Spring News Update

Hello and Happy Easter! Just wanted to do a quick little Sky Siouki Spring news update on this wonderful Good Friday.

First up… I’ve recently gained a lovely new stockist in Bradford on Avon called Silver Street Studio! Looking forward to hopefully seeing some photos of my products in this gorgeous designer-maker based shop in Somerset soon. It’s looking like there may be even more Sky Siouki stockists in the pipeline for 2017 but we will have to wait and see for that… watch this space.

Silver Street Studio Shop

 

In other news, my new furnishing fabrics collection is now live online! You may have seen updates about this on it’s way on my Instagram feed but now the wait is over and you can officially order Sky Siouki design fabrics by the metre in either linen union or cotton velvet. They are very specialist luxury fabrics, digitally printed to order and aimed towards soft furnishings and upholstery. Choose linen for a subtler, rustic look and velvet for a more vibrant, decadent style! View all five designs here.

I have also been hard at work this week creating a new online shop which you should be able to see is now fully integrated into my website and blog. So you can now do a quick spot of reading in-between shopping all right here on the same page! You should be able to see a ‘cart’ link in the right of the top menu here as well as new features like creating your own Sky Siouki shop account and wishlist even! Have a little browse via the shop link above.

Alpine - Linen/Velvet Fabric

 

If you subscribe to my newsletter or follow my Instagram you may well have also heard the exciting news that I will be holding a stall at the Country Living Spring Fair pop-up market the week after next on Thursday 27th April! It’s crept up so fast and was such a surprise as I made the application a little while ago and the pop-up market is just a small specialist section especially for young businesses to try the event out for free. I’ll be there just for the one day so if you do visit make sure to come on the Thursday to see me! Not quite sure what to expect but very excited to be taking part so wish me luck! I’ll be sending out leaflets with a 35% off code for tickets with every Sky Siouki order in the run up to it.

Country Living Spring Fair

 

I am making an effort to attend more events and markets throughout the year in general as well. I did the first Frome Independent of the year at the start of the month and it was a beautiful day with thousands of people on the streets of Frome! Here’s a little photo of my suitcase sale stand up on Catherine Hill. I’m booked in to do May, June and July as well, and hopefully more as the year goes on.

I also hope to begin selling at a few Tobacco Factory Sunday markets in Bristol soon. This isn’t one I’ve tried before so I shall have to see how it goes but it’s right on my doorstep so fingers crossed I may soon become a regular there too! To start with you can find Sky Siouki at Tobacco Factory on 28th May and 25th June!

Frome Independent April 2017

That’s all of my news for now. Thank you very much for reading and continuing to support Sky Siouki and I hope to see some of you at my next event perhaps. X

 

NOT ON THE HIGH STREET Pitch Up 2017

Last weekend I made a trip up to London for the Not On The High Street Pitch Up 2017 event where, similarly to Liberty’s Best of British Open Call, they open up their headquarters to lots of hopeful designers to pitch their products! Not On The High Street is such a popular online shopping destination these days, especially for gifts and unique design, so this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

I signed up to NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 back in December via EventBrite which is open to anyone but there are limited slots. It crept up fast and all of a sudden February came and I realised I’d better get myself prepared and so I created a little handmade booklet to show my product photography to the panel. I knew from having done the Liberty Open Call that the 10 minute slot would fly by fast and what really matters is the quality of my products so I didn’t prepare a speech or anything. I know that over rehearsing will most likely only make me panicky and that I’m passionate enough about my brand that I can speak about it quite freely without needing to practice.

Not On The High Street HQ

NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 Preparation

I stayed with a friend in London the night before so I could get the train to Richmond the next morning without any faff. I’d signed up to be seen between 11am-12pm but I think this is just a general guideline since I arrived early but didn’t get seen until around 11:45pm. When you sign in there is a waiting room next to the reception where you are given a number and wait to be called upstairs in groups of about ten. There seemed to be quite a lot of people attending which felt competitive at first but a nice and friendly atmosphere developed thankfully.

NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 Waiting Room

Once I was upstairs I had to let them know what products I had brought with me which meant I needed to see potentially three different panels which I didn’t expect. I waited at the side of the room to be called over which didn’t take long at all and at first met two lovely ladies from the Home & Garden department. They were very complimentary and even had some great ideas for developments I could make. They were undecided however if my products were right for the very trend-led, contemporary style of NOTHS and so said they would decide together with the lady from the Art & Prints department after I’d seen her.

So I headed back to my chair at the side and waited to be called over once more, at this point preparing myself for disappointment. I was kicking myself for only bringing one A4 print with me since the email had said to only bring about 5 products and I hadn’t expected them to have time to look at a lot. Thank goodness I had my iPad with me and so I got my online shop loaded at the ready to show them my full range of prints online. The head of the department loved my work, and having unpackaged my print to examine the quality she handed over a Congratulations card without even discussing with the ladies from Home first! She asked that I’d post a couple of my A3 prints to her just to see them for real but said she’d put me through nevertheless! I was so overwhelmed at this point having expected to have to wait nervously while the two departments came to an agreement.

NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 Celebrations After

NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 Congratulations Card

After that they send you through to another room where someone takes your details and signs you up then and there which was really nice because it made the whole thing feel concrete having received an email confirming my membership already. So afterwards I went for some obligatory celebration lunch at Wahaca and then visited the new Switch House viewing terrace at Tate Modern. (Wahaca is delicious by the way and I was suitably hungry for the occasion.) What a day, I’m so overjoyed to have reached a new milestone for Sky Siouki!

 

For anyone thinking of attending the next NOTHS Pitch Up event I would say absolutely go for it! There is nothing to lose really bar a few travel expenses, plus the joining fee is half price if you do get through. It was very well run, dare I say better than Liberty’s Open Call since the allotted time slots mean everyone arrives at a staggered pace and I really wasn’t waiting very long at all. It felt like they had time for you, even bothering to ask where I was from and what I had planned for the afternoon to make me feel more at ease rather than rushing through it.

My biggest regret is of course not taking more prints with me, but thankfully I still got through! I would advise having a good look at the website and thinking about how or if your work will stand out as there is a lot of choice on there already and they did mention how mugs and cards in particular are a very saturated market where it can be hard to stand out. The reason they liked my prints so much was because of my unique contrast of painting against detailed sketches and exciting colour use. They mentioned trends quite a lot and whether products were gift-able so there are a few points so to bear in mind to anyone who goes to the next Pitch Up! Now I’m off to get adding my products to the website!

HOW TO… Use Apps to Help Business – PART 2

It’s what you’ve all been waiting for, the second instalment of my useful apps post!  This time I’m going to focus more on websites rather than apps in fact, as people often ask me about what I use to manage my website, online shop etc. Again, there are lots of options out there and I’m only sharing my personal experience. All of these tips are probably most useful to other creatives looking to set up similar businesses to mine.

1. Tictail

Tictail

I use Tictail to run my own online shop independently of more marketplace style sites like Etsy and Folksy, etc. I like that you can choose how the storefront looks and how simple and streamlined it is. It’s a Swedish company which I think shows in the stylish minimalist templates available and it’s also completely free to set up and list items. There are optional app plug-ins some of which do have monthly costs but never a lot, and you will of course have to pay transaction fees on sales but that goes without saying for all online sales. If you’re looking for something with lots of complex options it perhaps isn’t quite right for you but I’ve always found I can do everything I need with it with very little trouble and they constantly seem to be making added improvements.

2. Squarespace

Squarespace

I used to use Squarespace to run my main website but don’t anymore. This one isn’t free but the most basic package is only $12 a month (roughly £9) so if you’re looking for something with a nice readymade appearance and minimal hassle then I’d certainly recommend it. The templates are stunning and it is very easy to use so when I was just starting out it worked brilliantly for me. You can also integrate an online shop and it does look like they may have developed this feature a lot since I used it but as I seem to remember I think I found it very limited in terms of options. Since then I started to crave a bit more control over my website and wanted to better integrate my blog into my website so I switched to WordPress which I still use now.

3. WordPress

Wordpress

I guess that naturally takes me on to WordPress. This one used to confuse me a lot. There’s WordPress.com and WordPress.org. So, Dot-Com is free but limited, you can’t add plug-ins or much customisation, you have to pay extra to remove ‘wordpress’ from the website address and I basically found it only good for basic blogging. Admittedly Dot-Org is a little more complicated but I chose to make this move so that I could turn my blog into a fully functioning website set up as I wanted it with additional pages and the like.

What’s different is that you have to download the software and find a host for your website that you pay for and then link up with your WordPress site. I basically take the attitude with these things that there’s nothing a Google search won’t find a helpful tutorial for and so far that’s carried me pretty far! I believe I used this very link to help me back then. I chose to go with TSO Host‘s cPanel to host my website as they are UK based and when I did have a little trouble their support was great. Their website provides you with all the details of how to set things up and it costs £15 a year to use which compared with Squarespace does make me a big saving in the grand scheme of things. If you’re really really technophobic then perhaps this option may be a little overwhelming but once it’s all set up Wordpress itself is very easy to use with loads of clever free plug-ins available.

4. Google DriveGoogle Drive

This is something mighty useful for sharing documents with others or if you’re on the go a lot and perhaps use different computers depending where you are. I was introduced to it when I started stocking my products in a couple of Bristol based shops that work on more of an artist co-operative style basis. (This basically means your stock is available as sale or return, you provide codes for each item and then take responsibility for replenishing your own stock levels.) So there is a shared inventory saved to Google Drive which the owner of the document allows private access to for each seller meaning you can check back regularly to see what you have sold and add new items to it when you deliver more stock.

This of course is only one potential use of many for Google Drive. If you perhaps work with a partner in your business then it could be very useful if you don’t always work side by side. Or if you often use different computers perhaps in a hot-desking space it means you can still always access your important documents without having to worry about constantly updating them to a usb drive. It works much like iCloud meaning that every change you make is automatically saved online. You can create basic word documents, spreadsheets, presentations and even more with it. Again it’s free to use and very easy. For me this is one I have yet to create my own documents with but certainly reckon I’ll be thankful for when it comes to taking on employees.

5. DropboxDropbox

One last little helper that has a similar use to Google Drive which I thought I’d add in in case you haven’t heard of it. I find Dropbox really useful if ever I need to share a large volume of photos, for example to a stockist who needs to list my products onto their website. It’s basically just a file sharing service, which is free for up to 2GB of space. Whereas Google Drive is just for documents, Dropbox for me works well for photos because they are often too big to email and this way you can keep files available to whoever you share them with for whenever they may need to access them. It is also a very good security measure as the files you upload to Dropbox will all be backed up online too so this also means you can access your photos from any computer as with Drive.

That’s it for now. I hope I haven’t bored the pants off you! Please comment if anything is unclear or you’d like to know more about anything in particular. I’m hoping to do a How To post purely on Instagram soon. If you missed Part 1 of HOW TO Use Apps to Help Business click here.

JANUARY SALE TIME!

30% OFF EVERYTHING

Yes you heard me! We all know January can be tough. It’s cold out and all the festivities, bright lights and excuses for eating your weight in mince pies and practically dousing yourself in mulled wine are gone. Boo! I swear getting up in the morning has never felt as hard as it did this week, am I right?! So… because I love you all so much and I just hate the thought of any of my fans struggling with the January blues, I’m treating you all to 30% off everything in my online shop this month!

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling down something beautiful and new arriving in the post always perks me up. How about a barn owl mug or perhaps a jackal buzzard cushion? My new mugs are nice and big so you can be sure you’ll have plenty of hot tea to warm you up, and my linen cushions feel luxuriously soft and are filled with duck feather pads so you’ll feel ultra cosy snuggling up on the sofa with one.

Whatever your heart desires, the choice is all yours. Simply use the code BLUEJAN at the checkout to get your discount. Minimum spend of £10 applies. Make the most of the deal now as it’ll expire at midnight on January 31st!

8 Independent Stores for Online Christmas Shopping

It’s mid November and I am beginning to realise I can’t go on ignoring Christmas shopping much longer! I’ve been so focused on making Christmas gifts for other people to buy that I’ve barely thought about buying any myself. I think I’ll be relying on a lot of online shopping this Christmas, but that by no means you can’t still shop independent. I love that the ‘Shop Independent This Christmas’ slogan has become so popular and it’s certainly one I’m backing so I thought I’d compile a list of some of the best online stores I could find to buy beautiful, handcrafted and ethically made gifts. Not only because I’m an independent designer myself, but because you get something so much better quality and more unique when you shop indie.

  1. The Other Duckling – Discovered this one only today via the brilliant Homegirl London blog and love nearly everything they have to offer! They mainly stock vintage things, which is great as it makes it so much easier to find what you’re after than in an actual vintage shop. Hard to choose a favourite, but love this quirky china dog lamp! So kitsch but somehow charming too.

China Dog Lamp

 

2. The Lost Lanes – Admittedly, one of my stockists, but I loved this site before they became a stockist hence why I wanted to sell on there! They’ve recently made it a big part of their ethos to only sell ethically made products by independent UK designers and give details of how each product is made to be ethical with easy to understand symbols. This eco soy candle sounds divine!

Banana Nut Bread Soy Candle

 

3. Decorator’s Notebook – Another one with a strong focus on ethically made products with a beautiful selection of boho style products for the home. I’m so in love with the Indian Kantha quilts they stock, all made using recycled saris by a fairtrade company that helps women who were victims of sex trafficking.

Kantha Quilt

 

4. Eclect Design – Ok, I realise this feature is getting a bit homeware fanatical but I mean what more would you expect from me? There are yet more gorgeous homewares on this website. I LOVE this mug, and anyone who knows me will know it’s because I love deer. May just have to ask Santa for this one myself this year.

Menagerie Deer Mug

 

5. Wolf & Badger – Also with two real-life stores based in London but for those of us who don’t live in London or just prefer to shop from the comfort of our sofas, you can also shop online! They sell a brilliant mix of clothing, accessories and homeware all by independent designers. Just to prove I do like things beyond interiors, check out this gorgeous cork skin handbag from their site!

Pelcor Cayenne Cork Handbag

 

6. In Spaces – Another of my stockists with an extensive collection of interior products. Just came across possibly the coolest clock ever on there and had to share it. It’s a mechanimated weather clock that detects the current atmospheric pressure and responds by displaying the appropriate weather art. Amazing!

Traditional Mechanimated Weather Clock

 

7. Here Today Here Tomorrow – This store is all about sustainable, ethical fashion – something I feel there needs to be a lot more of in this world. Have to admit I always say buying someone clothes is a little risky, unless of course they’ve put something specific on a certain wish-list… These stylish handmade trousers have been woven using a traditional Nepalese technique.

Fairtrade Dhaka Trousers

 

8. The Shop Floor Project – Full of quirky UK artist made products. How lovely is the idea for this cushion collection… each features a collage of the home of a famous British writer. Of course I had to choose Beatrix Potter as my favourite.

 

Beatrix Potter House Cushion

If you’ve got anymore suggestions drop me a comment below! Think I need all the help I can get this year. And of course you can buy gifts from Sky Siouki too, my online shop is right here!