AD - Gifted Post in collaboration with Not For Ponies. AD because post contains items gifted to me for the purposes of this review. *
Hello there! I have decided to start another new series on my Blog, this time focusing on small businesses. Being a blogger, I am regularly put in touch with owners of small businesses and it is a really enjoyable part of being a blogger.
Whether it be reviewing a product, service or finding a new company which sells fashion at an affordable price, there is often a small team of people behind it, plugging away, putting in the late nights and the early mornings trying everything to make a success out of their little business.
I do feel, that as bloggers we do owe some responsibility to them as more and more of them are turning to Twitter and bloggers alike to promote themselves. Plus, I think it's fun being one of only a handful of bloggers lucky enough to discover a burgeoning business and getting to trial some of their products! Or is that just me!?
I have found all of the business I'll be featuring on twitter, under the hashtag #smallbiz as that is where they were all hiding! To start with, I'll be featuring a couple of the small businesses I've already come into contact with, as that way I hope that a few of you will have already heard of them too!
Not For Ponies aims to bring sparkle and fun to your day with smile-evoking, quirky lifestyle products. The kooky collection includes clothing, accessories and homeware for me, women and kids at affordable prices, with both statement and everyday goods designed to perk up your day. Their handwriting is fun, playful and original and their products are quality, yet affordable.
Not For Ponies grew from a bohemian market stall that travelled festivals and art fairs across the UK into an independent lifestyle brand. The brand was born out of its founder's love of rich vibrant colours, playful prints and narrative graphics.
A Bit Of Background
The brand was founded in Manchester (the hub it seems for creatives!) back in 2009 by Fashion Enterprise graduate Rebecca Andrews who first got creative with fashion and textiles as a child 20 years ago, inspired by her love for the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians, she watched in awe as Cruella de Vil commissioned striking fashion illustrations.
There was something about the fluid, free-handed sketching, immaculate application of watercolours and contrasting tones that made her think 'I want to do that.....'
Rebecca started designing clothes at primary school, she got an A3 file and turned it into a portfolio. She started designing anything and everything - wedding dresses, ball gowns, fancy costumes, shoes, T-shirts. She says she started experimenting with colour palettes, took note of the way fabric folded and began trying to represent texture.
She got her first sewing machine aged 15 and began making designs based on her favourite band - No Doubt. She first set about creating a dog tooth coat and then inherited some vintage dresses from her Great Aunt Daisy so she played around up-cycling them. The dresses were from the 1960's so had massive prints, bright colours and big floral motifs on them - as was the fashion at the time - which turned out to be right up her street.
Rebecca studied for a BTEC National Diploma at Northampton College where she did a lot of pattern cutting and manufacture which she says really helped to develop her practical skills. She then went onto do a BA in Fashion Enterprise at Cleveland College of Art and Design in Tesside and never looked back.
She wonders why the North of England gets such a bad rap when it's home to some of the friendliest, funniest, most welcoming people she's ever met in her life!
After she graduated, Rebecca spent a year working as a childswear designer for a supplier in Leeds where she got to work on some great accounts including Mothercare and also spent 3 months working in the sample room in China which she says was such a great opportunity, seeing first hand how the clothes in the shops are actually made.
Rebecca has worked in all kinds of spaces over the years, her first design studio was at Broadstone Mill in Stockport, Cheshire. It was a quirky little place, the studio walls were crafted from metal cages, the idea was that visitors could cocme and look round, chat to the artists and says it was a great place to network with other creatives too.
Rebecca went from there into Afflecks Palace in the centre of Manchester, which was more retail focussed, so the studio was in her shop. Currently she works from home as she has the space to do it and it keeps the overheads down, meaning she can charge her customers less.
The Pieces I Chose:
When I was given the chance to work with Rebecca and her beautiful brand, I couldn't wait to log onto her site and begin browsing as all of her pieces are absolutely gorgeous!
In the end though I went for three pieces which represented my personality best - Gin, Tea & Dogs!
Gin Wall Hanging
I absolutely love this wall hanging, I find that it sits well on my wall and adds a touch of vibrancy to my otherwise plain walls. If you know me even a little, you know that I have penchant for a G&T on an evening - I have even been on a Gin Tour to sample some of the best in Yorkshire so I feel like I know my stuff, more than 'just liking Gin!'
It is 40% wool felt so the hanging itself feels really soft. I really love the design - the bottle and the lemon really stands out against the pink background. I have seen this design as a cushion and I have to say I am quite tempted by it!
Then I really would have a cushion to represent both sides of my personality - tea in the morning and Gin in the evenings!
Cuppa Tea Cushion
Again, I couldn't resist this when I saw it online, mainly because I love a good cushion but also because I love my tea! Maybe it's because I'm from Yorkshire and up here we drink a bucket load of tea everyday - but I way prefer it to coffee!
The cushion itself is just beautiful, really really soft, owing mainly to the fact it's 40% wool felt. I adore the pink pom poms round the outside they really add something to the overall design.
I love the little bumble bee too, it makes the whole idea of sitting outside in the sunshine with a cuppa tea easier to believe.
This is actually a men's t-shirt but I love that because it means it's more oversized and therefore more versatile. I love how baggy it is, meaning there's plenty of room in it and I can wear it on even my most bloated of days - or when I'm virtually 99% roast potato after a really scrummy lunch!
I HAD to choose this t-shirt because, in case you didn't know, I am MAD about dogs, like completely, utterly, totally dog-lady crazy! I will actively cross the street if there's even the smallest chance I'll get to pet one! And don't get me started on the days I'm out dog walking with my friend and her two dogs - you cannot tear me away from petting every dog that goes past! Haha!
You could say this t-shirt is the third part of my personality - together with the Gin hanging and the Cuppa tea cushion it's me all over. Nothing makes me happier than having a cuppa tea whilst stroking a puppa, dreaming of the G&T I can have in the bath later that night!
So you could say that this is the most perfect haul of all! I absolutely adore Rebecca's store and having sampled the quality for myself I can tell you that you'll not be disappointed if you happen to purchase something.
Please let me know if you do! You'll be supporting a fabulous small business and putting a smile on Rebecca's face for sure!
Love, Sarah xoxoxo