Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Christmas Gift Guide - Meet the Makers - Bread & Jam

A very good morning to you, you lovely lot! We're continuing our interview excellence today with the loveliest Jamie and Catherine from Bread & Jam - and I am excited! You are going to LOVE their products, all designed in the beautiful wilderness that is the North Pennines. Jamie and Catherine launched their brand in 2012, although have been honing their creative skills for many years. 

Let's hear a bit about their products and what they love most about Christmas...

Do you make specific Christmas items, or just stick with your usual all year products (if so, what are they)? 

That's an interesting question and one we wrestled with this year. It's tricky because you can get plenty of press exposure in gift guides and Christmas related features if you do release Christmas products. This year we did decide to design a few products specifically for Christmas and we're hoping that they go well. It also leads to the age old question of how much stock you may or may not need. The last thing we want to have is a load of over stock which we can't shift after Christmas. I always find it a little sad seeing all the left over Christmas stock being sold cheap to get rid of it, it takes the shine off Christmas a little.

What have you got on your Christmas list this year?  

Ha, funny you should ask that question, we decided way back in January that this year would be an entirely handmade Christmas and we would make all the gifts to give to family and friends. Sadly, as time has crept upon us and we've been so busy we've almost run out of time to make this a reality. However, we are still planning on making a good chunk of gifts and then attempting to buy the rest from people who design and make fabulous things. We have, for a good few years now, tried to buy handmade wherever possible, for example, instead of chocolate Santas poking out of the stockings last year we bought 2 wonderful screen printed Jane Foster rabbits. A bit extravagant yes, and there was some chocolate buried deep inside the stocking too but the stockings did look lovely last year. I know Catherine still loves her Anna Wiscombe necklace from last year too and there was a bunch of homemade sweet treats to munch on. Obviously, with prying eyes upon us I'm not going to divulge what's on this year's list (Catherine has a habit of reading over my shoulder!) but safe to say it's going to be a mix of things which we make and things which other artisans and designers have produced. Of course, with older children these days we have to balance the handmade with some high street stuff too, I'm not sure I'd know where to start if I was going to make an iPod for example and I'm not sure my version would be appreciated as much!

What is your favourite part of your Christmas day? 

You can't beat (and we still get) that little excited buzz when you open your eyes on Christmas morning. Especially as we have two little (well, not so little anymore) monkeys who still wake us up at the crack of dawn. We also like the very end of Christmas day, when the kids are fast asleep and we can bask in the peace and rummage through our own goodie pile (if we've been good).

Real tree of fake tree? 

Real, without question, there's nothing which makes us feel more festive than the smell of pine needles (apart from perhaps mulled wine). I really don't have an issue with collecting up the needles, it's well worth it!

How do you choose stockists? 

To begin with, when we had a small number of stockists, we were happy to supply goods to anyone and everyone and that has served us well as some of the smaller boutiques have grown with us and now they are amongst our very best customers. As we now have quite an extensive number of stockists, across 3 continents we are a bit more selective. We're very fortunate in that we have never had to seek stockists on a grand scale, most of the wonderful boutiques and galleries we work with have contacted us directly and asked for our wholesale details.

We don't have an overriding method, it's quite organic really, if we get on well with the potential stockist early on and it feels right then generally we will be happy to do business with them. 

What are some of your favourite small stores that stock handmade items? 

As we are based high up the North Pennines, there's very few stores locally to us but when we do get off the mountain (it happens) we absolutely love a shop in Corbridge, Northumberland called Re. They stock a wonderful eclectic mix of handmade, found objects and things they design and make themselves. If you've never been I urge you all to go, it's well worth a trip out to them. If we were ever visiting Liverpool there's a fabulous store called Nook & Cranny (who we stock) and they've moved into a lovely new space recently and from the pictures it looks beautiful, we must visit soon. That could be levelled at most of our stockists actually, shops like Pippin in Edinburgh, Lovedge in Cheltenham, The Mere Gallery in Bowness, Chirpy in Chapel Allerton, The Print Room in Keighley, Plaisir in Biggar and Dear Doris in Penarth to name but a few. We wish we could visit each and every one of them!

Actually, we have a little exclusive scoop for you. We're in the throes of potentially opening our own little store, right here in Alston. We've got the basis of an idea to stock 10 amazing, hand selected designers/design houses and sell only their goods, alongside our own bits and pieces. As I've mentioned, we're pretty remote here, so we will be running an online store as well as ensuring our shop looks amazing for the tourist season. It's still early days and Bread & Jam may yet still consume every moment but it's a dream which may come to fruition, with any luck.

When is your Christmas postage cut off date?

Friday 20th Dec for first class postage and Monday 23rd Dec for a guaranteed service.


I am mega excited about this little store which may be opening soon, and will one of the first visitors! Thank you so much to Jamie and Catherine, it has been wonderful having you here on the blog! Pop over to say hello for me and have a wee peek at the lovely things up for grabs at Bread & Jam at the following...

I hope you're having a wonderful week wherever you are! And if it's snowing where you are, stay cosy!


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