Home tour: Verena Gernemann

91 news editor, Sophie Warren-Smith, talks to German instagrammer Verena Gernemann about her countryside home and why she enjoys sharing it with the masses on Instagram. 

Verena Gernemann - interiors instagrammer

TV and radio journalist and wedding ceremony speaker, Verena Gernemann, has lived in Haltern am See, a pretty countryside town near Muenster, Germany since 2017. She shares her home with her husband Flo and two year old daughter, Elsa, although the couple previously lived in an apartment in Cologne. They loved city life and originally the plan was to buy some land, build a house and rent it out. They’d never considered living in the countryside themselves - it was merely a retirement idea for the future.

But, their minds slowly changed as they navigated the build, “When we started planning the house we found out that we didn’t like opting for the cheapest versions of everything, and wanted to build a nice house. I planned everything with Pinterest, interior books and magazines.” Verena found herself discovering inspiration everywhere she went and became fully immersed in the process. “One day, we were on holiday in London and I found a beautiful industrial bathroom in a restaurant. I took pictures and decided to style one of our bathrooms like this”. As the project came to an end and the house because prettier and prettier, they decided to try living there to see how they liked it - and have never left!

home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann

 Verena started using Instagram in 2014 when she got married - the idea being to have a personalised hashtag so that everybody could share their photos from their wedding. Shortly after that, she started to share pictures of their Cologne flat, but it was in 2017, when they moved to their current house, that her account really started to gain an audience.

“One day I suddenly got 200 likes for a picture of our kitchen and I was wondering what’s was going on. I still do not know what happened back then, but after that day I got more and more followers and it’s still growing to this day! I use Instagram as a hobby. I don’t feel that pressure to post every day. It’s just fun. When I had 1000 or 2000 followers I began to receive requests for collaborations. I only pick those which I really like, otherwise I think it’s not authentic. I never thought that one day I would reach so many people - but I am very proud that I can be an inspiration to some of them, that makes me happy,” explains Verena.

home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann
home tour: Verena Gernemann - featured on 91 Magazine
home tour: Verena Gernemann - featured on 91 Magazine
home tour: Verena Gernemann - featured on 91 Magazine
home tour: Verena Gernemann - featured on 91 Magazine

Back in January this year, Verena used the Konmari method to minimise the amount of cleaning up and tidying. This made it much easier for taking photos for Instagram as everything now has its place and it’s easier to keep everything organised. From time to time, Verena buys new things so her pictures stay interesting and her DIY projects have been popular, although some followers feel disappointed that they can’t buy her curtains that were handmade by her mother! Decorating and DIY projects are her two favourite pastimes and she loves browsing flea markets to find beautiful old furniture with character, “I never liked the 100% perfect look in interiors - for me, furniture and interiors have to tell a story.”

home tour: Verena Gernemann - featured on 91 Magazine
home tour: Verena Gernemann - featured on 91 Magazine
home tour: Verena Gernemann - featured on 91 Magazine
home tour: Verena Gernemann - featured on 91 Magazine

 The couple’s favourite room is the kitchen. Verena explains, “I love the eat-in kitchen. It’s the room where I am most of the time. I eat, work, talk, laugh and cook in it. It’s the most crowded place when we have guests but I just love it. For some people it’s imperfect or impractical - because of the carpets, for example - but for us, it’s just perfect. Cosy and hyggelig.”

 Verena loves the her home and enjoys the possibility of decorating each room from scratch when she wants to. But, does she miss life in Cologne? “We are still city lovers,” she admits, “but at the moment - and with a small child - we love all the benefits the countryside and our own house with a garden gives us,” says Verena.

Follow Verena on Instagram

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Cherryade

Cherryade, an exquisitely curated and beautifully designed store in Poundbury, is the creation of husband and wife team Ginny and Ian Stanley. Soon to launch online too, we talk to Ginny about taking the time to build the personality of a brand, and what it’s like working together as a couple.

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Hi Ginny! Tell us about the team behind the scenes at Cherryade…

As a husband and wife duo we are responsible for all facets of the business, from the fun stuff like sourcing and buying, to the boring jobs like the office paperwork. Most of our big decision making is made together – luckily, we agree most of the time! We are now very lucky to be supported in the shop by a small team of amazingly talented staff, each with their own strengths and expertise - the value of good employees is not to be underestimated!

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What inspired you to set up your business, and how did you develop the idea?

We ran a coffee shop together for a few years, and began selling a small collection of homeware. We quickly realised that this was the direction we wanted to take, so we sold the cafe and focused on starting a new business.

We opened almost six years ago. Having previous experience of being self-employed helped enormously, so we were well aware of how much time and effort is required and how all-consuming it becomes. 

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Could you describe Cherryade, in a nutshell?

We are a design-led concept store, offering curated collections of goods for life and home. Our collections feature jewellery, bath and fragrance, children and baby, cards and wrap, stationery, books, homeware, utility and house plants.

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Where does the name come from?

Driving home from the Peak District one day, ‘Sally Cinnamon’, a Stone Roses track came on the radio, and we were singing along. ‘Cherryade’ was in the lyrics, and it was born. It doesn’t really mean anything, it just stuck and we went with it!

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Do you have a core ethos or set of values at the heart of your business?

We feel strongly attracted to the concepts of slow living and wabi sabi, and want to show their value to our customers. Taking time to appreciate the simple things in life fits exactly with our ethos and is reflected in our product range. Self-care, products with sustainability in mind, and those that celebrate natural materials and textures are also a focus. We try to choose special pieces that will stand the test of time and bring joy when you use or see them.

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Tell us about your neighbourhood…

We are based in Poundbury, a newly built village-like urban extension to the county town of Dorchester in beautiful Dorset. Built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, it’s home to a great collection of independent shops and cafe’s amongst residential housing, and has become a popular destination for both locals and visitors as an alternative to the traditional high street.

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How valuable is social media and Instagram to your work?

We have been steadily growing our Instagram and online community since we opened. It grows with us organically and I hope shows our culture and authenticity. It’s a real feel-good moment when customers tell us they have come specifically after seeing a post - sometimes travelling some distance. It reaffirms how important our online community is. How amazing to be able to reach out to people who like what we do every day! It’s a privilege, and a part of shop life I really enjoy.

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How did you go about designing the Cherryade store?

It was love at first sight with our building. It’s sited on a corner plot, with a double-aspect and two entrances. It’s a building that looks and feels architecturally impressive and beautiful from the outside. Internally the high ceilings and huge arched windows form a space that is full of light. We created individual zones for our categories of products to be merchandised together, like a mini-department store, with the intention that each area has enough room to give the product and/or designer credence.

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How do you source and curate your collections?

When we travel we gain inspiration from places we visit, and of course we enjoy the trade shows in London, Paris and particularly Scandinavia. We have our favourite suppliers who have remained consistently strong for us and continually bring out new collections.

It’s good to visit their showrooms to see and hold products in the flesh, and then consider our buying focus and direction for each season. Increasingly we find we can source online, especially finding some of the less well known smaller designers and creatives who may not have a presence at trade shows. We find the most difficult bit is deciding what not to buy! Editing and curating takes up a lot of our time!

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What do you find are the pros and cons of running an independent store?

We love working for ourselves and making our own decisions. We have spent our whole married life working together and it is hard to imagine anything different now. It definitely has its challenges of course! The main one for us - as it is for anyone who is self-employed - is the continual battle to find the right work/life balance. There really aren’t enough hours in the day! 

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What have been Cherryade’s highlights, so far?

Highlights for us are always customer satisfaction and positive feedback. It’s reassuring to hear that people ‘get it’, and we take that compliment very personally. Every single decision is measured and considered, so it is confirmation of that effort paying off when we get lovely comments.

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Do you have a typical ‘working day’?

I split my time between being on the shop floor, buying, and working on social media. We don’t have an on-site office, so we find quite a lot of time is also spent working from home. It can be difficult trying to concentrate on buying decisions and budgets with the buzz of the shop happening at the same time! There is always a huge amount to do on a daily basis, such as serving and spending time with customers, working on displays and merchandising, taking deliveries, and plant care.

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How has your business evolved since you began?

We are constantly evolving as trends come and go, new designers and suppliers come on the scene, and of course we are always looking for something new to offer our customers. The house plant trend in recent years is one such example, as its now become such an integral part of what we do, to the extent that the shop has become a bit of a jungle! We started some years ago by introducing a few succulents and cacti, and have since progressed to weekly deliveries of many differing species, varieties, sizes and shapes! 

Our online business is now all set to launch. It was always our intention to let the physical shop grow and gain personality, to develop its culture before going online, which I believe has been crucial for us. It’s going to be a big year!

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How do you handle marketing and PR?

We do very little traditional advertising and struggle to see much value in that anymore for a business like ours, considering the power of social media. We find having direct engagement with our followers and customers benefits us considerably more.

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Any favourite products, makers or bestsellers?

The love is always there for every single product that we choose to stock. Earl of East London scented soy candles are a particular favourite, currently. Each has a beautiful back story of how the fragrance was created, each with a totally unique scent. The quality is excellent. 

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And do you have any gems of advice for aspiring independent store owners?

Be prepared for blood, sweat and tears -  and very long hours! Concentrate on the positive comments, ignore the negative ones. Listen to as much advice as possible - but don’t believe all of it. Trust your instincts!

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What’s in the pipeline for you and Cherryade?

We expect most of our attention in the immediate future will be taken with the launch of cherryade.store and growing that into as much of as a success as we can. 


Find Cherryade Life Store at 180 Bridport Road, Poundbury, Dorset.
Online at
cherryade.store and on Instagram.

Now is the time for independent retailers

If you’re an independent shopkeeper whose ever felt disheartened by the domination of big brands in the retail sector, and wonder how you will ever compete, then read on. Retail Strategist and founder of Future Retail Consulting Catherine Erdly tells us why now is the perfect time to be an independent brand and speaks with four business owners who have not let the big players put them off in following their retail dream…

Another week, another story about the death of the high street. With Amazon continuing its path to world domination, it can feel like a worrying and uncertain time for those of us in the business of selling products. However, looking more deeply into the reasons behind the failure of big retailers shows a different story.

 It shows a story of customers waking up to the possibility of something different, something special and something that speaks directly to them. In that way, there has never been a better time to be a creative retail business.

The Fig Store, featured in  91 Magazine AW17 . Photograph by:  Kym Grimshaw

The Fig Store, featured in 91 Magazine AW17. Photograph by: Kym Grimshaw

Retail Revolution

Let’s be clear, retail is not dead, but BORING retail is!

In the 80s, 90s and 00s, people were interested in fitting in or “keeping up with the Jones”. Big retailers expanded - convinced that the way to keep growing was to take on more and more store space. Because they were servicing a customer base that was interested in fitting in, they were able to manufacture in bulk. Prices in China were so low that they could achieve huge profit margins to cover their costs. This created large chains with identical stores, full of unadventurous products designed to appeal to as many people as possible.

 As consumer behaviour has changed, especially with the growth of online shopping, then these retailers have been slow to catch up. So, when many of them were faced with a customer who no longer wanted something boring and mediocre (BHS anyone?), then they could no longer keep going.

Midgley Green, featured in  91 Magazine SS18 . Photograph by:  Kym Grimshaw

Midgley Green, featured in 91 Magazine SS18. Photograph by: Kym Grimshaw

People no longer want “stuff”

Fast forward to 2019, and now not only do people want to stand out instead of fit in, most people are dealing with having far too much stuff in their lives. We want fewer items, but for them to mean more, suit us better and reflect more of our personality.

 They want to connect with other people who share their values

More than that, today’s consumer, especially the younger generation, really want to connect with companies that share their values. They are far less interested in faceless corporations and much more interested in seeing the founder on their Insta stories giving a tour of their workspace. They want to buy, and support, businesses that share their beliefs and their world views. 

The story of your brand has become one of the most valuable marketing assets for retail businesses in 2019 - but what is Debenhams story? Or Next’s for example? 

Conscious consumerism is here to stay

2018 marked a tipping point for public awareness of the environmental impact of modern manufacturing.  The move away from single-use plastic and growth in reusable items such as coffee cups is another example of how today’s customer is far more interested in sustainability than ever before.

 And this environmental awareness amongst customers is only going to grow. Generation Z, who are rapidly gaining purchasing power as they move into adulthood, tend to be very aware of environmental issues and are even more likely than other age groups to base their purchasing decisions on how products are manufactured.

As the GlobalData report on UK Sustainability in 2019 highlighted, 93.5% of consumers want retailers to act sustainably, and 80% of them feel that retailers are not doing enough. The perfect opportunity for small businesses with a focus on sustainability to shine.

Winters Moon, featured in  91 Magazine SS18 . Photograph by  Georgia Gold .

Winters Moon, featured in 91 Magazine SS18. Photograph by Georgia Gold.

Independent businesses can build a community

So what does all of this mean for independent retailers? Well, as an independent retailer or brand, you are perfectly placed to take advantage of these shifts in buying behaviour. You can relate directly to your customers as a real human being, not a faceless corporation, mainly because it actually IS you talking to the customers, not a marketing department!

You can build relationships with your customers, getting their feedback on new products, understanding what they like and don’t like, and inviting them to be part of your buying process. Above all, you can relate to your customers by sharing your story and your values, and ultimately build a community around you of people who share their world view. Focus not on trying to beat the bigger retailers at their game - no-one will ever be faster than Amazon - but think instead about what you can do that the bigger retailers can’t.

To find out more about how independent businesses can compete successfully against bigger players, we asked four independent businesses to share how they focus on what small businesses do best.

Hetu, zero waste food store, London
Hetu, zero waste food store, London
Laura, owner of Hetu

FOOD 

Laura Boyes, founder, Hetu Zero Waste Store

Hi Laura, how long have you been running Hetu? 

Hetu opened its doors on 3 December 2017 but I was working on it for about 9 months before opening.

What inspired you to start your business?

I was living in Australia which had over 50 zero waste shops, while there were only a handful across the whole of the UK and none in London. At that time I was also looking for a new direction in life. So I decided to return home and open London’s first fully vegan zero waste shop.

What will a customer get from you that they won't get from a supermarket?

Loads! Our customers get the personal treatment, we know our regulars by name. They get advice and help along their vegan or zero waste journey.

 They also know that we have done the research for them and only stock products that meet our strict guidelines. And above all, our customers get to go home with plastic free, vegan and cruelty free products.

Why do you think customers like to shop with independent food stores?

It helps foster a feeling of community. People like knowing that their money isn’t going direct to big corporations and making the rich even richer.

 How have you used your physical shop to create a relationship with your customers?

Our customers have become friends, I see them more than I see my own family!  Being able to interact with customers face to face means we really truly know them and know what they need. We are always asking for feedback and they know they are part of the shop and its success, not just another customer. 

What advice would you give to a small business competing in a category dominated by big players?

Don’t be afraid to stay ‘small’ - scalability does not always means success. Staying small means we can be nimble and change quickly as and when needed. It also means we are able to make decisions based on principles, not on making shareholder profits.

Small print books
Small Print Books
Jenny, owner of Small Print Books

BOOKS

Jenny Thomas, founder, Smallprint Books

 Hi Jenny, can you tell us when (and why!) you started Smallprint?

I started the business online in January of 2015 having worked on the concept for 9 months or so. The bricks and mortar shop opened in October 2017. After 2 children, I was ready to throw myself into something new and exciting! 

What is the appeal of shopping in an independent bookstore?

Books are magical - they transport you to a new place of possibility and imagination. Shopping with independent bookshops is a special act as you impart some of that magic from the seller to the reader, it's a lovely exchange of feelings and positivity. 

How important has building a community been for your brand?

Hugely important! You are nothing without word of mouth and that has been our number one force to withstand the pressures on small businesses. 

Smallprint grew in the early days through community fairs and festivals - speaking to people and hearing their stories about childhood favourites and the power of words and pictures to raise children. Every day someone comes in who has been recommended and that is something I am forever thankful for!

How have you used your bricks and mortar space to grow that community?

We host a series of events in the space we created at the rear of the shop. We have a lively room with beautiful artwork and tipis, cushions and drawing tables. We have a program including dance, music, storytelling and languages as well as craft and story sessions with authors and illustrators. We have great success with regular attendance for these and we keep them free so everyone can access.

What advice would you give when it comes to your competition, who may well be much bigger than you?

Believe in yourself and switch off to the competition! Not everyone wants to give their money to big corporations. Yes it can be disheartening when someone comes and chooses to buy elsewhere, but stay true to your USP and believe in your heart that you are doing something that makes a difference. 

mind the cork
mind the cork
Jenny, designer and owner of Mind the Cork

HOMEWARES 

Jenny Espirito Santo, founder, Mind The Cork

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jenny! Tell us about your journey so far with Mind The Cork.

I started Mind The Cork on a very part time basis back in 2014. It partly started due to my love of the material - cork is incredibly sustainable. The brand has evolved hugely since that time - and sustainability is becoming even more important for the customer today. 

What benefits do your customers get from buying from a small business?

There isn’t anything that we, as customers, don’t already have. So the vast majority of purchasing is not a necessity, everything that people buy is frivolous, in a way.    

If you buy from a small business, then you get to be part of something. If you want something bespoke, then a human is able to customise products specifically for you. You can have that “beyond the brand” connection with a real human being who’s behind the products.

How many of your customers come to you because of shared values?

It’s a mixture really. There is definitely a customer who comes to me because of my minimalist, pared down aesthetic. And others, who love the cork leather products I make because they are waterproof and behave like leather, but are completely vegan.

But I’m also very much against mass-production, and I’m constantly looking at ways to improve the design and processes of making the product to reduce my impact. I definitely attract others who share that ethos.

What advice would you give to anyone competing in a niche dominated by larger players?

Don’t try to compete. It’s as simple as that. You have to remember that small businesses, often one person, will never compete with an entire marketing department in a bigger retailer.

What we do have is ourselves, as human beings. Life is about connections. Human to human. 

We care about what we are doing, not because we’re in it for the money, but because we are passionate about the design, material and ethos of our business. When people buy from us, they are buying that passion. 

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Lowie
Bronwyn, owner of Lowie

FASHION

Bronwyn Lowenthal, founder, Lowie 

Hi Bronwyn, tell us about how Lowie began.

 Lowie began life in 2002 when I was travelling in Turkey. I’ve always been fascinated by local handcrafts and I brought back some knitted socks. They were an instant hit and in our first season we were stocked in House of Fraser and Topshop. 

We expanded over the years out of knitwear and into other ranges - always produced ethically, and using organic cotton.

Five and a half years ago we opened a shop in Herne Hill in South London, and then two years ago added a second site, also in South London, in Crystal Palace.

Why do customers love to shop with you?

People love to support local businesses. Our customers want something different, unusual and with a story to tell, they don’t want to be wearing the same as everyone else. Also we’re big on colour!

 We offer free repairs for life which gives the customers trust in the brand. They know that for us to offer that service, the garments must be high quality and durable.

How does having a physical store help build that relationship?

Having a place where we can talk to our customers definitely helps build trust. We know that 50% of our web orders come from local customers. They know the quality and they’ve seen and touched the clothes and tried them on. 

But you can’t just hang clothes on a rail and expect people to buy them. You need to offer an experience - our customers love the personal attention and convenience that comes from shopping at a small boutique close to home. 

What advice would you like to share with other small businesses competing against bigger brands?

Hone your offer, make sure it’s unique, so that people have got to have a reason to come to you. There is no point in doing what the high street is doing but charging more money for it. 

People love to support small businesses but they won’t spend more money just because you’re small. They need a distinct offer, so the design is really important.


If you are a small retail business and feel you need some help with pointing your business in the right direction, check out Catherine’s website - Future Retail consulting - you’ll find useful blog posts as well as details on her online & IRL workshops and 1-2-1 sessions. Catherine is offering 91 Magazine readers 10% off her one-to-one services booked in the months of June, July and August. Just quote ‘91 Magazine’ when you contact Catherine.

Instagrammer's guide to: Sheffield

Sheffield is emerging as one of the most creative cities in the north of England, with lots of interesting businesses opening up to serve the creative community. Karen Barlow shares with us a few of her top spots for eating, shopping and taking photos around the city.

Despite being only about 90 minutes away from my home in Manchester, until quite recently, I had only visited the city of Sheffield once before. In recent years - and mainly because I became infatuated with the beautiful Instagram feed of Sheffield florists Swallows & Damsons (more on that later) - I became curious to know more about this city.

Home to the world’s most famous steel, Henderson’s relish (Sheffield’s version of Worcestershire sauce) and the Arctic Monkeys, this former industrial city is on the verge of big changes. The city’s brutalist architecture maintains it’s urban edge while many quarters have been gradually gentrified. Many new food destinations, craft ale bars and cool coffee shops have popped up and it’s development is rapid. What gives the cityscape it’s energy is it’s diversity. Beautiful Victorian villas overlooking charming parks contrast with edgier, alternative and characterful neighbourhoods - each area feeling like a separate town within one city.

 Below are a selection of my favourite spots I’ve discovered as I have got to know this interesting and vibrant city…

Tamper Coffee, Sheffield - Instagrammer's Guide to Sheffield by 91 Magazine

Tamper Coffee

Every day should begin with coffee and there are many great cafes worth a visit in and around Sheffield. My favourite - serving freshly ground offerings, New Zealand style - is Tamper. Located at Sellers Wheel, a fantastic former 19th Century Silversmiths, it is in the heart of the Cultural Industries Quarter. This area is an interesting place to start and get a sense of how this city would have looked during the industrial revolution - it’s full of renovated factory buildings and mills, none more impressive than Sellers Wheel. You’ll find other branches of Tamper at Westfield Terrace and Kommune (see below).

IG: @tampercoffeesw

The Blind Mole

The Blind Mole

Kelham Island

For an afternoon of mooching, head over to Kelham Island. This area is still undergoing lots of change and redevelopment, but it’s home to some interesting independents, such as The Blind Mole antiques and the Peddler night market, a popular venue for street food, craft beer and music, held on the first Friday and Saturday of each month. Cutlery Works at Kelham Island, is the largest food destination in the north of England, with a range of permanent and pop up eateries and bars, located over two floors in a former factory building. Just across the road, overlooking the river Don, is Church, located in a former steel works factory. Opened by Oli Sykes, front man for the band Bring Me Horizon and his wife, and appropriately named Temple of fun - in part due to its selection of retro arcade machines, play stations and pool table -the restaurant and bar are 100% vegan.

IG: @the_blind_mole/

IG: @peddlermkt/

IG: @cutleryworks

IG: @templeof.fun

Kommune

Kommune

La Biblioteka

La Biblioteka

Kommune  

Recently opened in a former Co-op store In the heart of the city, you’ll find Kommune which houses a selection of food and drink destinations, The Viewing Room art gallery and La Biblioteka, an independent bookstore, which sells a selection of gifts and specialist art and design magazines (including 91!) Kommune is closed on Mondays, but open every other day of the week.

IG: @kommune_castlehouse

IG: @labiblioteka 

collard manson, Sheffield - Instagrammer's Guide to Sheffield by 91 Magazine

Collard Manson

Vintage fans should head to Devonshire Street where you’ll find some of the city’s best vintage clothes shops, such as Vulgar and Mooch Vintage and just around the corner, Cow Vintage. Collard Manson is also located here - something of an institution in Sheffield. The owners have been trading in beautiful homewares, gifts and clothes since 2002. It is exquisitely and cleverly merchandised with a distinctive style; walking into the double height store almost feels like being transported to European destination - somewhere more akin to Amsterdam or Berlin – well worth a browse.

IG: @collardmanson

Moonko, Sheffield - Instagrammer's Guide to Sheffield by 91 Magazine

Moonko

Further along onto Division Street, you’ll come upon Moonko, another independent store channeling a European aesthetic and vibe. Against a backdrop of white walls sit a selection of homewares, artwork, stationery and ceramics, all nestled amongst an array of indoor plants, creating what can only be described as an urban jungle. The owners and staff have in-depth knowledge of how to care for each species should you need any advice or guidance on looking after your purchases. Their products, mainly crafted by independent makers, have been carefully selected according to their eco-credentials.

IG: @moonko____

Photo:  @Haarkon_

Photo: @Haarkon_

Sheffield Botanical Gardens

If plants are your thing, then look no further than the Botanical Gardens just off Ecclesall Road in the centre of Sheffield. Over 150 years old and listed by English Heritage as a grade II site of special historic and architectural interest, the glasshouses are full of rare species of plants from tropical countries and are a horticulturist’s dream, not to mention being extremely photogenic. There is also a tea room and a calendar of events, including a 3-day music festival every July.

Cocoa Wonderland

Also on Ecclesall Road is Cocoa Wonderland, a must-visit for chocoholics and the sweet-toothed. The café and shop transport you back to a fantasy land of nostalgia with shelves of sweets and treats from a bygone world in glass jars and indulgent hot chocolate and cream teas served from vintage china.

IG: @cocoa_wonderland

Sheffield antiques centre - Instagrammer's Guide to Sheffield by 91 Magazine

The Antiques Quarter

The Antiques Quarter is situated at Abbeydale Road and is dominated by an impressive former ballroom now known as The Abbeydale Picture House. This independently run venue is the location for live music events, cocktails, craft beer and street food plus the monthly Pedlars Corner Flea Market. This area is home to over 60 independent bars, restaurants, delis and bakers, florists and small businesses.

IG: @sheffieldantiquescentre

Swallows and Damsons 

In the same area is the shop that led me to Sheffield in the first place: Florist, Swallows & Damsons. Initially drawn in by their popular Instagram feed, in real life, the shop owned by Anna Potter, is equally as inspiring. A mix of gorgeous flowers and plants, are complimented by a varied selection of pots and vessels for your blooms, and its wooden-panelled tongue and groove walls and vintage style display units make for some great Instagram shots for your own gallery. If you can’t make it to the shop itself, grab a slice of the floral action via Anna’s first book, The Flower Fix, which has just published, showcasing her beautiful space and floral arrangements.

IG: @swallowsanddamsons

Forge bakehouse, Sheffield - Instagrammer's Guide to Sheffield by 91 Magazine

Forge Bakehouse

Not far away is the Forge Bakehouse, where everything from the seasonally-changing bread, pastries and even the fillings for the patisseries are handmade on the premises. It’s so good that it’s almost impossible to get a shot of the bakery fully stocked, so get there early before they sell out. As well as baked goods to take away, food and drinks are served from breakfast until dinner within the lovely light-filled glass extension on the side of the bakery, with a further seating area upstairs.

IG: @forgebakehouse

Bragazzis, Sheffield - Instagarmmer's Guide to Sheffield by 91 Magazine

Bragazzis

 If you are a bit of a foodie and fancy picking up some Italian groceries to take home with you while you’re here, head further up Abbeydale road to Bragazzis deli and café. Here you will find the finest Italian anti pasti, olives and bread, or sit inside and treat yourself to a range of paninis and salads and of course, great quality coffee.

IG: @bragazzis

Words & photography by @karen_barlow, unless otherwise credited.

Instagrammer's Guide to Sheffield - by 91 Magazine

Meet the Maker: Karen Hsu

Paper florist Karen Hsu creates beautiful pom pom style flowers using sustainable and biodegradable materials. We spoke to the London-based maker to hear about her delicate designs, creating statement displays for Selfridges and how nature inspires her work…

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Hi Karen. Why and when did you decide to open Pom Pom Factory?

It started in 2012 when I was working at Mercantile London - a fashion boutique in Old Spitalfields Market. I was asked to create a window display for the shop.

It was this experience that helped me realise that the most unassuming yet endlessly versatile material that I had been using on the counter day-in day-out would eventually become the first pom pom display I made. And it was tissue paper!

Pom Pom Factory was born when Selfridges approached me and asked me to make 6000 paper flowers for them for their Christmas window displays. I frantically assembled a team and quit my job at Mercantile. Mercantile were kind enough to let me use their basement as the “factory “.

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What had you done previously?

After graduating from Central Saint Martins with an audio visuals degree, I was working as a film runner, sometimes as an extra, and set designer and prop maker.

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How would you describe your style?

I make paper floral displays, either utilising creative tissue paper for pom pom flowers or specific crate paper to produce realistic flowers at site specific installations. Over the years, I’ve seen my style of work develop from making paper flowers as a decorative element to finding a harmonious connection between observing nature and craftsmanship.

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Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?

I always start by observing the natural flower I am going to recreate in paper form, I explore its form and structure to ensure I obtain as realistic an impression as I can.  

I will then take a desired colour roll of paper out and start building the flower out from memory, which I believe allows me to impart my own signature perception of the flower. I want my imagination to maintain a significant level of influence on my creations.

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Your wares are all made with Pyrène (a natural tissue paper which is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable), why was it so important to you that your products are environmentally friendly?

Being inspired by nature, it is important to create something that is sustainable and biodegradable. I want my creations to last but not cause a negative impact on the environment.

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Which is your most popular flower? Why do you think that is?

Peonies are the most popular, I think due to their unique varieties and strong feminine quality, their full-bodied shape make them perfect for indulgent bouquets and arrangements. They’re delicate yet tough as nails.

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Hard question: do you have a favourite?

I love making thistles! It has such a different structure to any of the other flowers that I make. Their delicate bright colourful flower heads and body full of sharp thorns intrigues me to no end.

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What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t really have typical days, it changes all the time, I get a lot of last minute orders usually in the fashion of “can I have these flowers made by tomorrow?” Which means I always have to be ready to go into overdrive to fulfil a myriad of bespoke orders.

In the past I’d always say yes, which usually lead to me being a perpetual night owl. These days, I am more realistic with timings and let my clients know that my flowers are all handmade to order so it takes time to create the best possible display.

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You also hold workshops, can you tell us a little about them?

I started to teach workshops three years ago. I love being able to share basic paper flower making and craftsmanship with others. My workshops are not just about being able to make a paper flower but of the processes involved that enables someone to create, style and establish their own unique imprint on the flower.

I like to encourage my students to explore their own ways of making flowers rather than just following a template. I post all my upcoming workshops on my newsletter that I would like to encourage all those interested to sign up.

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If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business - what would you say?

Trust yourself and build a support network around you. I have an amazing group of small business entrepreneurial friends whom I exchange experiences with and offer mutual support to.

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What's been your highlight so far?

Our London Craft Week display this year was definitely my highlight. We had spent one year planning this event and are so grateful to work with the London Flower School, Italian paper supplier Cartotenica Rossi and Old Spitalfields Market to create a concept for an installation inspired by underwater coral reefs and floral gardens.

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Quick-fire questions

Describe your work in three words:

Imaginative, versatile and emotive.

What are your making rituals?

I like to start with an empty table before I lay out all my tools and papers before I commence making. I like to observe and conduct this ritual methodically to get myself into the making mindset. Sometimes I will go out for a walk for a few hours around my neighbourhood, I end up chatting with friends who have shops by close-by. We usually converse about new and upcoming exciting projects and this usually pumps me up for the work ahead.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee

Mountains or sea?

Sea

Night owl or early bird?

Night owl

I wish someone had told me...

Maya Angelou once said ‘Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it!’ I try to remind myself of these words everyday.

See more from Karen via her website and Instagram.

91 is reading... In Bloom

Clare Nolan is a very talented lady. Not only is she a stylist, writer and former lifestyle editor of YOU magazine, she is an author, a mentor, a teacher and a gardening whiz! She has brought all of these talents together in her newly published book In Bloom - Growing, harvesting and arranging flowers all year round.

In Bloom by Clare Nolan

The cover is beautiful - rich with colour and the detail of those sumptuous peonies and roses. Inside is full of stunning floral photography, all styled and shot by Clare herself, and her words convey the passion she has for growing her own flowers and the enjoyment gained from cutting those blooms to fill her home with.

In Bloom by Clare Nolan
In Bloom by Clare Nolan

The book itself is a chunky tome; one that will be referred to again and again as you navigate creating your own cutting garden and require Clare’s guidance or reassurance. She begins with how to get started - planning your garden as well as tools and where to source your seeds and plants. This is followed by sections on annuals and biennials, bulbs, perennials, shrubs & trees, foliage & fillers and finally how to harvest and arrange your homegrown blooms.

General advice is given initially for each type, before Clare focusses in on specific flowers - providing growing tips, her favourite varieties and how to harvest them. Her styling experience comes into play in the final section of the book with an array of ideas and inspiration for displaying your flowers to maximum effect.

In Bloom by Clare Nolan
In Bloom by Clare Nolan
In Bloom by Clare Nolan

I love a book that does more than just one thing, and this ticks all the boxes in terms of providing masses of practical advice but also bundles of visual inspiration. I dream of a garden that provides me with beautiful flowers all year round so I can curb my shop bought habit, so this book is going to be invaluable in leading me towards that goal! Thank you Clare for creating this bible for aspiring flower growers!

In Bloom is published by Kyle Books and is now available to purchase online or from all good bookshops.

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Holy Water

Located in the picturesque seaside village of Beer, Devon, Holy Water is a modern apothecary store stocking beautiful natural products free from preservatives and harsh chemicals; instead they are full of hand collected, foraged and harvested from-the-wild goodies. We spoke with Alyssa, who runs Holy Water with her husband Wil, to talk simplistic style, hand-making products and breaking the ‘expensive equals quality’ mindset…

Hi Alyssa! When and why did you decide to open Holy Water? 

I moved from the States in April 2018 after living and working in Seattle, WA. We were living in Bath at the time and had been searching for a shop space in which to explore this new venture. We were on holiday in Beer and saw a 'for rent' sign in the window. We ended up taking it that week, which was wild!

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What had you both done before? Did any of these skills help?

Wil (still) works in the design industry for the Danish company HAY. While I worked for an herbal apothecary in Seattle and a gin company in Bath - before that I'd always been in retail and management. These skills were essential to our decision to open a shop. Wil could source the materials to make the shop look presentable and I could speak about the products we sell. 

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Holy Water Apothecary, Beer

Sounds like a dream team! How did you decide on the name?

Five years ago when I started the brand, I was consumed with how much water changes the skincare routine. We need to consume water for clear skin, to wash our skin, to mix the masks, salts for the bath, etc. It was a play on words for how sacred water is to the skin. Although we do get a lot of religious questions! 

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How would you describe the interior style of Holy Water?

Originally it was pretty bland. When we took the property on we stripped back the 70's wood-chip and re-plastered and re-painted. We only had about ten days to turn a shell into the shop. We rescued a beautiful parquet cash desk from the bin. We also found the shelves for the jars from an old school that had been remodelled. We found Wedgwood factory drying shelves in old oak which sit in front of an exposed stone wall. So it's a mix of old and modern that's sits well with our brand list. It was really imperative for us to keep the integrity of the building in tact and keep it simple.

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Holy Water Apothecary, Beer

You're passionate about natural products, why is it so important to you?

I've always been attracted to products derived from natural and herbal constituents. In fact, I can remember being a child and pressing strawberries and raspberries to my cheeks and lips to stain them over using my mom’s makeup. I worked for a few natural markets before working for an apothecary and I think that helped to push me in the right direction; seeing individuals so excited about making products at home using no nonsense ingredients that could actually HELP you was a game changer.

I also grew up with a low-waste father who instilled the important of reusing and recycling everything. I want to keep the conversation out in the open about skincare and not hide behind clever packaging and tricky hidden labels. I suffered with acne for most of my life and the only thing that helped me was natural skincare and herbs. This is my primary reason for doing this- to help humans feel their best and most beautiful. 

How do you source your wares?

I'd been compiling a list for months of stockists we'd want to carry if we opened our own space. Some are from the States and others are from England- we have a few "rules" we follow if we stock products at the shop- local, handmade, homemade or ethically/sustainably made.

We have a lot of local products from Devon and south England as well as small batch homemade products. It's so important for us to support the local community. 

Holy Water Apothecary, Beer
Holy Water Apothecary, Beer

As well as stocking from independents, what do you create in-house? Do you enjoy the process?

In the shop we make three bath soaks and four clay masks. This process is incredibly personal to me. I walk the coast of Devon to collect varieties of seaweed and dry them in the shop, I pick the yarrow in season, our cousins make us the charcoal in Devon and I grind all of the oats and rose petals by hand. Making these are the most meditative and quiet I can be while constantly thinking about what's next! 

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That’s so lovely! Which item is your best seller?

Our salts, masks, soaps and Juniper Ridge are our best sellers. I think people always want to support local now, which is great. Knowing we make them in-house exclusively makes them a little more special as a gift or for the home. Juniper Ridge is a Californian company (where I am originally from) that distills indigenous herbs and uses the essential oils for their soaps. It smells amazing and they donate 10% of all sales to protecting the wilderness. 

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Which product is your can't-live-without? You can choose a few if it’s too difficult…

I definitely can't live without the clay masks or the herbs. We sell over 75 organic herbs for teas, tinctures or recipes that I rely on to feel my best. I mostly drink nettle, red raspberry leaf, clover and ginko. However the roots are really helpful for clearing the skin - burdock, dandelion, liquorice and yellow dock. The masks I definitely need to keep my skin evened out!

What do you enjoy most about running Holy Water?

The people who visit. It's my passion to speak about natural products and herbal remedies and I love helping people to find "their product" even if it's just a bar of soap. Each one of our labels has a backstory and I thoroughly enjoy telling people about them.

I also love creating custom teas for different situations to keep it personal and individual. I really hate going into a shop and nobody can give me any information on the products - I wanted to learn as much as I could and stay updated and educated to be the most helpful for the guests who come in.

I also keep all of our products under £40. I don't think beautiful things should be expensive and I don't think cheaper products aren't good for you. In fact I'm trying to break the "expensive equals quality" routine we seem to be in. Good products can be ethical and affordable and are in many cases better for your skin and body/mind.

Holy Water Apothecary, Beer
Holy Water Apothecary, Beer

What has been your career highlight (so far!)?

Opening a shop has been a huge accomplishment - although it has definitely been a learning curve. We haven't yet been open a year and there are so many variants we have to keep in the forefront. Expanding without losing integrity or "selling out," keeping a decent selection without overpricing products, staying present and informed about those products and our stockists. 

Do you have any top tips for those thinking of starting their own store?

It's important to remember why you're doing it. I wanted a shopfront to sell teas and skincare because I genuinely want people to feel their best. So the integrity and ethos is in the forefront. It's also imperative to TAKE IT SLOW. We opened the shop on savings and didn't take a huge loan which means we had the opportunity to build very slowly and not rush to make the shop fully packed with products. This means we are extra careful in choosing the brands we stock and careful about how quickly we expand. Also staying creative! We had no expensive shop-fit, just paint and a few really good finds. Keep it simple and keep it you. 

Holy Water Apothecary, Beer
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What does the future hold for Holy Water?

We're definitely excited to introduce more small independent brands in store! We are also working to develop low waste and bulk skincare in refillable and recyclable packaging- as well as compostable and sustainable skincare and teas. We're trying to incorporate our surroundings - both natural and personal - into the stock as much as possible... so stay tuned! 

Find Holy Water at Fore Street, Beer, Devon, EX12 3JB and online.

Follow them on Instagram.

Photography: Jim Holland  and Caroline Rowland

Meet the Maker: Bisila Noha

Looking to explore her creative side, Bisila Noha serendipitously stumbled upon her talent for ceramics. Now at a collective London studio, she creates unique handmade marbled ceramics that beautifully evoke nature and landscapes.

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Hi Bisila, we love your beautiful ceramic pieces - what first inspired the idea of setting up your business, and how did you then develop it? 

To be honest, it all happened very naturally without me realising much about it. I had gone on a break to study ceramics a bit more and the moment I put my work out there I started getting orders, so I had to start making full-time.

How would you describe your work?

My pieces are a mix between pottery and painting, since I make forms that I then use as a canvas to make ‘ceramic paintings’. I use simple forms and powerful decorations that make each piece totally unique.

What is your background?

I studied translation and interpreting and also international relations, and right before setting up my business I worked as an account manager at an advertising agency that specialised in adapting or translating ads and marketing materials.

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Do you have an ethos behind your business, or values that you focus on?

I believe that as a society we should change the way we consume: we should ‘buy less and buy better’. We should buy local products as much as possible and keep an eye on the carbon footprint of the products we use. Therefore, I make pieces that are durable, made with local raw materials and I mostly sell in London and avoid shipping.

How would you describe your creative style?

It’s very much inspired by nature - storms, skies, the sea, mainly - and Japanese sumi-e paintings. 

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Describe your work process?

At the moment, I have a signature technique - marbling - thanks to which people recognise my work, which is great. I’ve been using this technique for a while now, so I am constantly looking for new shapes I can use to explore and tweak the possibilities of marbling, as well as better express myself through it.

I use UK raw materials and I am always trying to find ways to minimise the range of materials I use while making the most of them. I also love collaborating with people in order to come up with new ideas and projects. 

What kind of space do you work in?

It’s a collective studio in East London called Turning Earth In Production. We are now about 12 people making very diverse work - sculpture, functional pots of all kinds. We have just been moved to a new space, so we are going to try to build a stronger community. Everyone’s dream is to have their own space, but working next to other people can be great too. We learn a lot from each other and there is a nice atmosphere.

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Do you have a design background, or are you self-taught?

Art-wise - I’ve mostly learnt all I know while working at Lon-art, an arts and education organisation I run (my other passion along with ceramics). Design-wise, I think it all comes kind of intuitively and also thanks to my sister who is an interior designer and design and trend forecaster. And when it comes to pottery, I have been studying and practising for the last six years, so I would say that while I’ve done different pottery courses and residencies, I am mainly self-taught. 

Has your work evolved over time and taken you on a creative journey?

Definitely! I started off making very naive, small pieces. Also, I’ve realised that at the beginning I was heavily influenced by a rather capitalist approach to life, constrained by societal ideas of productivity and functionality. Therefore I struggled to create ‘only’ decorative pieces, and so all my first pieces had multiple functions. It was a bit too much!

As I like to say - these first pots were a metaphor of us, human beings, becoming ‘human doers’. I am now being much more zen about it and embracing ‘the being’. I’m not scared of making things, I just enjoy making - this may not be straightforwardly functional, but I like to think that art and decorative pieces also have a very valid function - that of visual delight and aesthetic pleasure. 

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How do you juggle producing handmade works, with engaging in the online world?

I used to be way more worried about Instagram and all that, posting a lot, etc. It is true that it is a great tool to sell and show what one does, and I do sell via Instagram. However, now I am more focused on promoting myself offline, contacting people, galleries, etc. And the followers will come… hopefully! 

How valuable is the online community to your business?

When making new work it is super useful to see how people react to it. And it can be very encouraging.  There’s also a good bunch of makers that explain how they do things, which is great to learn. And I also use it for research. 

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Where do you find creative inspiration?

In nature. Since the very beginning I have been making and decorating pieces with landscapes in mind.

What do you find are the joys of being an independent maker, and what are the challenges you face?

I do enjoy it a lot. I am very driven so I can get lots done, I’m not scared of asking for things or contacting people, so being on my own is great to do anything I want. However, I must also say that it can be very lonely. Moreover, a creative path is one where there aren’t many rules as to how to progress etc, so this DIY aspect of it can be a bit scary or discouraging. I sometimes don’t know if I’m doing things right, and because it’s a very personal journey, it can be tricky to know where to get good advice from. My biggest challenge is to deal with myself. I have been very demanding and a tad harsh with myself, so I’m now trying to be a bit more chilled.

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 Which pieces do you most enjoy making?

My favourites are my large decorative wall pieces. They are about 45cm diameter and the marbling on those is very powerful.

How did you discover your love for what you do?

 Just by chance. When I moved to London six years ago I knew I wanted to explore my creativity - a friend suggested pottery, and here I am. 

What does a typical working day look like?

My days are often very varied, but I like going early to the studio and work for about six hours, and then have time to go for a swim, work on other projects, or also teach - which I do regularly in the evenings. 

Bisila Noha ceramics

How do you approach marketing and PR?

My marketing is via Instagram and my newsletter, and for PR I am now thinking how to do it, to get the right people to see my work. Every so often I have a day where I crazily email people, shops and galleries that I have been following for a while - and see if anyone replies. But I think it is high time I got a real strategy!

What have been your working highlights so far?

My number one highlight undoubtedly is the London Art Fair, where I exhibited in January this year with Thrown, the gallery I have been working with for the last year. And then the trip I did to Armenia a year ago, where I was invited to teach a 3-week workshop on ceramics and embroidery at Tumo Studios in Yerevan. It was the best, as I could travel thanks to my work, teach, meet people and have an amazing time!

Bisila Noha ceramics

Where do you sell your work?

In London, I sell at Heal’s in Tottenham Court Road, at the gallery Thrown in Highgate, Not Just Another Store in Shoreditch, and Living Earth - the brand new shop by Turning Earth. I also do a couple of markets each year, plus I sell in Madrid, at Bureau Mad and Planthae. 

What does the rest of the year hold for you?

For the Londoners, I would recommend they to pop by Living Earth. If in Cornwall, I will be exhibiting my work at Porthminster Gallery in St Ives for their September Festival Show (August 31st - October 5th), which is very exciting! I also have a couple of other things in the making, so 91 readers can follow me or subscribe to my newsletter to be in the loop.

Do you have time for creative pastimes or hobbies?

I love analogue photography - I used to translate for Lomography years ago, and since then I am super into it! But my hobbies generally are more exercise oriented, like swimming and yoga.

Any advice for makers just starting out?

Don't be too worried about what other people do, do your own thing and believe in it. Also - be gentle to yourself, and from time-to-time, dedicate some time to assess your achievements and somehow celebrate them.

Quick-Fire questions: 

Describe your work in three words?

Poetic, dynamic, mesmerising.

What are your making rituals?

My current ritual is listening to either Andrew Bird, Agnes Obel or Haley Heynderickx while throwing. And Laura Marling while trimming!

Tea or coffee?

Coffee.

Mountains or sea?

Mountains - Panticosa being my favourite place on Earth!

Night owl or early bird?

100 per cent early bird.

I wish someone had told me…

How important procrastinating and leisure time actually are when running a creative business.

See more from Bisila via her website and on Instagram.

Photographs courtesy of Bisila Noha, Ida Riveros and TUMO Studios

91 visits... the Jurassic coast

Some of your may have followed my recent trip to the Dorset / Devon coast over on Instagram Stories, when we stayed just outside Lyme Regis for five days. In between enjoying the beaches and the lovely Easter holiday weather, I managed to get to a few of the shops and cafes I’d been desperate to visit, as well as discovering some new little gems. If you haven’t visited this part of the south coast, it is most definitely worth the trip; here are a few of the top spots I recommend shopping and eating at…

Ryde and Hope, Lyme Regis
Ryder and Hope, Lyme Regis
Ryder and Hope, Lyme Regis
Ryder and Hope, Lyme Regis

Ryder and Hope, Lyme Regis

Ryder and Hope are a 91 Magazine stockist based in the heart of Lyme, and I’m not ashamed to admit that for ages I have wanted to see that pink sink in person! It didn’t disappoint and I spent ages browsing every corner of the shop. The store is filled with beautiful items from independent brands such as MOA, The Basket Room and Arran St East, as well as stationery, books and plants.

Swim, Lyme Regis
Swim, Lyme Regis
Swim, Lyme Regis

Swim, Lyme Regis

If you have our latest issue, you will probably recognise this place as it was featured as our restaurant tour. As soon as Kath (our ex-su editor and now contributor) suggested this place, I knew I had to have it in the magazine AND pay it a visit! I didn’t make it to the shoot that photographer Maria Bell did for us, so I was so pleased we could fit it in to our family holiday. Located right on the seafront, Swim’s interior is gorgeous plus it didn’t disappoint in the food department. We went for breakfast and I had the french toast & fruit, although everything on the menu sounded amazing. A must if you are in the town.

Lyme Bay Cafe, Lyme Regis

Lyme Bay Cafe, Lyme Regis

On the same day, we ate lunch in an equally scrummy cafe - the Lyme Bay Cafe. The weather was lovely and we were lucky enough to bag a table outside overlooking the sea. I didn’t get many photos inside due to where we were seated and it was also very busy, but the interior is lovely with a modern industrial vibe and nice touches, like my favourite La Eva hand-soap in the bathroom. Food was really tasty - I had the crab sandwich in a pretzel bun - delicious.

Rise, West Bay
Rise, West Bay
Rise, West Bay

Rise, West Bay

One of our days out took us to Bridport and West Bay where I didn’t have much luck on the shopping front. I managed to completely miss Yellow Gorse on the high street which I was gutted about when I realised as I love their products and the shop looks stunning - get a peek here. Also, Old Albion was on my list, but after a bit of a long hunt to find it, we discovered it was closed. Thankfully, we did find Rise - the sister cafe of Swim. It is in a lovely location in West Bay, surrounded by water, with lots of natural wood, colourful textiles and plants - right up my street! We had already eaten, so we just pop in for coffee and ice cream - a lovely spot to rest your feet whilst exploring the area.

Holy Water, Beer, Devon
Holy Water, Beer, Devon
Holy Water, Beer, Devon
Holy Water, Beer, Devon

Holy Water Apothecary, Beer

Holy Water Apothecary was a complete chance discovery after we took a little excursion to the village of Beer. I spotted the shop front as we drove in the village and made a bee line for it immediately! Inside did not disappoint, with a lovely mix of some of my favourite brands as well as a few new discoveries. Owner Alyssa was incredibly welcoming and in fact, we have a Shopkeeper Spotlight post coming up soon, so look out for that to hear more about her story.

Collate, Axminster
Collate, Axminster
Collate, Axminster

Collate, Axminster

Another of our morning drives took us over to the town of Axminster, where we had brunch in the River Cottage Kitchen, before popping into Collate for the browse. The original black and white tiled floor has been restored by shop owner Naomi, who explained during the shop’s previous incarnation as a pharmacy the floor had been covered over! Naomi curates a unique collection of vintage and antique pieces alongside handcrafted items from local makers. There were lots of lovely finds, from ceramics and textiles to skincare and books. A lovely shop that’s a little bit different.

Rousdon village bakery
Rousdon village bakery
Rousdon village bakery
Rousdon village bakery

Rousdon Village Bakery, Rousdon

Our accommodation was actually in Rousdon, about 5 minutes drive from Lyme Regis, and we’d noticed a bakery that appeared to be located in an old petrol station which was always busy when we drove past. So, after a local recommendation that added to our curiosity, we decided we should pop in before we made the journey back to Surrey. The actual bakery itself was lovely, although had pretty much sold out of everything by the time we made it there! But, adjacent to food area was this lovely retail space, which I was instantly drawn to - quickly forgetting the lack of pastries next door! It felt very relaxed (in fact I wasn’t even sure where or how to purchase anything if I’d wanted to!) with a lovely array or cookware, ceramics and utility items.

Deans Court, Wimborne
Deans Court, Wimborne
Deans Court, Wimborne
Deans Court, Wimborne

Dean’s Court, Wimborne

To break up the drive home, we decided to stop off in Wimborne. We didn’t spend long there, other than a little visit to the cute model town there which my 4 year old loved, followed by lunch and a browse at Dean’s Court. The shop here is a lovely space housed in an old squash court with a really eclectic mix of homeware, beauty, and some clothing, mixing one off vintage finds with independent brands. I didn’t leave without treating myself to a few goodies and even my other half bagged himself a lovely vintage workwear style jacket. The perfect way to end our trip!

I really enjoyed exploring this part of the UK - it has a perfect mix of places to feed the design lover within me, but also lots for outdoor types and kids with the stunning coastline and scenery. Thank you Jurassic coast! We will be back!

From the cutting room floor - Volume 7

As if receiving our free e-zine in your inbox this week wasn’t enough new inspiration, today we’ve got some extra images ‘from the cutting room floor’ that didn’t make it in to the latest issue. As always, there’s never enough room for all the beautiful shots our photographers capture, so rather than leave them hidden away on my laptop, here they are!

home tour from 91 Magazine volume 7

The home of Sophie of Sleepy Doe that featured on our cover, photographed by Kasia Fiszer, just blows me away. I can’t stop poring over it! Here is an unseen angle of the living room with that amazing indoor swing!

home tour from 91 Magazine volume 7

I loved this simple, yet carefully-curated corner of Gayle Mansfield’s kitchen. The calendar clock on the wall gives away just how far in advance we are working on the issue! Beautifully captured by Lesley Lau.

shop tour of Klin D'oeil featured in 91 Magazine volume 7
shop tour of Klin D'oeil featured in 91 Magazine volume 7
shop tour of Klin D'oeil featured in 91 Magazine volume 7

In December last year we also popped to Paris to shoot the beautiful Klin d’oeil store where every corner was impeccably styled and photogenic. Jemma Watts got some lovely images which again were so hard to edit down.

Kangan Arora and Jonna Saarinen studio space - featured in 91 Magazine vol. 7
Fox in the Attic home studio as featured in 91 Magazine vol 7
Lagom candles studio as featured in 91 Magazine vol 7
Little Mashers shop as featured in 91 Magazine vol 7
SWIM, Lyme Regis as featured in 91 Magazine vol 7
SWIM, Lyme Regis as featured in 91 Magazine vol 7
Acorn & Pip as featured in 91 Magazine vol 7
Acorn & Pip as featured in 91 Magazine vol 7

We featured a number of other gorgeous shops, studios and creative spaces from around the UK, photographed by Nuraan Ackers, Katharine Peachey, Catherine Frawley and Kathryn Taylor.

home tour featured in 91 Magazine vol 7
home tour featured in 91 Magazine vol 7
home tour featured in 91 Magazine vol 7

Last but definitely not least, is the home tour with Kate Chilver and Craig Williams. If nothing else makes you want to fill your home with plants, then their home will! I love ever corner of their space and kinda wish they could just come and recreate it all in my home too! (and maybe help care for all my plants as well!)

If you haven’t got the new issue yet, then do pop to the shop to grab one. As you can see, it is FULL of dreamy inspiration and - I hope you’ll agree - a proper little treat to yourself or for an interiors loving friend!

An Instagrammer's guide to: Folkestone, Kent

In the latest of our Instagrammer guides, blogger Clementine May takes us on a tour of her home town of Folkestone.

Located on the south east coast of Kent, Folkestone is a seaside town with a thriving artist community and a unique selection of independent shops. It’s just an hour from London by train and makes for the perfect day trip. In the summer months people flock to the Harbour Arm to enjoy street food, pop up bars, live music and even a champagne bar in a lighthouse. But a walk along the cobbled streets of the Old High Street is the perfect way to spend a couple of hours anytime of the year. This part of town (also known as the Creative Quarter) is where independent shops nestle alongside artist studios, coffee houses and a mix of old and new architecture.

Kitty McCall shop in Folkestone, Kent
Kitty McCall shop in Folkestone, Kent

Kitty McCall

Located on the bustling Old High Street, this shop is like a breath of fresh air with its colourful and vibrant designs. Catherine Nice (founder of Kitty McCall) is a graphic print designer living and working in Folkestone. With fourteen years experience working in the creative industries this shop has become home to her bright, bold, tropical prints. Her beautiful designs adorn a whole host of lifestyle products ranging from lampshades and stationary to framed prints and wrapping paper.

IG: @kittymccall

Moo Like a Monkey, Folkestone, Kent
Moo Like a Monkey, Folkestone, Kent

Moo Like a Monkey

This shop is a little gem; filled with beautifully designed toys, books and clothes for children. There are handmade wooden toys, a unique selection of clothes with colourful Scandinavian designs and a selection of books celebrating diversity and the individual. Although Moo Like a Monkey has only been open a year, the ethos is strong and all items have been thoughtfully sourced from new designers locally and from around the world. Everything is unique and sustainably made; making this the perfect place to pick up a special gift for the little ones in your life. The shop is also brilliantly child friendly; the kids are encouraged to play with anything within their reach so they are kept entertained while you can relax and browse.

IG:@moolikeamonkey

Workshop Number 29, Folkestone, Kent
Workshop Number 29, Folkestone, Kent

Workshop Number Twenty Nine

Although this shop is compact it is filled (inside and out) with a selection of beautiful objects. Everything ranging from old posters and signs to chairs, tables and light fittings. I love looking through their selection of kitchen utensils and the more useful, everyday items like clothes pegs and door knobs all with individual style and attractive detailing. The items have been artfully curated from architectural salvage and lovingly restored. When the weather is fine, pieces are stacked up outside the shop making it almost impossible to walk past without feeling the need to step into this elegant shop front for a closer look. Keep an eye on their beautiful instagram account to find out opening times (currently Saturdays only).

IG: @workshopnumber29

The Potting Shed, Folkestone, Kent
The Potting Shed, Folkestone, Kent

The Potting Shed

Also located on Rendezvous Street and just opposite Workshop Twenty Nine is The Potting Shed; a new take on the old antique shop. With a selection of decorative pieces and furniture, each object is unique and with a story to tell. When I visited there was a 1940s hand-painted fairground sign, mid-century armchairs and a selection of ceramic and glass vases. Everything has been styled to create a beautiful setting against the backdrop of the shop’s very own indoor potting shed.

IG: @tpsfolkestone

Pot and Vessel, Folkestone, Kent
Pot and Vessel, Folkestone, Kent

Pot and Vessel

This little plant store is an oasis of succulents and cacti with a range of beautifully made ceramic and terracotta pots (both modern and vintage). All the plants are lovingly tended to and with so much choice there is a plant here for everyone. This shop is a little further out of town but it’s worth the walk. It's hard to leave without picking up a little plant complete with pot and a whole wealth of plant care knowledge and advice. Keep an eye on their Instagram as they quite often have workshops and pop ups on the old high street in town and elsewhere in the area.

IG: @pot_and_vessel

Folkestone Beach Huts
Folkestone Beach Huts

A walk to Sandgate village

If you have time for a wander along the coast then I would recommend walking through the Lower Leas Coastal Park that stretches from Folkestone to the little seaside village of Sandgate.  Pick up the path at the old vernacular Leas lift and follow it through the gardens and adventure playground or veer off onto the pebbled beach promenade. This shoreline route will take you past the Mermaid Beach and ice cream coloured beach huts. With a farmers market on the first and third Saturday of the month and numerous antique shops, Sandgate is full of mooching potential. I like to explore the quaint fisherman’s cottages that are dotted around the back streets (Wilberforce Road offers a pretty selection) and if you are feeling energetic take the footpath at the end of this road (you will find it in the car park) to the woods behind the village.

Orchard Lane Coffee House, Folkestone, Kent
Orchard Lane Coffee House, Folkestone, Kent

Orchard Lane Coffee House

This little coffee shop on Sandgate high street serves an impressive range of vegetarian food and vegan cakes. Just a stone's throw from the beach it’s a perfect place to grab lunch or a bite to eat after a walk along the coastal path. If you don’t manage to make it down to Sandgate then Orchard Lane also have a coffee bar in Hot Salvation Records. This laid back record store sells a wide selection of old and new vinyl on Rendezvous Street (just next to the Potting Shed) so you can browse their records while enjoying the Lane’s excellent coffee and vegan muffins.

IG: @orchardlanecoffeehouse / @hotsalvation

Photo: Sophie Rowell

Photo: Sophie Rowell

Photo: Sophie Rowell

Photo: Sophie Rowell

The Bayle Folkestone

This beautiful Georgian house located in the pretty Bayle area of Folkestone has been stylishly renovated and decorated by Sophie Rowell (owner of Folkestone based interior service Côte de Folk). This elegant location house is available to rent. Sleeping eight people it is the perfect place to bring friends and family for a long weekend by the sea. Sourcing objects from Morocco and France as well as closer to home, Sophie has created a beautiful, functional and serene home from home. Cote de Folk is involved in a number of creative projects across Folkestone, you can find out more via their Instagram account.

IG: @cotedefolk / @thebaylefolkestone

Photography by Clementine May unless otherwise stated.

WIN some plant lover goodies!

This post is sponsored by independent online store Albert & Moo.

Since our last issue published, we’ve had lots of lovely feedback about the amazing plant-filled home we featured, owned by Kate and Craig of @tribeandus. I don’t know about you, but their space gave me all the #plantgoals! Having plants in your home not only makes it look fabulous but they are also helping to purify your air and can even help boost your sense of well-being and your creativity. What’s not to like?!

If you are going to create a mini urban jungle in your home then you of course need plenty of beautiful pots to display them in, and online store Albert & Moo is one place you can turn to stock up on pots and other plant related items. Shop owner Lianne, stocks lots of other homewares - some greenery-inspired, some not - from kitchenware and cushions to art prints and magazines.

Albert & Moo x 91 Magazine giveaway

In celebration of our love of all things green, we’ve teamed up with Albert & Moo to giveaway some of our favourite botanical buys worth over £70 to one lucky 91 reader! So what is in the prize package?!

Please note: Plants & any other items are not included.

Albert & Moo x 91 Magazine giveaway

So, not only will the winner bag themselves a set of lovely monochrome pots to fill with their fave plant babies, they will also have a handy pair of secateurs for pruning plus these beautiful houseplant care cards which we are totally in love with. The cards have lots of useful info on them and are really easy to refer to when needed - you could even pop the relevant card next to it’s matching plant for super convenient reference.

Scroll on down to find out how you can enter….

Aztec Mini Plant Pot  (part of the set of 3)

Aztec Mini Plant Pot (part of the set of 3)

fern in a vintage drawer

To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is enter your details below. A winner will be drawn at random after the closing date which is 17th May 2019. This giveaway is open to UK entrants only and please do read the full terms and conditions below before entering.

Name *
Name
By ticking either or both of the below boxes, you are giving permission for these brands to send you marketing emails regarding special offers, product news, events and other updates. Further details can be found via the Privacy Policy on each brand's respective websites.
I give my consent for my email address to be added to the mailing lists of:

Terms and Conditions:

1. Only entries made before the closing date - 17th May 2019 will be valid. 

2. The winner will be selected at random and will be notified via the email address they provided shortly after the closing date. 

3. The winner will have five working days to respond with their delivery address. If a reply is not received by this date, they will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be chosen. 

4. Only the items listed above will be included in the prize. 

5. No cash alternative. 

6. The giveaway is open to UK entries only.

7. By providing your email address & ticking the check boxes in the above form you are giving permission to be added to the mailing lists of 91 Magazine and/or Albert & Moo. Your details will not be shared with any further third parties. 

8. One entry per person.

This post was sponsored by Albert & Moo. Styling by Sally Meier, Photography by Caroline Rowland.

Meet the Maker: Sandeep Pawar

Brighton-based maker, Sandeep Pawar, creates one-of-a-kind nursery decor, garlands and crowns inspired by her love of adventures and nature. We caught up with Sandeep to talk about personalising children’s spaces, working with craft queen Kirstie Allsop and why it’s never too late to do what you want to do…

Sandeep Pawar - owner of Planes Workshop

Hi Sandeep, first thing’s first, why did you decide to open Planes Workshop?

I opened Planes Workshop about three years ago. It started out as me just playing around with different projects to see what I could do, what I liked, experimenting with different textures and materials. It very quickly developed into an exploration of who I wanted to be as a craft based designer and I found an affinity with creating pieces for kids spaces and nurseries. I really believe in giving our little people an identity and a sense of pride from the space they inhabit. The need to share that vision with the world encouraged me to open up the doors and business began from there.

Planes Workshop

Where did the name come from?

As a child I used to dream of being able to fly. My imagination would take me over the seas and mountains exploring far off lands. I had forgotten all about this until I bought my daughter a toy plane when she just a baby. She would say ‘I’m flying mama’ and the name just stuck!

Planes Workshop

What had you done previously?

I worked in a government position for years. Before I knew what I really wanted from my life I had a couple of years when that job was fun and exciting, but the novelty of working in London in a fast-paced corporate job began to wear thin. Creative blogs were on the rise at the time and they encouraged me to start sewing again. I already had a deep love for craft, but I never thought it was something that I could pursue. Once I started, I couldn’t stop and I was obsessed. It was as though I’d been sleeping for years moving in the shadows of expectations of who I thought I was supposed to be.

Any chance I had outside of work I took to sew, crochet or sketch designs for new projects. One day I decided I wanted a creative career. I still work in a government job now, but it’s local and its part time (which is a huge step up from a three hour daily commute for five days a week) and I am actually very grateful for it. It funds my dreams and I try to remind myself of that every time I sit at my office desk wishing I was in my studio!

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We bet! How would you describe your style?

When I think about my style I think of a tea party in the woods with lots of garlands and maybe a bear and a fox show up too! I’ve always been drawn to woodland scenes and the serenity that comes from being in nature, whether you’re walking amongst a bluebell field or gazing up at the moon and stars. I like to mix earthy tones with the rich palette of florals and foliage. These elements heavily influence my designs as do vintage children’s books by the likes of John S. Goodall and Jill Barklam. I love where these influences take me and how they inevitably shape my designs.

Meet the Maker -Planes workshop

How do your designs start out?

Everything starts with my sketch book. I never leave home without it. When I get an idea I have to scribble it down. I’ll then let those ideas sit in my head for a day or two. When I go back to my sketch book if my frantic scribbles still hold their own, then I keep them in. I’ll spend time drafting patterns and making prototypes tinkering with measurements, style etc before I’m completely content with the finished article.

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Where do you create? Does your location inspire you?

I work from my home studio in Brighton. With the beach and the South Downs at my doorstep I am not short of inspiration!

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Which of your gorgeous creations have been your most popular? Why do you think that is?

My woodland name banners have been a big hit with customers. This is the first banner I have designed with 3D wool felt foliage making the piece interesting and fun. Because you can choose your florals and add someone’s name, I think people just feel connected to these banners and they become more than just a product. I love making my customers feel included and excited about buying from me and I think these banners just tick that box in a big way for a lot of people. 

Planes workshop
Planes Workshop

Do you have a favourite product?

This year I designed a range of celestial inspired felt banners. I love these so much because they were so fun to design and I feel so proud of how they turned out. For me they step away from the norm of gendered design and can be enjoyed be everyone. My love for the moon and foliage combined into one piece is what my design dreams are made of!

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What does a typical day look like for you?

My day in the studio usually starts the night before as I’m writing my to-do list and looking ahead at upcoming deadlines. Life starts pretty early round mine as I have a human alarm clock in the form of my four year old daughter. Once we are finally out, I take her to school and on the walk back I get a chance to clear my head before my day can really begin. I’ll usually work through orders in the morning and then spend the afternoon doing admin (like writing my monthly newsletter, invoicing etc) and working on new products. I work from my home studio which is handy because my husband usually takes pity on me and makes lunch and brings me lots of snacks!

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Sounds perfect! You use Etsy for your business - how does this work for you? Is this the sole way your audience find you?

Etsy is an incredible platform to sell from and I love how easy it is to use. Whilst a lot of traffic comes directly from Etsy, Instagram is also one of my main sources for traffic and sales.

Planes Workshop

If you were to share any words of wisdom with others looking to start a creative business, what would you say?

Do not believe that it’s too late in the day to start your dream career. Just start! We are constantly sold this idea that our lives should be sewn up by age 30. This concept is not only untrue it is incredibly dangerous. It tricks us into thinking that if we don’t have our dream career, a big house and oodles of money by this age we have failed. It completely writes off the second half of your life as though it doesn’t mean anything. I would also say that nothing is perfect and neither are you, so don’t wait for ‘the right time’. There is no-one who will do this for you. Get up and start working. If you’re scared - good! Take that fear and use it to your advantage - get addicted to the thrill of proving those doubts wrong. In the words of Elizabeth Taylor - “now is the time for guts and guile.”

Planes Workshop

What do you hope the rest of the year has in store for you?

I’m currently working on an e-book full of creative projects to make for baby and kid spaces which will be on sale this Autumn. I’m excited and terrified in equal measure because it is something I have wanted to do for so long. I hope you all like it!

Planes Workshop

How exciting! Before you go, what's been your highlight so far?

My highlight has been appearing alongside Kirstie Allsopp in her infamous Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas show. I was featured on the table decoration segment. It was the first time I stepped out as a craft based designer and a true highlight of my career. Kirstie was so lovely and made me feel at ease in front of the camera. Designing a Christmas table was so much fun and I just had a ball! 

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS

Describe your work in three words: 

Woodland. Empowering. Kids.

What are your making rituals? 

I never leave my studio in a mess at the end of the working day. Even if it’s a tip, or I’m having a bad day, cleaning the studio is incredibly therapeutic and it slows down my racing mind to help me start fresh in the morning.

Tea or Coffee? 

Neither - I’ll take a biscuit and a glass of milk, ta!

Mountains or sea? 

Mountains (sorry Brighton!)

Night owl or early bird? 

Early bird.

I wish someone had told me... 

To stop waiting for perfect and get the hell on with it.

See more from Sandeep on Etsy or on Instagram.

Top 6 lifestyle books for summer 2019

This time of year always sees the release of lots of new lifestyle books with all the hottest trends represented. This year, houseplants are still going strong, traditional crafts with a modern twist are proving a popular topic and of course sustainability, living green and recycling are recurring themes. With so many great new titles out there, I’ve gathered together a collection of six of my favourites for a coffee table reading list that will keep you going all summer and beyond. You can also catch up on a few previous posts about recent releases, such as Selina Lake’s Natural Living Style, My Bedroom is an Office by Joanna Thornhill, and Live Green by Jen Chillingsworth.

top 6 lifestyle books - Spring 2019 releases

Decorating with Plants by Baylor Chapman

I have been dipping in and out of this book ever since it arrived. It is written by San Francisco-based Baylor Chapman, who runs Lila B. Design, a plant design studio. The first part of the book focuses in on 28 different plants - mainly easy-to-care for species such as succulents, pileas and rubber plants. There is a good chunk of info on each as well as easy-to-reference care instructions.

The second section looks at various areas of the home and how to decorate them with greenery. If I’m completely honest, the interior styling isn’t always to my taste here, but there are still loads of lovely ideas, like how to use plants to frame your windows or TV, and plants for small spaces or kids rooms. As I said, I’ve been reaching for this book lots in my quest to improve my horticultural knowledge, and have found it a welcome addition to my plant book collection.

Decorating with Plants by Baylor Chapman (Artisan). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Aubrie Pick. Publishes 1st May 2019.

Decorating with Plants by Baylor Chapman
Monstera (cheese plant) in a hanging planter
Bedroom decorated with lots of houseplants
houseplants for the bathroom

Baskets by Tabara N’Diaye

Tabara is co-proprietor of La Basketry, an online store selling the most beautiful hand-woven baskets crafted by Senegalese women. She is passionate about the ancient craft of basket weaving, and only two years since launching the shop, Tabara has written her first book, sharing projects and techniques to try out yourself. I love the cover of this book, and inside it is filled with beautiful photography by Penny Wincer.

First, you can discover a little about the history and culture of basket-making, as well as the tools and materials needed, before diving in to the 16 projects to try - which are of varying levels - from a simple drinks coaster to a large laundry basket. It is split into four sections - Grass, Cane, Rope and Twine, and is interspersed with nice styling ideas and clever tips on things like dying cane, for example. This book is a beauty and gives you the chance to teach yourself a completely new skill.

Baskets by Tabara N’Diaye (Quadrille, £14.99) Photography © Penny Wincer. Publishes 2nd May 2019.

Baskets by Tabara N'Diaye
Make your own woven laundry basket
Make your own woven placemats
DIY rope basket plant pots

Pallet Style by Nikkita Palmer & Billy Barker

With the world becoming more and more aware of climate change and the damage we are doing to our beautiful planet, the need to reuse and recycle is now more a necessity than a style choice. Thankfully, you don’t need to compromise on style when you have Nikkita and Billy’s lovely book to show you the way! The pair make and sell furniture and accessories made from reclaimed materials and in their debut book they share a number of projects for making your own, from a dining table right down to a simple food tray.

A shocking statistic in the intro of the book states “it is estimated that there are over 10 billion pallets in use at any one time, with the majority of these sent directly to landfill after use.” That is staggering, especially when the wood can easily be reused. This book shows you how in the most stylish way possible, and I’m pretty sure you will be hanging around industrial estates eyeing up discarded pallets soon!

Pallet Style by Nikkita Palmer is published by Kyle Books, £20. Photography by Brent Darby. Out now.

Pallet Style by Nikkita Palmer and Billy Barker
Make your own dining table from wooden pallets
DIY project Triangular shelving
Make a bed base from wooden pallets

Punch Needle by Arounna Khounnoraj

91 recently attended a punch needle workshop, confirming our suspicions that this is the latest craft to be reinvented for modern day makers. So when this book by Canadian artist and maker Arounna Khounnoraj landed, we knew we were going to love it. The book’s modern design and beautiful photography (taken by 91 contributor Catherine Frawley) demonstrates how this textile craft is right on-trend with it’s geometric and botanical designs and contemporary colour combinations.

A few favourite projects include the gorgeous bench cushion and storage bag pictured below. You can start off simple with a round trivet for example, then once you’ve gained confidence you can progress to a cushion or a floor rug. Be warned, I’ve heard this can be an addictive art form! But, don’t let that hold you back - imagine all of those stunning textural pieces you could be churning out!

Punch Needle by Arounna Khounnoraj (Quadrille, £14.99) Photography © Catherine Frawley. Publishes on 30th May 2019.

Punch Needle book by Arounna Khounnoraj
DIY punch needle bench cushion
Punch needle trivet or coaster - make your own
make your own punch needle storage basket

Wild at Home by Hilton Carter

You definitely can’t have enough plant books, especially when they are combined with gorgeous interiors! Wild at Home by Hilton Carter is another dreamy greenery-filled tome which not only gives you an insight into Hilton’s own jungle-like apartment, but also a range of other plant lover’s homes and of course there is all important care advice, from where to position your plants in your home to finding the right pot.

Interior stylist Hilton has a huge following on Instagram - not surprisingly really, as his feed is filled with a mix of gorgeous interiors and plants, which has translated beautifully to his book also. It’s endearing that Hilton started like many of us do, with little knowledge of plants, but over the years he has learnt through trial and error and his impressive collection of plants is testament enough to take his advice on your own journey into plant parenthood. I for one will be studying this in great detail, as that is one impressive fiddle leaf fig!

Wild at Home by Hilton Carter, published by CICO Books (£14.99) Photography © Hilton Carter. Out now.

Wild at Home by Hilton Carter
Hilton Carter's urban jungle and giant fiddle leaf fig
Hilton Carter's plant filled home
Fiddle Leaf Fig

Crafted by Sally Coulthard

Last but not least is a book with a bit of a different format to the others reviewed here. Described as a ‘compendium’, seasoned author Sally’s latest book compiles a vast catalogue of crafts - over 70 in fact - in which Sally explores the history, materials and techniques of each individually. The book is a real celebration of the handmade movement in the 21st century - highlighting timeless crafts and noting how they’ve been reinvented for the modern world.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Louise Lockhart (who we recently featured), again bringing a contemporary slant on age-old processes. It’s not just the obvious crafts that are given the spotlight here, many potentially forgotten, yet interesting forms of making are mentioned - wheelwrighting, knife making and globe making, for example. This is a lovely book to have on the coffee table to dip into now and again and learn a little about the wonderful world of crafting.

Crafted by Sally Coulthard (Quadrille, £20) Illustrations © Louise Lockhart. Out now.

Crafted by Sally Coulthard
pottery studio illustration by Louise Lockhart for Crafted book
embroidery illustration by Louise Lockhart for Crafted book
thatch scene illustration by Louise Lockhart for Crafted book

I hope you might have found a book or two here that tickles your fancy! I’d love to hear which ones you’ll be adding to your reading list this summer. Find more book reviews here.

91 Magazine's top 6 craft, interiors and lifestyle books for summer 2019

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Sancho's

Kalkidan Legesse and partner Vidmantas Markevicius first met at university – the two like-minds beginning a journey that led to the creation of Sancho’s, an inspiring and inclusive ethical clothing and lifestyle store in Exeter, and online. We talk to co-founder Kalkidan to find out more…

Women's shop - outside with Kalkidan.jpg

Hi Kalkidan! How would you sum up the essence of your business, Sancho’s?  

Sancho's main shop is a beautiful little space in the best part of town, where you can discover some fantastic ethical brands, and also learn about how sustainable fashion works. The staff are brilliantly friendly, dogs are welcome and the clothes are all made with natural environmentally sound fabrics in fair trade conditions. 

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What inspired the idea of setting up Sancho’s, and what was your journey in making it a reality?

Our first objective with Sancho's was to celebrate crafts from fair trade producer groups in Ethiopia. I had actually not really known how clothing was made until I first saw weaving in Ethiopia during a work placement. It blew my mind, like seeing a new colour. I suddenly got a sense for how the clothing, that usually is only associated with style and trend, comes from the hard work of individuals, and I fell in love. Weaving is like that - weavers create fabrics and clothes from things as simple as cotton spools. I thought that was amazing then, and I still do! As an Ethiopian I was also really proud to see this new culture, art and story from my home. A story so different to what I grew up learning about Ethiopia - centred on poverty and Bob Geldof. I wanted to share that with the world.

Anne T and Culottes - Sancho's Design.jpg

The idea developed because we learnt that we were not the only ones who didn’t really understand how clothing was made - and actually our ignorance was not by accident but by design. The industry is focused around selling customers new clothes - and presenting the idea that we all need to keep up with fast changing trends - whilst encouraging us to seek the lowest possible price. This of course comes at the cost of the makers in developing countries around the world. We wanted to change that, connecting people with makers and providing a shop for brands, makers and designers actually doing the process right, and transparently. That’s how Sancho's became the ethical clothing and lifestyle shop that it is today. 

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What are co-founder Vidmantas and your backgrounds?

We were both students studying various forms of sustainable economics. I’m an Ethiopian immigrant, he is a Lithuanian immigrant, and we met during the summer working as part-time waiters at the university. We both had to work as students (I actually started working at 14, as a paintball marshall), and gained a range of experience, from part-time teaching to working for non-governmental and non-profit organisations. We first started Sancho's at university, and opened a pop-up about one month after graduating. 

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Where does the name Sancho’s come from?

Sancho is a nickname used to describe girls who are strong and a little chubby in Ethiopia. It’s a household name that I picked up from childhood, having always been strong and a little chubby. As my name is unusual for the UK (although very common in other parts of the world), I have picked up various nicknames over the years, but Sancho has always stood out as my favourite!

Kalkidan in Anne T - Sancho's Design.jpg

What are the values that underpin your business?

We set out to create as much positive impact as we can through fashion. So our clothing is made with natural and sustainable materials, under fair trade conditions. We ensure that we source from suppliers that have these principles by looking for audits and certificates, like those provided by the Global Organic Textile Standard and the World Fair Trade Organisation.

We have a range of small scale, locally-made items which are not certified - however in these cases we deal with the makers directly and always follow prices set by them. We have also built a repairing service into our business, so that we can alter clothing for other people and repair small damages - this allows us to put no clothing into landfill at all as a business, and as a result we are quite pleased!

Being ethical and sustainable is a journey, and we try to ensure that we are always moving in the right direction by reviewing our purchasing decisions regularly and applying new information as we learn it. 

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How did you first discover your love for what you do, and realise the direction you wanted to take?

I'm not sure that I see Sancho's as one direction. I, like most other people, am discovering myself and my goals for my life. Sancho's currently is the gift in which my partner and I get to live our values and make our impact on the world. I love it because it is so freeing in direction, and takes me multiple places. Every now and again, I try to sit down with myself to make sure that I am living my values, and that Sancho's is healthy and moving forward - then I try to align these two things. 

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What inspires you creatively in what you do at Sancho’s?

I’m very much motivated by trying to live out the words 'be the change you want to see in the world'. A lot of our decisions come from asking ourselves what is the best we can do with the business as our tool. For example, over the past year or so, the real cost of single waste plastic use on the environment is becoming clearer. We've been learning alongside our customers that we have to change our habits. As a result, we did some research and found that people find it quite challenging to source alternatives to single plastic products - things as simple as wooden tooth brushes or traditional steel razors. There are a whole host of products that people might not even consider to replace, such as sanitary products (the average women uses over 1000 tampons in her adult life!). After we had done this research, we knew we wanted to at least provide a small alternative, which is why we launched our zero waste range. Most of our decisions happen organically like that, and because we hope that they will do a little good. 

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Is the online community integral to your work?

Most of our communication happens on social media and it is a hugely useful tool for building a community and staying in touch with them. We spend quite a lot of time on our Instagram, and love using it. 

Robyn in Thought Culottes.jpg

Do you have any creative pastimes and passions?

I wish I could say that I had many other pastimes, but I spend most of my time working on Sancho's. Happily so, currently. I am also a keen (amateur) runner, and feel really lucky to be so close to the green spaces near Exeter. If I want to unwind, I will paint - currently privately but one day this is a skill I'd like to hone in on.

Kiki Tropical jewellery.jpg

How did you go about designing Sancho’s spaces?

We want our stores to feel inviting and inclusive, like the home of a radical and loving aunty who has great sense of fashion! We did this by mixing in slogans - our affirmations - with natural materials, bright spaces and of course, beautiful clothes. We hope that people find the shop easy and welcoming. 

How do you source and curate pieces for Sancho’s?

We source our stock a few different ways, from going to shows, to scrolling through Instagram, and also sometimes travelling out to areas where makers excite me. A range of things really, and this constantly evolves depending on what is being made where, and my budget for trips! 

Sancho's store.jpg

What are the joys, and the challenges, of working as an independent retailer?

I love the freedom there is in making so many decisions on the basis of personal goals, taste and values. Whether that is as simple as the music to play that day, or as complex as launching a collection. But of course, the freedom also comes with responsibilities, and sometimes I wish that there was someone to tell me what to do (although whenever anyone does, I am immediately reminded as to why being independent is hugely important to me personally). 

I would be lying if I said that it was not financially challenging, or that it did not require long hours - because of course it is and it does. But when I am worried about finances, I try to remember that there are people in this world that have always had so much that they've never had to worry, and I’m reminded that my worry is a reality that I can navigate through. And recently, I've learnt to rest when the hours become too long - so these challenges, like others, are manageable.

Sancho's Culottes in Clay.jpg

What have been your business highlights so far?

Opening our second store was a huge triumph - I believe this is when it felt like we actually had a business for the first time - I am not sure why. 

How does your typical working day look?

I usually get up around 7.30am, then check emails and Instagram, shower, drink coffee, and sometimes I’ll go for a short run. Then during an average day - I review plans for the day, send out tasks for the team, head to the shop, check online orders and deliveries, respond to emails, speak with our lovely customers, find out how our designs are progressing, read about sustainability, project objectives for the next day/week/year and write a plan, have a meeting with a client, supplier or colleague, serve customers, answer phone calls, hop on Instagram again, tell a joke, do a little dance, get super hungry, head home, edit the website, watch Vidmantas cook dinner, eat loads, have a shallow bath or hot shower, watch some Netflix, text my mum, and finally - sleep!

L-R: Ashley Petrons, Marketing Manager, Aoife Littlejohn, Sales, Kalkidan Legesse, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Robyn Elizabeth, Sales, Paula Charity, Sales Manager & Vidmantas Markevicius, Co-Founder

L-R: Ashley Petrons, Marketing Manager, Aoife Littlejohn, Sales, Kalkidan Legesse, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Robyn Elizabeth, Sales, Paula Charity, Sales Manager & Vidmantas Markevicius, Co-Founder

How do you find juggling an online business with a physical shop?

It’s very natural to me, given that we live in a digital era, to have a presence both in store and online. 

Which are your bestsellers or favourite products?

We are super excited about our Foundation collection, which is being made here in Devon! The shapes are so flattering and the colours are really rich, so they have proven to be popular with our customers. We are also in love with the minimalist range of jewellery from Clare Elizabeth - the styles are so chic and made so well, they always make a huge impact. 

I'm with Her jumper - Sancho's.jpg

How do you approach marketing and PR?

We simply try to get as informed as we can, and then follow up leads that excite us. 

Any tips to share with aspiring independent store owners?

I think the best things that anyone looking to start their own store or business can do is learn how to trust their gut, learn how to take good advice (wherever it comes from) and learn how to ignore fear and self-doubt long enough to get started. 

L-R Robyn and Kalkidan

L-R Robyn and Kalkidan

What’s up next for you and Sancho’s?

We are exploring design and producing our own collections! Our goal is to bridge the gap in sustainable basics between affordability and style. The collections will all be made in the UK and will be an inclusive fit in size.

Find Sancho’s at 117 Fore Street (womenswear) and 126 Fore Street (menswear), Exeter and online.

Follow them on Instagram.

Photography: Harry Cooke

5 ways to make Pinterest work harder for your creative business

We love Instagram, we really do, but with increasing frustration at the algorithm we all battle with on a daily basis, it feels like many are looking for alternative ways to market their small business effectively. At our recent Seek Inspire Create event in Lewes, Georgie and Dorte of Curly Carrot gave a talk to our group about how to use Pinterest for business. It was a total eye-opener. I have also recently taken their e-course and have found by taking their advice, I am seeing more traffic to our website and our monthly unique viewers on Pinterest have more than doubled in the space of a few weeks! I therefore decided to invite Dorte and Georgie to share their top five Pinterest tips with our blog readers so that you can try implementing their advice yourselves, hopefully driving more traffic to your online space, too. Over to you ladies!

5 tips for using Pinterest to promote your small business

The first thing to understand is that Pinterest is different from other online marketing platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Users are actively searching for something - content, information, services and products. They aren’t just scrolling; looking to see what others are doing, commenting and liking. Pinterest users have specific interests and are shown content related to their interests. This means that what they are seeing when scrolling through Pinterest is likely to be the kind of thing they would click on to find out more about. The question is, how can you make sure they click on your pins and discover your business and your products or service?

 Here are 5 ways to make Pinterest work harder for your creative business that you can easily implement into your Pinterest strategy and see results quicker than you’d think!

Marketing your small business using Pinterest

1/ CREATE BEAUTIFUL PINS

Pinterest is a positive place that people escape to for aspiration as well as practical ideas that they can act on in their daily lives. It helps to keep this in mind when creating your pin, as well as making it attractive and useful, show how it will fit into people’s lives. Pinners want to save pins that inspire, engage and tell a story!

They should:

  • Stand out in the Smart Feed and catch the eye.

  • Attract your perfect customer.

  • Entice people to click through to your website.

2/ WRITE A GOOD PIN DESCRIPTION

Pinterest is a SEARCH ENGINE. What would your perfect customer search for to find your Pin?

To do this you need to:

  • Figure out what your keywords are.

  • Write complete sentences using the keywords that describe your product or service in the Pin.

5 tips for using Pinterest for business

3/ OPTIMISE YOUR WEBSITE OR ONLINE STORE FOR PINTEREST

A third of all Google searches are for images! Pinterest is popular because people are drawn to visuals and love searching for them. By not deleting that ‘IMG_1785’ title and including keywords in your Alt Text then you’re missing a huge SEO trick and ruining your chances of appearing in search.

4/ SCHEDULE YOUR PINS

Pinterest rewards pins that are saved consistently. It doesn’t work if you save 100 pins in one day and then none for a week. It is much more effective to drip feed these pins to your boards over the week. The best way to do this is to use a scheduling tool. An authorised Pinterest partner, Tailwind is easy to use and is a great timesaving tool. (Sign up for your free trial here*) Using Tailwind means you don't have to manually pin every day. You can even have all your pins scheduled for two weeks in advance while you’re on holiday! No commenting or engagement required to get results either!   

 *This an affiliate link. Which means if you start to pay the monthly fee, (only $9.99 per month and worth every penny) Curly Carrot will receive a small fee. Curly Carrot recommends Tailwind because they use it and it works! They want you to get results for your business too.

How to use Pinterest to promote your small creative business online

5/ PIN OTHER PEOPLE’S CONTENT

Think of your Pinterest account as a lifestyle magazine for your business. Include great content from others that compliments your business ethos. This will help you to hone down your aesthetic and style and see you become a resource. There is no magic ratio of your pins to others and it depends on how much of your own content you have. Experiment!


To learn more about how Pinterest can help your creative business to thrive and flourish visit Curly Carrot for a one-stop shop on all things Pinterest! Podcasts, free downloads, blogposts and the online course mentioned in the introduction.

Get 15% off the £69 launch price with the discount code ‘91MAG15’ - Enrol Here

Promoting your creative business with Pinterest

Volume 7 publishes!

It’s that time of year! A new issue has landed. As it’s our first edition of 2019 we decided to freshen things up a bit, particularly as we widening our distribution and the magazine will be available internationally, from Barnes and Noble in the States, to niche shops across Europe, Asia and Australia! So exciting but also slightly terrifying as making this leap was a big risk for us financially, and I just hope it pays off and gives our international readers an easier option for getting their hands on a print copy. Please do tell friends and family around the world to go seek it out!

91 Magazine - indie interiors & lifestyle magazine - volume 7

Perhaps the most noticeable update is to our cover layout. We’ve still kept the minimal, fresh look, but just shifted things around a little. For the purists among you, I hope the barcode on the cover does not jar. This is actually a requirement of moving into the US market, and I wrangled with this for a while, but in the end I found it doesn’t offend me greatly, and is something which is actually on the majority of mag covers, and we don’t tend to even notice it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new look!

91 Magazine - indie interiors & lifestyle magazine - volume 7
91 Magazine - indie interiors & lifestyle magazine - volume 7
91 Magazine - indie interiors & lifestyle magazine - volume 7

Inside, we still have lots of our regular features - home tours, creative spaces and Instagram Edit for example - but we’ve added a few new features including a plant care guide by Sophie Lee of geofleur, and Seek Inspire Create - inspired by our hashtag - which focuses on the creative talent from a particular town or city.

91 Magazine - independent interiors and lifestyle magazine - Volume 7
91 Magazine - indie interiors & lifestyle magazine - volume 7
91 Magazine - indie interiors & lifestyle magazine - volume 7
91 Magazine - indie interiors & lifestyle magazine - volume 7
91 Magazine - indie interiors & lifestyle magazine - volume 7

Our loose theme for this issue was Playful - which was interpreted in a number of ways - from playful interiors to family life through to playful creativity and how to involve play in your working day. It’s a fun edition packed with joyful spaces, interesting stories and bags of inspiration for your home and life.

91 Magazine - indie interiors & lifestyle magazine - volume 7

If you haven’t pre-ordered or subscribed yet, then pop on over to our shop and grab yours now. Please do share your pics of the magazine on social media too with our hashtag #my91magazine. We love to see your snaps and also it helps us to spread the word far and wide, which as an indie magazine means the world! Thank you as always for your support readers! Enjoy x

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Ethical Living: Eco-friendly, sustainable & ethical interiors

In our ethical living series we have looked at beauty, laundry, gifts and fashion and now we are looking to interiors. How can we style our homes beautifully while minimising our impact on the environment? Stylists and business owners Karen Barlow and Kirsty Saxon investigate this and gather a collection of homewares and accessories that tick all the right boxes in terms of their ethical credentials.

It wasn’t so long ago that the mention of eco-friendly homewares conjured up images of bland and boring, non colour, scratchy fabrics and furniture made from old shopping trolleys and repurposed tyres.

With much more awareness to the damage being done to our planet from plastics and overflowing landfills, designers have started exploring more sustainable alternatives and natural materials and even some high street retailers are now producing eco lines to sit alongside their main ranges, such as H&M Home’s Conscious range.

Creating an environmentally-aware home has never been easier and the choice of products never more abundant, but there’s still confusion for consumers about what actually constitutes ethical?

Cork lighting –    Nove Lighting   ; Organic cotton stationary –    Folk Interiors   ; Drinking glass and carafe –    Form Lifestyle   ; Terracotta planter on stand –    Object Style   ; Reclaimed wire tray and vintage terracotta pots on windowsill –    The Old Potato Store

Cork lighting – Nove Lighting; Organic cotton stationary – Folk Interiors; Drinking glass and carafe – Form Lifestyle; Terracotta planter on stand – Object Style; Reclaimed wire tray and vintage terracotta pots on windowsill – The Old Potato Store

Recycled, repurposed items

One of the areas of product design that has evolved the most is the use of repurposed items to create covetable homewares. Pioneers in this area such as London-based salvage company Retrouvius and Herefordshire-based Baileys Home have paved the way, demonstrating the use of industrial salvage within our homes, in a cool and interesting way. Items that would have been destined for the skip such as old school chairs, factory lights and redundant retail signage are now making a design statement within our homes.

ceramic plates and bowls and small bowls in foreground by Camphill Village Trust -    Small Batch Goods   ; Fluted edge hand made tableware –    Kchossack Pottery   ; Avocado dyed hemp napkins –    Small Batch Goods   ; Glassware –    Form Lifestyle   ; Blanket on bench –    Lavender and Green   ; Lighting –    Nove Lighting   ; Vintage Wooden platter –    The Old Potato Store

ceramic plates and bowls and small bowls in foreground by Camphill Village Trust - Small Batch Goods; Fluted edge hand made tableware – Kchossack Pottery; Avocado dyed hemp napkins – Small Batch Goods; Glassware – Form Lifestyle; Blanket on bench – Lavender and Green; Lighting – Nove Lighting; Vintage Wooden platter – The Old Potato Store

Handmade objects

As we become ever more removed from the physical world through social media, email, online banking & internet shopping, we crave connection with the real world. Buying hand-crafted items, with all their imperfections and individuality, created by the human hand, helps us to feel grounded and connected. The recent rise in popularity of handmade pottery and tableware is no coincidence. It reconnects us to the earth in an increasingly unstable world. It is both practical and beautiful, reasonably affordable and collections can be added to gradually. One of the founders of The Arts & Crafts Movement, John Ruskin, believed “Fine Art is that in which the hand, the head and the heart of man go together.”

Grey 100% linen bedding –    Soak and Sleep   ; Terracotta organic cotton bedding –    H&M Home   ; Seagrass rug –    Armadillo   ; Handwoven grass slippers –    Yonder Living   ; Blanket –    The London Cloth Company   ; Lighting –    Nove Lighting   ; Cushion in foreground –    Porter and Cole   ; Hand loomed black and white cushion –    mali Mudcloth   ; Mid century portrait and rustic Eastern European milking stool –    The Old Potato Store

Grey 100% linen bedding – Soak and Sleep; Terracotta organic cotton bedding – H&M Home; Seagrass rug – Armadillo; Handwoven grass slippers – Yonder Living; Blanket – The London Cloth Company; Lighting – Nove Lighting; Cushion in foreground – Porter and Cole; Hand loomed black and white cushion – mali Mudcloth; Mid century portrait and rustic Eastern European milking stool – The Old Potato Store

Sustainable and natural materials

The trend for natural linen bedding over the last few years has largely been driven by both its aesthetic quality and our growing environmental awareness and better knowledge of manufacturing techniques. Linen, bamboo, hemp and organic cotton bedding and fabrics are produced without the use of pesticides and chemicals. Both linen and hemp are extremely durable fabrics which should last a lifetime. Avoid any fabric product that says non-iron on the packaging, this will have been produced using petroleum.

Look out for cork homewares for an ethical option. Cork is probably one of the most naturally sustainable materials, regenerating itself repeatedly, growing back under the bark of the tree after it has been harvested. The tree can be harvested many times during its lifetime, which can be as long as 200 years.

Natural flooring such as sisal, coir & seagrass are also both tactile and practical and rug companies such as Armadillo produce beautiful decorative designs. Reclaimed timber flooring, although expensive, creates a surface that at once looks inviting and warm and with a beautiful patina created over years of wear. Look to use parquet floor reclaimed from old school gyms or iroko and teak worktops from old school labs. These can all be sourced from salvage yards. Look at Salvo for a guide to some of the best and check auction sites, one person’s scrap is another’s gold.

TOP SHELF: Items available from    Folk Interiors   ; 2nd SHELF: Vintage kilner jars –    The Old Potato Store   ; Snow tall beaker –    Room 356   ; Rebecca Morris Bowls –    Object Style   ; BOTTOM SHELF: Broste Copenhagen pottery -    Folk Interiors   ; Rebecca Morris Pottery and espresso cups –    Object Style   ; Vintage Madelaine tin & old signage –    The Old Potato Store   ; WORKTOP: Vintage oyster basket, chopping boards and butter pats -    The Old Potato Store   ; Blue Broste Copenhagen jug and beakers –    Folk Interiors   ; Waffle Tea towel –    Such and Such   ; Dimple ceramic mugs –    Room 356

TOP SHELF: Items available from Folk Interiors; 2nd SHELF: Vintage kilner jars – The Old Potato Store; Snow tall beaker – Room 356; Rebecca Morris Bowls – Object Style; BOTTOM SHELF: Broste Copenhagen pottery - Folk Interiors; Rebecca Morris Pottery and espresso cups – Object Style; Vintage Madelaine tin & old signage – The Old Potato Store; WORKTOP: Vintage oyster basket, chopping boards and butter pats - The Old Potato Store; Blue Broste Copenhagen jug and beakers – Folk Interiors; Waffle Tea towel – Such and Such; Dimple ceramic mugs – Room 356

Add contrast to your interior

The most interesting interiors play with contrast, rough with smooth materials such as marble with wood and polished concrete with stainless steel. Juxtaposing old with new is a perfect way to create eclectic, interesting décor. Mix sleek contemporary designs with vintage and salvaged items, hand-crafted items with foraged and found pieces. A perfect example of how beautiful this can look is the Japanese technique of Kintsugi, the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with precious metal.

Buy Local when possible

The distance some items have to travel from production to consumer, impacts on its carbon footprint. Lots of small independent shops stock products made within the UK and many stock local makers and artists work. Also trawl maker markets and vintage homewares events in your area, such as The Vintage Home Show. Seek them out and your home will have an individual look and a story attached to every piece within it. It’s always interesting to know the provenance of a piece. Another great idea is to attend a workshop with a maker - learn a new skill while also making something truly individual.

Recycled paper planters and candlestick –    Room 356   ; Terracotta planter on stand and Rebecca Morris hand-thrown drinking vessel used as planter -    Object Style   ; Vintage tiny terracotta pot and scissors –    The Old Potato Store

Recycled paper planters and candlestick – Room 356; Terracotta planter on stand and Rebecca Morris hand-thrown drinking vessel used as planter - Object Style; Vintage tiny terracotta pot and scissors – The Old Potato Store

Go Green

With so many of us working from home on our laptops & computers and shopping from our phones, it’s no surprise that one of the biggest trends to emerge over the last few years is the return of house plants. These little green babies are adept at soaking up carbon monoxide and releasing oxygen as they photosynthesis, purifying the air for us. Surround yourself with them and make your home an urban jungle. Many towns and cities have seen dedicated plant shops opening up, where you can purchase unusual species and receive the specialist knowledge required to care for them.

Use low or non-VOC paints

Traditionally household paints contained VOC’s - ‘Volatile organic compounds’ - or chemicals which gave them their strong smell which could be toxic and in some cases cause ill health. Many companies started produce low-VOC paints. Low however, only actually means compared to other paints on the market. There are currently no regulations to define low. But now there are brands producing non-VOC or eco paints which can be determined by checking the label: look for wording such as non-toxic or natural. These are microporous and allow the walls of the building to breath and are ideal for period properties. They also often provide a lovely chalky matt finish.

Candle –    Small Batch Goods   ; Glass cloche –    Lavender and Green   ; Wire tray –    The Old Potato Store    Organic cotton stationery –    Folk Interiors

Candle – Small Batch Goods; Glass cloche – Lavender and Green; Wire tray – The Old Potato Store Organic cotton stationery – Folk Interiors

Natural fragrances

We all like our homes to smell lovely and fragrances help to discard cooking and pet smells. An alternative to toxic, chemically-produced sprays and plug ins are soy-based candles made with naturally-scented oils - an effective and eco-friendly way to fragrance your home. If the candle is in a recycled or repurposed vessel, even better. Online retailer Orchard Cheshire sell some lovely vegan candles in repurposed vintage French confit jars. There are also some beautiful exotic smelling incense sticks and cones widely available which emit a fragrance when they are burned and natural reed diffusers with essential oils are very effective and long lasting.

Thanks to Karen and Kirsty for all of this sage advice and lots of shopping tips too. Be sure to check out Kirsty’s gorgeous cork lighting at Nove Lighting and Karen’s fab vintage finds at The Old Potato Store.

Photography by Si Thompson / Words & Styling: Karen Barlow / Styling: Kirsty Saxon

Punch needle embroidery with The Modern Crafter

Punch needle embroidery is proving to be the hottest new yarn-based trend and is taking the craft scene by storm. Kath Webber visits Urban Makers market to learn this new textile art from The Modern Crafter

Punch needle embroidery workshop

As a crocheter and knitter, I always have a stash of beautifully-coloured yarns and wools that are left over from various projects, so when we were invited to a punch needle embroidery workshop by The Modern Crafter, I was thrilled to find a new way to use my favourite materials. The Modern Crafter is in fact two modern crafters - sisters Rachel Lawson and Siobhan Watt, who’ve combined the latter’s experience in textile and pattern design with the former’s love of needlecraft to share this contemporary way of creating tactile art. It was when Rachel was on maternity leave that she discovered punch needle as a quick way to use her embroidery skills, and she asked Siobhan to design a pattern to stitch, leading to a fab collaboration that is going from strength to strength.

Punch needle embroidery workshop
Punch needle embroidery workshop

The pair have been working with Urban Makers - a collective of modern makers gathering at pop-up markets - to host the workshops. On this particular Saturday the workshop and market took place in London’s Spitalfields - an exciting hub of unique talent that hosts markets every day with street food stalls and permanent bricks-and-mortar stores. Up on the mezzanine level away from the buzz of the market, a wooden table was laid out with balls of wool, linen fabric stretched over wooden hoops, colourful templates, interesting tools and bags of inspiration.

Designers Rachel and Siobhan introduced themselves and showed us some of their frankly stunning examples of punch needlework - abstract designs in a Scandi colour scheme made into wall hangings before explaining the tools in front of us. Each participant had a wooden gripper hoop fitted with a natural linen fabric, a punch needle, threader, yarn snips and a pile of yarn to play with. Rachel explained that all the tools and materials in our kit were sourced from the UK, and all the items were included with the DIY kit we could take home with us to continue our new obsession.

Punch needle embroidery workshop
Punch needle embroidery workshop
Punch needle embroidery workshop
Punch needle embroidery workshop
Punch needle embroidery workshop

After choosing a design from Siobhan’s templates (or drawing our own), we set about transferring the design onto our linen - holding it up to the light to trace it with a sharpie straight on to the fabric. With a somewhat slapdash approach to tracing I was assured the black pen lines would be concealed by the stitches! Rachel and Siobhan worked their way around the group showing us how to thread the needle, which has a wooden handle and is held like a pencil.

We then chose our colours and set to work punching! It’s tremendously fun but starting can be a little daunting - making a huge hole in the fabric more than once (more like 20 times!) is an easy mistake, but luckily our teachers were on hand to show us each how to adjust our technique to settle into a mindful rhythm. Where the wool was pulled too loose or the stitches were too small or tight, Rachel gave us non-judgmental advice and after an hour or so I had tried using stitches on the front side and reverse to achieve different textures. Although I hadn’t finished my hoop design, I was delighted to be given the complete DIY kit to take home so I could finish it off, which now hangs proudly in my kitchen diner. I found the needle punch process completely absorbing and I’m excited to try more with my linen fabric and gripper hook from my kit. It is a wonderful medium for cushions and bags as well as wall hangings. In fact, I’m so obsessed I’ve sent my own sister off to The Modern Crafter’s online store to get herself a kit so I can pass on Rachel’s techniques.

Punch needle embroidery workshop
Punch needle embroidery workshop
Punch needle embroidery workshop

To find out more on upcoming workshop dates visit The Modern Crafter website or follow them on Instagram. and for other Urban Makers events, visit www.urbanmakers.co.uk.

Thank you to Siobhan and Rachel for offering 91 Magazine a complimentary place on this workshop for review purposes.

Photography by Charlie Goodge

91 is reading.... Natural Living Style

Being environmentally conscious is something I now find myself thinking about on a daily basis, whether it’s a smaller purchase such as a new pair of jeans or which washing powder to go for, through to larger items such as what type of car we should go for when we replace our current one. Much of the changes that we can make start within the home, and there is so much we can do in terms of consumerism, repurposing and recycling.

Selina Lake Natural Living Style book review

Natural Style Living is the latest book from stylist Selina Lake, and as always, is a book which is not only beautiful but also has purpose. Selina explores homes which have been created with materials in mind, where homeowners are thoughtful about the process of creating a beautiful home, while limiting their impact on the environment. Selina also gives advice on eco-friendly materials, repurposing, recycling and decorating with natural objects rather than man-made.

Make your home more sustainable with Natural Living Style

Selina always manages to find the most amazing homes to include in her books, and this collection is no exception. One that particularly caught my eye was the home of Susannah and David Le Mesurier, whose home has all the modern rustic charm you could ever wish for. The light walls and floors are warmed up with vintage furniture and rustic wood, with pieces from the likes of Baileys Home & Garden and I gigi.

One of the best ways of reducing your impact is simply by being considered in your purchases. Not being swept up by consumer marketing but being really thoughtful about what your home needs. Sticking to a neutral palette and natural materials means everything in Susannah and David’s home goes together effortlessly. You get the feeling that they only buy objects that they truly love and spend time sourcing those perfect vintage items.

Enjoy the little peek at this lovely space, and then do check out Selina’s book for more beautiful homes and tips for making your own home more sustainable without compromising on style.

modern rustic style interior - featured in Natural Living Style Selina Lake
vintage furniture for a sustainable home
Selina Lake's latest book Natural Living Style - book review
beautiful bsthroom of Susannah and David Le Mesurier
Amazing rustic vintage greenhouse featured in Natural Living Style by Selina Lake

Natural Living Style: Inspirational Ideas for a Beautiful & Sustainable Home by Selina Lake, Photography by Rachel Whiting. Published by Ryland Peters & Small