21 December 2012

Leaff's First Christmas Party

To wave 2012 goodbye on a very positive and happy note, last night was Leaff's first ever Christmas party. This year has been particularly exciting, as Leaff has developed leaps and bounds and we have been graced with the most brilliant and varied projects. It has been an absolute pleasure to work on each and every one, and to meet the array of new clients that we have been lucky enough to work with - as well as to develop our great relationships with our existing clients.

It has been a year of great success for sure, but there is no doubt that it has been a serious amount of hard work - especially while going through a pregnancy at the same time - so last night was all about acknowledging that, patting ourselves on the back, and enjoying an evening of good food and celebration.

We were joined by a few of our local and regular clients, who have become great friends of ours, for an evening at The Fold Cafe, Bransford. The Fold Cafe is such a special place - they are a very ethical cafe/restaurant, and huge supporters of local business, having much if not all of their produce sourced locally. They had decorated the place beautifully - as you can see from the pictures - and both the food and service was out of this world.

Group Shots
First Picture - Beverly of NV Hair & Beauty, Myself and Charlotte of Cottontails Baby
Second Picture - Sylvain Rabbit (courtesy of Cottontails Baby), Myself & Jay, Charlotte of 
Cottontails Baby and Alan & Beverly of NV Hair & Beauty.

We are very hopeful that this will be the beginning of a tradition, and that our party will grow as more and more clients join us over the coming years. It was a great opportunity for our lovely clients to meet each other, as fellow local businesses, and for us all to reflect on how far we had each come in our businesses this year.

We hope that you have all found the opportunity to really appreciate yourselves - or do find the opportunity over the festive break to do this. I think it is such an important thing.

Finally, we would like to thank each and every one of you - clients, friends and fans - for all of your support over the last year. We wish you a truly magical Christmas, and look forward to all that is to come in 2013.

Leaff is now closed for the festive break, and will be re-opening on the 2nd January 2013.

Our Christmas Mailer (that was not to be)

As some of you may have heard on Twitter, we've had a bit of a tough week with the collapse of our Christmas mailer - and what was typically set to be our best yet. So much of our hard work and money had gone into them, and they were set to arrive with Leaff's clients and friends alike by this morning. Alas, all it took was one supplier to let us down and it was all over, which has been very hard to swallow. So to all of our clients and friends, we are very sorry that instead of this intriguing mailer, nothing at all has ended up on your doorsteps this Christmas - we are crushed.

Since we put so much into the mailer and it cannot be re-used next year, we have decided to share it with you here. The bit that didn't get done has been super-imposed so you can get a really good idea
of what the finished thing was going to look like...

We had duplexed single cards using heavy stocks in our corporate red and snowy white. While the red sides were supposed to have our Mayan-themed design spray painted onto them in white, the reverse snowy white sides were where our personal, handwritten messages were displayed. These were teamed with transparent promotional slips and the whole thing was to be housed within teaser envelopes.
It would have been great - it was great.

We really hope that you can all take some enjoyment out of looking over these pictures and the description of our ideas at least. What we will take from it is self-appreciation for all of the effort we
put into this mailer, and how much fight we had to get it done - despite the fact that we have been in
the midst of the busiest few months that we have ever had.

Somehow, among all of the project work, we managed to plough ourselves into this personal project in what spare time we had, and really exercise our imaginations to come up with fresh, exciting ideas, utilising new techniques. We have developed as designers from this project by trying new things
- which is always what we aim to do with every personal project like this - and although we are still
licking our wounds from being so let down by the supplier, we are determined to take the positives out
of this and feel proud of what we had tried so hard to do.

Most of all, we are feeling sorely disappointed that our clients and friends have gone without this year,
so if all this post does is inform you all that we had planned great things and you were not forgotten,
then it has served us well.

20 December 2012

A Festive Tutorial...

I had planned to complete a small number of festive crafty projects to share with you this week, but Leaff has been keeping me so busy, that I have only managed to complete one! Alas, a good one it is too.

We just love Christmas, and all the fun of decorating the house, and while we love to buy those special finds, it is also fun to try our hand at making some things ourselves.

This year, I found this great little project on the blog Lauren's Closet. We were immediately inspired to try it ourselves, and it was super easy. These gorgeous little ornaments can be used for a variety of things - as tree decorations, as charming home furnishings, as gifts, and even as wrapping decoration
for presents. So as your work lives slow down for the festive break, why not try your hand at making these lovely little decorations - they are even something you could do with children.

Ingredients & Equipment

4 Cups of Plain Flour
1 Cup of Table Salt
1 1/3 Cups of Water
Cookie Cutters
Decorative Object for Impression
Straw or Bamboo Stick
Ribbon or Twine
Paint (optional)


• Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, until you get a nice smooth ball of dough.

• Once ready, roll out to your desired thickness - be careful not to roll out too thinly, or else your
  ornaments may break or crack.

• Place your object that you are using to make an impression on the surface of your dough and roll
  over your object hard enough to get the impression into the dough. Use any style cookie cutter
  that you wish to cut out your ornaments.

• Place your finished ornaments on some baking parchment and push a straw or bamboo stick
  through the top of each ornament to create a hole for your ribbon or twine.

• Allow your ornaments to air dry for a couple of hours, turning once. You will notice a change in
  colour, as they dry white.

• After air drying, place them in the oven on very low heat of 90 degrees (fan) for about 4 hours,
  turning them every hour. Once out of the oven, allow them to air dry even more for as long
  as needed.

• Once they get to your desired dryness you can then paint them if you wish, and finally thread
  with your ribbon or twine.


We made our ornaments about 1cm thick, which in hindsight seems to have been a bit too thick.
We ended up needing to leave them in the oven for 6 hours rather than 4 and even after all of that,
they still weren't as white as they should have been. Just bear this in mind when making yours,
if you would prefer not to paint them. We finished ours with some white crafters spray paint.

Be sure to pop on over to Lauren's Closet for a peek at how theirs turned out - they used frilly
edged cutters and angel ones too, which show they really work with any style. There have also
been suggestions of adding cinnamon to the mix in her comments feed, which would obviously
give a really lovely festive scent when used at Christmas!

07 December 2012

Things to come...

It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted, due to Leaff being at full capacity! I don't think we have ever been as busy as we are right now, which is wonderful, but which leaves me little or no time
to keep up with our social pages. This is particularly difficult when all I want to do is share all of our exciting projects with you, because we have been working on such great things lately. Give it time,
and I will cover them all!

So, aside from this, I just wanted to send out this little post to give you a taste of things to come.
As you will know from previous posts, my pregnancy has been stirring up a storm of creativity within
me lately, and I have been inspired to try new things and generally enjoy crafting in what spare time I have managed to grab. For example, this little baby blanket that I recently made for our niece's Christening.

It is on our list for our Christmas prep to get on with a few festive projects, and I intend to cover these
on here very soon, to share our experiences and give you ideas of little projects that you might like to
do over the festive period. I am a firm believer that getting creative outside of your business really does impact your energy within your business.

We will also be starting to put our nursery together soon, and I will definitely be covering that on here too, with full details of special products and tutorials on things we have made. Oh how I love interior design!

Until then, stay cosy!

21 November 2012

Re-Evaluating Your Business

Following on from our recent post of How to Choose the Right Design Company for You, this week I wanted to help you to all think about re-evaluating your businesses yourselves. This is not only a really good thing to practise - essential for the owner of any business if you ask us - but it can be extremely helpful in aiding the build or refreshment of your brand, when and if needed.

This is relevant to any business owner at all, no matter whether you are a new start-up that hasn't yet launched your business, or if you are a young or more established business - whether you have fallen
out of love with your existing brand or not.

Business owners should really be re-evaluating their businesses and brands on a regular basis, and it can actually be very therapeutic. We ourselves do this once a year - to sit down and really look at where
we are, and where we could improve. As the year goes by, you tend to wear so many hats that it can
be really tough to keep on top of absolutely everything, and all the while your business is growing and evolving. By the end of the year your business could be targeting a new audience, or you may have
even had some kind of restructure of the services you offer - all clear reasons why evaluation is key.

The following worksheet will help you in the re-evaluation of your business and your brand as a whole,
no matter what stage it is at.

Your Business
Focus on your business basics, and explain it in as many words as necessary - include when it began
(or when it will begin, if you are yet to launch), your main services or products, your company ethics and your company mission.

Your Message
What is the main message that you want to communicate with your business? Look at the words below, and select which reflect your company (or that you want to reflect your company) in the various areas.

Your Company's Nature

Ambitious, Brave, Challenging, Clever, Comfortable, Confident, Friendly, Inclusive, Innovative, Intelligent, Unique.

Your Company's Attitude

Approachable, Conservative, Expansive, Future-facing, Inclusive, Leader, Professional, Questioning, Responsible, 
Risk-taking, Warm.

Your Company's Main Focus

Cost, Customers, Future, Growth, Innovation, Partner, People, Products, Profit, Quality, Recognition, Relationships, Scale, Service, Solutions, Stability, Staff, Techniques.

What Your Company is Like to Work With

Collaborative, Consistent, Dependable, Exceeds Expectations, Expert, Flexible, Have-a-go, Meets Expectation, 
Proactive, Procedural, Reactive, Supportive, Value-for-money, Worth-the-expense.

Your Company's Culture

Dynamic, Evolutionary, Feminine, Formal, Fun, Informal, Laid-back, Open, Revolutionary, Serious, Stable, 

Your Company's Style

Bold, Contemporary, Different, Edgy, Exciting, Loud, Quiet, Sexy, Sophisticated, Surprising, Traditional, Uniform, 
Witty, Young.

Your Target Audience
Describe your target audience - their sex, marital status, age, profession and lifestyle. Nail down as many specifics as possible - What do they do in their spare time? What kind of activities to they enjoy? Remember, if you are an established company, you are not looking at what audience you are currently attracting, but the audience you want to attract - your ideal customer or client. You can then evaluate if you are actually attracting the correct audience, and if not, put steps into place to change this.

Your Competition
Who is your competition and how are you different to them? You may have many or few competitors,
but your USP (unique selling point) will be the thing that sets you apart - pinpoint it.

Your Future
Where do you want to be in 5 years? What is your vision and your ambition for the future of your business? Think both big and small and put it all down.

Your Ideas
Building a mood board is a great way to focus visually on your business. Whether you are yet to get your brand built, or whether you have a current brand that may require development, building a mood board can be extremely fruitful.

Your board can include absolutely anything - from colour ideas and photographic styles, to random bits of imagery or pattern that inspire you - it is really just all about building a visual feast of the things that you feel help to represent your business.

If you already have a brand - whether you are unhappy with it, or whether it may just need a little tweaking to bring in line with your businesses development - put it out of sight and begin your moodboard from scratch, with fresh eyes. Whatever your circumstance, this in itself will highlight what parts of your current brand are failing.

Your Brand
If you have yet to get your brand built, take some time to think about the things that might need to be included. If you are at the very early stages, this could begin with brainstorming your company name,
but if you already have that established, think about whether you perhaps need a strap-line.

Your brand covers much more than your logo of course, so think about what else you will need - a website, what stationery your company will need to really strengthen your brand, and what promotional material you will require to get your business out there. You may also want to research social platforms, to figure out which ones might benefit your business - not all will, and to some extent it is a case of trial and error. Remember - they are free advertisement, so you have nothing to lose by giving them a try.

If you already have an existing brand, do not discount this part of the brief. No matter where you are with your business there is always a need for reflection to keep your brand relevant as your business grows.
If you are unhappy with your current brand, or something isn't working quite right, start again from the beginning - what bits are working, and what bits are failing you? By pinpointing them really specifically, you can move forward. This isn't just a case of thinking about whether your logo or colour palette is right, it is about the whole picture - think about your materials and online presence as a whole - anything and everything that represents your business. Go through your brand experience through the eyes of your customers and clients - are there any inconsistencies or is there room for improvement?

I hope that by the end of this exercise, you will feel like you have really re-engaged with your business, and feel much clearer on how to move forward. This is the perfect time of year to do this exercise, as we approach the end of 2012, with an eye on the next year and all that it holds. But remember to also reflect on how far you have come this year, and give yourself credit for all that you have achieved to date!

16 November 2012

Visual Snacks...

I can confirm that pregnancy heightens creativity. In all honesty, I have never in my life felt so inspired (by this tiny being inside of me) and the smallest of visual snacks can give me such a huge sense of inspiration...

It makes me feel...
(left to right & top to bottom)

Appreciative - Inspiring me to pause and appreciate the beauty all around me...
Linen & Lace Camera Strap, by Rhyah Papaya - etsy.com/RhyahPapaya

Reflective - Inspiring me to really appreciate the wonder of our universe...
Mountain Brooch, by Sweet Bestiary - etsy.com/sweetbestiary

Crafty - Inspiring me to create new things and practise new skills...
Crochet Bunting, by Emma Lamb - etsy.com/emmalamb

Relaxed - Inspiring me to put my feet up and take time for me...
An Apple a Day Cushion, by Zeena - heartzeena.com

Imaginative - Inspiring me to embrace my own inner child...
Mr Fox, by The Linen Cat - folksy.com/thelinencat

Adventurous - Inspiring me to seek adventure, and see & try new things...
Safari Suite Pads, by Crane & Co. - crane.com

What's inspiring you at the moment and how? Strong inspiration can come from the most unlikely places.

09 November 2012

How to Choose the Right Design Company for You

Just lately we have heard some real horror stories about very negative experiences that people have had with design companies. This is a huge shame for businesses who then go without, and also a huge shame for the design industry as a whole, which ends up with a negative reputation.

Experiences have often been brought to light when we have been discussing projects with new clients, and they have been learning the process in which we manage things. It struck me that many people
don't seem to know what to expect from the process when using a design company, so I thought it might be a good thing to tell you a bit about how we work, in order to give you some insight of what you
could expect.

Of course all companies will work very differently, so this is very unlikely to be exactly how other design companies operate, but at least it gives you some idea. We hope that from this, bad experiences can be avoided for anyone who is needing the help of a professional designer, because we truly believe - wholeheartedly - in the power of good design.

First Contact

This crucial first stage is all about getting to know each other. You need to feel informed about how things work, in order to establish a level of trust with the company, while they need to ensure that they deliver this.

We always find the first contact a really important time to glean as much information as possible on what our potential client could possibly need, so ideally, we like to meet up for a coffee and a chat before we do anything - this meeting is free, and carries no obligation. This enables them to get a feel for who we are, which establishes a level of trust, and it also gives us the opportunity to discuss their vision and their needs. Clients who are looking for a full brand development often feel overwhelmed and unsure of what materials they would need. By discussing this with them, we are able to advise and can help them to prioritise things within their budget. If a client is is not local to us, we can do all of the discussing via phone or email, and if the client is after something specific like a logo, then a meeting like this is less important.

Ensure that you are clear on whether a meeting like this is charged for. Some design companies do charge for consultations like this, and should make you aware of this before arranging - you should not
be expected to pay for things like this if the costs are not pointed out to you first.

Gaining an Estimation

The next stage is to supply the client with an estimation, so that they can get familiar with costs. It is always helpful to send an estimate across that covers a whole host of eventualities, and all with the costs broken down, so that they have it to refer to for their budget - that way they can organise their funds to schedule bits in over time if needed. We are always striving to be as flexible as possible in this way, to work around budgets and make the most of funds for the client, which is of course key for small businesses. Aim to find out how flexible your chosen design company is, and their processes, in order
to feel secure in your decision making.

This stage is also very important to make our potential client feel at ease and informed about what they will be getting for their money. For these reasons, we always give an overview of the process with the estimation - this covers what they will get at the end of a project and the process in which we work.

Some companies may not bother with estimates, and go straight into quoting, and you need to be clear on what this means. We prefer to estimate first in order to help clients gain a clear idea of costs before they commit to anything, and also to allow them to plan around their budget. Below, we outline what our procedure for quoting is, and what you should expect to be informed of.

Receiving a Quotation

After the initial estimate has been sent across and our potential client has decided on what they would like to proceed with at that point, we would then draw up a quote. The quote outlines the project details, hours that will be spent on the project, and the costs, all broken down with the deposit information. This is teamed with a copy of our terms and conditions, which clients are urged and expected to read before confirming that they are happy to go ahead with things, and before paying their deposit. No company should begin your project until you have confirmed that you wish for them to do so.

The most important thing to look out for in terms & conditions is payment details and the cancellation policy. Payment wise, you will need to know what you will be expected to pay and when, and what you will be getting for your money. In our terms and conditions we have included a brief outline of the different stages of a project, and clear details on copyright and cancelation. If everyone knows where they stand, then communication is at its best, and trust can be established between company and client. You can view our terms & conditions as a rough guide, here.

Money is obviously a huge factor to small businesses, and this can make a project feel really daunting to those who have never experienced working with a professional designer before. When factors like this are not addressed by a design company, businesses can feel put off and will often try to do their own brands themselves, which is a huge shame. Not only it this obviously bad for the design industry, but also for the small businesses themselves, who end up feeling constantly held back by their image.

The Briefing

Usually, if we have had a meeting with a client at first contact, then we would have taken a full brief at that point, but if we have not met up with them, (because they are not local or because they are after something specific) then we would usually wait until now to take a full brief.

The briefing stage is by far the most important stage of the project for us, as it is a time for us to really get to know a business. There is no better way to get to know what a business needs from the design process, than getting into the driver's seat and learning about them. So, in the briefing stage we ask lots of questions about the business, the owner, and their goals, to really gain a deep understanding of who they are and what they need.

After a brief has been taken, we always get it typed up and sent over to the client for them to read through. This is not only important for us to ensure that we have understood everything correctly, but for clients to feel that we have, giving them confidence and enthusiasm in the process.

We strongly doubt that there are any design companies who would not take a brief, since it would be impossible to be properly equipped to enter the design stage and create a relevant solution without taking a brief. However, just be mindful of this when dealing with a company - you need to feel like they know your business, in order to trust that the end result is going to be representative of your business.

First Ideas

No design company should expect to deliver a finished solution to a client at first visual.

Where logo's are concerned, we usually offer a small number of solutions for a client to look at during
the first visual stage, along with supporting descriptions. This gives the client insight into the different solutions and enables them to supply us with feedback on which design they would like to have developed.

The key thing here is choice - although we are the professionals when it comes to working up a good strong solution that will work for that business, the client must be and feel involved in the process, and have a choice.

Solution Development

Having gained feedback on the chosen solution, it would then enter the development stage, where any changes would be implemented, and the artwork would be perfected for use. The client would then be provided with a proof of the finished artwork for them to confirm and sign off ahead of supply or production.

It is really important that you are given the opportunity to confirm that you are happy with the artwork, before it is supplied or printed, and you are invoiced.

Supply of Artwork

This is the end stage, where materials are supplied to the client. If it is a logo that has been developed, then the full suite is sent over electronically with details on how to use the different versions supplied.
If however there are materials involved, then of course you should be aware of whether the design company manages print and production, and what stage you will be expected to take over, if there is one.

In our case - and in the case of the majority of other design companies we are sure - we manage the process all the way through, from first contact to delivery of materials to your door step. In this day and age, there will be very few design companies who do not manage print and production, since the two processes are so closely linked in the result of the end product, but you should be well informed
either way.

Some clients like to take the print and production into their own hands - especially if they have a contact themselves that they have a good relationship with. It is however part of our service to advise on which print technique would be good for a specific job, which is very important since it can make or break a piece of design work. Find out if a design company offers this service, and is willing to advise you on this kind of thing.

While a lot of design companies outsource print, you should always expect to be informed of estimated costs upfront, before you decide on which technique to go ahead with. Print techniques vary massively in cost, so you will need to be well informed of your options beforehand. A lot of design companies put fees on top of print costs, for their time taken managing it all - what you need to be aware of is those that seemingly pluck figures out of the air. It is an unfortunate thing that some companies throw on huge fees that are not at all relative to their time taken managing production, so you do need to be wary of this.

I think that this just about covers the need-to-know information, and we really hope that it proves useful to anyone who is seeking help with their image. Good design is so important to business, and professional designers have a huge and important role in this. Just make sure that you choose wisely - with the industry so saturated with design companies nowadays, it can be a case of sorting through the rough to find the gems that will be right for you. The design process is such an exciting thing, and should result in an image that represents your business as an individual and communicates your personality and ethics when you can't be there. It is a asset that gives your business results, helping you to grow, and making you feel like you might just burst with pride. That is the power of good design!

We are of course open to questions if any of you have any, so do feel free to leave us messages in the comments box below.

06 November 2012

Our Christmas Discount

Adding a little magic to your Christmas...

It's that merry time of year again, and as we are about to hit the festive season, we would like to offer you over 25% off our beautiful letterpressed 'Magic Little Christmas' cards. Dropping from the original price of £12.50 for a pack of 10, they are now down to a generous £9.00 a pack, which we hope you will agree is a bit of a bargain for something as unique as these. Our handsome cards have been left blank inside for your own message, and are teamed with natural kraft envelopes in harvest tones. Shop now >

The perfect stocking fillers...

Also included in our offer are our beautiful letterpressed 'Garden Bird' notecards, which are available mixed or in a single design - the choice is yours. Originally priced at £12.50 for a pack of 10, our notecards are now also down to £9.00 a pack, and are the perfect stocking fillers for those who like to give something more unique. Teamed with our natural kraft envelopes in harvest tones, and left blank inside, the notecards can be used for any occasion - to keep in touch with friends and family or indeed as greetings cards. Each pack of notecards is lovingly finished in our special Christmas wrapping of natural brown paper and festive twine, ready to slip straight into your stockings. Shop now >

{Offer valid until Friday 21st December, when Leaff will be closing for Christmas.}

02 November 2012

Discovered Artists - Part 4

This is the fourth and final post in the series of Discovered Artists that I have been sharing with you over the last few weeks. If you missed the others, you can catch up here, here and here.

It was whilst taking a gentle stroll through Abbotsbury in Dorset, that we came across this artist. Sitting on a step in front of a cute little door, was a small box of cards, with a sign urging us to take one. There was also some of the amazing work on display, and I was curious, so I popped one into my bag for further investigation. Visiting the website confirmed it all...

Abbotsbury Stonework

(All images sourced directly from www.abbotsburystonework.com)

I just love coming across unusual things, and I find this talent of stone carving quite rare in my world. Perhaps it is because I have never actively sought out stone carvings before, but at any rate, for this
to catch my eye just proves it is something special in my book.

The artist behind Abbotsbury Stonework is award-winning stone carver Rebecca Freiesleben, who specialises in hand crafted letter-cutting and carving in stone - from unique memorials and name plates to sculptures, relief carvings and other decorative items for your home and garden.

I love the fresh, quirky feel of the letter-cutting and the accuracy of it, while the more sculptural pieces have such wonderful details and such a natural feel to them. Amazing, amazing work. Visit her website to find out more about Abbotsbury Stonework, and view more of her portfolio.

I hope you have all enjoyed being introduced to the fantastic array of artists that we have covered in
this series - and remember, if you know of any great artists, we always like to know about them!

26 October 2012

Discovered Artists - Part 3

Over the last couple of weeks I have been sharing with you some artists that we recently discovered while on holiday in Dorset. If you missed those, you can catch up here and here.

This week is a bit of a treat, as I showcase some of our most favourite finds which were all discovered in one amazing gallery - Lazyhill Gallery. The name may seem familiar because we had recommended Lazyhill to you in our first post from our holiday, here.

All images sourced from Lazyhill Gallery - lazyhillgallery.co.uk - or the artists' websites themselves (see below).

1  Sarah Jane Brown, 'Detached' and 'Boat with Anchor'sarahjanebrown.com

Sarah Jane's work is a very interesting mix of driftwood, wire and paper, working together to create all kinds of curious little scenes. I just love the quirkiness of her work, and the fragility of it too. She also has some really beautiful full wire work, which is definitely worth a look at too.

2  Sally Pawson, 'Leaf Stud Small' and 'Bangles'sallypawson.co.uk

Sally Pawson caught my eye with her vibrant, funky jewellery which is unlike any that I have ever seen before. I love the clean, sleek designs, which are so fresh and modern. I'm not a big jewellery collector, so things have to really grab my attention, and these certainly did.

3  Dr Bean, 'Owl' and 'Shoes'drbeansbags.co.uk

There are many bags similar to this in the collection by Dr Bean - each has it's own little saying on it, and they come in a variety of colourways and shapes. Bags seem to be more popular than ever at the moment, but I thought that these were really different and charming.

4  Gemma Wightman, 'Tealight' and 'Espresso Cup & Saucer'gemmawightmanceramics.com

I first laid eyes on the tealight by Gemma Wightman, and fell in love with it. Her ceramic pieces are so dainty and soft and I just love the gentle hint of turquoise that has been taken through each piece. She has many more pieces to be adored - each so elegant and charming - so do take a look.

5  Clare Mahoney, 'Medium Porcelain Heart' and 'Medium Porcelain Pebble'crmceramics.co.uk

Lastly, are the stones by Clare Mahoney. Painted stones have become quite popular of late, but these aren't just painted, they are impressed, giving a very tactile relief to the designs. The plant and flower patterns are just so beautiful, and I love the tranquil feel of the colour that has been incorporated too.

Next week will be my final post on the discovered artists from our holiday, and again, it will be based on a completely different medium to what you have seen so far.

24 October 2012

Halloween Inspiration

Halloween…. what does it mean to you? To me it is all about imagination and creativity, and it is a time of year that I feel at my most creative….

From special themed food & drink and atmospheric decorations, to special centrepieces and moody lighting, there really are a lot of ways that you can transform your home into an explosion of your imagination. Let this inspire you and your own private celebration of All Hallows' Eve - however big
or small.

Image Sources

Halloween Cocktail Table - amazingdesignforless.wordpress.com
Bat Decorations - countryliving.com
Pumpkin Vases - pinterest.com
Spooky Bunting - diynetwork.com
Pumpkin Candles - rebeccacalagna.blogspot.co.uk
Halloween Pom Poms - apartmenttherapy.com
Halloween Candy Bar - amazingdesignforless.wordpress.com

19 October 2012

Discovered Artists - Part 2

Last week, I shared the first of this series of posts on artists that we recently discovered on our travels
in and around Weymouth. If you missed that, you can catch up here.

This week, I'm sharing a couple of artists with you, who we discovered on a visit to a recommended exhibition, which was housed at the Allsop Gallery, Dorset. The exhibition housed a range of mixed media, and from the work below, you will see just how varied it was. These two particular artists stood out to us.

Tiffany Scull

Tiffany Scull - 'Humming Bird', 'Yellow Bird', '2 Wrens', 'Sun Bird' and 'Nested Bird'.
(All images sourced directly from www.tiffanyscullstudiopotter.com)

We fell in love with these beautiful watercolour paintings as soon as we saw them. They are soft, detailed and romantic, and the character of the birds has been captured beautifully.

Tiffany not only produces watercolour paintings, but clay work too, where her detailed designs are transformed onto beautiful and striking vases, plates and lamp bases. Pop on over to her website to find out more about her, and to see more of her majestic work.

Steve Barrett

Steve Barrett - Animal & Bird Sticks
(All images sourced directly from www.walkingandworkingsticks.co.uk)

Both Jay and I have a huge appreciation of wood work, and so when we set our eyes upon Steve's work, we were really impressed - what a master at his craft! We loved the detail and shape that he gained with his beautiful hand carvings, depicting the beauty and the character of the wildlife so wonderfully.

Steve has won a number of awards in competitions both locally to him and nationally, and these are just a few examples of his vast portfolio. To see and find out more, head on over to his website.

Next week I will be sharing even more amazing artists with you, from other galleries that we visited on our inspiring travels.

12 October 2012

Discovered Artists - Part 1

Last week, I shared a few great shops / galleries that we discovered on our recent travels in and around Weymouth. If you missed that, you can catch up here.

This week, I want to start sharing with you some artists that we also discovered on our travels, through a number of other great galleries that we visited in Dorset. This is the first of a few posts, since we found many gems!

Leighton Gallery, Weymouth

The Leighton Gallery houses the magnificent work of two particular artists that caught my attention when we visited. The first being the gallery owner himself, Martin J Leighton, and the other being the late artist Trevor Lawrence.

Martin J Leighton

Martin J Leighton - 'The Gathering', 'Submission', 'Gwen in Laced Blouse'.
(All images sourced directly from www.leightongallery.co.uk)

Martin Leighton may very well be the best figurative artist I have ever seen. When my eyes first found his work - the original of 'The Gathering' - I was blown away. Like with any work of art, the pictures I have displayed here really are nothing compared to the real things - especially because they are low resolution - but I'm confident that you can nevertheless get a really good feel for how good Martin is.

So what is it that I love so much about his work? Above all, I would have to say the tones that he manages to capture with his brush - the contrast between light and dark, and the depth of shine and shadow. As you can see from the bottom two pictures, he thoroughly enjoys painting women - particularly naked women. In fact, his gallery was mainly decorated with that kind of subject. But when you see how truly brilliant he is at capturing the tones and intricacies of the body, you can really appreciate why.

Having worked within a Fine Art course for 2 years, I can really appreciate figurative painting - it is something I myself enjoyed most. It may be somewhat down to my own appreciation of this subject that I find Martin's figurative work so captivating, but nevertheless, I would challenge anyone to look at these magnificent pieces of work and not be overwhelmed by his ability. Martin has quickly become my favourite figurative painter - and more so every time I look at his work.

I must lastly mention that although Martin clearly specialises in figurative painting, he also paints landscapes, seascapes, still life and wildlife - and very well too. His talents are by no means restricted
to the figurative style - he is a certain all rounder!

Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence - 'Windows of Light', 'Stairway to Nowhere', 'Making the Best of it'.
(All images sourced directly from www.leightongallery.co.uk)

Trevor Lawrence really caught my imagination in the gallery - again, these pictures really do not do the work justice, compared to the real things. I was stood, transfixed for many minutes, absorbed in the busy, colourful paintings.

The inspiration for his work is said to come from the beautiful Dorset coastline and events such as kite flying festivals and the Weymouth carnival. Other influences include his own life experiences and his own creative mind, which I must say, sit much better with me, since his paintings only spell out one thing to me; Asia.

I was very surprised to read about his influences, as I had imagined from his work that he had travelled well, and had a deep fondness of Asia - it is funny how the viewer can interpret pieces of work so differently to how they were perhaps intended.

The paintings tell me about the shanty towns that you might find in India and the like - the slums even. But it is very happy - the activity, the vibrancy, and the atmosphere of the pictures... even the beautiful sunset. It astounded me that up-close, they looked like a vast mass of colourful little marks, yet as I stepped back, I saw form and definite structure - figures jumped out at me from every nook and cranny.

The sad fact is that I may never find out why I see Asia, and it is a fact that makes these paintings so much more valuable than they already are. We were very sad to learn that Trevor recently passed away, which is a tragic loss I think.

It isn't very often that I find an artist so different to any other I have seen before, and one that captivates my imagination so much. I feel better travelled to have seen this work - and honoured really, considering they will now be in short supply.

Trevor is right next to Martin at the top of my favourite painters list, but obviously for very different reasons. If I could ever own just one piece of their original works, I would be one happy lady!

Next week I will be sharing more discovered artists with you, from other galleries that we visited on our inspiring travels.

05 October 2012

Dorset - A creative's guide...

Sunny, creative Dorset - this is where we spent last week, on our break. It was much like St Ives for creative buzz, and we visited many brilliant galleries, exhibitions and shops, meeting some really great people along the way. Here, in the first of a small series of posts from our travels in Dorset, I want to share with you a few little gems that we would highly recommend to any creative people visiting the region.

Before we went away, we had done some careful research on the hidden gems of Weymouth and the surrounding area - hidden because they are not huge tourist sights. Since the following gems were all found on blogs rather than tourist information sites, we thought it was really important to carry on this exposure to places like this - they deserve to be found and enjoyed by everyone.

The Full Gamut Gallery, Weymouth

The Full Gamut is situated just outside the town of Weymouth, and what a little gem it is. Arriving in the cold of late afternoon, we stepped into a warm, cosy, creative space. It was one of those shops where your eyes don't know where to look first - just brimming with goodies from local artists.

Not only is The Full Gamut a creative gallery, but a coffee shop too, and the talented owner Kimberley, even makes her own amazing cakes to sell with her drinks. Of course we settled down to rest my heavy aching self, and enjoyed a hot drink - complete with a huge chunk of cake to take back to our cottage for the evening.

We talked to Kimberley for a long while - about her shop, local creatives, other local galleries and places to visit, and about art in general. She is such an interesting person to talk to and was such a pleasure to meet. We hope to have made a valuable contact in The Full Gamut, as a fantastic independent company, and a fellow creative.

If you are at all creative, or if you simply appreciate a tasty beverage / chunk of cake in quirky surroundings, The Full Gamut belongs at the top of your Weymouth to-do list.

Lazyhill Gallery, Abbotsbury

Lazyhill Gallery is situated in the peaceful, chocolate box village of Abbotsbury. We had been recommended to visit this gallery by a couple of local shops that we had struck up friendly conversation with - there are so many of these around.

It is a really beautiful, fresh and modern gallery - a space for local artists to sell their precious work.
The owner Rachel, was a pleasure to meet - someone who really appreciates quality and creativity. Luckily for us, we joined the list of creatives appearing in Lazyhill Gallery, as Rachel became one of our new stockists for our 'Garden Bird' range. We couldn't be more thrilled to be stocked in such a perfect place for our cards.

Again, Lazyhill Gallery is a must-see for creatives visiting the area. In fact, Abbotsbury itself is a gem
of a village and reminded us very much of the Cotswolds.

Dansel Craftwork Gallery, Abbotsbury

The Dansel Gallery sits just down the road from Lazyhill Gallery in Abbotsbury, and is deceivingly vast inside. Everywhere, carefully sculptured wooden treats adorn the walls - from gifts and kitchenware, to amazing children's toys and home furnishings.

It is always exciting to come across creatives that are just so amazing at their craft, and the use of wood is such an exciting, natural and quality material to work with. These are the very things that attracted Jay and I to visit this gallery.

The Rural Farm Shop Company Ltd, Wareham

Moving away slightly from the galleries here, but we had to tell you all about this wonderful shop. Obviously we are very much into local produce, and this was a perfect place to visit to get a taste of
the area.

The Rural Farm Shop is very new, and a real treat for visitors. With a spacious and modern-farm-style interior, it feels very clean and exciting inside - this is in great contrast to the outside, since it is situated on a real working farm, with chickens roaming free, and hungry pigs to be fed! Just as exciting of course, but a little more rustic!

For us, their star product was their hampers, which we thought were genius. The hampers contain a mixture of local products - from fudge and crackers to Jam and drink - and also contain a map with information on where each of the products come from, within Dorset. We thought this was a
wonderful idea!

Also inside is a gorgeous cafe area, where delicious drinks, cakes and snacks can be enjoyed.
The owner was a pleasure to chat to, and we highly recommend a visit for a real taste of Dorset.

The next post in this small series will share some fantastic artists that we discovered through a small number of other galleries and exhibitions that we visited in Dorset.

Since releasing this post, Kimberley at The Full Gamut gallery has been in touch to inform me that their opening times have changed. The gallery will now be open at weekends only from now until Christmas - please pop on over and show her your support, which she would really value.

14 September 2012

Studio Time: Stephanie Saunders

This week I wanted to share a fairly recent project with you all, which a lot of you may have already seen me mention on our Facebook or Twitter pages. Stephanie Saunders is a floral design company, which focusses on high-end arrangements, and a quality service. Stephanie Saunders provides floral design for weddings, funerals, corporate events and special occasions.

Stephanie came to us a while ago with a dream, and after a thorough briefing over a coffee, the ball began rolling with her brand development. From logo and colour palette, to letterheads and promotional cards - and most recently a website and social pages - this was a fantastic project to work on, which really allowed us to gain maximum brand consistency for her.

Stephanie wanted a look that encompassed everything she strived for with her new business - namely quality, elegance and style.

The colour palette was very heavily based on earthy tones, to reflect her work - as was the stock for 
her stationery, which was an off-white, uncoated, recycled stock, giving a very natural feel.

For Stephanie's envelopes, we had a brass stamp made of the icon part of her logo, which carried the luxury feel onto her thick, quality envelopes. This was used with a silver wax, to match her palette.

For her website, that luxury feel and ease of use were at the forefront of the design. The feel of the website was taken straight across her social pages, for consistency. After a tutorial on her social pages, Stephanie was all set to embark on getting her personality out there to the masses - and what a natural she is! Why not pop on over and find out more about Stephanie and her already very successful new business - I know that she would really appreciate your support...

Check out her Blog
Follow her on Twitter
Find her on Facebook

As ever, our clients reaction is always the best bit of any project, and Stephanie's feedback couldn't 
have been better. This is what she had to say:

From my first email conversation, your understanding of my situation and your guidance regarding everything I needed to start was superb. I feel you really understood everything I wanted from my brand and really grasped the concept of 'Stephanie Saunders'. Throughout the entire process you provided excellent expertise and transformed my dreams into reality. Here's to the future of 'Stephanie Saunders' and a blossoming relationship with Leaff!

If you would like to talk to us about your brand - whether you are a new business in need of a brand that reflects you, or an existing one in need of a refresh - please get in touch as we would love to help!

07 September 2012

The one, the only, 'Cottontails Baby'...

Incase you haven't already heard of Cottontails Baby, it is the toy shop that dreams are made of; independent, traditional and utterly charming.

Owned by Charlotte and her beautiful bunny Humphrey, Cottontails Baby is based in the countryside of rural Herefordshire, where the headquarters are really something in themselves; picture a traditional wooden summer house, perched underneath the shady tress of a gorgeous garden - where ducks roam and bird nest boxes are always full.

Focussed on special products and gifts for babies and young children, Cottontails Baby really delivers on quality throughout its range. Being the recommended UK retailer for the famous big brand Moulin Roty, Cottontails Baby has earned itself quite a reputation! Also stocking product ranges from Maileg, Gluckskafer, Ostheimer, Ragtales, many UK makers, and soon Trousselier too, Cottontails Baby really is a hub for quality, specialist toy makers.

Currently being pregnant myself, I very much adopt the same attitude towards products for the nursery, that Cottontails Baby has - buying a few really special items that will last and inspire for years to come, rather than buying lots of cheap, low quality products from high street stores. I would much rather spend my money on really special things from an independent shop, where my money will go further and where I am keeping business local. With this in mind, I will share with you a selection of the products at Cottontails Baby, that are currently inspiring my wish list - needless to say, some of these will certainly end up in our nursery!

What is more, Cottontails Baby is currently running a 15% discount on all products until midnight tonight - just enter code 'Blackberry' at the checkout to claim yours!

Aside from this exquisite selection, there is so much more on the shop to drool over - Cottontails Baby is always updating their collections, and soon will come the time for their Christmas range to be launched, which is always ridiculously beautiful, so do keep a close eye on the shop. You can even sign up for their mailing list, here, to be kept updated.

Cottontails Baby has just celebrated its 9th birthday, and with the milestone, Charlotte has embarked on some brand developments. Leaff has been very much on hand to develop a new logo, and web visuals to inspire her planned changes there, which I will certainly be sharing with you all in due course. It is a very exciting time for this amazing little shop, and I hope that you will all be inspired to support Cottontails Baby in the years to come - there really isn't enough shops like this around.

Find them on Facebook
Follow them on Twitter
Hop into their world on You Tube

 Koko Dog Comforter, by Moulin Roty, £16.50 - www.cottontailsbaby.co.uk
 Koko Musical Moon, by Moulin Roty, £29.00 - www.cottontailsbaby.co.uk
 Koko Little Dog Rattle, by Moulin Roty, £11.00 - www.cottontailsbaby.co.uk
 Tiny Lola Rabbit, by Moulin Roty, £7.75 - www.cottontailsbaby.co.uk
 Baby Perlette Frog, by Moulin Roty, £6.75 - www.cottontailsbaby.co.uk
 Sleepy Cat, by Moulin Roty, £19.00 - www.cottontailsbaby.co.uk
7  Les Pachats Cat Baby Slippers, by Moulin Roty, £21.50 - www.cottontailsbaby.co.uk
 Pretty Ugly Activity Toy Chain, by Moulin Roty, £46.00 - www.cottontailsbaby.co.uk

22 August 2012

Leaff's Shop News

As you all know, we've been working hard on some new card designs for our shop over the past few months - and finally, they have been pressed and just released into our shop. So without further ado, may we introduce our two new additions...

Our two new and very proud additions - Sing From The Rooftops and There's No Place Like Home.

These two new additions complete our letterpressed Garden Bird range, which are each available as singles, in packs of 10, and now also in mixed packs of 10 too. Each card has been left blank inside,
and comes with a beautiful, natural envelope in harvest tones.

Our very popular Magic Little Christmas card sold out very quickly last year, and we are pleased to announce that we are ahead of schedule with the reprint. Our charming Christmas cards are therefore now stocked up and ready for orders - do bear in mind that they sell out fast!

Now in stock for the festive season - Magic Little Christmas.

In addition to our Garden Bird range now being fully available in our own shop, they are now also available for purchase from our lovely new stockists, in their beautiful and unique high street shops.

Find all of these cards and more at www.shop.leaffdesign.co.uk or visit our stockists...

Worcester Stockists

9a New Street

47b Upper Tything

Ledbury Stockists

Tinsmiths Alley
8A High Street

Hus & Hem
The Design Quarter
12 High Street

Bromyard Stockist

Dots Gallery
41 Broad Street

08 August 2012

Leaff - Roots & Shoots

Last week I released our latest news from Leaff HQ, but it wasn't all of our news. There has been one ginormous piece that we have been waiting to release for some time...

On June 1st we found out the most amazing news, that I am pregnant. We are absolutely over the moon - as you can imagine!

Now that we are passed 3 months, we have just released the news to family and friends, and subsequently our lovely loyal clients, to share with and reassure. Although I am positive that you will all be thrilled with the news too, I do want to address any potential concerns regarding Leaff, straight away.

I have been working pretty much as normal so far and I intend to continue to work until our little bundle arrives at the end of January, when I will take some maternity leave and then ease back in.

As you already now know, Jay will be starting at Leaff part time next week, which is not only wonderful because it has been a huge target for us for some time, but even more so precious now that Leaff could do with an extra pair of hands. So, as things get tougher, he will be here to cover the work load - the important thing is that even when I am at my roughest, Jay will be on hand so Leaff will not be suffering or grinding to a halt! That is important for all of you to know.

Lately I have been a little quiet on our social pages, and that has all just been down to my concentration on our projects. It is taking a lot more out of me to work as hard as I do, so it has become a bit more of
a challenge to fit everything that I did before into my schedule, while also looking after myself - obviously I would never let a project get affected, and so the social side has had to give a little.

So as time moves on now, I'm not naive enough to think that things will be able to stay as fast paced as they have been, but I am really hoping that you will stick with us. For clients, it will just mean being a bit more generous with deadlines, and working together while we settle into a new routine, and for our fans like most of you are, we really hope that you will remain loyal to us too.

It feels quite daunting to be moving into a stage where things are going to change so much for us - I
have put all of myself into Leaff the last 2 years, but I am so ready to begin our personal adventure of parenthood, which we have been dreaming about for so long. So how does it really work, being a parent and a business owner? I'm sure there are many of you who have been through this already, and your words of wisdom would be so much appreciated.

On that note, I fully intend to take you all along with us, through our journey from Leaff owners, to parents and Leaff owners - I'm hoping that this will provide invaluable knowledge and support to any of you who come to face a similar situation in the future. It seems a giant mountain to climb, to devote our attention to both the business and our new life, but we are more determined than ever to make it work. Leaff began not only on our passion to build a brilliant moral company, and to free us creatively, but also to get our personal lives in order for the future. We always wanted to work together, and both be around as much as possible to bring up our family together. This is just the beginning of that dream.

26 July 2012

A Birthday Speech!

So today marks Leaff's second Birthday, and I am particularly proud of the last year. Things at Leaff have gone from strength to strength, and I have in turn, worked with some truly amazing clients. So first of all, I want to say a specific, huge, and humble thank you, to each and every person and company who I have had the pleasure of working with to date.

As you may have heard though our Facebook and Twitter pages, big changes are due to happen within Leaff, which I have been looking forward to sharing with you for some time now...

A New Director

Last month saw a momentous moment, as a new and fellow Director was added to Leaff. Jay is not only an extremely talented designer, but the only other person that I know of who is as passionate about what he does as I am. He is also my husband, and he is great at that too! He will be joining Leaff in a working capacity for the very first time next month, and I can't wait to introduce you all to him.

For some of you, it may even be news that until now, Leaff has been run single handedly by me, Kate. However, Leaff was always a joint vision and dream between Jay and I since we first met 5 and a half years ago. Therefore, in the background, Jay has always been on hand with bucketfuls of support, throughout the sometimes trying and very exciting last 2 years of Leaff. At some points I think I have even talked of 'our' and 'we' rather than 'my' and 'me', because in my head, Leaff has always been half of Jay. So as you can imagine, this is not only a milestone for Leaff, but a milestone for us personally too.

Shop Developments

Not only will we have a new, extra voice to Leaff, we will also be making some exciting changes and developments within our shop and our brand. Shop-wise, 2 new designs are currently in production
which complete our letterpressed 'Garden Bird' range. These new editions will be added to our shop
next month, when we will also be looking forward to getting our 'Magic Little Christmas' robin cards
back in stock for the festive season. A range of stockists from around the local area will also be beginning to stock our full range too, which we are very excited about, and which we will release full details for soon.

Leaff's Brand

Brand-wise, having developed so much over the last 2 years, since Leaff was launched, we feel that this now warrants a refresh of our brand. This will be something that Jay will be getting his teeth into with me when he begins at Leaff next month. Not only will the changes see a tighter visual to us generally, but it will also work right across our website, which we are looking to overhaul quite drastically. Being the sole engine for Leaff and with such rapid developments happening over the last year, it has been extremely difficult to keep the website up to date. Our portfolio desperately needs reshooting, which has taken a bit of a hit with all of our cameras breaking at once, but we are about to invest in some very exciting equipment to bring things right up to speed. Watch this space!

So lastly - but not leastly - I would like to raise a slice of this delicious cherry cake, to all of you who have supported Leaff - clients, fans and anybody who has spent any of their time reading my posts, whether that has been on here, Facebook or Twitter. I would also like to raise a slice to myself, because we should always recognise our own hard work and achievements - and lastly to Jay, for the amazingly exciting years that we have to come at Leaff!
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