18 August 2014

Studio Time: Emily Steel, Brand Development

Emily Steel is an up and coming Independent Funeral Celebrant, offering bespoke non-religious and semi-religious funeral services, tailored to the individual needs and wishes of families and their deceased.

She needed a brand that would communicate how professional, warm and approachable her business is, as well as keeping her image as calm and respectful as possible to her bereaved audience. Emily needed a brand that would make her stand out from her competitors, and win the attention of her target market at the same time.

The design idea for Emily's brand flowed along the idea of the natural world - a logo that offers stability and comfort, an earthy and calming palette, and organic, natural surface patterns.




28 July 2014

It's Our 4th Birthday!



Saturday just gone marked our 4th Birthday here at Leaff, and we made cake!

It has been a year of thinking, a year of planning, and a year of action. A reflective year, a very busy year, and a very exciting year. Change is coming, and we can't wait to see how this next year pans out.

Thank you to all of you who continue to follow us, and support us.

04 July 2014

Studio Time: Nurture, Brand Development

Nurture are childcare, play and education specialists, who came to us last Autumn to set up their exciting company with a knock-out brand.

Nurture needed a brand that would be unique, friendly, approachable, warm and sensitive. They needed to get across their expert, dependable and supportive approach, while allowing their open, fun and exciting nature to shine through.

The design idea stemmed from their company mantra, 'nourishing and nurturing by stimulating curiosity and offering opportunities to explore, experiment, and understand', coupled with inspiration from shape-sorters, and how they look to do just this.





26 June 2014

For Joseph? For James...

If you can cast your minds back to December last year, we had announced how much we had raised for locally abandoned baby Joseph (catch up here), during our campaign in August of that year (catch up here).

Since then - yes, a whole 6 months later - after countless emails and phone calls, we had still come no closer to getting the money to Joseph, and the battered blank cheque sitting on our desk was a woeful reminder of this. It became very apparent, very quickly, that there had in fact been no account set up for him like we first thought. We had been through all the red tape, and even located his social worker, but no matter how hard we tried we just couldn't get the money into his account. We were frustrated, disappointed and somewhat anxious - what about the public, who had all been so kind enough to give their money? It had to go somewhere...

So, we hit the net in search of a children's charity, who we thought would be a good alternative to donate it to. Obviously there are a lot out there, all worthy, but then we came across one that particularly caught our eye - The James Bulger Memorial Trust. As soon as we landed on this site, I became completely overwhelmed; James' little face staring back at me, not too much older than Charlie. This was exactly where we belonged.

The James Bulger Memorial Trust was set up in March 2011, which coincided with what would've been James' 21st Birthday. The objectives of the charity are: "To benefit and support young people who are disadvantaged by reason of having become a part of bereavement, a victim of crime, hatred or bullying. To reward those who are judged to have shown exemplary conduct, making a positive contribution to the welfare of others, or society in general." What a great idea to put James' name to something so positive and appropriate.

So to all of you who helped us with the campaign for baby Joseph, although sadly, the money never got to him directly, we did manage to give it to a very worthy home, which we feel sure you will agree.

Please show your support to James' amazing mother, Denise, and this wonderful charity, and head on over to their Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/JamesBulgerMT

21 May 2014

How to 'Have it All'



Since becoming parents, the things we cherish in our lives have become more and more difficult to balance. We strive to go above and beyond with everything we do, and to surpass our own high expectations of ourselves, and it's hard work - the hardest these days.

My life has become a constant juggling act - juggling being a full time mum to our little adventurer, being an attentive wife, and being a successful owner of Leaff, all while trying to maintain relationships with family and friends, and taking some time for myself (which is the hardest thing of all).

Its been the toughest lesson of my life so far to manage all of these things at the same time - with many dropped balls. Yet in the last couple of weeks, I have finally felt like I have worked it out - not only do we need to schedule work time, we need to schedule personal time too.

I never liked the idea of scheduling personal time before we had Charlie - it felt way too structured for our laid back life, and I always thought that if our lives ever became that busy, we would just have to make sacrifices. But there are none to be made in this situation, as far as I'm concerned - I have to have it all.

So I was thinking, I can't be the only one who has been struggling with this - there are heaps of mums out there in exactly the same predicament, and heaps of dads too, who run a business from home as well as looking after their children. So here is how I've done it...

The Daytime

During the day time, my full attention is on being mum. When I first had Charlie, I struggled so much with boundaries between running Leaff  and being mum. There is clearly huge responsibility with running a business, and keeping it moving forward, while at the same time, nothing is more serious to me than being the kind of mum I want to be. I didn't want to be in two places in my mind at once - in that situation, I couldn't give either my full attention, and so I would fail at both. So I quickly worked out that scheduling was key.

I check mail first thing in the morning while making breakfast, which Jay and I can then discuss before he heads off to work, and which also gives me chance to take action on anything pressing before he leaves. Jay often comes back for lunch, and when he does, I take the opportunity to check mail again then, to discuss over lunch. In between these times, unless Charlie is napping, the iPad is off.

Naps are vital. Vital for keeping the house tidy and clean, for food shopping online, and for cooking lunch. Now that Charlie is a little older and enjoys some time playing alone, I usually manage to tidy up straight after each meal while he is still in his high chair and entertained. So, the rest of the chores, and a little me time, have been scheduled for naps - though there is only one nap a day now, for a max of 40 minutes, so scheduling is essential...

Monday naps are cooking time, when I'll use the time to cook a double batch of the most time consuming lunch of the week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are Pilates days, where I use the naps to keep in shape and maintain strength.

Wednesdays are shopping days, where I can focus on our health. I take food shopping very seriously - even more so since having Charlie and becoming veggie. It entails writing a meal plan for the week ahead, and ordering online. Seriously, thank goodness for food deliveries.

Fridays are 'deep clean' days. As long as I can get the 'chemical work' done while Charlie naps (polishing, bathroom cleaning etc), then i can do things like making the beds and putting washing away when Charlie is playing around me - he loves to help with these things!

The Evening

Every night, Monday through to Thursday, is focussed entirely on Leaff. Jay usually gets home just as I've put Charlie down, so I crack straight on while he makes supper, and after we have eaten, we come together and work really hard all evening. This sometimes means very late nights, but we really strive to at least sit down with a brew at the end of it, to wind down before bed.

Friday nights are all about our personal space. Jay kicks back with his guitar, and records, and I can be found in a very deep bubble bath, reading and pampering myself. Not only is it an essential time for us to properly relax, it is perfectly placed at the end of the week, as something we focus on all week to get us through.

Saturday nights are dedicated to us - whether we are alone or socialising with friends or family. We use these nights to enjoy something extra special for supper, grab a celebratory tipple, and chill out together in front of a movie - or just listen to music and talk. This is such valuable time for us and our relationship - with or without company, we can just be Jay and Kate, rather than Mum and Dad.

Sunday nights are all about sleep! Charlie still wakes during the night, so on top of our incredibly busy weeks, we are still juggling sleep deprivation! We used to find it so hard when it came to the weekend, because it felt like the sensible time to get early nights, yet that always made us feel robbed of time to enjoy some time out together. So with our allocated time to enjoy on Friday and Saturday nights, we dedicate Sunday nights entirely to sleep. On these days, we ensure that we have supper with Charlie at 4pm, and one of us cleans up while the other gets the routine prep done. This means that by the time Charlie has gone down at 6pm, we are free of all chores, and all that is left to do is have a brew and slip into bed, which sets us up perfectly for the new week ahead.

I hope that by sharing this new found scheduling system of mine, those of you reading this in a similar position, can take something from it. I would've loved to have worked this out much sooner than I did! It's regimented and it's anal, but it's a way to have it all.


25 March 2014

Studio Time: Andrew McCabe, Brand Development

Following the very recent launch of his website, we thought that we would share this with you - one of our most recent projects for Andrew McCabe Films.

Andrew is a wedding videographer, who needed a minimalist, contemporary and intelligent brand, which communicated who he was, while allowing the quality of his work to do the talking.

The design idea was based on classic style film, which we brought into modern day, leaving Andrew with a professional, familiar logo, and a minimalist brand.









This was a great project to work on, for a very talented guy. Andrew is a fantastic videographer - why not pop on over to his website to see some of his latest work. 

10 March 2014

One Year with Charlie...

In February, Charlie turned one. As well as it being the very first party for him that we have hosted, it
was also in some way a last hurrah in what was our very first home together, ahead of our big move
that same month.


I was ridiculously excited to party plan and design the theme across the table - I had been waiting
and looking forward to this moment (creatively), long before he was born!

Since it was his first birthday, and he hadn't been old enough to really be into anything massively,
we decided to base the theme on the day he was born. It was the depths of winter, and snow was
falling. We actually had to dig the car out of the carpark (with a window scraper no less) on the
day that we left the hospital. And so went the story of our Charlie Winters' First Birthday...


Big snow clouds hung threateningly over the table, bursting into snowfall, while cotton wool 'snowballs' lay strewn across the table in between the 'giant snowflake' doilies. I hand printed the table cloth in powder blue clouds, made little toppers for the food, party hats for our guests, and bunting for the mantle.

His birthday cake was a giant snowball, adorned with very pale blue buttercream and smothered in coconut, and we also carried the theme through the other food with things like white chocolate coated 'frosty' strawberries, and 'cloudy' lemonade.

To mark the day with a keepsake, I also made some folded hearts out of powder blue card, and left them out for guests to enclose some words of wisdom for Charlie to read when he is older. They are safely shut in his very fat first year baby book, for him to enjoy in years to come.

I hope that you enjoy looking through this small selection of pictures, and I hope that it inspires you
with whatever creative project you may have coming up.

Photography: Bill Benstead
Napkins, Straws, Pots, Cups: Pretty Little Party Shop
Lemonade Bottle: Next
Toppers, Hats, Bunting, Clouds, Tablecloth: Self-made