• Country business

    Do you have a shop or online business? Be mentored by John Lewis

    by  • 16/05/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    If you’re a bricks-and-mortar store or an online platform selling multiple brands, we’d love to see the work you do. Enter the 2016 My Country Business Awards category for Retailers now and you could be mentored by Anna Rigby, Head of Buying, Home, at John Lewis.

    A Partner with John Lewis, Britain’s leading omnichannel retailer, for 35 years, Anna can share her extensive knowledge and expertise in developing Home and Fashion products, bringing them to market and maximising every sales opportunity.

    Remember to enter the My Country Business awards now at housetohome.co.uk/business

    Read more →

    Post a pretty papercut greeting

    by  • 11/05/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupChau Art is a luxury greeting card and stationery company based in Oxford, specialising in the most beautiful papercut designs. Owner and artist, Chau, draws each detailed pattern before it is laser cut and hand finished. She tells us more…

    How did you get into paper cutting?
    I started playing around with it at university and fell in love with it – it’s like lino printing with a scalpel! I wanted to pursue a stationery business and thought paper cutting would make an impressive statement.

    What inspires your designs?
    Off the top of my head… countryside flowers, florist shops, calligraphy, Japanese wood block prints, children’s poetry, fabric patterns, wallpaper and botanical books – to name a few!

    What’s your workspace like?
    Very messy unfortunately…!

    What makes your products special?
    The fact that each one is designed and hand cut by me before it’s put into laser production. I feel this preserves the organic and authentic look I’m going for.

    What advice would you give to someone wanting to start up a business?
    Prepare for a lot of hard work and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I treat everything as a learning curve and it’s proven to be the most wonderful rollercoaster ride.

    Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
    Possibly branching into textiles and homewares would be exciting. I’m also just about to launch a new wedding stationery collection. I’ve been asked to do it so many times!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    ‘Never stop exploring’.

    Read more →

    Meet Claire Coldwell, the winner of the 2015 My Country Business Awards

    by  • 09/05/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_Clare Coldwell

    Enter the 2016 My Country Business Awards in association with Notonthehighstreet.com now and you could be like Claire Coldwell of Plain Useful, the winner of last year’s Retail & Services Award.

    Based in Yorkshire, Claire sells a curated collection of traditional kitchen utensils, cleaning brushes and gardening and laundry products. The judges loved her range, which taps into the utility chic trend and the fact that she is making the everyday both beautiful and affordable.

    What did winning mean to you? My perfect customer is someone who loves Country Homes & Interiors – I’ve been reading it for years so it was natural to pitch the business at that readership. There are moments of self-doubt when running an online business, so to be selected as an award winner by a panel of prominent industry champions was a huge confidence boost.

    How have you developed the brand? My main focus has been to get more feedback from customers on the product range so that I can be confident in the direction I take, and also to increase awareness of the website.

    What’s your long-term goal? To become the ‘go to’ place for high-quality brushes and household products and to maintain and build on our reputation for excellent service.

    How helpful was the support you got from winning? The team from Heal’s were very supportive with their advice. They gave me a pop-up shop in store in February – an amazing opportunity.

    Don’t forget to enter the My Country Business awards now at housetohome.co.uk/business

    Read more →

    Video! My Country Business – Gabrielle Vary Knitwear

    by  • 04/05/2016 • Country business, My Country Business Videos • 0 Comments

    Gabrielle Vary Knitwear was a winner in the Country Homes & Interiors 2014 My Country Business Awards. Based in East Sussex – close to the Downs and the coast – she designs and knits scarves, throws and cushions in the most beautiful and joyful colours.

    Gabrielle’s gone on to achieve some amazing things thanks to Country Homes & Interiors. Watch her video story and be inspired to enter this year’s My Country Business Awards in association with notonthehighstreet. Find the entry form here.

    Read more →

    Meet Kate Moby

    by  • 04/05/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    READY_Kate Moby 01 HeadshotInspired by a childhood of climbing trees and paddling in streams in rural Herefordshire, illustrator Kate Moby adorns homewares and accessories with her brightly coloured country critters…

    What makes your business special?
    My way of working is pretty quirky, I hand carve bamboo from my garden into dip pens which I then use to create my illustrations. I also champion eco-friendly British manufacturing in a sustainable way, so all my pieces are proudly made in the UK.

    How did you get into the world of design?
    Having come from a very academic background, it took a while to admit to myself that design, creativity and the freedom that I felt doing those things was what I really wanted. Giving myself space to try things out and just ‘have a play’ led to my signature designs. Initially done to please myself, I soon found that other people quite liked them too!

    Describe your workspace.
    I’m really blessed with a beautiful studio up on Marcle Ridge in Herefordshire, with a view across the fields to the Malvern Hills in the background. It’s absolutely stuffed full of stock, scribbles, ink and a lot of paper!

    What inspires your designs?
    The amazing limitless design and variety, pattern and chaos, colour and vibrancy of the natural world never fail to inspire me. A lot of my work focuses on British woodland; we need to celebrate it so that we don’t lose it.

    Which is your favourite and why?
    It has to be the cheeky Inky Animals collection, particularly the Inky Mouse (shown above). He was my first design, the one that kicked it all off!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Inky, friendly and nature-inspired.

    Read more →

    Are you a food or drinks producer? Be mentored by Yeo Valley

    by  • 02/05/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    If you can eat it, we want to know about it. From baked goods to jams, beverages to pâtés, we’d love to taste your wares and learn about your brand. Enter the 2016 My Country Business Awards category for Food Producers now and you could be mentored by Dan Rusga, Marketing Director, Yeo Valley.

    Established in 1961, this family-run dairy produces tasty, 100% organic products from its award-winning British Friesian cows and other local organic dairy farms. Dan specialises in promoting and marketing this award-winning brand.

    Remember to enter the My Country Business awards now at housetohome.co.uk/business

    Read more →

    Meet Country Homes & Interiors at the Weald of Kent Craft & Design Show!

    by  • 29/04/2016 • Country business, Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    Penshurst Place FairThe Weald of Kent Craft & Design Show returns to Penshurst Place, near Tonbridge, this bank holiday weekend (30 April to 2 May 2016) , showcasing British handmade and artisan crafts at more than 250 stands! Pick up furniture, glassware, jewellery, beauty products and leather goods. With workshops and demonstrations, plus luxury food and drink stands, it’s the perfect family day out. Pop by and see us on the Country Homes & Interiors stand and save 51% on a subscription!

    Here are three of our favourite show highlights this year…

    Cookery time
    Join a lively lesson with Masterchef of Great Britain, Paul Da Costa Greaves and learn how to make Paul’s favourite summer recipes. If you’re still feeling peckish, head in to the Good Food Live area where you can stock up on delicious produce, including farmhouse cheese, handmade chutneys, sauces, seeds, chocolates and wine.

    Artisan makes
    Visit a rural crafts demonstration workshop and have a go at traditional, heritage and contemporary craft-making. There are workshops tailored for children too.

    Show garden
    Visit The Tempus Fugit Garden, created by How Green Nursery and Chilstone, which features inspiring planting, stone sundials and armillary spheres. And look out for stonemason Nigel Hartfield, who demonstrates the art of stone engraving alongside the garden.


    Will you be visiting the Craft & Design show? We would love hear about your experience…

    Want more inspiration for weekends in the country? Sign up for your weekly Country Post!




    Read more →

    Love a country lantern

    by  • 27/04/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupMake a statement in your home with a beautiful fabric lantern from Inspired Lanterns. There’s a range of country-inspired designs to choose from, all drawn by local artists. Poppy Seed (above) is one of our favourites for adding drama to a country bedroom. Good friends and joint owners of the business, Annette and Izzy, tell us more…

    How did Inspired Lanterns come about?
    The inspiration for our lanterns was first discovered on a little back street in Laos, Greece, where some fabric and fairy lights were used to decorate a little café. The idea blossomed and evolved into the enchanting products we make today. When it came to naming the company the word Inspired sprang to mind, because it sums us up. We’re inspired every day by each other, our family, friends and the beauty of the world around us.

    What’s your workspace like?
    Ever changing! Whether it’s a photo-shoot in Annette’s living room or a road trip round England to source local materials and meet artists and designers, we go wherever the work takes us.

    What inspires your designs?
    Britain in all its glory! From enchanting countryside scenes to historic cityscapes, our designs aim to capture all the things we love about it.

    Talk us through the design and making process.
    Our prints are sourced from local artists and designers, chosen or commissioned to fit with our brand. We strive to keep our lanterns as natural and local as possible and digitally print onto 100% unbleached cotton sourced in England.

    What do you love about what you do?
    From the moment we decided to embark on this venture together, it’s been an exciting roller-coaster of a journey. We started out with a rather limited understanding of fabric, printing and product design, but it never stopped us pushing forward. Every day we’ve faced new and exciting challenges and learnt so much.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Contemporary, country and quintessential.

    Read more →

    Meet Sarah Hughes, the winner of the 2015 My Country Business Awards

    by  • 25/04/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_Sarah Hughes

    Enter the 2016 My Country Business Awards in association with Notonthehighstreet.com now and you could be like Sarah Hughes of Eat My Flowers, the winner of last year’s Food Award.

    Working from the family farm in North Wales, Sarah grows edible flowers and creates crystallised flowers and lollipops with flowers in them. The judges loved the fact that Sarah grows the flowers herself.

    What did winning mean to you? It was such an honour and gave us all such a morale boost. We also saw an increase in sales from coverage in Country Homes & Interiors.

    How have you developed the brand? We’ve increased our wedding customers and developed our events catering and hotel customers. After exhibiting at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2015, we’ve also increased our export business.

    What’s your long-term goal? To continue to increase our exports, especially with international weddings.

    How helpful was the support you got from winning? It was a real bonus to be mentored by the marketing team at Yeo Valley. They were really helpful in offering advice and this made winning the award even more valuable to us.

    Why don’t you enter the My Country Business awards now at housetohome.co.uk/business?

    Read more →

    Engraved with love

    by  • 20/04/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupThe Oak & Rope Company, run by Jeanette and Caroline, specialises in bespoke oak products that are designed, handmade and engraved in their farm-based workshop in rural Kent. Each piece makes for the most beautiful family heirloom; whether it’s a personalised chopping board or a hanging rope swing, there’s something for everyone, available to buy at Not On The High Street. Jeanette tells us more…

    How did the Oak & Rope Company come about?
    I needed a last minute present for a special friend and I wanted it to be something meaningful. I set to work with a large piece of oak and some thick rope intended for a gardening project. When I walked in to a crowded room carrying an enormous garden swing with their house name carved into it I knew I was on to a winner!

    What’s your workspace like?
    It’s an open space based in an old grainstore. My office is on a mezzanine covered in artificial grass and we have a large swing hanging from the beams. It’s the sort of space that makes you smile when you walk in!

    What inspires you?
    Family life.

    Describe the design and making process.
    New designs often evolve from gift ideas or solutions I need to make my own home more practical – or fun! Everything we sell is made in our workshop so we have full flexibility and can work with our customers to develop their bespoke ideas, too.

    What materials do you choose to work with and why?
    I love the way oak and rope compliment each other, so I try to combine them wherever I can. It’s all about bringing out the beauty in natural materials so I try not to mess around with them too much.

    What’s been your proudest moment to date?
    When my 12-year-old daughter got the top prize for a Design & Technology scholarship. I knew then that the future of the company is in safe hands!

    Sum up your creative style.
    Classics with a twist!

    Read more →