Meet the maker – Life behind a creative business

It’s a pretty natural human desire to know more about those around us. Most magazines and media coverage are full to brimming with celebrity gossip and lets be honest, the more normal ‘bad hair day’ images and tales of burning the dinner being the most interesting and endearing as we’ve all been there!

I’m not a big follower of ‘celebrities’ as such but I am incredibly interested to read about other business women, creatives and ‘makers’. There are so many talented people out there and to me, their ‘behind the scenes’ stories are incredibly inspiring.

One of my favourite reads about a ‘maker’ is that of Cath Kidston. Her book, ‘Coming up roses’ comes across as a really honest account of growing a business and riding the ups and downs of being a creative business owner, including tackling self doubt along the way.

Creative talents often have plenty of stories to tell and knowing you don’t have to be  superhuman is a wonderful message to anyone wondering if they have the talent or ability to start a business journey.  No matter how big a brand , how perfectly polished the images we see are, or as wonderful as the products might be, it’s often helpful (and endearing) to know that behind the scenes everything isn’t always as ‘perfect’ as we might think. Workspaces certainly are never quite as tidy and organised as a magazine photo shoot might suggest and even those who seem incredibly confident or who have made the highstreet have had times when they’ve had to battle their own demons when it comes to self confidence.  There’s very few ‘self taught’ creatives and makers I’ve met or read about, including Cath Kidston, who hasn’t at some point in their career suffered from ‘imposter sydrome’!  Sharing these kind of ‘real life’ stories is so important to those on their journey who perhaps without them may feel a failure and give up on their dreams.

Given any opportunity therefore to surround myself with creatives in a similar boat or share my stories for the benefit of anyone else starting out in business and needing a bit of support, I’m all for it!  So when I recently heard about #marchmeetthemaker, an instagram challenge aimed at creatives and makers, giving you the opportunity to tell your business story (day to day for one month) and reveal behind the scenes info people may not know about you, my ears pricked up!

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For those not on Instagram or who may have missed it, the idea is you have daily prompts ie Day 1 = ‘You’ , Day 2 = ‘where’ and so on. You then take a pic, video etc, write your post revealing things about yourself/business and add the hashtag #marchmeetthemaker as this allows you to be found more easily.  It was I have to say an incredibly interesting exercise and had I have not taken part, would certainly never have revealed the volume of information about my business to my instagram followers that I did (albeit I didn’t manage the entire month but that was far more about lack of time than transparency!)..Will try harder next time!

Of course, on the days I did do it, I got to connect with some pretty talented makers and creatives who were doing it too. Some who were completely new to me and others I already knew and now know a whole lot more! And (as it’d be rude not to share) below are some direct links and pretty pics too of just some (sorry just too many to mention) of those amazing talents including the person behind the idea of ‘meet the maker’ and who got us revealing all sorts about ourselves, Joanne Hawker.

For direct links to the above instagram accounts just click here:  Joanne Hawker  ~ Clara and Macy ~ Little Button Bakery  ~ Leafy Couture  ~ Ellies Farm Shop ~ Chris Made This

If you’re already on Insta then please do give them a follow and a ‘hello’ and please don’t forget to follow and tag me in too More Pretty Things Gift Wrapping  and then we’ll all be connected!

Of course if you’re not on instagram (yet!) you may be a bit perplexed as to all the talk of it and the hashtags but honestly, it’s not at all complicated and you don’t need to use hashtags unless you want to. If you do need a quick guide to being on there or any help, just get in touch, I’m happy to share with you all I know about it, which happens to be very little but as you can see, this doesn’t prevent me being on there and it being my absolute favourite of all the social media platforms….It’s all those pretty pictures popping up each day that does it!  #loveinstagram  And on that note…Off I go to check if you’ve found us and here’s a few of our recent posts to hopefully tempt you to join us and see what else we’ll be posting!

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For more information about our Gift Wrapping Workshops and visit http://www.moreprettythings.co.uk and if you’d like to to keep in touch by receiving our E-newsletter then simply pop your email address in the box provided on our home page! 
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A bit of a do – Peter Rabbit Style!

There’s something rather special about a first birthday isn’t there? Turning one is such a milestone and warrants a certain amount of effort on the party front…Even if they won’t remember it!

Last month I was given the opportunity to plan and host my Grandsons 1st Birthday party. (You can just imagine my excitement!)  It was to be a small family affair and (as we were in the middle of some major refurbishment in the house) it would be a little compromised as space (and time!) was limited. The hallway being light and airy with a view of the garden (and the only room unaffected by all the upheaval) seemed the obvious (if not the only) choice as the party area. As it happens, it worked so well, it’s likely to be used again!

To my absolute joy I was given reign to come up with any theme I wanted and already knowing what this would be, ideas began to hop around in my head. What else could it be but a traditional Peter Rabbit Party!

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And I was in my element! From home-made bunting to marshmallow bunny tails, veg pots and a cauliflower tissue paper centerpiece, coming up with ideas and putting it all together was the most fun I’ve had in ages!  Now not that there weren’t some challenges… Planning around building works, running a business from home, working out party food for a dairy free one year old and the usual family melt downs is no mean feast! I literally had 2 days in total to plan, organise and implement it! Never one to say no to a challenge, there was nothing for it but to make a list and hop to it!  Having a limited amount of time to plan certainly makes you focus and if I do say so myself…It went pretty well!  That is, if we overlook the Rabbit Jelly that didn’t want to leave its mould and when it did, looked a bit like road kill!

But moving swiftly on… If you’re thinking of hosting a Peter Rabbit Party too it really is such fun and has so much scope for being creative. Given longer I would have done much more but if (like me) you need to create something and you’re pushed for time, here’s just a few tips and ideas that work a treat!

 

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No time to order anything online, I chose to go for a cost effective personalised welcome to guests by buying a chalk board and writing my own message on it. Then just a wipe clean and totally reusable for another day! (Chalkboard a real find at just £1 from poundland!)

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Making your own bunting to fit your theme is so easy and cost effective. For this one I hole punched some Peter Rabbit postcards I already had and thread co-ordinating ribbon through. You could however print images or buy a cheap book and take pages out and use instead.

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Table decorations included:  A Cauliflower made of tissue paper,  a clay pot which housed veg for nibbling on and Peter Rabbit Wooden shapes  –  I preferred these to paper ones as they were part of a shape sorter toy (purchased at M&S) and could then be reused in the toy box afterwards!

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The buns were made with diary free margarine (Tesco) and decorated to fit the theme with sugar carrots/paper bunnies. To save time I placed pretty coloured biscuits in a jar that could be easily moved from kitchen to table then back again.

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As Oliver is a big fan of raisins I incorporated them into our scheme….well it’d be rude not to! Bunny droppings seeming the obvious choice. I used white marshmallows for bunny tails!

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It wouldn’t be a traditional party without Jelly and it certainly gave us all a laugh after it failed to hop out of the mould without lots of coaching and then when it did , it looked a little worse for wear. My elderly Mum and Dad were thrilled to pieces.. Took them right back to their childhood!

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Birthday Boy not quite as taken with the rabbit jelly. Somethings are, after all, an acquired taste.      Happy First Birthday my gorgeous Grandson…You may not remember your special day but it was a day made out of  love for Grandmas very special baby bunny…YOU!  x

Thank you for reading our blog, we really hope you’ve enjoyed it. We are a gift and gift wrapping company and teach lots of creative skills at our workshops. Information can be found at http://www.moreprettythings.co.uk

 

 

 

Baking days

 

I often dream of having time to bake, to try new recipes and potter in the kitchen on a Saturday morning……baking polenta cake 2

Just  me, no make up, my comfy slippers, baggy jumper and Graham Norton on radio two. Recently instead of dreaming, I actually got the chance…… Not that it all went totally to plan of course!

With a group of very lovely ladies due to arrive the next day (Sunday) for a gift wrapping class, it was a great excuse to live the dream and bake lots of goodies I could serve them on our break at the class. Like many, I have a signature cake that always turns out well and I know that whenever I bake it there’ll only be crumbs left of it the next day. For me that’s my mothers traditional chocolate cake recipe with real cadbury’s chocolate on top and buttercream icing in between. However, whilst I don’t bake often I do like to try my hand at something different every now and again. It’s that thrill you get when you do something new and it actually turns out really well. In this case it was Lemon, honey and polenta cake (served with creme fraiche mixed with lemon rind) and almond and honey biscuits.  I found it (like you do) while  just flicking through a magazine with no baking agenda and there it was…shouting ‘try me, try me’.  So, decision made, the day before ‘baking day’ I checked my cupboards for ingredients I’d need and set off shopping for those I didn’t have.

So Saturday morning it was like Christmas…Up early and all excited. I turned on the radio, donned a rather fab ‘Mrs Madden Makes’ Pinny, made a pot of tea and went to line the cake tins. So, baking paper…. Ah…Now…where could it be? I scrabbled through the drawer. Nope, not there.  Had it gone to its hiding place down the back and into the cupboard perhaps? Nope. It seems the greaseproof paper fairy had been and borrowed it. So, only one thing to do….off I jumped in my car (well after taking off the slippers) and down to the nearest shop.  Let me see….Baking paper, baking paper…..I scoured the shelves up and down but could you believe it, no paper!! So back in the car to the next shop a few miles away and voila…loads of it. So after purchasing two packs of it (for good measure), I headed back for home.

Right pinny back on, hands washed ,..Off we go! Tins lined, time to weigh the plain flour for the biscuits…Plain Flour, yes I have plain flour I saw two packs of it yesterday …mmn but what’s this? One is near on empty and the other….well, the sell by date fairy has also visited and it appears I’m out by a year….What were the chances of that? (note to self… better stock rotation required!)   Oh hey,  back in the car I went…. Not even bothering to go to  the most local shop this time in case it didn’t have any, I headed back to the shop furthest away again where once again, they came through for me and had mountains of it. On leaving with a large bag of flour the Shop assistant did one of those knowing nods …I smiled one of those knowing smiles and off I went. Once again, all sorted, back home, pinny on, hands washed ready to proceed and….

Phone rang. Door bell chimed. Dog needed walking (actually I don’t have a dog but if I had, it would have surely have needed a walk) It was bedlam . You have to smile don’t you. So, a little longer than expected, with more interruptions, delays, unstocked shops and bad fairies than I’d ever imagined, I did, in the end make it. (with the help of Graham Norton and a good shop).

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And it all turned out swimmingly too ….There’s nothing like the feeling of when you bake something new and its a hit with your guests. Thank you ladies…Lemon, honey and Polenta cake recipe on its way to you as promised!

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