Supplier inspiration

Introducing... Jewellery designer Bear Brooksbank

Bear Brooksbank is a fine jewellery designer and gemologist based in East London. It's fair to say that she is a rising star in the jewellery world and her bespoke pieces are simply stunning. So stunning, that when she lent me a sapphire engagement ring for a photo shoot she very nearly didn't get it back!

Bear has recently co-founded a new business called Fine Pop-Ups, alongside womenswear designer Beatrice Perry. Launching today, Fine Pop-Ups is a series of designer-led and curated shopping events. If the lineup for their inaugural event is anything to go by, these will be very enjoyable indeed. Perhaps less so for my credit card...!

It has been such fun getting to know Bear over the past year and I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Bear. I'm dying to know if 'Bear' is your real name?!

I wish it was! I have always been called Bear, but my real name is Mary. I live in Hoxton with my husband Daniel and brindle greyhound Champ.

Bear Brooksbank photographed in her studio

If only my new husband had discovered you 2 years ago when he bought my engagement ring! Go on, make us swoon by telling us about the exquisite rings you create and where you find your inspiration.

I wish we had known each other too! So much of my bespoke work is collaborative and therefore each individual client provides me with inspiration. For me, it’s all about absorbing the brief, or a feeling from a client, and turning that into reality. It’s all in the chemistry!

I'm intrigued to understand how you go about making a bespoke ring. Where do you start and how long does the process take?

Bear Brooksbank octagonal target ring

The process starts with a consultation when I start to put together a picture of the client, their needs and wants. We talk through design ideas they may have, be they for jewellery or more obscure references like architecture or design styles.

Some clients have a very clear idea of what they want; others are a blank canvas. I love it that no two clients are the same.

Do you enjoy working with prospective grooms? Is the engagement ring usually a secret, or do the girls get involved in the design too?

I love working with prospective grooms! It is such a privilege to share their secret and to build a picture of their beloved. I would say it’s a 50/50 split between grooms who come in on their own and couples who come together.

Can you give my grooms some advice on choosing an engagement ring?

Trust your instinct and be brave - it always pays off.

As well as designing bespoke pieces of jewellery, you re-invent treasured heirlooms. That sounds like a big responsibility, no? What sort of pieces have your clients come to you with in the past?

It is a huge responsibility! It is also a joy to remodel something loved but unworn or unwearable and to give it a whole new lease of life. It is very important to me to respect the original piece and to find out what it is about it that is most important to the client. I have remodelled more or less everything. For one project I took an old family tiara and turned it into multiple rings, earrings and necklaces for various members of the family.

What has been your favourite creation and why do you like it so much?

Bear Brooksbank crystal cuff

There are so many to choose from! In terms of a design and technical challenge, it has to be this aquamarine and rock crystal and diamond cuff bracelet. So much skill and bravery was involved in making this piece and every member of the team -  from me, to the cutter and the goldsmith - wanted to make it extraordinary.

As well as a jewellery designer, you're also a gemologist. Tell us something we're unlikely to know about gem stones...

Sapphire and ruby are both members of the same family - Corundum. It’s only the colour that defines them as different.

When you're not busy in your studio, how do you like to spend your time?

I am happiest when I'm in Yorkshire, where I grew up. My parents still live there in a wonderful house designed by my brother. My family are immensely precious to me and I am the proud aunt of two nephews.

 

For more information about Bear Brooksbank, or to enquire about a bespoke commission, please visit her website www.bearbrooksbank.com

To discover Fine Pop-Ups and all the latest news about their designers and events, visit www.finepopups.com

Introducing... Sanni Sorma, wedding hair and makeup artist

I had the pleasure of meeting Sanni Sorma at a photography workshop last year. You know when you just click with someone? Well Sanni is one of those people! Her warmth and bubbly personality make her a joy to be around and she is so good at what she does that I honestly cannot recommend her highly enough.

I caught up with her recently to find out more about her approach to bridal hair and makeup and I also asked her for her take on the big trends for 2018. Put your feet up and enjoy!

Hi Sanni! Tell us about what you do.

I’m a freelance hair and makeup artist. I work mostly on weddings, but I also do TV and some fashion shoots. I'm so lucky that my work takes me all over the world! This summer I have a few weddings in Italy and I also travel extensively in France.

Photo credit: Ian Holmes

Photo credit: Ian Holmes

Have you always been a makeup artist?

No - I originally studied Fine Arts and after graduating I worked in advertising as an Art Director. It wasn’t what I loved doing though. On shoots I would always end up chatting with the makeup artist because I thought their job was so much more interesting than mine! My heart has always been in makeup and 7 years ago I decided to retrain. I was living in Paris at the time and that’s where I started my career.

You're absolutely passionate about what you do - what is it about makeup that you love so much?

For me it’s much more than just putting makeup on a pretty face. In fact, I love doing makeup on ‘real people’ more than models. My favourite jobs are weddings because I enjoy working with the bride to make her 'look' one she’ll love forever. 

Do you have a favourite bridal look, or do you like to experiment?

I would say my signature look is big eyes, lots of individual lashes, glowing skin and ‘your lips, but better’ lips. For bridal, it’s best to keep ‘experimentation’ to a minimum!

What's your design process and how do you work on the wedding day? 

After a bride books me, I’ll organise a Skype call so that we can get to know each other a little better and discuss her bridal look in detail. I always encourage my brides to gather lots of photos of looks they like. I find this really useful, as one person’s smokey eye is somebody else’s daytime look!

If we’re having a trial, I will usually reserve three hours for hair and makeup. It might seem like a long time, but it’s better to have too much time than to be rushing. I have had brides who had their hearts set on a specific hair style, but when they see it on themselves, they realise it’s not what they want after all! I like to have time to try out other styles too.

On the day itself, I like to arrive early and get everything set up. I always try to create a relaxing atmosphere. As I see it, my job is not only to make the bride look incredible, but also to keep her calm, make her happy and most of all FEEL beautiful!

Photo credit: Le Secret d'Audrey

Photo credit: Le Secret d'Audrey

What are the three makeup products you couldn't manage without?

Easy! Illamasqua Hydra Veil and Skin base foundation; Hourglass blush and RMS Beauty Living Luminizer.

Can you give the brides reading this some advice on choosing their hair and makeup?

For hair, the most important factors are the texture of your own hair, the style of your dress (especially the neckline) and how you feel most comfortable wearing your hair. Look at lots of styles and collect images you like on Pinterest.

For makeup, something that looks great on Pinterest might not necessarily look good on you. If you’re unsure about your makeup or hairstyle, have a trial and take a lot of photos in different lighting.

For those brides who are getting married soon, do you have any tips on how to look after their skin and hair?

First of all, if your wedding is less than a month away, DON'T change your skincare! Drink lots of water everyday, try to get rest and stop worrying about your skin. The more you stress, the more it will show up on your face.

If you have a bit more time, let’s say 6 months, you can consider having a few facials and switching up your skincare. This way your skin will have time to adjust.

I’m a huge believer that what you eat makes a big difference. Cut down on processed foods and especially sugar and dairy. This has certainly made the biggest difference to my own skin.

What do you think will be the most important bridal hair and makeup trends in 2018?

For hair, the up-dos will be bolder and higher. Think topknots and high sleek ponytails. If the hair is down there will be a lot of natural texture and not ‘too perfect’ waves. Big and bold plaits will also be very in.

For makeup, the ‘no makeup’ look will be big. The skin is the major focus with this look and strong brows look great with it too. I’m so pleased that the overly contoured look will start to go out. For photos, it’s great to do a bit of contouring, but I think it’s gone way too far!

Photo credit: Le Secret d'Audrey

Photo credit: Le Secret d'Audrey

When you're not busy working, how do you like to spend your time?

I’m an aspiring minimalist so I constantly have a de-cluttering project on the go. I love to experiment with vegan cooking and of course I love to shop for makeup!

 

For more information about Sanni and her work, please visit her website www.sannisorma.com. Sanni has a brilliant YouTube channel (@MissMai27) where you can watch her giving makeup tutorials.

Image credits: Ian Holmes and Le Secret d'Audrey

Find your dream dress at Luella's Bridal, Wimbledon Village

It has been a joy getting to know the team at Luella's Bridal and I'm really excited to announce that I'm offering their brides 25% off my planning services throughout this month.  Give the ladies a call on 020 8879 7744 to book your bridal appointment and to arrange a free consultation with me.

You're in for a real treat when you visit the boutique! Climb the stairs and a haven of bridal beauty awaits. I chatted to Rachel, Owner and Creative Director, about the new dress collection she has designed and what it's like to be a Luella's bride. Enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about Luella's Bridal

Inside Luella's Bridal
Beautiful dresses at Luella's Bridal

Luella's is a unique bridal boutique located in the heart of London's beautiful Wimbledon Village. We sell a variety of gorgeous bridal products, including wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, shoes and accessories. We are the exclusive UK stockists for the majority of our products, the exclusive London Stockist for Charlotte Mills shoes and we also have our own wedding dress collection. 

Your 2018 Collection is absolutely stunning! The pictures are still top-secret, but we'd love to know what we can look forward to...

We designed our collection in partnership with Trinidadian jewellery designer, Sarah May. It includes five distinctly different dresses, which have been carefully designed to match her stunning collection of rings: Happy, Love, Dream, Believe and Abundance. Each ring was inspired by Sarah's original engagement ring and her subsequent life journey and can be interpreted in the wearer's own unique way. 

Our dresses reflect our beautiful free-spirited brides and include a mixture of understated and intricately beaded slip-style dresses and beautiful lace and tulle gowns. Each one has an element of sparkle, so even the simplest style still looks and feels special. They feature a selection of low plunging backs, soft flowing skirts, stunning hand-beaded lace and our signature pleated skirt.

I'm proud to say that the collection was designed by The Luella’s Team and all of the dresses are handmade in the UK using a selection of the finest French laces, silk, satin, tulle and beaded appliqué, in a blend of soft ivory, cream and blush tones. 

Feeling special at Luella's bridal

So how does it feel to be a Luella's Bride? 

We try our best to make our brides feel as relaxed as possible when they visit the boutique. We have two showrooms so we can guarantee that each bride has a completely private appointment. All of our stylists have a background in fashion and are very aware of what styles of dresses suit different body shapes; the fact that we have our own collection also gives us the flexibility to make some adjustments to the styles, ensuring that our brides can have the exact dress that they want.

We encourage our brides to come along with a small group of their family and friends so that they can really enjoy the appointment and share this special moment with people they love. 

Can you give 2018 brides some advice about choosing their dress? 

We're so excited about the wedding dress trends for 2018 and we think we have them all covered at Luella's. Our collections include everything from relaxed boho style dresses to more traditional style gowns and sleek understated styles. They include a range of off-the-shoulder, backless, deep v and high necklines, in a range of soft muted colours.

Luella's Bridal 'Una'

Luella's Bridal 'Una'

Shanna Melville 'Bella'

Shanna Melville 'Bella'

Basically, anything goes this year, and it's up to brides to choose what makes them feel special and what works for them. We love helping our brides to become a more beautiful version of themselves for their wedding day and think the most important thing to do is just enjoy the experience. 

Sally Eagle 'Genevieve'

Sally Eagle 'Genevieve'

What should a bride keep in mind when choosing her accessories?

Choosing your accessories is a very personal thing. There are so many things to consider, including the location of the wedding, the style of your wedding, the design of your dress, how you're styling your hair…

We encourage our brides to experiment and to consider mixing different styles of accessories to create a more effortless vibe. From a practical point of view, it's sometimes easier if you start with the accessory you think is going to be the main focal point - so either a beautiful headpiece, a stunning necklace, bracelet or earrings - and then work from there. 

 

Luella’s is a unique bridal boutique located in Wimbledon Village, London. It is a beautiful place to have a dress appointment, get a bit of help with your styling, choose your bridesmaid dresses or try on shoes and accessories. Discover the collection online at www.luellas.co.uk.

Introducing... Pudding Lane wedding cakes

Lucy Burton is a consummate foodie. Her blog, Pudding Lane, is fast becoming a favourite and barely a week goes by when I don't see one of her recipes featured online or in a magazine.

When she's not writing about food you can guarantee she's making it! And wedding cakes are a particular passion. Lucy loves working with couples to design their dream cake and, being a recipe-developer, her flavour creations are amazing! 

I met Lucy earlier this year when we were students together at Leiths School of Food and Wine. It has been wonderful to watch her progress and I can't wait to work with her on a wedding!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your wedding cake business. 

Baking has been in my blood from an early age, but I’ve been making wedding cakes for two years. It all started when a friend’s sister asked me to make hers. I was incredibly nervous, but found the creative process of designing, making and building a show-stopping cake really exciting.  

Pudding Lane in her kitchen

I started my baking blog, Pudding Lane, when I moved to London after university, and that eventually led me to start taking on food styling projects and writing recipes for magazines and brands. Everything was self-taught until this year, when I enrolled on a professional course at Leiths School of Food and Wine. It was invaluable to master classical techniques and learn the efficiencies of a professional kitchen and to apply these to my own cooking.

All of my cakes are bespoke, and designed in partnership with the bride and groom. I love that each one is a new project and a new challenge too.

What is it about baking that you love so much?

I find baking incredibly cathartic. When I’ve had a rubbish day or I’ve got a lot on my plate, I’ll head into the kitchen and start tinkering around with ingredients. I love how rewarding it is - a few minutes of concentration and a bit of mixing later, and you’ve achieved something. 

Where do you find your inspiration for your cakes?

My inspiration often comes from the bride and groom! Some couples have a really clear idea of what they want, while others might just have a look, a flavour or a mood in mind. I’m also led by seasonality; so find myself drawn to brighter florals and soft fruits in summer, and richer flavours and foliage in the winter.

There are so many amazing people doing great things in the food industry at the moment. To name just a few inspirations - Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery (who taught me so much when I worked for her), Fiona Cairns and Prue Leith, who have all grown successful businesses out of a passion for food. I read Nigel Slater’s books before I go to bed - the seasonality and the poetry of his introductions and recipes is utter genius. Oh, and Nigella, of course - I can only dream that one day I will manage to be as glamorous as she is during a late night fridge forage!

Do you have a favourite cake flavour?

I'm very fond of my almond sponge cake filled with slow-roasted rhubarb and orange blossom buttercream. It's perfectly sweet, yet sour at the same time. I love natural ingredient-led decoration - soft swoops of icing and gorgeous seasonal flowers, foliage and fruits.

Which wedding cake are you most proud of?

I made a hexagonal wedding cake earlier this year, which was such a different challenge. I had a few sleepless nights worrying about the fondant, but luckily it all came together on the day! 

Photo credit: Mike Plunkett Photography; Florals: Swallows and Damsons

Photo credit: Mike Plunkett Photography; Florals: Swallows and Damsons

Photo credit: Mike Plunkett Photography; Florals: Swallows and Damsons

Photo credit: Mike Plunkett Photography; Florals: Swallows and Damsons

What is it like to work with you? What's your design process?

I always start with the size and then think about flavours and decoration. I sketch out each of my cakes, and often create mood boards so that couples can show me what they like (or don’t like!) to help guide the design. 

Once we’ve agreed on all this, I’ll work with the florist to match my icings, foliage and flowers to the colour and floral scheme of the wedding. I am very much a one-man band, so it is me who makes, decorates, packs, drives and builds the cake on site.

Many couples underestimate how much work goes into making a wedding cake. Tell us what it's like in your kitchen before a Saturday wedding?!

This depends a lot on the size and flavours of the cake - I tend to make fruit cakes a couple of weeks in advance, so that the flavours can mature and the cake can be fed with lots of brandy! I make any fillings that can be pre-prepared - like jams, curds, drizzles and caramels - ahead of time.

Photo credit: Jess Soper Photography

Photo credit: Jess Soper Photography

Some sponges can be baked on the Thursday evening (denser and moister cakes like carrot, butterscotch and chocolate), then brushed with syrups and packed up so they stay fresh overnight. Lighter vanilla or chiffon sponges need to be baked on the Friday.

On the Friday it’s all systems go. I always have a very detailed (and timed!) prep-list, to ensure I don’t forget anything! Friday morning will be spent baking and cooling the cakes, with filling and crumb-coating taking place early afternoon. I’ll then ice in the evening, or first thing on Saturday, depending on the decoration and how far I have to travel.

Can you give couples some advice about choosing their wedding cake? 

The cake is a nice opportunity to have fun and be adventurous! If you like fruit cake, fabulous, but if not, why have it? Choose flavours you love - it’s your day so you should enjoy it!

What do you think will be the biggest cake trends in 2018? 

Generally speaking, I’d say that couples are increasingly knowledgeable about cakes and the different styles available. I’m getting a lot of requests at the moment for metallic accents and colour schemes. Gold and silver leaf, personalised wire toppers and gilded foliage are all very popular. 

 

 

I can help you find suppliers who dream as big as you do. Sometimes they go under the radar and so that's where my network really comes in. Not only do I make suggestions, but I can check if they're within your budget and available on your wedding day. This could save you hours of painful admin and wasted enquiries. For more information about the services I provide, please email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk.

To read Lucy's blog, or to find out more about her wedding cakes, please visit her website www.puddinglaneblog.co.uk or follow her on social media @puddinglaneblog.

Photo credits: Mike Plunkett Photography and Jess Soper Photography Florals: Swallows and Damsons