We love adventures and we love tea parties (especially when there’s shed loads of cake involved!), so I guess we were always going to get on like a flipping house on fire with Jo Payne - the awesome designer/maker behind the brilliant brand 'Adventures & Tea Parties'.
Jo’s stuff first caught my eye on Instagram. Her feed is so full of colour, life and happiness and I really look forward to seeing what she posts in the mornings... to kick start my day with an injection of all things bright and downright wonderful!
When I found out Jo's based in Somerset, my heart did a happy dance… and we met up one sunny afternoon at Lytes Cary Manor, for some tea, cake, mucking about, kicking through leaves and a good old chinwag. So, grab yourself a cuppa, sit back, relax and join us for a few laughs and a chat about all the fab things she makes! :)
Jo's story is really inspiring. This awesome lady's gone from being a Law Librarian who couldn't resist bringing home a sewing machine (I'd NEVER have guessed the Law Librarian bit), to rediscovering her creative mojo - creating unique designs and building up her gorgeous handmade accessories business in every spare moment.
When Jo’s dad passed away a few years ago, she decided life’s too short, packed in her day job, set up her Somerset studio and although she's had some tough times along the way, the rest really is history! She’s now selling her cool and colourful creations through her website shop, on Not on The High Street and on Etsy... all day, every day :)
“ It really wasn’t like me to give up a steady job” Jo tells me with a grin, “but I thought, 'I’ve just got to go for it'! I’m really proud that this is my business and I’m making my own designs every day. It all started with a hanky believe it or not… as that was the very first thing I made and sold. It flew off to a new home in America and although there’s lots more to my ranges now, hankies are still the most popular”.
Well, what we particularly love about Jo and her creations is that they're personal and from the heart - designed so the recipient feels like every day is an adventure (and we all need a bit of that in our lives I reckon :)) or to show someone special how much you care.
As Jo says,
"I totally believe in cherishing those nearest and dearest and so for me, it's awesome to be able to make things that are often personalised tokens of love, with messages that only mean something to you and your special person".
Whether it's her personalised hankies, cufflinks, animal coasters, bright and beautiful jewellery, key rings, pins, purses or ties, looking through Jo's shop on her new website is like excitedly rummaging through a big, colourful selection box of gorgeous treats and finding yourself saying "ooh love that", "ooh how about THIS" every couple of seconds! :) There are so many things we'd love to give as pressies - things that are perfect for a personalised wedding gift, or just a little something to say 'thinking of you'.
The energy Jo has for life completely comes through in every piece she makes and she's never afraid to try out new ideas. That's meant her ranges have grown and grown - and it's one of the things Jo loves the most about making her own accessories:
"Starting out with an idea and then seeing where it takes me is just the best", she says. "When you're trying out something new, you've also got to have a thick skin. What I might love and think will sell really well, sometimes doesn't - and you can't get down about that. You have to move on to the next thing, constantly create and just see what happens - that's the exciting part... although it does make knowing how much fabric or materials to buy a little bit tricky! ;)".
And as one of Jo's newest ranges shows, these accessories aren't just for you and me either! We (I mean Petal and Flower) are VERY excited about the fact that there are ace doggy accessories too! Our hounds NEED some of these personalised bandanas, bow ties and storage pouches in their lives! ;)
The little doggie in the picture is a Mini Dachshund named Maud, and I'm now imagining our hounds in matching bow ties or 'rescue dogs rock' bandanas! :D (or maybe in Flower's case one with a 'Tickle my tummy!' message on it as well ;)).
One of Jo's favourite customer personalisation requests was this...
... definitely a different way to tell your dog they're getting a little brother or sister! ;)
Anyway, as well as all of the joy involved in making Jo's range of accessories, we also chat about some of the challenges too. Yep... there are even a few of those in the land of Adventures & Tea Parties! The main one comes from the time it takes to make bespoke pieces by hand and also, when you're a small business owner, it's just impossible to have every colour combination under the sun, for every one of those lovingly crafted gems:
"I try and offer a rainbow selection of colours" Jo explains, "that way there's usually something for everyone"
... and talking of rainbows, feast your eyes on this beaut!
This lush little pin, designed by Jo, links to a really cool photo challenge that she's run a few times on Instagram.
#Colour my everyday is all about appreciating the colour around you in your daily life and sharing it with other people, to brighten up the days! We're loving the sound of that idea and as Jo explains:
"Earlier this year I was looking for an Instagram challenge, which purely focused on exploring the topic of colour. I'm always considering colour in the things I make and it got me thinking about how we're surrounded by so much of it, but rarely take time to appreciate it - or to really look at our surroundings. A seed of an idea then formed in my head. Why don't I create my own photo challenge!? It wouldn't matter if I was the only one to take part, because at least I could do the challenge I'd dreamed of! Anyway, I kicked it off with the hashtag 'colour my everyday', ran the first challenge in June, gave daily prompts about what to post and to my surprise, people joined in and got excited! :) I made the pin to celebrate and have just run another colour challenge for Autumn. I'd love to make it a seasonal thing".
Well, if accessory making and Instagram challenges aren't enough, Jo is also a Team Leader for Etsy Somerset, she writes an ace blog, sharing and chatting about all things creative and she's also a whizz at flat lay photo styling. She'll hopefully be running a couple of informal workshops on the techniques next year, so watch this space for details. We definitely fancy running one in our garden! :)
Jo's unique products have been featured in House Beautiful, Country Living, Good Housekeeping... and now here with us :) and we've got to say, it's been brilliant meeting her. We started out with a mutual love of bold colour and cool stuff, definitely had some fun at Lytes Cary Manor...
.. and hope we've made a lifelong friend, because this lady is a flipping ray of sunshine - and her bright and beautiful accessories reflect that. We're definitely planning to colour our every day with them! :D
You can browse Jo's latest ranges right here. Her last day for Xmas order posting is December 19th and look out in the New Year! We've got an Adventures & Tea Parties/Somerset cool Instagram competition on the way. We hope you're going to love it :)