Amelia’s Magazine | Lazy Summer Days with Handmade Ethical Clothing from Lowie

Lowie by Emma Jardine
Lowie by Emma Jardine.

Lowie was set up by Bronwyn Lowenthal – born in the UK, site raised in Tanzania, with Jewish roots and a Welsh name. She was trained in marketing and went on to become brand manager for Ben Sherman before setting up Lowie nine years ago, which she started by importing Turkish made hats and socks to sell in Portobello Market. She quickly realised that there was a niche for brightly coloured handmade knitwear and found a supplier to produce larger quantities for her in Hong Kong.

I Love Lowie handmade ethical clothing, Kathryn Edwards
I Love Lowie handmade ethical clothing by Kathryn Edwards.

Lowie Playsuit by Alejandra Espino
Lowie Playsuit by Alejandra Espino.

Lowie Parlour Dress
The Lowie Parlour Dress.

Lowie has now expanded into ‘wovens’ – pretty cotton fabrics that feature darling floral sprig prints, all printed in a fair-trade factory in India. These are made into flirty dresses with full skirts and nipped in waists and cute little playsuits. The brand is sold in Heals, Anthropologie and ASOS to name but a few.

Lowie by Avril Kelly
Lowie by Avril Kelly.

Lowie Crochet Bow Dress by Michalis Christodoulou
Lowie Crochet Bow Dress by Michalis Christodoulou.

Lowie didn’t start life as a specifically eco brand but has gradually moved in that direction over the years. At one point Lowie was the only brand producing eco knitwear in jewel bright colours, so they have helped to lead the market away from boring ethical neutrals, opening the door for some of the much more exciting eco fashions that are around today.

Lowie by Jane Young
Lowie by Jane Young.

Lowie culotte playsuit
The Lowie Culotte Playsuit.

All wool jumpers and accessories are now made in China from wool that is produced in Australia. Although all Lowie cotton products are organic the wool is not, so they are currently looking into new types of eco yarns, for example those made from bamboo, which can feel as good or even nicer than wool.

Press Days March 2011-Lowie red bow
A close up of the bow detailing at press days.

Press Days March 2011-Lowie
A couple of the Lowie girls looking pretty in Lowie dresses. Hannah on the left manages the studio.

In the meantime Bronwyn travels overseas a few times a year to overlook factories and ensure production fits ethical fair-trade standards – all clothes are manufactured by home workers who run small domestic workshops in their living space.

Press Days March 2011-cupcakes Forward PR
A totally self indulgent photo of cupcakes at the Lowie press day. Just because they were so pretty.

You can find the new Lowie collection on their website. I absolutely adore the breezy Lowie style, especially for summer.

Categories ,Alejandra Espino, ,Anthropologie, ,ASOS, ,australia, ,Avril Kelly, ,Bamboo, ,Ben Sherman, ,China, ,cotton, ,cupcakes, ,Dresses, ,eco, ,Eco fashion, ,Emma Jardine, ,ethical, ,fairtrade, ,florals, ,Forward PR, ,handmade, ,Hannah, ,Heals, ,Hong Kong, ,India, ,Jane Young, ,Kathryn Edwards, ,knitwear, ,London Kills Me, ,Lowie, ,Michalis Christodoulou, ,Playsuits, ,Portobello Market, ,Press days, ,print, ,Turkey, ,Welsh, ,wool

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Amelia’s Magazine | Lazy Summer Days with Handmade Ethical Clothing from Lowie

Lowie by Emma Jardine
Lowie by Emma Jardine.

Lowie was set up by Bronwyn Lowenthal – born in the UK, site raised in Tanzania, with Jewish roots and a Welsh name. She was trained in marketing and went on to become brand manager for Ben Sherman before setting up Lowie nine years ago, which she started by importing Turkish made hats and socks to sell in Portobello Market. She quickly realised that there was a niche for brightly coloured handmade knitwear and found a supplier to produce larger quantities for her in Hong Kong.

I Love Lowie handmade ethical clothing, Kathryn Edwards
I Love Lowie handmade ethical clothing by Kathryn Edwards.

Lowie Playsuit by Alejandra Espino
Lowie Playsuit by Alejandra Espino.

Lowie Parlour Dress
The Lowie Parlour Dress.

Lowie has now expanded into ‘wovens’ – pretty cotton fabrics that feature darling floral sprig prints, all printed in a fair-trade factory in India. These are made into flirty dresses with full skirts and nipped in waists and cute little playsuits. The brand is sold in Heals, Anthropologie and ASOS to name but a few.

Lowie by Avril Kelly
Lowie by Avril Kelly.

Lowie Crochet Bow Dress by Michalis Christodoulou
Lowie Crochet Bow Dress by Michalis Christodoulou.

Lowie didn’t start life as a specifically eco brand but has gradually moved in that direction over the years. At one point Lowie was the only brand producing eco knitwear in jewel bright colours, so they have helped to lead the market away from boring ethical neutrals, opening the door for some of the much more exciting eco fashions that are around today.

Lowie by Jane Young
Lowie by Jane Young.

Lowie culotte playsuit
The Lowie Culotte Playsuit.

All wool jumpers and accessories are now made in China from wool that is produced in Australia. Although all Lowie cotton products are organic the wool is not, so they are currently looking into new types of eco yarns, for example those made from bamboo, which can feel as good or even nicer than wool.

Press Days March 2011-Lowie red bow
A close up of the bow detailing at press days.

Press Days March 2011-Lowie
A couple of the Lowie girls looking pretty in Lowie dresses. Hannah on the left manages the studio.

In the meantime Bronwyn travels overseas a few times a year to overlook factories and ensure production fits ethical fair-trade standards – all clothes are manufactured by home workers who run small domestic workshops in their living space.

Press Days March 2011-cupcakes Forward PR
A totally self indulgent photo of cupcakes at the Lowie press day. Just because they were so pretty.

You can find the new Lowie collection on their website. I absolutely adore the breezy Lowie style, especially for summer.

Categories ,Alejandra Espino, ,Anthropologie, ,ASOS, ,australia, ,Avril Kelly, ,Bamboo, ,Ben Sherman, ,China, ,cotton, ,cupcakes, ,Dresses, ,eco, ,Eco fashion, ,Emma Jardine, ,ethical, ,fairtrade, ,florals, ,Forward PR, ,handmade, ,Hannah, ,Heals, ,Hong Kong, ,India, ,Jane Young, ,Kathryn Edwards, ,knitwear, ,London Kills Me, ,Lowie, ,Michalis Christodoulou, ,Playsuits, ,Portobello Market, ,Press days, ,print, ,Turkey, ,Welsh, ,wool

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Amelia’s Magazine | Fashion Philosophy Fashion Week Poland S/S 2012 in Łódź: Lucja Wojtala

Lucja Wojtala  S/S 2012 by Kareena Zerefos
Lucja Wojtala S/S 2012 by Kareena Zerefos.

I really liked Lucja Wojtala‘s new collection, which featured intricate jacquard knits in a variety of wonderful designs inspired by the traditional aesthetics of South America, Turkey, India and Africa. She calls this look ‘global primary folk with a modern twist.’ Bandeau mini dresses came with a flouncy black peplum at the waist and longer dresses came with panels of different textured knit, either wrapped and tied or dangling to create different length interest. Panelled cardigans were worn over brilliant geometric designed leggings and hair was worn with side plait details. Mixing pastel shades of lemon yellow, mushroom and peach with greys, royal blue and black, this was a bold and wearable collection accessorised with brilliant matching brocade heels.

Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala comes from a family of knitwear specialists stretching back three generations and has trained as an intern in John Galliano‘s atelier. All her yarn is sourced from Italy and the garments are produced in the family workshops and knitting mill.

Lucja Wojtala S/S 2012 by Shauna Tranter
Lucja Wojtala S/S 2012 by Shauna Tranter.

Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala Fashion Week Poland people SS 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Lucja Wojtala S/S 2012. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

YouTube Preview ImageWatch the final run through here.

Categories ,africa, ,Fashion Philosophy Fashion Week Poland, ,India, ,Italian yarns, ,Jacquard, ,John Galliano, ,Kareena Zerefos, ,knitwear, ,Lodz, ,Lucja Wojtala, ,review, ,S/S 2012, ,Shauna Tranter, ,South America, ,Turkey

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Amelia’s Magazine | Howies: Ethical active clothing pioneers in Wales

Tania Kowalski was a workshop manager at a well-known contemporary jewellery gallery in London when Synnove Saelthun arrived from New York to join the design team. They soon discovered that they had similar views on design and business ethics, more about cialis 40mg and became good friends. Several years later they started the Oria brand, prescription using Synnove’s design skills and Tania’s production expertise. Synnove is a technically brilliant goldsmith with a passion for design and an eye for detail. Tania is a trained jeweller, viagra with a wide range of experience in the jewellery industry, from design creation through to production. Her expertise includes sourcing ethical materials and ensuring fair business practice.

Tania’s passion for other cultures has led her to visit remote tribes in the Amazon of Brazil, hill tribes in Nepal and the Dogon people of Mali. It was during these travels that she became fascinated with the cultural importance and symbolic meaning of tribal adornment. When designing a new collection, the couple sit down together to discuss what the new collection will symbolise. They research and refine story boards, and after ensuring that the designs are technically feasible Synnove makes an initial prototype, the best of which will go into production.

The use of the phoenix is a symbol of honesty and justice in Chinese mythology, and is one of the inspirations for the Nina collection. The lotus symbolises purity and beauty in many different cultures, and it inspired their silver lotus collection.

Working in Nepal Tania discovered that the safe working conditions and fair living wages which we take for granted in the West are not necessarily the norm in other parts of the world. This early experience was important in persuading Tania to commit to fairtrade sourcing as a founding principle of Oria.

Vintage fashion, about it illustrated by Matilde Sazio

Kim Sklinar, viagra sale aka Preloved Reloved, cheap has set herself an interesting New Year’s challenge. For the duration of 2011, Kim isn’t going to buy any new clothes. No more high-street bargains, no more feeding corporate giants, no more fast-fashion waste, no siree. ‘Another one?’ I hear you cry – and you’d be right. But this one is a little different.

While Kim hopes to raise awareness about the amount of cheap clothing we purchase and what effects that has on the environment and people’s lives, there’s also a bigger reason closer to home. Kim’s father was diagnosed with cancer over 18 months ago, and she decided to set up the project to raise funds for Macmillan, the cancer care and support charity. Unfortunately, as of only last week, Kim’s dad won’t see the project through its fruition. But Kim will dedicate the project to his memory.

So, how do you do it? Well, Kim’s vowed to buy only vintage and from outlets like eBay, and she’ll spend more time in charity shops which also benefits all of the organisations that run them. I had a chat with her about the project and how she thinks she’ll manage it all…


Vintage shop, illustrated by Karolina Burdon

What gave you the idea for Preloved, Reloved in the first place?
Well I always like to dress a little differently. My style is mainstream with a retro edge, I suppose. I always seem to end up with a daft New Year’s resolution – last year I cycled from London to Paris for The Institute of Cancer Research. I like using my time to help others and spread awareness.

Were you a fan of vintage and upcycling before you started the project?
Yes! I always admire my friends’ outfits; well, those who wear vintage and second-hand fashion. Upcycling is something I have experimented with for ages at home and now is the time to make sure I actually finish some projects!

Where will you source your outfits?
Charity shops, vintage stores, eBay, my mum’s wardrobe…! I made a lined cape last night from linen and satin for balmy summer nights (booking a holiday soon!).


Charity shops, illustrated by Rukmunal Hakim

What does the project hope to achieve?
I want to raise awareness of numerous charities related to my Dad’s illnesses. I want my friends to know that too much of an unhealthy lifestyle is probably going to lead to an early demise. I also want to raise the profile of vintage and second-hand fashion; I remember as a kid we use to take the mick out of anyone who dressed from a charity shop. I myself as a student had a stigma against them. Now it’s become kitsch, cool and quirky. It’s good for the environment.

How much do you hope to raise and what are the funds likely to be used for?
£2500 is my Just Giving target – it goes directly to Macmillan. However, with my shopping at many different charity shops, my cash goes straight to them – win win all round! I have my thinking cap on about how to expand the project though.


eBay! Illustration by Avril Kelly

Why did you choose Macmillan?
My dad (and his dad) had cancer – he died last week unfortunately. And it wasn’t the cancer that killed him, it was his heart and his adult-onset diabetes. A poor lifestyle in his twenties and thirties caused it and he was only 57 when he passed. So as I said before, this project benefits other charities focussing on these causes too through me spending money at their outlets.

Not that far in, but have you come accross any problems so far? Has anything that happened that you weren’t expecting?
Avoiding shops is quite hard as I realised I can’t just pop into the Topshop sale and treat myself – which I suppose is good for my wallet and I’m going to do less impulse-buying on the way home from work.
With my Dad passing, I haven’t had as much time to go browsing shops as much as I’d like. This weekend, however, I’m going to the Girls of Guildford vintage fair and gig – for some serious retail therapy, cupcake-nomming and also to check out some great live music away from the bustle of London.


Vintage, illustrated by Jess Holt

What are you wearing today? Where’s it all from?
Dark blue skinny jeans, leather knee boots that I already owned with black and cream patterned blouse from River Island that I bought from Cancer Research UK. I’m also wearing red rose earrings from Magnolia Jewellery.

Do you plan to make or alter any of your clothes? If so, how?
Yes – I love sewing and making jewellery too – I made a cape last week and have upcycled a pair of old, torn jeans from my uni days into a denim mini. I have a small collection of retro patterns including a lovely dress with a pussy bow. I love being able to create something out of fabric I love: last year I went to a lovely Indian wedding and couldn’t find The Outfit – so I made a purple maxi-dress with a halterneck and glammed it up with ribbons dangling down my back. Saved myself a fortune too!


Illustration by Gilly Rochester

What else do you get up to?
I run Never Enough Notes – a music e-zine, and I’m cycling the London-Brighton this summer with my brother and friends to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

What would be your perfect Preloved, Reloved outfit?
For daytime it would easily be vintage jeans, brown boots that look a bit worn-out, a floaty shirt or cheeky tee, a tweed jacket and a battered satchel.
For evening, I love ball gowns and retro dresses so would be something glam that I could wear with a pair of 1970s heels! Oh there’s way too much choice, I love it!


Photographs by Kim Sklinar

You can follow Kim’s efforts at the Preloved, Reloved blog; donate online here.
Junky Styling S/S 2010 by Aniela Murphy
Junky Styling S/S 2010 by Aniela Murphy.

Annika Sanders and Kerry Seager are self-taught fashion designers. They started up Junky Styling after they received lots of compliments for their deconstructed and restyled secondhand suits made to go out clubbing in during the 1990’s.

What prompted your approach to dressmaking?
Our approach was initially borne out of a lack of money but it soon became a necessity for individuality and quality. At first Annika’s mother did most of the sewing so our designs were heavily directed by her.

Have you seen many changes over the years?
Aside from all the wrinkles on our faces? We have seen the tangible development of a marketplace that never existed before. Education has enabled the sustainable movement to become more widely accepted and understood, approved and now many new brands think about sustainability before they even start designing.

Where did you go out in the past and do you still go clubbing?
We went to a wide mixture of venues that hosted a similar dressy scene. It was such a brilliant time, and we still enjoy socialising and a bit of a shuffle. But we always try to ensure that we are not the oldest at the bar…

Read the rest of this interview and see more illustrations of Junky Styling’s clothing in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, alongside interviews with 44 other ethical fashion designers and 30 fabulous fashion illustrators. You can buy the book here.
You’ve been going for a very long time. Have attitudes to ethical fashion started to change yet?
Consumers are starting to question the huge exploitation of people and the environment that permits their clothing to be so cheap, treat because it doesn’t add up. There is still a long way to go but the fashion industry is slowly changing the way it does business.

What has the People Tree brand achieved?
We support 5, website like this 000 farmers, case artisans and their families in developing countries by producing well designed fairtrade and sustainable products. For us it’s about creating sustainable livelihoods that put food on the table at the end of the day.

You’ve collaborated with both Bora Aksu and Karen Nichol. What have they brought to People Tree?
We’ve worked with Bora for four years because we share the view that good fashion design should last for years. He is a master of beautiful, feminine draped designs that we produce in organic and fairtrade cotton, and we’ve already started designing an exciting new collection for S/S 2012. Like me Karen is passionate about handicrafts and she loves traditional Japanese textiles and designs. She works with our hand knitters in Nepal to create beautiful appliquéd and hand embroidered embellishments
You’ve been going for a very long time. Have attitudes to ethical fashion started to change yet?
Consumers are starting to question the huge exploitation of people and the environment that permits their clothing to be so cheap, see because it doesn’t add up. There is still a long way to go but the fashion industry is slowly changing the way it does business.

What has the People Tree brand achieved?
We support 5, try 000 farmers, artisans and their families in developing countries by producing well designed fairtrade and sustainable products. For us it’s about creating sustainable livelihoods that put food on the table at the end of the day.

You’ve collaborated with both Bora Aksu and Karen Nichol. What have they brought to People Tree?
We’ve worked with Bora for four years because we share the view that good fashion design should last for years. He is a master of beautiful, feminine draped designs that we produce in organic and fairtrade cotton, and we’ve already started designing an exciting new collection for S/S 2012. Like me Karen is passionate about handicrafts and she loves traditional Japanese textiles and designs. She works with our hand knitters in Nepal to create beautiful appliquéd and hand embroidered embellishments
How did the idea of working with old porcelain come about? 
I was tired of producing other peoples’ ideas (as a stage producer) so in 2007 I decided to start working on my own project, dosage which soon developed into my rapidly growing label, stomach Sägen. I go to flea markets as often as I can for inspiration and to collect source material; I have amassed a huge collection of vintage buttons as well as piles of chipped and damaged porcelain that is no longer wanted. I like to work with my hands and I love turning items from the past into modern accessories. 

Sägen means Old Saga in Swedish – why did you chose this name for your brand?
I come from a small island called Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea and I have wonderful memories of listening to all the old myths when I was a kid. I came up with the idea for Sägen when I was there and the name reflects my interest in recycling a little bit of history into new treasures, so I find the name very suitable.

How do you cut the porcelain and set it in silver?
I cut and grind the porcelain with machines, which is a very dirty, dusty and dangerous job: I have been close to losing my fingers many times. When I am working in my basement studio I forget about everything else, instead focusing on the patterns that I am obsessed with. I decide what shapes to make up depending on the motifs in the porcelain, then I set the porcelain in silver (which is 98% recycled) so that it curves, bends and stretches around the shape I have cut out.
Ivana Basilotta S/S 2011 by Bex Glover
Ivana Basilotta S/S 2011 by Bex Glover.

Ivana Basilotta is Italian but has lived in Germany as well as the UK. She channels her observations of different cultures into her work, treatment sometimes the ideas flowing so fast that her pen can’t keep up and her scissors can’t cut the fabric fast enough. Quite often she only realises she was inspired by a certain idea once the collection has been finished. Having previously studied business Ivana is well placed to run her label, prostate and feels that a good business knowledge is as important as the creative force of a design house.

A committed vegetarian, she designs with peace silk, which is made in India without the killing of the silk moth. Because peace silk is spun as a fibre rather than reeled as a thread it is warmer and softer than ordinary silk. “I cannot imagine eating meat,” she says. “I find it strange that people eat dead animals.” She feels that being a vegetarian brings a great sense of freedom and well being, and it is an easy way to lead a greener life. “Farm land that could directly produce food for humans is used to farm and feed animals for slaughter, which uses up far more resources.” She does not like to imagine the stress and sorrow that farmed animals must experience, and wants no part in it…

Read the rest of this interview with Ivana Basilotta in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, alongside interviews with 44 other ethical fashion designers and 30 fabulous fashion illustrators. You can buy the book here.
bex_glover_howies_collection
Howies by Bex Glover.

Howies has since 1995 pioneered the creation of ethical active clothing with a strong design aesthetic. Based in Cardigan Bay, case Wales, remedy the company has built up a devoted fan base via its affiliation with outdoor sports such as surfing, order mountain biking and skateboarding. Products are made from high performing sustainable fabrics that will last, with a proportion of profits ploughed back into grassroots social and environmental projects via the Earth Tax. Although some clothes are made in China and Turkey they ensure best practice by employing the same factories as other companies they trust, such as M&S…

Read the rest of this interview and see more illustrations of Howie’s clothing in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, alongside interviews with 44 other ethical fashion designers and 30 fabulous fashion illustrators. You can buy the book here.

Categories ,ACOFI, ,Active Wear, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,Bex Glover, ,Cardigan, ,Cardigan Bay, ,China, ,Do Lectures, ,Earth Tax, ,Eco fashion, ,Ethical Fashion, ,howies, ,M&S, ,Merino, ,Severn Studios, ,sustainability, ,Turkey, ,wales

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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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