Category Archives: Shopping

#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…

Boutique Focus…Kozi Kids

Kozi Kidz is a UK-based company which has an award-winning range of outdoor gear for kids aged 0-10. It was founded in 2008 by a husband/wife team Linda and Tomas Torstensson after they returned from living in Sweden and noticed a gap in the market for good-quality children’s outdoor gear. Linda took the time to chat to us about the brand…

SM: How did Kozi Kidz come about?

Linda TorstenssonWe decided to start Kozi Kidz after observing differences between the habits of children growing up in Sweden and those growing up in the UK, especially with regards to how they interact with the outdoors and nature.

Although we were living in Sweden at the time, we kept a close eye on the growing concerns about children’s’ health in the UK. After being stopped multiple times in the street by people wanting to know where are young daughter’s outdoor gear was from, we realised there was a gap in the market. These events also tied in with a desire to start my own company after a career break so together with my husband Tomas I started Kozi Kidz.’

SM: What have been the biggest challenges running the company whilst being a mum?

Linda TorstenssonJuggling priorities and feeling that sometimes I am not doing either job 100% effectively.’

SM: What pieces does your own daughter like best from the range?

Linda TorstenssonShe has now grown out of Kozi Kidz but her past favourites included the onesie, soft shell and of course the raincoats.’

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

Linda TorstenssonThe best feedback is when parents report that their kids love their Kozi Kidz clothing. It’s also fantastic to receive confirmation from families about the durability of the gear.

SM: If you could suggest one Kozi Kidz garment to our readers as a ‘must have’ which would it be?

Linda TorstenssonDefinitely a PU rain set, either lined or unlined.  This is the mainstay of an outdoor wardrobe for young kids and every child or household in Scandinavia has at least one if not two sets.’

SM: We recently featured the ‘Nordic Napping’ trend, was this something you did and what did you dress your daughter in to sleep outdoors?

Linda TorstenssonAbsolutely! Very often after a walk I would leave the pram parked outside the back door in the garden whilst she continued to sleep, winter and summer.  In summer the key thing was to ensure the mosquito net was in place, in winter it depended on just how cold it was. In temperatures of minus 10C then generally she would have a padded snow suit on with a couple of blankets and a pram liner. If it was warmer, a fleece all in one was all she needed in the pram with blankets.

I’d often join her too, sitting outside in the snow in minus temperatures with a cup of coffee seemed quite normal!’

Editor’s Pick: we love this lightweight camo jacket, with on-trend orange trim and packaway pouch – perfect for little urban warriors at play.

How not to #fail with a cape…

Poor old Madonna at the BRITs, eh? But capes can be troublesome garments, even for the most (ahem) capable of us…

Invented in the Medieval times and the mainstay of the Roman Catholic clergy, capes became popular as female attire as they provided warmth without crushing one’s dress…

From the fairytale to the burlesque, from McQueen to Pucci, the cape has snuck in and out of fashion moments – and here’s our ’round up of SM friendly ones!

The Reverse Los Ojos Trench Cloak from Preserve.us: Blake Lively’s shopping site boasts this oversized, Spanish influenced, reversible number. Our tip: this would look beautiful over a simple LBD, we love Baukjen’s Jessica dress

The Seraphine Maternity Cape: for a maternity cover up that is super wearable afterwards, this one is tops. Not too bulky and the sleeve details is mega flattering; it is lovely and cosy too. Our tip: get some statement boots, we love Zara’s burgundy lace up ankle boots…

The Fleece Ruana scarf from House of Bath: for an outdoorsy wrap-cape, this one is great. Snuggly soft but can double up as a hardwearing, washable car blankie or picnic rug if need be! Our tip: build up some layers, wrap it over a waterfall cardy or accessorise with a snood.

Mint Green Smart Cape from Reiss: channel a little bit of Frozen-fantasy with some Parisian chic with this gorgeous pastel cape – out tip; invest in a pair of ladylike long gloves – like their Zinnia ones

 

Original Baby Shower Gifts

Worried that gathering the girlfriends for a Shower will result in a downpour of gifts that are something of a damp squib?  Bring yourself some sunshine by way of this wishlist…

IOU’s: whether it’s the promise of a night out with your bestie, a couple of hours babysitting or even ‘I owe you cleaning the oven’, get a beautiful set of cards, envelopes and a box, each write an IOU vow in your best cursive writing and tie them up with ribbon.

Book Club: Stock up a library for the new arrival by each bringing a children’s book. We love this tree bookshelf too by Shawn Soh.

Circle of Love bangle: we’ve all seen jewellery personalised with children’s names, but how about something bearing the names of your gang of Pink Ladies? Order from Babes with Babies.

Anti Boredom Kit: we all know babies don’t always arrive on time, so how about making those last few days/weeks a little more bearable with a big bag of trashy mags, box sets and bubblebath?

A super luxe changing bag: the cream of the crop has to be a Pacapod; so cleverly created for busy lifestyles – and we love the leather Firenze for sheer style and the new Idaho for its Boho chic (Editor’s tip: sneak a lovely red lippy into the inner pocket of this one, Chanel’s Rouge Allure in ‘Pirate’ seems a perfect match)

Valentine’s Lust List

He loves me, he loves me not. He got me cheap carnations, or even worse forgot…

We’re lusting after the following tokens of esteem:

  • Jo Malone Red Roses cologne: simple, chic, the best way to receive a bouquet…                                         
  • Wrap her up in rouge with a pashmina from Isla Rule Cashmere in Rio Red                                                      
  • Make like Prince Charming with this lovely leather charm bracelet from Lily Belle at Not On the High St    
  • Go for subtle red slashes that mean business with the enviable nude Pigalle heels from Louboutin                 
  • Just started dating? Keep it simple and fun with a box of Godiva’s – we love this ‘You Have My Heart’ kitsch and colourful one…

Twelve Xmas Wishes

Lords a Leaping, take note. Here’s the Christmas Lust List:

  • Bouquets from The Wild Flower Company: part of the British Flower Collective, these posies of seasonal blooms and grasses add panache to a rustic kitchen or a channel your inner Eliza Doolittle to add romantic w whim to an urban apartment. Order them for fortnightly, monthly or one off delivery (check out their Pregnancy packages also!)   
  • Helicopter Flying Lessons from Regal Helicopters: begin your pilot training of just take a pleasure flight over England’s green plesantness…Take the controls and indulge some serious childhood fantasies!
  • The Pacapod Toy Pod: for little ones who like to be self sufficient, this cute rucksack is comfortable for them to carry and just the right size for the essentials (or as one of our Mums said ‘it’s like portion control: Dolly can come, trainset needs to stay at home!’) We’d suggest stuffing them seasonally with Lindt Bears or a set of personalised Thank You notecards from Tinyprints.  
  • The Victoria Beckham nail polish duo from Nails Inc: In Victoria’s world her perfect talons are luxe bone ‘Bamboo White’ or vibrant ‘Judo Red’. Made with stretch to fit technology (‘non gloopiness’ to you and me) and available in a limited edition venetian glass bottle.                                                           
  • A Man-Lair from Tetra Shed: whoever said sheds weren’t sexy haven’t seen this customisable pod which can be turned into anything from a home office to amazing playhouse to a spare room – or even stacked together to create an entire home! Coverable extras include zinc or copper finishes, underfloor heating and built in speakers – design your dream with their 3D visualiser.   
  • Holiday PJs from The Gap: keep starry eyed kids cosy on Xmas morn with these lovely festive flannels…  
  • Disney Frozen Princess Ice and Inline skates: got the dress? Now you need the super nifty ice skates, which easily transform into inlines when the terrain melts or, you know, all the other kids are doing it…
  • The Carved Angel Xmas Pudding: made to the traditional Victorial recipe and wrapped in a snowy white cloth, this pudding is sumptuously rich but vegetarian friendly. Try it with Crabbie’s Green Ginger wine for a winter warmer.   
  • Magic Sakura Tree: there’s still something thrilling about this classic toy-cum-science experiment: adding the water and watching in realtime as the cute pink blossom starts to grow. Then Instagram the hell out of it…  
  • Tea Party Biscuits from Little Ella James: a timeless classic for little ladies who lunch. And then snack.  Great for teaching counting and stacking, tea party ettiquette and sharing.  
  • A Night in the 210th Suite at MyHotels: 210th is an elegant adult range and they have partnered with boutique MyHotels to create a sophisticated and sexy suite – complete with 25 erotic ‘assignments’ in little envelopes for you and your partner to complete, bath bubbles and massage oils from their collection and your own personal ‘box of tricks’.
  • R2D2 Woodburning Stove: cleverly constructed from an old gas bottle, this sees takes upcycling into a new dimension. Powerful enough to heat a room or summerhouse, R2 is made to order and makes an unusual – and very cool – focal point. Call 07955479449 for enquiries and orders.  

 

Take the hassle out of Xmas Shopping

Just to preface, we’re not offering to do your shopping for you, but if you do find yourself trekking up and down the High St (or to the North Pole and back) with little ones in tow, the following might make the whole experience a bit more joyful…

  • Snowjoggers: we love these cute, sporty little booties and whilst Slick Mummies mostly only wear trainers to the gym, we think these have just the right balance of style and comfort. Get them in festive silver or snowflake pattern and put a spring in your step.                                     
  • Pacapod Changing Bag: we nearly fainted when we saw these gorgeous and super practical changing bags, with separate ‘pods’ for botties and for bottles. Step out in style knowing that everything is neatly packed and never have to rummage around for wet wipes whilst negotiating a department store changing table ever again. So clever, so sleek… Go for the Snow Queen look with the Sequoia bag in Linen or the uber-opulent Firenze bag in Putty.                           
  • Molskine Notebook: in this modern day and age, we still love scribbling a good list. Grab one of these large page Moleskine pads in festive red and jot down who had made it onto Santa’s ‘good’ and ‘naughty’ lists this year…   
  • Seasalt Stripe Mittens: warm, colourful and leave one’s fingers free for wiping noses, swiping credit cards and dialing a Taxi home…                                                            
  • The Quinny Yezz Stroller: super lightweight and deliciously colourful, this stroller is easy to fold and can be carried over the shoulder if your offspring decides to walk (or rummage the rails!).  We adore the Green Curve colourway – for a bit of ‘xmas tree chic’ …  
  • Lavolio tinned sweets: decadent candy for adults, in a handbag friendly ‘sticky proof’  and super-girlie tin,perfect  for a little sugar fix along the way. We love the Arabian Nights selection, with roses, violets, lemons and almonds coated in a sugar shell.  

The Best baby blankets

As Winter draws in and there’s a chill in the air, wrap the little ones up warm with our pick of the chicest, softest, snuggliest blankies out there:

  • The iCandy Cableknit: we love this striking orange and grey colour combo and there’s a button to fasten it to the stroller…

A pocketful of dreams

Who needs Santa when you can win stuff, buy stuff cheaper and generally feel seasonally smug. Here’s our pick of the best comps and offers…