Living in a basement flat really limits the plants that are suitable for my flat. It’s dingy, damp and draughty. Pretty much inhabitable for plants. But there is hope, if I can make plant work in my flat so can you!
If you’re like me and live some where dark and dingy, here are my top plants for dark spaces. They’re also easy plants to care for, even if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs. Don’t worry we’ve all killed our fair share of plants.
Native to tropical America, this plant has beautiful heart shaped leaves and is great for low lit rooms. Growing high in the trees this epiphyte is a trailing vine or you can train it to climb. Another plus to owning a Philodendron is that it’s so easy to care for. Keep the soil moist in summer, but never waterlogged this can cause root rot.. Allow it to dry out in the winter. They like humidity, mist occasionally otherwise I like to take mine into the shower with me. It’s fast growing and easy to propagate. A must have in my eyes.
Not one I have in my collection yet but snake plants are SO easy to care for. This plant is perfect if you’re looking to add green to your flat but not overly green fingered. Native to western tropical Africa, it’s very slow growing but is great to have in low lit bedrooms as they release oxygen during the night. Too lower light will dull the markings on the leaves, just move to a less shady spot. Allow to completely dry out between watering.
Peace lilies are another super easy plant to look after and great for those darker rooms. These evergreen plants are native to tropical regions of America and southeastern Asia. This flowering plant produces lush white flowers but in the right conditions. Check the soil before watering, if it’s damp don’t water, if dry it’s safe to water. Another way of checking to see if your Spathiphyllum needs watering is that the leave start to droop, once watered you’ll see them bounce back. I adopted a couple of Spathiphyllums off my parents which I’ll need to repot this spring and also have an extremely root bound one that my partner sort of neglected which I’ll be trying to bring it to its full potential.
There’s many different species you can have. I particularly like the Bird’s nest fern. It’s big beautiful green leaves and the way the fronds unravel from the centre captivate me. Ferns are great for low leveled light but do require a little more care and attention then some of the above. Never place a Asplenium in direct sunlight as this will cause damage to the leaves, keep the soil moist and allow the top layer to dry out in between watering and they love being misted. Again I like to take mine in to the shower to really get the humidity right.
This guy goes by many names Devil’s ivy, Golden pothos are just to name a couple. Attractive for the markings on the leaves they can easily be confused as a variegated Philodendron, however the leaves shape and size are different. It’s a climbing plant that you can either train or allow it trail over the pot. Again this is pretty easy to care for and can tolerate low light. This can stunt the growth but if you have a slightly less shady area it’ll be much happier. Never allow the soil to be soggy and let it dry out a little in between watering and they love humidity. This is also another plant that can easily be propagated by taking a small cutting.
After recently discovering and studying Marimo moss balls I had to share more about these fascinating fellas. There’s even a legend that comes with them, which is just as adorable as they are.
Marimo moss balls are a must have to anyone’s budding collection, they’re super cute, so easy to care for and love cool dark spots. Perfect if you live in a basement flat like myself!
Latin name: Aegagropila linnaei
Marimo is a Japanese word that translates to ‘seaweed ball’. They’re technically not moss, but a rare form of algae that grow in lakes in the Northern hemisphere. These slow growers can live for hundreds of years and naturally form into spheres from the currents. Growing at a rate of 5mm a year they grow between 8 – 12 inches in the wild. Their natural habitat is fresh water lakes in Japan, Estonia, Iceland, Scotland & Australia. They’re even considered a national treasure in Japan with some parts of the country having Marimo Festivals.
Japanese folklore has it that Marimo came from the spirits of two lovers. The legend has it that a tribals chief’s daughter fell in love with a commoner but their love was forbidden. The couple decide to run away but tragically fell into the Lake Akan where their spirits changed into the moss balls.
Marimo moss balls are a token of love, affection and good luck. It is also said Marimo bring the giver and receiver their heart’s desire.
Your Marimo will like being kept somewhere with low-medium indirect sunlight and out of direct sunlight completely. Place them somewhere cool, keep away from any heat source in the winter.
Change the water every couple of week, you may be able to get away with changing it once a month in the winter. I prefer to collect rainwater for my Marimo moss balls, but you can use tap water, just let it sit for 24 hours before placing the Marimo in.
I’d recommend cleaning the glass each time you change the water as you might find there might be a buildup of unwanted algae.
Marimo should be a lovely deep green colour. If your Marimo are browning place them in a cooler, darker space and hopefully they’ll change back. If not you may need to add some aquarium ocean salt.
You can find our Marimo moss ball terrariums here.
The main reason for going to London was to carry out some market research and checking out how the top places in London are doing it. In my last blog post I wrote about Palm Vaults, (it’s awesome check it out) but we also visited lots of collaborative stores that incorporate plants into their interior or ethos.
This place is picturesque and I could have spent a lot more time photographing the inside. Before you even get through the door there’s an entourage of tall palms outside, once inside everywhere you look there’s a plant! Filled to the brim with a large variety of houseplants, cacti, succulents, tillandsias, that’s just a fraction of it all!
The Conservatory Achieves isn’t just a shop to buy plants, it’s a showroom. It showcases the impact plants can have on people. If you take a look through their Instagram you can see they’re much more than that, installing large pieces of plants displays into businesses.
Prick is London’s first ever cacti specialist shop. And from the outside the large cacti in the window draw you right in. Owner, Gynelle knows a lot about this subject and has just written a book. As well as a variety of cacti and succulents to purchase, there’s a supply of beautifully crafted planters. It’s where I found out about Chloe, the beauty behind Make & Matter.
The store is extremely light making you feel relaxed and helps you envision how they’d look in your home. Don’t be scared away from the pricing of the larger species, some of them are hundreds of years old, making them much more of a collector’s item or if you’re looking for that statement piece.
Cuemars is a collaborative space that fuses a passion for plants, interior and fashion. It’s full of quirky and interesting products with a main focus towards botanical themed home decor.
Working alongside their friends, you have terrariums next to handmade leather purses, practical clothing and other beautiful items. There’s artwork to browse through with foliage dotted around the shop. It’s lovely, it’s got everything to brighten up your interior.
Palm Vaults is the coffee shop of my dreams. The food was so beautifully prepared and presented. With rainbow coffees and an interior that takes you away from a bustling city.
I’ve been following Palm Vaults on Insta for a little while. I was drawn to the hanging plants from the ceiling, the pale pink tones and the decor gives you a feeling of being in LA in the 80’s. I was intrigued by the lattes I saw and the colourful display of cakes and breakfast goodies. When I was planning this trip to London I had to make time to visit. Boy am I glad we went there.
Palm Vaults is mainly a vegetarian cafe, with a lot of the food being vegan and free from options too. Perfect if you’re like me and you have a shit ton of intolerances. It meant I could fully relax and not have to worry about if the food I’m eating might get contaminated or they didn’t hear my order correctly.
Firstly we had to get coffee down ourselves. (It was 10am and the caffeine headaches were already starting). Palm Vaults have a large range of speciality coffees, but with a twist. Not only did they only serve their coffees with a wide range of non-dairy alternatives, they had a whole menu of colourful and tonic lattes. I had to get one, I went for the Red Velvet. This consisted of espresso, fresh beet juice, cacao, agave, vanilla & steamed coconut milk. It was beautifully sweet and well balanced. There’s subtle hints of all the flavours coming through without any being to overbearing. The biggest down fall? The presentation, I was hoping that the latte would have been more rich in colour but looked a little muddy. Coming from a barista background I like to see well texturised milk to create latte art, but we can’t have everything can we?
Next the food. I’m a massive fan of banana bread, especially if it’s vegan. With a couple of topping to choose from the one that made my mouth water was the almond caramel & cacao nibs. I was expecting it to be super sweet and sickly but it was so incredibly more-ish. The sweetness of the almond caramel was balanced out with the bitterness of the cacao nibs.
The decor was one of the main reasons for the visit. They have a variety of hanging plants dangling from the ceiling, the pastel pink tones reflected well with the exposed brick wall and the mirrors really opened up the space. I really loved the interior, the plants could of done with a little more TLC but being a cafe they may not have the time to care for them as much as they should.
Creating your own urban jungle is in and Bristol is just as obsessed with plants as everyone else. We’ve got shops popping up all over the city. I took a trip to London with my plant pal Octavia to see what the big smoke has to offer.
High on my list to visit was Sky Garden and the Barbican Conservatory as well as some of London’s best known plant retailers. We packed a lot into such a short period but we managed to visit everywhere and even stumbled upon Columbia Road Flower Market.
We headed over to Hackney to check out Conservatory Archives. I’ve only been following these guys on Instagram for a short time, but once you look at their feed you’ll understand why we visited. Their picturesque store was heavenly and full to the brim with every plant imaginable. Palms, cacti and climbers were plentiful and the sheer size of some of them was overwhelming.
Saturday evening we booked a table in the bar of the Sky Garden. I was extremely excited to visit this garden in a skyscraper. Arriving at the pod I was stunned by the living wall opposite, plants covering the whole wall of the building. But once inside I was slightly disappointed, don’t get me wrong, the views of London at night was spectacular and it was a lovely evening. The lighting on the plants was not flattering. It was dark, you didn’t really have a full view of the plants. There were some that looked very sun damaged and I’m sad to say that there were bug infestations on some of the plants.
During the evening there was DJ when we arrived, then a live band. We had booked a table at the bar and we had a beautiful view of the Shard as we had our drinks and shared some food. If you’re interested in visiting you’ll have to book your visit in advance as it’s viewed by booking only. You can turn up on the day but you’ll be sure to be waiting (outside) a while before being allowed in.
Sunday was much better and more focused towards visiting retailers. We spent the morning in Hackney, starting at Palm Vaults, a vegetarian cafe with a lot of it’s food being vegan. Once fed and caffeinated we headed over to Botany, a plant and lifestyle brand. We also visited Prick, London’s first specialist cacti shop who have just published their own book and Cuemars, a collaborative store of local designers, plants and lifestyle.
To finish our trip we spent the afternoon at the Barbican Centre. When I was living in London I had visited centre a couple of times to see a couple of exhibitions but never knew about the conservatory. I loved the industrial brickwork against the tropical palms, it was an urban jungle. I took my film camera with me which I’ll soon be getting developed.
I’ll be going into more detail of our time in London in following posts, but I wanted to give you an overview of our time there. To follow more of what we got up to follow us on Instagram.
When we visited Benmore Botanical Garden, within the grounds they had a beautiful Fernery. A Fernery is similar to conservatories, just specifically designed to house ferns and mosses. Ferns became extremely popular during the Victorian era, and are now making a comeback. Benmore has a collection of 142 different species of ferns from all over the world.
I find ferns fascinating, the way the fronds unravel and the detail of the leaves are intriguing. The images below are a mixture of 35mm scanned photographs and digital photographs taken on a Google Pixel. All photographs are unedited as I prefer to keep them untouched, unless I feel like they need it.
Commissioned to be build by James Duncan at the height of the Victorian fern craze (or pteridomania), the fernery has been standing since the early 1870. The Fernery has changed a lot since it was first built. In the early 20th Century the Fernery fell into disrepair and was left to rot.
Today the Fernery stands in the cliff-side, blending into the beautiful scenery surrounding it. A Century after it was left to decay, it was resurrected by the curators and members of the Young Benmore Trust.
Due to lack of detail on the original plans, they decided to add some modern twists to the building. All the stone used to build the Fernery stayed untouched with the curators adding the beautiful glass roof to provide natural light and to keep the warmth and humidity in.
The Fernery is built of three levels including a grotto with a pool and an elevated viewing platform. And I think you’ll agree with how stunning the interior is.
If you’d like to see more of Robi’s photographs, why not follow her Instagram @robiclm!
Welcome to the second Meet the Maker. This time we’re getting to know the genius behind Ropa Lobita. Hand drawn and screen printed locally on fairtrade and organic t-shirts. We find out the beginnings and the inspiration behind some of the designs. Everyone say a warm hello to Olivia!
I first met Olivia when I was a barista in Brew. Most mornings she’d pop in for her regular (large black americano with a little sugar) and we’d indulge each other in some polite conversation. Never did I know that one day I’d be asking her to design some t-shirts for me.
When it came to designing the t-shirts I really wanted to collaborate with a local artist. Intrigued by what I saw on her Instagram, I felt she would be great to work with. What really drew me into Olivia was her funny and witty designs and I loved the rawness of the hand drawn imagery.
Let’s get to know how Ropa Lobita started and what makes Olivia tick.
Olivia has an artistic background but studied English Lit at University, and you can really see that influence in her work. In her Art A levels she worked with many mediums, including photography, expressionist painting and dabbled in a bit of illustration. Unfortunately, like many of us, she never felt she was up to a standard of other artist she was around and decided not to further her studies but instead followed her passion for reading. She doesn’t regret this decision and feels that there have been direct chain of reactions from the people she met and experiences she gain in those three years.
After graduating Olivia moved to Brighton then to London where she had various jobs working in pubs, restaurants, photography galleries, bookshops and even worked as a freelance photographer assistant. (How cool is that?!) As well as all that, Olivia did street photography and had some of her work present in a few exhibitions (as an artist this is an incredible achievement).
At 26, Olivia grew restless and out of the blue (even for herself), quit her job, ended her relationship and told family she was off to South America. Olivia spent two years working in Peru and Argentina, learning Spanish and travelling as much as she could. Whilst in Peru she met Oscar, who was teaching himself to be a tattoo artist. Being surrounded by the beautiful scenery and Oscar’s drive to self teach and his vocation. Understandably this got Olivia drawing again.
How it began
From the start the whole process has been organic, naturally evolving to where she is today. Ropa Lobita was heavily influenced by her time in South America. It still took a couple of years before she really got the confidence to start printing.
Once settled in Bristol she thought that she would get some of her designs printed onto t-shirts. Olivia chose to start with her Bukowski drawing as she like the meta-on-meta concept behind the design. Over the coming months she received more and more positive feedback from friends, even strangers.
During a trip to San Francisco Olivia had a guy come up to her asking where he could buy her ‘Te Recontra Amo’ t-shirt. His enthusiasm gave her the confidence to really go for it.
It all really fell into place for her when she met Ross Lovelock at a local pub in Bristol. Ross runs his own independant and local screen printing business. He’s also a designer himself. Ross specialises is doing small batch work and only focus’ on one project at a time. This really shows in the quality of his work. (If you fancy working with Ross, get in touch by sending an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org).
There’s still a lot going on for Olivia as she does this alongside her day job. She’s still finding her feet with the business. She only figured out the best way to post and package her garments when she received the first order. And would only get small batches printed at a time. Like most artists, self doubt is a huge obstacle she has to constantly conquer. But she reminds herself that she’s doing something that she enjoys, creating something unique and producing garments that are environmentally friendly.
Her next release is going to be the Existential Crisis tee. This design came from a process of Art therapy. When feeling anxious Olivia likes to de-stress by reminding herself of how insignificant our Solar System is in the Universe and how, fundamentally, our existence is. (Honestly when you start thinking about it, the Universe is insane.) And also has a couple of other ideas she’s working on.
It’s October and the nights are drawing in and it’s starting to get spooky out with Halloween looming around the corner. Saying that I’ve been working on a new project involving bones. Bones are cool right, people like dead things? I know I do. I’ve been toying with this idea around in my mind for a while and here’s what I’ve been up to.
I find skulls and bones slightly fascinating. These things are inside of us but we never really get to see them. I find real beauty in the way the light bounces off and creates a contrast between the shadow and the bone.
I’ve touched on using skulls/death in previous projects. In college one of my art projects was primarily based around a ram’s skull and a photography project recreating crime scenes. You might think these things are repulsive and wonder why anyone would want to work with skulls. But I like that juxtaposition between death and beauty.
The inspiration for this project comes from my interest in taxidermy. I have roe deer skulls mounted on to my wall and have framed butterflies and a moth. I find deers to be beautiful creatures and stag horns represent such strength. Moths and butterflies can have such wonderful colouring on their wings that we don’t always see. I don’t think we realise the beauty in this world until it’s either too late or, we’re just not paying any attention to our surroundings. As a species I think that we are selfish, we don’t care or maintain this world like we should, but decided to destroy it instead (but that’s completely off topic).
I’m also obsessed with nature and trying to capture this everlasting moment to display in your home.
The concept for this project is to design something that you wouldn’t find in the high streets, a product that is completely original and bespoke. I also want to create something that is preserved and isn’t disposable. With my obsession to capture miniature worlds and the juxtaposition of using materials that were once alive to then, in a sense, now dead.
I want to be able to merge them together, something everlasting. As soon as I thought of this, my memory jumped back to my childhood. I immediately thought of Bristol Museum’s crumbling Victorian taxidermy display and glass containers with taxidermy birds of prey in mid flight arranged to look like it was alive. Why not that, but just the bones? And, instead of being in a glass box, surrounded by nothing or by something that has faded. Why not capture the bones in a more natural habitat. This is where the preserved moss comes in.
Preserved moss is, you guessed it, moss that is brought back to life. Well, actually it’s grown, harvested, then dehydrated (or a bio chemical is used), and then dyed. So pretty much everything that is in this project was once alive and is now… dead.
I’m now in the process of gathering materials to make more prototypes, I’ve created a couple already (as pictured above) but it’s definitely a work in progress. But I hope that I will be able to release a couple of pieces for Halloween. Keep your eyes peeled to our Instagram @loofterrariums, for progress and when they will be available. I’d also love to hear your feedback, leave a message in the comments below. I’ll be posting to my blog regularly and updating any projects on social media, this way to Facebook.
A few months ago David told me that we were going to Scotland, not only that but going to a cabin right next to some national parks. No one has ever done something so thoughtful for me before. I was beyond surprised and excited for our little scottish adventure. The plan was so travel by train to Glasgow, see David’s family and stay for a couple of nights then drive to Dunoon, stay there for the a few nights, go back to Paisley for a final night before our hell ride back to Bristol.
Now I’ve only ever been to Glasgow but I’ve wanted to visit other parts of Scotland for a while. You hear people talking about how beautiful Scotland is, but it’s not until you’re there you truly understand what they’re talking about.
I was excited by the fact I was going to be surrounded by beautiful scenery, in a cabin, far away from people. And boy, it didn’t disappoint.
Arriving just after the summer holidays the holiday village was deserted, apart from the odd person. It was great. So peaceful and I truly felted relaxed and at peace for the first time in a long time.
Having a small cabin to ourselves was perfect. It was cosy, even for just the two of us. There was barely any WiFi (we tried stealing a neighbour’s, wasn’t very successful) and signal wasn’t the strongest either. Just what we needed.
We’d wake up late, as trying to get out of the warm toasty bed was just too much. But once we braved it and refuelled ourselves with square sausage and coffee we were ready to take on the day.
In the evenings we’d get cosy indoors or the one evening it wasn’t chucking it down, we were able to sit outside with the chiminea lit, roasting some marshmallows.
We rented a small Fiat 500 to get about the place, which was perfect for what we needed.
Benmore Botanic Gardens was a quick drive away, less than 20 minutes. On our first day we visited, we went on an Explorer’s Guided Tour. This was a small golf cart which took you around the whole estate. It was a great way to get familiar with the grounds quickly. Luckily the weather held out for us on this day, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it so much if it was raining.
Our guide took us up to the highest point and the views were outstanding. There was a heavy mist over the hill tops, it didn’t obstruct the view too much, more added to the atmosphere. The grounds were full of Redwoods, all types of ferns and Rhododendrons hybrids. And moss, the ground was covered in moss. I was in heaven, literally. I have never been somewhere that was so picturesque. I almost felt like I was stepping into a fairytale.
Whilst we were on this tour I took my Canon AE-1 Programme with me with a black and white film. I prefer taking landscape/forest photos in black and white sometimes as the colour can be distracting sometimes to the viewer. I also haven’t shot in black and white for a long time, a good few years, and wanted the artistic challenge.
In the grounds there was this beautiful building, a Fernery. What’s that? I didn’t know anything about them either before visiting. It’s pretty much like a conservatory but just with moss and ferns growing inside. It was so beautiful, I would love to have an equivalent someday.
The next day we went back so I could spend some time in the Fernery. I really wanted to focus a lot of my attention on this. I wanted to be able to take my time photographing the building and the ferns inside. I have a slight obsession with ferns, (I’m slowly filling my flat with them). I’m very visually attracted to them and have an interested in knowing more about this varietal of plant. I’ll be writing a more detail post on the Fernery as I found it so fascinating. This time I wanted to use a colour film to document this space, as I knew it was going to be a lot darker and wanted to capture the contrast between the dark lighting and the patterns of the leaves.
That day was a lot wetter when we visited the Fernery. I mean a lot wetter. Again it was a lazy morning, hoping that the rain would pass. Unfortunately it didn’t, and it really poured it down. This didn’t phase me, I was in my element. Surrounded by nature, being creative, I was loving every moment. David was not so impressed. By the time we got back to the caravan we were soaked through. I was amazed at how drenched we were without really feeling it.
The rest of the time spent in Scotland was relaxing and enjoyable. We popped into Glasgow for brunch which meant we got to get a taste food by Wilson Street Pantry. I saw these guys on my Instagram feed and I’ve been wanting to see what they’re about for a while. It was very enjoyable and the coffee was supplied locally and executed by the barista beautifully. If you’re ever in Glasgow it’s somewhere I’d recommend. I’m still trying to learn the coffee scene in Glasgow, I want to visit more coffee shops but we went back to a espresso bar I enjoy going to every time I’ve been to Glasgow, Laboratorio Espresso. Since the first time visiting, they have a larger range of filters on which I love. Most coffee shop offer a ‘guest’ or just a filter coffee. I find it rare that places offer a range of filters, this being because espresso is more adaptable to people’s requirement. But I love filter, filter for days, black, no sugar. When I order it, I want it to be good, and I love it when there’s an option. They also serve each coffee with a small biscotti and also in (very) hipster science equipment (coffee is a lot more scientific than you realise), is just little additions I appreciate.
I would totally recommend to anyone who was visiting Scotland to go to Dunoon, even if this was something that wasn’t really for them. As I think just viewing something that is so large and impressive, it makes you wonder. It really makes you realise how much the human race takes this world for granted.
As well as taking my Canon with me, there was a project that I’ve been wanting to do for years. A few Christmas’ ago, my eldest brother gave me This Is Not A Book. A book that you have to keep on you at all times (for a week) and work through the tasks it gives you. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to do this. And what better time to do it than in a forest?! Sadly I didn’t get as much as I would have liked to get done but it was still an enjoyable project to work on. I’m slowly uploading video and photos of my documentation of the project to my personal Instagram (@robiclm). And I’ll be scanning the book before burning it, alongside a university project I’ll be burning. Why? Closure.
We worked on this project mainly through our time in Dunoon but not so much when we were in Paisley, as it just wasn’t so viable. This leaving a lot of the book a little more uncompleted as I would have liked. But it’s done, kinda, I still need to scan it all and burn it. But that’s for another day.
Upon returning to Bristol, after the hellish train ride home, I repeat never get the train to AND from Glasgow. (I don’t even want to get into it.) I went to get my films developed a few days later. There’s such an exciting feeling of waiting for you films to process that brings me back to feeling like a child. The possibility of not knowing how your photos have turned out gives you this anxious and extremely exciting feeling.
I hope to create a website for my photography. These will be personal collections and of destinations I’ve visited. Every photo will be available to buy as a print and I hope to be able to publish a small limited photography book of my visit to Benmore.
As well as my photography project, I’m trialling some other work. I have this artistic vision for what the big final project to be working towards. To help me with my ‘research’ I picked a rock from the gardens, (shhh, don’t tell anyone.) that had moss covering it and see how I can maintain this. I’ve tried a few methods already and hoping the one that I have settled on will work out as I planned. It’s all careful monitoring daily to track any change.
This is an ongoing project. And this is my first experiment. I don’t want to reveal too much about it at this point in time as I’d like a firmer idea if my concept is even doable. However, I hope that the photography website is something I can build in the next couple of months before publishing a book. Or vice versa, who knows?! I get impulsive and when I run with an idea, who knows what will happen.
All photographs are by Robi Moore, some are a work in progress for an ongoing project.
Welcome the first Meet The Maker. In these posts I’ll be taking you through the wonderful makers I have collaborated with. You’ll get to know a little about them, why they’re doing this and how they got to where they are. And, hopefully we can inspire you to get creative. Where better to start than with myself. Buckle up guys, this is going to get personal.
Hi, I’m Robi. I’m 25, I like be surrounded by nature and I always seem to be ill (I have a lactose intolerance and IBS). I also like photography, walking around woodlands, speciality coffee, getting tattooed and dogs. Oh, and I suffer with anxiety and depression. I’ve been taking antidepressants since June this year, and I’m in an okay place. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m working on it.
Let’s start with a bit of background of myself. For as long as I remember being creative has been a huge part of my life and so has the outdoors. I was given a small film camera when I was a very young child and loved to take photos of anything and everything. I also loved being outside, I loved going out riding around where I lived on my bike and exploring the woodlands near my home.
Being dyslexic I struggled a little in my academic studies but excelled in creative subjects. At secondary school I took art and textiles, I thought about being a fashion designer at one point! However, my depression (I wasn’t diagnosed but believe I’ve had depression since a young age) made me believe I wasn’t any good at this because I told myself the work I was creating wasn’t good enough (In fact, I was getting very good grades).
My Grandpa had a huge influence on me. I loved nothing more than the time we spent together. I’d spend my summers walking along the coastline with him and looking for creatures in rock pools. I never realised that he was a photographer himself and actually had his own photography business. I didn’t find this out until after his passing, which happened in the last year of secondary school. I really struggled with coming to terms with the death of my Grandpa, as he was such a big part of my life. But art and photography helped me through this dark period.
After my GCSE’s I decided to further my studies in the creative field by studying art, photography and media. I went off to Weston College to study my A Levels and then an Art Foundation course. My Art Foundation was great, I got to study artistic fields I hadn’t done before. I received an Honours for my Final Major where I finalised in Graphic Design. After finishing my Foundation I wanted to leave schooling and get out into the real world. But I was told I had to apply for University. Teachers and parents are so focused on their students/children getting a degree they don’t think about what the actual person wants. I quickly scrambled an application together and somehow got into Camberwell.
At 19 I found myself packing up to move to London to study Fine Art Photography. I did not know what I was getting myself into. I hated university, the students were pretentious and I felt like a complete outsider. Also, what is Fine Art Photography? People weren’t even taking photos. Continually I said to my parents that I didn’t want to be there and that I wanted to drop out. I think during this year my depression and anxiety was really taking over my life without me knowing. So instead of studying I did the classic student thing and was drunk for the majority of that year. Alcohol is a great way of blocking feelings.
Somehow my parents convinced me to complete the year, which I ended up failing (yup you can fail your first year, who knew?!). After having a bit of a breakdown, my parents again convinced me to carry on studying. I applied for a graphic communications course at LCC and the following year I was still in London.
I don’t think I even got through the first semester without wanting to drop out. Luckily, I got rushed to hospital to have my appendix removed. During my recovery I repeatedly told my parents that I wasn’t going back and wanted to drop out. Still they tried to convince me to stay, but after having an anxiety attack a few days before moving back to London, I think my parents finally realised that I wasn’t messing around.
To this day I wish I never went to Uni, it’s definitely a dark part of my life that I don’t like to think about, but I guess it’s also helped me become the person I am today. After dropping out I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I went back to my job as a catering assistant and fell into a depressive routine. You don’t always realise you’re depressed. I was eating well, exercising and I could hide my feelings from my friends and family pretty well. No one knew, or that’s what I think anyway. My depression had really taken hold of me by this time and I was coming home crying most nights after work not really knowing why. So I quit my job, took a month off and I guess I was trying to find ‘myself’. Well I didn’t find myself but I did find David and I landed myself a new job on our first date. Two birds, one stone.
At this point in my life, coffee had sparked my interest. So I found myself in the cute little cafe/coffee shop on Whiteladies called Brew. I spent about 2 years there learning and growing my knowledge about coffee. During this time my interest in anything artistic had completely gone out of the window. Years of telling myself that a creative career would never happen and is extremely difficult to get into, I succumbed and decided that coffee would be my calling. I liked my job, I got to drink coffee and got to meet such a varied amount of people. But once I got home I would be tired and in a foul mood. I’d lash out, say horrible things and blame it on ‘only having a certain amount of happiness for the day.’ But that’s complete bollocks, that’s depression. I was living with David by this point and things only got worse.
Now depression is different for everybody. I like to think of mine as a little devil on my shoulder whispering things into my ear constantly. I would hear ‘You’re rubbish at your job’, ‘No one likes you, you have no friends’, ‘Even your own boyfriend doesn’t love you, who could love you’. You add fuel to the fire by drowning it out with alcohol or drugs, but that only makes it worse. This is another very dark point in my life that I try to black out. Things got really bad between David and I, it was affecting my job but I couldn’t go on like this anymore. I went to the doctors, got some counselling. With this ‘changed’ me; I decided hospitality wasn’t for me and still thinking I wanted a job in coffee, somehow I wangled myself a job at Extract.
I started Loof in 2016, I was still working at Brew at the time. The main inspiration came from when we visited Amsterdam, and found this secluded florist selling these small cute terrariums and I just had to have these gorgeous indoor gardens in my life. That’s when I realised no one was making or selling terrariums in Bristol.
It was just a bit of fun to begin with making some for the flat, and then selling to friends and family. The more I got into creating these small worlds the more I wanted to know more about them. I began to study how to make them, the plants you need and how to look after them. And I’m continuing to learn so I can give you the highest quality product I can give. Things really start to fall into place when I was invited to my first market, which was held at Harts Bakery in Sep 2016. From that market onwards I knew this is what I wanted to do. I enjoyed it so much that I knew I needed to focus on it a little more.
I built this business from nothing, just a glimmer of hope and whatever money I had spare in my bank account. Nothing has made me more happy and proud of myself than starting this brand. There’s so much that I envision for Loof and I’m so excited for future projects. But also terrified, but that’s kinda the fun of it. And here we are, new brand, new website and collaborations with some fantastic artists.
I have to give David a large portion of credit, as it was his idea for me to start the business. If it wasn’t for his love and support I would never have the confidence to do this. I’ve also got the support of family and friends but it absolutely terrified me when I had to tell them I was quitting my secure job at Extract so I could focus on this adventure. I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support from everyone.
I’m still struggling with my depression but creating Loof has really helped me to become a person a younger me only dreamt about. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be running my own business but getting to do things I love on a daily basis. As I get older I realise I want to be doing something that’s fulfilling with my life, creating work that people enjoy and experiencing new things. And there’s no time like the present.
I really hope you enjoy following my journey and hope to inspire people on the way.