Friday Folks: Keeley Harris

'Vintage Arcade This Way' sign

We first met today’s Friday Folks interviewee, Keeley Harris, quite a few years ago now. She was, and still is, the organiser of a vintage fair we attended that was held at the beautiful Victoria Baths in Manchester. Since then our paths cross regularly, both online and in person. We’ve featured her on our blog before, when we’ve talked about the fair and when we reviewed her book – more of that and much more below – read on!

Keeley Harris

Who are you & what do you do?

My name is Keeley Harris and I’ve been head honcho at Discover Vintage since 2009, running various vintage events each and every year. My biggest event is the Festival of Vintage, which happens once a year at York Racecourse. That’s the one I’m planning for at the moment as it’s this month (23rd & 24th April). It takes 6 months of preparation as it offers lots more than just a typical vintage fair. We are two stages filled with entertainment, workshops to organise and a massive classic vehicle display to arrange amongst other things. Visitors come from across the UK; I’m proud that it’s seen as a key event in the Vintage Social calendar.

Festival of Vintage head-in-the-hole board

How did you get into the business?

I’ve always sold vintage, even with my dad as a child (quite a few years ago). When I moved back to Leeds in 2008, I started selling at fairs. I quickly realised that I could use my skills as an event manager (former proper job) to create really fab vintage events! Hence Discover Vintage was launched in 2009. Then, in 2011, I started the Festival of Vintage as I noticed a gap in the market for a large-scale festival in the north of the UK.

Vintage bread and biscuit tins on a stall at the Festival of Vintage, York

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by my customers each and every day, the stall holders and visitors are the ones that give me ‘light bulb’ moments for new ideas. I love chatting to them to find out all about what they want from an event. My inspiration drives me to create new events that are unique and interesting, offering something people don’t always expect. I’d also say that entrepreneurs and the wider business world give me massive inspiration and make me feel that anything is possible. I’m very driven and love working hard to create the best events I can, there’s no better feeling than the end of a fabulous event!

'Style Me Vintage -home' book by Keeley Harris

What has been your greatest success?

Writing a book is my greatest success. I have mild dyslexia, so writing doesn’t come naturally to me and I had to lock myself away from everything for a few months so that I could put every effort into getting it just right. The huge sense of achievement in seeing my book on the bookshelves of many stores gave me a warm glow of excitement. However, I have to say that planning a big festival all by myself is probably a close second!

Vintage stall at the Festival of Vintage in York

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the vintage business?

I would advise not to treat a vintage business as a hobby and give it real commitment if you want to succeed. Value your customers and look after them, they tend to return again and again. Embrace social media in all its forms. Be prepared to spend a percentage of your income on advertising as you can’t expect people to come and find you!

Vintage VW campervan at the Festival of Vintage, York

All images (except book) ©Laura and James Adams, Grandma Eileen’s

Friday Folks: Simon and Erin, Never Ending Voyage

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Simon Fairbairn & Erin McNeany of Never Ending Voyage

The subjects of this Friday Folks instalment are just a bit different to the artists, craftspeople and creative business owners we normally feature. Simon & Erin, founders of Never Ending Voyage, are a couple who are almost 3 years into a lifetime of travel – they are the epitome of the term “free spirits”.

Adelle & Erin met when they worked together for a few years at Community Arts North West in Manchester. We’ve been following the blog she writes (and the gorgeous photos she takes) from the very start – it fills us with pangs of wanderlust of our own!

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Who are you & what do you do?

We are Erin McNeaney and Simon Fairbairn a digital nomad couple who sold everything we owned and left the UK in March 2010 to travel the world forever. Since then we’ve travelled to South America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, working online as we go.

We fund our travels through our travel blog, Never Ending Voyage and through our web design & development business. Recently we’ve moved away from client work and have begun to create our own digital products. Our first iPhone app will be out soon – it’s called Trail Wallet and helps travellers track their travel expenses easily and quickly.

Simon & Erin floating in the Dead Sea

How did you plan for and continue to maintain a life of long term travelling?

We cut our expenses right down and saved enough money to keep us going for the first year while we got the business off the ground. We sold almost everything we owned except for a few personal items like photo albums that we left with Simon’s mum, and what we could fit into a carry-on size backpack each.

We didn’t really get the business started until we’d left the UK. We started our travel blog 10 days before we left and it took about 18 months of regular updating and marketing through social media, guest posts etc before we made a regular income from it through advertising and affiliate commissions.

Simon started out doing web design & development projects for family & friends and got more jobs through word of mouth. We also had a lot of clients find us through our travel blog.

Simon & Erin with their rucksacks on their backs

Who or what inspires you?

We’ve been travelling for two years and eight months now and our travels continue to inspire us. We love learning about different cultures, trying new food and enjoying amazing landscapes.

Simon & Erin outside a monastery in Petra

What has been your greatest success?

Taking command of our own lives and taking the step to sell everything and travel permanently. And that through writing about it on Never Ending Voyage we’ve inspired others to travel too.

Simon & Erin launching a paper lantern in Yee Peng, Thailand

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to do the same?

Cut down your expenses, get out of debt and start saving. Figure out the skills you have that you could do online – writers, designers and developers are the most obvious digital nomad friendly careers but we know people who teach, consult and coach online.

We’d recommend doing what we didn’t do and getting your business up & running before you start travelling. It’s hard to balance work & travel and if you’ve already got some income coming in from your business it’ll make things easier.

Friday Folks: Amanda Shufflebotham aka Graffikheart

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Coffee with a hint of Hornsea - digital print by Amanda Shufflebotham aka GraffikHeart

During a recent daily fix of Pinterest (yes, I’m still addicted!), the poster above by Graffikheart caught my eye. Isn’t it great how easy it is to find out more about a maker on the internet? In the click of a link I found more of her lovely work up for sale on Etsy. It has that colourful, retro, mid century modern vibe that I love – she’s a great Friday Folks guest!

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Who are you & what do you do?
My name is Amanda Shufflebotham aka Graffikheart, I am 42 year old graphic designer/illustrator and mum of two boys. Originally from Oxfordshire now living in Monmouthshire.

Amanda Shufflebotham aka GraffikHeart

How did you get into the business?
I attended Swindon School of Art & Design and from there I went to work for a pharmaceutical communications company as a junior designer. I stayed in the graphic design world for over 20 years, working for agencies in Oxford and Cardiff. I took a break to have my children but remained connected to design via freelance work. I always had illustrative leanings so took the chance to explore that over the last couple of years. I really enjoy what I do and although it’s not far removed from my actual ‘job’ it gives a welcome break from the more corporate work.

'The Animal Alphabet' digital print by Amanda Shufflebotham aka Graffikheart

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by other graphic illustrators like Charley Harper, Sanna Annuka, Rex Ray and Tom Eckersley. I’m also inspired by my late father, a great artist and my close friend, the paper artist Helen Musselwhite who introduced me to Etsy and has been very encouraging. I love the shapes, colours and textures of mid century ceramics so that’s why some of my work is inspired by certain pieces like Hornsea.

"The Mid Century Herb Garden" digital print by Amanda Shufflebotham aka Graffikheart

What has been your greatest success?
I was recently contacted by the people who own the rights to Hornsea to ask if I wanted to produce some official posters. That’s in the pipeline. But for now I am thrilled that I’m getting good feedback on the designs and have recently produced some kitchen items that I hope some of the manufacturers might like?!

"The Mid Century Kitchen" wooden chopping board digital print by Amanda Shufflebotham aka Graffikheart "The Mid Century Kitchen" wooden chopping board digital print by Amanda Shufflebotham aka Graffikheart

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the business?
My advice to others would to be to try and make your work as visible as possible via all the routes that social media offers. I am amazed how many people tell me they have seen my work on Pinterest for example. I have also been commissioned to do some more conventional graphic design work from companies overseas that have found me via Etsy.

Friday Folks: Olivia Pilling

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Olivia Pilling in her studio

This Friday, we’re really pleased to be featuring local artist, Olivia Pilling. We first saw her gorgeous, colourful paintings in Todmorden Fine Art. Owner, Dave Gunning was excitedly enthusing about this new and extremely talented young artist that he had just started representing. About a year later, we went for dinner at the Todmorden Vintner and saw two large paintings on their walls… unmistakeably Olivia’s work. When we said to the owners how lovely they were and if they were in fact done by Olivia, they said yes, she’s their niece! Since then we’ve been to the restaurant to attend an exhibition opening of her work – and she’s invited us to another one happening next week – we’re really looking forward to it!

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painting of a viaduct by Olivia Pilling

Who are you & what do you do?
My name is Olivia Pilling. I’m am artist, more specifically a painter. I work in acrylics. I’m 26 years old, and have recently moved to Manchester from Todmorden.

painting of canal barges by Olivia Pilling

How did you get into the business?
It was by accident to some extent. I was doing my Fine Art degree at the time in Nottingham but over the long summer holidays I’d have small exhibitions at the Todmorden Vintner restaurant back home. I needed to get two paintings framed, so went down into Todmorden Fine Art gallery to get them framed. The paintings were just placed on the floor (apparently lent against the wall of the gallery to one side) when one customer came in and took a shine to them and offered £250 for them, then another customer came in and offered £500, then another came in and offered £750! As a skint 19-year-old student, I was ecstatic when I heard! Since then, I’ve been selling my work through the gallery mentioned and have gone on to sell with four others in the North West and the Midlands.

painting of houses by Olivia Pilling

Who or what inspires you?
I don’t have to go far before I feel totally inspired to paint. I love to walk, and try to do everyday. When I lived in Todmorden on the hilltops, I’d walk to the end of the hill and be surrounded by rugged moorland, patchwork fields, steep cliffs and be able to look down to Todmorden in the valley to my left and Cornholme on my right. Cornholme especially is a feast for my eye, the train-line runs straight through it squeezing through the valley walls. Dotted around are rows of terraces, mills chimneys and zig zagged shaped factories. It’s like a little toy town, it looks very sweet and quaint. The shapes, angles of the architecture really appeal, it allows me to create wonderfully simple fresh planes of colour with one brushstroke but still with a decorative element. I’m unashamedly a sucker for aesthetics and colour. I try to squeeze as much colour as I can into my paintings, and in parts, sections of my work will look abstract as I put brushstrokes of rich colour anywhere I can.

painting of cows in a field by Olivia Pilling

Travelling inspires me, especially exotic colourful places. I was lucky enough to go to India last year, and visited Jaipur known as the pink city and Jodhpur know as the blue city, I was in heaven with the colours and decorative jewellery and clothing, and architecture. I’m planning a trip to Jordan next year. It appears to be an absolutely fascinating place. David Bomberg’s paintings of Jerusalem and Petra are a real inspiration to me, he handles paint amazingly and creates such beautiful paintings.

I love the work of the Fauvist painters, specifically Jawlensky, Vlaminck and Kandinsky. Russian folk art is also an influence – the heavy use of black in the motifs and drawings, help to make the colour pop and this is something I try to do with my own work. I like to play around with light sources in my work. Having light coming from different directions can give a sense of isolation, and confusion, Russian folk art does this very well. It makes the image look quite enchanting and mysterious.

painting of canal barges by Olivia Pilling

What has been your greatest success?
I think simply my greatest success is just being able to do what I do for a living. Sounds cheesy I know, but I forget how lucky I am to to able to do something that I love on a daily basis. I came straight out of university and more or less started to sell work immediately. To have someone like your work is great, to have someone love your work is fab, but to have someone actually want to spend their hard earned cash on my work, that’s unbelievable – the feeling never gets old.

painting of a train on a viaduct by Olivia Pilling

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the business?
I’m not quite sure I have some advice about how to actually get into the business, as the circumstances about how I got involved were quite accidental. The obvious thing to say would be to approach galleries and see if they are interested in your work.
I would say though that if painting is a real passion then you just have to stick at it, and be clear that it is what you really want to do. Sometimes you’re up, sometime you’re down, and sometimes you’ll get knock backs, that’s just the way it is but if you’re passionate about it, then the rest will hopefully fall in to place!

Friday Folks – Kiera Buckley-Jones

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three vintage Welsh wool blankets hanging from the wooden handrail of a humpback bridge

If we hadn’t started H is for Home, I (Adelle) would have loved to be an interiors stylist on a glossy homes magazine. This week’s Friday Folks interviewee, Kiera Buckley-Jones, is actually living (and working) that dream! We’ve known Kiera since the really early days of H is for Home and she regularly features our wares in her photo shoots. We were glad of this opportunity to find out a bit more about her working life.

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Who are you & what do you do?
I’m Kiera Buckley-Jones and I’m the in-house stylist at Homes & Antiques magazine. This involves organising photo shoots, producing shopping pages and coming up with ideas of how to show antique and vintage collectables at their best.

portrait of Kiera Buckley-Jones

How did you get into the business?
I started by doing work experience at various homes magazines in London, which was a great opportunity to get some hands-on shoot experience. Through these placements I met a number of stylists who I then assisted over the years, learning on the job. When the opportunity came up at Homes & Antiques, it really was a dream position as I’ve always loved going to jumble sales, collecting and history; and now I get to combine all these interests in each feature/project I work on.

Homes and Antiques magazine logo

Who or what inspires you?

Old magazines and films are great reference tools. I’m also inspired by collectors (and I meet a lot of these), people who are passionate, knowledgeable and have dedicated their lives to their subject.

Selection of Mdina glass from a page in the March 2012 Homes and Antiques magazine
selection of Mdina Glass from the current (March 2012) issue of the Homes & Antiques magazine

What has been your greatest success?
It was tremendous fun working on the Hemingways’ Museum of 51 last summer at the Southbank. I was given the task of creating a Homes & Antiques 1950s living room to reflect the design of the period. I begun my research by looking at old footage of the Festival of Britain site at the Southbank and reading home improvement magazines of the early fifties. The room needed to reflect the optimism of the period, the colour and the sense of the ‘new’.

room set styled by Kiera Buckley-Jones from the at the "Museum of 51" exhibition curated by the Hemingways at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the business?
Get as much experience as you can, as you never know when it will come in handy. Not only will this help you develop your skills, you’ll also meet lots of contacts along the way.

three antique Welsh country chairs under a vintage wall map

Friday Folks – Pilgrim Lee

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Pilgrim Lee's home studio

In this Friday Folks post we introduce Pilgrim Lee (aka Draw! Pilgrim). We’ve admired Pilgrim’s work for a long while – she shares our love of bold, bright colours and design from the 60s & 70s. She’s a very busy lady – blogger, designer, maker, seller, traveller, mother… where does she find the time?!

Pilgrim Lee self portrait

Who are you & what do you do?
I’m Pilgrim Lee, owner of Draw! Pilgrim and I’m a graphic designer and illustrator from Melbourne, Australia.

framed alphabet illustration by Pilgrim Lee

How did you get into the business?
While I was in high school I worked for my mum’s graphic design business. Following high school and a couple of years abroad I studied visual communication and shortly after, I started Draw! Pilgrim as a home-based business while I cared for my baby son.

framed letter 'C' by Pilgrim Leeframed letter 'J' by Pilgrim Lee
framed letter 'Z' by Pilgrim Leeframed letter 'M' by Pilgrim Lee

Who or what inspires you?
All kinds of things inspire me, but most of those things are colorful, wild design from the 60s and 70s: Verner Panton, Hans Edelman, Milton Glaser etc.

framed 'Nature Patchwork' illustration by Pilgrim Lee

What has been your greatest success?
I’m very proud of how my business has grown over the last couple of years, and I would never have believed some of the great publicity I’ve received in that time: inclusion in the Print & Pattern 2 book, magazine and newspaper features, and coverage on some really huge blogs!

framed "Web Ahoy" illustration by Pilgrim Lee

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the business?
Be well prepared. Consider your various strategies and policies. Move at a pace you are comfortable with – even if it’s slower than you think it should be. Being comfortable to take each next step is a guarantee of your work being good quality. Be confident! You can do it!

Friday Folks – Jane Blease

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Jane Blease receiving her award at the British Craft Trade Fair 2011

This week, Friday Folks features Manchester-based designer maker, Jane Blease.

We first encountered Jane in October 2010, when she exhibited at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. Her stand really caught our eye and we highlighted her work in the blog we posted about the event. Six months on, she’s going from strength to strength!

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Who are you & what do you do?
My name is Jane and I set up my business, Jane Blease Design in 2008. I design & make lighting and homewares which I sell from my shop, my online site and from numerous galleries and boutiques in the UK.

I strive to use my materials in both efficient and imaginative ways. In my current collection, I intricately embroider wood veneer using a selection of vibrantly coloured threads to create bespoke lampshades, framed artwork, jewellery and accessories. I came up with the unique & unusual technique in 2009, initially woodburning the holes by hand, which created a very rustic effect. For precision, I now laser cut the elaborate patterns, this allows me to create much more intricate designs which I then finish with spirals of threadwork.

I use mainly wood to create my products but I also use recycled plastics and vintage, imitation tortoiseshell. It was produced in the 60s & 70s, specifically for making glasses frames. It is one of the earliest plastics ever made, which I have re-claimed, re-formed, lovingly restored and transformed into beautiful lampshades.

Jane Blease in her shop in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre

How did you get into the business?
After graduating from my 3D Design course at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006, I was one of 8 artists who gained a place on the Design Initiative 2006-08 Setting Up Scheme, which provided a comprehensive business development programme. This allowed me to transform my product ideas into a functioning business. I now have a shop/studio in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre.

lampshade designed & made by Jane Bleaselampshade designed & made by Jane Blease

Who or what inspires you?
Being based in the Northern Quarter, one of the most diverse and up-and coming areas of Manchester, I am surrounded by inspiration on a daily basis. I also love going for walks in the countryside and take inspiration from the natural world. All of my work is organic, either in form, pattern or materials used.

I love seeing what the craft world is up to so I visit exhibitions up and down the country on a regular basis. This also helps me to decide on the right places to show my work. Plus, the internet is an amazing resource these days, there are so many great craft and design blogs.

Jane Blease sign above her stand at the British Craft Tade Fair 2011

I’ve got an exciting adventure coming up this year! I’ve been handpicked by the renowned industrialist and heritage conservationist Abhay Mangaldas to take part in an artists residency in India this summer. For six weeks I’ll will be working alongside the local crafts people of Ahmedabad to develop products for the modern market. I will be combining their more traditional skills with my modern approach to design.

My existing product range should evolve beautifully by taking inspiration from some of the local skills. India’s culture and scenery will inspire me immensely I’m sure.

illuminated wood veneered cube designed & made by Jane Blease

What has been your greatest success?
After two years of hard work, my business is going from strength to strength. In Summer 2010, I was chosen by executives at Manchester Airport to create 22 pieces of framed artwork for the Escape Lounge in Terminal 1. The embroidered artwork covers three, 4-metre walls and is the focal point of the contemporary ‘snug’ area. This was my biggest and most prestigious commission so far.

framed threadwork designed & made by Jane Blease

In April this year, I took part in the British Craft Trade Fair, and was delighted to receive The Bluefin Insurance Award for Excellence. It was my first trade show and I was overwhelmed by the response to my work. There was a definite buzz around my stand with attendees commenting on the uniqueness of my products. I had a fantastic show, I took lots of orders and I have got some great exhibitions lined up as a result, Similar Threads or Edau Tebyg at the stunning Oriel Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno next month, MADE at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park Nov-Feb and a few others later in the year too. I am extremely proud of my achievements and feel like it is the beginning of a great future for my business!

Jane Blease standing beside her stall at the 2011 British Craft Trade Fair

Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the business?
Make the most of all the opportunities that come your way! It takes a few years for businesses to establish themselves so you will need patience (and a part-time job), but if you think you have a niche then go for it. Also, in terms of your work, there are no mistakes when it comes to design. I always say that the best ideas come through experimentation, so don’t be afraid to just have a play.

To see more of Jane’s work, please visit