27 July 2012

Featured Artist: Zarafa Jewellery

At the beginning of July I went along to a workshop called Make It Pay that was run by The Design Trust. It was a packed day of seminars and talks on how to make your design or craft business earn money. I wanted to learn tips and get professional feedback so that I can be confident on the business-y side of running Lovely Designs.

Part of the day included networking and meeting fellow designers. It was really interesting to see what aspects other people were struggling with and wanted to learn more of. I met a few people on the day itself but made a point of contacting people via Twitter and emailing people to introduce myself. A little bit of support can go a long way!

One of the lovely people who replied was Mary Ann, the owner and designer of Zarafa Designs. She is a jewellery designer, working with silver and semi-precious stones. She even offers a bespoke service for brides.

Website: www.zarafadesigns.com
Email: maryann@zarafadesigns.com

Here are some pictures of Mary Ann's gorgeous jewellery and hair pieces, and below some information about her work in her own words.

Peach Pearl

Ophelia

Rose Quartz

Snow Queen

"The word Zarafa is an Arabic word for charming or beautiful  and my work is handcrafted from design to finish in my studio in Hemel Hempstead, where I live and work. 
I enjoy working with clients to create one of a kind bespoke pieces and have been commissioned  to rework pieces of clients jewellery into their wedding jewellery and tiaras /hair clips etc.
Rose quartz has been chosen for this collection of wedding  jewellery as it symbolizes unconditional love , joy peace and calming energy.
Pearls symbolize purity, charity, honesty, wisdom and integrity, all the best within us."

All photography on this post is by Paul Mounsey (www.paulmounsey.co.uk)


20 July 2012

Turning 30


A couple of months ago, I hit the 30 mark. With all the hoo ha in the paper about Kate Middleton turning 30 this year as well, I thought I would take a look at what it means.

I spent my 20's in a state of ignorant bliss, skipping about the world and making things look pretty. I certainly didn't have a to do list for life and was generally just going with the flow. 

In fact I wasn't particularly daunted about the prospect of reaching three decades of being on the planet. On the whole, I had heard a lot of positive things about turning 30. Such as feeling more at ease and comfortable in your own skin. You know what styles work or don't for you so you look more put together. Hopefully, you are making your way up the career and life is looking pretty settled.

On the other hand, there has also been a lot of social pressure to have achieved certain things too. For example, getting married, having children and owning a property. There has been a lot of press recently about people having children earlier than they would have like so they don't miss the fertility boat. I would be lying if I said these things haven't crossed my mind. But I do wonder if maybe we should ease up on ourselves and each other, and tick things off our own personal list when we are good and ready.

One of the things I have always wanted to do is go to Ibiza. I never got round to going when I was younger so I thought my 30th birthday was a good a reason to finally go. So I went with my husband, brother, his girlfriend, my mum and godmother to Ibiza Town in May this year. There was an age range of 24 to 69, so it just goes to show you are never too old! 

Top left: with my hubby on my birthday, celebrating in Shoreditch. Top right: at the opening party at Ushuaia, Ibiza.
Bottom picture:with my brother, his girlfriend and my mum in Ibiza.

I had a look at a few media sites which took a light hearted look at things to do before you're 30. Here are a few of my favourite that I found on the Stylist online magazine, The Independent and This Is London:

Buy a property

Nope, can't afford it and don't see it happening any time soon sadly. Have you seen the house prices! Last I heard, the average age to buy their first property in London is in their 40's. I'll just wait another ten years then.  

Have a baby
I haven't felt any way near ready to commit to such a huge step yet. The fertility scare mongerings is freaking me out a bit but I would still like to feel more ready.

Co-habit
Yep, have lived with a boyfriend at Uni and then I lived with my now-husband for a number of years. Still live with him in fact! 

Get married
I got married aged 26. When I was younger I was never someone who had planned out their wedding day and picked out their dress. I had actually pictured myself getting married in my early 30's. As it happened, after many years of being together, it felt right to make the next step and commitment. What made me say yes was I could see myself grow old with him. All be it with him being a very cantankerous old computer gamer! Damn, his arthritis is going to be bad!

Be a fashion victim 
So many times. No, I shan't share pictorial evidence. I also felt quite pudgy at times and had 'fat' days, which looking back, I wish I hadn't wasted my time worrying about it. Life's just too short.

Write a book 
They say there is at least one book in each of us. One of the articles said "Your expertise and ideas might be slim but you will never be as marketable again. Flaubert, Kafka, Fitzgerald, Updike and Walcott all pushed out classics before 30, so writing a decent tome is actually possible too." I think I will wait until I have something momentously interesting to share.

Know who your friends are 
Getting married actually helped me to see who really cared and was there for me. Every so often I do a Facebook cull and get rid of a few people on my list. If they are not someone I meet up with, or if they are not voyeuristically interesting, they go. People I can't even remember who they are or where I met them, or if I saw them on the street and I would hide, they go too! It's like virtual spring cleaning.

Make a million
... or at least earn your age. 
Hitting 30k by 30 has a nice ring to it. Not quite there. Shame the recession and credit crunch hit, no pay rise for 3 years running doesn't help meet the target.

Start a business

I started Lovely Designs after designing my own wedding stationery. According to This Is London "Four in 10 London undergraduates run their own businesses. Take the plunge while you still have nothing to lose."

Backpack the world
It's something I haven't done yet and would still like to do at some stage. Maybe I will do it when I retire. In the meantime, I am trying to see a bit of the world, bit by bit.

Skinny dipping
Yep, only the once and I shan't divulge details. It did involve a lot of alcohol and was many moons ago!

Travel alone
I'm a great believer in being independent and having your own interests. I have been on a few trips on my own and without the other half. The most notable trip was going to Mexico City for one month's work experience while I was at Uni. 

Sort out a pension
I keep meaning to sort one out. I understand that it's important but it feels like such a long way away and the information is dull dull dull. Maybe this year?

And these are my favourite tweets from the Stylist article to put things in perspective!
@helenhowe82 - Realise that turning 30 may actually be the beginning...
@tashlee - Fail. Try again. 

Do you have any advice or experience you would like to share on turning 30? Get in touch or make a comment below.

And remember...
... never act your age because you're as young as you feel!

05 July 2012

Beautiful Butterflies

I love butterflies and wanted to create a bold and colourful invite and wedding package that featured butterflies fluttering in a meadow. I think it's perfect for a spring or summer wedding... and of course a butterfly themed event!

Here are some pictures of the first of our Tailored To Fit range to go on my online shops, available on Etsy and Folksy.


There is the option to have a light or background cover in most colour combinations.


The font featured is a modern swirly script called Fling.


The listing is for high resolution, printable files, customised with your personal info and colours. You can then print yourself, at local printers or I can provide a print quote and arrange the printing (and envelopes if required) for you.

The invitation can be for any occasion and not just weddings. It could be used for a baby shower, birthday or anniversary party as well. 

I would love to get your feedback on the design and let me know your thoughts. Please get commenting below!

More butterflies...
To indulge in my fascination and love of butterflies a bit more, I also created a selection of fun butterfly themed items available on Etsy. Here's my Beautiful Butterflies treasury list:

My Beautiful Butterflies Etsy Treasury List



On the highstreet...
And not to forget a few other shops in the UK.

20 Solar Colour Changing Butterfly String Lights
Cream Butterfly Peter Pan Collar Top
Butterfly Fleur Set Of 2 Boxes

01 July 2012

We Make London: Exciting New Project

I am really excited to announce that I will be taking part and featuring Lovely Designs in a new book about designers in London. Here is the link to the original blog post: We Make London: Our Exciting New Project.

It will be published at the end of the summer with a swanky launch party in London. With an initial print run of 1,000 copies, it's going to be a great way of spreading the word about our services and designs.

I can't tell you how excited I am to be involved and to have been contacted by the organiser, Mary, a couple of months ago.

This afternoon I have been busy writing my short bio and emailed these two pictures of my work.



The count down to launch begins!