Month: February 2015

Sarah K. Benning – Founder, Designer and Maker

I am literally so excited about this post today – I was beaming when I found Sarah via her etsy shop. She has such cute and simplistic style that carries across in all her products and designs. The fact that she is from NYC (or close enough) is just pretty awesome for me (definitely a location on the bucket list). But that’s not the only awesome thing. Sarah comes across as a down to earth creative who is just doing what comes naturally to her. I hope her interview will motivate you to get back to the basics, find what inspires you as an individual and take the risks to do what has been in your heart for a while. I love what she says about finance (surely put things in perspective for me) “Sometimes I can get a little obsessive over sales and income and costs of doing business, all of which is important because I, like everyone else, have bills to pay, but when that happens, I try to take a step back and get a little perspective: I get to do what I want and create what I want EVERYDAY and so far it is supporting my (fairly frugal) lifestyle! That’s pretty much the dream, right?” And it can become a realistic dream for a lot of us! Make sure to give her FB and insta page a like – links below the interview! Here’s a little bio about Sarah…

“Sarah K. Benning is a self-named design business dedicated to creating authentic and accessible art for the home and cards for everyday life. The founder/designer/maker, Sarah K. Benning, employs contemporary embroidery techniques to create unique greeting cards, uplifting wall décor, and whimsical stitched landscapes. Every step of the creative process is meticulously carried out from concept to finished product, ensuring quality goods and emphasizing all the perks and quirks of the handmade. Each card is hand cut, folded and stitched while each hoop is carefully crafted from start to finish by Sarah, all in order to provide the highest quality art for the home. Sarah K. Benning received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013 and has been working as an independent maker in Upstate New York ever since.”

1. What made you decide to study at the Art Institute of Chicago?
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and was fortunate enough to attend an arts magnet school where I focussed on the visual arts. When it came time to apply to colleges, my top two choices were the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), which was right down the street from my high school, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Ultimately, the idea of venturing off into the unknown was way more appealing to me than staying close to home. SAIC also has a very conceptual and experimental philosophy, which was an exciting change after spending four years of vigorously studying the traditional fundamentals of art making.

2. What inspires you most as an individual?
I love to travel and I love patterns found in nature.

3. What was is like moving to New York and setting up a studio?
I left Chicago two days after my graduation in 2013 and moved to Albany, NY (about 2 hours north of NYC), where I immediately started working at the New York State Museum designing housing for 3-D objects kept in the Scientific Illustration Collection. Being busy right away, made the transition a lot easier. After that project wrapped up we decided to stay in Albany because the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the city. Also, it’s close enough to allow me to make many trips into NYC for events and opportunities.

For the time being, I work from home. We converted our living room into a work room that cosily houses my desk and materials and my partner’s instruments and recording equipment (he is a composer/musician). Spending so much time at home I get a little antsy, so I am constantly rearranging things to keep the space interesting and inspiring. As my business has grown, one of the biggest challenges has been to find space to store bulk materials and packaging supplies. We are only planning on being in New York for another 6 months or so before we relocate to somewhere else (TBD). Neither of us like to stay put for too long!

4. When did you decide to go online and open up shop (via etsy) and would you encourage others to head this way?
I opened my Etsy shop right after I left school, though it was some time after that where I felt like I really found my voice and style and created a more cohesive body of work. I like to kind of dive into things without a whole lot of planning, so I figured I would open a shop and see where it went. It’s grown a lot over the past year and a half and my business now extends beyond Etsy into the real world in the form of markets and stockists. My next big project is to launch a person website outside of Etsy which will feature my cards and hoops and some larger scale fine art pieces.

My philosophy on Etsy is “Why not?” It’s so easy to open a shop and allows people all over the world to see your products, so why not open an Etsy shop? That being said, I think it is important to diversify, and strongly encourage other makers to look beyond Etsy and other ecommerce sites in order to build a sustainable business.

5. How did you develop your unique style you have now? What was the journey?
My style is always in a state of development. Generally I make what makes me happy and keep my fingers crossed that other people will like I’m making too. Sometimes they don’t though, and then I have to go back to the drawing board and tweak an idea until it works or abandon it. It can be a little painful to let an idea go as unsuccessful, but that is part of the artistic process, especially when you are making it public and opening yourself up to feedback and criticism. And usually, the result of rethinking a design turns out more interesting than the original anyway. Sometimes I feel like my style is splintering into too many different directions and I try to take time to assess what is working and what direction I am most excited about. I’m sort of a packrat, so I rarely throw anything away with the idea that I can always revisit an abandoned direction sometime in the future.

6. What was the hardest part in starting your business and do you have any regrets?
I like to think of my business as a micro-business rather than a small business, since, for the time being anyway, it is a one-woman show. I design, manufacture, package and ship each piece in my collection, while managing the financial side of business and attempting to have spare time to enjoy life. This autonomy is empowering and exciting, but comes with its own set of stresses and uncertainties. It took me about a year and a half to fully commit to Sarah K. Benning as a self-supporting business, so during that time I worked full time during the day and designed and created at night and on weekends. Finding the time and energy to develop and expand my brand was difficult, but I don’t regret the struggles for a second.

If I could do it over again, I would leave my day job sooner and put greater faith into my creative endeavours! There will always be slow times and busy times and I think the most important thing is to stay focussed and positive. Sometimes I can get a little obsessive over sales and income and costs of doing business, all of which is important because I, like everyone else, have bills to pay, but when that happens I try to take a step back and get a little perspective: I get to do what I want and create what I want EVERYDAY and so far it is supporting my (fairly frugal) lifestyle! That’s pretty much the dream, right?

7. Do you think your art represents a bit of your personality?
I know it’s cliché, but I can’t imagine my life without art. The creative process is so engrained into every aspect of my life that I have to assume as much of my personality is engrained into what I produce. Often, when people talk to me about my work they are amazed at the time-consuming process and detail of hand stitching patterns and cards, but really I think the methodical and meditative qualities of the process is all that keeps me sane!

These days, my efforts are mostly focussed on the more commercial side of my creative practice, which is a fun challenge of balancing my artistic voice with creating products people actually want to buy.

8. What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not creating art?
I love spending time in natural history museums, mostly in the mineral and bird sections. And I love to take care of my plants. Our apartment faces north and it has been a very cold winter so it’s been a struggle keeping my guys alive. During better weather, time spent outdoors is always good, biking, hiking, swimming, etc. I’m also really good at darts!  But honestly, keeping up with orders and developing new designs keeps me pretty busy!

9. What are you looking forward to most in 2015?
I am pretty much looking forward to everything in 2015. It is the first year where I am 100% dedicated to developing and growing my business, so I am bursting with ideas for how I can expand product lines and generate excitement for my brand. As I said, we will be relocating sometime in the relatively near future, so I am excited to explore a new city and put together a new creative space. And I am looking forward to all the unexpected developments and events of 2015. I am happy and young and feel like probably good things are to come!

10. Do you have a favourite place in NYC at the moment?
My favorite place in New York right now would be the New York Botanical Garden.  It’s safe to say that my favourite part of any city would be the botanical gardens/conservatories.  I am obsessed with plants and often look to them for inspiration.

11. Where can our readers find you online?
instagram: @sarahkbenning



Siana Bangura – Founding Editor, Blogger and Poet

2014 was a beautiful yet challenging year for me, but one of the highlights apart from marrying my best friend was helping Radio Plus Coventry pioneer a brand new course delivering media & employability skills to help people looking to move into the Radio industry. This is where I met Siana. She is such a talented, creative and outspoken woman who has achieved so much in her twenties. She is a joy to be around and when you are in her presence the conversation is thought provoking, fruitful and eye opening. I hope you enjoy reading through her interview and don’t miss out on her latest poem which we have linked at the bottom! If you live in London, check out her facebook for up and coming poetry nights she may be attending. You wouldn’t want to miss it! – Lisa

1. How long have you been writing poetry for and what inspired you to start?
I’ve been writing creatively for a long as I can remember (just like everybody says!). Running away with my imagination and seeking comfort in books, poetry, the writing of others was always my favourite pastime. So that’s how I started I guess. When I was younger I used to write quite dark stuff and some of my poetry got published in school anthologies, things like that. I remember I wrote a poem called ‘The Eye of the Sea’ when I was in primary school. I came across it a few years ago and laughed so hard. It was rubbish but for me, at the time, it was my Magnum opus.

I used to write short stories and was working on a novel when I was about twelve I think. It was a detective type thing and the main character was based on Hercule Poirot. I think the same things that inspire me to write now are the same things that inspired me to write back then too. I needed my voice to be heard and sometimes it’s easier to do so through performance or by using characters. Escapism can be very healing. Injustice makes me write. Anger leads me to my pen. Joy and love cause me to write. I stopped writing poetry for a long time though simply because life got in the way and I got ‘too old’ for it. I started to think it was a bit cheesy and felt a bit embarrassed about being so deep within my emotions. I decided I was ‘too busy’ for poetry. I turned my attention to music journalism and album reviews, fashion blogging, and politics.

However, in October 2013 I had a life-changing encounter with someone from my past. It was very quick but made a huge impact on me and because I wasn’t able to coherently talk about how I felt about that encounter and how much it hurt, so I went back to being the little girl who hid under the dining room table and found comfort in her writing. I found a quiet space and I wrote ‘The Stranger’. After I wrote this poem, I performed it in November at a monthly spoken word event in London called Poetry Luv. I had forgotten how exhilarating it is to be on stage and perform. It was also a very cathartic experience too – in the audience were my best friends as well as people I did not know. They all said my poem touched them deeply. One of my friends cried a lot and this told me that I had to pick up from where I left things. I started writing more and more, fitting it in every day (which wasn’t actually that hard after all – it never is when it’s something you love doing), and I started immersing myself in London’s spoken word scene, going to the numerous events, introducing myself to other poets, and understanding the culture. It was all really eye-opening for me.

2. Besides poetry – you have some other creative outlets, what are they?
I am really into photography (again, just like everyone else, right?) and I was taking it very seriously during university. I even had my own small business going but again, I ended up turning my attentions to other things. I really enjoy portraiture and capturing people, especially faces in black and white.There is so much history in someone’s face and so many stories. There is so much power in that stillness. I am also a big fan of fashion and I sew a bit. I would love to have my own blazer line – bold colours, power shoulders, gold buttons, and asymmetry. I used to make bags for friends at school from old jeans. They were quite good, even if I do say so myself!

I enjoy theatre too and one day I’d love to be back on stage performing in a role of some sort. In October 2014 I co-produced a one- woman comedy called Fierce, by Kathryn Griffiths. I’d never done anything like that before. I really loved seeing it all come to life on stage. Kathryn is a phenomenal performer. In a past life I also used to sing a bit and play the violin. I do wish I had stuck at those things and tried harder with the guitar but heck, some of us are better positioned to appreciate the music of others rather than make our own and there is no shame in that. I keep telling myself I’m going to learn the saxophone… we shall see.

It would be really cool to make a spoken word EP and fill it with musical interludes as well as poetry. So much of what I write could be turned into music – that’s the beauty of poetry. In fact, I often sing my lines when it comes to committing my poems to memory. It helps. I’d need to have singing lessons though if I was going to take it more seriously as I don’t know how to breathe and sing simultaneously! No formal technique. I had a dream a while back, in which I did a remake of Saint Etienne’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ and it went straight to number one worldwide. It was a one-hit wonder though. I am really keen to learn more about the technical aspects of production like mixing your voice and using studio equipment, producing, things like that. I know how to do some of these things as I was a radio DJ for three years and produced my own shows in Cambridge but I’m rusty now.

3. Where do you spend most of your time?
I spend most of my time in London. I work in Central London as a journalist and then most weekends or after work I’ll have an event to attend. I go to a lot of poetry events these days. I used to go to concerts more than I do now but I’m seeing FKA Twigs this month (February) and I’m super psyched about that.

When I’m at home I try to make sure I spend time with my mum and my younger sister. I am really loving Orange is the New Black on Netflix – I’m behind everyone else because I don’t watch TV much but whenever I can steal a couple of hours I will get stuck into an episode or two. As well as being hilarious, I think the way the creators have played with stereotypes of intersections like race, gender, and sexuality is really clever.

In terms of specific places, I love visiting the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. I love Brixton in general. I love Peckham too as I lived there last year and found a lot of wonderful gems, Peckham’s best kept secrets that many people are only discovering now. I love South London as that is where I am from. It’s taken me ten years to finally love that place.

4. What is your biggest dream?
To touch and positively affect as many people with my creative work and my political activism as Maya Angelou did. How I’ll do that is anybody’s guess.

5. For someone looking to start a blog – what advice could you give them?
It’s important for women, ethnic minorities, young people, and other marginalised groups especially to have their voices heard. We have to carve our own spaces in which we can be visible. I started blogging regularly when I was fifteen I think and have not stopped since.

I decided that I would put a flag in my little corner of the Internet and make it clear that it is my space. I have been through a lot of blogs but I think my current one, , is right for me right now. I finally got the tone and feel I wanted. I really wanted someone to hire me as a journalist when I left university and nobody did and so I thought to myself, ‘you know what? I am going to make myself an editor’. And I did. I was also really fed up of not really having somewhere for Black British women to speak about their lived experiences so those two things led me to create No Fly on the WALL.

6. Who inspires you as a creative individual?
It’s not so much who inspires me to create as it is what inspires me to create. I would say for now, the Zeitgeist is pushing me to write and create. The current mood of my generation is one of unrest and desire for change. I strongly believe the revolution is ours. So I write poetry that explores things like abandonment and absent fathers, racism and white supremacy, shadeism, Islamophobia, Jihad, corrupt political systems, betrayal, but also sisterhood, Feminism, and love.
My latest poem is called ‘Elephant’. On the surface, you could say it’s about racism. The ‘elephant’ is a very bitter, lost, sad, frightened white man who now hates all people of colour. You get small insights into the potential reasons why he is like this. He has also suffered and he is a victim of capitalism and failed democracy. He has been failed too. This man embodies all the things I’ve read, conversations I’ve had, tweets I’ve seen, and Facebook posts I’ve scoffed at. There really are people who will argue that ‘Africans have nothing to be proud of’ and that ‘White people built the modern world and this is a white man’s world’ and the rest of us are just living in it, despite the fact that non-white folk are the world’s global majority. The global South if you will.

The poem is also about hypocrisy and contradictions – something we are all guilty of. But the effects of all these negative things live forever within us and we do remember, just like elephants. The memory of an elephant is imperative to its survival so it can’t afford to forget about those who have killed its mother or its children. I find my environment inspires me. I also have some very talented people in my circles who I really respect so keeping a close eye on them encourages me to always bring my A game and make sure my shit is tight. I want to be respected by my peers for the work I put in and the stuff I put out there. I’m not afraid to admit that.

7. Do you read any blogs and if so what are you favourites?
I read and write for VS Notebook, which is an upcoming and exciting platform for writers and other creatives. There is always a lot of diverse content on the site and the editors are cool too. I often read For Harriet, which is a blog focused on Black women (mainly African-American women).

Afro Punk is awesome for fashion and music and on Facebook they often share stuff from other platforms too. Asylum 33 is cool, a real visual feast. Those are my regulars right now but I spend so much time online I am always coming across new blogs, new people, new writers and that is exciting.

8. How do you keep yourself inspired?
I think being inspired and motivated can be conflated. I often do it. In general, I am a really motivated person. I tend to plough through tiredness and generally manage to keep high spirits because there is so much culture to witness and participate in everywhere.
I get tired sometimes when it comes to my more political work though – some of us call it ‘the burden of being “conscious”’. Sometimes you get writers’ block or you feel like your work isn’t as good as that person’s or that person’s, especially if you’ve been to a show or read something amazing. But it works the other way also – seeing how great others are reminds you of how good you already are and how great you could be. At least that is the case for me.

I keep reading, watching, writing, discussing and then everything just flows. I tell myself our generation needs another Maya Angelou or bell hooks, or Alice Walker. I tell myself we need a ‘For Coloured Girls’ choreopoem for the women of today. And I tell myself that there is no reason why one day I can’t be the one to write it and I tell myself that there is no reason to put limits on what I can achieve because others will do that for me. That’s the nature of our present society. It can be hard to be original. It’s a special currency. Everybody is out here in the wild trying to ‘make it’ as a creative and often it seems like we all want to do the same things and all want to go for the same limited opportunities, start the same platforms. The creative world sometimes feels congested and claustrophobic and even the word ‘creative’ is overused I guess. It can all be so loud. That’s why you have to remember to take some time to sit with yourself quietly and recharge your batteries. After a long day at work you might not feel like going to your laptop and finishing off your novel or polishing off your track and that’s okay but most of the time you will want to do those things because that is what you love.

Love, self-love, is so powerful. We are in our element when we are doing what we love and being all that we can be. What we have in common is that we all want to be happy. My quest for happiness and feeling satisfied with my life is a strong fuel of inspiration – it is one of my many motivations. I want to be able to say I made the most of my time here, while I had it. I want to be sure to leave a positive and meaningful legacy like the people I admire.

9. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I don’t have much spare time! But I like going to the movies. I like going to art galleries. I love reading and all of those things inevitably make me want to write something.

10. Where can our readers find you online?
I have quite a big online presence I hear so I’m not hard to find!
You can keep up with me by visiting my personal blog:
You can also check out my work within the Feminist movement by visiting: and attending one of our No Fly on the WALL Academy events and workshops.
I am a fan of micro-blogging too. The power of social media fascinates me. Catch me on Twitter here: @sianaarrgh I share some of my spoken word poetry on Sound Cloud:

Check out my latest poem, ‘Elephant’, here: 

Sally Larke Ceramics Course

Hey all! So I did say I would let you know when creative events / classes were happening, hence I thought I would post up a course I will hopefully be starting after Easter. I found Sally Larke’s blog through facebook and I have been longing to do a ceramics workshop for ages. So I made contact and will hopefully be on the next evening course! If anyone is local to Warwickshire, feel free to start the next one with me! I literally can’t wait! Below is some info from Sally’s blog on the course!

”Come and learn new skills and develop creatively at my newly renovated studio in Warwick. I open my studio to the community for a day a week and work with all ages and ability. I teach a range of hand building techniques and throwing to small groups which means the course can be tailored to your requirements.

Booking is easy, but space is limited.

Please call 078 1006 4084 or email to reserve your place.”

Monday mornings. 10 am – 12.30pm. 6 sessions £120

Tuesday mornings 10 am – 12.30pm 6 sessions £120

Monday evenings. 7pm – 9.30pm 6 sessions £120



Jennifer Jacobs – Independent Pattern Maker & Designer

Social media is great for connecting with like-minded individuals and I must spend hours of my life looking through the instafeeds of people who inspire me creatively and who take art, craft, blogging, painting, creating to WHOLE NEW levels. All 731 of them are not in my close-knit circle of friends – but everyday I meet and connect with what they are creating.

Using twitter to promote one of our previous interviewees’ Natalie Vice (check the interview out here), a few people had favourited the tweet and I thought I would be a bit cheeky and see WHO! That’s when I found Jen, I went over to her website and loved the soft aesthetic feel to it.

I must admit, I have never really been great at traditional sewing but used to hand sew dresses when I was younger (when I couldn’t find anything to wear for school dances or events). Sometimes I look back and have to giggle as 1) I had no shame and 2) I usually ended up having to cut myself out of the outfit at the end of the night. In saying that, Jen’s work inspires me to actually look at patterns and create something that is timeless, lasts, can be re-used and represents me! I hope this encourages you to get back to the basics of our great grandmothers! Enjoy!

1. How did ‘Afternoon’ get started?
Afternoon began as a personal project to sew more. I thought if I wrote about it and kept a blog, I would feel more accountable to my goal. I’ve always enjoyed sewing, and setting time aside for it really nurtured my spirit, as twee as that may sound! I realised that there must be others out there like me, looking for a community of like-minded sewing folk to turn to for inspiration and advice, especially in South Africa. Dressmaking is still just one of those things that people associate with their mums and grans, and in a lot of ways, the resources available for sewing remain outdated too. I wanted to change that. So Afternoon really got going in earnest as a way to inspire fellow stitches with cool patterns, making sewing more modern, accessible, and generally badass.

2. What inspires you most as an individual?
There are so very many things to be inspired by, from small personal experiences to grand incomprehensibility of the universe! One of my favourite things to do is go to the ballet. That confluence of music, art, theatre and fashion is very inspiring.

3. I love the ‘About’ section of your blog which talks about stepping outside the cycle of fast fashion – What are the pro’s and con’s (in your opinion) on high street fashion?
Thank you so much, it’s a topic I’m very interested in! I suppose at the end of the day, high street fashion is such fun! It’s fast, it’s flashy, it fades quickly, and never gets boring. I think the problem comes in when we indulge in that fast fashion cycle – buy, wear, chuck, repeat – without regard to the consequences. There are real hands behind the seams of cheap fashion, and by participating in that behaviour of over-consumption, we are not signalling to the industry that we will not stand for exploitation. That is of course not to say that all high-street fashion is exploitative or that we must all starting sewing ourselves, but I think a greater appreciation of a garment can be cultivated by making your own clothes.

4. So as well as being involved with sewing – is it true you are a graphic designer? Has this supported the start of ‘Afternoon’?
Yes, that is totally true! Being a graphic designer is actually my 9 to 5 job. So that supports Afternoon in a number of ways, both financially and aesthetically. I can transfer a lot of those web and design skills over to the brand, which is super helpful.

5. Do you like to keep busy on new projects and what are you working on at the moment?
Yes, I do. At the moment I am very excited to be working towards the Design Indaba Expo. I am part of the Emerging Creatives programme for 2015, and will be showcasing my work at the Expo from the 27 February to 1 March at Cape Town’s CTICC. If you’re around, please pop in and say hello!

6. What is your most prized material possession?
I have a lovely big white tablecloth, embroidered with little sprigs of flowers by my late gran. It’s just a sentimental piece that I love, and I never quite trust myself to have a dinner party on it!

7. What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
At the moment, time! Sometimes there are just not enough minutes in the day.

8. What do you do in your spare time?
I like to read a good book, picnic with friends or go for a hike. I’m also trying to up my cooking game! I’m vegetarian, and my wonderful long-suffering flatmate gets dished up my rotation of the same-old dishes. I’m cooking through a lovely local book called Luscious Vegetarian at the moment.

9. What advice would you give to someone looking at taking their hobby to the next level?
My advice would be to just start. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do your thing. At the moment, I’m working on a “if you build it, they will come” mentality and it keeps me from doubting myself.

10. Where do you see Afternoon in the next 5 years?
In 5 years’ time I would love to have a small studio and sewing café, where others can come to sew, chat and collaborate.

11. Where can our readers find you online?
You can find me over on, that’s where I share my sewing tips and projects. If you’d like to see the sewing patterns on offer, follow the links on site, or go directly to Otherwise, I’m also on Twitter(@afternoonZA), Instagram (  and Facebook. I’d love to connect with you.


quilting tools  cross stitch tools  bint cross stitch  bow tie   amy skirt  another amy skirt

Giveaway – Portrait Photoshoot with We Are Vintage Photography

I have felt the LOVE with all the cute giveaways happening recently
and so I have decided to join in and give away 1 portrait session to ONE lucky winner!
(please check out our friends giveaways we have promoted here which will be ending SOON)

It will include 1 hour photoshoot with 5-10 edited photo’s that you can use for your
social media accounts, blog or some cute updated prints for those frames you have yet to fill!

How to enter?
1. Like and share this post on FB & Instagram (tagging @thoughtsofjane or We Are Vintage Photography)
2. Follow @thoughtsofjane on Instagram and LIKE my FB page.
3. Comment on each photo why you think you should WIN!

This giveaway will run on Instagram and on Facebook (one photoshoot only) so enter away.
Unfortunately, the shoot is limited to Coventry, UK. But feel free to enter and give to a friend who lives nearby!

Winner announced on Wednesday 18th February 2015!

Rachel Ash Bridalwear – Competition

Hey ladies – this competition is exclusively for YOU! Unless you’re a man wifey – then this is for YOU too! Ha!

So I bought my wedding dress from these wonderful ladies and they are holding a competition to giveaway one
of their awesome wifey T-shirts! You have until V-day to enter! So what are you waiting for!

P.S below is my dress on a cute little hanger the girls got me! (‘Mrs Boyle’) Wow, they are wonderful!
If you are getting married – make sure to check out their boutique!

**Competition time**

”We are giving away one of these lovely t-shirts!

All you have to do to enter is like our page, share this picture and comment below why you should be our winner… We will pick a victor on Valentine’s Day!

You can buy these on our website too. Take note boys, a lovely present for the lady in your life this V-Day.”

Photo: A White Tale Photography

GIVEAWAY by Ruschka du Toit – Design and Illustration

Hey – we all LOVE a giveaway! Make sure to check out this competition running on Ruschka’s Facebook page and Instagram!
Links and post below! Don’t forget to share!

”In the spirit of love I am giving away some pretty things.
Four of my greeting cards and one of my original watermelon paintings.

What is not to love?

Want to enter?
1. Like my FB post.
2. Follow @ruschkadutoit on Instagram and LIKE my FB page.

I’d also love to hear how you are planning on spreading the love this month.

This giveaway will run on Instagram and on Facebook (one hamper only) so enter away. Open worldwide (incl shipping) Winner announced on Thursday, 12th February.”


Hey All!

Hope you have all had an amazing weekend! I ended up going to an amazing Alpaca farm in Rugby, Warwickshire this weekend and had a chance to take some photo’s of their amazing workshop and cafe which I will be putting up on my personal blog soon! Keep your eyes open for that!

But this week – stay tuned for an amazing interview with Jen from ‘Afternoon’ in Cape Town, South Africa! Jen is a graphic designer who has branched out and started an independent sewing pattern label. See how it all started and make sure to pop by her website and say ‘Hi’!

Background Image: Art by Serena Mitnik Miller

Ellie-Jayne Seymour – Singer & Songwriter

Ellie. Ellie Jayne Seymour. Love that name – it just sounds like it was created for fame. Elie’s music is really raw and honest – the kind of lyrics you think and feel but would never put into a song – That is Ellie, and she just seems to get the melody so right that in no time you are bursting out into an expressive freedom dance and then realising everybody is looking at you, but it’s ok because you feel free; like no-one can tell you otherwise. That’s pretty much my best musical review ever, but seriously that’s how I feel. My first proper encounter with Ellie was when she came on our radio show (The Awakening). She has such an honest, down to earth view on life and she is pretty comical that if you are friends with her, I’m sure there is never a dull moment. Listen to her tracks and let us know what you think – If you are an artist, take a read and get some tips from this girl on taking risks and hopefully she will inspire you to share your music and heart with the world.

1. So when did you start writing your own music?
I remember sitting down and actually ‘writing’ when I was around 13 (same time I picked up a guitar). I still have all my songbooks & read through them occasionally, some of the lyrics are so dark & weird – I have no idea what 13 year old me was going through.

2. What is your favourite instrument and why?
The Saxaphone. I love it and it’s probably because Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street was pretty much the soundtrack to my childhood.

3. Who are your musical influences & how would you describe your style of music?
My style of music tends to depend on the state of my relationships at the time. Messy Breakup? It’s very Alanis Morissette, Happy & in love? Laura Marling. Unfortunately I’m an open book & my songs convey what’s going on in my head. My Influences range from Kimya Dawson to David Bowie & Chrissie Hynde’s to Kate Bush

4. What do you consider a good venue to perform in and do you have any shows coming up?
Even though I haven’t played there in a while, ‘Whitefriars’ in Coventry will always be one of my favourite venues. It’s intimate, weird & wonderful. I’m focusing on recording this year, but will no doubt be playing during the festival period (yey summer!)

5. How much time do you dedicate to writing music?
All the time. It’s a huge part of my life – I’ll write a few ideas or riffs a day & discard the ones I wouldn’t buy myself.

6. Do you think having an online presence is important as a musician?
I don’t think most of the musicians in the public view would be around today if it wasn’t for facebook, twitter or soundcloud etc. In the 70’s you had to move to London, play the grotty gigs and be spotted. You had to be good. You had to be so good people would come to your shows because that’s the only way you made money. Being a paid musician is so much more accessible now. (Although I will say that I’m rubbish at the whole publicity thing. I’m a performer & nothing else eep!)

7. Are there any plans to join a full band?
I’m always pushing to embark on something new. As much as I love my acoustic material, I’d love to get together with some good people and have some rock pop fun.

8. What is your most prized material possession?
Obvious answer I’m afraid …my Epiphone Hummingbird OR my John Lewis Penguin. I’ll have one under each arm in a fire.

9. Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
In 10 years I’ll be 35 & the less said about that the better. I’ll be gigging, hopefully at some bigger festivals & still enjoying my summers in the UK sun & with rum.

10. If you could give any solo artists some advice, what would it be?
* Be true to yourself & make decisions based on what makes YOU happy.
* Don’t be nervous; remember a large percentage of the people you’re performing in front of can’t imagine putting themselves in your shoes.
* Be sincere & be modest.
* Sometimes you’ll be crap– get over it.
* Musician etiquette. Always appreciate the musician before you & introduce who is after you…Also don’t leave after your band has performed. It’s rude & we talk about you after you’ve left.

11. Where can our readers find you online?
I can be found on Facebook on & Soundcloud at also Youtube at

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