Spring is here!

It’s the 1st of March, so we can finally say that Spring is here!! I’ve loved seeing the first signs; the daffodils, chrocuses and snowdrops popping up all over the place. We got out into the sunshine and did a lovely walk in the Shropshire hills at the weekend. A big three hour hill walk and we were so lucky to see wild horses too; they were stunning! Image courtesy of my husband – Benyon’s Corner.

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I’ve been busy designing new products over the past few weeks and have finally put my order in for a few samples to be made; a single t towel, a tote bag and some coasters, all with my Funky Kitchen designs on them! I’m so excited and nervous to see them. It takes forever to get new products made up and it always ends up being quite a stressful process. Not long now though!

I’ve also been busy applying and participating in local Artisan markets. I’ve done a few and am really noticing how much the Brits love a bit of designer and handmade, it’s great! My cards have been flying out and lots of my screen printed t towels and toiletry bags have been being bought for Mothers Day gifts!

Here is a list of some of my upcoming markets for the next three months….many more to be finalised!

MARCH

Sunday 6th March – Knutsford Makers Market

Saturday 12th March – Sandbach Makers Market

APRIL

Sunday 3rd April – Knutsford Makers Market

Saturday 9th April – Sandbach Makers Market

Saturday and Sunday 24th and 25th April – Altrincham Market

MAY

Saturday 14th May – Sandbach Makers Market

JUNE

Saturday 11th June – Sandbach Makers Market

JULY

Saturday 17th July – Manchester Cathedral

AUGUST

Saturday 6th August – Summer Brocante, Nantwich

Saturday 13th August – Sandbach Makers Market

SEPTEMBER

Saturday 10th September – Sandbach Makers Market

OCToBER

Saturday 8th Sandbach Makers Market

NOVEMBER

Saturday 5th  and Sunday 6th  – Tatton Hall Christmas Market

Saturday 10th November – Christmas Brocante, Nantwich

DECEMBER

3 – 6th December – Country Living Fair, Harrogate

10 – 11th Christmas Brocante, Part Two, Nantwich

 

 

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February

It’s been school holidays here in the UK and we’ve had a really lovely, relaxing break. I did my first British market which was in my home town and sales were great. It was cold, but the sun shone and everybody came out to start buying for Mothers Day. After that we got stuck into school holidays. We’ve made pom poms by the hundreds (how relaxing is pom pom making!) we baked, shopped for new shoes, walked the dog, had new hair cuts, bought freshly cut flowers, visited the farm, did a little spring cleaning…….. but generally just had a good old rest. It was fab! Boo to school starting back I say!

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Kitsch

So February 2016 was all about designing like a crazy lady. And so far it seems to be working. I’m into my third collection and I think we are only on the 9th!

They say that the more you design, the more you find your style…and I think that it’s working for me. I seem to be into kitsch, retro, solid colour designs. Ditzy co ordinates but with bold centre “hero” pieces.

Here is this weeks collection. Kitsch, based on the 50’s. I’ve always loved Doris Day movies; the colours, the bold and simple shapes and the really pretty colours. I’ve still got a bit more work to do on this collection, but I’m liking how it’s coming together…

“Kitsch”

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Funky Kitchen

I’ve been busy working on a new collection this week. I really wanted to design a collection that was really clean and fresh that would suit a new t towel range. Some collections are a struggle to put together and some just flow very easily and quickly. This collection literally flooded out of me and I’m really pleased with the end results.

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Getting Fresh and Retro

January was all about looking at potential trade shows for next year and finding new suppliers, testing new product samples and basically banging out  numbers on the calculator. Not my favourite of tasks.

But February is all about designing. Designing away to my hearts content. Learning new skills and techniques as I go and trying to enjoy it and not think constantly about what it’s for, the end product and the whole “will it sell” mentality! Something I do a LOT!

So here are a few I’ve been working on this week. Very retro, but a design style I love and have always wanted to create. But thinking it’s been done so many times before, I strayed away. Not anymore, I’m just going to do it ‘cos I love it!! Here is my new collection, Fresh.

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Hello Shiny New Year!

New country, new house, new year and and a brand new website, shop and blog!

After a little set back at the end of last year, I came to the decision (after a while!!) that the saying “when one door closes another door opens” is actually quite true. So I dusted myself off, stood tall and started to think positively again.

I came to the realisation that sometimes we get in a rut with our business and make the same mistakes over and over again, so I decided that 2016 was going to be different. I’d look back on my many mistakes, actually LEARN from them and take positive action!

My first big step was to revamp my whole website and business outlook. So just before Christmas I enlisted the help of a fabulous web designer, David at Design lakeland and put my website totally in his hands. And I’m ridiculously chuffed with how it looks. Hope you like it too 🙂

So here’s to a great, successful and healthy new year!

PS – I will not be closing my other blog as it is so jam packed with business advice and tips. Please go to www.alibenyondesigns.blogspot.com if you’d like to catch up with the many designer interviews and articles I’ve written over the years regards working in the creative industry. This blog will now be solely for my new design work.

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Some new designs ideas I’ve been working on for a 2016 calendar

New House, New Start

So tomorrow we finally move into our new house from the rental property we’ve been living in for the past 4 months.

When we moved back to the UK from Australia in August, the last thing on our minds was buying a house. We wanted to wait a year to see how we felt about being back before making such a huge decision. I had my eye on the UK housing market, but nothing too serious. In Australia we had a very large house, as do a lot of Aussies, so I knew that finding a house to suit our new Aussie ways was going to be rather tricky and it was going to take some time to find a suitable property.

However……. I kept driving past a house on the way to school that had a For Sale sign up and I couldn’t stop thinking that it looked just perfect for us. It looked big, detached, next to a cemetery (quiet neighbours!! Yes, I’ve heard that one a few times!) walking distance to High School for my eldest who starts next September and would cut a good seven minutes off my current school run. It was also just a stones throw from the house we were currently renting and we were loving living so close to town.

I googled the house every day for 4 days on the trot, worried that it would be way above our price bracket, but the house didn’t actually go onto the internet until 5 days after I initially saw the sign.

As soon as I saw it, I excitedly clicked on the link, dying to see inside the house and was gobsmacked to see that not only was it the perfect house for us, but also that it was within our price bracket, if not way below!!! It also had plans in place for us to do an extension on the back, meaning we could also add value.

Fifteen years of watching Phil and Kirsty obviously didn’t go to waste on me!

Before I could stop it, I found myself calling the agent and booking an appointment into seeing the house that very day. The very next day we found ourselves sat in the car speaking to the agent and hearing that our rather cheeky and determined offer of 10k below the asking price had been accepted!!!

Fifteen years of watching Phil and Kirsty REALLY didn’t go to waste on me!!!!!

So with a crazy year just about to get even crazier, we set off on the path of purchasing a house after only a month of landing back in the country!

Tomorrow is moving in day and our shipment of all the rest of our “stuff” from Australia finally arrives next Tuesday. It feels like such a long time ago that we packed all our belongings and sent it off back in July/August. It will be so nice to sleep on a proper bed for the first time in months and for the girls to get to play with their toys again.

Here are a few pics of the house and we can’t wait to start turning it into our first UK family home. I think we might wait a while before starting a reno (do you say reno in the UK?? I can’t remember??) but knowing us I wouldn’t be surprised if the builders were knocking on our door on New Years Day!! LOL!!