Archive: July 2015

A Look Behind the Scenes of St Kitts Herbery

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with St Kitts Herbery.

Today’s ‘Inspiring Independents’ interview is a fabulous glimpse behind the scenes of the equally fabulous St Kitts Herbery.

We caught up with the company’s co-founder Susan Alexander who shared the story of how the company started, what makes it special and why you should definitely shop indie!

What inspired you to start St. Kitts Herbery? When did you begin?

We started St Kitts Herbery in 2001. St Kitts Herbery started as a lifestyle business, we really were a kitchen table start up, selling our products from our front room. Our vision was to sell all things herbal and for our first few years we made cards from pressed flowers, pot pourri from dried ingredients, soaps and bath products, scented pillows, herbal bouquets – anything connected with or made from herbs. Our first real break came from collaboration with a local hotel and it led us to our most popular fragrance, Rosemary and Bergamot, which has gone from strength to strength since then and is still our most popular range to date.

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

The thing that separates not just our business, but also all indie businesses from the big corporations is that it is completely personal. Everything that we create, from the products to the advertisements to the packaging, is done by us – so we are extremely motivated to get it right! It is a thrill every time we sell something and we value every customer, because there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of creating something that people love.

What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job & running an indie business?

I am the owner of the business as well as the creative director. I am in charge of product design and manufacture, graphic design, shop design, packaging design –pretty much all design! I relish the opportunity to devise more and more beautiful products, hoping that every concoction will be better than the last. Running an independent business allows a freedom that cannot be found anywhere else – both for myself in the creative aspect and for our staff, who have all developed skills and strengths as we have progressed. Far and away the best part of building your own brand is the ability to change, mould and grow organically in a way that suits myself, my staff and the brand itself.

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

We are a relatively small team, meaning that everyone does a bit of everything! My partner, Paul, is our financial director, dealing with wholesale customers, planning officials, staff wages, accounts – anything and everything that the business needs.

My daughter, Betty, is both our marketing manager and the manager of our second St Kitts Herbery branch in Cardiff. Like all our children, she has tried her hand at every aspect of the business until finding the one that suited her best and we are delighted that she has been able to make a success of our second shop.

My son, Albert, is our graphic designer and computer expert – we really couldn’t do without him and are grateful that he juggles this job with his university education.

My youngest daughter, Minnie, is still trying her hand at a bit of everything – learning the business and finding the role she can grow into. We do have staff that aren’t family members too (though they may as well be)!

Holly is our general helper, in training to be a manager and we couldn’t do without her – like all of us she does a bit of everything, from serving customers to editing photos to making product.

Lesley is in charge of our fab selection of plants, her green fingers keep our herbs looking luscious and her friendly nature means she’s always happy to help out the customers.

Ross is both our sales manager and a sales assistant in our Cardiff shop- one of the friendliest people you could meet; he’ll always strive to put customers at ease.

Gayle is the newest addition to our team, taking over as chocolatier (an ideal job, we know!). She’s doing fantastically, turning out deliciously shiny artisan chocolate, and already using her creative abilities to add to our already large chocolate selection.

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at St. Kitts Herbery?

Absolutely, independent businesses have to offer these things. Unlike big multinationals, independent businesses generally cannot afford to mass-produce cheap products, so they have to offer something different; quality and uniqueness are the backbone of indie business.

At St Kitts Herbery we continue to develop our products to the highest standards, working in a very tight knit team, so everything is of the quality our customers have come to expect. Of course when it comes to the chocolate this also involves quite a lot of taste tests!

The truth is that the world doesn’t really need more toiletries or more chocolate – so we have to do something you can’t get elsewhere. We create unique scents that have their roots in nature and combine them with fantastic toiletries that are designed to make you feel like you’ve bought something special. The same goes for our chocolate – there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a bar of Cadbury’s, but we try to create chocolate that you can’t get elsewhere; whether it’s an unusual flavour, such as basil or geranium, or just a fantastically full topped bar, like our fat slabs.

Everything we create is with the idea that it’s a treat – whether you enjoy it every day or once a year.

You’ve featured some great ‘make your own …’ tutorials on your blog. Do you creating and sharing these mini projects?

We love this series of blogs. If we didn’t enjoy making toiletries so much, we would never have managed to develop the brand that we have and it is lovely to think that someone else could discover the same love through our blog. It’s also great to dispel this myth that skin care has to be overly complicated and expensive – there are so many things that you can make at home that really will work wonders, not to mention make fantastic gifts!

You currently specialise in herbal toiletries and chocolate? What inspires you about this area of gift giving? Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend your collection? 

What ties everything together in our business is the herb connection, so we have a range of products that are inspired by this including the chocolate and toiletries. Our particular passion though lies in perfumes. We love to create beautiful scents and know how luxurious it can feel to smell great.

Our whole business is based on the idea of luxury and what that means to people. We are always looking ahead to what concoction we can come up with next, whether it be fragrance or chocolate, and there’s so many options still unexplored that it could be a long time before we feel done enough to move onto something else!

Your products feature a wide variety of scents. What can you tell us about the process of selecting which scents to use?

Our product creation is always perfume led – we’ll be looking for a new scent range and the products come after. For example, we knew we had a gap in our offering in products for men so we decided to design a scent just for them. We had this idea of an old fashioned, musky kind of a smell, reminiscent of leather and cigar smoke, and after much experimentation ended up with our Colonial range.

Whilst all of our scents are based on an idea in this way, some are more recognisable than others. The instantly recognisable, for example Rosemary and Bergamot, sit side by side with the more complex ones such as Mist. Mist contains notes of lemon and eucalyptus, green and herbs, alongside rose, neroli, amber and cedarwood – a blend that combines to be evocative of a misty morning on the moors.

Your collection shows great attention to detail and quality. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved in creating your products?

As we were developing our business we found we had a great product that became transformed into a fantastic product with packaging and the right presentation. Once we learned this lesson we applied it to everything we do and we are always looking to expand our knowledge. We take pride in what we do at every stage, from creation to sales to promotion.

Along our journey we have been fortunate enough to have a few choice pieces of advice at pivotal stages and we know that there is always something to learn and make an effort to seek out advice (even if we subsequently don’t take it). I suppose what I am trying to say here is that we learned early on to look at what we do through the eyes of strangers – it makes us more critical of our efforts and that is what leads us to constantly improve.

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

We want people to shop with us because they love our products and enjoy the service we give them; these are the real reasons for customer loyalty and the fact we are an independent company is a bonus.

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

Shopping with independent stores is an extension of the buy local campaigns we have seen so much of in recent years. Independent stores are more likely to be UK based businesses where the benefits of the money spent in them remain in the UK. It creates local jobs and the lack of corporate identity tends to lead to more individual and personal service.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

Our favourite independent business at the moment is Mrs McGettrick’s Fuggler Emporium. This business is run in such good humour it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face! The products are handmade, original and unique and the owner is witty and imaginative – what’s not to love?

Now you’ve read the interview, visit the St Kitts Herbery website.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 20/07/15
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How to Celebrate End of Term the Bright Way

Celebrating the End of Term with Kali Stileman.

With the end of term fast approaching we’re taking a closer look at 3 types of greeting card to stock up on in the days and weeks ahead.

Cards that will help you send a message of thanks, support or congratulations to the people in your world.

Each design is from the bright, bold collection of Kali Stileman. Crisp white cards bursting with colour and pattern. A fun and contemporary way to show you care.


for my teacher apple card the square card company

1. Cards for Teacher.

Show your appreciation for a job well done with this sweet ‘A is for Apple’ card for your kid’s favourite teacher.

Teaching can often be a thankless task but a greeting card is a great way you can offer a small gesture of appreciation.

Simply add your message of thanks for their hard work and dedication. A simple way to make a teacher’s day a little brighter.

end of term good luck card the square card company

2. Cards for Luck.

Waiting for exam results can be a nerve-racking time.

A time when a few wise words in a cute card will go a long way.

Send some ‘Good Luck’ to the people you adore this summer as they wait for their results with this elegant, contemporary card.

end of term well done card the square card company

3. Cards to Congratulate.

Whether you choose ‘Well Done’ or ‘Congratulations’ a card is a great way to celebrate success.

Passing exams is just such an achievement to be celebrated and a heartfelt message in a cool card is the perfect way to commemorate these important milestones.

A stylish way to say hooray for a job well done!

end of term congratulations card the square card company

The featured greeting cards retail at £2.50 each and can be purchased from The Kali Stileman website.

Find out more about Kali Stileman in the Piccadilly Lane directory.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 8/07/15
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A Look Behind the Scenes of Sarah Ray Illustration

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with Sarah Ray Illustration.

In this week’s ‘Inspiring Independents‘ interview we’re chatting with illustrator Sarah Ray. Known for her unique, quirky illustrations we’re huge fans of Sarah’s work. In the past we’ve been lucky enough to feature Sarah’s cards and illustrated gifts on Piccadilly Lane’s sister site Card & Gift Network. Now we’re delighted to be able to share an insight into her indie business right here on Piccadilly Lane.

What inspired you to start Sarah Ray Illustration? When did you begin?

When I went to University to do Graphic design I didn’t even know that illustration was an option until a tutor suggested it to me and I changed course. Ah, that was better! I instantly felt more at home. That’s when it all started; I’d caught the illustration bug!

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

I’m just a wee business, it’s basically just me doing a hundred different job roles every day. From invoicing to writing press releases to illustrating for a client, there’s a lot to do! Because it’s just me, I guess this is what sets me apart from the more corporate businesses. People buy into me, I am the brand (which is a bit scary!) but it ultimately means that my products are honest and unique and can’t be found anywhere else.

What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

That’s a difficult question! I’ve got so many different hats to wear I sometimes forget which one I need to put on next. My favourite part is the creative part because that’s the reason I’m doing this thing (although I have to remind myself of this at times!) I love it when I’ve come up with an idea that I think works, and draw it up.  The more I make time for this, the more satisfied I am!

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

Nope, just me. Although I do have helpers. My husband is a massive support and is really good at helping me with how I need to move forward and with general tasks. Other family members have been brilliant card packers too, especially my mum! 

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at Sarah Ray Illustration?

Yes, totally. I want to be proud of everything I make, so everything goes through quality control (me with a cup of tea and a biscuit checking over materials and techniques, trying not to get crumbs over stuff). I believe I’m unique in what I do, I don’t think I would have continued if I didn’t think I was because I wouldn’t be able to survive as a creative.

You recently worked with the Birmingham Royal Ballet creating designs to promote their upcoming ballet for children. Do you enjoy mixing commission work with developing your own products? 

Yes, absolutely!  Variety is the spice of life, as they say! and doing commissioned work adds another dimension to my career and keeps things fresh and exciting; I love it!

You currently specialise in a wide variety of cards and gifts? What inspires you about this type of design? 

Cards are great, there is so much potential with what you can say through an illustration, it’s endless. This makes it a creative challenge to come up with something totally unique. It also makes me think of people, and what they might want to express to each other.  I mean people are giving each other my cards because it means something to them, how amazing is that? 

All of your products feature your fabulous illustrations. What can you tell us about the process of creating these designs?

I write things down that I think are funny or interesting and then some of them make it into a sketch of some kind. Normally a pretty ugly pencil drawing just to get the idea down! Most of the time I draw it up in photoshop using my wacom tablet and then it’s done! I’m quite quick at what I do, sometimes designs take me a couple of minutes to come up with. I’m definitely a quick worker!

Your collection shows great attention to detail and quality. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved?

Ah you’re very kind! I think it’s just the fact I’ve been doing this for a good few years now. I don’t really think about it, it’s a natural process, but I’ve still a lot to learn! But that’s the thing about this job, there’s always something to improve on and learn about! Which I’m glad about otherwise I’d be a bit bored I think.

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

The main reason I started doing all of this was because I enjoyed making people smile and have a giggle at my drawings. So I’m just happy that people still like doing that, and if they buy something after enjoying my work, then that’s a bonus! 

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

Independent businesses are what make the world a more interesting place.  They are so unique and will offer a high level of personal service too! Imagine a world without them? It would be dull! So it’s extra important we support them.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

Ooh that’s a hard one! There are so many I love and so many undiscovered to me as yet. But one that comes to mind right now is Becky Baur. I met her at a trade show in London a few years ago and I love her bold, fun illustrations.

Thank You Sarah!

You’ve read the interview, now take a peek at the indie. Visit the Sarah Ray Illustration website.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 6/07/15
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Delightful Dog Collars for Man’s Best Friend

Best Dressed Dogs Wear Malulu Dog Collars.

Looking for the perfect present for your favourite pooch?

If your best doggy friend deserves a treat then it’s time to head over to Malulu.

A cool indie bringing ethical shopping to the masses, Malulu, has a special range of dog collars and dog leads perfect for man’s best friend.

Established in January 2013 Malulu aim to offer quality, ethical gifts. Working with deprived communities to help lift themselves out of poverty through trade, rather than aid. Giving Malulu’s supplier’s not only hope, but the reality of a brighter and sustainable future.

Malulu chief, Louise Edwards hand-picked every supplier for the sustainability practices they follow such as using local resources, hiring local people and recycling. Many also provide additional help such as financial advice, health treatments and educational programs for their staff’s children.

By choosing a dog gift from Malulu you’re not only keeping your dog happy but also contributing positively to struggling communities.


malulu-mombassa-red-dog collars

Not Just Ethical but Beautiful Too.

As well as being ethically produced, every dog collar and dog lead from Malulu is beautiful too.

With intricate detailing Malulu’s dog collars and dog leads are inspired by the African communities they aim to help.

The Mombasa Red dog collar (shown above) has been inspired by warm sunsets over the Kenyan horizon. Bright, vibrant colours that look great on any dog.

With colours and shapes reminiscent of Africa’s stunning landscapes, heritage and design ethos it’s no surprise that these collars are a customer favourite.



Like what you see?

Malulu’s top dog has told us that there’s more new colourful dog accessories on the way. So don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for new gift ideas that man’s best friend will adore.

dog-modelling-malulu-mombassa-red-dog collars

Want to see more ethical gifts?

Visit the Malulu website now..

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 1/07/15
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