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What’s the deal? Thoughts on Black Friday

black friday
Hello.  I’m Katy, one of the co-founders of Mimi & Will, and I want to talk to you about Black Friday.  When I lived in America in 1999, I had my purse stolen in a bar on the Upper East Side, the night before Thanksgiving.  Luckily I was a penniless student at the time (and I’d just got a round in), so no major harm done.  I had my Metrocard in my back pocket so I was able to get home, and ironically, my $20 mugger money was safely stashed in my coat pocket, so I had enough cash for the barest of essentials until the banks opened again the following Monday.  This did mean, however, that I missed out on my first chance to experience the cultural phenomenon that is Black Friday.
With internet shopping in its infancy, our local mall opened its doors at 6am to herald the start of the Christmas shopping season.  In a way, I admired the restraint shown by retailers in the US,  and the clear delineation in the promotional calendar.  After all, I’d spent the last few weeks in August before I left the UK stacking shelves in a supermarket with selection boxes.
Fast forward to 2015, and restraint is not a word you can associate with Black Friday.  With the advent and embracing of shopping online, the 6am opening stopped being enough.  The pressure for: Bigger deals!  Instant access!  Unmissable savings!  Time-limited price slash!  has intensified year on year.  The fact that Wikipedia needs a Violence and Chaos sub-heading on its Black Friday entry should be enough to give any shopper or retailer pause.
So Jo and I were delighted when our stockist, The Lost Lanes, decided to take an alternative approach.  This year on Black Friday they’ll be giving all profits to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.  You can find out more by reading founder Raquel’s excellent blog post, and shop here on Friday (or any time) to show your support.  Of course, while our stockists are fully prepared for the rush over the next few weeks, we are treating the festive season as a marathon, not a sprint.  We’d love for you to be able to shop peacefully, at your leisure, knowing that you can buy once, and buy well, and not kicking yourself because you missed a one-hour-only-never-to-be-repeated flash discount.
Let’s make this season about the real joy of giving, and remember that everyone involved in our production chain deserves the fair reward we give them for contributing to our product.  That’s not to say we’ll never run discounts, but we’d like to do it when it makes good business sense for us to do so, not because we feel we ‘have to’.  We already know we can’t compete with a £2.50 supermarket t-shirt, but we don’t want to, we like the fact that what we do supports the UK creative industries, and supports the use of fair labour overseas.  We know that you want the option of better quality, more ethically-produced and well-designed choices for your children, and that’s what we can provide.  We work hard to ensure that such a high quality product comes in at a realistic and fair price point, and we’ve done exceptionally well to freeze the price of our t-shirts for the last two years without compromising on quality or our values.
We’re really heartened to see that this is a stance more and more independent retailers and designers are taking.  We were thrilled to see this blog post from Laura Spring and Hilary Grant yesterday.  There’s a discussion on Twitter this evening for Folksy sellers about their views on handmade and deep discounting practice – check the hashtag #folksyhour to see what others are thinking and saying.  We’ll keep this post updated if we hear of any more, and do let us know in the comments if you’re hearing similar messages from more of your favourite brands.

Mackintosh Building Fire

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building taken 24/05/2014
Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building taken 24/05/2014

Yesterday I could smell the smoke and hear the sirens before I learned what was happening: the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building was on fire.

Last night, the Scottish Fire Service issued a statement saying that the building was largely structurally intact, and that the majority of the content was also saved: a much better outcome than had perhaps been expected. This afternoon, the GSA released a statement by Muriel Gray on the state of the Mackintosh Building updating that information:

Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated.
But the most amazing, almost miraculous news is that the majority of the building is still intact. Due to one of the most astonishingly intelligent and professional pieces of strategy by the fire services, they succeeded in protecting the vast majority of the building, apparently by forming a human wall of fire-fighters up the west end of the main staircase and containing the fire.Also after ensuring no lives were in peril they displayed an impressive understanding of the precious nature of the building, and due to their careful and meticulous handling of each developing situation the damage is considerably less than we dreaded. We have run out of words with which to thank them, but the school has most certainly gained a new gallery of heroes.

Tragically many students have lost some or all of their work, but many others have had theirs preserved, and curators and academic staff can expect to be allowed to enter the building in the next few days to try and assess what can be salvaged.

The joy that our archives are safe combines with the delight in seeing most of our beloved building bruised and battered but most certainly not destroyed.

As for the library, Mackintosh was not famous for working in precious materials. It was his vision that was precious and we are confident that we can recreate what was lost as faithfully as possible.
Our main concern right now is the welfare of the students and the impending graduation and everyone is working hard together to achieve the best outcome for all.

I don’t think I have ever been prouder of being part of the institution over these last two days. I’s not just been the amazing team work, professionalism and support that everyone involved with GSA have demonstrated, but the warmth of support and help from the wider public and all our friends across the world has astonished us. We ‘d like to thank everyone from the depths of our hearts.

GSA have set up a fund in response to many enquiries about donations. Anyone who wishes to offer practical assistance can find out who to contact on this page.

This is going to be a difficult few days for the GSA students whilst they wait to find out what has happened to their work, and unfortunately, some students will have lost everything. It’s not much consolation, but our thoughts are with them. The Mackintosh Building has been damaged, but the creativity, vision and passion of the people of the GSA is still intact, and the school, its students and graduates will continue to flourish.

£5 discount on t-shirts for new Etsy customers

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For a limited time, the handmade and vintage marketplace, Etsy.com is offering £5 off your first order.  To sign up and claim your discount (we suggest you shop wisely and treat a little person in your life to a Mimi & Will t-shirt), simply follow this link.  

What we did at the weekend

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We had a visit to Smile Acorns, the first retail outlet where you can buy a small selection of t-shirts from our range!  Located on lovely farmland in the North West of England, Smile Acorns is run by Emma, a fellow mum and maker of lovely childrenswear.  

Supersaurus by Neil Slorance for Mimi and Will                   Jelly loves Ice Cream by Lucy Farfort for Mimi and Will

The shop is part of a larger farm complex, called Inglenook Farm.  Other shops on site include a guitar shop, traditional farm shop showcasing the best of the region’s local produce, including Lytham Coffee, and the main product of the farm itself – essential oils and soaps from the fields of lavender growing outside!  The stars of the show at the moment have to be the newly-arrived twin baby goats.  

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There’s also a traditional team rooms and a barn for hire.  Last week was an Easter fun day for children, but chickens were also welcome, and keen to get stuck in!  

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You can find Smile Acorns just off what my dad calls ‘the Southport Road’, or the A570 as the rest of us know it.  It’s close to Haydock, but even with race meet traffic on a busy Saturday, we drove there in about half an hour from the outskirts of Manchester.  A good time was had by all (I went with my daughter, niece, nephew, dad and sister – a real family day out!)

Atchoo!

So we thought we were back and then the household got poorly again – is it just us or has everyone had the non-stop sniffles since about October?

Here’s a round up of things to get you through if your household is similarly afflicted.

First off, cosy in with this blanket from A Home for All Seasons – currently at 50% off:

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If you must go out – remember your brolly!  We love this Duckhead umbrella by ethical clothing superstars American Apparel, it’s available in the Mimi and Will colours, too.

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Of course colder days mean clearer nights, did anyone manage to spot Mars recently?  Never fear, the planets are fully aligned in this space cape from one of our favourite designer-makers, Sewing Circus.

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If you’re going to sneeze, it might as well be an educational one!  Ouch at the pricetag, but what a stunning vintage hanky from Orbiting Debris on Etsy.

And if all else fails, well, there’s always Marshmallows, hot chocolate and a movie… We suggest you follow Edinburgh-based Burgh Bakes on Facebook for special deals and news about new flavours *cough* Prosecco and Rose *cough*.  

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And if you’re under the weather, we hope you’re feeling better soon.