Meet our stockists: Little Beach Boutique

We have some really amazing stockists around the UK and in Europe so felt it was about time we shared some of them with you! For our very first feature we are starting close to home with the beautiful Little Beach Boutique, located in the North Laine area of Brighton. 

We asked shop owner and designer, Suzanne a few questions:

How long has Little Beach Boutique been open and how did the business come about?
The North Laine shop opened in June 2014, but Little Beach Boutique began in one of the fisherman's arches on Brighton seafront, which is where the name came from.

I began on the seafront in 2011 after working for a charity for nearly ten years. I had been making my own glass products for a long time as a hobby and decided to throw myself into it full time and have a complete career change. The seafront shop was a great place to learn the principles of running a small business and I started looking for more space where I could sell other products as well as my glass - and be open all year round.

What do you like most about owning your own boutique?
I love the scope to be creative with displays and choosing beautiful product ranges. I also love being able to work with other creative businesses and local makers and showcase their products. Another perk is being able to hear the comments people make about the shop and being able to make bespoke pieces for them for a special occasion.

There are so many amazing designers out there, how do you choose who to stock in your shop?
Yes, there are so many wonderful designers out there! Lots of people, (such as Maria Allen!) introduce themselves and their products when they come into the shop, which means that they have already researched the shop and think their products would fit well here. I tend to choose products with a story behind them, with unique qualities and a personal touch to be able to offer customers something they won't find elsewhere.

You are a designer yourself, what do you make?
I make glass in the workshop here. My main range is the Brighton tiles, which is a range of local landmarks that I screen print onto glass and kiln fire. I also make one off glass dishes and sculptural pieces as well as coasters. I run glass workshops once a month in the downstairs space so people can learn to make some of these things themselves.

What is your favourite thing about Brighton?
I love the balance between the friendliness of a small community and the liveliness of a much larger city, especially in the North Laine, where there is always so much going on but always someone familiar to say hello to.

What is your top tip for Christmas shopping?
Late night shopping in the North Laine - so festive, so cosy, mulled wine, fairy lights...something unique and beautiful from an independent shop...what more could you ask for?!





Above: A selection of beautiful hand crafted Brighton themed products available at Little Beach Boutique

Little Beach Boutique is open 7 days a week and is located at 74 North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YD. Opening Times: Monday - Saturday 10am - 6pm, Sunday 10.30am - 5pm.

You can contact suzanne by email to littlebeachboutique@googlemail.com or call the shop on 01273 697275

Design your own cufflinks

We often get requests to make bespoke cufflinks for our customers. Many people like the freedom that our service gives to create a really unique and personal gift for a loved one, friend or colleague. Whether it's a cufflink personalised with your child's own drawing for Father's day, a silhouette of your friend's much loved pooch or an illustration that means something special to you and your partner, the possibilities really are endless!

We get so many requests for bespoke cufflinks that we have recently launched our Design Your Own Cufflinks. This service allows you to choose between a sterling silver or rhodium plated cufflink setting and gives you complete control over the design etched onto the wooden discs.

Here are some great examples of bespoke cufflinks and some more information about the images to use or avoid for the best results.








































Designing your cufflinks

It's important to note when designing your cufflinks that laser cutters only see in black and white, this means it will etch the areas that are black and leave the areas that are white. An image in colour or with many areas of grey will not work as effectively as a black and white line drawing. Here are some examples of images that work well and those that don't:




The dragonfly illustration on the left is beautifully detailed when enlarged but on the small scale of a cufflink it looses detail, by removing detail in the version on the right the end result will be far more effective.



















Here is a good example of a multi-toned image which has been desaturated ready for etching. The image on the left has too many shades of grey to give an effective etching but by increasing the black in the image on the right the etch will work well.




Here is an example of an image which will not work as an etching. Unfortunately as the image is desaturated and the areas of grey are replaced with black or white you can see that the varying tones and detail of the image are lost. It's best to avoid images with too much detail and bear in mind the size of the cufflink when choosing your design.

The ideal image or design is one that has been designed in black and white or can be easily desaturated without loss of detail or overall effect. It's good to keep this in mind as you design your cufflinks. If you are n
ot sure whether your image will work please email us at info@mariaallenboutique.com and we will be happy to help.

Image size

Images need to be as large as possible and the optimum quality is 300DPI. If your image is less than this then please let us know and we will be happy to help.


Copyright images

We must also take into account any copyright that the image may have, if you do not own the copyright of the image then we will not be able to use it. We can however design you a similar image that we own the copyright for. Any image or design you have drawn or made yourself will not have copyright and will be fine for use. Not sure if your image is copyright? Email us at info@mariaallenboutique.com and we will be happy to confirm this for you.


Placing your order

You can place your cufflink order online by visiting our website here. Once we have received your order and your images we will work with you to design artwork that 
you are 100% happy with. Once you are happy, your cufflinks will be made and sent by 1st class post. We aim to make and deliver all personalised orders within 2-3 working days, but please be aware that if considerable art work time is required for your order this may increase.

Now let your imaginations run wild and make sure the next gift you give is a truly personal one!

Stylist Live - Friday 16th October

On Friday we visited Stylist Live at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. The four day event ran from Thursday - Sunday and was the first of its kind for the Stylist Magazine team. Hosted by Edith Bowman and Down O'Porter it was a festival of culture, catwalks, cocktails and conversation.

The event included inspirational talks and Q&As from Davina McCall, Caitlin Moran, Lorraine Pascale and Katie Piper, exclusive performances by Laura Mvula and motivational career talks by the Stylist team themselves.

There was also the opportunity to shop at the carefully selected boutiques, beauty bars and food stands including Aveda, Birchbox, Helene Birman, Katie Leamon, Oliver Bonas and many more.

We thoroughly enjoyed this fun and inspirational event and even had the chance to pitch our Personalised Honeymoon Luggage Tags to the editors for their notoriously popular Style List shopping pages!


For more information about the Stylist Live event visit their website here. As we eagerly await next years event, we look back over some photos of the day:



Our metal engraver

We recently introduced a new piece of engraving machinery into our studio allowing us to offer custom jewellery engraving to our customers. We now offer personalised metal engraving on all of our metal jewellery, including cufflinks, necklaces, key rings and bracelets. Adding a custom engraving is a great way to add a subtle and sentimental message to a gift.

Here are some photos of our engraver in action and the beautiful results it produces:


Our wooden bicycle key ring engraved with a message for Father's Day // Engraving the key ring // Engraving the men's leather bracelet // Our men's leather bracelet engraved with an anniversary message and the recipients initials.


Our gold arrow tie clip engraved with an 8th anniversary message // London skyline cufflinks personalised with the names of the recipient's children // A subtle initial engraving on a gold plated heart necklace // A name engraved on the reverse of our wooden and sterling silver constellation necklaces

If you have any questions regarding our metal engraving service please get in touch at info@mariaallenboutique.com and we will be very happy to help you!



Autumn Wish List: A cosier home

Autumn has to be one of our favourite seasons here at Maria Allen Boutique. The weather begins to turn colder, but the days are often bright with still enough daylight to enjoy an early morning or evening walk. It is also the time of year that we really start to think about our busiest time of year, Christmas! 

Autumn is a great time to think about updating the home with soft furnishings, throws, candles and other items to make the long, cold (and often wet!) evenings cosier and more enjoyable. Geometric shapes and materials such as glass, wood and copper remain big trends for Autumn/Winter 2015. We love the contrast of the warm wooden hues and cold marble textures featured below, as well as the combination of brass and copper tones with white candles and soft grey throws.  Here are a few of our favourite products available to buy online now:

From top left: Pine cone print, £55, Dowse // Loom Diamond Throw, £55, Henry & Future // Wooden Stag Head Coasters, £28, Maria Allen Boutique // Copper Geometric Candle Holder Lantern, £19.95, Made with Love Designs Ltd


Ori Folded Ceramic Vases, From £7, Henry & Future // Square Brass Candle Stand, £29.95, All things Brighton Beautiful // Personalised Hexagon Jewellery Box with Peonies, £35, Maria Allen Boutique // Marble planters in concrete, from £12 each, Sort London 

Let's Get Lost Plywood Print, £60, What We Do // Wooden Mountain Range Coasters, £28, Maria Allen Boutique // Copper Round Decorative Tray, £40, Collectie // Hand Knitted Mug Cosy, £8, Linda Bloomfield


Meet the Team - Katie

For this week's meet the team we speak to our head art worker and the lady in charge of our laser cutter, Katie!

What is your favourite part of your job?

I love experimenting, and the arrival of the rotary function for the bamboo travel mugs and the metal engraving machine was very exciting! When I get some time in the day, I like reading up online or in the laser cutting manual to find out more tips, tricks and opportunities in which we can utilise the laser cutter to its full potential. We often get customers asking for bespoke orders which always proves insightful and interesting, it gives us product development ideas too. It's great developing products that really are personal and unique to somebody.

What is your favourite Maria Allen Boutique product?
I have a love of glass products, especially ones that are etched as i think they look beautiful, so the glass sweet jars have to be my favourite. I love this sweet jar because it reminds me of the sweet jar my nan used to have on her mantle piece!

I also love the new personalised cassette necklace. As a 90's child i loved recording my favourite songs from the radio onto cassette tapes, so this necklace is also very nostalgic for me! The detail of the etch of the cassette engraved onto our cherry wood is amazing, and really shows off the detail that the laser cutter can achieve.



What is an average day like for you in the studio?
I start off the day art working customer orders and responding to any custom requests that need art working and developing. I artwork and then laser cut orders by product, I find this to be the most time efficient way especially in the very busy periods. Towards the end of the day I then have more time for other things such as making wholesale orders or developing new products with Maria.

What did you study at university?
Product and furniture design. That's where I first learnt how to laser cut! Having the chance to produce small and large scale pieces in an amazing workshop with different machinery was very rewarding.

How do you spend your spare time?
I have 2 horses so at a weekend or on a nice sunny evening in the summer, I go horse riding along the downs, it's a natural stress relief for me and always feels good getting out into the wonderful Sussex countryside. I also love going on city breaks in the UK and abroad, i have a bucket list of places in Europe I want to visit! Last month I went to Dublin. Here at Maria Allen Boutique we love hexagons so was only right to go and visit the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland where there are pillars of basalt rock naturally shaped into hexagons! Here are some photos from my recent trips:















Cufflinks with Provenance

It's important to us here at Maria Allen Boutique that our impact on the environment is as small as possible. That's why we only use reclaimed and sustainably sourced wood for our products. Wherever possible we also like this wood to be British and better still if it comes with exciting provenance and history.

We currently have three very exciting sources of British wood from Sir Winston Churchill's Chartwell estate, the grounds of Windsor Castle and Kew Gardens. Each are used to create the stylish handcrafted cufflinks featured below.




Above: Walnut wood cufflinks in British made sterling silver settings. The wood used for these cufflinks was reclaimed from Windsor Great Park and the Moat Garden at Windsor Castle.

You can buy our Windsor Castle cufflinks online here. Each pair of cufflinks will arrive in a hinged black cufflink box accompanied by a small provenance certificate explaining the origin of the wood.



Above: Copper beech wood cufflinks in British sterling silver settings. The wood used for these cufflinks was reclaimed from Sir Winston Churchill's Chartwell Estate in Kent. The tree from which the wood was reclaimed was approximately 200 years old when it was felled!

You can buy our Union Jack cufflinks online here. Each pair of cufflinks will arrive in a hinged black cufflink box accompanied by a small provenance certificate explaining the origin of the wood.


Above: These cufflinks are made from reclaimed Parrotia Persica wood from the grounds of Kew Gardens. The tree was felled in 2014 and was then kiln dried for 6 months before being finely planed ready to hand make into cufflinks. These cufflinks are exclusively sold at Kew Gardens in their gift shop or online here.

All of the cufflink designs in our collection are made from reclaimed British wood and are available in rhodium plated or sterling silver settings. Our cufflinks are great as gifts for Christmas, Father's day and are perfect as anniversary presents, particularly fitting if you are celebrating your fifth wedding anniversary when wooden gifts are traditionally given. You can view our whole collection of wooden cufflink here!

Meet the team - Sarah

For our third meet the team we talk to Sales and Marketing manager, Sarah.

How has your job changed within the Maria Allen Boutique team over the past few years?
I was Maria's first employee so I have had the chance to see and help the business grow and change over the past 2 and a half years. My job began as studio assistant, helping to organise, make, pack and send all orders to our customers. During my first Christmas we hired lots of extra helping hands, so my job quickly changed into a managerial role. Now that we have extra full time members of staff I have been able to concentrate on marketing, press, photography, branding and social media - all parts of the job that I love!

What is your favourite part of your job?
I studied photography at university so producing new and interesting photo shoots has to be one of my favourite jobs. I've learnt a lot regarding product photography as it was not something that I had explored during my studies.

Do you still take photographs in your spare time?
I still very much enjoy taking photographs but I don't have as much time for it as I once did. I mostly just take a lot of photographs of my cats these days!

What is your favourite Maria Allen Boutique product?
I love the secret message cufflinks, they're eco-friendly, stylish and the subtle personalisation works wonders for the more quietly romantic type!




You got married recently, how was the big day!?
It was great! It was a pretty relaxed affair back in the beautiful Norfolk countryside where I grew up. We had the ceremony in my parents garden, followed by canap├ęs, cake and beer from my Dad's brewery (also based in the garden!). The ceremony was followed by a party in a local barn, with lots more beer, a hog roast and a live swing band! The wedding was very homemade, my mum made jam as wedding favours and grew all the flowers, my cousin decorated the cake and made the bouquets, a friend took the photographs, friends and family chipped in with salads and desserts, and my wonderful bridesmaid made my wedding dress! Here are some photos from the day (oh and a couple of cat photos...it would be rude not to)