Meet the Maker: STALF

Paris Hodson’s journey through fashion has led her to creating her own sustainable brand, STALF, embracing gentle style and slow fashion with a clean and modern aesthetic.

When Paris Hodson studied fashion at university, she was happily ensconced in the world of ‘frivolous’, high-street fashion. However, within a few years, Paris became disillusioned with the ethics of fast-fashion and ‘fluff’ of the London working environment, and began to dream of owning her own label. Paris moved home to Lincolnshire, and began by creating her label, STALF, which started life as a high fashion boutique-style clothing line.

Stalf studio space
Stalf Studio Lincolnshire

Some time later, Paris split from her business partner and in 2015 struck out on her own, designing, drafting, making and selling garments herself from her little pink studio. ‘I wanted to create clothing that is thought-about, and serves the wearer, and in many ways this is the antithesis of fast fashion,’ explains Paris. Even the name STALF - a contraction of her grandparents Stella and Alf’s names - pays homage to this concept. ‘My grandparents were a generation that treasured what they bought, and they bought far less,’ she adds. ‘In the post-war generation people had to look after their clothes - they weren’t cheap and were far better quality.’

The key words Paris uses throughout our conversation are ‘easy-wear’, ‘simple’ and ‘effortless.’ Comfortable, but never scruffy, the clothes would be equally suitable for a school run, a business lunch or a creative retreat. The simple, oversized shapes and calming palette help to create a capsule wardrobe, and Paris tends to change very little season-to-season. ‘We have a few core garments that help build the STALF look,’ says Paris. ‘The jumpsuit, cocoon trousers and linen tees are ever popular, and we concentrate on the ethics and quality of the clothing instead.’

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The tactile cottons, linens and silks are supplied by mostly British and Irish manufacturers, and Paris’s close relationship with her suppliers means she can always source the best quality fabrics, and even collaborate on exclusive prints and colours. ‘When I’m designing the collections I am in the mindset of the STALF woman,’ Paris describes. ‘I’m not interested in high street trends, instead I think about how I feel in the clothes, and how the clothes fit together so that the thought process of dressing oneself is taken away.’

The creation of the clothing itself all takes place at the STALF studio, a former butcher’s in Caistor, Lincolnshire. The shop front now serves as the workshop, with a small team of six seamstresses cutting and making the clothes to order every day. ‘With six people in the workshop it’s a really bustling workplace,’ smiles Paris. ‘Each piece is cut and made to order, so you can imagine how much it has grown from just me to having six people in the studio each day.’ The selling platform is a newly-refreshed website, and reflects the growing business. ‘Everything happens here at the studio, from me sketching the garment on a scrap of paper, to drafting and cutting the pattern, an experienced seamstress making the garment to it being packaged and posted internationally,’ Paris adds. ‘This is what makes us so special - it’s hard to find the skills to create this small-scale production here in the UK, and it could be a challenge in the future to find more as the business grows.’

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However, Paris’s commitment to the core ethics of the business means that she has no plans to outsource the work. In fact, work is well underway to expand the studio across the rest of the former butcher’s site. ‘We’re hoping to move the workshop into the former abattoir and use the shop front space as an open studio with samples on display - this way customers can come in, try the clothing on and advise on what they want to see in their next collections.’ As well as preparing for her first baby’s arrival, Paris has recently taken STALF to Edinburgh with a pop-up shop. ‘Meeting and having conversations with the customers was so, so wonderful,’ laughs Paris. ‘It was great to put customer’s names to faces, and really understand how our customers wear our clothes and how they interact with their daily wardrobes.’ Paris admits that it can take many months for a new idea to take form, but the renovation of the studio and her home, as well as the website, is enough to keep her inspired while she takes a step back for motherhood. ‘Ultimately, STALF is about provenance,’ she concludes. ‘I like to think it’s bigger than fashion, it’s simply connecting to the process of getting dressed.’

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Stalf - Indie fashion label

Quickfire Questions...

Describe your work in three words: Effortless, simple, loved

What are your making rituals? The ideas for a new collection will sit in my head for a long time before they’re ever committed to paper. After that, a really good pen is all I need to sketch the visuals before drafting. So, time is my making ritual.

Tea or Coffee? Coffee!

Mountains or Sea? Mountains, I really don’t like water much!

Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird - mornings are important to take time for oneself.

I wish someone had told me... To have more confidence in myself and my work.

Photography: STALF Studio

www.stalf.co.uk

An Instagrammers Guide to: Copenhagen

Unsurprisingly, my camera worked hard on my recent trip to the Danish capital of Copenhagen; constantly hanging from my shoulder, ready to capture every effortlessly stylish scene we came across. Apart from my husband, my other trusty companion was the Copenhagen Style Guide which led us direct to many photo worthy hotspots, whilst we stumbled upon many other great places to stop for a bite, browse for a moment or pause and admire. I've selected a few of my favourite spots to get carried away with your camera, all while enjoying great food and drink and shopping the Scandi way.... 

Coffee Collective Copenhagen
Coffee Collective

The Coffee Collective - We were staying in an Air BnB in Frederiksberg, and were thrilled to realise on our first morning, that The Coffee Collective's largest cafe was just around the corner. Tucked down a side street off Godthåbsvej, the airy industrial space also houses their roastery, so you can watch the coffee being produced while sipping your first cup of the day. I actually don't drink coffee, but instead I enjoyed one of the best hot chocolate's I've ever had. As we paid, we chatted with the barista who gave us lots of recommendations for places to check out during our trip, cementing my preconception that the Danes are a very friendly bunch! 

The Coffee Collective

IG: @coffeecollectif

Vanishing Point, Copenhagen
Kaktus, Copenhagen

Explore Jagersborggade - One of our friendly barista's recommendations was to head to Jagersborggade - a street lined with cool indie shops, bars and cafes. Vanishing Point describes itself as a 'craft shop' on it's website, but rather than being a supplies shop as this might imply, it is filled with objects from ceramics and jewellery to art prints and textiles handmade by craftspeople. It's concrete walls and rustic fittings are the perfect way to showcase their carefully curated range of products. A few doors down is Kaktus selling an abundance of those spiky little specimens we are all so taken by. Sadly a cactus is not a hand baggage friendly souvenir, but worth the visit nonetheless! 

Vanishing Point  / IG: @vanishing_point_studio

Kaktus / IG: @kaktus_kbh

Gonzo cafe, Copenhagen

Later on in our trip we returned to Jagersborggade, and enjoyed an early evening beer in Gonzo Cafe. Here it felt almost like hanging out in a cosy living room - a wood burning stove roared in the centre of the room, and comfy sofas were draped with soft throws, along with a wall of unusual plants interspersed with twinkling candles. It became clear very early on that the Danes have a plant obsession to rival our own here in the UK.... I was in houseplant heaven!

Gonzo Cafe

IG: @gonzocafe

Torvehallerne food market, Copenhagen
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Torvehallerne food market, Copenhagen
Torvehallerne food market, Copenhagen

Torvehallerne food market - Foodie fans don't want to miss an afternoon stroll around Torvehallerne food market. This is definitely one of the smartest most stylish food markets I've ever visited (no surprise really!) and it's not restricted to food only - I came across some gorgeous plant and flower stalls, as well as a lovely skincare brand selling their wares. 

Torvehallerne food market

IG: @torvehallernekbh

Rundetaarn, Copenhagen

Rundetaarn - If you haven't been to Copenhagen before, it's worth spending half an hour walking the spiral ramp of the Rundetaarn to get some great views across the city. I'm not sure if we were just lucky, but the day we visited there were no queues and not that many folk inside, making it easy to get some lovely shots of the curved shapes and contrasting textures inside. Ascending a tower is this way seems so much more civilised than trudging up hundreds of stairs - even in the 17th century the Danes were getting design just right! 

Rundetaarn

IG: @theroundtower

Hay House, Copenhagen
Hay House, Copenhagen
Hay House, Copenhagen

Hay House - No interior junkie's trip to this city is complete without a visit to Hay House. You will have to venture into the busier part of the city (we combined it with seeing the Rundetaarn) but it's totally worth it for the two floors of beautiful furniture, homewares, stationery and lifestyle products. It's impossible to leave without treating yourself to a little something. I bought a small mirror but could've bought much more if it wasn't for pesky baggage allowances! 

Hay

IG: @haydesign

copenhagen instagrammers guide
flower shop copenhagen
flower shop copenhagen
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Shop & eat on Værnedamsvej - Spend a morning strolling along this lovely street in Frederiksberg, although remember that shops open late in Copenhagen. (we were often found peering through the windows waiting for them to open!) You can pop into Granola for breakfast while you wait though, and then head next door to the glorious flower and plant shop Blomsterskuret - unusual plants and flowers styled to perfection. Pop across to home store Dora which is filled with beautiful pieces for all areas of your home. 

Blomsterskuret / IG: @blomsterskuret

Dora / IG: @shopdora

Bak shop Copenhagen
Bak shop Copenhagen
Bak shop Copenhagen

Bak - When we were exploring Jagersborggade, I was disappointed that Bak, one of the shops listed in the Style Guide, was no longer there. The next day, while wandering the streets of Frederiksberg, I was elated (I mean, literally elated!) to spot Bak shop across the road! (it's now located on Gammel Kongevej) I'm so pleased we stumbled across it as it was probably my favourite shop we visited. It's a small store but it is packed with beautiful homewares, prints, stationery, magazines and books and LOTS of plants. There is even a dreamy little potting area at the back! I chatted with the lovely owner who was thrilled to see her shop in the book, despite it being listed in it's old location. This is a must visit, I could have lingered here for much longer than is probably acceptable... 

IG: @bak_shop

Bloom Copenhagen
Bloom Copenhagen
Bloom Copenhagen

Bloom - I'm so pleased we choose to stay in Frederiksberg as there are so many lovely little independent shops and cafes in the area. One of note is Bloom, which, on our first few days was always closed when we happened to be passing, and I'd gaze in at the beautiful interior and that pink sofa! Thankfully, on our final morning it was open! It was indeed as lovely inside as it looked, as was the owner of the shop who I enjoyed a good chat with.  If only I could've smuggled a few of these green beauties back in my bag! 

Bloom

IG: @bloom_cph

Vakst Copenhagen
Photos via Vakst

Photos via Vakst

Vakst - Greenery and plants were a definite theme to our stay in Copenhagen, so we thought it appropriate to have our last evening meal in a restaurant with a greenhouse in the middle! Vakst didn't disappoint both in the style stakes and the food. It certainly wasn't our cheapest meal ever, but then nothing is particularly cheap in Copenhagen! It was a great meal in a beautiful setting and well worth a bit of a splurge. 

Vakst

IG: @cofocodk

All photos by Caroline Rowland unless otherwise stated. 

Check out our previous Instagrammers Guides: Rye in East Sussex and Stockholm, Sweden

WIN a We Are Knitters blanket kit

We absolutely love collaborating with cool brands that we love and think you will love too. In the new issue we teamed up with We Are Knitters and Melody Hoffman to showcase a couple of We Are Knitters gorgeous knitting kits. We opted for two kits from their homeware range, but you can also pick from their cosy garments range, perfect for whipping up some great Christmas gifts or just to keep yourself snug this winter.

We Are Knitters collaboration

Even if you are a knitting novice, never fear, as the kits provide you with everything you need to give it a whirl, and they are categorised into skill levels so you can start off easy and progress if you wish. To celebrate our collaboration the lovely folk of We Are Knitters are offering one 91 Magazine reader the chance to win the sleepy blanket kit as featured in the magazine! The kit is worth £99 and the winner will be able to select their preferred colour of wool. 

We Are Knitters giveaway

So, to be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is enter your details below. A winner will be drawn at random after the closing date which is 8th November 2017. Please see below for further terms and conditions. 

Name *
Name
Name

Terms and Conditions

1. Only entries made before the closing date - 8th November 2017 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 until 24th November 2017 to respond with their chosen wool colour and delivery address. If a reply is not received by this date, they will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be chosen. 

4. No cash alternative. 

5. The giveaway is open to worldwide entries. 

6. 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 We are Knitters. Your details will not be shared with any further third parties. 

This post was sponsored by We Are Knitters. Images by Melody Hoffman for 91 Magazine.  

91 is reading... The Kinfolk Entrepreneur

There's nothing that gets my creative juices flowing and my determination peeking than reading other creative peoples' stories. Whether that's an indie maker just starting out on their journey or a powerhouse of a businessperson whose creative goals have surpassed themselves - it's all thought provoking and inspiring stuff that makes you remember where you've come from and where you want to be. 

The Kinfolk Entrepreneur - review

So when I heard of Kinfolk's latest book offering I was bursting to dive in and discover the collection of people they had curated and of course soak up the ever-enchanting photography that accompanies all that Kinfolk do. It is a chunky tome - 368 pages in fact - and I'll admit I haven't quite managed to get through it all yet - but split up into individual stories from over 40 entrepreneurs, it is easy to dip in and out and read snippets as and when. 

Photo: Lasse Fløde

Photo: Lasse Fløde

There are passages and quotes that jumped out at me - such as the lyrics from a Talking Heads track that is significant to creative director Damir Doma - "Never for the money, always for love" - something which resonates deeply with me also. I left a relatively well paid job to pursue my passion for 91 Magazine, and yes, I'm much less well off financially, but I LOVE what I do, and the fulfilment from that is so much more important. Of course, if your passion can pay well then all the better, but it's clear from the people within this book that their businesses began with a dream, and the drive to make something special grow from nothing. 

Photo Jacopo Moschin

Photo Jacopo Moschin

Photo: Jacopo Moschin

Photo: Jacopo Moschin

Fashion designer Azéde Jean-Pierre comments "It's not a brand unless you create desire. People must want to buy into it," while graphic designer Pum Lefebure explains how starting out feels: "You have to create a vision of exactly what you want. Of course you don't know how the hell you're going to get there, but you dream. You figure it out." Not only do we have to follow our dream and discover how to make it happen, but we also have to remember why we are doing it - who is it for? Will people want it? Will they part with their hard earned cash to have a slice of your dream? 

Photo: Jacopo Moschin

Photo: Jacopo Moschin

Instinctively, I was drawn to the story of Kevin Ma - publisher of Hype Beast - a print magazine and digital platform based in Hong Kong. His beginnings similar to my own - starting a blog via Blogger, making small amounts of money alongside another job, but Kevin's brand has exploded, now with 124 employees working for him. It's an awe-inspiring publishing success story, yet Kevin comes across as incredibly humble and realistic, pointing out that his success is probably just down to 'good timing' - and that he hit the blogging world just before digital media became hugely saturated. Perhaps, but I get the feeling it's mostly due to pure grit, determination and intense passion for what he does. 

Photo: Jacopo Moschin

Photo: Jacopo Moschin

The Kinfolk Entrepreneur encompasses a wide range of people from designers and hoteliers to publishers and bakers to restauranteurs and retailers - sharing stories, advice, and more than anything - a love for what they create. I've never been one to read classic business books - they don't tend to induce excitement or enthusiasm - but Kinfolk has created something in this book that not only provides practical advice, but that provokes you to dream big, take that leap and find true meaning in work. 

The Kinfolk Entrepreneur by Nathan Williams (Artisan Books) publishes in the UK on the 17th October, retailing for £28.

Pre-order on Amazon now.

The A/W 17 issue is here!

The AW17 issue has finally landed and it has more pages than ever - an extra 8 pages of beautiful content for you to enjoy! This time we have a subtle textiles theme running through the magazine, perfect for getting snuggly in the colder months. How much to you just want to clamber into that bed on the cover?! 

91 Magazine AW17 issue

We've been overwhelmed by how many of you have pre-ordered this new issue, it has broken a record for us, and we are so pleased that more and more people are discovering and enjoying 91 Magazine. It is a learning curve for us with every issue, and we really hope that you find each one as inspiring as the last.

91 Magazine - independent interiors magazine

Here's a little peek inside the pages - at the homes, studios and other creative spaces that we have explored. It truly is a beautiful collection of places to discover and be inspired by, so if you haven't already got your copy on order, then hop straight over to our shop page to get yours delivered to your door. 

inside the latest issue of 91 Magazine
independent stores inside 91 Magazine
creative spaces inside 91 Magazine

HUGE thank you as always goes to Team 91 - Laura, Kath, Lucy, Olivia, Catherine and Melissa - you ladies are ACE! And also to the wonderful contributors who fill our pages with their stunning images and inspiring words. I'm so proud of what we have created, and I thank every single reader for picking up a copy and supporting us. Don't forget to share your pics of the magazine online - using the hashtag #my91magazine - you will find us on Instagram at @91magazine

BUY THE AW17 ISSUE NOW

3 mini projects with Nancy Straughan fabric

Our AW17 issue arrives at 91 HQ tomorrow! If you were quick off the mark and were one of the first 200 people to order a copy you will also receive a 40cm x 40cm piece of fabric, designed by Nancy Straughan. It will be a lucky dip as to which pattern you will receive, but they are all really beautiful, so we hope you will love what you get inside your envelope. We urge you to use your creativity to turn your piece of fabric into something lovely, but here are a few ideas to get you started! 

fabric gift tags idea

FABRIC GIFT TAGS - A gift is always made that little bit extra special with beautiful wrapping, and fabric gift tags are a great way to add an element of tactility and luxury. These are SO easy to make. Lay a rectangle of fabric atop some thick paper or card, and cut both to the same size. Use craft glue to stick the fabric to the card, and allow to dry. Use pinking shears to trim to size with a zig-zag edge which looks great & also stops the fabric fraying. Fold the tag in half lengthways and use sharp scissors to cut a small hole to feed your string or ribbon through. Add a sprig of eucalyptus for perfectly stylish Christmas wrapping. You should be able to make approx 8-12 tags with your square of fabric, depending on the size you go for. 

Make an easy cushion cover

35cm x 35cm CUSHION COVER - Your square of fabric is just the right size to make a 35cm x 35cm cushion cover. Pick a plain coordinating fabric for the back of this simple envelope cover. Cut your Nancy Straughan piece of fabric to 38cm squared, and then the two pieces from your backing fabric at 38cm x 31cm and 38cm x 20cm. It helps to make a template from paper (brown or wrapping paper is best) and then pin your fabric to the paper and cut out. Sew a seam along one of the long edges of both of the backing pieces (ideally on a sewing machine) which will be the opening for the cover, then place the front and back pieces right sides facing together. Then sew around all four edges. Turn your cushion cover the right way out, and add a cushion pad!

fabric pennant diy

FABRIC PENNANT - Add some pattern to your walls with these mini fabric pennants, or make lots to create a garland. Simply cut out the flag shape from your fabric and sew a hem around each edge, leaving a channel along the top edge. You can use a thin piece of wooden dowling to feed through the channel, or simply thread through some string or twine to hang. 

That's just a few simple ideas for transforming your fabric square, but we'd LOVE to see what you do with yours! Please share pics via Instagram with the hashtag #91magXnancystraughan and we *may* award a prize to our favourite! 

If you haven't ordered your copy of our AW17 issue yet, then I'm afraid you have missed out on this little gift, but do check out Nancy's beautiful range of fabrics on her website and of course make sure to order your mag asap! ;) 

Thanks again to Nancy Straughan for providing 200 pieces of fabric as our gift to the first 200 pre-orders of 91 Magazine AW17. 

91 visits... Barford beach house, Cornwall

Over the summer it felt like everyone else was having a well deserved break, while I continued to work steadily, only having a week away in France back at the start of June. I was feeling pretty frazzled as I'd been preparing the new issue ready for printing, plus planning our 2018 issues, not to mention my other work and mum duties. So, when the lovely folk from Tregulland and Co got in touch to invite me and my family to their property Barford beach house in North Cornwall, I'll admit I literally jumped at the chance.

Photo: Brett Symes

Photo: Brett Symes

After a five hour drive from Surrey to the Cornish coast, we couldn't believe our eyes when we got sight of this beautiful house. The place actually sleeps 16, so you can imagine how much space we had for just two adults and a three year old! We spent the first couple of hours exploring all the rooms and admiring the spectacular sea views, while boasting about it on Instagram stories!

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Brett Symes

Photo: Brett Symes

The house is owned by Bristol couple Ken and Illona Aylmer and was only finished earlier this year. They worked with Marcus Crane, of Rye emporium McCully and Crane to source the most fantastic finds to kit out the interior. If you like your holiday homes with a dash of quirky style, then this is the place for you. It is filled with fun features and stylish details that you will continue to discover throughout your stay. My daughter loved the Narnia cupboard, that connects two of the bedrooms, and my other half and I enjoyed our evenings playing pool and vintage pinball in the 'secret bunker'. 

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Brett Symes

Photo: Brett Symes

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

The master bedroom is an incredible space at 50m2! Uninterrupted views of the Atlantic ocean, it's own cocktail bar and THAT bathroom! What you can't see here is the little porthole by the bath which gives you a view straight through the bedroom out to sea... it's the little things right?! 

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Brett Symes

Photo: Brett Symes

As if the brass bath wasn't enough, every other bedroom had it's own stunning en suite, each beautifully designed and inviting you to kick back and enjoy a good old pampering session! I found myself logging away lots of ideas for my own bathroom redesign - a silver or brass roll top bath at the top of the list naturally! 

Barford bedroom
Barford family room
Barford beach house bedroom
All above photos: Caroline Rowland

All above photos: Caroline Rowland

Every bedroom, bar one, has a sea view through the full length glass doors, and all decorated with beautiful pieces of vintage furniture mixed with modern elements and quirky artwork. Even though our daughter had us up at 6am both mornings, it seemed much easier when you wake up to such a spectacular view and lovely surroundings. 

Photo: Brett Symes

Photo: Brett Symes

Barford beach house living space
copper cladding and woodburner
velvet armchairs
copper cladding
vintage cinema sign
All above photos: Caroline Rowland

All above photos: Caroline Rowland

Back downstairs we throughly enjoyed making use of the copper clad kitchen with it's toasty Aga and mod cons. We commented on how it was the perfect house for a winter break as there is lots to keep you entertained - from the cosy cinema room to games room and bar in the secret bunker to the sauna and hot tub, plus lots of comfy corners to curl up and watch a movie or read. Equally it is a great spot for summer with its proximity to the beach and an amazing outside space with BBQ and seating areas. 

Photo: Caroline Rowland

Photo: Caroline Rowland

We had a wonderful few days spent at Barford, and are absolutely considering booking it in future and bringing along some friends. With rates starting at £2100 for a 3 night stay (low season) it is very reasonable when split between a group (it sleeps 16) and I promise you won't be disappointed! 

More details and booking info: www.tregullandandco.co.uk/barford

 

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Room 356

We chat Hygge, Instagram and running a family business with Cassie, from indie homeware store Room 356, Bolton.

How would you describe the essence of Room 356?

Pared-back, timeless and understated.

Can you tell us some more about how Room 356 came about?

I initially trained as a hairstylist in London and went on to manage a chain of salons and eventually became a college lecturer. My dream, however, was always to run my own business; I was just waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

Mum’s background is in social work, but after having my sister and I she set up a greeting card franchise with a friend, which they built up into a great business. They then sold that and opened a coffee bar in the Trafford Centre. I worked there alongside Mum and it was at that point that we seriously started thinking about setting up something together. When a shop premises in a great location came up, we decided to set up a business based around our shared love for independent stores, contemporary design and homeware.

You’re a mum and daughter team – how easy is it to work together? Do you find work spills into family life?

We love running the business together, and as homeware is a shared passion - it’s the perfect business for us both. We have shared responsibility for the buying process, which we both really enjoy. We also have our own specific roles that play to our strengths, so I look after the marketing and accounting side of things, while Mum looks after the operations side of the shop.

We’d both agree that often the separation between work and family does blur, mostly in a good way! We do want to bring that special mother/daughter relationship into the business. Our customers really appreciate the family ethos on which the business is built. When we are at work we often talk ‘family stuff’ and when we are out of the shop we sometimes talk ‘work stuff’. We think both work and family blends well together now.

How do you balance running an online store and a brick and mortar shop? Do you have a preference?

We love both. We are really proud of the website, we wanted it to reflect the look and feel of our shop and for our online customers to be able to enjoy their shopping experience just as much as customers who visit the shop do. Each online order is just as important to us as each store purchase.

Did you have a particular aesthetic in mind when designing the shop?  

Simplicity was key. We wanted to create a feeling of light, space and calm where our customers could take their time and enjoy the space. We believe it’s the small details that make such a difference; from the scents that fill the store to the layout of our product collections. We think it is really important that we make everyone feel welcome. With this in mind we also created a seating area at the back of the store with a coffee machine, so that customers can enjoy a cuppa while they shop.

You’ve been open since 2014 – what have been the highlights of the last 3 years?

Seeing the business grow has been a highlight for both of us. When you work seven days a week and put so much passion into what you do it is such an amazing feeling to see it grow from strength to strength. We have also loved meeting so many new people and making some really good friends through the business, including customers, makers and brand suppliers.

Can you talk us through your buying process and decisions?

We only buy products we both love and that we both agree fit the Room 356 aesthetic. Instagram has been a fantastic platform for discovering creative and talented makers and innovative brands that sit well with our specific identity. We love adding new unique and original products and our customers like the opportunity to buy products that they have not seen in other shops or on other websites.  

What are your current bestsellers, and do you have any personal favourites?

Ceramic tableware is really popular, as are concrete and marble trays and planters. We are working more and more with UK based artisans who make beautiful ceramics, jewellery, wall art and rugs for Room 356. These items are amongst our personal as well as customers favourites. Our customers and we enjoy the back-story behind these products and the love and creativity, which has gone into making them.  

Room 356 LR-34.jpg

To what extent are you influenced by trends?

Our look is quite specific but we are very mindful of lifestyle trends. Hygge, for example, has had a big influence on our business; people are increasingly moving toward a simpler and slower pace of life and how they have a desire to create a family home environment which reflects this. People often want to re-create the look of rooms they see on Pinterest and Instagram and so it’s important we are mindful of the latest trends in order to resonate with our customers.  

What’s your approach to marketing? How easy is it to get the Room 356 name out there?

Instagram and Pinterest have been an amazing way for us to raise our profile and connect with our target audience. We have taken responsibility for doing our own website SEO and all of the content, including our blog. There are free SEO tools that you can implement on your online store and as long as you get a little advice you can easily do it yourself.

The blog is an important aspect of our brand as it’s another way of having a voice and a channel to reach out to our customers I currently write all our posts, I always write with our customers in mind and I hope people enjoy reading them!

Room 356 LR-58.jpg

Any advice for aspiring indie shop owners?

Start with a clear and defined vision whilst having the flexibility to change and develop when needed. You need to believe 100% that you will make your business a success. Be positive and passionate about your business regardless of the daily challenges you will encounter. Try not to be too influenced on what anyone else is doing, stay focused on your own business brand vision. Don’t be tempted to spend too much money initially on your shop fitting; you can create a beautiful space without being extravagant. Social media is a powerful weapon, use it daily and get your story out there. Build great relationships with your customers, brand suppliers, makers and everyone else you work with. Basically, be brave and go for it, if it was that easy everyone else would be doing it!

What’s next on the horizon for Room 356?

To increase our product lines and collections so we are able to offer more choice to our customers. We are also designing our own exclusive range this year, which includes ceramics and jewellery, local talented makers will produce it and we’re super excited about it!

All images courtesy of Trouva


Room 356, 356 Chorley Old Road, Bolton, BL1 6AG

91 Loves... velvet furniture

Velvet is having a bit of a moment in the world of soft furnishings and we are big fans here at 91. Soft and sumptuous, it contrasts well with rougher textures as well as sleeker lines, and it seems to pair particularly well with our other obsession - house plants. We love it in strong colourways like mustard yellow and emerald green as well as softer shades like blush pink

Photo: Cathy Pyle for 91 Magazine

The tactile material seems to be up for anything when it comes to design - it's happy in a formal Chesterfield or mid-century format as well as a slouchy, comfy 'dive right in' style. It can be simply paired with cushions of the same colour and fabric, or happily allows textured, colourful versions to take centre stage. We just wish it was acceptable to change your sofa on a monthly basis so we could enjoy all of these different incarnations! If you are in the market for some velvety seating, then read on for a few of our faves to be found on the web... 

Mustard yellow velvet armchair, £975, Att Pynta
Lime Green velvet sofa, from £1598, DFS

Lime Green velvet sofa, from £1598, DFS

Dark blue velvet sofa, £1095, IKEA

Dark blue velvet sofa, £1095, IKEA

Mustard yellow velvet corner sofa, £1699, Swoon Editions

Mustard yellow velvet corner sofa, £1699, Swoon Editions

Burnt orange velvet sofa, from £1598, DFS

Burnt orange velvet sofa, from £1598, DFS

What's your views on velvet? Which one of these beauties are you dreaming of snuggling on this winter?

Sneak peek inside the AW17 issue

The summer has whizzed by and it seems no time since our S/S issue came out, but here we are, just a few weeks away from our A/W issue landing! As always, it's been a joy putting it together and we are so excited for you to see it and hear what you think. We've already had a record-breaking number of pre-orders and are thrilled that so many of you are eager to receive the new issue. It'll be on your doorstep soon, but to whet your appetite here is a little sneaky peek at some of the gorgeous images you'll find inside...

Image by Kasia Fiszer

Image by Kasia Fiszer

Image by Kristin Perers
Image by Cathy Pyle

Image by Cathy Pyle

Image by Kym Grimshaw

Image by Kym Grimshaw

Image by Anna & Tam

Image by Anna & Tam

Make sure you pop on over and place your order so you can get you copy as soon as they arrive here in October! PRE ORDER NOW

Meet the Maker: Jacqueline Colley

We talk illustration, house plants and scrapbooking with Illustrator and Pattern Designer Jacqueline Colley.

Our conversation with Jacqueline Colley starts on the subject of job titles, specifically the challenge of 'owning' one. ‘It's funny but I struggled for ages with calling myself an illustrator,’ Jacqueline says. ‘It’s only really recently that I’ve started to feel really confident and happy about using it as my job title.'

Considering a recent illustration project for high street fashion brand Oasis and a Best Illustrator Award from Mollie Makes Magazine, her reluctance to describe herself as an illustrator seems surprising - why the reticence?

‘I think it stems from choosing Graphic Design as my degree. I chose it because I thought it was the most vocational option. But I responded to all the briefs with illustration - essentially I was doing illustration from day one, even though I was technically studying graphic design. So, for a while I didn’t feel justified using the term.’

‘Then, earlier this year I won Best Illustrator at the Mollie Makes Awards, which was awesome and a massive confidence boost - I thought, right I'm definitely going to own that job title now!’

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Jacqueline’s focus on illustration meant finding a job was initially difficult. ‘After I graduated I found myself going for graphic design jobs which I had little chance of getting because I’d sort of sidestepped the foundations of graphic design like typography and layout to concentrate on my drawing. It was a tough six months.’

Her luck changed when a friend, who was on traineeship at H&M, showed Jacqueline’s work to her boss, who loved it and took her on. There followed a year and a half working in H&M's textile design department, specialising in textile design for the kids range, working in both London and Stockholm.

A couple of years later, and a job at Oasis saw the beginning of the development of her distinctive style. ‘We were so lucky to have access to the Design Library - going there, and working from a such a range of design and pattern was an amazing education and really inspiring.’

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Time spent at the Design Library helped Jacqueline to begin to shape her own style, which proved to be a ‘massively evolutionary process’.

‘My own personal style took a while to develop,’ she continues. ‘It only started to crystallise after a trip to the Jardin Majorelle in Morocco. I was so inspired by the colours, the plants and foliage - I basically filled an entire sketchbook in one visit. It sort of helped me set the tone for my work.’

One of those sketches of a cactus and palm leaf became one of her first designs and started a distinctive collection of work, which celebrates botanicals, plants and the natural world.

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Setting up as a freelancer three years ago, Jacqueline now works from her home studio. ‘I’m slightly concerned I’m becoming a bit of a hermit,’ she laughs, ‘but I love working alone - I like the freedom to play around with ideas without feeling self-conscious.’

What does a typical day look like? ‘I definitely have work rituals,’ she says. ‘I always have to get ‘properly’ dressed - like I’m heading into the office. Once I’m ready I like to grind my own coffee, so I’ll do that. Once I’m caffeinated I’m ready to focus,’ she laughs, ‘I do the difficult stuff I don’t like - admin, invoices etc in the morning and more creative work in the afternoon. I love a podcast while I’m creating - I enjoy having someone talk at me.’

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Each project - large or small - starts with a digital moodboard. ‘I’ll put images on there, scan in stuff from my scrapbooks and refer back to it constantly for inspiration. I always have it open on the computer when I’m working - that’s something of a ritual as well!’  

Jacqueline’s time is divided between her own design work and client commissions. She continues to work on projects for Oasis - the most recent a perfect fit for her aesthetic - a collaboration between the company and London Zoo. ‘It was a brilliant project to work on. I got to spend a couple of days at the Zoo taking photographs and having access to their archive. It’s always exciting to see my work ‘walking around’ too - I recently spotted someone on a train platform wearing a one of my designs for Oasis. That was a very special moment - I was dying to say something but managed to keep quiet - I didn’t want to freak her out!’

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The range of her work suggests someone for whom ideas just flow - does inspiration come easily? No - I definitely get blocked, but I’ve tried to develop ways around that. If I get stuck I go to my collection of collage scrapbooks. I’ve always collected paper ephemera and have five or six sketchbooks which I’ve filled over time, so they represent different stages of my life and contain a really broad range of designs and styles.'

‘In a way, I've created my own reference books. I’ll get a few of them out and just scan in anything which catches my eye, and start to build a mood board from that. The end design might be completely unrelated to that, but it’s a great way to just try and get the process going.’

Botanicals feature heavily in her work - and are also having something of a moment in interior styling - how much does she follow trends? ‘It’s part of the job to be aware of trends. I try not to be influenced - chasing trends is a quick way to lose your own particular style. Plants have always featured in my work, even before they became a big trend - so I like to think I got in slightly ahead of the wave!’

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Jacqueline has just finished working on a limited edition screenprint for The Wallace Collection - due to go on sale in November. Is building up the collaboration side of her work a priority? ‘It’s always good to try and grow the number of clients, but I also want to do more screenprinting and to expand my own collection of illustrations and products.’

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Three years into life as a freelance illustrator, what are the best and most challenging parts of the work? ‘Managing the business side has been hard. Somehow you have to find a way to pay the bills, but always keep your own visual voice clear. But it’s worth it for the best bit; the freedom and time to create work I’m proud of. ’

Quickfire Questions...

Describe your work in three words: Maximalist, Colourful and Explorable

What are your making rituals? Lots of research and a mood board is essential

Tea or Coffee? Coffee!

Mountains or Sea? Seaside as I grew up on a tiny island

Night Owl or Early Bird? Neither, I love to sleep but if I had to choose early bird!

I wish someone had told me… That creative jobs are many and varied, especially in the UK, don't be scared of going to art school!

www.jacquelinecolley.co.uk
 

Photography: Jacqueline Colley

Recipe: Sweet Potato Boats with All the Toppings

Summer is fast feeling like a distant memory and we are definitely in autumn mode. One of the best things about this time of year is comfort food, so today Georgia Gold and Mirjam Schmidlin tell us how to whip up these super easy sweet potato boats perfect for a cosy evening in. This dish is gluten free, vegetarian and free of refined sugar - bonus! 

Sweet potato with topping recipe

 INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • 1 large sweet potato, halved
  • 6 slices hard goats cheese
  • 1 bag of rocket
  • 2 tbsp fresh pesto
  • 2 tbsp thyme beetroot dip (see below)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the beetroot dip:

  • 350g beetroot, cooked
  • 100g soft goats cheese
  • 150g almonds, roasted
  • 3 tbsp thyme, remove leaves from sprig
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • a good pinch of salt and pepper
Sweet potato with toppings recipe

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

2. Slice the sweet potato in half and place it on a pre-lined baking tray. Pop in the oven and cook for around 60 minutes until golden on top and cooked through. 

3. In the meantime, make the beetroot dip. Combine all of the ingredients into a high speed blender and mix on high until smooth. Season to taste adding extra chilli, salt or pepper. Set aside.

4. Once the sweet potato halves are golden and buttery soft on the inside, place three slices of  goats cheese on top. Put the tray back in the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes. 

5. Finally, place one half onto a plate and dollop a good amount of pesto on top, followed by the beetroot dip. Generously sprinkle over some rocket and a drizzle of good quality olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and repeat with the remaining sweet potato. 

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Recipe development:  Mirjam Schmidlin / Photography: Georgia Gold