Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A Winter Weekend - With Gap

Every time a new season comes about, I make a grateful nod to the one that's just past and welcome in the new one with open arms.

Out of the four seasons, Winter often has a hard time, branded a cold, dark month where the days are short. Maybe some of that's true but there are so many things to celebrate in it too (less than month now! *lets out silent squeal*). At the top of my Winter bucket list are walks on crisp, blue sky days followed by long afternoons by the fire, with a film and a big bowl of popcorn. This past weekend we found all this in plentiful supply.

There's lots of ways that new seasons are marked out for us as a family. From changes in our home, bringing in seasonal finds from our walks which, if truth be told, only sometimes make it to the mantle piece, to changes in what we eat and wear.

For me, cosy knits and bobble hats are what Winter dressing is all about and I love finding a new warm jumper, which I usually end up living in until Springtime. I recently picked out some new pieces from Gap which have given a fresh injection of colour (and all important cosiness) into all of our wardrobes.

I found it impossible to resist their 'Crazy Stripe' collection and loved choosing the boys and Anwen and I a few matching pieces. The kids are at an age now when they notice when we match and absolutely love it. Twinning is winning, as they say, although I'm not sure how long they'll think so, so I'm maximising every opportunity!

I can't remember what we were talking about here, but it's very possible that I was showing her how cold my hands were. Despite the sunshine it was freezing out!
This little hero will jump at ANY opportunity to help his Daddy, and getting the wood burner ready to warm us all up is a favourite job of theirs.

As soon as I saw this flash jumper I knew Wilf would love it. He did and it was instantly nicknamed his 'super hero' jumper. Something tells me he'll be seeking it out to wear whenever he can, probably sporting some super hero moves and sending out invisible lazer beams from his finger tips at the same time.
Absolute heroes. Both of them.

Did I say twinning? Forget it. Tripleting. That's where it's at my friends! These stripey leggings are ridiculously comfortable and, with their elasticated waist band, are likely to be my trouser of choice come Christmas day. For now though, they'll make the perfect pair of trousers to enjoy a weekend film in.
Can you guess who finished their popcorn first and went looking for more? Poor Wilf didn't stand a chance.
Adding a tree to our mantle piece this weekend, definitely got me in the festive spirit and, despite being completely dumbfounded as to where this year has gone, made me so excited for December and the magic it holds. It also made me realise just how much Christmas shopping I still have to do! Thankfully though, I managed to tick a few bits off in Gap when I called in.

These glittery numbers sing Christmas sparkle to me and I've found myself pulling the denim shirt out for every social occasion since getting it.

Anwen hasn't seen this little ensemble yet but it's a cert that she'll strip off and demand to wear it all as soon as she opens them on Christmas day. Goodness knows how many outfit changes this child will have by the end of the day.
If these ballet shoes came in my size I'd snap them up in an instant. I'll let you into a little secret though, a pair of shoes that did fit me were these silver boots! I have size 3-4 feet so, occasionally, I'm lucky enough to find a pair of children's shoes that fit. I may have given a little fist pump when I found this pair in my size. They are so comfortable and have become a firm favourite already. Although if you fancy a pair, I would advise that you avoid wearing with TOO many crazy stripes (some is fine but don't go head to toe). I overdid it one day recently and looked alarmingly similar to Mr Tumble.
Anwen also hasn't seen these sweet bear tights which have found their way into her stocking pile. I'll guess I'll just have to slip these socks into the gigantic pile I'm assuming Sam is gathering for me.
I'm fairly sure this scene is how the rest of our Winter will play out. Fingers crossed for more sunshine filled walks, followed by cosy days adorned in crazy, colourful stripes. Lucky for Sam there wasn't a men's range of these leggings because you know I'd definitely have gone there. 'Quadding.' Could that be a thing?!
I'm delighted to be joining with Gap to share a fantastic offer with you this week. If you fancy snapping up any of these items for your own Winter wardrobe or to fill some Christmas stockings then, from today until next Monday (5th December), you can get 40% off all full price items (excluding leather and cashmere). Simply screen shot the voucher below to show in store or reference the code to claim your discount, simple!

Wishing you all the loveliest of Winters, may your days be bright.

This post was written in collaboration with Gap. However all words and views are my own.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Behind The Business - What it really means to shop independent.

Three years ago today, with an 18 month old son and a baby bump big enough to hide my feet, I launched little maldod. I had no idea where it would go but had a burning desire to set up my own creative business and, after months (years) of talking about, just went for it.

If you'd have told me that three years on it would have grown into a viable business (that's saved me from a bureaucratic, corporate world I SO didn't want to return to post maternity) I would have been overjoyed. If you'd have also told me of the inspiring women, cherished friendships and amazing independent businesses I would encounter along the way I'd, quite frankly, have been gobsmacked. 

During the time I've been in business it's been amazing to see the 'shop independent' movement grow from strength to strength. Indeed, my business wouldn't be where it is today without the support of people 'shopping independent' and spending their hard earned pennies with me. I genuinely get a buzz every single time an order notification pings into my inbox.
So for those of you that have visited little maldod and have browsed and popped an order in, thank you! Shopping independent really DOES make a difference. I love that I can also make a difference to customers, with small touches that just aren't possible for bigger shops and brands to make. Whilst writing this the following email arrived in my inbox:

"Hi Lowri, I just wanted to say how beautifully wrapped my items were. It is lovely that I don't have to wrap them myself, and instantly made me feel all Christmassy. This is why I love shopping with independent stores like yours, the love and attention that goes into the products and then to the customer is above and beyond."

For me, those words are what it's ALL about!

It's hard to miss the catchy mantras and eye catching graphics on social media encouraging people to 'shop independent', they're such good reminders, particularly at this shopping frenzy time of year.
However I wanted to share a little more of WHY and what it really means to the people behind the business when you shop independent. 

I asked a few friends that I've met since starting up, all of them bosses in their own right - sellers, makers, designers and doers, to share their own testimony of what shopping independent means to them. I hope you enjoy reading and are inspired by their stories. If you click on each name it'll take you directly to their website so if you fancy a spot of shopping it couldn't be easier!

Blossom and Bear - Fun, Colourful and Lovingly Made Items for You, Your Children and The Home
Running a small business allows me to channel my creativity into something productive and gives me the flexibility to work around my children. I can work in the evening and not miss that school play, sports day or school pick up. It means so much when people shop independent, it not only affects me and my business but my whole family! Plus it gives me a buzz to know people are enjoying products I have created.

Buddy and Bear - Playful Design for the Modern Family
Presents are such a personal thing and knowing that someone has picked out our design from all the billions of possibilities to make a special little someone smile is the best feeling. Each and every order makes me think, wooooah, somebody wants this and I'm doing it as my job, with my family. And I love it! Shopping independent is truly supporting dreams and making a direct difference to the makers and their families.

Cotton Clara - The Home of Colourful, Modern Textile Art
When people shop from me I feel very grateful and like I'm part of a great community. When I buy independent I imagine someone just like me, trying to do something creative and make 'work' work for them, and that makes me feel really happy that I can help make that happen.

Fable Heart - "Believe in Dress Up"
Shopping small becomes more important to me every year. I now buy less things, but much better things- so probably spend the same amount as when I used to go to high street stores looking for a bargain. The reason I shop this way now, is because I truly believe that the way you spend your money and who you give it to is worth so much more than a political vote. You can either choose to support people who pay fair wages, and know exactly where they manufacture. Or you can choose to line the pockets of a board of directors who abuse people they never have to see, in countries they have never been to, to increase their growth percentage that year. That is the choice you are making, and it is so important. Really look at where you are buying from. And support businesses who support people.

Hope and Rainbows - Bespoke, Personalised Wall Prints and Gifts for Babies and Children
I didn't fully appreciate just how empowering it would be to create my own brand and my own product range when I first set out, but shopping independent gives individuals like myself a huge boost.. a compliment..  the reassurance to keep creating, designing and making, and to offer our handmade alternatives in a world of mass-production.

Hobo Soy Candles - Small Batch, Hand Poured Candles. Lincolnshire, UK
I feel amazed, excited and totally grateful when someone buys from me. The fact that they must appreciate the time and effort put into something handmade and that they can relate to my product as there's a lot of competition out there. 

Ingrid Petrie Design - Contemporary Art For Happy Walls
It means the world when people choose to support small, independent, creative businesses like mine. I can never thank my lovely customers enough for choosing my designs for their homes and enabling me to grow and develop the business. There is such a good karma in shopping independent and I support fellow businesses as much as I can, encouraging family and friends to do the same.

Sleepy Doe - Children's Printed Sleepwear and Bedding, Designed and Made in the UK 
For me shopping independent also means shopping local. Here in Bath there are so many inspiring, hardworking businesses and since moving here 5 years ago I’ve seen many grow from strength to strength, and it’s because local people choose to shop with them regularly. I have already experienced this support via Sleepy Doe, so it’s important for me and my family to reciprocate by supporting other independents as much as possible.

The Gray Store - Design Led Personalised Items For All The Family 
It's enabled me to set up my dream business and I couldn't have done this without the continued support of people shopping independently.

The Green Gables - Green Gifts and Stationery to Spread a Little Joy 
When a person orders from the green gables it means an enormous amount to me. Because my customers aren’t just buying a thing from me. They’re bringing something into their lives that I spent a long time dreaming up, creating and bringing into reality in its best form. I design and create each item with the intention of it being a positive addition to my customers' lives, and I’m honoured that they choose my stationery to spend their hard-earned money on. 

The Lovely Drawer- Contemporary Prints and Stationery  
Every person that chooses to shop independent rather than going to a generic high street store, means small businesses like mine can exist. I see every order come in, I package it all up and take it to the post office and every single one I'm so grateful for. It still feels like a dream that people want to buy things I've designed and made. It never gets old!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

November News

Just a brief post today as there's a hundred and one things going on at the moment (on my mental to-do list at least!)

I wanted to share this beauty of a post shared in the #mythursdaybreaktime gallery, and my pick for our lovely giveaway with Carolyn Carter.
Shared by Rachael Clarke @hobosoycandles it oozes simple living of the coolest kind! Rachael commented that it's a shame that these will soon be put away for the Winter. All the more reason to look ahead to Spring and fresh new adventures I say! Rachael wins a stunning pair of wrist warmers and mini plant hanger (please contact me with your details Rachael).

If you haven't already checked out Carolyn's stunning work then you really should! Her knits are so beautiful and perfect for the chilly weather ahead. You can find Carolyn's full collection here.

A few other images caught my eye last week too. It's funny how certain colours just jump out at you sometimes. I love the vibrant, fresh greens in this collection .
@fourbearsandme @bottlebranch 
@le.paquet.blog @emilytalling

November is, historically, the busiest month of the year in the shop for me. This year I'm throwing in three markets, prep for our FIRST EVER pop up (more details to follow) and involvement in a very exciting winter campaign into the mix too. Let's just say I'm preparing to fly by the seat of my pants!

All the MORE reason to celebrate those moments when you can sink into the sofa and take a deep breath, or simply pause and enjoy a hot (I'll take warm) cup of tea. I'd love it if you shared your breaktime moments with me too, simply tag in #mythursdaybreaktime on Instagram to join in.

Until next time x