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Brand In Focus | Southwood Stores.

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Southwood Stores is an online concept store by Hayley Southwood, where you will find handpicked, quirky, Scandinavian influenced gifts and homewares. Hayley believes passionately about empowering women and has recently launched her own in-house label GRAY, celebrating strong women.

I first came across Hayley and her online shop back in 2013. (I can’t believe it was 3 years ago?! Time sure does fly with a toddler in tow!) At that time, Hayley was the only UK stockist of Hello Apparel; and I went straight ahead and ordered a HELLO Jumper from her, along with one of our most loved prints that sat in Eli’s bedroom, The Mountain Print by Clare Nicholson. I always loved parcels from Hayley, with the attention to detail of packaging and customer care; with some treats even winging their way over to Berlin!

Watching Hayley, via Instagram, over the past few years has been wonderful. Seeing how her little shop has grown and expanded with wicked new products and new brands, through to the launch of her very own clothing label: GRAY By Southwood Stores.  The ethos of Hayley and her shop is to be brave and follow your dreams. And she’s definitely succeeding there – having now opened her very own Southwood Stores showroom – where you can not only have a cuppa with the lady herself, but from here she also offers Social Media / Branding services with sessions operating on-site.

Details of showroom opening times are as follows:

Monday 10am-2.30pm
Wednesday 10am-2.30pm
Friday 10am-2.30pm
First Saturday of the month 11am-2pm

I could buy everything that Southwood Stores have in stock, but here are some of my current favourites hitting the top of my #MoMWishlist:

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WIRE MESH MEMO-BOARD (BLUE) – £55.00

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VINTAGE SCHOOL CHAIRS – £60.00

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PALM LEAVES – £55.00

Back to GRAY By Southwood Stores. Hayley worked really hard to find the right garments for her label – high quality and responsibly made. The slogan graphic prints are also locally screen-printed by a “woman owned business”. I think it’s fantastic that Hayley has stuck to her local roots here too – there’s nothing better than championing your local business community and spreading the love even further afield.

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The sweatshirts are super soft, wash well and have a really flattering fit. I went for the WARRIOR sweatshirt. Because, well, we’re all WARRIORS. “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about”. This is something that resonated deeply with me – and I do feel like a proper WARRIOR when I’m wearing my sweatshirt. It’s more than just words, isn’t it? It’s about how these things make you FEEL.

On top of alllllll this, Hayley is also hosting a series of Conversational Meet-Up’s, of like-minded Women. The recent one looked brilliant so look forward to the next Event’s being scheduled. You can find the latest details and tickets, here. 

Hayley is a true inspiration and I look forward to seeing how Southwood Stores continues to grow and evolve! (Oh, and I can’t wait to have a cuppa with her in person at the new showroom soon!). Keep doing what you’re doing Hayley, everything about your being is amazing. Just remember to BREATHE (and get the kettle on!).

 

MM.

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

 

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THANK YOU to John Lewis + iCandy.

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Mr Eli was so happy to be back in his iCandy Strawberry!

As I have previously documented, I’m a huge fan of iCandy. No-less because they’re a British brand with eye-catching, yet hardwaring products. It’s also very well documented that as a family, we’re HUGE fans of John Lewis. Again, another British brand with an amazing ethos for quality products and a company that prides itself in looking after its customers; and it’s partners (general staff!).

So, you can imagine my horror when one day I couldn’t remove the safety bar on my iCandy Strawberry pram. Eli was wearing his Ponseti Boots so it made it awkward to get him out. Eli had only been riding in the stroller/seat unit for about 5 weeks. So it was still pretty much brand new. I can’t say that this travel system was on the cheap side either; all in all it did cost nearly £900. BUT as I walk everywhere, the iCandy Strawberry was a definite investment – and I absolutely LOVE it.

As a Social Media wizard, my first point of call was to message the iCandy Facebook page. I left a comment on their wall and got a lovely response soon after. The iCandy Facebook assistant advised I contact John Lewis. So I did just that.

Unfortunately, you can’t call a store directly. You go through to the John Lewis central customer service centre, even if you have a direct number for the store you wish to contact. This however, is not a bother. The customer service advisors are so astute and just want to help you out. So jolly (but not annoyingly jolly!) and helpful they all are. This also means that all discussions are kept under a reference number so everything is kept organised and each advisor you speak to already know everything there is to know about the nature of your call.

I was advised that someone from the Stratford store would contact me with regards to having the seat unit fixed.

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Our iCandy Peach loan, soon after it arrived!

Someone called me from the Nursery department at Stratford about an hour later. After a few discussions it was decided that someone from the Stratford store would personally come to my home, on the train, with an iCandy Peach loan. Then they would take my iCandy Strawberry seat unit back to the store, where it would be sent away to be fixed. I cannot drive and now I’m working from home it makes it difficult to take a whole day off – plus it would mean paying for the cost of trains to and from Stratford, twice. I thought this was just incredible.

After the weekend sure enough, a lovely chap called Calvin from the Nursery department turned up, bang on time, with my iCandy Peach loan.

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Our replacement iCandy Strawberry seat unit came back in just over a week!

A week later, Calvin came back with my new iCandy Strawberry seat unit and collected the iCandy Peach loan.

Absolutely above and beyond. Just simply wonderful service from start to finish. I can’t think iCandy and especially, John Lewis enough. I’ve never ever heard of a retailer doing that for anyone. Retailers just aren’t like that these days. John Lewis have completely set the standard in retail customer service and they should be extremely proud of all who work for them! That kind of service is just off the scale. Unheard of. Exceptional.

THANK YOU JOHN LEWIS AND iCANDY! Just superb.

MM.

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I know, I know…

…it’s been longer than I said. But it just took AGES to hang this washing out.

I am RUBBISH. But I swear, this time it’s different. This time we have ROUTINE! Hurrah. So I PROMISE there will be regular posts, here, from now on.

Also, in other news. I am now Self-Employed – another reason for why I’ve just been so busy. Aside from the mountains of laundry of course. I’m a Freelance Social Media and Digital Communications Specialist. If you need me, I can work part-time, from home, around Mr Eli’s routine.

You can find more about how to employ me, here: LinkedIn.

It’s all been working really well thus far!

RIGHT, better get posting then!

MM.