• Country business

    Meet Nathalie Bond

    by  • 04/01/2017 • Country business • 0 Comments


    Our resolution for the year ahead is to be more mindful of our health, happiness and wellbeing, and what better way to start than by discovering more about all-natural skincare and candle brand Nathalie Bond Organics.

    How did your business come about, Nathalie?
    When I fell pregnant with my first born, Alfie, I became really aware of the concerns around the various chemicals contained in beauty products and candles. As an avid candle burner, I was intent on finding a solution! Andy, my business partner and husband, suggested that we try making our own organic range of candles, and so began our journey.

    Where are you based?
    In the beautiful peak district, Sheffield to be exact. Our business operates from home, we have a workshop and a garden office at present.

    Describe the design and making process.
    All our products are produced by hand from start to finish using 100% natural and organic ingredients that are not only effective, but pretty good for the planet too. Our cold processed soaps are the lengthiest product to make; the curing process can take up to six weeks!

    Do you have a favourite product?
    I love our Peppermint & Eucalyptus scrub, it’s so invigorating and fresh. It’s particularly great for skin as it exfoliates and moisturises at the same time.

    What’s next for you?
    The whole premise behind our brand is stripped back beauty and fragrance so we’ll never be a company that offers hundreds of products, but we’re planning some additions to the range for the New Year. Watch this space!

    Did you make a New Year’s resolution?
    To work saner hours!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Colourful, homely and quirky.

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    Raise a glass!

    by  • 21/12/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    ready_groupWhat better excuse than the festive season to enjoy a bubbly tipple or two? As well as producing their own collection of wittily etched glassware, Becky Broome and her husband and business partner, Kristian, engrave bespoke messages to lend a personal touch to special occasions. Cheers!

    Tell us how the business started.
    I knew from an early age that I wanted to run my own company. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so it must be in the blood. Kristian and I liked the idea of bringing something fun to important milestones and occasions, such as a glass of bubbly to remember for years to come.

    What’s your favourite design and why?
    It has to be our Hip Hip Hooray champagne glasses (£90 for four, Not On The High Street). They add meaning to any celebratory toast, from Christmas and birthdays to welcoming in the New Year.

    What inspires you?
    That magical moment between the recipient and giver when a present is opened. There’s a light-hearted happiness that runs through our collection, which never fails to please. We love making people chuckle, and our pithy phrases always seem to do just that.

    What makes your company special?
    Our customers often buy our pieces as gifts, and a lot of love and care go into choosing something they think their loved ones will like. We want them to know that love and care have gone into the making of their order, too. We’re also proud to say that all our glassware is hand-etched in our Cheshire studio, not mass-produced outside the UK.

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Simple, witty and fun.

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    Meet Milly & Pip

    by  • 14/12/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    Milly & Pip was founded in 2008 by designer Ali Millard. From her studio in Derbyshire, she creates personalised gifts, cards and keepsakes using appliqué and recycled materials. These cute stockings (top, £37; bottom right, £19, both available from Not On The High Street) have a little pocket at the front to put letters to Santa, a lovely festive tradition for kids – and big kids, too!

    How did Milly & Pip come about?
    After 16 years working as a childrenswear designer I decided to take a career break, during which I began to make personalised gifts for friends. I was eventually approached by a local gift shop and also discovered Not On The High Street – an online ‘marketplace’ for creative small businesses. After a few months of selling, I realized I could really be successful.

    What’s your workspace like?
    I work in what was once an old wooden stable block. We knocked the original building down (before it fell down!) and built a workshop in its place, complete with stable doors as a nod to its past.

    What inspires you?
    I love the idea of tradition – our stockings are timeless and can be used year after year. I also take a lot of inspiration from life in the country.

    What makes your products special?
    Every single item is handmade to order using found and recycled materials, so no two products are the same. We’re also passionate about sourcing from the UK and as local as possible, mostly within 20 miles of our workshop!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Classic, modern keepsakes.

    What do you love about Christmas in the country?
    Getting cozy in front of an open fire and sharing drinks with friends, family and neighbours.

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    Snuggle up under a cosy throw

    by  • 07/12/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    Creative couple Rimsky and Vilija are the founders of So Cosy, a designer-created range of bespoke blankets, throws and cushions, made from the finest alpaca, merino and sheep wools – the name says it all!

    How did So Cosy come about?
    Our company began with no name, on a market stall in Spitalfields market. With a very enthusiastic reaction to our first ranges, it soon became obvious that we had an amazing product. The passion within us just grew and grew, and eventually we decided to leave our day jobs and focus solely on the business. As well as our online shop, we also have a regular stall at St Albans market in Hertfordshire, where we’re based.

    What inspires you?
    British country life and interiors. We strive not to be fashionable, but timeless in our designs: a balance between traditional and modern.

    What makes your brand special?
    We have, and always will be, an ethical brand. We believe in keeping the manufacture of our pure alpaca throws within Peru to help the local economy and we only use natural dyes to colour our products.

    What’s coming up in 2017?
    We’re very excited about our new outdoor blanket range. New Liberty print fabric combined with 100% alpaca wool shawls and scarves have been introduced to great acclaim and we’ll be developing this range further.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Classic modern twist!

    What do you love about Christmas in the country?
    Snuggly cuddles in front of the fire under one of our blankets… what could be better?

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    Hang a beautiful handmade tree decoration

    by  • 30/11/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    Its tree-decorating time! Treat yourself to an extra special decoration this year from Angel Ceramics (available to buy from the National Trust), founded in 2008 by husband and wife team Becky and Michael. From their Devonshire studio, they hand-make porcelain robins, angels, snowflakes and more, all beautifully finished with a festive red ribbon. Becky tells us more…

    How did your business come about?
    It started with a porcelain heart necklace I’d made and worn to my son’s school. I had multiple orders as a result, which gave me the confidence to expand and create other products.

    What makes your decorations unique?
    Each one is made from scratch. We roll, cut, decorate and glaze all by hand, giving all our attention to the detail. It may sound cheesy, but every piece is made with love. All our clay and glazes are sourced locally wherever possible, too.

    What inspires you?
    So many things! As well as our local surroundings, it would be the ceaseless support that I’ve had from my family. Setting up any business from scratch is hard and I know I couldn’t have achieved this without them.

    What’s coming up for you in 2017?
    It’ll be our most exciting year so far as we’re expanding our festive range with two exclusive new collections: Twelve Days of Christmas and Winter Wildlife. We are also developing our lighting, creating chandeliers and installations out of porcelain.

    What do you love about Christmas in the country?
    Where we live in the coastal town of Budleigh Salterton, Christmas is such a special time of year, with the late night shopping and the traditional Christmas morning swim. It has a charming un-spoilt character that is incredibly special.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Detail, design and passion.


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    Visit Neptune’s Reading store – a stone’s throw from our Christmas show!

    by  • 18/11/2016 • Country business, Country style • 0 Comments


    Our first-ever show, Country Homes & Interiors Christmas is opening its doors next weekend at the beautiful Stonor Park, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. British interior’s brand Neptune are joining us there, styling cosy room sets to inspire your festive decorating this year.

    Handily, their beautiful Reading store is just a 30 minute drive away from the show – a quick stop off and you’ll be all set to recreate their cosy schemes straight away. What’s more, as a thank you for visiting the show, you’ll receive a gift worth £25 if you spend £100 or more.

    The word ‘store’ doesn’t really do this beautiful place justice. The building dates back to 17th century and was once an historic gate lodge on the main toll road between London and Bath. The Neptune interior design team have renovated this 6,500 sq ft space into the most exquisite showcase of its furniture, lighting and home accessory collections, spread across two levels with expansive gardens and an oak-framed barn.  You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into your dream home rather than a retail store!

    Haven’t booked tickets yet? Buy them online here.

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    Meet the winners of the My Country Business Awards 2016: The Running Fox

    by  • 16/11/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    In May, we launched our seventh My Country Business Awards in association with Not On The High Street, a leading supporter of small businesses. Meet the amazing people who won…


    Category: Hospitality and Leisure
    Kris Blackburn, The Running Fox Artisan Bakery & Café

    Kris Blackburn lives with her partner and their Labrador Red, Golden Retriever Ollie and cat Lupin in a Georgian cottage beside the River Coquet in Felton, Northumberland. She has transformed a newsagent’s close to her home into an artisan bakery and café. Her background is in catering – she opened a coffee shop when she was only 20, followed by a deli, then spent time doing private catering before becoming a consultant.

    Five years ago, she was offered the newsgent’s-cum-coffee shop. ‘I said if I took it on, I needed something else, like a bakery, to go with it. The first day we opened in April 2011 there was a queue of people up the street – it was like the film Chocolat!’

    The ethos of the business is serving good-quality, wholesome, homemade food, including artisan bread, cakes and pieces, and everything is locally sourced. ‘Everything is fresh and made by us,’ says Kris. Afternoon teas have become a firm favourite too. The Running Fox is now one of the mainstays of village life. ‘We’ve had amazing support from the village – everyone comes in for a chat; it’s a massive community thing. Originally I opened it for the village but our reputation has spread.’ A second coffee shop has recently opened in nearby Longframlington.

    ‘It’s been a whirlwind five years but I have an amazing team – they work so hard. I felt complete disbelief when I heard we’d won. To win a national award for this little coffee shop is quite something for us.’

    What the judges said…
    It is fantastic to see how this business has grown to become the heart of the local community – something is is increasingly rare nowadays with so many established high-street chains taking over.
    Lucy Lomas, Business Director, River Cottage HQ

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    Meet the winners of the My Country Business Awards 2016: Cupsmith

    by  • 09/11/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    In May, we launched our seventh My Country Business Awards in association with Not On The High Street, a leading supporter of small businesses. Meet the amazing people who won…


    Category: Food producers
    Emma and George Crawford, Cupsmith 

    Emma and George Crawford live with their children Hugh, six, Forbes, three, and Sibby, one, plus greyhound Wagger and cat Finca in Surrey. Speciality drinks business Cupsmith came about after former marketing director Emma and George, who used to work in property, moved from London to the country.

    ‘I loved the coffee scene in London,’ says Emma. ‘When we moved, I couldn’t find anywhere to buy decent coffee or beans, so I decided to learn to roast my own.’ Emma and George tok a coffee roasting course and started the business in November 2015. A barn at home became a roastery with a pop-up café, where beans are roasted in a coffee machine that was hand-built in the US.

    ‘We’re different to other coffee businesses out there, bringing colour to the rather masculine world of coffee.’ Coffee has been the starting point, but teas and hot chocolate are on the way. ‘Winning an award like this is so important for a small business. It’s brilliant that we’re going to be mentored by Yeo Valley.’

    What the judges said…
    The thing that impressed me most about Cupsmith was the uplifting brand proposition. I liked its philosophy of taking the time to meander more – and to enjoy great coffee, every day, at home.
    Dan Rusga, Marketing Director, Yeo Valley

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    Get all your Christmas shopping done in one place

    by  • 03/11/2016 • Country business, Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments


    Planning your festive shopping? We’ve got you covered! Find creative and crafted gifts for all the family at the first ever Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show, taking place at beautiful Stonor Park, near Henley-on-Thames on 25-27 November.

    At this gorgeous boutique-style shopping event, you’ll find your favourite country-style brands alongside less familiar small country businesses we know you’ll love. Within the heated and floored marquee, you’ll find gifts, crafts and beautifully made accessories in a relaxed, festive atmosphere.

    Stop off for a stylish stocking from Plum & Ashby, pick up an all-natural room diffuser from Bee Fayre and browse beautiful country fabrics from Ian Mankin – and that’s just to start, there are over 80 exciting stands to explore! Exhibitors will be standing by to answer all your questions and ensure you leave with perfect gifts and unique pieces that will delight your family and friends.

    Not booked your tickets yet? Buy them online here. Look out for more blog posts over the coming weeks with more exciting details on what we’ve got planned!

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    Meet the winners of the My Country Business Awards 2016: Midgley Green

    by  • 02/11/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    In May, we launched our seventh My Country Business Awards in association with Not On The High Street, a leading supporter of small businesses. Meet the amazing people who won…

    Category: Retailers
    Katherine Midgley & Seamus Green, Midgley Green

    Katherine Midgley and Seamus Green live in a small village in Somerset. They met at university and both have backgrounds in fine art. Katherine and Seamus always wanted to run their own business and the idea for an online contemporary crafts shop selling usable, functional things came about because they love handmade British goods.

    ‘We dipped a toe in online and started the business in April 2015,’ says Katherine. ‘We’re curators selecting design-led items that reflect the growing interest in sustainable crafts. We work alongside contemporary small-batch makers who produce traditionally crafted pieces for the home. The natural outdoors governs our taste and informs the work that we curate. Each product is in tune with the land, embracing where it has come from through material and design. We want our customers to feel like we’re bringing together a collection of work that is carefully selected for its form or function, rather than its turnover value.’

    Katherine and Seamus visit craftspeople in their studios – making contact with the country’s best makers in wood, metal, ceramics, blacksmithing and tanning. ‘We sell the work of around 15-20 people with whom we have built strong relationships over the past year. We were thrilled to win a My Country Business Award. It’s nice to be recognized for what we’ve been working away at.’

    What the judges said…
    Midgley Green stood out for me as the quality craftsmanship came through strongly in the beautifully shot, atmospheric product pages of the website. I found the handmade uniqueness of each piece particularly appealing.
    Anna Rigby, Head of Buying, Home, John Lewis

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