At last it’s time to go, Portugal escape

This past January, just before lockdown restrictions ended in the UK and after almost 3 years of staying put in London, I finally boarded a plane and travelled.

Travel prep, testing and documentation was a mine field, just about enough to put you off from going anywhere. But with all the paperwork done and negative Covid test results confirmed I was Portugal bound taking with me my all new ‘Rena Go’ bag.

Well, I did design it to be a bag on the go, so only right to test drive it properly.

The airport was deserted, only 15 of us boarded the flight (I had to count), hard to describe just how alien it felt.

The flight was a direct flight to Porto, I was warned it rains a lot in Porto and it did exactly that. But I loved it, what a beautiful town, such friendly people and the bakeries… oh my, take me back.

The old port , bridges ,blue and white tile clad buildings and steep cobbled streets make it a fascinating town to visit and discover.

A 3 hour train journey which ended being a 5 hour journey from Porto to Lisbon was not great, if I am honest.  The steep walk from the station up the hill to Alfama was picturesque.  I’m not sure what I expected, but it certainly surprised me , so very quaint for a capital city, living in London you expect capital cities to be big and crowded.

One advantage of travelling during Covid was just how empty and quiet everything was. I understand Alfama is a bustling tourist district, not so when I visited. I appreciated the sunshine, views, colours and silence.

Lisbon is an absolute gem, beautiful, vibrant, interesting, tasty..  and if I’m talking tasty , a meal at Pharmacia is a whole different experience. Especially if you can sit outside on a sunny day. Don’t miss it!

There are plenty of short excursions to be had from Lisbon ( another reason I will be going back).

I managed to visit Cascais, a short train ride from Lisbon along the coast to this old fishing village. Inside the walls of the old city is the Cidadela Art District with it’s galleries and museums. It was too cold to swim in January but the white sandy beaches were beautiful all the same and the old port with it’s outdoor dining hub was buzzing.

Did the Rena Go pass the test drive?? the intention was to create a ‘down sized’ bag for the times… we live out of our phones after all so travelling with a big bag is unnecessary. We do need compartments for our phone, passport, masks, sanitiser, book…  The Rena has just enough space for all these necessities plus a sewn- in key fob and card holder.  With it’s wide, adjustable and detachable webbed cotton strap, I think we did good.

Ooh La La, The Richmond Bag in Paris

Photography: Brian Minkoff

Bag: The Richmond

Is there a more photogenic capital city than Paris? arguably not in my humble opinion.

We sent our iconic Richmond Bag travelling just before Christmas ( and Omicron), so here’s a bag’s eye view of this beautiful city.:

From the newly renovated La Samaritaine Paris Department store

to the Place Vendome

The Louvre

The Eiffel Tower

Le Marais and it’s delicacies

Art Deco meets the new iphone at the Place St Michel

Even the bears over do it sometimes, but how can you not?

 

Despite Covid ,Paris is as beautiful and as tasty. In fact, maybe Covid restrictions and complications have made short, successful getaways even more special.

Happy New Year to all, may 2022 be healthy, happy, tasty and a whole lot easier.

How changing times changed our design sensibilities

“I don’t think we could have stood the test of time had we not paid such close attention to what our customers want, what they buy or the direct feedback they provide us with. Covid meant we had to look and listen to your feedback even more to make sure we could keep our business alive.  Our new AW21 bag collection has taken all we’ve seen; all we’ve learnt and all you’ve asked for and suggested to us into account.”

During lockdown we learnt how to be creative, resourceful and how to make the most of what we have at our doorstep and in our homes:

Walks to the park, discovering a new local beauty spot, queuing up for a take away coffee & pastry, learning something new, time spent watching and discussing Netflix

When lockdown ended but travel was restricted, we learnt how to Staycation and how to support and embrace local businesses.

Now that the skies, restaurants, workplaces and entertainment venues have re-opened did life resume to pre-covid normal or have we changed? adapted? developed new habits?

It’s hard to imagine that we can learn so much at Nadia Minkoff London through our online bag and jewellery sales, but we can.

Roll on Winter 2021 and we’ve adapting:

Our bag sizes have changed- we now ‘live in’ our phones and want smaller, lighter, more practical bags.

We’ve re-designed the interiors of our bags too- different compartments to make life easier: sewn in card holders, key fob holders, face mask pockets, more external pockets.

Our straps are wider, softer and kinder on the shoulders. And our colour palette? goodbye ‘seasonal’ and hello ‘all year round’. Seems we as people enjoy greater freedoms these days, switching things up, doing things our way, adding vibrant colours to our winter wardrobe and basic neutrals to summer one.

In 2017 I designed The Rena Bag in memory of my mother, it’s been a great, staple classic but needed to adapt to 2021.  The all new Rena Go for Winter 21/22 is a great example of how we’ve adapted:

  • The Rena Go a fair bit smaller: at just under 2/3rds of the original Rena that’s a big drop in size!
  • The layout of the compartments and pockets in The Rena Go is designed to make everything visible at a glance- no need to rummage in the bag looking for that pen, lipstick, phone. But of course the all vital sewn-in key fob remains, you have no idea just how happy that key fob makes me, so useful!
  • Internally and externally we have maximised the space with a full size outside pouch and clever detailing inside
  • The new strap is a wide, soft cotton webbing. Not only is it comfortable so you can wear your bag crossbody or on the shoulder it is detachable so you can pack the bag away easily into a small suitcase if your flying light
  • The all new gunmetal plated hardware give compliments the modern, minimalist shape of the bag,but best of all will work with any jewellery plating be it gold, silver or gunemtal.
  • And the colours? classic Grey, Warm Honey, Fresh Aqua Blue

Of course, we test and re-test all our bags at the office, at home and outside.

We sent our Rena Go on a short Brighton staycation, which involved walking, cycling, beach strolling, eating out, drinking out and … more eating out.

It was perfect and I think my mum Rena would have approved….Normally she would have gone for Grey but I think this time round she would have gone for the Aqua Blue , Blue was her favourite colour.

Norfolk: from Seago to Constable with a sprinkling of Repton

From the Norfolk Broads to the Norfolk Coast and up to Sheringham Forest, escaping London the weekend prior to the 2nd lockdown was the perfect getaway.

Landscape near Hickling by Edward Seago

On what turned out to be a wild , blustery, winter weekend, complete with Covid restrictions, the solitude of Hickling Broad and Marshes felt like stepping into an Edward Seago landscape. The unique thatched boathouses on the canals, reminiscent of a children’s fantasy novel.

The picturesque village of Horning on the River Bure was empty, but the busy canal was still the place to watch the boats float by.

The ancient coastal fishing town of Cromer, famous for it’s fresh crab and fish & chips, picture postcard beautiful and full of charm. strolling along the beach and long wooden pier made me feel like i’d stepped straight into a Constable painting.

Yarmouth Jetty after 1823 John Constable 1776-1837 Bequeathed by George Salting 1910 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02650

The winds were so strong that gate keeper at Sheringham Park advised the forest observation point was closed, not that it would deter me from a long walk, especially as this park was landscaped by Humphry Repton . Repton was known for creating new, free flowing landscapes with no barriers between the gardens and natural surroundings. he also said Sheringham was the favourite of the gardens he created and I have to say it is breathtaking.

Not to be missed, rain, wind or shine! The coastal views are amazing as is the clearing and views leading to Sheringham Hall .

Some other details….

Stayed at: Sprowsten Manor Hotel

Ate fish and chips at No1 Cromer, where else?? 5* all the way

Bag: Zrow Lifestyle Mobile phone holder in Natural

Thank you as always to my resident photographer Dennis Madden

Out catching colours

I’m sure that for many other small business owners like myself , life since the first Covid lockdown in March has been a daily challenge with the unknown. I realise I’ve been so ‘consumed’ with my effort to keep going and to find a strategy to see the business through Lockdown and beyond,that I’ve taken no ‘time out’ to do some of the most fundamental things that have been my core inspiration. Little did I know when I took off the last 2 weekends in October that my luck was in, lockdown is back as of November. I was fortunate to re-charge my batteries on time.

For my first inspirational weekend off , I ventured out of London to the Chiltern Hills for some autumnal inspiration. ‘Catching’ colours as I call it.

I always choose my new season colour palette from nature, match the images to my desired Pantones and start forming my range

Here I am, lost in my thoughts

with my Silver Abstraction Pouch, I mean why not do muddy walks with a shiny silver bag?

Happy new discoveries in an old neighbourhood

Living in the suburbs of London, I have always been aware of where my closest green spaces are. I invariably expect them to be a park, framed with metal railings and hopefully some big trees. Some kind of water feature like a small lake would be a huge bonus. Hampstead Heath was the only wild-ish green space to which I felt I had relatively easy access… until now.

Having had the time to walk around where I live in the recent months, I have discovered Dollis Brook and its walking route known as the Dollis Valley Greenwalk. Unbelievably, the walk is 16km long and stretches all the way from Hampstead Heath to Moat Mount in Mill Hill. Sections of it are like a regular park with trimmed grass and playgrounds, and sections of it are wide, wild and like escaping to the countryside.


Totteridge Fields – a nature reserve with wildflowers and ancient oak trees
A section of the brook in West Finchley.

A “secret” section somewhere between Finchley and Totteridge.

I love to be nosey and see how the allotments change in colour and density across the year.

The days may be getting shorter, and the weather a little greyer, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this little bit of the countryside on my doorstep will change with the seasons. My wellies are ready!

Out exploring?? meet The Essential Borough bag!

If you’re out exploring with camera and/or phone then you need to meet our Essential Borough Bag ,a bag that is so perfect for outdoor exploring, you won’t need anything else!

There are two compartments to keep your belongings separate, whether you’re carrying a compact camera or your everyday essentials, you’ll be surprised how much you can fit in this stylish little cross-body. One side also features our card holder pockets so you don’t even need a full wallet if you want to travel light.

The Abstraction pouch, staycations in Brighton

Video & photography: Brian Minkoff

UK Staycations are not ones for guaranteed good weather… anything but. With that in mind they are still time away, they have their own charm and during Covid times at least you are guaranteed to get out of the house and explore.

Our Abstraction Pouch in Silver certainly made the most of its Brighton Staycation. Relaxed at The Grand hotel, braved the stormy weather and enjoyed a cream tea ( or too) and some fish & chips

Here’s to time out, wherever it may be.

Stay safe, stay well, stay positive!

What we did during lockdown /by Sawako

The view from my desk has changed considerably, as it has for most people over the last few months. Whether you’ve finally got into the swing of working from home, are noticing and appreciating birdsong with new ears, or slowly going back to work at the office, we thought we’d let you know what the NM Team got up to up to whilst in lockdown.

As a close-knit team, it has been strange not to see each other every day. We have however, been enjoying keeping up to date on how we are filling our time at home. Here are just a few of the gems which I thought were worth sharing

Nadia’s Garden

Nadia, as most of you may know, is a keen gardener. Finally, she has a bit of extra time to tend to the previously “overgrown jungle” (her words, not mine). There is now space for some new plants plus there are big plans for the ever growing vegetable patch, just in case the lockdown returns. That’s forward planning for you!




Karla’s blanket

Karla, our jewellery designer, has been keeping busy with a crochet project… which was first started a mere six years ago. Between starting and finishing this project, she did have a baby who is now six and modelling the blanket for us, so understandable why it’s taken so long.

Andrea’s multi tasking

Andrea has definitely been a busy bee, making scrubs bags for her local GP as well as trying out new recipes.. such as raspberry cake . Among all this activity Andrea’s daily walks are of course accompanied by little Lulu, looking as cute as ever.

Sawako’s colouring in

As for myself, a lot of cleaning has been going on but I don’t think anyone wants to see the inside of my sock drawer, as pristine as it is. One thing I have found relaxing and completely absorbing is colouring in. Yes, the kind you used to do as a child, but some creative people thought to make some intricate colouring books for adults. This book had been given to me as a present and was sitting on my shelf for a few years. Now I am at last beginning to fill the pages with colour without feeling guilty for spending time on something that seems a bit frivolous. It is just as fun as when I was a child, and I am just as keen to buy the most expensive colouring pencils now, except this time it is not my mum who has to pay for them.

Our ‘I made it!’ jewellery kit range is growing quickly as we add a new kit every Wednesday! We also have our very own ‘Make jewellery with Nadia Minkoff’ YouTube channel showing complete tutorials for every kit and more. Why not have a go at making jewellery like a pro from the safety and comfort of your own home? It’s relaxing, creative and we’re here to help, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

MAKING SUMINAGASHI & SPIN ART HOW I KEEP MY SON AND MYSELF OCCUPIED DURING LOCKDOWN/PART 2/ BY KARLA HUANG

Karla is Head jewellery designer at Nadia Minkoff London, currently in lockdown with her 6 year old son Joel. A Nadia Minkoff London team lockdown diary will follow next week.

Another fun project my son Joel and I did was Easy DIY ‘Paper Marbling’, also know as Suminagashi paper marbling in Japanese.

First, we prepared a working tray using the lid from a storage box. We filled the tray with water and some sort of thickening agent to make into a solution.  Dropping different colour inks into the solution and gently moving or stirring the ink with a thin stick (we used tooth picks) we then immersed a good quality water colour paper into the inky solution to absorb and transfer the pattern onto the paper.

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The end results of how the inks and patterns will show up are unpredictable. Here are some of the Patterns we created using Paper Marbling technique.

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Spin Art –

Another great way to experiment would be to mix Prime Colours using something that can rotate or spin wheel.

We were given a Spin Art set two Christmases ago and I would say this Spin Art set is my child’s favorite art technique to do so far.

All I have to do is cut up different types of paper to fit into the spinning machine. Refill the paint bottles and he would be happy to play along all by himself for hours.

Here are some of the works we created!

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Hope you can also try out some new art techniques at home and have as much fun as we did!!

SUMMER-SALE-2020-MULTI

The Nadia Minkoff London sale is now on with 50% discount on all handbags. we ship worldwide and offer free UK shopping and returns.

 

How I keep my son and myself occupied during lockdown/part 1/ By Karla Huang

Karla is Head jewellery designer at Nadia Minkoff London, currently in lockdown with her 6 year old son Joel. Part 2 of Karla and Joel’s adventures will follow next week

Some parents might find it daunting to find things for their kids to do during lockdown.  Fortunately, I have only one child to deal with or one could say, unfortunately he is the only child at home so he has learnt to entertain himself while the school is closed and no playdates are allowed.

Being a jewellery designer, I love to work with colours and what I do best is hands-on craft. Hence I’ve allocated ‘creative/ art’ and ‘drawing’ sessions into our weekly home learning schedule.

Drawing and painting are one of the key elements where children can express their feelings. In times like these- lockdown has given us so much negative news that can easily scare a child- it is therefore important for them to be able to express those feelings.

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One of the very first resources we looked at together was done by an American illustrator – Mo Willems. He is the current Education Artist in Residence at the Kennedy Center and he releases “Lunch Doodle” videos each weekday to encourage children of all ages to doodle with him.    Just two videos later, we were both inspired by Mo Willems’s introduction of doodling and spent the whole afternoon doodling on a large roll of paper.

After we tried doodling, my child was very into all kinds of ‘Birds’ and their habitat. He was encouraged to write an adventure story of three different birds that migrate to London during winter time.

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At the weekend, we tried to draw out those three birds. Whilst he was using his imagination to make his story into drawing, I also picked an image of a bird from the ‘National Geographic Kid’s’ book to polish up my very rusty drawing skills.

Here is what I drew of a Hoopoe from an image.

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The following weekend we were a bit stuck for new ideas and lack of motivation on what to draw. I then remembered a beautiful colouring book I bought a few years ago by Johanna Basford.

I let my child pick a page so we could both do some colouring together. With so many intricate details and narrow spaces to fill in the colours, I was amazed at how much patience and persistence a nearly 6 years old boy has to accomplish this page.

Here is what we coloured together on one Sunday afternoon and I can say it’s hard to tell which one was done by a child!!

Can you tell??

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If you are looking for creative activities to do at home, once your kids have gone to sleep, we now have complete jewellery making kits available to order online.

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A new ‘I made it’ kit is released weekly, instruction sheets are FREE to download from our website and there is a YouTube tutorial to accompany each kit