Amelia’s Magazine | The Art of Fashion at the Whitechapel Gallery: In Conversation with Erdem Moralioglu

Joe Worricker by Karina Yarv
Joe Worricker by Karina Yarv.

Joe Worricker was indeed wearing stars on his face, generic as declared on twitter twenty minutes before I arrived at his gig. I could hear Joe’s idiosyncratic voice even as I raced into this industry thick showcase at new venue XOYO, buy located just behind the main Old Street thoroughfare. He was also wearing the same clothes that he sports in his Finger-Waggers video (digital download out this week, sales though as Joe was only too happy to admit, easily downloadable somewhere online for free.)

Joe Worricker-XOYO-Photo by Amelia Gregory
Joe Worricker at XOYO. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Joe Worricker by Sarah Ushurhe
Joe Worricker by Sarah Ushurhe.

A whole 45 minutes later I was still somewhat struggling to describe Joe, who sings with a session-type band that wouldn’t look out of place on the X Factor – but then this is the lad who auditioned for that very show… and was turned down. “I think they were scared of my voice” he told me in our earlier interview. And he does indeed have an almighty set of curiously old-fashioned lungs, somewhat at odds with his outwardly trendy demeanour.

Joe Worricker by Fay Morrow
Joe Worricker by Fay Morrow.

He swung through a set which included some slow tempo tales of weddings and fairytales, before returning to his trademark upbeat tracks. “We’ve got two fun ones now, don’t worry,” he told his many friends in the audience, including what I can only presume was his granny sat pride of place in the front row, and another relative who was doing his best impression of the funky chicken.

Joe Worricker at XOYO. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Joe Worriker by Sarah Ushurhe
Joe Worricker by Sarah Ushurhe.

Joe Worricker is an intriguing proposition for Rough Trade. He’s poppy – he fronts a band without an instrument – dance-y, and a whole lot of soulful. Who knows where he fits into the current market place, but that distinctive voice paired with some jaunty tunes could well make him the next big thing. One thing’s for sure, anyone who puts their granny in the front row at their debut gig gets my vote. And bless, being the polite lad he is, he even thanked me on twitter.

Joe Worricker XOXO granny

Go check him out. And read my interview with him here.
Joe Worricker was indeed wearing stars on his face, about it as declared on twitter twenty minutes before I arrived at his gig. I could her Joe’s idiosyncratic voice even as I raced into this industry thick showcase at new venue XOYO, viagra 100mg located just behind the main Old Street thoroughfare. He was also wearing the same clothes that he sports in his Finger-Waggers video (digital download out this week, though as Joe was only too happy to admit, easily downloadable somewhere online for free.)

A whole 45 minutes later I was still somewhat struggling to describe Joe, who sings with a session-type band that wouldn’t look out of place on the X Factor – but then this is the lad who auditioned for that very show… and was turned down. “I think they were scared of my voice” he told me in our earlier interview. And he does indeed have an almighty set of curiously old-fashioned lungs, somewhat at odds with his outwardly trendy demeanour.

He swung through a set which included some slow tempo tales of weddings and fairytales, before returning to his trademark upbeat tracks. “We’ve got two fun ones now, don’t worry,” he told his many friends in the audience, including what I can only presume was his granny sat pride of place in the front row, and another relative who was doing his best impression of the funky chicken.

Joe Worricker is an intriguing proposition for Rough Trade. He’s poppy – he fronts a band without an instrument – dance-y, and a whole lot of soulful. I’m not entirely sure where he fits into the current market place, but that distinctive voice paired with some jaunty tunes could well make him the next big thing. One thing’s for sure, anyone who puts their granny in the front row at their debut gig gets my vote. Go check him out.

Being the polite lad he is, he even thanked me for coming on twitter.

Joe Worricker was indeed wearing stars on his face, this site as declared on twitter twenty minutes before I arrived at his gig. I could her Joe’s idiosyncratic voice even as I raced into this industry thick showcase at new venue XOYO, recipe located just behind the main Old Street thoroughfare. He was also wearing the same clothes that he sports in his Finger-Waggers video (digital download out this week, though as Joe was only too happy to admit, easily downloadable somewhere online for free.)

A whole 45 minutes later I was still somewhat struggling to describe Joe, who sings with a session-type band that wouldn’t look out of place on the X Factor – but then this is the lad who auditioned for that very show… and was turned down. “I think they were scared of my voice” he told me in our earlier interview. And he does indeed have an almighty set of curiously old-fashioned lungs, somewhat at odds with his outwardly trendy demeanour.

He swung through a set which included some slow tempo tales of weddings and fairytales, before returning to his trademark upbeat tracks. “We’ve got two fun ones now, don’t worry,” he told his many friends in the audience, including what I can only presume was his granny sat pride of place in the front row, and another relative who was doing his best impression of the funky chicken.

Joe Worricker is an intriguing proposition for Rough Trade. He’s poppy – he fronts a band without an instrument – dance-y, and a whole lot of soulful. I’m not entirely sure where he fits into the current market place, but that distinctive voice paired with some jaunty tunes could well make him the next big thing. One thing’s for sure, anyone who puts their granny in the front row at their debut gig gets my vote. And bless, being the polite lad he is he even thanked me on twitter.

Go check him out. And read my interview with him here.
Joe Worricker was indeed wearing stars on his face, story as declared on twitter twenty minutes before I arrived at his gig. I could her Joe’s idiosyncratic voice even as I raced into this industry thick showcase at new venue XOYO, story located just behind the main Old Street thoroughfare. He was also wearing the same clothes that he sports in his Finger-Waggers video (digital download out this week, buy information pills though as Joe was only too happy to admit, easily downloadable somewhere online for free.)

A whole 45 minutes later I was still somewhat struggling to describe Joe, who sings with a session-type band that wouldn’t look out of place on the X Factor – but then this is the lad who auditioned for that very show… and was turned down. “I think they were scared of my voice” he told me in our earlier interview. And he does indeed have an almighty set of curiously old-fashioned lungs, somewhat at odds with his outwardly trendy demeanour.

He swung through a set which included some slow tempo tales of weddings and fairytales, before returning to his trademark upbeat tracks. “We’ve got two fun ones now, don’t worry,” he told his many friends in the audience, including what I can only presume was his granny sat pride of place in the front row, and another relative who was doing his best impression of the funky chicken.

Joe Worricker is an intriguing proposition for Rough Trade. He’s poppy – he fronts a band without an instrument – dance-y, and a whole lot of soulful. I’m not entirely sure where he fits into the current market place, but that distinctive voice paired with some jaunty tunes could well make him the next big thing. One thing’s for sure, anyone who puts their granny in the front row at their debut gig gets my vote. And bless, being the polite lad he is he even thanked me on twitter.

Go check him out. And read my interview with him here.
Shea Alchemy by Cat Palairet
Shea Alchemy by Cat Palairet.

I am a big fan of cottage industries – after all, cialis 40mg I am one myself. In the first of an ongoing series that will profile ethical skincare and makeup brands, let me introduce you to Shea Alchemy founder Sally Mumford. Having discovered her creams some years ago (at a market) I can indeed testify that they are very yummy… Here she talks about how she set up her business and why it is possible to avoid spending a fortune on good quality natural skincare.

Shea Alchemy founder Sally Mumford by Charlotte Hoyle
Shea Alchemy founder Sally Mumford by Charlotte Hoyle.

What did you do before you set up Shea Alchemy?
I was marketing manager at Random House publishers. Absolutely nothing to do with skincare. After having my kids I wanted to be around at home more so I went freelance from home as a graphic designer and copywriter. This all sounds totally unrelated but has actually helped me set up the business as I haven’t had to pay designers or marketing people which would have cost a fortune and I did know about running a business.

Shea Alchemy pots

What prompted you to set up shop? Where did you learn how to make skincare products and where would you recommend that budding skin magicians go to train?
I went to stay with a friend in the States when I was a freelance designer and met a woman who was really into natural skincare who told me all about all the rubbish that is in so many commercial skin creams. I was pretty horrified and bought some ‘natural’ creams made by a company called Arbonne. I loved them but they were INCREDIBLY expensive. When they ran out I looked at the ingredients list and, being a practical kind of person, (and miserly), I thought I’m sure I could make this myself and save myself £100’s. So, I bought a natural beauty recipe book from Amazon and with Claire, my daughter, I set off to Neal’s Yard and spent a fortune on natural ingredients (far more than £100 in the end) and came home and had fun in the kitchen. We squashed beetroot through sieves, blocked the sink with melted beeswax and made all kinds of weird and wonderful concoctions. That was just the beginning but I got hooked on it. I did loads of reading, experimenting and talking to various chemists and toxicologists. I researched ingredient properties and finally, once I had decided I wanted to sell my creams, rather than just giving them to friends and family as I had been – I went on a course run by Aromantic in Fulham to find out how to make sure they didn’t curdle or go off and to learn about the legal side of things.

Shea Alchemy by Alison Day
Shea Alchemy by Alison Day.

Why Shea Butter? Do you ever feel tempted to throw another substitute product in the mix?
On that first Neal’s Yard trip in 2003 we bought some shea butter just because it was in one of the recipes I fancied making. I really liked its texture and the feel of it on my skin. When I read about its properties I decided to make it the theme of my creams. Shea butter is fantastically good for the skin and has been used for centuries in Africa as a natural skin moisturiser. It helps heal scars, offers natural sun protection, soothes eczema and a whole range of dry skin conditions and is also used as a hair conditioner. We mix it with other ingredients though as in its basic unrefined form it is hard and wax like and needs warming before use.

How do you source your shea butter? What led you to Ghana?
We get our fairtrade, unrefined shea butter via a child rights organisation in Ghana called Afrikids and it is made in a woman’s fairtrade cooperative. Ghana is the main place for Shea butter and as a friend of mine had some Ghanaian contacts it seemed the natural place to head for.

SheaAlchemyBottleIllustration_by_JessGu
Illustration by Jess Gurr.

What other products do you add to the shea butter and where do you find these?
We use organic oils such as olive, apricot kernel, thistle and avocado, aloe vera, horse chestnut extract and cocoa butter. We use spring water which we get from my cousin’s farm in Northants where they have a natural spring. They bottle and sell their water and I am sure this is why our creams are so good for sensitive skins because our water is SOOOO pure. We use an emulsifier – cetyl alcohol, which comes from coconut oil – to blend the fats and the water together. We scent the creams with organic essential oils. All our ingredients are sourced from different companies.

Can you explain a bit of the process behind the making your products?
It’s a cross between cooking and chemistry! Lots of heating, cooling, whisking and stirring. Heating has to be very precise and timing is crucial. In the early days we had loads of disasters with curdled messes in saucepans but now we have it down to a fine art. The cooks in the company are Prue (my sister), Emma (my oldest friend) and me. Emma has a science background and that helps a lot.

Shea Alchemy by Karina Yarv
Shea Alchemy market stall by Karina Yarv.

Why is selling in markets so important to you, and which markets do you sell in?
Selling at markets is great because it really keeps you in touch with the people who buy our stuff and what they want. We love the feedback and because we are a tiny company we can actually act on it. If people say they love the smell of geranium for example – we go and get organic essential oil of geranium and add it to stuff. If people show interest in hemp oil for example or blackcurrant seed or blackseed oil etc (as they have done) we can add it to products. We do have to get every recipe toxicology tested though before selling it so its not totally ad hoc. We sell at Broadway Market in London Fields every Saturday and Brick Lane Upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Sundays. We also do one off markets in York (we are there loads over Christmas), Suffolk, Brighton etc. Our website is regularly updated with our plans for the next month and every Friday we confirm our venues via twitter. I chose Broadway and Brick Lane as regular markets because they are GREAT venues and I love being there! Lots of people, lots of great stalls and really friendly stall holders. If I am going to spend my weekends working I want to make sure I am going to enjoy myself.

How do you work between Crouch End and York?
I am based in Crouch End and make stuff in my kitchen and sell at markets in London. Emma makes it in her kitchen in York,  services most of the web orders and sells at York markets. My sister, Prue, makes creams in her kitchen in Northants and brings batches of cream up to me on a weekly basis.

SheaAlchemy by Reena Makwana
Illustration by Reena Makwana.

What are your new products?
Our new products are Cyclists’ Sore Bits Cream and Cyclists All Weather Face protection because we have had loads of cyclists asking for specialist creams – particularly on Broadway market. We also do a blusher and tinted moisturiser because it is simple to just add mineral tints to our existing creams. We don’t have plans to extend the make up range but these two products fit comfortably with the rest of our products.

All your products come in distinctive little tins and pots – why have you decided to package them in this way and what inspired the distinctive bright design?
I just liked the idea of tins because they are really practical, unsquashable and have a kind of basic honesty about them – no fake bottoms here. I did some basic market research before becoming a Ltd company and the results of the survey I did showed that people wanted something a bit different that would stand out from the endless white boxes. I design all our packaging myself and I love bright colours. I looked at lots of Ghanaian batiks for inspiration and the borders of all our tins are based on a batik I liked.

Shea Alchemy Stall by Charlotte Hoyle
Shea Alchemy Stall by Charlotte Hoyle.

Why are gift boxes such a good idea for a small brand like yours?
I think people like to buy presents that are packaged in some way so it made sense to put combinations of creams together. I have to admit I love little bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon so it gave me a great excuse to go and spend loads of money at the packaging factory!

What are your dreams for the future of your brand?
Oh wow … Well, I think we want to stay small. This company is a lifestyle for us rather than an ambition to make mega bucks. We like messing around in the kitchen and making lovely products. If we were to go into shops and get big, our recipes would have to be made in a factory, we would need a distribution network and a production line and who wants to spend their days dealing with all that hassle and the stress of borrowing large amounts of money? If we just sell online and at markets the other great thing is we can keep our prices very competitive because our overheads are massively reduced.  We do want to make a bit more money than we do at the moment though … I think online sales are the way to go. So check out our website www.sheaalchemy.co.uk and start doing your christmas shopping!
What did you do before you set up Shea Alchemy?
I was marketing manager at Random House Publishers. Absolutely nothing to do with skincare. After having my kids I wanted to be around at home more so I went freelance from home as a graphic designer and copywriter. This all sounds totally unrelated but has actually helped me set up the business as I haven’t had to pay designers or marketing people which would have cost a fortune and I did know about running a business.

What prompted you to set up shop? Where did you learn how to make skincare products and where would you recommend that budding skin magicians go to train?
I went to stay with a friend in the States when I was a freelance designer and met a woman who was really into natural skincare who told me all about all the rubbish that is in so many commercial skin creams. I was pretty horrified and bought some ‘natural’ creams made by a company called Arbonne. I loved them but they were INCREDIBLY expensive. When they ran out I looked at the ingredients list and, salve being a practical kind of person, pharmacy (and miserly), diagnosis I thought I’m sure I could make this myself and save myself £100’s. So, I bought a natural beauty recipe book from Amazon and with Claire, my daughter, I set off to Neal’s yard and spent a fortune on natural ingredients (far more than £100 in the end) and came home and had fun in the kitchen. We squashed beetroot through sieves, blocked the sink with melted beeswax and made all kinds of weird and wonderful concoctions. That was just the beginning but I got hooked on it. I did loads of reading, experimenting and talking to various chemists and toxicologists. I researched ingredient properties and finally, once I had decided I wanted to sell my creams, rather than just giving them to friends and family as I had been – I went on a course run by Aromantics in Fulham to find out how to make sure they didn’t curdle or go off and to learn about the legal side of things.

Why Shea Butter? Do you ever feel tempted to throw another substitute product in the mix?
On that first Neal’s Yard trip in 2003 we bought some shea butter just because it was in one of the recipes I fancied making. I really liked its texture and the feel of it on my skin. When I read about its properties I decided to make it the theme of my creams. Shea butter is fantastically good for the skin and has been used for centuries in Africa as a natural skin moisturiser. It helps heal scars, offers natural sun protection, soothes eczema and a whole range of dry skin conditions and is also used as a hair conditioner. We mix it with other ingredients though as in its basic unrefined form it is hard and wax like and needs warming before use.

How do you source your shea butter? What led you to Ghana?
We get our fairtrade, unrefined shea butter via a child rights organisation in Ghana called Afrikids and it is made in a woman’s fairtrade cooperative. Ghana is the main place for Shea butter and as a friend of mine had some Ghanaian contacts it seemed the natural place to head for.

What other products do you add to the shea butter and where do you find these?
We use organic oils such as olive, apricot kernel, thistle and avocado, aloe vera, horse chestnut extract and cocoa butter. We use spring water which we get from my cousin’s farm in Northants where they have a natural spring. They bottle and sell their water and I am sure this is why our creams are so good for sensitive skins because our water is SOOOO pure. We use an emulsifier – cetyl alcohol, which comes from coconut oil – to blend the fats and the water together. We scent the creams with organic essential oils. All our ingredients are sourced from different companies.

Can you explain a bit of the process behind the making your products?
It’s a cross between cooking and chemistry! Lots of heating, cooling, whisking and stirring. Heating has to be very precise and timing is crucial. In the early days we had loads of disasters with curdled messes in saucepans but now we have it down to a fine art. The cooks in the company are Prue (my sister), Emma (my oldest friend) and me. Emma has a science background and that helps a lot.

Why is selling in markets so important to you, and which markets do you sell in?
Selling at markets is great because it really keeps you in touch with the people who buy our stuff and what they want. We love the feedback and because we are a tiny company we can actually act on it. If people say they love the smell of geranium for example – we go and get organic essential oil of geranium and add it to stuff. If people show interest in hemp oil for example or blackcurrant seed or blackseed oil etc (as they have done) we can add it to products. We do have to get every recipe toxicology tested though before selling it so its not totally ad hoc. We sell at Broadway Market in London Fields every Saturday and Brick Lane Upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Sundays. We also do one off markets in York (we are there loads over Christmas), Suffolk, Brighton etc. Our website is regularly updated with our plans for the next month and every Friday we confirm our venues via Twitter. I chose Broadway and Brick Lane as regular markets because they are GREAT venues and I love being there! Lots of people, lots of great stalls and really friendly stall holders. If I am going to spend my weekends working I want to make sure I am going to enjoy myself.

How do you work between Crouch End and York?
I am based in Crouch End and make stuff in my kitchen and sell at markets in London. Emma makes it in her kitchen in York,  services most of the web orders and sells at York markets. My sister, Prue, makes creams in her kitchen in Northants and brings batches of cream up to me on a weekly basis.

What are your new products?
Our new products are Cyclists’ Sore Bits Cream and Cyclists All Weather Face protection because we have had loads of cyclists asking for specialist creams – particularly on Broadway market. We also do a blusher and tinted moisturiser because it is simple to just add mineral tints to our existing creams. We don’t have plans to extend the make up range but these two products fit comfortably with the rest of our products.

All your products come in distinctive little tins – why have you decided to package them in this way and what inspired the distinctive bright design?
I just liked the idea of tins because they are really practical, unsquashable and have a kind of basic honesty about them – no fake bottoms here. I did some basic market research before becoming a Ltd company and the results of the survey I did showed that people wanted something a bit different that would stand out from the endless white boxes. I design all our packaging myself and I love bright colours. I looked at lots of Ghanaian batiks for inspiration and the borders of all our tins are based on a batik I liked.

Why are gift boxes such a good idea for a small brand like yours?
I think people like to buy presents that are packaged in some way so it made sense to put combinations of creams together. I have to admit I love little bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon so it gave me a great excuse to go and spend loads of money at the packaging factory!

What are your dreams for the future of your brand?
Oh wow … Well, I think we want to stay small. This company is a lifestyle for us rather than an ambition to make mega bucks. We like messing around in the kitchen and making lovely products. If we were to go into shops and get big, our recipes would have to be made in a factory, we would need a distribution network and a production line and who wants to spend their days dealing with all that hassle and the stress of borrowing large amounts of money? If we just sell online and at markets the other great thing is we can keep our prices very competitive because our overheads are massively reduced.  We do want to make a bit more money than we do at the moment though … I think online sales are the way to go. So check out our website www.sheaalchemy.co.uk and start doing your christmas shopping!
What did you do before you set up Shea Alchemy?
I was marketing manager at Random House Publishers. Absolutely nothing to do with skincare. After having my kids I wanted to be around at home more so I went freelance from home as a graphic designer and copywriter. This all sounds totally unrelated but has actually helped me set up the business as I haven’t had to pay designers or marketing people which would have cost a fortune and I did know about running a business.

What prompted you to set up shop? Where did you learn how to make skincare products and where would you recommend that budding skin magicians go to train?
I went to stay with a friend in the States when I was a freelance designer and met a woman who was really into natural skincare who told me all about all the rubbish that is in so many commercial skin creams. I was pretty horrified and bought some ‘natural’ creams made by a company called Arbonne. I loved them but they were INCREDIBLY expensive. When they ran out I looked at the ingredients list and, rx being a practical kind of person, healing (and miserly), buy more about I thought I’m sure I could make this myself and save myself £100’s. So, I bought a natural beauty recipe book from Amazon and with Claire, my daughter, I set off to Neal’s yard and spent a fortune on natural ingredients (far more than £100 in the end) and came home and had fun in the kitchen. We squashed beetroot through sieves, blocked the sink with melted beeswax and made all kinds of weird and wonderful concoctions. That was just the beginning but I got hooked on it. I did loads of reading, experimenting and talking to various chemists and toxicologists. I researched ingredient properties and finally, once I had decided I wanted to sell my creams, rather than just giving them to friends and family as I had been – I went on a course run by Aromantics in Fulham to find out how to make sure they didn’t curdle or go off and to learn about the legal side of things.

Why Shea Butter? Do you ever feel tempted to throw another substitute product in the mix?
On that first Neal’s Yard trip in 2003 we bought some shea butter just because it was in one of the recipes I fancied making. I really liked its texture and the feel of it on my skin. When I read about its properties I decided to make it the theme of my creams. Shea butter is fantastically good for the skin and has been used for centuries in Africa as a natural skin moisturiser. It helps heal scars, offers natural sun protection, soothes eczema and a whole range of dry skin conditions and is also used as a hair conditioner. We mix it with other ingredients though as in its basic unrefined form it is hard and wax like and needs warming before use.

How do you source your shea butter? What led you to Ghana?
We get our fairtrade, unrefined shea butter via a child rights organisation in Ghana called Afrikids and it is made in a woman’s fairtrade cooperative. Ghana is the main place for Shea butter and as a friend of mine had some Ghanaian contacts it seemed the natural place to head for.

What other products do you add to the shea butter and where do you find these?
We use organic oils such as olive, apricot kernel, thistle and avocado, aloe vera, horse chestnut extract and cocoa butter. We use spring water which we get from my cousin’s farm in Northants where they have a natural spring. They bottle and sell their water and I am sure this is why our creams are so good for sensitive skins because our water is SOOOO pure. We use an emulsifier – cetyl alcohol, which comes from coconut oil – to blend the fats and the water together. We scent the creams with organic essential oils. All our ingredients are sourced from different companies.

Can you explain a bit of the process behind the making your products?
It’s a cross between cooking and chemistry! Lots of heating, cooling, whisking and stirring. Heating has to be very precise and timing is crucial. In the early days we had loads of disasters with curdled messes in saucepans but now we have it down to a fine art. The cooks in the company are Prue (my sister), Emma (my oldest friend) and me. Emma has a science background and that helps a lot.

Why is selling in markets so important to you, and which markets do you sell in?
Selling at markets is great because it really keeps you in touch with the people who buy our stuff and what they want. We love the feedback and because we are a tiny company we can actually act on it. If people say they love the smell of geranium for example – we go and get organic essential oil of geranium and add it to stuff. If people show interest in hemp oil for example or blackcurrant seed or blackseed oil etc (as they have done) we can add it to products. We do have to get every recipe toxicology tested though before selling it so its not totally ad hoc. We sell at Broadway Market in London Fields every Saturday and Brick Lane Upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Sundays. We also do one off markets in York (we are there loads over Christmas), Suffolk, Brighton etc. Our website is regularly updated with our plans for the next month and every Friday we confirm our venues via Twitter. I chose Broadway and Brick Lane as regular markets because they are GREAT venues and I love being there! Lots of people, lots of great stalls and really friendly stall holders. If I am going to spend my weekends working I want to make sure I am going to enjoy myself.

How do you work between Crouch End and York?
I am based in Crouch End and make stuff in my kitchen and sell at markets in London. Emma makes it in her kitchen in York,  services most of the web orders and sells at York markets. My sister, Prue, makes creams in her kitchen in Northants and brings batches of cream up to me on a weekly basis.

What are your new products?
Our new products are Cyclists’ Sore Bits Cream and Cyclists All Weather Face protection because we have had loads of cyclists asking for specialist creams – particularly on Broadway market. We also do a blusher and tinted moisturiser because it is simple to just add mineral tints to our existing creams. We don’t have plans to extend the make up range but these two products fit comfortably with the rest of our products.

All your products come in distinctive little tins – why have you decided to package them in this way and what inspired the distinctive bright design?
I just liked the idea of tins because they are really practical, unsquashable and have a kind of basic honesty about them – no fake bottoms here. I did some basic market research before becoming a Ltd company and the results of the survey I did showed that people wanted something a bit different that would stand out from the endless white boxes. I design all our packaging myself and I love bright colours. I looked at lots of Ghanaian batiks for inspiration and the borders of all our tins are based on a batik I liked.

Why are gift boxes such a good idea for a small brand like yours?
I think people like to buy presents that are packaged in some way so it made sense to put combinations of creams together. I have to admit I love little bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon so it gave me a great excuse to go and spend loads of money at the packaging factory!

What are your dreams for the future of your brand?
Oh wow … Well, I think we want to stay small. This company is a lifestyle for us rather than an ambition to make mega bucks. We like messing around in the kitchen and making lovely products. If we were to go into shops and get big, our recipes would have to be made in a factory, we would need a distribution network and a production line and who wants to spend their days dealing with all that hassle and the stress of borrowing large amounts of money? If we just sell online and at markets the other great thing is we can keep our prices very competitive because our overheads are massively reduced.  We do want to make a bit more money than we do at the moment though … I think online sales are the way to go. So check out our website www.sheaalchemy.co.uk and start doing your christmas shopping!
What did you do before you set up Shea Alchemy?
I was marketing manager at Random House Publishers. Absolutely nothing to do with skincare. After having my kids I wanted to be around at home more so I went freelance from home as a graphic designer and copywriter. This all sounds totally unrelated but has actually helped me set up the business as I haven’t had to pay designers or marketing people which would have cost a fortune and I did know about running a business.

What prompted you to set up shop? Where did you learn how to make skincare products and where would you recommend that budding skin magicians go to train?
I went to stay with a friend in the States when I was a freelance designer and met a woman who was really into natural skincare who told me all about all the rubbish that is in so many commercial skin creams. I was pretty horrified and bought some ‘natural’ creams made by a company called Arbonne. I loved them but they were INCREDIBLY expensive. When they ran out I looked at the ingredients list and, viagra order being a practical kind of person, (and miserly), I thought I’m sure I could make this myself and save myself £100’s. So, I bought a natural beauty recipe book from Amazon and with Claire, my daughter, I set off to Neal’s yard and spent a fortune on natural ingredients (far more than £100 in the end) and came home and had fun in the kitchen. We squashed beetroot through sieves, blocked the sink with melted beeswax and made all kinds of weird and wonderful concoctions. That was just the beginning but I got hooked on it. I did loads of reading, experimenting and talking to various chemists and toxicologists. I researched ingredient properties and finally, once I had decided I wanted to sell my creams, rather than just giving them to friends and family as I had been – I went on a course run by Aromantics in Fulham to find out how to make sure they didn’t curdle or go off and to learn about the legal side of things.

Why Shea Butter? Do you ever feel tempted to throw another substitute product in the mix?
On that first Neal’s Yard trip in 2003 we bought some shea butter just because it was in one of the recipes I fancied making. I really liked its texture and the feel of it on my skin. When I read about its properties I decided to make it the theme of my creams. Shea butter is fantastically good for the skin and has been used for centuries in Africa as a natural skin moisturiser. It helps heal scars, offers natural sun protection, soothes eczema and a whole range of dry skin conditions and is also used as a hair conditioner. We mix it with other ingredients though as in its basic unrefined form it is hard and wax like and needs warming before use.

How do you source your shea butter? What led you to Ghana?
We get our fairtrade, unrefined shea butter via a child rights organisation in Ghana called Afrikids and it is made in a woman’s fairtrade cooperative. Ghana is the main place for Shea butter and as a friend of mine had some Ghanaian contacts it seemed the natural place to head for.

What other products do you add to the shea butter and where do you find these?
We use organic oils such as olive, apricot kernel, thistle and avocado, aloe vera, horse chestnut extract and cocoa butter. We use spring water which we get from my cousin’s farm in Northants where they have a natural spring. They bottle and sell their water and I am sure this is why our creams are so good for sensitive skins because our water is SOOOO pure. We use an emulsifier – cetyl alcohol, which comes from coconut oil – to blend the fats and the water together. We scent the creams with organic essential oils. All our ingredients are sourced from different companies.

Can you explain a bit of the process behind the making your products?
It’s a cross between cooking and chemistry! Lots of heating, cooling, whisking and stirring. Heating has to be very precise and timing is crucial. In the early days we had loads of disasters with curdled messes in saucepans but now we have it down to a fine art. The cooks in the company are Prue (my sister), Emma (my oldest friend) and me. Emma has a science background and that helps a lot.

Why is selling in markets so important to you, and which markets do you sell in?
Selling at markets is great because it really keeps you in touch with the people who buy our stuff and what they want. We love the feedback and because we are a tiny company we can actually act on it. If people say they love the smell of geranium for example – we go and get organic essential oil of geranium and add it to stuff. If people show interest in hemp oil for example or blackcurrant seed or blackseed oil etc (as they have done) we can add it to products. We do have to get every recipe toxicology tested though before selling it so its not totally ad hoc. We sell at Broadway Market in London Fields every Saturday and Brick Lane Upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Sundays. We also do one off markets in York (we are there loads over Christmas), Suffolk, Brighton etc. Our website is regularly updated with our plans for the next month and every Friday we confirm our venues via Twitter. I chose Broadway and Brick Lane as regular markets because they are GREAT venues and I love being there! Lots of people, lots of great stalls and really friendly stall holders. If I am going to spend my weekends working I want to make sure I am going to enjoy myself.

How do you work between Crouch End and York?
I am based in Crouch End and make stuff in my kitchen and sell at markets in London. Emma makes it in her kitchen in York,  services most of the web orders and sells at York markets. My sister, Prue, makes creams in her kitchen in Northants and brings batches of cream up to me on a weekly basis.

What are your new products?
Our new products are Cyclists’ Sore Bits Cream and Cyclists All Weather Face protection because we have had loads of cyclists asking for specialist creams – particularly on Broadway market. We also do a blusher and tinted moisturiser because it is simple to just add mineral tints to our existing creams. We don’t have plans to extend the make up range but these two products fit comfortably with the rest of our products.

All your products come in distinctive little tins – why have you decided to package them in this way and what inspired the distinctive bright design?
I just liked the idea of tins because they are really practical, unsquashable and have a kind of basic honesty about them – no fake bottoms here. I did some basic market research before becoming a Ltd company and the results of the survey I did showed that people wanted something a bit different that would stand out from the endless white boxes. I design all our packaging myself and I love bright colours. I looked at lots of Ghanaian batiks for inspiration and the borders of all our tins are based on a batik I liked.

Why are gift boxes such a good idea for a small brand like yours?
I think people like to buy presents that are packaged in some way so it made sense to put combinations of creams together. I have to admit I love little bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon so it gave me a great excuse to go and spend loads of money at the packaging factory!

What are your dreams for the future of your brand?
Oh wow … Well, I think we want to stay small. This company is a lifestyle for us rather than an ambition to make mega bucks. We like messing around in the kitchen and making lovely products. If we were to go into shops and get big, our recipes would have to be made in a factory, we would need a distribution network and a production line and who wants to spend their days dealing with all that hassle and the stress of borrowing large amounts of money? If we just sell online and at markets the other great thing is we can keep our prices very competitive because our overheads are massively reduced.  We do want to make a bit more money than we do at the moment though … I think online sales are the way to go. So check out our website www.sheaalchemy.co.uk and start doing your christmas shopping!
I am a big fan of cottage industries – after all, order I am one myself. In the first of an ongoing series that will profile ethical skincare and makeup brands, let me introduce you to Shea Alchemy founder Sally. Having discovered her creams some years ago (at a market) I can indeed testify that they are very yummy… Here she talks about why it is possible to avoid spending a fortune on good quality natural skincare.

What did you do before you set up Shea Alchemy?
I was marketing manager at Random House Publishers. Absolutely nothing to do with skincare. After having my kids I wanted to be around at home more so I went freelance from home as a graphic designer and copywriter. This all sounds totally unrelated but has actually helped me set up the business as I haven’t had to pay designers or marketing people which would have cost a fortune and I did know about running a business.

What prompted you to set up shop? Where did you learn how to make skincare products and where would you recommend that budding skin magicians go to train?
I went to stay with a friend in the States when I was a freelance designer and met a woman who was really into natural skincare who told me all about all the rubbish that is in so many commercial skin creams. I was pretty horrified and bought some ‘natural’ creams made by a company called Arbonne. I loved them but they were INCREDIBLY expensive. When they ran out I looked at the ingredients list and, being a practical kind of person, (and miserly), I thought I’m sure I could make this myself and save myself £100’s. So, I bought a natural beauty recipe book from Amazon and with Claire, my daughter, I set off to Neal’s yard and spent a fortune on natural ingredients (far more than £100 in the end) and came home and had fun in the kitchen. We squashed beetroot through sieves, blocked the sink with melted beeswax and made all kinds of weird and wonderful concoctions. That was just the beginning but I got hooked on it. I did loads of reading, experimenting and talking to various chemists and toxicologists. I researched ingredient properties and finally, once I had decided I wanted to sell my creams, rather than just giving them to friends and family as I had been – I went on a course run by Aromantics in Fulham to find out how to make sure they didn’t curdle or go off and to learn about the legal side of things.

Why Shea Butter? Do you ever feel tempted to throw another substitute product in the mix?
On that first Neal’s Yard trip in 2003 we bought some shea butter just because it was in one of the recipes I fancied making. I really liked its texture and the feel of it on my skin. When I read about its properties I decided to make it the theme of my creams. Shea butter is fantastically good for the skin and has been used for centuries in Africa as a natural skin moisturiser. It helps heal scars, offers natural sun protection, soothes eczema and a whole range of dry skin conditions and is also used as a hair conditioner. We mix it with other ingredients though as in its basic unrefined form it is hard and wax like and needs warming before use.

How do you source your shea butter? What led you to Ghana?
We get our fairtrade, unrefined shea butter via a child rights organisation in Ghana called Afrikids and it is made in a woman’s fairtrade cooperative. Ghana is the main place for Shea butter and as a friend of mine had some Ghanaian contacts it seemed the natural place to head for.

What other products do you add to the shea butter and where do you find these?
We use organic oils such as olive, apricot kernel, thistle and avocado, aloe vera, horse chestnut extract and cocoa butter. We use spring water which we get from my cousin’s farm in Northants where they have a natural spring. They bottle and sell their water and I am sure this is why our creams are so good for sensitive skins because our water is SOOOO pure. We use an emulsifier – cetyl alcohol, which comes from coconut oil – to blend the fats and the water together. We scent the creams with organic essential oils. All our ingredients are sourced from different companies.

Can you explain a bit of the process behind the making your products?
It’s a cross between cooking and chemistry! Lots of heating, cooling, whisking and stirring. Heating has to be very precise and timing is crucial. In the early days we had loads of disasters with curdled messes in saucepans but now we have it down to a fine art. The cooks in the company are Prue (my sister), Emma (my oldest friend) and me. Emma has a science background and that helps a lot.

Why is selling in markets so important to you, and which markets do you sell in?
Selling at markets is great because it really keeps you in touch with the people who buy our stuff and what they want. We love the feedback and because we are a tiny company we can actually act on it. If people say they love the smell of geranium for example – we go and get organic essential oil of geranium and add it to stuff. If people show interest in hemp oil for example or blackcurrant seed or blackseed oil etc (as they have done) we can add it to products. We do have to get every recipe toxicology tested though before selling it so its not totally ad hoc. We sell at Broadway Market in London Fields every Saturday and Brick Lane Upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Sundays. We also do one off markets in York (we are there loads over Christmas), Suffolk, Brighton etc. Our website is regularly updated with our plans for the next month and every Friday we confirm our venues via Twitter. I chose Broadway and Brick Lane as regular markets because they are GREAT venues and I love being there! Lots of people, lots of great stalls and really friendly stall holders. If I am going to spend my weekends working I want to make sure I am going to enjoy myself.

How do you work between Crouch End and York?
I am based in Crouch End and make stuff in my kitchen and sell at markets in London. Emma makes it in her kitchen in York,  services most of the web orders and sells at York markets. My sister, Prue, makes creams in her kitchen in Northants and brings batches of cream up to me on a weekly basis.

What are your new products?
Our new products are Cyclists’ Sore Bits Cream and Cyclists All Weather Face protection because we have had loads of cyclists asking for specialist creams – particularly on Broadway market. We also do a blusher and tinted moisturiser because it is simple to just add mineral tints to our existing creams. We don’t have plans to extend the make up range but these two products fit comfortably with the rest of our products.

All your products come in distinctive little tins – why have you decided to package them in this way and what inspired the distinctive bright design?
I just liked the idea of tins because they are really practical, unsquashable and have a kind of basic honesty about them – no fake bottoms here. I did some basic market research before becoming a Ltd company and the results of the survey I did showed that people wanted something a bit different that would stand out from the endless white boxes. I design all our packaging myself and I love bright colours. I looked at lots of Ghanaian batiks for inspiration and the borders of all our tins are based on a batik I liked.

Why are gift boxes such a good idea for a small brand like yours?
I think people like to buy presents that are packaged in some way so it made sense to put combinations of creams together. I have to admit I love little bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon so it gave me a great excuse to go and spend loads of money at the packaging factory!

What are your dreams for the future of your brand?
Oh wow … Well, I think we want to stay small. This company is a lifestyle for us rather than an ambition to make mega bucks. We like messing around in the kitchen and making lovely products. If we were to go into shops and get big, our recipes would have to be made in a factory, we would need a distribution network and a production line and who wants to spend their days dealing with all that hassle and the stress of borrowing large amounts of money? If we just sell online and at markets the other great thing is we can keep our prices very competitive because our overheads are massively reduced.  We do want to make a bit more money than we do at the moment though … I think online sales are the way to go. So check out our website www.sheaalchemy.co.uk and start doing your christmas shopping!
I am a big fan of cottage industries – after all, pharm I am one myself. In the first of an ongoing series that will profile ethical skincare and makeup brands, cialis 40mg let me introduce you to Shea Alchemy founder Sally. Having discovered her creams some years ago (at a market) I can indeed testify that they are very yummy… Here she talks about why it is possible to avoid spending a fortune on good quality natural skincare.

What did you do before you set up Shea Alchemy?
I was marketing manager at Random House Publishers. Absolutely nothing to do with skincare. After having my kids I wanted to be around at home more so I went freelance from home as a graphic designer and copywriter. This all sounds totally unrelated but has actually helped me set up the business as I haven’t had to pay designers or marketing people which would have cost a fortune and I did know about running a business.

What prompted you to set up shop? Where did you learn how to make skincare products and where would you recommend that budding skin magicians go to train?
I went to stay with a friend in the States when I was a freelance designer and met a woman who was really into natural skincare who told me all about all the rubbish that is in so many commercial skin creams. I was pretty horrified and bought some ‘natural’ creams made by a company called Arbonne. I loved them but they were INCREDIBLY expensive. When they ran out I looked at the ingredients list and, viagra 40mg being a practical kind of person, (and miserly), I thought I’m sure I could make this myself and save myself £100’s. So, I bought a natural beauty recipe book from Amazon and with Claire, my daughter, I set off to Neal’s yard and spent a fortune on natural ingredients (far more than £100 in the end) and came home and had fun in the kitchen. We squashed beetroot through sieves, blocked the sink with melted beeswax and made all kinds of weird and wonderful concoctions. That was just the beginning but I got hooked on it. I did loads of reading, experimenting and talking to various chemists and toxicologists. I researched ingredient properties and finally, once I had decided I wanted to sell my creams, rather than just giving them to friends and family as I had been – I went on a course run by Aromantics in Fulham to find out how to make sure they didn’t curdle or go off and to learn about the legal side of things.

Why Shea Butter? Do you ever feel tempted to throw another substitute product in the mix?
On that first Neal’s Yard trip in 2003 we bought some shea butter just because it was in one of the recipes I fancied making. I really liked its texture and the feel of it on my skin. When I read about its properties I decided to make it the theme of my creams. Shea butter is fantastically good for the skin and has been used for centuries in Africa as a natural skin moisturiser. It helps heal scars, offers natural sun protection, soothes eczema and a whole range of dry skin conditions and is also used as a hair conditioner. We mix it with other ingredients though as in its basic unrefined form it is hard and wax like and needs warming before use.

How do you source your shea butter? What led you to Ghana?
We get our fairtrade, unrefined shea butter via a child rights organisation in Ghana called Afrikids and it is made in a woman’s fairtrade cooperative. Ghana is the main place for Shea butter and as a friend of mine had some Ghanaian contacts it seemed the natural place to head for.

What other products do you add to the shea butter and where do you find these?
We use organic oils such as olive, apricot kernel, thistle and avocado, aloe vera, horse chestnut extract and cocoa butter. We use spring water which we get from my cousin’s farm in Northants where they have a natural spring. They bottle and sell their water and I am sure this is why our creams are so good for sensitive skins because our water is SOOOO pure. We use an emulsifier – cetyl alcohol, which comes from coconut oil – to blend the fats and the water together. We scent the creams with organic essential oils. All our ingredients are sourced from different companies.

Can you explain a bit of the process behind the making your products?
It’s a cross between cooking and chemistry! Lots of heating, cooling, whisking and stirring. Heating has to be very precise and timing is crucial. In the early days we had loads of disasters with curdled messes in saucepans but now we have it down to a fine art. The cooks in the company are Prue (my sister), Emma (my oldest friend) and me. Emma has a science background and that helps a lot.

Why is selling in markets so important to you, and which markets do you sell in?
Selling at markets is great because it really keeps you in touch with the people who buy our stuff and what they want. We love the feedback and because we are a tiny company we can actually act on it. If people say they love the smell of geranium for example – we go and get organic essential oil of geranium and add it to stuff. If people show interest in hemp oil for example or blackcurrant seed or blackseed oil etc (as they have done) we can add it to products. We do have to get every recipe toxicology tested though before selling it so its not totally ad hoc. We sell at Broadway Market in London Fields every Saturday and Brick Lane Upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Sundays. We also do one off markets in York (we are there loads over Christmas), Suffolk, Brighton etc. Our website is regularly updated with our plans for the next month and every Friday we confirm our venues via Twitter. I chose Broadway and Brick Lane as regular markets because they are GREAT venues and I love being there! Lots of people, lots of great stalls and really friendly stall holders. If I am going to spend my weekends working I want to make sure I am going to enjoy myself.

How do you work between Crouch End and York?
I am based in Crouch End and make stuff in my kitchen and sell at markets in London. Emma makes it in her kitchen in York,  services most of the web orders and sells at York markets. My sister, Prue, makes creams in her kitchen in Northants and brings batches of cream up to me on a weekly basis.

What are your new products?
Our new products are Cyclists’ Sore Bits Cream and Cyclists All Weather Face protection because we have had loads of cyclists asking for specialist creams – particularly on Broadway market. We also do a blusher and tinted moisturiser because it is simple to just add mineral tints to our existing creams. We don’t have plans to extend the make up range but these two products fit comfortably with the rest of our products.

All your products come in distinctive little tins – why have you decided to package them in this way and what inspired the distinctive bright design?
I just liked the idea of tins because they are really practical, unsquashable and have a kind of basic honesty about them – no fake bottoms here. I did some basic market research before becoming a Ltd company and the results of the survey I did showed that people wanted something a bit different that would stand out from the endless white boxes. I design all our packaging myself and I love bright colours. I looked at lots of Ghanaian batiks for inspiration and the borders of all our tins are based on a batik I liked.

Why are gift boxes such a good idea for a small brand like yours?
I think people like to buy presents that are packaged in some way so it made sense to put combinations of creams together. I have to admit I love little bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon so it gave me a great excuse to go and spend loads of money at the packaging factory!

What are your dreams for the future of your brand?
Oh wow … Well, I think we want to stay small. This company is a lifestyle for us rather than an ambition to make mega bucks. We like messing around in the kitchen and making lovely products. If we were to go into shops and get big, our recipes would have to be made in a factory, we would need a distribution network and a production line and who wants to spend their days dealing with all that hassle and the stress of borrowing large amounts of money? If we just sell online and at markets the other great thing is we can keep our prices very competitive because our overheads are massively reduced.  We do want to make a bit more money than we do at the moment though … I think online sales are the way to go. So check out our website www.sheaalchemy.co.uk and start doing your christmas shopping!
I am a big fan of cottage industries – after all, cheapest I am one myself. In the first of an ongoing series that will profile ethical skincare and makeup brands, let me introduce you to Shea Alchemy founder Sally. Having discovered her creams some years ago (at a market) I can indeed testify that they are very yummy… Here she talks about how she set up her business and why it is possible to avoid spending a fortune on good quality natural skincare.

What did you do before you set up Shea Alchemy?
I was marketing manager at Random House Publishers. Absolutely nothing to do with skincare. After having my kids I wanted to be around at home more so I went freelance from home as a graphic designer and copywriter. This all sounds totally unrelated but has actually helped me set up the business as I haven’t had to pay designers or marketing people which would have cost a fortune and I did know about running a business.

What prompted you to set up shop? Where did you learn how to make skincare products and where would you recommend that budding skin magicians go to train?
I went to stay with a friend in the States when I was a freelance designer and met a woman who was really into natural skincare who told me all about all the rubbish that is in so many commercial skin creams. I was pretty horrified and bought some ‘natural’ creams made by a company called Arbonne. I loved them but they were INCREDIBLY expensive. When they ran out I looked at the ingredients list and, being a practical kind of person, (and miserly), I thought I’m sure I could make this myself and save myself £100’s. So, I bought a natural beauty recipe book from Amazon and with Claire, my daughter, I set off to Neal’s yard and spent a fortune on natural ingredients (far more than £100 in the end) and came home and had fun in the kitchen. We squashed beetroot through sieves, blocked the sink with melted beeswax and made all kinds of weird and wonderful concoctions. That was just the beginning but I got hooked on it. I did loads of reading, experimenting and talking to various chemists and toxicologists. I researched ingredient properties and finally, once I had decided I wanted to sell my creams, rather than just giving them to friends and family as I had been – I went on a course run by Aromantics in Fulham to find out how to make sure they didn’t curdle or go off and to learn about the legal side of things.

Why Shea Butter? Do you ever feel tempted to throw another substitute product in the mix?
On that first Neal’s Yard trip in 2003 we bought some shea butter just because it was in one of the recipes I fancied making. I really liked its texture and the feel of it on my skin. When I read about its properties I decided to make it the theme of my creams. Shea butter is fantastically good for the skin and has been used for centuries in Africa as a natural skin moisturiser. It helps heal scars, offers natural sun protection, soothes eczema and a whole range of dry skin conditions and is also used as a hair conditioner. We mix it with other ingredients though as in its basic unrefined form it is hard and wax like and needs warming before use.

How do you source your shea butter? What led you to Ghana?
We get our fairtrade, unrefined shea butter via a child rights organisation in Ghana called Afrikids and it is made in a woman’s fairtrade cooperative. Ghana is the main place for Shea butter and as a friend of mine had some Ghanaian contacts it seemed the natural place to head for.

What other products do you add to the shea butter and where do you find these?
We use organic oils such as olive, apricot kernel, thistle and avocado, aloe vera, horse chestnut extract and cocoa butter. We use spring water which we get from my cousin’s farm in Northants where they have a natural spring. They bottle and sell their water and I am sure this is why our creams are so good for sensitive skins because our water is SOOOO pure. We use an emulsifier – cetyl alcohol, which comes from coconut oil – to blend the fats and the water together. We scent the creams with organic essential oils. All our ingredients are sourced from different companies.

Can you explain a bit of the process behind the making your products?
It’s a cross between cooking and chemistry! Lots of heating, cooling, whisking and stirring. Heating has to be very precise and timing is crucial. In the early days we had loads of disasters with curdled messes in saucepans but now we have it down to a fine art. The cooks in the company are Prue (my sister), Emma (my oldest friend) and me. Emma has a science background and that helps a lot.

Why is selling in markets so important to you, and which markets do you sell in?
Selling at markets is great because it really keeps you in touch with the people who buy our stuff and what they want. We love the feedback and because we are a tiny company we can actually act on it. If people say they love the smell of geranium for example – we go and get organic essential oil of geranium and add it to stuff. If people show interest in hemp oil for example or blackcurrant seed or blackseed oil etc (as they have done) we can add it to products. We do have to get every recipe toxicology tested though before selling it so its not totally ad hoc. We sell at Broadway Market in London Fields every Saturday and Brick Lane Upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Sundays. We also do one off markets in York (we are there loads over Christmas), Suffolk, Brighton etc. Our website is regularly updated with our plans for the next month and every Friday we confirm our venues via Twitter. I chose Broadway and Brick Lane as regular markets because they are GREAT venues and I love being there! Lots of people, lots of great stalls and really friendly stall holders. If I am going to spend my weekends working I want to make sure I am going to enjoy myself.

How do you work between Crouch End and York?
I am based in Crouch End and make stuff in my kitchen and sell at markets in London. Emma makes it in her kitchen in York,  services most of the web orders and sells at York markets. My sister, Prue, makes creams in her kitchen in Northants and brings batches of cream up to me on a weekly basis.

What are your new products?
Our new products are Cyclists’ Sore Bits Cream and Cyclists All Weather Face protection because we have had loads of cyclists asking for specialist creams – particularly on Broadway market. We also do a blusher and tinted moisturiser because it is simple to just add mineral tints to our existing creams. We don’t have plans to extend the make up range but these two products fit comfortably with the rest of our products.

All your products come in distinctive little tins – why have you decided to package them in this way and what inspired the distinctive bright design?
I just liked the idea of tins because they are really practical, unsquashable and have a kind of basic honesty about them – no fake bottoms here. I did some basic market research before becoming a Ltd company and the results of the survey I did showed that people wanted something a bit different that would stand out from the endless white boxes. I design all our packaging myself and I love bright colours. I looked at lots of Ghanaian batiks for inspiration and the borders of all our tins are based on a batik I liked.

Why are gift boxes such a good idea for a small brand like yours?
I think people like to buy presents that are packaged in some way so it made sense to put combinations of creams together. I have to admit I love little bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon so it gave me a great excuse to go and spend loads of money at the packaging factory!

What are your dreams for the future of your brand?
Oh wow … Well, I think we want to stay small. This company is a lifestyle for us rather than an ambition to make mega bucks. We like messing around in the kitchen and making lovely products. If we were to go into shops and get big, our recipes would have to be made in a factory, we would need a distribution network and a production line and who wants to spend their days dealing with all that hassle and the stress of borrowing large amounts of money? If we just sell online and at markets the other great thing is we can keep our prices very competitive because our overheads are massively reduced.  We do want to make a bit more money than we do at the moment though … I think online sales are the way to go. So check out our website www.sheaalchemy.co.uk and start doing your christmas shopping!
I am a big fan of cottage industries – after all, pharm I am one myself. In the first of an ongoing series that will profile ethical skincare and makeup brands, let me introduce you to Shea Alchemy founder Sally. Having discovered her creams some years ago (at a market) I can indeed testify that they are very yummy… Here she talks about how she set up her business and why it is possible to avoid spending a fortune on good quality natural skincare.

What did you do before you set up Shea Alchemy?
I was marketing manager at Random House publishers. Absolutely nothing to do with skincare. After having my kids I wanted to be around at home more so I went freelance from home as a graphic designer and copywriter. This all sounds totally unrelated but has actually helped me set up the business as I haven’t had to pay designers or marketing people which would have cost a fortune and I did know about running a business.

What prompted you to set up shop? Where did you learn how to make skincare products and where would you recommend that budding skin magicians go to train?
I went to stay with a friend in the States when I was a freelance designer and met a woman who was really into natural skincare who told me all about all the rubbish that is in so many commercial skin creams. I was pretty horrified and bought some ‘natural’ creams made by a company called Arbonne. I loved them but they were INCREDIBLY expensive. When they ran out I looked at the ingredients list and, being a practical kind of person, (and miserly), I thought I’m sure I could make this myself and save myself £100’s. So, I bought a natural beauty recipe book from Amazon and with Claire, my daughter, I set off to Neal’s Yard and spent a fortune on natural ingredients (far more than £100 in the end) and came home and had fun in the kitchen. We squashed beetroot through sieves, blocked the sink with melted beeswax and made all kinds of weird and wonderful concoctions. That was just the beginning but I got hooked on it. I did loads of reading, experimenting and talking to various chemists and toxicologists. I researched ingredient properties and finally, once I had decided I wanted to sell my creams, rather than just giving them to friends and family as I had been – I went on a course run by Aromantic in Fulham to find out how to make sure they didn’t curdle or go off and to learn about the legal side of things.

Why Shea Butter? Do you ever feel tempted to throw another substitute product in the mix?
On that first Neal’s Yard trip in 2003 we bought some shea butter just because it was in one of the recipes I fancied making. I really liked its texture and the feel of it on my skin. When I read about its properties I decided to make it the theme of my creams. Shea butter is fantastically good for the skin and has been used for centuries in Africa as a natural skin moisturiser. It helps heal scars, offers natural sun protection, soothes eczema and a whole range of dry skin conditions and is also used as a hair conditioner. We mix it with other ingredients though as in its basic unrefined form it is hard and wax like and needs warming before use.

How do you source your shea butter? What led you to Ghana?
We get our fairtrade, unrefined shea butter via a child rights organisation in Ghana called Afrikids and it is made in a woman’s fairtrade cooperative. Ghana is the main place for Shea butter and as a friend of mine had some Ghanaian contacts it seemed the natural place to head for.

What other products do you add to the shea butter and where do you find these?
We use organic oils such as olive, apricot kernel, thistle and avocado, aloe vera, horse chestnut extract and cocoa butter. We use spring water which we get from my cousin’s farm in Northants where they have a natural spring. They bottle and sell their water and I am sure this is why our creams are so good for sensitive skins because our water is SOOOO pure. We use an emulsifier – cetyl alcohol, which comes from coconut oil – to blend the fats and the water together. We scent the creams with organic essential oils. All our ingredients are sourced from different companies.

Can you explain a bit of the process behind the making your products?
It’s a cross between cooking and chemistry! Lots of heating, cooling, whisking and stirring. Heating has to be very precise and timing is crucial. In the early days we had loads of disasters with curdled messes in saucepans but now we have it down to a fine art. The cooks in the company are Prue (my sister), Emma (my oldest friend) and me. Emma has a science background and that helps a lot.

Why is selling in markets so important to you, and which markets do you sell in?
Selling at markets is great because it really keeps you in touch with the people who buy our stuff and what they want. We love the feedback and because we are a tiny company we can actually act on it. If people say they love the smell of geranium for example – we go and get organic essential oil of geranium and add it to stuff. If people show interest in hemp oil for example or blackcurrant seed or blackseed oil etc (as they have done) we can add it to products. We do have to get every recipe toxicology tested though before selling it so its not totally ad hoc. We sell at Broadway Market in London Fields every Saturday and Brick Lane Upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Sundays. We also do one off markets in York (we are there loads over Christmas), Suffolk, Brighton etc. Our website is regularly updated with our plans for the next month and every Friday we confirm our venues via Twitter. I chose Broadway and Brick Lane as regular markets because they are GREAT venues and I love being there! Lots of people, lots of great stalls and really friendly stall holders. If I am going to spend my weekends working I want to make sure I am going to enjoy myself.

How do you work between Crouch End and York?
I am based in Crouch End and make stuff in my kitchen and sell at markets in London. Emma makes it in her kitchen in York,  services most of the web orders and sells at York markets. My sister, Prue, makes creams in her kitchen in Northants and brings batches of cream up to me on a weekly basis.

What are your new products?
Our new products are Cyclists’ Sore Bits Cream and Cyclists All Weather Face protection because we have had loads of cyclists asking for specialist creams – particularly on Broadway market. We also do a blusher and tinted moisturiser because it is simple to just add mineral tints to our existing creams. We don’t have plans to extend the make up range but these two products fit comfortably with the rest of our products.

All your products come in distinctive little tins – why have you decided to package them in this way and what inspired the distinctive bright design?
I just liked the idea of tins because they are really practical, unsquashable and have a kind of basic honesty about them – no fake bottoms here. I did some basic market research before becoming a Ltd company and the results of the survey I did showed that people wanted something a bit different that would stand out from the endless white boxes. I design all our packaging myself and I love bright colours. I looked at lots of Ghanaian batiks for inspiration and the borders of all our tins are based on a batik I liked.

Why are gift boxes such a good idea for a small brand like yours?
I think people like to buy presents that are packaged in some way so it made sense to put combinations of creams together. I have to admit I love little bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon so it gave me a great excuse to go and spend loads of money at the packaging factory!

What are your dreams for the future of your brand?
Oh wow … Well, I think we want to stay small. This company is a lifestyle for us rather than an ambition to make mega bucks. We like messing around in the kitchen and making lovely products. If we were to go into shops and get big, our recipes would have to be made in a factory, we would need a distribution network and a production line and who wants to spend their days dealing with all that hassle and the stress of borrowing large amounts of money? If we just sell online and at markets the other great thing is we can keep our prices very competitive because our overheads are massively reduced.  We do want to make a bit more money than we do at the moment though … I think online sales are the way to go. So check out our website www.sheaalchemy.co.uk and start doing your christmas shopping!
I am a big fan of cottage industries – after all, dosage I am one myself. In the first of an ongoing series that will profile ethical skincare and makeup brands, web let me introduce you to Shea Alchemy founder Sally. Having discovered her creams some years ago (at a market) I can indeed testify that they are very yummy… Here she talks about how she set up her business and why it is possible to avoid spending a fortune on good quality natural skincare.

What did you do before you set up Shea Alchemy?
I was marketing manager at Random House publishers. Absolutely nothing to do with skincare. After having my kids I wanted to be around at home more so I went freelance from home as a graphic designer and copywriter. This all sounds totally unrelated but has actually helped me set up the business as I haven’t had to pay designers or marketing people which would have cost a fortune and I did know about running a business.

What prompted you to set up shop? Where did you learn how to make skincare products and where would you recommend that budding skin magicians go to train?
I went to stay with a friend in the States when I was a freelance designer and met a woman who was really into natural skincare who told me all about all the rubbish that is in so many commercial skin creams. I was pretty horrified and bought some ‘natural’ creams made by a company called Arbonne. I loved them but they were INCREDIBLY expensive. When they ran out I looked at the ingredients list and, being a practical kind of person, (and miserly), I thought I’m sure I could make this myself and save myself £100’s. So, I bought a natural beauty recipe book from Amazon and with Claire, my daughter, I set off to Neal’s Yard and spent a fortune on natural ingredients (far more than £100 in the end) and came home and had fun in the kitchen. We squashed beetroot through sieves, blocked the sink with melted beeswax and made all kinds of weird and wonderful concoctions. That was just the beginning but I got hooked on it. I did loads of reading, experimenting and talking to various chemists and toxicologists. I researched ingredient properties and finally, once I had decided I wanted to sell my creams, rather than just giving them to friends and family as I had been – I went on a course run by Aromantic in Fulham to find out how to make sure they didn’t curdle or go off and to learn about the legal side of things.

Why Shea Butter? Do you ever feel tempted to throw another substitute product in the mix?
On that first Neal’s Yard trip in 2003 we bought some shea butter just because it was in one of the recipes I fancied making. I really liked its texture and the feel of it on my skin. When I read about its properties I decided to make it the theme of my creams. Shea butter is fantastically good for the skin and has been used for centuries in Africa as a natural skin moisturiser. It helps heal scars, offers natural sun protection, soothes eczema and a whole range of dry skin conditions and is also used as a hair conditioner. We mix it with other ingredients though as in its basic unrefined form it is hard and wax like and needs warming before use.

How do you source your shea butter? What led you to Ghana?
We get our fairtrade, unrefined shea butter via a child rights organisation in Ghana called Afrikids and it is made in a woman’s fairtrade cooperative. Ghana is the main place for Shea butter and as a friend of mine had some Ghanaian contacts it seemed the natural place to head for.

What other products do you add to the shea butter and where do you find these?
We use organic oils such as olive, apricot kernel, thistle and avocado, aloe vera, horse chestnut extract and cocoa butter. We use spring water which we get from my cousin’s farm in Northants where they have a natural spring. They bottle and sell their water and I am sure this is why our creams are so good for sensitive skins because our water is SOOOO pure. We use an emulsifier – cetyl alcohol, which comes from coconut oil – to blend the fats and the water together. We scent the creams with organic essential oils. All our ingredients are sourced from different companies.

Can you explain a bit of the process behind the making your products?
It’s a cross between cooking and chemistry! Lots of heating, cooling, whisking and stirring. Heating has to be very precise and timing is crucial. In the early days we had loads of disasters with curdled messes in saucepans but now we have it down to a fine art. The cooks in the company are Prue (my sister), Emma (my oldest friend) and me. Emma has a science background and that helps a lot.

Why is selling in markets so important to you, and which markets do you sell in?
Selling at markets is great because it really keeps you in touch with the people who buy our stuff and what they want. We love the feedback and because we are a tiny company we can actually act on it. If people say they love the smell of geranium for example – we go and get organic essential oil of geranium and add it to stuff. If people show interest in hemp oil for example or blackcurrant seed or blackseed oil etc (as they have done) we can add it to products. We do have to get every recipe toxicology tested though before selling it so its not totally ad hoc. We sell at Broadway Market in London Fields every Saturday and Brick Lane Upmarket in the Truman Brewery on Sundays. We also do one off markets in York (we are there loads over Christmas), Suffolk, Brighton etc. Our website is regularly updated with our plans for the next month and every Friday we confirm our venues via twitter. I chose Broadway and Brick Lane as regular markets because they are GREAT venues and I love being there! Lots of people, lots of great stalls and really friendly stall holders. If I am going to spend my weekends working I want to make sure I am going to enjoy myself.

How do you work between Crouch End and York?
I am based in Crouch End and make stuff in my kitchen and sell at markets in London. Emma makes it in her kitchen in York,  services most of the web orders and sells at York markets. My sister, Prue, makes creams in her kitchen in Northants and brings batches of cream up to me on a weekly basis.

What are your new products?
Our new products are Cyclists’ Sore Bits Cream and Cyclists All Weather Face protection because we have had loads of cyclists asking for specialist creams – particularly on Broadway market. We also do a blusher and tinted moisturiser because it is simple to just add mineral tints to our existing creams. We don’t have plans to extend the make up range but these two products fit comfortably with the rest of our products.

All your products come in distinctive little tins – why have you decided to package them in this way and what inspired the distinctive bright design?
I just liked the idea of tins because they are really practical, unsquashable and have a kind of basic honesty about them – no fake bottoms here. I did some basic market research before becoming a Ltd company and the results of the survey I did showed that people wanted something a bit different that would stand out from the endless white boxes. I design all our packaging myself and I love bright colours. I looked at lots of Ghanaian batiks for inspiration and the borders of all our tins are based on a batik I liked.

Why are gift boxes such a good idea for a small brand like yours?
I think people like to buy presents that are packaged in some way so it made sense to put combinations of creams together. I have to admit I love little bags, boxes, tissue and ribbon so it gave me a great excuse to go and spend loads of money at the packaging factory!

What are your dreams for the future of your brand?
Oh wow … Well, I think we want to stay small. This company is a lifestyle for us rather than an ambition to make mega bucks. We like messing around in the kitchen and making lovely products. If we were to go into shops and get big, our recipes would have to be made in a factory, we would need a distribution network and a production line and who wants to spend their days dealing with all that hassle and the stress of borrowing large amounts of money? If we just sell online and at markets the other great thing is we can keep our prices very competitive because our overheads are massively reduced.  We do want to make a bit more money than we do at the moment though … I think online sales are the way to go. So check out our website www.sheaalchemy.co.uk and start doing your christmas shopping!

Erdem, online illustrated by Katie Walters

The Whitechapel Gallery is, this month, hosting a series of talks which see a host of London-based fashion designers in conversation with curator Kirsty Ogg. The first of these talks saw Turkish/English/Canadian designer Erdem Moralioglu take to the stage. 

Personally I’m a massive fan of Erdem and the inherent beauty he’s displayed across collection after collection. Amelia’s Magazine supported the designer since his first show, with an interview and feature in Issue 08 of the printed magazine. It’s a shame, then, that we didn’t get a ticket to his most recent show so we haven’t covered his work in a while. Yes, they probably go faster than Take That tickets, but, y’know, we’ve been on the Erdem wagon longer than it takes to correctly spell his surname.

Above: Erdem S/S 2011 Below: Erdem S/S 2010, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

After a warm introduction from Elle‘s fashion director Anne-Marie Curtis, who thanked Erdem for her wedding dress (cringe), the conversation began, as these things tend to, rather awkwardly. We got a brief synopsis of Erdem the man so far – he relayed stories from his childhood, described his Virgin Suicides-esque hometown and discussed his fascination with right and wrong. He’s a man after my own heart who has always been fascinated by women and the impact that fashion has on their lives. The contrast of cultures – a Turkish father, an English mother, a Canadian upbringing – has had a massive impact on the designer’s work and life. He has always been obsessed by reality, fantasy and femininity.

This unusual series of talks see fashion designers talk about the influence of the art world, generally speaking, on their work. Each designer has been asked to pick 10 pieces of art that they feel have been most inspirational. Erdem had hand-picked a wide range of pieces that had been influential, from centuries-old paintings to the work of modern photographers.
From Ryan McGinley‘s ethereal firework images to Singer Sargent‘s oil paintings, all genres were covered, with an unsurprising theme of women and figures running throughout. Here are a few of his picks:

Seeing Peter Doig’s White Canoe (1990-1) in oils appeared like a close-up image of Erdem’s many digital prints, but also evoked his own memories of growing up near this ‘large lake’…

Singer Sergant’s Madame X conveyed Erdem’s fascination with mysterious women…(detail)

Ryan McGinley’s Fireworks Hysteric was a combination of the female form and his obsession with reality…

Inspiration from Tina Barney’s Matador, from the conscious influence of Erdem’s detailing to the juxtaposition of the elaborate jacket with the crispness of the shirt and tie… 

While there’s no doubt that art and fashion are physically and psychologically intertwined, it did feel at times that the emphasis was on the deeper and often patronising themes that existed in Erdem’s choices. I would have happily listened to his dulcet Canadian tones wax lyrical about fashion than hear him struggle somewhat to form concepts from pieces of art that just weren’t there. ‘There isn’t really a meaning, love!’ I kept thinking to myself as Ogg tried to worm out themes from his choices. ‘Leave him alone!’ I forced myself not to say aloud. ‘LEAVE MY ERDEM ALONE!’ It was a little like sitting in on a psychiatrist extract information from a sane person who didn’t really need to see a psychiatrist.  

Generally, the idea of a fashion designer discussing his influences, and purely artistic ones, is a great concept, but what it didn’t need was patronising drivel. Just my philistine opinion, obviously.  


Illustration by Katie Harnett

You can catch Marios Schwab in conversation with Daniel F. Herrmann on Wednesday 24th November. Click here for more details.

Categories ,Anne-Marie Curtis, ,art, ,canada, ,Elle, ,England, ,Erdem Moralioglu, ,fashion, ,John Singer Sargent, ,Kirsty Ogg, ,Peter Doig, ,Ryan McGinley, ,Take That, ,Tina Barney, ,Turkey, ,Virgin Suicides, ,Whitechapel Gallery

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Amelia’s Magazine | Dame Elizabeth Taylor 1932 – 2011

THUMB Kee Boutique 2 Michelle Urvall Nyrén

Kee Boutique illustration by Faye West

Lately, salve I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with myself. You know, life stuff. I am incredibly grateful for my job, especially as I have friends in dire unemployment situations but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about the ‘what if’s’ and ‘one day’s’ . I don’t have a single dream job. I never have. I do however, In my slightly schizophrenic special way, harbour numerous secret career cravings. These range from the sublime (Anthropologist, midwife, Inventor) to the ridiculous (Pearly Queen, agony aunt, Riverdance star– seriously.) But most of all I hope that one day, once upon a time perhaps, I shall have the means and the balls to retreat from my office based 9-5 to own my own little handmade business. Something to do with sewing machines and being outside a lot and haberdasheries and old things and perhaps chickens and copper kettles and err, well I’m not sure what it is exactly yet or how on earth it would come together. But I always like meeting people who have taken the plunge to do something they love, so I was pretty intrigued to interview Keely for Amelia’s Magazine.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

Who are you and what floats your boat?!

I am Keely Brightmore and my clothes are Kee Boutique. I love everything pretty and vintage. I like nothing better than rooting through flea markets and car boots for hidden gems, pieces of lace, broaches, fabrics, whatever I can find, then creating something beautiful from something on its last legs!

Where are you from – do you love it or hate it? and does it influence your work?

I am from Yorkshire, in the countryside, and now live in Leeds. The nature and beauty of home is very inspirational to my work, but I also love the buzz of the city.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

When did you start the shop and what made you want to start it?

I started it in July last year, just after I graduated from university. I have always been creative, designing and using my mum’s sewing machine as a child. I started selling my clothes online, in markets and in other people’s shops but always dreamt of having my own shop.

Where do you see your shop in 5 years time?

My shop is in a beautiful art deco building with several other independent shops and I firstly aim to help make the whole thing a great place to visit in Leeds. I also use my shop as a studio where customers can find me behind my sewing machine making my new garments to sell both in the shop, online and elsewhere. I would like to expand where my clothes are available but still using an ethical method of production.

Some might say It was very brave to launch a new fashion business in a recession;  how have you found it?

There were times at first when I was slightly doubtful in the current climate but if people like something they still seem to be able to afford it! This is a full time thing but the shop is only be part of it. I also sell my clothes in other shops and online – there’s a whole world of like-minded buyers!

Kee Boutique by Madi Illustrates

Do you have any advice or top tips for any other aspiring entrepreneurs who might be inspired by you?

If you love what you are trying to do then you just have to keep with it, visualise where you want to be, and, if it’s what you really want to do, then you will get there. I look for inspiration everywhere without thinking about it and, if it’s in you, you won’t doubt yourself or think of it as a job. Enjoy it!

What have been the best and worst moments in running your business so far?

The hardest part was at the beginning trying to get established, budgeting, not having enough time for everything, let alone time off! It’s all worth it though and my favourite parts of doing this are meeting new creative people who I can learn from, doing fashion shows and photoshoots and seeing the results of everyone’s hard work. I also love seeing people wearing my designs!

Who are your style inspirations?

I adore icons from the 20’s to now, in particular Bridget Bardot, Jane Birkin, Rita Heyworth, Kate Bush… I love the French style, Paris and Lolita… My favourite major designers are Chloe and Chanel…

Do you have a favourite vintage era?

The 40’s is probably my favourite style era with floral tea dresses, lace and pearls, very feminine and elegant, although I get inspiration from the best bits of different era’s.

What are your ethical motivations? What gets you really fired up?

I either make brand new clothes from vintage materials or rework unloved vintage clothes so it is very important that all my pieces are 100% ethical. I hate disposable fashion – with a little time and love you can always find a vintage piece that is the same as what you would find on the high street, except better quality, greener and way more interesting!

Do you have any secret career cravings?!

I do what I do because I love it so this is my career craving!

I think myself lucky to be passionate enough about something that can also be my living so it seemed natural for me to follow it. I think if people have a strong enough dream that can become reality they should be less fearful of following it, whether it is starting a business, travelling, providing for your family or exploring your talent.

Visit Kee Boutique Here

Kee Boutique illustration by Faye West

Lately, cheap I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with myself. You know, viagra life stuff. I am incredibly grateful for my job, especially as I have friends in dire unemployment situations but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about the ‘what if’s’ and ‘one day’s’ . I don’t have a single dream job. I never have. I do however, In my slightly schizophrenic special way, harbour numerous secret career cravings. These range from the sublime (Anthropologist, midwife, Inventor) to the ridiculous (Pearly Queen, agony aunt, Riverdance star– seriously.) But most of all I hope that one day, once upon a time perhaps, I shall have the means and the balls to retreat from my office based 9-5 to own my own little handmade business. Something to do with sewing machines and being outside a lot and haberdasheries and old things and perhaps chickens and copper kettles and err, well I’m not sure what it is exactly yet or how on earth it would come together. But I always like meeting people who have taken the plunge to do something they love, so I was pretty intrigued to interview Keely for Amelia’s Magazine.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

Who are you and what floats your boat?!

I am Keely Brightmore and my clothes are Kee Boutique. I love everything pretty and vintage. I like nothing better than rooting through flea markets and car boots for hidden gems, pieces of lace, broaches, fabrics, whatever I can find, then creating something beautiful from something on its last legs!

Where are you from – do you love it or hate it? and does it influence your work?

I am from Yorkshire, in the countryside, and now live in Leeds. The nature and beauty of home is very inspirational to my work, but I also love the buzz of the city.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

When did you start the shop and what made you want to start it?

I started it in July last year, just after I graduated from university. I have always been creative, designing and using my mum’s sewing machine as a child. I started selling my clothes online, in markets and in other people’s shops but always dreamt of having my own shop.

Where do you see your shop in 5 years time?

My shop is in a beautiful art deco building with several other independent shops and I firstly aim to help make the whole thing a great place to visit in Leeds. I also use my shop as a studio where customers can find me behind my sewing machine making my new garments to sell both in the shop, online and elsewhere. I would like to expand where my clothes are available but still using an ethical method of production.

Some might say It was very brave to launch a new fashion business in a recession;  how have you found it?

There were times at first when I was slightly doubtful in the current climate but if people like something they still seem to be able to afford it! This is a full time thing but the shop is only be part of it. I also sell my clothes in other shops and online – there’s a whole world of like-minded buyers!

Kee Boutique by Madi Illustrates

Do you have any advice or top tips for any other aspiring entrepreneurs who might be inspired by you?

If you love what you are trying to do then you just have to keep with it, visualise where you want to be, and, if it’s what you really want to do, then you will get there. I look for inspiration everywhere without thinking about it and, if it’s in you, you won’t doubt yourself or think of it as a job. Enjoy it!

What have been the best and worst moments in running your business so far?

The hardest part was at the beginning trying to get established, budgeting, not having enough time for everything, let alone time off! It’s all worth it though and my favourite parts of doing this are meeting new creative people who I can learn from, doing fashion shows and photoshoots and seeing the results of everyone’s hard work. I also love seeing people wearing my designs!

Who are your style inspirations?

I adore icons from the 20’s to now, in particular Bridget Bardot, Jane Birkin, Rita Heyworth, Kate Bush… I love the French style, Paris and Lolita… My favourite major designers are Chloe and Chanel…

Do you have a favourite vintage era?

The 40’s is probably my favourite style era with floral tea dresses, lace and pearls, very feminine and elegant, although I get inspiration from the best bits of different era’s.

What are your ethical motivations? What gets you really fired up?

I either make brand new clothes from vintage materials or rework unloved vintage clothes so it is very important that all my pieces are 100% ethical. I hate disposable fashion – with a little time and love you can always find a vintage piece that is the same as what you would find on the high street, except better quality, greener and way more interesting!

Do you have any secret career cravings?!

I do what I do because I love it so this is my career craving!

I think myself lucky to be passionate enough about something that can also be my living so it seemed natural for me to follow it. I think if people have a strong enough dream that can become reality they should be less fearful of following it, whether it is starting a business, travelling, providing for your family or exploring your talent.

Visit Kee Boutique Here

Kee Boutique illustration by Faye West

Lately, viagra sale I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with myself. You know, illness life stuff. I am incredibly grateful for my job, especially as I have friends in dire unemployment situations but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about the ‘what if’s’ and ‘one day’s’ . I don’t have a single dream job. I never have. I do however, In my slightly schizophrenic special way, harbour numerous secret career cravings. These range from the sublime (Anthropologist, midwife, Inventor) to the ridiculous (Pearly Queen, agony aunt, Riverdance star– seriously.) But most of all I hope that one day, once upon a time perhaps, I shall have the means and the balls to retreat from my office based 9-5 to own my own little handmade business. Something to do with sewing machines and being outside a lot and haberdasheries and old things and perhaps chickens and copper kettles and err, well I’m not sure what it is exactly yet or how on earth it would come together. But I always like meeting people who have taken the plunge to do something they love, so I was pretty intrigued to interview Keely for Amelia’s Magazine.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

Who are you and what floats your boat?!

I am Keely Brightmore and my clothes are Kee Boutique. I love everything pretty and vintage. I like nothing better than rooting through flea markets and car boots for hidden gems, pieces of lace, broaches, fabrics, whatever I can find, then creating something beautiful from something on its last legs!

Where are you from – do you love it or hate it? and does it influence your work?

I am from Yorkshire, in the countryside, and now live in Leeds. The nature and beauty of home is very inspirational to my work, but I also love the buzz of the city.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

When did you start the shop and what made you want to start it?

I started it in July last year, just after I graduated from university. I have always been creative, designing and using my mum’s sewing machine as a child. I started selling my clothes online, in markets and in other people’s shops but always dreamt of having my own shop.

Where do you see your shop in 5 years time?

My shop is in a beautiful art deco building with several other independent shops and I firstly aim to help make the whole thing a great place to visit in Leeds. I also use my shop as a studio where customers can find me behind my sewing machine making my new garments to sell both in the shop, online and elsewhere. I would like to expand where my clothes are available but still using an ethical method of production.

Some might say It was very brave to launch a new fashion business in a recession;  how have you found it?

There were times at first when I was slightly doubtful in the current climate but if people like something they still seem to be able to afford it! This is a full time thing but the shop is only be part of it. I also sell my clothes in other shops and online – there’s a whole world of like-minded buyers!

Kee Boutique by Madi Illustrates

Do you have any advice or top tips for any other aspiring entrepreneurs who might be inspired by you?

If you love what you are trying to do then you just have to keep with it, visualise where you want to be, and, if it’s what you really want to do, then you will get there. I look for inspiration everywhere without thinking about it and, if it’s in you, you won’t doubt yourself or think of it as a job. Enjoy it!

What have been the best and worst moments in running your business so far?

The hardest part was at the beginning trying to get established, budgeting, not having enough time for everything, let alone time off! It’s all worth it though and my favourite parts of doing this are meeting new creative people who I can learn from, doing fashion shows and photoshoots and seeing the results of everyone’s hard work. I also love seeing people wearing my designs!

Who are your style inspirations?

I adore icons from the 20’s to now, in particular Bridget Bardot, Jane Birkin, Rita Heyworth, Kate Bush… I love the French style, Paris and Lolita… My favourite major designers are Chloe and Chanel…

Do you have a favourite vintage era?

The 40’s is probably my favourite style era with floral tea dresses, lace and pearls, very feminine and elegant, although I get inspiration from the best bits of different era’s.

What are your ethical motivations? What gets you really fired up?

I either make brand new clothes from vintage materials or rework unloved vintage clothes so it is very important that all my pieces are 100% ethical. I hate disposable fashion – with a little time and love you can always find a vintage piece that is the same as what you would find on the high street, except better quality, greener and way more interesting!

Do you have any secret career cravings?!

I do what I do because I love it so this is my career craving!

I think myself lucky to be passionate enough about something that can also be my living so it seemed natural for me to follow it. I think if people have a strong enough dream that can become reality they should be less fearful of following it, whether it is starting a business, travelling, providing for your family or exploring your talent.

Visit Kee Boutique Here

Kee Boutique illustration by Faye West

Lately, diagnosis I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with myself. You know, viagra dosage life stuff. I am incredibly grateful for my job, especially as I have friends in dire unemployment situations but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about the ‘what if’s’ and ‘one day’s’ . I don’t have a single dream job. I never have. I do however, In my slightly schizophrenic special way, harbour numerous secret career cravings. These range from the sublime (Anthropologist, midwife, Inventor) to the ridiculous (Pearly Queen, agony aunt, Riverdance star– seriously.) But most of all I hope that one day, once upon a time perhaps, I shall have the means and the balls to retreat from my office based 9-5 to own my own little handmade business. Something to do with sewing machines and being outside a lot and haberdasheries and old things and perhaps chickens and copper kettles and err, well I’m not sure what it is exactly yet or how on earth it would come together. But I always like meeting people who have taken the plunge to do something they love, so I was pretty intrigued to interview Keely for Amelia’s Magazine.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

Who are you and what floats your boat?!

I am Keely Brightmore and my clothes are Kee Boutique. I love everything pretty and vintage. I like nothing better than rooting through flea markets and car boots for hidden gems, pieces of lace, broaches, fabrics, whatever I can find, then creating something beautiful from something on its last legs!

Where are you from – do you love it or hate it? and does it influence your work?

I am from Yorkshire, in the countryside, and now live in Leeds. The nature and beauty of home is very inspirational to my work, but I also love the buzz of the city.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

When did you start the shop and what made you want to start it?

I started it in July last year, just after I graduated from university. I have always been creative, designing and using my mum’s sewing machine as a child. I started selling my clothes online, in markets and in other people’s shops but always dreamt of having my own shop.

Where do you see your shop in 5 years time?

My shop is in a beautiful art deco building with several other independent shops and I firstly aim to help make the whole thing a great place to visit in Leeds. I also use my shop as a studio where customers can find me behind my sewing machine making my new garments to sell both in the shop, online and elsewhere. I would like to expand where my clothes are available but still using an ethical method of production.

Some might say It was very brave to launch a new fashion business in a recession;  how have you found it?

There were times at first when I was slightly doubtful in the current climate but if people like something they still seem to be able to afford it! This is a full time thing but the shop is only be part of it. I also sell my clothes in other shops and online – there’s a whole world of like-minded buyers!

Kee Boutique by Madi Illustrates

Do you have any advice or top tips for any other aspiring/fledgling business entrepreneurs?

If you love what you are trying to do then you just have to keep with it, visualise where you want to be, and, if it’s what you really want to do, then you will get there. I look for inspiration everywhere without thinking about it and, if it’s in you, you won’t doubt yourself or think of it as a job. Enjoy it!

What have been the best and worst moments in running your business so far?

The hardest part was at the beginning trying to get established, budgeting, not having enough time for everything, let alone time off! It’s all worth it though and my favourite parts of doing this are meeting new creative people who I can learn from, doing fashion shows and photoshoots and seeing the results of everyone’s hard work. I also love seeing people wearing my designs!

Who are your style inspirations?

I adore icons from the 20’s to now, in particular Bridget Bardot, Jane Birkin, Rita Heyworth, Kate Bush… I love the French style, Paris and Lolita… My favourite major designers are Chloe and Chanel…

Do you have a favourite vintage era?

The 40’s is probably my favourite style era with floral tea dresses, lace and pearls, very feminine and elegant, although I get inspiration from the best bits of different era’s.

What are your ethical motivations? What gets you really fired up?

I either make brand new clothes from vintage materials or rework unloved vintage clothes so it is very important that all my pieces are 100% ethical. I hate disposable fashion – with a little time and love you can always find a vintage piece that is the same as what you would find on the high street, except better quality, greener and way more interesting!

Do you have any secret career cravings?!

I do what I do because I love it so this is my career craving!

I think myself lucky to be passionate enough about something that can also be my living so it seemed natural for me to follow it. I think if people have a strong enough dream that can become reality they should be less fearful of following it, whether it is starting a business, travelling, providing for your family or exploring your talent.

Visit Kee Boutique Here

Kee Boutique illustration by Faye West

Lately, visit web I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with myself. You know, life stuff. I am incredibly grateful for my job, especially as I have friends in dire unemployment situations but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about the ‘what if’s’ and ‘one day’s’ . I don’t have a single dream job. I never have. I do however, In my slightly schizophrenic special way, harbour numerous secret career cravings. These range from the sublime (Anthropologist, midwife, Inventor) to the ridiculous (Pearly Queen, agony aunt, Riverdance star– seriously.) But most of all I hope that one day, once upon a time perhaps, I shall have the means and the balls to retreat from my office based 9-5 to own my own little handmade business. Something to do with sewing machines and being outside a lot and haberdasheries and old things and perhaps chickens and copper kettles and err, well I’m not sure what it is exactly yet or how on earth it would come together. But I always like meeting people who have taken the plunge to do something they love, so I was pretty intrigued to interview Keely for Amelia’s Magazine.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

Who are you and what floats your boat?!

I am Keely Brightmore and my clothes are Kee Boutique. I love everything pretty and vintage. I like nothing better than rooting through flea markets and car boots for hidden gems, pieces of lace, broaches, fabrics, whatever I can find, then creating something beautiful from something on its last legs!

Where are you from – do you love it or hate it? and does it influence your work?

I am from Yorkshire, in the countryside, and now live in Leeds. The nature and beauty of home is very inspirational to my work, but I also love the buzz of the city.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

When did you start the shop and what made you want to start it?

I started it in July last year, just after I graduated from university. I have always been creative, designing and using my mum’s sewing machine as a child. I started selling my clothes online, in markets and in other people’s shops but always dreamt of having my own shop.

What are your ethical motivations? What gets you really fired up?

I either make brand new clothes from vintage materials or rework unloved vintage clothes so it is very important that all my pieces are 100% ethical. I hate disposable fashion – with a little time and love you can always find a vintage piece that is the same as what you would find on the high street, except better quality, greener and way more interesting! [preach it Keely!]

Where do you see your shop in 5 years time?

My shop is in a beautiful art deco building with several other independent shops and I firstly aim to help make the whole thing a great place to visit in Leeds. I also use my shop as a studio where customers can find me behind my sewing machine making my new garments to sell both in the shop, online and elsewhere. I would like to expand where my clothes are available but still using an ethical method of production.

Some might say It was very brave to launch a new fashion business in a recession;  how have you found it?

There were times at first when I was slightly doubtful in the current climate but if people like something they still seem to be able to afford it! This is a full time thing but the shop is only be part of it. I also sell my clothes in other shops and online – there’s a whole world of like-minded buyers!

Kee Boutique by Madi Illustrates

Do you have any advice or top tips for any other aspiring/fledgling entrepreneurs?

If you love what you are trying to do then you just have to keep with it, visualise where you want to be, and, if it’s what you really want to do, then you will get there. I look for inspiration everywhere without thinking about it and, if it’s in you, you won’t doubt yourself or think of it as a job. Enjoy it!

What have been the best and worst moments in running your business so far?

The hardest part was at the beginning trying to get established, budgeting, not having enough time for everything, let alone time off! It’s all worth it though and my favourite parts of doing this are meeting new creative people who I can learn from, doing fashion shows and photoshoots and seeing the results of everyone’s hard work. I also love seeing people wearing my designs!

Who are your style inspirations?

I adore icons from the 20’s to now, in particular Bridget Bardot, Jane Birkin, Rita Heyworth, Kate Bush… I love the French style, Paris and Lolita… My favourite major designers are Chloe and Chanel…

Do you have a favourite vintage era?

The 40’s is probably my favourite style era with floral tea dresses, lace and pearls, very feminine and elegant, although I get inspiration from the best bits of different era’s.

Do you have any secret career cravings?!

I do what I do because I love it so this is my career craving!

I think myself lucky to be passionate enough about something that can also be my living so it seemed natural for me to follow it. I think if people have a strong enough dream that can become reality they should be less fearful of following it, whether it is starting a business, travelling, providing for your family or exploring your talent.

Visit Kee Boutique Here

Kee Boutique illustration by Faye West

Lately, information pills I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with myself. You know, life stuff. I am incredibly grateful for my job, especially as I have friends in dire unemployment situations but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about the ‘what if’s’ and ‘one day’s’ . I don’t have a single dream job. I never have. I do however, in my slightly schizophrenic special way, harbour numerous secret career cravings. These range from the sublime (Anthropologist, midwife, Inventor) to the ridiculous (Pearly Queen, agony aunt, Riverdance star– seriously.) But most of all I hope that one day, once upon a time perhaps, I shall have the means and the balls to retreat from my office based 9-5 to own my own little handmade business. Something to do with sewing machines and being outside a lot and haberdasheries and old things and perhaps chickens and copper kettles and err, well I’m not sure what it is exactly yet or how on earth it would come together. But I always like meeting people who have taken the plunge to do something they love, so I can briefly live vicariously through them.  So I was pretty intrigued to interview Keely, the owner of a vintage and handmade boutique for Amelia’s Magazine.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

Who are you and what floats your boat?!

I am Keely Brightmore and my clothes are Kee Boutique. I love everything pretty and vintage. I like nothing better than rooting through flea markets and car boots for hidden gems, pieces of lace, broaches, fabrics, whatever I can find, then creating something beautiful from something on its last legs!

Where are you from – do you love it or hate it? Does it influence your work?

I am from Yorkshire, in the countryside, and now live in Leeds. The nature and beauty of home is very inspirational to my work, but I also love the buzz of the city.

Kee Boutique by Michelle Urvall Nyren

When did you start the shop and what made you want to start it?

I started it in July last year, just after I graduated from university. I have always been creative, designing and using my mum’s sewing machine as a child. I started selling my clothes online, in markets and in other people’s shops but always dreamt of having my own shop.

What are your ethical motivations? What gets you really fired up?

I either make brand new clothes from vintage materials or rework unloved vintage clothes so it is very important that all my pieces are 100% ethical. I hate disposable fashion – with a little time and love you can always find a vintage piece that is the same as what you would find on the high street, except better quality, greener and way more interesting! [preach it Keely!]

Where do you see your shop in 5 years time?

My shop is in a beautiful art deco building with several other independent shops and I firstly aim to help make the whole thing a great place to visit in Leeds. I also use my shop as a studio where customers can find me behind my sewing machine making my new garments to sell both in the shop, online and elsewhere. I would like to expand where my clothes are available but still using an ethical method of production.

Some might say It was very brave to launch a new fashion business in a recession;  how have you found it?

There were times at first when I was slightly doubtful in the current climate but if people like something they still seem to be able to afford it! This is a full time thing but the shop is only be part of it. I also sell my clothes in other shops and online – there’s a whole world of like-minded buyers!

Kee Boutique by Madi Illustrates

Do you have any advice or top tips for any other aspiring/fledgling entrepreneurs?

If you love what you are trying to do then you just have to keep with it, visualise where you want to be, and, if it’s what you really want to do, then you will get there. I look for inspiration everywhere without thinking about it and, if it’s in you, you won’t doubt yourself or think of it as a job. Enjoy it!

What have been the best and worst moments in running your business so far?

The hardest part was at the beginning; trying to get established, budgeting, not having enough time for everything, let alone time off! It’s all worth it though and my favourite parts of doing this are meeting new creative people who I can learn from, doing fashion shows and photoshoots and seeing the results of everyone’s hard work. I also love seeing people wearing my designs!

Who are your style inspirations?

I adore icons from the 20’s to now, in particular Bridget Bardot, Jane Birkin, Rita Heyworth, Kate Bush… I love the French style, Paris and Lolita… My favourite major designers are Chloe and Chanel…

Do you have a favourite vintage era? Why?

The 40’s is probably my favourite style era with floral tea dresses, lace and pearls, very feminine and elegant, although I get inspiration from the best bits of different era’s.

Do you have any secret career cravings?!

I do what I do because I love it so this is my career craving!

I think myself lucky to be passionate enough about something that can also be my living so it seemed natural for me to follow it. I think if people have a strong enough dream that can become reality they should be less fearful of following it, whether it is starting a business, travelling, providing for your family or exploring your talent.

Thanks Keely!

Visit Kee Boutique Here

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

It came as a bit of a shock on Tuesday when I heard the news that Love Sensation superstar Loleatta Holloway had died. I remember my mum playing her records when I was a kid, pharmacy and I am still to this day astounded by her powerhouse vocals that sit on the right side of terrifying. Black Box’s Ride on Time, prescription which naughtily duplicated her mesmerising vocals, cemented her as part of music history forever.


Illustration by Faye West

So when I heard that Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor had passed away the following day, it almost pushed me over the edge. Two women, icons for their respective achievements, had gone.


Illustration by Maria del Carmen Smith

Elizabeth Taylor was one of the few remaining genuine stars. In a world where everybody is a celebrity, she came from that golden era where few stood out – only the most beautiful, talented and sophisticated women made it in Hollywood. In 1999, the American Film Institute published its Legends list – an archive of the greatest movie stars to have ever lived. Taylor came in seventh – the top six are all gone (the Hepburns, Monroe, Garbo) and now, as of Wednesday, only three of the 25 women listed remain – Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall and Sophia Lauren.


Illustrations by Daria Hlazatova

She was nominated in four consecutive years for the Best Actress Oscar, winning the latter for her performance in Butterfield 8 in 1960, and again in 1966 for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Fewer than 15 actresses have ever been awarded the honour twice in the award ceremony’s 80 year history.


Illustration by Maria Papadimitriou, aka Slowly the Eggs


Illustration by Daria Hlazatova

Born in England to an art dealer and an actress, Taylor was whisked away to Los Angeles by her parents and it would be here where Hollywood people “saw a movie future for every pretty face” and her mother would be urged to have Elizabeth screen tested. At the age of 9 she appeared in There’s One Born Every Minute and the rest, as they say, is history.


Illustration by Anna Roberts

Film after film followed – I could write a list but I’m sure you know, and if you didn’t you’ve probably read about them in every other tribute. I have to confess, I haven’t seen that many – I can never endure the whole of the week-long Cleopatra (somebody needs to edit it) but Taylor’s classic beauty and power as an actress resonates through even the film stills.


Illustration by Genie Espinosa

Taylor was also one of the reasons we’re so obsessed with celebrities’ private lives. She fascinated the general public with her addiction to marriages. This is a woman who married the same man twice, for God’s sake! She counted him – Richard Burton – as one of the two loves of her life, along with Michael Todd, her only marriage not to result in divorce (he tragically died in a plane crash).


Illustration by Rebecca Strickson

So how to remember Taylor? From silver screen legend, cavorting with cameras in black and white stills; to the 1980s in jewel-encrusted power dresses; to the Noughties when, even when she couldn’t walk she was covered in diamonds, Elizabeth Taylor was one of the most glamorous women to have ever lived. She embraced fashion and used it to her advantage – her dark complexion and olive skin always making her stand out in a sea of Hollywood blondes.


Illustrations by Jaymie O’Callaghan

Her marital record will of course go down in history, as should her genuine compassion for others. When her good friend Rock Hudson died from an AIDS related illness, she was one of the first major personalities to acknowledge the disease and spent the rest of her life raising awareness and founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research. So many people’s lives are better because of her efforts.


Illustration by Eleazer Renée


Illustration by Avril Kelly

In a typical fashion, I’ll finish with a quote – yes I know it’s the cheesiest possible ending, but this one is so good I couldn’t resist. No, not the one about not having tomorrow, or “big girls need big diamonds”. It’s this:

“If someone’s dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I’m certainly not dumb enough to turn it down.”


Illustration by Janneke de Jong

Categories ,1980s, ,AIDS, ,America, ,American Film Institute, ,American Foundation for AIDS Research, ,Anna Roberts, ,Audrey Hepburn, ,Best Actress, ,Black Box, ,Butterfield 8, ,Cleopatra, ,Dame Elizabeth Taylor, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,Diamonds, ,Eleazer Renée, ,England, ,Faye West, ,Genie Espinosa, ,Hollywood, ,Janneke de Jong, ,Jaymie O’Callaghan, ,Katherine Hepburn, ,Lauren Bacall, ,Liz Taylor, ,Loleatta Holloway, ,london, ,Los Angeles, ,Maria del Carmen Smith, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,Marilyn Monroe, ,marriage, ,Matilde Sazio, ,Michael Todd, ,Naomi Law, ,Oscars, ,Rebecca Strickson, ,Richard Burton, ,Rock Hudson, ,Shirley Temple, ,Slowly the Eggs, ,There’s One Born Every Minute, ,Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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Amelia’s Magazine | Live Review: Smoke Fairies and Sea of Bees at The Fleece, Bristol

Smokefairies Illustration
Smoke Fairies Illustration by Alice Potter

The violinist comes on stage. He’s very tall and his tailcoat, ask wide tie and long hair and mostasche are how I consider a more genteel England might be attired. He looks considerate and pensive in a poetic sense. The rest of the band come on stage. Then the two female singers who are Smoke Fairies quietly take their places at the front. They appear a little bashful, malady but they have determined stares as they attach their instruments and look out to the audience. Their small frowns and concentrated expressions make them appear like they have been thrust on stage and are finding themselves dazed by the lights. Starstruck by their situation. But also it feels like reassurance; the two, click dressed in black mini dresses, are focused and aware that they behold the potential to have an audience in the palm of their hand. They look out and they know that a mood can be changed by the unison of their voices. They’re not nervous. Because their music is blinding.

Smoke Fairies hels

The sound starts and the voices are slow. The guitars are played, fingers flickering on the notes, dancing in small circles. The electric strums are perfectly matched with the violin. The drums are hit and the two voices are joined and that’s the moment. This time it came earlier than expected. Charlie and I look at each other. A translation says; ‘this is good, I’m glad we came to this one’. Then following this is a quizzical eyebrow raise from him; ‘do we have their cd?’, before he spins me round, grabs my waist (bit annoying) and moves to the music. We try and get as lost as possible, which hopefully leads to synchronized swaying. Occasionally I look at him with my eyes wide: ‘This is EPIC’ (over use of this word through eyes/speech, noted). Oh how I love the difference between playing something off the old Mac and seeing the scenes played live. Even though it is of course a joy to sit/wallow/cry/smile/dance to tracks at home, some acts are just SO much more incredible in real life form. Like Smoke Fairies.

SF_press2SML

Picture Source

I’m telling you when they play together live on stage, it feels, well… I will have to use a simile – here follows: You know that advert for Ireland, when the lady is singing in her Enya (is it her?) voice and the camera is sweeping over the ridiculously green fields and coastlines of Ireland? A bit cringe but you get the image, it feels like you are the sweeper – as in you are sweeping/flying over amazing landscapes. Possibly wearing some tweed, definitely a cape with a hood. The music is more The Cranberries than Enya, but the flying sensation fits.

They also have a hefty 90s twang. Reminding me of Alicia’s Attic and The Shakespeare Sisters (you must know Stay?) – a bit grungy but with a little folk and blues twist. Their name; ‘Smoke Fairies’, fits perfectly with their ethereal, rocky and fantastical sound. From interviews past, I read that it alludes to the summer mist that collects in the hedgerows of Sussex’s narrow lanes. Being a childhood Sussex girl myself, I know this mist well. The old railway tracks by my house are dusty aired heavens; the hours spent walking the lanes, their vision, scent, sound and feel make for ‘home’ in a snapshot. Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire met at school in the fair county of Sussex. And (wisely) rather than 5ive, Wigfield etc. the pair preferred folk, classic rock and blues. So they got together and created their own sounds, moulding their preferences and harmonies. After school, they lived in New Orleans and Vancouver, before returning to go on tour with Brian Ferry in 2007. They have since received high acclaim from artists such as Richard Hawley and Jack White. The former took them on tour and the latter recording a single with the fairies.

packshot_small

Smoke Fairies live highlights for me were; Summer Fades, Gastown, Hotel Room and Strange Moon Rising. As they played their guitars, their concentration and dedication to each note was mesmerizing. Although they seemed a little distant between tracks at times, their music was confident and heavenly. I highly recommend you listen. Their album, Through Low Light and Trees is out now on V2.

sea of bees

Sea of Bees Illustration by Genie Espinosa

Sea of Bees supported Smoke Fairies. As you may already know, I think Julie Ann Bee is superb. You can see from my review of her album, Song for The Ravens, available on Heavenly Recordings. Seeing her live, she was even more endearing than I had hoped. Somewhat of a contrast to Smoke Fairies’ mysterious mood, Julie broadly smiled and chatted between songs. She seemed really happy to be on stage, declaring her love for the South West’s cider and mentioning that since she was a child, she had in fact deeply wanted to be English. I got the impression that she yearned for this through the sugared lens of Mary Poppins, when she mentioned the singing dreampop, in the same way that we all live in castles and are close friends with Prince Harry. Not that England isn’t splendid. Regardless, when she talked of the Isle she sounded genuine and almost childlike. I get the impression that she has a very vivid imagination and a warm heart, perhaps under appreciated, but certainly obvious tonight. And in all her music of course.

Sea

Happily Julie’s singing on stage was as sweet as it is on her album, but with the high notes hitting the rooftops. Hearing her explain each song’s meaning was a delight not often had. And seeing her acting out the songs, her face frowning into the mid distance and then smiling… looking to the imaginary stars – made her album’s preconceived character a reality. Her feelings manifesting themselves in her music, she seems almost vulnerable, but utterly lovable.

sea of bees3

Sea of Bees Illustration by Genie Espinosa

She talks and sings of dreams and following them, of saying goodbye to past loves and the joy of friends. All that we can relate to, but that we could never articulate with such beautiful sounds as she does. As sugary as a sugar mouse, as heavenly as a glass of Peach Prosecco on a cloud. Song For The Ravens is out now on Heavenly Recordings.

See:

Categories ,5ive, ,Alice Potter, ,blues, ,Brian Ferry, ,bristol, ,california, ,England, ,Enya, ,Ethereal, ,Fairies, ,folk, ,Genie Espinosa, ,Heavenly Recordings, ,Helen Martin, ,ireland, ,Jack White, ,Jessica Davies, ,Katherine Blamire, ,Mary Poppins, ,moody, ,New Orleans, ,Prince Harry, ,richard hawley, ,Sea of Bees, ,Shakespeare Sisters, ,smoke fairies, ,Sussex, ,The Fleece, ,V2, ,Vancouver, ,Wigfield

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Amelia’s Magazine | My Best Albums of 2010


Image courtesy of Rogue

Initiating a relationship over the Internet is an age-old tale and I have friends who have successfully trodden this path, viagra dosage no rx but not without some initial trepidation. There’s always the joke about boys being deluded about their height, unhealthy often adding an inch or four to their profiles (or being axe-murderers), and girls uploading old photos when they were a good few pounds lighter (or being bunny boilers). But beyond the aesthetics, how much do you really know about your online confidante? And on the flipside, how far are you willing to stretch the truth to ensure that you are presenting yourself in the best light?

Produced by filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, who directed the brilliant docufilm “Capturing the Friedmans” in 2003, Catfish is the directorial feature film debut of Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, who explore these themes, human psychology and the modern technological landscape as a medium for communication, closely following a ‘virtual’ relationship as it unfolds over Facebook and phone calls. Made with a budget of only around $30,000, the film was an unlikely hit at the Sundance Film Festival last year, which had audience members and critics alike hyperventilating with excitement.


Illustration courtesy of Avril Kelly

When I received my invite to the press screening, I was urged to read as little about Catfish as possible to avoid spoiling my experience of the film. As I would urge you to do the same, I can tell you that writing this review is going to prove difficult but here goes…

Filmed using a grainy handheld camera, the story revolves around the film’s protagonist, Nev Schulman, a young, charismatic, sleepy-eyed New-York based photographer who becomes involved, via Facebook, with an eight-year-old art prodigy named Abby in Michigan. Abby approaches Nev to ask for his permission to use a photograph for a painting and a fraternal relationship ensues between Nev and Abby, which becomes increasingly complex as Nev becomes involved with the rest of her family: Abby’s mother, Angela, and Abby’s attractive horse-riding, guitar-playing, party-loving 19-year-old sister, Megan, along with Megan’s intricate network of friends.  Needless to say, a less fraternal relationship develops between Nev and Megan and before we know it, they are “sexting”, amalgamating naked photos of themselves and speaking every night via the plethora of the networking tools that we have at our disposal today. Nothing, however, is quite as it seems as the film takes several unexpected twists and turns to reach a not entirely surprising yet poignant conclusion. 


Illustration courtesy of Avril Kelly

One of the film’s key strengths lies in Nev’s engaging hopeless romantic, drawing empathy from his viewers as we are taken on a journey of his evolving feelings for Megan and her family. Throughout the course of the film, we see Nev experience infatuation, doubt, anger, disappointment, betrayal and then sympathy – feelings of which are all doubtless familiar to us, whether in the virtual or real world. The way in which the film is shot, where Nev talks about his thoughts and feelings directly to the camera as if we were talking to a family member or a close friend (fitting really seeing as Schulman is Nev’s brother and Joost is one of his best friends), makes us feel as if we are sharing a very private experience with Nev, helping us to bond and identify with his character.

Where David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’sThe Social Network” is about the creation of Facebook, Catfish is a film about the consequences of such creations, which may explain why its subject matter has resonated so strongly with audiences, seeing as approximately 5 billion of us across the globe are subscribed to a mobile phone contract and 500 million of us are active users of Facebook (although I exclude myself from the latter).


Illustration courtesy of Avril Kelly

At the risk of revealing too much, “Catfish” goes far deeper than simply being “another film about Facebook”. It throws up moral questions such as to what extent one can indulge in what superficially appears to be harmless innocent fantasies before we start to infringe on the wellbeing of others. This issue, however, is not strictly confined to the realms of an online environment, although it can be argued that modern technological advances, especially social networking, has made this deception somewhat easier to play out and sustain.

There has been much debate about the authenticity of “Catfish” and I for one am not completely convinced that we are not being taken for a ride, however, regardless of whether the movie is a hoax, Catfish is an absorbing, thought-provoking and affecting indie about hope, crushed dreams and the society that we live in where social media and modern technology provides a platform for our inner-narcissist, potential to deceive or desire to escape reality to a fictional world where life is more kind. In Joost’s own words, “Our profiles are a chance to present ourselves to the world in a way we can completely control – unlike face-to-face interaction”.

Read our exclusive interview with the director of Catfish, Henry Joost, here.

Catfish is currently showing at selected cinemas across the UK and available on DVD from today.  

Ariel “Rel” Schulman (left) and Henry Joost (right); illustration courtesy of Matilde Sazio

The co-directors of Sundance favourite Catfish, for sale   Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, page met in high school and have been filmmaking partners since 2006. Together they founded the New York City production company Supermarché and have produced award-winning advertisements and documentaries for well-known companies and institutions, this including Nike, American Express, Harvard Business School, Pitchfork Media and The National Scrabble Association. As an acknowledgement of their talent, the duo’s web short “What’s the Big Idea“, starring Danny DeVito, was nominated for a Webby in 2008.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Joost spent most of his childhood travelling the world with his mother, a photographer, and his father, an international banker. He is still an avid traveller and collector of cameras, which he uses to capture both film and still.

To celebrate the release of Catfish, Joost talks exclusively to Amelia’s Magazine about the inspiration behind the film, his views on social networking and the emotional rocky road he shared with the Schulman brothers (Nev, the film’s protagonist and Ariel, co-director), from the moment the cameras started rolling…


Illustration courtesy of Matilde Sazio

How was the initial idea for ‘Catfish’ conceived? What made you start filming Nev in the first place?
From my perspective the film began as one of Rel’s pet projects that I became increasingly interested in. When Nev and Abby’s story became like a living soap opera I joined in, filming Nev as well. We have a deal with each other and with our friends that it’s ok to film all the time. We keep a personal record of our lives with these little HD cameras we keep in our pockets. Sometimes it turns into something but more often than not the footage lives on a hard-drive, unwatched.

Did you have any expectations when you started filming?
Rel had an instinct that he was shooting what could become a charming short film about two artists meeting on the internet and inspiring each other. Or just another strange episode in his brother’s life. That’s enough for us to go on. It was only after 8 months of filming sporadically in the midst of our busy lives, that we realized that true nature of the story we were telling.

What makes Nev compelling as a protagonist? Why should we care what happens to him?
Nev is compelling to me because he’s one of my best friends and plays a huge part in my life. I think he has a natural charisma that people connect with.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and he’s not afraid to expose himself, which people respect. In Catfish he’s an everyman. We’re all looking for connections online, hoping to find love, friendship, or inspiration.

How did you find your directorial relationship with Ariel evolve over the course of filming? Were there any debates at any stage in how you wanted to approach things?
Rel and I have been working together for about 6 years now, so we have a natural and largely unspoken dynamic. I think our personalities complement each other and we rarely disagree. My role was often to keep the peace between the two brothers.


Illustration courtesy of Matilde Sazio

What was the most challenging thing about filming ‘Catfish’?
The most difficult thing for me was balancing making the film with fear for my personal safety, although that fear turned out to be unfounded. There is a moment in the film that was the scariest of my life, but I felt emboldened by the camera and knowing that we were on a quest for truth.

Has Nev’s experience made you more cautious of social networking?
I was cautious about social networking to start with, so this has only confirmed my suspicions. Although the contradictory effect of the film is that I’m also much more open to people I meet online now, because those people could turn out to be real friends or collaborators.

Do you think social networking has served to strengthen or weaken the depth of the relationships that we build with people?
I don’t think it’s possible to have more than a few close friends with or without Facebook.  Social networking has allowed us to maintain more superficial relationships than ever before with incredible speed and ease, but I don’t think it particularly affects our few real relationships.

I don’t have a Facebook account – can you give me one fool-proof reason why I should join?
Wouldn’t you like to know what your boyfriend from 8th grade looks like now?

SPOILER ALERT!! READ ON ONLY IF YOU HAVE SEEN THE FILM…


Illustration courtesy of Aysim Genc

Prior to the revelatory moment where Nev discovers that ‘Megan’ has uploaded Suzanna Choffel’s version of Tennessee Stud as her own, did you at any point have any suspicions about Megan and her family? Did anything seem odd to you?
We did have suspicions at first. It seemed strange that this artist was giving her valuable paintings away for free. But suspicions about a potential financial scam were assuaged when Angela sent Nev a check for $500 – half of the winnings from an art contest Abby won with a painting of one of Nev’s photos. Suspicions were always addressed in a clever way or buried under a mountain of contradictory evidence.


Illustration courtesy of Aysim Genc

What were you most surprised about when you first met Angela?
I was completely surprised by Angela. We imagined a lot of scenarios, but in my wildest imagination I don’t think I could have ever conjured up Angela in all of her complexity. More surprising still was how well we all got along so well.

What were your own feelings towards Angela initially and did they change as you got to know her better?
I expected to meet some kind of villain behind all of this deception, so it was a relief to meet Angela. We found her to be fun, smart, and engaging and were happy that she and Vince really welcomed us into their lives.


Illustration courtesy of Aysim Genc

Is there a message you’d like viewers to go away with after having seen ‘Catfish’?
I think one of the great things about the film is that everyone brings their own experiences into the theater with them, and walks away with a different message. I would hate to color that in any way with my own personal opinion.

Do you think there is an element of Angela in all of us in how we go about presenting ourselves in the ‘virtual world’?
I think we all curate our online personae and what Angela did is incredibly relatable. Who among us has not de-tagged a photo, or agonized about our “interests” or “relationship status” on Facebook? Our profiles are a chance to present ourselves to the world in a way we can completely control – unlike face-to-face interaction.

Read our review of Catfish here.

Catfish is out at selected cinemas across the UK now and available on DVD from Monday 10th January.  
Best Albums of 2010 by LJG Art & Illustration
Best Albums of 2010 by LJG Art & Illustration.

Last year I discovered a whole slew of marvellous new albums. So I thought I would round them up before we got too far into 2011 – some I have already reviewed, approved and some I meant to review but didn’t get around to it, sildenafil thereby giving me the perfect opportunity to do so now. Without further ado here are my picks of 2010.

Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou by Abigail Nottingham
Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou by Abigail Nottingham.

Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou – England
Loose Music
We’ve been championing this duo in various musical guises over the years… and their current husband and wife incarnation perfectly suits the harmonic beauty of their unique song-writing. England is a beautiful folk album that brings a modern flavour to age old tales of “peas, mash and pie” and “the catch of the day.” They have been working on a new album over the past few months and they start their extensive Tin Tabernacle tour soon, full listing here. Last summer they blew me away when they played an impromptu gig with Danny and the Champions of the World at our Climate Camp stage at Glastonbury. Make sure you catch up with them.

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I Like Trains – He Who Saw The Deep
self-released
I first fell in love with the historical tales of iliketrains many years ago when I featured them in the print version of Amelia’s Magazine. Since then they have become I Like Trains (small but crucial difference), parted with their label and lost cornet player Ashley Dean – who has since created a fab video for Our Broken Garden which you can read about here. The crowd funded new album He Who Saw The Deep retains the gravelly baritone voice of lead singer David Martin but ditches the historical references in favour of a stirring elegy to the perils of an uncertain future “as Europe slips into the sea”. They go on tour at the start of February. Full listing info here.

the golden filter by daria h
The Golden Filter by Daria Hlazatova.

The Golden Filter – Voluspa
Brille Records
This album didn’t register on my radar until I saw The Golden Filter play live at Secret Garden Party in 2010. But here lies a clear case of an impressive live performance translating equally well into a recorded version – thereafter I’ve listened to Voluspa on a regular basis. It is impossible to find any information about The Golden Filter on the internet because they have done their best to maintain an aura of mystery around them akin to the swirling atmosphere that surrounds singer Penelope Trappes during their live performances. Other reviews have not been so kind about the hazy noodlings of the album experience but I love listening to it as a whole.

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The Pipettes – Earth Vs The Pipettes
Fortuna Pop
In 2010 The Pipettes staged a come back with a very different flavour to their last studio album, (read our interview with them here). This time the line up features sisters Gwenno and Ani, and they’ve taken a distinctly dancey turn away from their 50′s doo-wap inspired songs… whilst still retaining their deliciously girly harmonies. This should be a good year for this truly independent pop band, starting with their DJing spot for their irresistibly bouncy tunes at my launch party for ACOFI at the end of January. After which they will be guesting on the new Does it Offend You Yeah? album. You wouldn’t find the Sugababes doing that now would you?

Our Broken Garden by Faye West
Our Broken Garden by Faye West.

Our Broken Garden – Golden Sea
Bella Union
Bella Union rarely puts a foot wrong, and Golden Sea by Our Broken Garden is no exception… an absolutely stunning album that I have listened to over and over and over again. If you get a chance to see Anna Bronsted perform live TAKE IT immediately. Her gig at St. Giles-in-the-Fields was one of the most magical performances I have ever seen. You can read my review here.

6 Day Riot by Jenny Lloyd
6 Day Riot by Jenny Lloyd.

6 Day Riot – On This Island
Tantrum
Self released on their own label, 6 Day Riot are a prime example of an uber talented band doing it for themselves. As singer Tamara candidly writes on their blog it’s hard work to get yourself heard when you are up against the promotional purchasing powers of the major labels, a fact which as an independent publisher I know only too well. On This Island is an incredibly rich and rewarding album and 6 Day Riot are just as much fun live. I can’t wait for them to play at my launch party for Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration.

Motorifik secret things

Motorifik – Secret Things
Moto
Despite a pretty terrible name – calling to mind, perhaps, Jeremy Clarkson loving rockers – Anglo-french twosome Motorifik won me over towards the end of 2010 with their 90s influenced shoegaze crossed with dance beats. Well worth checking out if you like your indie music lushly melodic.

Peggy Sue – Fossils and Other Phantoms
Wichita Recordings
Combining indie, folk, doo-wop and blues, this was my stand out favourite album at the start of 2010. The two girls in this three piece line up take turns on lead vocals, singing of complex love lives with heart rending passion. You can read my review here.

Napoleon IIIrd by illustratin grain
Napoleon IIIrd by Kiran Patel at Illustrating Rain

Napoleon IIIrd – Christiania
Brainlove Records
Starting with an intense splash of impassioned vocals yelped against a backdrop of reverberating beats, Christiania means business from the get go. Previous album In Debt To gained Napoleon IIIrd a coveted profile in the printed version of Amelia’s Magazine and this latest release does not disappoint, taking on board influences from genres as diverse as balearic beats, woozy cosmic pop and big bands. It comes out on the Brainlove label, home of all things eclectic and wonderful. Excitingly you can see both Napoleon IIIrd and I Like Trains together when they go on tour this February.

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Malachai – Ugly Side of Love
Flying the flag for totally out there psychedelia is Bristol based Malachai. Ugly Side of Love is a wonderful stoner concoction recently given the blessing of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. Malachai mash up stomping rock riffs, crashing moogs and sampled loops – it’s totally mental and I bloody love it. You can read our review here.

Laura Marling by Yelena Bryksenkova
Laura Marling by Yelena Bryksenkova.

Other albums that I loved probably need no further promoting as they will have done well on more mainstream “best of” lists but I will give them a brief mention here. Following a storming tour of the festival circuit Villagers‘ Becoming a Jackal did incredibly well and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Read my review here. Perhaps inevitably Laura Marling‘s I Speak Because I Can has also done brilliantly…. because it is brilliant. What can I say? Laura is amazing. And of course you could read about her many years ago in Amelia’s Magazine, which ran one of her first interviews in print. Read our review here. The Irrepressibles finally released their incredible album Mirror Mirror, which I was lucky enough to discover several years ago when I put them in the print issue of the magazine. Read our review here.

Sea of Bees by Gemma Birss
Sea of Bees by Gemma Birss.

Helen Martin has already mentioned Mountain Man, Sea of Bees (tour listing here) and This Is The Kit albums in her excellent round up… and I loved them all too. She has great taste so I’m sure her other nominations are fabulous too, but I must confess that I haven’t heard them all for myself. Which is just as well because it left me space for this little round up.

I do hope you’ll support these incredibly talented musicians by splashing out on one or two of these releases, most of which have come out on tiny labels for the love of music. As for what to look out for in the coming year? I’ll be giving you my low down shortly… watch this space.

Categories ,6 Day Riot, ,Abigail Nottingham, ,album, ,Anna Brønsted, ,Becoming a Jackal, ,Bella Union, ,Brainlove Records, ,Brille Records, ,Christiania, ,Climate Camp, ,Danny and the Champions of the World, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,David Martin, ,Does it Offend You Yeah?, ,Earth vs The Pipettes, ,England, ,Faye West, ,Fortuna Pop, ,Fossils and Other Phantoms, ,Gemma Birss, ,Geoff Barrow, ,glastonbury, ,Golden Sea, ,He Who Saw The Deep, ,Helen Martin, ,I Like Trains, ,iliketrains, ,Illustrating Rain, ,Indigo Moss, ,Jenny Lloyd, ,Jeremy Clarkson, ,Kiran Patel, ,Laura Marling, ,LJG Art & Illustration, ,Loose Music, ,Malachai, ,Moto, ,Motorifik, ,Mountain Man, ,Napoleon IIIrd, ,On This Island, ,Our Broken Garden, ,Peggy Sue, ,Portishead, ,review, ,Sea of Bees, ,Secret Things, ,Tantrum, ,The Golden Filter, ,the irrepressibles, ,The Pipettes, ,This Is The Kit, ,Tin Tabernacle Tour, ,Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou, ,Ugly Side Of Love, ,Villagers, ,Voluspa, ,Wichita Recordings, ,Yelena Bryksenkova

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