Tuesday, 26 May 2015

20 things about me...

I’ve been given a challenge to write a blog post of 20 things about me – not my work, just me. In my work with Creative Women I am always telling my ladies to blog more, and speak from a human viewpoint and not always a business viewpoint. What makes us, 'us' is interesting to our customers (and peers) and they don’t want to hear about our work all the time otherwise they’ll switch off! Lauren Aston nominated me in her '20 things...' blog post (thanks Lauren – grrrrr) and I have been thinking about it for the last week or so. It has been really, really hard to think of anything interesting at all, but here we go…

1. I have scoliosis, which is curvature of the spine and it was diagnosed when I was 11 years old. I had to wear a back brace for just under 3 years. Going in and out of children’s hospitals and seeing all the other kids in a worse state than me (wheelchair bound and very disabled) made me feel very lucky indeed.

2. We got our puppy last year, and until then I was never a dog person – couldn’t understand it. Now I am utterly smitten, she brings me utter joy, and most evenings after a few glasses of wine I search the internet for another… (watch this space!)

3. I love avocados. Love them. Love love love them. Eat them on their own, in salads, on toast, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Love them!

4. I applied to the second series of Big Brother, back in god knows when (early 2000’s?) Very glad I didn’t get on…!

5. I bloody love everything about interior design. Since being a kid I have always wanted to decorate my room – it’s why I was so excited when we bought our first house. I would re-decorate every 3 months if I could!

6. Being an art student it was only natural that I experiment, and I did so with my hair! I get bored easily, so it would be long, short, blue, red, white, shaved, spiky, whatever. Just something completely different. I used to bleach it myself, and went so extreme over the years with bleach and dye, that now I get an allergic reaction to any kind of hair dye. Gutted!

7. I consider myself to be shy, but everyone I know would disagree. I think I’m just maybe good at acting the part? Which leads me onto…

8. I really wanted to take Drama GCSE but had to choose between that and Art. I went down the art route, but still would love to be on stage.

9. I love being around people. I feel energised and positive when being with people. I think ultimately that’s why I wanted to stop working on my own and get a group of people together, because that is when I’m at my best. I enjoy making other people happy, and in turn become happy myself.

10. When I was applying to art college I went for an Art Therapist course, and got in. For some reason I didn’t accept and went to do Fine Art Painting instead, but I still wonder what I would have got up to should I had followed that route. Ever since then I’ve wanted to help people – I’ve considered applying again for a therapy course, or volunteering with The Samaritons but know I’m not emotionally strong enough to handle it. I guess in some way I’m maybe helping people now?!

11. I have three tattoos and planning my fourth. I want to have more as I get older and older, and embrace the age rather than worry about what they will look like when I wrinkle!

12. Being restricted as a kid with a back brace it was impossible for me to do sport, but I loved swimming. I’ve been a strong swimmer since I was tiny, and loved it. I still feel completely at home in water, and I know I should start again! If only I didn’t look such a whale in a swimming costume…!!

13. I have struggled with severe paranoia throughout my life, since being a child, and have always felt anxious, insecure and have severely lacked confidence. However, as I get older, and with communication, support from loved ones and a bit of medication I find myself much happier with who I am. Don’t be afraid of getting help – mental illness in any form is debilitating, but do speak up as it’s the only way you will start to heal.

14. I’m really crap with money. If I’ve got it I spend it, if I haven’t got it I still spend it! And I wonder why I’m always skint…!!

15. We moved to Devon from Cheltenham 8 years ago with Greg’s job and at the time it was a mixture of being really sad at leaving my closest friends, and excitement at a new chapter in our life. I never thought I could embrace the rural life, and it’s had its ups and downs but I love it here.  

16. Some people love Summer the best, some Winter. I love them all. Spring is brilliant because of the new buds and possibility of what’s ahead. Summer is awesome because of the sun and barbecues. Autumn’s colours are beautiful and I love Halloween and Bonfire Night, and Winter is just perfect. Open fires, red wine, and Christmas. Seasons - I look forward to each one.

17. I have an obsession with buying chairs. Any style, any type – I would fill my house up with different ones if I could (although my husband would say I already have!) Speaking of which, I love collecting all sorts of stuff – jugs, mugs, books, artwork, vintage fabrics, oh crikey, I’m actually a bit of a hoarder! I did actually always want a library in my home, full of books and old leather armchairs, oh and one of those slidey ladders!

18. My father died very suddenly just over 3 years ago and the journey that we have been on as a family has been a huge learning curve. No-one is ever prepared for grief, but it has taught me a huge amount and I am now taking risks and making decisions I wouldn’t have before he died.

19. Despite the sadness that has happened in my life over the last couple of years, I can honestly say that I feel the place I’m in now is the healthiest and happiest I’ve been in a long time. I feel like a very lucky girl.

20. There’s nothing better than snuggling up in bed, and falling asleep. Oh, and I need at least three pillows to be comfortable!

And that's it! Crikey, this has been SO hard!! I’ve struggled to think of anything interesting I can say about myself (and you may say I’ve not even achieved that!!)

I’m hoping that by giving myself (or Lauren giving me) this challenge will help me get over my writers block, and I will start to blog again, and write more about what I’m up to with Kindred Rose, Creative Women and Cosmic. I would like to nominate 3 of my creative women, because I’m always nagging them to blog and this might just make them!! Sarah J Perry, Chloe Morter and NikkiJolley – it’s your turn ladies…!!


Monday, 13 April 2015



My last blog post was lovely to write as it made me realise how far I had come since making the decision to change direction last year. It just goes to show that what may seem daunting and scary can actually turn into something incredibly productive and exciting!

I have met SO many utterly wonderful and completely talented women through my new line of work, and I feel so passionate about helping and supporting them on their journey. I am in the process of organising an Artisan market, which I have done before, but this time I am having just my Creative Women there, as a kind of introduction to what we do and to showcase some of the brilliant talent that is here in the South West!

The village of Blackborough is where I am fortunate to live, and where the Artisan market is held - this will be the fourth one, which each before it being a great success. It is a small, friendly, picturesque village on top of a hill, with woods for a backdrop and views across Dartmoor and Exmoor. It's beautiful.

So, I would like to introduce you to the brilliant women who are selling at the market. And I would love you to come and show your support to them - despite their talent, it is many of their first time selling and I really have had to cajole some of them into it!! It is being held on the 16th May at Blackborough Village Hall, from 10am until 2pm. Entry into the market is free, and we will be selling cream teas too!

Sarah runs Sarah J Perry Designs, is one of the nicest people you could meet, and embroiders the most beautiful birds in 3D which are displayed free standing or framed. They are absolutely incredible, the work that goes into each piece is phenomenal! 

I am in awe of Lauren! She only launched Lauren Aston Designs towards the end of last year, and is already making a real impact. Her statement homewear knits are so utterly sumptuous you want to smother yourself in them!!

Devon Lomax (Websters)
Devon is just gorgeous, and has so much energy and passion! She has made the brave decision to relocate from the US to run her Mum's growing business in UK & Europe. Websters is a chalk paint powder which is so completely versatile that can be used with any paint. 

Rachael Rowe (Grace & Favour Home)
I have been such a fan of Rachael's work for so long, and feel so humbled that she has become part of my #creativewomen network. She produces gorgeous ranges of homewares and gifts using re-loved or recycled items.

Sheena is a wonderful ceramicist and mixed media artist. Her latest works are just magical. You feel as if you are stepping into another world with her beautiful miniature houses and utterly serene folk birds. 

Lainey is another mixed media artist who's work is beautiful storytelling. From ethereal mermaids to silvery fish and fairytale-like characters, her work is spellbinding and fascinating. I am always excited to see what she does next!

Nikki is like a ray of sunshine! She makes the most divine cupcakes, with so much precision and perfection in each one. Oh, and they happen to be delicious too. I don't expect she'll have any left by the end of the day...!

Maggie Emery (Crab Tulip)
The wonderful Maggie sells a range of eclectic vintage wares. From handbags and clothing to trinkets, vases and books - and everything else in-between, Maggie has everything you could possibly wish for!

Sharon Mitchell (Soap Daze)
I've been trying to bag the brilliant Sharon to sell at one of my Artisan markets for years as I just love her soaps! She has expanded to essential oils too, and after rebranding her work it is even more desirable than ever!! Chuffed to bits that she's available this time!

I have just recently met Chloe as she has taken a change in direction such as myself, and her work completely transfixes you. A combination of hand and machine embroidery, plus textile collage, Chloe embraces the natural world in her beautiful folk art.

Jo Heath (Beespoke candles)
Jo is embracing everything she is learning through #creativewomen with such vigour it is so inspiring! She produces a fantastic range of candles and aromatherapy oils. Purely using natural soy or locally sourced beeswax she has a wide range of aromas for you to choose from.

I had admired Emma's work in shops for years before realising who she was when I first met her! A gorgeous textile artist, she is expanding into bigger screen printed original works of art as well as her intricate embroidered cards. Stunning!

I am so looking forward to seeing Annie's incredible creations in the flesh at the market, oh and tasting them too! She produces chocolate pizzas for all occasions - how can you possibly resist?! Having only been trading for a short while her business is already a huge success!

Karen Sylvester (One Dotty Duck)
I met the very lovely Karen at my very first #creativewomen meeting and she's been coming ever since! She produces a fantastic range of unique jewellery with designs including steampunk, dominos and fairies on necklaces, cuff links and bracelets, plus so much more!

I absolutely can't wait to welcome my wonderful women to Blackborough and I really really hope you will be able to join us!

Helen xx

If you would like more details on the market my Facebook pages can be found here:

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

A whole new world...

Hello!! It’s been a while…

So, where to start?? I guess some of you may have been following my recent journey on facebook or twitter but I’d love to share with you here what’s been happening over the last few months. After all, things have taken quite a turn!

For a few years I have felt lost in direction - I’ve spoken very openly about that before but things came to a crunch last year. I realised I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing. I wasn’t passionate, motivated or excited any more about my work. Something had to change. After many agonising months I made the difficult decision to stop. I didn’t know at the time if that was going to be a permanent stop or just temporary, but I knew I needed some time off to figure things out. 

During that time off I spent time with my other creative friends. Chatting, drinking tea, enjoying the company of others, and I got excited about what they were doing. I had ideas of things they could do, I had advice for them which ended up being good, sound advice. I enjoyed supporting them. I started to think that it could be something I would like to pursue.

So in October 2014 I decided I would host an event. A networking event for creative women. I had no idea how to market it, or how to target it but I knew that I had to do it - just to see if it was something that was needed. I was in the process of organising an Artisan Market so it made sense to advertise the Creative Women get together at the same time. I was nervous. I was excited, but I was very nervous. 

Nineteen women came to the first meeting. Some were friends, some were associates but some were STRANGERS! People I had never met, came to my meeting and walked away inspired, excited and informed! It really was the most incredible feeling! Since that first get together I have hosted more meetings and expanded to some ‘Coffee catchups’ and more and more women have attended, averaging 35 women each time! The word is getting round that they are somewhere women want to be. 

These meetings aren’t the normal kind of networking meetings. I didn’t want that. I wanted relaxed and informal but interesting, relatable and relevant, but first and foremost I wanted them to be supportive. I’ve been there, right at the beginning of starting a creative business and there is A LOT to learn! A lot to be excited about, but so much to be scared and nervous about. I want to be able to help these women through the experiences I have been through. And it has ended up becoming a wonderful community of creative women, all at different stages of their journey, all supporting each other. Sharing ideas. Celebrating successes. Giving advice - on pricing, twitter, facebook and websites as well as so much more. We all learn from each other. It’s wonderful.

I really honestly do feel like I’ve found my way again, and have been inspired and energised by all these wonderful women around me. And the best thing, is that I am able to give these women confidence and knowledge.

If you would like to come along, I’d absolutely love to welcome you - as we all would! Please visit my website www.kindredrose.co.uk for more information.

And if you want to hear it from the horses mouths (instead of me trying to persuade you how great the get togethers are) here are a couple of testimonials from my lovely women…

“As a creative person, much of what I do is solitary and can be a little isolating. However a month ago I was introduced to the Creative Women Together group and right away I was made to feel comfortable and very welcome. It is energising meeting with like minded people who are happy to share their experiences and skills. Helen is a great motivator and with her expertise and positive energy she helps you believe that anything is possible. The main meetings are full of practical, helpful advice and the Coffee and Chat sessions are really important in helping you connect with other creative souls and helpful for swapping information. It is, in my experience a unique group and, whether you are just starting out, like I am, or more experienced, the value of such a support group, cannot be under estimated. Great job ladies, looking forward to the next session already!” - Juliet

“How grateful I am to Helen for starting Creative Women - it's a fantastic, inspiring network of wonderful talented and kind women, that I now feel I couldn't be without. It's a wonderful forum to discuss ideas and gain motivation, help and support, driven by the amazing Helen Bottrill, who takes time to make each and every one of us feel supported and motivated. I can't express how pleased I am to be part of it.” - Lauren

“I have had many ventures into the world of small business over the years and have always been defeated by working on my own and being unable to gain the knowledge necessary to take my work to a larger market. Helen Bottrill from Creative Women Together has changed all that. From the moment I walked into the first meeting on my own, I felt embraced into the most welcoming, supportive group of people I have ever met. Through the professional speakers Helen engages at each meeting I have learned how to take my product to the market. I have made so many friends, had so much support and the continuing regular support from Helen has made me feel anything is possible.” - Sarah

I look forward to hearing from you!! 



Sunday, 6 July 2014

Procraftination #2 (or how to make a slouch top...)

Like I said in my last Procraftination blog, I try to avoid domesticity in any way possible by choosing the path of sewing (or craft) instead! Now, I don't claim to be a dressmaker, I am not qualified in any way, I learn as I go along but I love to give anything a go. So if you find another easier or more effective way of doing some of my projects then please do let me know! I like projects that are quick and easy. I don't have a huge amount of spare time, so if I am going to start something I need it to be something that can be completed within an hour or so. 

This time, I will be talking you through how to make a slouchy top. Unlike my last post, you will have to kind of make up the measurements yourself! You may (like me) have a top that you want to replicate so you can use that, or you may have to overestimate and see how you get on. I am literally going to show you how to create something wearable out of a couple of pieces of fabric. You can make a dress in this way too - just make the garment longer.

So... without further ado! I had to tidy up my son's bedroom, but I didn't want to. Plus I wanted something new to wear to meet friends and so this is what I did...

Right, like I said I based this pattern on an old t-shirt that I love but is starting to get a little out of shape. It's very wide and baggy and just how I like it! I cut round the t-shirt and cut out the shapes from a lovely piece of floral fabric I sourced at my favourite antique shop! 

Then, I sewed the shoulder and side seams, right sides together.

The trickiest thing is the bias binding. You can buy bias binding but I make my own to match the garment and means it is a nicer finish. I finish all my dresses and tops with home made bias binding, and it is actually very easy to make, just a little time consuming. I will try to explain as best I can (with photos) the procedure involved!

Bias basically means on the diagonal. That way the fabric can stretch to shape and is easy to manipulate around bends (neckline and arm holes) You will need to fold the fabric on the diagonal and then cut strips of the fabric about an inch wide. They then need to be sewn together to make a long length. Remember, right sides together when sewing them, and they need to be attached as on the photo. Press and snip edges off. I hope the pictures are understandable!!

Once you have your long length of bias, you need to edge the neckline and armholes. Remembering right sides together, sew the bias all round the edge of the neckline, approximately 1cm from the edge. Please see the pictures as I'm not great at explaining!! 

Once you have sewn all the way round, you need to fold the bias back on itself and sew a line of stitches as close as you can to the edge of the seam you have just sewn. This helps keep the bias in place and gives a neat edge.

Then you have to tuck the surplus of the bias underneath and again, sew all round to form the seam. From the front you will only see one line of stitching, but on the reverse you will see two lines. As you can see, it gives a really neat edge to the neck. Repeat with the armholes too. This is the fiddliest bit, but once you get the hang of it you will be able to do it so much quicker. You may want to practise on a scrap piece of fabric beforehand, just so you understand the procedure better!

After finishing the bias you just need to hem all the way round the bottom of the garment. Fold in a cm, then fold in again and sew all the way round. 

And ta-daa, you're all finished!! I think when I make my next one I will make it a bit longer, but I was limited on this one due to how much fabric I had. 

I hope you have fun experimenting, and as ever, please please send me pictures of what you have made!! I love to see your creations.

Happy making,