Hello – I hope you had a lovely, if chilly, Bank Holiday weekend. As promised it’s just a quick post today to reopen the shop with a medley of pieces I’ve gathered or commissioned on my travels. I still can’t quite decide whether I want to build a retail venture or not – I don’t really have the time to do it but I do think there’s an opportunity for a new retail model and it frustrates me when I see profits not being fairly shared.
So I’m taking both a fair trade and an eco-friendly approach by ensuring that anything I procure does as little damage to the planet as possible and also rewards everybody along the supply chain, from those who have grown the source material through to those who have produced and dispatched it. I also want my products to be as affordable as possible so I’ve kept the margin low – I need to make some profit so that I can reinvest and expand this if it goes well but equally I want it to be an inclusive version of retail rather than an exclusive one. My thinking is that if people can afford to buy ethically made products then the concept will grow and we can reverse the current exploitative model.
Anyway, this is just a toe in the water with a few products I’m testing to see how you respond. Let me open up my doors and show you what I have and of course there are more detailed shots of all the products in the Midlifechic Boutique.
Organic cotton t-shirts
I’m really proud of these – not only are they made from organic cotton but the production process is climate neutral and they’ve been manufactured ethically, complying with the FWF code of labour practices. So, in a nutshell they’re all round good eggs.
They have a semi-fitted shape so that they skim the body but don’t cling and the neckline is gently scooped so that it sits just below the clavicles in the most flattering way. Please note that the cotton is light, it isn’t transparent but you will probably want to wear a nude t-shirt bra with these tops.
I didn’t just want to stock plain t-shirts so I’ve had them embroidered with a range of subtle slogans. I knew I wanted them to say something special and I found inspiration by thinking about some of the women I know – after all, so much of what we go through in life is universal. Each message has been chosen with someone in mind – somebody who shines brightly in my life even when times are tough.
Je ne regrette rien
This is, in fact, inspired by my mum because the last thing she said to me was ‘don’t regret’ and so it’s my primary motto. It urges me on to take risks, to say ‘yes’ to things I would otherwise say no to, to keep on looking for new adventures. I’ve noticed that this t-shirt makes everybody smile and it opens up interesting conversations whenever I wear it.
Così è la vita
‘Così è la vita’ or ‘that’s life’. I dedicate this to a friend of mine who’s been going through a bad time but somehow always seems to be able to shrug things off and carry on. I deliberately chose sunshine yellow for the embroidery in recognition of her sunny attitude.
Bien dans ma peau
This one is dedicated to you, the readers of Midlifechic who responded with such enthusiasm when I wore this slogan on a t-shirt that Mr MC made me last year. Lots of people wanted one but I wasn’t happy enough with the quality to order any more, now I’ve cracked it though. So ‘bien dans ma peau’ the French saying for literally feeling ‘good in my skin’ or rather being happy as you are, not aspiring to look younger or thinner or richer. You’re content just to be you.
Whenever I’m asked to encapsulate the mood of Midlifechic readers, this is what I say because I believe we’re an intelligent bunch who, of course, like to look our best but who are fundamentally confident. I’d really love to build a collection of photos of readers around the world wearing one of these tees – I wonder if you can help me make it happen.
Another of my favourites (they’re all my favourites) Nonostanto tutto… in spite of everything. This is inspired by another friend who has, in the last couple of years been through the end of her marriage, a serious illness that has affected her mobility and throughout it all, continued to put her children and parents’ needs above her own. She’s coming through it now so… in spite of everything, she’s making a new start. I think this is a particularly good mantra for any woman who’s had a hard time and still risen to fight another day.
When I announced that these were on their way a few weeks ago they sold out before they’d even arrived so it’s been a wait while we started the production run again. Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered one, it meant we were able to get straight back in contact with the people who are making them and order some more. As I mentioned, they’re being made by women in a village just outside Marrakech. They’re trying to set up their own co-operative because they want to be able to send their children to school and work around their school hours – a wish that’s shared by so many woman in the world.
Because each basket is embroidered by hand, every one is unique and done in the style of the woman who has made it. The tassels that come with them are a nice touch because they’re made by the older children after school so that it’s a family enterprise.
Most of the baskets are large, family sized beach bags although there are a few mediums in the navy ‘out of office.’ I deliberately commissioned ‘out of office’ for women whose husbands and sons protest about girly slogans – no longer do they have an excuse not to carry it!
Out of office medium; out of office large
‘Hello sunshine’ just makes me smile and is a lovely bag for summer wherever you are.
I also added a few baskets with sequins to my order. The sequins are sewn on by hand rather than glued as is so often the case with bags like this so they should remain secure. I love the way they gleam in the sunlight.
Gold sequin star basket (also available in silver)
On the street next to our hotel there was a dark workshop and inside was a bent old man weaving scarves on his loom.
He had a selection of clutches that he’d made and they were so lovely in their rainbow brights that I brought a few back. I can imagine them working so well with a simple jeans outfit on a sunny summer evening… or perhaps being used to lift an outfit that’s all black. Anyway each one is slightly different so it’s pot luck if you order one. I’ve kept the prices very low because they’re just a dash of summer fun.
Tassel and pompom clutches
Further along the street I came across these simple jute clutches with their bright pompoms and tassels – the tasselled bags are slightly bigger. There are lots of different colours available in the shop but each one is one of a kind so when they’re gone, they’re gone. A great way to get your holiday wardrobe started.
Pop of colour bags
My last delivery of leather bags from Turkey is in. Now as you know these are designer level bags, made in the factory that is used by a big Bond Street brand – if in doubt read the reviews. I have limited numbers of the best sellers, the red Pop of Colour…
… the saffiano leather clutches in silver, gold, scarlet and navy
… the crossbody bag in scarlet (large) (small)
… and the portrait tote in black or scarlet.
And that’s it – all of my wares. Hopefully we can build this version of positive retail… I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see what happens!
Recent posts you may have missed
Here there and everywhere – a week of Midlifechic
Spotlight on John Lewis & Partners own label collections SS19
Outfit ideas for special occasions
Outfits of the day and more thoughts about mothering
A Lake District Midlife Lately
Thinking about Mother’s Day and the gifts that you give
Tweaking your wardrobe for SS19 – shoes, lips and nails
What I’ve been wearing – early spring outfits of the day
5 easy ways to update your wardrobe SS19
A cornucopia – style, beauty, food and good news
Marks & Spencer trying-on session
Review of Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS19
Marrakech – what I packed and what we did
How to find the right bra for your breast shape
Pop of colour outfit updates SS19
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 6 – the summary
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 5 – body shape and silhouette
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 4 – defining your style icon
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 3 – colour and texture
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 2 – defining your personal look
How to build a capsule wardrobe part 1 – wardrobe reality check
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