Friday, 24 February 2012

Hidden treasures on the High Street

We know it's popular to moan about the British High Street - all the same shops, ranges, bars and cafés in every town around the country. And we agree! It's so dull! But in our role as wholesalers, I have to say that we come across the most wonderful little independent shops the length and breadth of the UK. They are often small and family owned, selling brilliantly unique ranges of gifts and home accessories, all chosen by the owner of the store and fitting their particular individual vision of what a shop should look like.

We'd like to celebrate these shops and their owners - they have so much to offer beyond what the multi nationals and the chains can give us. They provide wonderful service and fantastic customer care; they have unusual and one-off products that you won't find everywhere; they can be beautiful, stylish, fashionable or eccentric - or all four! They are definitely worth seeking out, and they definitely deserve your support. And they might just make you fall in love with the British High Street again.

So from time to time we're going to bring to your attention independent High Street retailers that we've found on our travels which we think are doing their bit to keep their High Street pretty, busy and different: if you're not in the area, check out the websites!

Sixthehighstreet, Narbeth
So, the first in our series of Hidden Treasures on the High Street is the wonderful - and appropriately named - Sixthehighstreet. Situated in a townhouse in Narbeth, Pembrokeshire, Sixthehighstreet is absolutley bursting with character: on offer is a unique and inspiring colletion of beautiful homewares, gifts, jewellery and clothing. Owner Jenny combines the traditional with the contemporary for a fabulously personal mix, and her favourite Retreat lines this season include:
Vintage Heart Photo Frame

Vintage Rose Cosmetic Bag
Vintage Patchwork Cosmetic Bag

Vintage Love Cushion
Duck Egg Patchwork Cushion

We say, lucky Narbeth to have this gem in their midst!

If you come across a high street retailer you'd like us to look at - or indeed if you ARE a high street independent retailer - let us know. We want to spread the word!

With love

Sam xx

Friday, 9 December 2011

Win Retreat Christmas decorations!

Pink Christmas from Period Living
This year it seems there are more really inspirational ideas for Christmas decorations around than ever: from sophisticated neutrals, to Scandi chic, to metallics and clashing brights - Period Ideas even came up with a girly pink Christmas colour scheme which looked fab! The rule book has finally been thrown out the window, along with all the boring old tinsel!

Birds & pinecones from Country Living
Country Living have a brilliantly inspiring piece about Christmas decorating ideas on their website - check it out if you're short of ideas. It will definitely get your creative juices flowing. Don't forget to put your own personal stamp on whatever you do - it's a great opportunity to give your crazier ideas free rein, safe in the knowledge that all can return to normal on Twelfth Night. Perfect for experimenting, and for the commitment-phobics amongst us!

So, because we know what a clever and creative lot you are, we'd love to see photos of the Christmas decorations YOU'RE putting up this year. Whether you're trimming your tree, decking your hall or dressing your table, post them on our Facebook page and the one we like the best will win £30 worth of Retreat Christmas decorations.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

All's Fair...

Trade Fair time...A crazy couple of weeks living out of suitcases and setting up and dismantling stands, first at Autumn Fair in Birmingham and then to London for Top Drawer. We had great feedback about the season's collection and were really busy at both, which is very encouraging in the current climate. Equally encouragingly,  Fenwick's sales of toiletries bags are up by 500%, which just shows that even in tough times the little things still count! Our own range of cosmetic bags is proving extremely popular - our little cosmetic bag with appliqué vintage birds is doing very well for Eve in Witney, whilst at Ambience in Burford the dolly bag with patchwork hearts is proving a hit. It's great to see one of our favourite stockists Cricklewood doing so well at the moment, too.

Our own private 'loveliest stand at the NEC' award this year goes to Danish company Bloomingville's - it looked absolutely stunning, even by our own very high standards!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Cyprus for a little calm before the storm

Just back from a wonderful few days in Turkish Cyprus, staying at Darren's Mum's house in the mountains. A perfect 'Retreat' for a few days well-deserved R&R with the family before we launch headlong into the silly season aka Christmas! A heavenly mixture of wandering around markets (a favourite pastime in England which I can resist even less when overseas), lounging by the pool and playing on the beach.

 I do seem to be the only member of my family who can dress suitably for both car and air travel. Darren provided plenty of entertainment as he tried a less-than-discreet costume change at the airport - notice this is not only in public but in front of the airport window
for maximum, ahem, exposure!

"Hm, if I take one of each,
I might just get everything  in..."

My packing dilemmas are far more subtle and all carried out in private at home, starting with selecting which Retreat Home vintage fabric luggage labels I'm going to use; then it's large toiletries bag with everything including the kitchen sink in it, or minimalist cosmetic purse pared down to the bare necessities? (Inevitably, it's the kitchen sink every time!) A final dash back for a lavender-scented eye pillow so I can pretend I'm not 'cruising at 30,000 feet' (I wish they wouldn't say that) and I'm done. At least I don't need to get changed in public!

Poolside reads this year were One Day (must see the film), and Red Queen  and White Queen, both by Philippa Gregory, to whom I am currently 100% addicted! Absolute bliss.

Back home yesterday and straight from airport to office, as we're on countdown now to trade shows at the NEC and then at Top Drawer, setting up and dismantling our wonderful Retreat Home stand and talking to our lovely customers, old friends and new. Then our Christmas sleigh will be off for a round of personal appearances at Bentalls, whilst I, in the thick of Christmas, start thinking about new locations for our Spring Summer shoot. Normally I share this task with our lovely stylist Selina Lake, but she is getting married on Saturday so has plenty on her mind already!

Absolute madness, and I absolutely love it!www.retreat-home.com

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Hand & Flowers Part 2

Good to see this weekend's Observer magazine agrees with us about the wonderful Hand & Flowers - see their review here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/aug/21/hand-and-flowers-allan-jenkins. I'm glad to say we were much luckier with our dining companions than this poor reviewer was!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Dreaming of the seaside

Even if it's not scorching hot, there's something about August that just makes me long to be by the sea. I think it's the long days, and the sense of these weeks being the last lull before the storm of Autumn starts. I want to smell the sea air, feel sand between my toes, taste salt on my lips and eat a Mr Whippy 99 cornet! Last time we were on the beach, my lovely husband Darren and son Louis sweetly drew this heart in the sand for me.

As you'll find out as my blog continues, I adore a flea market. Recently I spotted a lovely collection of sea shells, which made me feel so nostalgic for rockpooling! And these jelly shoes look like they're just waiting for a family to take them to the beach for a paddle...

Monday, 8 August 2011

The Retreat Celeb Roll-call!

Excuse us while we indulge in a little celebrity name-dropping -  we're very proud that past customers at Retreat include many well-known faces and of course famous possessors of impeccable taste! 

Recent celeb spots include the sumptuous Nigella, who treated herself to our beautiful LOVE tea light holders (wonder if they'll make it in to the background of her next TV show?); blooming new Mum Natalie Cassidy bought a personalised Christmas linen stocking.

The lovely Anna Friel purchased one of our toiletries bags for good friend and style guru Tara P-T, while chanteuse Duffy treated  herself to our Love & Happiness cushions - we wish her plenty of both.

And finally none other than HRH Beatrice took a shine to her lilac range - we like to imagine our scented hearts hanging next to her controversial collection of fascinators!