I am so delighted to be bringing you March's "Inspirational People" interview, because Kelly-Marie is one of my favorite bloggers/shop owners out on the internet. A Harem of Peacocks is a whimsical, early 1900's-fulled inspiration space that Kelly-Marie showcases her personal style and her love for vintage treasures. I also find myself lusting over the dainty items in her shop, and find myself wishing I could play dress up in her collection. I have been a huge fan of Kelly's since I discovered her blog quite awhile ago, and have been following her adventures in London (and now the The New Forest in the United Kingdom) ever since.
I hope you become inspired by Kelly-Marie's interview here, and her perfectly put together outfits (just look at her head pieces, ah!).
(Lindsey) I strive to live a lifestyle that is.... (Kelly-Marie) -"Passionate, Beautiful, Mindful and Kind."
How would you describe your personal sense of style? Who are some of your fashion icons? "I think Whimsical would be a good way to describe my style, and I always like to have a character or story in mind when I decide what to wear. I'm inspired by so many things from art to mythology and always fashion history. My favourite silhouette at the moment is the 1910's.
It's so hard to choose because I have so many but my favourite modern fashion icons would be Sarah Sophie Flickr, Beatrix Ost, Lana Del Rey and Catherine Baba.... Stevie Nicks in the 70's, but that's probably classed as vintage. ;) My vintage fashion icons are endless, anything from silent film stars and Victorian Art to Illustrations in old books."
What made you desire to start blogging and sharing your personal style/vintage treasures with others? What are some of your favorite blogging reads? "My main desire to start blogging was just to share. I wanted an outlet to share the things I love with like minded people, and it's probably one of the most rewarding things I have done. I've made lovely friends ( in real life and online) and it has also given me so many amazing opportunities.
"Ohhh how can I possibly choose, there are so many! Okay here are some off the top of my head... Hannah Hayes, Louise Androlia ( Louniverse), The Drama Of Exile, Hannah & Landon, An Apple A Day, Circus Girl, Miss Pandora, Yours Truly X, Light Witch, Katie Louise Ford, Shae Acopian Detar, Hello Mr Rabbit (obviously), Theatre Of Fashion, Guac & Roll, Digressions & Miscellany, leopard & Lipstick, I am the Daisy blog, ... The list could just go on and on and on, there are so many lovely, talented and inspirational people out there."
Who are some of your favorite vintage stores/vintage stylists/etch that inspire your work? "I'm really inspired by the creative ways that people have been able to adapt their styling into a digital, online format. Etsy is a great source of inspiration for this and it's something that i'm constantly working on.
When you don't have a bricks & mortar shop you have to find different ways to style your products whilst still maintaining your aesthetic and vision. Some of my favourite stylists are the ones that combine vintage props and flowers, mainly because that's the way my work is headed. People like Ginny Branch, Amy Merrick and Alicia Buszczak."
What are your other creative outlets besides styling/prop making? "I love to draw and that's something i'm trying to do more of now and I am also trying to get back to my roots of textile design and get making these headdress that I have been promising people for years! I think when you're creative your hobbies naturally become your work...not always intentionally. My other hobbies nearly always involve history, animals and nature. I love being outside and try to spend as much time out and about in nature as possible.I am taking up horse riding again this year and I am looking into doing some volunteering for a local animal sanctuary, animal welfare is something i'm extremely passionate about.
Craig and I are usually spend ours days off exploring, visiting museums, galleries and heritage sites. Most of our dates involve a museum/ National trust visit, combined with a walk and a yummy meal. We always joke that our move to the countryside was like us starting our early retirement, but really we're just culture vultures. I have recently become vegan which has got my absolutely loving being in the kitchen. I have always loved to cook and because i'm gluten free it makes every meal exciting and a challenge. I have started researching natural remedies and the healing properties of herbs, I have always loved the folklore of it all but want to actually start adapting it into my lifestyle.
My other big loves are magic, books and flowers. I am always inquisitive and keen to learn, and I love books as physical objects as well as the fact that they are filled with endless inspiration and learning opportunities. My Mum used to be a florist and I seem to have inherited her love for flowers and plants. I love anything to do with flowers and especially floral styling, she is slowly teaching me her tricks of the trade. This actually perfectly leads us on to your next question."
I saw that you work for a Court, with their historical homes/gardens, tell us more about your job and what you love about it. "Yes I work at a place called Deans Court in Wimborne, Dorset. It is a Historic estate which has been owned by the same family for over 500 years. It's currently the home of Sir William and Lady Ali Hanham who are the lovely people I work for. I help run Ali's 'general store & Cafe' which is housed in the estates amazing 1930's Squash Court. We sell a quirky mix of Vintage, antiques and carefully selected contemporary lifestyle products. We also sell fresh, organic produce and cut flowers from the Deans Court estate. Every summer the grounds are host to weddings, antique fairs and courses and they have holiday cottages too.
I help with all kind of jobs around the shop & estate but my main responsibilities are the social media, updating the shop website, running the shop and helping with the wedding tours. This year I am so excited to start doing the flowers for the weddings and in 2015 we are launching flowers and styling packages. All of the cut flowers are seasonal and the weddings are very much centred around the 'romantic country' aesthetic of the grounds. It's aesthetically and professionally a dream come true for me!
What I love most about my job is the surroundings, and what Deans Court stands for. I am constantly surrounded by so much beauty and heritage and the Deans Court ethos is very much about sustainability and making use of what the estate has to offer. It's a very special place and I feel so lucky to have found a job down here in the countryside that fits me so well. Especially now that I have a creative outlet with the weddings too.It is worlds away from what I was doing in London but I have grown so much as a person and am constantly learning. I feel like my life skills have doubled in size since I started a year ago."
How did you develop yourself as a freelance vintage buyer? "I have collected vintage myself for years and when I graduated from university I got offered a job at Beyond Retro, the UK's leading vintage retailer. I worked first as a buyer and then went on into my role as window dresser and Prop co ordinator.
When I was working in the buying department I learnt so much about fashion history, and sourcing. They sent me on buying trips to India and Germany and we had to train the vintage pickers on what to look out for. So in terms of clothes most of my knowledge came from the Five years I spent at BR but all my furniture, prop and interiors knowledge is self taught. Since then a lot of the opportunities I have got in terms of buying have been through contacts I have made through work and the following I have on my blog, people just getting to know me and what I do."
Where do you go to gather inspiration besides the other blogs/online sources? "I go outside, or I go out for the day to a museum or gallery, or I bury my head in a book. I guess all of the things I mentioned in my hobbies question. The natural world is a huge inspiration for me, even if it's just to clear my head. I get my best ideas when I'm out exploring the forest or walking our dog by the sea. I'm incredibly lucky to live so close to so much outdoor space."
When did you start A Harlem of Peacocks shop? What have been your accomplishments and challenges? "I started the shop a few years a go now, but originally only as an outlet to sell off parts of my vintage collection. It has been on and off a place for me to 'rotate' my collection of vintage finds. I am so terrible because I love it all, and I unfortunately love to keep everything (hoarder alert), I have had to get really strict with myself. So I guess my biggest accomplishment for my shop has been the amazing following It has created without me actually giving it 100% of my time.
This year I have decided to fully commit myself to the 'A Harem Of Peacocks Shop' and will be aiming to make it work as a proper business. I'm also planning to set up a 'prop hire' part to the website so definitely watch this space. So I guess in answer to your question, the biggest challenge has been time management.Juggling the shop, my blog and my work have been the biggest challenge but I feel like I have a good balance now."
You are also a freelance prop designer/maker, what is the favorite piece you have made for a client? Do you design pieces often? "Since moving out of the city my 'prop life' has had to be put on hold a little bit. Not intentionally, just really because my work commitments have gone in a different direction. That will change when the Deans Court weddings start, and I have been scheming away ideas for using my skills in terms of the 'A Harem Of Peacocks shop'.
My favourite piece has to be the giant recycled woollen Poodles I made for the Beyond Retro 'Granny Chic' windows. I also had so much fun helping Rhea Thierstien make plaster cast hands and arms for a Tim Walker shoot with Kate Moss. I had never done Plaster Casting before so that was an amazing experience."
If you could share with us the most valuable thing you've learned in the past year, what would that be? "Learning to meditate and really taking on board the need to be mindful, remembering that our thoughts become things and that we are all our own Magicians (thanks Lou)."