Katrina de Toney lives with her husband, 3 children, dog, cat and 3 guinea pigs, in Chesham Bois. Amidst the fun and games of their busy home, she runs the on-line fabric & haberdashery shop, Poppies & Polka Dots and more recently has launched Lampshade Parade. Selling unique handmade lampshades, as well as taking bespoke lampshade orders and running lampshade making workshops.
What do you love most about where you live?
I’m sure lots of people say the same, but I love the fact we can be in the heart of London one day and then surrounded by beautiful countryside the next. I love the pretty village greens, fabulous restaurants, masses of activities for the children……the list goes on!
What’s your favourite place to:
Visit Locally: For us, the best day out for all the family is Cliveden National Trust. The kids love the play area, maze, stepping-stones, rolling down the grass at the front of the house and boat trips on the Thames. It’s a great all rounder and not too far to get to – perfect!
Shop at: I can’t resist popping into Jack & Atticus whenever I’m passing that way. I love the eclectic mix of furniture and home accessories, I’ve had lots of pictures framed there and can’t resist their Autentico Chalk Paint!
Go for a meal at: Barracuda for brunch or lunch – always hits the spot, it’s down to earth, really tasty food and very friendly. For dinner we always enjoy Gilbies, but a real treat is Artichoke. I am however looking forward to trying out Hawkyns Restaurant at the Crown, as I’ve heard great things since Atul Kochhar opened his new venture.
What motivated you to start up Poppies & Polka Dots?
I LOVE fabrics and making things and always dreamt of running my own business, so the obvious thing seemed to be to combine the two! After having my third child and not going back to my previous career, I decided to apply to ‘Virgin Start Up’ for a business loan and mentoring, then in October 2014, Poppies & Polka Dots was born. It’s an on-line fabric and haberdashery that specialises in modern quilting fabrics. I feature free monthly sewing tutorials, guest bloggers and have recently launched ‘The Makers Retreat’; the equivalent of a spa day, for people that love to craft!
How did Lampshade Parade come to be?
Not satisfied with just selling the fabrics, I found myself increasingly drawn to making lampshades out of them too! In truth it became a bit of an obsession (how many lampshades does one household need!). I loved perfecting the process of making them, and increasingly people would ask if I’d make one for them or teach them how to make one themselves. Before I knew it, a second business had evolved and in November 2016, Lampshade Parade was launched.
We’ve noticed an upsurge in bespoke and handmade creations in the marketplace, what do you think has been the driving force?
There has been a revolution in handmade, upcycling, recycling and general creative loveliness. Handmade no longer means second best. Quite the contrary, it represents high-end quality, authenticity, individualism and bags of personality.
Why buy a mass produced lampshade from a department store, when you can have a handmade, beautifully finished, perfectly unique one?
Why do you think more people are having a go at crafting themselves?
There are huge health and wellbeing benefits to making something yourself. Sewing, making, crocheting and knitting, are like therapy and mindfulness rolled into one, plus you have the added bonus of a lovely creation to be proud of at the end!
How do you relax?
If truth be told, I don’t get much time for relaxing at the moment, but when I do, I love to hang out with friends and family at the weekend. Taking visitors that are staying with us down to the Old Town in Amersham, enjoying a drink or some food in one of the lovely cafes, pubs or restaurants, is a perfect lazy afternoon for me!
If you’d like to join us on a Lampshade Making Workshops, we’ve just added some new dates which still have spaces available, 10th June & 16th September 2-4:30pm.
The next Poppies & Polka Dots ‘Makers Retreat’ is on the 9th July 17, 10-5pm, Penn Street Village Hall.