The Best Gifts Are Local

December 22, 2018


With it being ‘Small Business Saturday’ and Christmas right around the corner this month’s blog has been inspired by the amazing businesses at my doorstep. This year I have noticed more and more people doing their ‘thing’ and creating little empires. It is nice to see new boutique/family run businesses popping up all over the place.


What I admire is a number of these businesses have been created by my own friends, many of these friends I have known for over 20 years and it gives me a nice Christmas fuzzy feeling. Some of us went to school together and looking back I don’t remember ever being encouraged to set up our own businesses. I hate to say school was well over 10 years ago and the most I learnt from the lovely Mr Whites Business/IT class was how to get on MSN Messenger and chat to my friends. ​


I think this shows how much life has changed. I do believe we are all a little more daring, that we have the opportunity to bring our dreams to life and to create our own job work lifestyle. There are also lots of great reasons to support the small business owner and it’s not just because they are a mate or it’s a nice thing to do - there are actual practical reasons as well, like helping to save our planet.


The Benefits:

  1. It's great for our town, local authorities show that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business 63p stayed in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business.

  2. When you shop at local butchers, bakers, farm shops and green grocers, it is likely that a decent percentage of the produce has had a short field-to-fork journey. Along with supporting local farmers, it means the food is likely to contain more nutrients and have less packaging. Good bye plastic wrapping.

  3. Independent shops often stock items which are made locally and aren't available elsewhere: buy a dress by a fledgling designer and there is little chance of turning up to the office Christmas party wearing the same as someone else.

  4. Bookshops, cafes and craft shops often drum up custom by hosting events, from book groups to knitting clubs and children's events. If the businesses are not supported, the local groups tend to disappear too. We are building a local community through these businesses.

  5. If you get to know your independent trader they should be able to recommend products to you, also the stronger relationship you build the chances are you will get a cheeky discount now and then

So here are my top local business picks - that have not only had some lovely Christmas offers but people I would keep my little eye on throughout 2019.




Iris & B

Has been created by the very talented Charlotte Hinder. Charlotte is a Mumma of 3 beautiful babies. When she is not in her day job she likes to spend time looking at all things pretty (a girl after my own heart). Charlotte’s products are just stunning. Sadly, the deadline has passed for this Christmas, but I had to take this opportunity to highlight all the beautiful things she had to offer as it was hard not to purchase everything.

Charlottes products include A3 handwritten ‘Santa stop here sign’, personalised baubles and table confetti. I personally think the confetti is really great and such a nice addition to Christmas cards as well as decorating your festive dinner table. I couldn’t pick a design as they are all my favourites, I loved all the designs. I think I will be hosting Christmas next year just to have the confetti. I did though choose a Don’t disturb tag for Evie’s door with red ribbon. They are also a perfect edition for all Christmas Eve boxes. Charlotte has lots of products and if you are getting married then the perfect lady to speak to about all your stationary.


Coopers Den

Laura grew up in the Cotswolds and once she became a mum began blogging about parenting, travel & adventures. Laura found that she needed a creative outlet while her baby slept and thus was born Cooper’s Den. Laura is also one of my oldest friends who have decided to go down the self-employed journey with me and she is really smashing it. Taking inspiration from wildlife and family day trips, Laura makes wild bird brooch & hat pins, made to order feather wreaths & table centre pieces as well as festive baubles. I personally love her baubles and have been very envious of everyone who has one of these beautiful creations on their tree. Laura can custom all her products to make them personal and into the perfect home accessories. I am now on a mission to design the perfect bauble with Laura next year. 



Delicious Food and Drink...


Jonathan’s Catering

Have you ever considered a Christmas Takeaway and no I am not talking a Korma with a Chicken Naan? Or maybe eating out at Christmas might be appealing. Well my very talented friend Jonathan has created the perfect option. He will prepare your Christmas Dinner for you. All you need to do is pop it in the oven and serve. The best part is you don’t have to tell anyone, and all your family and friends will think you cook like a professional chef.


This year I won’t be hosting Christmas but with the amazing confetti by Charlotte and Jonathans yummy food I think next year it will have to be my turn. Such a good excuse to show off. Jonathan is the first chef I ever worked for at the young age of 13. He has worked at some of the best wedding venues and catering companies in the local area, Jonathans food is scrummy and I know because he provided all the food for my wedding BBQ. 



Wood Street Food Hall


Wood Street Foodhall is an established addition to the burgeoning revival of Old Town, as the place to go for quality food in Swindon. The focus is on local, fresh, traceable and sustainable foods. I really love this store because of their staff. 


Nothing is ever too much bother - they always help me with the pram, keep Evie interested why I ummm and ahhh over the yummy choices. especially the delicious selection of scotch eggs. It is always a pleasure shoping there and having a good ol' chat. If you need to buy some food that tastes great, a little special and local then I would really recommend popping in.

Also they all love food just as much as me. Winner !!


Cotswold Bar Company


The Cotswold Bar company is a mobile bar company based in the Cotswolds. They specialise in serving creative drinks for various events around the Cotswolds including weddings, private events and festivals. 


James who runs the company has years of experience and has even run his own pub in Cheltenham. This has allowed him to work with the best suppliers,  creating funcitional and fun bars, but also making the most delicious cocktails. If you are looking for a bar for any occasion then this is the company for you.


Beauty Products...


Pink & Green

After my recent dinner party with the ‘Wags’ we fell on to the conversation around making our own hand cream, deodorants etc. not only for health reasons, but for eco reasons and well just trying to be more awesome mums than we already are. But, I hate to say it I don’t actually have the time to be mixing up these beautiful potions, so this is where Carol and her beautiful products help me bridge the gap. 


Pink & Green products use natural ingredients that are not tested on animals. It’s Carol’s firm belief that what you put on your skin should help you to both look and feel wonderful. This ethos of self-care is woven throughout here entire range of organic skin care products. These products and gifts are perfect all year round so take a look and why not spoil yourself. I for one will be lapping up the skin products throughout the winter. Nothing worse than dry hands!


Chloe Sutton – Suttons Health & Beauty

This beautiful yummy mummy has gone it alone and is selling some lovely make up and beauty products that are perfect stocking fillers. I love my make up, so I have had a little look into what Chloe is selling and these have to be my top favs. I am a sucker for lovely lips and I think this began with Angelina Jolie in one of my fav films of hers Changeling. 


Therefore, my new purchases for 2019 will be Chloe’s lip plumping balm. These balms do everything lip fillers do but minus the needles and price tag. They come in a lovely pink tinge and will make a nice addition to my make-up bag for my day make up routine. When I am looking for a more glam look I am going to look to invest in Chloe’s Power lips Matte lipsticks. I am terrible at licking my lipstick off so these waterproof, long-lasting lipsticks with ingredients inside to hydrate & protect lips are perfect for me. Also, there are 12 shades available. One for every mood I am in.



Personalised Gifts...


Cheeky Little Prints

I have known Lisa for around 4 years and it is lovely to see her business grow from strength to strength. She also works directly with my daughter’s nursery creating personal gifts that make all Mummies go AWWWW.  


Unfortunately, it is too late to get your orders in for Christmas, but I wanted to point out some bits that you might want to think of for next year. Or Dads if you want to be super organised for Mother’s Day as it will be here before we know it. These gifts are well worth getting, especially if you want some extra brownie points.


The inkless print kits are such a bargain. They are a brilliant little gift offering huge value.  Not only can you capture your loved one’s unique hand/footprint or pet’s paw print that you can keep forever, you also get a code to use on the website to get 10% off your next order!  These are great little gifts for family and friends.


Hand and footprint jewellery are the most popular type (joint with paw print jewellery) that Lisa creates. Hand and footprints can be taken with the quick and easy to use inkless print kits and these kits are safe to be used from birth. There is also no upper age limit either, the oldest prints Lisa has made are from a 102-year-old Great Grandfather! It’s never too early or late to capture your loved one’s unique hand/footprint and treasure it forever. 


It is a really simple process, once you have prints, email a photo or scan of them to Lisa and she will tidy up any smudgy bits and send you a proof to approve. Simple!!


Jody Sutton Photography

If you have seen my most recent images on my social media then you would have spotted how incredible Jody is at photography, as sadly I don't look that nice on a day to day! Jody is a very talented photographer and I can’t recommend her enough for your wedding or corporate photos. 


What many of you might not know is Jody also offers fab family photo shoots. These shoots are a perfect way to grab relaxed fun photos that you can turn into fantastic gifts. Whether it’s a family Christmas card, printed mugs or maybe personalised Christmas Crackers I can highly recommend Jody capturing amazing images of the people and animals you love the most.




Brad Gray

Where do I begin with this awesome chap who was my personal trainer for a year? Brad took me from a miserable, 13 stone plus new mummy with no idea how to get back into exercise. I was very paranoid and embarrassed about my body. I also was unsure how I could train as it had only been about 10 weeks since my C section.


Brad worked with me for over a year and I am happy to say in that time he put me on the right path to ensure I lost the weight and continued my training when work got too difficult to fit in regular sessions. A P.T is not just for Christmas and far from a quick fix, but if you are serious about your fitness, getting back on track, he really is your guy and I can’t recommend him enough.


Abi Greening

Abi Greening, I have known since I was 12 years old and we danced together in Cheltenham. We have been on amazing journey together and Abi has always given me advice whether it be through my dance career choices, being a mum or with my fitness choices.  Abi is a very successful gym instructor in her own right but is also a coach for Beachbody.


The Beachbody online platform has allowed me to train from the comfort of my home. There is no monthly bill, I can stream any workout I fancy and the best part is it doesn’t cut into my time. I can fit in a 45-minute workout in the morning before anyone is awake and the hectic day routine begins.


I won’t lie I have been useless with training since my wedding and the dark mornings are not helping. But this platform really does work, I maintained the weight loss I had achieved and lost a few more inches for my wedding. I achieved a weight loss of 4 stone after having Evie which took around 18 months. Now I am nowhere near happy with my body, but I have the support and platform to help me all through Abi. If you are struggling to find the time to work out, you travel a lot, or you like the idea of being part of a community supporting you to train - then this might be the option for you.


New You...


Creative Head Workshops

Holly Andersen, Lisa Ellis and Stacey Johnson put their talented brains together to make sure we can learn the best kept secrets in the beauty industry. They run many different workshops such as hair, make-up and mother & daughter workshops. Over the Christmas period they have held a festive hair & make-up workshop as well as a children’s festive workshop. They also have gift vouchers available to purchase which can be used on any of their workshops throughout the year.


I also love their mother & daughter pamper boxes. Although Evie is a little young for this year I will be first in the queue next year. Not only do you get to enjoy the products but also it will be a really lovely thing to do together! On side note if you need your roots doing or your hair restyling `Lisa is now working at a salon and she's fab. Well if you like my hair then you will be happy :).



Charlotte Mabbutt

Sempre Aloe is Charlotte’s business run as part of the Forever Living Company. Now if you are on social media like me, which is a lot, I am sure you would have come across the Forever Living brand but maybe you haven’t used any products yourself. Personally, I took on the famous 9-day cleansing programme to kick start my weight loss at the end of last year. Although I didn’t lose loads of weight I lost inches and it was an amazing detox. A MOT for your body.


Charlotte also has amazing beauty products from the Aloe Bio Cellulose mark, which is great for this time of year to hydrate your skin and only £10. Charlotte is always on hand and offers a personal shopping service, so if you’re still stuck for Christmas present ideas with a budget she will send you a heap of ideas. Also, all products have a 60-day money back guarantee so there is no risk for you.  Drop her a text of connect on FB 07486354475


Honestly Ombre

This business is a little gem and I am so happy to say Jess, the founder of the company is a friend from sixth form. I am telling you there was something in the water whilst I was at school. Jess has created Swindon's 1st totally vegan and cruelty free beauty company. Jess is very passionate and believes the beauty industry needs to be more ethical, environmentally responsible and free from animal testing and exploitation. 


Not only that, Jess’s nail art has become a viral sensation on social media. Jess is so creative, and her nails are not just a manicure they are individual pieces of art tailored for each client. If you are looking to have the best nails for Christmas, that even your husband would be jealous of, then Jess is your girl. I will pre-warn you she is so popular you need to get your appointment in fast. Or if you are creative yourself she is now running nail art workshops. But I can promise you an amazing experience and beautiful nails – I mean I trusted her with my nails for my wedding and she did not disappoint.


Holly Andersen

Now if any of you saw pictures of me from my hen do in Bath I am sure most of you were thinking – wow her makeup and hair is on fire haha. I was so lucky to have Holly on hand to turn me from a tired mummy to someone that looked not bad for her hen do. But the best part is that although Holly does specialise in wedding make up she can make us look hot to trot any day of the year.


Over the festive period Holly offers Christmas party hair & make-up and Christmas nails. She also sells make-up lesson vouchers which makes a great Christmas present. The lessons can be 1 or 2 hours long and tailored to exactly what you need. So, ladies if you have a special occasion coming up or you just fancy looking glamourous while cleaning your house, Holly is your lady. Holly also has a pro team which includes the amazing Kamila Roberts who styled my shoot and made sure my shiny nose wasn't caught on camera.



Helpful... Finance, Security, if you are getting married!! 


Corinium Security Systems

James Buse - Yes another member of ‘I went to school with them’ tribe and has started their own business - but he really has!! After 12 years in the industry, working for a couple of different companies, big and small, James decided to embark on starting his own security company. 


With 12 years in the industry across all formats of Intruder, CCTV, Access Control and Gate Automation, It enables Corinium Security Systems to guide you through any stage of a security query, from design to minor works. James prides himself on high levels of workmanship and a professional friendly service second to none. James believes honesty and close working relations with his clients allows for smoother running jobs and a happy client!! So no matter how big, or small, feel free to pop us a message for a no obligation, hassle free quote with James and he will also offer a 10% on your first Alarm, Gate Automation and CCTV.



FRC Financial Planning

Sorry another one Fran, Laura, James and I all went to secondary school together. Fran started her business just over a year ago and she is all over my LinkedIn feed with such amazing news, events and the fantastic results for her clients. Fran is easy to talk to and she doesn’t charge just for a coffee chat and is happy to give you advice on financial planning. 


So, for New Year, if you know that you need to get your finances in order then Fran might just be able to set you up in the right direction. She is keen to sit down with anyone who is making any new year’s resolutions and who ‘meant to take out life insurance when they bought their house’ or ‘whose mortgage rate ran out and they haven’t got around to looking at it’ or ‘who has gone self-employed and meant to start a pension for ages!’… she is here to help!  So, no offers as such, just a friendly nudge to get some life admin done this January which we all know we need. I for one will be spending a lot of time in Frans lovely office in Cheltenham getting my life in order.


Event Style


Is owned by very dear friend Becky and this lady has gone from strength to stength over the last seven years. She not only styles weddings beautifully but now has her own wedding hub in the heart of Swindon. This wedding hub runs exciting workshops, styled exhibitions and access to the top wedding suppliers in the area. But it doesn't stop there, she also has a beautiful wedding shop online which sells the best little gifts and finishing touches for any wedding. I wish these items were available when I got married ... trust me ladies these are amazing.


So, this is me signing out for 2018 – really looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings. Who knows your business might be on the list for next year.



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