Spring Inspiration From Brighton

Brighton is beautiful at the moment. A heavy fog for most of February seemed to obscure the horizon for days on end, but it eventually cleared away, and from behind the mist, some much needed spring sunshine appeared and made the sea sparkle again.  Spring is here, albeit tentatively.

No matter what the weather, dog walkers and joggers pound up and down the seafront, but it is at this time of year, as the clouds start to clear, even for a day, the crowds decend to warm their faces and stretch their legs over the pebbles.

I went up the British Airways i360 on a beautiful sunny Sunday and saw Brighton from above, reaching for the Downs, the glorious Recency layout of Brunswick and Adelaide and the lonely and majestic West Pier.  It is a wonderful view from up there!

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The West Pier as seen from the British Airways i360

As well as the beach, people are often drawn to Brighton because of the volume of independent shops and eateries which offer unique, diverse and interesting selections which won’t be found anywhere else. In particular The North Laine, between the station and the sea, is home to dozens of small shops and independent traders. For decades it has  been seen as the most vibrant area for quirky clothing, vintage finds, vegetarian and vegan cafes, boutiques and some of the best pubs in the city for people-watching over a delicious craft beer. Spring is a particularly good time to do this!  My favourite is the Dorset Pub, just on the corner of Gardner Street and across from us here in Little Beach Boutique.  It is the best place to sit and watch the world go by and offers excellent home-cooked style food.

When we’re not basking in Spring sunshine or watching buskers from the Dorset, we have been busy coming up with some new glass designs here in Little Beach Boutique, inspired by the season.

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One off glass curve handmade here in our North Laine shop and workshop

Above is a one-off piece of fused glass, made with layers of sheet glass, with strands of copper leaf placed in between, and colourful ‘confetti’ and ‘frit’ placed on top to convey spring shoots peeping through the ground. It has been fired twice – first to fuse the individual peices together, and second, to ‘slump’ it into a mould so that it will be free-standing. It looks beautiful in a sunny window on these fresh spring days.

We have also been producing some new designs for screen-printing onto our hand made coasters and glass tile frames. Following themes of wanderlust, travel and exploration, we have designed a hot air balloon silk-screen which we have layered with pieces of ‘dichroic’ glass.  ‘Dichro’ adds an iridescent quality to glass pieces, and a few small bits added between the layers, before going into the kiln, looks beautiful when fired….

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Hot Air Balloon Fused Glass Tiles handmade here in Little Beach Boutique

We have also been running our popular fused glass workshops and have been putting dates in for the months to come.  The next available date is 14th May – if you would like to learn how to make your own glass pieces and in a fun and creative environment, why not book a space with some friends and have a wonderful day out in Brighton during the May Festival?

We have been adding lots of new pieces to our Spring collections, so do watch this space for more to come!  In the meantime, enjoy the spring sunshine! X

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Meet our Makers in Little Beach Boutique

Here in Little Beach Boutique we love handmade, we delight in being able to showcase new talent and we are proud to be able to offer our customers something different to the high street.

So, we thought we would introduce you to some of our most recent stockists whose unique range of products make an independent shop such as ours a very special shopping experience, and well worth a trip to Brighton.

Mica Peet

We discovered Mica Peet’s work via Instagram and were delighted to find out that she is based just along the coast in Southampton. Mica is a textile designer whose patterns are inspired by colour and nature.  She laser cuts geometric and animal shaped pieces and prints her bold designs onto them to produce her range of individual and striking jewellery, including brooches, earrings and necklaces.  We love her stag design brooch and her hummingbird earrings. Each piece features different parts of Mica’s print, so each item makes a unique handmade gift for someone (but they are very hard to give away!)

Mica Peet patterned Stag Brooch, Little Beach Boutique
Mica Peet patterned Hummingbird Earrings, Little Beach Boutique

A Northern Light

We met illustrator Claire (aka A Northern Light) at a trade show in January and fell in love with her first ever range of lighting.  Her beautiful illustrations are based on the natural world and feature starling murmurations, woodland scenes, and floral patterns.  From her Manchester studio, she has handmade her range of lighting from parchment paper, each featuring her detailed and intricate illustrations.  The range includes tea lights and plug-in lamps.  Our favourites are ‘A New Day’ because it reminds us of the colours of the morning and ‘Murmuration’, because it brings to mind the starlings on Brighton and Hove’s West Pier which roost there at dusk.

A New Day Lamp by A Northern Light, in Little Beach Boutique
Murmuration Lamp by A Northern Light, Little Beach Boutique

‘By Alex’

Finally, we would like to introduce ‘By Alex’ who is our most recent stockist.  We liked her work as soon as we saw her range of quirky stationary and wash bags, because her designs are based on our Great British weather and that is always interesting!  Alex’s textile patterns feature polka dots and umbrellas in crisp, fresh colours and she makes each piece by hand in her Hertfordshire studio.

 We love the fabric on these make up pouches, which are perfect for a weekend away.

Handmade Gifts By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton
Handmade Polka Dot Pouch By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton

 Watch this space for more to come about our latest designers here in Little Beach Boutique, visit our website, or even better, come to see us if you are shopping in Brighton – we are in great company among lots of independent shops and boutiques in the North Laine.

Planning a shopping trip to Brighton? Here’s my Top Ten Independent Gift Shops and Cafes for a memorable visit…

Is it too early to mention Christmas?! Well, even if it is, Brighton is always a fabulous place to go shopping.  It is peppered with a plethora of beautiful, quirky, imaginative, practical and inspiring independent shops, cafés and boutiques, and particularly in the North Laine, we’re spoilt for choice, so I thought I’d offer some inside tips to help you have a fantastic day, starting with a strong coffee of course…

 

1. Cafe Coho, 53 Ship Street

Conveniently located on Ship Street  in the Lanes, this is the perfect place to kick off a day’s shopping. It’s outside seating gets mid morning sunshine and they offer blankets if it’s a chilly one.  I love the stripped-back brick interior, they make amazing coffee and their croissants are delicious. There is also a Cafe Coho near Brighton Station if you’re getting the train.

Cafe coho on Shop Street, Brighton. Photo from lovely brighton.blogspot
Cafe coho on Shop Street, Brighton. Photo from lovely brighton.blogspot

2. Edited, 3 Gardner Street

You’ll probably have been drawn in by their vibrant window display anyway, but Edited is a must-see! They have a varied and eclectic selection of homeware and soft furnishings including colourful candles, throws with vibrant geometric designs, and train ticket cushion covers over three floors of this beautifully merchandised shop. The staff are always friendly and enthusiastic too!

Edited in Brighton, Photo from Flickr
Edited in Brighton, Photo from Flickr

3. Present in the Laine, 34 Gardner Street

One of the North Laine’s newer additions, Present in the Laine has a focus on bright colours and hand-picked gifts. Stylish accessories, baby gifts, homeware and handbags are on offer in this vibrant new shop.

Present in the Laine on Gardner Street.  Photo by www.writeontrend.com
Present in the Laine on Gardner Street. Photo by http://www.writeontrend.com

4. Posh Totty Designs,  31 Sydney Street

A Brighton success story established by Alice Rivers Cripps a decade ago, her original shop in Bond Street Cottages is well worth a visit, but Posh Totty Designs have just opened their flagship store on Sydney Street in the North Laine, where they make and sell their own distinctive brand of beautiful personalised jewellery.  They specialise in stunning keepsakes, hand stamped and made to order with your personal message, favourite quote or child’s names in a range of stylish, contemporary and classic designs.

Posh Totty Designs on Sydney Street, Brighton
Posh Totty Designs on Sydney Street, Brighton

5. Temptation, 56 Gardner Street, Brighton

Need a coffee break?  This is a stylish and cosy cafe (with a license, if you fancy something stronger) with a delectable selection of lunchtime plates, salads, sandwiches and delicious home made cakes if you fancy jumping straight to the sweet stuff.

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6. Little Beach Boutique, 74 North Road

 

Well, I couldn’t recommend a visit to Brighton without a visit to my shop could I, and what better time to visit than straight after a lovely lunch?!  Opened in May 2014, Little Beach Boutique is new to the North Laine and offers a hand-picked range of handmade gifts, many of which are made in Brighton and the UK. I make all the glass pieces in my workshop here and you can pop in to see how it is done, as well as browse a unique range of accessories, keepsakes, homeware, clothing and wall art, including our best-selling “fabulous” felt animal slippers.

Handmade gifts in Little beach Boutique in the North Laine
Little Beach Boutique, beautiful handmade gifts in the North Laine Brighton

7. Utility, 28a North Road

 

Just across the road from Little Beach Boutique is Utility, stocking a fantastic range of “no-nonsense” household goods made by independent manufacturers, including tableware, glassware, stationary and storage ideas. Always playing excellent music, this is a must for your trip to Brighton.

Utility, North Road Brighton.  Photo from www.utilitygreatbritain.co.uk
Utility, North Road Brighton. Photo from http://www.utilitygreatbritain.co.uk

8. Snoopers Paradise, 7 Kensington Gardens

 

No shopping trip to Brighton is complete without a good rummage around Snoopers Paradise.  Purveyors of all things vintage, as well as an art space, workshop and boutique market, it is a haven for a curious shopper!

Vintage clothing in  Snoopers Paradise, Brighton
Vintage clothing in Snoopers Paradise, Brighton

9. Pretty Eccentric, 10 Bond Street

 

Incredibly glamorous vintage inspired dresses and accessories designed by owner Michelle Scott, your Christmas party outfit is sorted for the year! Influenced by the styles of the 1920s to 1950s, they have a stunning range of dresses and separates, as well as jewellery to add sparkle and fascinators to make a statement.

Pretty Eccentric, Bond Street, Brighton
Pretty Eccentric, Bond Street, Brighton

10. 64 Degrees, 53 Meeting House Lane

 

Round the day off with some amazing food! My favourite place to eat in Brighton, tucked away in the South Lanes, it feels like you have been let into a secret at sixty four degrees. Compact in size, with a focus on incredible food, impeccable service and the theatre of the dining experience, you can choose to sit at the bar and watch the magic unfurl. It’s not to be missed!

Sixty four degrees,  Meeting House Lane
Sixty four degrees, Meeting House Lane

So, there it is, my top ten pick of Brighton’s independent shops and cafés.  I hope you have enough time to get around them all.  If not, come back another time! Check them out online before your visit: http://www.littlebeachboutique.com http://www.cafecoho.co.uk http://www.edited.co.uk http://www.poshtottdesigns.com http://www.utilitygreatbritain.co.uk http://www.64degrees.co.uk http://www.brightontemptation.com http://www.snoopersattic.co.uk http://www.prettyeccentric.co.uk http://www.presentinthelaine,com Bye for now Suzanne x