Its fair to say I've become sparkle obsessed when styling my latest range of prints and posters. Something about autumn always does that to me, trying to recreate the cosy feeling that a little bit of twinkle brings to a room! It's a nice way to gradually make your interior decor look more festive too.
First off I invested in some really lovely night lights. When we moved house Leo and Robyn got their own rooms for the first time so i wanted to get something that would make each space feel special and cosy for them at bedtime, especially if it encouraged them sleep in their own beds!
Since then I've been adding extra touches here and there, I'm planning loads of festive lights throughout the house for christmas but thats a separate post in itself!
Heres my edit of the best children's nightlights/sparkly decor in the shops.
This Smallable Star Light Decoration is in Robyn's Room, Its really good value at £17 for this large size (30cm x 30cm) also available smaller for £7. You do need to use a Euro to UK adapter though, I got a couple on Amazon.
Obsessed with everything Numero74 at the moment, this Star Lantern in Stone Grey is what i chose for Leo's room. Its more expensive at £59 for the smallest size which is 31cm x 31cm. I love the beautiful quality of the fabric like their canopies and it feels really safe to have next to your child's bed as a night light due to the switch length being adjustable from the back.
Zoe Rumeau has a beautiful range of wire and LED lights in loads of cool designs, I found Leo's Moon Light in Smallable, again they are available in two sizes, the smallest is pictured here, they work beautifully against a dark wall.
On my recent trip to Ikea (a weekly occurrence at the moment!) I came across these really cute lights in the christmas decoration section. This Polar Bear at £20 would make a perfect night light, also comes in a smaller size as a squirrel. They also had the paper star lampshades back in lots of options ranging from £5 to £7, I picked up a huge star with cut outs to hang from the ceiling.
These Little Lights LED Letter Lights from Happy Little Folks are next on my list, you can get them in a variety of colours, my favourite is the wooden edge with a white front , love the simple scandi style.
I bought these Pom Pom Fairy Lights from Habitat last year and they have brought them back in this year (£25) I'll definitely be using them in Robyn's room. They also come with Rainbow pom poms.
Finally on my list is this beautiful Jar Lamp Light from La Tete Dans La Bocal, evokes a really magical feel to any room, needs saving up for at £74.
And thats it! hope you enjoyed my little edit, I'd love to hear your thoughts over on instagram @wonderandrah, especially if you have any other products you'd like a round up of.
When our wonderful stockist and mega kids interiors shop THIS MODERN LIFE asked to interview me for their blog i was hugely flattered. I have long been a customer of their shop, I love their ecclectic edit of the best kids interiors trends - they always have exactly what i'm looking for, plus a few other delicious items i never knew i needed :) If you havent already make sure to check out their shop at www.thismodernlife.co.uk
Check our the interview below......
Getting to know Wonder & Rah
‘My ultimate goal was to offer something fun and different in the world of nursery prints.’
Getting to know Wonder and Rah…
At This Modern Life we have always been passionate about supporting other small businesses, and are constantly on the lookout for new brands that match both our style and values. In March this year we were thrilled to welcome Wonder and Rah, a.k.a. Natalie Cardew, into the fold – it just so happens that she was a fan of our work and we were a fan of hers!
Despite being a Mum of two and personally creating each Wonder and Rah piece, Natalie recently took some time out to tell us a little more about herself, her inspiration and how Wonder and Rah came about. (She also let us have a sneak peak into her home – spoiler: prepare for some serious décor envy!)
Pre Wonder and Rah…
I was a Senior Merchandiser at Kurt Geiger. It was a very analytical role which focussed on range planning, trading and stock control to drive profit; it was a really interesting position with lots of lovely perks but completely different to what I’m doing now.
The birth and journey of Wonder and Rah…
I decided against returning to work after having my second child Robyn. I had returned to work four days a week after having my first, Leo, but a combination of working hours, commuting and nursery fees made me rethink my career path. I took a year’s maternity leave with Robyn which gave me lots of thinking time. I really wanted to get back to my creative roots having studied illustration at University and have always had a huge passion for interiors, especially in prints and pattern.
My first illustration sold on Etsy, and it was my first time ever selling any of my artwork. I created a shop, uploaded about 20 designs and told all my friends and family about it through Instagram and Facebook. Soon the word spread and I started to sell. In truth it was all very organic. I didn’t start with a business plan, more with a hobby that quickly grew into something that I could see had a viable future. I had no idea how much I would enjoy doing my own thing.
I get my inspiration from everywhere, I love fashion and am inspired by emerging trends, but it could also be something I see out and about or something the children mention. I keep a visual scrapbook on my phone to collate them all.
When I do have the initial idea for a new design, be it colour combination, pattern or subject matter, I start sketching ideas out. Nearly all my prints begin their life as a painting, either in ink or watercolour. I then scan them and adapt them in Photoshop. I love the flexibility this gives me as it means I can work in sections – handy with small children around! Sometimes they end up really similar to the initial idea, other times they completely change, for example my whale print actually started as a turtle!
So many things have surprised me about running my own business. Wonder and Rah evolved so naturally, I never expected to be doing this as my job. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised at the amazing support I’ve received from customers out there who make a point of choosing to support businesses when they shop, there are so many amazing small business brands out there!
Challenges along the way…
For me, I think everything was a challenge at first. I felt like I knew so little even though I came from a retail background. Print quality is hugely important to me so I had to do a lot of research into papers and printers, then there’s the practicalities such as creating your own webshop and doing tax returns.
Something I hadn’t anticipated being a challenge was working alone. It can be lonely working solo but that’s why I love Instagram, for the small business community I have met through there. I’m also part of Southwood Social Hub which is a brilliant network of business women who all share knowledge in their specialities.
Being approached by stockists was a really exciting moment for me. As a long-term customer, I was thrilled when This Modern Life got in touch. I was also really excited to see my work at Liberty, my first bricks and mortar stockist. I love getting the chance to personalise my prints at their ‘Meet the Founder’ events – it’s such a thrill to chat with my customers in person.
The future of Wonder and Rah…
I love to collaborate with other businesses so I’m currently working on some really exciting projects for the summer. I also have lots of plans for my shop, I will continue to expand my range and hopefully look at other product areas.
This month i was very lucky to be featured in one of my favourite interiors blogs '91 Magazine'. A massive thank you to the wonderful Catherine Binnie for interviewing me, make sure to check out their gorgeous magazine and blog at www.91magazine.co.uk.
And you can check out the interview below!
MEET THE MAKER
This month we talk family, colour palettes and printers with Natalie Cardew, the designer behind contemporary kids wall art company, Wonder and Rah.
We begin by asking designer Natalie to pick her favourite Wonder and Rah print, ‘Big Balloon, definitely, although I also love Love Rains and Rainbow Rain. And Kissing Bunnies. It’s impossible,’ she laughs, ‘now you can see why I have such difficulty keeping the web shop streamlined! I can’t face taking any prints away.’
Not that it’s posed much of a problem; since launching Wonder and Rah in April 2016, Natalie’s designs have proven extremely popular – the wide range is clearly welcomed by customers. ‘I’m so lucky the response has been so lovely,’ Natalie says, ‘but I’m currently working on a new collection, so I’m going to have to force myself to edit the range down soon… or at least try!’
As you might expect of a designer specialising in wall art for children’s rooms, the origins of Wonder and Rah are rooted in family, or more specifically, a way of making more time for family. ‘Starting Wonder and Rah was in large part a response to the age-old story of a skewed work life balance,’ Natalie recalls, ‘I’d just had my second child and realised that there was no way I could manage a senior job in retail and have any sort of quality time with my children.’ The job, as senior merchandiser for Kurt Geiger, involved long days at the office and working weekends. ‘I had gone back to work after Leo, my eldest was born, and it was a real strain. On paper, I worked four days a week, but the reality was much longer, stressful days. When I got pregnant with my second child, I knew it wasn’t sustainable.’
So, Natalie took some time out, ‘which didn’t feel like a risk at the time, the huge cost of childcare meant that it almost didn’t matter if I worked or not,’ Natalie says, ‘it was an ideal chance to take a break, care for the children and work out what I wanted to do next.’
What came next was a return to a long-held passion; art and illustration. Natalie studied Illustration at Middlesex University, and on graduation surprised her family by going into retail. ‘That was a bit of leftfield decision. Having loved art for so long, I think the pressure of trying to make it into a job freaked me out a bit. Once I started working I found I was doing less and less creative work, but it was always in the background, as something I wanted to get back to.’
Natalie started designing and opened her Etsy shop in April 2016, with a selection of prints, some of which – like Kissing Bunnies and Rainbow Rain are still bestsellers. Not On The High Street and her own Shopify website followed soon after. ‘I was really surprised and encouraged by the response. I’d always planned to sell the prints, but I didn’t necessarily assume people would buy them, if that makes sense!’ Natalie laughs, ‘I thought it would be a hobby, something I loved to do, and a creative outlet, rather than a fully fledged business.’
The time constraints of balancing work and family life also shaped Natalie’s creative process. ‘Initially I tried to create entire designs in one go, but with childcare, I could only work in short snippets of time. I would start a watercolour design, have to leave it unfinished, and by the time I’d come back to it would be dried out and the colours set wrong. It was costing me a fortune in watercolours,’ Natalie laughs, ‘so I decided to break the design into sections, each on a different sheet, so I could work and complete an entire section at a time. Then, scan each section on to my computer and create a collage design. Even though it was an approach born of necessity, I found that I actually preferred the look. So, the Wonder and Rah style was created by happy accident, really.’
Natalie designs and produces her prints from her spare room. Each design starts as a hand drawn or hand printed design, in watercolour or ink, and is scanned on to her computer where she finalises the designs. Natalie is particular about the materials she uses. ‘It has to be the best paper – archival quality so I know it won’t fade or yellow. Depending on the design, I’ll use watercolours, acrylics or black ink.’
‘I’m really finicky about quality, and one of the high points of the year was getting my own professional printer. I had a nightmare trying to find a printing company who could deliver the quality I wanted. I had so many batches come back from the printers in the wrong colour, or incorrectly aligned or smudged. It was so frustrating. It’s such a relief to be in control of the process myself. I like the immediacy of being able to design something, sell it and get it out to the customer within a couple of days, and having that total quality control is something which is really important to me.’ So, there’s a lot of love for the printer, ‘Ha, yes! Sad but true.’
How does Natalie tackle the design process? ‘My starting point is always colour and colour combinations, then comes the design. My first collection was full of blush pinks, jade green and greys; the second monochrome with pops of colour, and I’m currently working on some designs in more muted neutral shades as well as some lovely jewel colours.’
‘I like to range plan, and to work in ‘collections’ with a similar colour palette – a throwback to my time in merchandising. It helps give me clarity.’
There’s been a boom in homeware and design for children’s rooms over recent years, how easy is it to stand out in what must be a saturated market?
‘It’s definitely a saturated market, and there’s very similar themes. There’s an awful lot of dinosaurs, bunnies, bears in hats out there already,’ Natalie laughs, ‘so you have to make sure that whatever you do you have a strong, original take on it.’
Sounds like it’s important to keep an eye on the work of other designers? ‘Yes. The last thing I want to do is design something similar to another person’s work. I’ve had to abandon work mid-design because I’ve seen something similar done elsewhere.’
Influences are wide and varied and not confined to children’s designers. Natalie keeps a visual scrapbook on her phone, a collection of inspirational and interesting images. ‘I’m influenced by so many different things,’ Natalie says, ‘from big artists like Egon Schiele and Hockney, illustrators and typography print makers like David Shrigley, CocoLapine, Playtype to fashion photography and interiors trends.’
‘For me part of the beauty of designing prints is that you can dip in and out trends. Wonder and Rah has an overall style, but I like the freedom to explore trends that resonate with me, and not have to stick to a rigid aesthetic.’
Mid-way through the year, Natalie was approached by Liberty about stocking her work, that must have been a high point? ‘Amazing and completely unexpected,’ Natalie says, ‘I’d made some custom designs for Jo of Scamp and Dude, which were featured on her Wear and Where blog and spotted by one of their buyers. I had to pinch myself when a few weeks later I found myself at Liberty presenting my designs. Even more dreamlike to actually see my work on the shelves!’
‘Collaborating with kids clothing company Lennie & Co has been another highlight. I’d been a massive fan of Amy [Lennie and Co founder] for a while, so when she got in touch via Instagram I was really pleased and up for working together. We’re hoping to do some more designs later this year.'
Any New Year resolutions for Wonder and Rah? ‘I want to start approaching stockists. The few shops that stock my work approached me, and I’m excited to see what I can achieve by expanding through wholesale.’
Wonder and Rah is a year old in April, any lessons learnt from the last year? ‘Apart from buying a printer, you mean?’ Natalie laughs, ‘It’s still a learning process. I’m still learning how to organise my time, how to work on my own – so weird after twelve years in a busy open plan office – how to work creatively.’
‘I hadn’t designed in so long, I can’t quite express what it means to me that people like my work enough to buy it. To be honest, the fact that I’m doing it as a business, and that it’s going ok, is enough really,’ she smiles, ‘to put it simply I’m just very happy with the fact that Wonder and Rah exists.’
Describe your work in three words:
Hip. Contemporary. Happy.
What are your making rituals?
I always need the radio on! I also love listening to podcasts and Desert Island Discs.
Tea or coffee?
Tea, then coffee, then tea, then coffee...
Mountains or sea?
Sea every time.
Night owl or early bird?
Early bird. I love mornings and am useless at being productive in the evenings.
I wish someone had told me...
That there really is no right or wrong way to start a business, you'll never feel ready, just start and learn as you go!
I'm so thrilled to be launching this mini collection with my faves, Lennie & Co, the creators of happy unisex clothes for kids.
Through Wonder and Rah I've become a huge follower and supporter of small businesses and have long been a customer of Lennie & Co's beautiful children's tees.
It's always been an ambition of mine to use my designs for apparel and so I couldn't have been more excited to join up with the lovely Amy and unite our kids decor and kids apparel brands.
You probably already know what a stickler for quality I am, I produce my children's prints on the highest quality fine art paper to archival standard to ensure longevity. Lennie & Co share this passion for quality and produce their tees on the most beautiful soft quality cotton that really lasts - i can vouch for that!
We selected two of my bestselling poster designs - kissing bunnies and the rocket and I'm so happy with the results!
The monochrome prints look super cool against a variety of white, grey and sherbet t-shirts, both in long and short sleeves.
Head on over to www.lennieandco.co.uk and check out this awesome range, I hope you love it as much as we do xxx
As a print designer its always really exciting to see someone else's vision for your product, the design process (and the one mum band process of selling) can be so insular, you are so close to the imagery that when its finally released into the world theres nothing more interesting than seeing how someone else interprets your vision.
Thats where the amazing Max and Duke came in, i discovered their beautiful and inspiring feed through instagram and immediately fell in love with their innovative style. Unsurprising really as you all know i have a huge love of all things antipodean in interiors :) and general lifestyle for that matter!
I was looking for someone to create some really special images to celebrate the launch of my new e-shop so was thrilled when Amy and Bianca agreed to share their skills and style my nursery posters.
They specialise in creating exciting children's interiors and party styling, match made in W&R heaven!
Coming from a background in fine art and events management and both being in the early throws of motherhood, they are living and breathing children's interiors specialists!
So here they are! Its been so exciting to receive these beautiful images of my children's wall art and even more exciting to share them with you.
I hope you find them as inspiring for your own home as i have........xx
Wow, can't believe we're here!
Launching this website was something I wasn't planning on doing for a long time yet. It was a combination of your fantastic response as customers and my absolute pleasure in designing and selling them that meant i both wanted and needed more control over what and how I put my brand out there.
Please enjoy perusing the shop page, all the designs you know us for are there plus some new and exciting designs too. You'll also see many more options in terms of size of print, bundle purchasing and in the coming months - sparkly new products too :)
I'm so excited to continue growing this brand that I love here in its new virtual home, I'll be using this blog to keep you up to date with all things W&R plus my favourite happenings in the world of interiors, because as you probably know already, i am OBSESSED!!!
Thanks so much for visiting! xxxxxxxxx
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