Quick, it looks as if Mummy's trying to get something done!
It's never easy running a small business (read our other Teacup Tuesday blogs to see all the different trials we endure), but for some reason it's even more difficult in the school holidays. Now Anna & I both have children under 4, so while they are not at school we are affected by the activities that are put on hold during the school holidays.
So my midweek playgroup is now 'on holiday' until September.I know this doesn't sound like it should affect us but it's where I can catch up on emails & missed telephone calls (I use this opportunity to call people back who have asked about our products or our company - usually national newspapers looking for us to advertise with them) while DangerMouse plays with her friends.
I now find myself with a toddler who wants stimulation during the day and a husband who wants to discuss interior design (where to put up pictures in layman's terms) at night. So missing these few hours is making a big difference!
While I am sure there are other working Mums out there who now have older children underfoot who are thinking 'pah' at this blog update, but I'm not yet able to give Kathryn jobs that help me! She has her own interpretation of 'tidy' when I'm stock checking or she finds something she likes and says "ooooh mine!". If I try to do something while I think she's playing nicely... I usually find she's managed to get into mischief (at the weekend I found her up to her elbows in paint - painting my car with her poster paints!!).
So we working Mums with children underfoot this Summer Holiday are trying to find ways to fit our work days into the precious few hours we have in a week. While we will always put orders as our first priority in these few hours, people may have to wait a day more for us to come back to their enquiries or they may just have 'please excuse the typos as this was sent from my iPhone' at the bottom of their emailed response!
With the pending Royal baby arrival (perhaps by blog launch time, now arrived Royal baby) I've had quite a few days of impending babies arriving.
On Saturday, I became an Auntie again to Freddy Arthur, little brother to Henry.
I love it. I never thought I would say it and I am sure I am not the only Mum who feels it since becoming a Mum. The news of a baby on it's way makes me excited, a little tearful and a very happy lady. I am like a child waiting for Christmas.....I really can't wait!
There is something very lovely about new born babies.
When we (Sarah & I, the unik ladies) heard that Kate and Wills were expecting, we got talking, virtually over email I think as our crazy lives mean we physically don't get to catch up much.
-What does every Mum, regardless of status, worth and how much is in their purse, deserve to have to celebrate their new baby arriving?
-What should no new Mum go without?
-What did we feel was the most precious thing we could share with our own babies, that were as unique, precious.
Something we felt EVERY mum should not be without.
And the answer for us both was simple. And very much said in unison!
The special little something that is simple cotton, but beautifully hand made. It's perfect to shelter a baby in the summer and keep them warm in the Winter. The layers keep you cool, keeps skin cool and breathable and un sweaty way.
Each is perfectly unique as the infant they are made for.
The first box ever made for my biggest naughty. A mix of woodland treasures in the undergrowth, important people who would have loved her had they still been here and beautiful flowers.
Three little birds box The original made for my sweet little niece, Elsie Pru. She's a cheeky wotsit with lots of character and I designed this box to replicate her sweet strong characterful nature.
This box is coming soon to the website.
Using decoupage I am able to incorporate family photos or a page depicting a name from a baby naming book into a design. My latest book was especially personal, capturing a special Cat, a frog and a snake amongst Teddies, Bunnies and birds.
Each box is made from sustainable alder wood and has a fabric lining cloth that can also act as a burp cloth. Boxes can be made extra special with more personalisation and each design is available in green, off white and pale blue.
I am a little bit of a Magpie so collecting treasures and memories is something natural and inherent to me. Making a box to capture my daughters treasure and memories is something I needed and LOVED doing. Now all I have to do is fine time to make my smallest naughty one!
Within my biggest naughties box is Birthday cards, shells collected from our first holiday, first paintings, first letters written and little things she classes as her treasures.
I love making them and love the little ones i make them for.
I take photos [as many of you know]. In fact I take LOTS of photos, some of which I think are quite good... so I print them out, frame them and put them up on the walls of my house (yes I have builders in making the house bigger... no not just so I can put more photos up!).
So I've invested in a professional printer, I now religiously buy the make of the printer ink & the paper by the same manufacturer as the printer. The branded ink & paper cost me more than the cheap alternatives that I used to buy, but the quality out weighs the price difference.
The cheaper inks & paper meant the beautiful colours I see on my screen weren't replicated on the printed photo, my greens weren't right, by blacks had a reddish tint & sometimes the photo looked flat in comparison. The photos on the cheaper paper fade quicker, losing the finder detail. So for me the more expensive, high quality ink & paper will look better, last longer and keep my happy for a lot longer than the cheaper alternative.
This is the lesson I've learnt through trial and error: pay for the quality and don't suffer the heartache caused by the cheaper alternative.
Which is why all our gifts at u-ni-k are hand selected by Anna & I.
We both believe in the high quality of our products and although for some pieces there are cheaper alternatives we've found these to be inferior to ours.
We want the gift you are giving to look better, last longer and keep the recipient happier than the cheaper alternative. That's why we're u-ni-k (unique).
Here is a little of where she starts and what inspires her.
What did you want to be as a child?
Goodness, I really can't remember!
An actress at one point, then I realised I was far too shy.
Something that involved creating something.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
I find inspiration in everything.
A books pages, The colours, the way something is printed, the placement or balance of a page.
I love the books Yves Riviere's has worked on.
A colour and crunch of a leaf
A napkin print or a pattern on a table cloth.
A colour and fragility of a Vintage Tea set.
A typeface on a letterhead, or a beautiful colour used in a child's scribble.
My children most certainly give me inspiration- how they play, what they find interesting. Normally not what you would expect!
I love architecture and often love the feeling of a beautiful characterful building with plenty of love and history growing beneath the painted layers.
What makes you different, what inspires you to create unique pieces?
To be unique is to be different. To be inspired by all the different elements you see that touch you everyday in a unique way. To not be unique means you have copied or are unoriginal. To be inspired by something is a good thing.
by Anthony Fry
What blogs or magazines do you read regularly and would you count as an inspirational read?
I don't regularly read blogs or buy magazines. I tend to dip in and out. I love CRAFT making blogs although I have to admit I haven't actually made anything from them.
Magazines never interest me unless they I buy one for a particular article. I have precious saved copies of World of Interiors, issue August 2009 featuring David Earp of Shuktara and his home.
I tend to be more inspired by a book, a typeface or a colour combination than a magazine.
For years I walked round with a sketch I did of my Grandma's wallpaper because I loved the print. An inspirational ready- No i am more inspired by an inspirational weight or colour of paper.
Why are your pieces special?
I dont think my pieces appeal to all. But I do hope they find happy homes. I try and capture a moment, a fragment of time or a personality in my boxes. Making them special for a single person or family makes them a lovely thing to make.
Can you tell us about a gift that you will never forget?
Mr Phipps and his workshop
I am happy to say I have had many.
I received a hand beaten silver spoon when I left my job to go on maternity leave made by a very special person who died a few years ago. He was a very special maker and was certainly as characterful as his spoons. He didn't actually give me the gift but the person who did knew how much I loved it and it was certainly received with many tears.
I received a beautiful blue Vintage tea set from my parents one year for Christmas after I spied it at a treasure shop one day while shopping with my sister. I have used it to drink tea from, champagne and absolutely adore it.
I was given a copy of my favourite photograph taken by David Bailey, of Jean Shrimpton, from one of my sweet friends. I love it.
These are just a few, there are many.
What makes all gifts extra special to me are the element of surprise. I LOVE surprise gifts.
What have you got planned for the future?
To make more personal boxes for special people.
I have another new product I hope to have finished by week four of my series of blogs. I hope to share it with you then.
Plus I want to make something in cloth. What I don't know yet. I am waiting for something to inspire me.
What are your three most important pieces of advice to any up and coming crafters/designers.
1. Play and have fun while you make, it shows in the finished product.
2. Be true to you, don't make for anyone else other than yourself. It will never be quite right if you do.