Recipes from our Macmillan Coffee Morning

Last Friday we took part in the world's largest coffee morning to raise money for the Macmillan Cancer Trust. The Macmillan Coffee morning has firmly established itself in the diaries of millions of people across the UK as a great way to meet, share stories, eat cake and most importantly raise money! For our coffee morning we each baked and brought in the sweet treat of our choice and then hoped that our kind studio neighbours would eat them - and rejoice, they did!

Here are some photos of our cakes and links to the recipes so that you can try them yourself:

Above: Our coffee morning - before and after!

Above: Carrot cake cupcakes and Flourless chocolate cake

Above: Malteser traybake and Pineapple upside down cake

Above: Vegan wholegrain chai muffins and Cheesecake brownies

For more information about Macmillan and the Macmillan coffee morning visit their website here.

Meet the team - Jen

For our second meet the team we talk to our newest colleague and studio coordinator, Jen!

How long have you been a part of the Maria Allen Boutique team?
I joined in August and i've learnt so much already. I'm still learning a lot everyday and I know there's more to come!

Run us through your average day in the studio?
When I come in I see what's developed overnight - normally there are lots of new orders and enquiries to deal with. I see the orders through right from when the orders are placed, produced, packed and posted- and I love seeing the full process. The best bit is hearing positive feedback about our products and service, and I love using the laser cutter too!

How are you preparing for your first Christmas in the business? I'm trying to become as confident as possible in all areas of the business and thinking of ways to improve efficiency when we are packing up lots more orders a day! I can't wait to meet our Christmas temps.

What is your favourite Maria Allen Boutique product?
For myself, I really love the Mini Ampersand Necklace. I'm a big fan of fonts and typography and the little necklace is really understated and pretty. As gifts, I absolutely love the laser cut Honeymoon wood and leather luggage tags. I'm definitely going to get them as a wedding gift for my good friend who's getting married next year so I hope she doesn't read this.

How do you find living and working in Brighton & Hove?
I love having the seaside on my doorstep and all the lovely independent shops and cafes. Brighton has a lovely, friendly atmosphere most of the time - it's a very inclusive place and everyone's so different. I'm also a big fan of all the great vegetarian and vegan food available here and I love meeting all the cute dogs in the streets and parks. Brighton is the dog capital of the UK and I really notice the lack of dogs when I visit other cities!

A trip to Kew Gardens

We recently announced an exciting project we have been working on with the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew. Yesterday we took a trip to the beautiful Richmond location to visit the amazing gardens and check up on our cufflinks!

We were asked by Kew to create exclusive cufflinks for their gift shop using wood reclaimed from their gardens. We received the wood from the gardeners back in August last year. It was from a Parotia persica tree which had been newly felled so needed to be dried for some time before we could use it. The wood was slowly kiln dried for 8 months before it was carefully cut into very thin pieces and sanded ready for use. The wood was then laser cut into small discs and handmade into rhodium plated cufflinks. Wood is a fantastic material to work with and each pair is totally unique in grain and appearance.

Here are some photos of our visit to Kew:

From top left: The Waterlily House // Victoria Plaza entrance of the gardens // The Palm House // The Princess of Wales Conservatory

From top left: Parrotia Persica tree // Kew gift shop // Our cufflinks on display in the gift shop // Our exclusive Kew wood cufflinks

Interested in getting yourself a pair of Kew cufflinks? You can buy them in the online gift shop now!

For more information about visiting Kew Gardens, entry prices and opening times visit the website here.

Meet the team - Maria

We felt it was about time that you met our growing team and who better to start with than the founding director of the business, Maria.

How has your role changed within the business over the past 5 years?
It started off with just me doing everything in the business (in my spare time whilst at Uni!) - I would be creating the products, photographing and listing them online, answering customer queries, dealing with suppliers, stock take, packing and sending out our orders, doing my own bookkeeping - the lot! 

It was extremely exhausting and 2 years ago I hired my first employee, Sarah. She helped the business tremendously and I have been growing our lovely team since then. I am very grateful for them and each person now has a dedicated role in the business, without them the business wouldn't be where it is today! Our studio has a really fun and positive atmosphere and I love working there every day.

What do you most like about owning your own business?
Designing and creating new products. Seeing something go from an idea in my head to becoming a finished product that is in our online shop is very exciting. I also love hearing lovely stories from customers about our products, my favourites are the proposals using our necklaces!

What did you study at university?

I studied Graphic Design at Brighton University. It was there that I started the business, back in 2008.

What is your favourite product of 2015 so far?

Definitely our new etched glass jewellery boxes! They are launching this week and I'm really excited about them - we make a lot of jewellery for our customers so thought it was a good time to also add jewellery boxes to our range for them to store their keepsakes in.

You recently got married, how did you plan your wedding? (can we see some photos!?)

I got married in July this year and it was an amazing day! There was a LOT of preparation beforehand though, and I didn't realise how much work goes into one day (there were a lot of spreadsheets!) I decided to DIY or make as much of it as I could and ended up developing products for our website from this afterwards!

We had 10 months to plan it all and there was a lot of work involved every weekend! Our theme was nature inspired and our colour scheme was blush, gold and grey. Most things were done in advance so that we had less left to do the week before. We were very lucky to have a lot of lovely bridesmaids and groomsmen to help us set everything up!

I designed everything for the day from our save the dates and invitations to our table plan, alternative guestbook, calligraphy place names, drinks tokens and welcome sign. Our married surname would be Fox so I got personalised M&Ms made with a fox face on them and they were in mini glass jars as favours, with little wooden Thank You tags on them. We did all of the wedding flowers ourselves, which was fun as it meant lots of Mums and friends helping and our lounge filled with hundreds of beautiful flowers 2 days before the wedding!

We made our own photobooth with props and I bought a couple of polaroid cameras which our guests loved - I wanted them to have something to take home with them at the end of the evening. All in all it was a wonderful day to spend with all of our friends and family!

Here are a few photos from the day:

New collection launching at Top Drawer this weekend

We will be exhibiting at Top Drawer trade show from this Sunday 13th until Tuesday 15th September at Olympia London and are excited to be launching a large number of new products and designs! Drop by and say hello to Sarah at our stand ZF16 and she will be happy to guide you through our new and best selling products.

Here are some of the new designs that you can expect to see on display:

New wooden 8GB USB key rings, postcard necklaces in a selection of messages and stylish wooden mountain coasters
New cufflink designs, brand new wooden luggage tags and zodiac constellation coasters

We are also excited to be launching a new range of metal jewellery, including charm necklaces, bracelets, brooches and tie clips.

For more information about Top Drawer and how to register to visit please visit the website here.

If you are interested in stocking our products in your shop, gallery or museum but can't make it along to Top Drawer then we would love to hear from you. You can contact us via email: or by telephone: 01273 748868. We will be happy to send you our latest wholesale catalogue and answer any questions you may have.

Our new Personalised Constellation Necklaces

Sun sign astrology is the form of astrology most commonly known by non-astronomers such as ourselves. It is a simplified system of astrology which considers the position of the Sun at birth, placing the individual within one of the twelve zodiac signs. The sun is said to rule your essential personality, individuality and willpower, therefore it is believed that the Zodiac sign in which the sun was positioned at your birth determines these characteristics.

Each zodiac sign is a constellation. A constellation is a group of stars forming a recognisable pattern, traditionally named after its apparent form or identified with a mythological figure, here are the twelve Zodiac signs:

Star signs are fun and personal, and however much or little you know about astrology can be easily appreciated and enjoyed by all. 

You can purchase our new Personalised Zodiac Constellation Necklaces online now! Great as a gift to a loved one or friend, you can make them extra personal by having a name, date or short message engraved on to the sterling silver back.

Not sure which star sign you are, or want to know more about the characteristics of your sign? This website Astrology Zodiac Signs has lots of information!