requests: a vial for someone’s dog’s ashes, a child’s tooth made into a pendant, copies of crazy costume jewellery designs, a major’s badge, wedding rings for a pilot mum who met in the cock pit of a plane (yes, up in the sky), banana cufflinks, snooker cue brooch and diamond set ball triangle pendant for a snooker World Champion…BUT – for me, these creations are amazing in their own way, they are truly individual and the recipients have been beyond excited at the end result.

To date, what has been your most popular item ordered from your website/ shop?

Hard to say as we don’t do any one design en masse – our new Angel Whisperer Collection is really, really popular. I think because it is so beautiful and different and again, it can be personalised and changed immediately, depending on where your mood takes you!

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

That’s an easy one! My 30th birthday present from my Mum: an 18ct gold bangle immaculately set with 30 diamonds.  It is stunning and is so me! So many customers have seen it and asked us to re-create it for them – that’s an honour.

You do a “your gold” service – using old gold provided by the customer melted down to make a new piece of jewellery – what a lovely idea!  What’s the most popular recycled jewellery piece?

It’s all about memories again and making something special and unique. Our solid gold handmade bangles that will last forever – we normally use the customer’s old gold and they talk to us about how they would like it ‘recycled’. Every single customer who has used this service, has been over the moon with the final result – that’s a pretty satisfying thing at the end of the working day.

DSR11.jpg (white)When it comes to wedding rings, you can make rings out of platinum; 9ct, 14ct, & 18ct white, rose, & yellow gold; palladium and titanium.  My own engagement & wedding ring are platinum (I’m a lucky girl :)) …what metal is the most popular with your customers?

You are a lucky lady – platinum is still the best!  I’m also big fan of palladium – it is a good alternative to platinum although our goldsmith moans like crazy about making anything bespoke from it as it’s not easy to work with!  Our best-selling metal however is our 18ct white gold – it’s ‘palladium rich’ so naturally much whiter than normal 18ct white gold so we can guarantee it will never will look yellow like most High Street white gold will – this is a huge selling point and our customers trust that we are right (we always are!)  Lots of people are disappointed with their white gold as once the rhodium plating wears off their rings take on a ‘straw white colour’, not a nice experience!

You do offer branded jewellery from other designers that you’ve picked for their creativity and flair – what brand seems to be of interest this season amongst your customers? Any favourites yourself?

Both from Germany: unrivalled quality and finishes:

My iMenso – interchangeable pendants –

Angels Whisperer

Festina and Candino watches (new brand to UK – swiss mech and sapphire crystal face but only £200- £300)

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

Calvin Klein style but sometimes from charity shops, Primark – anything plain which works well as it shows off the jewellery I’m wearing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Oh dear, I discovered LK Bennet dresses: perfect for Saturdays in the shop – makes me feel like a lady!  Off duty I’m on ‘Wiggle’ buying cycling kit!  Always on the look out for sexy sports clothing!

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

Our brand colours ,sports kit that I can brand as Petra Jewellery and advertise as I run and cycle round the Hampshire countryside!  And then a new time trial bike in Petra colours and I might even add some diamantes!

Boots or Shoes?

Now – boots ‘n’ skinny jeans – so I don’t get wet feet!

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

 

https://www.facebook.com/PetraJewellery

www.petrajewellery.com

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission from Petra Jewellery

 

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An Interview With Kellie K Apparel

Image 3Strapless bras!!! Love them or hate them, there comes a time in a woman’s life when you definitely need them!  Finding the right sort of strapless bra is the key – some flatten your boobs, some are bulky that they become uncomfortable, some ride up as the night goes on (that has happened to a friend that wishes to remain anonymous!) and some fall down!  In a few months the party season will be upon us… those little black dresses and glitzy bandeau tops beckon …. and, yes, we need help ladies in finding that perfect strapless bra!  Kellie experienced the same problems, and as she stood in front of her wardrobe having a moan that her strapless bra didn’t look right in the drop dead gorgeous dress she hoped to wear …her husband took note …and the rest is history …so I’m really thrilled to welcome onto the blog tonight the Founder and President of Kellie K Apparel (and Kellie’s husband)… Dr Anthony Roy  and Kellie K Apparel’s VP of Marketing, Tara Clark…
Hi, please introduce  yourselves and Kellie K Apparel :Tony_Roy_Headshot_Square_compact
Dr. Anthony Roy, Founder and President: I founded Kellie K Apparel with the goal to provide all women with a superior strapless bra.  I’ve had prior experience in designing prototypes in the support of various multi-million dollar start-ups as a research engineer at Idealab.  I received my B.S. and M.S. from The Ohio State University, and my Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, all in mechanical engineering.
Tara_Headshot_compactTara Clark, VP of Marketing.  I have over 10 years of experience in customer care and developing small businesses. Prior to Kellie K Apparel, I was the Senior Manager of Customer Care at SlideRocket, where I expanded to product scope from a small private beta to a large-scale operation with over 1.5 million users and acquisition by VMware.  I attended the University of Oregon, where I double majored to get bachelor degrees in both psychology and philosophy.
Kellie K Apparel launches our revolutionary strapless bras through our Kickstarter campaign on August 26th. Our American-made strapless bras are engineered to provide the necessary support and refined to deliver the utmost comfort. The patent-pending lining that keeps the bra in place without irritating the skin! Finally a strapless bra that women will want to wear.

What was the inspiration behind making your strapless bras in the first place? 

Kellie K Apparel started one evening when my wife was lamenting her lack of clothing options.  She wanted to wear a particular top that bared her shoulders, but didn’t want to wear the strapless bra that went under it.  When I asked her what was wrong with her current bra, she said she didn’t feel like having to deal with pulling up the bra all night.  When I said she should get a new one, she said it wouldn’t matter because she can never find a bra that is both supportive and stays up.
I set about making a crude prototype that consisted of me super-gluing the very first iteration of GeckTeck to one of the strapless bras my wife said wouldn’t stay put.  She tried it on and said it fixed the problem.  However, I knew I had truly struck gold when one night we were going out, and she once again wanted to wear that top which required her to wear a strapless bra.  Instead of using one of her store-bought bras, she grabbed the prototype I built and enjoyed a night of not having to worry about her bra once.  At that moment I realized I truly had a great idea for a business.”

Image 1The unique patent pending lining uses the same principles as geckos use to cling to virtually any surface – it must have been quite an “eureka” moment when you discovered that this gecko idea will help solve a nightmare when it comes to the world of strapless bras!  What made you turn to the gecko for ideas?

It was actually, it was the other way around. I had been aware of the gecko-inspired, wall climbing robots for years. The eureka moment came when I realized my wife had a problem of never being able to find a bra that stayed in place. Once I realized my wife preferred my crude first prototype over her store bought strapless bras, I knew this idea was a winner.

I wear quite a few tops and dresses that require the services of a strapless bra, especially as I’m a lot older and bigger busted than I was as a teenager when going braless under a camisole/ bandeau dress was not an issue. The bras look very pretty and not at all bulky – so who picked the material, look and choice of colours?  Did you have an opinion poll, or did Kellie state her preferences or a bit of both?  

Image 2Thanks! A bit of both. Our team at Kellie K is made up of highly trained individuals who have come together to create a cooperative bra that feels good and is functional with a variety of clothes.  We’ve explored LA’s fashion district to the get the right fabrics. We’ve worked pattern makers with decades of experience, and gone through tons of trial-and-error to make sure the fit was perfect. For the colors Kellie and Tara separately stated their preferences, then several potential customers were polled.

Apart from your strapless bras,have you any plans to introduce other items too?

Currently, we’re focused on creating the best strapless bra on the market. Of course, we’re always bouncing around other ideas.

Dr Roy, what other items have you created or have helped create a prototype, not necessarily in the fashion field?
One of the first pieces of complicated hardware I ever helped create was on a team that made an autonomous robot that could navigate an obstacle course. For my master thesis project, I created a two degree of freedom probe and haptic controller where a magnetorheological fluid would provide force feed back to the user when the probe collided with an object. For my doctorate, I used simulated evolution to generate robotic controllers based on neural networks. After school, made several heliostat prototypes, which are mirrors that track the sun to collect solar energy. I also made a refrigerator shelf that could tell when an item was almost empty and order more of that item, a case for an iPhone that could be plugged directly into a wall for charging, helped in the design of a giant ski-lift for electrical smart-grid technology, and this weekend I’m using a program I wrote to determine my draft picks for fantasy football! Some worked well. Many didn’t. But, we always knew very quickly when we had a winner!
These beautiful bras are American- made … so apart from the USA, will they be available to purchase in the UK, Europe and Australia too? Image 4

Yes, during the Kickstarter the bras will be available for purchase and shipped globally.

Dr Roy, what would you like to try to make that you haven’t tried as yet?

I had planned on making a program that could properly size a woman’s bust from iPhone pictures, but a group in the Bay area may have beat me to it! Continuing my doctorate work and making systems that could learn would be nice too. And I’m sure in a few months I’m going to be cursing that fantasy football program and wanting to make it better!
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Dr. Roy- Shorts or blue jeans, and a t-shirt or casual button. However, my favorite shirt is one made for my former softball team, Base Invaders. It’s a great shirt!
Tara- Most of the time I’m in NY and Company Jeans, Banana Republic shirts and Naturalizers shoes. Since I have a toddler, if it’s not machine washable it’s not in my wardrobe.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Tara- I buy almost everything online. The delivery guy and I are on a first name basis.
Dr. Roy- I honestly don’t buy many clothes online! In fact, I haven’t bought clothes myself in a long time. Somehow, my wife took control of my wardrobe!
Tara- And she does a great job with it!

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

Tara- Either An incredible pair of shoes to wear to my friend’s outdoor wedding this fall. Or a pair of gray ankle boots.
Dr. Roy- Ask Kellie K!

Boots or Shoes?

Dr. Roy- Shoes. I live in LA and it never snows or hardly rains here, so there no reason for me to wear boots.
Tara- Can I pick both? All boots are shoes, but not all shoes are boots, so shoes I guess.
Fun Fact- The cowboy boots our actress Kamala wears in the Kicstarter video are her own. She wore them to the shoot and we loved them so much we included them in the video.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that my readers can follow the progress of Kellie K Apparel and start wearing comfortable strapless bras!

www.kelliekapparel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KellieKApparel
https://twitter.com/KellieKApparel

Thank you very much for chatting to me at the start of what could be an exciting era in bra history … I wish Kellie K Apparel a lot of success and I’m sure you’ve not only solved your wife’s dilemma, Dr Roy, but solved the dilemma for women globally.
Linda x
Photo credits: The photographs above have been published with kind permission from Kellie K Apparel
PS  Whilst we are Stateside this week, Californian company Access Tattoo are offering readers of this blog a brilliant 10% off their tattooing products…just quote the coupon code!

 

Get 10% sitewide when you shop at Access Tattoo. Valid until October 2013!

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An Interview With Crystal Bridal Accessories

Summer is well underway here in the UK and weddings are in the air…my interview this week is with a fabulous bridal company that are definitely worth looking up if you have a wedding coming up later in the year or are planning your nuptials  beyond! I’ve been chatting to Amy of Crystal Bridal Accessories…Hi Amy! Please introduce us to yourself and your company:Amy_Karim

I’m the MD for Crystal Bridal Accessories, a mum of three girls aged 10 and 5 year old twins and I love shoes!

What made you start up your business?

I was working as an e-learning tutor on a local schools project and discovered I was having twins…I decided that I wanted to take a career break but as I am such a workaholic…I thought perhaps I would need a ‘hobby’ whilst on my break. I love jewellery and I adore shoes – the bridal industry is full of sparkle and glamour and all things beautiful…so this all combined to create Crystal Bridal Accessories. The aim was to create a one-stop shop for the best bridal accessories on the market so that brides can easily find everything they need to accessorize their bridal look!

Swirl_Pearl_Comb£45_model_shot_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.ukWhen choosing stock for your shop & website, do you have a set criteria or do you go with what grabs you at the time or a bit of both?

A bit of both really! I won’t put anything on my website which I wouldn’t wear myself…I really do believe in choosing only the best, most beautiful things and putting them all in one place together. Some of the criteria is based on current bridal dress trends and quality of the items – everything  has to be manufactured to a high quality otherwise I won’t even consider it.

You have your own exquisite jewellery range too – where do you get your inspiration from?

Ava crystal bridal belt mood shot_£249_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.ukThe inspiration for my Signature Collection comes quite simply from a mixture of gaps I’ve seen in the jewellery market over the years combined with vintage design! The backdrop necklace was my very first idea for my own piece because I noticed that there simply wasn’t anything so glamorous for brides as a back piece…all the other pieces in the collection are designed to mix and match so that brides can choose one piece – such as the Ava Studs – or add the Ava Necklace and Ava Belt depending on how much glamour they want to create!

What’s the most unusual item of jewellery you’ve designed or have you had any strange design requests?

The most unusual accessory I’ve designed is the Ava bridal belt…it is completely unique as it’s made entirely of crystals and a refreshing change to the other types of bridal sashes you can buy which are all set on ribbon or satin. The brooch with tassels and navette crystals gives it a distinct vintage edge which is all the trend nowadays!

To date, what has been your most popular item ordered from your website/ shop?

This would have to be our rose crystal trailing flower bridal brooch! 

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?Grace_Forehead_Band_model_shot_£55_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.uk

My favourite item is our own Grace Forehead band – I love the simplicity of it but it is still such a glamorous fashion statement!

You do a shoe dyeing service for the blushing brides & for other special occasions, so what has been the most popular colour in recent seasons?

Cadbury Purple and Fuchsia are always the most popular colours – but we have seen a trend for more peach / blush nude shades as well recently.

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

Marina_exclusive_Harriet_Wilde_for_crystal_bridal_accessories_£419_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.ukI love my High Street brands…Zara, Mango, Aldo and Warehouse…but most of my shopping is done online…of course!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Asos…of course, Zara, Mango… and as I’m a mum, I love the French site Vertbaudet for their pretty kidswear!

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

Hmmm…very practical…but I’ve got my eye on a Knomo laptop trolley for my trips away 

Model_shot_Charlize_shoes_£299_www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.ukBoots or Shoes?

OMG…shoes all the way! I’m not really a boots person…a pair of peep toe heels transform your look instantly!

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

Our website www.crystalbridalaccessories.co.uk

Join us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CrystalBridalAccessoriesLtdSheffield

Follow us on twitter @wedding_queen

It’s been a real pleasure to chat to you Amy and your accessories are certainly exquisite…thank you for joining us.

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission of Crystal Bridal Accessories.

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An Interview with Councillor Brandon Eldred & Northampton Shoe Museum

I adore Northampton Shoe Museum – it is a place worth visiting for both its shoe collection (2nd largest collection in the world, the largest being in Canada) and the attached art gallery is just as fine!  So, this week I’m delighted to be chatting to Councillor Brandon Eldred who is not only the councillor responsible for this gorgeous place, but an avid fan of the Museum too …so, welcome Brandon, please introduce yourself:Cllr Brandon Eldred

I am Brandon Eldred, Northampton Borough Council cabinet member for community engagement.  Optimising the reach and appeal of the museum service falls within my remit.

Northampton Shoe Museum is totally awesome – I was blown away when I visited – caring for the largest collection of objects charting the history of shoes in the world is a big responsibility! Your staff have oodles of enthusiasm for their job. What was the inspiration behind the creation of the Shoe Collection?

The museum staff do indeed have oodles of enthusiasm and a real pride in what they do.  Northampton Museum and Art Gallery was founded on in 1865. The footwear collection was started in 1873 by Moses Philip Manfield, a Northampton shoe manufacturer, so that local workers could see specimens of boots and shoes made elsewhere in the world. Since then the collection has grown to include many examples of Northamptonshire’s shoe industry. We are still collecting today from all over the world.  The collection also represents the best of British.  The best of British includes current footwear manufactured in Northampton and the county, which we are immensely proud of.Union Jack boot, Shellys, 1978

What exhibition or showcase has been the most popular?

Our exhibitions appeal to a wide audience and there is always something going on to suit all tastes and interests. One of our most recent popular exhibitions was ‘If We Could Be Heroes’, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the iconic Northampton based company Jeffery-West.  Jeffery-West is creating some of the most exciting men’s footwear today, and the exhibition featured a selection of their shoes alongside quirky and beautiful objects from the museum’s social history, archaeology, geology and art collections – all chosen and arranged by the designer half of Jeffery-West, Guy West.  It was a visual feast for the eyes.Jeffery-West boot

I caught the Jeffery-West exhibition too and my husband started a love affair with Jeffery-West shoes ever since!! Have you got a favourite out of all the exhibitions/showcases?

I have to say I have real interest in the sports shoes. Through the generosity of external funding we have built up our sports footwear and sneaker collection over the last three years.  Today we have over 800 examples, which make the Northampton sneaker collection the finest in the public domain.  My particular favourites are a pair of signed David Beckham boots from early on in his career, a pair of motor racing shoes worn by Emerson Fittipaldi and the running spikes worn by Christopher Chataway. He wore these spikes when taking part in the four minute mile at Iffley Road in Oxford on 6 May 1954. The race included Chris Brasher, Roger Bannister and Chris Chataway and it was during this race that Bannister became the first athlete to break the four-minute barrier for the mile in a time of three minutes 59.4 seconds.Emerson Fittipaldi motor racing shoe

The facilities at the Museum are fantastic – it’s a valuable source of reference for budding shoe designers, a great place for modern shoe designers to showcase their talents, a history lesson for Northampton’s schoolchildren and it is a shrine for those who have a deep love for footwear – what do you feel is the Museum’s main purpose?

The museum’s vision is to generate and increase cultural awareness and aspiration in Northampton. Its mission is to provide the lead and be the principal focus for heritage, artistic and cultural interest for all citizens and visitors to Northampton. The overall purpose of the museum service is to provide high quality museum facilities, activities and opportunities that meet the needs of our diverse communities now and in the future.  Caring for the town’s many fine collections, including the boot and shoe collection, engaging with communities through education and hosting an ever-changing array of exhibition and events are our three main drivers.  We promote participation, innovation and life-long learning through the direct provision of services and by working in partnership with others.  The museum is also one of Northampton’s key cultural attractions that draws visitors from far and wide

When I visited, I was drawn mostly to the footwear of the 70s/80s – shoes of my “growing up” era!  What section do you tend to linger over?Elephant Boot, 1959

When my children were young they always wanted to look at the elephant boot whenever we visited the museum.  Even now I never resist the opportunity to see it when I pop in.  A boot for an elephant is quite something to see.  The Elephant Boot is one of four boots made by Lotus for the British Alpine Hannibal Expedition. The expedition aimed to recreate and track Hannibal’s route during his invasion of Italy in the 3rd Century BC. Although often disputed by historians, chroniclers reported that Hannibal crossed the Alps with 37 surviving elephants to take into battle.

The British Alpine Hannibal Exhibition asked the question: Can an elephant cross the Alps? Turin Zoo was generous enough to provide the non-geological materials.  Her name was Jumbo. Jumbo traveled 150 miles in 10 days from France to Susa in Italy. The result of the expedition’s experiment suggested that elephants can indeed cross the Alps. To protect Jumbo from the weather she had a canvas coat and trunk cover and made and a set of canvas and leather boots to protect her feet. These boots were made by craftsmen at Lotus Ltd using the patterns supplied. To find out the size of her feet the elephant stood on a large sheet of paper and someone drew round her feet. Unfortunately Jumbo was unable to finish the last eight kilometres of the expedition, as the track was considered unsafe.

Is there any footwear missing from the Shoe Collection that the Museum would love to add?

 The shoe collection is extensive and consists of:

  • Footwear – more than 12,000 items ranging from ancient Egyptian to contemporary design
  • Accessories – including buckles, laces, shoe horns, trees, spats, leggings and polish
  • Shoemaking tools, machines and components – including lasts
  • Retail trade material – including shop furniture, fittings and advertising material
  • Archive material – including trade journals, company catalogues, books and photographs
  • Fine and decorative art – including paintings and prints depicting shoes and shoemaking
  • Index of shoemakers and shoemaking firms – from the Roman period onwards
  • Index of concealed shoes – hidden in buildings to bring good luck
  • Specialist reference library

As you can see the collection is really extensive, but having spoken to the museum staff, I can tell you that we still have gaps we would like to fill.  We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who would like to gift or donate the following:

  • Shoes with stories – shoes that you worked in, met the love of your life in, wore on a holiday or took part in an extraordinary challenge in. The shoes might reflect exceptional or everyday stories
  • Designer shoes – in particular Vivienne Westwood, Gucci, Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo, Roger Vivier, André Courrèges or early Salvatore Ferragamo
  • Celebrity shoes – shoes that have belonged to famous or significant people
  • Shoe catalogues, non-designer contemporary footwear, footwear from South America and items relating to shoe retailVivienne Westwood’s Super Elevated Ghillie shoes, 1998

Are the shoes/footwear donations or are they bought for the purpose of adding to the shoe collection or a bit of both?

We acquire items in many different ways, including donations, purchases and bequests. Not a week goes by without a member of the public bringing something into the museum or contacting us to offer an item or items for the shoe collection. We have also benefited from the generosity of local shoe manufacturers and national designers in donating examples of their current designs. Recent donations include footwear from Jeffery-West, Hotter and Prada.

 So what showcases/exhibitions at Northampton Shoe Museum for 2013 can we look forward to visiting?Nike Aloha trainer

We have a varied and interesting choice of future exhibitions for visitors to come and see this year. Our main gallery and shoe lounge are devoted to showcasing an ever-changing array of shoe exhibitions.   We have an exciting exhibition on at the moment that features Norman Walsh English Sports Footwear. Norman Walsh started out as an apprentice shoemaker in 1945 for J.W Foster & Sons. His outstanding shoemaking skills were soon recognised and he made the running spikes for the British Athletics team at the 1948 London Olympics including those worn by the winner of the 100m Alistair McCorquedale. In 1961 Norman founded the Walsh business on his own and became a specialist in making footwear for Rugby League and fell running.  Coming up in July we have an exhibition on Mod culture that explores all things Mod – the history, music and style. The exhibition ties neatly in with a concert by Paul Weller in July staged in the beautiful grounds of Delapre Abbey in Northampton. In October we will be presenting Strictly Northampton, which will look at all things dance orientated in the town.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook

www.northampton.gov.uk/museums

Facebook /northamptonmuseum

Twitter @northamptonShoe

Flickr

Thank you for the interesting insight into the Museum … I can’t wait to revisit very soon!!!

Linda x

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Get Skulled – An Interview With Bedhead Boutique

This week I’m absolutely delighted to welcome on to the blog the bubbly Tink from Bedhead Boutique – I was lucky enough to receive one of her fabulous vinyl record clutches for my birthday from my darling daughter  (Love it !)- and just this weekend Tink has started making the vinyl record bags with a handle as an option too! So without further ado, Tink, welcome and please introduce yourself:12

Hi there, I’m Tink,  Owner and designer at Rockin’ Rockette’s Bedhead Boutique! I created Bedhead Boutique almost by accident! I had got so fed up of not being able to find any fun and quirky accessories in my local area that I started to make them for myself instead. It wasn’t long before people were constantly asking me where I’d got things from and as if by magic Bedhead Boutique was born! I initially started making headscarves as, for me, they are a Godsend for my phenomenal bed hair (hence the name!) and at the same time help me to achieve that pinup/50s look I strive for. It wasn’t long until my creative juices started flowing though and before long I started branching out into all kinds of pinup accessories. I found my passion for pinup and 50s fashion in my early twenties when I’d finally reached the age where I’d stopped worrying so much about fitting in and started to think about how I wanted to look and what kind of things would make the best of my, erm, voluptuous figure! Once I started down this route there was no going back as I finally felt like I’d found my true style. I now take great pleasure in designing and making things for others to help them achieve the style they strive for. I particularly love taking on custom orders as I love anything that’s a bit unique.

Bed HairI adore your vinyl record bags – where did you get your inspiration from?

 Initially my inspiration came from seeing the vinyl record bowls people make by melting the records then shaping them over a bowl. I thought it was such a fab idea and a great way to recycle old records which would otherwise just gather dust. From then I tried to think of other things that could be made from them. I looked online at other items people had made from records and saw that someone had made a large handbag from two records. Although I loved the idea of a vinyl record handbag I wasn’t impressed with the design as the record was covered in rivets and it looked somewhat bulky and mechanical! That’s when I decided that a clutch bag would be a great idea and be the perfect finishing touch to pretty much all of my favourite outfits! From there I spent about 3 months trying out different ideas and perfecting my design (not to mention testing about 12 different glues!) before I was finally happy with the finished product you see today.3

What’s the most unusual item you’ve designed or have you had any strange design requests?

My most unusual request was from a lady who asked if I could make my baby bandana dribble bibs in adult sizes. Initially I thought nothing of it as I’ve made larger ones in the past for teenagers with disabilities who don’t want a childish bib. However, she then told me it was for her husband who constantly spills his dinner all down him and she wanted to wrap them up for him for his birthday as a joke… but then actually make him wear them!

To date, what has been your most popular item?

5My most popular item to date is definitely my vinyl record clutch bags. I think it’s because they can be made in any fabric and with a record that’s special to the customer, should they wish to provide it. One of my proudest moments was when I was asked to make one for a lady to carry on her wedding day. The record was hers and her fiancé’s song together and it was made with red and white polka dot fabric to go with the 50s polka dot theme of her wedding. It’s so lovely to think that one of my items will be part of someone’s special day.

What’s your most favourite item in your collection or have ever made?

My favourite item I’ve made so far is probably the dogtooth shoe bows because I made them for my mum who was struggling to find any dogtooth shoes anywhere to match her handbag! My mum has had a hip replacement and a knee replacement and suffers a great deal with arthritis so finds it very difficult to get shoes to fit her that are comfortable to wear. She’s always saying that all the pretty shoes have such high heels and she wishes she could wear them. Now she can just clip the bows onto her comfy shoes and hey presto – they’re transformed!10

 Any new additions to your collection in the pipeline?

I have loads of new products coming up soon. I will shortly be making more fascinators and introducing some bags with handles and some purses. I’ll also soon be making alternative children’s clothes and possible some adult dresses too!

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

During the day I will almost always be wearing a headscarf to cover up my messy mop of hair! I’ll usually be wearing some coloured jeans and a pretty cardi with motifs on – either skulls or swallows or anchors or something similar. If the weather is nice I’ll most likely be in a pretty summer dress or maxi dress. I almost always wear cute pumps during the day as they’re easy to slip on and off when going in and out of the house and just so comfortable to wear! On a night out you’ll find me in a rockabilly swing dress or a sleek and sexy pencil dress. Almost always a halterneck with a sweetheart neckline as I find them the most flattering. Oh and of course it has to be some killer heels for a night out – at least for most of the night anyway!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Pretty much all of my favourite shops are online. I love Hell Bunny clothing and pinup girl clothing. On the high street I love Dorothy Perkins as they are one of the few shops who do bigger sizes in things that aren’t just basically a tent with a hole for your head! I also love Office for shoes.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?4

Next on my wish list is a dress made of the Marvel fabric I use to make some of my accessories! I just need to find the time to make it now!

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely shoes – I have tiny ankles but chunky calves so it’s a nightmare to get boots to fit me properly! Besides, shoes are just sexier!

7Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and your products:

www.facebook.com/bedheadboutique

rockinrockette@thebedheadboutique.co.uk

Thanks for a fab interview Tink…. I wish you continued success, you deserve it!2

Linda x

Photo Credit: Photos published with kind permission of Bedhead Boutique

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Cherries & Berries – An Interview With Dolly Does Vintage

IMG_0899This week I’m interviewing the delightful and talented Maxine from Dolly Does Vintage. Welcome Maxine, please introduce yourself:

I am Maxine Day, unfortunately aged 48 years old, have been with my lovely husband Brian for 30 years, and am truly blessed with my beautiful family, Candy and Ryan.

What was the inspiration behind making your aprons?

Dolly Does Vintage is named after my dear nan, Dorothy May Cooper, who was referred to as Dolly by her friends. She is my inspiration, she had a hard life with 6 children, in which she brought up alone, however this did not break her spirit and she worked hard all her life, amongst many things she was a cook in a boarding school, and always seen with her pinny on. The idea was swirling around in my head, with my love of the 40s & 50s events, dressing up and enjoying the music, it seemed to be the right thing for me to do. Whilst I put it off through illness, I felt her on my shoulder always nagging me to get on with it and just do it, so I did!

Apart from your aprons,have you any plans to introduce other items too?IMG_0909

At the moment I have just kept to aprons. Occasionally I get a family request for something else, however I want to keep within my limits to give the best service I can to people, unreliability is not an option! All are cut from an original vintage pattern adjusted to my designs. I use original vintage fabrics, along side modern quirky designer fabrics. I try to only use retired one off pieces to give that originality to each apron.

What has been your favourite item to date that you’ve created?

I love making the aprons, all are my favourite. Each time I finish one I say to myself I will keep this one, this one is mine, however I have to be strong and part with them, although I have kept a couple…

IMG_0690What  would you like to try to make that you haven’t tried as yet?

I want to make myself a 50s beach playsuit for my trip to Viva Vegas 50s convention next year, if I can squeeze it in with everything else.

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

I love all clothes, new or vintage, I love to dress vintage at events, and I mix vintage with new for everyday. Shoes are my weakness and have more pairs than I should. Around 100 pairs Tut tut…

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I am an eBay addict; I search for hours to find my vintage fabrics, and one off remnant pieces. I love charity shops, with a mixture of a little bit of Zara.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?IMG_0761

My wish list is one thing and has been for a few years: A classic pair of black patent leather Christian Louboutin heels. One can only wish!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots and shoes – both are important. Whatever the outfit wear the correct shoe. Shoes can make or break an outfit, dirty & scruffy and the outfit is ruined, classic & classy gives you a fantastic look and makes you feel great. Boots are both practical and can be fun. I love my knee high suede black boots, classy practical heel and a sexy look.

IMG_0681Links:

Facebook Page: Dolly Does Vintage
dollydoesvintage@hotmail.co.uk
@dollydoesvint
Thanks for a fabulous interview Maxine …. around 100 pairs of shoes…WOW!  
Linda x
Photo Credits:  Published with kind permission from Maxine Day
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Reviving The 50s – An Interview With Amanda Moorhouse

This week I’d like to welcome the beautiful and talented Amanda Moorhouse, founder of Lipstick & Curls. Hi Amanda, introduce yourself and tell us what was the inspiration behind Lipstick & Curls:Amanda_Lipstick_and_Curls copy

Lipstick & Curls was born out of my love for the vintage look and my career as a hair & make up artist in the fashion industry. I studied hair & make up at the London College of fashion and then went down the usual route of assisting a established make up artist to learn my craft and make industry contacts. I assisted Illamasqua’s Alex Box for two years, whilst also working for a vintage inspired make up and hair retailer called Pout as their main stylist and product developer. For the last 15 years, I feel lucky to have maintained a career in hair & make up styling, a job that I still find stimulating and an area I continue to learn and grow in.

Whilst I had always loved watching old glamorous films I really found my passion for vintage whilst I was a student. There was the music of course but also the clothes. I’m sure partly due to student poverty I used to trawl the charity shops looking for interesting items and in those days it was easier to find some lovely vintage pieces. With these interests I began to research through old magazines and film clips looking for authentic period looks and incorporating them into my work.

Lipstick_and_Curls._7I founded Lipstick & Curls in 2009.with a team of two artists, this has now grown to a team of 15. Lipstick & Curls specialises in hair and make-up from the past and can transform you into a jazz era flapper girl, a golden era Hollywood starlet, a rock n roll pin-up or a Mad Men sex kitten. We pride ourselves on having a fully qualified team that are all part of the different strands of the vintage scene, rockabillies, 40’s enthusiasts, Mods, Northern soul enthusiasts etc. While all experts in vintage styling, they are able to create any look from a bygone period. 

What, in your opinion, has been the most popular styles and make up colours in recent seasons? 

 We continue o look to the past for our inspiration in style and fashion. Media also play s a huge role in our influences, and now more than ever with TV hit series such as, Madmen, Downtown Abbey, Boardwalk Empire, Mr Selfridge …and many, many more. This is reflected in fashion across the board and even in hair and make up styling. Women are wanting a more glamorous appearance and are requesting styles from the 20’s to the 60’s. We also see the music industry being heavily influenced by the vintage styles, vintage is really everywhere and in my opinion is here to stay!!

I love the “Pop Up Beauty Parlour” idea …. and judging by the sell outs so do a lot of ladies!! What service tends to be the most popular? And what is your favourite treat at a beauty parlour? Stephanie & Dale's Wedding

The pop up parlor is a great addition to an event! We have a few regulars at vintage fairs and festivals, and ladies can shop as well as getting beautified giving a complete experience. Most of our ladies choose our hair and make up package receiving a full vintage make over, this is our most popular service.

I find I spend most of my time making other ladies beautiful  however when I get the time I do enjoy a manicure and the odd massage, for me that is a real treat!

What’s your most favourite make up item in your collection?

Ooh that’s a difficult one! I am torn between my red lippy and my eyebrow pencil, it would have to be the brow liner.Lipstick_and_Curls_5

Congratulations on Lipstick & Curls  being the Winner of Best Vintage Hair & Make Up in the 2012 Vintage Awards. Have you any new ventures/ideas that you’re planning for 2013?

We are always looking at ways of pushing the company forward. Our new Lipstick & Curls take away has proven popular and is a mobile service that takes glamour to the home. Made popular in the 40’s and 50’s the mobile stylist gives the company a connection with the hair & make up artists of the past.

We have recently started an exciting new venture with a company we love the Vintage Patisserie. It is a hair and beauty academy and our aim is to teach the basics in vintage glamour so ladies can look amazing without a daily visit to a salon. It’s more than just teaching skills though and it will have that very distinct vintage patisserie experience with lots of delicious food and drink.

 In the next few months we are also launching our online shop. From my experience as a hair and makeup artist I have sourced together many of the products and companies that are invaluable to my kit. Many not available in this country at the moment.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?Lipstick_and_Curls_6

I love dressing up and have some loads of original clothes from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s but I also have a 3 year old so tend to dress more casually at home in reproduction and keep the originals for work and going out. I have to say I live in my ‘Freddies’ jeans (a reproduction of a classic 1950’s pattern) While I have a passion for shoes and have a great collection, I am on my feet a lot, so wear a lot of flats. I am a huge fan of French Sole ballet pumps, Remix Sandals, Miss L Fire and Terry Smith saddle shoes.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Lipstick_and_Curls_2I’m a big fan of Vintage fairs, where they have the best original clothing dealers but also love to find bargains scourering the charity shops and car boots. Some favourite shops for Vintage are Radio Days in Waterloo and Blackout in Covent Garden. As for reproduction I love Freddies of Pinewood (http://www.freddiesofpinewood.co.uk) , Morellos (http://www.morellos.co.uk/) and What Katie Did (http://www.whatkatiedid.com/)

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

I have recently bought quite a special gold 1950’s wiggle dress and I am on the look out for the perfect pair of 1950’s healed mules to wear with it!

Boots or Shoes? 

Shoes! I wear a lot of skirts dresses and capris and a boot wouldn’t work with either really. I do love my vintage court shoes and even my repro sandals … even in the winter!

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

 

Info@lipstickandcurls.net

www.lipstickandcurls.net

https://www.facebook.com/LipstickandCurlsLtd

https://twitter.com/#!/lipstickcurls

http://pinterest.com/lipstickcurls/

 

Thanks Amanda!  I do like your idea of an online shop and I love the whole set up of Lipstick & Curls! I wish you continued success! 

Linda x

Photo Credits: Rhapsody Road; Claudia Rose Carter Photography; Steve Hart Photography; Tony Nylons; Nick Clements

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