Supporting Local

My sister’s American fiancé Tyler pointed something out to me a few days ago that I was a bit surprised about: having a ‘bee in your bonnet’ isn’t a thing in America. He’d never heard of it. We had to explain it to him (he’s learning his Norn Iron speak, so he is).

In case anyone is wondering, it’s when something is of high enough importance to you that you blather about, or do it, again and again. You feel passionately about it. You have a bee in your bonnet.

I have a bit of a bee in my own bonnet at the minute, and that’s shopping local and supporting small businesses. I’ve been beating my ‘support handmade/ local/ small business’ drum for a while now, but I’ve turned it up a notch with Christmas coming and all the shopping that accompanies it. I didn’t include this in my ‘Savvy Shopper’ Christmas post because buying handmade or goods from a local shop can be a little more expensive. They aren’t mass produced, they are made or curated lovingly by a real person who loves the items they gather or make, and it’s not right to expect that person not to be paid properly for their hours of dedication, late nights and finger cramps.

I thought I’d share some of my favourite local makers and businesses for anyone in little old NI, and if you’re further afield, don’t worry, they’ll ship to you. (I think!! If they don’t, my bad, sorry for the fib.) If you’re struggling for a Christmas present (because there’s always ONE, isn’t there?) then these are the places to try.

White Chalk Studio (@whitechalkstudio)

I first came across this beautiful lady’s work when I attended Country Blog Retreat NI (which you can read about here). She gave a foil print for each of the 140 goodie bags and I absolutely adore mine. So much so that I have ordered a custom print for a special Christmas present (I can’t say much more, you know… just in case a particular person decides to read this… but keep an eye on my Instagram). She has a beautiful selection of foil prints on her website that would make a truly unique gift.


The Natural Beauty Pot (@Thenaturalbeautypot)

Another blog retreat find thanks to a near-edible sample of Calendula and Lemongrass bath salts, this lovely lady makes her own all-natural bath salts, make-up and skincare products, designed specifically for sensitive skin. The beautiful packaging has an old apothecary feel, and their products are vegan – no animal testing here! You’ll be chilled and smelling delicious.

The phrase ‘treat yo’ self’ comes to mind.


The Bottom Drawer (@thebottomdrawerportadown)

The Bottom Drawer is a gorgeous little shop located in the Portadown town centre, which is just bursting with clothes, gifts and homeware. Whilst sisters Frances and Rhonda don’t make any of their stock (that I know of?), they have selected a beautiful collection from well-known brands for their store with everything from Thomas Kent clocks to Charlie Bears to fascinators for a fancy Christmas party! Follow them on Instagram for ‘Friday Favourites’ and mini fashion shows. I’ve yet to see a blouse I didn’t like.


Words and Wildflowers (@wordsandwildflowers)

My cousin’s cousin – Jane. She was already gorgeous and intelligent, and then she unleashed a hidden talent for watercolour floral wreaths and hand-lettering. (Did not see that coming.) Verses, quotes, baby weights – she does it all, and adorns her custom words with eye-popping, colourful flowers to be framed and treasured. Send her a message for your custom requests!


Painted Earth  (

To my shame and embarrassment (given that I work about 3 minutes down the street) I’m not in this shop as often as I should be. This is the place you go if you want ‘something different’ – that unique gift that you know they absolutely, beyond a doubt don’t already have. They stock everything from Beard Shampoo (when did this become a thing?), to pieces from local ceramicists (like @rebeccakillenceramics_). They also design and make their own jewellery, which to me is the epitome of awesome jobs.


Shopping with big companies is a little easier on our bank accounts, but you won’t see the same workmanship, devotion or good, old-fashioned passion from them as you would from a small business. When you shop from them, you aren’t lining the pockets of fat-cats; you’re putting dinners on tables, clothes on backs and presents under the Christmas tree.

You’ll also be the best gift-giver. Go you!

What are your favourite local businesses?

Gillian x

P.S. Apologies for the severe lack of photos/anything pretty to look at. I thought about swiping a couple of their photos, but that’s not nice. Take a look at their Instagram accounts instead. 😉

Supporting Small Business

It has been one crazy weekend, I’ve spent a lot of my time baking (see my instagram feed for my culinary creations- they likely won’t be repeated any time soon), and I’m sitting here now dosed with the cold and to be quite honest, feeling a little bit sorry for myself and my lack of nasal functioning. I finally got the time to sit down and open a little delivery I received yesterday morning.

When it comes to home decor I love loads of the high-street favourites: Laura Ashley, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, TK Maxx (AMAZING bargains there), Next…lots of Next actually – you get the idea. They offer good quality products at mostly reasonable…sometimes a little less reasonable…prices, and I usually keep my eye on anything I want in case it goes into sale. I’ll admit it, it all but kills me to pay full price for anything. It takes a long time before I take the plunge and make a purchase, no matter how big or small.

I do also try where possible to support local or small businesses. As a crafter and Etsy shop owner, I appreciate how difficult it is for people who either make items from scratch or curate a collection of items to make a living. One new shop I’ve come across recently on Instagram is Emily May’s Attic- a UK based, family-run online shop offering ‘All things Shabby-Chic, Scandi and Vintage’.

Their easy-to-use website is updated often with new finds at great prices- in fact I was surprised at how cheap some of the items are!

Whilst I’m trying not to buy tooooo much for the mobile, I’m sticking with neutral colours that are easily transferrable when I do buy something, which works well for me as my taste would lean more towards texture than colour or pattern.

I bought three small items on the shop that I just couldn’t resist and although I’m trying my hardest to curb my scatter cushion addiction, the first thing I went to was the beautiful grey heart cushion. At 50x50cm, £16.95 is a steal for such a large cushion. It’s plain, simple and fits right in on our day bed.

…Yeah, the colour of that mattress cover is bugging me too. 🤔

I also got this cute little guy for £4.

The Elephant Ring Holder is very good at his job, but I think he’s quite cute as an ornament. He also comes in rose gold and would be a lovely gift for someone.

The last item was more of a ‘for later’ item that Patrick picked. The Wifi Wooden Plaque  is a little chalk board about 20x15cm and 1cm thick for sharing your wifi password with visitors.

I like the idea- it’s welcoming to offer it and avoids having to bring it up in conversation and go hunting for the code. (Because who ever actually puts it back in the router?)

I’ll definitely be back to Emily May’s Attic and can’t wait to see what else she stocks!

What small businesses do you like to buy from?

Gillian x