[Weekend Encounters – 2] The Thames Festival 2013

The next stop on Sunday afternoon was We Make London’s market stalls for the Thames Festival at More London. I missed the chance of going last weekend due to work, where they were based at Bernie Spain Gardens, beside the Oxo Tower. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, late that afternoon (around 5pm), the weather took an even bigger turn for the worse which dampened (no pun intended!) the festival spirit a bit but despite that the ladies (and fellas) on the stalls still managed to put on their biggest smiles for their customers braving the rain…..including me! :) So the highlight of the evening for me was chance to catch up with a few familiar faces again; Sabine of (S-Gerth Designs), Viktorija (of And Smile), Elizabeth (of Lizzes Beautiful Art) and Sandra and Sophie (of Clementine and Bloom). Oh and the magpie in me quickly spotted a lovely swallow necklace and a heart collar brooch on the stall next to Viktorija’s which got me chatting to its designer, Aarti of Fairytales and Hidden Notes (how amazing is that name??) so we’ve swapped details so I could enquire further about her products and keep up to date on more of her work. Well, I’ve definitely come away from the fair with some gift ideas for Christmas and to add to my personal ‘wish list’ too! ;) xxBLOG_STRIP_Thames-Festival_WEB BLOG_STRIP_Thames-Festival_WEB 2These clever leather key holders by S-Gerth Designs caught my eye. Beautifully designed to that make sure you’re keys are always in the one place! The red one is my personal favourite! :)
BLOG_STRIP_Thames-Festival_WEB 4She’s done it again! How adorable is the And Smile stall display!! If you want to follow more of Viktorija’s awesome creativity then follow her on IG!! ;)

BLOG_STRIP_Thames-Festival_WEB 3The lovely jewellery and trinkets by Fairytales and Hidden Notes. Can you spot the swallow necklace and the heart collars I like? :)
BLOG_STRIP_Thames-Festival_WEB3 Another awesome stall display – this mother and daughter team sure know a thing or two on styling….not to mention re-wiring old vintage lamps! I love the textured base of this 1960s/70s lamp which they’ve given a new lease of life by teaming it up with their gorgeous screen-printed butterfly lampshade!! I am definitely keeping an eye on this! :)

[Image credit:  © Made by Molu]

Oh I say! We Make London’s 5th Birthday fabulous Good Bag!

This post is long overdue (sorry folks!) but June has been rather busy and I got sidetracked with numerous other things followed by our holiday last week. So without further adieu, here’s a look at the contents of my We Make London‘s 5th Birthday goody bag! This is probably one of the best goody bags I’ve received in recent years that consisted of bespoke pieces of jewellery, stationery, bags and accessories – a fabulous selection of handcrafted goodies! You’ll find names such as Kate Rowland, And Smile, Triptych Designs, Crystal & Stone, Tagada StudioSanna Panda and more. If you’d like to see more about the designer-makers listed from that day’s handmade market you can find that here. What do you think – not bad eh? :)
BLOG_WML5th-bday_4 BLOG_WML5th-bday_5 BLOG_WML5th-bday_3 BLOG_WML5th-bday_1 BLOG_WML5th-bday_2 (Artists from left to right: Mister Peebles, Lemonstone Art,  Melody Seal, Alfamarama, Lucy Jewellery, Paper Moon Illustration)

[Behind the scenes] And Smile

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This month’s featured illustrator and designer is the lovely Viktorija of And Smile – if you haven’t come across her work before then you’re bound to have on here via my post on We Make London’s first Camden market or on my Facebook page , Twitter or Instagram! She’s the remarkable talent behind those cute and whimsical illustrative brooches, earrings and greeting cards…..and as you’ve probably guessed right – I’m a huge fan of her goodies (I think I have like 7 pieces already!) which you’ll find on my blazers and coats depending on my mood ;) My most recent purchase was Mr. Jacques who I bought to wear out to Paris in August ;) Anyway, a few weeks after my first order through her Etsy store, I had the delightful chance of meeting her at the Camden Markets. We had a good ol’ natter that afternoon in the miserably cold weather and soon became buddies on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! Anyway, here’s what she has to say:

1. Hello!! Tell us a little about yourself and what drew you into becoming a designer-maker? My name is Viktorija and I was born and bred in Latvia. I’ve always loved to draw and make things with my hands so when I had to choose a career path I decided to study Illustration and came to UK to do that. I fell in love with the country and after graduating from uni I moved to the fabulous city of London! I never thought of becoming a designer-maker, it just happened naturally, somehow.

2. How did you come about setting up And Smile? And what is the story behind the name? One of my friends was setting up a pop-up shop of up-cycled furniture and handmade home wares in Hampstead Heath and asked if he could sell some of my prints. I was incredibly happy and very inspired from that which led me to update my little Etsy shop (that had been empty for couple of years!). After the prints I added some postcards, and after that came brooches and found myself unable to stop making and listing things on there. I was thinking long and hard (words don’t come easy to me) about the name and finally came up with And Smile – it’s pretty much is what it says on the tin! I would love people to smile when they see, wear and use my little goodies!

3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? I think (or I would like to think) that these five words are: cute, quirky, fun, (a little) weird and happy.

4. I absolutely adore your work having bought a few goodies already (yep, I’m a die-hard fan!) What’s the main source of inspiration for your illustrations? Thank you! So glad to know you like the goodies! My main source of inspiration would be imaginary friends, little animals dressed up in tweed jackets, the amazing city of London where you can find everything and anything you want to know, see, hear, feel or taste! _IHC4163e-WEB _IHC4184e-WEB

5. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? usually have a vague idea of want I want to create and then I live with it for a while. It slowly grows and develops in my head and then I try to put it into sketches and see where it takes me from there! Whether the item becomes a new brooch or a series of postcards (or something else) I decide along the way.

6. How long would one your products take from inception to completion? It’s a really hard question. Sometimes I’m really slow and it would take me couple of months to nurture the idea and find the right way to produce it and then other times I could create it in couple of days! Or I have an overload of ideas and I would do all in couple of hours from coming up with an idea to executing it! AndSmile_QuoteWEB

7. Is there any craft/art medium besides illustrations that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? I would love to know more about different printing methods (like wood print, letterpress and screen printing). I did some basic screen printing and lino cuts but I am fascinated by traditional methods and would love to try them at some point.

8. You seem to be doing extremely well with orders coming in 24/7 in what is a booming craft and design industry! Would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? Haha, you are very kind to say so. I think my brooches and cards were lucky enough to find new owners and I’m extremely happy about it! It is competitive world but every single designer-maker is doing something unique and different and by offering more choice we (craft and design industry) are more likely to attract people with different tastes. I really hope it works that way and we can change the world (in a long perspective of course!). …..And I didn’t answer your question (oops). As to breaking in into this competitive world, I am not too sure whether I broke into it but I see it more of a journey of hard work, dedication and creativity.

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9. What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? Three tips would be: Enjoy what you do, make sure you take time off and be nice to people!

10. What would you say is the best part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side? I enjoy all parts of it, creating, packing, selling. But of course I love when people get back to me saying that they love the product (I especially love the photos they send!). I enjoy working on personal commissions be it a portrait, print, brooch or designing wedding invitations. I am always on a look for exciting things to draw/make and try. It’s something I run on the side but pretty much 9-22! I’m very bad at taking time off or knowing when to stop working (I do procrastinate as well, don’t worry!). Recently I quit my part-time day job (with no back up plan) and from beginning of July it will be my full-time business, along with illustration. So I will be available for commissions and collaborations.

11. Of your current range of work, what piece would you pick out as your favourite? It’s hard to say as all my creations are equal to me but if I have to choose it would be Mr. Jacques and Frida brooches, I wear them the most! il_fullxfull.417781250_5u4t-WEB _IHC8435e-WEB il_fullxfull.394940033_oxh9-WEB

12. When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? I love finding new or revisiting well known book stores, stationery stores, galleries and parks. I love eating and cooking, walking around London and discovering new places.

13. What are your favourite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? I am about to read Great Gatsby, I haven’t seen the film and looking forward to read the book and watch the film. :) I’m always following what’s happening on It’s Nice That – they are endless source of inspiration.

14. Name three things you just could not live without? I definitely would be able to live without those things but I would be a little sadder without them: Washi tapes, Instagram and avocado.

15. Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? I love all the creations from these three super talented ladies!
Pauline from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BenuShop
Jonna from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jonnasaarinen
Sabine from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SGerthDesigns

16. What would we expect from And Smile in the future? And can we find you at any craft + design events this year? You can expect a lot more original drawings, prints and new brooches of course! I will be at Camden Lock market on 5th and 19th of July with We Make London. And more, I will post the dates and places on my Facebook page.

Thank you Viktorija for taking your time out to share your story with us and for the amazing photos provided by Maksim Kalanep! (FYI – I’m super envious of that great workspace of yours!!) It really is inspiring to hear more about yourself and the journey you’ve made to be where you are in this industry! I look forward to seeing more of your super fabulous work and of course catching up over some fun summer cocktails later in July! :D So there you have it folks – you must visit Viktorija’s Etsy shop or even pop along to the We Make London’s Camden markets held every 1st and 3rd Friday of the months, if you’re in London! Otherwise do follow her on facebook, twitter or instagram for more of her creative antics! xx
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[What’s On]: We Make London turns 5!!

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Last Friday evening I hurried along to We Make London’s 5th birthday party at the Camden Lock Place (West Yard) straight after work (and before scooting off to a dinner party!). I had been to their first markets held at Camden back in April which showcased works of some of London’s talented designer-makers I had the privilege to meet (if you remember my blogpost from back then), so I was delighted to have made it out to this special evening that commemorated their 5 successful years! The handmade market took place in the morning (they hold these twice a month) and the celebrations took place later that evening between 630pm and 830pm. They also launched their pop-up shop that ran the entire week that followed which I obviously had a good nosey through that evening before the second half of the celebrations began – and of course, taking tons of photos (no surprises there!) :P  It stocked some seriously stunning work by We Make London designers such as Kate Rowland, And Smile, Lizzes Beautiful Art, Triptych Designs, SannaPanda and many others – I have to confess that I found it rather hard to refrain myself from buying everything in there!

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BLOG_STRIP_we-make-london-5thDSC_3182-WEBAnd then come 7:30pm we had a young emerging artist called Tora Lambie (apparently only 13 years of age!!) who opened the catwalk show by Fashion Meets Music with her stunning version of Valerie. I think I can speak for everyone there that her voice totally blew us all away – definitely one to keep an eye out for!! DSC_3262-WEBBLOG_STRIP_we-make-london-5th2DSC_3549-WEBThe models soon made their appearance, bravely strutting their stuff along the cobbled runway in ridiculously high heels! My hats off to them for totally rocking the runway and giving us photographers some serious attitude at the end! They showed off fashion accessories designed by some of We Make London designers such as  Boubou Designs along with Fashion Meets Music designers such as The Far Away Tree Collection and Annaliese Dayes (who’s appeared on both Britain’s Next Top Model and America’s Next Top Model). DSC_3286-WEB(above: Hats and fascinators by Hatastic)

DSC_3376-WEB(above: Scarfs and accessories by Boobou Designs)

DSC_3432-WEB DSC_3500-WEB DSC_3507-WEB(above: awesome clutch bags by The Far Away Tree Collection)

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DSC_3567-WEB(above: Frilly socks by Annaliese Dayes Frills collection)

As you can see from my photos (which only show you a glimpse of all the fun that night), it was an awesome evening of fun and frolics – I even arrived late to my dinner party just to stay on till the end of the Catwalk! :D All credit goes to Mary of We Make London and the Camden Lock press team for a fantastic fashion soirée. And a massive thank you for the fabulous goody bag I received (see below) ….the contents of which I will disclose in my next write-up – such amazing things inside, I felt it deserved its own separate blogpost!! ;) And how awesome is the cake they had specially made for that evening?!?!!! DSC_3134-WEB DSC_3592-webAnyway, I hope you like what you see! Please do pop along to their markets which are held on the 1st and 3rd Friday’s of each month – it really is well worth the visit! Stay tuned for more on what came out of that goody bag!! xx

[What’s On]: We Make London at Camden Lock Markets

892235_10200703947498443_554630354_oI’ve always been a big fan of Camden Town for all it’s chaos and eclectic mix of people and culture, and not forgetting the diverse range of markets that include crafts, clothing, bric-a-brac, vintage treasures and street food. If you haven’t ever been – you must! Mind you, it can be a bit overcrowded with tourists (and you may find that some places exploit this)  but it’s for this unique experience that you find Camden Town now a must-go destination in London. And if you’re into street photography….well, you couldn’t ask for a better backdrop! :)

So this Friday I took a stroll around Camden Lock Markets to  check out the new handmade market stalls organised by We Make London. They are a creative organisation who’s aims are to bring together talented designer-makers in the UK and showcase their work at craft fairs and events. This was their first market at Camden for what will become a more regular thing – running on the first and third Friday of each month from April to September…..so if you do fancy checking them out then pencil these dates in as I know for a fact that they would appreciate your support! Anyhoo, I got chatting to a few friendly and talented ladies that afternoon – including the lovely Viktorija of AndSmile who I had bought a couple of brooches from on Etsy a few weeks back so it was really nice to finally put a face to a name! Oh and I couldn’t help buy a set of teapot+teacup earrings from her too….seriously I do love her stuff and if you look at her Etsy shop (or my photos below), you’ll see why!!! I treated myself to a couple more handcrafted goodies; a vintage floral button badge by Celia Reid,  a hand-painted bunny brooch by Lizzes Beautiful Art (I know, I do love my brooches!) and an adorable giant panda illustration by Sarah of Fur Feathers And Tails which I must get framed asap! It really was an absolute pleasure meeting them all and no doubt bump into them again at another event! Here’s a peek at some of the photos I captured that afternoon which includes my purchases! :) xx DSC_2588 web DSC_2582 web DSC_2583 web
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