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A Yorkshire Yarn.

“I, Willy Wonka, have decided to allow five children – just five, mind you, and no more – to visit my factory this year. These lucky five will be shown around personally by me, and they will be allowed to see all the secrets and magic of my factory.”

Reading Charlie’s adventures in the chocolate factory many (many…) years ago, I never thought I’d find myself in a similar situation, but recently I did. Always on the lookout for new and fantastic fabrics with which to make even more mouth-watering bags, I came across Abraham Moon & Sons woollen Mill in Guiseley, near Leeds

It’s the last remaining vertical woollen mill in the country, (meaning all processes are completed on one site – raw wool goes in one end and high quality bespoke fabrics come out of the other), and has been quietly producing amazing fabrics and materials for 180 years.

 

moon_mill_bwI gave them a call, was quickly invited down for a tour, and, having ended the conversation on an enthusiastic affirmative, stood mid-office with phone held aloft in the manner (I imagined) of Charlie Bucket and his golden ticket.

You don’t approach Abraham Moon & Sons woollen Mill – you are drawn to it. Built in 1902, (the original 1837 building was burnt to the ground in a fire) the quiet sandstone mass speaks of Victorian industrial might and a brooding permanence. Angular roofs point at industrial skies and it was with Blake’s ‘dark, satanic mills’ on my mind that I scanned the grounds for my own Willy Wonka.

His name was John and while he lacked Willy Wonka’s ‘high and flutey’ voice and quick squirrely movements (thankfully!) he invited me in.

If the outside was stoic and solid, then inside the mill itself is a hyperactive assault on the senses; the mountain of raw wool, the clatter, batter banging of drums and looms, the rich earthy smell of the dyes – it’s an impressive, intimidatory spectacle. Each fleece is subjected to a clinical set of processes that ensures the fabric is of the highest possible quality; from scouring (removing 99.7% of impurities) to dying (over 500 shades available) to blending (up to seven different wool’s at a time) to carding to spinning to warping to weaving to scouring, milling and finishing (phew!) – every aspect of the production process is carefully controlled to ensure the finished product is delivered to the exact requirements of the customer.moon_showroom

 

If you are a fabric addict like me it’s a magical experience to see the end to end production of such wonderful fabrics – but it is the blending that (for me) makes this mill special. Grey isn’t just grey – there are filaments of yellow and green and blue in there. It makes the colour more dimensional – makes it stand out from the crowd in a subtle, whispering way. In short, it just makes the fabric look… better.

At the end I half expected to dive into a great glass elevator before being handed the keys to the operation, but alas, I wasn’t. Instead I took ownership of some amazing new materials, full of great new ideas of how to use them in my pieces.

Here is a fine example of our Moon wool bags available online 

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Blast from the Past

 

So this week is half term break and I have come to my home town of Bristol for a short visit with my inspirational 8 year old little girl. After a coffee catch up with Grandad we took a detour via my old stomping ground and even stopped off to see an old friendly face. Reminiscing about the good old days of playing in the street and my old school route really took me back a few years and the one thing that made my heart smile was the fact that my dearest and oldest friend, with whom I share most of those memories, is still a very big part of my life.

The oldies are the best so they say and I’m so proud that our new collection this year features totally classic designs with a modern twist.  I will be honest, some of the new styles have been a long time in the making. I started working on the Satchel in particular over a year ago and have been playing with the design and materials for what feels like a lifetime! The new two-tone colour combinations are striking and so fresh! We are keen to show off the classic designs brought up to date with a splash of colour!

My personal favourite is the cross-body messenger bag. When you think of a messenger bag you think of big, fit all my stuff in it kind of bag, but at Butterfly Tree we like to do things a little differently. Our cross-body messenger is a petite version of what we all love about a classic messenger.  But, fear not – we have also combined a traditional messenger with a leather backpack strap with a padded laptop compartment and essential internal pockets, all will be available online soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Bag Love

plane-flying-sunset-wallpaperI consider myself a very low maintenance individual and I tend to surround myself with similar types. The people in my life are so very important to me and I cherish the relationships I have built around me and I find that in doing so I get the love back which I embrace wholeheartedly.

I recently received a message from one of my dearest girlfriends who informed me that she was coming to visit me for a quick catch up. This may not seem like a big deal until I tell you that she lives in Hong Kong. I was so overwhelmed at the thought of being so important to her that she was prepared to fly 6000 miles, for 48 hours to see how I am. I can tell you that it was a whirlwind catch up and we talked for 8 hours non-stop! We didn’t need anything other than a bar and a sofa to have the time of our lives. This is a friendship worth it ‘s weight in gold, a true friend that I will have for life.

My wardrobe is equally as low maintenance. I fill it with stylish things that make me happy and will do so for life. I don’t tend to over spend on things, style is way more important to me. Mypersonalised_logo bags reflect this. I design bags that I love. I know how to make things beautiful; I understand aesthetics and I have a natural grasp of colours, shapes and lines which are simple but beautiful.

You can be sure to find perfect way to show someone you care with a personalized gift from Butterfly Tree, so take a look at the website at our bags, all of which can be personalised with initials in leather.

By ‘eck

goremeI’ve done some crazy stuff in my time. I once slept in a cave in the middle of Turkey on New Years Eve with American travelers that insisted on dancing naked around the camp fire. Anyone that knows me will know that removing my clothes in temperatures below 35 degrees is out of the question, fire or no fire. I was once sick in my best friend’s mouth on an extremely buoyant boat trip to Ko Tao in Thailand where we looked like death on arrival in paradise for different reasons. We are still best friends but we now have a special bond. We just don’t talk about it as it makes us both feel sick. My most impressive feat was getting over the shame of taking up the birthing position in a room full of people. Some may think this is no big deal but I ko_taowas mortified. I soon got over it as the gas and air didn’t work and I needed to get my premature baby out. Thankfully I had my husband by my side to support me though this difficult time in my life, oh no wait, he was busy taking photos of me so we could remember the whole experience.  Colourful language ensued at this time. All the mothers in the audience will appreciate that one.

But getting my bags into Jon Lewis is by far the craziest thing I have done in a long time. Yes – they are now live at www.johnlewis.com and seem to john_lewishave sold out in some styles. What? Is this a real? It feels very strange to be looking at my bags on the John Lewis website and I’m sure that feeling will double when I see them instore on October 20 in Leeds. I am by no means an adrenaline junkie, but there are things in my life I can say that have filled me with excitement and spurred me on to be better and do better. I spend a lot of time thinking about what my future holds and I try to reach out and grab every opportunity to make it happen. Positive thinking has got me though some really tough times, but by ‘eck it has made me who I am today.

Back To Reality

ramblas

After a fantastic holiday season with my family, it’s time to get back into the routine of juggling work and motherhood. Having many responsibilities is daunting after such a lovely break from reality.  We chose to submerge ourselves in the culture of Barcelona this summer and we had a blast! I forgot myself and all the pressures of life in the fast lane in Yorkshire. The atmosphere is electric on the Ramblas where you

bracatruly lose yourself in what’s going on around you. You’re never too far away from the smell of the wonderful food on offer and stopping to relax and watch the world go by becomes part of your daily routine. Definitely a trip to remember for all.

Back in reality, life couldn’t be any more exciting for Butterfly Tree, with the launch of ‘Made Locally’ in John Lewis approaching we have got our heads down and are working long hours to bring the collection into Victoria Gate, Leeds in October this year.  We are preparing five of our most popular bags and purses in several colours for the opening and are so excited to see our products on the shelves in John Lewis. Tell your friends, family and neighbors about us and join us on our journey into the best department store in the world!

john_lewis

 

Inspired By Hebden

hebden

Hebden Bridge is a hidden gem of a village in West Yorkshire which was declared the 4th quirkiest place in the world by Highlife Magazine in 2005. With an abundance of independent shops, it is renowned for it’s ‘new age’ community which is reflected in the aura of Hebden. It is a lively, colourful village that has attracted poets, musicians, sculptors, photographers and writers for decades.

I am very excited to be working on a new project for the newly re-opened Heart Gallery in Hebden Bridge. After the hebden_designsdevastating floods on Boxing Day 2015, the Heart Gallery are ecstatic to open their doors once again showing beautiful work by artists and designers alike.  The collection will consist of 4 designs which reflect the history of the working mills of Hebden and the stunning countryside of the Upper Calder Valley.

Local, Yorkshire fabrics will be used including our most popular shade ‘Seagrass’ which seems fitting for Hebden considering the lush green countryside and the stunning River Calder that runs through the town. The Heart Gallery’s Hebden Collection will be clearly identified with a bespoke leather, handstitched stamp. Truly unique, truly Hebden.

After much research I sat down with my sketch pad, trying to bear mind the everyday uses we see as essential these days, compartments, adjustability and durability. I try to design a bag for current and retired wet wipe users – Mums and Dads, you know who you are. Some people like to have a very functional bag that suits most of their wardrobe, usually grey or navy as their colour of choice. Others have many bags and like to change depending on their outfit and tend to go for a brighter and more daring colour or pattern. I hope this bespoke collection will cater for you all.

Coming Soon!

Have you heard?

Alexa_Chung“I’ve always been incredibly passionate about emerging designers and with so much talent out there I’m excited to use this opportunity to discover great new brands”​

Alexa Chung

In Vogue Magazine this week, fashion icon Alexa Chung is celebrating her new shopping app Villoid. The app, which was named Best New App in over 100 countries by Apple when it launched in November last year, allows its users to share inspirational fashion images with one another, giving profiled designers the opportunity to use it as a profitable marketing tool. IMG_20160507_075002_resized

In other words, shopping has never been so much fun! It’s like Pintrest but better-you can actually buy the stuff you love to pin. I remember the day when shopping was hard work and you actually had to leave the house, but now we can all sit at home and explore our style and set the scene for every outfit. Admit it, we’ve all done it, seen something we love in the shops but followed that up with “but, Ill never wear it”. To be honest, I think those days are over, and speaking from personal experience I think we grow more outgoing with our wardrobes with age. If that’s not you then MAN UP! It’s time you wore the outfit that makes you feel a million dollars every day.

Accessorising each outfit is something that never used to happen, but these days we love to complete our look with the right bag. Thankfully at Butterfly Tree we have a great range of styles and colours to choose from, finishing your look or outfit perfectly.

Will Butterfly Tree be the next up and coming designer to appear on Villoid? Watch this space…

What’s in a name?

Not many of you will know this, but between the ages of 19 and 30 I was an expatriate gallivanting all over the world, creating amazing memories which I will cherish forever. I think moving away from home at 16 to study at ballet school in Chester opened the door to the world for me. I lived with 4 amazing girls (who I hope are reading this…) one of which, I shared a room with and was in awe of her from the start. I realised and appreciated that people are all different and most of them can’t understand my southern accent!

My passion to see new things and experience different cultures and traditions became an exciting, addictive lifestyle. ‘Expat Syndrome’ must be an addiction-who would go and live on the other side of the world not knowing a single soul? Me, that’s who. Looking back I must have been mad to wave my family goodbye and set off to Greece, America, China or Dubai with my suitcase not really knowing what to expect on my arrival.

chaffMel_and_Vbecky_and_tash

Over the years, I’ve extracted elements from so many diverse ways of living and they have influenced who I am today. There are people that remain close to me even though we are separated by many, many miles. The relationships I have with them is the same despite the fact that we all now have husbands and kids and may only have an actual live conversation a couple of times a year! I cherish the times we had and the memories we share and I will always be proud to call them my friends.

So if you find yourself named after a bag, it means something special to me and I hope, to you.

Ideas to Reality

​Jotting down ideas for a new design is the fun bit-it’s exciting and inspiring. But editing the ideas into one cohesive project is the tricky bit. I don’t like to overdo it on

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detail which means I usually end up with 5 designs as opposed to just one. The challenging part is imagining shape, form and depth from a flat piece of fabric. The measurements are a crucial part of the pattern making as this determines the aesthetics of the finished look.

As for most things in my life, I like to follow rules when I’m making up. I like to firstly make my pattern and then make a mock-up of the bag. At this stage I can alter the measurements if something doesn’t quite look right. Then I go ahead and choose the fabrics and cut out all the pieces. It’s not uncommon for things to change at the cutting stage as this is when you 20160529_183048_resized_1get a real sense of shape.

All my bags are made from the inside out, so quite a lot of work has to be done before I can see how it looks, this is why it’s important to get it right at the cutting stage.  Turning the bag or ’bagging out’ is the coolest part by far-I love it, this is where I really fall I love with the bag and just want to get it finished show I can show it off to you all.

Designing a bag with a person in mind (which is something I have been working on lately) is difficult. The bag has to retain the essence of Butterfly Tree yet reflect that person for who they are and what they would use the bag for. I enjoy the fact that I really have to learn something about their character and taste (and hope I interpret it correctly!) I have to listen carefully to their preference in details, pockets, strap length/width, internal pockets etc. When it comes to the lining “surprise me!” is a popular line-no pressure then!

Confidence

 

collage

I’m not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg. But I’m also not going to waste too much time thinking about it. I do know that in business it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Contacts are everything and networking is crucial to success. Having said that, we all measure success in different ways. Some think that being rich is a sign of success and others just want good old fashion job satisfaction. Setting yourself goals and seeing them through to fruition for me is the ultimate pat on the back, and I can definitely say that these days my goals are getting more and more ambitious. It’s a natural high to succeed at something you set out to do, a massive confidence boost-I think I’m a little bit addicted!

Fairly early on in the Butterfly journey I received a phone call from the shop owner of Shalee in the Isle of Man. A customer of hers had been shopping in her beautiful Shalee-Logogift shop and was carrying a bag I had made. She loved it so much she asked for my details and is now a dedicated Butterfly Tree stockist. Days like that don’t come around too often but can really give you reassurance that you are headed in the right direction. It’s great to know that my bags are eye catching to women everywhere.

w: http://www.shalee.co.uk t: 01624 818250 a: 70 Parliament St, Ramsey, Isle of Man.

Inspriation

As soon as the logo was finalised I felt as though I had a responsibility to it, I knew I had to succeed no matter what. I set out designing the perfect bag. I knew I wanted to incorporate a colourful lining to each bag-what’s the point in having  a gorgeous bag if when you open it its PLAIN! No thanks. All my bags have vibrant interior fabric.

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I can tell you now that I had lots of bad ideas but the bags I have in the collection now would never had evolved if I hadn’t failed a few times along the way.

I started approaching local shops that specialised in handmade crafts. My second stockist was Fabrication in The Light, Leeds which was not only an eye opening experience but a massive learning curve. I met so many craftsmen, each highly skilled in their field. I gathered information constantly and this lead me into the world of fairs and stalls such as Crafts In The Pen and The Winter Market.

As time went on I realsied that not everyone I meet is going to a) like my stuff and b) have a positive effect in my life or on my confidence. This is something I am still learning to manage-a life skill that makes a person stronger in their quest! Difficulties will always come bounding along and how you deal with them is key to success. I’m thinking if I can manage disappointment and spin it into a positive I’m doing ok and I think I’m lucky that my passion for my product pushes me on everyday.

As I’m constantly looking at fabric it is no surprise that massive excitement was created over the first wool bag I made-this is such a tactile fabric, it makes you literally want to keep touching it. Wool has been used for fine tailoring for centuries and no doubt it’s because of it’s quality and elegance. The process this natural fibre has to go through to become something exquisite is amazing and is worth it.

My first Butterfly Tree Christmas was amazing. Retail is unpredictable at the best of times but at Christmas you can guarantee that interest in your products will increase. This is exciting for any maker but unlike wholesalers who buy in bulk, crafters are used to spending a lot of time on each item. So, preparing in advance is the only option. For us, Christmas starts in June!