Meet the Maker: Kathryn Davey

Nature’s palette is beautifully harnessed by textile designer Kathryn Davey with her naturally-dyed linen products, all hand-made in Ireland.

 Photo credit: Jo Murphy

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

‘Sustainability’ and ‘provenance’ are both popular concepts in modern consumerism nowadays, and for the conscious shopper they’ll always be at the forefront of their mind. However, there are few designers and makers that offer truly eco-conscious products with a local history - Kathryn Davey is one of them. Her textiles are grown, produced and hand-dyed in the Republic of Ireland, making the best of nature’s rich bounty.

‘I discovered natural dyes when I was living the Bay area of California, as I was somewhat involved with the west coast’s creative community,’ explains Kathryn. ‘The Dharma Trading Co. was nearby, and I was amazed by the selection of raw materials, organic fabrics and dye supplies - everything you could possibly need.’ With all the supplies at her fingertips and good drying weather year-round, Kathryn began experimenting with indigo dye in her own home, and quickly grasped the technique. ‘A friend of mine opened a studio and workshop, and invited me to teach indigo dyeing techniques, and I soon moved on to other natural dyes,’ she adds.

Difficult personal circumstances encouraged Kathryn to move back to her native Ireland, and she set up home in Dublin. ‘At first, I found the move difficult for my work,’ admits Kathryn. ‘It wasn’t so easy to source wholesale supplies, but in other ways my life had improved immeasurably,’ she continues. ‘My life had simplified, giving me the physical and mental space to grow my business - my perspective had shifted, giving me a renewed drive.’ The past year has proved a learning curve for Kathryn, as her work load increased, and she found suppliers for her bags, table and kitchen linen in Ireland, the UK and USA.

 Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

 Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

‘My work definitely connects me to a sense of place,’ explains Kathryn. ‘When I was living in the USA it was important to use what was local to me as much as possible - although very little fabric was actually produced locally, I used whatever I could.’ Now, Kathryn uses world-famous Irish linen, which is grown and woven in the South of Ireland and dyed by Kathryn in Dublin. ‘To be able to come home and have Irish linen that’s been woven here is something special and I feel like I have no other choice!’ she laughs. The linen is first sewn into bags, aprons and napkins by a local sewing studio before Kathryn commits them to the dye vats that live at her city studio. The range also features organic cotton gauze scarves, and socks knitted from Jacob wool, and Kathryn is introducing a looser, more rustic weave linen this summer. 

 Photo credit: Jo Murphy

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

‘All my products are completely ethical; it’s important that they include no chemical dyes- natural is what feels right to me,’ Kathryn adds. The subtle variations in finish and colour are all part of this philosophy, and Kathryn’s recent workshops in Edinburgh and London (at Kristin Perers’ Flower Factory studio) teaching shibori dyeing prove exactly that. ‘There are so many ways of using natural dyes- shibori produces more abstract and linear designs but the magic is that you never know what something will look like when it comes out of the dye pot,’ she enthuses. ‘The possibilities really are limitless, and one has to surrender to the unpredictability.’

 Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

 Photo credit: Jo Murphy

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

One area of predictability, however, is Kathryn’s daily routine. With three children and her own business, balancing life can often be tricky. ‘I’m trying to bring more balance to life, as I have found I’m always putting myself last,’ Kathryn admits. ‘Since I launched the linens last year I’ve found I’m working every day, so taking some time for myself and doing some exercise is important.’ Kathryn cycles to her city studio every day, once her daughter is at school. ‘My studio is based in an old school building- however it’s rather cold and far from romantic!’ she says. ‘Renting in Dublin is expensive, but I use my studio space for everything,’ adds Kathryn. ‘Once I’ve arrived at the studio, my routine is much the same every day- I check emails, deal with admin and orders and collect the sewn products before getting the dye pots going,’ she adds. Kathryn dyes for the rest of the day, each day producing her products for stores in Dublin, California and London as well her website.

QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS

Describe your work in three words: Inspiring, Challenging, Addictive

What are your making rituals? I clean the space and organise the workflow, make a cup of tea, get my dyeing clothes on and get to it!

Tea or Coffee? Always and forever, tea.

Mountains or Sea? Both! But if I had to choose one: Sea, water’s good for my soul.

Night Owl or Early Bird? Early Bird (only because I have to get my daughter to school, otherwise I'd probably be a Night Owl)

I wish someone had told me… The story of Benjamin Button when I was a teenager!

Visit Kathryn's website: www.kathryndavey.com

Win dreamy Soak&Sleep goodies!

Here at 91, we love sharing with you our favourite independent brands; ones that we already have in our own homes and that we think you will love having in yours too. In our brand-new issue (have you got yours yet?!) we teamed up with bed and bath brand Soak&Sleep and stylist/photographer duo Anna and Tam to showcase some of Soak&Sleep's gorgeous products - perfect for turning your bedroom and bathroom into luxurious spaces to retreat to at the end of the day. 

Win Soak and Sleep goodies with 91 Magazine

We've been a little bit in love with Soak&Sleep's Pure French Linen bedding for quite some time - just how gorgeous does the Midnight Grey and White look together here?! Make sure you check out the full feature in the magazine to see more of Soak&Sleep's range - their bathroom accessories are equally as dreamy. Also, do give Soak&Sleep a follow over on Instagram - they've got lots of lovely bedroom & bathroom inspiration to swoon over.

 To celebrate this collaboration, we are thrilled that the generous guys from Soak&Sleep are offering one lucky 91 Magazine reader the chance to win some of the gorgeous textiles as featured here. They are giving away the following bundle worth over £200: 

  • One French Linen set which includes 2 x pillowcases, 1 x duvet cover (similar to pictured above) 
  • Luxury Cotton Knotted Throw in Charcoal (pictured above)
  • Luxury Cotton Waffle Bedspread in Dusky Sage (size: Double) (pictured below - top of pile) 
Win Soak&Sleep goodies with 91 Magazine

it's super simple to enter - just add your details in the form below. A winner will be drawn at random after the closing date which is 13th July 2018. Please see below for further terms and conditions. 

Name *
Name

Terms and Conditions

1. Only entries made before the closing date - 13th July 2018 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. Bedding set choices of colour and sizing may be limited. When winner has been selected Soak&Sleep will inform them of the available options.

5. No cash alternative. 

6. The giveaway is open to worldwide entries. 

7. By entering the giveaway and providing your email address you are giving permission to be added to the mailing lists of both 91 Magazine and Soak&Sleep. Your details will not be shared with any further third parties. 

This post was sponsored by Soak&Sleep. Images by Anna and Tam for 91 Magazine.  

Mexico: Top 12 designers from Caravana Americana

If you follow us on Instagram then you may have followed along on Stories about our recent trip to Mexico City. We were invited as a media partner to a design fair in the city called Caravana Americana, which carefully curates and showcases Latin American design, across both the fashion and interiors industries.

Caravana Americana Mexico City 2018

Myself and 91 photographer Jemma Watts travelled out there to attend the fair and find out more about the design scene there. Today I've got a little run down of twelve of the designers that we discovered....

The Norm - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
The Norm, Caravana Americana, Mexico City

THE NORM

Founded by Debra Heftye, the aim for her brand The Norm is to go back to the simplicity and pleasure of enjoying a cup of coffee, slowing down and really enjoying the moment. Debra's grandfather was Norwegian, so her work is inspired by Scandinavian design and hygge, resulting in a super minimal aesthetic. She wants to unite artisanal techniques and contemporary design - this range was made in collaboration with a family of artisans in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Onora - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
Onora - Caravana Americana, Mexico City

ONORA

The dominant theme running through the entire Caravana Americana show was how closely Mexican designers work with artisans across the country, keeping traditional techniques alive while producing contemporary designs for today's market. Onora appeared to be one of the more established brands at the show - they even have a store in the Polanco district - yet their ethos is still firmly rooted in how their business can build better lives for the people who produce their products. They invest time in learning about the individual communities crafts and traditions, allowing this to inform their designs. We particularly loved these patterned monochrome ceramics above.

Mr Man - Caravan Americana, Mexico City
Ms Lady- Caravana Americana, mexico city

RAYITO DE LUNA

While my focus was mainly on the homeware stands, I was drawn to this cosmetic label who produce a range for men called Mr Man and one for women called Ms Lady. The two guys behind the brand did not speak much in the way of English and my Spanish is non-existent, so the only info I managed to glean was that the products are organic and 100% Mexican, and that they source all the ingredients from small communities within Mexico. Oh, and they smelt pretty fabulous. (The products, that is!) ;)

Vicu - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
Vicu - Caravana Americana, Mexico City

VICU

The show had a small section featuring products for kids, and Vicu really stood out, as how could you not be drawn to these sweet woolly alpacas with their colourful pompoms and smiling faces?! Vicu is short for Vicugna (the scientific name for alpaca) - the brand was set up in 2007 by Olivia Arreguín who crochets and hand-stitches the alpaca plushie toys. She used to make beanie hats, but one day when one came out too big, instead of scrapping it she turned it into the alpaca toy and they've never looked back! The toys are already popular across the States, Canada, Australia and the UK, and they are planning to launch a new collection soon including wallpaper designs. 

Nido - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
Nido - Caravana Americana, Mexico City

NIDO MUEBLES

The other children's brand which caught my eye was Nido Muebles. Run by designer Valeria Tamaya, they produce furniture for children and babies made from certified wood and wicker which is made in Tequis Queiapan - a small Mexican town which produces a lot of baskets. We loved these delicate mobiles which are apparently made from the same material as panana hats. 

La Chicharra Ceramica  - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
La Chicharra Ceramica  - Caravana Americana, Mexico City

LA CHICHARRA CERAMICA

Back to ceramics, and I was quite taken by the beautiful pieces by La Chicharra Ceramica. (In fact, I brought home two of their plates!) Run by a husband and wife team from Oaxaca, the couple make everything themselves by hand, and the pieces earthy colour palette are due to the natural substances that are sourced in Oaxaca – every piece is different in colour and pattern. The beautiful textures are created by mixing ground-down volcanic rock into the clay. 

Arudeko - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
Arudeko - Caravana Americana, Mexico City

ARUDEKO

Textiles of course featured heavily at the show, and it was quite the struggle to resist the urge to try and fit a handwoven rug in our suitcases! The monochrome and soft colour palette from Arudeko highlighted the many hours of work that go in to producing these kinds of products, and one of their aims as a brand is to help artisans with pricing as they often do not value their work properly. It was interesting to hear how technology plays a big role in the design and production process, with email and Whatsapp being used as the main way of communicating designs to the makers. 

Candor Home - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
Candor Home - Caravana Americana, Mexico City

CANDOR HOME

Classic striped towels and neutral colours are the signature look of Candor Home - a relatively new brand, only launched in 2016, by 25 year old Fernanda Mereles. Like most of the exhibitors at Caravana, Candor's focus is on artisanal techniques and quality materials and Fernanda works with a team of artisans who produce the textiles on a foot pedal loom and hand knot the tassels. Products are designed to have versatility - so could be used as a towel, throw, blanket for picnic or the beach.

Peca - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
Peca - Caravana Americana, Mexico City

PECA

What I found interesting at the event was that while many of the designers work which was produced in collaboration with traditional artisans still had the aesthetic and cultural qualities associated with the crafts of the country, some brands had really stretched the limitations to create contemporary designs that still utilised artisanal techniques yet were far from traditional in style. Peca in particular, a brand established in Guadalajara, uses natural materials such stone, wood, marble and volcanic rock and works with artisans whose skills include hammering copper and embroidering leather with pita (a fibre from the leaf of the agave) to produce their high end furniture and design-led accessories. 

Tributo - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
Tributo - Caravana Americana, Mexico City

TRIBUTO

Similarly, the design led products and furniture by Tributo stood out as being ahead of the curve in terms of how to utilise the traditional crafts of the country. They connect a number of designers and artisans to create their range which spans many disciplines, from lava stone carving to blown glass to woodwork with their aim being to 'promote design as a strategic tool to promote social, economic and cultural development by working with artisan communities in Mexico.' 

txt.ure - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
txt.ure - Caravana Americana, Mexico City

TXT.URE

One of the most inspiring aspects of Caravana, was the passion that the designers held for the craftsmanship and communities of their fellow countrymen. The respect and admiration for those whose skills have been passed down through many generations was palpable. For some of the designers, their quest was to ensure the longevity of some of the crafts that are endangered, and Txt.ure was one brand who is actively working towards the preservation of techniques and introducing new makers to what will hopefully become a way of life – teaching apprentices to make. The complicated hand weaving technique required to make these chairs is one that was becoming almost extinct, something which Txt.ure is working to change, by bringing these folk classics up to date for the modern home. If I could've fitted one of these beauties in my suitcase I totally would have transported one back to the UK! 

HDMX Hecho de Mexico - Caravana Americana, Mexico City
HDMX Hecho de Mexico - Caravana americana, Mexico City

HECHO DE MEXICO

Last but not least on our epic day at Caravana Americana was Hecho De Mexico. Another relatively new brand set up in 2016 in a bid to preserve the traditional craftsmanship of the nation. They use natural materials such as copper, wood and agave fibre and say some of their woven items can take up to six weeks to produce. Interestingly, so far, they say they sell their products solely through Instagram. We are loving those hand-embroidered mustard yellow and white cushion covers! 

Caravana Americana, March 2018, Mexico City

It was such a treat to spend a day immersed in the design culture of Mexico - the people we met and conversations we had truly inspired us. Caravana Americana has only been running since 2016 but already it has established itself as one of the most notable design events in Mexico. Their next event will happen in October 2018, so if you have an interest in design and fashion then I suggest you consider a visit. Mexico City totally blew me away and was so much more than I expected, so the city is well worth a visit too. Look out for our upcoming guide to the city's best shops, cafes, restaurants and venues coming up soon too! 

Thanks again to Gina and her team for welcoming us to Caravana! x

Photography: Jemma Watts

Our S/S 18 issue is here!

Hurray! It's always an exciting day at 91 HQ when the brand new issue lands! Although it's not quite as glamourous as it might sound - it's usually a surly delivery driver who dumps box after heavy box into my front porch while I ferry them inside! Then the packing of pre-orders commences! But before I dive into that, I wanted to give you a peek inside the pages. If you haven't ordered your copy yet, hopefully it'll entice you to jump over to the shop and click buy! :) 

91 Magazine - SS18 issue - independent interiors and lifestyle magazine

The above shot has a big hint to what this issue's theme is... can you guess?! We are celebrating our love of beautiful blooms, scattering petal-inspired features throughout the magazine - from our favourite flower shops, to ideas on how to cook and craft with them, to our fave flowery Instagrammers... 

91 Magazine - SS18 issue - independent interiors and lifestyle magazine
91 Magazine - SS18 issue - independent interiors and lifestyle magazine
91 Magazine - SS18 issue - independent interiors and lifestyle magazine

Furthermore, this issue takes us from London to The Netherlands to the Isle of Wight to Bristol to Bordeaux, exploring gorgeous spaces to share with you - homes, shops, studios, cafes - all with intriguing stories of creativity behind them.

91 Magazine - SS18 issue - independent interiors and lifestyle magazine
91 Magazine - SS18 issue - independent interiors and lifestyle magazine
91 Magazine - SS18 issue - independent interiors and lifestyle magazine
91 Magazine - SS18 issue - independent interiors and lifestyle magazine

Team 91 have done a fab job once again, and I can't thank my team and all of our contributors enough. You guys are super talented! And of course HUGE thanks to our readers - you are the ones we do this for and you are the ones whose support makes it all possible! We wholeheartedly hope you enjoy the brand new issue. Do share your pics on social media using our hashtag #my91magazine - we love to see them! :) 

ORDER THE S/S 18 ISSUE NOW.

From the cutting room floor - A/W 17 issue

We are just days away from receiving the brand new S/S 18 issue, we are bursting with excitement! While we wait, I thought I'd look back to our last issue and share with you a few of the images that didn't make it into the magazine although we wish they could have! There is always just too many dreamy images to fit onto the pages...

from the cutting room floor - 91 Magazine
from the cutting room floor - 91 Magazine
from the cutting room floor - 91 Magazine

Our cover story - the home of Liesbeth Disbergen de Leeuw - had us swooning at her use of colour, playful design and mix of old and new. So much pretty in every corner. 

from the cutting room floor - 91 Magazine - The Fig Store
from the cutting room floor - 91 Magazine - The Fig Store
from the cutting room floor - 91 Magazine - The Fig Store

Our shop tour took us to the stunning Bath-based shop The Fig Store. Photographer Kym Grimshaw captured the space beautifully. We kinda just want to move straight in! 

from the cutting room floor - 91 Magazine
from the cutting room floor - 91 Magazine
from the cutting room floor - 91 Magazine

Another colourful home beautifully curated by Michael & Rachel Sullivan, who seem to be a dab hand at styling a shelfie! We love the mix of carefully selected vintage finds, plants and contemporary artwork. Gorgeous photography by Kasia Fiszer

 Photo:  Janis Nicolay
 Photo:  Cathy Pyle

Photo: Cathy Pyle

 Photo:  Kym Grimshaw  / Styling:  Lou Archell

Photo: Kym Grimshaw / Styling: Lou Archell

Finally, a few other fave shots from the homes and studios that featured in the AW17 issue. We are sold out of the print version of this edition now, but you can still get the digital version here, or alternatively scour our stockist's websites, as some may have a few copies left. 

Now, back to anxiously waiting the arrival of the brand new issue! Head to the website to get your copy as soon as it lands! x

Meet The Maker: Alex Collins

Alex Collins is true creative; trained in the fashion industry, like so many others she became disillusioned with its fast and throwaway nature and turned her talents towards the slow making movement. A self-confessed obsessive knitter, her beautiful project bags feature original hand-printed fabric with consciously-sourced materials. A visit to her Instagram page reveals a fondness for natural colours, minimalist palettes and the joy of making. We caught up with her in early Spring to discover her approach to making and her creative lifestyle.

Alex Collins - Meet the Maker

‘There are so many bag makers doing beautiful work, but I saw a gap in the market for eco conscious project bags that wasn’t being filled at the time. I had been sharing my personal makes on Instagram for a while before starting my business and it was my friends there that gave me the confidence to set up shop,’ begins Alex. ‘I’ve always wanted to do something creative and pursued a career in fashion for a time, working first on the business side for a label and later more creatively as a make-up artist. I had some amazing experiences, but it never felt like quite the right fit for me,’ she admits. It’s probably not that surprising that it was when Alex decided to step back from working in fashion she found that there was no pressure associated with her making, and her creativity bloomed.

Alex Collins Needle Case_2.jpg

‘My eyes were really opened - through Instagram especially - to how diverse the creative world is and just what is achievable on a small scale,’ Alex continues. ‘For the first time I saw small artisanal makers and crafts people doing things on their own terms and sustaining a living from their work.’ This epiphany led Alex to the conclusion that fashion, and more specifically fast fashion, was less and less appealing - ‘not just because of the environmental impact and waste, but the constant reinvention and chase for something new is exhausting,’ she says. ‘This slower more considered way of working that I was seeing was so much more relatable to me and made me excited to be a part of this new movement.’

Becoming part of this slow and sustainable way of creating appealed to Alex on many levels, and she is aware of the current interest in provenance. ‘I think people are slowly becoming more aware of what goes into making the things we use each day and I love that there is a growing group of people who care about the making process,’ she explains. ‘More excitingly, these people can appreciate the craftsmanship that makes handmade so special to own and use; when I sit down with a coffee in my favourite mug the whole experience is elevated because I know the artist that made it and I can picture the journey it’s been on.’

Of course, at 91 Magazine we’re all heavily invested in this experience and feel proud to be in this group of people. ‘I like to think that’s how people feel when they pull out a project kept in one of my bags,’ Alex continues. ‘That they have something really special that was laboured over with love and that each element was carefully considered.’ This handmade story is what is apparent in Alex’s pieces, from the hand-printed surface pattern, to the individually stamped logos in the lining of each roomy and attractive bag.

Alex Collins Knitting Project Bag_2.jpg
Alex Collins_013.JPG

What’s clear when talking to Alex or navigating her website is her clear ethos to produce environmentally-sound products. Her values are instilled in every aspect of her work. ‘I am someone who really cares about the impact we’re having on our planet so it was important to me right from the start that my work wouldn’t impact negatively on the environment,’ explains Alex. ‘I don’t believe you can force people to change their habits but leading by example is really powerful.’ One of the things she loves most about her business is that it has started so many conversations with people about the environment.

‘I often get asked why I’m only using organic cottons and it leads me naturally to share about the harm cotton production is having on the earth and those people who grow it,’ she adds. ‘When you’re using organic cottons, you are limited by what’s available - but I’ve actually found that has been a help rather than a hinderance as I’m more considered in my choices and it helps push my design work having those parameters,’ admits Alex. The limited choice of fabrics in soft, muted colours has led Alex to experiment with natural dyes, as well as designing the surface pattern.

Alex Collins_4.JPG

‘My design process starts out really loosely on paper where I’ll sketch freely with no pressure,’ she explains. ‘I’m really drawn to using botanical motifs in my work so I’ll often snap pictures of plants when I’m out and about to reference later and I use Pinterest to search for botanical inspiration.’ Like many others, Alex can find the blank page of a sketch book intimidating so she then likes to use the images she’s collected as a jumping off point to see where it takes her. ‘I’ll often draw the same thing over and over until I almost don’t need to look at the page - I find more interesting abstract shapes often come from these fast, loose sketches compared to those times when I’m really trying to capture something as I see it.’

For a repeat pattern Alex will then pull out some of her favourite motifs and start playing around with the layout using a pencil and a square of tracing paper. ‘I could design my repeats on the computer, but I like to use the traditional method of cutting and repositioning my drawings on paper to create a repeat design when I’m just starting to form my ideas,’ she says. ‘Once I’ve got an idea of how I want the pattern to look I’ll then clean up my drawings and transfer those initial sketches to the computer and print out my repeat pattern at different scales and mock up the bags to see what I like best before sending the final pattern to a screen maker who transfers my designs so I can screen print my drawings onto fabric.’

Her ideas for the bags, pouches and tool wraps come directly from her experience as a maker; Alex is a beautiful knitter and keen sewist and so understands the limitations of what’s available for other makers. ‘I knit and sew for fun just like my customers do so new product ideas will usually stem from me needing something that’s missing from the collection,’ she says. ‘I’ll have a clear idea of the function the product will have, and I’ll develop the idea from there.’ Once Alex has the basic shape she wants, she’ll carefully consider things such as the number of pieces that can be cut from a single print or metre of fabric to minimise waste and then makes a few prototypes to get the final piece just right.

Alex Collins Knitting Project Bag.jpg

Working from her London flat, Alex is the epitome of an independent business owner, and she admits that she has found this enormously liberating. ‘I feel very lucky that I’ve created a life and a business where I get to dictate what’s on the agenda each day and to a certain extent the pace at which I work,’ she smiles. Everyday can look totally different, as many small business owners and artists will understand, and that brings joy to Alex each day. ‘I batch tasks and try to dive straight into my work first thing in the morning before I’ve had time to procrastinate and daydream the day away!’ she explains. ‘I check if any international orders have come in overnight and I set my three priorities for the day - I find picking three things to work on for the day is brilliant for keeping my focus,’ Alex adds. ‘Throughout the week I will be printing and dying fabric, sewing for the shop, working on new ideas and product development, Instagramming, keeping on top of my accounts and doing my freelance work for The Fibre Co.’ she continues.

The Fibre Co. is an independent yarn producer and dyer based in the UK, and Alex works on the promotional side of the business. ‘I work alone which suits me just fine, but I do love listening to podcasts which keep me company,’ she says. ‘My desk looks out over the garden and I’m easily distracted by the sweet little birds just outside my window; I’d love to find a way of incorporating these little feathery friends into my work- perhaps you’ll see a bird print in the future!’

Being a one-woman show does of course have its own challenges, which anyone who works from home will no doubt identify with. And with the rise of social media as an important business tool, it can be hard to switch off. ‘I find it impossible to separate myself from my “brand” or online identity,’ Alex says. ‘Perhaps you’re seeing a more curated version of myself through Instagram and my business, but it’s still me - I’d hate for there to be a disconnect when people meet me offline and I think it’s a positive that people are reminded there is a human behind the business.’ This personal touch is evident even throughout Alex’s self-confessed curated content. But her communications and inviting website carefully convey Alex’s warm nature and love for making. ‘I am quite a private person, so I find it hard to share on social media sometimes but it’s something I enjoy and I’ve found the Instagram community to be so supportive and engaged,’ Alex explains. ‘There are some people I follow who are doing some really exciting things with video which I would like to experiment with more, I’d love to share more of my process with my customers and bring them along on this journey.’

Alex-11.jpg

As her business grows, Alex is working on new prints and designs inspired by the yarn-lovers around her. ‘This Spring I’m collaborating with Garthenor, who source, produce and sell certified organic wool products from their small family farm in west Wales,’ she says. The bags were of course hugely popular when Garthenor took them to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival earlier this month. ‘I have new prints coming to the store this Spring and I’m working on a personal project that I think is going to bring some new energy to my work,’ continues Alex. And to stretch her creative muscles, Alex is taking part in The 100 Days Project. ‘Starting 3rd April I’ll be experimenting for 100 days drawing, painting, block printing, screen printing and who knows what else on fabric,’ she ventures. ‘It’s easy to get stuck in your practise when you sell what you make so I’m excited to see where this project takes me creatively.’


QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS

Describe your work in three words: Functional, Timeless, Scandi

What are your making rituals?  A new knitting project always starts with hand winding my ball of yarn which feels like a ritual of sorts. It’s such a meditative process, I’d hate to switch to doing it by machine.

Tea or Coffee? Apple tea is a favourite but if I was pushed to choose I’d have to say coffee. Taking five minutes out with a really good coffee feels like an indulgent treat in the middle of a busy day and I wouldn't want to give that up.

Mountains or Sea? It has to be sea. I feel all the feeling when I’m near the ocean, its so vast.

Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird...not too early mind you!

I wish someone had told me... It’s never a good idea to leave something until the last minute. Actually, I'm pretty sure I was told this all the time growing up, but it’s taken me a long time to learn that lesson for myself.

www.alexcollinsdesigns.com

The Importance of Purpose For Creative Projects

Today we have an in-depth, practical post for any of you pursuing a creative career or even a personal project or hobby, but need some focus and guidance. Marketing coach Kayte Ferris delves into the importance of purpose in your work, how to discover that purpose and then how to use it to your advantage. Pour yourself a cuppa and let's get started....

Tea on a pile of notebooks - finding purpose in your creative projects

In my work as a marketing coach for small creative businesses, one of the very first things I tackle with clients is their purpose – the reason their business exists and why they get up and work on it every day. Think about the brands you love or the last few non-necessities you bought. I’m willing to bet that you love those businesses because you buy into what they believe, and that their own views on life match up with yours. That’s the power of having a strong purpose at the core of your business; you build an audience of advocates who believe what you believe, and will support you through transitions and pivots in your products.

But I’m not just here to talk about business, because purpose is exceptionally important for our passion projects too. Whether you’re starting a new business, side hustling, or have a creative project you’re doing just for you, having a strong purpose is vital for keeping you on track, motivating you, and overcoming those guilty feelings of doing something just for you. It’s similar to how it’s easier to lose weight when you have an event coming up that you want to feel confident for – when you’re clear on why you’re doing something, everything else just flows.

In this post, I’m going to talk about why that purpose is so important and how it can help you in your creative project, as well as give you my tips for finding your purpose, the very same ones I talk through with my client’s at the beginning of their journeys.

Planning on a big piece of paper

Why is purpose important?

  • It’s an anchor - As creatives, we have a tendency to be pretty magpie-ish when it comes to opportunities and ideas. While this leads us to exciting, and at times life-changing things, it can also cause us to stray off our path and into something that isn’t particularly on brand or right for us as people. Whether it’s a sponsored brand collaboration that leaves you feeling icky, or coverage in a publication that doesn’t sit well, we all know the feeling when we’ve done something that didn’t feel right.

What a strong purpose does is anchor you in these situations. It gives you a standard to hold all opportunities and ideas up to and see if they directly serve that purpose. In this way, it helps you to be more objectively yes/no about new ideas, but it also ensures that every single thing you do is on brand and purposeful.

  • It’s a motivator - We all have days where we sit at our desk or walk into our studio and are just not feeling it. When the deadline is fast approaching but you’d rather walk across hot coals than tackle the thing that needs doing. Our motivation and energy naturally ebbs and flows, and we need to accept and work with that rather than fight against it.

A strong purpose, however, will make sure that you spend more time in flow than in ebb. Particularly with passion projects, when life more easily gets in the way and it becomes harder to justify the time and energy you’re spending, having a core purpose you can continue to come back to is a way of giving yourself accountability and justifying the project to yourself.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve started a blog whose purpose is to make you practice your writing so you can take on more fulfilling tasks at work. Having that purpose statement on a post-it stuck to your laptop, or simply remembering it every time you dread sitting at a desk will put the fire in your belly to carry on.

  • It builds community - This one is particularly important if you are working on your business, but community can also be extremely powerful for your creative projects too. Your purpose is a big neon sign to your target customers and other like-minded souls that you are for them, and it gives them a reason to jump on board with you.

With all the noise on the internet we are all in a constant state of sifting for what’s relevant to us. It’s like we’re panning for gold, and the internet is constantly pouring a deluge of silt into our sieves, so we have to continually shake through the dirt keeping a beady eye out for the nuggets that are useful to us. What we have to do as businesses, or the gold in this analogy, is make sure that we are so shiny and bright that our people can see us clearly in the mud.

Now everyone is looking for slightly different gold – some people want great big chunks, others want smaller pieces that are just perfect for what they need. What our purpose does is highlight to our people that we are the nugget they’re looking for. It’s not about standing out to everyone; it’s about making sure your people see you and recognise you.

Purpose statement for creative business planning

How do you find your purpose?

Ok, so hopefully by now I’ve convinced you, but now you have a bigger nagging worry of ‘what even is my purpose?’. The first thing to do is not panic: the vast majority of people I work with haven’t got as far as thinking about their purpose, sometimes even years into their business. It also takes time to think about your purpose – this is a meaningful mantra and not something you’ll come up with in five minutes. It’s a good idea to sit with these exercises, go for some mulling-over-walks and let your purpose develop organically.

One thing to be aware of is that people will often fall into the trap of confusing their ‘what’ or their ‘how’ with their ‘why’. For example, you may think “I love making homewares” – that’s your ‘what’. Building on that you may say “I’m passionate about using recycled materials” – great, that’s your ‘how’. “I am working to make the smallest footprint I can on the planet, and want to provide others with ways to lessen their impact too” – now that’s your why. Do you see how much of a difference that last statement will have move on anchoring and motivating you, but also helping others to get on board with that purpose and form a community around it?

So how do we start to draw out your why? Below are a few of my favourite exercises.

  • What do you want to be known for?

Two friends are having a conversation. One says, “I really need X”, and the other friend excitedly recommends you as the guru for all things X. In this situation, what is X? What do you want your name to be synonymous with? What do you want to be known for?

Using this as a nucleus, you can begin to build your purpose out of and around it. Is the answer you came up with more of a ‘what’ or a ‘how’? If so, track backwards to the ‘why’. If it’s already closer to a ‘why’, flesh that out – what about your story inspired that ‘why’? Make it real and tangible in order for it to be truly meaningful.

Exercises to find purpose in your creative projects
  • Ask why five times

This exercise can be difficult and frustrating, but in spite of that it’s annoyingly effective. If you’re struggling to get to the nub of your purpose, this exercise is about challenging your statements and deepening your thinking by continually asking you to go one step further.

Here’s an example of what this exercise might look like:

·      “I make homewares” – Why?

·      …”because I couldn’t find anything I wanted for my home on the market” – Why was that?

·      “…because it tended to be mass-produced and poorly made” – Why is that important?

·      “…because I wanted a home that felt cosy and organic, unique to me” – Why?

·      “…because we moved a lot when I was a kid and nowhere ever felt comforting like that” – Why is that important?

·      “…because I believe that your home should be the place you feel most comforted, safe and at peace”

By challenging each answer you get closer to what is actually driving you, and what will therefore inspire others to join you.

  • What good do you do in the world?

This is an especially good exercise for those who struggle to see the value in their project, or who can’t put a finger on why it’s important they continue doing what they do. It’s also great for thinking about those passion projects and continuing to be inspired by them.

I’ve worked with graphic designers who feel like they provide ‘just a logo’, or shop owners who say ‘it’s only a cushion’. That is not a very motivating or inspiring way of thinking! While none of us creating online are quite at the ‘solving world hunger’ end of spectrum, we are still doing good in the world. By creating a logo that graphic designer has given their client the confidence to hand out their business card without shame and grow their business – so perhaps that can be their why. The shop owner is selling cushions by young designers just starting out and giving them a chance to pursue their creative dreams – maybe that’s what motivates them.

Even if your passion project means that you are calmer and shout at the kids less often, that’s still doing good in the world. Thinking about the value that comes from your work from a different viewpoint is a great way of pinpointing what is motivating you.

Like I said earlier, your purpose won’t necessarily come to you in five minutes, or even five hours. Even if it feels weird thinking so deeply like this, at the other end you have a totally invaluable guiding light to help you out on ebb days and inspire you to ever greater things in the future. With a purpose, everything else becomes easier – everything that you talk about in your marketing will flow from here, what you post on social media, even which channels your on in the first place come from that purpose. As you and your business change over time, so too will your purpose flex and adapt – treat it as a living thing you continue to nurture and work on and you’ll have a very happy creative life together.

Kayte is running Out Of The Woods workshops in Bristol and London exploring business purpose and using it to grow this April - Find out more here. She blogs about growing a soulful business and has lots of free resources you can download and work through to explore this concept further. Thank you Kayte for this insightful post! 

The Importance of Purpose For Creative Projects

An Instagrammer's guide to: Brighton

The well-loved seaside location of Brighton is a popular choice for city dwellers looking a slower pace of life while not compromising on creativity, good food and fun. Freelance copywriter Shelley Welti shares just a few of her top spots for a day trip or longer to this colourful coastal city.

As Dorothy knows only too well, there’s no place like home and for me – a biased Brightonian of just five years, there’s really nowhere quite like this bohemian city. Full of creatives, inspiring small businesses and an anything goes vibe, along with historical buildings, an award-winning beach and dreamy sunsets; Brighton really is a must to tick off your to-do list.

Whether you’ve never visited before or have strolled around The Lanes hundreds of times, there’s always something new and exciting to experience. Here are just a few of my must-sees.

 Photo: India Hobson for  Trouva

Photo: India Hobson for Trouva

Workshop - Located just off the twisty-turny, meandering Lanes is Workshop – a beautiful lifestyle store stocking home and fashion products that are both simple and useful. This airy and light store brings together gorgeous goods, created with care and craftsmanship from across the world and offers a peaceful, respite from the busy, bustling city streets, thanks to its relaxed ambience and well-designed – yet useful products. It’s really easy to while away a good half an hour in here – you’ve been warned!

IG: @workshopliving

Red Roaster / Pike & Pine - Instagrammer's Guide to Brighton

Redroaster/ Pike & Pine - Located just a stone’s throw from the pebbly shore in boho Kemptown, this Brighton gem is a beautiful botanical café (Redroaster) by day and stunning restaurant (Pike & Pine) serving seasonal, contemporary dishes by night. With marble topped tables, gorgeous gold accessories and foliage a-plenty, it’s the perfect place to stop for one of their hand-roasted coffees or to tuck into a spot of breakfast, brunch or lunch (or all three!) All food is prepared by a team led by Matt Gillan (holder of a Michelin Star and winner of the BBC’s Great British Menu). Oh, and for something a little fancier than fish and chips, head back in the evening for luxurious, yet relaxed fine dining and to die for cocktails.

IG: @redroastercafe

 Photo:  Lucy Davidson

Spiderplant Shop - Hidden away in Waiste Vintage (a divine vintage clothes boutique in North Laine), lies Spiderplant Shop – a tiny botanical haven, adorned with houseplants of all shapes and sizes. It’s not just the bright white-washed room full of nature’s green goodies that qualifies its ‘Instagrammable-ness’, there’s also quirky illustrations by local illustrator Jessica Sharville, leading the way up the stairs to this plant emporium. Phones at the ready folks!

IG: @spiderplantshop

 Photo: India Hobson for  Trouva

Photo: India Hobson for Trouva

Dowse - Mixing together prints, jewellery and homeware – some made in-house and others carefully sourced from various talented designers, Dowse is a true, independent boutique with a passion for art and thoughtful gifting at its heart. With an ethos of supporting and showcasing makers and their work, there’s always something new to lust after; from stylish planners to woven blankets, Danish-made ceramics to geometric prints, created by the small Dowse team. I don’t think I’ve ever left this store empty-handed – I bet you won’t either!

IG: @dowsedesign

Silo - Instagrammer's Guide to Brighton

Silo - Nestled in the quirky North Laine, Silo is a unique industrial, zero waste restaurant. Renowned for their ethical waste reduction philosophy (they work with farmers directly, use re-usable delivery vessels and choose local ingredients), Silo’s aesthetic reflects this re-use vibe – with tables made from industrial floor tiles, work benches crafted from filing cabinet frames and jam jars for glasses. There’s even a working compost machine set inside the restaurant. Of course, it’s not just about their look and ethos – Silo wows with it's food too, with delicious brunches and dinners inspired by modern and ancient primitive diets; just choose from plant, fish or meat menus.

IG: @silobrighton

 Photo:  Lucy Davidson

Peach Blossom - In a city that’s known for its fun, party atmosphere (especially during Pride weekend in August!), it’s important that Brighton has a party shop to enhance the celebratory feeling all year. And Peach Blossom, with its brightly coloured balloons and fun décor – including everything from cups to napkins, garlands to piñatas – is the perfect place to pick up supplies for parties and all year round home décor. I dare you not to take a snap in front of their party-perfect photo wall… and then want to recreate it in your home!

IG: @peachblossomuk

 Photo: India Hobson for  Trouva

Photo: India Hobson for Trouva

Homage - Escape the hubbub of the city centre and venture just ten minutes up Dyke Road to Seven Dials – a tranquil area of Brighton, with a village-like feel. As well as independent coffee shops and cafes (as well as breath-taking views across the higgledy-piggledy roof tops and the sea), you’ll also find Homage. This hidden treasure is a must-visit for fans of sleek, chic and sophisticated Scandi-style homeware with carefully curated shelves featuring wall hangings, seagrass baskets and ceramic planters. *Swoon*.

IG: @homage_shop

 Photo:  Lucy Davidson

Utility - Speaking of homeware, Utility is a household store that delights the city’s vintage-lovers who enjoy well-made, practical products. Describing themselves as ‘a no-nonsense household goods store’ a trip around Utility is like taking a step back into yesteryear. From hardware to ceramics,  brushes to crockery, dusters to hospital towels and so much more, this retro mecca is a must for traditionally, timeless British home essentials.

IG: @utilitybrighton

 Photo:  Lucy Davidson

Magazine Brighton - For me, there’s nothing I love more than curling up with an indie magazine and loosing myself for an hour or so. Magazine Brighton allows us paper-lovers to indulge with its huge range of titles spanning fashion, lifestyle, crafts, design, feminism and photography to name just a few. Be warned: it’s easy to lose track of time, as you peruse and pick out your next read!

IG: @magazinebrighton

 Photo:  Lucy Davidson

The Flour Pot Bakery

With a black and white tiled floor, copper fixtures and wooden tables, shelves and blocks; The Flour Pot Bakery on Sydney Street is one of the city’s most aesthetically pleasing places to stop for a sarnie and a cuppa. The bakery sells its own fresh bread and pastries and the counter of freshly made filled baguettes, ciabatta rolls and flatbread pizzas are always a little too tempting to refuse. If you visit on a sunny day, grab a table outside and enjoy watching the world go by. You can also eye up vintage bargains from many of the retro boutiques that neighbour The Flour Pot Bakery. 

IG: @theflourpotbakerybrighton

Artists Residence - Instagrammer's guide to Brighton

Artist Residence - A 24-bedroom townhouse hotel with two restaurants and two cool cocktail bars, no stay in Brighton is complete without cosying up at Artist Residence. This beautiful boutique hotel, which is located in the historic Regency Square, has sea views overlooking the iconic West Pier and the British Airways i360, an observation tower. Opt for one of their curated ‘Artist House’ rooms (with free-standing bath) or choose a tucked-away ‘Below Deck’ room situated in the basement. Each room features eclectic (and deeply dreamy) décor, powerful rainfall showers and comfy beds – all you could want to end a perfect day sightseeing in Brighton.   

IG: @artistresidence

Thanks Shelley for showing us round your home town! We have always loved Brighton, but now we love it a little bit more! Shelley is the co-founder and editor of Brighton Style Magazine; an online lifestyle magazine celebrating the inspiring people and businesses who call Brighton home. Thanks also to our designer Lucy Davidson and India Hobson / Trouva who contributed some of the images for this post. 

Instagrammer's guide to Brighton, UK

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Future and Found

We chat to Andrea Bates, founder of Future and Found, a design destination and concept store in Tufnell Park, North London.

How would you describe the essence of Future and Found?

Helping people to create relaxed modern homes they love to live in and which reflect their personality. We do all the leg work curating a cohesive collection from some of the best brands and makers out there along with an increasing number of our own brand pieces. Our relaxed approach means our collection is design led and aspirational yet equally understated and unpretentious. So when a customer or client comes to us they feel confident and relaxed in our environment and decision making should be a pleasure.

We're based in a converted factory building, a stones throw from Tufnell Park station in North London. The ground floor houses our lifestyle and interiors concept store, centred around an outdoor courtyard serving coffee. Above the store is our interior design studio and workshop space. So we’re really trying to create a mini design destination for like minded people to enjoy.  

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Tell us a bit about how Future and Found came about...

I was a retail buyer for many years working for brands such as Heal’s, Jamie Oliver and Paperchase. So I was lucky enough to travel the world finding amazing products and the people who make and design them.

I launched Future and Found in 2012 with an embarrassingly bad website and a small shop unit selling just accessories. I felt really passionate about independent retail and excited about bringing new products to market quickly. Since then we’ve moved to a bigger space, upgraded the website, grown a team of lovely and talented people and gained lots of gorgeous customers.  

Can you talk us through your buying decisions - do you have a wish list for new stock or is it a more organic process?

A bit of both to be honest… We do have a bit of a wish list which comes from how we’d like to see the range grow but also in response to customer requests and feedback. Then equally we spot things which we know are perfect for us, which we totally weren’t expecting, and just have to order them. That’s the beauty about being an independent… you can be fast to market and a little spontaneous. We’re super excited to be working on our own brand collection at the moment. The first lines will be on sale from this autumn (fingers and toes crossed!)

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How do you source your products?

As a buyer years ago, I'd rely on trade fairs to build our range and find new brands / products. Things have changed massively since then and often you have had visibility of products before it hits a trade fair via social media and blogs. So we have to scour online a lot more than we did – Instagram is a firm favourite.

Any favourite products? What are you current bestsellers?

Our best selling products include Playtype mugs, Tallow candles and Kaleido trays by HAY. But furniture and lighting is becoming a bigger part of our sale mix every month as our selection - and customer loyalty - grows.

How did you go about designing the Future and Found shop?

We’re very lucky to be located in an old factory building set in a courtyard off the main road. So it’s a great environment to be in. We really let the architecture and style of the building lead us as it was already so perfect for our brand. Clean, simple and unpretentious.

How do you balance a bricks and mortar shop and an online store? Is having a ‘real’ shop important to you?

Very. I certainly wouldn’t be so passionate about our business without the bricks and mortar store. Our curation comes to life and we get to play with displays and mixing things as well as getting such great feedback from customers which we learn from every day. Also, having a bricks and mortar I think gives people confidence making big ticket purchases from us as they know they can reach a real person and see things in the flesh.

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You also run an interior design service and a variety of workshops in-store - was that always the plan when setting up Future and Found? 

We feel it’s a natural extension to the store and our customer service. We like offering something over and above the norm. If someone is going to spend thousands with you on a sofa then need you to fill them with confidence on their selection and how their space is going to look and feel – that’s what our interior service aims to do. It's practical, down to earth, approachable and most importantly, fun.

In terms of workshops, that's been something of an organic process. We get approached by people once they’ve seen our lovely space. Increasingly, we also approach people ourselves - anyone who we feel would be a great fit for our demographic and customer base. Our workshops are always really relaxed and I like to think people walk away feeling like they’ve learnt or achieved something. It feels very complementary to our brand personality.

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How do you approach marketing? 

Instagram is the most valuable social media tool for us currently. We try to reflect our personality as well as showcase our great range of product. Stories are a great way to get new product deliveries and our store environment out there and give an insight into our day.

But we also do a lot of scouring and sourcing using Instagram now – it’s a great way of finding out about brands, stylists, stores, exhibitions.

What are the challenges of running an independent store?

It’s tough to stay focused on the bigger picture and the future development of the business as we’re a small team. The day to day operational running of the space and the store can easily take over. So each week I’m trying to set aside more and more time to work on our brand development – both in terms of product and branding.

And the best bits?

Working with gorgeous product and the best customers ever!

Any advice for aspiring indie store owners?

Be really focused on your vision. There is so much great stuff out there to select from and people are full of suggestions – so stay clear on what’s right or wrong for your brand. It’s very easy to lose the clarity of the offer in store. Also be prepared to become a bit of a jack of all trades and master multi-tasker.

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What’s on the horizon for Future and Found?

We recently expanded our store space and opened a new lifestyle section. So at the moment we’re refreshing the furniture and interiors space as the collection grows. We’re so lucky to have such a beautiful space to work with.

Next on the list is getting our courtyard summer ready – lots of new furniture, pots and plants will be available to buy or customers can simply enjoy them over a cup of iced tea in the sunshine. Then this autumn, you’ll see the first of our very own brand product creeping into the range which we’re super excited about. It's going to be a busy year! 

Future and Found, 225A Brecknock Road, Tufnell Park, London, N19 5AA

www.futureandfound.com


 

91 is reading... Garden Style by Selina Lake

Selina Lake's books and styling work have been an inspiration to me from way back - at the very beginning of my blogging and publishing career. Her eye for interiors has always been delicate and feminine but with a contemporary edge that makes it fun and unexpected. Now Selina is adding gardening to her repertoire with her latest book (number 8!) Garden Style, and today we indulge in a little peek inside - a taster of this perfect springtime read....

 Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

There are trillions of gardening books out there that are practical and functional in terms of how to grow, how to plant and how to design your outdoor space, but this has got to be one of the first on how to STYLE it. With our gardens becoming almost like an extra 'room' it's equally as important to add character to it, the same as you would in every other room in your home. 

Selina Lake Garden Style book review
Selina Lake Garden Style book review

In the book, Selina demonstrates how to create stylish seating areas as well as how to decorate your garden as a whole. With anything from quirky containers to clever lighting to vintage decorative details - perfect for adding interest to your outdoor area. It doesn't matter whether you have a tiny patio or a huge expansive space, there are tips and ideas to glean for all types of garden. 

Selina Lake Garden Style book review

There is a section on garden rooms, greenhouses and sheds which highlights some inspiring examples of the perfect garden retreat including the above one owned by 91 Magazine photographer Cathy Pyle. (we've been envious of this for a while so can see why Selina picked it!). She also shares lots of little projects throughout the book such as 'make your own seed packets' and 'floral stained napkins', plus there are style tips peppered throughout the pages. 

Selina Lake Garden Style book review
Selina Lake Garden Style book review

Not only is garden styling covered but Selina shares some of her favourite gardens to visit, flowers shows, garden centres and nurseries as well as favourite flowers, plants and veg to grow. The section on 'Bringing the Outdoors in' discusses ways of utilising your homegrown flowers and foliage within your home too. 

If you are planning to transform your outdoor space this year, then this is a must-read - you will be guaranteed inspiration to help you create the perfect little patch for summer long enjoyment! 

You can read some further reviews and see more from inside the book on the blogs of 91 friends Lobster and Swan and Little Green Shed. Selina will also be sharing her thoughts on it this week too, so pop to her new website for more. 

All images are copyright of Ryland Peters & Small unless otherwise stated. Garden Style by Selina Lake is published by Ryland Peters & Small. All photography by Rachel Whiting. Order your copy of the book here.

Slow living bloggers top tips for decluttering

Are you desperate to declutter your home but feel overwhelmed and not sure how to tackle it? Jessica Rose Williams shares some top tips and speaks to some other slow living bloggers about how they approach the task of decluttering and refreshing their homes for the season ahead. 

 Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

It’s official! Minute by minute the days are getting longer and the mornings are getting brighter. It’s time to rise and shine. Slowly but surely, we are starting to feel more energised as spring bursts into bloom. Goodbye winter duvet and nights spent under a blanket binging on Netflix. Best of all, adios to that winter fatigue. 

A fresh season calls for a fresh start and we naturally feel more motivated to take action during times of transition. Now is the perfect time to take back control of your living space and edit out what is no longer serving you. 

My own tips - Jessica Rose Williams - jessicarosewilliams.com / @jessicarosewilliams 

The thing with tidying and organising is this; the easiest way to do it is to get rid of stuff. We stand in front of our overflowing wardrobes feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. You can rearrange your wardrobe to your heart’s content but unless you get rid of all the clothes that don’t fit, make you feel uncomfortable or just don’t feel like you, you’ll never crack it. My advice is to start with whatever feels easiest, it might be your wardrobe, a junk drawer or your desk. Ask yourself this one question and you’ll soon see stuff start to disappear - have I used this in the last year?

Past predicts future and if you haven’t used something in a year, chances are you never will. Allow yourself to enjoy the feeling that comes from a wardrobe that’s only filled with your favourite things and give your stuff the care it deserves. This tutorial on how to fold your clothes is brilliant. Items take centre stage when they have room to breathe and you’ll appreciate them more. 

When it comes to your no pile, divide this into ‘sell’ and ‘donate’ piles. Be careful not to leave things you want to discard lying around. If you do that, you’ll lose momentum and they’ll end up stuffed in a cupboard, which defeats the whole point of decluttering. Ebay or Depop are great for unwanted items that others may find value in. I also find giving to charity really rewarding. The Salvation Army will make blankets out of clothes you may think are only good for the bin.

 Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Rachael Smith - www.ourbeautifuladventure.co.uk / @ourbeautiful_adventure

When it comes to tackling the clutter in our homes I think the biggest hurdle for a lot of people (and as a Mum of 3 I know it was for me) is time. We tell ourselves we’ll sort it next weekend, or next month and somehow it’s years later and we are still unhappy in our own homes. I found the best way to tackle this was to break the process down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Next time you find yourself pulling out your phone to while away some time, decide instead to set a timer for just 15 minutes and pick a shelf, a cupboard, or surface to tackle and start sorting. When the timer stops you can go back to whatever you were doing but you will be surprised how much you can clear out in just 15 minutes. Doing this once a day, or even once a week, will help you to declutter huge amounts and you don’t have to find that elusive time to do it all at once anymore.

 Photo: Jessica Cresswell

Photo: Jessica Cresswell

Jessica Cresswell - thewoodlandwife.co.uk / @thewoodlandwife

We have very little storage in our home so we often feel the space we live in can become cluttered with items that we have accumulated. Spring is the natural time for a deep clean and de-clutter and I adopt a very simple method. Due to living with a chronic illness, rather than leaping in, cleaning and de-cluttering like a mad thing, I find the best way to approach things is to take my time to slowly sort our home.

It starts with getting a few boxes and a bin bag together and leaving them in our spare room. Every time I go about the house and see something that hasn’t been worn or used in a while, I place it in one of the boxes or bag. A few years ago I watched a film called ‘Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things’ and it totally transformed the way I think of material items in our home. As a self-confessed ‘second-generation hoarder’, I now adopt ‘The Minimalists’ approach to simplifying my life.

Every possession in our home, must either function as a ‘tool’ or add a positive aesthetic value to our life, so by asking myself “does this add value to my life?” I am then able to work out if an item serves a valid purpose or brings me joy. If it doesn’t, it goes in the box. This continues until I have enough to fill a box and then I will donate, dispose or store for the future.

As I write this, I am currently surrounded in boxes, as my Spring de-clutter began in January. I am gradually sorting, with the idea in mind that 2018 will be the year our home becomes as uncluttered as possible. I truly believe that there is no one tool I use to help me more than that one question I learnt from ‘The Minimalists’, and I now use it in making decisions when de-cluttering, as well as choices on any purchases for our home.

 Photo: Abi Dare

Photo: Abi Dare

Abi Dare - www.thesefourwallsblog.com / @thesefourwallsblog

Trying to declutter your entire home in one go will seem overwhelming, so my top tip is to begin with a quick-win area such as a shelf or drawer and then move on to another. When deciding whether to keep things or not, I always remember the words of William Morris, who famously said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’. For every item, I therefore ask myself 'do I use it?' and 'do I love it?'. If the answer to both questions is no, I say goodbye. If there’s anything I’m unsure about, I just put it to one side and revisit it after a few weeks. If I haven’t missed it, I know I can let it go for good.

I’m particularly ruthless when it comes to home accessories, as I like to keep my house looking minimalist and clutter-free. But I still end up with more than I can display, so I store most of them in a cupboard and only have a few out at any one time. I love swapping things in and out according to the season and my mood, and it’s a great way to freshen rooms up without accumulating any more stuff.

We hope you find these ideas useful in your quest to minimise clutter in your home and restore a sense of freedom from 'stuff'. Do check out Jessica's recently published e-book on creating a year-round capsule wardrobe - something I'm sure we all strive to own!

TOP TIPS FOR DECLUTTERING YOUR HOME

Spring floral styling

It's certainly felt like the arrival of a new season has been a long time coming with the recent cold snap we've had here in the UK, but hopefully those warmer days are on their way, and we can't help but dream of open windows, warm breezes and delicate blooms to decorate with. Simple floral displays can be made even more special with the addition of beautiful vessels and of course here at 91 we love to opt for pieces from independent shops and designers where we can. Stylist Sally Meier shares a few of her favourite Spring stems mixed with ceramics and glassware from some of our fave indie brands... 

Styling with spring flowers and indie homeware products

A mix of individual stems like grape hyacinth, wax flowers, daisies and olive sprigs create a delicate look for a table centre-piece. Add subtle colour with tinted vases, while keeping the rest of your settings soft and neutral. 

Side plates, from £11.25; Solano vase large clear, £10; Solano vase small clear, £7.50; Babylock napkins, £8.75; Lithuanian linen fringe table cloth, £96 - all Canvas Home / Green bud vase, £6.50; Drinking glass, £7.50; Mini lilac vase, £4.50 - all Elkins (Crystal Palace) / Contrast edged linen napkin, white & green, £15, The Conran ShopAntique cutlery, stylists own

Spring flower styling and indie homeware products

The vase can be just as much a focal point as the flowers are - or in this case - blossom branches. Group together a selection of interesting vessels in similar shades and fill with the same type of stems or foliage for a cohesive display. 

Bud vase (left), £30, Sarah Hall / Lindform vase (middle), £29, Botanique Workshop  / Morandi bud vase medium (right), £7.50; Lithuanian linen fringe table cloth, £96 - both Canvas Home / Granite mug, £22, Lazy Glaze / Antique plate & fork, stylists own

Spring flower styling and indie homeware products

Nothing says Spring than a statement display of wildflowers! Forage for daisies, astrantia and wax flowers or buy handfuls from your local florist or farm shop and arrange loosely in a large vase. They will look great in the middle of the kitchen table or will simply bring Spring to any room of the house. 

Cut Out platter, £40, Lazy Glaze / all other items, stylists own. 

Spring flower styling and indie homeware products

Have a bit of fun styling a floral display on a sideboard or shelf with a mixture of pots and vases in varying sizes and different Spring blooms like anemones, narcissus and grape hyacinths. Again, pick pots that are as interesting as their contents. 

Three-legged pot (left), £23; Candle holders, £8 each - both Elkins (Crystal Palace) / Pot (right), design collaboration between Lazy Glaze x Julianna Byrne, £65, Lazy Glaze / All other items, stylists own.

Spring flower styling and indie homeware products

A single stem or sprig can prettify your place settings in an instant, and takes minimum effort when hosting a relaxed Springtime lunch. If using coloured napkins, make sure to opt for a bloom in a coordinating colour. These deep pink astrantia look wonderful against the peachy gingham napkins.

Shell Bisque dinner plate, £15, Canvas Home / Gingham napkin in Melon, £15; Duralex Picardie glass, £1.75, both The Conran Shop / Tablecloth, stylists own

Spring flower styling and indie homeware products

Go for an ultra-feminine, blousy bouquet of Spring flowers with anemones and tulips. A display like this will start off with a more formal look as both flowers contain their blooms neatly before they open and become loose and carefree. Here a simple, plain vase allows the unruly flower heads to take centre-stage. 

Hay Soft Ice enamel plates, £15 each and bowls, £13 each - both Nook / Butter dish, £68, Sarah HallVase and tablecloth, stylists own

Photography: Jon Green / Styling: Sally Meier

Spring flowers styling inspiration