We are so pleased to be joined for our A Simple Path series by Julia Smith, creator of Humphrey & Grace and taker of stunning photographs over on Instagram as @humphreyandgrace. Julia has an eye for beautiful, natural wildscapes and sumptuous florals, all with a gentle aesthetic and underlying belief in cherishing the simple moments in life. She works with brands to create photographic content and on social media strategies, and is an all-round Instagram superstar, so we are very grateful to her for sharing her wisdom and thoughts here.
Julia has great advice for connecting with each other and disconnecting with our screens, on teaching children to be compassionate and measured about their online time, on how to manage Instagram, and on carving out time for simple pleasures amidst the hurly-burly of everyday life. Her website is a treasure trove of creative inspiration, practical photography and social media advice, and inspiring conversations.
Read on, this is a true treat.
- Thanks so much for joining us Julia, we are beyond excited to have you. Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
I am a photographer and Instagrammer. For the most part I create content for social media both for myself and for brands, sometimes I share this content in my gallery and sometimes it is simply work for my clients. Either way it is a job I adore.
I have always loved photography, I had my first camera in my early teens and took a few film photography courses while at college and university before largely putting the camera down for several years. It wasn’t until I had my first digital camera, and the cost of developing film was less of a consideration, that I properly began to play around with photography.
What really turned it into a passion was Instagramming. Being inspired by some great photographers and pushing myself to try new things has become a huge part of my life. And there is always more to learn.
- If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
To be braver, to feel the fear that comes with stepping out of comfort zones – then do it anyway!
In the past I would hit a bump in the road and simply use it as an excuse to stop. Only fairly recently have I really learned to embrace the failures as part of the journey rather than an indication that I’m on the wrong track. There are things to be learned and changes to be made constantly, it’s all part of the process.
- What is it about the simple life that you find appealing?
I would love to say I live a simple life, but the truth is I wear many hats and have very little free time. I deliberately carve out space to breathe and enjoy the simple pleasures whenever I can but it is usually only for a matter of minutes.
There us an immediacy about modern life which can be both brilliant and frustrating all at once. It is so easy to be connected all the time, not to mention the constant consumerism that surrounds us. It takes a deliberate effort to switch off from it. To live in the moment and not through a screen. To buy less but better.
I want to teach my children to look at the world and people in front of them, to experience life for themselves rather than online. From the flowers in the verges to the sound of birdsong outside the window, a picnic in the shade of a tree or a paddle in the sea. To genuinely listen to and care for other people. To see the value in experiences rather than things.
Of course it isn’t always easy as my teenagers connect with their friends online daily and I don’t want to exclude them from their social groups, but I do want them to be happy offline too.
Disconnect is something I advocate for all, to have at least a day or two each week offline. In my experience it is vital for a healthy relationship with social media to take time away from it regularly.
- How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
I think it is all about finding a balance that works for you.
For a long time I would view the world through my camera, always desperate for the next photo to share. Until I realised that almost all of the photos I took would never be used at all. I was taking hundreds of photos each month and sharing a tiny proportion of them.
So I became a little more savvy with my photo taking. A good half hour session can give me up to 4-5 useable photos to dot through my Instagram gallery. In my mind this is not lazy photography, it actually ties my gallery together over time and creates a theme of sorts. Currently it is all about the wild flowers and outdoors.
I would also advise others to bank photos when you can. If you are styling a photo for any reason, take that shot then tweak it. Change the angle you shoot from. Move the props. Have a couple of spare shots on your camera roll to use in the future when you need to fill a space. In my experience no one minds a few coordinating photographs!
Creating new content constantly for any period of time is hugely demanding and taking these few little steps can make the process far less overwhelming.
When I am out with my family I don’t often use the camera other than for family photos. Over time I have trained my eye to see the Instagram friendly shots and they take mere moments to shoot, so I can really enjoy being in the moment without seeing it through the lens.
Quite honestly, I think the shots missed are worth missing if it means you are creating memories with your people instead and sharing an edited version of my world is a deliberate move on my part. Instagram is escapism to me. And for very good reasons.
- Who inspires you?
All kinds of people – folk who are chasing their creative dreams first and foremost. There is nothing more joyful than speaking with people about the things they are passionate about. And knowing that at times we all face creative block too.
I do often look away from social media for inspiration also (I am a fan of just getting outdoors as nature inspires me), at the very least I look to the work of others that is quite unlike mine.
On Instagram I follow potters, artists, florists, photographers, writers, candle makers, clothing makers – the list goes on and on. Immersing myself in a creative world means inspiration is everywhere.
- What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
Good question! I adore handmade items, ceramics are my favourites, though anything where you can see and feel the touch of hands. And then natural materials in any form are important to me too, be it wood, fabric or clay.
I can’t do without a really lovely set of bedlinen – preferably clean and fresh off the washing line – it has always been one of my favourite creature comforts.
Ooh and plants. I simply can’t imagine living in a space without plants.
- What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time?
I don’t really plan so far ahead. I like to see where the path takes me and adapt myself to it. It would be impossible to plan any kind of work involving social media so far in advance as, by its very nature, the only constant is change.
I would like to think I will still be expressing myself creatively though who knows whether that will be through photography or in some other way. My first love is for fabric and textiles, so we will see.
One thing is for sure though, I plan to embrace the opportunities that feel right and keep on stepping out of my comfort zone.
- What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m afraid wild is not really in my nature, a little bit rebellious and perhaps sometimes wayward, because where’s the fun if we can’t push a few boundaries?
I am myself at all times, I am not overly concerned by others’ opinions of me because at the end of the day I can honestly say I was true to myself rather than trying to be what people expect. And I genuinely believe that the right people will find you anyway!
As for wild, I plan to grow old disgracefully so we will see…
Thank you so much for your time, and sharing your thoughts with us!
In the summer you want easy-to-wear, comfortable clothes that work with lots of things in your wardrobe and that don’t need lots of special care. Simple, unfussy, hard-wearing items that you can throw on for a trip to the beach or a picnic, or just for pottering around the house. Linen really comes into its own in the warmer summer months. It’s lightweight, cool (it regulates your body temperature so you stay comfortable all day), easy to pack for vacations, easy to care for and looks great on its own or layered on chilly evenings.
If you are looking to add some linen garments to your capsule wardrobe, or need some beautiful linen clothes for an upcoming holiday, here’s our edit of essential things you will love this summer.
Cut from super-soft, drapey pure linen this dress will become your go-to summer item. The fresh Aqua colour will work brilliantly with sun-kissed or darker skin, as well as flattering paler tones. The knee-length makes it easy to wear with pumps or sandals for daytime and cross over into evening by simply adding some chunky jewellery and heels. We love the roomy pockets at the front, and the delicate tie detailing at the back.
Flowing yet structured, this sweet linen blouse is perfect for everyday wear in summer. The capped sleeves and interesting neckline lift it above most simple linen tops, and it looks lovely either tucked into shorts or worn over slouchy trousers. The Emily blouse from LinenMe comes in white and indigo. We want both – one for hot days and one for the office or in cooler weather.
Flattering yet comfortable, this gorgeous linen robe is perfect for wearing around the house over a summer nightie, or for wrapping up in after a day outdoors. We love the 3/4 length sleeves that show just the right amount of wrist, and the handy pockets that create a relaxed silhouette. This robe comes in four colourways so you can find one that works best for you.
A linen scarf like this will work hard for you this summer. Pair it with a dress to lift your look from casual to smart, drape over your shoulders for a chilly summer’s evening drinks party, use as a make-shift blanket for an impromptu picnic, or cover up a snoozing baby dreaming in the shade. Linen gets softer with each wash and the crumples add to its charm, so this scarf is very low-maintenance too.
Loungewear doesn’t have to mean shapeless, dowdy old garments that you are embarrassed to answer the door in. These beautifully cut pure linen pyjamas, pictured here in a muted grey, are the ideal combination of style and comfort. Soft, easy to wear yet flattering, the details like the mother of pearl buttons and gently gathered long sleeves make these the ultimate in luxurious homewear. Linen is great for sleeping in too, thanks to its temperature-controlling and moisture-wicking properties, so if you suffer with overheating in the summer these could be your saviour.
If you are curating and maintaining a capsule wardrobe this summer we think these hard-working, super-flattering and luxuriously soft clothes are just what you need. For more on how to care for your linen, this will help. And if you need advice on how to pack for your vacation, go here.
Amanda Saurin has been on our radar for a while now. Not just because her beautiful flagship store is in our hometown, but also because of her joyful and inspirational approach to her business, A.S APOTHECARY – and indeed to life. Infused with Amanda’s love of plants, her organic skincare products are exquisite concoctions aimed at promoting not just beauty but wellbeing. Her range is carefully curated and each plant is hand selected to ensure only the highest quality ingredients find their way into a product. We caught up with Amanda between a trip to Cyprus sourcing plants for her skincare range and installing her new Alembic Still (a mighty-looking copper contraption for distilling), and picked her brains about what she does and why she loves it.
- Welcome Amanda, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. We are really excited to have you here. Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
I have very unusual but incredibly satisfying work, I often describe it as an organic amble. I think we often make the mistake of rigidly defining ourselves and what we do to the exclusion of everything else, for me every experience adds another layer of possibility. The only limiting factor is the courage to leap.
I am first and foremost a plantswoman – I have worked with flowers, trees and herbs for over 30 years. I’m a qualified Homeopath using herbs as the mainstay of my practice. I’m also a distiller, skincare maker and most recently producer of delicious aromatics to the Isle of Harris Distillery.
My route to my current work has come via teaching, law and art…
2. If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
Do what your heart desires, the rest will follow. And the supplementary advice with the benefit of hindsight, if you have those 5 children you’ll never be rich but every day you’ll benefit from all that love.
3. What is it about the simple life that you find appealing?
I don’t have a simple life. I don’t think in this world right now there can be simplicity – in common with virtually all the women I know and work with, life is a complex juggling exercise and it’s disingenuous to deny it. The combination of children, partner and elderly parents precludes simplicity. What I do have is a rich and fulfilling work life that allows for the joy of simple pleasures. The plants we grow, the harvesting of Roses, Lavender and all the rest is beyond delight. Travelling to Cyprus and the Isle of Harris to pick and distil is quite simply salve for the soul.
4. How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
This question is underpinned by another: how do we ensure that in presenting our curated lives we are honest? I think content sharing can be great, it can be a way of inviting people into your world, revealing the parts of your work that inspire you. However, where life becomes content led, in other words rather than taking the odd snap of something you love you feel pressure to publish a daily perfection, there is a major problem. There is a fine line between sharing for pleasure and dictating a particular look, offering reality versus a hyper-sanitised version, being inspirational and offering false aspiration. These are all in need of balance and thought. Content sharing should be secondary to living your life not dominated by creating photo opportunities. Eat the food, drink the coffee, live and take the odd photo.
5. Who inspires you?
It is no exaggeration to say that the team of women I work with are a daily inspiration – they manage their lives, their children and then they come into work and manage me. Without them, A.S APOTHECARY would literally be nothing. They grow the plants, tend the garden, help with making, organise orders, dispatch, run the shop, clean, clear, settle accounts, write engaging copy and everything else. When I walk in with a new idea they listen, help me to think it through and go for it. They are unafraid, they leap with me and offer wise counsel along the way.
6. What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
Without my French press I simply could not function. I love coffee, it is a ritual that I find sets off my day perfectly.
I also love my pen knife which I carry everywhere I go – I use it for taking cuttings, scraping off tree resins, dividing perennials and on impromptu picnics.
7. What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time?
I have literally no idea. I rather like the idea of buying a camper van (the GranVan) and wandering between the homes of my children creating mayhem with my grand children. I’ll still be making things and working with plants – that is a lifelong passion.
8. What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve lived a life of wildness with too many adventures to mention but actually, the consistently wildest thing I’ve done is to defy convention on a daily basis. I’ve railed against all the rubbish I see in the beauty industry, I’ve exposed the hypocrisy of green washing and championed real, honest skincare – that really is wild in this day and age.
So much to take away from this, thank you so much Amanda.
And if you’d like to read more in our A Simple Path interview series, in which we speak to creative and makers who share our love of a simple aesthetic and a slower approach to life, go here and here.
If you’ve been gripped by the energy of renewal that Spring brings, you may be turning to your home and tackling those areas that are in need of some TLC. Brighter, sunnier days can show up smeary windows that have been curtained off throughout the Winter. Bulky woollies might need to be stored away, leaving space for fresh, lighter clothes. Now that you can throw open the windows those tired corners can get a lick of paint, and heavy drapes can be replaced by lightweight summer curtains. Spring cleaning needed be a massive task – just focussing for 15 minutes on each room can bring some Springtime sparkle into your house, and even the busiest of us can find this small amount of time for some sprucing. To get you inspired, here are 5 Spring cleaning essentials to put the fun back into housework and the beauty back into your cleaning cupboard.
Ah friends, have we got a treat for you. This is the third instalment of our interview series, A Simple Path, in which we talk to inspiring creatives who are doing more with less. This week we are joined by the lovely Jane Day from teawithruby.co.uk. Sometimes you come across a blog that is inspiring yet authentic, beautiful yet simple. Tea with Ruby is just that. Jane is an interiors blogger, stylist, writer and photographer whose gorgeous blog always offers new ways to style your home using simple, sustainable, beautiful things. She is a master of light, taking pictures that have depth, texture and an incredible stillness. There is an authenticity to Jane’s work – you know she really lives what she writes. And she’s a huge fan of linen, which makes us very happy. We love her work and had to find out more about what she does, and why she does it.
Grab yourself a coffee and savour this post – it will inspire you, and get you thinking about small changes you could make to slow your life down and be properly in the moment.
Woohoo! Here’s the second instalment of our interview series, A Simple Path, which explores how inspiring, creative people are doing more with less.
This month we had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Erica Lee, @thehyggewife on Instagram and creator of thehyggewife.com. We are huge fans of Erica’s stunning photography and admire her commitment to living a simpler, more intentional life. Sit back and enjoy – we think you are going to love this one.
There’s been a definite spring-like smell in the air these past few days. The evenings are stretching a bit longer, the hens are laying more, wild birds are chorusing, bulbs are pushing stems gleefully up through the earth. It’s a time to celebrate renewal and rebirth, so we thought we’d give you 7 simple ways to herald in the new season. So sit back, pour yourself a cup of tea, open a window and drink in the beautiful spring.
If you like to listen to something while you commute, relax in the bath, travel or do the washing up, we’ve got 9 brilliant podcasts that are just the job. On a range of subjects, from books to architecture, there is something for everyone in this list. Episodes range from short bursts (perfect for listening to while you’re folding the linen) to longer segments that really delve deep into a topic. Wherever you are, you will want one of these to hand.
Hello lovely folk. Hope your month is shaping up to be a glorious one.
Just a quick note to say that we are now on Instagram, so come on over and find us: @linen.beauty. We will be sharing images that celebrate our love for linen, simplicity, slow living and beautiful interiors.
If you know of any great Instagram feeds we should follow, leave us a note in the Comments so we can check them out.
Can’t wait to see you!