So, last week the very lovely Kate of Happy & Glorious organised a fantastic blogger’s day around the independent shops of Ashford’s Park Mall. Having kind of abandoned my blog about a year ago (more about the why’s, wherefore’s and what I’ve been up in the meantime soon!) I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to get back in the saddle and kick it off again. Given that I’m a partial resident of one of the Park Mall independents, it seemed even more like the perfect reason to get blogging again – so here we are now, ready to rock n roll and explore the delights of some of my fantastic shop-based neighbours.
Happy & Glorious
Set up by Kate Thompsett in 2012 to mark the London Olympics and celebrate all things British made and fabulous, Happy & Glorious moved from living in the virtual world to a real world bricks and mortar shop back in winter last year. Selling a range of homeware and gifty type items, this little unit is crammed with all kinds of gorgeous things, many of which are designed and produced by Kate herself. Gorgeous smelling candles and reed diffusers (Clovelly), floral lotions and potions (Bramley), big squishy geometric blankets and wool purses (Melin Tregwynt), fine china with illustration style prints (Boop, Wiggles & Florence, and Sue Candy), fun and funky cards (I like Birds, Raspberry Blossom, and Lancaster and Gibbings), grown up wash bags (Ducky Dora) and best of all, cushions that look like giant biscuits (Nikki McWilliams). What’s not to like?
Featuring designers and creatives who live and sell their products in Britain is Kate’s thing, and she has done a sterling job in curating a range of inviting and innovative pieces. My son has bought me her scented candles and bath bombs as gifts on a regular basis, but my heart was captured on blogger’s day by the delightful range of succulent plants that were gracing the window. I’m desperately hoping I won’t kill it, but it’s sitting on my sewing shelves so at least I will see it on a regular basis, and therefore remember to water it.
Not only did Kate organise the whole bash, but she also got all the independents to put together a very lovely goody bag for us bloggers, and included in that was a voucher from her which I can share with you for a fantastic 15% off until the end of May. Just quote BD2016 when you make a purchase from Happy & Glorious to get your discount.
Glam R Us
My second visit of the day was just over the road from H&G to the Glam R Us stall which is located in front of Wilkinson’s, facing right out onto the open space of Park Mall and it’s planty area. Owned and run by the lovely Helen, Glam R Us pretty much does what it says on the tin – if it’s glamorous, then it’s on the shelves. If you love all things blingy and glitzy, then this place is for you. I do have a bit of a jewellery addiction it has to be said, so I have to be quite strict with myself in places where shiny things abound, otherwise I get into trouble with my credit card, but the prices in Helen’s place are all very reasonable, so you can get your fill of pretty stuff without breaking the bank.
It’s not just jewellery on sale at Glam R Us though: handbags, scarves, decorative hangy things to put on your bedroom wall or in the bathroom, and plenty of other sparkly items to make you feel a bit special can be snapped up too. Fortunately I have a wedding to go to at the end of the month, so I was perfectly justified in getting myself a gorgeous bronze coloured wrap-around bracelet with my 20% off, which you too can enjoy on your first online purchase.
The Creative Collective is a gallery, workshop and art space located opposite Happy & Glorious at the same end of the centre as Glam R Us. Filled with fantastic art and crafts created by local artists, this unit is run by Betsy Aidinyantz. Currently showing an exhibition by photographers Doug Harman and Philip Hinton, the studio is a light and inviting space where you can be inspired by other artists or even take lessons in all kinds of creative skills yourself.
The collective also holds regular events such as film nights, craft clubs and festivals – the main one being Betsy’s very own creation, ArtiGras which takes place annually in May, featuring local crafters and artists’ stalls, as well as creative collaborations from groups based in and around the town. This year’s ArtiGras takes place on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May, and the theme is magical mystical creatures, so you can expect to see plenty of fantastical animals and crazy creations over that weekend.
Next up – the delights of the Made in Ashford community craft pop up and the wonderful Emporia Fabric & Crafts.