91 is reading... Plant-based beauty

I’ve been feeling more and more drawn to this kind of non-fiction book recently. Those that offer knowledge and advice for applying a little bit of self care to your life, while at the same time creating a lifestyle that is kinder to the planet - something many of us have being focusing our attention on.

Plant based Beauty by Jess Arnaudin - book review on 91 Magazine

Plant-based Beauty by Jess Arnaudin kinda does what it says on the tin. It is a guide to converting your beauty routine to an all natural one, cutting out all those ingredients that are in many beauty products that we can barely even read, let alone know what it is. Jess’ story is an interesting one - from working in a popular spa on Fifth Avenue in NYC, to spending a month living on an organic farm to becoming a natural skincare therapist and writing this book.

Plant-based Beauty book

Jess makes it all sound so simple and straight-forward and there is a sense of realisation that we’ve been making things so complicated for ourselves with so many different lotions and potions. The book isn’t just a collection of recipes though, it goes in to the philosophy behind it and reminds us that our skin needs taking care of from the inside out; it’s often what we put in to our bodies that causes our skin distress. She has included recipes for some ‘beauty beverages’ to help improve our gut health, including cashew milk, turmeric latte and a cucumber lime refresher with chia seeds.

Plant based Beauty by Jess Arnaudin - book review on 91 Magazine
Plant based Beauty by Jess Arnaudin - book review on 91 Magazine

There is plenty of practical information on how to build your collection of ingredients to start making your own oils, masks, exfoliators and bath soaks, and what I particularly love is that nothing is hugely complicated. Many of the ingredients are things you may already have in the kitchen cupboard and buy regularly. For example, one of the recipes for a face mask simply involves mushing up some strawberries and mixing with yoghurt! What could be simpler?! Just don’t put it on when you are feeling hungry!

Plant based Beauty by Jess Arnaudin - book review on 91 Magazine
Plant based Beauty by Jess Arnaudin - book review on 91 Magazine

We all know that plants are the way forward in terms of our diet and it’s clear that natural remedies are best for our skin and general health too - so this book is a little gem to get you started on your toxin-free journey. What’s more, by making your own products you will be cutting down on waste in your bathroom too. What’s not to like?!

Get your copy of Plant-based Beauty

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Slow North

An entrepreneurial spirit and a creative passion set Michelle and Jonathan Simmons on the road to opening Slow North, an artisan candle making business and lifestyle store. We talk to Michelle to find out how their store, in Austin, Texas, and their flourishing online business took shape.


Hi Michelle! How would you sum up your business, Slow North? 

Slow North is a naturally-inclined lifestyle brand that offers home goods and body care products, all with a focus on sustainability and intentional ingredients. Our retail store hosts creative workshops and stocks handcrafted and independently designed goods from women around the world. 

Who are the people behind your business?

I’m 100 per cent focused on the day-to-day operations, and my husband and co-founder of Slow North, Jon,  still works full-time for another company, so his time dedicated to Slow North is more limited, but he helps out a lot with strategy, design, web development, and all things ‘tech support’.  Besides the two of us, we have an amazing team of 11 people who help keep things running behind the scenes! 

 What inspired you to set up Slow North, and how did you develop it?

I was home on maternity leave for three months with my first son and wanted to start a side hustle. I’ve always been entrepreneurial and love trying out different business ideas. We came up with the idea of essential oil soy candles because we were having trouble finding a clean-burning candle we felt good about using in our home. We started working directly with candle manufacturers around the country to develop our collection, but quickly discovered we could make them better ourselves. What started as a hands-off business idea evolved into making candles from scratch in our kitchen and our garage! 

When did you set up the business, and what did you do previously?

I started selling our candles in the fall of 2015 at local pop-up markets on the weekends. I was still working as a territory sales manager for a kitchen cabinet company. I studied business management with a concentration in small business and entrepreneurship in college, but there is no education as valuable as learning as you go! After college, I worked a variety of outside sales jobs, mostly in the new construction industry selling kitchen cabinets to builders, so owning Slow North has been a big pivot for me. Jon is a user experience designer, and his eye for design is so valuable as we design new products. 

Where does the name come from?

Our name is centred around the ‘slow living’ ethos - our products are made by hand using natural ingredients. The ‘north’ portion of the name refers to wayfinding our way through life, using ‘north’ as a directionally positive guide. 

Do you have any creative pastimes, hobbies or other passions?

I’ve been a photographer for over 15 years, and have dabbled with other things like jewellery making and weaving. Right now, we have two little boys under the age of five, so they take up most of any free time we have! 


How did you create your space?

Our Slow North shop came about on a whim. I taught a candle making workshop on location in another local shop’s space and it started me thinking about having our own space to host workshops and sell our goods, since candles are a pretty tough sell online where you can’t actually smell them. We were also outgrowing our backyard candle studio at this point, and I decided to drive around looking for retail spaces. Originally, we agreed to just sublet the front portion of this larger commercial space so we’d have the windows. Slowly, the other tenants moved out and after a few landlord mishaps we ended up taking over the entire unit.

My goal for the aesthetic of the shop has always been a mix of natural wood, green/plants and white. We have amazing natural lighting from the wall of windows up front, so our pothos growing on the wall loves it! It took a little imagination to visualise where we are today, because when we signed the lease it had neon orange and charcoal coloured walls!

How are your candles made?

They are all made in-house, in our open kitchen-style storefront. We melt soy wax flakes, add a little coconut oil and carefully stir our custom essential oil blends into the pitchers. Once they have cooled we hand-pour the wax into six candle vessels. Our candles are made in small batches to ensure the quality of every one.

How do you source products to sit alongside Slow North’s?

I know about 50 per cent of the vendors we carry in the shop personally, from working alongside them at various artisan markets around the country. I love having that personal connection with the artists and fellow business-owners. The other vendors have either contacted us directly or we have found them online somehow. I’m the buyer for our shop, so I think that helps keep the aesthetic of goods we source from other makers similar to our own house brand products.

When did you discover your passion for what you do?

I first discovered there might be a bigger future for Slow North when we were accepted as a vendor at our first Renegade Craft Fair. It’s a well-recognised, highly-curated artisan fair that travels around the world, and I felt so validated after we were accepted through the jury process back in 2016. When you’re participating in artisan markets of that calibre, it’s impossible not to feel inspired and driven to be a bigger part of that community. It was the turning point for us, and at that point I made the decision to resign from my full-time sales job and focus wholly on Slow North. 

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

It’s the best job I’ve ever had! I love creating a space where we can support our own brand along with the creative works of over 100+ other female artists and makers around the world. The #1 challenge for any business owner just starting up is financial, because you’re usually the last person to get paid. It takes a few years to figure out if what you’re doing is going to work, and in the meantime it can be stressful. 


What have been your business highlights so far?

Slow North has partnered with large retail chains like Anthropologie and Soft Surroundings, which is amazing! I’m always shocked that large companies like those would even know we existed! These have been completely organic partnerships where we get a random email one day from their buyer saying she’s interested in our line. Incredible! 

 What does a working day look like for you?

We take our sons to daycare (usually walking them) in the morning around 8am, then come home and get ready to leave for work. Most days, I go into the shop around 9 or 10, but I’m starting to work from home on Mondays to focus on strategy and higher-level planning undistracted. When I do work at the shop, I’ll spend time at my desk in the stockroom. I will say this about owning your own business: every day is new and different!  Sometimes I’m developing new products; sometimes I’m troubleshooting defective candle wicks; sometimes I’m planning photoshoots; sometimes I’m categorising expenses for our bookkeeper. My days usually end at the shop around 4:30 or 5pm, when I leave to pick up the kids, and then I’ll hop on my laptop again in the evening after they are in bed for a bit, to check-in or plan for the next day. 


How has your business evolved since you began?

Our business model is so different today from what it was in 2015! Our original plans of working with a candle manufacturer quickly changed, and I decided to make the candles myself. From a studio in our detached garage the business grew, and I was soon hiring a few part-time assistants to help me with production. By 2017, we were subletting a commercial space to open a retail shop/candle studio and hosting workshops - then in 2018, we added a soft goods line to our house brand. We’ve also expanded sewing production and our team into the entire commercial space with, very little room to wiggle! 

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

Our physical shop and the online store work so well in tandem to create brand awareness for us. The only time it gets a little tricky is if an online order comes in during the day for the last item of something we have in stock. We monitor our online orders throughout the day so we don’t accidentally oversell something in-person! 

How do you approach marketing and PR?

Our marketing and PR have been extremely organic. We’ve been fortunate enough to be featured by Martha Stewart Living, the Magnolia Journal, Brit + Co and many others, without any formal outreach campaigns. This year, we are working with a consultant to help us evolve our brand’s visual guide, tone and voice - but it honestly hasn’t been one of the focuses for us these past four years. 


What are your favourite products, makers or bestsellers?

Our best-selling Slow North product is our Eucalyptus & Lavender candle, followed by our rose quartz facial rollers. One of our best-selling makers is Elizabeth Crandall’s Vibe jewellery line. She creates gorgeous, adjustable silk necklaces adorned with gemstones - each having their own meaning. We restock her necklaces monthly. 

Any tips to share with aspiring independent store owners?

I’d recommend having a great deal of cash reserves, because it takes a while to gain traction as a new shop. We are a little different in that we use our space to manufacture the goods we sell through our wholesale channel, as well as sell goods to our retail customers. If we were 100 per cent retail, it would be even more of a struggle to ride out the slower seasons. We’ve definitely had our fair share of $0 days in the first year. I’d also pay more to be in a heavy foot-traffic area because the customers who pop in just walking by have been really beneficial for our business. We are located between a coffee shop and a restaurant, and share a parking lot with a movie theatre! 

SlownorthMixer-3 - credit Chelsea Francis.jpg

What does the next 6 months hold for you?

We are weeks away from launching our new linen spray collection! We will be rolling them out in four scents - Sweet Clementine, Wanderlust, Orange & Clove and Lavender & Mint. They will be packaged in cobalt blue bottles with white fine-mist sprayers to match our essential oil diffuser blends. We are so excited about them! After that, we will be launching a small apparel collection screen-printed by our neighbours here in Austin. 

Find Slow North online at www.slownorth.com and on Instagram.

2700 W. Anderson Lane , Suite 410, Austin, Texas 78757

Photography by Armin Panjvani & Chelsea Francis

12 reasons to attend our Seek Inspire Create event this November!

We are thrilled to share the news that we are holding our third Seek Inspire Create day on the 4th November, this time in the beautiful market town of Frome, Somerset.

If you haven’t heard about these events, basically it is a full day of wonderful inspiration where we basically bring 91 Magazine to life. All those gorgeous independent shops you see on our blog or in the magazine? - you get to visit them in person! Those creative business features you read about how to improve your small business? - you get to hear some real life experts and ask questions! And those great crafty projects you see in the beautiful homes and studios we feature? - you get to make your own!

We will visit 3 gorgeous independent stores to meet the owners & shop -  Kobi & Teal ,  Frome Hardware  and  Resident

We will visit 3 gorgeous independent stores to meet the owners & shop - Kobi & Teal, Frome Hardware and Resident

We will enjoy a delicious lunch at  Eight Stony Street

We will enjoy a delicious lunch at Eight Stony Street

We will hear inspirational talks from  Fiona Barrows  and  Lizzie Jones  at  Fromie Gifts

We will hear inspirational talks from Fiona Barrows and Lizzie Jones at Fromie Gifts

We will make macrame plant holders with Lula amongst the greenery at her pop up  Pilea Plant Shop .

We will make macrame plant holders with Lula amongst the greenery at her pop up Pilea Plant Shop.

If you are still not convinced, then read on for 12 reasons why we think coming along to Seek Inspire Create in Frome will add value to your life and work….

  1. Frome is a wonderful town - one of my favourites. It is jam packed with gorgeous independent businesses and a real sense of creative community. Just being there will make you feel inspired.

  2. How often do you invest in yourself? Do you ever really give yourself a day away from work and family to indulge in things you enjoy? It’s super important to nurture ourselves - taking time out to spend time with like-minded people and get creatively inspired.

  3. You can make a trip of it and come to Frome the day before for the Frome Independent Market. It is a truly wonderful day out, shopping directly from independent makers and soaking up that creative energy. We will be going for a few beverages that evening, so you can come and hang out with us too!

  4. You may well make some meaningful connections with other attendees or creatives involved in the day that could led to exciting opportunities afterwards. Real life relationships are SO important these days & usually so much more beneficial than online ones.

  5. Hearing the stories of the independent shopkeepers we meet adds a whole other level to the shopping experience. It’s a reminder of how important it is to support our small businesses - they bring so much to our towns and cities and are truly passionate about what they do.

  6. You will get exclusive discounts on the day in the beautiful shops - so why not treat yourself!?

  7. Sitting down for lunch with a group of strangers (if you come on your own) can be daunting, but I can honestly tell you that all of our previous events have been full of like-minded chatter, where the attendees have bonded over business, social media and life in general. You may even make some new friends!

  8. You will have a gorgeous goodie bag to rummage through at the end of the day! As well as a copy of the latest 91 Magazine, they are always filled with lovely goodies - previously we’ve had succulents, candles, prints, beauty products - all supplied by the lovely indie brands.

  9. The speakers we have lined up are super inspirational and whether you are running a business already or thinking of starting, you will gain so much usual information to help you along the way. At previous events, even those who aren’t running a business say they felt hugely inspired by the talks.

  10. We’ve had wonderful feedback from previous attendees, who have commented on what great value for money the day was and how much they got from it. One lady said: "I wanted to just say how much I enjoyed Monday. It was a wonderful day. A truly lovely group of like minded people and the day seemed to flow from one gorgeous venue to another. I came away so excited and positive, thinking that anything might be possible if you open yourself up to it. It really was an inspiring day.⁣ I’m so glad I came and do hope to be part of any future such days."⁣

  11. There are loads of opportunities for great content for your social media feeds or blogs!

  12. You might just learn something about yourself or discover how to make the change you need in your life or work. You can’t put a value on developing yourself as a human!

We absolutely love to meet our readers in person. The fact that our team love creating 91 Magazine and our readers love reading it already means that we have lots in common! As the organiser of the event it can be stressful as we strive to make sure it is the perfect day for everyone, but I can whole-heartedly say that our two previous events have brought me so much personal enjoyment too and I have went home feeling tremendously inspired and uplifted. I truly hope those that come along will feel the same.

91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Frome, November 2019

You can see more photos and read about our last two events below:

Lewes in February

Hastings in June

Early bird tickets are currently available for the Frome event - but only until 11pm on Friday 13th Sept. Click here for the full details and to bag your ticket. We can’t wait to meet you! :)

Meet the maker: bookhou

Artists Arounna Khounnoraj and John Booth founded multidisciplinary studio bookhou in 2002 to showcase their individual and collaborative projects. Producing work with an emphasis on natural handmade materials and small production, in 2008 the couple opened their bricks and mortar shop in Toronto, and run an online store, too. We talk to Arounna to discover more about bookhou’s work…

rug hooking book.jpg

How would you describe bookhou, in a nutshell?

bookhou is as a multidisciplinary studio making a variety of decorative items such as furniture, fabric bags and home items with an emphasis on handmade.

arounna and piper hires.jpg

What inspired the idea of setting up your business?

John and I were always makers and designers and although there were differences in our chosen materials and approaches, it also seemed that our work really complimented each other. So, from the onset, we knew that bookhou would be a place to develop our individual work but also contribute and combine our ideas in a number of collaborative projects. Because we both have such a diverse interest in art and design we purposely worked with a variety of materials and processes from fabric, paper, wood, to anything else that came our way. Eventually, as we gained more of an audience for our work some things developed further, but still we try to keep working in a variety of directions.

hooking rugs frame.jpg

What did you both do before setting up bookhou?

We both have degrees in fine art. John also has a degree in architecture. We met while working in education - I was teaching at universities when we began our studio work together and eventually decided to run our business full-time.

mini bucket bags.jpg

How would you describe your style?

Although I work in both abstract and figurative ways I think my style is simple and minimal, with an emphasis on natural materials.


What is the ethos behind bookhou?

We want to make utilitarian objects that reflect both the art and design aspects of our backgrounds. No matter how simple the idea, we always try to emphasise the beauty of the materials we use and the importance of form, pattern and structure. And because we believe in thinking with our hands we've always made virtually everything in-house at our Toronto studio. That allows us to keep our connection with our work in all ways and lets our projects cross-pollinate in ways that would otherwise be difficult to predict.

PILLOW - sumie.jpg

Describe your work process…

I spend portions of the day doing a number of different things - production work, designing new items, painting botanical samples that might become pattern elements, etc. I also like to keep busy doing a number of projects at the same time with different materials and methods, sometimes painting, sometimes sewing, weaving or punching. But it never seems that I'm doing different things - they all contribute and inform each other. Ultimately, my work process is very intuitive.  While I do sketch ideas, I don't really plan things out ahead of time in a traditional way. I use my discoveries to help build a final product.

shop vibes jan. 16.jpg

What sort of space do you work in?

We live and work in a Victorian storefront which we have renovated several times to suit the needs of work - both business and personal- and family life. We wanted to have a collection of spaces where we could do anything we wanted - a showroom in the front, a busy production area for sewing, cutting, printing and shipping, as well as more private studio spaces for quiet work and for wood working. Because we see our work as interconnected and we wanted our kids to grow up in a working studio that they could use as well, our building grew into a place of zones all connected to each other.

knit picks swifter.jpg

Tell us about your neighbourhood…

We are located in downtown Toronto on a relatively quiet stretch of Dundas Street West, filled with mom and pop shops, restaurants and loads of coffee. The best part of our location is that it’s situated in the middle of a number of great neighbourhoods - Trinity Bellwoods Park, Kensington market and Chinatown, as well as both College Street to the north and Queen to the south. We have a car, but rarely use it because we walk everywhere. It's a pretty diverse neighbourhood so it has a mix of everything and everybody. It's a great place to live and work.

patch minis finished.jpg

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

I’d say yes to both. My background is in fine arts, majoring in sculpture and ceramics, but a lot of the textile work that I do is in many ways self-taught. I love collecting new techniques and trying new things, which I happily dive into, figuring it out with a hands-on approach.  I think it’s an advantage for me to work this way because it allows me to work both correctly and incorrectly - which is a positive when I can incorporate my own way of thinking into a technique or material.

patchwork needlebook.jpg

Has your work evolved since you began?

I feel that my work has similarities to what I've done in the past - similar materials and interest in botanical elements - but I think I've developed from presenting them as singular motifs and images into more complex patterns. Learning about patterns has been a long process, and establishing a balance between a repetition of form that is both structured and organic is key to my work. One consistent element for that balance is that I continue to draw everything by hand and arrange elements intuitively. And, of course, another difference over time is that I feel things have become more refined.

patch progress june 20 .jpg

 How do you balance producing handmade works, with the online world?

The online world can be demanding, and balancing that demand with the concept of handmade, small production is sometimes difficult, if not impossible. But since I can only produce so much of most items, it forces you to find ways to increase production, and keep the work fresh and accessible while still keeping a connection and quality to your work. But challenges aside, the relationship between handmade and online is completely interconnected, and I’ve found ways to use social media as a way to introduce new ideas and groups of work in numbers that are manageable. I can gauge how I should move forward on a piece by incorporating the response for a product into the process.  Social media also allows me to show my work process as part of a larger narrative that our customers enjoy.

shopvibes may 20.jpg

How important is the online community to your work?

I think it’s very valuable, and I feel that it has helped elevate our business in so many ways - the most obvious being connections to customers. But being connected to other makers, sharing ideas, and promoting each other’s work lets you build a network that goes well beyond just marketing - it reminds you that you are sharing with actual people, places and cultures. 

punch needle pouch.jpg

Where do you find creative inspiration?

From my surroundings - it can be a plant that catches my attention while walking in the neighbourhood, the texture of an old wall, or a shadow cast on the ground.  We collect lots of little botanical samples and love the accidental marks that come along with any process. Inspiration is all around me and the key is to be able to interpret what I see.

studio vibes aug 9.jpg

What are the highs and lows of working an independent maker?

I so enjoy working as an independent maker. The best thing is that I have full control of what I'm doing. I decide what I want to pursue based solely on what I find interesting, without concern for things like trends. In terms of production, the challenge I have is trying to make enough work to keep up with demand and keep the work interesting for myself but also manageable in scale. Typically, I rotate patterns that are available or play around with new combinations or bag designs. But in the end, I can present my work with a consistent theme and aesthetic that I feel comfortable with and that I can honestly say comes from my hands. 

sm storage blocks.jpg

Which pieces do you most enjoy making?

I really enjoy drawing and embroidery, both of which I find closely related. Not only do they let me explore the motifs and compositions that I enjoy in a very intimate way, but I think they help me to slow down and the slower task makes it very meditative.

studio vibes nov. 19.jpg

How did you first discover your love for what you do?

I have always been a maker and knew at a young age that I would spend my life making. I was part of a family of immigrants that made many of the things we needed - clothing, decorative things, furniture, and of course food. Making those things as a child, I think made me appreciate processes such as the slow accumulation of stitches that show fibre work as an art, as well as craft. Going off to art school and then opening a craft studio was really the only I thing I could do.

water colour for punch needle.jpg

Do you have creative pastimes or hobbies?

I enjoy things I can do with my family like going for after dinner walks, and movie nights at home - as long as I can embroider while I watch!

Describe your working day…

I start the day checking emails and looking at orders, to see what needs to be fulfilled and made. Depending on the day, there is usually a production schedule to keep items in stock and contact suppliers for materials we use. Equally important work every day includes photographing projects and posts for Instagram. If I have a little time, I try to spend a while in a quiet space to work on some long term projects, such as punch needle work, or doing a few lines of weaving.


How do you approach marketing and PR?

We have never paid for advertising, but rather let our social media do the work of presenting our goods, workshop and events. It’s a lot of work keeping up with social media, and I place a lot of importance on every detail of a photograph or post and methods of presentation. But the benefits of social media are so important.


What have been your working highlights so far?

The simple answer is being able to make a living selling goods I make. More specifically, I think seeing everything come together after so much work and effort with my first book this last spring has been big. And seeing how it has been received has been amazing.


Where do you sell your work?

Early on we did many shows and markets as we could with a few vendors selling our goods in different cities. But now, it's almost entirely retail, either from our brick and mortar shop or online store.

What do the next six months hold for you?

The most recent thing for me is the release of my book exploring punch needle. It’s being published in a number of languages, and I have a pretty busy travel schedule teaching punch needle workshops.

shop vibes may 5.jpg

Any guidance for makers just starting out?

Work hard and don't focus on what others are doing. Go at your own pace and believe in yourself.

Quick-Fire questions: 

Describe your work in three words? 

Handmade, minimal, natural

Tea or coffee?


Mountains or sea?


Night owl or early bird?

Night owl

I wish someone had told me...

To not worry about making work that won't work out - make mistakes, lots of them.

Find bookhou at 798 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario, and online via their website and Instagram.

Sneak peek at Volume 8

We are only a month away from our brand new issue landing and as always we can’t wait to share it with you! You can now pre-order your copy or you can of course subscribe which means you will receive the next two copies (Vol. 8 & Vol. 9) and it works out cheaper, plus you don’t have to think about it, they will just arrive! (we will also send you a reminder when your subscription runs out & it’s time to resubscribe.)

So, what’s Volume 8 all about? As always, our pages are filled with beautiful creative spaces that will not fail to inspire. Our theme for this issue covers a few interconnected topics - heritage, roots and global style. We were considering how our upbringing, culture, traditions and the world around us influence us in our homes, our lives and work and how buildings, objects and even food, can tell a story about the past.

Cover photography:  Kasia Fiszer

Cover photography: Kasia Fiszer

We visit homes and creative spaces that are rich in history, meet creatives whose culture has inspired their work and style as well as those who strive to keep tradition and craftsmanship alive. We inspire your interiors with looks that take inspiration from around the world, reminding us of the wonderfully diverse planet we live on and that, amongst all the doom and gloom we are faced with, it is worth fighting for and protecting any way we can.

I’ve loved putting this issue together with my fabulous team and talented contributors and I do hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we have loved creating it. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the gorgeous photography…

Photo:  Maria Bell

Photo: Maria Bell

Photo:  Safia Shakarchi  / Styling:  Sally Meier

Photo: Safia Shakarchi / Styling: Sally Meier

Photo:  Celeste Noche
Photo:  Kasia Fiszer

So, don’t delay folks, get your pre-order in now or why not subscribe so you know the first issue of 2020 will also arrive without even thinking about it!

How To Build A Creative Community

Whether you’re a designer, crafter, maker or painter – freelancing or running your own brand can often be a lonely business. To combat the isolation which solo-makers can feel, it is essential to build your own network of supportive, likeminded creatives.

Creative communities come in all shapes and sizes and offer all sorts of benefits; from practical advice and skill-sharing to emotional support. Even the most independent of makers can’t turn their aspirations into reality on their own - creatives need creatives.

But just how do you go about building your own network? 91 contributor Greg McIndoe caught up with a few small business owners to hear about their experiences growing and sustaining a creative community… 

building a creative community
an art project to help build a creative community

Libby Walker

Illustrator and maker Libby Walker graduated with a degree in Illustration from Edinburgh College of Art in 2009. Having spent years working her way up through different markets and  studio spaces, last summer Libby opened the doors to her very own shop in the south side of Glasgow. If you pop in to Libby’s bright yellow store you’ll find a whole host of totes, prints, mugs and cushions on sale as well as the artist herself, beavering away on her next colourful creation.

The shop is currently displaying an exhibition of new works by Libby inspired by her retail neighbours. The series depicts many businesses local to her - including beer shops, salons and queer book shops - along with the people who run them. Libby created the series to highlight the fact that many small businesses are run by just one person. Knowing herself how much work and risk is involved in launching your own business, the project commends her fellow shop owners for their brave business moves and thanks them for shaping the local community.

The beautiful illustrations are going to be edited into a single print which will be sold by Libby both online and in her physical store. The original paintings however will be gifted to the people who inspired them. In return, Libby has been promised beer, haircuts, plants, vintage treats and – most importantly - a tribe of new friends. This project is a perfect example of how creativity can be used to connect with people and immerse yourself within a community.


Frome Independent Market
Frome Independent Market

The Frome Independent

The Frome Independent market was launched in 2009 by a local entrepreneur with the aim of bringing footfall to the independent shops of Frome’s picturesque cobbled streets. Over the past decade, the non-profit business has grown from working with just a handful of sellers to over 200 and now welcomes around 80,000 visitors a year. Once a month, a close-knit community of sellers, including contemporary crafters, homeware designers and ethical clothing and jewellery brands, assemble on the streets of Frome to flog their latest wares.

Frome Independent strives to be ‘more than a market’ and a key part of this effort has been encouraging makers and craftspeople to form their own ‘community with benefits’ which extended beyond market days. The organisers have witnessed countless friendships between traders form and strengthen as a result of trading alongside one another at the market. The strength of this community has been proven by many of Frome’s traders going on to open their own shops in the local area.

Creatives who trade at the market have nothing but praise for the organisation. Elizabeth Huband is the owner of ethical brand Badger House Leather who sell at Frome Independent each month. Currently one year in to her business journey, Elizabeth names Frome Independent as the catalyst which sparked the idea for her to turn her passion into a business and strongly believes she wouldn’t be where she is today without it.

Elizabeth explains that the benefits of the community go way beyond simply being able to sell products. She says, “the market allows you to feel connected to the community you live in, to collaborate with other makers and artists and to broaden your horizons in ways you never thought you would. I’m now doing business differently and frankly, doing it better!” This glowing review shows how surrounding yourself with like-minded creatives - even on a monthly basis - can benefit you and your business in ways you never knew it could.


ohh deer - building creative communities online
ohh deer - building creative communities online

 Ohh Deer

Over the past 8 years, Ohh Deer has established itself as a go-to online destination when searching for the perfect quirky gift. A significant amount of the brand’s success story is rooted in the online community they have built up over the years. The half a million followers which Ohh Deer have gathered across their social platforms have helped their business to grow and grow.

 In the beginning, Ohh Deer started as a blog before launching themselves into the world of stylish stationery with the help of 10 illustrators whom they connected with through Twitter. They have now worked with over 100 creatives to create gorgeous, illustrated products which can be found in the likes of Oliver Bonas, John Lewis, Urban Outfitters and ASOS. 

Despite having amassed this impressive following, Mark Callaby - who founded Ohh Deer with his partner Jamie Mitchell back in 2011 - says that getting the best out of social media has become increasingly difficult over the years. In particular, the constantly changing and ever-unpopular Instagram algorithm has made it more and more difficult for Ohh Deer to engage with their followers. Undeterred, Mark simply sees this as a chance for his team to up their game – a challenge which he praises them for rising to triumphantly.

 Ohh Deer’s is undoubtedly a success story but it hasn’t been without it’s learning curves. Last year, they chose to open a physical shop in each of the co-founders hometowns of Ipswich and Loughborough. Unfortunately, their Ipswich store was forced to close a few months ago. Whilst this was a difficult process, it did offer them an insight into where Ohh Deer’s strengths lie as a business.

Speaking about the change Mark says that “the high street can be tough and for us our strengths are definitely online and selling to other shops so we've realigned the business over the last 12 months to play towards these strengths even more.” Mark is very open about the fact that he and Jamie have made plenty of mistakes during Ohh Deer’s history but each one has taught them how to be more business-savvy and calculated when taking essential risks. An important lesson to takeaway from Ohh Deer is how they have assessed and realised where their strengths lie. Before you can grow anything, it’s important to know where best to plant the seed.


mayke collective - a blogging collective or creative makers and designers
mayke collective - a blogging collective or creative makers and designers

Mayke Collective

Last year, some of the UK’s leading lifestyle bloggers came together to form Mayke Collective. Five well-established content creators - Caroline Burke, Medina Grillo, Teri Muncey, Francesca Stone and Hester Van Overbeek - chose to band together to pool their creative resources, increasing their individual reach and therefore power within the blogging industry. The collective offer brands the opportunity to benefit from all of the member’s collective audiences as well as their 30 years joint experience within the industry.

 The idea for Mayke Collective was initiated by Hester Van Overbeek who blogs at Hester’s Handmade Home. Having worked independently as a freelancer for years, she missed having coworkers to bounce ideas off of and vent to after a bad day. Hester already had a community of bloggers which she chatted to online and socialised with at events and wanted to strengthen some of these connections and harness the collective power they offered. Hester describes each of the members as the ‘perfect match’ as they all create similar content but with their own unique creative style. An added bonus came with the fact that they are all mothers and so understand each other’s time limitations. The blogging dream team worked together planning the collective for a year before it launched. 

Since launching, Mayke Collective has gradually gained momentum and is offering its members more and more benefits. The collective offers the brands which each of the individual bloggers work with more coverage and gives their followers more free content plus they share PR contacts and resources with each other to help gain new clients. Best of all though, Hester feels like she has colleagues again. Having experienced how lonely a relatively young industry such as blogging can be, the best benefit has been having people who understand her and her business to talk to. Whether it is a contract query or some reassurance when she is feeling uncertain during a quiet period, the collective guarantees there is always someone there to listen. Mayke Collective seem to have struck the perfect balance as they are able to nurture their businesses, inner creatives and friendships all at once.


the members of Mayke Collective

the members of Mayke Collective

There is so much to learn from these creatives, so along with their wise words and my own experiences, here are some top tips for building a creative community…

Collaboration over competition

Every creative I spoke to concurred that collaboration should always be favoured over competition. Libby Walker encourages all makers to “be creative, heartfelt , supportive and reward local support.” Mark Callaby agrees that the goal should always be to make friends even if you see someone as competition, saying “my parents taught me that manners go along way and they couldn't be more right!”

 Support your fellow creatives

The first step in building a community can be showing one-on-one support to a fellow creative. This can be something simple like choosing a few of your favourite profiles to share on your Instagram stories, or popping in to your local independent shop for a chat. Whether online or in person, these interactions are often the first stepping stone on the road to a thriving community.

 Do your hashtag research

Mayke Collective’s Hester Van Overbeek shared insight into how to build a creative community specifically through social media platforms. She advises you look at relevant hashtags or create your own to start a conversation and engage with fellow creatives who inspire you. There are countless examples of creative communities which started through a hashtag and if you can’t find one which fits then you can always start your own.

 Engage with people IRL

While social media is wonderful for building online relationships, nothing beats connecting with other creatives in real life. The sellers at Frome Market agree that the human interaction these events offer can prove just as valuable as any sales you make. Real life interactions can mean stepping further outside your comfort zone but the rewards will more than likely outweigh the discomfort.

Think about diversity

If you are thinking of setting up a creative community - be it a collective, an online platform or a design event - it is important to think about diversity. Online especially, the perspectives we are offered are often filtered to be as close to our own as possible. By making the effort to broaden these perspectives and include a range of people from a spectrum of genders, sexualities and races we in turn broaden our understanding of the world around us. The best design events that I have attended - such as Pecha Kucha Dundee - have included a diverse rostra of talent and allowed the attendees to reap the benefits of this inclusivity.

 Connect instead of simply selling

Similarly, if you are in the position to hold any kind of event, then think about what you are offering people, other than simply the chance to sell things. Speaking from his experiences with Ohh Deer, Mark Callaby wants to push for networking events which are more than a sales pitching opportunity saying “I get that we're all here to make some money, but we should also be here to support each other as running a business can be really isolating if you're not around like-minded people.”

Follow your own path

Mark also encourages people not to feel restricted by what has come before saying “I've seen a lot of companies that try to copy others successes and they quickly fail.” He admits that when he and Jamie started Ohh Deer they had no clue about the industry, but this in fact helped them find their own identity without being overly influenced by others. Creative communities can take any form and if you have an alternative idea of how one should look or how it should be grown then go for it!

 Remember, you are not alone

Finally, remember that you are not alone in feeling isolated sometimes. It is easy to feel like you are the only one that doesn’t know anyone when you attend an event or be a little nervous starting a conversation with a creative whose work you love. Remember though, that we all either are or have been in the same position. Wanting to make connections with other creatives is very common and if you make the first move, the reaction will most likely be positive. You know that warm feeling you get when you get a nice message about your work or someone compliments your products? Well we all get that feeling too and we’d love to be part of a community which makes us feel it all the time.

Instagrammers guide to: Montreal

Did you know that 91 Magazine is now stocked across the pond in the US and Canada?! We are thrilled to forging connections with the creative community on the other side of the Atlantic and across the globe. 91 contributor Hannah Clugston gets to know the fabulous independent scene in Montreal, Canada with local photographer Valeria Bismar guiding the way and snapping the pics…

The largest city in Canada's Québec province, Montreal’s blend of French and English heritage makes for a vibrant city like no other where food is carefully prepared to be enjoyed slowly in stylish interiors and chic stores evolve in keeping with current trends. Named after Mount Royal – the three peaked hill in the centre of the city – and flanked by two rivers, Montreal is an intriguing place to explore with independent cafés and studios aplenty for the thriving creative scene. Every other shop, gallery or bar is multi-functional, serving up creative masterclasses against a backdrop of design-led products and delicious pastries.   

 We take a little tour of the best places to visit in the city…

Cafe Parvis, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal, Canada
Cafe Parvis, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal, Canada

Café Parvis

Apparently, a “parvis” is a place where communities gather after worship, and – although there is a church nearby – Café Parvis refers to the gathering of the local neighbourhood, either over a delicious meal or in the co-working space upstairs. Based in the historic fur district of Montreal, the café boasts a unique view over the back end of downtown and atmospheric, stripped down interiors with exposed plaster and wooden floorboards. The menu includes a range of small dishes, but the highlight is the selection of pizzas with slightly off-piste ingredients such as duck and squid.

IG: @cafe_parvis

VdeV, Montreal  - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal, Canada
VdeV, Montreal  - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal, Canada


With shops in Montreal and Toronto, VdeV is a haven of botanical prints, muted soft furnishings and quietly patterned ceramics. Natural tones contrast beautifully with industrial materials to make for an enviable collection of homewares. The range is expansive, including everything from handbags to crockery, lighting, furniture, cushions and more. It is the carefully curated styling that pulls everything together, providing visitors with ample inspiration when creating their own well considered interiors at home.

 IG: @vdev_maison

BKind, Montreal, Canada - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal
BKind, Montreal, Canada - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal


Named after the ethics they hold dear, BKind (be kind) sells a collection of natural skincare and eco accessories. On a mission to “be kind” to the world – and the people and animals that inhabit it – Bkind design and craft their products in Québec, utilising recyclable packaging, donating money to animal welfare and couriering products on bike. The skincare range, which includes creams, sponges, masks, scrubs, bars, balms and nail polishes, is based around key natural ingredients. Witch hazel, shea butter, aloe vera, sunflower seed oil, lavender buds and other plant-based wonders are blended to produce a stunningly fragranced range that is both gentle and luxurious. Each item is packaged in beautiful illustrations, ensuring the remedies look as good on the shelf as they do on the skin. 

 IG: @bkind.products

Bref, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal, Canada
Bref, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal, Canada


One visit to Bref is likely to be entirely different to the next. A gallery, shop and event space based in the heart of Montreal, Bref evolves over the seasons to reflect current design trends. Founders Cynthia Moreau and Maude St-Louis wanted to develop a space to promote local and international artists, rejecting a static showcase and creating a dialogue between objects and the public instead. Previous display themes include animals, architecture, botany, colour and Scandinavian design. The Bref boutique, which is also available online, features vibrant graphic prints, playful ceramics and exclusive collaborations with other creatives.

IG: @bref.mtl

Boulangerie Louise, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal Canada
Boulangerie Louise, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal Canada

 Boulangerie Louise

Boasting the catchy tag line “Louise has the bread to go with your butter!”, Boulangerie Louise is the sort of local bakery that you can smell streets away. Open early and late, the bakery is primed to serve the local community all day long – whether that is during the breakfast rush hour or later on when there’s a spot of post-work grocery shopping. Loaves, baguettes and croissants are served fresh every day in the Petite Italie area of Montréal from a minimalist, concrete-walled café with a spot of light art that fittingly reads “chaud, chaud, chaud”.

IG: @louiseboulangerie

Petit Lapin patisserie, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's guide to Montreal, Canada
Petit Lapin patisserie, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's guide to Montreal, Canada

Petit Lapin Pâtisserie

When Viviane Nguyen discovered her 10-month-old son had numerous food allergies she knew it was going to be near impossible to find him a cake for his first birthday. So, Nguyen decided to develop a cake herself that was delicious and free from gluten, egg, nuts, dairy and soy. The good news is, not only did her son enjoy that cake, but so did the residents of Montreal and Nguyen has since founded two patisseries in the city. Regardless of dietary restrictions, anyone with a sweet tooth can enjoy pastel coloured macarons, delicately decorated cupcakes and chocolate coated cream puffs at Petit Lapin. And, the Bernard Avenue location features a candy coloured café that can serve as the perfect afternoon tea spot or a kid’s birthday party location.

IG: @petitlapin_mtl

Pastel Rita, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal Canada
Pastel Rita, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal Canada

Pastel Rita

Spotless cinematic styling is Pastel Rita’s calling card. In Montréal’s artistic Mile End neighbourhood, this café-come-factory is a blend of contrasting colourways, slick polished furnishings and giant windows. Co-owned by Véronique Orban de Xivry, the founder of leather-goods label Bouquet, Pastel Rita is home to the artisans that carefully craft the Bouquet products. Diners can watch the production line whilst enjoying avocado on toast or a shrimp salad. Although the interior is razor sharp, the vibe is very relaxed, and locals pop in for coffee and business meetings in the daytime and cocktails and live music in the evening.

IG: @pastelrita

Tommy Cafe, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal, Canada
Tommy Cafe, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's Guide to Montreal, Canada

Tommy Café

A visit to Tommy is like a trip to mum’s kitchen but with expert baristas on hand. With two locations in Montréal, Tommy’s interiors are laid back and homely with plenty of hanging plants, wooden furnishings and eclectic pieces of art and bric-a-brac. Into this relaxed setting, team Tommy serve every type of coffee (hot, cold, green), various juices and a plethora of cocktails. It’s not all about the caffeine fix though, there’s a lengthy menu offering up brunch, omelettes, sandwiches, salads and health bowls. If you’re still not convinced, it seems that Antoni from Queer Eye is a fan. 

 IG: @tommymontreal

La Dependence, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's guide to Montreal, Canada
La Dependence, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's guide to Montreal, Canada

La Dependance

La Dependance is really three places under one roof; Kiosk is a boutique, Alcove is a workshop space, whilst the Living Room is a café. In establishing a beautiful, calming space, the owners have curated an atmosphere that encourages creativity and the sharing of ideas. As the name infers, La Dependance is all about enabling designers to collaborate and create in response to the aesthetics and flavours on display at the café. There are workshops to help generate ideas too, participants can currently sign up to “The 5 golden rules of Scandinavian style” or “Who does what in design? Three professions to discover.”

IG: @ladependance.ca

Baltic Club, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's guide to Montreal, Canada
Baltic Club, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's guide to Montreal, Canada

 Baltic Club

The stationary at the Baltic Club is the stuff of dreams. The pastel colours, painterly illustrations and metallic shades are what freelancers see when they close their eyes and imagine what their home office could look like. This explains why in just five short years, founders Mélanie Ouellette and Brice Salmon have established multiple shops in Montreal, selling their unique range of greeting cards, stationary, desk accessories and prints. With Brice on business management and product development, and Mélanie on illustration and creative direction, the Baltic Club seeks to spark inspiration through simple design. The duo also hosts a number of workshops and coaching sessions to assist other creatives in the city.

Vestibule, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's guide to Montreal, Canada
Vestibule, Montreal - 91 Magazine Instagrammer's guide to Montreal, Canada


Named after the hallway at home where you find a little bit of everything, Vestibule is a carefully curated selection of fashion, homeware, skincare and jewellery. Founder Audrey Morissette is fond of simple, classic design that is both feminine and timeless. Her shop on Mile End is immaculately styled, showcasing subtly patterned dresses and minimalist accessories against warming wooden floors and peachy painted walls. The chic collection that effortlessly manages to unite vases with sunglasses and garden accessories, is arranged on pastel coloured plinths and shelves creating the sensation of walking into a welcoming house. A recent addition to the store is Audrey’s sustainable fashion range which is top quality for longevity and is all made locally. To find out more check out our current e-zine, available by subscribing to our mailing list.

IG: @boutiquevestibule

91 visits... Hotel Henriette, Paris

91 contributor Jessica Rose Williams enjoys a few slow summer days in the French capital, with Hotel Henriette as her base. She tells of her ‘home away from home’ stay at this bohemian design hotel, as well as a few favourite spots to visit close by…

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Since my first school trip visit, Paris has become one of the greatest influences in my life. Despite my feeble attempts to learn French, it’s by far my favourite city in the world. From the shiny tourist beacons such as the Eiffel Tower to the off the beaten track narrow streets of the Latin quarter, Paris never fails to inspire or move me. Every inch of it oozes a cocktail of art, history, creativity, romance and adventure. All that before we even get to the smell of fresh croissants that curls out of the cafes each morning. 

I like to stay somewhere new each time I visit and this time around, as the grand finale of our French road trip for my friend’s wedding in Loire Valley, I chose Hotel Henriette. Hidden down a cobblestone street in the 13th arrondissement it lies far enough from the crowds whilst still remaining within walking distance of many of my favourite nooks of the city. If you’re not a walker, there’s a metro stop nearby and provided you can read a map you can access the entire city easily this way. Failing that there’s always Uber. 

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Henriette is my favourite kind of city shelter - a boutique design hotel. There are just 32 quiet rooms, each one complete with beautiful interiors to inspire. Our room was small and didn’t have a balcony but the lust worthy windows complete with flower boxes more than made up for it. The tucked away location felt as though we’d found our own slice of quiet and tiny touches like Nuxe toiletries were an unexpected treat. 

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Hotel Henriette

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

Photo: Jessica Rose Williams

 Things to do nearby

Enjoy the idyllic vintage courtyard at the hotel - discovering hidden Paris remains a treasure hunt of sorts to me. I’m always on the look out for an abandoned garden, off the map courtyard or left open gate into the unknown to explore. We didn’t have to look far this time as Hotel Henriette has its own secret garden that’s open to guests all day. Enjoy a coffee here in the afternoon or a full French breakfast in the morning - the croissants were a 10/10. 

Shakespeare and Company book shop - the 13th arrondissement fringes the Latin Quarter so you’re never far from old picturesque Parisian streets to explore. Visiting the historic Shakespeare and Company book shop is one of my favourite things to do in Paris. Even after I’d rummaged through the books, stared out of the window in front of the little writing desk long enough and had my book fix, I still wasn’t ready to leave. With this being a slower paced trip we decided to wallow away a few hours outside at the adjoining cafe. The people watching and the tea are both excellent.

Place Saint Sulpice - my favourite part of Paris and the centre of the Patisserie scene. There may or may not be a queue outside Pierre Herme, but if there is - trust me, it’s worth it. Take your treats back to the hotel with you for later or sit on the fountain across the road and enjoy some of the best people watching Paris has to offer.

Jardin du Luxembourg - it was 28 degrees during our time in the city and this royal garden felt like the perfect place to escape the heat with its water features and abundance of shade giving trees. Bring a book, pull up a couple of chairs (a recliner to sit in and an upright for your feet), take a deep breath and relax. This garden is just as beautiful in the winter, with a good selection of cafes bordering it. Angelina’s sits by the entrance, where you can sit in or out with the dessert of your choice (the eclairs were delicious). 

 Place Georges Moustaki - we stumbled across this little oasis by accident - the best way to find any new watering hole. A short walk from the hotel you’ll find a cobbled roundabout overflowing with flowers. Surrounding this centrepiece is a collection of cute cafes filled with locals and serving excellent breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks all day long.

Hotel Henriette made the ideal retreat at the end of a day spent exploring. Right now it’s one of Paris’s best kept secrets and I’d happily return in a heartbeat.

Should You Turn Your Hobby Into A Business?

Starting your own business has never been easier or more commonplace - but is it something we all need to be doing? Slow marketing coach Kayte Ferris talks us through the questions you need to ask yourself when considering transforming a hobby into a business and if you do, how to get started.

should you turn your hobby into a business?

“Should I turn my hobby into a business?” – isn’t that the perennial question of creative people everywhere? Whether you write a blog and everyone around you seems to be monetising, or your friends insist that “you should totally sell these!” about your craft projects, it can feel like you’re somehow ‘falling behind’ by not selling your work. It feels at the moment that the air is thick with talk of side-hustles and productivity that make the whole idea that maybe this is something you should be doing all the more pervasive. But the question remains: should you turn your hobby into a business?

For a long time online, monetising your passions was seen as the ultimate self-actualisation. As the old adage goes, do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life, and a whole generation took those words to heart and strove to forge careers and businesses that gave them the best of both worlds. However, recently, there has been a small backlash within generation monetise, with online magazine Man Repeller claiming “We don’t have to monetize or optimize or organize our joy. Hobbies don’t have to be imbued with a purpose beyond our own enjoyment of them. They, alone, can be enough.”

 Ultimately, though, this is a decision that is yours to make, and yours alone. It’s very much the kind of decision you want to outsource – that’s probably why you’re reading this article! It feels too big, too life changing, to be made by just you; you surely need to crowdsource opinions from those who ‘know better’ and follow the advice of those who seem more sure about what’s right than you. It’s a comforting notion, but not an empowered one. Giving the power to decide the course of the next phase of your life to strangers on the internet is, when you put it like that, a pretty crazy idea.

Should you turn your hobby into a business?

But still, that doesn’t change the fact that you don’t really know how you feel and what you want, right? Maybe you sought out other opinions as a way to clarify your own thoughts, but all that’s happened is that you’re now more confused, with the added weight of knowing what other people in your life expect you to do. In order to make this decision, you need to get in touch with your subconscious thoughts and feelings, feeling your way intuitively around the dark recesses of your brain to dig out some dusty thoughts from the back. And here are some questions to help you do that.

1. How do you want to feel in your life?

Find a moment of stillness where you can feel comfortable, close your ideas and imagine yourself transported to an ideal world a few months from now. What is it like, here in your ideal future? Where are you, what are the colours and the light like, what are the smells and the sounds? (Introducing the senses to this vision helps to make it real for the brain and grounds you in this place.) How are you feeling, name those emotions.

With the vision in your mind, think about how your hobby features in that version of your life? Did it feel like it was possible because your hobby was your business, or do you think that monetising your hobby will jeopardise that vision?

The future vision is something I use to make decisions all the time in my business. In my vision, I’m in a garden; it’s evening because the light is low and golden, and all around me is green. I’m touching roses with my fingertips and the heady smell of flowers is all around like a cocoon. I know that inside my work is patiently waiting for me, but that I have nowhere urgently to be and no one to answer to. Any time I’m faced with a choice or a decision, I choose the one that will bring me closer to that feeling in my vision.

2. What would your dream week look like?

This is a popular exercise from my Purpose Kit to help you start to think about what is most important to you. 

An email drops into your inbox. A loved one nominated you for a ‘week away from routine’ and you’ve now got a whole week to do what you want with. You can choose where you take this week - stay at home, go to your favourite place, fly to the other side of the world. The only expectation is that you do whatever you want to in that week - you must do nothing out of obligation. 

Write down a few lines about where you’re taking your dream week - where you’re staying, what the weather is like, how you’re feeling. Ground yourself in this place, really feel it. Don’t skip this part! It makes the difference in taking your mind truly away.

Now, plan out what you’re going to do in this week. What are you going to do that’s just for you, that fills you up? Write out your itinerary.

What does this tell you in terms of what’s important for you? Would monetising your hobby be more or less like this dream week?

 3. When you think about monetising your hobby, what sensations do you feel in your body? 

This is a very traditional way of accessing your intuition and is actually really helpful when you have a specific question like this. Again get yourself somewhere comfortable (I quite like doing thinking like this in the bath!), lie back and clear your mind as much as possible of all the thoughts you’ve had about this, and all the opinions of others.

If you’re not used to connecting with your intuition, a practice run might help. Get to know how your body feels when you speak the truth, and how it feels when you tell a lie to see how it reacts to what is right and what is wrong. This is a trick I learned from Susannah Conway: say out loud “my name is [your actual name]” and take note of any feelings in your body; then say out loud “my name is [a name that is not your name]”. How do the feelings change?

Form your version of that question in your mind, ‘should I turn my hobby into a business?’, speak it out loud if you don’t feel too awkward, and pay attention to the sensations in your body. Do you feel any pangs, sparks, heaviness, tightness? Where in the body are those feelings? If you did the practice run, do they feel more like the truth or the lie? Can you put a name to any of the feelings – excitement or dread, potential or worry?

Should you turn your hobby into a business?

Hopefully, by working through these questions, you have more of a steer of what feels right and true to you. Maybe the answer surprised you, or perhaps wasn’t quite the one you wanted, but at least it’s come from you – you can know that you truly wanted it, or that you didn’t. So what next? If your intuition told you to keep your hobby for yourself, you can relieve the pressure – if you feel you need to, formulate a stock answer to quash those “you should be selling these” conversations, and go about enjoying your hobby!

If, however, your intuition said “let’s go for it”, you’ve likely got a whole other set of questions now! Where do I start? Do I need a business plan? What’s the next step? Here is my key advice for those on the cusp of their business:

  • Start before you’re ready – get a website up, start sharing your work on social media, book a market, do whatever it takes to start being visible in your business. Our compulsion is to work away in the background until everything is ready and perfect but the problem with that is two-fold: if you’re waiting for it to be perfect you’ll never take it public, and if you’re keeping it a secret then your potential customers aren’t getting to know you and trust you

  • Experiment – when you’re starting out is the perfect time to test and try things out, as you haven’t got much to lose if it doesn’t go so well. Play around and see what works, have fun with creating different content and try on some different methods of marketing. Don’t feel you have to start out with a rigid plan; your plan will be better for having things you’ve already tested in it

  • Be curatorial with the advice you take – there is so much business advice on the internet, and a lot of it won’t apply to you. People may be writing for business owners with a different business to yours, or at a different stage. Stay connected to your intuition and don’t assume that others know best – follow the advice that feels right

Ultimately, whether you decide to start turning your hobby into a business now, later or never, my biggest hope for you is that you continue to stay in close contact with yourself. As you continue to tread this path you will have well-meaning (and sometimes not so well-meaning) voices telling you what you definitely must do – it is never ‘wrong’ to do what feels like the best thing for you, even if that’s not what others want. It’s all in your power, and you can exercise it.

You can find more from Kayte at simpleandseason.com. Basecamp, her course to help overwhelmed beginners get going with their businesses, is available now.

Ethical Living: A sustainable summer gathering

Summer is in full flow, with the UK and Europe experiencing another extreme heatwave last week. The soaring temperatures come accompanied with a stark reminder of the global climate crisis we are facing. Change is needed and fast, and while we may not be able to halt the use of fossil fuels individually, we can at least make small changes within our own every day, aiming to be more eco-conscious and sustainable.

With summer parties and gatherings on the horizon, we asked three small business owners to collaborate and combine their passions for food and pretty things with their love of styling and sustainability and pull together an eco-conscious summer garden table without compromising style. Katia Wlodarczak, Claire Street and Nikkita Palmer have put together these hints and tips to make the most of what you already have when styling your outdoor space.

Photography:  Katia Wlodarczak / Gourmand Pixels

We fill our homes with furniture and accessories we love, so when summer comes around, why shouldn’t we make our outdoor spaces look just as Insta-worthy?! Reusing items that you love and have already invested in is key to making your space both personal, practical and ready to enjoy the summer. A few simple home accessories such as blankets, throws, cushions, trays and chairs can be combined to create the laid-back and homely atmosphere we have created here.

Consider how to reuse existing furniture pieces, whether it be moving your dining table to the garden, or using benches, trunks and crates as side tables for an eclectic feel on summer evenings. Avoid succumbing to cheap white plastic garden furniture as they lack quality and we so very often see them end up in landfill. Opt for floor cushions and vintage deckchairs for a more individual and planet-friendly look. For the creatives amongst you, make your own reclaimed folding table from previously discarded wood (or other materials) or simply make a stack of pallets for a low level chilled out vibe. These can be easily dressed with rugs, fabrics, linens and some simple vases of flowers moved from the inside to out.

Photography:  Katia Wlodarczak / Gourmand Pixels
Photography:  Katia Wlodarczak / Gourmand Pixels

Avoid using shop bought flowers with excessive plastic packaging and transportation and opt for picking your own wild flowers from the garden, hedgerows, meadows or canals if possible. Alternatively, use a local grower for beautiful flowers which are often not easily found in the shops and support a small business in the process. Emma Connolly from A Bunch Of Wild provided us with an assortment of ammi, scabious, larkspur, lavender and rose chandos beauty.

Flowers can be arranged in vintage or new glass vases in a combination of colours and textures to get the pretty summer garden look seen here. Add a range of heights to your table to give variation with log slices (sourced from your local timber merchant) or stacks of vintage books. If using small quantities opt for odd numbers of arrangements for balance.

Photography:  Katia Wlodarczak / Gourmand Pixels

Forget paper plates and plastic cups and either bring out your own crockery or durable vintage enamelware. Great for camping holidays and garden use as they are both practical and beautiful – we love British based Falcon Enamelware. Replace paper napkins with linen or fabrics which can be used again and again. Work with what you have combining patterns and similar colours. An eclectic mix looks so much more relaxed than a formal matching table setting. An easy but effective tip is to fold your linens and add stems of lavender or eucalyptus with your cutlery – when entertaining, add a handwritten name tag on leaves or natural papers for more personalisation.

Photography:  Katia Wlodarczak / Gourmand Pixels

Plastic cutlery is most definitely a thing of the past. Reusable picnic sets are great if you’re going out of the house, or just use the cutlery you have at home. Replace single use bags with baskets and crates which are not only more space effective and organised but also look great. Serve your handmade treats on sharing wooden boards for a real feeling of gathering - ours are made from reclaimed timber which you could make yourself at home. (see hints and tips for this below)

Don’t forget to consider atmosphere when styling your outside space. If you are taking it into the evening consider lighting and the intensity of this, we love warm festoon lights draped from branches or trees (there are solar-powered ones available) as well as glass and wooden lanterns at a range of heights scattered around the space.

Photography:  Katia Wlodarczak / Gourmand Pixels


We use a reclaimed pallet board for our serving trays as well as a chunkier timber when it is available. We highly recommend you work with what you have for the best and most personal feel. We source lots of our reclaimed timber from the building industry but you will readily find discarded pallets on Gumtree, Freecycle or Facebook marketplace for little to no money. However, always be sure to ask permission before taking anything.

When choosing your pallets, be sure they have a HT stamp on them, this means they have been heat treated to remove any nasty chemicals or bugs. Of course, you will need to sand your boards back for the best finish. We recommend using a low grit sand paper to start with (80 grit) and to finish with a higher grade such as a 120.  Once finished, be sure to coat any wood used with a food safe finishing wood oil, we use a natural mineral oil or an alternative chopping board oil available from homeware stores or online.

Photography:  Katia Wlodarczak / Gourmand Pixels


The quiche can be eaten straight away but to show it at its best, make it a day in advance and serve warm or at room temperature. Making your own pastry and adding parmesan and freshly ground black pepper to the flour will make the crust a bit more interesting. Plus, using just an egg and no water will make it more crumbly & delicate.


For the pastry:

  • 200g plain flour

  • 30g parmesan

  • 100g cold unsalted butter, cubed

  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten

  • Black pepper, coarse, a few turns from the mill


  1. Rub the butter in the flour using your fingers or a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until it resembles breadcrumbs.

  2. Add the lightly beaten egg and continue mixing until a small dough is just formed. Don’t overwork it!

  3. Shape the dough into a thick disk, wrap and rest in the fridge. After 30 minutes, roll out  the disk out to a thickness of 2-3mm between 2 sheets of baking parchment. If you have time, let it rest in the fridge some more. The more rest, the less shrinkage.

  4. Line a 20cm tart tin with the pastry sheet, Prick the base and place it in the freezer for 10 minutes.

  5. Scrunch up one of the pieces of baking parchment, lay it in the chilled pastry case and cover with baking beans, or better - some coins from your penny jar.

  6. Blind bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C. Remove the parchment with the beans or coins and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Reduce it to 120-140°C to bake the filling.

For the filling:

  • 3 large eggs

  • 300ml single or whipping cream

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced

  • 1 small courgette dices

  • 1 small yellow or red pepper

  • A few cherry tomatoes, quartered 

  • Small hand-full of spinach (optional - to add a green touch)

  • Salt and pepper

  • Olive oil

  • ½ tsp Herbes de Provence


    1. Fry all your vegetables in a little olive oil, just like making a summer ratatouille, ideally one by one.

    2. Mix the eggs with the cream in a saucepan. Add the vegetables, spinach if using and the herbes de Provence. Season with salt and pepper.

    3. Gently heat until warm. If you have a thermometer, use it to bring the mix to 60°C (not more or it will start to set). By doing that, the filling will set faster in the oven, avoiding the undesirable “soggy bottom”.

    4. Make sure the pastry case is still warm when filling. Return to the oven for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Give the tin a slight wobble once in a while and remove from the oven as soon as the centre doesn’t feel liquid anymore.

    5. Let it cool at room temperature for 20 minutes if eating straight away or before putting it back in the fridge to rest overnight. The following day, bring back to room temperature or warm in a preheated over at 160°C for 5-10mins.

Meet the Maker: mondocherry

Sisters Clare Scholes and Joy Stewart turned their shared creative hobbies into a successful business that’s perfectly tailored to their busy lives. 91 talks to Joy to find out more about their work, and the beautiful artworks they create together as mondocherry.

Gemmola mondocherry_paper_botanical_artwork_floral.jpg

How would you describe mondocherry?

We create original 3D paper artworks that are entirely hand-cut and hand-painted. Often based around nature, they appear graphic from a distance and incredibly detailed up close. Seven years ago, we opened a shop in Melbourne to showcase our work, as well as to feature beautiful home and gift products from artisans and designers from around the world.

Gemmola mondocherry_Clare_and_Joy.jpg

What’s the story behind the name?

One of the very first orders we worked on was with a fabric that was called ‘mondo’. It came in a few colourways, one of which was named ‘cherry’. So we used to call each other and say ‘can you come over today to work on the mondocherry?’  A few months later when we registered our business, we tried to think of a clever name, but it was much harder than we thought. And then we realised that we had actually already named ourselves!

Gemmola mondocherry_blue_paper_feather_artwork_tea_table.jpg

What inspired the idea of setting up your business?

In 2006 we both found ourselves living in Brisbane with our families, and naturally spent a lot of time together. While the children played, and over many a slice of chocolate brownie, we would make items for our homes; artworks, handbags, soft toys, cards – you name it.  Friends began asking if we could make pieces for them too, and it was this interest that initiated the idea that maybe we could turn our hobby into a business.

Gemmola mondocherry_cutting_feathers.jpg

What did you do before setting up mondocherry?

Clare studied law and mathematics at university, and I was an early childhood teacher.  But we both became stay-at-home mums once our children came along (Clare has six, I have three).

How would you describe your style?

We use loads of beautiful colour, balanced out by plenty of white and neutrals.  We like the old mixed in with the new, and lots of textures and layers.  We love pieces with a story behind them, and we can’t live without lots of greenery!

Gemmola mondocherry_paper_botanical_artwork_floral_sofa.jpg
Gemmola mondocherry_Clare_Joy_studio.jpg

What is the ethos behind your business?

There is a particular beauty in handmade products, original design and limited editions that we are drawn to. We want mondocherry artworks, and our shop, to be a reflection of our passion and to stay true to what we love, rather than running with trends, or trying to predict popularity.  There’s value in uniqueness, and we love that a mondocherry artwork can never be exactly replicated. The two of us enjoy making art that makes people happy. As we work together, we also made a rule early on that we would never let our business come between our relationship as sisters.

own mondocherry_painting.jpg

Tell us about your work process…

Our main materials are paper, scissors, paint, and patience. Every component of our artwork is hand-painted and hand-cut and so many, many hours go into each piece. Clare and I work in stages and therefore often have multiple artworks on the go at any one time. It’s good to have the flexibility to take our cutting with us (to school pickups, ballet waiting rooms and footy games!) and the variety of working with different colours, styles and stages.

Gemmola mondocherry_paper_botanical_artwork_greenwall.jpg

Describe your workspace…

Clare has a studio room in her home, but stills tends to spill out into the adjoining family rooms. She often takes components at the cutting stage into the shop when she is there. I live in a condo in Singapore, so space it pretty tight. I manage with a ‘creative cupboard’ and can often be found working on my terrace, enjoying the tropical weather.  We spend many hours on the phone during the week, discussing works in progress and new ideas, however we are definitely at our most creative when we are together in the same place and start playing with paper and paint!

Gemmola mondocherry_pink_paper_feather_artwork_bed.jpg

What sort of neighbourhood and community is around you?

I currently live in Singapore and enjoy exploring the botanical gardens, with their lush tropical foliage, and the colour, fabric and treasures to be found in the Little India area. Clare lives in Melbourne and loves the suburbs around our shop, with their beautiful architecture and well-maintained gardens.  

Gemmola mondocherry_fascination.jpg

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

Neither of us has a formal design background, retail experience, or marketing or business degrees. Our love for creating definitely stems from our childhood, as we are lucky enough to have a very creative mother, so our spare time was filled with sewing, painting, crochet, tie-dye etc. To end up in a creative business feels very natural to both of us.

Gemmola mondocherry_green_paper_feather_artwork.jpg

 Has your work changed since you began?

Our work has definitely evolved and continues to do so. That’s all part of the creative journey. In the beginning, we probably overthought our work and listened to too many opinions, but we really honed our own style when we began to trust our instincts. Initially, we worked a lot with fabric as well as paper, but found it hard to develop a cohesive story with both mediums. 

own mondocherry_studio_setup.jpg

How important is the online community to your work?

The customers and friends we have made through social media have allowed us to grow and expand our business, and we are so thankful for their encouragement, support and feedback. It gives us the biggest buzz when we get photos of our artworks displayed in homes, both locally, and on the other side of the world.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere. The colour of a beautiful bird, an interesting fabric, patterned tiles, layers of chipping paint on a wall, the details in a piece of embroidery, the delicacy of a rose petal … we find ideas, inspiration and colour combinations all over the place.

Gemmola mondocherry_paper_botanical_artwork_floral_table.jpg

Working together as independent makers – what are the joys, and what are the challenges?

It’s great to have the flexibility, the creative freedom and the variety of tasks involved in being our own bosses, and the process of making our artworks from start to finish (although we do leave the framing to the professionals). We thrive on words of encouragement, so finding motivation when things get a little tough can be hard, but luckily it usually happens that one of us is able to encourage the other. 

Which pieces do you most enjoy creating?

That would be like asking us to choose a favourite child! All of our collections are special to us for different reasons, and there is hardly a colour we can’t rave about. 

own mondocherry_paper_feather_closeup.jpg

What does a typical working day look like for you?

We both start with coffee - essential for staying sane while getting children off to school. Clare then usually heads into our Melbourne shop, where she chats with customers, merchandises the shelves and deals with admin.  In Singapore, I tend to do most of my creative work during the day while my younger children are at school. I also do a lot of work with our social media. 

Gemmola mondocherry_white_paper_feather_artwork.jpg

How do you approach marketing and PR?

This has been a large learning curve for us, as we are definitely more creative than business-orientated. We both love the visual impact of social media, however it is often hard to show the texture of our artworks via a small square. Investing in professional photos has been one of the best things we have done, as it gave us the confidence to approach designers and magazines - and having fresh eyes style your work is always a useful exercise. 

own mondocherry_feather_samples.jpg

What have been your business highlights so far?

Opening our shop was very special, as it gave us a chance to style our artworks up with beautiful products, so we could show our customers how we imagined they could be displayed in their homes.  We’ve also been lucky enough to be featured in a number of magazines and design blogs, which is a ‘pinch me’ moment every time!

Gemmola mondocherry_blue_paper_feather_artwork.jpg

Where do you sell your work?

We sell our artworks in our Melbourne shop and on our online store. We also take custom orders for colours and sizes, so that our customers can have a unique artwork made especially for their home.

own mondocherry_floral_cutting.jpg

Do you have any creative pastimes or hobbies?

Making our artworks isn’t just our job, but also something we love doing. Apart from when we are experimenting with paper and paint, I love the process of decorating a doll’s house for my daughter, and Clare regularly has her sewing machine out, embellishing and adjusting dance costumes.

Any advice for makers just starting out?
Ensure you are making something you actually love, and don’t under-price yourself - especially if you will be wholesaling your work. Great photos are worth spending money on, too.

Quick-fire questions:

Describe your work in three words?

Unique, colourful, intricate.

What are your making rituals?

Good background music, or an interesting podcast is a must.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee in morning, tea in the afternoon.

Mountains or sea?


Night owl or early bird?

I’m an early bird, Clare is a night owl.

I wish someone had told me...

Knowing what you don’t like is as essential to finding your own style as knowing what you do.

See more from mondocherry on their website and on Instagram.

Images supplied by Martina Gemmola (and stylists Richard Hall & Son) and mondocherry.

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Morningtide

Created by graphic designer Lisa Jackson (owner of Good on Paper Design) and ceramic artist Lisa Fontaine, lifestyle store Morningtide on California’s West Coast, brings together their creative skills and passion for design. We caught up the ‘Lisa’s’ to hear about curating collections, supporting artisans and the joys of being each others work-wives.


When and why did you decide to open Morningtide?

We opened up Morningtide in the fall of 2017 because we felt like our neighborhood was in need of some fresh new retail. We both love design and curating a shop felt like a natural next step after running our own creative businesses for years. We were ready for a new project!


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

Our experience with our own businesses helped us greatly. We both understand the work ethic and dedication it takes to create a successful start up. Our styles align, so curating the shop is easy and fun. We are both committed to excellent communication and to work on our work-wife relationship as much as one would a domestic partner.

Photo: Marble & Rye Photography

Photo: Marble & Rye Photography

How did you decide on the name?

We both wanted our shop name to evoke a feeling of a calm and slow morning (we both have young kids so we don't know what that's like!) We brainstormed a big list of words and the words "morning" and "tide" were included in that list. After a late night perusing Thesaurus.com, we discovered that morningtide is the archaic word for morning. It just felt right and we are so happy with it.

How would you describe the interior style of the store?

Modern, clean, minimal and natural with a Californian/West Coast beachy aesthetic.


You're passionate about supporting artisan and ethical production, why is this so important to you?

We only get one chance at treating our planet with kindness and each of us has the opportunity to do our own part. For Morningtide, we can make a positive impact by stocking local artists who create natural products free of toxins.

You’ve recently added a sustainable living section to the shop, tell us more about it…

The new sustainable living section includes bamboo ware, reusable straws, and ceramic and silicone to-go containers. Adding this section aligns with our own personal ethics, while still maintaining a Morningtide aesthetic for clean and modern design. We are excited about expanding this section of the shop.

We are also really excited about our Morningtide Loop—a curated selection of gently used independent designer brands created to encourage the investment in slow fashion brands, upcycling, and sustainability. In addition, every piece of clothing purchased new in our shop could be resold through our Morningtide Loop.


How do you source your gorgeous stock?

We travel to Los Angeles to attend independent designer trade shows and showrooms to source our women's clothing. We find our ceramic artists, jewellery and gifts at local shows such as West Coast Craft at Fort Mason in San Francisco. We also find out about many new brands through Instagram.

As well as stocking wares from independents, do you create anything in-house?

Yes! Lisa (Fontaine) is a ceramic artist, she creates some of the ceramics we sell. Lisa (Jackson) is a graphic designer and designs all of the event flyers and sells a few of her greeting cards and notepads in the shop.


Which item is your bestseller? Why do you think that is?

Everyday Oil is our best selling product. It's unisex skincare for your face, body and hair made from 100% plant-based botanical oils and smells divine. Everyday Oil also makes an unscented version, perfect for babies or those sensitive to essential oils. Also, the price point is great.

What do you enjoy most about running Morningtide?

Interacting with the customers each day is a total joy. Our shop is in a very small community so we have dozens of customers who pop in weekly. We've gotten to know their children, their dog, and the types of products they gravitate towards. We love bringing people together at our pop-up events too.


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

Opening up the shop has been the highlight! We were excited but also scared to open a shop at a time when people warned us that retail is dead. It felt like a risk in the beginning but it has really worked out well in our favour. We find that our community still values being able to come into a brick and mortar shop, talk to a friendly shop keeper, and make their purchases rather than shopping online.


What is the neighbourhood like? Do you have a community of independent stores around you?

Our neighbourhood is very family friendly and the locals love supporting their local businesses. The main street does have a lot of independent businesses that have been there for 30+ years, mostly service businesses. We don't have a lot of direct retail competition on the street which is nice for us, but we have a nearby coffeeshop that shares a customer demographic to us so we make a good pair.


Before you go, do you have any top tips/advice for those thinking of starting their own store?

It's a lot of work and can be overwhelming at times but having a great business partner has been huge for us. Since we share the workload, we are able to take a lot on and try out a lot of different ideas without ever reaching full burnout. We could not do this without each other nor would we want to!

Find Morningtide at 847 Cornell Avenue, Albany, CA

Online at morningtideshop.com and on Instagram

Building a business despite living with a health condition

To be diagnosed with a chronic illness is life-changing in every way, and often one of the greatest concerns facing those in this situation is how to manage work. When it’s either not an option to give up work or you wouldn’t want to, is it possible to design your working life around the new challenges you face, taking in to consideration what your body and mind can cope with? Creative business coach Jo Becker shares her personal story with us of how she has done just that, as well as those of two women who inspired her to keep going…

Photo: Lauren Mancke/Unsplash

Photo: Lauren Mancke/Unsplash

One of the lesser known benefits of running your own business is that - with creative thinking and the requisite hard work - it can support the management of health issues. The example of others online who generously shared their stories and experiences encouraged me to create a coaching business and ‘portfolio career’, that I hope will be both fulfilling and sustainable as I lose my mobility over the coming years.

I never thought about running my own business until my late twenties. In fact, I used to love working in the corporate world! I would get a buzz out of walking down a central London street, picking up a coffee and taking in the view from my 12th floor office. Lunches at a nearby cafe or in St James’s Park, and regular drinks after work; it was everything I wanted at a certain point in my life. Until it wasn’t.

Perhaps I outgrew the ‘busy-busy-London life’; maybe my perspective shifted as I went through a period of depression following some pretty traumatic years; or it might have been a result of being diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy*. Whatever the cause, by the time I was 30 I felt like I needed to consider how I wanted my life and work to look over the next thirty years.

Jo Becker

Taking stock this way isn’t unusual, but it felt particularly pertinent for me, as my recent diagnosis meant that I knew certain things about my future: within a few years I would become dependent on a walking stick and orthosis, followed by a walking frame, a wheelchair, and eventually carers. As a single and fiercely independent woman, I believed that it was up to me to make the next three decades count. While I couldn’t change my health or prognosis, I was determined to find a way to work with it.

Two things helped with this; firstly, I had recently left the corporate world and set up a business with a friend. Although ultimately it wasn’t the right business for me, and I’d sell my shares to make a fresh start, my eyes had been opened to what I could achieve. I loved the autonomy of working for myself, and understood what it was like to go against the 'norms' (steady office-based job, progressing through the ranks over time) that I had expected to follow.

Secondly, Instagram and the online business world were a massive source of unexpected inspiration. Social media provides a window into other worlds (for better or worse!), and I could see that there were some amazing creative entrepreneurs running thriving businesses online, while living with chronic illnesses. In particular, I admired the attitudes of Sara Tasker and Jen Carrington, who had both built businesses that served themselves, as well as others.

Sara Tasker- a well-known Instagram coach and author - began her Instagram account while on maternity leave. Her beautiful imagery and natural honesty created a community, while her self-proclaimed ‘geekiness’ about the technical side of social media enabled her to grow her account so successfully that she was able to help others through coaching and online courses. This enabled Sara to leave her NHS job, and work from home.

Most importantly, it has allowed her to work from her bed when she needs to, using just her phone. Sara has Dysautonomia, a condition which affects her nervous system and can flare up at anytime. For years she tried to push through, ignoring her symptoms or managing them as best she could while holding down a traditional 9-5 job; being her own boss has allowed Sara to find more of a balance, and take better care of her health.

Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Meanwhile Jen Carrington, a coach for creative business owners, very consciously set up her business following two mental health breakdowns, as she knew that she’d be happier working for herself. She had also been diagnosed with Chiari Malformation at the age of 16, and as this has become increasingly symptomatic in recent years, she’s more grateful than ever for her business. Jen has created a career in which she feels fulfilled and is able to pace herself carefully, allowing her to manage this rare neurological condition as best she can. She has taught me that a slow and steady approach to growing a business, will lead to something sustainable and rewarding.

Like myself, Sara and Jen have had to learn to live life more slowly. This can be frustrating at times, but you learn focus on enjoying the things that you can do. This has included pursuing work that we love, in a way that suits us and our individual health conditions. Of course creating a business that allows for this takes time and energy upfront and a determination not only to stay in our lanes, but to create them, trying not to worry too much about what others might be doing. It is all part of working with what you have, or as Jen has been known to say: “Playing the hell out of the cards you’ve been dealt”.

creating a career despite deteriorating health

Personally, that has included sharing some of my experiences as a newly-disabled and progressively ill woman, who is stubbornly determined to always try. I’ve learned - and I teach - that we get to choose; not necessarily what happens to us, but how we try to deal with it. We can choose to try to live, to travel, to build a business, to do work that we love. Modifications to plans and experiences are often required, and success is not guaranteed, but a huge amount of fulfilment comes from knowing that we’ve done our best, despite external forces working against us. Travelling solo around countries such as India with a walking stick, a backpack, and seriously weakened legs taught me that!

Taking control of my work in order to support a health condition I cannot control, helps me to feel more empowered, and I’m grateful that social media shows me, and helps me to share, that it’s okay to do things our own way. In fact, technology and the modern online landscape arguably enables more people to pursue 'work that works for them’, as it breaks downs physical barriers and levels the playing field to an extent. There’s no escaping the fact that it is also a competitive and busy landscape, and determination is key to achieving success. But by focusing on how we want our lives to look in the future, and the things we want most, it becomes easier to persevere.

*In case you're not familiar with it, Muscular Dystrophy is a group of muscle wasting diseases. I have a super-rare strain of it, called GNE Myopathy. It is progressive and untreatable. Symptoms began in my late twenties: I began falling over as my calf muscles weakened, and and now most of my leg muscles are significantly affected, and my hands are beginning to weaken. In time I am expected to lose the use of my legs and arms. It’s not okay, but also it is okay; it’s my reality, so I just have to make the most of it.

Ethical living: DIY Homemade natural cleaning recipes

I don’t know about you, but I do love a clean home (although mine rarely is!), but it seems about time that we really start looking at what we are using to do the job; what are we spraying on the surfaces we prepare our food on? what toxins are we putting into our water system every time we clean the sink or the toilet? Not only this, but every time we buy a bottle of cleaning spray from the supermarket we are adding to the single use plastic catastrophe we are facing. The best option is to make our own products and store them in reusable containers - and it’s easier than you may think. Herbalist Natasha Richardson of Forage Botanicals shares three recipes for natural cleaners that we can all whip up in an afternoon…

Natural cleaning product recipes to make at home

Since having my first child, a lot has changed and one thing I appreciate greatly is that kids learn by example. Therefore, I’ve started to live that cliche ‘be your best self’ and I’ve become aware of so many things I’ve always wanted to change, suddenly having the energy and impetus to do so. Evolving into a household that is free of single-use plastic is one step, the other is going ‘au naturel’ when it comes to cleaning products.

I work with women who have hormone imbalances and I’ve known for a long time that plastics and ‘normal’ cleaners contain chemicals called endocrine disruptors (EDC’s). These chemicals have been linked to all sorts of scary things, PCOS, infertility and cancer, to name a few. I’ve written about this in more detail over on Upcircle Beauty if you’re interested in the topic.

So, here are a few recipes I’ve been using myself which you might like to try. I would recommend simply replacing what you can as you run out of things, rather than throwing your entire cupboard of sprays in the bin. Instead, approach the change is a slow and manageable way.

DIY homemade recipe for natural toilet bombs

Toilet bowl bombs

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups of bicarbonate of soda

  • 1/3 cup of citric acid

  • 2 tbsp of hydrogen peroxide

  • 20 drops of Litsea cubeba essential oil

  • 20 drops of Thyme essential oil

  • A silicon mould (or a madeleine mould as I’ve used)

  • Mason jar (or other airtight glass container)

Mix the bicarb and citric acid together, then slowly pour in the hydrogen peroxide. It will fizz - this is normal. Mix it all together till you get a wet sand consistency. Next, add the essential oils and mix again. Now you can press the mix into your mould. It will react and harden within an hour, so don’t leave & forget about it! Use one bomb to freshen up the toilet bowl when needed and use two, along with a good scrub with the toilet brush, whenever a deeper clean is required.

Natural recipe to make a homemade Sink scrub

Sink scrub

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups of bicarbonate of soda

  • 10 drops of Sage essential oil

  • 10 drops of Lemongrass essential oil

  • Glass container

  • Scrubber

Combine the ingredients and mix well. Liberally sprinkle over the sink with a little liquid soap and scrub. Thoroughly wash with water after use.

Recipe for DIY homemade natural surface spray

Surface Cleaner

  • 1/4 cup of vinegar

  • 1/4 cup of water

  • 1/4 cup of alcohol

  • 10 drops of Rosemary essential oil

  • 20 drops of Orange essential oil

 Combine the ingredients in a glass spray container, shake before use. For the best effect let the sprayed liquid sit on the surface for a minute or so before wiping.

Thanks Natasha! So simple right? We can’t wait to give them a go! Do let us know if you try these out too.

Our Seek Inspire Create Event in Hastings

At the end of June, we hosted the 2nd in our series of Seek Inspire Create days. For our summer event, we decided to head to the coast, to one of my favourite seaside towns - Hastings. I’ve you’ve missed what these events are all about, it is basically a chance for us to bring the magazine to life - visiting in person some of types of beautiful independent stores we feature in the magazine as well as meeting and learning from inspirational creative women and getting the chance to make something beautiful with our hands. The days follows the structure of Seek, Inspire, Create - this is a little run through of the day, with beautiful images by SarahLou Francis.


The first part of the day took in three of my favourite independent shops in the town. We featured all of these shops in our Instagrammer’s Guide to Hastings post, and I always pop in when I visit the town. What makes the visit extra special when part of our event is that we get to hear direct from the owners all about the story behind their business and have the chance to ask questions, before browsing and shopping with exclusive discount. I’m pretty sure our whole group treated themselves to some goodies, it was hard to resist that’s for sure!

91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Butlers Emporium
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Butlers Emporium
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Butlers Emporium
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Butlers Emporium
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Butlers Emporium

We kicked off the day at Butler’s Emporium, a shop I have visited for many years now. Sadly owner Rose was away on a buying trip to Morocco when we were there this time, but her colleague Julia shared a little bit of insight into how they go about sourcing their eclectic mix of products from around the world as well as from British independent makers. The shop used to be a traditional hardware store, and Rose has kept lots of the original fittings to display her wares, so the bones of the space itself are just as interesting as what she has filled it with! It’s unlikely you will leave this shop without a little treat for yourself or a gift for someone.

91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Warp and Weft
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Warp and Weft
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Warp and Weft
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Warp and Weft
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Warp and Weft
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Warp and Weft

After a quick coffee stop, we headed to Warp and Weft, just a few doors down from Butler’s Emporium. This store is incredibly unique and one of the most interesting shops I’ve ever been in. Owner Leida was a wonderful host, giving us a tour of both floors of the shop as well as their workshop area. Leida and her team design and make all the garments in their classic collection of clothing for men and women, which can all be tailored to fit perfectly. While they’ve been doing what they do for years, it feels even more relevant these days, as we all become more akin with the idea of buying clothes to last. Again, the shop is housed in a beautiful old building which is steeped in history and oozing character. Make sure you don’t stroll past it’s narrow store front on your next visit to the town.

91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Reste
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Reste
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Reste
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Reste
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - Reste

The last stop on the SEEK section of the day was Reste - a treasure trove of rattan, plants, ceramics, magazines (including 91!), stationery, beauty products and much more. Owner Jacqui is so lovely and told us about how different her previous business was - running a party-ware shop! Now, her focus is very much on sustainability and helping people create a home that is filled with natural materials, greenery and eco-friendly products. I’m pretty sure I could spend a good hour in here (at least!) poring over all the beautiful items, trying to decide what to treat myself to! On this visit, one of the gorgeous rattan mirrors made it’s way back to 91 HQ!

91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - The Crown pub for lunch
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - The Crown pub for lunch
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - The Crown pub for lunch
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - The Crown pub for lunch
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - talk with nutritionalist Daniela Exley
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - talk with ceramicist Pip WIlcox


After a morning of shopping, we were all ready for a sit down and some food, so we headed around the corner to our table in the friendly Crown Pub. Goodie bags awaited our guests as did a delicious light lunch menu. After filling our tummies, we bundled into the cosy snug at the other side of the pub, where we were met by two inspirational women, ready to share their wisdom with us. First up was Daniela Exley, a naturopathic nutritionalist, who runs Beets, Pulse and Thyme. Daniela really does know her stuff when it comes to all things healthy eating and we all learnt so much about easy changes we can implement in our diets. Everyone in the group scrambled to snap up one of her ‘28 Day Mind and Body Reset’ books at the end of the session! Following Daniela, was Pip Wilcox, a ceramicist who has made Hastings her adopted home. Her move to the town was part of her story which she shared with us whole-heartedly, focussing on the how and why involved in making a big change in your life. Pip’s words resonated with all of us in the room, and afterwards we all admitted to getting a little bit emotional! Thank you to both ladies for being so incredibly generous with your knowledge and advice.

91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - candle making with Lagom at Cake Room
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - candle making with Lagom at Cake Room
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - candle making with Lagom at Cake Room
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - candle making with Lagom at Cake Room
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - candle making with Lagom at Cake Room
91 Magazine Seek Inspire Create event in Hastings - candle making with Lagom at Cake Room


Feeling inspired, we chat all things creative as we take a stroll along the seafront to our final venue. Stepping into Cake Room we are immediately hit by the most amazing aromas and met by the creator of these delicious scents - Thabi - owner of Lagom candles. (You may have spotted her in our current issue too!) Thabi has prepared mini candle making stations for us all, and we spend the first part of the session learning all about essential oils and the different types of wax used for making candles. (Paraffin wax is a bad choice - avoid at all costs folks!) We all then had a chance to make our own soy candle which Thabi later posted to us to enjoy at home. The day was, of course, rounded off with tea and cake - a delicious vegan gingerbread and cola cake no less!

Like with our previous event in Lewes (you can read about that one here) it really was my ideal day out - shopping in beautiful stores, chatting with like-minded folk, being inspired by other creative women AND getting to make something wonderful to take home! I know that some people have perhaps been put off by the ticket price, but for everything that the day offers I really think it is great value. Sometimes we need to invest in ourselves - give ourselves time away from the every day and spend time with others who ‘get’ you.

The plan is to hopefully do one more of these events this year, so I really hope to see some more of you at that one. If there is anything you’d love to see us do at future events, please do leave a comment here, or via social media or email. These events are for our readers and we want them to be everything you’d love from a day built just for you.

Thanks to everyone that was involved in our day in Hastings - it was simply fabulous!

All photography: SarahLou Francis

10 Tips for Building Your Brand Online

If you are running a business these days, having an online presence is pretty much essential - and building a strong brand is also a bit of a necessity if you want to stand out amongst the noise that is the world wide web. We turned to Olivia Tripp, founder of Weekend:IN to find out how small independent businesses can go about getting their brand some traction online by establishing their brand identity….  

At Weekend:IN, we see a lot of amazing, small businesses that have great products on the shelves, but a less clear idea of who they are as a brand and how to showcase themselves online. We believe a strong brand identity online is not only what drives sales but it’s also what keeps a business running smoothly and evolving in the right fashion. If you’re just starting out with your brand and are looking for some handy pointers on how to develop your business online, read on for our ten top tips.

10 tips to Build A Brand Online

1/ Think about your target audience

 Out of all our ten tips, this is the most important and the first step to building a cohesive brand. If you don’t already have an outline of what your brand’s target audience looks like, start by building a customer profile - go into maximum detail by questioning yourself, ‘who are they?’, ‘what do they do?’, ‘what are their likes and dislikes?’, ‘what other brands do they shop/enjoy?’. This will help to develop your ideal customer ‘on paper’ and reminding yourself of your ideal customer base will steer you in the right direction when faced with tricky business decisions.

 2/ Consider your brand ethos

Your brand’s persona should be apparent in everything you do. Whether that’s food made using environmentally conscious production methods or a beauty line that aims to boost the self-esteem of young people, these beliefs should be at the forefront of all your business decisions. If you aren’t yet sure of your company ethos, make a list of all the reasons why you began, this will help to bring out your brand ambitions (whether you knew them or not!) and will be a handy stepping stone towards developing a clear identity and knowing what opportunities to take or pass up in the future.

3/ Don’t stray away from your values

Don’t be afraid to shout about what you believe in - but remember you need to stick to your word and be consistent in your messaging and beliefs, otherwise customers will doubt your credibility. This also applies to saying things you don’t mean. It soon becomes apparent that a brand is inauthentic and only saying things to go along with trends and attract followers and sales. These may get them page hits and sales to begin with, but it’s not good for building trust from your customers. Our favourite brands are the ones that we want to support and share with friends and family, rather than just buy a product from. The latter is, of course, important, but if a brand doesn’t support values we believe in, we’d be much less likely to keep shopping there.

10 tips to Build A Brand Online

4/ Be consistent with your visual identity

Depending on your company values and target audience, consider what immediate reaction you want your brand visuals to give and what visuals would best represent your business. Perhaps, for example, dark, sleek imagery would be best for a professional, high-end brand, compared to a colourful, playful style for a modern, millennial brand. Ask yourself what colours would best represent your brand? What key messaging do you want included in your logo? These are small but vital details and they round off your brand’s online aesthetic and furthermore solidify your brand’s identity. Working alongside a graphic designer is the best and most efficient way of creating a strong visual identity - why not start with building a collaborative Pinterest board for colour schemes, design styles and logo ideas, so that you and the designer are on the same page.

 5/ Keep your tone of voice consistent also

 Whether it’s a promotional blog post or an inspirational caption on your Insta, your desired tone of voice should be maintained throughout your online platforms. Do you want your brand to come across as friendly or serious? Informative or laid-back? By keeping your tone of voice consistent, your followers will come to recognise your unique way with words straight away, and trust and respect what you have to say. 

10 tips to Build A Brand Online

6/ Communicate your story

Scepticism towards large, impenetrable corporate companies is at an all time high and more and more, shoppers are looking to buy from businesses that are authentic and transparent in regards to their back-story and aims for the future. Make sure to include an ‘About Us’ section on your brand’s website so that customers can understand more about you and your business - it will ensure you attract the right customer base too. Engaging with followers on your social media platforms by replying to comments, posting Instagram stories and writing blog posts are also important, everyday tasks to help get across your brand’s story and connect with your customers.

7/ Find your niche

 Here at Weekend:IN we’ve found that, in order to flourish, it’s all about having an engaged following and a following that’s right for you and your brand. When we work with clients, we don’t aim to accumulate an extreme amount of followers in a short space of time, instead, we focus on a steady growth of the right type of audience, because what is the point of having a massive following online if they don’t actually like or buy your wares? Similarly, don’t try and sell your products to anyone and everyone. You simply can’t cater to everyone (unless you’re the next Amazon), and you’ll end up tying yourself in knots trying to please everybody. Remember your brand values and ideal customer profile, and with these thoughts in mind, spend an hour or two on Instagram following people who you could see fitting into your target audience.

 8/ It’s more than just sales

The best brands around know to not bombard their online followers with repetitive imagery and sales posts after sales posts. Your online presence is not solely a shop front, it is a mood board representing your brand’s ideas and inspirations. It can even be a space to occasionally showcase brands similar to your own that you admire and value (they may return the favour too!). You may want to post behind the scenes photos on Instagram now and then or write a more personal blog post, but don’t feel like you should if it isn’t in keeping with your brand.

10 tips to Build A Brand Online

 9/ Nurture customer relationships

Knowing your customers believe in what you believe, and support your brand and its goals, is a huge morale boost. You could be in the competitive realm of fashion, but you know what you bring to the table is different thanks to your unique ambition, established brand and loyal customers, creating your own niche in the market. Respect your audience by being transparent and authentic in your business endeavours; post behind the scenes photos from your workshop, let them know what projects you’re up to, express your current interests or future goals, take them on the ride with you. But it’s not only on social you need to nourish those customer relationships, every step of the journey should represent your brand well. Think customer service and user experience! By treating your customers well, you’ll have not just one-off customers, but faithful friends, fans, and most importantly, trust.

 10/ Don’t get disheartened

Things won’t happen overnight, attracting customers and sales, will of course take time, so be patient and kind on yourself. If you’re having a down day, remind yourself why you started and chat with other like-minded brands online; there are a tonne of fab business support groups out there.

Try to represent your brand the best way you can, with an authentic and clear approach, without losing sight of your values. Interact with similar brands and followers to keep you in the loop - it will also make you more likely to attract customers and clients from further afield.

If you can create a brand that holds strong beliefs, a clear visual identity and a thoughtful relationship with your customer base, you will do more than just sell products, you will create a real positive impact on people’s lives and keep them coming back for more.

SO much great advice there! Thank you Olivia.

Weekend: IN are in fact hosting a weekend retreat on ‘How to Build a Brand’ this September in East Sussex with a wealth of knowledge and inspiration guaranteed! Like I said at the top of this post, making your brand stand out these days is half the battle so it is worth investing in how to do it well.

Olivia is offering 91 readers a wonderful £100 discount with the code '91magazine', which is valid until 1st August 2019. Go check out the event details to discover the schedule, the amazing venue, the speakers and what else is involved. It sounds fab. All the details can be found here.

Three 91 creatives to follow - July

It’s been a while since I introduced you to a few of our lovely 91 contributors. We have a wide network of photographers, writers, stylists and illustrators who create the incredible work within our pages. I’d love you to get to know them more so today I invite you to read a little about these lovely ladies, and do go give them a follow too!

Cathy Pyle - Photographer

Cathy has done a number of beautiful shoots for 91 Magazine, although we first met when she came to photograph my previous home for another magazine! Her own home is a beauty, so do go check it out as well as her other work at @cathy.pyle

Cathy Pyle photographer
cathy pyle - photographer
cathy pyle-photographer

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

I only became a photographer in my forties and wouldn’t wish to do anything else! But in another life I might be an architect, an interior designer, or perhaps a garden designer. 

 Name 3 of your favourite instagrammers & why? 

@lobsterandswan - for beautiful photography with soul, and a reminder to seek beauty in the everyday.

@blackshorestyle - for endless interior inspiration. (I want to run away and live in every image she shares!).

@hildemork78 - for her gorgeously dreamy glimpses of her life in rural Norway.

 Top tip for aspiring photographers? 

 Learn and practise as much as you can: set yourself small goals, take workshops and courses, go to exhibitions, read books, talk to people in the industry. Master the technical stuff so that you can express your creative vision, just as you want to - that’s what counts.

What is your TV box set obsession right now?

Would it be terrible if I admitted to a temporary addiction to Love Island?! The perfect antidote to a full-on life ;) When I’m in the mood for something more serious, though, I’m currently enjoying the stunning third season of the Handmaid’s Tale. 

Favourite shop? 

For an inspiring wander, Petersham Nurseries. For online homewares with social justice and environmental sustainability at their heart, Aerende.

Favourite flower? 

Anything I’ve grown in my garden (or snipped from across the neighbour’s fence!), and especially if it has a gorgeous scent. Right now, it’s climbing rose and sweet pea.

Favourite plant? 

Oh, too many to choose from! But perhaps because it's in its element right now, I’d choose the delicate hydrangea petiolaris in the shady corner outside my kitchen.

Favourite city?

I think my favourite has to be London - close to home but never the same. I never tire of the views walking over Waterloo Bridge. 

Claire van Heukelom - illustrator

Claire is a Dutch illustrator based in France, whose distinct style caught our eye, with it’s feminine influence and beautiful hand-lettering. She illustrated one of the columns in our current issue, pictured below. See more of her work at @clairevanheukelom

illustration by Claire van Heukelom in 91 Magazine
Claire van Heukelom illustration
Claire van Heukelom illustration

If you weren't an illustrator what would you be and why?

I would be an architect. Architecture and interior design has always interested me, I considered doing interior design in art school but decided that drawing fits me best.

Name 3 of your favourite instagrammers & why?

@sanae_sugimoto - Sanae Sugimoto because of the delicate and detailed illustrations.

@laurentmoreauillustration - French illustrator Laurent Moreau who´s work is intriguing and whimsical at the same time.

@willian_santiago - Willian Santiago makes sensitive illustrations with beautiful colour combinations.

Top tip for aspiring illustrators?

Find your own style.

What is your TV box set obsession right now?

We are watching The Sopranos for the second time. My oh my, how I love the characters of Paulie, Tony and Carmella.

Favourite shop?

Nature et Décoverte is a great shop where you can wander around and forget about time. You can find great things for your house and garden, all selected with a love for nature.

Favourite flower?

The peony because of it’s colour, all the delicate leaves that makes the beautiful flower. And that smell…

Favourite plant?

To be honest I do not have a green thumb, so I only admire from afar. So instead of house plants, I always have fresh flowers around the house.

Favourite city?

Lyon, a great city not so far from where we live. It has an old and a new village with amazing squares, alleys with little shops around every corner, great bouchons, and the typical vibe of the South of France.

Meredith Cowser - writer

Meredith AKA One Social Girl is one of our US contributors and has written a column for us since we launched in print 3 years ago. Starting out a crochet blogger, Meredith now runs her own brand communications studio. You can follow her at @onesocialgirl.

Meredith Cowser
Meredith Cowser
Meredith Cowser

If you weren't a writer what would you be and why?

I think I would be a graphic designer! I am fascinated by the process of bringing beautiful design to life. The use of colour, shapes, typography, and lines is just another way of bringing a story to life!

Name 3 of your favourite instagrammers & why?

Such a tough call! Here are three ladies inspiring me right now:

@eatingbirdfood - For food, Brittany’s healthy recipes are some of my favourites! I have tried several and have loved every single one. Her photos and videos are beautiful, too!

@jennymwalton - For fashion, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the sneak peeks of Jenny’s world as a fashion illustrator and half of The Sartorialist- the street style website. I love seeing her work, fashion choices, and where she is traveling next! 

@jasminedowling - Jasmin is an incredible designer, photographer, and all-round inspiring creative to follow. Her feed is visually stunning and curated based on colour palette. It is truly a feast for the eyes!

Top tip for aspiring writers/bloggers?

1. Stay true to your unique voice and talents. 

2. Don’t go at it alone. Building your community is essential for a healthy personal and professional life. 

3. You are not defined by what you do. If someone says no to something you wrote/created, they are actually saying yes to you. 

What is your TV box set obsession right now?

Stranger Things. 1000%. I am probably watching the new season as we speak….

Favourite shop?

It isn’t a storefront, but Cocokind skincare is my favourite brand right now. Their products have changed my skin, rid me of hormonal acne, and are made with clean ingredients. I’m obsessed and you should check them out! 

Favourite flower?

Dahlias! Counting down the days until they are in season at my local market. :) 

Favourite plant?

Even though my gardening skills are non-existent, I always smile when I see and, more importantly, smell a rosemary bush. The smell of rosemary is so intoxicating and makes me think of foods I want to cook. 

Favourite city?

There are a lot of cities I would love to visit in my life, but my favourite I’ve visited so far is Bath. I had the pleasure of traveling there all the way from Texas a few years ago and loved every minute. I can’t wait to travel to the UK again one day!

Thanks ladies! I love hearing a bit of insight into their lives - I hope you do too! Make sure to go say hi on Instagram too! :)

91 is pinning... Ethical living

Once upon a time, choice was limited for anyone wanting to live more ethically. But, thankfully 2019 has seen a shift in the general awareness of environmental issues, and the internet is now awash with online shops selling eco-alternatives as well as blogs and podcasts offering up advice on zero-waste living and lists of the most ethical brands out there.

Pinterest is of course a one-stop shop for discovering all those useful posts and tips of how to green up your lifestyle, so we’ve started a board to collate links to these resources and products that are great swaps for any existing plastic or polluting items.

Styling: Lauren Becker / Photography: Cathy Pyle

Styling: Lauren Becker / Photography: Cathy Pyle

The above image is taken from our AW18 issue from a feature about ‘how to style your home for a better planet’. The whole issue had an ethical theme, so do grab a copy while we still have a few left. Below are a few more images we’ve pinned to our Ethical Living board, do head over there for more, and why not start up your own board to save the ideas to?

image via  Bev Cooks

image via Bev Cooks

image via  The Future Kept

image via The Future Kept

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

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

Pop to our Ethical Living Pinterest board for more.

Seek Inspire Create with Team 91 - June

On my last check our hashtag #seekinspirecreate had over 350,000 images under the it! Amazing! Inevitably there are plenty of non-relevant pictures, but equally there are loads of beautiful shots, so do take a peek here.

So what have the ladies behind 91 been seeking, getting inspired by and creating recently?! Here, some of our team share what they’ve been up to of late…

Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker

Hashtag Authentic book – Olivia Williams, brand manager

Sitting at the top of my reading pile is Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker who is the force behind Me & Orla, her phenomenally successful blog and Instagram account, with the book taking its name from her popular podcast. The book is an absolute beauty and I’m grateful to be tapping into it since feeling the need to reignite my connection with the creative community on Instagram. The book is broken down into four chapters -  Story Telling,  Making Pictures  Archive Your Life and Sharing Your World - with stunning images on every page and Sara’s lovely girl-next-door narrative. She inspires and empowers in equal measure. What I particularly love is the positivity that radiates throughout, combined with the philosophy that by remaining authentic and true to yourself, anything is possible. My journey is just starting with this book and I’m looking forward to journaling my way through it, learning and growing mindfully. 

pic via:  Tinsmith’s IG

Tinsmiths – Sine Fleet, sub-editor

Every now and then, I get a little pang of nostalgia that pulls me back to one of my ‘happy’ places, the historic Herefordshire town of Ledbury. It has a wonderful mix of small independent shops and eateries, and to lose myself in its warren of winding lanes, gazing up at ancient timber framed buildings, is just magical to me. In contrast though, top of my to-do list is always a visit to the town’s most strikingly contemporary building – a large and undulating glass and steel structure that’s home to design store, Tinsmiths.

I love design in all its forms, but for the home, it’s nature-inspired, thoughtful interiors that draw me in, and I’m always on the lookout for timeless design that will be cherished for the long haul. Tinsmiths is a real tonic for this. Alongside textiles, furnishings, lighting, and all sorts of characterful homewares, there’s a beautiful collection of art, craft, and artisan ceramics. Both the unexpected architecture of Tinsmiths, and the curated collections inside, perfectly fuse the old and the new - and the result is something quite special.

28 day Mind & body reset book

28 day mind and body reset book - Caroline Rowland, editor

We recently hosted our second Seek Inspire Create day event, this time in Hastings, with a host of lovely local businesses involved. The group was treated to a talk from Daniela, a naturopathic nutritionalist who runs Beets, Pulse and Thyme. She shared a wealth of knowledge about exactly how and why what we eat and put on our skin affects our health and well-being, and how so many ailments can be treated or managed by simply improving our diet. (Daniela is proof of this as she manages her own auto-immune disease purely in this way).

At the end of the talk, she told us she only had five copies left of her 28 day reset manual and the group quickly scrabbled to get their hands on one, including me! The idea is to follow her 28 day programme to ‘reset’ your body and mind, looking at one thing each week - 1. Gut health, 2. blood sugar and adrenals, 3. the skin and lymphatic system and 4. hormones. As well as lots of meal ideas throughout, in the skin section Daniela has included recipes for how to make your own scrubs, face masks and deodorants - I can’t wait to give it all a try! Find more tips and ideas on Daniela’s blog and details of how to do the reset yourself.

Taking pottery classes

Learning new skills - Shelley Welti, marketing manager

This year - inspired by all the wonderful makers we meet and interview for 91 Magazine - I've challenged myself to learn a new skill every month. So far I've made a purse (or to give it its full name: a necessary clutch wallet), been on a natural cosmetics course, honed my writing skills (hopefully!) in a workshop, sewn a wrap skirt and am learning how to make a macrame wall hanging. I've also continued with my pottery wheel course – I've just finished my third – and already miss the feel of the clay and how it magically transforms from a slab into a bowl or cup, just by using your hands. While my makes are definitely not in the league of the talented ceramists we feature, I'm really enjoying letting go of perfectionism and the day's stresses and seeing what happens on the wheel. I still can't quite believe I made a cup! 

Rosendals Trädgård, biodynamic garden cafe, Sweden

Rosendals Trädgård - Hannah Gambin, events co-ordinator

My husband and I recently took a trip to Stockholm to celebrate my birthday. One of many highlights was Rosendals Trädgård - a biodynamic garden cafe on the island of Djurgården. Our visit started with a stroll exploring their vegetable fields, rose gardens, wild flower beds and green houses, before stopping at their gorgeous cafe for the most delicious homemade lunch. Tasty goodies were also tempting us next door in their farm shop, from home-baked bread to their biodynamic vegetables. We couldn’t leave without taking a look inside their picturesque shop, a carefully curated space with a wide selection of flowers, plants and seeds. So much thought and intention has gone into creating Rosendals Trädgård - a must see when visiting the Swedish capital.

91 visits... the Barbican Conservatory

91 editor Caroline spends an afternoon exploring one of London’s best kept secrets - the Barbican Conservatory.

I love London, I really do. What I love is that no matter how long you live here there will always be something new to discover, or somewhere that’s been there forever but you just never knew about it. This was the case for me with the Barbican Conservatory. Nestled in the heart of the Brutalist complex, that Londoners either love or hate (I love), is a verdant oasis - in fact the second largest conservatory in the city, after Kew.

Barbican conservatory, London

The conservatory is only open to the public on certain Sundays and bank holidays, so best to check online before you plan a trip, but the added bonus is that it offers free entry. Plant lovers will most likely lose a few hours wandering the leafy pathways and exploring the various levels, viewing the vast collection of tropical plants from all angles.

Barbican conservatory, London
Barbican conservatory, London
Barbican conservatory, London
Barbican conservatory, London
Barbican conservatory, London

As someone who has become a tad houseplant-obsessed over recent years, it was so interesting to see so many of the varieties that I have added to my own home is this environment, where they’ve been allowed to run a little bit wild. I was in awe of the giant, unruly monsteras, the roof-skimming fiddle leaf figs and the hefty pileas. I’ve since discovered that you can do a 60-minute guided tour of the conservatory with their resident gardener to find out more about the history of the place and it’s immense collection, for which tickets are just £12.50. Alternatively, you could treat yourself to afternoon tea amongst the greenery, with the cakes and savouries all inspired by a fruit, flower or herb grown in the conservatory.

Barbican Conservatory, London
Barbican Conservatory, London
Barbican Conservatory, London
Barbican Conservatory, London
Barbican Conservatory, London
Barbican Conservatory, London
Barbican Conservatory, London

Make sure you scale the steps to the top of the glasshouse where the arid room is located. This was one of my favourite areas - packed with an impressive collection of cacti and succulents, wonderfully established jade plants and the most phenomenal burro’s tail I’ve ever seen!

An excellent way to spend a carefree Sunday in the city and will likely encourage even the least green-fingered amongst us to acquire a potted friend or two!

Details of opening times can be found on the Barbican’s website.