Style

Freshly Baked Clothing

I first met Lesley Buchanan, the founder of Freshly Baked Clothing when we worked together in the clothing store Next in Edinburgh. Working part-time and in my final year at university, it was coming close to my graduation ball and I started to think about a dress for the special occasion.

I spotted a photograph on-line (below, left) of a beautiful dress designed by Monique Lhullier, and I just loved the colour and the movement in the dress. I knew straight away that because I had this in mind, I wouldn’t be able to find one similar in the shops and would need to look at getting it personally made. This was when I recalled Lesley mentioning her clothing business she runs from home and I therefore decided to ask her for some help.

After a long discussion, a few fittings and some material shopping, Lesley produced the perfect one-off dress for me in plenty of time for my ball.

It has been over a year now since I graduated and (sadly) left Edinburgh. Recently, I decided to get back in touch with Lesley to find out how her business is doing and what it is that inspires her designs.

Hello Lesley! It has been a while since we last spoke. As you know I was very pleased with my ball gown, and I am now intrigued to find out how your business is coming along. For those that are only being introduced to Freshly Baked, can you describe the brand in a few sentences for me?

Hello, I’m glad you liked it! Well I suppose my sales pitch for the clothing line would be; Freshly Baked is clothing for your true self. Quirky, cool and individual. Cast of the mundane and embrace the unique. Freshly Baked doesn’t shy away from colour, print or style. Be proud to be yourself.

Straight to the point then! When was it that you decided to go it alone? 

I started Freshly Baked in 2005, just as I was leaving VV Rouleaux and starting work as a Computer Pattern Cutter/Grader at Alexandra Workwear. I take great pride in the fact that I don’t just design the garments but also create them and the patterns too. This is a lot of work but it is also one of the reasons that my garments all have ‘Made In Scotland’ labels inside of them.

A lot of work indeed. What was it that inspired you to start-up a clothing brand?

At college I had gained both my NC and HND in Clothing Technology and Manufacture and went to work for VV Rouleaux, a ribbons and trimmings emporium. At this point I also started working on my own designs and I was lucky to have one of my designs featured in The Herald magazine. Since my work was being noticed, I thought that this was a good time to start-up on my own and fulfil my dream. Having previously worked for a supermarket on the hot food counter, I was always intrigued by the bakery section and the ‘Freshly Baked’ motto. An idea suddenly hit me; if cakes and bread can be ‘freshly baked’ then why not clothing?

That is an interesting concept. Who would you say is your typical target customer?

The people who I like to see wearing my designs are those who aren’t afraid to be themselves and like to express themselves through their clothing and fashion choices. Truthfully, I don’t have a specific age bracket for my designs, as long as you feel comfortable and confident wearing my designs then I’m happy.

Who or what is your main source of inspiration for your designs?

I would say that my main source of inspiration is anything, anyone and everything. I can be inspired by a swatch of wallpaper, a blood-red sunset, or a passing image in a magazine or newspaper. Inspiration can strike me at any time and any place. I am also greatly inspired by vintage couture, the 30’s through to the 50’s, and especially Edith Head, the much awarded and revered Hollywood costume designer. I especially adore her work on Hitchcock films such as The Birds with Tippi Hedren, Rear Window with the wonderful Grace Kelly and Marnie, also one of Hedren’s films. Recently I’ve been inspired by romance novel covers and romantic heroines. Cue a lot of damsels in distress, swooning maidens, heaving bosoms and full sweeping skirts!

Grace Kelly in Rear Window

Grace Kelly in Rear Window

Costume Designer, Edith Head

Costume Designer, Edith Head

 

If you could pick a celebrity to endorse your clothing, who would it be and why? 

I would love to see Kat Dennings from Thor and Two Broke Girls in my designs. She has a fabulous figure, all lush curves and a confidence and natural beauty that sets her apart from other girls her age. I also love Jessica Szohr from Gossip Girl as she is absolutely stunning and has a beautiful figure. Jennifer Lawrence is also another pick, as well as Olivia Wilde and Chloe Grace Moretz. All gorgeous girls that I feel embody the Freshly Baked way of life and are full of confidence, joy and individuality. In my designs I aim to promote a healthy, happy body image. Size is not the issue, it’s about how confident you feel and what you feel you can achieve in them.

Well said! These girls most definitely do not lack in beauty! Where do you see Freshly Baked in 5 years time?

In five years time I would love to see my clothing line on the catwalk at any one of the prestigious fashion weeks: London, New York, Paris or Milan. I would like to have an established, well-known and respected label that I would love to see featured in a main publication such as Elle, Cosmopolitan or Vogue. Fame is not important for me but respect and being known as a credible and influential designer is what matters to me. Having a successful and well run business is my main goal.

Aim high – that’s my advice! What advice would you give to someone else hoping to start-up on their own?

I would advise anyone starting up their own business not to give up. You will definitely have days, maybe even weeks or months where you feel that you aren’t getting anywhere, that nothing seems to be working or going right for you, but trust me if you stick at it then you WILL succeed. I’m still going for it after 8 years of trying and I refuse to give up. I know that if I stick at it and work really hard then I will get where I want to be.

Focus on what you want and go for it but never forget to breathe and take some time for yourself. Also, never be afraid to ask for help. Your family and friends will be more than willing to help you should you ever need it. Take enjoyment from the little things that happen, have pride in any and all successes that you will have and take some time to really enjoy what you are doing. As the saying goes, the only person holding you back from success is yourself. So reach for the stars and never look back.

Do you have any other projects on-going at the moment?

I have started work on my second label, Hope Clothing named after my Great Grandmother Hope, and after hope itself. Hope is very different from Freshly Baked, as it is my evening and bridal wear label. Hope has very clean lines, simple styles and the fabrics are more of a feature here. Luscious silks and taffetas, and various colours ranging from the softest pink to the darkest midnight blue. Hope is about having hope and not giving up, revelling in your dreams and aspirations and enjoying life and love.

I decided to add a second label to my line as I felt that I was trying to do too much in one label. While Freshly Baked is mostly day wear with the occasional evening dress, Hope is mainly special occasion and bridal. The target market for Hope is very much the same as Freshly Baked but obviously this is more aimed at special occasions such as weddings, proms and graduations balls as you know yourself!

I also have plans to add a menswear collection to the line within the next year or so too. I am going to invest in a new sewing machine which will enable me to start working properly with jersey and T-shirts garments. I am hopeful that my designs will be accepted within the fashion industry and that people will find them interesting, enjoyable and most importantly, wearable.  There wouldn’t be much point in designing and making garments if no-one wanted to wear them!

Interested in Lesley’s designs? Then get in touch at:

Freshly Bakedlesley

E: freshlybakedclothing@yahoo.co.uk

T: 07791 478 660

Follow @FBakedclothing on Twitter

Hope Clothing

E: hope_clothing@yahoo.co.uk

T: 07791 478 660

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Out & About

Country Living Christmas Fair

It’s an annual tradition of mine to attend the Country Living Christmas Fair at the SECC in Glasgow. Each year I divulge into the Christmas spirit by checking out all of the beautiful decorations and gifts that are on offer, amongst the numerous and creatively thought-out stands. Here were some of my favourites:

Cari & Co.

This stand was full of quirky fashion and home accessories from scarves, cuffs, bolsters and cushions. Cari & Co is an award-winning Aberdeen-based company, where all items are made in Scotland with fine quality fabrics. Workshops are also available for those wishing to improve their craft and dressmaking skills.

Get in touch:

W: http://www.cariandco.com

E: cari@cariandco.com

T: 07729 508 007

Kathleen McAuliffe

Award winning Irish designer, Kathleen McAuliffe has a unique hats and accessories shop in Dingle, Ireland. Her stand was full of beautiful, vintage-style designs – as you can see I had a favourite!

Get in touch:

W: http://www.kathleenmcauliffe.com

E: info@kathleenmcauliffe.com

T: 0669 150 644

Visit Kathleen on Facebook

Horny Beasts

Horny Beasts is a home accessories and soft furnishings company based in the West of Scotland. They specialise in contemporary mounted antler decorations which I just love! If you are stag crazy at the moment (like me) then it is definitely worth taking a look.

Get in touch:

W: http://www.hornybeasts.co.uk

E: info@hornybeasts.co.uk

T: 07779 661474

Bears by Sue Quinn

Sue presented her adorable ‘Hedgehog Corner’ within her stand, full of delightful little hand-made hedgehog characters, complete with various costumes and accessories. Sue uses top quality fabrics such as mohair, alpaca, silk and wool for her hedgehogs and bears, and also carries out a repair service for any damaged teddies.

Get in touch:

W: http://www.bearsbysuequinn.co.uk

E: sue@bearsbysuequinn.co.uk

T: 0141 887 9916

Alphabet Photography

Alphabet Photography is an on-line Canadian company who search for un-staged objects that resemble letters of the English alphabet, creating individual words and a unique piece of art for everyone.

Get in touch:

W: http://www.alphabetphotography.co.uk

E: michael@alphabetphotography.co.uk

T: 07877 413506

Visit Alphabet Photography on Facebook and Twitter.

Leah Halliday

This colourful stand was full of quirky handmade gifts and vintage homewares. Based in the South West of Scotland, Leah finds her inspiration from fabrics, vintage bits and pieces, nostalgic images, ribbons and trims, and many of her gifts are one-off pieces, limited editions or made to order.

Get in touch:

W: http://www.leahhalliday.co.uk

E: hello@leahhalliday.co.uk

T: 07762 138 713

Visit Leah on Facebook and Twitter.

Amanda Mercer

Amanda Mercer

One of my favourite stands at the exhibition, Amanda creates ceramic and porcelain gifts inspired by memories and nostalgia. A graduate in BA Hons Contemporary Applied Arts, Amanda incorporates anything from vintage buttons, scraps of lace, black and white photographs to stamps and letters within her designs, creating unique and beautiful girly gifts.

Get in touch:

W: http://www.amanda-mercer.co.uk

E: info@amanda-mercer.co.uk

T: 07963 781 125

Visit Amanda on Facebook

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Decor

The Alabaster Box

Whilst attending the March Hare Craft & Vintage Market last month – some of you may remember my post on Country & Vintage Finds – there was one particular stand that caught my eye. A stand full of beautiful pieces of upcycled furniture and a unique selection of homeware.

As I took a closer look, each piece appeared to have its own intricate hand-painted detailing, embedding that item with individuality and charm. Beautiful’ was my first thought, my second was, ‘I can’t wait to have my own home where I can include some of these fantastic pieces!’ 

Although owning my own home may be a while away yet, I snapped up a business card sitting neatly on the table, which read The Alabaster Box’

alabasterbox

The Alabaster Box stand at the March Hare Craft & Vintage Market

Based in Aberdeen, Ashley Drain, a graduate in Textile Design discovered a gap in the Aberdeen market for upcycling old furniture. In June this year, Ashley decided to start-up on her own as she realised the demand for these bespoke pieces.

Intrigued by Ashley’s inspiration, I decided to get in touch to find out more…

Hello Ashley! As you know, I first came across The Alabaster Box at the March Hare Market last month, and from then I have been interested to find out more about your unique products.

For those just learning about you and your business, can you briefly describe what it is that you do at The Alabaster Box?

Thanks for getting in touch! At The Alabaster Box I provide a unique range of hand painted vintage furniture and homewares. I take on a range of painting and restoration commissions on clients own furniture from painted kitchens to chairs, tables and dressers. I also offer a soft furnishing service making up curtains, blinds and cushion covers. Alongside this I can provide interior design consultation and inspiration.

'This writing bureau was purchased by a PHD student researching Irish poetry, I couldn't think of a better home for it! Upcycled in country grey & antique white.'

This writing bureau was purchased by a PHD student researching Irish poetry, I couldn’t think of a better home for it!’ Upcycled in country grey & antique white.

Customers own side table upcycling commission in 'Ice Cream' and replacement ceramic knobs.

Customers own side table upcycling commission in ‘Ice Cream’ and replacement ceramic knobs.

What was it that inspired you to start-up the business? 

It has been a dream of mine to start-up my own business for a long time. I’m from a long line of business owners so you could say ‘it’s in the blood’. If I hadn’t pursued my Design degree it would definitely be some kind of business studies as my second choice. I have a degree in Textile Design which I was always very keen to put to use; the perfect opportunity presented itself when I returned to work after having my son. It soon became apparent that the job was no longer working alongside my childcare commitments. Being a mum is my highest priority and so it was important to me to find something that would allow me time for the children, to express my creative talents and to earn money!

'Being a mum is my number one job'

‘Being a mum is my highest priority’

This is where the idea behind The Alabaster Box was born. I began working alongside an upholsterer when I became so busy buying and selling bespoke furniture that I decided to branch out on my own. It was a hobby of mine and so it’s such a pleasure doing it for ‘work’.

Being a full-time mum and running your own business must be difficult! Do you get a helping hand from anyone?

I have a wonderful team of people around me assisting and supporting me in my business aims.

'My three year old daughter Sofia likes to get in on the restoration action!'

‘My three year old daughter Sofia likes to get in on the restoration action!’

My husband is an amazing support, helping to lug furniture from restoration yards and putting up with all my painting mess! My wonderful family and friends have been such a blessing. Always on hand to help out with the kids whilst I attend craft fairs, customer appointments and scout for pieces. I couldn’t do it without them all.

Describe a typical day in the studio?

I usually start the day by having a quick gander around all of the local charity shops. I always have a stock of furniture ready for painting and sometimes commission pieces waiting for a lick of paint. So it’s mostly full of painting, sanding and waxing. There’s always the dreaded paperwork to go through at the end of the day, then catching up with emails and updating the Facebook page.

What are the best and worst parts of the job? 

I love to see a customers face once their piece of furniture has had a makeover and it’s a great feeling you get when you make a sale, or an important contact.

'One of my favourite pieces this went to a lovely customer who was using it in the nursery to sway her baby to sleep.'

‘One of my favourite pieces this went to a lovely customer who was using it in the nursery to sway her baby to sleep.’

Not so nice parts are carrying and transporting furniture from one place to another, and it can be a loooong day at a fair if you’re not making sales or it’s particularly quiet. I do often find though that I always make contacts at fairs which lead to future sales. All in all, there are much more pros than cons.

One contact being me of course! But apart from me, who would you describe as being your primary target audience? 

My target audience is shabby-chic lovers, from young professionals to the more mature customer. Everyone seems to love shabby-chic these days! It seems that with less disposable income people are keen to re-use and upcycle furniture they already have. Many people like the idea of old pieces of furniture being re-loved and put back into circulation.

Upcycled antique chair

Antique Chair upcycled in 'Ice Cream' and upholstered in Duck Egg blue

Antique chair upcycled in ‘Ice Cream’ and upholstered in Duck Egg blue

Who or what is your main source of inspiration?

The furniture itself is an inspiration; I love period furniture and properties. The Victorians and Georgians were so elaborate with their designs which makes some of the antique pieces a joy to work on. Even replica pieces have their own beauty. When I see pieces with intricate woodwork and delicate carvings it helps to inspire me on colour and paint technique to bring out the best in the piece. I have a passion for design, particularly interior design, so I often draw from current trends to help pick up pieces and choose on-trend colour combinations.

'Customers own dressing table done as a commission in 'Antique White' and dark wax'

Customers own dressing table done as a commission in ‘Antique White’ and dark wax

I suppose passion definitely helps drive the business and trigger inspiration! Where do you see The Alabaster Box in 5 years time? 

I would love to have my own shop selling furniture and homewares, as well as offering an interior design service. I would also plan to expand my range of home accessories if I had a shop!

Soon, I will offer chalk paint classes which should begin early next year for anyone who is interested in learning.

Chalk paint

Chalk paint can be purchased from The Alabaster Box

At the moment I sell the chalk paint by mail order but I would eventually like to stock it in the shop. I am currently working on a website which I hope to launch in the next few months. There’s lots of vision for the future and if the business continues to grow the way it has in these initial months then it’s achievable.

What advice would you give to someone sharing your passion and hoping to start-up on their own?

Solidify your idea; it’s important to really know your product/service before you put it to market. Seek out help – Business Gateway offers a free business support service to start-up and established businesses. The standard of the service is high and completely free so I would highly recommend it, I even obtained funding from them to help start-up. There are many avenues to get assistance/funding so don’t be shy, ask around.

Where to spot Ashley next:

The Alabaster Box features within at least one craft fair each month. The next one will be held on Saturday 23rd November in Laurencekirk.

Craft Fair items

Craft Fair items

For more information, or to find out about The Alabaster Box products, contact Ashley on the following:

T: 07835 556 221

E: thealabasterbox@live.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thealabasterboxuk

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thealabasterboxuk

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Out & About

Every Last Detail

Every Last Detail, an events and gifts company based in Fife, celebrate their 1st birthday tomorrow. Looking back on the year, I interview Laura Poole, director and founder, to find out what it is that inspires her.

Hi Laura, in your own words, can you explain to me what it is that Every Last Detail do?

We are involved in event planning and marketing for various occasions from general to retail events. We can plan and cater for the following:

General Birthday, New Baby, Christening, Engagement, Stag/Hen Party, Wedding, Fundraiser Event, New Store Opening, Dinner/Cocktail Party or Night Club VIP.

Depending on requirements, we will organise the venue, decorations, performers, catering, games, transportation and invitations. As well as event planning we also sell handmade gifts and decorations to fit any occasion; wedding, new baby, and so on. 

That sounds like a lot of planning! What inspired you to start-up Every Last Detail?

I’ve always been quite crafty but I started by making the props for the visual displays in Officers Club where I work part-time, and it just grew from there really!

Describe a typical day in the office?

First thing I check my emails and Facebook for comments and orders. Then I go through the order book to see which orders are next in line, make a start on them, then do a bit of research which usually takes me to lunch time. Lunch for me usually consists of chips, cheese & curry sauce and numerous cups of coffee! If I’m working in Officers Club then everything has to wait until 6pm, which means a late night for me. Throughout the day I’m also checking Facebook, blogs and Pinterest for inspiration and ideas!

A busy day then, how many of you are on the Every Last Detail team? Or are you a one-man band?

It’s just myself, if I’m unwell or away on holiday then my mum looks after the Facebook page for me and occasionally my boyfriend gets roped into doing some proof reading and framing.

I’m sure he enjoys that! What are the best and worst parts of the job?

The best is working with different people every day and seeing the finished product. The worst is the late nights! Having Rhys, my 4 year old can be tiring as he’s a ball of fire!

Who or what is your main source of inspiration for your products and event ideas? 

A lot of my products are trial and error! If I’m at a friend’s house I’m constantly checking out their decor. I also visit markets, high street shops, charity shops or even IKEA. I’ll see something and my mind will go off on one thinking about how I could create something similar or work on it to make it better.

Where do you see Every Last Detail in 5 years time? 

I’m currently looking into leasing a unit so I can hopefully open a store of my own, meaning I can leave my part-time job and work for myself. Hopefully in 5 years I will have a good-sized shop and a hard-working team who share my passion and enthusiasm for this type of job.

What advice would you give to someone else hoping to start-up on their own?

Go in with an open mind, always be professional but with personality and learn to take criticism. Also, as soon as you stop enjoying it that’s when you know it’s not for you.

At the moment, Laura works from home but has provided some product examples below:

Event Material

Word Clouds

Cards

*New baby & cute as a button cards £3.50 each or 2 for £5. Xmas cards start at £2 each or 6 for £10

Record Frames

*Single record £20 or album record £25

Scrabble Frames

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*price varies depending on number of names

Personalised Pillows

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*£20 for 30cm x 30cm, or £27 for 40cm x 40cm

Fancy hosting an Every Last Detail party?

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For more information on these products, please contact Every Last Detail directly on:

Email: everylastdetailfife@hotmail.co.uk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/everylast.detail.7

Telephone: 07881 309 366

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