10 Welsh Makers and Brands to Watch

With St David’s Day literally just around the corner, I thought I’d give a lil’ shout out to some local brands, creators and amazing entrepreneurial babes.  There’s so much creative talent here in Wales that we’re almost spoilt for choice!  So, if you’re on the hunt for a present for someone, or fancy treating yourself to a little somethin’ somethin’, you can’t go wrong with these fab local brands. 🙂

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Cymraes Badge from Dyfal Donc, Jumper from Oliver Bonas.

1. Dyfal Donc

I get a little misty-eyed seeing all the traditional welsh dress costumes in the kids section this time of year because it reminds me of wearing one myself as a kid.  So, instead of pinning an oh so traditional daffodil on my jumper this St David’s Day, I’ll be wearing my new ‘Cymraes’ (Welsh Woman) pin from Dyfal Donc to remember my Welsh Hat wearing days as a kid!  If you’re up on your Welsh proverbs you’ll recognise Dyfal Donc from that old phrase “dyfal donc a dyr y garreg” (Steady tapping breaks the stone – hard work always pays off in the end).  I love the saying, and I love almost everything in Dyfal Donc’s colourful online store, selling bilingual stationary, mugs, cards, pins (I’ve got my eye on their pink “Hogan Ddrwg” pin) and children’s clothing. 🙂

2. Liz Mosley

I first came across Liz’s beautiful hand drawn and lettered stationary over on Instagram and had total handwriting envy (yes, that’s a thing!).  From enamel pins and washi-tape to cards, gift wrap and prints she’s got your next birthday covered, and also does branding design and custom orders.  (And she also blogs 🙂 )

3. Welsh Girl Problems

My “Don’tcha” mug is my Monday Morning “let’s do this” mug (and also a sneaky reminder to my English husband that he bagged a good ‘un when he put a ring on this Welsh gal’s finger 😉 ). But there’s more than a cheeky mug or two in the Welsh Girl Problems online shop; the Rugby and Chill and Brenhines (Queen) jumpers are essential Six Nations wear for every Cymraes in the crowd.

4. Gold Freckles

A while back I noticed one of my favourite American Instagrammers wearing a lovely hand-knitted jumper and did the usual tag trawl to find out where it was from and couldn’t believe it when I found out it was handmade in Wales.  Goldfreckles is run by Saskia Thomas, who’s taken her hobby for knitting and opened up a made to order shop selling her gorgeous bell sleeved chunky knits.

5. Miss Patisserie

If you’re a Cardiff local and haven’t dropped by the Miss Patisserie store in High Street Arcade (right opposite another of my Cardiff faves, Barker Tea House), then you need to stop by pronto tonto as the products are just as sweet and as indulgent as the name suggests.  If not, fear not because you can also find their gorgeous Vegan Bath and Body products in Boots.

Miss Patisserie “Rosie” Bath Bomb

6. Maykher

“Be Bold, Brave, Bright and Kind for Womankind.”  I love the story behind Maykher.  Based in Cardiff Bay, ethical fashion brand Maykher sells women’s accessories created by “makers not machines” (from fabrics and materials traditionally created by makers in India, Haiti and Guatemala) and donate 10% of their profits to educating girls in poverty around the world.  ❤

7. Rhian Kate Makes

You all know how much I love my yellow tassel earrings from Rhian Kate Makes; I’ve barely taken them out since I got them.  As well as tassel earrings in every shade, Rhian creates beautiful pendants, necklaces and earrings each with her unique, handmade textured pewter moons.

Yellow Tassel Earrings by Rhian Kate Makes

8. Spectrum

Run by sisters Sophie and Hannah, Spectrum Brushes started up in a garage in Barry and now roll around the makeup bags of the rich and famous!  Their super-soft synthetic makeup brushes are not only vegan and cruelty-free (with handles made from FSC-certified wood), but are also the most colourful brushes you’ll ever own.

9. Sadler Jones

Created by designer Cath Jones and based in Cardiff, Sadler Jones is definitely one to watch if you’re a full-on stationary nerd like me! 😉  I’ve got a few of their cute cards in a drawer in my office for whenever a card-emergency arises!  But, they don’t only sell greeting cards, notebooks and gift wrap, they also sell pins, beautiful makeup bags and children’s clothes too.

10. Delicious Monster Tee

Run by Claire, Delicious Monster Tee sells oh so Instagrammable hand-embroidered T Shirts with slogans like “I’d rather be in Ibiza” and “Sorry, not sorry”, with even the option to create your own!

Who are your favourite Welsh designers and brands? 🙂

What I did: Gin and Juice and Christmas Shopping

I got up early yesterday and got into my little car determined to finish off my Christmas Shopping once and for all.  Four hours later I drove home completely and utterly  broken.  In between the crowds, The Pogues playing over and over again, the fact that I had to walk eight flights of stairs to get back to the car (to find that the eighth floor ticket machine was broken, ugh!) AND the fact that I came home empty handed (except for the GIANT bag of Tim Horton’s goodies that rode shotgun all the way home), I left down but not defeated!

I don’t know what happened this year; I’ve never left the Christmas Shopping this late!


I got a little bit distracted by the massive sale going on in Warehouse and was kind of tempted by this star-print wrap dress that’s a bit of a dupe for the hilarious expensive Realisation Par one.  But then I totally fell in love with this cherry print shirt dress which is definitely going on my January Sales wishlist.


When my feet started to feel like they were going to drop off I stopped in at Barker’s cosy new offering – Gin and Juice – for a mid-shop slurp.  (The gin and cocktail menu looked amazing, but – dammit – I couldn’t indulge because I was driving 😦 )


Walked back through Cardiff Market to scout out some Christmas veg and drool over the Christmas Tree shaped Welsh Cakes at Bakestones (might have to make up a batch myself tomorrow if I’ve got time!).  Then I headed home (after having a small meltdown in the car park) to wrap some presents 🙂



That’s me out!  Have a lovely Christmas everyone – Nadolig Llawen! X

What I Did Last Weekend: Christmas Shopping and Country Walks

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Last weekend started off a little earlier than usual because Sunny’s little sister came to stay with us.  On Friday I took her into Cardiff for some Christmas Shopping, which started off with breakfast at my favourite cosy nook, Barker Tea House.  Tina had a massive bowl dog dish of porridge, and I went for their blueberry and bacon pancake stack. 🙂



Here’s one of the weirdest things I did last weekend; I had my face turned into chocolate!  I mean, I have chocolate on my face all the time, so when Candy Mechanics asked if I wanted to be temporarily immortalised as chocolate lollipop – it was just too weird an opportunity to pass up!  They’ve set up shop outside Debenhams in St David’s until the 23rd of December, and for £7 you can create a chocolate selfie!  A perfect stocking filler, don’t ya think?



You can also create your own Chocolate Christmas Cards to send to your favourite people… or you, know, just to scoff yourself 🙂

I think almost everyone put their decorations up last weekend, us included!  Sunny hates doing it (apparently I’m really fussy about it!  Pfft!), so he very kindly enlisted Tina to help out instead.  We got the tree and all the other bits up in record time; what took longest was convincing Bungle that the tinsel, fir and fairy light invaders weren’t scary.  He barked at the wreath on the door all afternoon and still won’t go near the tree.  What a wimp!


On Sunday, I took a couple of birthday presents out for a spin (The Oliver Bonas Jumper is hands down the cosiest, fluffiest jumper I’ve ever owned) and went out for a wintery walk.


We parked up in the tiny village of Michaelston-Le-Pit and picked up the Salmon Leap Trail, which follows Wrinstone Brook and is apparently full of Salmon in the spring.  It’s amazing how many lovely walks there are out in the Vale; now that Bungle’s able to walk a bit further it’ll fun to go exploring next year 🙂








Have a lovely week everyone! x

Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide

Happy December 1st!  It finally feels like Christmas is on its way, and I LOVE Cardiff at Christmas.  I popped in last week for my first bit of festive shopping and now I’m all excited for Christmas – bring on the Mince Pies, Queen’s Speech and Brussell Sprouts please!  It’s hands down my favourite time of year to potter around town (even if you’ve got to be up at the crack of dawn to have any hope of getting a parking space… pfft!).  The arcades suddenly look like something out of Harry Potter and the smell of bratwurst burning can only ever be a wonderful thing.  I put together a little Christmas Shopping Guide like this full of my favourite places in Cardiff to prowl for gifts last year, but here’s the new and improved edition! 🙂

Homeware & Gifts

Flying Tiger (St Davids Centre)

Perfect for: Quirky homeware, stationary and stocking fillers.  Tiger is one of my favourite places to hit if I’m having people over because they’ve always got the best (and cheapest!) party supplies.  When it comes to banners, cake decorations, candles, napkins and nick nacks Tiger is the place to go, and at the moment they’ve got some great Christmas themed decorations and party bits and bobs.

Illustrate (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Graphic prints, T Shirts and artwork.  Sunny and I absolutely love Illustrate’s geometric animal prints – we’ve got a whole gallery of them!

Scribbler (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Quirky cards and stocking fillers!

Nest (Heol-y-Deri, Rhiwbina)

Perfect for: Beautiful cosy homeware and gifts. 🙂

The Joke Shop (24, High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Fancy Dress Costumes and practical jokes.  My brother and I used to love hitting up the joke shop when we were kids – it’s perfect if you’re planning a fancy dress night out at Christmas, or you’ve got pranks planned around the Christmas dinner table, or for fun stocking fillers.

Home byKirsty (16, Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Scandi-style homeware and stationary.  Awarded best new business in the 2015 Cardiff Life Awards, Home byKirsty showcases statement pieces like lights, cushions, mugs and other accessories for the home.  Definitely worth a look if you’re looking to buy a present for someone who’s just moved house!

Cardiff Outdoor Christmas Market (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Unique handmade gifts, artwork and food.  If there’s someone on your gift list that’s impossible to buy for and you’re tearing your hair out over them then a stroll around the stalls should do the trick.  I took my friend Missy there the other day and she bought a lovely clock made from a melted down bottle of Bombay Sapphire (GiftGlass), and then Sunny and I treated ourselves to a few prints we liked for the house from Illustrate.  You can find a directory of all this year’s stalls here.

Cardiff Indoor (Central) Market (St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Foodie gifts (welshcakes!) and vegetables for Christmas dinner, homeware, sewing and crafty gifts, vinyl records.

Forbidden Planet (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Comic books, cult action figures and collectibles.  If you’ve got a Sheldon Cooper to buy for then you’ll already know about Forbidden Planet and are probably a frequent visitor. 🙂

Oliver Bonas (St David’s 2 – The Hayes)

Perfect for: I recently told my mother that I would happily live in an Oliver Bonas store.  Bright and colourful shop offering quirky homeware and gifts – also fashion and accesories.  I wrote a whole post about it here.

The Pen & Paper (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Pens and Paper!  The best place to go for ink, card, pens, notebooks and diaries.

Kitchens Cookshop (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Everything kitchen, cooking and baking related.  Guaranteed if I get a strange utensil or quirky cooking-related item from my Mum at Christmas time (and I always do!) then this is the shop it’s most likely come from.

Pad Deco (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for:Beautiful and quirky handmade interiors and homeware.

Rules of Play (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Board games, Role Playing Games etc.

Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)

Perfect for: Market full of independent retailers.

*If Online Shopping’s your gig, check out these fab Welsh Makers and Brands with online stores.

Beauty

*Boots can be found in St David’s Centre, while most major brands can be tracked down in Debenhams and John Lewis (St David’s).

Miss Patisserie (7, High Street Arcade) Available Online (and in most Boots stores)

Perfect for: Handmade Cosmetics, Bath Bombs, Candles. Tucked away in one of the Victorian Arcades (just off St John Street) Miss Patisserie is my go-to if I’ve got a pamper session planned – their bath balls are the bomb-diggity (much slower to fizzle out than, y’know, that *other* highstreet handmade cosmetics brand, and they create beautiful tie-dye swirls in the tub).  All their products are handmade, vegan and cruelty free and downright gorgeous.

Neal’s Yard Remedies (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Natural Remedies; I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Mama who isn’t a big fan of their soothing hand lotions.

Jo Malone (St David’s 2 – Hayes side)

Perfect for: Personalised high-end perfume and beauty.

L’Occitane (St David’s 2)

Perfect for: Provencial Beauty products and gift sets.

Kiehl’s (St David’s 2)

Perfect for: Cult skincare products for men and women (I can’t rave more about their Midnight Recovery Oil).

Fashion & Jewellery

*Most of the big stores can be found dotted between Queen Street and The Hayes, with the majority of big names in St David’s 2.  For independents, check The Arcades.

Hobos (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Vintage and secondhand fashion.

Two Seasons (Queens Arcade)

Perfect for: Ski, skate and surf shop selling main brands of clothing and equipment for adults and kids.

Urban Outfitters (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Quirky fashion with a vintage feel, but their homeware and gift section is where you want to be this time of year… 😉

Blue Banana (Queen Street)

Perfect for: Alternative fashion and jewellery (my one stop shop circa 2004 when I had pink hair…).

Blue Honey Vintage (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: One of a kind vintage pieces.

Kiti Cymru (Pontcanna Mews, King’s Road)

Perfect for: Fashion boutique in Pontcanna with carefully curated fashion from brands such as Lily & Lionel, Tatty Devine and Traffic People.

Food & Drink

Wally’s Delicatessen (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Foodie gifts.  Wally’s has its own unique aroma, you’ll smell the spices and cured meat long before you step inside.  It’s definitely the place to go if you’re looking for things to go into a Christmas hamper as well as hot sauces, biscuits, chocolates, cheeses, pannettone and Christmas pudding.

Wally’s Drinks (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Wines, drinks and spirits.  I was strolling through Castle Arcade the other day and stumbled across this new (new to me anyway!) branch of Wally’s.  Perfect if you’re looking to gift some quirky drinks or liquors, or stock up for New Year’s Eve!

Vom Fass (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Specialist Oils and Spirits.

Bean Freaks (St Mary’s Street)

Perfect for: Natural foods, remedies and beauty products.

Simply V (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Vegan groceries, toiletries and clothing.

Madame Fromage (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Cheesy gifts, literally!  Specialty cheeses and hampers.

Pontcanna Market (King’s Road Yard, Pontcanna)

Perfect for: Worth venturing out of the city centre for their Saturday Farmer’s Market (9.30am – 2pm), and on the first three Sundays in December they’re hosting a Christmas Craft Fair (9am – 3pm).

Books & Music

Spillers (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: CDs and Vinyl.  The world’s oldest record shop and a Cardiff institution.  ‘Nuff said.

Cranes (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Gifts for musicians.  Cranes is the Mecca for Cardiff Musicians and the place to go to buy instruments and accessories.

Troutmark Books (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Lovely secondhand book store tucked away in Castle Arcade.

Welsh-themed Gifts

Bodlon (Yr Hen Lyfrgell, The Hayes – and also 12 Park Road, Whitchurch)

Perfect for: Welsh-themed gifts.  Beautiful homeware, welsh language books, prints and stationary by welsh artists, toys and locally produced chocolates and alcohol.  They’ve also got some beautiful tree ornaments and decorations at the moment.

Castle Welsh Crafts (Castle Street – opposite Cardiff Castle)

Perfect for: Welsh themed gifts, love spoons, slate and souvenirs.  Castle Crafts has been around for donkey’s years and it’s no wonder because it’s the best place to go for all things Wales – especially love spoons.

Shop Rugby (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Rugby Shirts and Kit as well as Welsh themed gifts.

Pitstops

Because all that Christmas Shopping is nackering!  It’s nice to have somewhere to go for coffee and a snack!

Barker Tea House (High Street Arcade)

Nata & Co (Castle Arcade)

Gin & Juice (Castle Arcade) – for something stronger… 😉

Crumb’s (Morgan Arcade)

Nine Yards (Duke Street Arcade)

The Plan (Morgan Arcade)

Hard Lines (Cardiff Indoor Market and Castle Emporium)

Llaeth a Siwgr (Yr Hen Llyfrgell)

Uncommon Ground (Morgan Arcade)

Big Moose Coffee (Frederick Street) tucked away between Boots and Primark 😉

The New York Deli (High Street Arcade)

The Grazing Shed Burgers (Morgan Quarter)

If you’ve got any Cardiff Christmas Shopping suggestions then I’d love to hear them – I’m always discovering new favourites! 🙂

 

Oliver Bonas, Cardiff

You know your local high street’s made it to the big leagues shopping-wise when Oliver Bonas comes to town.  I’ve got a little list of shops that I’d quite like to see set up in Cardiff, and when I got an email just over a month ago with the news that Oliver Bonas was opening up on The Hayes just in time for Christmas (…and my birthday *hint hint*), I was very excited to tick it off my list. 🙂

The only way I can describe Oliver Bonas to those of you who are unfamiliar is that it’s a great big colourful gift box.  If you’re looking for Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary, House-Warming, Wedding gifts… then you need Olly on your radar.

Hot Water Bottle – £24

One of the things I love most about Oliver Bonas is how colourful and quirky all their patterns and graphics are – a style that runs right across the store, from scarves and blouses to their collection of of homeware and soft furnishings. They don’t follow the herd when it comes to trends, and very much march to the beat of their very colourful drum. Every piece is made to last and designed to make you smile – which is why they make perfect gifts!




I’ve had my eye on Oliver Bonas’ fashion for a while as they seem to favour the patterned silk shirts I live for.  *Sigh* I need to add this gorgeous “wink wink” Blouse of Dreams to my growing collection of weird and wonderful patterned shirts.  It’s so pretty!


So if anyone’s keep track, here’s my Please Come to Cardiff! Shop list:

  • Oliver Bonas ✓
  • Anthropologie
  • & Other Stories
  • Monki

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂