Posted in British gifts, British travel, ceramics, countrylife, countryside, gifts, gifts for her, gifts for him, historic places uk, independent retail, stationery, wedding

Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley is another iconic British brand , known for fashion , interiors and accessories. It’s a company which has been on a knife’s edge financially for many years but still it has a high street presence.

Although Laura Ashley might not be to everyone’s taste and boy does it have competition, I feel there is still room in our hearts for this brand.

You might think now this dress is damn right ridiculous but in the day her designs were sought after and contemporary.

Laura Ashley (7 September 1925 – 17 September 1985) was a Welshfashion designer and businesswoman. She originally made furnishing materials in the 1950s, expanding the business into clothing design and manufacture in the 1960s. The Laura Ashley style is characterised by Romantic English designs — often with a 19th-century rural feel — and the use of natural fabrics.

While working as a secretary and raising her first two children, Ashley undertook some development work for the Women’s Institute on quilting. Revisiting the craft she had learnt with her grandmother, she began designing headscarves, napkins, table mats and tea-towels which Bernard printed on a machine he had designed in their attic flat at 83 Cambridge Street, Pimlico.[2]

The couple had invested £10 in wood for the screen frame, dyes and a few yards of linen. Ashley’s inspiration to start producing printed fabric came from a Women’s Institute display of traditional handicrafts at the Victoria & Albert Museum. When Ashley looked for small patches carrying Victorian designs to help her make patchworks, she found no such thing existed. Here was an opportunity, and she started to print Victorian style headscarves in 1953.

The scarves quickly became successful – retailing both via mail order and at high street chains such as John Lewis – and Bernard left his City job to print fabrics full-time.[3] The company was originally registered as Ashley Mountney (Laura’s maiden name), but Bernard changed the name to Laura Ashley because he felt a woman’s name was more appropriate for the type of products they were producing. The new company moved to Kent in 1955, but when the third of their four children was born, the family moved to Wales in 1960.[4]

Laura Ashley’s first shop was opened at 35 Maengwyn Street, MachynllethMontgomeryshire, in 1961.[5] The Laura Ashley association is commemorated by a small plaque. The shop sold locally produced honey, walking sticks as well as the couple’s own products. Here Laura worked with a seamstress to introduce their first forays into fashion, producing smock like shirts and gardening smocks. The family lived above the shop until moving to CarnoMontgomeryshire. They first set up in the vacant social club, but moved in 1967 to the local railway station, which had been closed two years earlier.[4]

Laura Ashley has slumped to an annual loss of more than £14m after a collapse in demand for its signature floral home furnishings.

The retailer said Brexit concerns had hit consumer confidence and stopped shoppers from making big-ticket purchases or starting big DIY projects.

At the same time, the housing market has slowed and house moves are key to the health of specialist retailers like Laura Ashley. As a result, like-for-like furniture sales were down 9% and demand for its decorating products, which include curtains and wallpaper, was down nearly 14%.

It is a great shame that this company was sold to Malaysian Holdings and shop closures are anticipated with further job losses.

Posted in British gifts, British travel, countrylife, countryside, gifts, gifts for her, gifts for him, historic places uk, independent retail, interior design, jewellery, stationery, support uk, wedding

Liberty London

Libertys has to be one of my favourite shops in london. It optimises style , elegance resilience in an ever changing economic climate. It has stood the test of time

For me personally Liberty’s is more iconic than selfridges or harrods. Many might disagree , but whatever your views or preference it’s great to support British and the iconic brands which are recognised throughout the world and are synonymous with this country.

The shop opened during 1875 selling ornaments, fabric and objets d’artfrom Japan and the East. Within eighteen months, he had repaid the loan and acquired the second half of 218 Regent Street. As the business grew, neighbouring properties were bought and added.

InNovember 1885, Liberty brought forty-two villagers from India to stage a living village of Indian artisans. Liberty’s specialised in Oriental goods, in particular imported Indian silks, and the aim of the display was to generate both publicity and sales for the store.

During the 1890s, Liberty built strong relationships with many English designers. Many of these designers, including Archibald Knox, practised the artistic styles known as Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau, and Liberty helped develop Art Nouveau through his encouragement of such designers. The company became associated with this new style, to the extent that in Italy, Art Nouveau became known as the Stile Liberty, after the London shop.

Liberty, during the 1950s, continued its tradition for fashionable and eclectic design. All departments in the shop had a collection of both contemporary and traditional designs. New designers were promoted and often included those still representing the Liberty tradition for handcrafted work.

In 1955, Liberty began opening several regional stores in other UK cities; the first of these was in Manchester.[4] Subsequent shops opened in BathBrightonChesterYorkExeter and Norwich.

During the 1960s, extravagant and Eastern influences once again became fashionable, as well as the Art Deco style, and Liberty adapted its furnishing designs from its archive.

Liberty has a history of collaborative projects – from William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the nineteenth century to Yves Saint Laurent and Dame Vivienne Westwood in the twentieth. Recent collaborations include brands such as Scott HenshallNikeDr. MartensHello KittyBarbourHouse of HackneyVansOniaManolo BlahnikUniqloSupergaT. M. Lewin, Drew Pritchard of Salvage Hunters and antique lighting specialist Fritz Fryer.

Perhaps the success of Liberty’s lies with it’s progressive ideas and more recently collaborations with other big brands. Liberty prints are still very popular today. Their designs are beautiful, intricate and timeless.

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Posted in British gifts, gifts, wedding, wedding gifts on a budget

Small wedding gifts on a budget

There are times when we don’t have a great deal to spend on wedding gifts. As a retailer in these times of austerity we are mindful of this fact. So we also source the tasteful and affordable. Good gifts don’t have to cost the earth. We hope to give you a few ideas for stand alone gifts or combined gifts.

affordable wedding gifts.
We will explore possible gift options for that all important wedding when the purse strings are tight.

Albums and picture frames are useul post wedding and a pain to buy for the couple when their photos arrive. It would be nice for the newly weds to show off their photos in a frame selected by a close friend or family member. We have a selection of gift bags, frames and albums for weddings.

small affordable wedding gifts under £10
This lovely frame is only

This is a weighty little frame, nicely put together and we sellthis for £5.00. The beautiful gift bag is £3.00. So there you have a lovely small gift for eight pounds.

You can add this sweet little wedding album for £4.00

This is a sweet little album for her to carry in her handbag to show off a selection of her wedding photos . It could also be used by the couple to give to an absent friend or family member on the big day. Photographs are so precious and what better gift could there be to a helpful assistant organiser or a brides maid.

Another wedding frame at a very affordable price, clean and modern at £5.00

Prints and homewares are also an alternative to the gifts we have already mentioned. We have a selection of prints designed in the UK at all price points.

A very sweet handmade print By Penny lindop
Another adorable print by Penny Lindop

A gift doesn’t have to be excessively large or expensive. It just needs to demonstrate you have put some love and thought into your gift buying whatever you select.

wedding gift, home fragrance
Home fragrance is very popular . I love this company based inYork
wedding gifts
Heart and home produce some lovely candles , beautifully packaged.
pop up wedding cards
The Art File produce some lovely 3D pop up cards

The unusual can have more impact than gifts you buy from the high street. Take a look around our gift shop. You might be pleasantly surprised.