Monday, 21 April 2014

Quidditch , Quidditch, Quidditch - "shut up woman"

After much preparation the long awaited Quidditch game finally played out today. Flying on brooms? no, big teams? no, one boy one dad and a hoop in a tree? yes

yes the garden had Gryffindor and Slytherin banners made by the boy

 what every father wants, a Firebolt (in this case 42) for his birthday made from the inner of a fabric roll

Yes Gryffindor won fairly about 600 to 150 but smiles all round in the end (well sort of - there were small voices wanting another hour of it)

Ohh My...

The rather clever lovelies at Ohh Deer are at it again - submit your designs as a competition to be a pencil in there pencil case (or an illustrator contributor).
As ever the idea is fantastic, showcasing work that you can see what it looks like on a t shirt, vest or sweatshirt, the chance for it to be on sale and obviously the opportunity to be part of the deer family.

Here's my three - two of which were the husbands birthday present - Hoorah!

Yes yes I know I've only put mine there but there were way too many to choose anyone else's so go click for yourself. Not only that there be 15% off Ohh Deer this Easter - go shop!

Friday, 11 April 2014

As You Like It

Shakespeare fine bone china mug available from The Globe, Bankside, London or online at there shop here - and they're selling fast so better three hours too soon than a minute too late!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

William's Wish

A couple of years ago I met Sarah, strangely at a networking event in central London and it turned out we lived 5 minutes away from each other. She told me at the time that her son, William had health problems but little did I know how much.

Six year old William had a bowel transplant that saved his life when he was a baby. His mum, Sarah set up William's Wishes to support families of children who have intestinal failure and are dependent on TPN and who are waiting for small bowel transplants. Alongside awareness of these almost hidden conditions Sarah also does her best to provide treats for the children and their families.

As adults no one likes to talk about bowel problems and conditions so it's hard to imagine what it's like being so small and and in need of a 'new tummy' (as William calls it) let alone be a parent and have to watch your child suffer so much.

If you think you can help at all with raising awareness, fundraising or just a hello of support please contact Sarah

The Tobyboo designed logo is available on t shirts, hoodies and baby grows - to shop contact Sarah

Monday, 31 March 2014

Six of the Best

I can't remember the last time I went to Hever Castle, but one of my new products is incredibly fitting so of course I had to go. If you haven't been - it's a really beautiful place, the gardens are stunning and the castle itself oozes with story.

So... here be the new design (goes without saying ©Tobyboo but I'll say it just in case!) Henry's Wives has the six wives with the school rhyme Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.

it's an interesting way to walk round a maze I'll admit it

look big fish! no no - don't fall in the water!!

getting to the heart of the maze makes you wanna.... jump jump

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Clearance Sale!

Right, enough of the storage unit which means I've got lots of discontinued pieces to sell. First up - all decorative tapes are £2.50, London, Heads & Tails, Rat tape - you name it if its not listed in the shop please contact me... I do have rat tape which I know isn't listed.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Plagiarism Begins at Home

Looking at the amount of copying that goes on with big companies these days got me thinking, the most recent being Louise Verity of Bookishly and M&S. I met Louise at a trade fair a few years back I remember the buzz around her work and I also remember seeing very similar prints to hers not long after at small fairs and markets. For a start, if its the copy seen and taken to the high street they might think its ok because its not someones living its a hobby.

The in-house designers presumably think that they can get away with taking an image from someone hidden on Etsy or a similar market place and they’ll never be found out meanwhile the bosses at the top would have no idea that any theft has gone on. Groups like ACID are there to protect the little people but what about the markets and groups out there. How many times have you been to a market and seen really REALLY similar designs or items? Surely the organisers have an obligation to step in?

I realise how hard it must be, I can see how close knit designer maker groups are but if you’re not going to fight for what’s right then how can you expect the big boys to play fair? I ran a couple of markets and if I had seen something similar and to the same audience, I would at least say something and depending on the case ask them to leave. How many times have we been to fairs and markets and said "oh that looks like.... " it might well be that that person was copied but if they were asked they could tell you and you could say something about it. Why do we leave it till it reaches the high street?! I've had similar things to mine on the high street I know exactly what happened but it does't bother me anywhere near as much as when someone on the same level does it.

I’m a huge fan of designer maker groups don’t get me wrong, but I do think that whoever the organisers are have a right to step in when they see a member copy or at a market – they should either ask for the items to be removed or for the maker to leave; if you don't you quite honestly are worse than the big companies because the ones that make the decisions have no idea what's going on. 

If you can’t look after each other, I can’t see how you expect anyone else to. 

Large companies, why can't you give people jobs that have ideas there are lots of us that have ideas oozing out of every blinking pore and have no brain space to even look at other peoples work. 

As for sellers, well if you can't come up with your own ideas you are just sales people not designers not artists I don't fall into that bracket that much I know.

Some of you might know that this is close to my heart and life traumatising and no that's not an exaggeration - theft of an idea is theft. I wrote this post well over a year ago and never posted it because I didn't want to upset people that I love to bits that run markets but when your life and child are affected then honestly I can't care if honesty upsets. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hogwarts and all.

I'm not a mad Harry Potter fan at all, I read the books seen the films but couldn't tell you one Death Eater from another and yet really wanted to go to the Warner Studios tour in Watford.

It just so happened that we've been reading Toby the first couple of books and he's getting slightly obsessed by the world of Potter. So for my birthday yesterday we got to go. I was a bit 'crikey that's expensive' when we ordered them £30 for adults and £22 for kids and in my head I had an idea of what it would be like. Our time slot was 4pm so I figured 2 hours and we'll be home before 8pm - nope. If you do go the train to Watford Junction and bus is so so easy and does get you in the mood for it. I think you start getting the picture when you arrive and see the size of the place but I was still sure we'd be home by 8.

We must have got that at 2.30 so spent lots of time in the shop before, pretty much there's the shop (which has heaps) and the not overly exciting cafe you then start queuing about 10 mins before your time slot. Really well done in terms of keeping the long line of Potter obsessives happy and occupied so it didn't feel long. It was nothing like I'd imagined - and well worth every penny. I assumed it was going to be a guided tour around sets etc - nope. I really could see why it was worth it even if you had no clue about the films - from a design/art view it was amazing. The props, sets and costume inspired me no end - if you had no idea what went into making a film of this sort then this is an eye opener. Far from exposing the wands and showing you the reality it only made the series more magical.

yes, Butterbeer... an odd Tizer kinda drink with a vanilla cream topping... although I did like it.

Be afraid...

The card models and drawings were just breathtaking

ah yes, the shop....

that be the great hall


more props!!

Scabbers! it was animal actors week so dotted around were some of the furry faces

Wand combat!

"Toby do you want your photo taken with Hedwig?" - yes
"Hedwig do you want your photo taken with Toby?"- I've never seen an owl shake his head so much (hence the laughing from Toby)

Would I recommend the tour - oh yeah!
  • If you do go I would say get as early a slot as you can... what time did we finish? 8.30pm in the end and got home at 10. 
  • When you go through to the holding room head at the end are three doors that go to the next bit - aim for the one on the far left which takes you to the front row of the screen room so first to go to the Great Hall. 
  • The green screen photos/videos are worth doing even if you don't end up in buying them.
  • Toby really enjoyed doing the wand combat bit so worth a bit of a queue.
  • We missed bits in the first stage because we went out and onto the next then didn't go back so do it all before you go outside for the Butterbeer and Privet Drive photo.
  • Really spend time looking at the pre drawings and artwork in the next stage - just incredible.
  • You will probably want a wand by the time you leave and enter the shop. After doing lots of wand window shopping the ones they have are better for the price £25 (heck keep the box and ebay it once they're done) 
  • The uniform cardigans and jumpers are cheaper in Harrods Harry Potter shop and are the same (£69 there £34 in Harrods) but everything else was exclusive to the WBS so if you want it get it because you can't else where .... well apart from ebay!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Brit-on, Brit-off?

Well after many ramblings with other makers, manufacturers and buyers I'm none the wiser. All Tobyboo products are made in the UK and I think I go on about it enough but what customers aren't aware of is that some products are 'finished' in the UK for example a china mug could be imported but be decorated here, or textile items could just have final touches put on. All fine if the customer knows and can weigh up the cost because with most items it will be more expensive if it's made  fully over here.

But, does it matter to the customer anymore? Do people really care about the origins or just want the cheapest option? I went up to see my potters in Stoke with Caroline from the marvellous Design Mould who also uses UK made pieces and neither of us can compete price wise with imported/UK decorated products. I can only jabber what I think which is I grew up with British made good around me and took it for granted I'd visualise factories (mainly 'up norf'). When the news that Kinky Knickers went into administration my heart sank - the idea of factories reopening and jobs being created for skilled persons over here was suddenly a dream again. I started using companies in this country not only because I felt it important to support local trade but practically it was easier - to go and see where they're made and meet directly who's working with you; then the carrot is dangled because they could get imported pieces and in an almost secret way you could convince yourself it was all done here for a fraction of the price. I didn't go for the carrot - to see places that had thriving industries broken made me want to support local trade even more.... I'm rambling again - the point is - does the consumer care? 

When you pick up a piece and you see UK or Britain somewhere on the tag does it influence buying and if so do you read it fully? I was at the V&A shop yesterday and found myself reading every blinkin' tag. I think even if 99% said they didn't care where it was made it wouldn't affect my decision, I'd still opt for UK made - but would effect sales. UK made products pretty much will always be more expensive but 9 times out of 10 better I salute brands like Cabbages and Roses I treasure pieces from them, and it's a lovely guilt-free feeling wearing something you know wasn't made in a sweatshop! Maybe it's just me that can't touch Primark out of principle - I tried it once - peer pressure n all "go on, there's some good stuff in there imagine the savings" well it ended up in the charity shop. And trust me money is an issue - I don't have it, my brain thinks I do so yes I should think cheaper but there's always a but.....? 

So, does anyone really care? anyone? The effort Mary Portas & co put into driving enthusiasm back into localism only to have it thrown back in her face was hideous. We're a strange patriotic (but only when we feel like it) kinda country - if anyone's read the Lorax.... the Once-ler springs to mind.


Hoorah and just because it's my birthday week and too many new things are happening in the world of Tobyboo pretty much EVERYTHING is on sale!
Grab them now folks, when they're gone they're gone!


Monday, 10 February 2014

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Because I'm Happy

Clap along...! Sometimes you get really bogged down with admin and packing boxes and to be brutally honest you start resenting being self employed then you go up and do what makes you happy - thread drawing for me... then you forget again, until... ta-da! you see your work - your designs - what's been going on in your head in a real live shop!

I didn't know which branches were going to carry the Wish you Were Here products that are now only available at John Lewis. Thank you to Kellie and Yasmin who sent me photos from Kingston and Bluewater! You can also buy online at John Lewis

John Lewis Kingston

Peter Jones

Waterstones - Toby spotted the tape

John Lewis Bluewater

Monday, 6 January 2014

Girls and Boys

I love these baby grows from the fantastic Twisted Twee and yes of course Toby had the top version when he was 1!

I never played with dolls when I was smaller than I am (or at least can't remember) cuddly toys yes, so when Toby said he wanted the Anna from Frozen doll I did have to ask why what do you do with them. Turns out you look up their skirt on a packed train then yell "what?! It's made in China!!" still at least he entertained the carriage. 

Yes, I'm worried about the reaction he'll get from his friends but he's happy, singing soundtracks loudly and ballet makes him happy, reading fairy books makes him crazy happy - friends "not being sensible" as he puts it makes him very sad. (in other words could grown ups please grow up and stop being so pathetic about gender stereotyping so the kids around you don't act the same) I know I've gone on before on this so sorry, I forget that sometimes someone else might read these thoughts in my head. 

We went to the Disney malarkey in Harrods today they've got a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a very expensive make over experience. For girls, well let me see there's Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and... well you get the idea - to choose from for boys - 'a knight'. The woman did say they have quite a few boys that have had the princess experience. Made me wonder why in the shop bit the sales assistant said (after Toby chose the doll) "we are getting a boys section soon, you know Iron Man, Star Wars.... " I had to stop him and say - well he's fine with what he's fine with what he's got and why anyone would let a 6 year old watch Iron Man is any ones guess. 

We get a lot of "mummy, the boys at school watch things like that" I said did you want to watch Spider Man or whatever he says, "no", that's that then. 

Spring is in the air

Hoorah! Spring must be here! (well, you can at least feel like it is) with Wish You Were Here products now exclusively at John Lewis. 
Shop for them online here or in selected branches

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Sweet 14

Happy New Year folks..... well like another fish in the sea - another year is here. Here's hoping for a tip top one for everyone. 

Friday, 27 December 2013

He Came, he saw, he left presents....

So, the big morning came - did the magic happen? Oh yes, take a look at Toby's evidence that Santa did indeed visit and left not one thing off his list for him but 2!

even the present St Nick left had a lighty up bow on it!

...and the result? One very proud happy owner of Hot Wheels Mega Loop Mayhem and a Despicable Me 2 calendar. 
Hmmm, and on the subject of St Nick we did tell Toby that Father Christmas is also a saint not that we could say a thing to his reply "you have to be dead to be a saint"
That boy is way to smart for his own good.....

Here's to Christmas magic 2014 not much beats those first 2 hours on Christmas day.