Styling the seasons October

October is such an rich month for foraging free bits from nature, so I decided to take part in the ‘Styling the Seasons’ challenge organised by Charlotte of Lotts and Lots (who ran a fabulous workshop at my Crafternoon last year) and Katy from Apartment Apothecary. You can add glittering conkers to the list of things I may never have done if I’d never had a blog / Instagram / *insert here*, but really, who knows . I like them a great deal. (Also, blackboard paint + conkers.)

You can spots lots of other autumnal delights on Instagram by following the hashtag #stylingtheseasons.

Sweet dreams banner

Papermash has these sweet dream banners back in stock! I’d moved on in life… until I kept seeing how good it looks in this bedroom. If you’re not following her already, Kate Oliver (@kateoliver) has the most fabulous Instagram feed, featuring her three beautiful sons, and their lovely outdoorsy Australian background. This room looks full of so much fun and action! I feel like playing a game of spot the difference, as she often makes subtle changes to the room. I especially love the pillowcases. Which is your favourite thing in the room?

sweet dreams banner

sweet dreams banner2

sweet dreams banner3

An award nomination + smart Instagram feeds

I just found out, late in the day (voting closes soon), that I’ve been nominated for best organisation blog in the Amara Interior Blog Awards – exciting! If you’d like to, you can vote for me here. I don’t really think of myself as a company blogger, as I’ve had a blog for such a long time (when I had my old blog Tea for Joy) but Papermash ideas come pretty easily. There will be more personal posts soon.

It made me think of some brand / designer Instagrammers who I think are really smart at promoting their brand through Instagram, because their whole lives (or what we see!) encompass their brand.

If you ever have the chance to visit one of Roddy and Ginger’s Open Studios in SE London, you really should take the opportunity, as her home is stunning (her studio is in the basement) and totally consistent with the Midcentury vibe of her products. I totally aspire to Virginia’s lifestyle, as she has the most amazing allotment, loves to cook, and is always scouring car boot sales for her #propstore (her house is also used for location shoots.) You can follow her @roddyandginger.

Belle and Bunty is a brand I have admired for a long time (I once took a brilliant course on how to set up a fashion label, run by one of their Directors - I still have that idea on the back burner.) I love that their Instagram feed totally embodies the high-end fashionista lifestyle (because, of course, they have great personal style), without showing their own fashion line in every photo, but that the items they wear accessorize and compliment their own brand. You can follow Alice and Hannah’s pretty, girly feed @belleandbunty.

Clare Nicolson has her own shop selling prints and cushions, but also works as a stylist, and I’m sure she has picked up styling work on the back of her brilliant Instagram feed. Her feed is so colourful and imaginative. Follow her @clarenicolson.

Are there any Instagram feeds you like from larger brands? Please share. And if you can, please pop over and vote for me in the blog awards.

Rifle Paper Co 2015 calendars

Papermash was one of the first UK stockists of Rifle Paper Co, and every year I happily select a few of their beautiful calendars to stock in my shop. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of their calendars which don’t have the day of the week on them, so I’ve selected the designs which do, the 2015 Travel the World Calendar, and the 2015 Les Fleurs calendar. I love the challenge of thinking of alternative uses for their pages once the month is over, especially the travel calendar. Hopefully I’ll put together a blog post at some point, but until then, do you remember how we framed the pages, and even used the back of the calendar as gift tags?

Rifle Paper Co 2015 Travel CalendarEvery year I have an early bird discount – this year the special price is available until the end of October. You can buy your Rifle Travel Calendar here and the Rifle Les Fleurs calendar here. If I run out before the end of the month {have sold around half so far} I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to get them back in stock before the early bird price expires, so buy one soon if you don’t want to miss out. I have had a few emails from customers desperate to buy a calendar not shown here, so feel free to contact me and I might be able to place a special order if there is enough demand. Customers really want these calendars – the queries start as early as August!

Rifle Paper Co 2015 Les Fleurs Calendar

Autumn gift wrapping ideas

Autumn is my favourite season, so I was excited to try out some autumn-themed wrapping.

These are a few ideas using these acorn and leaf stamps, brown ink, and gold bakers twine.

In this first one, I plaited some twine together, and added this gold safety pin and neon pink twine.

I used watercolours to paint a background with varying shades of reds, oranges and greens, then used the leaf stamp and painstakingly cut round these little leaves with my scalpel.

I went on a little excursion to the common to search out some leaves and decorated them with washi tape and little bulldog clips.

Which is your favourite?

Three ways with bulldog clips

I really love these gold numbered bulldog clips, newish to my shop, which come in two different sizes, numbered 1-5, but for which I’ve found a few uses apart from clipping my filing together.

{Little tin is one of my favourite ever car boot sale finds}

1. Hanging prints on the wall – I’m so slow at getting around to framing prints, and reluctant to spend the money, especially when most of my collection is very inexpensive {I buy most of my art on Etsy, the top two are by Leah Duncan and What Katie Does}. So, I love this easy, relaxed display – I just tacked in some nails from picture hooks.

2. An easy way to seal a gift {gold diamond bags and gold bakers twine from here.}

3. A picture display {thanks to @scribbleyoga on Instagram for the suggestion.} This slightly upsets me because I can’t look at the numbers upside down, so I had to turn it around. You {and I} may get over that in time. {Also shown; mini milk bottle, and Paris postcards.} NOTE: There’s an extra 20% off our remaining sale items this week with code SALE.

Do you have any other ideas?

One for the little guy

I have a young nephew who likes to make things and expects that I have a full repertoire of crafts I can conjure up with no planning and no materials. On one of these (exhausted) occasions I directed him to Pinterest to find something he’s interested in. He is an enthusiastic washi tape fan, so I thought I’d send him some tapes from my sample box for his ‘back to school’ collection.

His Pinterest passion (somewhat of a disappointment to me) inspired me to  turn this…

Into this…

I hope he likes it! Admittedly, I can’t muster up much enthusiasm for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles myself, but there are tons of fantastic (and very easy) party ideas on this theme on Pinterest.

I used red striped paper bags and the red and green washi tape from this set. Off to find some flowers for my next project – normal service will resume shortly.

Mini milk bottles and copper snail tape

A couple of photos of scrappy weeds from my mantlepiece, a week or so worse for wear. I went to look for more this morning but they’re all gone.

I decorated a mini milk bottle with copper slug tape, it wasn’t easy to get a smooth finish {it’s similar to aluminium foil} so next time I will use glitter tape, but l like it anyway. Be warned, I have many ideas for how to use mini milk bottles – you’ll see a lot more of them soon.

PS Thanks for all the encouraging comments on my last post.

Five years and some things I’ve learned

This month I celebrated my 5 year anniversary at Papermash, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the last five years.

Pink honeycombs

{Photo: Natalie Dinham / Stylist: Charlotte Love – 4 year anniversary!}

  • It’s very difficult to grow a business unless you have someone else paying your domestic bills – when I’ve seen other businesses grow quickly, I’m sure there is a partner who is paying the mortgage. You need to reinvest all the time. For years.
  • I think it’s hard to make much money unless you’re selling higher-priced items – I met someone who just started a clothing brand a few months ago and he told me it’s doing really well. Everything costs over £100, but then the start-up costs are huge. I spent around £1,500 to launch my shop.
  • It’s hard to get people to part with their cash in general and it’s hard to succeed in retail unless you’re selling things people are looking for. Social media is really important, but not as important as SEO {in my opinion at least, if you’re an independent designer it might be different.} Sometimes when I meet people who tell me they really love my shop, I’ll have a sneaky look and they won’t ever have bought anything from me.
  • I think consumers are more likely to spend money on clothes and beauty than homeware and it has a higher perceived value. I’ve worked with lots of high-earners with disposable income and they wouldn’t dream of spending £65 on a cushion or a fancy basket, but £65 on shoes – no problem.
  • Getting press for your brand isn’t that difficult if you have nice things and good photographs. Making actual sales from the press you get is more difficult. There really are only a few magazines which will make a difference.

 {Photos by Michelle Young / from various crafternoons}

  • I love working for myself. For me, I have a skillset which works well with a small business and have lots of ideas {I love doing the finances, marketing and styling, for example}, but ultimately I’m running this business for lifestyle reasons. I’m not at all hard on myself if I make mistakes.

  • Entrepreneurship can be overrated. The opportunities, stimulation and security of a full-time, permanent, professional job can be just as rewarding as working for yourself. I’ve had various contract jobs as well as running my business over the years and having a routine and an interesting job with reliable, intelligent and kind colleagues has been invaluable. I just finished a 9 month role and our 20 year old intern was so good for my emotional health because she made me laugh so hard every single day. This is a great podcast I listened to recently at Jess Lively on Loving a 9-5 job. The lack of professionalism with people I have dealt with outside of a corporate environment has sometimes been surprising. You can almost work on a business, work full-time, and achieve a lot, as the old adage of asking a busy person to do something is totally true. I will probably go back to work full-time again {or if you have a part-time job for me, let me know!}
  • If you’re me, you can’t run a business, work full-time, have a social life, do any exercise, have food in the fridge, generally look after yourself and your property, and grow the business all at the same time. {If you come to my sample sale this Friday, you will see my flat is sort of falling apart.}
  • Customers sometimes pull stunts you know they wouldn’t try at John Lewis.
  • It’s much harder now than when I started 5 years ago, because there is so much competition. I meet someone at least once a month who is opening an online shop. A friend told me she met someone recently who has lost £250,000 over the last 5 years with her online children’s clothing shop. I wouldn’t start an online shop if I was setting up a business now.
  • Not all of these businesses can be making money {and I look up their accounts to check}. One of my French suppliers told me that in France, retailers respect the price, and don’t discount their prices beyond the standard retail mark-up. I prefer to work with suppliers who set a minimum retail price. I’ve discontinued some items because there are shops who are selling the same item at only 40 pence more than the cost price {and I know they use the same supplier.} Although I’m aware of the concept of a loss leader, this is ridiculous.

  • Collaboration is a good thing if the brands fit. Soon, I’m hoping to go and work a few days a week at a shared workspace, and I often meet fellow bloggers with a shared aesthetic. If you have any ideas for an event or collaboration, feel free to get in touch!

If you have persevered to the end of this post {sorry, got on a roll} and have anything to add to any of the points above, I’d love to hear it in the comments! There was also an interesting episode of You and Yours today on being self-employed.

A plant family

I’ve just returned from a relaxing, reviving and inspiring week away at Camber Sands, with early morning walks on the beach, spectacular sunsets, multitudes of stars in the clear skies, and a final finale of a midnight bonfire. Summer in England.

I’m glad to see my little plant family are still alive and well. A mid-afternoon slump often results in a visit to a garden centre. Some of these are from a particularly wild Friday night at Homebase recently. I added some glitter to the mix and it really was crazy.

Last week I received a surprise in the post, a copy of The Plant from my brother. This issue is full of essays from around the world, about plants such as the spider plant, plant-based art, the gardens of Versailles, vegetation in Mexico City, biodynamic growing in Hereford – and lots more. It has a grainy, slightly 1970s feel, and I’m enjoying it very much.