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Archive for December, 2008

First of all, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying the holidays.

If you’re feeling at a slightly loose end now the festivities are over, you could pop over to Boutiko right now, where you will find lots of our gorgeous products reduced to within an inch of their lives. There is 50% off (or more) on many lines, and prices start from just 70p! We’ll be sad to see some things go, but we’re also very excited about the new products that will be coming in as space is made for them on our shelves!

This is the perfect time to stock up your present drawers and plan ahead for birthday gifts. So please, help yourselves to some bargains and take advantage of the discounts while they’re there! Don’t wait too long though, as gifts are flying out of the door very quickly!

To give you an idea, check out these bargains…..

Organic Cotton and Merino Wool Handknitted Pramcoat

WAS £30 NOW £15

pramcoat

Ari Suede Frames 5×7

WAS £26.95 NOW £13.50

(4×6 also available)

arisuedeframes

Handmade Soy Wax Candles in a variety of yummy fragrances

WERE £15 NOW £7.50

countryrange

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I visited Our Eco Shop on Christmas Eve. I had been asked if I’d like to participate but I declined this year for a number of reasons. I was curious about how it had panned out though so I popped by for a quick nose.

The concept was thought up by Lisa Harland and Sarah Baulch, as

a collaboration by UK designers-makers and small green companies who have joined together to open a pop-up shop with a great selection of fair trade, ethical, organic, and eco-friendly products.”

This year it was situated in Westbourne Grove in London, in a lovely two storey shop which had already been decorated with the most fabulous bright fabric all over the walls. I spent some time chatting to Lisa, who said there were 42 companies participating and that it had gone very well, despite the early appearance of winter sales this year.

There were all kinds of gorgeous products on offer, from adult and children’s clothing, jewellery, teas, beauty products and ceramics, to vintage pieces, bags and belts, furniture and bedding, with prices to suit all pockets.  My personal faves were Nadia Sparham‘s ceramics…

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Bea’s Beastliescrewphoto_edited

Catarina Vassalo‘s jewellery…

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…and this gorgeous bedlinen for children by Luma.

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Maybe next year Boutiko will be in there somewhere.

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I’m not very good at managing my five a day. With no one to feed but myself it’s sometimes too easy to slip into lazy habits. Then I found this list of an alternative five a day, which somehow seems a bit more fun and a lot more meaningful. If we all did a bit more of this, it sounds like a cliche but don’t you think the world would be a much happier place? Vegetables schmegetables.

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With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community.

Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

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Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance.

Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy; one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

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Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are on a train, eating lunch or talking to friends.

Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

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Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food.

Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident, as well as being fun to do.

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Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in.

Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and will create connections with the people around you.

Taken from New Economics.

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The results are out, and Boutiko was the runner up in Best Fair Trade Company category! This is really exciting for Boutiko, as it is a public recognition of our efforts over the past year. Thank you so much to all who voted! Congratulations also to Kate at Only Fair, who won in this category!

Here’s what Green England said about it all:

Green England are pleased to announce this years winners. The response has been fabulous and its wonderful to see green and ethical companies getting the recognition they deserve!

In the category of Best Green Company – Deepdale Farm took the most votes. Deepdale is an eco friendly self catering hostel and campsite on the Norfolk Coast. They are delighted to have won the award and look forward to meeting new visitors in the course of the next few months. Runner up in this category is A1 Fruiterers in North Cornwall – suppliers of Fair Trade, Organic, vegan and vegetarian groceries and produce. They support local producers and have a range of Cornish products as well as Fair Trade products from around the world.

The Fair Trade category was won by Only Fair – making Fair Trade available to everyone online. Bags, gifts, soft furnishings, coffee and chocolate and more. Only Fair believes everyone can make a difference by making a small adjustment to their shopping habits. Close behind in the votes was Boutiko selling a range of Fair Trade gifts and accessories to suit all tastes and pockets.

The Go Green Company was the winner of the Best Newcomer category. They sell a range of products online, designed to help people reduce their carbon footprint. From laundry to household, toys and skincare they really is something for everbody. They also suggest tips for daily greener living. The Green Driving school was runner up in this category. Learn in a car with low emissions, and how to drive for eco efficiency as well as being confident that the company runs an eco friendly office. Based in Chingford in East London.

The Most Innovative Green Product was won by Bags of Change – eco bags that save you money in Fair Trade, organic and ethical shops. Beautiful and practical shopping bags that give you a discount each time you use them in a particpating store. Runner up was Great Elm Physick Garden – organic skin care – natural organic ingredients, for all your body’s needs.

Best Customer Service went to the Phone Coop – a telecoms supplier with a difference. Run ethically, owned by the customers and run in an enviromentally friendly way. Runner up was a great day out – Killhope – the North of England Lead Mining Museum. A great example of green tourism.

Congratulations to all the winners – and all those who took part. Wishing you a green and ethical 2009 to all.

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OK, so you’ve trailed the shops/internet, developed a nervous disorder, and finally got all your presents in a pile; now it’s time to wrap those bad boys. Of course all wrapping gets ripped off in the end, so you might think it doesn’t really matter what it looks like. WRONG. Packaging is very important, as any woman will tell you. It’s also rather nice to receive a beautifully wrapped gift; it shows thought and effort and people always appreciate that. And of course you can do it all in an eco friendly way, using recycled and recyclable materials, whilst still being imaginative, stylish and a bit different. That’s right, you CAN have it all.

You can of course go completely mad with it, and use lashings of ribbon and sticky tape and all kinds of embellishments. I am inclined to think that less is more in most cases, as long as you haven’t literally dug out a bit of creased old paper from last year’s stash, the kind with marks where the tape was stuck the first time round, and roughly attached it to the outside of the gift with tape that got twisted in the middle of things.

So what you need to wrap a present so it looks pretty is: scissors, sellotape, some kind of ribbon/raffia/string. Oh, and paper. (Unsurprisingly I’m a total fan of reusing wrapping paper as long as it doesn’t look too scrappy, and also ribbons which are usually fine for several uses. Proper fabric ribbon though, not that awful plasticky shimmery sort that you can curl with scissors.) Boxes of different shapes and sizes; a present is much easier to wrap if it’s a rectangle.

In the Keeping It Simple vein, what could be simpler than brown paper and string? It has a certain retro vibe to it, is not expensive, and the paper at least can be recycled. You could really up the old-fashioned-parcel feel by using stamps (the rubber kind, or indeed the postage kind), and use a brown or cream paper luggage tag and some lovely brown ink to write your Christmas message. This works well for men, as does simply wrapping the gift and then using rubber letter stamps or cutting out letters in a contrasting paper to spell out their name. (This rather depends on how much time you have.)

For women I’d do something lavish with ribbon. I think of it like the make up rule; eyes OR lips but most definitely not both. Glamorous paper means simple ribbon, and vice versa. I keep a stash of ribbons from past gifts so rarely have to buy new, and with something like the name idea above, you can forego ribbon completely. If you can tie a bow you can make ribbon look nice, and extra wide ribbon has a certain extravagance to it. The kind with wire along the edge which holds its shape is also fabulous, not least because it’s so easy to make it look good. If you can manage it without using tape so much the better, but this can be quite tricky and really only tends to work for people who wrap as part of their job or have four hands.

Another way to do it is to use fabric. Again, I stash away a lot of fabric, and if you buy a fat quarter (a smallish bit) it’s not expensive and can be reused to make something lovely. Fabric’s good if the present is round or an awkward shape; lay the gift in the middle of the fabric (right side down), scoop it all up so it’s bunched together at the top, and tie some ribbon around it so it looks a bit like a pineapple. But much more glamorous. You can use pinking shears to give it a nice non-fraying, zig zag edge too. Or use one of the aforementioned boxes.

If you’re trying to save some pennies, look around your home for inspiration. Old (not vintage!) maps, musical scores, or pages from dead books can all make original, recycled, recyclable wrapping paper. Newspaper (black and white) can be used to great effect too, especially with, say, a bright red ribbon.  And if you’re feeling crafty, why not use rubber stamps on plain white paper?

Have a go! And if all else fails, we can do it for you free!

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I did try to do my own PR.  I slogged away and even called thirty journalists one morning, to be met with indifference at best. It was most disheartening, but I felt the business couldn’t really afford to pay a PR full time. I can write, but I don’t have all the know how, or the contacts and standing you really need to win those journos over.

And then Lisa Jackson of Eurydice PR came into my life. Lisa can do:

  • Copywriting for promotional literature, newsletters and E-zines
  • Blog writing and placement on line
  • Feature Writing and placement in the press
  • Press Releases for on-line and print media use
  • Media Research & Article Placement
  • Newsletters and E-zines
  • Public Relations
  • Direct Marketing Campaigns
  • Exhibition & Event Services
  • Fundraising and Sponsorship

and all with an ethically and environmentally sound approach!

The main point about Lisa though is that she is extremely good at what she does, efficient, dedicated and also supportive, a quality I was not necessarily expecting, but which is most welcome as someone who runs their business single handedly! Lisa is flexible and full of fantastic ideas for press releases. She knows the business inside out having been in it for over 16 years, and has been both journalist and PR so she knows how it works on both sides of the fence.

Because of all the above, Lisa is very busy at the moment with lots of ethical businesses banging her door down for help, but if you fancy your chances you can catch her here: Eurydice PR.

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We are very excited to announce two new arrivals. First, we have  the most scrumptious knitted accessories from Catherine Tough.

Here are the cuddly hot water bottle covers (with hot water bottles included of course):

bluestripehottie1pinkstripehottie2

And here are the bedsocks for him….

mensocks1

And for her…..

bluesocks1pinksocks1

Perfect for cosying up on these freezing winter nights!

We are also very excited to now stock Delightful Living’s handpainted reclaimed wooden signs. Every sign is unique, and they are all made here in the UK. They make great wedding, housewarming or birthday gifts.

dreamsignhomesignlovesignmrmrssign

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