Earlier this year I wrote a post about expat.com, and since then the team have been kind enough to feature my blog on their website and interview me about my experience of moving to the UK. You can take a look at the interview by following the link below:
I recently read a book that dragged me in from the very opening, "Otto, the letter began in blue ink. I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. Don't worry, I've left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come back.Yours (always) Etta."
In that short opening statement, I was gripped. I had to know who Etta and Otto were and why Etta wanted to walk to the water. I guess in a way, the thought of going on an adventure like Etta was embarking on appealed to me and I wanted to go along. As I delved further into the story, I wanted to know everything about these people and their lives, and Emma Hooper's debut novel expertly intertwines stories and lives for the main characters mentioned in the title. I recently saw Emma Hooper discuss her novel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and was thrilled when Penguin Books gave me the opportunity to grill Emma about the book and her writing process.....
You wrote the novel using three different points of view and alternating narrative timelines. What challenges or rewards did this intricate structure give you as you worked?
They say “A change is as good as a rest” and I found this to be immensely true while writing this book; being able to swap between times and voices ensured that whenever I hit a wall with a certain person or plot, instead of having to quit for the day and go for a run or a bowl of cereal, I could switch perspectives or time frames for a renewed sense of energy and excitement. The hope was that it would work the same way for readers… .
The challenge was not getting lost or tangled up in my own storylines. There were certainly times when (like Etta…) I had to stop and think, ‘wait… who’s thinking this? Where are we? Who are we…?!’
You grew up in Alberta, relatively close to the fictional home of Etta, Otto, and Russell. How did the geography of Canada inspire your writing? Did you draw from personal experience when mapping out travel in the novel?
My mother’s family is from rural Saskatchewan (to be honest, the vast majority of Saskatchewan is rural…), and I spent many, many childhood vacations there, out walking in the wheat and sun (and mosquitoes). It’s a landscape unlike any other I have encountered, with a dry emptiness that is so vast and striking. Even though it’s not where I spent most of my time growing up, when I’m nostalgic for home it’s for these sorts of open spaces, that kind of dry air.
I have never walked across Canada from that point, but I have taken the train all the way from Alberta through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick to the water, observing the drastic changes in landscape as well as the just plain massive hugeness of this place that all counts as “home”.
You tightly intertwine the lives of Etta, Otto, and Russell from childhood, but James shares a relationship only with Etta. At what point did you realize that a talking coyote would be Etta’s guide during her journey?
I tend not to plan ahead very much in my writing, so I found out about James at just about the same time as Etta did; I like letting my imagination take over in a sort of cruise-control in that way, asking myself as I write, ‘so, what happens now?’ ‘oh, she meets a coyote.’ ‘And then?’ ‘He licks her feet.’ ‘and then?’ ‘he talks.’ ‘and then…?’ etc. Writing a novel for me is just really asking ‘and then?’ over and over again and trying not to question or doubt my own crazy answers.
Folklore and magic realism feature prominently in the novel. How do you feel these traditions have influenced you as a writer? What authors have inspired you most?
My imagination runs away with me a fair amount in ‘normal’ life… the other day I saw some metal piping hanging from a window and I thought: those look like robot arms… like robot arms hung like carcasses at a butcher’s … like we eat robots like we do animals… hmm… and then I’m off, imagining what that world would be like, getting to invent and, at least temporarily, inhabit it. A whole other world! It’s very exciting. I love the idea that you can imagine anything, anything, you want and then work backwards to make it work within a comprehendable universe.
I also had a moment recently where I saw some garbage bags by the side of the road that looked like sea lions. I knew they weren’t, actually, but, it got me imagining a world where we’d put sea lions out at the side of the road every week. Why? Why not? This is one of my very favourite parts of being a writer.
I’ve been inspired by many authors in many different ways. Reading Dave Eggers in university opened my eyes to the idea that narrative-form could be playful and non-linear, and that comedy and tragedy could work off each other within the same work. Marquez made the magical mundane in a really beautiful way while Borges was the first to show me how prose could reflect back on itself in structural spirals. Right now I’m very fond of Karen Russell and the half-real half-imagined universes her writing occupies… .
How would you best describe your process? Do you keep a single space dedicated to writing or do you move around? What time of day do you find yourself most productive?
I try to have a dedicated space. I have a great little loft with an lovely old desk and a rug with owls on it and a hand-made-by-a-child pencil-jar; however I almost never use it. I do a lot of my best writing in little bits and pieces between other things. On trains to London or in scrappy notebooks in the middle of walks or in dim, sticky bars during band sound-checks. When I do work at home, it’s most often on the floor… I really like curling up on rugs with my laptop for some reason. Maybe because I had cats as a kid?
I do, also, like café writing. There was a period of time when every week, my friend Simon and I would agree to meet at a new, different café in Bath, and sit at different tables and not speak to each other. The idea was that the peer pressure of having the other person there writing/working would spur us on. And it worked (for me at least…). We would agree on a stop-time, and, once that rolled around, we’d quit working, go sit at the same table, and allow ourselves to socialize a bit. At this point we’d also give that particular café ratings according to things like level of noise, tastiness of hot chocolate (which is what I usually ordered), availability of gluten-free snacks (which is what Simon usually ordered), etc. We put it all into a giant spreadsheet we still have somewhere… . It’s worth noting that this is something I kept up when I moved to London for a year and was working on the book’s edits. In this case it was my friend Jason I’d meet, fortnightly, and we’d share one silent table instead of two (London cafés are more crowded), but the overall formula was the same. And we’ve got a spreadsheet of café ratings for London too… .
As for time of day, any but the middle, really. Morning and night are great. During the middle of the day I’m too distracted and just want to run around or nap… . (Usually I’m meant to be giving a lecture or playing a rehearsal or something like that though, sadly.)
You are an accomplished musician and educator who wears a lot of hats. How has your formal training in music influenced your writing? How has your prose influenced your songwriting?
Well, I do hold unreasonably high standards for lyrics… I have song-writer friends who are afraid to show me theirs for fear of harsh criticism… (Though actually they’re all amazing, my song-writer friends. Check out Cajita, for example… beautiful. With great lyrics.)
Rhythm is a big part of my writing. I’ll often go back and change phrases because they have too many or not enough syllables, or the emphasis falling in the wrong place, regardless of the actual meaning of the words. The rhythm of prose can pull you in and along just like it can in music. This is something people acknowledge in poetry, I think, but that gets less attention in prose. However, I think it’s equally important in the latter, maybe even more so, for me, since long chunks of writing need that rhythm to keep pulling you along and through, both as writer and reader. This explains, among other things, my love of repetition…
Each character responds differently to Etta’s choice to walk halfway across the country, and she is received with everything from humility and anger to hope and sensationalist conjecture. What do you want readers to take away most from her bold decision?
In the words of my Etta, I would love for them to, “go do whatever, wherever. Go do it alone, and now, because you want to and you’re allowed to and you can.” This could be writing a book or starting a astronomy degree or cutting your own hair or learning Mandarin or any other thing they’ve always wanted to do.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James is in book stores now. I love this YouTube video by Penguin Books
(click here to see it) asking Emma Hooper about the inspiration behind her novel.
Check out my Facebook and Twitter profiles for your chance to WIN a copy of Etta and Otto and Russell and James (UK & Ireland addresses only)
Tartan Tree is the brainchild of Elizabeth Gault and started off as a project to help her son's preschool with items for a stall. Tartan and tweed corsages quickly morphed into handmade metal jewellery which incorporated sea glass necklaces inspired by years of beach combing. Elizabeth now works with sterling silver and copper to make her designs which give her the perfect work-from-home job. I recently caught up with Elizabeth to find out a little bit more about her business.
Have you always been interested in jewellery design?
I haven't always been particularly interested in jewellery design, but have always had an interest in arts & crafts. My masters is in Liberal Arts specialising in Environmental Studies, which had some creative elements to it. Between graduating and having my children I had a variety of jobs, none of which were in the creative industries. However recently when looking through old school work I happened upon my Standard Grade Art assignment which I had completely forgotten about...it was designing a jewellery collection inspired by sea life/shoreline finds.
Did you teach yourself how to make the pieces or did you do a course?
I'm entirely self taught when it comes to jewellery making. There is a wealth of information out there in books and online and then it's just practice, practice and more practice!
How long does it take to design and make a piece?
As quickly as I can! I'm very impatient once I have an idea and hate having to wait for materials or tools to arrive for example. Some items are quite quick to put together whilst others take considerably more time to make up. I'm learning to be more patient as I go. I always have lots of ideas but unfortunately my imagination works quicker than my hands.
Do you sketch your designs before making them?
Some of my designs are sketched first but more often than not I just have an idea in mind and start making...my pieces evolve as I work.
What inspires your designs?
My designs are inspired by my love of the world around me. There is so much beauty to be found in nature. Living so close to the coast it was inevitable that it would play a large part in inspiring my work. I also tend to make a fair bit inspired by Scotland and it's landscape, flora, fauna and culture. Another source of ideas are my customers, particularly face to face at stalls where they suggest ideas I may not otherwise have considered. For this reason I also love working on commissions as I enjoy the challenge and find I can push the boundaries of what I have previously considered to be doable.
Any advice for someone wanting to try their hand at jewellery design?
I'd say go for it, but be prepared to work hard as there are a lot of people out there doing it and trying to sell in a fairly saturated market. It's hard to get seen. Also it costs an awful lot set yourself up with all the tools and equipment you need. A short course would probably be the best way to dip your toe in the water if you can find one nearby.
What do you love most about Scotland?
I love the landscape, I love to be out in it and if for some reason I'm not for a few days I definitely notice a dip in my mood. Scotland has been my home for 30 years now and I am so grateful that it has given me a wonderful husband and my beautiful children.
Check out the Tartan Tree Facebook page here
Shop online here
I recently attending the Edinburgh College of Art Fashion Show and was blown away by the variety of talent on offer, one designer in particular caught my eye- Imogen Woolley, who created costumes based on the story 'The Snow Child'. I had to know more, and set about asking her how she came to create something so beautiful.
What inspired you to study performance costume at the ECA?
When I first visited Edinburgh, I knew that it was somewhere I saw myself being. It is full of culture, and so many interesting and inspiring places. The course is very diverse and allows you to work very individually and focus on things you like doing. It incorporates lots of different skills such as textiles, graphic design, life drawing, illustration, puppetry and millinery, which is great for giving a well-rounded education in design for performance.
How did you come up with the idea for the costumes you presented in the ECA Fashion Show?
In total I designed 20 costumes this year, so I went through a process of initial research followed by fabric sampling and then design development. I would primarily focus on the text, so for the Snow Child I focused on the incredible weather descriptions that carry the story. This would then inspire any textile work, which I would then translate into particular characters, and develop further until I felt it worked successfully. There was a lot of quick paced decision making and constant thinking involved.
How long did it take to make the costumes?
It’s hard to tell, as you are generally multitasking with other projects at the same time, probably each costume would have been completed in a couple of weeks.
Describe the creative process...
For the general colour schemes I would focus my designs on a colour pallet I chose from my research. For the Snow Child, being set in Alaska, I focused my colours on Alaskan Architecture, focusing on muted primary tones that are present in many of the houses in the small towns. The Snow child has strong links with magic realism, so I wanted my textiles to have a cross between natural materials and synthetics. However for Belleville Rendezvous I worked more with 1970s research, taking inspiration from various fashion styles such as flower power translating them into the characters. Each of my designs was there to represent the character, that being, the colours and textures were the main objectives in my work.
You're in your third year of your degree, which project or costume that you have designed is your favourite?
I’ve had my ups and downs with all three costumes, but generally I found the Triplet from Belleville Rendezvous the most fun to make. However, visually I think the boy (Garret) from the Snow Child was my favourite, as it was the first one I made and I was able to keep returning to it to add more or less.
What are your career aspirations for when you finish your degree?
To be happy, and to work in a highly motivating and creative environment.
What is your favourite thing about studying at the Edinburgh College of Art?
The people; I’ve met some of the best friends on this course. Being a class on twelve we have worked well as a team and pushed but supported each other continuously.
How did you feel when you saw your finished costumes being modeled in the ECA Fashion Show?
I felt relieved. It was nerve-racking experience but really exciting at the same time. It was great to not only see your own work come to life, but to see everyone else’s too.
Any advice for anyone wanting to study Performance Costume at the ECA?
Enjoy it, take it as it comes and don’t stop even when it gets tough. It’s a hard course with long hours and a lot of pressure. But it gets better, and it becomes a massive creative curve where you really build your skills and learn about yourself and what you like doing most. However, be aware that it is VERY expensive course to fund, with lots of added extras and material costs.
What's your favourite thing about Edinburgh?
This is tricky, I think probably the fact you can instantly get to incredible countryside. There are also lots of areas in Edinburgh to explore, and the architecture is beautiful. Most of all I always feel safe, which makes it such a great place to live in.
If you would like to contact Imogen about her work, you can email her at email@example.com
Sewing is seeing a surge in popularity in the past year thanks to shows like The Great British Sewing Bee, and the good news is that sewing workshops are popping up all over the country so that you can give it a go too. One woman who has had a love of sewing since she was little is Iona Barker. Sewing extraordinaire and owner of Say It Ain't Sew, Iona runs classes in Edinburgh and Glasgow to help get people back into the art of sewing. I caught up with her recently to have a chat about her classes and what inspires her.
What first inspired you to sew?
My Grandmother had an old fashioned hand- operated Singer sewing machine that I was fascinated with. My mum also had an electric Singer. They both had boxes of buttons and ribbons that were so exciting to look through.
You studied Fashion Business at Glasgow Caledonian University. What valuable lesson did the course teach you about the fashion industry?
I learned a lot about myself and my style while I was at uni. It was hard work and the tutors really put us through our paces. I think that they were giving us training as to how the real world fashion industry works. It can be a very hard place to be in at times.
Who is your style icon?
It's too hard to just choose one! I have so many: Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Manson, Pam Hogg, Gwen Stefani, Brian Molko and David Bowie. A real mix there!
You started Say it Ain't Sew in Glasgow in 2010, where did the idea come from and how did you get the business off the ground?
It was sheer fluke- A friend of a friend was opening up the Hillhead Bookclub in the West end of Glasgow. They were looking for fun classes and workshops to run in the evenings and they wanted to run a sewing one. My heart leapt at the chance, so I met with the manager and here I am 5 years later!
When I first moved to Scotland, people would tell me that there is a huge difference between fashion in Glasgow and fashion in Edinburgh- which do you think has better style?
GLASGOW!! I love Edinburgh to bits and I do spend a lot of time in Edinburgh. It has a lot of great looking people who wear what they want, but Glasgow has a fantastic club/music scene which I think reflects in the clothing and style. It's very raw.
Tell us a little about what people can expect from a Say it Ain't Sew class.
Say It Ain't Sew is two hours of non-stop fun. It starts at 6:30 when you are welcomed into the group (get your name badge) then grab a drink from the bar. I then explain the first few steps of the project. We make something different each week and its always a task that is easy and do-able within the two hours. We chat, sometimes have cake/sweets and then sew away. There are some regulars who make all the newbies feel right at home and it's a great atmosphere. Beginners are totally welcome and all the steps are broken down in to easy to manage parts and the group works together to make everyone's items.
Are you working on a sewing project at the moment, and if so what are you working on?
At the moment I am working in MAKLab in Glasgow, which is a design and prototyping studio. In MAKLab I am running textile workshops. I am also working with a Glasgow-based fashion company called Naromode. You can see me on STV Glasgow very soon also!
Any advice for someone who is completely new to sewing but wants to give it a go?
You gotta be in it to win it and creativity will save us all.
Do you have a favourite designer/ clothing store?
I can't get enough of our Naromode designs at the moment- beautiful prints and easy to wear fabrics.
You lived in London for a while but moved back to Glasgow- what is your favourite thing about Scotland?
Want to find out more about Say It Ain't Sew Classes? check out the Facebook page for Edinburgh and Glasgow
How Jessica Stafford Cameron made it to Scotland reads like the plot of a romance novel. Girl gets heart broken (many times), girl decides to go on holidays somewhere with no men, girl meets man of her dreams, girl moves to Scotland, girl has romantic wedding in historic Scottish castle. To top it off, Jessica has followed her career dreams and now illustrates children's books that her Father-in-law Sir Roy Cameron writes. I caught up with Jessica to find out more about her work and what she loves about her new home, Scotland.
Tell me a little about how you started out as an illustrator
As a child I would draw on everything; the walls, my skin, my sister, my dolls and even the family dog. It was no surprise to my family that I went on to study art and design.
I have seven years of formal creative design education including; a MA in Design from University of Leeds - 2013, a Certificate in Graphic Design from Santa Rosa Junior College - 2009, and a BA in Art with an Art History Minor from San Diego State University - 2006.
You've illustrated three books with your Father-in-law, how did the idea to work together begin?
The first book I published was A Highland Boyhood in Ardnamurchan, describing my Scottish husband’s late grandfather Angus Cameron’s experience growing up in the Highlands of Scotland. I gave it to my father-in-law Roy as a birthday present.
Roy began writing stories for his grandchildren, my niece and nephew, to entertain them while he babysat. The stories were excellent and as soon as I heard them I wanted to illustrate them. I illustrated and published I Once Had a Chimpanzee last year and will be launching our new book The Tale of Jessie the Highland Cow at Oxfam Byres Road Books on Saturday 25 April at 1pm.
How long does it take to illustrate a children's book?
It takes me a couple of hours per illustration.
The books are self-published, how long is the process from initial idea to self-publication?
It is very easy to self publish. It is really just a matter of uploading PDFs. The difficulty lies in marketing the books and getting the books stocked in stores. I am now attempting to get our books stocked in the gift shop at castles and in local bookstores.
You have a book launch coming up on the 25th of April, is it exciting to see your work in print?
It is very exciting to see our work in print and have a book launch. So far only our relatives really know about the books so it will be interesting introducing the books to the public.
I met Rachel the manager of Oxfam Books at a free sewing club called Say It Ain’t Sew that is every Tuesday at 6:30pm at Hillhead Book club on Byres Road and she generously offered to host us at Oxfam Books Saturday 25 April at 1pm. I also redesigned the Say It Ain’t Sew logo. (note: for full event details see end of post)
Are you working on any other illustration projects at the moment?
Roy is absolutely prolific and has written a lot stories. We have a few books in mind to illustrate and publish soon.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to be an illustrator or self publish a book of their own?
"No matter how wonderful our dreams, how noble our ideals, or how high our hopes, ultimately we need courage to make them a reality. Without action, it’s as if they never existed.” – Ikeda
What's your favourite thing about Scotland?
I love the Scottish accent and all the words Scottish people use. I love hearing 'wee' in every sentence and being called 'hen'. I like to visit the castles in Scotland and go on walks in the countryside. I even like haggis and whiskey now.
Any advice for expats wanting to move to Scotland?
The world is small. Sometimes the grass actually is greener on the other side.
Meet Jessica and Sir Roy Cameron in person at one of their upcoming events:
Saturday 25 April 1pm at Oxfam Books on Byres Road
Tuesday 26 May 6:30pm at Edinburgh Central Library
There will be the opportunity at both events to ask both author and illustrator questions about their creative processes, view original illustrations and hear readings by the author.
There are few books that I have read in my life time that truly sum up my idea of the ideal novel. I love anything set in Victorian times, a little mystery mixed with a little romance, and most importantly a flamboyant and interesting set of characters. The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by first time author Vaughn Entwistle ticks all of those boxes. Written as an 'over the top paranormal mystery romp', the novel features Arthur Conan Doyle as a main character and the enigmatic (and my favourite) Oscar Wilde as his side kick.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Vaughn Entwistle about his books and writing.
Arthur Conan Doyle is the main character in The Revenant of Thraxton Hall- are you a big fan of his work?
I am a huge Conan Doyle fan! Growing up I watched every television and movie version of Sherlock Holmes. As a young reader I blasted through the Baker Street stories and went on to mine the other rich veins of Conan Doyle’s creative genus.
I’ve always thought it a shame that his expansive talent has been overshadowed by the fame of the fictional detective he created. It’s true that Sherlock Holmes has come to define the modern mystery genre, but beyond his fictional consulting detective, Conan Doyle was an innovator whose works spanned a broad spectrum. He helped create a number of genres and sub-genres familiar to modern readers, including: time-slip, dystopian, utopian, gothic horror, techno-fiction and some truly genre-defying works that can only be gathered together under an umbrella term such as “weird fiction,” or “strange tales.”
Were you concerned about including such famous real life people (Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde) in a fictitious story line?
Yes and no. Both are famous public figures now part of the historical record. As such, they are fair game for writers who wish to use them as characters in their own works of fiction. I was reasonably confident I could pull off Conan Doyle: I was already familiar with his canon, so my character research entailed re-reading the stories, poring through biographies, and then reading his collected letters. (I have read the collected letters of both Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. They are invaluable sources since they allow you to hear the author speak his own thoughts in his own voice). I did, however, have major reservations when it came to Oscar Wilde. Could I convincingly capture the essence of one of the world’s greatest wits? Well, all I can say that—based upon many book reviews—my readers seem to think I pulled it off.
How did you come up with the story line of The Revenant of Thraxton Hall?
I had decided to write a mystery novel set in Victorian England. Having just completed a ton of historical research from my Victorian suspense novel, The Angel of Highgate, I was well grounded in the era. As he is a personal hero of mine, I decided to use Arthur Conan Doyle as my sleuth. With his interest in detecting and enthusiasm for spiritualism and the occult, he was the perfect detective for a mystery story with a paranormal twist.
The Revenant of Thraxton Hall is your first novel- how long was the process between the first idea and finally seeing it published?
Much, much, much longer than you would think. At any rate, much longer than I thought. I came up with the concept mid-way through 2011. The novel took around six months (working full-time) to write. When I finished it, I really felt like I had something quite special. I did not have an agent at the time and, perhaps somewhat arrogantly, I began by querying some of the biggest agents in the United States. From my initial raft of ten queries, I had multiple requests for the full manuscript, and finally signed with Kimberley Cameron of Kimberley Cameron and Associates. Amazingly, Kimberley sold the novel in just six months. At the end there was a kind of mini-bidding war between three interested publishers. I signed with the very prestigious St. Martin’s Press, with the book being published by their mystery imprint, Minotaur.
How did it feel when you heard your book was going to be published?
I was ecstatic. My brain was floating on a cloud of endorphin's for days. But things didn't get real until the postman thumped a heavy cardboard box on the doorstep. Inside were my author’s copies of the book, hot off the press. Holding my first published book in my hands, complete with my mug shot on the dust jacket, is a once in lifetime experience.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I have been writing stories in my head since early childhood (my parents wouldn't pay for therapy). I graduated from university with a Master’s Degree in English and have been earning a crust as a writer/editor since college. (And when I say crust, I mean crust). However, like many English majors who dream of becoming a famous novelist, the reality is that you wind up earning a living writing technical manuals, marketing collateral, press releases and what not. Now, I’m finally able to turn my inability to face reality into a career.
Do you have any tips for any budding writers?
Before you set out on the road decide if you have a high pain threshold. For writers, rejection is constant and never ending—even when you are published. Expect to lose friends and neglect relationships because writing requires a huge investment of hours. Even after you've put in the time required to write a novel (it takes most people three years), it is extremely challenging to land an agent and, as my story shows, the publishing process literally takes years.
Edinburgh plays a big part in the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, any plans to set one of your novels in Edinburgh?
Edinburgh did make a short guest appearance in The Revenant of Thraxton Hall (or should that be short “ghost” appearance?). While I have no definite plans as yet, Edinburgh does seem inevitable, doesn't it? A medieval city warrened with alleyways, Gothic and shadowy, with a morbidly rich history of hauntings and body snatchers. I would also need to work in that most famous of Edinburgh delicacies, a deep-fried Mars Bar.
Vaughn Entwistle's next Paranormal Casebooks novel featuring Arthur Conan Doyle called 'The Dead Assassin' is out in 2015. Click here to read the book blurb.
'The Angel of Highgate' is out in March 2015. The novel is set earlier then The Revenant of Thraxton Hall and features Lord Geoffrey Thraxton. Click here to read to the book blurb.
For more information about Vaughn Entwistle and his work, visit www.vaughnentwistle.com
Read more book recommendations here
"Every gift should provide a buzz and a happy face"- at least that's what Love from Indie Street's founder Rebecca Christensen thinks. With Christmas less than 5 weeks away, it's time to start thinking about presents and Love From Indie Street could be the best idea to come along in a while. Uninspired by the gift vouchers from big brands that she had received in the past, Rebecca got the idea to create a collective of local, independent businesses in Edinburgh that you could buy gift vouchers from online.
"Love from Indie Street meets the growing demand for people to be able to buy gifts online whilst encouraging people to go out on to the streets of Edinburgh to use the vouchers. We have such a brilliant range of independent businesses across Edinburgh and I hope that Love from Indie Street is able to showcase these, to everyone regardless of where they live, just because your family are in Sydney doesn't mean that they should only be able to get you gifts from the big brands." [Rebecca Christensen- founder of Love From Indie Street]
I recently took 5 minutes out of Rebecca's busy schedule to ask her about being an entrepreneur and more importantly, what she wants for Christmas this year....
How long did it take to get the idea for Love From Indie Street from initial concept to launched product?
14 months, I spent a long time thinking through the proposition and developing the brand. Things really picked up pace in August once I started to speak to the independent businesses. We launched on 1 November.
Do you have any advice for other budding entrepreneurs?
1) Listen to yourself. If you feel it deep in the pit of your stomach then go for it and hang on to it.
2) Practice your pitch on as many people that you trust as possible - their feedback will be invaluable and might just throw up a new angle or a potential problem for you to work through. My husband did this many times!
3) Don't let people's negativity put you off - if it is a new idea or concept then you will always have people who just do not 'get' your idea, so long as it isn't everyone telling you it's an unworkable idea then just ignore the negativity and learn from it - maybe you need to refine how you are positioning it.
4) Surround yourself with as many people as you can for hours on end working through your idea - it can be lonely setting up on your own - I have been blown away by the amount of help friends, old colleagues and family have given me.
What do you love most about shopping in Edinburgh?
That you can get lost in amongst all of the amazing little streets that make up our urban villages and pick out something completely different. My favourite thing to do though is stopping for coffee in one of our independent coffee shops - there has been a flurry of activity in recent years in this space and I just adore the individual character that they all bring to the table.
Do you have any favourite stores or areas in Edinburgh that you like to shop in?
I have always loved Bruntsfield, Stockbridge and Broughton. Although, having said that I love a walk down Leith Walk too. I think we are so lucky in Edinburgh that you can walk everywhere and just soak up the atmosphere.
What do you want for Christmas this year?
A facial - the late nights and early starts are taking their toll!! And of course for everyone to shop independently wherever they can!
Love from Indie Street features a variety of Edinburgh businesses in its online directory. You can see a full list of vouchers avaialble online by visiting www.lovefromindiestreet.com
If you would like to find out a bit more about me and the story behind my blog, then head to the About Me page.