Handcrafted in our Somerset Workshop
Link to Sale Page
ALL the beautiful British Bags on our FACTORY SALE PAGE (that include previous season collections, seconds, ex-display & samples) have had their prices slashed until March 4th!! Limited Stock available.
Handcrafted in our Somerset Workshop
Link to Sale Page
Earlier this week I was visiting a trade show - PURE in London, we used to exhibit our collections there, but pulled out several years ago.
However, I do still go, for the following reasons 1) to check that that decision is still correct – 2) to monitor any trends or directions that might be coming thru and 3) most important - to catch up with peers, friends and customers.
It was whilst I was having a coffee with one of the latter, that I learnt some tips about how this particular professional buyer works. Even though she was buying for her (3) shops and customers, I did think that here were some worthwhile tips that could stop all of us from buying the wrong thing.
Phoebe carries a note book and in the back is jotted a quick check list that she refers to when considering a new purchase.
All of us can remember when you have been carried away on the spur of the moment, that fuchsia pink sequinned jumpsuit in a size 22 seemed like a good idea – but sadly in your own mirror surrounded by real life – it wasn’t perhaps your best investment.
As high street consumers, when sanity returns, we have the luxury of marching the unused item back to the store and requesting a refund or at very least a credit note.
But for retail buyers considering a new line, that isn’t an option – most businesses nowadays must pay for new lines on a pro-forma basis, essentially paying up front, before delivery.
When they are are buying from a UK manufacturer like Owen Barry that isn’t too risky, but for product coming from further afield – sometimes payment is expected before the product is even made ! – This is very often the case when the goods are coming from the far east, the seller will insist on 30% deposit up front (to stop you changing your mind) followed by the balance prior to delivery – so as you can see this is a real gamble, the buyers have to be sure about the reliability and honesty of the seller, in terms of quality, service, delivery both on time and to order, so buying the wrong thing from the wrong resource can be a very expensive mistake.
I asked Phoebe about her check list’s – they varied slightly for Accessories, Shoes and Ready to Wear.
Of course, for me the bag notes were the most interesting – perhaps you should consider these points and her remarks, when buying your next handbag??
I think there are some great tip’s there from, believe me, a very knowledgeable buyer, and a very good customer – I find it interesting that despite 20+ years in the fashion industry ( Sorry Fee !!) that if in doubt she still reverts to her checklist to ensure she is making the right decision – trusting your gut is good – but a few key rules help to keep us on track.
Watch this space for next week’s Spring Cleaning Clearance news......
Bags shown Iggy in Brûlée Cowhide & Riggster in Ocean Suede
I apologise in advance for the next four lines.
Did ya miss me ? Yeah !! When I was away ?
Did ya hang my picture on your wall?
Did ya miss me? Yeah !! Every single day ?
I bet ya didn’t miss me at all ?
I know it’s not politically correct to use song lines from the repertoire of a low life scum bag who should rot in hell, but being a 70’s teenager that opening enquiry “Did ya miss me?” has to be followed with the come back and the strategically interspersed “Yeah’s” - SORRY
Anyway, whether you missed me or not, I’m back, following a very jam packed January/Early February meeting customers, hosting events, open days, plus building/breaking down and working trade show exhibition stands.
One of the most interesting parts of trade shows (apart from meeting my peers & customers of course) are seeing the trends that are out and about – below are the first few that pop to mind: -
Hygge - Still very much on trend is hygge (pronounced Hougah, rhymes with nougat, Nougar) – so despite needing a linguistics degree – Hygge is most definitely one of key looks going forward to 2017 – as E L James can testify Grey is definitely not dull !
Even in the tedious, lacklustre halls of the Birmingham NEC, many shades of grey, mixed with taupe and soft muted shades of ivory were in abundance – and they do look stunning - classy, congenial & comforting, fitting well in most lifestyles, whether as a soft furnishings or as a fashion accessory – you must get some Grey in your life (whips and paddles - optional extra).
Cactus – whether it be real or fake, large or small – you are nobody without a cactus in your living room. Just because Herr Donald doesn’t like them (or perhaps because of that) we in the UK love something Mexican, and Cacti are this year’s embodiment of that.
Cactus plants embrace everything that designers love, they are:
Statement Strong Block colours in accessories and accent pieces – Green as referenced above, but also Delta Blue, Campari Red, Acid Pear, all the tropical colours – Owen Barry introduced our new Suave palette for 2017 and this sold extremely well – with Firebird Orange being a runaway success.
The strong head-turning hues are offering an answer to the customer who is ready to make a statement - For numerous reasons women really want to use their voice in 2017 and for those who are fed up with being “safe” – she who has worked hard, hunkered down, worn muted shades, accepted her lot - in 2017 she wants to make a statement and a strong vibrant bag is just another way of embodying the need to be recognised.
Paper and the printed medium – we all know the Kindle and the internet was supposed to kill hardcopy books – but obviously, nobody told the card and book publishers that!! –
Of course, what we are seeing now is the evidence of their fightback – and bloody hell fire, all power to them, they are really giving it a great go.
The most exquisite notebooks, scrap books, project managers, planners, all so tactile made of glorious quality paper - makes you want to sit under the boughs of an old oak tree writing prose or planning your next project – these books are becoming inspirational tools – like personal BFG dream jars in hard form – love them.
Ladybird Grown Up books– what a clever makeover, and I maintain all thanks to Terry Wogan and his ironic Janet and John stories. There are so many great titles – they are the new toilet/coffee table books – my personal favourite “How It Works – The Husband”.
Finally, an honourable mention must go to the Designer packaged seed pellets - winning a highly commended in Gift of the Year Awards 2017 - WHAT!!!
This year, if you are an on-trend gardener, please note that your carrot seeds must come in a screw top brass tin (size of a shoe polish tin) that is adorned with a beautiful parchment hand drawn label and sowing instructions.
Inside the seeds have been individually coated into perfect spheres with a shell of fertiliser to promote growth – “nothing new there” I hear you shout – but wait, this is a shell of fertiliser that is mixed with chilli pepper – ingenious.
I smile at the thought of Brer Rabbit and his slimy gastropod friends hopping around the seedling beds grasping burning bums and running with smoking parts to the cooling rainwater troughs –
I know the politically correct folk would say I am cruel, but as the opening 4 lines proves – PC I’m not.
Did ya miss me ?
Looking back is not something I do very often - primarily because I have a shite memory .
But this time of year is splattered with some of the best and most vivid memories of my working career/life and funnily enough they are all inextricably linked.
The first two weeks of February mean several things to me:-
New York, it is a city that Owen Barry know extremely well. Since 1990 we have visited NY, always Ken, but very often joined by Chas or I. We visit NY, at least 4 times every year, with the first of those trips being in early February, and I can picture it now, as you drive into Manhattan, it seems swathed in Red - strong Bright Red.
Dependent upon your origins - every shop is trying to catch your eye, from Hallmark & Duane Reade, thru to Barneys and Bergdorfs - they are all festooned in red (coincidentally the proven most effective "Buy me" colour) - either Red and gold for Chinese New Year and of course Red and bows for Valentines.
Valentines Day (whilst a great principle) - is a bit lost on me, as my ever suffering friends and family will testify I don't do cards (or gifts) very often. Even for landmark events, any card I give will have been nicked from the shop - with the vague instruction to put it on my tab !
So old St V doesn't get a lot of action in our house, but it has to be said the New Yorkers love a "holiday", a reason to shop , to give gifts & cards, so the celebration of St Valentine and his strange need for cuddly soft toys, heart shaped balloons and boxes of chocs is a priority in that city.
The only time that I could be in the least bit persuaded to actually purchase a card (for any event) would be if it carried an image from the portfolio of Norman Rockwell.
February 3rd is the birthday of my all time favourite artist, (using paint and canvas) Norman Rockwell.
Yes, I know Norman Rockwell isn't British, in fact in someways he is the quintessential American artist. But here's the exciting bit, and I can tell you, I was nearly dancing on the tables, when I learnt this fact:-
Norman Rockwell's family originate from Somerset, England - yes not just the UK but SOMERSET - whoop whoop, how perfect is that? - my all time very favourite artist originates from Somerset -YES - get in there.
When you look into a Rockwell picture, you can easily see his rural origins. It is beautiful to see his observations on love with it's sweet and sour sides.
Rockwell is the master at portraying the funny small town interactions between people. The honest take on life - his search for answers to some of life's most concerning and political questions, that when asked in the big city have so many layers but then in the country side somehow seem frankly, unimportant.
I absolutely adore Rockwell, whom I am embarrassed to admit I only became aware of on reduced calendars at Barnes and Noble back in 1990's!!
Early February in NY sees the prices of calendars slashed to $3 and I buy loads!!
Well as long as they depict one of my preferred themes, lighthouses, outhouses (yes I've had some great calendars featuring rural privies), bridges and most importantly Norman Rockwell. Ken will relay stories of us marching up and down 5th, 6th, 7th Aves and Boardway, in the bitter cold (and snow drifts) stopping at every possible vendor, checking their reduced calendar stock for Norman !!
Additionally, I have books and prints and will fight any man to the death who try's to say Rockwell is not an artist - he is purely an illustrator - rubbish he paints the finest reflection of human emotions that you will ever find - every single one of his pictures will move me to tears if I am left alone to look into them.
So there you have it - if you want to buy me the most perfect valentines gift or card - make sure it is a Rockwell and I will "love you forever big time" as some of the ladies say , on the street in Chinatown!
OB Valentine Gift Ideas
Free Cowhide Heart Bag Charms (£15) on all orders over £50
Click her to view Valentine Gift Guide
Doing things well - UK style.
Good grief, we are spoiled in the UK, sometimes, we think we've got it rough, but we don't realise how fortunate we are.
I think, as a nation we don't always appreciate how important it is to do things well - until you experience or witness some one else's failure.
We all have pet hates about poor service, poor quality, poor value for money and I don't want to write a blog on that (today) ! - cuzz it's depressing, banging on about being let down.
Let down ! - hell fire - I think I have just witnessed one of the biggest let downs of all time and one of the reasons why we should be even more proud of British pageantry and our superb presentation, that is, understandably, the envy of the world.
For me, this week has been even busier than most - presently Chas & I are in Dublin - we have just set up our trade stand for Showcase Ireland which starts tomorrow - fingers crossed for a good one.
So, as we are now back to the hotel room, I have just settled down to catch up on the iPad with some of the things I missed have on TV over the last 10 days.
You are going to think I have lost the plot, but I chose the coverage of US presidential inauguration in preference to Sherlock!! What !!!, I hear you cry, the girls gone BSE.
In fairness, there is a good reason, I have to watch Sherlock with Brett for the sake of our "marriage" - statistics show that one of the main causes of couples dis-satisfaction, is a partner "cheating" by secretly watching a special programme alone, and frankly, I can't afford another divorce.
So yes, I was obliged to choose the "Hair Furher" i.e.Donald, over the perfection that is Messrs Cumberbatch and Freeman.
On My Goodness, I couldn't believe it, despite choosing the BBC coverage, I sat there open mouthed.
I guess, it was amusing to see the deserted streets, especially the huge military personnel presence posted at barriers that were holding back nothing more then fresh air !!
But it was the ramshackle proceedings that astounded me, there was no formality or order, the whole gathering on the stage looked like a group of unruly children bobbing about, talking, giggling, slouching, yawning, picking their noses - this supposedly was the great and good of the most powerful nation on earth and the whole thing was embarrassing and/or actually frightening how undisciplined and rank amateur it was.
From the driving of the official vehicles, can't they hold a straight line and equal distance ? its only a car -
(and certainly not a Colour Troop of marching horses) to the randoms ducking in and out on the podium as the formalities happened!
Our Liz, she wouldn't stand for it, and hopefully none of us would either. There should be outcry in the UK if officers of our military turned their backs on a senior figures and wandered off, whilst they were making their formal acceptance speech (no matter what shite they were spouting).
I suppose its all about respect, if you don't earn any......... you don't get any, but I still think it's about respecting the office and what it should stand for.
Fortunately in the UK we are blessed, we can do formality, celebration & tradition exceptionally well and I think we should be extremely proud and protective of that, it sets us apart and undoubtedly brings us trade and tourism from all over the globe.
However, another programme I found on the iPlayer was "Get yer Tatts out: Kavos style"
Hmmmmm that wasn't quite such an endorsement of Britain(s) at it's best.
An Educated Vegan is a converted Owen Barry customer – fact
During last week, I spent some time on the road travelling as far afield as Scotland, visiting some of my key accounts, one such customer is a delightful lady, Claire, who owns and runs an exclusive accessories and jewellery shop, The Herbary in Troon, Ayrshire.
Claire used to be a senior buyer for a large chain of clothing stores, based out of Glasgow, (so she knows her onions). A while ago, she decided to become her own boss and bought The Herbary and started stocking Owen Barry, who, I am thrilled to say have become a principle line within her formidable range of brands.
So, Claire and I were talking at length about customers – discussing what is important to them in terms of product, customer service and reliability etc. - both she and I are passionate about this subject and the conversation went on late into the evening (10.30pm) – which for retail, talking about customer needs is quite committed (or perhaps we need to be!).
Anyway, Claire told me an interesting story about a regular client –
A vegan, aka Mrs Green – best name I could think of, who had invested in jewellery and other bits from her shop in the past.
Whilst visiting recently, Mrs Green spied a Dudley bag in a particularly glorious skin and fell in love with it. However, because of her vegan principles buying a leather bag was not hardly politically correct, so she declined. But came back, declined again, returned and was tempted a third time, finally on the fourth visit (in the space of 2 weeks) Mrs Green decided to take the plunge.
Here was our conundrum? Why would a lady who had been a proud vegan for many years change her mind and purchase an obviously leather bag?
Of course, we concluded, it will be a combination of factors, bi-product of the food industry, eco- certified, British made, life time guarantee, great style, great service from the shop staff, all of these things will have given her the confidence to invest outside of her comfort zone.
Interestingly, one thing that we know made her even more comfortable with her conscience, actually came after the purchase had been made - it was the dust bag – our complementary dust bags that come with full price OB bags are all made here in Somerset from upcycled/oddment fabrics and stunning – she loved it.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the first vegan we have managed to covert, but, frankly most have been friends or family, who already have some kind of partisan bias towards the company and know our principles well –
But this was thrilling because it had been a very considered purchase - 4 visits / 2 weeks.
Mind you - I could have eaten 14 cow pies in that time – however, I do base all my dietary needs around world renown foodie guru Desperate Dan (young ‘uns look up Dandy comics). So no hardship there but patience is a virtue.
What? oh yes, absolutely, in answer to your question – NO regrets – Mrs Green loves her bag, she wears it proudly even to the greengrocer.
Dudley is a good generous size, 2lbs of King Edwards and a Cauli – no probs – why wouldn’t you?
click to view the Dudley
“Vanity” is not always what it seems and I was reminded of that this week.
It was the 1000th anniversary of King Cnut or Canute – however you want to spell it. – I have always loved him – by gum Canute had a great marketing team behind him.
Yesterday , 1000 years ago, January 6th 1017 King Cnut was crowned King of England, and two years later King of his home land – Denmark.
As a young child, Canute was one of the only characters from history lessons that stuck with me. I was delighted by the story of the “silly King” sat on his throne hands outreached trying to stop the tide from rolling up the beach –like most, I had mistakenly jumped to the conclusion that he was vain enough to think he was so important that he had control over the elements – and ended up sat in the Wash with salt water splashing around his robes and sandy mud on his face.
As an adult, I now understand his true reasons and that it wasn’t vanity at all. In fact, Cnut was a true and wise king, that he was trying to instil into his followers, (who worshipped him devotedly) that he was, in fact, just mortal like the rest of us and didn’t have any such supernatural powers.
Why would his followers think he could control the waves? – well, many historians feel Cnut was the most successful Anglo Saxon king in our history - That, I cannot concur with, as we all know Alfred the Great was head and shoulders above him, but we will wait for Somerset Day (May 11th) to argue that fact.
As the successor to Alfred’s dynasty, many of Cnut’s original battles were fought over the conquest of Wessex - he sailed up the River Frome with a Norse fleet to eventually sack Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset, before heading to London.
I digress - Vanity – back to my topic.
Vanity is something that we very rarely aware of. For example; last week someone criticised my blog saying it was too negative, self-opinionated and not appropriate for the time of year.
WHAT?? – Emma and I looked at one another and wanted to come out of the blocks fighting. How could anyone not understand it’s written by a fat old bird, looking for an excuse not to diet? How could they not see the wit and sarcasm, but also the kindness that was meant, when I said, ignore the bullies, forget diets and worrying what you look like – be beautiful within, that’s all that matters.
And here’s the irony, of course, I was being vain in thinking my opinion was better than the next person, apologies, yes of course you must listen to encouragement and advice on how to improve yourself, and strive towards those goals, ultimately the achievement will make you happier, of course it will.
But I guess what I was trying to do was give you a get out jail card, if you don’t lose the weight, or have to grab a quick snifter on January 15th, don’t beat yourself up – understand that we can’t all have supernatural powers we can only do our best.
And if your best is sitting on the beach with wet toes and sandy fat bum – laugh about it, all you need is a good PR team – look at Kim Kardashian, how could that arse become so popular?
I know, I’m getting into hot water again – I’ll shut up, have a great week.
It frustrates me that the internet, TV, newspapers and magazines are all making the statement Happy New Year and then proceed to tell you how you should make it a "miserable" one - diet, fitness, alcohol free, motivated, you name it, at the moment there is a swath of folk telling you that you aren't good enough and that you should improve.
So called experts want to tell you what you should do, telling you they know best - their life is brilliant, you should try to be like them, fashion bloggers, fitness coaches, dieticians who all PRETEND they have wonderful bodies, minds, lives and think they have the right to tell you, what you should be doing to improve your lot by replicating them. Sod off.
When you think about it, it is obviously just the next marketing drive to exploit the public - the great Christmas extraction has finished - how can we get them to spend now? - ahh yes make them question their own self worth and sell them the "perfect" answer.
Of course, they don't have that answer because nobody knows what each person is looking for - most likely, for the majority of us it is only going to be one of three things :- love, security, a sense of purpose/worth and if you are truly blessed, you will get all three.
Most humans certainly crave for all three, but none of them is achieved solely by losing weight, cutting out alcohol or running two miles a day throughout January!
So if you are going to do one thing this New Year, do me a favour, stop listening to the experts and marketeers (who most likely haven't got lives or bodies either, cuzz they are sat at PC's manipulating us). Please believe me, a great body/face/haircut will not get you a partner or a happy ever after - some of the most stunning people don't have love or self worth and can't understand why.
Take a little time to look inside yourself and decide what you want from your life big time and work towards that - big goals, not quick fix gratification.
Whilst, I grant you, losing two stone will have benefits (getting into those best jeans for one) whilst sculpted abs could make another great Instagram pic, whilst detoxing and zero alcohol might be cleansing - what use if you are going to be the most miserable person on the planet, plus February is going to see you rat-assed , short term is worse and more demoralising than nothing at all.
One of my fathers favourite sayings was:
"Would the gift that God did give us, to see ourselves as others see us"
I think that is a really profound saying because 95% of folk do not judge you by your outward appearance - they judge you by your attitude and demeanour towards them, others and life.
So please only take the first word from Happy New Year and make that your mantra for 2017 - be HAPPY.
Have a good one.
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