Autumn/Winter plans (& blogging!)

Hello everyone!

I’ve been a bit off the radar recently when it’s come to blogging, who has time for something extra really?! But I just wanted to let you know my plans from now because I absolutely love writing for you guys and am going to make it part of my job and pop it into my to do list every couple of weeks so there’s always something new to read from me! (even if it means typing away in bed on my laptop, it’ll get done!).

I also just want to put into a quick blog the details of my website and ordering from when the website changes happen to Christmas.

So, here’s my plans…

From mid September onwards I will be doing a blog every couple of weeks (I even have them pre planned so no excuses!). Autumn winter is the busiest time for my business and I like to throw my all into the September to December- it’s a crazy time! I have a few markets that I’m attending (And by a few I mean I don’t think I’ll be going home for the whole of November) but I am SO excited to show you everything new, everything I have planned and everything for you guys I’ve been creating all year. I have even gathered lots of small businesses for an extra special Christmas list and plan too, I can’t wait to show you that. If you’ve followed me on instagram for any amount of time you’ll know I basically worked on my 2020 calendars ALL summer, I know… I can’t quite believe they are finally ready and going to be for sale soon. Along with so so many other products!

Sometime in September (date TBC) my whole website will change over from what it is currently to be an “in stock” system. This means I will list on there what I have in stock, once it’s gone it’s gone and that’s all that will be available. This means I won’t be able to get anything back in stock in time for Christmas (I don’t think), which is scary, exciting and SO unknown.

I have been ploughing everything back into my business for the last 6 months and to be honest I can’t wait to see it all come together soon!

I hope that all makes sense, I’ll release the date for my full winter launch very soon!

Below I’ll list where I’m going to be and my plans for September-December. Thanks, as always, for reading this little blog and I can’t wait to spend my autumn and winter with all you guys!

  • Out of office 23rd August until 3rd December
  • Back to pack up and send orders on 4th 5th and 6th September
  • Out of office 7th-14th September
  • 14th September, BACK AND READY TO GO
  • 22nd September, mama meet and market (The custard factory, Digbeth)
  • 9th and 10th November- Fabulous places Christmas market (roundhouse Derby)
  • 15th November- 3rd December CHATSWORTH OFFICIAL CHRISTMAS MARKET
  • 17th November- Walled garden at Beeston with fabulous places
  • 24th November- Mama meet and market at Christmas at Derby university
  • 5th December- Deck the halls Shopping event. Haarlem mill, Derby
  • 14th December- Open studio at my studio to finish off the season!
  • 18th December- last day in the studio for Christmas orders to be placed

Now you know where I’m at and what my plans are, I hope to see you all at one of my events. But if not, say hi on instagram and I’ll be there behind the scenes too.

Wish me luck for September and October, I think I’ll have a bit of packing to do!!

Have a fabulous week.

Leah x

 

 

Do your own illustrations

ILLUSTRATING for yourself

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Illustration (in my opinion) is the MOST fun form of art. It’s a way of expressing creativity and fun in a quirky and loose style, it doesn’t have to be too serious (or even real at all!). I’m not saying that everyone who is an illustrator has quirky and loose styles (as like everything it isn’t a one size fits all!), but my way of working is quick, colourful and happy and I want to share with you loads of ways of being able to illustrate for yourself too! I hope you can get inspired to do some DIY and learn a bit more. Use whatever you like as a canvas. A napkin, a blackboard, ANYTHING! Get yourself into the groove.

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I’m mostly self-taught, so take everything I say with a pinch of salt, I’m no professional! But I did Art A-level and adored it. To be honest, my ‘art studies’ were more ‘fine art’ than ‘illustration’ but I soon figured my style once I decided to launch made by Leah, and these are the rules I stick by…

  • Don’t be precious. I don’t believe in rubbers or doing it in pencil first or starting again. If you go wrong then kinda dance over it and make a squiggle where it was a problem! (By the amount of squiggles in my work can you even guess how many times I go wrong each time I put pen to paper!?). Honestly though, once you have an idea, start squiggling. You might be a sketch book person or a straight pen to paper person, either way I urge you to just stop thinking of the mistakes and start throwing yourself in pen first!
  • Don’t be afraid of being too simple or too much. Too simple is never a thing, a simple wording or bit of greenery is top notch in most peoples books so if you fancy just doing a bit of writing or drawing something small, don’t think of it as being any less! Go on, get those paints out and paint a leaf. The same can be said about being ‘too much’, no! Too much doesn’t exist and if you want bows on glitter on swans with crowns with a pink lake and candy floss mountains then DO IT. Honestly, as someone who does a real mix of simple and busy, do whatever floats your boat.
  • Find your style. Just because you love the style of someone you have seen illustrating doesn’t mean it’s the one for you. It takes practice to find what naturally comes to you so enjoy the process and take some time to decide what you do best! I used oil and acrylic paint for years until one day I tried watercolour and BAM I was sold, knew it was the thing for me. I would like to go back and try some other techniques one day but for now I’m keeping busy with what I do best!
  • Get yourself a few little bits like paints and pencils so you can do what you wanna do! I’ll write a shopping list for starting some illustrating below, on a budget…
  • Illustrate subjects that MAKE YOU HAPPY. I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t love it, it won’t come naturally to you and it won’t be as good as if you went for a subject you absolutely love!

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I started off making cards for friends and family, perhaps start with something like this first and give your little creations to the people you love!

To create your own illustrations, paintings or drawings, I would recommend buying or making sure you have the following:

  • A nice pencil (no not for drawing something out first, for adding lines to an illustration!). I would suggest going into a store that has a lot of choice and deciding whether you like it soft or hard and go with the one that feels right when you test it out. (I use black wing but these are slightly pricey)
  • A sharpie or fine liner or biro. Something to scribble those lines and that you like the feel of on the paper!
  • A mini travel watercolour palette. Something with just a few basic colours for you to be able to mix and create all sorts. Watercolours can be expensive and I would suggest when starting out to literally just buy a cheap on the go style pack! I can recommend the Windsor and newton travel set; it’s fairly cheap and has good colours.
  • A sketchbook or paper, for the appropriate media! If you want to try watercolour, get watercolour paper; get oil paper for oil paint or normal paper if you just want to use pencil. Get the right paper and it will create the right effect! Perhaps start with a little sketchbook (places like WHSmith’s do good art books, or Hobby craft!)

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I think you’re all set!

I can’t wait to see some of your illustrations, remember EVERYONE can create something beautiful. Send me some photos of your pieces if you have a go!

Take care lovelies and have a lovely week.

Leah x

 

Simple ways to be kind to yourself

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I have recently been making a few changes within made by Leah (mainly additions, nothing has really been swapped out!) and have tried to embrace a positive and encouraging aspect to my business and instagram, have you noticed?!

This change was initially sparked in me because I know how negative social media can be to people and how tough life can be, and wanted to brighten up peoples days with my little squares. It’s so easy to doodle a quick message that can easily speak to so many people, and even if those doodles only touched one person, that’s enough for me!

Being kind to yourself or ‘self care’ have become quite glam and trendy/talked-about topics this year and I for one am all for it if it’s genuine. Looking after yourself is SO important. It doesn’t have to be a week abroad or luxury spa breaks, just simple things can help too. I find switching off and taking care of myself quite difficult sometimes. I’m not a stressed person and am very blessed to have good health, but running a business can for sure knock it out of you. As can any job. As can not having a job. As can being a teenager, adult… You get the jist; life can be stressful for everyone and anyone.

How on earth is it possible to wake up early, pay bills, do the food shopping, keep the car filled with petrol, work full time, drink enough water, cook healthy meals, go to the gym, wash, pay the mortgage, sort that bank appointment, have your hair cut AND keep the dog alive?! LIFE. But we are all amazing at keeping going. And whether we struggle or we don’t, we are all doing a fabulous job.

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I’ve put together a few simple things that are just so normal but 100% essential in keeping your head above water and being kind to your body and mind. They are things you can do every day and seem SO easy, but in reality how often do you mindfully do them? I know I can hold my hands up and say I’m much better at doing the simple things to take care of myself when I see a list actually in front of me and remind myself it’s important. Here goes:

SLEEP ENOUGH

I reckon everyone knows how much sleep they should be getting. Burning your candle at both ends won’t help anything! Sleep if you need to, wake up early if you know that helps how you feel all day. Do what makes you work!

WASH

Have a long hot bubble bath, have a quick cold shower, wash using baby wipes, do anything to make you feel fresh to face another day!

MOVE/GET SOME FRESH AIR

Don’t stay cooped up all day and night. Go for a quick walk at lunch time or walk somewhere instead of driving. Even just make sure you move your feet if you’re stuck at a desk all day! Moving and getting some fresh air will really help clear your head.

EAT AND DRINK

Plants can’t flourish and grow without enough food and water and neither can we. When I’m drinking enough and eating well my whole body thanks me, including my brain, and I’m much more productive!

DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE

Every. Single. Day. Do something that makes YOU happy! I’m not even going to do a list because millions of things make people happy. Free things, enjoying nature or watching your favourite series. It doesn’t matter what makes your heart happy, just let things make it happy!

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK FROM SCREEN TIME

I am RUBBISH at this one. I say no phone time after a certain time but I’ll check instagram in bed, first thing in the morning, have dreams about it (you know the drill). Having a break from social media even just for an hour while you cook and eat your dinner can do those eyes and that brain a world of good!

TALK TO YOUR PEOPLE

Text your friend, chat to your parents. Know your people and who builds you up and let them do that whenever you can! Trust me, your best friend isn’t going to wish you hadn’t dropped her that text. A whole world of people care about you, let them!

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One final thing, remember to appreciate the little things.

Appreciate the big things too (like the holidays and spa breaks), but remember even the tiny daily details can give you a happy mindset.

Take care lovelies.

Leah x

 

(three positive things template to use as you wish, and something I do every single day and add to my instagram stories!)

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Disneyland Paris Trip 2019

 

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DISNEYLAND PARIS TRIP 2019

Back in March I went on the most magical trip on the Eurostar from London to Paris with my best bud and it was honestly AMAZING.

Through this little blog I’m going to take you through some of my favourite things about my trip, some advice or tips if you’re planning on going yourself and just some general magical and beautiful vibes(along with trying to persuade you to go along too, of course). Unfortunately for you, you won’t be going with my friend Kendra, the gal who I give all the credit for booking the majority of the trip and making it the cutest and sweetest time in the world (including making up little personalised envelopes of tickets and itineraries complete with Disney doodles, I’ll show ya!) but I’m sure you all have your own Kendra. If you have a Disney loving buddy then I can honestly say it will be the best holiday in the world! A lot of you will also go with families and kids, which I have no experience of so I won’t be chatting any kids at Disney advice in this blog (although will 100% be forcing Disney upon all my future children).

So, we live in Lichfield which is in NO WAY close to London but we decided to get the Eurostaranyway as it was much better timed than flights at the time we were booking, and a much quicker option than driving! We had a 1.5 hour train to London Euston and then just a short wait between that and hopping on the Eurostar from St Pancras station, which is super quick and super comfortable and just fab. I’d recommend taking your own snacks and things to do. We wrote lists (I love lists) and ate M&M’sand just got super excited about the trip and which ears we were going to invest in when we got there…

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So, a little quick rundown of Disneyland Paris and what’s there. It’s made up of basically four parts:

  • The castle and theme park 
  • Another smaller park “Walt Disney studios”
  • Disney Village, which is made up of nice shops and eating-places.
  • The hotel area (we stayed just a shuttle bus ride away in one of the off site Disney hotels)

 

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RIGHT next to the park (about 2 minutes walk from the entrance) is the train station, which we hopped on to get the Eurostar home. It can also take you into central Paris or the airport. It’s fab!

The only previous time I had been to Disneyland Paris was when I was 5, and so I saw things a lot differently this time! My overall immediate vibe about the park was it’s gorgeous attention to detail, the fact everything was so pristine and cleanand, of course, the BEAUTIFUL castle, down the long and traditional walkway. From the plants to the traditional BINS (who even knew a bin could be so beautiful?!) to the shape of the streets to the streetlamps to the square trees, everything was perfect. A very instagrammable place to be.

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Here’s a list of (in my opinion!) the must go on rides and attractions:

  • Space Mountain. The one ride I remember from being 5 did NOT disappoint. It’s the best one and the most thrilling in the dark roller coaster at Disney. We went on this more than once and it’s so worth it.
  • Big Thunder Mountain. If you love big upside down rides this is the ride for you, it’s fabulous.
  • The peter pan ride. It may have a long queue as it’s for both adults and kids, but it’s well worth the wait. I’d have gone on this multiple times, it’s just wonderful. It takes you on a trip over “London” and flies you over everything peter pan. A must.
  • The carousel. We went on this and adored it, it’s a classic beautiful golden looking carousel and a must do when in the gorgeous park. I don’t care how old you are, you have to go on the carousel! (I don’t go on them ever but it just fit with the park so much it had to be done).
  • The tower of terror. This is in the other park, Walt Disney studios. It’s SO scary and fantastic; I refused to let go the whole time. If you’re up for a huge tummy flipper, this ones for you! I think the queues build up for this one but worth the wait any day.

(this is space moutain followed by the best carousel ever...)

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FOOD:

We were only at the park for three days (a recommended time to visit to get everything into one trip!) but each day we ate within the park in the restaurants just by the entrance. We ate at a Diner style restaurant the first evening and then PLANET HOLLYWOOD the second evening which was worth the experience for sure! The restaurants are all chains and burger and fries kinda places (I’m not complaining!) but you’re generally so tired after a full day at the park that grab and go style food works anyway! We tended to stay in the park until closing time (I think 7pm possibly even later over the summer period) and then head to a restaurant for a bite to eat on route back to the shuttle bus by the train station.

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EARS AND OUTFITS:

One thing we absolutely knew we were going to be doing was buying Minnie mouse ears. We had our hearts set on this and wanted them straight away so we were wearing them the whole time. I’m telling you too, there are MILLIONS of different styles and colours and materials and there ears hanging for sale everywhere you look. Shop windows, sale carts, queues, you name it, there’ll be ears. 

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I reckon lots of people pre buy a pair of ears and wear them on the train/plane but I wanted to buy them there and so did Kendra(Plus I don’t think I was organised enough to actually plan outfits and ears beforehand) and there’s loads of places you can buy super fancy ears, but in the end we went for the CLASSIC Minnie mouse ears with the red bow. Can’t beat them. Timeless.They cost 15 euros. Best money I’ve ever spent. Honestly the fact everyone is wearing ears everywhere you look just adds to the pure joy of the holiday!

The only time we took them off was 10 seconds before a ride (me and Kendra decided to put them up our jumpers while we were on the rides so they were safe, I’m sure lots of people forget to do this. RIP ears.).

ALSO just to let you know, they make you sit with your bag by your feet now rather than put them in a locker/shelf at each ride. Kendra had (what I can only describe as) a fanny pack for your thigh, which was a LIFE saver. It was sturdy and stayed put and fit our phones and purses in. I’d recommend something like this if you were going on all the scary rides. Obviously if you’re going with kids you need more than just a phone and purse but I thought I’d just pre warn you!

Kendra also brought GLITTER (see photo above) and we wore this on our faces the whole time. In the queue to the Tower of Terror we got called the glitter girls and honestly we were OK with that!

QUEUES:

So, we went to Disneyland Paris midweek in an off-season month and the queues were absolutely brilliant for us. I think around an hour was the longest we had to wait. Don’t get me wrong, everyone would rather queue a little less but we were in the park for three days and managed to fit in every ride we wanted to along with some of our favourites again on the last day.

If you can go midweek and out of school holidays, I think it makes a world of difference. You can also buy fast pass tickets for certain rides if you want to!

HOTEL:

We stayed at the “Hotel B&B”which was a ten-minute free shuttle to the park entrance. I won’t say much about the hotel as people generally book hotel and tickets together. What we found was that we literally slept and had breakfast there, we didn’t spend loads of time thereso we wouldn’t have minded what it was like. But it was good!

THE CASTLE:

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Finally I’m going to chat to you about the castle because honestly I could have cried when I saw it for the first time. The castle is this gorgeous shade of pink. You can go all the way around it, in it, under it (and definitely do this because there’s the most amazing dragon under there). Everyone is taking selfies from every angle around the castle (us included) and it’s basically very hard to get a photo in front of it with just you in but you just have to have no shame!

The castle without a doubt, 100%, was my favourite part of Disneyland Paris.

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Here’s a short itinerary of our three days there:

  • Day 1 – Travel from early. Visit Disneyland Park all afternoon, check in and hotel in the evening after Dinner.
  • Day 2 - Visit Walt Disney Studios Park in the morning, Disneyland Park in the afternoon.
  • Day 3 - Visit Disneyland Park again, leave to start travelling home mid afternoon.

I hope you all get the chance to go and experience Disney, and I hope I get to go to Florida one day and experience it on the next level too! But for the price (I think we paid under £500 each including travel, hotels, food and park tickets ((and ears))) I think Paris is a real winner.

If you have any questions do get in touch and I’ll do my best to answer anything honestly about the best holiday ever!

Take care lovelies,

Leah x

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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF (me)...

 

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Hey everyone!

I realise it was supposed to be a Disney blog as my next one, but a few of you asked for “a day in the life of” following from my previous being self-employed blog, and so I thought I’d go for it now as it’s much easier to pull together than a Disney one that seems to be taking me forever!

So here goes…

MONDAY:

Monday is my day of admin. As well as my printers being closed on a Monday, I also get most of my orders over the weekend (especially now I do my limited-edition Fridays and originals sale!) and so it’s a fab day to get all my envelopes prepped, reply to all my emails and place any stock orders that I need.

  • I start by going to the gym (normally…) and spending some time with my pooch. I often bring my laptop home so I can reply to emails in bed or on the sofa!
  • When I get to work I write all my envelopes of orders and pack all my weekend orders up. This includes hand writing a postcard for each order which I love! It can take anywhere from an hour to a few hours and so I often have a Netflix series on the go at the same time!
  • Once all my orders have been packed, a post office run is in order! I often try and get this in at the same time as popping home to walk the dog.I love the fresh air and it gives me some chill time for a little while!
  • The rest of the afternoon is often spent planning commissions, doing any scanning or packing I need to do and ordering a re-stock of prints and cards.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday:

 

THESE ARE MY DAYS.

Tueasday, Wednesday and Thursday are the days I get to do what I love most. Commissions, new designs, little doodles for my Instagram posts, thinking up new ideas... all the greatest things and the reason I love what I do so much!

I often start these three days with such a positive mental attitude. 

I try to keep my mind fresh with ideas and spend the first part of Tuesday prepping and planning my social media for the week. Anyone that has a business understands that social media is a HUGE player in success and coming up with daily Instagram posts can take over a long period of time from your day, so I try and get a vague idea of what I want to post each day to make it flow more naturally when I come to writing that post or releasing new material!

Social media can take a short time or a longer time if I want new doodles or designs to upload, I’ll do them there and then.

Commissions can also vary from week to week as to whether they take up a whole day, a couple of days or just a few hours. I do seem to always have a few that I’m working on, though, and they are some of my favourite things to do.

Gym and dog and a fresh air walk always happen within all this, but I try and enjoy and not be too structured with these few days as I find the more I enjoy them the more productive I am!

For the rest of the days I pack up any orders, prep any envelopes I need to and if I have an event coming up I’ll get the “event table” ready and put all my pieces to the side so it’s just a case of packing the car closer to the day!

I would recommend to anyone that has a creative job (or any job!) to take regular little breaks (even just a 5-minute cup of tea or a quick game on your phone, no judging *cough*snake squad*cough*). Having a little brain break is essential! 

Through these “middle” days I write a to do list, scribble and change it, write a new one, doodle on it, change my path and go a bit rogue multiple times a day but I like to go with the flow!

(Gossip Girl is my series of choice at the moment while I’m working, but sometimes if I’m doing a commission I like to just turn all distractions off, and work in the hum of my studio with no noise.)

FRIDAY:

 

Friday is my rounding up day.

I start a Friday with so much happiness! I love it!

On a Friday this tends to be what happens:

  • Get up nice and early, hit the gym if I fancy it or have a little lie in if I’m feeling the opposite!
  • Head to the printers to pick up all my orders for the week (my printers is near my gym so this helps when I’m not feeling it to tie them in together!)
  • Prep my limited edition or sale for the evening. This includes writing up envelopes, postcards, packing and signing all the prints and getting it all together.
  • This is the day I know I’m in the studio all day so I get a lot of scanning in as I need to be there to scan all my work in and swap them over when needed.
  • Sometimes I squeeze a coffee in on a Friday with my bestie who has Fridays off, best part of the week obviously!
  • I also do my social media pre planning for the weekend as I don’t like to be on my phone lots over the weekend!
  • If I have an event on at the weekend, I always pack the car on a Friday so I can have as much sleep on the Saturday morning as possible!

On Saturday and Sunday, Piers (my husband, who works a “normal” 9-5) has the whole time off so we always try and make the most of it. Hardly any work and no talking stories or sales! I do still reply to emails and IG messages but I keep it to a minimum, time off is so key!

Obviously, if I’m at an event or stall I work the whole weekend and would try and recover by having a little lie in on a Monday before heading back to the studio to do a stock check and re tidy!

I hope you all enjoyed knowing a little more about what I do with my days, let me know if you have any questions as I tried to fly through it as quickly as possible!

Enjoy your day and speak (about Disney!)as soon as possible.

Leah x

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