Latest News – March 2021

Here is our latest round-up of thoughts for the future after lockdown, recent publications and some new and innovative products.

Fresh Start

Many of us have been home-schooling and working from home, and without doubt, the past twelve months have bought enormous challenges; but now in the time before the different stages in the roadmap are reached, there are moments when we can pause, recognise what we have achieved and perhaps consider what we would like to do differently.

Try and think in the broadest context of all aspects of your life, not just your current, or previous job roles. Recognise that there will be changes, both in working patterns and opportunities for self-employment and flexible working.

Everyone will be adapting to these changing circumstances, talk to other people, friends, family, local businesses, try and help, be responsive to opportunities that present themselves.

Importantly take your time, don’t make rash decisions, if you are feeling overwhelmed, seek help and support, these are unprecedented times, but help is available.

Also remember what you enjoyed about your previous role and if the opportunity is still there and you are happy to continue in a similar vein don’t feel pressured to change just for change sake. Many people are longing to return to the colleagues and friends and the working environment that they enjoyed previously.

Going forward, employment for many will be different, but one of the results of the pandemic may be the desire to work for yourself. So many new creative businesses have already been started, and it is never too late to start.

Over the years we have worked with many new start-up businesses, and one of the areas that we have been developing during the last twelve months is building up our collection of resources that we can share through our Creative Brand Studio website.

It is also the place where many of our ideas are first created and the anchor point for all of our businesses.We want Creative Brand Studio to be a place where anyone with an interest in exploring their creative side can come for inspiration, ideas and opportunities for collaboration.

Being naturally creative can be a lonely occupation, we seek to support the dreamers, the storytellers, those who want to collaborate with someone who says, “Yes, you can do it!’ We see every conversation as an opportunity to listen, explore and make creative suggestions.

So whether you are a creative person working for yourself, in a partnership, or in a business, we hope you will find things to interest and encourage you to explore your creativity.

One of our recent features is:

Employment 2021- What Next? 

Any change needs to be carefully considered and phased in such a way that you protect any current revenue, but if you are thinking about a fresh start, there are many ways that you can take tentative steps forward, for example, ask yourself the following questions:

What can I do? Right here, right now?

How can I extend this? Explore creatively the options.

What have I done in the past that I could teach, share, improve and develop?

What new skills have I developed, or could I develop – short term, medium, long term?

Talk to friends and family, what talents and abilities do they recognise in you, that you may not necessarily be aware of?

Look overall at your list and objectively categorise depending on need:

I could do this because it fulfills a short-term need.

I could retrain and do this.

I could do this, but for a short period of time.

I really don’t want to do this.

For each one there may be a trade off e.g. I could do this for 12 months but then I want to do this instead.

Every action will need a level of research, and careful review, it’s important to have a realistic understanding of your talents, you may have developed new skills during lockdown, you may have loved the freedom of not undertaking your regular commute.

We explore this in more detail in the full feature:

But if you are excited about the future and want to make a fresh start:

Where to start?

As a small business starting out, your first creative steps can be so exciting, even with very limited budgets the ownership you feel as you see your logo, the ‘look and feel’ of your website, your products, or your premises, and your first images in social media which announce to the world, ‘This is my business, how can I help you?’ can bring real joy and delight.

We also recognise that when you are first starting out with very limited budgets, there are so many things to consider, but how you source your materials, the packaging you choose for your products, your marketing, the ‘look and feel’ of your website, your use of social media, the way people can contact you, and many more choices all have an impact on your business but getting it right in the beginning will really help to grow your following.

In the current climate, it is also important to be cautious; it is very easy in the first flush of enthusiasm to overspend on premises, advertising, marketing, and other external support before you have really tested out your products, or services in the marketplace.

Always start with baby steps, so much can be achieved with very limited budgets, some of our best-loved companies were created from small beginnings. It’s also possible to start creating something new alongside other roles, so many people have risen to the challenge of juggling many aspects of their lives during lockdown.

If you are starting a new business you will find more help and advice in our feature Creating Your Brand – Ten Ways to be More Memorable

Recently Published

How to Make a Dress – Adventures in the art of style – Jenny Packham

‘From inspiration to sketch, pattern to fabric, the making of a dress has been the structure that has held me, and my passion to dress others is the momentum of my life.’


Jenny Packham is one of Britain’s leading designers and most in-demand couturiers, known for her exquisite dresses made for brides, celebrities and even royalty. In How to Make a Dress, she explores her creative journey in a brilliant meditation on life and style.

Beginning with the search for creative inspiration and taking us into her studio then onto the red carpet and beyond, she asks the questions that have preoccupied us for centuries: What makes the perfect dress? What do our clothes mean to us? And why do we dress the way we do?

Whether she is on the trail of Marilyn Monroe in LA, designing a bespoke piece for the red carpet or sketching for a new collection, Jenny documents her pursuit of the eternal truths of style. Decades in the making, How to Make a Dress is an unforgettable book for anyone who has ever loved a piece of clothing.

Our review 

How to Make a Dress is a very personal account by Jenny Packham as she shares her thoughts and observations on life and style.  We are given insights into her inspiration, her sketches, the selection of fabric, the embellishments and how her exquisite dresses are created; but it is her personal narrative that shares so much more. Honest and at times poignant, this fascinating book and her personal collection of photographs, make this a very special insight into her creative journey.  

Latest products

Here are some innovative and useful products.

The Easel Book and Tablet Stand 

Stylish all-wood design holds any sized tablet or your favourite book. Adjust to your preferred viewing angle. Collapses flat for easy storage.

The Zen Tea Infuser 

Modern glass bottle with infuser and secure bamboo lid, make your tea and drink it too.

The 3-in-1 Copper Pen Tool 

This handsome pen is exactly what you need to get things done. Comes with built-in spirit level, and screwdriver. Writes with black ink.

Available from


Building Hope – Creating Positive Ways to the Future – February 2021

Building Hope – Creating Positive Ways to the Future

Looking After Yourself

We all know the airplane message about looking after yourself first before you can help others, but it is so true in our daily lives. It is very easy to neglect looking after yourself, even the most seemingly resilient people can be guilty of a lack of self-care. Taking time to relax, to be mindful, to daydream, and to nurture yourself has never been more important than it is currently. Here are some suggestions about how you can find ways of moving positively towards a time when we can once again enjoy a little more freedom.

Planning nourishing meals can really help during lockdown, everyone loves comfort food, and some of the simplest recipes can be the most comforting. Local restaurants are also supplying takeaway menus and this can also be a way of supporting local businesses as well as providing a special meal. Speciality teas can also help to energise at the start of the day, or relax at the end of the day.

If you would like to see a selection of delicious recipes and cookbooks visit our Cookery Book reviews , or visit Our Table category in our sister website

One of the side effects of lockdown can be unusual sleep patterns particularly in the colder and darker months, try and keep as normal a pattern of sleep as possible. Having a routine of relaxation before bed can help, but also getting up at the same time in the morning, means that it may be easier to sleep at night. Switching from reading on digital devices to an actual book can also help.

As above, exercise can help with getting to sleep, whether you are exercising at home, or going out for a daily exercise, many people have found having a routine of exercise, helps with their energy levels and sleep patterns. It’s also important for children and young people, and even if you struggle with movement there are many examples of activities, from exercising in a chair to gentle yoga which are safe for people unable to fully exercise.

Music & Dancing
One of the most uplifting and most popular television programmes towards the end of 2020 was BBC One Strictly Come Dancing. Music and dancing can be the most wonderful uplifting and fun activity. It’s so easy to forget about music and yet it has the power to relax, reduce stress levels, uplift and energise. There is also some evidence to show that it can also help people living with dementia. There are many sources of concerts, playlists, or playing your own collection that can bring music into your life, and dancing is a wonderful way of exercising.

Fresh Air
We have been told how important fresh air is, but as well as going outside for exercise, bringing fresh air into our homes is equally important. Opening windows, not only helps with our health, but also reduces condensation, which in turn can lead to the growth of mould and other problems.

Even the most positive people find it difficult to stay positive all the time.

Lockdown has shown us that while everyone’s situation is different, one thing we do have in common is that we all need help from each other. As well as the amazing work being carried out by the NHS and other frontline staff; there are some wonderful examples of the support that volunteers in the local community have offered.

Home schooling has created a unity among all parents and a new-found respect for teachers. As well as support from schools, there are other sources of resources, both locally and nationally for learning materials, and technology.

Many local informal support networks have been created as a result of the restrictions, and there are organisations to help with specific support needs, asking for help is the first step towards lifting a heavy burden.

Also it is taking the time to make that phone call to friends and family, the opportunity to empathise with others in the same situation that can really help.

No one really knows when we may begin to travel freely again, but planning a visit can provide an element of hope. Visit your chosen venue’s website, or contact them and see what arrangements they have in place for future bookings.

There are also many webcams available in different locations, which can bring daily uplifting images.

While we may not be travelling abroad, there are so many beautiful places in this country that we can enjoy once restrictions are lifted. Also think about visiting areas that are away from the more popular tourist destinations. We have miles and miles of coastline and beautiful countryside, often within easy reach, when restrictions are lifted don’t spend all your time in a car, also explore your local areas, local businesses will be so pleased to welcome you.

Tackling annoying tasks
Most of us have a ‘To do’ list of activities that we keep putting off, and there is no satisfaction quite like crossing off items on this list. Using the enforced restrictions of lockdown to tackle some of these tasks will mean that you will have more opportunity to enjoy your freedom when it returns. Also build in a treat at the end of each activity as a reward!

Relaxation and Creating Special Moments
When everything seems bleak, planning special moments is even more important. The lockdown routines can become monotonous, particularly if you are working from home, or home schooling. Having to be online and available for classes, or working means that it may become difficult to separate your home life from your work. Also many parents are having to use their evenings to catch up with their own work.

Often it is the impromptu, unexpected treats that can bring the most joy. Whether you plan an indulgent evening, or weekend for yourself, your partner, or family, try and create times away from the everyday worry and stresses.

Being Creative
This is a more pleasurable part of a ‘To do’ list, learning a new hobby, finishing off a project.

The most important thing to remember about being creative is that it is not about perfection. Enjoying being creative for its own sake does not have to mean creating a masterpiece, there are so many ways to be creative, many crafts can be started with very little investment, e.g. drawing, watercolour painting, air-dried clay, knitting, crochet, embroidery, making friendship bracelets, sewing projects, not to mention being creative with cooking, gardening, or re-designing our home. We share some of the latest creative books later in this feature, but more book reviews and ideas can be found in one of our sister websites:

It is also something that you can enjoy as a family, much of home schooling is about subjects which involve online learning, taking a breather from these activities to do something more creative can be a release for both parents and children.

For activities with younger children it’s easier to get everything you need assembled first. If space is limited, cover the floor with old towels, use old shirts as cover for them. As the weather grows warmer, and if space is available, more messy activities can be taken outside.

It often only takes a few items to encourage their creativity, their natural enthusiasm will often carry them forward. Don’t try to be over-ambitious; many household objects can be recycled, and used to create artwork or containers for seeds, articles of clothing can be turned into new designs. Suddenly everyone in the family can have new roles, becoming designers, gardeners, chefs, keep fit experts, or making movies to share with grandparents, or online.

Being creative as a family, can help everyone to relax a little more and can provide reassurance for young children confused by the changes all around them.

Creating a more conducive work space
During 2020, many of us experienced working from home, and in the initial lockdown, many people just reorganized their space a little, but as the year progressed and as we have started 2021 with another period of lockdown, you may want to look more creatively at how you create a workspace. Importantly, if you can, find ways of making it a separate area, and invest in a chair and desk/table that will support you correctly and ensure that you can work comfortably. We featured some examples in our Home magazines see our Home page.

When it is cold and gloomy try and find sources of natural light, and also remember to get up and move around regularly.

As we have mentioned in previous features there is a great opportunity, whatever your skill level, to start experiencing the joy of gardening.

Escaping to our own open outside space, however small, is good for our health and general well-being. Even if you only have a balcony, or a window box you can experience the fun of creating microgreens, growing flowers, or nurturing a house plant.

You may be reluctant to start if you have never grown anything before, but a love of gardening can start with the simplest of things, and with the most basic of materials, e.g. a bag of potting compost, some seeds and some containers to plant them in.

This is also something that you can share with your children, giving them the opportunity to create their own plots, or miniature gardens.

In the current climate, we are all grateful for any source of distraction from our worries and concerns, and there are many ways of doing this, some of which we have listed above; but in addition, reading a book, watching a box-set, completing a jigsaw, a crossword, playing games as a family, becoming absorbed in an activity, not watching too many news broadcasts, can all help in alleviating stress and anxiety.

Here are a selection of some ways of relaxing and switching off:

Here are two wonderfully uplifting and inspiring books:

Creative Flow – A Year in My Mindful Life by Jocelyn de Kwant

The Happiness & Contentment Workbook – Opening your heart, embracing your natural joy by The Happy Buddha

Both books are published by Leaping Hare Press

Here are some of the latest creative books

Sewing for the Absolute Beginner by Caroline Smith

The Textile Artist: Expressive Stitches by Jan Dowson

Macramé for the Modern Home by Isabella Strambio

All published by Search Press

To see our full reviews visit

Start Your Day with Pukka’s NEW Fresh Start Organic Tea

Pukka Herbs, the UK’s largest organic tea company, has announced the launch of its new caffeine-free herbal tea – Fresh Start – expertly blended by Master Herbsmith and practising herbalist Sebastian Pole, with sustainably sourced organic herbs, delicious zesty organic lemon and warming aromatic fennel seeds to gently awaken your body and mind to a new day and help you feel your brightest self.

This stimulating yet soothing blend helps to strengthen the digestive system to support optimum metabolism and, like all Pukka’s herbal blends, is made with 100% organic and ethically sourced ingredients. Making a cup of Pukka Fresh Start tea each day enables you to create a simple, healthy morning ritual harnessing the natural power of organic plants.

You may also like other teas in their collection, available from many online retailers, health shops and supermarkets across the UK.

The Body Shop®
The Lemon Collection
Feel clean, confident and zesty with the purifying and protecting Lemon range. It’s vegan, made with lemon essential oil and combines steps that have either antibacterial, intense cleansing or protecting care properties

Lemon Protecting Hand & Body Lotion
Enriched with natural lemon essential oil known for its purifying properties, it leaves skin feeling protected and rehydrated after frequent washing.

Lemon Purifying Hand Wash
Enriched with natural lemon essential oil which is known for its purifying properties, it helps wash away bacteria and impurities, leaving hands feeling squeaky clean.

Make it part of your daily ritual when you start and end the day.

Wild Argan Oil Exfoliating Gel Body Scrub 
Give your skin a wake up call when you use our Argan Oil scrub. Complete with argan shell exfoliants to gently slough away dead skin cells, you’ll feel radiant and silky smooth after every use.

All items are available from The Body Shop® website:


Refocus are an amazing way to keep focus even in the most difficult and challenging of times. Their wristbands are available in a selection of stunning colours and designs to suit every preference. Refocus are reversible and on the other side is a message of your choice to help get you through any nervous moments, worries, anxiety attacks, or stressful events. Designed to help you realign, rebalance and refocus the brand holds the perfect message for everyone. They can be stretched to your ideal fit and they are fully washable. Available from

Richard Osman’s House of Games Board Game
Richard Osman’s House of Games Board Game – Based on the hit BBC2 show hosted by Richard Osman, the House of Games board game is the ultimate test of knowledge and skill. Enjoy some of your favourite challenges from the show in the comfort of your home. Team up to tackle some trivia or face off against each other in the iconic Answer Smash. Who will be the House of Games champion in this competitive compendium of games?
Available From John Lewis
Piece Together the Universe
Time travel into deep space with the officially licensed NASA jigsaw. The awe-inspiring puzzles uses amazing and inspiring imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope to help you piece together the ultimate jigsaw. With 3 to collect you can choose from stunning images from yellow, blue or pink. With 1000 pieces it’s a challenge but not as complex as space.

Celebrate the Hubble Telescope with the 1000 piece NASA Jigsaw from available in three colours.