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!


Friday, 5 August 2011

Dinner at the Hand & Flowers

Dinner tonight at The Hand and Flowers in Marlow - a bit posher than normal, but we deserve a treat. Modern British/rustic French, absolutely gorgeous food and the presentation is just stunning. Louis loves the chips so everyone's happy!

Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area - check out the website here and prepare to feel hungry!

Retreating to the country and Retreat Home!

OK, well here comes my first blog! A bit of background first I think...

My company Retreat Home is a huge part of my life, and a part that I love and nurture tirelessly.  Having spent years doing the London/blue chip company thing, it was always a dream to move out to the country, with space for a family, to do my own thing. In fact it was having my son, Louis, that made me re-evaluate my life and career and brought forth the idea of Retreat Home. I loved my high profile job at Laura Ashley but once Louis arrived, I found the commuting, the long hours and the frequent business trips just made it incredibly hard for me to be the kind of mum I wanted to be. It seemed the time was right to have a go at fulfilling the long-held fantasy of running my own business.

I did a lot of research visiting independent boutique shops around the country and saw there was a real market for beautiful, unusual, well-designed and well-made home accessories.  I felt there was a customer out there who, like me, had perhaps moved on from a passion for fashion and now wanted to make her home as gorgeous as possible. So armed with an initial collection of designs, a contact book full of manufacturers and a £3000 budget, I got my first samples made up and took a stand at Pulse. And from there Retreat Home took root and flourished.

The Retreat stand at Harrogate last week
Three or four years later, we have nine employees, proper offices and warehousing, but the ethos of the company and the ideas that drive me forward remain the same.  It’s fantastically rewarding and incredibly satisfying, being able to run the company according to my personal philosophy and ethics, and to see that set of values pay off as the company grows.

So that's the story so far...more (much more!) to come....