a shampoo with a negative carbon footprint…

2014-04-11 10.46.36-5… doesn’t that sound just too perfectly new age and smugly green for words?

Well, as I’m always on the lookout for paraben-free, chemical-less beauty loot (which still addresses colour care and volume), I couldn’t resist sampling a bottle of O’right’s Goji Berry to see what all the fuss was about.

The brand is new to me. Seemingly one of Asia’s biggest (natural) hair care lines, all of the O’right products are truly natural using organically sourced ingredients. However you’ve heard all this before. But what is remarkable about this bottle is that the packaging is biodegradable and has been innovatively designed to incorporate a little plug at the bottom of the bottle which contains a seed. Once the bottle is finished, you’ll find your hair is thick and shiny, your conscience is clear and your world a less polluted, you can plant your very own tree.

Clearly I’m sold. And so were the buyers at Harvey Nics.

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oh SO busy…

life of yablon illustrationBusy, busy oh so busy. Quite literally the buzz word of today. Even out trumping ‘stressed’ and ‘exhausted’, I feel like I can’t cross the road without someone telling me just how extraordinarily SWAMPED they are.

How are you? I ask my neighbour.

MANIC! She screeches.

Fancy a coffee? I text a friend

Can’t. Totally slammed. Is the answer.

But I’m as guilty as the next with my OHHH-SO-BUSY retorts. And strangely it’s nothing really to do with just how much we have on our plates. No, we’ve all officially joined the Busy-Team where the only answer is busy. (A bit like the banana game but less funny.)

Of course competitive busy, as a sport, is now also on the rise. Could you possibly pick up my kids from school reads a recent text. I’m just SO busy! Now, how does the texter know that they are honestly busier than their recipient? Who could possibly be the judge in this frantic, breathless rush?

Working mums, those with terribly tiny toddlers, small business owners, CEOs, others with no childcare, no PA, no helping hand… I wonder if we really are busier than our predecessors or whether we just complain a lot more? Perhaps it’s simply our default setting and someone this Christmas needs to turn us off, unplug the busy lead, let us cool off and then power us up again?

Put up your hand if you’re going to join me as I duck out the Busy Cult. Let’s face it; it’s dull, heightens stress levels and is definitely not an appropriate answer to any polite enquiry. Let’s redefine the narrative and promise not to air our busy linen in public.

This column first appeared in The Lady where I am their Mum About Town.






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interview with Miss_Magpie_Spy

Amid the image noise that is the instagram we love, I found miss_magpie_spy, a fashion illustrator, passionate about her vibrantly colourful sketches as well as her fashion designer day-job.

miss_magpie_spy's illustrated kimono

miss_magpie_spy’s illustrated kimono

As more and more of her sketches popped up in her feed, I was smitten.

It’s her evolving style, quirky looks and sneaky girl smiles which grab me. So, of course, I got in touch and when I heard that one of her upcoming live illustration gigs was in Selfridges at the Clinique counter (last Saturday), I grabbed my very own in-house budding fashion illustrator (Mini) and we jumped on the no. 13 bus headed for the yellow shopping emporium.

Niki Groom aka miss_magpie_spy

Niki Groom aka miss_magpie_spy

As it turns out, Niki Groom (aka @Miss_Magpie_Spy) is every bit as whimsical as her drawings. The three of us had a quick drink in the pop-up Everyman cinema lounge before she had to take to her drawing board on the beauty floor.

when did you first realise you could draw?  I drew from an early age, and remember having my drawing of a ship up in the school reception when I was about 6. I never stopped drawing. My English teacher used to say she looked forward to my A Level essays due to the drawing that covered the margins.


did you ever do houses/animals/farm – as opposed to fashion?  Yes, I draw everything…but mostly fashion related. On a recent holiday to Laos though I drew what was around me. I’m always drawn to drawing people though, and pattern and colour too. I can’t imagine ever being inspired to do a landscape unless there was someone with a fantastic dress in view!

Clinique counter at Selfridges

Clinique counter at Selfridges

do you draw each and every day?  Just about, yes.

how do you feel if you don’t?  I miss it. I find it relaxing…..so if I’ve not put pen to paper for a few days I can feel a bit twitchy.

what is your go-to doodle if on call waiting ?  Faces, all the time.

look who's hiding amongst the Clinque goodies

look who’s hiding amongst the Clinque goodies

who would you LOVE to draw live? Model Devon Aoki.

do you feel the pressure with a queue (at live events)?  A bit, but I also get a real buzz from it! Time flies when I do live events although I have to rest my arm for a few days afterwards!

do you teach? would you ever?  Yes I have taught before and wish more people would approach me! I’m a fashion designer too for the High Street and would love to do more visiting lecturer work.

which is your favourite art supplies shop?  I haven’t got one….I pick stuff up here there and everywhere.

where would I find you sulking?  I’m not a sulker!


dream destination?  At the moment I’m obsessed with going to Mexico. I’ve travelled far and wide and this is the next place on my list.

what’s on your Father Christmas list? This amazing necklace from Anthropologie. Magpie by name and magpie by nature!

tell us a BIG secret.  I can’t I can’t! Well I can give you a clue…..my work might appear in a window near you soon!

Mini drawn by miss_magpie-spy

Niki’s details are here – do contact her with your illustration/design requests or just enjoy following her on instagram



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a notebook habit with Chroma

I’ve never hidden my obsessive paper habit from you. In fact, I’ve just written a feature article for a magazine (will show you when it’s in actual print!) on the very subject. And I suppose at the very heart of all this paper loving are my treasured notebooks. Piles of them, dating back from when I was a teenager. Somehow I can’t quite bring myself to recycle the lot  and  – as keen as I am to imply that they are full of brilliant, inspirational ideas – instead they’re … well… NOT!

Always on the look out for my next carry-around-dot-it-down pad, my beady stationery eye caught sight of Chroma. And since then, I’ve ordered more than a few for my favourite people. BRILLIANT stocking filler fodder, insanely colourful, beautifully made and personally embossed – you’ll have no trouble understand why I pounced on Gabi Cox for an interview and pleaded with her to sponsor the blog this month.

chroma stationery notebooks

Describe your love for paper.  I have always had a thing for paper, as a child I used to preserve all the wrapping paper from my birthday or Christmas – even painstakingly uncrease Easter Egg wrappers and then iron them out so they were perfect rectangles again. To be working with paper now is literally, a dream come true.

interviewing Gabi Cox of Chroma Stationery ...

interviewing Gabi Cox of Chroma Stationery

Who or what has inspired you to launch Chroma?  It was my major university project in my final year. I was fascinated by colour psychology and relationships with colour but was struggling with where to take all this information and interest. I started putting together peoples’ personal colour stories alongside illustrations and blog colours – they started to look like greetings cards and there was a natural progression on to notebooks and stationery. It suddenly all fitted in to place and made complete sense.

Which notebooks did you use before you launched?  My first notebook was a staple bound, plain pages notebook – one of the first I ever had made from my first supplier. It was in the “Meredith” (grey) with silver embossing of my initials.

Nordic Bakery lunch

… over lunch at Nordic Bakery

What has surprised you about launching this business?  How all consuming it is. It sounds ridiculous but I think I was definitely naive about the amount of time the smallest things take. I am a one-man-band doing everything myself from the marketing and promotion to processing the orders and creating the products. I eat, sleep, breathe Chroma, it takes over a lot of my life – if I didn’t love it so much I think it would be very difficult.

Which notebook are you using at the moment and what do you write in it? My current notebook is a lined Dawson (light blue) one, with gold embossing. I am planning to work my way through all the colours. I am a prolific list writer, multiple lists are written on a daily basis.

notebook LOVE

notebook LOVE

Pencil or pen girl?  Pen – black biro in fact!

If you had to liken Chroma to a fashion brand, which would it be?  Probably Uniqlo – I love the fact they produce functional, affordable items in so many colours.

What do you dream of?  Taking over the stationery world, one notebook at a time!

What motivates you?  I want to wake up every day and have a job that I love. Working for myself and for Chroma fits this perfectly.

Where would you love to be stocked?  I would love Chroma to be stocked in John Lewis as it’s a personal favourite of mine.

Which colour are you and why?  I think I am a blue – it’s my favourite colour. No matter the shade I think it is very calm and one of my strengths is the ability to keep a cool head. I also find it a very comforting, familiar colour.

What’s next for Chroma?  New products! I have new spiral bound notebooks coming out in the next few months – they come in 10 new colours and allow the customer to pretty much build their notebook, choosing the colour, embossing, inner pages, number of inner pages etc.

The Chroma range is currently available in 20 different colours. The embossing service is free and you can choose anything you want (including font and size) for the front of your notebook. Within 48 hours, the gift-wrapped book arrives on your doorstep. If you really love someone, give them paper this Christmas!

COMPETITION TIME! Gabi is very generously giving away 3 Chroma notebooks (worth £7.50 each) to one lucky winner. All you need to do is follow @chromastationery and @yablon on Twitter and tweet what you would emboss on one of your books! A winner will be chosen at random on 16th December 2014 and the notebooks will be with the winner by Christmas!

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