Taking the leap to freelance life

Writer and blogger Jessica Rose Williams recently made the long-dreamt-about decision to leave her job and go full-time with her blog. But how easy is it to make that choice, and how do you know the time is right? Jessica shares her journey with us and then chats to three other creative women to hear their tales of taking the freelance leap…

When is the right time to go freelance? Jessica Rose Williams explains.

It’s what most of us dream of when the boss is dishing out those jobs we hate doing, breathing down our necks and telling us we can’t have that morning off we’d asked for. Being my own boss has been a dream of mine for years, but I never thought it was for people like me. I thought you had to be one of those stereotypical creative types, an Insta-ready 6ft blonde in a bikini or have a bullet-proof business plan in your pocket with a ton of money in the bank in case it doesn’t work out.

Mostly, I always thought you had to have a lot more brains, confidence and courage than I thought I had. Fast forward a few years and here I am writing this; being my own boss, and I took that morning off I wanted just yesterday. 

I have a theory that given the choice, most people would jump at the chance of being self-employed over working a traditional 9-5. Making my own leap took a lot of psyching myself up for, like one of those birds you see flapping around in the tree before they actually fly the nest. But I did it. And I’ve no regrets. Knowing when to do it was the toughest part. Is there ever a right time? 

I knew the time was right to start blogging full time 18 months ago, but I chose to ignore it. My husband was the one who said it out loud first and I insisted he was wrong until it got to the point where I couldn’t ignore what had been staring me in the face any longer. So I jumped. I felt lucky to have had the freedom to write my blog alongside my work for our financial advice business but the workload scales eventually tipped and I couldn’t manage both. I had to choose and I chose what fed my soul and gave me the most joy, even though it wasn’t a sure thing financially.  

My biggest struggle was stepping into what felt like an almighty spotlight and saying out loud that I was doing this. I’d already been doing it anyway, but I’d stayed in the safety zone and kept my strings attached - just in case I failed. Reframing failure as a learning opportunity was invaluable in lifting the pressure I’d been suffocating under and giving myself the reassurance I needed. 

It would be unrealistic to glamourise freelance life as a perfect one but with so many of us dreaming of a career on our own terms or even just a creative side hustle that provides some pocket money, I think it can be comforting to hear from those that have gone before us. 

I interviewed three other self-employed creatives to find out more about their stories and the struggles they had to overcome before they flew the nest too. 

Kayte Ferris on going freelance

Kayte’s story 

Kayte Ferris was a marketing manager for a nursery furniture company before she upped sticks to the Welsh mountains to start her creative coaching business. She told me how even though her job was creative on paper, the reality of staff meetings and sales targets weren’t what she wanted to do. Something was missing. 

It took her boyfriend accepting a job offer in rural Wales for Kayte to run out of excuses and take the leap. Knowing her living expenses would be halved felt like the opportunity she’d been aching for. With the decision to quit her job and move to the countryside taken out of her hands, Kayte’s real struggle came with deciding what she was going to do. To overcome this, she signed up for coaching with Jen Carrington, binged on creative podcasts such as Being Boss, Hashtag Authentic and Blogtacular and gave the decision making process the necessary time it deserved.

www.simpleandseason.com

Siobhan Watts on becoming a freelance photographer

Siobhan’s story

Siobhan Watts was a tour manager for a theatre company before she decided not to return from her maternity leave and develop her photography business instead. She’d been building her creative venture for two years prior to her leap, but it wasn’t until she got pregnant that she knew she wanted to take it full time for freedom. 

Sometimes it’s a case of asking yourself which is worse and this is how it was for Siobhan. It became scarier to see herself at 40 with 2 kids in a job she didn’t like than to go after what she truly wanted. After years of fearing the vision she was terrified of and not knowing who she really was, it felt like it was now or never. Siobhan found believing in herself the hardest thing to do but with the task of raising a little girl on her hands, she felt she wouldn’t be able to tell her to follow her dreams when she’d clearly given up on her own. 

www.blesstheweather.com

Kara Leigh Ford on being a freelance ceramicist

Kara’s story

After finishing her art degree, Kara worked in marketing for 10 years before she decided to take her ceramics business full time. She describes herself during that time as a compass with no north. Kara had learned pottery at evening classes as a creative outlet, but it wasn’t until she was in a room full of potters at auditions for BBC’s The Great Pottery Throwdown that she realised it was possible to make a living from her hobby. Less than six months earlier she’d lost a close friend to a brain tumour and felt this was the kick from the universe telling her to make it when he tragically hadn’t. 

When it comes to choosing the right time, Kara believes in signposts from the universe and ‘if you ignore them, it’ll give you bigger signs’ she told me. She couldn’t ignore the signs any longer when her new home came equipped with a shed perfect for a pottery studio at the bottom of the garden. Less than six months after losing her friend Kara had handed in her notice and was ready to face her greatest fear of not being a success. Leaning into a little vulnerability and telling her family and friends what she was thinking of doing gave her the final push she needed.

www.karaleighfordceramics.com


Some tips if you’re thinking ‘this is me!’ and you’d love to start your own creative business

‘Start before you’re ready. I wish I hadn’t kept my cards so close to my chest and shared my business developing openly. It’s more important to be talking to those you’re thinking of selling to’ - Kayte Ferris

‘Tell people about what you’re thinking about doing. The self-critic is loudest when you don’t get support’ - Kara Leigh Ford

‘Do it. Do it. Do it. You don’t have to go all in right away, but make a plan and get yourself in a secure position - maybe cut down on some days in your job. If possible save up some money and get a few clients so you can explore what it is you do and don’t want to do. Hire someone like a coach or get some like-minded people together to support one another. Ultimately - just do it’ - Siobhan Watts

And me? I would encourage you to let to your gut guide you. Too often we look for external permission when we’re the ones that know what’s best for us. Forget what your head and heart are telling you and focus on that pull that comes from deep down in your stomach. You’ll know when the time is right. Trust it. 

I came away from each interview feeling more and more inspired to continue my new but exciting freelance journey and chase my own creative dreams. I’m hoping you feel the same way. 

Thank you Jessica (and ladies!) for this inspiring and insightful look at how it’s possible to make the move from full-time employment to living the working life you really want. Follow Jessica’s journey over on her blog and Instagram.

Three 91 creatives to follow - October

One of my favourite things about publishing a magazine is working with so many talented people. Our contributors really are the lifeblood behind our pages, with their fabulous photography, styling, words and illustration. This month we meet three ladies who have all contributed to our AW18 issue which has just published….

Kasia Fiszer - photographer

Kasia shoots regularly for 91 as well as other interior and lifestyle magazines. In the latest issue she photographed Lord Whitney’s studio (first pic below). She shares her work on her feed at @kfiszerfoto

Kasia Fiszer - 91 Magazine photographer - shoot of Lord Whitney studios
Kasia Fiszer - 91 Magazine photographer - home tour shoot
Kasia Fiszer - 91 Magazine photographer - studio tour shoot

If you weren't a photographer what would you be? 

I would be working with horses. My first degree was in Equine Business Management so I think I would go back to that. 

Name 3 of your favourite instagrammers & why? 

  • @clareepiper - her styling work is second to none and I would love to work with her one day

  • @wisniovsky - for photography with a dose of nostalgia and beautiful warm tones

  • @lisacohenphoto - for her stunning photography; especially her interiors photography, it's something I aspire to myself

 Top tip for aspiring interior photographers? 

  • Learn to use daylight to your advantage, it really is the best available light

  • Keep it simple - no funky angles! 

  • Might seem obvious but connect with people! At the start nobody will know who you are so change that and foremost BE NICE AND PROFESSIONAL, you never know who you might meet on the way that might become influential to your career as a photographer!

Favourite shop? 

After my latest visit there, I would have to say CARO Somerset for a dose of beautifully designed products for your home and Magalleria in Bath for the independent magazine lovers! 

Favourite flower? 

Tulips in large quantities! Understated and so beautiful and there are so many varieties and colours to chose from; and they always make me think of Spring.

Favourite plant? 

ZZ plant and mine has finally grown a new shoot! 

Favourite city?

I would say Bristol. For me, it's a perfect city for short day trips. I always come back home full of ideas for new projects. I love all the quirky shops and creativity that flows throughout the city.


Holly Maguire - illustrator

Holly’s illustrations are playful and intricate with a beautiful sense of colour. She illustrated our Creative Enrichment feature in the new issue. You can see more of her work at @hollymaguireuk

Holly Maguire - illustration
Holly Maguire - illustration
Holly Maguire - illustration

If you weren't a illustrator what would you be? 

I would probably be doing something similar! Maybe a prop maker or a cake decorator!

Name 3 of your favourite instagrammers & why? 

  •  @me_and_orla for her business advice, honesty and beautiful photography

  • @phoebewahl for her beautiful and heartfelt illustrations.

  • @wolfgang2242 who are a big family of adorable senior rescue dogs (plus chickens, a rabbit and Bikini the pig!)

Top tip for aspiring illustrators? 

Create the kind of work you want to be hired for.

Favourite shop? 

I love shopping small & handmade so Etsy is my favourite place for that!

Favourite flower? 

Any kind of wildflower.

Favourite plant? 

My Monstera that sits next to my desk!

Favourite city?

New York 


Kay Prestney - stylist / writer

Kay is a stylist who also hosts creative workshops as well as writing regularly for 91. Her most recent piece was our Studio Tour with La-Eva, which you can find in the new issue. See Kay’s home, inspiration & adventures on her feed @kinship_creativedc

Kay Prestney - stylist and writer for 91 Magazine
Kay Prestney - stylist and writer for 91 Magazine
Kay Prestney - stylist and writer for 91 Magazine

If you weren't a stylist/writer what would you be?

When I was younger I always wanted to be a marine biologist and with the worrying plight of our oceans I would love to revisit that dream and try to do something to help.

Name 3 of your favourite instagrammers & why?

Oh goodness, there are so many feeds I love, but three I am finding inspiring at the moment are:

  • @aureliemazurek for her beautiful natural interiors and simple living

  • @hildemork78‘s stunning photography and inspiring Scandi recipe /craft ideas

  • @kathryn_davey who produces beautiful hand-dyed Irish linens using natural dyes. I am hoping to do one of her workshops next year to learn how to do this properly having experimented with blackberries this summer.

Top tip for aspiring stylists?

Find your style then look for like-minded creatives to collaborate with. Offer to help assist on shoots to learn what goes on behind the scenes and to make contacts. Look to the natural world for foraged props to keep your costs down. Always be on the lookout for inspiration- I  find that echoing the changing seasons helps me to produce differing work throughout the year. This time of year I am drawn to textures, dried flowers and grasses and pops of mustard against a natural backdrop.

Favourite shop?

Ooh another really tricky one. I have lots of faves which are all small indie shops, but I particularly love And Hobbs (@_andhobbs) in Shere which is sited in an old forge. Owner Libby is so talented and has curated an absolutely beautiful space full of gorgeous homewares, she also collaborates with local creatives to host workshops.

Favourite flower?

I have always loved the understated chamelaucium (wax flower) for its pretty tiny flowers and it’s longevity. It also dries really well. That said, I confess to being a bit swept up in the tide of dahlia love at the moment thanks to @tamsynmorgans beautiful feed. I planted some white ones this year that pop beautifully at dusk as I look out into the garden through the kitchen window. 

Favourite plant?

Technically a tree, but I will never tire of eucalyptus for its beautiful silvery green hue and incredible scent. I have planted some in my garden and it brings me great pleasure to cut branches to bring indoors or use for styling work. It also grows brilliantly speedily. Top tip: hang a bunch in your shower for an uplifting start to the day.

Favourite city?

Vancouver will always have a special place in my heart. I lived in Canada for a year in my early twenties and adored the laid back healthy lifestyle, the foodie scene, the creative vibe and the fact you could be on the beach one day and in the mountains the next. It was amazing to have the benefit of city life, but to feel so closely connected to breathtaking nature. I also adore Copenhagen, where my husband proposed!


I hope you enjoy a little peek into the creative lives of our contributors, we certainly do! Make sure you go and follow them for more on Instagram. x

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Long Barn

Located in picturesque Alresford close to the historic town of Winchester in Hampshire, Long Barn is far more than just a carefully curated store filled with the wares of craftspeople and the farm’s renowned lavender - it’s a destination waiting to be explored, with a cafe and garden too.

We chatted to owners Richard Norris and Jane Marsden to talk about their love of lavender, growing from a market stall to having a lifestyle store and providing experiences…

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Hi Richard and Jane, first thing’s first: when and why did you decide to open Long Barn?

Long Barn started with Richard’s love of lavender and desire to create a range of products that do justice to this wonderful plant. I (Jane), was a former marketing director, and joined Richard in the early days and together we created Long Barn as it is today. Our home, garden store and cafe has been a favoured destination in Alresford since 2009. We wanted to create a shop which put the joy back into shopping and we like to think of our Barn as a beautiful place to come and enjoy a couple of hours relaxing with friends and family - somewhere we’d like to go ourselves in our free time!

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

Richard’s background is in accountancy and teaching but from the age of ten his heart has always been devoted to plants. The knowledge of accountancy is of obvious help; the teaching was part-time and helped greatly in setting up the business and gradually moving to full-time as Long Barn could sustain a salary. My background is in marketing, originally with a drinks brands – both alcoholic and tea, later with olives and baby food. Large corporate employers taught the need for rigour in reporting and margin; smaller employers required a really grounded approach. Both have been useful in the growth stages of Long Barn.

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Long Barn is a destination - with a shop, cafe and gardens - did you always want it to be somewhere people could enjoy spending a couple of hours?

Long Barn has grown so much, from a much loved stall at London farmers markets to our first beautiful little store on the high street to now, a 3000+ square foot standalone oak barn surrounded by over 5000 lavender plants. When we first moved to the barn, we wanted to create a convivial atmosphere where people could spend quality time – in a way, the kind of place you take visiting friends after Sunday lunch.

Our vision has always been to grow with our audience and last summer has seen the original barn extended. We gathered a raft of craftspeople – designers, artists, furniture makers, sign writers, builders and carvers, to create a convivial space to tell the Long Barn story. You will find gardening, homewares, gifts, vintage and food all now under one, slightly longer roof!

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How would you describe Long Barn’s style?

Our style reflects seasonal trends to some degree, but we tend to take our cues from the splendour of the English countryside in the main. We believe in a simple, honest approach to design, where quality and beauty are intrinsic. For us home is a place to express your tastes and really enjoy your time - be it through dressing a table for an impromptu lunch with family to creating a garden that looks stunning in every season - our barn is the place to discover a carefully curated collection of beautiful home and garden goods. We like to think of Long Barn as a one stop shop for the considered home.

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You're passionate about involving local craftspeople - can you tell us a little about the wares of a few you stock?

We love to champion craftsmanship both at home and away and have always been passionate about products with purpose. By sharing handpicked handmade goods with our customers we are linking to our values, which are rooted in provenance and heritage. We are proud to have a assembled a collective of makers to delight our customers with. Highlights this season include Rosie Brewer, who trained at Camberwell and makes exceptional hand turned, sustainable kitchenware.

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How do you source your gorgeous stock?

Instagram is a fantastic tool for finding interesting and up and coming brands as well as sustainable makers and talented craftspeople. In addition we go to all the shows and have a few trusted suppliers we always turn to for our core range. We also get approached quite a bit! A lot of our customers are the creative sort and love to share with us their latest finds.

This August, we invited designers, makers and food producers to showcase their wares at our Barn for a chance to be stocked for the Christmas season which proved a wonderful way to find new creative talent.

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As well as stocking artisan makers, you also create your own lavender products too. Why do you love lavender so much?

At the root of Long Barn is a true love of lavender. All of this came from Richard’s love of gardening and history. An article in a magazine about the history of English commercial lavender-growing in the 18th and 19th centuries sparked the classic ‘light bulb’ moment in Richard. From that moment he knew that he wanted to farm lavender. Selling lavender products at London farmers’ markets had a curious link to the past which really interested him.

At Long Barn we sell the range of lavender products that Richard created with the help of aromatherapists, soap-makers and perfumers. On the plant sales terrace, alongside old fashioned rose varieties and other classically English garden plants we sell one of the most extensive ranges of lavender plants in the country. Richard loves introducing customers to lesser known varieties such as Folgate, Grosso and Sussex.

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What do you enjoy most about running the Barn?

Greeting our lovely customers everyday! It sounds trite but really, they create the warm ambiance at the heart of the barn as much as we do. Even when we’re busy there’s always an opportunity to take a moment to have a nice chat and pass the time with a friendly face.

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What has been your Long Barn career highlights (so far!)?

Too many to mention! However, this year we were finalists for Best Store Design at the Drapers Independent Retailers awards. Always a highlight in the industry calendar, this award recognises inspiring and thriving independent retailers from across the country and we’re thrilled to be included in such good company.

How have you balanced running Long Barn - given that it's a cafe, store and gardens? Usually people can only manage just one!

As anyone who has run their own business will say, you wear all sorts of hats during any given day! We have each worked in almost every part of the business at various times, and can both make great coffee, whip up a spreadsheet and tend to the plants with aplomb.

However, at this scale it would be impossible to cover everything just ourselves and we are joined by a fantastic team of shop and café staff; cooks, baristas, merchandisers, designers, gardeners, site and maintenance staff, bookkeepers and stock controllers. We are a sum of our parts, and it’s down to a lot of very dedicated and talented individuals to make Long Barn what it is: a really fantastic place to be.

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

You have to love retail! And the principles of good shopkeeping. We feel that despite an increasingly clicks driven market, physical shops continue to thrive as hubs of enterprise, experience and community, but only if they are really good. What makes a really good shop? It’s a place that people feel something for. It’s a place that serves as a beacon, the go-to destination for a unique and interesting experience.

Shopping is an experience first and foremost, and for most people, a leisure pursuit. So consider what makes somewhere a place people choose to spend precious time, as well as money and come back again. It tends to be shops that offer a distinct point of difference - a sense of discovery through creative display, beautifully edited buying, exceptional service, a convivial atmosphere - make a destination standout from the rest. Oh, and you have to love people, that’s a given!

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Autumn's now here and we bet it's especially beautiful at Long Barn - what’s happening over the coming months?

Autumn is a short but sweet season here at Long Barn - we invite our customers to join us in welcoming the most mellow months of the year. Traditionally a celebration of abundance, harvest is the time to share in the spoils of the summer with loved ones. Stop by our relaxing cafe for a good catch up with friends over coffee and homemade cake or stay longer and enjoy a hearty lunch with family - it’s always a joy to be able to come together and delight in the tastes of the season.

Long Barn, The Old Sheep Fair, Bishops Sutton Rd, Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 9EJ

www.longbarn.co.uk

Photography: Laura Brown

Our A/W 2018 issue is here!

Yesterday I had a message from one lovely reader to say how excited she was about the new issue arriving and that it is the highlight of her autumn season. Wow, that honestly makes me beam with pride that 91 can bring so much joy to those who read it. I can’t tell you how much hard work and pure love goes into creating it, but what truly makes it all worth it, is hearing the words of anticipation, enjoyment and encouragement from our readers. I often hear people say that they don’t buy magazines anymore, and that was exactly the reason I started the magazine - as I couldn’t find any I enjoyed anymore - but I hope that 91 has restored your love of magazines too, and will continue to do so for anyone who had previously lost faith in magazines. We only publish twice a year, but our ethos is most definitely quality over quantity.

The AW18 issue of 91 Magazine

So, here it is. Our A/W 2018 issue - our sixth print issue. In this edition, we shine a light on ethical living, visiting venues and talking to brands for which sustainability is at their heart. Our columnists talk about how living ethically can boost creativity, how to have strong ethics when running a small business as well as how to build a brand from scratch.

La-Eva feature in 91 Magazine A/W 2018 issue
Living consciously feature in 91 Magazine A/W 2018 issue

We connect with the makers community via our Instagram Edit, and as always visit beautiful homes of creative people. We always find so much inspiration in shops, studios and restaurants, so we share some truly beautiful spaces with you, as well as recipes, styling ideas, shopping tips and more.

Instagram Edit feature in 91 Magazine A/W 2018 issue
Wunderblumen home tour in 91 Magazine A/W 2018 issue
Lord Whitney studio tour in 91 Magazine A/W 2018 issue
Silo Brighton in 91 Magazine A/W 2018 issue
91 Magazine A/W 2018 issue

If you haven’t yet ordered your copy, then I hope this little peek at what’s inside has convinced you to treat yourself (or a friend!) - get it delivered direct to your door by ordering here, or check out our stockists list for where to find it near you. And don’t forget, we absolutely love to hear your feedback and see your pics, so do share online with our hashtag #my91magazine - we may even share your pics on our Instagram feed or in the next print issue!

BUY THE A/W 2018 ISSUE

Facing adversity with creativity

At 91 we love delving in and hearing the stories of why and how people have launched a creative business. There’s often many different reasons why people have decided to go it alone or try something they’ve always dreamt of. All are inspiring of course, but there are some stories that just stick with you. Grace Harvey chats to two women who found their calling after extremely dark and different times in their lives. Their stories a reminder that life isn’t a dress rehearsal and we should take every experience - good or bad - as a way to move forward with positivity and creativity, making the most of life however it leads us.

 Photo by Scott Murray

Photo by Scott Murray

Positive Luxury. Choose Light. Four words born out of darkness and circumstances in which many of us hope to never find ourselves. Siân Esther, a luxury nightwear brand founded by Siân Adkins following the death of her parents, sets out to ensure that women can have a safe night’s sleep, and puts positive luxury at the heart of its mission. ‘Choose Light’ is the foundation of Moments of Sense and Style, or MOSS for short, a lifestyle store founded by Syreeta Challinger and her partner Rob, after Rob suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2014.

Siân Esther

Siân built her brand around the notion that in the nights we can’t sleep or days we can’t get out of bed, that we should still have beauty around us. Siân’s willingness to share her experiences so candidly has established a system of support for women who otherwise would not have this. Grief, as Siân herself notes, is not a topic of conversation that we have on a day-to-day basis. Her work with charity partners and the ethics behind the brand set her apart from other luxe brands, whilst ensuring that luxury remains at the heart of Siân Esther’s philosophy. Here, Sian tells me more….

What in particular inspired you to create something positive out of difficult personal circumstances, and to share your experiences so frankly as well as positively?

Creativity has always provided a great sense of joy for me and when I struggled to find the perfect pair of sophisticated pyjamas that I could give as a gift to my Mum, we challenged ourselves to make samples and look into patterns. During this time my Mum died suddenly and I really felt this was something that I wanted to carry on in her legacy. Mum’s ethos was always about buying fewer, better quality pieces and so this would form part of the brand values.

For me I found the grief of losing both my parents young (my Dad died 5 years before) really affected my sleep hugely and I would often wake in the night with anxiety, or worry about things that I would never have done before. When something tragic happens to you, it also challenges us to look at things differently, I couldn’t change the situation but I did realise I wanted to do something that was purpose-driven. Although grief impacted my sleep, I was so grateful for my fantastic support network of friends and family, as well as a lovely home and I realised that not all women who go through tough situations have this support system. Through the partnerships with our charities, I want to be able to help vulnerable and disadvantaged women to have a safe night’s sleep too. To be able to give them that feeling of comfort and security, like when you put on a pair of pjs.

What work do you do with your charity partners and how do you help vulnerable women through these partnerships?

We support women through three different routes; through our profits, our supply chain and personal support. 20% of our profits go to supporting our three partner charities. Firstly, The Marylebone Project, which is the largest women’s homeless shelter in the UK. They help women who find themselves homeless and in need for many reasons; from domestic violence and mental health issues to financial difficulties. The Luminary Bakery is a social enterprise in East London and provides training, community and employment opportunities in their bakery for disadvantaged women who may have experienced poverty, homelessness, violence or criminal activity. Mercy UK run a 6-month residential programme for women aged between 18 and 30 and who may be struggling with low self-esteem, depression, self-harming, eating and anxiety disorders. The home provides a safe place to equip and empower women in a healing journey.

Our second route is through our supply chain – we work with a social enterprise - Juta Shoes in East London - who employ women who would otherwise find it difficult to get into work to make our espadrille leather slippers and we also partner with Freeset in Kolkata, India who employ women who were previously stuck in the sex-trade industry to make our makeup bags. This is part of their journey to freedom. Lastly, we have also been practically involved with supporting the set-up of a women’s day shelter in a church in London.

 Photo by Feia van Dusseldorp

Photo by Feia van Dusseldorp

 Photo by Feia van Dusseldorp

Photo by Feia van Dusseldorp

What has been the biggest challenge about developing and communicating the philosophy that underpins Siân Esther?

Brand visibility in general has been hard outside of the regional area, as probably lots of start-ups find. For me personally; the challenge has been around being able to share my story openly and honestly, as I don’t think we talk about grief enough but then also balancing this with the beauty of our products and not just creating a heart-felt story. I want people to fall in love with our products and then also love our mission to support a social cause.

And the best? Which moments or opportunities have especially stood out to you?

I held a launch party at the Coppa Club in Henley where I live and that was a really special moment for me – to be able to celebrate the achievement of creating beautiful nightwear pieces with friends and family and to celebrate the start of a new journey after a difficult and dark time was amazing. We need to remember to celebrate the good things in life! After this, I had such positive feedback and received a letter from our MP, which was just amazing. Siân Esther was then featured on Sheerluxe as the brand to know for ethical pyjamas and that was very exciting.

Alongside this, I have also loved meeting so many new people, who I would otherwise not have met; other start-up founders, the charities which we support and people who have reached out through social media as they love what I am doing and want to help. I have realised not to be shy when asking for help and people are often flattered to be involved.

 Photo by Feia van Dusseldorp

Photo by Feia van Dusseldorp

 Photo by Feia van Dusseldorp

Photo by Feia van Dusseldorp

How would you encourage others to harness difficult circumstances or situations in their lives to create something positive?

I have realised that sadly we do sometimes face difficult situations that we cannot change but that we shouldn’t let our circumstance shape our future. We can build resilience through these tough times and use this to propel ourselves forward and grow. I think it is also important to mention that resilience isn’t just about being strong, we also have to be willing to be vulnerable and to allow others in to build relationships and to ask for help when needed.

When a traumatic experience happens to us, it often changes the way we see things or the perspective that we approach life. I listened to a talk by a chap called Stephen Foster, who talked about no risk = no reward, which really resonated with me. I found that after losing my parents, I became even more aware of other’s reactions around me but if we focus on these reactions, we can miss out on the opportunity in front of us.

What message do you hope people take away from Siân Esther?

I hope to encourage others to be bold and do something they really enjoy but also to build businesses that are purpose-driven from the core and not just as a bolt on, as a nice-to-have element. Finding something you really enjoy doing - which for me is creating nightwear, arranging flowers and baking - can provide a great sense of relief and joy through the mist of a difficult time.

Hopefully the women buying my pieces will feel empowered wearing them but also that they are playing their part in helping to empower other women.

www.sianesther.co.uk


Moments of Sense and Style

Based in Lincoln, MOSS encapsulates an elegant and thoughtful calm. Their range of candles and room mists, notebooks, luxury matches, and Rob’s art is based on their story and journey- each evokes a place and a feeling, and is a reminder to slow down and cherish small moments. It was clear from Rob’s exhibition at the University of Lincoln earlier this year, and the TEDx talk they did together in June, that both Rob and Syreeta talk and create candidly about their experiences. Rob’s art encourages us to see how love can truly heal, and that he continues to do brilliantly as his tries his utmost to get through. Syreeta filled me in further about the history of the business and how it has helped the couple to embrace what life has thrown at them…

 Photo by Natasha Boyes

Photo by Natasha Boyes

Tell me a little more about MOSS.

Moments Of Sense & Style or MOSS for short, is a lifestyle studio and brand. Each product, art print or project we work on is considered and developed with a sensory experience of beauty in mind. The ethos is simplicity, to encourage people to slow down; embrace their senses and do it in style.

The brand was born out of life changing events, it has been a creative saviour. A loving, healing and cathartic project, but also a way to try and get back into the world again. To establish ourselves and earn a living around our life as it is now.

We are socially and ecologically aware, that yes, we wish to create products, but not creations for the sake of it. Each product is deeply considered and aligns with a need or desire from our life as it is now, with respect for the provenance and raw materials. By embracing the path of a studio alongside our wares, we are able to work on projects that compliment our ethos and help spread awareness of not only brain injury, but the importance of wellbeing to our health and inner world too. It’s more of a movement, a fluid label, one that leaves room for us to grow and change; as change is the only constant we have. Life is always changing and shifting and we have created a space in which to evolve.

 Photo by Natasha Boyes

Photo by Natasha Boyes

What in particular inspired you to create something positive out of difficult personal circumstances, and to share your experiences so frankly as well as positively?

It’s quite a tale. My boyfriend at the time Rob and I were living and working in Hong Kong, when on the 27th September 2014, Rob suffered a near fatal brain haemorrhage and stroke. To make things more complicated, we were on the second day of a holiday in Sydney. Rob was in a coma and I was told he wouldn’t make it, but here I am almost 4 years later balancing life as full time carer, Rob’s slow rehabilitation, starting life over again and able to share this with you.

After being stuck in Sydney for 3 months, we realised life in HK was over and moved back to the UK to be with family. I had to move countries, start life in a city and home that was not my own, whilst dealing with Rob’s needs and care. Trauma on all levels. I lost my identity and sense of self, my home, my job, all in one go, whilst having to radiate love and support to Rob. I realised that’s all I had. Love. And that’s what has carried me through.

In all this, caring and rehab and grief, I needed an outlet. I could’t find work, was feeling low and needed to do something. It started out initially as a blog - a Tumblr page - inadvertently creating an aesthetic for the brand. It’s slowly evolved and become a creative space for both of us. Sharing the story through the Tumblr was a visceral journey. I pulled words, music, visuals, many of the photos our own and it was essentially a form of therapy for me. It had to get out of me.

The Maya Angelou quote rings true “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”. And as I shared, with friends at first, the response was overwhelmingly encouraging. It spurred me on and I continued to take step by step. And not only was I sharing to get it out of me, I was sharing to feel connected. I was isolated geographically, mentally, physically. In a city without any contacts, I had to start again on every level, yet how does one connect in a new city without work and in our horrendous situation?

Social media was a window to the world and made me feel part of something when so far removed from reality. Not only that, I was incredibly proud of what I was doing and of Rob - his determination and strength, our courage as young couple; staring tragedy fearlessly in the face. I wanted to tell the world how brilliant he was and how my efforts, by investing patience, love and care, had spurred on such wonderful changes.

I had taught Rob to draw again and this was how we communicated for a really long time, and we still do on bad days. He now draws for pleasure and is pursuing a new path as an artist, selling his prints as part of MOSS. Rob suffers with Aphasia which affects his reading and writing as well as speech. He is learning, but essentially it was like having a six-foot baby; he’s had to relearn everything.

And we will continue to share and talk about it. As when something happens to you, society tends to decide your fate. Writes you off. But we feel that everyone has something to offer if only given half the chance. Especially when offered a creative space. We feel passionately that creativity heals.

Don’t get me wrong, it has been horrific at times and still is on occasion. But with time, gentleness and positivity and a whole lot of love, we have got through.

 Photo by Natasha Boyes

Photo by Natasha Boyes

 Photo by Natasha Boyes

Photo by Natasha Boyes

What has been the biggest challenge about developing and communicating the philosophy that underpins MOSS?

It’s a challenge that’s for sure, but I always describe us as more than just a brand. Its more than just a candle, notebook or art print. For many people, they feel with their heads, not their hearts and don’t quite understand. They wonder why I do what I do. I wonder why they wouldn’t. The challenge is seeking the like minded souls, who feel deeply and perhaps have been through something. Where life has tested them, whether through something big or small, but something has awakened within them. They’ve let their guard down, not fearful. Something has moved them deeply and allowed them to understand the fragility of life and be open to others, with the understanding it comes with both dark and light; the good in the bad and bad in the good.

And as a fast evolving tech first world, I feel we are losing that connection to understanding ourselves, our connection to others. But those that do get it; it’s pure joy to feel connected to them. That they too, hold a place for our recovery and path as much as we encourage positivity and love for those of theirs. Fundamentally, it’s about being; the complex bundle of emotions and feelings, respecting one another for who we truly are, lifting each other up, supporting each other when chips are down.

And the best? Which moments or opportunities have especially stood out to you?

We held an exhibition for Rob in January this year at University Of Lincoln. It was an incredible achievement, at just 3 years after the brain haemorrhage, for Rob to be able to do this and for the uni to welcome us graciously. For me, it was incredibly tough to write and curate it, yet under Rob’s strict instructions, we shared the full story. Images from life before, his coma, the rehab recovery; all out in public. Yet the message was strong; one of hope and positivity. How creativity and love can heal.

And we elevated that message with a Tedx talk in June, sharing our hearts and story, on the world stage! What a moment, to be on stage together. But fundamentally, that we are here. Together. Doing this! I write this as we near the four year anniversary and to be able to share this with you, all that we have done and are doing, is incredible. They told me Rob would never make it, and if he did he would never be the same again and none of this was a possibility. Look at how far we have come. That is the most incredible thing.

 Photo by Natasha Boyes

Photo by Natasha Boyes

How would you encourage others to harness difficult circumstances or situations in their lives to create something positive?

By letting everything go, every inch of my life as I knew it came nothing. It was not easy, nor was it comfortable. But from nothing, comes something. The quiet, the slow pace. The emptiness is a place of possibility. And from possibility, comes curiosity. And the space to dream and wonder. As what have you got to lose at this point? Nothing! So take a step. Even if it’s just an inch. Inch by inch, as with Rob’s recovery, it’s the only way to build, to grow, to develop.

Find the energy to do so, as sadly no one else can do it for you. There is no hero or knight on a white stead, other than the one inside of you. It won’t be pretty. But surrendering to the situation, letting it get all messy and mad is one of the most liberating things. Letting go of what once was and opening your heart and mind. Allowing yourself to feel every bit and understand your emotions around the changes and when you try new things.

It’s not always easy, and I still have to remind myself of this notion. But it’s where you really delve deep, finding strength you never knew you had.

What message do you hope people take away from MOSS?

Hopefully, more than one. First and foremost, the message to slow down. To breathe. To carve out time, just for soothing the soul and taking stock of the good in the world. And in that way, I mean carve out time and create a ritual, perhaps lighting a candle to mark the change of pace, or noting or doodling in a notebook, to soothe your soul. To be grateful. To cherish the beauty in the mundane, the precious every day things we all take for granted. They are the true gifts. And most importantly, one of light, of hope. That no matter what is thrown at you, there is always a way through.

www.momentsofsenseandstyle.com

Instagrammer's Guide to: Oslo, Norway

So far, our Instagrammer’s guides have featured Scandi cities Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen & Malmo and now it’s the turn of Oslo. It’s safe to say those Nordic destinations are an Instagrammer’s dream! Writer and blogger Claire Holland recently travelled to the Norwegian city with her family and here she shares her top spots for shopping, eating and entertaining both kids and adults…

I've never been very good at early morning starts. But I was up with the lark (or rather the seagulls) in excited anticipation of our morning arrival into Oslo. We'd taken the overnight ferry from Copenhagen as part of a four week road trip to visit my brother, who moved to the Norwegian capital a couple of years ago.  As the early morning sun began to fill our cabin, I peered out of the window and caught sight of some of Norway's traditional brightly-painted houses, nestled like tiny dolls’ houses along the fjord archipelago. Before long, we were showered and dressed and up on deck, cameras in hand, ready to capture our first glimpse of the city rising up into the mountains through the morning mist. 

KollektedBy, design store in Oslo, Norway - Instagrammer's Guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine
KollektedBy, design store in Oslo, Norway - Instagrammer's Guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Kollekted By

Minimalist design store, Kollekted By offer Scandinavian-designed lighting, furniture, skincare and more, all curated by design and interior stylist duo Kråkvik&D’Orazio. The highlight for me was how beautifully, and seemingly effortlessly, the objects are presented within the space in little vignettes that could be found in someone’s home. Among the many things I found to covet were a solid brass incense holder and a leaded glass mounted wall vase. But I’m afraid to say that it was all a little beyond my budget!

IG: @kollektedby

Fransk Bazar, vintage store in Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Fransk Bazar

For people who prefer to own things with a past (and a lot of Oslo dwellers do!), Fransk Bazar is where secondhand industrial chic meets charming bric-a-brac. Run by Norwegian and French couple, Nina and Didier, this diminutive space is a cornucopia of unique furniture, costume jewellery and vintage prints. I spied a lovely rattan-seated bentwood bistro chair for 1000 NK (around £90) that would have been coming home with me had there been room in the car.

IG: @franskbazar

Fuglen cafe, Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine
Fuglen cafe, Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Fuglen

The Norwegian’s take their coffee very seriously (as do I). The black coffee served at Fuglen is from a choice of four different roasteries in the Oslo area, is selected seasonally and offered brewed in a variety of methods. Located in downtown Oslo, set slightly apart from the main streets, Fuglen have served coffee since 1963. But although the interior of the original shop has been kept intact, in its most recent incarnation, Fuglen’s highly stylised design pays homage to the 1950s and 60s - the golden age of Nordic design. And everything at Fuglen is for sale: from the chair you're sitting on, the lamps and original prints on the walls, to the table you put your cup down on. Students from the nearby university and young businesspeople keep it busy during the day, while in the evening it comes alive as a cocktail bar dominated by a younger crowd.

IG: @fuglenoslo

Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Eating out in Oslo is phenomenally expensive, so most days we packed sandwiches. But there are plenty of public spaces to sit and eat while taking in the view, and none is more inspiring than Vigeland Sculpture Park. Set in the grounds of Frogner Park, it’s the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist. It is one of Oslo’s most visited tourist sites, but is really is a sight to behold and therefore a must-see. Over two hundred of Gustav Vigeland’s bronze and granite sculptures exploring the human form - and human relationships (some are quite comical, others profound and touching) line the park’s boulevard. But make sure to arrive early to avoid the inevitable crowds – they’ll ruin what could be some of your best photographs.

Vippa, Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine
Vippa, Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Vippa

When we did choose dine out, we were picky about where we went.  Vippa is a laid-back street food court in an old sugar warehouse on the edge of the harbour, and does the city’s best street food. Newly opened, it serves dishes from all corners of the world, with a focus on organic food - and most of the food stalls also have vegetarian or vegan options. It’s a great place to grab a snack or a light lunch and a beer. We ate some delicious Thai prawn dumplings and noodle-filled veggie spring rolls. During summer, it was the perfect place for outdoor dining in the sun – but expect it to be packed on the outdoor terrace, where there’s a great view of the fjord. The giant outdoor mural makes it super easy to spot from the water, and the tall orange towers of the waterfront promenade help guide you there.

IG: @vippaoslo

Skaperverket, Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine
Skaperverket, Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Skaperverket

If it’s a bohemian vibe you’re looking for, head for vibrant and arty neighbourhood Grünerløkka in the east end. It’s edgy and unique, and known for its street art, cool bars, relaxed cafes and independent boutiques selling design objects and secondhand furniture and jewellery. This is where we came upon Skaperverket, on Markveien, Grünerløkka’s main street; a charming shop showcasing the work of local independent designers, makers and artists who make up the Oslo-based design collective of the same name. I came here twice to fully take in the array of handmade children’s clothes, art prints, ceramics, jewellery and more. The wooden cutwork necklaces made by Tjasa Mavric and Oyoy Living Design’s neat little ceramics particularly caught my eye.

IG: @skaperverket_oslo

Territoriet wine bar, Olso - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine
Territoriet wine bar, Olso - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Territoriet  

You can’t buy wine in the supermarkets in Oslo, you have to go to specialist wine shops, so at the end of an afternoon mooching around the streets of Grünerløkka one day, we stopped for a cheeky glass of Riesling at ultra-cool wine bar, Territoriet next door to Skaperverket. There was certainly no shortage of wine on offer here. Territoriet pride themselves on offering over 400 different varieties – and most are available by the glass.  But this is Oslo, so it doesn’t come cheap. We sat at the window and sipped slowly, while idly watching the locals peruse the secondhand market over the road. We then took some photographs of the oh-so cool interior and then fled to save our bank balances!

IG: @territoriet

Teknisk Museum, Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Teknisk Museum

With kids in tow, we were mindful of keeping them contented and occupied, and with a rainy afternoon on our hands, we headed to the National museum of science and technology. Otherwise known as the Teknisk Museum, it is a paradise not only for curious kids. With over a hundred interactive installations, musical machines and instruments, and a vast transport exhibition, we were all kept happy and busy until teatime.

IG: @tekniskmuseum

 

Street art, Oslo - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Street Art

When the weather is less soggy, one of the pleasures of strolling around the streets of Oslo is chancing upon one of the enormous murals that decorate parts of the city, often filling entire walls with colour. The surrounding area by alternative music venue Blå is one of the highlights of Oslo’s street art offering. Every wall is covered, many by some top artists including M-City. Nip through Ingens gate and onto Brenneriveien for a full street of some amazing, Insta-worthy work.

Oslo Raw, Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine
Oslo Raw, Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Oslo Raw

One lazy, late morning, we popped into Oslo Raw on Adamstuen Torg for a coffee, but on spying the delicious-looking, pretty cakes, we decided to indulge in a few treats. As the name would suggest, Oslo Raw specialise in raw, organic and vegan food. It all sounds very worthy and healthy (and it is!) but it’s also extremely yummy. The space is small and intimate, with a relaxed vibe. The decor is airy, bright and modern, with beautiful pressed flower artworks on the walls.  I was more than happy to stay a while, and I was feeling peckish, so ordered the brunch plate of kale and avocado layered on top of a crunchy pumpkin seed cracker, with chia pudding, and two little squares of cake on the side: one zingy passion fruit, the other, raw choco nut brownie. The children shared a choco-peanut cake with creamy hot chocolate on the side. Rest assured, whatever you order it will be served up looking as pretty as a picture and well worthy of your Instagram grid.

IG: @osloraw

Oslo Opera House - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine
Oslo Opera House - Instagrammer's guide to Oslo - 91 Magazine

Oslo Opera House

The Oslo Opera House is the centrepiece of the fast developing waterfront. Walk on the roof – a sleek patchwork carpet of marble - and you’ll get wonderful views of the city and the mountains beyond. The building’s architect, Snøhetta apparently drew inspiration from icy glaciers and when I stood at the top and looked down over a sea of shiny white marble, I got a definite feeling that it’s somehow part of the surrounding nature. Inside, the perforated luminous wall panel that hides the supports for the ceiling - designed by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson - is equally dazzling.  It’s almost as photogenic inside as out.

Instagrammer's guide to Oslo, Norway by 91 Magazine

Words: Claire Holland / Photography: Charlie Bibby - www.paperthinmoon.com

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Dowse

Located in the heart of Brighton’s vibrant North Laine (brimming with independent stores and cafes), Dowse proudly flies the flag for indie design.Creating jewellery and prints in-house and sourcing wares, with care and consideration, from designers across the world (especially from the super-stylish Scandi countries), this beautifully curated shop offers thoughtful design which is accessible to everyone.We spoke to owner Susannah Dowse to hear more…

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Hi Susannah! First things first, why did you decide to call your store Dowse?

Dowse is my family name and the name I designed under before opening the shop. The name comes from dowsing - a technique for searching for water, minerals, or anything invisible. The name was too perfect not to use for a shop where we search out and showcase emerging designers and makers.

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Why did you start the store? 

I’d been working from a home studio for many years and had decided that I wanted to get out and interact with the world again! I was originally going to get a space in a shared studio, but then I begun to think about having a studio that was open to the public and I could showcase the work of other designers alongside my own.

I live in nearby Hove, and one day a shop in my neighbourhood, that had been boarded up for years had a note in the window saying it had recently been renovated and was now available. The timing was too perfect. So I decided to take the space and opened a month later. So it was less about a big plan and more about taking an opportunity that arose and running with it. I ran the shop in the Hove space for five years and have now recently moved to the North Laine area of Brighton. 

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What did you do before starting Dowse?

I have quite a varied career history. I did a very conceptual and theoretical Fine Art degree, but that hadn’t really been a good fit for me. So when I graduated I drifted a bit, djing, designing & making clothes, basically indulging all my other interests. Eventually I pulled those experiences together and began working freelance in fashion, working for many different kinds of clients creating garment samples, surface print design and illustration. I also worked with a textile recycling charity as the head designer of a clothing range made from recycled textiles, with this my interest in sustainability and ethics in design developed.

This lead to a period lecturing in art colleges on sustainability in design. Alongside this, I had a friend who is a jeweller and I began working with her on a range of jewellery. And it was from here that Dowse, as it now exists, developed.

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How would you describe your style? 

I’ve always had a love of abstract and pop art, mid-century interiors and the clean fluid lines of the Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics. Geometry, simple lines and forms feed my aesthetic and influence what I design and also what I’m attracted to in the work of the other designers that I showcase in the shop. 

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As well as making Dowse’s jewellery and art prints, you also stock wares from others. How do you source your products?

Many of the things I find are from keeping an eye on the usual suspects like Pinterest and Instagram. Getting out there and not just visiting the big trade shows is important to find new exciting people, they’re normally found at smaller art and design markets.

I also go to Copenhagen every year and discover wonderful things every time I go. I don’t stock things that have been mass manufactured in the Far East. I just can’t trust that someone hasn’t been exploited in a factory and that doesn't sit well with me. So everything we sell is made with care and consideration on a smaller scale by the designers and makers.

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What are your favourite finds so far?

One of my most significant Copenhagen discoveries was Studio Arhoj. A ceramic studio I started stocking about four years ago and I believe I was the first shop in the UK to carry their range. They're now much more established and have a real cult following. I send their pieces all over the world, as people hunt down their special and unique designs and glazes. The recent revitalisation of ceramics by the new wave of young makers has been wonderful to see. And it seems there are quite a few ceramic addicts out there!

One of our current lines that’s a big favourite are the hand made ceramics by Quartier Ceramics, made in Lisbon by one man, Romain, at his potters wheel. I can't wait till our latest delivery from him arrives next month! I also love the well designed, simple and British made wares of Studio Wald. They make great paper goods and a lovely flower press. 

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You're clearly passionate about what you do. What do you love most about your chosen vocation?

As a designer, being able to interact directly with my customers and see their response (good or bad!) to new designs is great.

As a shopkeeper I really enjoy being able to tell the story of the person behind the objects we sell. Highlighting the process that goes in to the making of these beautiful things by an individual rather than a big company. Supporting emerging designers and sustainable practice is a big part of why I do what I do. Finding good design that's actually affordable and not out of reach is also something that's a challenge that I love. I'm on a bit of a mission to make good and thoughtful design accessible to everyone. 

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If you could choose just one product from the store right now, what would it be?

I love the sculptural forms of the Hana vase series by Arhoj. One will be making it home before too long. 

Oh, they are gorgeous! Do you have any advice for other people thinking of setting up a shop?

Make what you sell matter, be passionate about it. This will carry you through the tricky times.

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You have such a lovely Instagram feed - how does social media help your business?

I love Instagram. It's inspiring and impressive what amazing feeds people create. I wish I had more time to concentrate on it, it can be an art form in itself. It is really important to reach the right audience for what you do, so for any small business or designer it's as a really great tool to do that. 

Your new location in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine is renowned for its many independent stores. How does it feel to be part of the community?

I love Brighton. It's got a vibrancy to it that you don't often get in cities this size. New people are always arriving and so it's constantly evolving. I don't think there's many places with this many indies in such numbers. It's great to be a part that community. 

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What has been your Dowse career highlights so far?

There have been many great moments, mixed with challenging ones! Moving to a new shop space after five years of running a shop, that in itself felt quite a big achievement to do on my own with no investors - remaining truly independent. 

As a designer, it was a real highlight being commissioned by The Design Museum to create a collection of jewellery exclusively for them to accompany an exhibition on architect Louis Kahn. 

Photography: Emma Croman

Dowse, 27 Gloucester Rd, Brighton

dowsedesign.co.uk / Follow on Instagram

Meet the Maker: O-M Ceramic

O-M or Object-Matter Ceramic is the product of artist Carrie Lau, working from her studio in Los Angeles.With playful forms and striking surface pattern, Carrie’s designs have earned her cult status among fans of modern pottery, and, for Carrie, encourage mindful making.

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Carrie Lau first fell in love with Los Angeles, and making ceramics in 2014. Previously working for a Hong Kong-based fashion magazine, graphic products were clearly in Carrie’s creative blood, but her journey to ceramics was almost accidental. ‘I decided to come to LA for a graphic design program, since then I have been working in graphic design and art direction,’ explains Carrie. ‘but about four years ago my friend introduced me to ceramics and I fell in love with it as a hobby; I got tons of support from friends and family who encouraged me to join a craft market.’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine
Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

O-M Ceramic’s range includes playful cups, contemporary planters, striking glaze-dipped vessels and colour-splattered mugs. ‘The journey has been great - fun and challenging,’ continues Carrie, and her genuine consideration for creative practice through mindfulness results in playful but considered design. ‘Objects {everything} around you are made up of matter, it has its own beauty,’ she muses.

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

‘I get inspiration from surroundings, experience, communication, interaction, travel, landscapes, other artists, and so on.’ This widely-drawn inspiration results in playful shapes with splashes of delightful and surprising colour. ‘I love studying colour and shape, they give me a lot of room to play around and see the possibilities,’ confirms Carrie. ‘I sketch and draw here and there, and when I come to make ceramics, it may or may not turn out as what I was planning - there is always a surprise which I love!’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

This flexible ethos has led to O-M’s distinct aesthetic, with a contemporary vibe yet reverence to the nature of clay. ‘My work is playful, minimal and modern with a bunch of colours and graphics,’ she adds, but making the transition from two to three-dimensional design wasn’t simple. ‘It took some time for me to craft by hand, since I am so used to creating digitally,’ she describes. ‘There’s also a blockage of perfection - how to make [the pieces] look perfect,’ continues Carrie. ‘The more that I do, the more I realise the beauty of handmade work is the uniqueness of itself.’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

With this modern expression of graphic design influencing Carrie’s work, O-M is singled out among the popularity of handmade ceramics through its bold minimalism - she was making terrazzo-style glazes and Miami-style graphics long before high street brands picked it up. ‘My collections are full of colour & graphics with a minimal approach,’ adds Carrie. However, Carrie’s audience is steadfast in its love for handmade in whatever form that takes. ‘I have met a lot of people during craft markets, art shows, events and workshops that are also into design and even creatives themselves,’ she considers. ‘They really appreciate the time and effort of the things that are made by hand - it means a lot to me and motivates me to do more.’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

Refreshingly, this doesn’t seem to impact Carrie’s making processes, nor does it pressure her to create something outside of her aesthetic or ethos. ‘I’m not led by seasons or trends, it’s more about realising my sketches,’ says Carrie, ‘but I also enjoy collaborating with different brands on exclusive collections.’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

Carrie enjoys the flexibility of life as a freelance artist, valuing the unique balance of work and personal life. However, like many other makers, she finds it tricky to switch off her creativity. ‘I work pretty much every day, since I work from home,’ Carrie describes. ‘It’s easy to work here and there when you have a little bit of free time - it’s just so easy to keep working.’ And like other creatives, each working day is completely different to the next. ‘A typical day starts with morning coffee, then I walk my dog, Bowl, for a bit,’ begins Carrie. ‘Starting work depends on what projects I have on hand - sometimes I will be making ceramics or drawing, some days I will be taking pictures for my website and social media, or packing and shipping ceramics.’ This flexible approach is as unique as each of Carrie’s pieces, and easily as fabulously interesting.

Quick-Fire Questions:

Describe your work in three words?

Fun, minimal and colourful

What are your making rituals?

Meditation and drawing

Tea or coffee?

Coffee

Mountains or sea?

Both!

Night owl or early bird?

Night owl

I wish someone had told me...

The importance of presence.

Find out more about O-M Ceramic via omceramic.com

91 is pinning... indie brands

It’s a bit of a quick post on the blog today as things are a little hectic at 91 HQ right now. The AW18 issue goes to print TODAY! I’m busy preparing for the delivery of boxes and boxes of magazines in a few weeks, addressing envelopes of our pre-orders, getting the digital version ready and all the other admin that comes with it. I’m also getting ready for my creative business workshop with Inspired Collective on the 27th (this one is sold out, but there’s another one for sale at the mo, happening in Nov). Anyway, I just wanted to share what we’ve been pinning of late. A new board - Indie Brands - is where I’m collating all those gorgeous independent makers, designers and shops that we love. Here’s a little taster, but do pop to our Pinterest page for more. It’s very much a work in progress, so we will continue to add to it, so make sure to follow!

Stylish co-working spaces

These days more and more of us our working for ourselves, but being at home all day doesn’t suit everyone. It can be easy to start feeling lonely or develop cabin fever spending too much time in the space you live as well as work. Thankfully, co-working spaces are now popping up everywhere, many of which have went to town on their design and aesthetic, proving that office spaces don’t need to be dull, grey, uninspiring boxes. Sophie Warren-Smith discovers five of the most stylish work hubs from around the world…

The Wing - female only co-working space New York
The Wing - female only co-working spaces - New York

NEW YORK

WhereThe Wing, various locations in the US.

The Wing is a unique networking and community space that’s exclusively designed for women. We are in love with their chic aesthetic and colour palette of millennial pink, pastel blues, russet and olive green.

What they offer

They have four beautifully curated locations - Flatiron, Soho (above top), Dumbo (above bottom) and DC with San Francisco launching in October 2018. There are two membership options, Single Location which gives you your own space, priced at $215 monthly, or All Access which gives you unlimited access to all of their locations and events, $250 a month.

Special features:

Being for women only some of the special features include a beauty room and lactation room. There’s also a library, showers, phone and conference rooms, food & drinks and other perks and freebies. The Wing also plays a big part in supporting women and girls in community projects. 

Uncommon Borough - co-working space
Uncommon, Borough - co-working space

LONDON

Where: Uncommon, 1 Long Lane, London SE1 4PG

Uncommon have various branches around London - they can be found in Borough (above), Highbury and Islington, Fulham and Liverpool Street. Plant lovers will enjoy their nature inspired Borough location, which also has a lovely open plan coffee lounge for meetings or just taking a break.

What they offer:

All locations offer five options and you can choose from day passes, weekend passes, a hot desk, dedicated desk or private office. Prices start from £20 for a day pass - we love this option - it’s perfect if you live out of town and want a day or two working in a different environment or you’re visiting and want somewhere creative to work.

Special features:

All of their locations have a coffee lounge, meeting rooms, showers, bike storage, phone booths for extra privacy, outdoor space and are dog friendly. Some of them have kitchenettes and Borough has a pop-up retail space where you can trial new products that you’re working on, or buy from fellow creatives.

Stockholm co-working space The Castle

STOCKHOLM

Where: The Castle, Slottsbacken 8, 111 30, Stockholm

Situated in a stunning period style building, The Castle is in the heart of central Stockholm. The great hall of Flemingska palatset, still has the beautiful original decor from the 18th century with decorative wallpaper and gold panelling.

What they offer:

They have many options starting at fixed desk, flexible desk full-time and the useful low income 2 days a week or low income full time. You can also rent a room, prices start from 1800kr/month.

Special features:

There’s a cafe where you can socialise with other co-working members and network over meals, tea and coffee, a yoga room that doubles as a photo studio and screening room, plus you have access to printers and conference rooms.

We Work La Fayette in Paris
WeWork LaFayette co-working space in Paris

PARIS

Where: WeWork La Fayette, 33 Rue La Fayette, Paris 75 75009

WeWork is a global network of workspaces with locations in most major cities worldwide. Their La Fayette location is situated in a stunning Art Deco building, which has an eye-catching central atrium, multiple outdoor terraces and scenic views over St.Georges and Pigalle.

What they offer:

There are nine locations in Paris, La Fayette (above), Champs-Élysées,  37 Avenue Trudaine, 123 Boulevard de Grenelle, Coeur Marais. 7 Rue de Madrid, 198 Avenue de France, 18 Rue de Navarin and Colisée. They vary in what they offer - all have private office space and other options include dedicated desks and hot desks. Prices start from €360 for a hot desk.

Special features:

At all of these locations you’ll have super fast internet, daily cleaning, IT support, 24/7 building access, office supplies, global network, coffee, draft beer, bike storage, business class printers, mail and package handling and private phone booths.

Mesh - co-working space in Oslo, Norway
MESH co-working space in Oslo - Food & Drink Bar

OSLO

Where: Mesh - The Creators’ Community, Tordenskioldsgate 3, 0160 Oslo, Norway

Mesh is the first co-working space in Oslo and has been designed specifically to nurture and grow creativity. The Work Lounge is a creative space to meet new people whilst working, or use it for meetings if you’re visiting the city. The Food & Drink Bar is open to everyone and serves international dishes throughout the day, so you can eat and network at the same time!

What they offer:

Mesh offer three memberships - private office space for teams of 2 - 40, plus desk membership is for those who want to work in an open plan environment, flex or fixed term options available and The Work Lounge is a great space for meetings, so it’s ideal if you are in Oslo as a traveller and want somewhere to connect with others. Prices start from kr790 excluding vat.

Special features:

Mesh’s Food and Drink Bar is open to both members and non-members, and they have six event spaces with their own event crew and sound engineers. They also hold a series of talks that are held throughout the year on various different topics.

another handy tip…

Croissant app

Croissant - a co-working space app

We’re not talking about pastries here sadly, but Croissant is still a genius idea! Started by a group of friends who used to work together in coffee shops and who wanted the freedom of being able to bounce from place to place to meet up and connect wherever they were. Basically it’s a monthly co-working membership that gives freelancers access to hot desks at the coolest workspaces in cities all around the world. In London and need a space to work? Simply log in to the app and it will tell you what’s available, or likewise in any city.

How does it work?

There are three payment options - Explorer at £29pm, Creator at £99pm and Luminary at £199pm, and it works by using hours, so for example you turn up at a place via the app in New York and are there for two hours, you’ll get two hours taken off your membership. You check in like you do in a hotel, and check out when you leave.

91 loves... face motifs

Faces have long been a source of creative inspiration, particularly in the art world, and recently we've seen them appearing on more and more every day items for the home - mugs, plant pots, plates, rugs and cushions, to name a few. With so many ways to express facial features artistically, styles range from playful and cute to abstract and serene, and we are kinda loving them all! The first few images here give a sneaky peek at the work of a designer featured in our AW18 issue (pre-order now!) who often uses face motifs in her designs, followed by a selection of other face-inspired finds we are loving right now... 

 Photo:  Jemma Watts
 Photo:  Melissa Avila
 available via  Maud's House

available via Maud's House

 available at  Anthropologie

available at Anthropologie

 available at  91 Magazine shop

available at 91 Magazine shop

 available from Hus & Hem

available from Hus & Hem

 Available from  Jane Foster

Available from Jane Foster

 available from  Donna Wilson

available from Donna Wilson

 available from  Donna Wilson

available from Donna Wilson

 available from  Esme Shayler-Webb

available from Esme Shayler-Webb

 available from  Tea & Kate

available from Tea & Kate

 available from  Austin Austin

available from Austin Austin

 available from  Form Lifestyle

available from Form Lifestyle

 available from Rose & Grey

available from Rose & Grey

 available from  Meylor Goods

available from Meylor Goods

A slow living guide to decorating your home

Decorating your home can often feel overwhelming, can't it? With so much to do and so many choices on the market, it's easy to choose the first thing you see and later regret it. Minimal lifestyle blogger Jessica Rose Williams is here to help you approach your project in a more considered way with personal experience guiding her. She shares her top tips on how to plan, what to prioritise and how not to rush into hasty decisions. 

Where to even start. This was my dilemma the day we moved into our little cottage in the Peak District in April. I'd known there was work to be done since our first viewing but only when I saw it completely empty on moving did I realise just how much work I had on my hands. It was in desperate need of TLC. 

Embarking on any renovation project can feel so overwhelming. All those decisions to make, and the fear of making the wrong choice can be crippling. It’s tempting to reach for the tin of paint and pop down to the nearest Homesense for Pinterest-worthy bargains because that’s the easiest way to make a difference right? What I’ve learned from my own renovations is that the bare bones must be taken care of first. Once you get those right, the rest will follow. Making a plan and taking care of the essentials first will ensure you’ve created a space that will work hard for you for years to come. 

Personally, I have zero patience and have rushed every decorating project I’ve ever done and then regretted not taking my time or not tackling things in the right order. I overlooked the drafty windows in favour of said quick fix bargains. Throwing myself into the project without any kind of structure made all that stuff a giant waste of money. I can confirm even the perfect grey wool blanket doesn’t make a room - unless you’ve done the ground work first it only confuses it.

how to manage your decorating project

This time around I was determined to do things right, and it’s worked! It’s true what they say, good things take time and it’s all in the prep. Four months of renovating later these are the areas I’ve prioritised with our budget. I’ve found they’ve made the greatest impact and by taking care of these I have created a solid foundation I can slowly build on in years to come. Here's a few tips I've learnt along that way....

Take time to plan - The more time you spend planning the better. Rule number one is do not rush! I’m still getting to grips with this one myself so I know that’s the last thing you want to hear. Pinterest is your friend to begin with. Create a private mood board for your project and pin anything and everything you’re attracted to. Once you’ve done that, take some time away from it and go back with the intention of cutting your pins down to a maximum of 20. Try to pick out similar themes, colours, tones and above all be realistic. Make sure everything on your board will work in your own home. 

Managing your decorating budget

Windows - If a room is cold and draughty you simply won’t want to spend time in it. How boring to have to spend money on new windows or repairs I know, but creating a warm and cosy space is absolutely key. I refuse to let go of the wooden windows we’ve inherited but I did replace the two windows that were draughty and split as soon as we moved in. It left us with fewer pounds to spend on the finishing touches but it was worth it. 

prioritising when decorating

Radiators - Choosing to upgrade to beautiful period style radiators was a decision not many around me could understand. But now they’re in, they totally get it. They’ve made such a difference to the rooms. If these aren’t within budget you can always paint your existing ones the same colour as the walls so they blend in. 

making a decorating plan

Repurpose what you can - Be brutally honest with yourself about what can stay. There’s a lot you can do to spruce up old furniture as long as it’s structurally sound. Sofas can be reupholstered and kitchen cabinets can be painted if it’s just the colour you’re not keen on. Google is your friend!

Floors - Stripping the floors properly and having them refinished has transformed our cottage. One floor that was previously carpeted had to be replaced because the floorboards were rotten. Installing new pine floorboards was cheaper than replacing the carpet and as long as we look after them they’ll last us decades.

Walls - Skimming the walls where necessary and then painting the entire house the same shade of white (ceilings, walls and windows) has made the biggest difference to our home. Where it once looked dark and dingy it now looks fresh, light and bright. The rooms feel twice the size. 

prioritising when decorating

Natural Textures - Wood, linen, wool, cotton or even shiny metallics. Opting for natural texture wherever you can will add a guaranteed sense of cosy and timelessness to any space. They’re more attractive to look at and sustainable too. 

Lighting - This is an area I’ve regrettably overlooked for most of my home-owning life. When we were in Oslo in January it struck me just how important it was. Warm, subtle lighting made those dark days and nights feel oh so cosy. Nothing too bright and always carefully considered. There are entire books written on lighting which is a testament to what a difference it can make. Instead of just placing a lamp here and there take time to think about which areas you want to light and be sure to use multiple light sources for a cosy atmosphere. 

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from our renovations so far is that a house is never finished. Good things take time and unfortunately we need to be patient. There will always be something that needs doing, our styles will change and what we need from our homes will change too. Looking after the basics is always the best place to start. 

So many valuable tips there for either a large scale project or even just a small one room makeover. Check out more of Jessica's great advice on her blog and Instagram