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7 Smart People Share The Best Advice They Ever Received

27 Dec

As humans we’re always craving for something or someone else to take over the decisional power when things get tough. We’re always seeking ‘signs’ to show us whether we’re about to make the right or wrong decision.

However, what I’ve come to find is that instead of looking outwardly, we should look inwardly at honing our own decision-making abilities. That’s what transforms us in to resilient and wiser beings (as my mum says: “Getting older is mostly making less of the same mistakes and Googling shit”).


Pic: Anna Dziubinska

We all need a little guidance along the path though right? So in the fashion of The Little Pocket Book of Wisdom, I’ve curated bite sized advice from some smart humans I interviewed over the last few months. They’re all still figuring out the answers too, but here’s the input that’s helped them thus far:

1. The PR

“Treat your enemies as teachers, be grateful you have them in your life.” 

This is from one of the ultimate teachers, the Dalai Lama. I read this at the time I needed to hear it. The ‘being grateful’ part has to do with considering the alternative, just imagine how vulnerable and sensitive we would all be if we were never tested. It’s the mantra that’s helped me flip my thought process when confronted with unkind people.

“No one’s going to love you exactly like you imagined.”

Advice from a good friend who’s also a life coach. The message being, love yourself enough so that any other love just adds more candles to the cake you’ve already iced.

“There’s no secret ingredient, it’s just you.”

Perhaps the scariest thought of all, but also freeing once you take charge and realise that when you work hard, you get to where you want to be. I see this quote every week on the wall at my yoga class. It’s actually from the character Po in Kung Fu Panda!

2. The BuzzFeed Writer

“It’s never going to be the perfect time. Just do it and see what happens, you will spend your whole life waiting for the perfect time.”

Not sure exactly who said this, but it’s always stuck with me.

“Not all fingers are equal.”

From my mum. It’s African as fuck, but it basically means don’t compare yourself to others, like people are not equal, so don’t spend your time checking for what other people are doing. Continue reading


It’s ‘All Bless’ on the eastern front – statement jewellery with a conscience

3 Aug

Last Saturday during a jaunt around the capitals’ trendy London Fields district I stumbled across Netil market, a hidden haven of vintage art books, retro clothing, live music and character-filled jewels.

Netil Market 'not another chuffin' market'

The ‘All Bless’ ladies, Gen, Anne and Lita are the faces behind the new hippie inspired jewellery brand with a heart, their mixture of Swarovski crystals, precious & semi-precious stones and forraged materials – come together to create statement pieces that look pretty – and make you feel good.

All Bless jewels

One particular range that caught my eye, were the leather feathers. Anne assures me: “We make sure that it’s all recycled or second hand.” Adding “we also make sure there’s no child labour involved.”

All Bless leather feather earrings

The name sums up what the team is all about. ‘Bless’, ‘a street term that states that everything is cool, everything is good’, and ‘All’ to symbolise ‘the collective of three designers.’

To look at the owners, you’d assume they’d been at this jewellery making game for a long time. However it is ‘a hobby’ for both Gen, who actually works in advertising and Anne works in Marketing.

Anne & Gen 'All Bless'

The jewels themselves live up to their unique label, whereby each item is a one off: “That Agate over there was sourced from a particular location, and once it’s gone it’s gone – then we find a new stone that inspires us.

“That’s the exciting bit really.”

The ‘All Bless‘ family is dreaming up an earthy taupe on silver colour scheme for autumn/winter, Anne explains; “We love working with lots of different textures and creating really individual pieces.”

Personally I’m looking forward to investing in some more leather feather earrings you can choose to rock a bohemian vibe and buy one for £7 or stick to symmetry and get two for £12. The talented craftswomen are able to fashion pieces to your exacting standards and tastes – and use both silver and gold plated metals.

All Bless leather feather earring - in turquoise leather, red cow fur, & glass beads - Ella Darlington

Stay glued to the All Bless Twitter page for regular product posts and where to find the stall each weekend.

Netil Market

The rugby 7’s festival meets ‘Cupcakes and Co’ by Jools & Jacks

17 May

Cupcake dream-team ‘Jools and Jacks‘ from Cheshire, England recently set up a pop-up shop at a Rugby 7’s festival in Manchester.

The formidable Jools & Jacks of ‘Cupcakes and Co’

It was the last thing I was expecting to see whilst cruising the stalls at an event for one of the toughest contact sports known to man, but I was so impressed by their creativity and innovation that I had to stop for a closer look.

The two friends, originally from Macclesfield operate from home in Cheshire. “We’ve been going for about a year and a half now, while we used to produce around 100 cupcakes a day, our output is now around 500.

“We just love to play around with concepts.”

Cupcakes & Co by Jools and Jacks

The successful two-some have found a great home at farmers markets, and have even received great feedback when they sold their cutesy cupcakes in a hospital.

As you’d expect the team have capitalised on the massive shift towards ‘handmade weddings’: “While we create 7 or 8 tier celebratory cupcake stands, we also do an actual cake as well.

“We’ve found that the older crowd still like to see the couple cut the cake.”

I ask the ladies what the future holds for this brand: “We’re just going wherever it takes us, it’s just growing really organically, one day we want a shop another day we want loads of shops. It varies.”

‘What a treat!’ Cupcakes and Co by Jools and Jacks

What ‘Cupcakes and Co’ have in their favour is their amazing innovation in baking and presentation. I snapped up a mint Aero cupcake with light airy frosting, whilst the boyfriend opted for an Oreo number. (There was even a hidden surprise as you chomped your way through the sponge.)

You can get in touch with the team via their Facebook page or by calling: 07967 146703. Alternatively take a trip to some charming Cheshire markets where you’ll find the ladies flaunting their flair for cupcake craft.

Bit of Persil on that lads! (MR7’s)

A tense play (MR7’s)

Exclusive: Crafty bloke Chris Gardner of ManMade DIY

7 Apr

Photo:ManMade Happy chappy Chris

Chris Gardner is the founder and creative genius behind the ‘ManMade‘ blog, he made the decision to set up the food and craft site as a way to let out his creative energies.

Realising there weren’t any websites out there that reflected what he wanted to achieve. He didn’t want to make jewellery for women or just screen print all the time, he wanted some hands-on DIY crafting for himself, a mens crafting blog was the perfect answer!

Somehow Chris’ blog has managed to attract both sexes, and he’s so pleased of its success. The Philosophy graduate explains; “studying in the humanities helped me to write well, discussing a few subjects each day – in everyday language that’s easy for folks to understand.”

Here I pick his brain on the wonder that is ‘MadMade‘…

No holds barred tool belt (I want one!)


How did the marriage wtih DIY and Craft happen? (Why did you set up the blog?)
I began writing and blogging about DIY home décor and design in graduate school, and that led to lots of reading and researching in the craft and style blogosphere. I found all of the how-to sites really engaging, but noticed a lot of presumptions; for example, many sites read by men were more geeky, with emphases on processes like computer programming and soldering. And all the craft sites imagined their readers to be female. Also, at local craft shows and gatherings, nearly all the artists were women who made projects for women. And the few male vendors either made items for women, like jewellery, or were proficient in traditional art techniques, like screen-printing.

So, I wanted to create a crafting community that didn’t begin articles with phrases like “Hey, ladies, check out this cool_____” and featured projects that were more masculine, or at least gender neutral. I wanted there to be a place that gathered and highlighted projects that were designed, or could at least be translated, to a male audience. Simply put, I love making things, and I’m a man.

Rich red 60's throwback mod clock


What’s your creative background? (Education, hobbies, job’s…)
My education is not in the creative field at all. I actually have a bachelor’s in philosophy and comparative religion, and a master’s degree in theology. I haven’t taken an “art” class since seventh grade. But, studying in the humanities taught me to write well, and to boil down tough concepts to everyday language that’s easy for folks to understand. I’ve always been a creative person – doodling, playing music, seeking out challenging literature, art, and film.

My parents were both science teachers, so we always did lots of hands-on learning. It taught me to asks questions like “How did they do that?” As I grew older, my ‘how did they do that’s became ‘I can do that’s, and my curiosity developed and helped me address practical concerns. When I graduated from college and began my graduate studies, I had my own place and no money, so I learned to make the things I wanted. I wanted to eat well and on the cheap, so I learned proper cooking techniques. I wanted my home to be creative and inspiring, so I learned about furniture design and home organization. The same is true for clothing, art, etc. Also I love to give handmade gifts, so that always gives me a chance to explore different crafting media on the small scale.

G-nius light design

Do men fear craft?
I don’t think men fear craft, but I think they’ve been taught that it’s not the kind of thing that applies to them after a certain age. I do think most of the stories that get told assume that crafting is for women and children. But, men have always been creative – writers and poets, visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, chefs…. What’s different now, I think, is we’ve lived in an industrialized, global society for well over a century now, and many of us have lost a connection to what we consume. Few of us know where our food, clothing, entertainment, etc, come from. Thankfully, there’s a shift, now, and because of societal leaps in the understanding of gender construction, men can choose to live, as we call it on ManMade, ‘the handmade life.’ Do other men make fun of me because I run a crafting website? All the time. But when I tell them why, I think my approach is definitely heard differently than it would have been in centuries before. Hopefully, creative young adults will start to feel like it’s just as okay to pick up knitting needles as they do basketballs, electric guitars, and mechanic’s wrenches.

Slotted angle credenza

What’s been your best creation/discovery?
Honestly, my greatest discovery has been that the gamble of starting a crafting site for men was a worthwhile venture. Things have grown immensely since I started the site just a little over a year ago. There are lots of folks out there, just like me, both men and women, and they’ve come to rely on ManMade as a source for ideas and inspiration. It’s been amazing to give back to the internet community in that way, as well as to the craft scene in my own city.

Galvanized pipe desk

My greatest creation is a tough one; I make the things I use everyday, and that gives me a really different outlook to what I consume. I made the desk I’m typing on right now. I’m wearing a hooded sweatshirt I sewed myself, and it fits me perfectly. My office is surrounded by prints and art that I’ve made, and I stay organized through hacks that I’ve come up with that work with the way I do things. I’m super grateful for the opportunity to been able to explore those things and to impact my life and pocketbook in that way.

Chris channels his inner-boffin with this circuit frame


Any tips for men who want to get a bit more crafty?

For tips to be crafty, find something you need, and learn how they’re made, and then get the tools and materials to do it yourself. Use opportunities like the holidays to create things for the people you love, and things like school and work projects to develop your creative skills. Always be on the lookout for inspiration in literature, film, and music. And I know its cliché, but do take risks. Always try a project a step bigger than you feel comfortable.
And always wear proper safety gear. Please.

You can check out Chris’ seriously inspiring blog here. Or follow his antics on Twitter.

Exclusive: Fun Q&A with Lucy of LucyBlaireCreations

17 Mar

Lucy in the sky with...leaves

I recently stumbled across the talented Mrs Lucy Blaire’s beautiful ‘Handmade wedding’ on Etsy’s blog. Which led me to her utterly adorable Etsy shop.

I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to pick her brain, and find out what makes her tick, and why she’s so damn talented!

What’s your creative background?

I’ve been making things my entire life, learning as I go, and picking up tips from other creatives I’ve met over the years. As far as formal training goes I graduated from the Art Institute Of Boston in 2005, went to night school for welding at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, and worked professionally as a seamstress for a few years before starting my own business.

Describe your personal style in three words.
I. LIKE. THAT. Haha! I have a very eclectic style and just seem to gravitate towards whatever I like on that particular day. The only thing it all seems to have in common is bright pops of warm colours. I tend never to pick out anything in the blue colour family. Not sure why.

You recently celebrated your wedding in the most wonderful handmade style, what were the influences and inspirations for the decor?
The influences were to start with, my love of warm colours and secondly, my love of autumn. I also really wanted a casual atmosphere, more like a backyard barbecue than a wedding.

Why do you think women have made a shift back to the ‘make-do-and-mend‘ and crafting mentality that existed in the 40’s?
I think all people seem to be shifting back to a more handmade make it work life just because we want to make our clothes and our living spaces what we’ve always dreamed them to be. Perhaps we don’t have enough money to have our “dream home” but with all the do it yourself tips out there you can get it pretty close! I also think that everything we consume is so mass-produced, which is fine in certain areas, that we want to craft things that are special and meaningful in a more individual way.

Is it easy to make money from crafting? Do you have any tips?
It’s extremely difficult. I’m sure running any business is difficult, but with something like crafting you can’t just hope to make all of your money from just one outlet. I wear a lot of hats in order to make a decent profit, from crafter, to designer, and freelance writer, and many more. It’s just a matter of being constantly in “work” mode and always thinking of more and more creative ways of getting your name out there and ways to make some money.

What has been your favourite project?

Unfortunately it’s a project I’m really not allowed to talk about because it’s still in progress! I’m working on a yearlong charity effort for the magazine Sew News that will be their 2012 Sew Your Support effort. It’s a great project craft wise, as well as a project that will make you feel good. Look for it next year!

What’s essential for any crafter to prosper?
An obsessive personality! It’s very important obviously to have the funds to do it, the supportive family or friends around you who will help you out if you have a huge order or something you can’t handle alone, but really, an obsessive personality. If you don’t have a real need to do this it will be hard for you to get up at 7am and work a full day, just like a “normal” job, with no one watching over you.

What idea’s do you have for future projects? What’s inspiring you?
Right now I’m being a little crazy about British royal history. It started a while ago when I read a book about Mary Queen of Scots and then it just grew from there, “Wait, whose that person?!” get another book, “I never heard of that guy!”, go out and get a new book… I’m also working on a book proposal right now for my own sewing book. Busy busy!

What three things are you never without day-to-day?
Other than my sewing supplies, which would be too obvious, I’m never without my cell phone, my Chapstick, and my Moleskin notebook.

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Thank you Lucy! I can’t wait to find out what that ‘top-secret project’ you’re working on looks like!

Check out Lucy’s totally original and adorable Etsy shop here! Her website is pretty impressive too!

Ark of Cambridge

23 Feb

Friends are constantly coming back to me with shops, items and websites saying ‘saw this and thought of you’.

A good friend of mine recently sent me a few images of ‘Ark’ vintage and antique store in Cambridge. There are two branches of the shop, St Mary’s passage, and Norfolk street.

Florence from the St. Mary’s store says “we often get a lot of parents of students saying they make a point of stopping in when they visit their children.”

Their vintage and antiques are sourced locally and from all over the country – “sometimes customers come to us with items or we go off in search of them.”

There’s a mixture of modern and heritage vintage and antiques throughout both stores. The Norfolk street shop tends to have more furniture items (which are popular with the locals.)

This Saturday (26th February) see’s the launch of the St Mary’s stores’ vintage fashions collection ranging from ‘handmade pieces dating back to the 30’s, to 80’s prom dresses.’

The Vintage clothing collection will be available exclusively on Saturdays.