My Six Items Challenge made packing simple for a last minute work trip to Madrid. I got out the Gabriele Vintage green dress – a symbol of fresh starts and progress, as we think of the green light as go.
This Maison Bengal bag I got from Tidy Street general store in Brighton has become my go-to ethical biz bag as it is light to lug around a laptop. I was on their online store yesterday and thought I’d share that they also stock ethical shoes by Rachel Comey. See below for some of the greenest must-haves.
antique green light at LASSCO Brunswick House
Rachel Comey Bose clogs from Tidy Street general store
Rachel Comey Lourde boots from Tidy Street general store
Nomadic State of Mind JC sandals – also available from Nomadics if you are after easier shipping in Europe (made of partly reclaimed polypropylene cord – super durable and sustainable. Less sustainable if like me, you want to order them in every colour…🙀)
Rafa The Simple Sandal. I am dying to get my feet into a pair of these sandals made of vegan recycled textiles. Handmade in LA – Rafa has stockists throughout the US, one in Japan and they ship internationally.
©Photographs Reclaimed Woman
At the risk of sharing TMI, I just got back from a romantic trip to Bruges which perfectly coincided with my period. I don’t normally write in acronyms, but having found a new solution to life’s unmentionables, I feel like my pre-teen self experiencing a period for the first time, so 4YEO FYEO (for your eyes only) here are my new period pants.
On the blob in Bruges, it was a good time to get brave and try something different, whilst doing my bit to minimise the flow of the sanitary pad footprint. My weekend wash bag for Belgium was leaner and greener with no disposable pads or tampons, as I packed panties from Modibodi instead. These Modibodi bamboo undies are reusable and sustainable – designed not only for women and girls, but for the benefit of all of the bodies on this planet.
Read my review and interview with Modibodi founder and CEO Kristy Chong, who (along with Belgium chocolate) helped me unlock the magic combination of comfort and confidence during that not-so-hot time of the month…
Kristy, the creator of Modibodi and I talk the same language. She accumulated over 13 years experience in senior PR roles before making Modibodi, and the kind of products a PR professional dreams of. The collections not only look cool, they also support causes worth shouting about, such as Days for Girls. This charity particularly struck a chord with me, as I was introduced to Days for Girls by a friend I lost to cancer last year. You know the friend that makes you laugh so much you wet yourself? Well, she was mine, so Modibodi’s leak-proof technology springs to mind as I start my questions for Kristy.
What ignited the motivation for you to own your own business?
From a young age I always knew I wanted to own my own business. The concept of Modibodi came when I was in Seattle, after the birth of my second child, I was doing a lot of running and traveling and came to the realisation that my underwear was failing to protect me from sweat and the occasional bladder weakness. I started to think about all the times as a woman underwear fails us.
For the 1 in 3 women with light incontinence and for every menstruating women, most can recall stories of that embarrassing situation in which her underwear failed to protect her from a leak, or they have endured years of using inconvenient, uncomfortable and eco-damaging disposable hygiene to stay protected. I wanted create a whole new product category for women that helps them better manage menstrual flow or incontinence, and to reduce the number of single-use products ending up in landfill and damaging our environment. Modibodi is fashionable, sustainable, hi-tech, super comfortable underwear that totally replaces the need for disposable hygiene!
Can you tell me more about your support for Days for Girls?
As the issues of women’s health and rights are so close to my heart, I have made it a core pillar from the outset that Modibodi support women in need.
Days for Girls was one of the first organisations Modibodi supported which lead to us evolving our CSR globally. We have worked in partnership with initiatives such as Share the Dignity, the McGrath Foundation and School for Life and felt it was time to establish the ‘Give a Pair’ initiative to directly deliver product into the hands of women in need, and raise funds through direct sales of product.
Customers across the globe can ‘make a virtual donation’ on modibodi.com and Modibodi will donate a pair of Modibodi underwear to young girls & women in need. We also pledge to match all donations our customers make. Therefore, each time you purchase a GIVE A PAIR donation, you are essentially providing 2 women life changing underwear!
When you were setting up Modibodi, what was your most challenging moment?
Thankfully all of our failures have been relatively small, and not too costly. But when Modibodi has failed, I let myself feel the disappointment and then I use that energy to put processes in place to prevent that from happening again or to pivot and look at other ways to do it. It’s important to take responsibility for those failures because it makes you stronger in the end.
Do you miss anything about your PR days?
The PR profession is made up of a majority of women, and I loved working with creative, super driven, high energy women. But I love the journey I am on now.
What advice would you give a woman with an idea looking to start her own business?
That you are like a rubber band, you will definitely feel stretched, but you won’t break, you will bounce back. And get comfortable with being uncomfortable because in business you will feel a lot of uncomfortable.
When women discover your designs do they share their embarrassing period stories?
We are very fortunate to have amazing women who have joined the Modibodi Movement that share their stories and experiences with us and with our wider community. We are proud that through our blog, emails and social media we are able to converse and engage with our followers and customers. One of my personal favorites is this story from Helen:
I’m a little angry. I’m 26 years old. That’s a lot of period. Why weren’t you around when I was 12? I’m sure you know this but female sanitary products have a GST tax placed on them and condoms don’t?!? That is the first reason I was looking for an alternative to the nasty products which I have been using regardless of the slight allergic reaction I had to them, making that time of the month all the much worse. Since the age of 12 I have had to skip days of school (and since, work) because it was just that heavy, I was continuously worried about leakage and I couldn’t think through that and the pain. This month, I thought I would try Modibodi and my goodness IM IN LOVE. The bamboo undies are so soft and pretty too! I was thinking about posting a photo of my undies previously reserved only for those particularly heavy days, but I was too embarrassed. While your pretty undies can’t take away the pain they definitely make my bloated belly feel a lot sexier! I slept in them for the first-time last night and I didn’t have to worry about the undies being messed up in my sleep as I would a pad, there was absolutely no leakage and I woke up feeling like I didn’t have my period at all. In the past, the first thing I would do would be to go straight to the toilet and change my product but I didn’t feel gross one bit in Modibodi. I just really wanted to say thank you so much for creating these beautiful, useful, delightful undies. I really feel like they might change my period forever. Thank you!
As for my review…this is me, nappy free, galavanting about Bruges in my Modibodis with the kind of liquid love my husband and I could still enjoy on our weekend away – Belgium’s chocolatey stouts.
Another nice thing about the pants is that you don’t have to worry about nasties from plastic materials touching your skin. I recently switched to organic pads, but with a glass door separating our hotel bedroom from our bathroom, it was wonderful not worrying about the less sexy stripping noise of separating a pad from your panties.
Modibodi also unlocked the option of a sexy beige.
I started with the Classic Bikini, but I also like the look of the high waisted Sensual Full Brief. They’ve also got your backstroke ready for summer with leak-proof swimwear. The first release is almost sold out, so keep an eye out for stock drops in the spring.
More on Modibodi.com
Learn about how you can help Days for Girls here
©Photographs Reclaimed Woman. Inspirational graphics from @modibodiaustralia Instagram
I recently discovered that my nickname at university was the swan. Okay so I have a long neck, but my friend suggested that it was more likely to do with my perfect hair. Rest assured, I also dislike the woman with the “perfect hair” my friend described, as perfectionists never see perfect in themselves. Nor am I a fan of people referring to themselves as perfectionists, but before I hit the back bar on this whole paragraph, I’ll get to the point. Renovating my flat with reclaimed materials gave way to a total mind shift. From perfection seeker to imperfection appreciator. When you buy new, the shine often fades with the first scratch or signs or wear. However, buying reclaimed pieces and reusing old materials freed me to be less precious, knowing that loving signs of use would only add to their characterful beauty.
Born from Zen Buddhism, wabi-sabi cannot be bought. Your appreciation might start with a single chipped vase you have had forever. Rather than discarding it, the Japanese philosophy encourages you to accept things as they are. Wabi-sabi is the wonky, handmade, home-grown and weathered with age. A u-turn from the mass-produced, single-use society, it teaches us to be content and cherish what we have.
I am not pretending to have found zen, I still fuss with my hair for about fifteen minutes every morning. But through reuse and renovating my home with natural materials, I am making a more genuine environment that will continue to get better with age.
Difficult to translate into words, I am still working at my definition of a wabi-sabi way of life. However, I think I am close when I appreciate the imperfect pattern of white ceramic tiles at the back of my wardrobe (that was once the kitchen). Rather than sending the tiles to landfill, they live with my clothes and accessories as an accepted part of my home’s history.
Reclaimed doors and sanitary ware at V&V Reclamation / my irregular wardrobe tiles
©Photographs Reclaimed Woman
Whether you’re into antiques or not, Tallboy Interiors takes a new approach to old interiors that can inspire us all for the cosy season ahead.
On his 18th birthday, Matt Dixon of Tallboy Interiors was given £1000 from his parents to spend as he wanted. Instead of blowing it, he decided to invest the money in various antique pieces and thus his addiction and business was born.
Red or dead
No, I am not referring to the controversial Brit shoe brand, but a desire for darker interiors, a new take on tapestry and rich reds. Once upon a time wearing different tones of red, mismatching scarlet with crimson, gave the impression you got dressed in the dark. Matt describes his style as “mismatched but works. I like to try different pieces, patterns, colours, ages. Nothing needs to match for it to work necessarily.” Now is the time to embrace mismatched. Enjoy ebonised antique wood, dark interiors, and dress yourself and your home in red.
This tapestry and velvet covered table sits on the edge between elegant and artsy. Pom Poms are trending big time, but antique pom pom tassels will retain crafty charm.
An awareness for more thoughtful purchasing has produced an abundance of green living trends, from eco friendly antiques and natural materials to literally green coloured interiors. Merging our environments by bringing the outside in and inside out is increasingly popular. These Mid-20th-Century Willy Guhl planters are statement greenery that can work inside and out.
Relaxed rose, terracotta, cinnamon, rust. All great shades and even better in velvet, both grand, intimate and above all, cosy.
©Photographs courtesy of Tallboy Interiors
Dip into Deco bathrooms
Resurfaced roll top baths, Deco bathroom suites, Belfast and Butler sinks. With so much salvaged sanitary ware out there, it is not necessary to buy new. Look to salvage dealers like Mongers that supply reconditioned taps too.
Period old things from playful young things
Standing tall, Matt Dixon of Tallboy Interiors and Buster below, part of the Vagabond Antiques family. Both businesses won a free Salvo stand in the Antiques Young Guns competition – a support network for people under 39 working in the antiques industry.
These dealers are changing the stuffy image of antiques and getting playful with period pieces. What could be more sustainable than buying furniture built to last, and reused over-and-over again?
Ethical eating and drinking at Silo with Old Tree Brewery
Zero waste restaurant, Silo chef Douglas McMaster’s mission is always the first thing critics note. The taste however, is just as mind-blowing. V for veggie, I ordered the contemporary calzone filled with curried plant-based goodness in the Silo at Salvo pop up. Washed down with Kombucha from Old Tree Brewery, a social enterprise that combines brewing and gardening to make nourishing, delicious drinks.
They supply ethical restaurants like Silo in Brighton, where Old Tree also run their Brewhouse Café. And if you’re nowhere near Brighton, you can buy their drinks online.
I sampled their Sencha green tea Kombucha, which is both earthy and energising and packed with probiotics.
Time for change with Clock Props
I haven’t worn a watch since I was a teenager. Perhaps because I grew up with a phone to tell me the time, but I fell for this Salvo Fair stand of clocks.
With a collection of over 500 clocks, a visit to Clock Props’ showroom back in London is high on my to-see list. Buy or hire. They probably have the largest selection of clocks in the UK, and they are a go-to for interior and set designers.
Mahala and Roomi Apparel
I’ve been banging on about ethical homeware and accessories brand Mahala for a while and I finally got my hands on one of the signature bags made of old military canvas and British saddlery leather. I must however leave room to mention Roomi Apparel. Designed by the talented husband of Emily Griffin, the woman behind Mahala, Roomi Apparel is a new unisex brand made in East London. Colourful coats on the left hand rail below suited both the tall men and petite women that tried them. One sustainable size fits all.
The real deal in retro arm candy
I’m a shoe woman, but exhibitors in my Fair Fashion pop up converted me into a bag lady. I rarely buy bags, but Salvo Fair had me spending on salvaged and vintage arm candy including this ’50s Corde bag with rare lucite handles.
Bag from Mary Jones Vintage worn with my ’70s jumpsuit from Snooper’s Attic, Snooper’s Paradise, 7-8 Kensington Gardens, Brighton.
Conscious shopping with Chris Holmes Antiques
Also a bag of sorts… this French antique hod from Avignon was worn on grape pickers’ backs in the ’20s. Hand painted with Chateau Neuf Du-Pape – until the 14th Century the Pope resided in Avignon and this is the crest representing his vineyard.
We thought it would make a special statement piece in our patio that could double as an ice bucket for parties! I’ll be revealing more of my flat and the reclaimed renovation project soon.
Grand Clearance Auctions
Fresh from the fair field, exhibitor Insitu is organising a clearance auction in Manchester on Saturday 8th – Sunday 9th July 2017. Clearing stock ready for the final stage of renovations to their Italianate style Grade II listed Victorian building. Auctions are a great place to pick up rare pieces at good prices.
Vintage furniture house Metroretro
Saxon of Metroretro dressed London’s Sky Garden with his bespoke collection of reclaimed furniture and this weekend he dressed the Silo at Salvo pop up restaurant. Also a regular at Modern Shows, look out for Metroretro with mid-mod and industrial pieces at Midcentury East on Sunday 15th October 2017.
The all-electric pollution free supercar
EVision Supercars is the first UK chauffeur-driven car hire service that chauffeur in London with a nationwide fleet that exclusively comprises of all-electric, Tesla.
A conscious alternative for a luxurious airport transfer or a special event (the white gullwing Model X is popular for weddings).
They also offer self-drive hire so you can experience electric as the new car era ushers in.
©photographs Reclaimed Woman
Julia Jones put the Jones in Mary Jones Vintage, a divorce lawyer that sources and sells vintage fashion. Based in Liverpool, stocked in Liberty of London and preparing for her first Salvo Fair in my Fair Fashion pop up, which opens in Henley tomorrow (23rd until the 25th June 2017).
I caught up with Julia before she exhibits her vintage finds for women and men, including a rare collection of Christian Dior hats. Kind of a genius business plan… who doesn’t want Dior after a divorce???
How did you get your start in vintage fashion?
I am a divorce lawyer by trade but have always loved fashion and bought and sold designer clothing on EBAY and the like. Some years ago a friend, Mary, approached me as she had been left an estate of vintage clothes which was too much for her to manage. I fell in love with vintage and Mary Jones Vintage was born. Mary retired a few years ago and I, as the Jones, carried on.
What should we look for from Mary Jones Vintage at SALVO 2017?
Passion for vintage! I hand pick all of the items I sell and pride myself on doing them justice in my display. I want to give these items a new life.
This is a sneak peak of my favourite piece on Julia’s Salvo stand so far. A 1970s Gina Fratini maxi dress.
Is there a trend in the pieces you are currently sourcing?
In Liverpool at the moment vintage Kaftans and Kimonos are big. Vintage fur is always sought after, but generally people are looking for that unique piece that no one else has.
Do you find it hard to part with things once sold? Does a single piece stand out as the one that got away?
I am terrible for trying not to sell things. Because these items often have a history it is hard to part with them. I bought an Edwardian French crystal hair slide from a car boot sale a few years ago. It was exquisite. At that time I was doing some dressage to music on my horse and I sewed it into her tail as our music was Diamonds are a girls best friend. We won the competition but I forgot to take the slide out of her tail and she merrily galloped off into the muddy field with it on! Panic ensued but, after hours of searching, we did find it again. I subsequently sold it and have regretted it ever since.
What are the dos and don’ts people should be aware of when shopping for vintage fashion?
Do buy what you like. Don’t let anyone tell you, you look like your Granny in it.
What do you think of the eco-friendly side of buying reloved pieces?
I think this is particularly pertinent to vintage fur. I only sell vintage fur and believe very strongly that the quality of the fur and the standard of the craftsmanship was far higher. There is so much vintage fur available that there is no need to buy new.
If you buy carefully, vintage pieces can last a lifetime and cost a fraction of the price of lesser quality designer items.
How does wearing vintage fashion personally make you feel?
I am what is commonly known as a “fuller filly” so I struggle to get into most of the dresses. However I do indulge myself with hats, bags and jewellery!
See salvofair.com for more details and join me for a dose of Fair Fashion, the antidote to fast fashion festival style.
©photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Mary Jones Vintage
I just visited Athens, city of marble for the first time. The Greek side of my husband’s family visited us in London before we all headed to a big fat Greek wedding in Athens.
I’ll keep references to that film brief, but it’s been a running joke since my first dinner with them. “What do you mean she don’t eat no meat?” A good excuse for me to share some good Greek spots for vegetarians visiting Athens.
Teasing over the Elgin Marbles was also inevitable. Stereotypically English, I neatly queued up their banter, as my eyes started tearing up in the heat as we queued for the Acropolis. “Awww she’s crying at the sight of the other marble they could have taken.” Elgin marbles aside, Athens is a city with marble in abundance. I walked on pavements, staircases and curbs made of the stuff.
Outside the Acropolis museum, running as a tour guide uses my shirt dress to describe the meaning of the colours in the Greek flag, blue sky, white ocean waves. Accessorising my Greek flag with Castañer espadilles and a vintage cork backpack from People of 2morrow.
We chose an Airbnb with views of the Acropolis, solar thermal energy and homemade wine in the southeast neighbourhood, Koukaki.
I packed Bentley Organic shampoo and conditioner and Aloe Pura Organic Aloe Vera sun lotion with pomegranate, protecting echinacea, nourishing Jojoba and avocado oil.
Eat & Drink
Greece has a cornucopia of natural products that promote wellbeing. Vegetarians visiting Athens can’t go far wrong with the salads. Vegans should check out both Mama Tierra and Avocado. As a pescatarian, I feasted on vegetarian starting plates in more meaty Greek restaurants, which shouldn’t be skipped for the traditional live music.
I loved the salads at Skoubri (above) Σκουμπρί, Drakou 14, Athina and the floral vintage wallpaper, old Athens style decor and dishes at Cherchez La Femme (below) Σερσέ λα φάμ, Mitropoleos 46, Athina.
In local Lotte Cafe – Bistrot (below) Tsami Karatasou 2, Athina and Birds & Booze in Plaka you could feel like you are in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Both are fun day and night.
Athens is painted in graffiti, so I couldn’t resist sharing this. There is some great guilt-free shopping to be had in the independent shops amongst the touristy traps in Plaka and Monastiraki . Check out repurposed accessories made in Greece at 3Quarters with bags made from leftover balcony awnings.
I couldn’t leave Monastiraki without handmade sandals from The Poet Sandal-Maker of Athens. Good enough for John Lennon and Jackie O. Good enough for me.
The store opened in 1920 and remains a family business today, run by the grandson of the founding artisan. The makers know your sandal size just by looking at you. You choose a style and they fit and cut the leather to your foot. I chose Aeolian No. 2.
©photographs Reclaimed Woman