Abigail Ahern http://www.abigailahern.org Blog Sat, 20 Sep 2014 09:34:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Best of the Blog: week ending 19th September http://www.abigailahern.org/design/best-of-the-blog/ http://www.abigailahern.org/design/best-of-the-blog/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 09:34:50 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=8237 Abigail Ahern

Round-up of this week's most popular blog posts.

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Abigail Ahern

Happy Saturday everybody. I’m trying to have the first non-work weekend in absolutely ages, so looking forward to it! Just a quick round-up of your favourite posts before I go – these were the most popular posts this week:

Meet Jessie Breakwell - I’m really excited to introduce you to the work of Australian artist Jessie Breakwell, who I discovered through our Open Call. Come and see Jessie’s stunning paintings, have a snoop round her Melbourne studio, and read up on her business story and top tips.

Think Pink – Pink is majorly trendy in interiors at the moment. I share my top shopping picks and finds to put a punky twist on pink. No pastels to be found!

Easy to steal bedroom ideas - Talking bedrooms, and how to quickly and easily revamp yours. These are practically instant creative boosts that you can complete in a weekend, so I hope you get inspired.

Joss & Main sale – I’ve curated a completely bargainous sale for Joss & Main. There’s a collection of gorgeous pieces at fab members-only prices. The flash sale only lasts this weekend, so check it out now!

And as if all that wasn’t enough, I’m also running the #AbigailAhern75 giveaway competition again this week. There were so many beautiful entries last week, and I had a lot of fun nosying at your super stylish homes! This week, I want to see PINK (see the Think Pink blog post above!). Just add #AbigailAhern75 to your photos, and send them in to my facebook, twitter or instagram to win a £75 gift voucher.

That’s all for now folks! Have a great weekend.


best of the week


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Can you turn your hobby into a business? 6 questions to ask yourself before taking the leap! http://www.abigailahern.org/biz-column/hobby-into-business/ http://www.abigailahern.org/biz-column/hobby-into-business/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:34:15 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=8249 Abigail Ahern

The most important questions to ask before taking the plunge!

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Abigail Ahern

Do you have a talent that you dream about turning into a business? Opening your own bakery, launching on online store, throwing pots? How do you know if it will be sustainable, worth pursuing or just literally a hobby? I didn’t have a hobby as such I had or have a good eye. I can spot something a mile off be it a bit of junk in a flea or a product in a trade show amongst a sea of rubbish. I just know it will work. Instantly! Don’t ask me how I just kind of trust my gut and buy what I love.

So I leveraged upon that skill and opened a store. I select products from the heart because I want them at home, not first and foremost because they are commercial and make me the most money. That is one of the reasons our business has been so successful because everything we select has some sort of narrative and reflects my own aesthetic. Obviously we have come along way from those early days and are now producing our own range (probably the most scary, challenging yet exciting thing we have done to date, but that is for another post). I wanted today’s post to inspire anyone who spends their down time thinking ‘I wish I could turn this passion into a business’ to do just that!

Do it I say.

Before taking the plunge though read this, it will help you figure out if your idea is feasible and if it turns out it isn’t do not give up. Tweak it! Working for yourself, having no boss, no regulated hours, steering your business through rough and smooth waters, growing it and expanding it into a global brand is one of the most exciting things I have ever done.

First UP

Action stations! What is your big idea? Define it into words, what are we buying into. Is it something you’ve produced, seen and want to highlight and how are you going to sell it. Online, bricks and mortar? Also what about the name? Your name, something else? Figure it out, write it down.

Look at your competitors

Is anyone else selling this already? If they are who are your competitors, what are they charging and why would people want to go to you. I’m asking you to do this for the simple reason to prove that there is a market for what you want to do. No point otherwise right?

Write a business plan

You cannot start a business without one, or you can but I will lay money on it that your business is not a very successful one or even worse you’re not pulling a very decent wage. A business plan is fundamental it’s one of the best things you will ever do for your business. It’s a pain in the ass to think about but it forces you to look at the big picture thinking about your marketing plans, operational and financial plans as well as staff planning. Not just that it’s how your drive your future. In business you don’t just open the doors, stand back and wait for it to happen. You can’t hope people will spend and somehow discover you; you have work at that and have deliverable goals.

Goals like at the end of this year I expect to turn over a million or two which actually isn’t as hard as it may sound (more on how to do that in another post)!

So you can’t wait for customers to rock up and spend, you lay out plans and targets. Targets that actually turn into performance goals. No business plan- no goals and no proper business I say. Write one pronto!

Have you got what it takes?

Early starts, late finishes, no security, physical exhaustion coupled with emotional meltdowns. Check! Yes I can tick all of the above but when you are passionate about something you’ll find that you’ll bounce back up pretty quickly question is how passionate are you?

Give yourself a goal

It’s so easy to loose motivation if you’re dream is years down the line. My advice jump sooner that you think, put pressure on yourself because I promise you there will never ever be the prefect time.

Sell yourself

I fell into this trap in the early days, opened a store, one of the coolest around I felt and yet where was everybody? Why weren’t they queuing up and sleeping out over night eager for me to open the doors each morning. Top tip if you’ve built it, they will not come. You have to make them come. You can’t be modest and expect people will find you or here about you, you have to work at it.

Write a blog, embrace social media, market your products, hold a press event, and be prepared to sell.

I happen to feel that having a job is more than simply something we have to do; it should be something we love to do. Sometimes it takes courage and strength to take the plunge and follow your dream but I leave you with this quote and regrettably I can’t remember where I saw it (on some site about becoming your own boss I think)

‘ Lions in the wild are ten times more alive than lions in the zoo’.

There is no better time to put those wheels in motion than right now! If anyone’s made the successful leap from hobbyist to business owner do let me know!



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My curated furniture and décor sale starts today over at Joss & Main! http://www.abigailahern.org/shop/jossmain-sale/ http://www.abigailahern.org/shop/jossmain-sale/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 05:47:10 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=8239 Abigail Ahern

Check out my super cool sale over at Joss & Main for the next 3 days! Think squishy sofas, cool mirrors & lots of quirky accessories.

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Abigail Ahern

We are a nation of bargain hunters, nabbing something that is heavily discounted gives us all the biggest thrill, me included. A huge painting I picked up for my bedroom is one of my best finds ever especially as everyone thinks it’s a Lucien Freud and I only paid £80! So I am super excited to tell you about a sale I am curating for the next few days over at Joss & Main. What these guys offer is a tightly edited, highly discounted cool selection of products for the home. Their site is for members only, so you can’t nab the bargains unless you are signed in, but the fab news they offer amazing time limited sales on some of the world’s biggest brands, which usually last for just three days only.

They collaborate with noted influencers from the design industry and this week they’ve asked me to curate a sale. So I’ve put together a collection of finds from their site that rocks my aesthetic along with a few of our own pieces. Think traditional classic finds that you might find in a gentleman’s drinking den coupled with some edgier accessories from mirrors to chairs to quirky animal finds. Remember you’ll need to sign in here.

Enjoy the Joss & Main sale, and see you later with the biz column.



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Think Pink http://www.abigailahern.org/shop/think-pink-4/ http://www.abigailahern.org/shop/think-pink-4/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:32:53 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=8215 Abigail Ahern

Pink is a bit trendy in interiors at the moment, but I prefer pink to be punk and punchy. No pastels please! Here’s my pick of some of the coolest pinks around.

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Abigail Ahern

Pink is a bit trendy in interiors at the moment, but I’m not usually a big fan. Surprise surprise, but I wouldn’t touch the pastel, floral, wishy-washy pinks. Such a waste of a great colour!

I prefer pink to be punk and punchy – it looks awesome paired with red or black, or limited to one or two pieces as a really, I mean really really bold accent colour. If you’d like to try out pink in your own place, here’s my pick of some of the coolest pinks around.

And if you’re already a pink convert, please show me pics of the punkiest pink in your home to get a £75 gift voucher. Just send your photo to my facebook, twitter or instagram, with the hashtag #AbigailAhern75. The competition is open all week, and my personal fave will win £75 to spend in store or online. Exciting stuff!


Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 10.07.50

Hand hooks

All of these hooks make a real statement. They’re available in black and white too, but I can’t resist this bright bright pink. They’re the perfect way to introduce a shot of pink into a room or hallway, as a little bit of colour goes a long way.

£109, Out There Interiors



1Maroc tribal rug

This stunning rug is a total knock-out. More coral-reddish than pinkish, this is such an gorgeous colour I had to include it anyway, and it will make any magenta or purpley pinks nearby just pop! I’m imagining it paired with dark stained or painted floorboards, or even put up on the wall as a dramatic wall hanging.

£890, Maroc Tribal


Taper+Candles+Silver+gold+candlesticks+hot+cYoHLK78sV8lNeon pink dining candles

These are fluro-bright, but still elegant at the same time. Pop them along a dining table or in an old-fashioned wall sconce for a pop of extreme colour.

£2.40 each, Oliver Bonas




Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 10.14.57Art: The Sadness of Lightbulbs

I am crazy about Michael Dawson’s art. His paintings are a blur of all the things he’s passionate about, and he always creates really intense, energetic work. Here it’s the bold, vivid pink that really makes this one stand out for me! Nothing wishy-washy or bleached pastel about this.

£110, Abigail Ahern



Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 10.15.34Eero Saarinen Style Tulip Dining Table

I love taking traditional shapes and furniture and transforming them with really unexpected, intense colours or textures. This take on the classic Tulip table might be seriously pink, but it’s more punky than pretty.

£230, Out There Interiors



Abi_Collections AW14-10Mastiff dog lamp

This little guy is from my latest Autumn / Winter 2014 collaboration with Debenhams. He’s a total cutie, and looks very fetching with his sophisticated fuchsia pink lampshade. I don’t know why he’s looking so serious, because I think he’s pulling the colour off brilliantly!

£85, Abigail Ahern/EDITION









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Easy to steal bedroom ideas http://www.abigailahern.org/design/easy-steal-ideas-revamp-bedrooms/ http://www.abigailahern.org/design/easy-steal-ideas-revamp-bedrooms/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 04:55:59 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=8207 Abigail Ahern

Simple tricks to turn bedrooms around

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Abigail Ahern

Morning it’s a busy one today so I am writing super fast. Let’s talk bedrooms. How do you guys want yours  to feel?  Maybe a sanctuary to retreat to after a long day? Or a little more edgy and hip? Often times I find you don’t need to completely overhaul a room, a few tweaks like some fluffy throws or fairy lights strung over a mirror make the biggest difference to revamp bedrooms and have just as much impact as starting over. I am a huge fan of items that give rooms an instant creative boost such as:


Rather than skimming the floor with them how about hanging one on a wall? I’ve actually done this on my stairwell and it’s a super easy solution to the big blank wall problem.

Overdose on Pattern

Pattern adds instant pizzaz so the minute you put a bedspread or throw with some kind of motif on it is the minute you can sit back and shout “nailed it!”. When it comes to changing the feel of a room pattern should be on everyone’s to do list.

Repeat repeat repeat

Repeat things it will make your space far more harmonious. A colour for example, or fanciful curves, echo them throughout the room it will give your bedroom balance and cohesion.

Add more lights than you think necessary  

In my bedroom I have seven! They are not always on at the same time, some are task orientated for grooming, others highlight art but they create pools of light and give my bedroom the most beautiful atmosphere. Lighting is one of the most neglected components in rooms and often times you need do nothing more than add a few to give a room a completely different vibe. Clever no?

Also before I go I’m excited to tell you that I am guest curating a super cool sale at Joss & Main tomorrow. It only lasts 3 days and products are limited in number so if you want to get ahead of the crowd its probably best to sign up before it actually goes live, right here.

See you later with a shopping post, and another gift voucher giveaway!




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Porch Obsession http://www.abigailahern.org/design/porch-obsession/ http://www.abigailahern.org/design/porch-obsession/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 06:04:34 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=8189 Abigail Ahern

Country-esq or urban, in a city or by a lake here are some seriously cool porches!

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Abigail Ahern

Have I ever told you I am a bit obsessed with porches? Ever since our house in the States had one I have coveted them. It’s that gateway between outdoors and in, a kind of informal living room that you can hang out on even in colder months. Wrapped under a thick blanket under the stars, I have this thing about being outdoors in winter not sure why? Too many Swedish crime thrillers I reckon, bleak landscapes, wooly jumpers, air so cold you can see your breath. Nice! Check out that porch by the lake on the slide show – in love!

I digress Dwell magazine recently paid homage to this architectural feature and mentioned this quote by Jane Jacobs who wrote in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, “The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts…The absence of this trust is a disaster to a city street.” Interesting hey!

I bang on about this all the time but if you have an outdoor space and link it to your indoor space through furniture, texture, planting it will actually make your indoor space feel bigger, no matter if you have a porch or not. The biggest trick with outdoor areas especially if you live in this part of the world where nights are a drawing in is to light them. It’s a game changer. I am sure I have told you this but I have this problem (amongst many) of being shut in so in this house there are no curtains you can always see outside day or night. Shutters don’t close over windows (OK there are blinds in the bedroom and bathroom) but that is it. It’s a simple trick the lighting one but it is the most transformative, promise!



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Meet Jessie Breakwell http://www.abigailahern.org/open-call/meet-jessie-breakwell/ http://www.abigailahern.org/open-call/meet-jessie-breakwell/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:34:11 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=8175 Abigail Ahern

I’m really excited to share Jessie Breakwell’s art with you today. Her paintings are fun, energetic, loaded with colour and guaranteed to make you smile!

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Abigail Ahern

Open Call: Jessie Breakwell

I’m really excited to share Jessie Breakwell’s art with you today. Her paintings are fun, energetic, loaded with colour and guaranteed to make you smile!

Jessie managed to pack in her 9 to 5 job, and has turned her talent into a successful online business. She’s given us a look around her Melbourne studio, explained what she’s learned along the way, and shared her tips for starting up your own business.


What led you to start your own business?

I was always going to be an artist. Some of my earliest memories are of my late mother creating around me. She was a wonderful, smart and creative woman who inspired me to follow my passion.

The art room was always my favourite place at school, and when I left I did “the Right Thing” and undertook a fine arts degree. Whilst I gained a lot from it, I always thought that fine art and formal training was actually a distraction from my art.

In the 10 years since university I have done some amazing things, but just hadn’t found what I loved. Going back to my favourite thing, and deciding to make a living out of was scary but so exciting. I knew I just had to throw everything into it.

So I started painting again, found my audience, quit my 9 to 5 and here I am. Happy!


What has been most difficult?

Like most creative people trying to turn their passion into a business, I struggle to balance the art with admin. I understand that I need to be a businessperson in order to succeed, but the art does always seem to dominate my time. Understanding how to balance the two elements has been a very important lesson – as has knowing when to delegate! Handing over control of what is essentially a really personal experience (selling my artwork) was the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done.


How do you get your work seen by customers or retailers?

I’ve been lucky to have a ready audience relatively quickly. Interest in my work started organically and has blossomed since then, particularly online and through social media. Social media is a god-send!

I don’t even have a physical gallery space now, as I find the online audience has been so receptive. It’s been a revelation in my career and I find that being online-only allows me to manage my time better, and focus on what I need to do.


Any tips and advice to people starting out?

It’s completely clichéd I know, BUT unless you believe you can do it then you won’t do it. I have seen this before and fallen into the trap myself earlier in my career, but over-promising or going in a direction that doesn’t feel right won’t work. If you don’t believe it no one else will either.


What has been most successful about the business?

For me, the most important success story of my business is that I am able to do what I love, and to share it with my family and friends too. I have a beautiful daughter Olive, and I am really glad that I am able to be around to spend quality time with her, rather than stuck in an office job!

Every sale makes me excited, grateful and a little bit proud too. My art means so much to me, but to know that my artwork resonates with a complete stranger too, and they want to actually take something I’ve created home and hang it on their wall – well, that blows me away! Art has always been my life, but now it’s my living too. And how many people get to say that about their work?


Jessie online: www.jessiebreakwell.com.au

Jessie’s instagram: jessiebreakwellgallery


JessieB1 JessieB2 JessieB4 opencall2

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Current Obsessions – Hill & Szrok http://www.abigailahern.org/current-obsessions/current-obsessions-hillszrok/ http://www.abigailahern.org/current-obsessions/current-obsessions-hillszrok/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 05:03:57 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=8165 Abigail Ahern

My latest obsession -a butchers shop combined with a super cool restaurant. Genius!

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Abigail Ahern

Morning, or afternoon depending on where you happen to be in the world. I would like to kick-start Monday off with a big thank you to my fabulous Design Class on Saturday. Fabulous day and I meet a great bunch of women so thank you again guys.

I haven’t penned a Current Ob post in a while, highlighting my obsessions of the moment of which there are many. My latest one happens to centre around a butchers, say what I here you ask. The thing I love about small businesses and start ups is how they think outside the box and these guys Hill & Szrok, a master butcher and cookshop has done just that.

It’s the brainchild of  young entrepreneur Luca Mathiszig-Lee and it masterfully combines a traditional butchers (think beautifully tiled walls, a wood and brass window fridge with a central marble counter for butchery) with a restaurant.Situated in Broadway market which is a few minutes walk through the park away from us (lucky us) its become a foodie and social hub with the farmers market on a Saturday attracting believe it or not 20,000 people with these guys adding to the buzz!

Tom Richardson Hill the butcher works with small farmers specialising in rare breads, free range and organic which allows him traceability coupled with the insurance that the meat is of the highest quality. Tom cures his own bacon and gammons and makes his own sausages (3 kinds), salamis and terrains. At 6 o’clock it closes for an hour then reopens as a restaurant. Clever no?

At 7pm the doors re open for diner & the central marble  work top becomes the communal dining table with stalls lined up against one wall for another set of covers. The head chef is Alex Szrok who utilizes every inch of the produce. The restaurant offers on average 8 main courses showcasing the meat with a choice of daily changing sides such as Midnight potatoes, Hispi cabbage and fried eggs.You can’t book just to warn and queues have been known to snake down the road with these guys banging out 70 covers a night!

It’s an ingenious concept and one that I have the deepest respect for. A small business taking the concept of a butcher’s shop to a new level, making a space work not just 9 to 5 but beyond. I’m holding a Retail Class this Friday and the day is all about giving away the tools so that if you want to  open your own biz (online or bricks and mortar) you will not fail. I can’t promise 100 percent you won’t but we share all the things we have done right and that we have done wrong to get us to where we are today so it sets you on the right foot so to speak!

These guys should be one of my case studies.




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