Festival season is officially here and we couldn't be more excited! Lazy evenings in a field by a campfire, the soundtrack of bands we love or have never heard of, old friends, new faces and the perfect excuse to dance all night in our welly boots.
This weekend is one of our favourite festivals in Brighton, Paddle Round the Pier, which is the world's biggest free beach and water sports festival. With so much going on in the water, it is easy to forget that there are so many stalls and activities happening across the beach on Hove Lawns. Local businesses showcase their food, crafts and creations alongside some amazing performers, dancers and musicians. There is even a ukelele stage and a kids stage for your little ones.
The festival starts on Saturday 1st July until Sunday 2nd July and raises money for charities such as the RNLI. Find out more on their website -
With festivals across the country throughout the summer, we have the perfect selection of goodies to complement the season and add colour to your campsite. This perfect pompom makeup bag is the ideal size for all of your glamping essentials...
I dont know about you but I can never find the way back to my tent, so this colourful tassel bunting is the ideal solution! Draped across your tent or campsite for some festival chic (and never get lost again!)
Festival season can definitely mean unpredictable weather, and although the rain is never far away, we can never be too sure the sun won't appear either! Just in case it does (and by some chance we get too hot!) this organic rose mist is perfect for freshening up and can be used on your face, body (or to revive your tent after a hot night!). With a beautiful subtle perfume which smells just like the English countryside you can stay fresh as the morning air (well, almost!).
If you're going away this summer, these alpaca luggage tags ensure you won't miss your bag on the carousel...so Alpaca Your Bags and go!
Whatever the summer brings, we hope you have a wonderful time! Everything in this collection can be bought online and posted to you, giftwrapped, within a few days. Visit the collection here.
It is nearly time to celebrate our third birthday since Little Beach Boutique moved to the North Laine (Wuhoo! More on that soon...)
Before moving here in 2014, Little Beach Boutique was a restored fishermans arch on Brighton Beach (picture below with Dylan-dog).
I was there for a year, selling my glassware for the first ever time, having left my previous career as a support worker to follow a dream of making a living from my hobby.
It was an enormous change and I learnt a lot in that year! I found the adjustment to self-employment a really challenging shift and wrote a blog post reflecting on the 'learning curve'.
Fast forward four more years and I think those 'top-ten tips' still ring truer than ever. I have copied it here for you to read. I would love it to be of use to other people thinking of a career change, and it would be great to hear what you would add to the list.
So here it is, my blog post from 2013 reflecting on that first year-I'd love to know what would be on your list...
Ten Lessons Learned from a Year of Self-Employment
It’s a year ago today that I left my relatively 9-5 job to become self-employed. Working for a women's charity during a double-dip recession, I seemed to be under a seemingly infinite redundancy notice and I decided to take the plunge into a scared new world.
The word ‘plunge’ seems about apt for what felt like a massive launch out of my comfort zone. For the first two months, when I said ‘self-employed’, I would use my index-fingers to illustrate apostrophes, as, perhaps, what I had really intended to convey was that I saw myself as ‘un-employed’.
My ‘self-employment’ involved making kiln-formed glass which I would sell in a converted fishermans arch on the beach. It had been a hobby-I sold a few pieces on Etsy-but I had decided to try to make a living from it, so this meant trying to make an income from my creativity.
I had to learn how to run a business (fast!)
The first few months were really hard; customers were a lesser spotted species. It seemed I had no idea how isolating self-employment could be, and also how I needed to do much more than open my doors and wait for people to come in. With no 'team' to buffer or support me, I soon started to feel demoralised.
Ideas, incentive and money all started to dry up.
Most days I would feel total panic at having left a fairly well-paid, albeit unpredictable, job in a profession that gave me structure, identity – and, above all, a team of people around me, to go into one that depended on self-motivation and creativity when I seemed to be losing both.
Thankfully, something shifted a couple of months in. I got into a routine of sorts and started to let go of the self-doubt. Things did improve, people came into the shop, bought the things I was making, and I found some momentum, learned when to let go and adapted to having a working life that wasn’t built around the same structure as before. I started to accept that self-employment is always so unpredictable – some days would be really, really good, and some would be bad.
So, I thought I would write down a few lessons that I think helped this shift. I wanted to share what I learnt with anybody who might find/have found themselves in a similar situation – basically shrouded in self-doubt at having made the same decision!
In no particular order...
1 – Stay positive about what you do, even if others aren’t. Especially if others aren’t.
2 – Find a peer group so you’re not alone. There are so many forums and networking opportunities out there for people who work on their own, in any profession.
3 – Take the bad with the good. One bad day doesn’t have to generate a bad week.
4 – Be a fair boss to yourself – imagine how you would talk to an employee and question whether you would treat them in the same way that you can talk to yourself.
5 – Turn off the ten o’clock news. If you've had a bad day and are starting to question your decisions, absorbing further dread and doubt about our future from the news anchor isn't going to help!
6 – Walk away temporarily. Don’t keep at something if it isn’t working. Take a break, do something else, find a distraction then come back to it.
7 – Absorb yourself in what you love. If your hobby has become your income, remember not to lose the joy it used to give you, look for new ways of finding it – or a new hobby!
8 – Talk. Don’t be a martyr to your own cause. Mostly, people want you to do well, so don’t be proud and put on a brave face. It’s amazing the ideas people can come up with when you start to talk.
9 – Accept yourself and your way of working. The same routine every day doesn’t suit everyone. Some days might be really productive, but motivation can often be hard to come by, so if you devour a box-set and a pack of macaroons in an afternoon, perhaps that is just part of your (ok, my) ‘process’!
10 – As mum would say, everything is a ‘learning curve’ and self-employment has been my steepest one yet. But the challenge also has massive rewards and a sense of achievement can be found in many places – even if that is just ‘sticking it out’ a while longer!
So that was 2013. A year later I moved to a bigger shop and we will soon be three! I still stand by these things and have much more to add...I would also love to hear your thoughts, so please do get in touch.
We we were really pleased to be featured in our first editorial recently. Smallish magazine, which specialises in 'family life for modern mothers' is focusing on Brighton in its May edition. They describe Brighton as "Britain's Riviera" and, alongside a list of things to do, we were delighted to be featured as their shopping suggestion, describing us as a 'firm fav North Laine shopping area'!
We were in good company, alongside the BAi360 as somewhere to visit and the gorgeous Coalshed as somewhere to eat.
May will be a wonderful time to visit Brighton, as the Festival will be in full swing, alongside the Fringe which runs at the same time and always promises an incredible timetable of events. The Open Houses are part of the fringe and feature some of the city's most creative talent displaying their wares in some beautiful houses and venues across Brighton. There are always mesmerising performances, installations and special events throughout the month - I'm looking forward to an evening of immersive adventure on the South Downs as part of 'For the Birds' as well as getting out and seeing Brighton at its best.
I have completely fallen in love with Instagram recently! It is such an accessible forum for discovering new artists and makers who are building small empires from their kitchen table and who have turned their hobby into a business. It is also an inspiring network of other crafters, independent retailers and small businesses to share information, ideas and feedback when it can be quite a lonesome and dizzying pursuit at times! Apart from all of these reasons, there are a LOT of stunning images out there and find myself spending many a wistful hour gazing at people's beautiful creations, arrangements, ponderings and wanderings.
This month there has been an Instagram 'hashtag' #marchmeetthemaker, to draw attention to the volume and diversity of creative businesses and crafters out there and to celebrate what they do. I have been so inspired by the number of jewellers, potters, weavers, textile artists, painters, photographers and fellow glass designers who manage to find time to pursue what they love when life can seem more hectic than ever.
Inspired by this, I thought I would draw attention to some of our wonderful makers and suppliers, many of whom share a similar story of building a creative business in between the school pick up, a full time job, caring for someone or studying. We have three new stockists we would like you to meet...
We have just started stocking work by Melody G, a 24 year old London-based artist who combines her love of textiles with her passion for jewellery. She designs patterns which she prints onto laser cut acrylic. Her pieces are colourful, bold and perfect for summer - plus she gives 5% of her profits to Living Goods Charity which supports women across the globe to set up their own businesses. We love these earrings and geometric necklace:
We have also been working with two sisters, Cheryl and Sharon, who run Broadlands Pottery in Gloucestershire. An amazing example of turning a hobby into a business, their range of ceramic decorations and homewares started in a home studio in 2012 and now sells all over the country, including here in Little Beach Boutique in sunny Brighton. We are stocking their range of personalised bunting which we can threaded into a name garland while you wait-
...as well as their range of character decorations, such as this adorable little unicorn...
And finally (for now at least) is Cherith Harrison, an illustrator based in Peebles, Scotland, who is fascinated by British wildlife and beautifully depicts their unique qualities and characteristics throughout her range of gifts and homeware. Her love of animals began when she rescued an injured wild rabbit as a seven year old child. Her incredible talent for capturing their beauty in her drawings led to her range of characters from the Chirpy Sparrow to the Fancy Fox being exhibited and sold all over the world today, including here in the North Laine.
Her products arrived this week and range from desk planners to mugs and tea towels - they will be added to the website soon!
Well, that is our March Meet the Maker, but there will be many more as we continue to research new designers to add to our collection here at Little Beach Boutique. Bye for now! x
Last week we were busy making a short film about Little Beach Boutique and we were very lucky to have a bright spring day.
In the film, Suzanne talks all about how the shop began in the Artists' Quarter on Brighton Beach and moved into the North Laine in 2014. There is some lovely footage of some of our current ranges and we talk about working with local and emerging designer- makers. There is also a short screen-printing demo and you can view Jennie doing her 'paw-trait' commissions in our workshop.
We hope you enjoy this short overview of our story so far...
We have continued to run our monthly Fused Glass Workshops in the downstairs basement of Little Beach Boutique and they have been a very vibrant display of creativity so far this year!
Tailored to complete beginners, we give you all the glass and ideas you need to make three or four of your very own pieces to take home.
Our classes have space for up to seven people so there is plenty of opportunity to ask questions and space to get stuck in. We love it when people bring their own ideas - but also enjoy seeing the progression, in just a few hours, of people that come to our workshops with no idea what to expect.
We offer dates on a monthly basis - the following dates for Spring/Summer 2017 are -
We also run private fused glass workshops just for you and your friends! Ideal for a friends day out, hen party or team building day, we can offer you your very own date and glass making experience for a minimum of four people. Just contact us via email at email@example.com to ask about dates.
Glass fusing is perfect for complete beginners, it's as easy as
We have been busy designing some new pieces to add to our handmade range of glass, which we produce in our own workshop, here in Little Beach Boutique. From our original drawings, we make up a silkscreen and print each image with enamel onto sheets of coloured glass before assembling them, almost like a mosaic, with small pieces of broken glass, called 'frit' to add texture, detail and color. We 'cap' each piece with a clear piece of glass to add thickness and fire it in our kiln overnight. Even though often we use the same image for different pieces, each finished glass picture is entirely unique, and small details, round bubbles or a textured area can often be a surprise.
The hot air balloon image below is one of our new designs. The lilac glass features pieces of 'dichroic' glass which has a pearlescent quality to it, and we love the bubbles that have formed around them - very apt for the theme of floating away!
Always a popular motif, this decorative illustration of two owls would be perfect for a newborn present - we can write any name or message onto the mount, with the words "You are Loved" or "Welcome to the World"....
As Mother's Day is coming soon, we thought the message "Always my mother, forever my friend'' seemed very timely!
Since recently reading 'The Owl and the Pussycat' I was inspired to do an illustration of the imagery in the words. The silhouette below is screenprinted onto teal coloured glass, and the words come from the poem - "Hand in hand by the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon". Perfect for a wedding gift, we can make this in any colour and add the names of the happy couple.
We followed the hot air balloon theme a little furthermore thinking we could add lots of colour to the tiles to make it perfect for a children's bedroom or nursery. With 'frit' (small pieces of broken glass) we have created a rainbow effect on the balloons which add a pop of colour. "Follow your dreams" is written underneath.
They are all available to buy in our North Laine shop, but you can also orefer them online following this link - and why not choose your perfect colour and personalise them with your own words? Feel free to contact us about commissions which can be made just for you in under a week...perfect for the special occasions that will be coming up over spring and summer.
I love this time of year when we start sourcing new collections and discovering other small businesses, new artists and dengineers to work with. It's even more fun when those things start to arrive!
At a London trade show we met Sharon and Cheryl, two creative sisters who were launching their collection for retail for the very first time. They design and produce handmade ceramic dishes, garlands and decorations which are beautifully decorated and fired in their workshop in Gloucestershire. I particularly love their 'pick and mix' heart hangings which can be stringed together while you wait for a perfect personalised present for a wedding, newborn or Mother's Day.
It is also exciting when local artists bring their own wares into the shop for us to see. These beautiful bone china mugs are made by Brighton base designer Lonely Angus whose beautiful illustration is layed onto mugs in 22ct gold leaf. Her designs include cacti, terraced housing and this beautiful hot air balloon scene which says 'Let the Adventure Begin'
The new year has got off to a very creative start with our first fused glass workshop on Sunday 22nd January.
We had a group of seven people, all completely new to glass, and each person came up with their own ideas for making several very individual pieces ready to be kiln fired.
Glass is a perfect medium for people with creative skills who come to our workshops with clear ideas about what they want to make. Equally, lots of people start the class by saying they have been bought the experience as a gift and don't consider themselves to be at all artistic - but by the end of the day they have surprised themselves!
One attendee who had never made anything from glass before said -
"Thanks for a great day Suzanne. You gave us the confidence and knowledge to make it such an enjoyable, productive session. The biscuits were lovely too. Highly recommended" Angie
We are now taking group bookings for up to 8 people in our workshop space - perfect for hen parties, team building or a friends' days out!
We also have space on our workshop on 8th March - or why not buy somebody a gift voucher?
We would like to thank all of our loverly customers for all of their support over the last year and wish you all a very happy Christmas and a truly wonderful 2017! With love from Suzanne, Jennie and Claire x