INSPIRE ME – with Irregular Choice

I think I ‘may’ have *cough* mentioned before… once or twice ;) that I am a HUGE Irregular Choice fan. As in, not able to pass a shoe store without popping in and checking out their latest designs… trying on…… and then purchasing them…. :)

For a while now, I have wondered about the innovative creator and designer behind this now world renowned label – Dan Sullivan.. how he puts his lines together each season and what makes him tick. Not only do Irregular Choice design mouth watering footwear ( that I have recently also seen cool brides adourning ), clothing, bags and accessories – they even now make very pleasing on the eye homeware !

So, my friends.. today is a really special day. It’s ‘Inspire Me’ .. all about Dan, his design inspirations for Irregular Choice and his directional, extremely exclusive new collection – Dan Sullivan . A collection for “die hard fans” – and I can assure you, he has not held back – they really are incredible as you are about to see…

    

Dan, how did you get into shoe design ? Had it always been your plan ?

My parents had a line of shoe stores called Transit in the UK during the 70’s punk Camden London era, so from an early age I grew up around footwear, design and how to retail that to the consumer. I then learned about production by traveling to the factories jn the far east. I didn’t go to fashion or design school.

  

What I love about Irregular Choice, is that your shoes, clothing and accessories are totally unique – where do you get your inspiration ?

Thank you, that’s definitely our brand ethos. Everything I’ve done has been self- taught and influenced by travels- experiencing a huge variety in world cultures, people, fashions and food. I have to say Japan is probably my most influential place.

          

Do you have a strong vision of each piece before you start the designing process, or does it evolve as you work?.. and do you name the shoe style before or after ? :)

I have a clear vision of the direction I want to take, design wise, in order to push the boundaries from the collection before. I then use a huge library of colors, textures, trims and fabrics to make that happen. I make sure that each collection has meaning and is well- rounded, so although the shoes are very different and strong , there really is a shoe for everybody. The naming of the shoe comes afterward, once we see how the shoe has turned out in person as opposed to drawing.

        

You have a huge fan base, worldwide – is this something that happened very quickly ?

I’m very thankful to the Irregular Choice fans, the fan base has evolved greatly over the past 12 years which is great. I think that the opening of the London England store in 2009 really saw the brand catapult here in the UK as it was a place for fans to come and really understand what we are about as a whole lifestyle.

           

As well as stocking internationally, you have your own Irregular Choice stores in Brighton, London, Hong Kong, Virginia in the USA and currently a ‘pop up’ shop in Paris, Does this mean you spend alot of time travelling and how do you combine it with the designing side of things ?

Yes, our retail has expanded which is really where I want to see the growth of the brand in the future. It means I can present Irregular Choice in an environment so unique and memorable that people keep coming back. Although I do travel a lot, particularly to the Far East and to the factories to check on production and sampling, I set aside specific time to design the season’s collection. I plan it into my schedule and close the door from outside distractions. Thats the only way I can really get the point of the brand across in design and keep each collection consistently unique.

          

Do you get time to switch off? What is an ideal day of chilling for you ?  

Sometimes ! Spending time at home with my family is the best day.

   

Recently, you launched an exclusive collection under your own name – Dan Sullivan. Will you be doing this every season and what can we expect ?

I went back to the roots of what makes IC unique and desirable and timesed it by 1000. The Dan Sullivan Collection is really a thank you to the fans, and I havn’t held back in creating one- of a kind shoes. These I think are some of my favorite designs as it’s truly different. I also wanted to keep them unique by making only a dozen or so of each style, so each customer really feels special. At the moment they are available on www.dansullivan.eu and each month I will be launching new styles between now and Feb 2013.

           

For anyone reading this interview who wants a career in design, what advice would you offer them ?

I never went to design school, so I can’t say that works for everybody. But I would say to emerse yourself in whatever inspires you and whatever motivates you to design and makes you happy.

        

A large cap doffing thanks to Irregular Choice and of course, Dan himself.
You can keep up date with Irregular Choice on Twitter, Facebook and also on their website and blog www.irregularchoice.com

 

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All images copyright of Irregular Choice 2012.

INSPIRE ME – with Paris – Coldplay’s Artist in residence.

A few weeks ago, I talked about my evening at the Coldplay concert at Emirates stadium on the leg of their Mylo Xyloto UK tour.

As my husband is currently working with them, myself and a few friends went to their show and our first impressions of the huge stage area were all literally “WOW”.

We were completely blown away by the graffiti artwork, the enormity of it all and how totally captivating it was. A massive beautiful work of art !

This week for ‘Inspire Me’, I feel very lucky indeed to be interviewing the artist who has created all of this – Paris, and to find out more about his artwork, inspirations and plans for the future as well as what it is like to be collaborating with Coldplay, one of the biggest bands on our globe…

Firstly, Paris, what an amazing gig to get ! Please tell me how your collaboration with Coldplay came about ? 

I’ve been so lucky to land what I reckon is one of the best jobs in the world !….

The band already had an interest in graffiti , but they wanted to meet a real graffiti artist… I was recommended through a friend of a friend.

I met the band, we had fun spraying in their studio, and before you knew it we were painting the Album cover for Mylo Xyloto and getting jetted around the world to paint all kinds of things for their shows !…

 How does it feel having 50,000 people a night at the Coldplay shows looking at your graffiti work ?

It’s an amazing feeling, I got to see quite a few of the Stadium gigs last month in Europe, and the other week in Manchester was one of the best yet… the whole show, the whole production is incredible ,so just to be a part of that is great…when I think how many people see it in just two days its staggering…and our artwork is hard to miss, it’s all over the stage, instruments, screens & stadium !

My husband, Andy, is blown away by your speed ! You turn Chris Martin’s piano and Will Champion’s drum kit into pieces of art so quickly. Do you pre plan what you are going to create and do you always work at a fast pace ?

I think working fast keeps you on your toes, and it gives your artwork an added vitality.

This is what first attracted me to graffiti as a kid, when it’s done well it has a lot of visual power.., and a lot of this comes from painting at night, the thrill and the energy comes through in the work.

For the Coldplay artwork I’m creating a look that is playful and loose, and this can be a lot harder to create in a studio than it looks…one way of getting the right effect is to do it fast, get loads of paint & pens and just go at it !

At what age did you start graffiti-ing and what inspired you ?

I was about 7 or 8 when I first saw graffiti, in about 1981, at that time it was just Punk graffiti, stuff like the Anarchy symbol & “The Jam” & “Sis loves Saz” written on walls near my house, even then I remember it fascinated me, to think who did this ? and when did they do it ?..

By about 1984 there was a lot more breakdance style graffiti around Hull, and this was more colourful, that stuff I loved.

In the middle of a housing estate you’d see “Egyptian Lover” in 6ft high letters in reds, oranges yellows blues & greens…I’d see this from the school bus every day….I just thought “I want to try that” it looked like so much fun.

Did you study art at college?

Yeah, I had a really good tutor at Hull College called Connie Littlefield, she taught a whole bunch of us Hull kids about the Great Masters & the great art movements..The Cubists, The Impressionists,  Art Deco.. all that.. and took us to London & Paris ( this is where I chose the name….in 1992 )..she really opened my mind to what was out there, really really inspired me…, after that I studied in Bolton for 2 years, then in Bristol for 2 more specialising in Printed Textiles for Fashion.

This was definitely the best course for me, so much looser than Graphics, and Fine Art was a bit too snooty…

I came out with a First Class honours so that was okay, but I had to build my business myself, and that took years !

 

Where did you used to do your graffiti art and do you know if any of it has survived the test of time ?… 

I used to live near a big park as a kid and like everywhere in Hull back then there where a lot of abandoned buildings.

There was an old boat house that we called the “Acid Hut” and this is where I did some of my early pieces with my mate Xenz and later we teamed up with an older lad called Eko. We painted an old swimming pool in the park too, the Lido, and the basket ball courts, it was good fun in there, not bothering anyone, and if you painted when Home & Away and Neighbours where on it was so quiet you had the place to your self and all the time in the world to spray. Sometimes the Park-keepers would chase us off but it was all good fun.

Most of those places have been re-developed or knocked down now, the handball court is still there but that gets re-painted every month or so…..it’s a legal graffiti wall now…haha.

I guess its the nature of graffiti to be temporal, even if it survives the test of time the weather will one day wash it away, there might be few bits & pieces around, maybe in someone’s back garden!

Your girlfriend, Milk, is also an artist, do you ever collaborate ?

Yes, Milk has helped me out a lot with some of the bigger Coldplay jobs, and we often get the chance to paint together at Festivals and on walls around the city. We met through painting, and our styles compliment each other well, I think it’s a match made in heaven ! X.

I’ve discovered French street artist Koralie and Swoon, from the States.. Are there alot of female graffiti artists in the UK ? 

I think there are a lot more female graffiti artists in general these days, though even in the beginning in 1970s New York there was Barbara 62 & Eva 62 and in the 80’s there was Lady Pink who still paints now.

I think it can be daunting for girls who want to paint, as graffiti can be a bit of a boys club, but the female influence is vital, I think it really freshens it all up. That’s how I met Milk, I saw her work and it was a hundred times more original than most blokes graffiti out there, with really beautiful colour combinations too.

Milk’s done a few pieces with my sister K184, and they also did a show called “Great Birds of the British Isles” with Amour and Dora who are also female artists.

How do you get inspiration nowadays ? 

Even if it’s just on the walk to my studio I’ve started noticing all these amazing marks on old walls and doors, and the effects corrosion can have on buildings. I find I’m looking at all of this around me with new eyes, I guess it’s just looking properly…, its always been there.

The Hockney show in April had a pretty profound effect on me..that was very inspiring, just the scale alone, it helped me see “the bigger picture”… a true master, and Jeremy Dellers recent show was also a real eye opener.

I find travel is one of the greatest sources of inspiration, wherever me & Milk go we’re always searching for the ‘down at heel’ bits of a city with Dusty shop fronts and old cafes.

We went all over Europe in 2010 and when we got back we just had hundreds of photos of old logos, shop fronts and bits of fabric !

 Are there any other artists/bands that you would really love to work with ?

I’d have loved to work with the Beastie Boys, as I admire everything they’ve ever done….

Jay Z would be cool to do something for, or I’d like to create something for a Detroit Label, I love that futuristic sound.

It would be pretty cool to create artwork for a sci-fi film …maybe just decor or graphics.

Your website www.paris1974.com showcases your paintings for sale – is this something you’re focusing on more now .. and what is happening for you in the near future ?

Yeah, now I’ve got a lot more time in the studio it’s really helped my painting to flourish.

This is something I really want to push, hopefully I can exhibit in London & further afield.

I find painting on canvas pretty scary, but you’ve just got to persist at it.  Doing a wall anywhere, in front of hundreds of people is nothing to me, but I really feel the pressure with a canvas. One way to get over this is not be too precise about it. I’ve got a big wall behind my studio and I nail a load of canvass to this and then just go off!, have fun then work back into each painting individually over time. The work’s selling really well and the prices are rising so hopefully this is something I can keep doing for years to come.

The Coldplay work has made all of this possible, and a lot of my new paintings have been inspired by this collaboration.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists ?

Keep doing what you LOVE doing, theres a lot of distractions out there, but if you feel that art & creativity is your chosen path you’ve got to grab hold of it with both hands, Hockney’s work showed me that , he’s 70+ and all he’s been doing all his life is painting & drawing and being creative..and his work shows it, and its all totally possible, you’ve just got to believe in it, no-one will make it happen – but you.

Thanks so much to Paris, for giving me this interview and us all an insight into his life and inspirations. Really interesting, eh ?

If you would like to find out more about Paris’s artwork for sale, head on over to his website www.paris1974.com – that’s where I’m off to …. :)

All images are copyright of Paris 2012. Thanks Peeps

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Vintage Vogue does denim !

A quick post to show you a completed dress from my sewdirect.com patterns that I mentioned last week. I went for the Vogue one first, it’s an original, reprinted 1954 design. It’s calf length and wrap around, fastening with hook and eyes and I chose to make the tie at the back version.

After much deliberation ( as ever ! ) I decided to use a light weight washed denim, and used a Liberty print bias binding ( it was worth buying the bias just for the big wooden bobbin ! ) from Clothkits.co.uk The combination kind of reminded me of floral fabric patches sewn on ripped jeans.. lovely childhood memories :)

But, the big question… what to accessorize with ? Well, I am yet to wear my bubble gum scented Vivienne Westwood/Melissa cherry heels… Yum :)

And… a pair of these sunglasses from Retrosun look rather appealing…. Dare I ?

Really looking forward to making the other two patterns soon.

What fabric would you like to see this dress made in ? I would love to know your thoughts…. :)

Feel free to use my dress images – just ping a link back to LucyLovesYa !

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INSPIRE ME – With Anna Lou of London

You may well have spotted Anna Lou of London’s jewellery and accessories on various celebrities such as Emma Watson, Lily Allen, Kate Moss, and Fearne Cotton or in one of many magazine features including Vogue, Tatler, Elle, Bazaar, Grazia.. the list goes on and on. Indeed, you may also already own an Anna Lou of London piece – lucky you !

Creator and designer, Anna Lou Trent has not only won a highly prestigious award so far in her career for her fabulous designs, she also stocks Anna Lou of London, internationally.

Her signature piece being the initial necklaces, you can also find bespoke name bracelets and necklaces, perfectly unique wedding jewellery, something a bit tongue in cheek.. and everything lovely in between at the Anna Lou of London website.

Today’s ‘Inspire Me’ reveals a little bit more about Anna, how she became a designer, having trained as an actress and I get to share some of her jewellery images with you :)

How did you make the transition from being a professional actress to becoming a jewellery and accessories designer?

 I  set up a market stall on Portobello Road  in  2004 where I sold my bracelets I had made. I never trained in Jewellery making so taught myself from scratch. I used to make for friends initially and often received commissions so I thought it would be worth selling them on a market stall would be a good way to subsidise my acting career. Mainly because most of the work I had in acting was unpaid!

Surprisingly the bracelets I’d made were hugely successful.  My stand was always busy and I loved meeting all the great people who were fellow traders as well as great customers.

A few months after having the stall I was approached by Harvey Nichols to meet them. They took in all the bracelets in all colours and they sold out so fast they asked me to come back with my ‘next collection’. Having no idea what that was going to be I off course agreed to meet them with the ‘next collection’. Then i frantically made a range of necklaces and earrings and luckily the jewellery again was bought by the store and soon after it was instore theysold out again. They continued to buy my collections for a few years and the business grew from strength to strength. I am now stocked in hundreds of stores internationally and have my own website www.annalouoflondon.com

    

Where do you find the inspiration for all of your beautiful designs?

Tokyo, Japanese art,  New York City mainly..

    

You stock in countries around the world – how do you fit all of this into your schedule? :)

I dont know! It’s a juggle having a 2 year old ( Wilbur) and 7month year old (Buzz). I have to make sure I work 6-8 hour day. Normally it’s from 5am – 7am. Then do the children’s breakfast and playgroup and then when they sleep at lunchtime I work from 12-2pm doing the web orders. And again I work from 7pm -9pm.  But it’ll all change again next month, no doubt.

I made the decision though that I really want to bring up my children myself and be with them as much as I can before they go to school. So it won’t be long and I’ll be back to the business 100% full time. My husband is very supportive as well so when I have shows etc he takes the kids. We make it work as a team!

    

Do you have a proudest career moment to date?

I was awarded the first prize in the Observer Magazine – Future 500. I won the Retail and Fashion category.

Any advice for budding designers?

Test your product on a market stall so you can actually watch peoples reaction. Don’t keep putting things off. Remain positive. Put yourself out there. Don’t worry about breaking the rules!

    

What is happening for your brand for the rest of the year?

I am currently developing a new bag and candle range. All will be launched for Christmas.

Thanks, Anna – very inspiring ! You can visit the Anna Lou of London online store to see more of her creations, and also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Vintage Frock Making and a few tips !

This week I will mostly be making retro style dresses !

I have received three utterly stunning patterns from the sewdirect.com vintage ranges and cannot wait to use them up !

The first one is a Vintage Vogue – it’s a 1954 pattern and it’s simplicity in style means I can probably get away with a bold fabric print…

The second is Butterick 1946 and has a long or short sleeve variation. The shape looks incredibly flattering.. Oh, to have lived in that era !

Such pretty bows on the third pattern – Butterick from 1953. All of the options are gorgeous, but tempted to make the A3 version. Wouldn’t this make a lovely wedding dress ?

It’s always so important to do your calculations before buying your fabric. I’ve made costly mistakes in the past, buying fabric because I like it ( well, why wouldn’t you :) ) and then starting the cutting, only to realise that it’s not wide enough or I haven’t bought enough. Aaagh ! :)

The other thing to consider is the size of the actual fabric patterns. What can look perfect online, may end up being huge in reality and be better for upholstery. Also, if you have panels/gathers/pleats – is the pattern design suitable ? Will it get lost or look dis-jointed.

Fabric stores are usually happy to send out a few samples, so I would definitely recommend checking first before making !

Now, what fabric do I use ? Polka dots ? Gingham ? Maybe denim with a trim ? Endless possibilites.. what would you use ?

Watch this space etc etc… these completed vintage dresses will be coming to a computer screen near you soon….

Have a good day.. and look out for my Inspire Me post this Thursday – I am rather excited… I’ve had a nice chat with Anna Lou of London and will be showing off her gorgeous jewellery and accessories :)

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INSPIRE ME – with Melody Miller

If you love unique, vintage inspired, colourful fabric then this week’s ‘Inspire Me’ is right up your street :)

I have been a big fan of Melody Miller for a while now, a textile designer who has also created four lines so far, for Japanese fabric company Kokka. Her print collection’s are full of images of retro telephones, portraits, typewriters and vinyl records.

Ruby Star Wrapping –  Melody’s first book is out later this year…

How did your career start?

Well, I was trained as a fine artist and for several years after I had my daughter, I painted.  When that just didn’t pay the bills, I worked as a graphic designer at a real estate company, then after having my son, I decided to go out on my own with a line of curtains.  Those didn’t sell very well (okay, I sold one!) so one thing turned into another and I finally ended up shopping a portfolio around Quilt Market, which is how I began designing for Kokka.

Who and what inspires your work?

I have a background in industrial design, and am fascinated with the design of useful objects. For colour and pattern, I often reference vintage fashion and decor.  I’ve always loved to draw and paint faces, so those appear in my work as well.  I’m constantly inspired by artists, illustrators, crafters, designers, and sewists, and try to absorb as much as possible from the people around me.

  

What’s the best thing about your job?

I love that my job entails so many different creative endeavours. I go from the intensive designing process on my computer, to actually sewing samples with the fabrics. Then sometimes I have bursts of intense activity, like last summer when I was writing my book (it comes out this fall!), or next spring, when I was designing my booth for Quilt Market. In the meantime, I’m able to be here for my children and participate in my family. I feel very lucky to be able to do all of this :)

 For anyone wanting to break into the world of design – do you have any advice?

 Trust your own voice.  When you lean too far in the direction of someone you admire, you can lose yourself.  If your work scares you a little, that’s probably a good sign.

When will your next line of fabrics be available to buy and what can we expect?

My upcoming line was just released at Quilt Market in May, and will hit stores sometime in July.  There are 3 designs in 3 separate colorways on super-wide lightweight cotton/linen fabric (it’s over 60″ wide, and so breezy!  The fabric itself is a dream).  One print features 9 separate blocks that are each just shy of being fat eighths.  Another print features full-scale 7″ vinyl records (and a few of the labels were created by fellow fabric designers Thomas Knauer and Lucie Summers).  The last print was designed with skirts, aprons, and dresses in mind, and has decorative rows of silhouettes that had been featured in my previous fabric line, Ruby Star Shining.

Such amazing designs – truly inspiring ! A big thanks To Melody, I can’t wait for the vinyl records fabric :)

To find out more about Melody Miller and her work, visit her website or blog.

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INSPIRE ME – with Serendipity Studio.

The very talented woman that is featuring today on ‘Inspire Me’, actually inspired me for my first ever blog post. I made two retro style dresses.

Kay Whitt is the owner and designer for classic yet modern clothing and accessories sewing pattern company Serendipity Studio and author of successful craft books –  Sew Serendipity, Sew Serendipity Bags and soon to release her third….

  

What inspired you to start designing patterns?

I have sewn all of my life. Even as a teenager, my mother and I would manipulate commercial patterns to suit our tastes, so I think designing has always been in my blood. I spent the first several years of my career as an elementary school teacher, but I yearned to have a business that was centered around sewing.  It seemed like a natural progression to take what I had been doing for myself all these years and make it applicable for everyone. I design my own slopers with specialized software that helps me grade the sizes for my designs. I have been in business since 2001 and consider it the best decision I ever made for myself!

  

 Is there anything in particular that you enjoy designing the most?

That is a tough question to answer since I love all aspects of the design process! Every type of design presents with its own set of challenges. The most challenging types of designs are probably jackets, followed by dresses, then skirts as the easiest. For any design, my favorite part is after the pattern has been tweaked for the fit. This is when I get to play with the design, adding little details and coming up with the different variations. This is where I get all the fabrics out and mix them around to get the look I am after. So there probably isn’t a favorite type of garment for me, I love designing them all!

 Talk me through a day in the life of Kay Whitt….

I usually start my day checking email and attending to orders. Once that is done, I get on Facebook for a while and talk with fans and friends, then settle into whatever needs to be addressed for the day. Sometimes I will spend days at the computer working with designs and writing instructions (or writing blog posts), other days I spend in the studio getting samples created. The late afternoons and early evenings are reserved for working out and getting dinner together. I usually save my evenings for doing handwork on the sofa in front of the TV with baseball or basketball in the background. I have gotten really good at listening to games so I can keep my eyes on the work I am doing!

  

 Do you have a proudest career moment to date?

My proudest moment was when my first book, Sew Serendipity, came out in 2010. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing a lot of work come together in a lovely package ready for others to enjoy! I enjoyed the process so much that I wrote a bag book, Sew Serendipity Bags, which came out in the fall of 2011. I am due to have a third book out this fall, so the book writing thing has been quite rewarding, even though it is a lot of planning and work.

  

 Any advice for someone wanting to start sewing but not sure where to start?

I suggest starting with a small project that can be finished in a short amount of time. Pillows and simple bags are a great way to learn the process of choosing fabrics and do some basic sewing without getting too involved. I think getting to see a project come together quickly is key so that you are inspired to try another in short order. Once you are on the path of honing your skills, a simple skirt is a great project and a wonderful way to break into garment sewing.

  

How is the rest of 2012 shaping up?

2012 has been flying by so far. I am amazed that we are already almost halfway through the year! I find myself wondering where the time went. I have a few appearances and speaking engagements over the summer, and of course I will be working on the fall collection of pattern designs before too long. I already have a long list of ideas to explore, so there should be some exciting stuff come October. Plus, my third book is scheduled for release in the fall as well! It’s busy and happy times here at the studio.

Thanks very much to Kay for sharing her work and inspiration with us ! 

Pop on over to the Sew Serendipity site to have a look at more of Kay’s superb patterns and books. You can also find her patterns online throughout the UK.

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Happy Camper :)

So here it is – my new weekender travel bag !

Having first bought this supremely cute camping retro fabric from the fab online Brighton store Ditto Fabrics to make a 50s dress, I decided I didn’t want to lose any of the pattern in gathers or pleats.

The gingham was for two reasons – one, if I had used the same for the sides the pattern would have ended up upside down as it went round and two, gingham is really fifties and I think works well with the cool ladies and gents in the fabric.

I was slightly nervous about making the bag pattern up ( it’s by Amy Butler ) only because I’ve never made something before like this. I’ve made bags but not something that where peltex ( to keep the sides firm and upright ) is needed. But, I am really happy how it has turned out :) The bag feet are an addition to the pattern – they were from a site called bag-clasps.

What do you think ?

Hope you’re enjoying the glorious sunshine :)

Feel free to use my images – just add a link back to LucyLovesYa.

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INSPIRE ME – with The Sleep Room

I am always inspired by someone who can create a really successful business from scratch and that is exactly what Charlie Marshall – owner of furniture and accessories brand – The Sleep Room ( soon to be renamed Loaf ) has achieved.

The Sleep Room is one of the fastest growing companies in the UK and it’s no surprise. They have the right mixture of stylish, lovely products, and good customer care.

So, I am really happy today to be featuring Charlie today on my ‘Inspire Me’ post….

How did you start The Sleep Room? Was it something you always wanted to do?

It wasn’t something that was part of the big life plan for me. I started off with a soup factory, something at the other end of the scale to beds. It was my first business which I set up in 1999 and sold in 2007. It was an incredibly tough learning curve but we eventually became the supplier of choice for clients such as Pret a Manger, Pizza Express, Caffe Nero, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Eurostar. It was possibly the best learning experience I could have hoped for and it made my objectives for starting The Sleep Room very clear. After selling Primal Soup, I bought a new house and went off to find a new bed. After a really stressful Saturday, traipsing around the usual suspects, I made the decision then and there to make bed buying hassle free and the process quick and simple. So two years, 187 mattress factories, four continents and some seriously comfy beds later, The Sleep Room was born in January 2009.

What inspired the name change? How did you come up with the name Loaf?

We wanted to move outside the bedroom to offer products for the whole home. And while we were planning the launch of our sofas I had the nagging feeling that we would have to start making excuses as to why The Sleep Room was offering sofas. This was only going to get worse as we launched kitchen tables etc! I then thought that if I could choose any name in the world it would be www.loaf.com as it fitted in with our whole ethos of relaxed elegance and four letter brand names are easy to remember. But I reckoned that there was no real chance of it being available. But by complete luck it turned out that the domain was available and so after a week of haggling with some nice dude in Florida the site became ours.

What do you consider to be your signature product?

Our best sellers are our French beds. We’ve had them since we started and they have remained consistently popular. I don’t really consider any of our products as being signature as we’ve carefully chosen and designed them to complement and work well when you put them together.

I love your vintage style furniture – have you always been a lover of retro?

I wouldn’t say I am a lover of retro per se although I do have quite a bit of mid-century furniture in my own home. What I have always loved is mixing pieces up from different eras: an old French bed with a 20th century Knoll side table and some fifties Danish lamps gets me going, for example!

What would you say is your main ethos?

Treat your customers as you would want to be treated yourself. I personally hate shopping as I don’t like being confronted with a large choice. So at The Sleep Room we only offer a select range of products I would be happy to have in my own home which are both great value and look nice.

Can you offer some advice for new online companies?

Think of your website as you would a bricks and mortar shop: invest in as good a website as you can and it will save you a fortune as you grow.

What’s in store for Loaf for the rest of this year and beyond?

We want to become a British institution known for amazing products and service. We’re already one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK, but we’re thinking much bigger. We’re planning on extending our offering to cover the whole house within the next 18 months (we have floor rugs, kitchen tables and chairs coming out at the start of next year). And after that we’ll be opening an enormous destination outlet complete with kids pool in summer, ice rink in winter and all sorts of other fun things to make it as fun an experience as possible.

I’m looking forward to that :) Thanks Charlie !

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A Medley of veggie love..

Well, my friends, it is National Vegetarian Week.. . Being one myself ( well, pescetarian on occasion if we’re going to be pedantic :) ) it gives me great pleasure to share this veggie mega mix of loveliness with you…

    

How cool are these cake earrings from Dolly Dagger ?.. Bit of fun and very carroty ! Never one to miss a chance to show off some Poetic Licence at Irregular Choice cuties, this “The Right Stripe” pair are fab, I love the cherry charms. Beyond Skin as you may already know are a great company that make beautiful, shoes and accessories – all vegan.

    

Jospeh Joseph make the best worktop savers. I love these character ones. They’re so cool. What do you think ? This Stuart Gardiner seasonal Guide mug is a nice idea for a budding gardener friend. Cool huh ? Everyone needs at least one good vegetarian cook book.. this is from Oliver Bonas.

    

Berry Red are selling a Step by Step Vegetable Patch guide is to suit anyone, no matter how much space you have to get planting. Plantabox.co.uk have a big selection of personalised wooden crates for all occasions. Worth taking a look if you’re looking for something unique. Anything that makes life easy has to be a good thing – what do you think of the Living Larder here by Sparrow and Finch ? You can keep all your herbs and vegetables right near the back door. Yey !

    

For the kiddies – The little fruit tupperware box set is from Oliver Bonas. I think the gardening set here by Moulin Roty at Berry Red would make a really nice gift. It has seeds, real little pots and everything needed to get started. Last but not least.. this “Even Pirates  eat their vegetables” print from illustration company Crumpettytree.co.uk would be a really helpful thing to have right near the kitchen table… speaking from experience :)

Did I do good ? :)

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