Thursday, 9 June 2016

My first brand rep search.

Having a brand rep seems to be very common in other countries & something that we have only just recently, & openly, started to use here in the UK. The idea a very simple one; chosen recipients are sent free items for the exchange of (hopefully) gorgeous photos of their products in stylish homes, on beautiful littluns &/or in inspiring flatlays etc. 
Both parties use the images & are then able to promote each other to a wider circle of followers & therefore potential customers. With zero budget for advertising etc, I really liked the idea, but I didn't know any other makers, at the time that I could speak to for advice. So if you are debating whether to use brand reps or not I thought I would share my experience so far to help.

I love capturing images of my products and especially my daughter using the pieces but longed for gorgeous images similar to those in styled shoots that I could never afford having just started. So I decided to start an ABOEdesigns brand rep search & honestly the results have so far been amazing!!

Today I want to introduce you to my first brand rep Kristal Price Photography. (http://kristalprice.blogspot.co.uk)
Kristal is a photographer in Utah, America, happy wife & mother to three gorgeous girls. She captures families, products & birthdays in such a beautiful way - I mean seriously her images of pretty little ladies dressed in tutu dresses sitting with unicorns, (yes that's right unicorns!!) has me wanting to jump on a plane with my own littles for some magical shoot fun constantly!!


discovered Kristal via Instagram & instantly fell in love with her photographs & the way she captured her daughters. (These images in particular of her daughter's birthday just amazed me!!) From the very beginning she has been a joy to communicate with. I think anyone who is going to look for reps needs to bear in mind communication is the key! We both have ideas about how the products could be represented. Kristal took on board things that I mentioned and I truly appreciated that! But I also made it clear I wanted her to have free reign creatively. Trust is so important because after all you have to love the style your brand rep has in the first place!!

Looking at Kristal's photographs I think it's obvious why I fell in love with them! The magical & dreamy feel to them & also let's be honest isn't little Khloe just so gorgeous!!




The thought of having Kristal capture my pieces in images like this honestly was & continues to be, a dream come true!!

My brief was some might think, quite basic - light, bright whimsical images, girlie colours with a slightly vintage feel. If you follow me on Instagram chances are you will have probably noticed how emotional I get - yes it's no secret, since having children I have become an emotional mush! So it's maybe no surprise when I say that I teared up immediately when Kristal sent through my first batch of images!!







Kristal & I have made the effort to get to know each other & Im proud to call her my friend. We have further shoots & ideas planned, & I hope this is a collaboration that lasts for the foreseeable future. I'm so thankful for her talent & truly blessed that she wants to help me with the presentation of my pieces & brand.

The possibilities for future shoots are so exciting & I cannot wait to show you more!! My verdict on brand reps is very much a yes do it!!! It's been such a positive experience for me so far! (& I still have more brand reps to show you!!) 








Wednesday, 8 June 2016

A Renewed Love

In February my youngest baby started preschool. This meant that for the first time in a decade I had some time to myself, & I also had to think about getting back to work! I didn't know what to do with myself!! Always awkward & uncomfortable without my littles now. 
It was so scary at first, I had a head full of fear & doubt, & just general confusion as to what my personal future would be. To be honest I still don't know entirely what my future holds, but over the past few months I have worked hard to be able to aim towards exciting times.

I have always loved being creative. I'm so happy when decorating our home, making the children gifts & encouraging crafts. This combination led to the creation of ABOE designs, & especially the colour-in range. I'm proud of this little range & it has fitted in perfectly with my family; they have loved & inspired so much of it. I will continue to expand & work on the products & increase stockists etc, but as a designer I would love to have more to sink my teeth in to, so to speak. 

Before my children, I studied lingerie design (contour fashion) & surface pattern & decoration design. I thought my career would be in designing delicate lingerie fabrics; but to approach this type of design again filled me with doubt & insecurity!

Thanks to the way we live today & social media playing a part in most of our lives I'm fortunate to be able to say that Instagram has brought about so much happiness to my little life. It has allowed me to start & grow in product photography, it has brought so many lovely 'friends in my phone' in to my life & it just recently helped me to rediscover one of my true loves! I don't mean anything sordid here, sorry no ex's have turned my eye, I'm very happily married ;) But I have definitely fallen in love with drawing all over again!! 


I'd convinced myself that I wouldn't be able to get an artistic job. I secretly cried quite a lot at the thought of not being able to work in a creative environment, having not worked for a decade how could I compete with graduates etc. I looked at freelance jobs, but always convinced myself that I couldn't do it, I wasn't good enough anymore. So I don't know what came over me when I saw on Instagram a job vancancy with one of my favourite wedding stationers, and just messaged instantly! I wasn't full of fear but instead excitement!! Well ok the fear set in as soon as the message was sent, but I'd already put myself out there by that point so the hardest part was done right?! To my surprise the lovely designer in question suggested working together on a project, which we did & I hope to show you in the future! The process of working on this design meant I was once again sat drawing florals & was genuinely so happy to be back doing something that I loved. By the end of the first week I was happy with my drawings and by the second really excited by them!



have decided to draw as many florals as possible and work towards a new design portfolio to be proud of! I have loved talking to new couples about designs for their wedding stationery & who knows maybe it could be something that I could develop further myself? The thought of constantly drawing, working on strengthening a talent that I'm so blessed to have is exciting! That combined with my little business, could be the perfect balance. I have never asked to be rich, to just make sure we can support our little ones & their future is all we aspire to do. To be with them & doing what I love seems like the perfect life to me! & maybe when they are much older & not wanting me so much I can then really go for it? The things is we just don't know what the future has in store for us, but it certainly is more comforting to work towards an idea & have a plan of action. 

Here are some of my drawings so far. I'd love to have your feedback & of course if you have any suggestions for how I can turn my renewed love into a career then please do shout out - all ideas welcome ;)




Thank you for reading as always, bestest wishes

Jacqui
XX







Thursday, 4 February 2016

Colour Couture Dolls

On July 19th 2015 I launched my #colourcouturedolls & I'm only just blogging about them now, that's bad isn't it :(
The positive side to this is that the lack of blogging is due to lots of orders & my first really successful Christmas - yay!! 


The colour couture dolls (aka Co'Co' dolls) were completely inspired by my eldest daughter. She loves to colour & being very girlie she enjoys playing with her dolls. I find dolls clothes everywhere because she loves to change their outfits & even attempts to squeeze them onto other toys such as her teddies; anything and everything will get dressed up somehow! 

It was when she was bought a lovely paperdolls set that the main idea came to be. She spent ages colouring in the little outfits & was so happy with them. But then her stubbornness wouldn't allow me to help her & so at the cutting out part there were outfits ruined & lots of tears :( The outfits that did make it still ended up ruined because they were easily bent or were damaged by water & sticky little fingers etc. It was such a shame because the initial stages of her colouring were lovely to witness & the enthusiasm & eagerness to have a doll wear her outfits was something I shared with her.

All of these factors set my creative juices flowing & the colour couture dolls came to be.

In the end the dolls took a year to bring to the point of sale! I never imagined it could take so long. But every part of the dolls is unique & has undergone hundreds of hours of designing.


The dolls themselves are laser etched wood. Unlike their paper counterparts they are sturdier & made to last. They can be coloured in using coloured pencils, felt tip pens, gel pens, paints, even découpage! The outcomes are endless & the end result as unique as its owner!


Even the dresses took months to perfect. I firstly very much wanted this design shown above. When I managed to get the pattern to fit & work perfectly I was overjoyed! So imagine my dismay at a little focus group, watching the girls colouring them & struggling with the seams & tucks :( It had to be easier, it had to be very different to create a dress enjoyable to colour! So back to the drawing board for a new dress. 
The dress now has no seams, it is one basic shape that lays flat & is so easy to colour. It fastens with the softest Velcro at the back & has pretty little satin ribbon ties at the shoulders. It's been one of those little accomplishments to me that means so much!! Each & every dress has been made by my own fair hands & comes beautifully finished - unlike some of the shocking dolls clothes we have seen!



So far there are three different #colourcouturedolls designs....


This is Lara, she was intended to be the shy one, the swan princess; but of course colour her in vibrant colours & watch her persona change!


This is Gracie, named after my eldest daughter & so she of course had to have flowers in her hair & be holding a bunny; as these are all my Gracie's favourites.


& last, but certainly not least because she has been the most popular by far is Jolie. Jolie is named after my youngest daughter & so she too, copying my littleone, had to have bunches of some sort & be carrying a teddy bear.

This year will see new colour-in print designs for the dresses, and if I can perfect the pattern even a reversible dress! Two prints in one, exciting!! 

The range of coordinating colour-in jewellery will also increase & I am currently working on two special additions to the girls which I just cannot wait to reveal (fingers crossed it won't be a year this time til I get to do so ;) )

The dolls are available in my Etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/Aboedesigns 
They can be purchased on their own or in sets with the recommended pens.

For all lovers of paperdolls I really hope they offer a better alternative. Watching my daughter play with them & even use the dresses on her other dolls, I know they offer a better experience for little ones & I hope I get to make them, & more, for years to come! 



I have had such lovely feedback from customers so far & lots of repeat custom - which is the biggest compliment ever! I hope the #colourcouturedolls can be bought to so many more homes & little ladies waiting to put their individual personality on a doll.












 




Monday, 1 February 2016

Ice cream cupcakes

I love celebrating my littles' birthdays! Always trying to make the day special, coming up with themes or organising special days around things they love at the time; I just love the planning & creating of it all!!

One of my favourite parts has to be the making of the birthday cake. (I'm certainly no chef, but I just enjoy the trying) I ask them what sort of thing they would like, & attempt to produce something to wow them. 

So imagine my dismay last year when my tinkerbell loving littlest spotted a tinkerbell cake in Tescos & just pleaded for it!! Of course I couldn't say no! It was her birthday & once she'd seen it no other cake would have made up for it. We left Tescos with a very happy little lady & an unsettled Mummy :(

The only thing I needed to now make were some cupcakes. So.....inspired by Pinterest I decided to make them the cutest cupcakes ever!


I'm so pleased to be able to say they were a huge hit!! More so than the shop bought cake (yay! Fist pump! ;) ) & shhhhh don't tell anyone but they were actually very easy to make too!

The wafer ice cream cups are available in most supermarkets. I have seen many recipes showing how normal ice cream cones can be cut & stuck to stand - but truthfully that just looks far too complicated & stressful, & why need to when these look adorable & do a better job?!

For our ice cream cup cakes we used a simple chocolate sponge recipe - use your favourite one but keep it simple the cooking time is brief. (If you would like to know the one I used please feel free to leave a comment & I can post it for you.)

My TOP TIP would be to fill one cone only to about two thirds full. Place it in the middle of the baking tray & cook following your normal time guides. The cones are deceptively large & so you will probably need to cook for longer than a usual cupcake size; but keep checking.

By cooking one it allows you to check properly the exact cooking time & also the amount of cake mixture. Too much will obviously rise & overflow; or not enough will leave too much cone for the icing to fill. Once you feel happy with your tester cake simply fill the rest of the cones to the height you are now confident with, & for the time you have just worked out. Stress free & perfect!

Once cooked I piped some pale pink butter icing on the top, added of course the obligatory sprinkles & then the very sweet touch of a Malteser bunny! Voila cuteness overload!

The decorations you could put on top are endless - sweets, lollipops, paper flag toppers or even mini painted toys to coordinate with a theme (just make sure no one tries to eat those though! ;) ) 

I've been asked to make more for my other children's birthdays, so lots of fun new ideas for decorations to come. 


I also may have made my favourite go to sugar cookies; but they deserve a post all of their own I think ;)

So this was last years success, & tomorrow happens to be my littlest's birthday again, wish me luck as this time I've been asked to make a big pink birthday cake - I can't wait!! 

Bye for now, ABOE love to you all XX









Monday, 18 January 2016

Product photography

In my last post I spoke about some of the decorating that we've managed in our little cottage. A huge reason for decorating our bedroom so quickly, was because I had been asked by a follower on Instagram to take some product shots & aspirational images for her website. So out came the roller & the brushes, for my bedroom to become the perfect backdrop! (Such a great excuse to create a blush haven!)





was so excited at this opportunity! Always a keen amateur photographer & a lover of styling (although when not paid to do this as a profession maybe it's fairer to call it faffing!! ;) ) I couldn't wait to get started!

Caz Taylor of Taylor'd Bundles works with lots of UK designers and makers. My favourite products that I worked with have to be the gorgeous & traditional pyjamas by Lunn Antiques. I even got to include my gorgeous son, & Caz's superstar of a newborn son in an ABOEdesigns baby vest too - such adorable models!!

Here are some of my favourite images......





Images can be seen at 'mini Lunn' - www.lunnantiques.co.uk & www.taylordbundles.co.uk 

Product photography is such a vital, but quite often overlooked element of a small business. Presenting your products in a fresh, bright & aspirational way can not only gain interest & followings on your social media etc but it ultimately leads to increased sales too! I personally believe it shows a level of professionalism. Sales/retail is ultimately a superficial world & you need to attract people's attention. A beautiful image is worlds apart from a product placed on a sideboard for an EBay listing 

I love the idea of helping small businesses, start ups & other mumpreneurs! So if affordable product photography is a need for your business, please feel free to get in touch; Id love to hear from you!







Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Home sweet home......

We recently celebrated our first full year in our home. 


Why is that such a big thing you may wonder?... We have moved 5 times in 5 years!! Yep it's been exhausting, especially as the moves have occurred during poorly pregnancies or with small babies. 

They have all been necessary work moves & unavoidable, but as a consequence each home has felt like a stepping stone, a temporary home so to speak. This is the first home that we have truly made our mark on!

We do not own this house, it is a long term let which explains why we are showering all of our attention on it, it is as much of a benefit to us as it is to the owner to improve it! 
There is an unfair stigma attached to renting which I don't always understand. For us it was the only option at the time, we didn't know the area we were moving to, it's a huge leap with children! But we have luckily loved it here - this is the happiest I've seen my little family & so while owning has never been the be all and end all to us, I know that given the chance we would love to make this house ours!!

The consequence of those years imagining what I would do to a home we could decorate from top to bottom has been beautiful Pinterest boards worthy of Home Living pages!! Seriously what did we ever do before Pinterest?! I love it! It's always my first go to now for inspiration 

We have so far worked on 5 rooms in the house & also on the garden. It certainly isn't magazine worthy yet, in all honesty it's not going to be - (especially with 3 children & pets) but I have loved what we have achieved so far. The changes have been carried out by my husband & I only! I am so proud of his developing skills & I love that we are doing this together!! He takes the lead with any woodwork projects, electrics, the general heavy work; leaving me to do the painting & wallpapering - so far it's a system working perfectly!

Followers on Instagram will know that this decorative journey is better known as #moorecottageproject - here are my decoration highlights from our first year....








One of the major success is undoubtedly our Wendy House! An abandoned old shed that has been given a new lease of life!


We began this almost as soon as we moved in! The Hubby took off the roof, jet washed the inside ridding it of years of dirt & spiders/spider webs etc, it was horrid!! The roof was re felted and reattached & I got to work painting it. 

What seemed like a simple notion took far longer than I imagined! It had obviously never had any treatment of any kind on it & absorbed the paint at a ridiculous rate. This meant that four or five layers of paint went on, not just the outside walls but also on the inside! To save time I decided to wallpaper some of the inside walls too. Being realistic I expected these sections to not last forever but even if they were something to update every year or so, the further layers would do the Wendy house good anyway! Plus it means my littles are unlikely to outgrow it!



After dressing the inside I can honestly say my littles adore this space!! They genuinely use it everyday & even when it's a bit miserable outside they can still enjoy being outdoors while staying warm & dry! We keep plastic toys in there too, which means not only do they stay clean & safe & undamaged, but I have also gained another room of toy storage which means this little cottage isn't bursting at the seams with the expected clutter that accompanies three children!

Now I have a confession to make - this post has sat forgotten in my draft folder & since we have had another winter! The poor little Wendy house wallpaper & windows could definitely do with some TLC this Spring, but it sounds like an exciting new project doesn't it.......yay!!

Much more than a stockist!!

ABOEdesigns baby vests are currently only available through our stockist Taylor'd Bundles!


Founded by Caz Taylor - Taylor'd Bundles is a collective of UK designers & makers; producing beautiful bespoke gift 'bundles' for the lovely events in life. 

I love to 'shop small' - supporting small businesses, mumpreneurs & other unique creatives. To be part of a business that promotes & encourages this is fantastic! I really do feel lucky that my products are handled with such care & represented in such a thoughtful way!

The vests produced for Taylor'd Bundles are unique - the particular fabric combinations are only available through the website www.taylordbundles.co.uk  
Designs include the classic teddy bear in neutral pale tones, & a fun red, beautiful pink shoes for the girls & for the boys the vintage inspired blue car.



Each piece is hand sewn & they sit beautifully along side the other available products such as paper cut artwork, patchwork baby blankets, bunting & even personalised vintage plates featuring baby's birth details! Unique gifts to truly treasure!!






From the very beginning Taylor'd Bundles has been so supportive. My images & various social media pages are quite often shared; sometimes of work that is very different from the pieces I produce for them. It just shows the unselfish encouragement which means the world to small start up creatives! Not only has Caz shown that she believes in my making skills, but I was recently asked to work on some photography for the website, due to go live this Autumn. A huge compliment, & an experience which has definitely given me the confidence to now continue with product photography!
(More on that I think in a blog post all of its own)

really do love making these vests! Each one really is sewn by hand & is a labour of love. Financially it is not the best move & the baby clothing market seems very heavily saturated with appliquéd products (although not done by hand) so unfortunately I can't see me making my millions from them ;) But until the design & photograph side take up every waking hour you can guarantee that I will continue these little beauties for these gorgeous bundles! So please go have a look at all of the stunning hand made pieces - I guarantee you won't be disappointed!!