Friday, October 02, 2015
Made With Love

Made With Love

Myself plus a friend were kindly invited along to the launch of the Made.com showroom in Liverpool's Metquarter to admire the current collection, eat one too many macarons and have a natter with the other guests. It was a lovely little evening with a cheeky prosecco on arrival, sweet treats from Patisserie Valerie and delicious canapés by Casa Italia (both places located in the Metquarter), a dj, beauty treatments by Urban Calm and the chance to walk around and look at the gorgeous A/W15 collection and meet some lovely new people.



We were also given tablets which you could scan over the + tag on all the items you liked, create a list then email to yourself to buy online later. Snazzy eh?

I managed to catch the lovely Annabel Kilner, UK country manager of Made.com, for 5 minutes to ask her a few questions about her and Made.com...


So, tell us a little bit about Made. com & yourself...

So, Made.com was started up 5 years ago. The founders spotted a gap in the market for great design at affordable prices, particularly online - so of course there is Ikea that obviously sells good and affordable products but design wasn't their key thing at the time then you've got John Lewis, M&S, and Next but they're not particularly design lead and then there are the higher end brands - so there was a gap in the market for something different like Made.com.

The other thing about the market, particularly in the furniture industry, is that they will normally order in advance twice a year, whereas we have a very different business model. We are a made-to-order business so essentially we design something, prototype it, sample it, photograph it, put it up on the website and then it's made to order for the customers. We really look at the demand for that product and then order just in time for it.

What is the process of buying and marketing for Made.com?

So we're constantly bringing out new collections- around 30-50 new products a week and then they go onto the website. Essentially if we see that they don't sell very well then we will probably stop them which may happen to around 10% of products but it enables us to see what's popular and then we can continue to manufacture those ones quickly. 

Then that helps you see what'll be good in the showrooms?

As for the showrooms, we have 3 now-Leeds, London Soho, and now Liverpool, of course! So what we've actually done for this particular store is we've looked at what have been the most popular items in Liverpool that've sold so far and then the customers can essentially walk in and find exactly what they want and imagine it in their own home. 

So what kind of trends do you think we'll be seeing interior wise in the coming Autumn/Winter season?

I think we'll see a lot of metallics, copper and bronze's like our Alana Bed then a lot of rich velvets as well. We've got the Wolseley velvet sofa which is very popular as well as our Scott sofas that come in leather as well as velvet which we've noticed really pick up at this time of year. 

What's your favourite thing about working at Made.com?

My favourite thing about working at Made is the fact that there's a very dynamic culture so we're not afraid to try things out and get things done. It's a very fast-paced environment and as you can tell we're always bringing out new products - it's just very exciting! 

What inspires the product team?

The product team are always out looking for different trends in the market. They'll also look at what our competitors are doing and also what's going on in the fashion sector. Broadly, they just look at all the trends that are going on. They need to design to cater to different styles and tastes. We have a fairly eclectic style at Made.com, so we're not just about traditional, not just about modern or retro- it's a real mixture of everything so that enables the team to find lots of different things.

We work with a community of designers because they all have different styles. We have a main studio where we design but we also collaborate with over 50 designers who are bringing out new product designs all the time that we'll then manufacture for Made. 

So items that can fit into anyone's home?

Yes! So we're looking for strong accent pieces that when people walk into your home they go 'Wow!' and the product is a real conversation starter, they love the item too and want their own- that's what we want people to do.

Lastly, how did you get into interiors?

I used to actually work for another interiors company before Made.com called Mydeco.com and for me, I personally love doing up my own home, I have a real taste for it.

I can imagine your home looks as amazing as the store!

Yes! My home is 50% Made.com. But yes, I think originally for me it was the opportunity to work in the E-commerce and I love homeware so it made sense to go into that. It's such a fragmented market so when the opportunity struck, I took it.

...and that's a wrap. Ok maybe that seemed slightly longer than 5 minutes but I swear it was, it says so on my phone. It was lovely to meet an inspiring entrepreneur like Annabel and get an insight into her job and Made.com. I hope you enjoyed it too!

Lots of love, Lucie Rose x

Special thanks to Carousel PR for organising a great event & a special thanks to my lovely pal Una for taking some of these photos- you're a real sweetie!

Friday, September 04, 2015
A Bordeaux Travel Guide

A Bordeaux Travel Guide

I sometimes forget how lucky I am in to live in France and have the opportunity to hop on a train or do a car share and be in some of the country's most beautiful and buzzing cities within a few hours. I don't visit as much as I'd like to or should but with my sister just moving to the outskirts of Bordeaux last week- I took this as a chance to finally see somewhere new! In return I agreed to help her move in and sort out her new apartment, give n take and all that. A short 10-15 minute tram ride from her apartment and we were in the city centre ready to explore (and eat)!


I think the first thing that grabbed me about Bordeaux was the gorgeous architecture! You can't get any more typically and traditionally French than the buildings in Bordeaux...it felt like Paris but without the overload of tourists, cars or noise.


We headed straight to la Rue Sainte Catherine aka an absolute haven for shoppers. There is every shop imaginable along this street as well as cafés and restaurants to stop for a break and do some nosey people watching. The road starts out with markets, individual boutiques and make up stores then towards the other end of the street are old favourites like H&M, Zara, Mango and Pimkie as well as a must-visit when in France, the Galaries Lafayettes with all the high end brands. You could easily spend a full day here exploring all the different shops and getting a whole new wardrobe...so get saving!


We left slightly later than planned and had some errands to run beforehand so by the time we arrived in Bordeaux it was already mid lunchtime so we hunted around for somewhere reasonably priced to eat that would leave us satisfied but not so full that we'd need to take a nap! Luckily we came across this little gem - Locadillos.


We were that kind of starving that any idea of food made us weak at the knees so when we saw this place with it's modern, chilled vibe, customers dining al fresco and homely interiors - we were pretty much drawn in.


I'm not going to lie, I was a little confused by the menu seeing as I can barely speak Spanish but the friendly staff explained it all to us, what was on offer and we finally settled on the lunch menu at only 9,50 euros a head. You choose two different types of montaditos, a side and drink. Me and my sister both had a delicious glass of chilled wine each (when in Bordeaux ey), the 'Azteque' and 'Di Buffala' montaditos with patatas bravas on the side. 



As if this restaurant couldn't get any better, we were also given a little mobile (we're talking Nokia circa 2005) with a number and were told we would receive a text when our food was ready to collect...how amazing is that?! Best text i've ever received.




 The meal was presented so perfectly I almost didn't want to touch it, but I was hungry so of course I wasn't going to just stare at it, was I? Nah. As you can tell by the photos (are you drooling?) it was pretty damn beautiful. Everything was delicious with lots of flavour and it left us both feeling full up and satisfied but not stuffed...which in my eyes, ticks all the boxes! 

The 'azteque' montadito had chicken, fried onions and homemade guacamole and the 'di buffala' had juicy tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and homemade pesto and the patatas bravas drizzled with a red pesto type sauce. There was one big flavour party happening in my mouth guys. ANYWAY before you end up drooling all over your computer/smartphone- in short, this restaurant was like a little gift sent from the food gods. If you're heading to Bordeaux, you must visit here! DO IT or regret it for the rest of your sad montadito-less life.


Locadillos: 137 cours victor Hugo, Bordeaux.

While my sister was off at the hairdressers (her priorities), I went for a little wander round the streets myself and stumbled upon Freep'Show. I felt right at home as soon as I stepped in the door...The Cure was playing, I was surrounded by vintage clothes with a disco ball above my head and the walls lined with vinyls...basically, I was in my element. There was everything from vintage dresses to skirts, shoes, bags, leather jackets and much more- for women and men. A real little treasure tucked away in the city centre of Bordeaux- don't miss this place if you're a vintage lover! 

Freep'Show friperie: 80 rue du loup, Bordeaux.

We made a little pit-stop at Place Saint-Projet, a nice little spot with open terrace cafés to stop and recharge your batteries over a drink and do some people watching!


We took a walk down the Garonne riverside where you can see Bordeaux from a different perspective. There are more shops (yes, more), cafés and river cruises to be enjoyed in this area as well as it being a popular spot for joggers, cyclists and picnickers (is that even a thing idk)...a nice quiet part of Bordeaux to be discovered!



Because looking at nice pictures of cakes doesn't make you put on weight and it's (almost) as enjoyable.
After a long day of walking about, eating, window-shopping (it's a hard life) we called it a day and headed back to my sisters apartment. I've been through Bordeaux on my travels but never had the chance to see it properly like this so I was glad to finally discover what it has to offer and I already want to come back again! 

It's a buzzing but easy-going city with something for everyone whether you're keen on museums and galleries, trying out the restaurants, shopping or of course, drinking the Bordeaux wine! Luckily my sister will be in fact studying wine for her year there so if she ever needs a second opinion when wine tasting ... eheh!

So, is Bordeaux on your bucket list?

Lots of love, Lucie Rose x
Sunday, August 30, 2015
A China Travel Guide: Suzhou Photo Diary

A China Travel Guide: Suzhou Photo Diary

I spent a majority of my time over my 4 weeks in China in Suzhou, which I talked about back in my first post so I wanted to share what the city was like! On our days off me and other students explored what the city had to offer from it's most traditional areas to the futuristic, modernised parts. It was strange to one minute see a man in a rice hat sweeping the streets with a broom made out of branches then a man driving a brand new BMW...it was a mixture of the past and future in Suzhou which made the city all the more exciting and also made you realise the vast inequality of this country. As this is my last post about China I decided to round up my best photos taken in Suzhou along with some captions to give you some recommendations where to visit in the city and give you a feel of my stay there.

This was the first time I went to visit the Pingjiang District during my stay. It's one of the most traditional areas in Suzhou with paddle boats rowing on the canals while people stroll alongside on the cobblestone paths - it's literally like being taken back in time!


The road is lined with cute cafes, shops and street food stalls so you can easily spend the day here exploring and trying out some traditional Chinese cuisine.


This was a lovely shop where you could buy Chinese tapestry, paintings, fans and postcards. The guy working there kindly gave me a postcard for free which I sent off to my parents (and it arrived before I got home, wow). This man was painting from a photograph of Suzhou who was happy to let me take photos of him at work.


I tried coconut milk for the first time which was freshly made on the day and it was delicious! Really sweet and refreshing.

Pingjiang Lu is actually where a lot of people live and I couldn't believe what an amazing location they lived on, just in front of a canal in such a tranquil environment! All the residents were so friendly and one man even put chairs out for us and offered us some tea...now when does that ever happen in the UK?


These were taken in an old opera theatre where you could (try to) read about the traditional Chinese opera and the history behind it.


This is when we stopped for dinner on a road just off Pingjiang Lu. It was a small fast food restaurant which didn't exactly look promising from the outside but we were so hungry we didn't care and ordered almost one of everything! The food proved that you shouldn't always judge a restaurant by the outside because it was probably one of my favourite meals from China. They served the best sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice i've ever had.


This was lunchtime at a restaurant just down the road from the university where the Summer school was held, in Suzhou Plaza (note to self: write down names of restaurants). We got rice (of course), marinated courgettes, chicken in a sauce and soup (which usually always came with whatever meal we got for free!).


The view from X'ian Jiaotong Liverpool University.

When in Suzhou, Times Square is a great place to go to experience the modernised Chinese culture and get some retail therapy. We went late in the evening for dinner then went and did something that's very popular amongst the Chinese- karaoke! Or mostly known as KTV. You rent a room per hour (i'm aware that sounds dodgy), can also order drinks and food and then you sing the whole night away with your friends. The idea seemed strange to me, and the interiors of KTV made me feel like I was on some sort of Chinese game show but I've actually been converted and I loved it! They had a big flat screen tv, disco lights, microphones (even tambourines eh!) and a whole selection of songs from Korean, to Chinese to American. Me and my friends got a whole new found respect for singers as by the end of it we practically lost our voices...


Honestly, this was one of my favourite things in China. This is where you get the gifts from god ie. dumplings and baozi...this is what is traditionally had for breakfast and I would recommend everyone to try it!


These are some more shots of when I went to visit Pingjiang Lu a second time. This is of the other half of Pingjiang Lu that I didn't get to see, let's just say it's a pretty long road! It was really busy this time round and the small streets were crammed with people and scooters beeping to get through but it made for a great, vibrant atmosphere!

We came across this Cat Cafe where you can sit and play with cats while you have a drink and food...the cafe of dreams.


The commercial district of Old Town Suzhou where shops were open till after 10pm


The buses which we took nearly everyday...warning: the bus drivers like to beep, a lot.


This was our last night all together in China so we decided to go and do our favourite thing again, karaokeeee! This time we went to the KTV in Suzhou Plaza which was slightly cheaper. We had a great night again belting out Atomic Kitten, Avril Lavigne and S club 7...no shame.


This was my last meal in China with everyone all together so we went to one of the fancier restaurants and got a hot pot! They prepare the food right in front of you so you can see exactly what's going in there...and when I say exactly, I mean exactly...we saw a chicken head which we asked to be removed :) As you do. It was delicious nevertheless and I tried chicken feet, for the first (and last) time! It took me quite a bit of persuading.

That's a wrap for my posts about my 4 week trip round China. I hope you enjoyed these more travel-related posts as I loved putting them together! And I hope for those considering to visit the country that this will give you the push or inspiration to make it happen because it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to go there! Saying that, I definitely want to go more than once in my lifetime. It's honestly like a completely different world and something you can't quite imagine unless you actually go over there and see it for real. It's given me the travel bug now and I can't wait to plan my next adventure. I also managed to get some video shots of China so I will try and put together my first ever 'vlog' shortly and will post it on here, and on my Youtube channel- as my first ever video!

I'm currently on my way to Bordeaux as this post goes live but will be back from Wednesday with photos from the trip and other posts!

Lots of love, Lucie Rose x

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