sponsored post: crafting real life bags with Village England

Village England handbag designs

If you already carry a Village England bag, it might surprise you that co-founder Eddie Knevett didn’t start out as a handbag designer.  But then he also wasn’t hiding a million miles away from women and their love of leather bags. This former head of accessories at House of Fraser (and previous to that, a buyer for Harrods) knows his eggs when it comes to what we’re all looking for in a perfect bag.

Eddie designs the stunning – yet surprisingly practical – range from his home in leafy Queen’s Park so I dropped by last week to find out what it takes to draw up and plan the new season’s collection.

How long does it take to design a handbag from start to finish?  About 5 months overall, initial designs/details/thoughts happen over about 4 weeks, leathers are dyed and/or ordered, then sampling process begins. I constantly go back to review/question is it right, does it feel fresh, does it work in real life, are the proportions beautiful, is it the right price.

Villlage England leather choices

What makes a perfect bag?  Versatility, good design, something that you love, works for you everyday and also looks great.

How do you know if a bag designed on paper will hang perfectly?  By understanding how leathers work, behave, drape as well as understanding structures and how it will work on a body, as well as experience and practice. And even then they sometimes just don’t work.

Eddie at his desk (check out his 'sunny' painted walls!)  - this man LOVES colour!

Eddie at his desk (check out his ‘sunny’ painted walls!) – this man LOVES colour!

Where do you find yourself drawing ideas from?  Seasonal England, riots of summer colour at Great Dixter garden, autumn leaves at Grasmere, frosted fens on the Wash, equestrian detailing at Burghley, May poles, cakes at village fetes, personal style on the street and feed back from customers and friends on how they use their bags.

Why are some designer handbags such a ridiculous price?  I think that sometimes people don’t appreciate how much leathers can cost but also it’s the craftsmanship, skill and time involved. I am also personally very worried about the human cost of some working practices.

Eddie's colourful bookshelves with plenty of ceramics

Eddie’s colourful bookshelves with plenty of ceramics

Most elegant woman?  Is a woman who is comfortable in her own skin.

First job after school?  A three week temp job in Harrods, ended up staying 10 years buying accessories.

Village England handbag designsWhere do you go to escape life?  Making ceramics, the world just goes away when you are concentrating on making something with your hands. Or the countryside, I have an urbanite’s romantic view of the great outdoors… fresh air makes me relax.

Do you paint?  Not any more, form and shape is more interesting to me, hence the love of ceramics.

Where would you LOVE Village England to be stocked? USA and Asia here we come!

… and more ceramics!

… and more ceramics!

What might we see that’s a bit of a departure for VE in the next year or so?  We are broadening our offer on handbag accessories and gifts to bring more fun, colour, texture to the collection. I am also working out our men’s collection concept, though that is very much for the future.

How should your handbags accommodate technology? All our bags have leather bound mobile phone pockets, a majority of our bags also have a padded tablet pocket, our bigger bags will take a 11’’ or 13’’ laptop, technology is part everyday life so these pockets are essential.

If not handbags, what? Making ceramics in a shed somewhere…

What are your feelings about man bags? I use them daily, I don’t have big enough pockets for all the stuff I carry around!

Tell us a handbag secret.  The nicer you treat them the longer they will last

Eddie Knevett co founder of Village England

Check out Village England’s range of bags here – or drop into your local House of Fraser or Anthropolgie to try one on!  

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All things BRIGHT and beautiful

beauty uk nail polishcolourful make up

Colourful war paint is bold, powerful and attention grabbing. But experimenting with a little splash here and there (in a non-80s way) is a brilliant way to rock one of this season’s make-up looks.


colourful make up

I morphed myself into a magpie and went in search of a small injection of vibrant face drama.

And this is what I found:

  1. Posh Palette £5.99
  2. Teal malachite goddess pencil £17
  3. Daffodil Delight nail polish £2.99
  4. Pink My Ride £3.50
  5. Eternity Longlasting eye liner £9
  6. Jewel eye crayon £3.99
  7. Posh pout moisturizing lip balm £2.99
  8. Kabuki Crush Brush £6

I haven’t (yet) applied it all simultaneously.  But might… just to get the #flashback Kajagoogoo look…

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a real diamond of a story

I loved the sound of a diamond photo shoot. Who wouldn’t?

We’ll style you – clothes, make-up, hair – and you’ll just wear the diamonds and strike a pose,’ explained the PR.

So I agreed.

But then as it got closer to the date, I wasn’t quite so convinced. Hayley, our stylist, had been asked to guess which clothes might suit us based on a pre-shoot phone call.

our stylist, Hayley Korn

our stylist, Hayley Korn

And then there’s the added fret that I really don’t like having my make-up done. That whole dewy skin thing just isn’t me.


However I had confirmed I’d take part in The Diamond Store’s #MillionDollarBlogger shoot and I am (almost always) true to my word. So off I went.

Of course we had such a giggle on the day. Hayley blew me away with her unreal choices of clothes – all from Oxygen boutique – and I discovered a whole new brand which I love, Sea NY!

Lauren styled my post-holiday barnet into a cool boho look and Sara tackled my not-so-happy skin (again post sun plus long flight) with sensitivity and focus!

The jewels (all ethically and responsibly sourced) speak for themselves. Honestly the lowest prices I ever seen diamonds ever sold, The Diamond Store makes rocks all the more accessible and ultimately stackable too!

This is what I wore:

All shots taken by Jennifer West at Venture Studios, Knightsbridge AND – they’ve given me a shoot worth £350 to give away for one of my readers! All you have to do is follow me on Instagram and leave me a comment under a photo from this shoot… The winner will be contacted via Instagram on Friday 10th October. good luck!

The Diamond Store’s site is really easy to navigate. It took me all of 10 seconds to choose my gift (more of which in a later post!) from their 20,000 or so products!


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Cracknell and Atherton MAN up

We hear a lot of the rise of the mumpreneurs. The stay-at-home mum who keeps one eye on seven smalls while launching a multi-billion pound business from her kitchen table. But I must confess, I’ve got a bit of a problem with the word mumpreneur. It’s just too cosy and too let’s all bake a cake with a spreadsheet’ for me…

And all this time, the word dadpreneur never seems to get a look in. We assume that men in business are quite simply businessmen or entrepreneurs… curious, isn’t it?

Anyway, all this pondering led to my interest in notonthehighstreet.com’s launch of their Dadpreneur Movement. What on earth is that? I hear you cry. Well, the online retailer is keen to alert us to the issues and challenges those dadspreneurs (who need championing) are facing. Apparently too many miss out that first bike ride, kicking around the garden and those bedtime stories.

And to help tell this dad story, the retailer has enrolled Olympic gold medalist James Cracknell and Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton.

James Cracknell talks about being a Dad

I was offered an interview with each and literally jumped at the chance. Curious to hear how these massively driven men balance their careers alongside their smalls, I immediately dashed off to the Hospital (members’ club) to meet them.

James was first up. Handsome, tall and ever so rowingly broad, I tried not to get flustered with my notes and a surplus of lenses.   Proudly, he told me that he was present at each of his kids’ home births (now aged 10, 5 and 3) but of course there have been many a week when his sporting challenges have taken him away from the family nest. We chatted about sports day pressures and how his son Clyde felt about autograph requests from other dads at school gates. When I asked what he felt he had missed out on, he mentioned that stabliser moment but didn’t choose to touch on his massive crash which effectively led him to lose certain elements (such as empathy) of his personality.

James Cracknell.  All 6ft 4in of him.

James Cracknell. All 6foot 4inches of him.

I had been warned not to ask about The Accident so swiftly moved on but did buy his book (co-written with his unbelievably stoic wife) on the way home. Being a parent is hard enough, but faced with a recovery such as his must make parenting beyond challenging.

Jason Atherton the chef, dad, husband and entrepreneur.

Jason Atherton the chef, dad, husband and entrepreneur.

Jason Atherton is a total geezer. I’ve reviewed all his restaurants (Little Social, Berner’s Tavern) and wanted to know what he cooks for Sunday breakfast (blueberry pancakes), who is his father figure (an amazing step-dad by all accounts), if he’s a social media on the sofa type of husband and if his kids (aged 9 and 3) can cook?

Jason Atherton talks family values

Jason Atherton talks family values


All his answers revealed rather proper family values. No phones are allowed at weekends or on holiday. One night a week his restaurants don’t exist as he turns off the world to be alone with his wife. And his 9 year old makes a mean pasta dish.

So, I left these dads feeling fully inspired. Neither of them pretended it was easy and both of them were honest enough to reveal their flaws while manning up to their responsibilities at home. But the bottom line is that any campaign highlighting the continual struggle felt by working parents is an apt one…especially if it serves as a reminder to us all to put those damn phones away.

As part of notonthehighstreet.com’s Dad Campaign, a pop-up ‘school’ to help address work-life balance issues for busy dads is launching today. The pop up school will play host to a series of workshops aimed at teaching busy dads classic play activities such as kite building, rocket making and lego engineering to take home and utilise with their kids. A series of four workshops will take place at Soho House – each one led by one of Dad Academy’s hosts and will be open to consumers, media and venue members.

You can watch the online retailer’s Dad Panel video here 

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