Thursday, 26 March 2015

Small Business: The Serpents Club

As my second Small Business Spotlight (you can read the first here) I'm featuring The Serpents Club,  a bespoke, statement jewellery company working with semi precious stones, founded by Emily Tobin. I have adored their collections from afar ever since they collabed with Delilah Dust (now The Crystal Divide) last year, and have finally succumbed to my desires, purchasing two wonderful necklaces which I'll discuss below.

There are a freaking lot of jewellery online shops out there now. And honestly, I can't tell most of them apart. I have a world of respect for anyone who starts up their own online business because of the backend work that goes into it, and you have to start somewhere, but ordering the same charms from amazon and selling them for inflated prices just baffles me. What is your unique selling point? Why should I choose you over that shop selling the same choker/chain & charm for 50p less? However, over the past couple of months I've come across some businesses who clearly put their life and soul into the artistic creation of unique jewellery, and this is one of them. I was wowed by a video of Emily hand drilling one of her larger stones, I had assumed she would order them in drilled and ready to attach to chains, but apparently not not! Here's what I found out from our little Q&A:

Although Emily has help with everyday admin (my dream) she handles all the designing, sourcing, production, photography, finances and social media herself -which is a heavy load, trust me! So when the shop gets busy it can be quite manic as some stones can take up to 4 hours to drill! Crazy respect for this lady. I was really interested in why she choses the stones she does: "I try to choose pretty mineral specimens and contrast them against textures and really masculine chains, which I think is a bit different compared to delicate crystal jewellery which is usually on offer." Although not left completely raw and jagged, they all seem to be unique which, as a lover of minerals, I love because I feel I'm getting something special, not mass produced. And in terms of style, "Polished stones allow you to focus on all the colours and inclusions inside." While she is learning to metal smith, Emily sources the chains and extras, so I can't wait to see the interesting designs she comes up with in the future!

Mara - £50.00

I had been lusting over the gold version of this for MONTHS, but as the price tag was so high I'd put off ordering until I'd done something worthwhile enough to treat myself for. Unfortunately, I didn't get my ass together in time and it sold out, so I opted for the silver just in case they never came back into stock as the range is seasonal! Even though it's not what I initially wanted, I'm absolutely in love with it. Sitting at the centre of my chest, it's a wonderful, unique, statement necklace and never fails to get compliments!

Nirvana - £24.00

Hanging below my chest, this Nirvana necklace is more similar to most of my jewellery collection; easy to throw on as I walk out the door, adding something different to my outfit. I love jewellery with semi precious stones because it keeps accessorising casual. I'm not one for dressing up and I'm not into conventional, expensive and dainty pieces, so 90% of my collection involves a stone or druzy on a longer chain like this. The pyrite cluster is a lovely touch, paring so well with the smokey stone, but personally, I do wish it was smaller to give the stone more of a chance to pop.

And finally, this gorgeous amethyst / oxidised silver ring. I actually got it free with my order because I purchased on a certain day, if I remember correctly, and it's the best freebie I could have hoped for. I've seen many of their gorgeous rings plastered over their Instagram and customer hashtag page but could never find them on the website, so I'm assuming they're made as gifts for customers. Well it 100% persuaded me to purchase when I did so keep that tactic up, guys!

Like the necklace above, the amethyst is encrusted with pyrite. I find this combination gives an even more raw feel to the gem stones. Thankfully, the ring is adjustable (I dislike ordering rings online because I never know my size, or even which finger would be its home anyway!) and the stone is a sweet and convenient size. I'm not into chunky, statement rings as I feel they'd get in the way, but this is just the right size -I doubt it'll give me a fatal whack in the face as I sweep back my fringe.

Packaging wise -pretty awesome. Each piece came in its own box with a wax stamp on top, adding a suitably gothic twist to the branding. I also got two travel bags, which was a nice touch, and I'm using one to protect my Mara necklace.


A Special 15% off for my readers with the code "POLLY"! Hurry as it expires 31/03/15

I've changed up how I did this Small Business Spotlight, adding a few extras from my previous post. At this early stage I'm still experimenting with what works, but I think reviewing the products I get and including a little Q&A from the founder are definitely nice additions! 

So what do you think of this brand? Would you order for yourself or a friend? (...Or me, I'd like the whole range please)

Polly xo


Friday, 20 March 2015

My Top 5 Lip Products

The thin lipped life is a difficult life. It makes wearing a lot of lipstick shades quite hard, as unless you're having a plump day, bright colours often look pathetic. Dark colours can make my lips look even thinner, and my face even more moody as it appears I'm pursing my lips constantly. I tend to stick to lighter, "your lips but not really" colours that just highlight what I have, because personally, I feel that if I'm going all out on a lippy and my lips aren't cooperating, it can rightly look like I've tried too hard and failed miserably. Formula is also super important. I like a long lasting, relatively moisturising lippy (I know, what a revelation) because at work I do up to five and a half hour shifts without a break, so can't be patchy or chapping! So in this post I've collected my top 5 lip products. It's quite a range, because different days call for different lips, so hopefully at least one will interest most of you!

DISCLAIMER: I probably don't know what I'm talking about. This is just what I think of the products. Also I'd conviniently eaten a curry just before these photos so my lips are looking much plumper than usual *yay!*.

EOS balm - Prices vary

I have two Eos lip balms, vanilla (blue and white striped packaging) and pomegranate & raspberry, photographed above. I actually prefer the vanilla one but I can't find it anywhere at the moment *booo*. Now, the flavours of these balms sound amazing, but sadly the scents do not live up to expectations. Possibly that's just the case with the two I picked as vanilla is a little bland and pomegranate is an odd flavour to add. Regardless, I'm undoubtably going to pick up more in the future because the formula and packaging is just excellent. You can only see half the product above, but it's basically a ball in two halves that screw together. They're perfect to keep in your handbag as their shape is easy to find among clutter, and there's no chance of it coming open and getting everywhere. Now onto the most important part... they actually work. I have never found a lip balm that's been so effective for me, usually they just leave a greasy layer over my lips (I'm looking at you, vaseline) and sometimes dry them out even more. I always sweep some EOS on as I do my makeup to soften my lips before I put lipstick on which keeps the colour on longer, then top up during the day. 

 Mac "Kinda Sexy" - £15.50

I find Kinda Sexy a wonderfully wearable shade. It goes great with Mac's "sumptuous olive" eyeshadow, as well as peachy toned brown smokey eye using "chopper" from the Naked 2 pallet and any warm toned brown. And always some bronzed cheeks. It can be warn heavy or just patted on to create a soft tint. I find this lasts around 4 hours, and then starts to rub off as my lips get dryer. Also, I can apply this just outside the edges of my lips to plump them up a bit without them looking over the top!

Mac "Viva Glam II" - £15.50

This shade is a cool toned pink nude that can look slightly grey on some people, which I actually find gorgeous. I can pair it with most eye looks as it kind of cancels out the lips (in a nice way) leaving my eyes and/or blush to pop. Another matte, Viva Glam II lasts well and thankfully does not dry out my lips either.

This lippy was a gift from a friend, described as a very "me" shade and leading to me gravitating toward the rosy side of the lipstick stands for a good few months. But this No7 goldie has remained my favourite for over a year. Now, as a "stay perfect" lipstick it doesn't do exactly that, it does rub off when I eat and I'm wary of it smudging during the day. However, the colour is just fantastic and adds subtle plumpness to my lips, without looking too full on. As it's such a pretty shade it's super versatile, I wear it around the clock from a casual day in town to going out in the evening.

Benefit "Cha Cha" Tint - Full size £24.50

Last but certainly not least, probably my most worn lip product. I got this little sample from last year's Benefit advent calendar, along with the "Benetint" which I also adore, and the "Lollitint" which is good but my least favourite. I dab this onto my lips and then rub it in with a finger, layering as many times as necessary to create the level of colour I want. They are very buildable, so can give you a light pop of colour, or be very bright. What I really love about these tints is that they're so subtle. You're not changing the shape of your lips or adding a thick layer, just modestly adding colour so people know that they're there. I think these (especially Benetint) would be great for school, as long as you can manage the price tag!


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Small Business: Aubergine Fox

Introducing: Aubergine fox. A small business run by Katie and Eloise, stocking a large variety of little trinkets to cute-ify both your desk area and person. I'm a big lover of gold charms and gem stone jewellery, which they have in excess, as well as sweet, hand made products like dipped twig pencils, hand illustrated notebooks and more. I've enjoyed seeing Katie's new creations on social media for some time now, but only recently succumbed to my wish list when she made this post about her personal journey. Completely heart warmed by what a driven, inspirational character Katie is, I decided to finally show my support.

Most shops that I follow specialise in something particular. For example jewellery stores that work with raw crystals, or design brands that apply their style of illustration to products. However I do like that they leave their Etsy shop so open to new items. It's lovely to see someone who just clearly loves to have creative freedom and make pretty things!

I opted for the two miniature charm necklaces which both sit nicely below my collar bones. I knew I wanted to order some dipped twig pencils for photo props, but the colours come in sets of 5. Knowing a colour range would be best to complement a wider range of products, I contacted them asking whether I could mix & match. Luckily they were perfectly happy to help me out and I now have the gorgeous copper, mint green, dark glitter, lilac and gold shades to play with. It's lovely to find a store which lets you customise your order. A valuable feature I wish I was more able to offer my own customers! 

Aubergine Fox is definitely a shop to follow for when you're feeling the need to treat yourself at an affordable price. You're sure to find a little something to pick your fancy!

Independent shop: 

Special 10% off code for my readers: "POLLY10" expires 26/03/2015

Would you like to see more of these small business spotlights? Do you have any recommendations? Notice I haven't gone into much detail about the products, the idea is to review each shop as a whole and I may feature some products in future posts.

As a shop keeper person, I feel it's so important to support others where I can and encourage more people to do so. Watching young people build successful careers is amazing. Help 'em out!


Sunday, 8 March 2015

My Top 3 Influential Designers

"What inspires you?". I hate that question. Inspiration isn't quantifiable, it's a combination of everything you're exposed to. Some things stick out but they all play a part, rolling around in your brain until triggered. That being said, there will always be designers out there whom I find incredible, creatively stimulating and always go back to when I'm feeling uninspired. During my Graphics A Level I was encouraged to research appropriate designers, leading to my work reflecting them... so maybe "influences" is the right word. *Changes title*.

I've picked three illustrators who I've been aware of for the past couple of years and who greatly impact the way I design so I'm sure you'll see links from my work to theirs. In case you hadn't noticed, I love hand lettering and dry humour, which these three are experts in.

Linzie Hunter

Two of my favourite projects are her "Uninspiring posters" series and "Hand-lettered Resolutions" project where she illustrated the New Year's resolutions people sent in this January.

Linzie Hunter was the first typography/hand lettering artist I studied during my Graphic Design A level and she's remained a strong influence to me ever since. She definitely kick started my love for the style as her work is so fun and experimental and I can look at it for hours. I would recommend her to any aspiring designer who has taken an interest in hand lettering as there are so many letterforms to study within each piece. I would pick a word I liked the font of, copy it out, then try to create the rest of the alphabet from that one word shown. It definitely exercised my imagination, but gave me somewhere to start.

What I love about this artist is the personality she gets through in designs. I enjoy making dumb little jokes on twitter and drawing them out seemed a natural step. Linzie Hunter often uses little phrases within her pieces, meaning they're not only enjoyable to look at but read too. Also, an important point, she never forgets the background. You can create wonderful hand lettering, but if the background is blank the whole image can look flat. The top right image is a perfect example.

In the middle of the photoset I've included, and on her website if you have a snoop, you'll see she also does advertisements. This is really important to me, as I want to be an illustrator more than a Graphic Designer, but I still want to be involved with branding and advertising campaigns. A commercial illustrator. I just need to explain that to universities...

Gemma Correll

Now this woman is brilliant, punny as hell. I love her work, I LOVE it. I can spot her illustrations from isles away in Paperchase (and any other stationary shop, to be honest... she's everywhere) as she has such a defined style. Simple line drawings with a very limited colour pallet and hand lettered annotations. The combination is just so appealing. Pair that with level 10 whit and you've got yourself the best greetings card/art print ever. It's very bold to limit your designs so much but I guess it allows her to focus on being hilarious, so who's complaining.

Gemma Correll definitely influenced my early illustrations at college, but less so now. These days I focus on her humour. I haven't publicly created anything THAT funny, but it's my aim to do so. I enjoy hand lettering so I'm working on impulse, silly phrases to illustrate. I hope one day I'll be able to make customers laugh as much as I know her work does! People love to see personality, so she's inspired me to keep that in mind.

I would recommend this artist as doodle inspo to exercise your creative juices. Illustrate inanimate objects' lives and annotate what they're probably grumpy about. I'd love to see some!

PS: every time I read that dinosaur card I tear up with suppressed giggles.

Steph Baxter 

Possibly saving the best till last, I present to you, the mouth watering beauty of Steph Baxter's hand lettering. Her work simultaneously makes me want to cry and lock myself away with a mug of tea to draw into the night. It's crazy to find work that can inspire you in such an extreme way, but here it is! 

I feel like she sticks to photoshop (or something pixel based) for her work, scanning it in and editing digitally. I of course don't know, I haven't found any detailed information about her design process so I'm just assuming. But I think she keeps the rough edges which scanned fine liner gives to keep the hand rendered look to her work. I on the other hand cannot do this, I stick to illustrator and pay for it by having to spend hours longer than necessary smoothening the edges of my work. But each to their own!

Steph Baxter is the ultimate influence for my preferred style of lettering, and honestly, sometimes I find it really, really hard not to just rip off what she's already done. The problem is, her work is literally what I aspire to. This is a style of drawing, and it's the kind that I enjoy and want to create. That's a bit dumb to voice, as I've only been drawing for about three years so will almost definitely change up what I do within the next 6 months, but you know what I mean. Here's some food for thought: You can copy something completely, be it drawing or dancing, but there will always be marginal differences, and in those differences lies your unique style. I adore the layout of her typography pieces, the strong hand rendered route, but I can't stop myself from making sure every word is exactly the same distance from each other, that every bump is removed from each letter and that my illustrations aren't wonky at all. I'm not comfortably quirky... oh well! So that's what makes me confident in my style, when everything looks smooth and ordered, and I focus on it every time I start a piece.

Something I'd like to point out about her pieces is that gaps are filled with swirls and appropriate illustrations (example, bottom middle). It's such a talent to create a good typography piece because you can't only focus on the lettering; the layout and extras make it a full picture. So SWIRL, DOODLE, HAVE FUN!


So there you have it! My top three influential designers. I know many aspiring artists follow me for inspiration and want to know who inspires me, so I thought I'd share that with you. I was very happy to see that when I asked on Instagram a lot of people were eager for this post, so I hope it was informative enough! Is there anything else design based that you'd like to see from me?

I encourage you to browse the #handlettering tag on instagram, the same on Pinterest. And do let me know if you find any artists you think I would love!

Polly xo


Saturday, 7 March 2015


Hi, hello, it's me, Polly. The one with the shop. I'm about to start blogging, fo' real, and I intend it to be pretty great. There is so much I want to talk about that 140 characters and some well filtered square photographs just can't communicate, so it's definitely time to venture into new social media territory, new shiny camera in hand. I am an extremely busy human, but the priorities I've had for the past couple of months haven't been making me happy. I really need something new in my routine, and for now I'm naively under the assumption that blogging will not only spice it up, but maybe relax me a little. In reality it will probably add a whole new layer of responsibility and stress but it's nice to not focus on that.

I'd like to point out, for those who haven't already noticed, that I'm not a particularly good writer. The lazy ghost of AS level English Language is all that remains in my left brain hemisphere. Twitter took away what little grammar I once had and autocorrect is my best friend. However I think it's still set on American English. I do aim to use the online Thesaurus so my reviews don't just consist of the words "good", "gorgeous", "lovely" and "so good", but we'll see how it goes.

I'm going to aim to post at least once a week. I like the day Thursday so probably on Thursdays. I've never "themed" any of my social medias, so expect to see a wide range of posts. I'm thinking design process tutorials, personal style, hauls/wish lists, current/monthly favourites, art inspiration, running a business info and small business spotlights where I talk about little shops like mine that I'm currently loving.

I'm a dog person, my dominos order is a small Texas BBQ with honey & mustard dip and my drink of choice is a vanilla latte.

I hope you guys enjoy my content, I'm excited to get started!

Polly xo

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