3 game changing productivity tips

:: by Lizzie






Paper Clips  |  Diamond Tray  |  Fittonia Plant available in store at SMUG  |  Habits Journal

APNTD Notepad  |  Seize the Day Notepad  |  Gold and Powder Pen  |  Brass Index Clips



1.  M E A S U R E  W H A T ‘ S  U R G E N T  &  W H A T ‘ S  I M P O R T A N T

When I heard this system quoted on Jess Lively’s podcast it really struck a chord with me. It’s from the book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Dr Stephen R Covey and focuses on helping us work out how we spend our time and how to better prioritise it in order to be more productive. Let me explain. Covey splits the combinations of urgent and important tasks into 4 quadrants. Quadrant 1 is both Urgent and Important. A good example would be, your house is burning down and you need to put the fire out. It’s urgent because it’s happening that second and it’s obviously important – people could get hurt, your home and belongings could be lost.


Quadrant 2 is Not Urgent but it is Important. An example for this would be exercise. It’s important we all take care of our bodies by exercising and eating well but it’s not urgent. However, not taking care of ourselves now could lead to an urgent health problem later, ending up in Quadrant 1. Quadrant 3 is where the majority of people spend most of their time. Urgent but Not Important. This is the stuff that’s happening right now and drawing our attention but that isn’t actually important. Constant emails pinging at you, phone alerts, text messages, phone calls that you feel you must answer but that might be a distraction from what’s actually important. And then the final Quadrant is 4, where things are Not Urgent and Not Important. Hopefully you’re not spending too much time in that one.




What really hit home with me is that most of us spend the majority of our working lives in Quadrants 1 and 3 when actually Quadrant 2 is the place to really push the needle and be most productive. As someone running their own business, this realisation has been a huge game changer. I can get so bogged down with the day-to-day running and admin of SMUG along with ‘urgent’ requests from press, suppliers and customers that I don’t get anything like enough time to focus on the things that would take SMUG to the next level. The tasks that fall into Quadrant 2 can feel like vanity projects – designing a pattern collection, writing a book proposal, taking time to design more complex window displays in advance, spending time developing content for the blog on a regular basis, styling in-house photo shoots at SMUG – but these are the things that actually develop SMUG and push what I’m doing forward. It’s so easy to stagnate in Quadrants 1 and 3 when Quadrant 2 is where we can actually flood new life and energy into what we do and make leaps and bounds forwards, towards our goals and in our productivity. I’m feeling pretty excited about this. Can you tell?



2.  P R I O R I T I S E  Y O U R  T O – D O S  &  S T I C K  T O  T H E M

I love lists. I’m pretty well organised when it comes to making them but when it comes to ticking everything off of them, I do sometimes struggle. There are a few problems I come up against regularly: Firstly my list for the day tends to be unrealistically long. This means I never get to the end of my to-dos, so jobs are always being pushed over to the next day and I miss out on that sense of achievement in finishing everything off. Another problem is that I’ve often started with the easy/fun items on the list and put off the ‘big’ or ‘hard’ jobs till later which can foster a bit of an uncomfortable feeling of doom overhead, until those bigger jobs are ticked off. Also, with lists in ‘Notes’ on my iPhone, it’s so easy to copy and paste tasks to the next day and generally move things around, that my to-do lists just weren’t fixed enough and were leading to me not feeling much sense of achievement for clearing a list of jobs.


So my new system is to make a hand written list in my notepad everyday (with tick boxes!) of around 5 – 8 tasks (no more) and most importantly, I write them in order of priority. This way I force myself to start with the most important task which leads to a real sense of achievement when I’ve finished that job (and can tick it off!) and it tends to really give me a boost to get on with the next item on the list. Of course, because of the nature of my job, things get added to the list during the day in order for me to support my team and deal with the happenings of the day at SMUG. But this way my day essentially gets easier as it goes on and every task is a little more simple and quicker to complete than the last. Genius no?



3.  C R E A T E  A  M O R N I N G  &  E V E N I N G  R O U T I N E

I find that I’m at my most productive when I have a structure and am actually taking pleasure in what I’m doing. I really benefit from having both morning and evening routines. My morning routine is designed to help me get up and out of bed, feeling positive and ready for the day. If I start the day with intention, using a routine that makes me happy, I am absolutely more productive that day. Little things like starting the day with a big glass of water and a skincare routine that makes me feel pampered, give me the kind of structure that helps me get out of bed happy and with purpose. If I’m able to go for a run or a swim or do a bit of yoga as part of my morning routine, I feel so proud of myself that I make better choices throughout the rest of the day. I like to have ingredients for a yummy and healthy breakfast at hand to keep things simple but keep my tastebuds interested in the morning. You can read my blog post on healthy breakfast inspiration here.


My evening routine helps me wind down from work, ready for a good nights sleep. Taking off my makeup, lighting a scented candle, prepping my hot water bottle, doing a face mask, painting my nails or reading a book, all help with me feeling rested and ready for bedtime. This in turns helps me get an excellent nights sleep so I wake up revived and ready for the day the following morning. These choices to take pleasure in and give purpose to my down time, genuinely make a huge difference to my productivity and general wellbeing. I’m often too busy and rushed off my feet but focussing on the above in my work life, taking Sunday as a day off with my husband (and the comforting structure of belonging to a church and the peace I find in prayer when I remember to do it) makes me feel happy, blessed, productive and on the way to getting that work-life balance people talk about.


designer spotlight – tom pigeon for SMUG

:: by Lizzie
Tom Pigeon Summer 2014_05_cropped_web_


Tom Pigeon is a small design studio, based on the East coast of Scotland, founded by Pete and Kirsty Thomas in 2014. SMUG has been stocking and enjoying their work for some time now. Last year I commissioned them to rework one of my own patterns to produce a collection of SMUG exclusive brass foiled notebooks. We’re also lucky enough to share a joint exclusive with Tom Pigeon on their limited run of Metallic Letterpress Number Prints.



Metallic Letterpress Cinematype Prints 0-9 available at SMUG here.



Brass Foiled Notebooks available at SMUG here.


We also sell their jewellery and Cinematype prints. Can you tell I’m a big fan? It’s the SMUG exclusives above that I’m most proud of though. Kirsty and Pete design beautiful things and are lovely people that are a dream to work with. In order to give you a little more insight into the designers behind the studio, I asked them a few questions about their backgrounds, inspirations and design priorities.





Tell us a bit about each of your backgrounds and how you came to be doing what you’re doing now?


We met and started working as designers in the early 1990’s and since then have worked across design disciplines, for small companies and big business, designing all kinds of stuff for lots of different people. Kirsty has worked in the fashion industry as a designer and visual merchandiser designing for small indie retailers and big stores like Top Shop. Pete set up the international design agency Uniform whilst still at university and in 2014 was shortlisted for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year.


Tom Pigeon was formed after years of us working separately but always contributing to each others projects. As Tom Pigeon we design simple things for people to enjoy including prints, jewellery and stationery as well as taking on creative commissions and consultancy work. Our work is exhibited and sold across the world. We created Tom Pigeon to make the kind of things we would like to own and live with.


What are you most inspired by and which key elements of the Tom Pigeon studio most resinate with you personally?


We love clean design; Mid-century Modern, Brutalism and Minimalism but are equally inspired by our traditional, rural surroundings – colours and reflections in the sea, fishing boats, the structure and shapes of the local harbours.


It’s important to us that our products are carefully crafted, either by our team in the studio or by the amazing makers and artisans that we work with to produce our prints, jewellery and stationery.


If you had to choose one SMUG product what would it be?


HAY’s Wooden Spinning Tops – playful, colourful, simple.




the SMUG christmas SHOP – my favourites

:: by Lizzie


I’ve been rather busy in retail land recently what with buying for and setting-up this years SMUG Christmas SHOP. Although I don’t share all that much product-based Smugness on the blog, I’ve been really enjoying curating the different ‘For Him’, ‘For Her’ and ‘For the Kids’ collections housed in the Christmas SHOP. So if you don’t mind, I thought I’d show you what I’ve been up to in the form of 3 little gift guides.


Below are all the deets should you want to swing by the shop and say hi or take a wee look online. Thanks for reading. I hope this gives you a little bit of Christmas shopping inspiration and galvanisation. It is November now peeps. Time to start your present lists. I do love a good list!


I N  S T O R E  –  The SMUG Christmas SHOP is open Wed – Sun in November and Mon – Sun in December right up until Christmas Eve. We’re based in Camden Passage, Islington, London.


O N L I N E  –  The SMUG Christmas SHOP is shoppable online right now and will continue to be live on our website up until Christmas Eve while stocks last. (We’ll be adding new products throughout the Christmas season so keep checking back for new gift ideas).






Ecelectic Cushion by HAY – coming soon

Beard Kit by Men’s Society, £25

Woolywood Woven Scarf by Donna Wilson, £55

Bicycle Pin by Macon et Lesquoy, £17

Apron in Blue by Ferm Living, £62

Rulers and Triangles by HAY from £5 

Bear Bottle Opener by Men’s Society, £18

A5 Notebook by Esme Winter, £12

Gold Dot Glass by HAY – coming soon

Charcoal Notebook by APPNTD, £18

Maritime Zipper Pouch by Izola, £30

Gum Eraser by APPNTD, £1.30

Drivers in the 1980s by Hoxton Mini Press, £12.95

Black Marbled Enamelware Tumbler, £9.50

Brass 1/2 Clock by bishop – coming soon

Strike Matches by HAY – coming soon





Peacock Pen by HAY – coming soon

Basket Circle Scarf in Yellow by Hilary Grant, £82

Russo Mini Bag in Black by M Hulot, £175

Totem Necklace 005 by Tom Pigeon, £60

Pineapple Pin by Macon et Lesquoy, £30

Pinorama Pin Board by HAY – coming soon

Paint Box Necklace by Eleanor Bolton, £122

Pink Curve Socks by Bonne Maison, £15

Beak Scissors by HAY, coming soon

Sailor’s Plait Necklace by Eleanor Bolton, £92

Plus 9 Blanket by HAY – coming soon

Diplo Satchel by M Hulot, £280

Form Circle Earrings in Mint and Copper by Tom Pigeon, £30

Plants Tote by Rosie Moss exclusively for SMUG, £70

Long John Vase by Lenneke Wispelwey, £49

2016 Floral Planner by Rifle Paper Company, £29





Teepee Quilted Cushion in Mint by Ferm Living, £48

Ice Cream Scarf by Donna Wilson, £49

Bauhaus Bowl and Wink Mug by Darling Clementine, £13 and £13

Lambswool Mittens by Donna Wilson, £24

Billy Bear Wall Flag in Blue by Ferm Living, £18

Primary Bowl and Clown Mug by Darling Clementine, £13 and £13

Mellow Meerkat by Donna Wilson, £28

Billy Bear Cushion in Rose by Ferm Living, £33

Lovesick Llama by Donna Wilson, £40

Mint Dot Baby Bedding by Ferm Living, £37.50

Spinning Top by HAY, £9

Cone Quilted Blanket in Rose by Ferm Living, £68

Wink Tote by Darling Clementine, £10

Giraffe Hobby Horse by Donna Wilson, £65

Quilted Bear Toy, £22

Woollen Banana by Donna Wilson exclusively for SMUG, £12.50


islington design district – joining the dots

:: by Lizzie

In just less than a months time, the centre of my universe, London town, will have flung its doors open wide for the London Design Festival 2015. From Saturday 19th – Sunday 27th September you can expect the capital to be filled to the brim with fantastic design, great food and more design-led special events, product launches and exhibitions than you can shake an anglepoise lamp at!


Last year I set up the brand new Islington Design District as part of the London Design Festival and this year we’re back bigger and better making sure Islington has its rightful place on the design world map.


I met up with Mark Kebble of The Angel Resident for a catch up on all things LDF and IDD 2015 and he rather pleasingly titled the piece ‘Joining The Dots’. Read the full article below for the low down on who the IDD partners are this year, what will be launching/exhibiting/happening in Islington during the Festival and find out more about the exciting additions of bars and restaurants supporting design in Islington to help us, and you if you’re up for it, celebrate. You join the dots.



RAN Sep 15-Islington Design District-1


RAN Sep 15-Islington Design District-2


RAN Sep 15-Islington Design District-3

new designers 2015

:: by Lizzie


Here’s a little low-down for you of the work I was drawn to at New Designers this year. Most students showing don’t have ready to wholesale products available so I don’t really attend with my SMUG buyer’s hat on, it’s more a matter of selecting my ones to watch. It’s also one of many nice ways to keep excited and inspired by pattern, colour combinations and shapes and keeps my juices flowing when it comes to knuckling down to my own work. Props to the below New Designers (and small studio exhibiting that I slipped in at the top of the list). Thanks for the inspiration.


1.  T I G E R  S T U D I O


2.  L U C Y  D A Y


3.  O L I V I A  Q I


4.  Y I X I A N  H U A N G


5.  H E A T H E R  A N N  H O B B


6.  A M Y  B O N D


7.  R O S I E  S H I L L I N G L A W


8.  B E N J A M I N  C R A V E N




manolya bakes

:: by Lizzie


Manolya Isik studied photography at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. She currently lives in London, where she combines her love for creating pretty images with baking (and eating) cakes. We at SMUG are lucky enough to have her as part of the team. As well as working in the shop and running CAFE SMUG, she bakes much of the sweet treats for sale. Her blog manolyaisik.com which combines her beautiful photography and artful baking, features a collection of her favourite sweet recipes – many of which our cafe customers have come to know and love.


Her BlondiesMillionaire Shortbread, fruity Friands and my personal favourite, Helva Brownies, are all utterly delicious and firm CAFE SMUG favourites. If you’d like to follow the recipes to make them at home you can click on the links above or on any of her photographs in this blog post. If you’d prefer to enjoy them baked by Manolya herself then pop in to CAFE SMUG on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Manolya is also available for freelance photography and design work and you can contact her at info@manolyaisik.com









SMUG turns six

:: by Lizzie
cacti in mint_1500


SMUG is now six years old! Can you believe it? It’s been a fabulous 6 years and we’re well up for the next sixty (or more) years of curating, collecting, collaborating and commissioning fresh and exciting design in Islington. I’d like to thank everyone who supports SMUG and everything we do – the team, my family, my friends and the many friends of SMUG, customers and designers we’ve picked up along the way.


Here I’d like to share with you the new exclusives specially designed to celebrate SMUG moving on into its seventh year.


P L A N T S  C O S M E T I C  P O U C H  B Y  R O S I E  M O S S :

As most of you will know I absolutely love Rosie’s work and have really enjoyed commissioning pieces from her and developing our offering of Rosie Moss at SMUG. It’s rather nice that this brand new Plants Pouch is my absolute favourite thing she’s ever designed. Thanks Rosie! Totes and cushions coming soon.




P L A N T  H A N G E R  B Y  E L E A N O R  B O L T O N :

Can you see a bit of a theme developing? It’s fair to say I’m rather into plants at the moment. Fellow plant lover and more importantly, jewellery designer, Eleanor Bolton, crafts lust-worthy necklaces and bracelets by coiling and hand stitching cotton rope. Her 40/50 Necklace is very much on my wish list (the whole collection is defo worth a good look). Luckily for SMUG she also makes utterly perfect Plant Hangers. Eleanor has created a new size especially to fit our best selling plant pots. These new hangers come in Mint and Dark Grey and are a great way to get more greenery into your interior.




B R A S S  F O I L E D  N O T E B O O K S  B Y  T O M  P I G E O N :

SMUG has been a fan of Tom Pigeon for some time and we carry lots of different stationery and accessory items by the brand. Our 6th birthday seemed the perfect time to launch our first ever exclusive with them. Kirsty and Pete took the SMUG pattern (see the background of our website) and used it as the inspiration for a this Brass Foiled Notebook design which comes in four SMUG colours.




W O O D E N  O W L  I N  M I N T  B Y  M A T T  P U G H :

You may not be surprised to hear that we’ve teamed up again with Matt Pugh to launch a brand new Mint coloured Wooden Owl to mark our 6th birthday. SMUG is lucky enough to now have four exclusive colour ways with Matt. Check out our Yellow, Peach, Pale Blue and Mint Owls here.


As well as thanking the above designers for sharing their talent and hard work on these new SMUG exclusives, I’d also like to say a big thank you to the people who made the SMUG birthday party itself a really special and enjoyable event.


F R U I T Y  P O R T R A I T S  B Y  R U B Y  T A Y L O R :

The fabulous Ruby Taylor was on hand all night to created Fruity Portraits of our lovely guests. Some people had two painted because they couldn’t choose which fruit to be. Others had loved ones not in attendance immortalised as fruit with the use of iPhone photos. It got pretty fruity! Thanks so much Ruby. SMUG is lucky enough to have an exclusive print by Ruby and we also stock lots of her work with Wrap Magazine so maybe take some time to have a look at all her wonderful creations. You can see a slide show of some of the portraits here.




S I P S M I T H  D I S T I L E R Y :

Sipsmith are small, they’re independent and they craft truly artisanal spirits of uncompromising quality. Prudence, the most important member of the team, is the first copper still to launch in London for nearly 200 years. She’s the only one of her kind. The swan motif on the Sipsmith mark is a reference to the “swan’s neck” pipe where the spirit vapour turns above the still. Sipsmith very kindly furnished us with bottles of their Dry Gin, Sloe Gin and Summer Cup for us to serve and enjoy at our birthday event. If you’ve not tried their gins before you absolutely should. They made a wonderful celebration all the more SMUG.




Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 12.51.15

ruby taylor’s fruity portraits

:: by Lizzie
Melon Lizzie_square_small


We were very lucky to have the immensely talented Ruby Taylor painting Fruity Portraits all night at the SMUG Turns Six birthday party. She came, she painted, she rocked it. Take a look through the slide show above of lots of happy and fruity party-goer’s portraits. They’ve been all over social media and we thought it would be nice to be able to show a few of them together in the same place. Thanks again Ruby! Want to share your Ruby Taylor Fruity Portrait? Pop it up on twitter, instgram or Facebook using the handle @ifeelsmug and the hashtag #smugturnssix




my top 5 stands at Pulse 2015

:: by Lizzie


In my line of work you go to quite a few trade fairs and see a LOT of new designers work, week in, week out. So when I made my trip to Pulse 2015 I thought it might be interesting to do a round up for the blog of the stands that I thought were designed and curated the best. In short, my favourite 5 stands. The designers/makers/distributers below deserve big props in my opinion for standing out from the crowd and curating their wares in delightful ways. So, in no particular order my top 5 stands are…


1.  W I T  S H O P


“WitShop are Jakob Creswell-Rost and Freya Hawtin. A design duo who formed in Leeds in 2011 after meeting while studying a degree in Furniture. WitShop design and manufacture design-led stationery and homewares.”




2.  I N K  B A N D I T


“Founded by independent designer Claudette Tinsley, Ink Bandit’s collection of fun and vibrant products combine illustration with contemporary design and inspired by a love of nature, folk art and awkward humour.”




3.  E K A T E R I N A  T R U K H A N


“Trukhan draws her inspiration from everyday life, long walks in parks, mid-century illustration and the books she had when she was a child.”




4.  C O R B Y  T I N D E R S T I C K S


“Corby Tindersticks aims to create fun design and illustration for kids and grown ups.”




5.  M E N ‘ S  S O C I E T Y


“Men’s Society source, style and design the very best in men’s gifts for their clients ensuring that they have a tailored, unique and fast selling gift collections.”




To shop the SMUG edit from Men’s Society click here.







m.hulot – the interview

:: by Lizzie
M.Hulot Garrad and Gia


We are very pleased to announce that, after 6 years of hunting for just the right leather goods label to fit the SMUG aesthetic, we have found M.Hulot!

M.Hulot is a London based bag and accessories label, founded by accessories designer Anna Kreeger. Born out of a longing for purity in design, the label is a direct response to the throw away culture of the mass-market and an antidote to heavily branded designer goods.


Influenced by the stylishly attired, fictional Frenchman, Monsieur Hulot, the label reflects his struggles with the modern world and its increasing pace. M.Hulot harks back to traditional craftsmanship, quality and classic styling.


I was lucky enough to catch up with Anna in her beautifully located studio (Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre) to hear more about her process and inspiration and to generally get all a bit excited about launching M.Hulot at SMUG.




Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started out in the design world.

M. Hulot began as I was obsessed by purity in design, but had ending up working on trend led stuff for high street stores. I originally studied Fashion Design in Birmingham but, having worked for labels as diverse as Ella Doran, Zakee Shariff and Kate Sheridan, became more interested in product design and attention to detail.


Have you always worked with leather? What is it that you like about it?

Having studied fashion I always worked with cloth and was interested in beautiful weaves, linens and cotton, so I think there is a direct link between these fabrics and the natural leathers that I use. I love the depth and variation in veg tan leather. It has such character! I also enjoy its ‘preciousness’ and ‘luxury’, albeit in an understated way.


Your bags are well known for having such beautiful tones and colours. If you had to choose one tone/colour to best represent you what would it be and why?

That’s a really tricky one! Our best selling bags have definitely been our Howe and Gia bags in yellow. I think the colour just grabs people’s attention and they turn a rich and lovely mustard tone over time. However, you can’t really beat tan coloured leather – all the different shades and the way it ages makes me swoon!




You have a growing number of shapes in your collection. What is your process and inspiration in creating these beautiful and classic looking bags?

Designing shapes is a very organic process. Over the season I’ll be constantly collecting ideas and taking things in, listening to customers and to friends, always on a quest for the perfect shape. I do love a practical day bag, so our new canvas styles are really important,  but our statement mini bags and clutches are our signature. They are bought as gifts a lot – that special something you wouldn’t always buy yourself. I keep both aspects in mind when designing.


Do you feel your work represents your personality?

Absolutely! I started M.Hulot as I was frustrated with not being able to express myself, designing for larger stores. M.Hulot as a whole is my vision and I hope this comes through in every aspect of the label, from the designs and the finished product through to the branding and social media.


If you had to choose one Smug product what would it be?

I am a sucker for classic enamel ware and particularly like the tumblers. That Pigeon Grey next to the Pillarbox Red makes my heart beat a little faster!


M.Hulot Gia and Howe bags are now available at SMUG both in store and online. Watch this space for new colours and additions to the collection. I think I’ll be going for one of the Gias or Howes in Yellow (obviously!) – decisions decisions.