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Archive for September, 2008

Yes Christmas is on its way, and much as we’d all like to bury our heads in the sand, it really is time to start having a serious think about what Christmas gifts you need to get for friends, family and colleagues. Not only what gifts to buy, but now more than ever, there’s a lot more awareness of where what we buy comes from, and simply rushing round the shops grabbing armfuls of plastic-packaged, mass-produced presents just doesn’t feel right for a lot of people any more. We all want more reassurance that the things we buy for others are sustainably made, fairly traded and as ethical as possible.

Luckily – help is at hand! Boutiko, the luxury ethical on-line gift store with a personally selected beautiful range of individually and sustainably sourced handmade, ethical gifts, is the perfect solution not just for the coming festive season but any occasion you can think of, including birthdays, weddings, christenings, anniversaries and just about anything else that calls for something personal and special. You will find everything is pure luxury – not just what’s on offer but the whole shopping experience. No squeezing through crowds, sweating at the checkout, struggling with arms laden with bags… just a nice quiet browse in your favourite chair, with the perfect gifts just a click or two away!

Here at Boutiko we really are mad about the gift business – offering individual customer service and next day delivery wherever possible to ensure gift hunters a shopping experience as luxurious as their purchases! Not only that – but gift wrapping is free and gifts can be sent straight to the recipient. What could be easier!

We’ve got lots of gift ideas on the site, but for a dash of inspiration, here are a few of our new and most favourite ….Oh and by the way, the prices quoted are from October 1st – there is currently a Boutiko sale on, with many reductions including most of these showcased items, so take advantage of the last few days of the sale, get ahead of the game and order some special presents now!

Recycled Clocks/Clock & Thermometer:

Perfect for indoors or out – gardeners and homebodies will adore these weather-proof sturdy clocks, intriguingly made from recycled coffee cups and which look and feel very much like slate. Various styles from £24.95 to £26.95.

One-off Handmade Jewellery & Cufflinks:

Made with silver and recycled glass beads, Boutiko’s one-off jewellery designs are exquisitely made and come in a fair trade organza bag. Includes earrings from £13, and bracelets from £35. For men, there are stunning handcrafted silver & hardwood cufflinks for men at £50, which also come in a fair trade pouch and a handcrafted box. (left)

The prettiest embroidered washbags you’ve ever seen – handmade by a family business in Vietnam, these exquisite bags are lined with water resistant fabric, £20. (right)

Children will love tidying their toys away – and so will their parents! – with our Toy Pockets – handmade by the same family as the washbags – which hang neatly on the back of a door or wardrobe, £30.

Winter and Christmas is a great time for candles – our handmade, soy wax candles from a family run business in Cornwall also come in biodegradeable, recycled packaging. The Country Range has three fragrances: Redcurrant & Thyme, Lavender & Rose, Raspberry & Vine Tomato – perfect for those long winter evenings, £12. (left)

Recycled Leather Address Books, Journals & Mini London A-Zs – all handmade by Undercover – in a variety of cover colours (aqua, lipstick, mauve and petrol) – the perfect gift for just about anyone! From £10-£15. (below)

Last but not least – handmade and fairly traded from India, beaded Christmas decorations including hearts, fairies and trees – guaranteed to make every tree sparkle! £3.50 each. Or a set of fine porcelain tealights spelling NOEL, handmade in Britain from recycled offcuts of porcelain, £40, perfect for creating a magical glow this Christmas. (below)

Oh – and if you do need to pop to the shops at the last minute – take along one of Boutiko’s ingenious One Less Plastic Bags – handmade from Indian saris with every single bag unique in its design! These bags fold away to a tiny pocket size but can carry up to 2kg – plus are machine washable, £10.

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Time, that human construct without which I would be a lot happier because it wouldn’t always be running away, has decided to reduce itself this week, so I am only now writing up last Saturday’s fair.

The first ever Eco Fair in Balham, organised by Lynne from My Eco Self, turned out to be really quite a good day. It wasn’t my best ever fair in terms of sales, but there was a good atmosphere and people enjoyed the free breakfasts laid on by Rude Health, as well as green manicures and a reading of Michael Recycle by its author, Ellie Bethel.

My table was next to that of Lorraine, founder of Akalico, a gorgeous ethical jewellery boutique, so we were able to compare notes about such fascinating things as portable credit card machines and the best ways to advertise. Akalico has already won two awards in its one and a half years of trading, which is most impressive, but not surprising. The jewellery is gorgeous as well as being fair trade – if you’re a fan of silver and/or rings especially, it’s worth checking out. There was even a piece of jewellery named Tara!

One of the best things about doing fairs is meeting the customers face to face, and sometimes you can have a really good conversation about ethical matters. It’s very heartening to encounter enthusiasm not just for the products but also for what Boutiko is about, and of course it all helps to spread the word.

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Eco Fair Balham

Listen up everyone; this Saturday is the Balham Eco Fair, and as Boutiko will be hosting a stall there we would love to see you if you happen to be in the area! All details below – do come along if you can. See you there!

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This month celebrates the Soil Association’s Organic Fortnight, which, as the name suggests, is an opportunity to “raise awareness of the environmental, health and social benefits of organic production.” There are all kinds of events going on all over the UK, from educational walks and talks, to my personal favourite, sampling organic produce. It is an excellent opportunity to learn once and for all about what organic really means, what the benefits are and whether it does just mean a bit more expensive!

The event kicked off in Bristol on 6/7th September with the Soil Association’s Organic Food Festival – “Europe’s largest organic celebration”. So as they say, ‘love your planet choose organic’.

For more information, see http://www.soilassociation.org/organicfortnight.

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand is a genius, I think. He’s the guy who does those amazing Earth from Above pictures, and now he’s created a project called ‘6 billion others’, as in, there are 6 billion other people on the planet besides you. Obvious, yes, but surprisingly easy to forget in day to day life. Personally I don’t think he could have chosen a better time to do it. People seem to be drifting further and further apart in terms of kinship and consideration of and for others. Maybe every generation would say this, but sometimes I feel as if everywhere I look there is anger and hatred and intolerance, from the horrific stabbings and shootings that seem to be plaguing the UK recently to people not even managing to meet each others’ eyes in shops. I know that I’m as grumpy and unfriendly as the next person at times, but I also try to remember to smile and say hello and be friendly. Imagine if everyone did this – such a small thing but it makes such a difference at the supermarket checkout.

Anyway, I digress. So I stumbled across this site www.6billionothers.org, and all it is is thousands of interviews (6000 in fact), asking the same questions to people in 65 countries from all walks of life. Each interviewee has been asked questions like ‘What does family mean for you?’, ‘What did your parents teach you?, and ‘Do you feel free?’, and when you watch the videos, you can’t help but compare and contrast their responses with your own life. Once I started watching, I found I couldn’t stop; it’s truly fascinating, and hugely humbling, to hear what other people all over the world think and feel about the things that matter. I think everyone should watch 6billionothers, if only for the inevitable perspective it gives on our own comparatively privileged lifestyles. It’s so easy to complain about the little things and forget what matters. I certainly need reminding from time to time. As Arthus-Bertrand puts it, ‘Every single person has got something interesting to say.’ We really should listen.

(If you happen to be in Paris between 16th Jan and 12th Feb 2009, you can see these testimonials at the Grand Palais. Considering the impact watching them on my laptop screen has, I imagine on the big screen they must be extremely powerful.)

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