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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // Joanna Riding | Mini Maison

Meet Joanna Riding, founder of Mini Maison, a brilliant online store offering modern, but playful, nursery and kids’ decor to style-conscious customers who wish to look beyond the high street – AND Mama of TWO!

Jo talks to us about how she juggles being a Mum Boss, the Mini Maison concept and THOSE Blue Blahnik’s!

CB: Please introduce yourself and your concept.
JR: I’m Jo and I’m wife to Steve and Mum to Joshua and Sammy (4 and 2). Mini Maison, my company, sells modern décor for nurseries and children’s bedrooms.

CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your online alias/brand name?
JR: Mini Maison came about through good old fashioned brain storming over the course of a few weeks. It wasn’t the first name that came to me but I knew that I’d change my mind a few times before settling on THE one… I was right – I went through Little House, Lilliput Décor and a few others before settling on Mini Maison!

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept?
JR: I started Mini Maison after I struggled to find modern décor for the nurseries I designed for my boys. I researched for a while (probably for too long, because I was so nervous to actually take the leap) and our virtual doors opened in 2015. The business is currently going through a period of change as we grow to incorporate ALL children’s décor and not just babies, because I realised that as my boys grew out of their baby years, I was STILL struggling to find the cool products I was looking for on the high street.

CB: What is your brand ethos?
JR: Mini Maison is the friendly place to shop if you’re looking for playful, modern design for your kids’ spaces; bedrooms, nurseries and playrooms. I’ll always do my best for my customers and try to make Mini Maison a place to go for good, accessible design.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
JR: My kids inspire me daily to be a better person. Sometimes this errs into mum guilt (see above) but I started Mini Maison so that I can be work and fulfil my ambitions AND be around to pick them up from school.

CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up?
JR: We’ve got a few new brands joining the Mini Maison family in the next few weeks… I can’t say too much but it includes these two absolute beauties (below).

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice?
JR: People will ALWAYS have an opinion, if you’ve asked for it or not. Go with your gut – Mama usually knows best. And… nap when the baby naps. This is a crucial one for me. Even if it’s not every day, you’ve got to make the most of a napping baby because the napping phase DOESN’T LAST! I know some people struggle with this but if you choose to tidy your house instead of sleeping when you’re knackered then I might think you’ve lost the plot a bit (I LOVE sleep – it’s my special skill, being able to sleep anywhere, anytime!)

CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia?
JR: When they were babies I had SO MANY must haves (that I then had to wean my children off of!): Ewan the Dreamsheep, Sleepyhead, dummies, swaddling suits (basically swaddles with zips on that meant we didn’t have to faff around with getting the tightness right – although they do look like straight jackets!). Now they’re older, we’re finding that they’re all about the night lights – sometimes more than one (good job Mummy has a never ending supply!). And an iPad – I think that one goes without saying, right!?

CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mama-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without?
JR: Concealer – to cover breakouts and also the massive bags that are usually hanging around under my eyes!

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
JR: Time I spend working and not ‘being’ with my kids. Running your own businesses does sometimes spill over into ‘family time’ and I think this is inevitable. But I do feel bad that I’m sometimes replying to emails or dealing with last-minute problems when I’m meant to be paying attention to the boys. This means that I do put the TV on more often than I probably should, and I feel REALLY guilty about this.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
JR: I actually rarely feel like I zone-out or turn off. I’m almost constantly thinking about work – whether it’s new product ideas, new marketing techniques, listening to a podcast, let alone the actual work-work that goes into running a business. I’m desperately trying to tune out the voices in my head which are constantly chattering about the business. My husband and I try to have one evening a week where I’m not on my phone or laptop, and we just make a nice dinner and have a few drinks together. Also, seeing my bestest friends just helps me feel more centered (if a little hungover).

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
JR: Where do I start?! Iove Zara for clothes – I’m like a kid in a sweetshop and it’s great also for kids clothes too. I do try to buy from some smaller brands too, including Scamp and Dude and Fred & Noah for the boys. My friend Lucy runs Born at Dawn and she has curated a range of beautiful, timeless clothes that I want ALL of!

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
JR: I still have my wedding shoes, which are THE blue Manolo Blahnik shoes from Sex And The City. I try to wear them to events as often as I can (which is not very!) but to be honest I just like getting them out of the box and looking at them as they are just SO beautiful. In terms of things I actually wear regularly, you’ll almost always find me in a pair of skinny jeans. They’re my go-to-staple (even if they are on their way out of fashion).

MANOLO BLAHNIK // Blue Satin Pumps – £745.00

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
JR: Chocolate (it was Easter), fun and family.

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
JR: I have a really thin skin and worry A LOT about what people think about me. People are always surprised to hear this because they think I’m really confident but on the inside I’m usually bricking it and worrying about how I come across. NB. This can lead me to talk a lot, often about a load of old shit!

CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
JR: My husband is always doing kind things for me and is incredibly thoughtful and I feel blessed that I’ve surrounded myself with the most incredible friends and family… their kindness regularly sees me through the week. One particular occasion springs to mind, after I’d had my second baby (by c-section) and couldn’t drive or walk very far, my friend Catherine would come to my house and help bundle me and my boys into the car and take us out for the morning somewhere, so that I didn’t actually go insane stuck in the house.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
JR: Bad Moms – this was the last time I went to the cinema (I know… too long ago!) but oh my god, it is SO funny. It’s so good to spend your evening properly laughing out loud watching a film with a friend. Also, Amy Schumer’s autobiography is a brilliant read.

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
JR: Our garden – and it’s just reminding me of all the work I want to get done on it before the summer officially arrives

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
JR: On a beach, with an endless supply of food and drink, with some shade available (I think this officially makes you a Mum when you can’t spend too long in the sun anymore!), and some books and magazines.

Loved chatting with you Jo – looking forward to seeing howMini Maison continues to progress, expand and inspire!

C

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Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for upcoming product launches by signing up to the Mini Maison newsletter and by following Mini Maison on Instagram: @MiniMaisonUK

#NeverConciseChats #ClaireChatsToMiniMaison

THE STORY

Welcome to Mini Maison, a shop offering modern and playful nursery and kids’ decor to style-concious consumers, wanting to look beyond the high street. Our carefully selected and curated products look equally good in a bedroom as they would in the rest of the home.

Started by an interiors-loving mum who gets inspiration from blogs and social media, she found it almost impossible to get her hands on the products that she was seeing online, in the UK, resulting in high shipping costs and problems with boring things like customs and import tax. And so Mini Maison was born. A simple idea; to bring you contemporary accessories for your little one’s bedroom, all the while offering unparalleled customer service and individual style.

Enjoy browsing and please do not hesitate to contact us should you need any assistance or have any queries. Oh, and please stop by regularly as we will be adding new products all the time.

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Brand in Focus | Nor-Folk.

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I have a natural affinity for Norfolk, with my long, long, long, long, long (etc) lost ancestor’s naming their own land in Norfolk with our very own family surname – Briston. But it was Nor-Folk, the brand, who I fell in love with on Instagram last year (@Nor_Folk). Not only is this a brand that is founded by a Husband-and-Wife design team, but its an effortlessly cool brand to boot. Fiona and Bobby, along with their super-stylish (and super-cute) son Stanley, live in the most incredible of homes;and together they are The Nor-Folk. They’re a design-led lifestyle brand, who design and print their own clothing range, collaborate on Homeware & Gifts and feature local Norfolk contributors on the Journal.

As someone who has a very definite WORK HARD attitude, in all things in life, I thought that the  ‘Work Hard’  Adult Tee was a proper piece of me. Of course, I found the #Twinning combination of ‘Play Hard’ Kids’ Tee completely irresistible and ordered both as soon as we were finally moved in Berlin. (Play Hard, a perfect slogan for my little one who cannot wait for play time!).

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Eli was given the ‘Hello’ Tee as a gift from our lovely friends at Christmas (lucky boy!). Sadly, it wasn’t quite the right size. So I got in touch with Fiona (who I didn’t expect to be working over the festive period) and she replied at lightening speed. As the tee was purchased in the UK, but we’re now in Berlin, it made sense to send the new size of this wicked tee directly to me. After just a few emails all was arranged and a few days later the replacement tee was on my desk in Prenzlauer Berg. A really small team, but a team that fundamentally strives for customer care.

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Both of these Tee’s are available in Black or White options, for the ultimate in minimal monochrome styling. I love that all the designs are unisex too. With my Mama-head on, I might also add that these cotton tee’s wash exceptionally well and are just so wonderfully soft. The three styles we own are all made in the U.K. and are finished with the hand printing in Norfolk itself. Which is just ace of base.

There’s something a little bit special about buying products from a family-run business; whether that be a Husband-and-Wife team or a Mum/Dad-preneur. You’re not funding a corporate machine – you’re supporting real people. A real family. And that feels really good.

Wishing Fiona, Bobby and the Nor-Folk team lots of luck and adventures for the exciting year a head. We look forward to seeing the brand grow from strength to strength!

Check out more from Nor-Folk here.

MM.

 

ABOUT NOR-FOLK:

We are the Nor-Folk

Nor-Folk is a graphic design-led lifestyle brand founded by husband-and-wife graphic designers who reside in Norfolk, UK.

“Together, we design and curate apparel and products for the whole family with a timeless minimalist design aesthetic.

“We create and sell products we love and want in our own lives. We passionately adhere to the sentiment ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ in our product creation.

“Our family and adventures are our canvas and muse – we invite you to share in our journey and that of our contributors via our Journal.

“Together, we are the Nor-Folk.”

*NB: This is in no way a sponsored post. I just wanted to big up a brand whom I think is frikkin amazing*.

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Halloween costume inspiration, for kids!

We LOVE Halloween. But, we’d already decided before Mr Eli arrived that he was ALWAYS going to be a skeleton, with Converse on, at Halloween. Well, until he’s old enough to say “NO MORE NOW, PLEASE!”, of course.

But I can’t help but adore these following costumes I’ve found on Pinterest. Most of them would work at any time of the year too, not just Old Hallows Eve. ENJOY!

(Below is a small selection of the costumes I’ve pinned, to view the whole lot, click here >>> Halloween Inspiration)

UP!
UP, image taken from Pinterest.

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E.T, image taken from Pinterest.

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Fox costume, image taken from Pinterest.

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Lady Liberty and Honest Abe, image taken from Pinterest.

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Spray painted toy soldier (not sure how the poor bairn walks!), image taken from Pinterest.

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Cardboard box dinosaur, image taken from Pinterest.

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Don Draper (not sure how appropriate this is!), image taken from Pinterest.

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Jesse and Walt (REALLY not sure how appropriate this is, either!), image taken from Pinterest.

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Zombie kid! Image taken from Pinterest.

MM.

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“Harmony of Spring” by Vernon Ward.

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For those who don’t know, I have a penchant for old interiors – especially from the 70s. I had been particularly fond of a certain 70s print (originally a 1958 painting) by Vernon Ward, entitled “Harmony of Spring”, since we first set eyes upon it back in 2006. I’d searched and searched vintage shops, car boot sales and antique fairs for years and years and not ever come across it. I’d been recently trying to get hold of “The Chinese Lady” by Vladimir Tretchikoff on eBay and low-and-behold “The Harmony of Spring” came up along my search. Why had I never looked on eBay for it before?!

As it happens, it’s quite a popular print. A new listing of the print was coming up every few weeks, but they were either going for far too much money, it would be local collection only or I would miss the listing! I almost gave up. I then found one that was ending within a few days, no bids, it was local pick-up in Leeds. I sent a message to the seller and see if they would be happy for a courier to take the item – obviously at my cost. This is where I praise MyHermes like no other delivery company! I LOVE them! They’re a fantastic courier, dramatically cheaper than Royal Mail/Parcel Force and are so convenient! You can drop your parcel off at a designated MyHermes drop/collect point or the courier can come directly to you and collect the parcel from you. I use them frequently for sending bulky or heavy items. Amazing.

Anyway, I digress. The chap who was selling the print was so so lovely and agreed to help get the print to me, with MyHermes, should I win. The auction was ending REALLY early on a Saturday morning, of course I was up with Eli. I could not believe my luck when I won! And for a ridiculously low price too. It’s stunning in real life, quite a large framed print; originally framed at Boots!

I’m in love with this print. Hope you like it too, here are some more photos. I WILL share more shots of our house when we’re more settled – still in a bit of upheaval post-move at the end of July!

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Are there any decades or interior styles that you’re in love with?

MM.

PS – Swans mate for life.

 

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Up to 50% off at Cath Kidston!

I was just having a wee online shop around and noticed that there is a wonderful (up to) 50% off at CathKidston.co.uk!

As their Sale creative says, this means that the Sale is now “Cheap as chips” 😉

Shop the Sale online now>> CathKidston.co.uk

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Cath Kidston: 15% all styles, one day only!

Cath Kidston (UK)

I know a lot of you are huge fans of Cath Kidston, just a really quick one to update you all on the exclusive promotion that the brand are running! Until 31st March at 8am, receive 15% off all styles at CathKidston.co.ukicon with the below promotion code!

Offer: 15% Off all items
Enter promotional code: EGGS
Valid from: Thursday 29th March, 6pm GMT.
Expires: Saturday 31st March, 8am GMT.

Click here to take advantage and shop now at CathKidston.co.uk>>

Don’t forget to enter that promotional code at the online checkout!

Let me know what you purchase!

I’m off to the dentist now – so will be making my purchases upon my return.

MM.

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Today I’m making…

…Curtains! These are for our nursery.

What do you think of the IKEA bunting print that we’ve chosen?

 

MM.

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And so the journey really begins…

We did another TWO pregnancy tests, just to be sure. And sure enough, all three tests came back positive. We’re so delighted I can’t even tell you. Albeit, I do feel very surreal and not very pregnant? I’m sure I’ll absolutely eat those words later into the pregnancy however!

So without further ado, I wanted to get all of the dates in place!

According to my charts, my LMP was indeed the ‘strange’ one beginning on 20th October. So as per my LMP, I calculate the below notable dates. We were intimate on 1st November, 3rd November, 4th November and 6th November; then my DP went on a business trip with work. So the Conception date of 3rd November rings about right!

Ovulation date: 2nd November 2011.
Conception date: 3rd November 2011.
Implantation date: 11th November 2011.
Due date: 26th July 2011.

So this all makes me around 4 weeks and 6 days pregnant. All in all, we were TTC for around 2-3 months… I know it felt like forever, but we’re really very lucky.

Next thing to think about is organising a trip to the doctors to register my pregnancy and of course, telling our parents the amazing news! Which might actually happen sooner than we thought it might… we have a trip to the motherland planned, TOMORROW!

MM.

 

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WE DID IT! BFP!

Did another pregnancy test this morning – this time with Superdrug’s ‘First Response’ test, and got what I would call a faint, but very positive line.  Because you can’t be a little bit pregnant, right?! We’re both ABSOLUTELY ecstatic! And can’t quite believe it to be honest. But it just shows you, my body wasn’t playing tricks on me after all! Couldn’t help but take a picture 🙂

Will be back with some more updates shortly!

MM.

 

[EDIT] Just wanted to add that prior to my positive result I had woken up with a stuffy nose and had a BBT of 36.76c.