How To Support Small Businesses Over Christmas (And All Year Round)

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Christmas time is coming! Every year I try to shop with small businesses for presents for my family and friends. Christmas is always a critical time of year for small businesses, so here are my tips on how to support them over Christmas, and all year round, of course!

// BUY FROM THEM

The simplest and most direct way to support small businesses is to buy from them rather than from big businesses that mass produce their goods. When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance.

// STORE THEIR BUSINESS CARDS

When you get their business cards via an order or stalls, remember to keep their business cards safe so you can look them up whenever you need to buy gifts. I keep and organise all of the business cards I’ve picked up all these years and go through them every time I needed a gift. It certainly helps me to shop small rather than relying on the high street shops you see every day.

// CELEBRATE THEM

Retweet their tweets, share their Facebook page, regram their Instagram pictures and bring them up in your blog or better yet, when you see your friends. Keep them in the know that you are supporting them by tagging them and using their dedicated hashtag if there is any.

// SHARE YOUR PURCHASES

Take pictures of your purchases from small businesses and share on them on social media. Word of mouth exposure on social media helps small businesses a lot, helping to build their brand and creating sales. Don’t forget to tag appropriately!

// LET THEM KNOW

A person (or a team) behind a small business sometimes needs encouragment and a boost of confidence, so show them that they are being acknowledged and loved. It doesn’t take long to pop them a short email expressing your love for their creations. You can even send them a quick tweet too! Don’t be shy – they will truly appreciate it.

// ENGAGE WITH THEM

Especially on Instagram, where engagement matters. If you can, comment and engage. Tag your friends you think will like the certain products. It is easy to forget that (I am guilty of this!) but try to quote retweet instead of just retweet, or do both! Facebook makes it difficult for small businesses to reach their audience so make efforts to visit their page and comment on their posts.

Do you have more tips? Share in the comments! I’d like to know your favourite small businesses too :)

Introducing RMBLR

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photos in courtesy of RMBLR

I have a love for the British countryside, despite living in and near London most of my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to live in a cottage, look after pet chickens, make my own cheese, and have a field for my garden. I just wish that spiders as big as my hand didn’t exist!

I don’t go out to the countryside enough. Now that I live in Nottingham with a new car, it is more accessible and I intend to go out for walks and explore my local countryside as much as I can in 2017. I’ve been to the Peak District and Wollaton Park a few times this year, and loved them!

RMBLR, launching today, is a British made outdoor lifestyle brand and it is right up my alley. Everything about their products; classic designs, earthy colours and thoughtful textures, are gorgeous, and the brand’s whole feel has me craving to drop everything what I am doing and go out for a wintery walk.

The brand’s inspiration comes from the Mass trespass of Kinder Scout – in 1932 a group of ramblers led by Benny Rothman trespassed the part of Peak District National Park, where government denied public access. This act of civil disobedience was one of the most successful in British history and secured the right to ramble. Read their story here.

If you browse RMBLR’s products on their shop, you will know where exactly each of them are made in and the inspiration behind their names, which makes those carefully thought out products extra special. I look forward to trying them when I go out for a walk, celebrating the right to ramble and wonderful nature that is available to us for free.

“In the digital age where our purpose seems less defined, the need for us to protect our relationship with nature and each other is all the more important. Go forth, just as those who came before us did. Take a trip. Escape.”

Get to know to RMBLR more by reading their founder, Fred’s interview with Proper, and this article by Huck x RMBLR about hiking through the UK’s most iconic rave spots.

Are you a city, country or bit of both person? I think I am the latter. :)

Wollaton Deer Park

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nikon f4, kodak gold 200, developed by carmencita film lab

I am very lucky to live pretty close to Wollaton Deer Park. When we got our first car, I was in hurry to visit with film camera in my hands.

It is huge and gorgeous, and just at the beginning of my first visit I spotted a big group of beautiful red deer sitting under the trees, which seemed to be friendly. Not friendly friendly but it is clear that they are used to being around with people. After a while, there were another group of deer – they were smaller and skipping across the fields avoiding people. I recognised them from my New Forest trip that they were fallow deer. I was pleased to see that there are conservation areas so deer and smaller animals still have their homes.

There are safety measures we need to be aware of when visiting to look at deer. Here is an extract from the website –

“The deer are very attractive to look at but it is important to remember that deer are wild animals and must be treated with respect. During the rutting (mating) season during September and October, each stag is very protective of his own group of hinds. During calving season in June and July, the natural instinct of the deer is to protect their young. Hinds and does with young may appear aggressive if approached. Any person or animal invading their space at any time may be attacked as the stags will defend their group. During such periods we would advise dog walkers to keep their distance and ensure that dogs are kept on leads at all times. Please do not feed, touch, or photograph the deer at close proximity.”

There is also a massive lake, a rather smelly one though. I walked all the way around the lake and there were some wooded areas along the way. I couldn’t take photographs due to a film roll being used up and was too poor to put in one more! The cost of developing pains me.

This beautiful park is becoming a place I visit twice monthly (if there wasn’t for parking charge I would probably visit more than that!). If I am to walk there, Google Maps says it will take an hour and 15 minutes (longer than this if I am to bring Aneurin due to needing eye contact to sign to each other!) and I would love to do the few hours of ‘circular walk’ on one of my Sundays! :)

New Studio Tour

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As you may know already, I moved to Nottingham from London quite unexpectedly in late February this year. After being informed that our rent in Lee was going up, Aneurin and I decided that we would like to be able to save money and Nottingham was the best place we could live in. I especially was a little sad due to having to leave my family (including cats!) and best friends behind but I was also excited for a new chapter as well as curious what it was like living in another city because I’d lived in London for 15 years.

The room of my studio was meant to be living room (because it is in ground floor and next to the kitchen) but we decided to put our living room in one of our three bedrooms in the loft, because it was the coldest room (and we soon discovered – hottest in the summer) and we would be less likely to be found in the living room. It is very cosy up there with a projector as our TV with ton of blankets available though! We just avoid being there during summer.

As Aneurin was using the smallest bedroom for his new office and it was inappropriate to put our bed in the ground floor room, especially because that there is no hallway leading to kitchen/dining room and there won’t be any privacy. So, my studio ended up being downstairs and I was cool with it, because it is the biggest and maybe brightest room of all. But in comparison to my previous studio, this studio is actually smaller and has less light – as always I am so thankful to even have a dedicated space to myself, enabling me to run my business and do what I love full time so I try not to let it bother me at all.

When we moved in, there was a feature wall I really didn’t like and we agreed to redecorate after getting a yes from our landlord. Naturally I went for white walls. Dreams come true! I bought some new plants to add greenery and happy to the space. I also recently added hanging planters for an oomph. My love for houseplants is out of control! For an everyday inspiration, I slowly add beautiful art on the wall in front of my desk and I love it. It might be not clear to see in pictures that I have a ‘painting table’ in the middle of the room where I work on bigger and messier pieces. As it is drop leaf style table, I fold it down if I am not needing it to make more space.

There are a few things I would change – removing the fireplace, replacing the curtains, and wall lights but since we are only renting, except from curtains I don’t think I can do anything about them.

I only started to feel attuned to this new studio (and Nottingham, hurrah!) few months ago and while Aneurin and I plan to stay here as long as we can, I am trying not to get too attached. I think I was gutted to leave my old studio more than I thought and I was only there for little less than a year.

Send me links if you have your own ‘studio tour’ post, I’d love to have a look!

My Daily Art In October

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If you were following along, you will know that I tried to be a ‘wild sketch-er‘ (e.g. 4th picture above) using pro markers I very rarely use and fine liners, without overthinking and using pencil as a guide. Naturally I went for abstract and doodle style. I had so much fun! I am still uncomfortable doing this kind of thing but I know that it is important to grow as an artist by challenging myself constantly. That’s funny, doing something I feel uncomfortable with always turned out to be a fun thing to do.

I did another countryside painting but I wish I did more. My creativity is not particularly great in October, I was away a lot and was quite poorly most of the time. Really, I should have just found time to sketch something quick! That is something I need to work on at the moment.

I also did my InkTober project during October, drawing mini portraits of inspiring women every day. In case you didn’t know, I have blogged about them in details – Day 1 – 10 | Day 11 -20 | Day 21 – 31.

My Inktober Project | Day 21 – 31

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I did it! This project has become something I am really proud of. I was struggling at the beginning due to lack of likeness in these portraits and choosing women that could be controversial, but I overcame my worries by accepting that the meaning is more important than how technically good these drawings are and that controversial women can still be inspiring. Excuse the cliche but nobody is perfect!

I am also grateful to have such a warm reception towards this little project, and after someone suggesting that I should turn these mini portraits into a small coffee table book I am seriously considering it but since it might be costly I might do a zine style instead to keep the cost down. Let me know in the comments if that is something you are interested in! Thank you.

See the rest of my InkTober illustrations here.

My InkTober Project | Day 11 – 20

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inktober-inspiring-women-katrina-sophia-harriet-tubmanHere are a few InkTober project I enjoyed following –

Crystal Moody’s skull drawings.
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Lily Anja‘s playful illustrations.
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Lindsay Stripling‘s intriguing paintings.
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