April 26, 2016

Mother's Day gift guide - Barkly Basics kitchen accessories

What do you get for the Mum who has everything including the kitchen sink?

Easy - tell her you'll do the washing up! Don't feel wishy washy about it though, I've found a bunch of super-cute dish tools tools that turn the drudgery of a full sink into a daily happy scour!

Barkly Basics kitchen accessories - the snazziest things in my kitchen! (My Musq handwash is a stunner too!)

Enter Barkly Basics. A monochrome and ontrend collection of sponges, scourers and dish brushes that will have your sink smart enough for Insty photos... seriously! The newest product in the range is a dishwashing liquid which smells just like a freshly-made mojito, and if that doesn't get you enthused to wash dishes, I don't know what will!

Gift box includes Dish Wash Detergent (500mL), Chevron Scourer Kitchen Sponge (2pk), Black and White Scourer Sponge (2pk), All White Natural Cellulose Sponge (3pk), Round Ergonomic Scourer Sponge (1pc), Dish Stick (1pc) & Refills (3pk) - $76.80 (inc.GST)

I know you're wondering who the genius is that got the kitchen sink in on the latest interior design trend, so I asked Natasha Malkov, Director of Barkly Basics to give us a little of the Barkly back-story.

What do you do? What do you make/sell?
I am a scientist by profession with a P.h.D in Molecular Biology and had various jobs in science before having the light bulb moment and becoming “The Sponge Lady”! I now design and sell designer kitchen sponges.
I was washing the dishes one morning and looked down at the bright yellow ugly sponge and thought to myself “This sponge is so ugly!” “Why hasn’t anyone modernised it to suit our beautiful kitchens?” and I guess that is when I had the light bulb moment!

Why and how did you sell your first product?
I would have loved to manufacture the kitchen sponges in Australia, however, I couldn’t find any manufactures that make the cellulose material, so I had no choice but to make them overseas. My Sweet Citrus Mojito dishwash detergents that have just launched are manufactured in Melbourne which is great.
I initially sold my products online and then started selling wholesale to boutique supermarkets and boutique homeware and gift stores around Australia, New Zealand and internationally.

Who was your key support during the fledgling stage of Barkly Basics?
My partner was my key support in the early stages and still is. He is my investor, co-director of my company and my life partner. He is a barrister at law and always points out what can go wrong and keeps me on track!

How do you manage your time so well?
Working for yourself is great, but you need to stay motivated and manage your time wisely. I plan my days as much as possible, try and stick to a routine that works and at the end of the day try and have some “me time”.

How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
It was quite easy to distinguish my products from other products on the market. It was a simple colour change and package design that really made the difference.

If you could have given yourself a piece of knowledge or advice when you started what would that be? Be careful who you choose to manufacture your products. Not all manufacturers have the same idea as you when it comes to quality control. I often have to re-check products before sending them out. This takes extra time and effort. You want to avoid double handling as much as possible.

Which opportunities should you have followed?
I have had many ideas over the years and in hindsight, I should have followed most of them! Seeing others making your idea a reality is the ultimate confirmation that your thought process and your instincts are on the right track. It’s having the courage to follow them through is the hard bit.

How do you conquer any moments of doubt that threaten to stop your great ideas? What pushes you through?I have had many moments of doubt. It usually occurs during the "development phase" as it can take quite a long time. For example, the sponges took over a year to develop and during this time, I had a lot of time to overthink the whole concept and started doubting myself. The key is to work on other projects/ideas in the meantime to occupy your thought process. This usually works well, especially for me.  Also, having a support network that believes in your ideas and your ability to make it happen also helps a lot!

Righto, time for some fun stuff.
What is your 'uniform'? What do you wear more often than anything else?
Anything in black! I love black. It makes me feel sophisticated, strong and slim all at the same time! Jeans and shirt are my workwear staples. My work is quite physical. I pick and pack and deal with boxes full of products on a daily basis. Not at all glamorous!

What is your favourite thing to wear to make you happy?
I love dresses. One piece that is so quick and easy to wear. I like to dress feminine but I am a real tomboy at heart.

Thanks so much Natasha, for sending me such a gorgeous box of kitchen goodies to play with, and for taking the time to share the secrets of your success!

How fab are those monochrome Barkly Basics pieces? And how much does loving your cleaning gear make a difference to the drudgery of cleaning?

April 17, 2016

Sunshine Coast High Tea at the Silva Spoon, Cotton Tree

I'm sure that most of my lovely readers will know by now that my bestie Peta of Trainee Mama is pregnant with twins. She's already done the baby shower thing prior to giving birth to her son (and my fave squidgy human) Ned, so when I asked what she'd like to do to celebrate the twins' impeding arrival, I wasn't sure if she was up for a big ol' styled-dessert-table situation with nappy games and all that jazz.

Fortunately, Peta is of the less-is-more attitude when celebrating, and she's particularly not keen on any kind of party where someone has to slave over stoves and tidy up and clean up afterwards. (See why I like her so much?) She suggested just a girl's day out, something where we could just turn up, have a little fun, then head home for naps and Netflix.

Enter The Silva Spoon. Thanks to Facebook and the wonders of social media, I recently won a giveaway on Mrs Tink's blog, and my prize would make an EXCELLENT mini-baby-shower event - a High Tea for Two at Silva Spoon in Cotton Tree.

A sunny Saturday before my crazy month of travel commences and before Peta gets too close to her due date was the perfect chance for a ladies day out, and BB was away at a Bachelor party on the Gold Coast too, which made for a very girly weekend for me! After going for a long walk with BB and Stevie in the morning, then seeing my husband off (with stern words to STAY SAFE), I had a little time to change into my dress.

Dress (similar White Haven Emporium), Siren heels, Target straw and silver clutch (a few seasons old)

I picked Peta up from her temporary home (an apartment overlooking Maroochy River, check out her current reno and moving story here), and then it was time for tea…

This was my first high tea and I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly wasn't expecting it to be as filling as it was!

We sat down at our Reserved table for two, beautifully set with Cristina Re tableware, and perused the tea menu. 

After asking a few questions (because I definitely have more experience drinking coffee than tea), we chose the Irish Breakfast tea and a Matcha Latte. 

Is it just me, or is serving two tiny portions of food WAY more appealing than one larger portion?

Peta and I had thought that we might need to head to a cafe for a sandwich on the way home, because the meal didn't look that big, but we were full before we'd finished our little cheesecakes and cupcakes!

Confession: I only ate the frosting! 

I had a really lovely and relaxing afternoon with Peta, and the whole no-washing-up thing at the end was brilliant. If I was in the business of taking my Mum out for tea-type situations, this would be the perfect Mother's Day gift!

Thanks to Mrs Tink for the great prize, I can highly recommend The Silva Spoon High Tea for a lovely afternoon on the Sunshine Coast.

This was my first High Tea, but it won't be my last. Tell me, where's your favourite High Tea?

April 03, 2016

Wardrobe favourites - Typographic tops

Who doesn't love a good slogan tee to pair with denim shorts or jeans? They're the perfect conversation-starter!

Having worked in activewear, I wear a lot of tanks and tees with slogans of an inspirational ilk printed on them. Even plenty of my non-Lorna-Jane tops have some sort of memorable motto emblazoned all over the front. What can I say? I like to make a statement.

Here are some of my current favourites that I've found floating around online... maybe one of them says exactly what you're thinking.

Love the grey and peach in this.

Perfect for gymwear, yoga, and also denim and cocktails, because that blue is too pretty to ignore!

I've felt this fabric instore and it's a luxe as it looks. And aren't we all Francophiles really?

Perfect with leggings and flat boots for travel, I am SO buying this baby. (Because this is exactly what I want to wear flying to Asia next month. Nobody at Singapore Airport will be able to guess where I'm going!)

This exercise tank is a no-brainer - it's in my favourite colour, the fabric is super-lightweight and breathable, and that back cut-out means that I can wear a regular bra (instead of t-back)!

Well, sometimes we need a little Monday Motivation, don't we? And it's way prettier in real life - that dark charcoal marl cotton is soft and the pale pink font print gives it a preppy spin.

Because we can't celebrate Monday a little without celebrating Friday a lot! Those cap sleeves are lovely, too.

Not exactly a typographic tee, but the silver gilded detail on this washed cotton blend tee is really cool.

This lightweight sweatshirt with raglan sleeves is ideal for the Australian Autumn - khaki is really ontrend right now, and it'll be sweet under coats through Winter too.

I can't showcase slogan tops without including a few from Torrid. This plus-size brand REALLY knows how to do slogans well, and this Cowboy Up tank is a fun spin on those uber-cheesy Texan shirts that country folk wear non-ironically! Also, the longer-length is a win for everyone.

You're welcome for putting this song in your head. (You know it is, don't deny.)

Pink with vodka scrawled on it? Did they just steal a tee from my 21-yr-old self's wardrobe?

So forget Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, let your tees and tanks do the talking this season. Is there a slogan you wish you could find on a tee?

Bonus slogan tee find! This Ruby and Lilli XO tee has been in my shopping cart for a while, and it's on sale, reduced from $45 to $20. Time to make this cutie mine, I think!

On sale, hurrah!