Category Archives: Shopping

Life Skills to impress your 14 year old self with…

  • You might have previously been picked last at sports (and cried when your £60 an hour personal trainer suggested you do weights) but now you can lift a 7.8kg stroller and  a 15kg child up a flight of stairs, unaided.

 

  • You might have sucked at Scrabble or come last in the Spelling Bee, but hey – see how quickly you can substitute swear words for something acceptable. ‘He was a lying cheating BAR STEWARD’ yes…
  • You no longer think of the back of the bus as the cool place to sit. You think it’s the place where your children are most likely to vomit all over you. Especially on a package holiday after copious ice cream.
  • You might not have married him, but you could still go see Matt Goss on tour. Maybe without the bottle top shoes this time tho, update the look with Kenzo.

  • And on the subject of staying up late…. well, where shall we start? Clubbing til 3am and sleeping til noon looks like a spa weekend now – try the ole ‘ten mins cat nap actually face down on the cat’ technique.
  • And the thought of consuming carbs back then might have been more evil than communal changing rooms, but… when your toddler stuffs his mushed up, pre sucked Kinder Egg into your mouth you’ll eat it. And love it.
  • You only have one pair of jeans now. (OK, three…) Big bum? Work these

  • You finally mastered blow jobs. And essentially that’s now why you have children… 😉

#Fathersday Focus… Gifts for Happy Campers

If he’s happy sleeping under the stars, how about these gifts for divine inspiration…

Forget rubbing flints, Zippo make a cedar campfire starter puck – just crumble, light and fetch the sausages…

And make the best Smores with your own images on a marshmallow – personalised from Boomf.

Or how about some of these adorable geek-chic camper van badges from Koolbadges?

#FathersDay focus… Gifts for Grooming addicts

If he takes longer than you in the bathroom, get him a gift you can borrow back…

Miller Harris’ La Fumee now comes in Classic or Intense, for a smoky, woody, incensey fragrance that lasts from dusk til dawn… But with top notes of lavender and a warm amber base, it’s very unisex.

Kiehl’s Creme De Corps super rich body lotion wouldn’t look out of place on his shelf or yours with its vintage apothecary packaging…

Or if he’s a fan of a ‘proper’ shave, how about this gorgeous pottery shave bowl from Badger (the makers of Badger Balm) – and you can borrow it to pop a scented candle in…

#FathersDay Focus… Gifts for Foodies

If Dad’s tum is a bit like Daddy Pig – or he’s self crowned King of the BBQ, tempt him with these treats this Sunday…

Take meat to the dark side with this marinade sauce from Guinness

Make sure you know who is in charge of the grill with these personalised tools from Born Gifted…

Or how about an indoor salad bar of his very own…? Unwins have a lovely starter kit…

#fathersday focus… gifts for doting dads

Got a Dad who is one in a million and need some soppy inspiration? We love My 1st Years online boutique for its selection of ‘not too tacky, just the right amount of icky…’ sentimental gifts…

Our pick of the site…

Daddy and Baby Boo matching bathrobes – these come in a choice of colours, monograms or personalisation. We say: channel your man’s inner Jay Z, pretend you’re in a hotel bathroom and for chrissakes take a selfie and share it with the internet 😉

Personalised Gold Cufflinks: simple, gold, short easy words that men can understand. Heart-meltingly good…

And for the ultimate cheesy gift, say it with cheese! Personalise this lovely wooden cheeseboard, order in some of Alex James’ ‘Blue Monday’ blue cheese and treat your man to Blur at Hyde Park this weekend to remind him that before the patter of tiny feet he liked a bit of Parklife…

#Father’sDay Focus… Gifts for Mr Fixits

If Dad loves to fix what ain’t broke, give him some of these nifty bits to play with…

Sugru is a mouldable, versatile substance that sticks like glue and sets like rubber – in short, it’s something you never knew you wanted or needed until you got some. Fix that laptop cable with a dodgy connection, stop that wobbly handle on the coffee pot giving you third degree burns or just muck about with it – Sugru comes in lots of colours and is highly addictive if you’re a tinkerer!

Or maybe a tub of the super-manly Working Hands cream, from the makers of Gorilla Glue..?

This new take on the classic Leatherman tool comes in a choice of colourways – or get it laser engraved for a personal touch…

And we’re loving this book ‘Handy Dad’; 25 lovely projects ranging from tyre swings to skate ramps and tree houses…

 

#Father’sDay Focus… Gifts for Urban Pirates

This week we’ll be celebrating Dads and presenting our pick of Father’s Day gifts.

If Daddy’s a plunderer of the High Seas at heart, we’re loving this personalised copy of Treasure Island from Born Gifted. Give him (or his offspring) the starring role and add a dedication on the inside cover…

Or how about this impressive treasure chest, complete with award winning Honduran Pirate’s Grog rum? Ahoy there!

And how cool is this Legless Pirate Bottle Opener? Opens wine and beer – a steal at just a tenner…

Boutique Focus… Born Gifted

Born Gifted is a lovely site that offers a huge choice of gift solutions for all ages and all family members. Run by Jim Wilson and his wife Penny it is a veritable treasure trove of presents for all occasions and budgets. We caught up with Jim to get the low down…

jim wilson

SM: How did Born Gifted come about?

Jim Wilson: I was inspired to launch Born Gifted in 2002.  A friend of mine had just had a baby and I found the choice of baby gifts was somewhat limited in the UK, particularly online.  Around the same time I took a short break to the Netherlands where I purchased my friend’s child a lovely crocheted rattle by Dutch designer Anne-Claire Petit.  My friend was so impressed I decided to see what other stylish brands were available on the continent.  It was apparent that there were many design-led, luxury baby products being produced by our European cousins that weren’t yet readily available in the UK.  The seed was sown for a new business venture.

In early 2003 after a visit to a trade show in Paris the website www.borngifted.co.uk was launched.   Born Gifted was one of the first websites in the UK to offer brands such as Anne-Claire Petit, Kaloo, Sophie la Giraffe, Janod and Oskar & Ellen. 

SM: Which are your best selling gifts?

Jim Wilson: For new babies the best sellers are consistently personalised blankets and engraved money boxes.  People love a personalised gift which also serves a useful purpose!

 

We are also well known for our extensive range of christening gifts and with christening season well under way the sales of our personalised bibles are very high at the moment.   In addition as people tend to spend a bit more on a Christening our solid silver and pewter ranges are also in high demand.

In terms of baby toys, the Sophie the Giraffe range from France is still very popular with our customers; this has always been a best seller for us and I’m sure will continue to do so.  I think the main appeal of this is that it is made from all natural materials giving complete peace of mind to the parents.

SM: Which gifts from the site do your own family like best?

Jim Wilson: Personally I am a big fan of anything featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I loved Eric Carle’s book as a kid (as do my kids today) so I feel a strong connection with the brand.

 

My wife’s particular favourites are our own gift sets which come in personalised boxes; Sophie the Giraffe gift baskets, and the Kaloo Patchwork Doudou!

My children have all loved playing with the wooden toys by French manufacturer Janod.  Their toys are great quality; colourful and very robust (they had to be with my boys).  Needless to say they have ‘tested’ quite a few products for me over the years!

SM: Which member of your family is most difficult to buy presents for?

Jim Wilson: That’s an easy one – my eldest son.  Every year his Christmas or Birthday list consists of ‘i-Pad; Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge Phone; Tickets to Disney World; Laptop etc. – you get the idea.  He gets full marks for trying at least!

SM:  What have been the biggest challenges for the company?

Jim Wilson: Most of our visitors are generated via Google search so we rely a great deal on good rankings in their search results.  Google have made huge changes to the way they rank web pages in recent years which has certainly proved challenging for many independent businesses such as ourselves who now often have to rely on more expensive forms of paid advertising.  Luckily we have very loyal customers with a repeat custom rate of over 20% – so we must be doing something right.

Competition is much stronger now than when we started which was inevitable, however the market does seem to be dominated by a handful of very large ecommerce sites.  While I have nothing against these types of sites I believe the smaller independents can often offer more interesting product and better service to its customers.

SM: What’s next for the business? 

Jim Wilson: Global domination!  Ha ha maybe a bit over the top.  We are set to expand into the international market in 2015.   We receive so many requests about overseas delivery that we have finally decided to bite the bullet and offer this service in the next few months.  We are currently in talks with various international couriers, so watch this space…

Editor’s pick of the site: make your life a little sparklier with this personalised canvas…available in a huge choice of colours to match any tiny person’s bedroom…

#Win an Aspinal of London City Bag at #LuxuryBrandShow

London ladies: all you need to do to be in with a chance to win one of the lovely Marylebone or Mount St bags from hero brand Aspinal of London is pop down to The Luxury Brand Show today at Broadgate’s Exchange Square and fill out your details at their stand.

Loved by SM’s from Fearne Cotton to the Duchess of Cambridge, Aspinal’s bags are beautifully crafted and come in a delicious range of colours and styles.

Aspinal are also offering a free monogrammed journal with all purchases made at the event today.

Boutique Focus… Tortue De Mer

Tortue de Mer is our first port of call for beautiful kaftans for all the family. Be they for unisex beachwear, comfortable breastfeeding cover ups, Boho loungewear – Tortue de Mer (named after the sea turtles on the founder’s favourite beach) provides a huge selection of gorgeous colours, a range of sizes – all made from 100% ethical cotton and cut in flattering, comfortable styles. As they are super affordable too, holiday packing just got simpler!

Founder Isabelle Riaille took time to tell us all about her boutique…

Isabelle & Lola

SM: How did concept for Tortue de Mer come about?

Isabelle Riaille: Early in the summer of 2006 I was looking for some light weight, airy, super comfortable cotton tops for my baby Lola. I searched my home town Nice, as well as London and Paris on weekend trips but found nothing. I then looked on the internet and a few clicks later I saw the following forum posting: “I want to buy kaftans for my girls (5 and 7) to wear on the beach and around the campsite etc.. I want 100% cotton. You know, the light voile stuff, not necessarily white, but pretty and practical.” I have found two for myself, but nothing for the girls. Anyone any ideas?” So I set out to fill this demand and created Tortue de Mer with the aim of making affordable summer wear in ‘voile de cotton’ in a rainbow of colours for women, babies, kids and teens.

SM: What has been your biggest challenge?

Isabelle Riaille: Definitely finding the right family businesses in developing countries to work with! I only work with family run enterprises, people that I know personally. Voahangy, for example, who supplies us from Madagascar started her garment making business over ten years ago in a small building with only one employee. Now Voahangy employs more than 100 women in a bright modern workshop. Alongside the workshop, Voahangy has built, equipped and staffed a school for the children of her workers, paid for and supported by the success of her business. The school fulfils Voahangy’s fundamental belief that education is the only long term solution to poverty.

SM: What does Lola like best from the collection?

Isabelle Riaille: As you will see looking at the children’s collection online – Lola has worn and been photographed in the entire range. She has worn Tortue de Mer all summer for years! I think she isn’t  that bothered about the look at her age so much but more about the freedom of movement and the cool comfort she feels when running along the beach or sitting on a giant tortoise!

SM: What has been the best bit of feedback you’ve ever had from a customer?

Isabelle Riaille: We ask every customer for feedback so it is difficult to mention one bit but I got a very nice letter from Elton John after he received the kaftan I sent for his son Zachary. Often people mention how much they like the mini Tortue de Mer beach bag I send with big orders, the hand written note to each customer and  ‘fleur d’orangier perfume’ that you smell when opening the package, the south of France touch!

SM: What are your bestselling pieces from the collection?

Isabelle Riaille: Beach kaftans and kaftan dresses are the best sellers. Once you have worn one you want more so repeat business is good!

SM: Turtles are obviously important to you and your family but was there a special moment that won you over to these creatures?

Isabelle Riaille: I’ve always admired these wonderful creatures that have been swimming freely and so gracefully in our seas for millions of years! They enjoy the perfect habitat where I like to be on days off – on the beach and in the sea! Sadly today, the seven species of marine turtles that still exist are all included on the World Conservation Union’s red list of endangered species. This is all because of us! Turtles don’t hurt us so how and why do we hurt them? Turtles get tangled in our fishing nets. Turtles are hunted for their eggs, meat and shells. Turtles are killed by marine litter such as plastic bags and balloons. They confuse floating plastic bags and balloons for jellyfish, which they eat. Turtles cannot digest plastic or rubber which blocks their digestive tract and so they tragically die from starvation.

(If you share Isabelle’s passion, read more about her turtle adoption and lend your support)

SM: What is next for the brand?

Isabelle Riaille: To continue in the same vein – providing new collections of timeless summer wear that is super comfortable and affordable in a vast choice of colours whilst giving people a sense to their purchases by supporting small family businesses in developing countries.

Editor’s pick: got a little adventurer prone to sunburned legs? Check out the range of unisex cottong trousers…