20 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas to you all - we hope that you have a really peaceful break. The studio is now closed, and will re-open on Thursday 2nd January 2014.

Thank you all for your continued support this year, it's meant so much with all of our little adjustments - here's to a very exciting New Year ahead for Leaff!

17 December 2013

It's All About Goodwill

This month has been all about goodwill. The wheels were set in motion by our recent fundraising campaign for baby Joseph, and at any rate, if you can't think of others at Christmas, when can you?

Like a lot of us, we often feel too strapped for cash to give to charity, but at Christmas, we make a
point of it. As much as it is the time of year where we all really take time to appreciate our friends and family, it is just as much the time of year that we take a minute to really think about those less fortunate - and give.

This year feels special because it is our first as a little family of 3, and the first Christmas of traditions
- old and new. We have been excited to purchase certain items that Charlie will grow to love, and to warmly associate with Christmas, but above all of the 'pretty', the most important tradition is deep down inside - the gift of giving. How important that is to people who don't have the things we have, or the lives we have, and what a difference it makes to them. So we felt extra proud this year to be shopping for the local shelters - even though Charlie doesn't understand what we are doing right now, he will in time, and it will be as big a part of Christmas as the fire guard with the flying santa on it.

05 December 2013

So long, Autumn...

Incase you hadn't noticed, we have transformed into our Winter glory! I do love our rich and festive winter red, and this season does represent much change for us too...

Croome Court, Worcestershire, Autumn 2013 (taken by us).

I'm a bit sad to see Autumn pass for another year - my very favourite season. I love the colour it brings, the first crisp air of the year, and the low light at dusk casting the most beautiful sunsets and long shadows. It was a great season for us this year, being able to show Charlie all that it offers, as well as celebrating both mine and Jay's 30th Birthdays, which felt really momentous (and frightening at the same time!). But most importantly for Leaff, it was the season that I officially finished my maternity leave.

It has taken me until now to properly announce this, because it doesn't really feel like much has changed. I'm still only in the studio now and then, depending completely on Charlie's ever-changing nap routine, and most of my time in the studio is spread across evenings and weekends. Since we are not putting Charlie into nursery, this is the way it will remain until the Spring - more on that to come in due course - but for now I am really enjoying submerging myself gradually back into more work, and we have just taken on a few new and exciting projects to get our teeth into.

Now the season of cheer is upon us, and as far as traditions go, Christmas is our favourite. We have already begun to enjoy mulled wine by our log fire, soulful evening meals, and the halls have been decked (or 'hall' as the case may be) - the house now suitably resembles a grotto! 

It is an inspiring time of year for good will, and I think we have kicked it off well with our recent fundraising efforts for baby Joseph. Good deeds always enhance my drive in all areas of my life, and I feel a renewed sense of energy - despite the sleep deprivation that we are still under a cloak of! The New Year will mark the beginning of the changes for Leaff - there is so much excitement to come, and I cannot wait to share it with you all.

04 December 2013

For Joseph - Money Raised

Above - Recent follow-up article, featured in Worcester News.

I'm sure that you will all remember the recent fundraising effort that we embarked on, to raise money for locally abandoned baby, Joseph (if not, catch up on this here).

Our campaign has recently come to an end, and having totted up the grand total of money raised, we are pleased to say that we are now looking to transfer £58.00 into Joseph's account. Quite a modest sum, but it is £58.00 that he didn't have before, and we are overwhelmingly grateful to all of the public who have helped to raise this money for Joseph - we are thrilled!

We would also like to take a moment to thank Ian of Worcester News, and Popi of Mangojuice Gallery for all of their help in making this campaign possible - we couldn't have done it without you!

31 October 2013

This is Halloween

'This is Halloween' - as the soundtrack goes for one of my favourite films, The Nightmare Before Christmas! Finally, after years of salivating over other people's fantastical creations, I have found 
a couple of hours to create my own.

Spooky bunting and frenzied black bats adorn both fire places, while large black pom poms hang mysteriously over the dining room table. Jay's carved pumpkin makes a sinister centre piece, while witches brooms and cobwebbed pumpkin buckets, with treats hidden in, lay scattered about the 
rooms. Even the fruit has turned evil!

Charlie is a little young to appreciate his mum's crazy creative efforts at this stage, but he will grow 
to love them I'm sure! And in the meantime, my thirst for fantasy and magic has been quenched, 
as we spend this halloween in our very own spooky world. Mwah ha ha!

31 August 2013

For Joseph...

Some of you will remember our Facebook share of a fairly recent news story in the local area, about a day-old baby boy, who was abandoned on a door step in Worcester. It really struck a nerve with us, especially having recently had a baby boy ourselves, and we really wanted to do something for him.

We have been following the story avidly via Worcester News, and after finding out that the council had set up a bank account for him, we had the idea of donating some of our stock to raise money for him. With the great relationship that we have with Popi over at Mangojuice Gallery (our Worcester stockist), we were able to team up with her on this idea too, which was just fantastic.

So this week, we got to work and packaged up a number of our baby cards to sell as both single new baby cards, and packs of birth announcements, and took them down to Mangojuice to be set up. While we were there, we met up with photographer John, and senior reporter Ian, of Worcester News, to tell them all about it, so that they could help us to get the idea out into the community.

This morning, we collected our copy of Worcester News, and were bowled over by the fact that not only were we featured in what was practically a full page spread on page 3, but we were also pulled out as a lead story on the cover too! We really want to take this opportunity to say how incredibly grateful we are to Worcester News, for their tremendous help and generosity in covering our story so spectacularly - we said it to Ian a number of times, but we really wouldn't have been able to do this without the paper's involvement. Thank you so much!

Every single penny of the money raised from the purchase of these cards will go to Joseph, and we really hope that the local community will feel motivated to go into Mangojuice for their congratulatory / announcement cards. There definitely feels like there is a bit of a baby boom at the moment, so we are hoping that there will be plenty of people with a need for this kind of thing! So please, please make sure you take your money to Mangojuice, and make your money go further - not only will you be buying someone a really unique new baby card, or giving out some really special announcement cards for your own new arrival, but you will be safeguarding the future of an innocent little baby, who is certainly not as lucky as the baby you are celebrating.

We will of course keep you informed on how we get on with this - we plan to run this for 2 months, (until the end of October) or until stocks last. We just hope there is an impressive amount to tell you about at the end of it.

26 July 2013

Leaff Turns 3!

We can hardly believe where the time has gone, but yes, today, Leaff has turned 3 - and in more ways than one!

The last 3 years have been a whirlwind, and especially this last and third year, where we have added to our family. Charlie has brought so much more creative energy to our days, and even more drive for us to get things developing even further with Leaff.

We have been rather quiet on our social pages since Charlie's birth - working away on projects, while finding our way through this new world of parenthood has pretty much taken up every minute of our time, as you can imagine. Nevertheless, we have big plans unfolding in the background for Leaff, which we cannot wait to share with you all in the New Year. We will be able to share more and more about this with you as time unfolds.

Finally, we really want to thank you all greatly, for sticking with us. Your support, encouragement and loyalty means the world to us, as we navigate through these changes, and eventually out the other end! We really wouldn't be where we are without our wonderful clients and followers - all of whom we class as friends. So here's to you all, and another big year for Leaff!

21 June 2013

Should we go veggie?

We have always been very conscious of our impact on the environment, and taken it very seriously - especially when it came to renovating our home and building our studio, which then followed through to the way we ran our home and business. Recycling, composting, maintaining a low energy consumption, and practising a no-waste attitude.

But when it comes to what we eat, Jay and I have had countless in-depth discussions about our thoughts on going veggie. There are no two ways about it, we really do enjoy eating meat - we have always eaten it - but the biggest obstacle has been to figure out the impact that going veggie might have on our bodies - positive or negative. We never got around to that research before I fell pregnant, and then it was on hold for the well being of baby and I, and since then the breast feeding has put me off still.

When I think about it, we really are huge hypocrites, because we are both the kind of people that are massively against any form of animal killing or cruelty - and this goes as far as saving snails from
getting squashed in the middle of pavements, and ushering flies out the window, rather that swatting them. We are proud of our respect for the creatures around us - after all, what would this world be without them? We all contribute in some way to our environment - I whole heartedly believe that - so I just feel ashamed that we haven't put this into practise with the way that we eat, until now.

Alas, a couple of weeks ago something happened to me, and I think it may have changed me forever. There was a video on Twitter about the reality of slaughter houses, and without even watching it, I fell into the firm frame of mind that I was done with meat. It is true what they say - out of sight, out of mind
- and I think this is entirely to blame for my hypocrisy. Meat eating is so engrained in our culture and everyday life, and I just hadn't been willing to accept the truth about what it really was and where it
came from.

Emotions aside, since I'm breast feeding, I am taking the transition very seriously, and very dubiously finishing up the remaining meat and fish products we have in our kitchen so that there is nothing left.
In my transition, I have been researching this whole for and against meat-eating argument, to figure out what the natural thing really is - are we naturally meat eaters? I feel it necessary to do this, since what
I eat (or don't eat) will affect Charlie and the future children that we have.

Are we naturally vegetarian?

As hard as I find it to accept, the fact is that it is part of nature for a lot of animals to kill and eat each other - it's the circle of life. But what I wonder is, are we part of this? Is it in our nature to be a part of
that chain and eat fellow animals?

I found a lot written about how we have evolved from having much larger jaws, perfectly adapted for plant eating, to much smaller jaws, as they are today, where they have evolved to accommodate our change in diet to meat eating. We have seemed to have had an increasing need for some kind of intervention, to straighten or rearrange our teeth to fit into our mouths as they should, which of course helps to support this theory. Furthermore, we now have no use for our appendix, whose specific purpose was to break down things like grass and leaves.

Theory aside, we are hardly built to hunt are we? We have no huge claws to catch prey with, and instead we have always had to create our own weapons out of materials. No other animal who eats meat does this - they seem to be built for the job - which gives me more reason to believe that we are naturally veggies.

Obviously there are arguments against all of this too, and some parts of these got me thinking...

What about evolution?

So we know that all animals adapt and evolve. It's natural. So does this mean that the fact that we have evolved to eat meat is a natural thing too? Our bodies have changed to enable our change in diet, and so I wonder if this is reversible? Is it good for our bodies to do a u turn? It's not only our jaws that are said to have evolved, but the way that our bodies deal with food too - breaking down and absorption.

I wonder if we have become so advanced with our world domination, that it is hard to say what is natural any more. We look at other animals and their behaviour and study it as natural - but natural to what?
We control species with culling and pollute the air we breath, and that really doesn't feel like natural behaviour. I think that we have to take responsibility for our intelligence and use it to do better.

Is it all just a big contradiction?

We were watching Springwatch the other night, where a weasel was invading a birds nest and snatching the chicks away for food. Chris Packham then went on to say how difficult it is for us to see things like this, but that it's all just natures way, and the weasel probably had babies of it's own to feed. It really made me think about the fact that we find this kind of thing so hard to accept, yet we are more than happy for a lamb or a calf to be taken away from it's mother and slaughtered so that we can indulge.
We don't even need it to survive like the weasel did, since there are so many other foods out there that cover the same vitamins and minerals found in meat and fish.

This whole contradiction has been recently highlighted by people like Jamie Oliver, who is always keen for people to really think about where their food comes from, and how it gets to their plate, and this is
the really key thing here I think. If we all did this, I think that the vast majority of us would be veggie.

It is true that animals seem to have become a product to us - we selfishly control their lives to benefit ourselves. We capture, intervene with breeding, steal away young and shamelessly take lives. So is
this all just a product of the hugely greedy species that we have become?

Debate open!

01 May 2013

New Creative Challenges

So it's been a while since I last found time to blog, but here I am, new iPad in hand, finally able to write from the confines of the sofa!

Being a new mum has certainly set me up with lots of new challenges - mainly the fact that I spend much of my days on the sofa feeding - a huge change from my otherwise crazy-busy days. There are some pretty obvious creative things that I have done over the last few months, like teaching Charlie how to play, smile, touch, settle - all completely magical and enormously rewarding - and some not so obviously creative, like learning how to grab a brew in-between feeds and getting rather good at using my left hand!

So as you can probably see, I am not yet at a point where I have been able to do any of those creative personal projects that I had lined up. So instead and for now, I have signed myself up for a charity event which involves a rather long walk of 10 miles. Usually this would be a piece of cake for me, as I'm fit and active generally, but having only recently fully recovered from my labour, I'd say I'm pretty out of shape by now.

Having experienced the many intense emotions that come with being a new mum - mainly how precious and fragile life suddenly feels - I really wanted to give something back. I feel overwhelmingly lucky to have such a healthy little baby, and I know that for a lot of parents this isn't always the case. The small number of charities that this walk is in aid of each provide help and support to families in this situation, with poorly babies and children. If you would like to support me in this walk, visit my Just Giving page here to find out more and sponsor me. The event is taking place on the 7th July 2013 and I will have this link up on our Facebook page shortly.

As for things at Leaff, despite the many balls that are currently being juggled, we are continuing to work hard on a number of projects, and things are developing well, if a bit more slowly than before. Our website for example, has had to take a bit of a back seat while we focus on these projects, but plans are still developing and we are as excited as ever about the future, and unveiling the many bits and pieces we have going on.

06 February 2013

Time to get organised...

We have been using my last few weeks at Leaff before my maternity leave, to get organised and
tidy things up a bit, and this has involved making some important decisions...

Our Shop

You may or may not have noticed that yesterday, links to our online shop disappeared from our
website, Facebook page and here on our blog. This is because we made the decision to close the
shop - for the time being at least. But it was a happy decision!

Our online shop was a bit of a test at the time, when we first launched our stationery range - the idea being of course, for it to showcase our products and get them out there into the world. However, what
we didn't anticipate, was that we would end up doing so well with stockists, and having our products selling in so many beautiful boutiques and galleries around the country. After months of monitoring things, we found that in fact, our business with our stockists was actually doing better than our
online sales.

So with this in mind, along with the fact that the online shop was an overhead every month - as well
as the fact that we are turning things down a notch while I am on leave over the next 'x' amount of months - it seemed an obvious decision to make. We will instead be continuing to take trade orders
from our lovely existing stockists, as well as new ones, and to keep my creativity going while I am
on leave, I plan to be working on developing our stationery range - something we have been meaning
to turn our attention to for a while. There are a number of ideas that we have for a variety of new
products, so there really are exciting times ahead!

If you know of any shops that you think would be a good match for our cards - or if you are indeed
a shop yourself that would like to become a stockist - then we would really love to hear from you.
Get in touch here.

Our letterpressed 'Garden Bird' range.

Our Website

As well as the changes we have made with the shop, you may remember me mentioning that we have
been working on a complete overhaul of our website. This is a huge project for us, and while we had
been working hard to launch it by last month, we had an unexpected amount of projects in at the last minute which of course took priority. Alas, our deadline was missed.

We are still continuing to work on the new site, and things are going well, but we have decided to take
the pressure off ourselves a bit now, and just launch it when we can. As with anything, it is best to take the time to get it right, rather than rushing it, and since I will be on leave for a while, instead it might be lovely to have a big launch a bit closer to when I am perhaps looking to return to the studio.

I am very excited about the next year and what it will bring - I have big plans to make good use of my maternity leave, and turn my attention to tidying things up that we just haven't had time to look at for
a while. It will be good for my soul and brilliant for Leaff, so by the time I return things will certainly be bigger and better than ever!

31 January 2013

Studio Time: Jess Green, Brand Development

For what could possibly be my last post for a little while, I thought I would share a very recent project with you all. It was a bright, fun, and energetic brand development that we created for a new Social
Media & Digital Marketing Training company - Jess Green, Digital Diva.

Jess needed a brand that represented what her sociable new business was all about - friendly, innovative, expert, proactive, dynamic, fun, edgy, exciting and sexy - and that would appeal to her young, female audience of confident and passionate small business owners.

We had so much fun developing her vibrant, memorable brand, which is every bit as energetic as
Jess is herself....

This was a great project to work on, and a great opportunity for me to channel my abundance of creative energy, that seems to have increased throughout my pregnancy. It also inspired my current love of bright colour, and stimulated a deep sense of excitement about the vibrant season ahead.

18 January 2013

Baby Leaff - 'The Plan'

As requested by a few of our lovely fans: The most recent picture of bump, taken last month.

It is officially 2 weeks today until my due date, and I am feeling like it is the right time to release this post and outline 'The Plan' for what will happen at Leaff when the time comes. We have touched on 
this before in a previous post, but we really wanted to give full details so that everybody knows what 
is happening.

The Vital Moment

As most of you probably already know - either from previous posts or our Facebook and Twitter pages - I am still working like the clappers, and am not planning to stop until I actually go into labour. When this vital moment comes, Leaff will immediately shut, and will stay shut for the 2 weeks following. These 2 weeks will obviously be the beginning of my maternity leave and will complete Jay's paternity leave.

There After

Once the 2 weeks are up, Leaff will re-open, and Jay will be taking the reins. Having said this, Jay will only be in the studio for 1 day a week, which will be the time he will use for corresponding and working on projects, so our availability will be reduced quite significantly.

Business will be very much as usual however, where we will continue to take on projects, but just not quite as many. As long as deadlines can be flexible and we are realistic with the time we have to work 
on projects, then everything should run pretty smoothly.

As for me, I will have a set amount of 'work time' that I can use during my leave, but I will really be taking a back seat entirely until I find my feet at least. I will still be overseeing things, and working as a team with Jay, but this will be very much in the background.

The Future

I am entitled to up to approximately 39 weeks maternity leave, and whether I take all of that or not remains to be seen, but what I do know is that Leaff will continue to grow and flourish no matter what I decide and how long I take. We will endeavour to keep you all informed of developments and changes as and when they happen of course, and you will by no means be seeing the back of me, since I fully intend to use my time to blog as often as I can, and to keep in touch on Facebook and Twitter alongside Jay.

11 January 2013

Studio Update

With 3 weeks to go until our precious bundle arrives, it's all go in the studio on our open projects
- you'd think we would be slowing down, but it's really the opposite with all of this creative energy I have!

This week I've been hard at work on a vibrant new brand for Jess Green Digital Diva, and website design visuals for Cottontails Baby as part of their re-brand, to be launched next month. Aside from
this, we have a couple of wedding stationery projects that are still in full flow, and growing more beautiful by the minute. We have so much to share in the coming months!

To top this off, Jay is in full swing with the build of our new website, which we are planning to launch this month. We're so excited about this, as it has been brought right up to speed with where Leaff is now and really shows how far we have come. Watch this space!

02 January 2013

A New Year - Resolutions 2013

Well here we are - another New Year and so much ahead of us. Some people may be feeling the January blues beginning to bubble up inside of them, but we always find it such an energetic time of year, with so much positivity in the air.

Every New Year's Eve, we make a point of settling down to write our New Year's resolutions, and to reflect on our achievements over the past year. It is such a therapeutic thing to do, and as the clock strikes midnight at the birth of the New Year, it feels momentous as we toast to all that has been and
all that is to come.

This year is certainly going to be the biggest yet for us personally, as we are now less than 5 weeks away from welcoming our baby into the world and entering the very new world of parenthood. With this in mind, we have some really solid personal goals for this year, and we are in no doubt that these will have a massive impact on Leaff too.

Of course we feel a little anxious about how we will handle things with Leaff, and what this year will look like for the business that we have worked so hard to build over the last 2 years, but we also feel confident about where we are heading. We both thrive on challenge, and are instead feeling most excited and positive about what is to come. What could be more inspiring than watching your baby grow - what could be more of an adventure?! With all of this in mind, here are our 4 main business related goals for this year.

• To launch our new website this month.
• To succeed at keeping Leaff developing and moving forward throughout the year.
• To learn new skills that will nurture our creativity.
• To share our journey of becoming new parents while running a business.

I hope that you found a quiet moment to reflect on your achievements over the last year, and to set yourself up for the new one with a clear set of positive goals. Some may say that goal setting like this is a negative thing to do, since some may seem unachievable, but I would challenge that. In my mind the phrase 'If it is to be, it is up to me' sums it up perfectly - if you never try, you will never achieve anything, so think big! How dull life would be without a challenge.
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