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Travel inspiration with Meriko London

November 2, 2015
Meriko London

Meriko London was founded by jewellery designer Meri Hovsepyan in 2013. Originally from Armenia, Meri’s work is inspired by her travels and her love of nature, with each collection named after destinations that reflect her pieces. I caught up with Meri to talk travel inspiration, jewellery design and business advice – and left with a serious case of wanderlust!

You left Armenia when you were 13 years old. What are your fondest memories of being there?
My fondest memories are the people. Armenians are so warm and hospitable; even if you go to the home of someone with little money they will lay a table for you with the last of their food! In general, my childhood spent in Armenia was special. I was there until I was 13 and I always look back at my memories of playing with my friends in kindergarten and school with fondest memories and nostalgia.

What recommendations would you have for anyone looking to travel to Armenia? What about the area do you love the most? 
Armenia is known as an ‘open air museum’. There is so much to see, including many historical monuments and churches. Armenia adopted Christianity formally in 301 so you are never short of an ancient church or ten to see each day – they really are works of art.

My favourite place is Lake Sevan, about one and a half hour’s drive from the capital Yerevan. The colour of the lake is just stunning; it’s light turquoise in colour and later on became the inspiration for my jewellery designs. I remember as a child every time going there with my family, and how as soon as I could see the lake my heart would beat so fast from the excitement.

You’ve lived in a lot of places over the years – from Armenia and Moscow to London and Spain! Which place has had the most influence on who you are today?
It’s hard to choose between London and Spain. You can’t beat the thrill and fast paced excitement of life in London; the energy and pulse of life there never leaves you. London has it all – from history and culture, to the latest in art and design… it’s a jewellery designer’s dream as inspiration is on every street corner. As for Spain, or at least the South of Spain where we have a home and I spend a lot of time, that’s the very opposite and it truly nourishes my soul. Where London wakes me up, Spain chills me out. From my bedroom window I can see mountains on one side and the sparkling Med on the other. I can take my son to the old town in the morning, the beach in the afternoon and in the evening go to the huge array of fiestas and parties that seem to go on every night in the summer. I wake up each morning smiling because the sun is always shining and the air is always clear.

You’ve mentioned that travel and nature are your biggest inspirations. What impact have these had on the pieces you produce for Meriko London and which destination has been your greatest inspiration to date?
Other than Spain, which as you can tell brought me closer to nature and inspired my Gold Coast collection, I would say that California holds a special place in my heart too. It’s such a visually beautiful place… in fact it is quite Mediterranean in places. The surrounding areas of LA such as Orange County (Laguna Beach, Long Beach) and Santa Barbara are so, so pretty.

Where in the world would you love to travel to next and why?
I love all things Latin and I am dying to go to Cuba and Mexico. I love colour! And these places seem to be teeming with it. I love countries where the people are warm and the weather even warmer; where the food is delicious and art and culture is all around you. I can’t wait to get to Salsa and Samba in the streets of Cuba one day, and hopefully come away with some inspiration for a new collection.

At what point did you know you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
I can’t remember wanting to be anything else! As a small child I could watch my father make fine jewellery all day. Precious stones and gems were like toys to me, instead of learning colours out of a book I was introduced to the colour blue by being taught the difference between turquoise, lapis and aquamarine stones.  I specifically got my degree in Art History to understand the evolution of design, and then went on to study accountancy and business… the perfect stepping stones toward my vocational nirvana. Which is where I am now.

What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
Do your research, because it takes a lot of investment – both time and money, so you need to know exactly the direction you are going in. Know your competitors as well as you know yourself, and get to grips with the changing face of technology and social media, because without it no one will know who you are. It’s also important to surround yourself with the right team – you don’t know everything, so make sure you work with people that are knowledgeable, trustworthy and as passionate about your brand as you are. It’s not easy, and even when it looks like it’s all for nothing keep soldiering on as you never know if your big break will be tomorrow.

And for someone who’d love to work in jewellery design?

Remember, everyone out there is already bigger and more successful than you… so make sure you really have a passion for what you do or it will show in your work. Stay on top of the game – be creative, innovative and unique in everything you do. I truly believe that when you love your work, never give up and stay hopeful…good things happen. Well I hope they will!

Your top tip for travel:
Insider knowledge. I believe you won’t ever truly experience a place if you don’t live it like a local. So immerse yourself in the culture, language, food and customs. Make friends with local people who will show you the unseen parts of where you are. That’s when you go from being a tourist to being a true adventurer.

Meri’s newest collection, Colorado Escape, is now available online at www.merikolondon.com and through stockists in London, Madrid, Malaga and New York.

Life Style

This week I love: Fossil 1954 fragrance

October 7, 2015

Every now and then I find a fragrance that I literally cannot get enough of. This time it’s gone so far as ‘popping into’ Fossil each time I pass a store for a quick spray…

Officially number one on my Christmas wish list (hints have been given to Oliver), this week I love Fossil’s new 1954 fragrance. Spicy and warm, it just smells downright tasty and has a pleasingly heavy, wintery scent that lasts, blending mandarin blossom with pink pepper, ginger, and cedarwood.

A sucker for pretty packaging (I blame three years of studying advertising), the bottle also makes me very happy. Fingers crossed it ends up in my stocking. Yes, family and friends, that’s another hint.

Fossil 1954 Fragrance – £49 for 50ml, available at fossil.co.uk.

Beautifully illustrated by Brooke Costello. See more of her work here.

London Style

LCCA Four Seasons Fashion Show

September 8, 2015

Other than scanning through the usual flurry of excitement on twitter, I have to admit that LFW passed by almost unregistered for me this season.  A busy work schedule has meant little time for swotting up on SS16 trends (I will regret this come March), but I did get in on a little piece of the action this Monday evening at the LCCA Four Seasons Fashion Show. Held by the London College of Contemporary Arts, this year’s graduates showcased an impressive collection on the catwalk, centering around the theme of constant change and up-cycling within the fashion industry today.

I particularly loved the collection from Vilma Indrisiunaite for it’s simple lines and crisp white palette, the raw edges of Sally Spencer’s dresses, and special mention to Bryony Sansome for naming her luxury streetwear collection ‘Heavy Metal Peacock’. Perfectly fitting and very, very cool.

We had a brilliant, prosecco-filled evening, met some lovely designers – including one who asked for a selfie – and left genuinely impressed with what the graduates had to offer. Looking forward to seeing their names pop up over the next few years.

Emma x

Style Travel

House of Summer

August 17, 2015

Combining three of my favourite things – summer style, sunshine and travel – I instantly fell in love with the story behind House of Summer, an online boutique showcasing pieces from young entrepreneurial women living and working all over the globe. I caught up with founder Aleksa to hear more about her travels and how they influence the collections, from the streets of Rio to the mountains of Morocco.

The concept for House of Summer sounds great! How did it come about?
Well, it’s a tough one because House of Summer had many beginnings. When I moved to London I found it really hard to find unique and quality beach wear and summer wear that was colourful, sexy and vibrant – so I always did a lot of shopping during my travels (especially in Brazil, where I’m from). I started to informally sell bikinis and accessories to friends here in London and decided that there was potentially a bigger market for unique stuff that you couldn’t get in the UK. I was also getting awfully tired of finding myself wearing the same thing everyone else was wearing on the high street – I’m talking your typical Zara florals – I knew there was much more to it than that. So after a long time studying and researching and talking about my niche, I decided to go for the theme of “Sunshine” and that every product I bought to re-sell would conjure the image of a sunny somewhere. And that’s when I launched House of Summer.

You source exclusive pieces from all around the globe. What do you look for when travelling and how do you know when something is perfect for the brand?
House of Summer is a happy place, so the products need to take me somewhere sunny and special where I can let my hair down and dance on the sand. You know that feeling you get where you’re in a far away place and no one knows who you are, you don’t care about your hair or makeup – you feel so free. There are a few key things I love and those are open backs, neons, bright prints, a little sex appeal… You get that from latin counties like Brazil, Spain, Italy… Before I travel I do a little bit of online research – I try to find some niche bloggers with great style that perhaps work with indie brands. I try to gather about 10 different boutiques to visit and collect designer’s names. Once I’m in the country I’ll pop in to have a look at the quality and try and buy a few pieces to test. If I think it can work, I’ll get in touch later and start some buying! I’ve found many cool designers through Instagram!

You’re passionate about travel and the season of summer. How have you been able to explore these passions through House of Summer, and how have they influenced your collections?
I have indeed! I think I am a bohemian explorer meeting a chic modernity – I’m not only beach. House of Summer is not only about fashion, it’s very cultural as well. I feel like I need to understand cultural behaviours in order to find products my customers will love. I created House of Summer to give my travels a purpose. I travel not to sit down by the pool, I travel to meet designers, boutique owners, artisans – to understand how local fashion represents culture. Some designers come from big cities like Sao Paulo, others are artisanal – every product has a story, an origin and a meaning – and for me it’s always a memory of a place I explored.

How do you support emerging design talent?
I just love new designers! They are so full of life and want to do so much! I buy from them as much as possible, and we help each other with sales and cross promotion. Ultimately the biggest reason I work with small designers is because I like unique things that aren’t mass produced. What I try to pass onto my customer is the value in the product I sell and that’s a hard message to pass because people take their clothes for granted. There is so much cheap clothing out there no one even thinks of where their clothes come from! There is no relationship between designer, product and customer. It’s just a thing, disposable next season. My job is to tell the story so that there is a connection between designer and product – I’m the link.

Where is your favourite place in the world to spend the summer months?
Brazil and Ibiza – I’m lucky! I get two summers! In the northeast of Brazil (Bahia, Piaui) – there are all these hippie villages with cobbled streets, fairy lights and warm humid air. In the summer in Europe I go to Ibiza – I fell in love with the island, the people and the culture. Ibiza is a funny one, because it’s easy to get caught up in the “hype” yatchs, clubs, and materialism. But if you can go around June during early season, it’s bliss. Find a family run B&B in the middle of the island and walk around the lemon groves and the Old Town.

You’re originally from Brazil. What tips and advice would give you someone wanting to visit?
Brazil is HUGE – it’s basically the size of the whole of Europe so you need to pick your start. I would start in Rio for a quick glimpse into the care-free lifestyle of the “carioca”, walk around Lapa and Sta. Teresa and do the sites. I would then work my way up the Northeast coast of Brazil (Bahia, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara, Piaui and Maranhao). The beauty of Brazil is in the simplicity and the friendliness. The moment you try to be fancy in Brazil you go wrong! Aim for at least 3 weeks, and don’t take all your jewellery (especially in Rio)!

How do you find London compares to the other places you’ve lived? What do you love most about living and working in the capital?
I’ve only lived in Brazil, the USA and the UK. I love London, I hate London weather – Oh how I wish it were sunny here, it would be the best. What I love about London is my freedom. And this can be as simple as taking the bus, walking the streets home at night and sleeping without worries. It may sound weird to hear this but in a city like Sao Paulo you grow up very sheltered, mainly for security reasons. So when you’re a teenager, you don’t really have a lot of freedom. I love the open-mindedness of the people and the cultural diversity. I’ll go out for dinner with friends and we’ll have people from all over the world at the same table, that’s hard to get anywhere else in the world.

Where’s next on your list?
AFRICA!

What’s next for House of Summer?
So many things! But in a nutshell I want to start creating House of Summer’s own collection for SS16 (I don’t follow fashion calendars). There’ll definitely be a bigger push into ethical and sustainable fashion, recycling, and bringing awareness towards responsible consumerism – that is the direction I’m heading.

Your top tip for travel:
Don’t be a tourist! Go to a place and really try to get involved with the culture, speak to your waiter, to the person who runs your hotel. Talk to them, interact… are they happy? Is it a good place to work, to live? Sometimes we’re so obsessed with taking selfies and boasting about our travels, we forget that we are temporarily borrowing someone else’s home and land. So treat it with respect and love, above all.

Shop destinations from Italy to Australia at HouseofSummer.com, or follow on instagram for bikini shots and summer style inspiration all year round.

Emma x

Life Style

Things I love: H&M bug sweater

April 2, 2015

I really love this cute embroidered sweater from H&M. I particularly love the fact that it’s £24.99…

On yet another occasion that I was supposed to be ‘saving money’, I popped into H&M and came out with a new favourite. I’ve been looking for the perfect grey sweater  for a while now – so why not try one covered in bugs?

As ever, the wonderful Brooke Costello has captured the look perfectly. I plan to wear this with puffy skirts and layered over a white shirt paired with black high waisted jeans.

Get the original here: H&M Bug Sweater

Illustration by Brooke Costello. See more of her work here or take a look at past collaborations here.

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