Archive for April, 2008

Today Boutiko got its first national coverage in the Design section of The Independent! This is really exciting for us and a bit of a landmark, but I’d like to point out that anyone who feels what I ‘said’ was somewhat insensitive, I actually said something more along the lines of ‘I set up Boutiko because I found it hard to find ethically sourced gifts for my friends that fitted into a modern lifestyle.’ I certainly did not intend to imply that products made abroad are in any way inferior, and I’m not really a fan of the word ‘ethnic’, as I think it can be divisive. Rant over!


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Started by writer and broadcaster Tracey Smith as National Downshifting Week in 2005, the popularity of her idea has grown so fast it’s now become InterNational Downshifting Week, and is supported by various celebrities, including Kim Wilde and Wayne Hemingway of Red or Dead.

Downshifting is what Tracey calls ‘slowing down and greening up’; thinking more about our lifestyles and finding ways to pace them to achieve a better work/life balance and “living a simpler, greener, happier life!” It doesn’t have to mean giving up everything to live in a mud hut, or even moving at all, although speaking for myself there’s a definite appeal to shedding the excess and living more simply, which naturally seems to involve getting out of the city to where the air is cleaner and nature is more a part of daily life. It’s about incorporating changes into your daily life to whatever extent suits you.

As Tracey puts it; “Generally it refers to us tipping the favour of the work/life balance in favour of ‘life’. The consequence of this is that usually, you earn less money. As a result, you become a little more thrifty and get clever with your money, making things last longer. You ditch lavish restaurant meals and cook a few from fresh using deliciious seasonal, local ingredients instead. You buy ‘new’ only when necessary; second-hand is savvy and you can save a fortune by making a few shopping changes.”

Ultimately it’s about being more fulfilled and making the most of the life we have, spending more time with loved ones and stepping a little more lightly on the earth. All of which sounds very tempting to me.

For more information, see www.downshiftingweek.com.



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So, training for the 20km walk….. In my defence I was ill for the first couple of months of intended training time, which left me with just five weeks to get my fitness levels up (from basically zero). I’ve been going to the gym three times a week, then I did a three mile walk, and today I completed a 9.3 mile walk! I had no idea how far I was walking so when I got to the end I was actually quite shocked, and also somewhat relieved, as I had energy to spare, and the only minor complaint was some aching in the back of my legs.

We walked across the Sussex Downs ( the area where in fact the ‘real’ walk will take place), stopping only for a sandwich and then later in Amberley for a cup of tea. The views were beautiful, taking in Amberley Castle, the sea, the River Arun and various villages, and at one point I turned 360 degrees and saw only fields and sky. For a Londoner this is heaven. The walk itself took a little over four hours, and since we walked through rain, sleet and driving winds as well as beautiful sunshine, I feel well equipped for the big day!

Apparently next weekend we’re going to do a longer walk. But I’m happy with 9.3.

Nine point three.

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I am delighted to announce that due to me being efficient and sending in some forms super fast to my local Business Link, I, or rather Boutiko, has been awarded £100! The best thing about this is that I can lavish some love on my little shop and buy it some new stock. So keep your eyes peeled for new products coming soon……

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I came across an article about this the other day having never heard of it and found it really interesting. It is about copying Mother Nature’s way of doing things because she can solve problems without damaging the planet. Anyone who’s seen a David Attenborough documentary will know how awesome (and I use that word in the traditional sense) nature really is, and how it finds ways to work which are, well, natural, and therefore harmonious rather than destructive.

According to Janine Benyus, the founder of the Biomimicry theory, we must “imitate life itself, because what life does is create conditions conducive to life”.  Sounds kind of obvious when you put it like that, but it’s clearly something we humans have missed in our race to get bigger, better, faster and more. From observing the surface of a lotus leaf to create dirt-resistant fabrics, to taking termite mounds as inspiration for the first air-conditioning free office building in Zimbabwe, scientists are using Biomimicry to find different ways to approach manmade problems by imitating Nature (basically asking ‘What would nature do here?’)  and therefore benefiting the planet. 

If you want to know more about Biomimicry, go to www.biomimicry.org.

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Ocean Bracelet by BeaucocoI have just come across this GORGEOUS ethical jewellery website! It’s called Beaucoco and sells contemporary jewellery handmade from discarded materials and sterling silver. My particular favourite is the Ocean bracelet.

On the tiny tropical island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean, locals transform discarded coconut shell into beautiful pieces using silver and semi-precious stones. Later this year a new range will be introduced, made by the poorest women in the slums of Delhi.

Beautiful, affordable jewellery with a heart. What more could you ask?

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