interiors

Ooh, heaven is a place on earth

12:00 pm


Welcome to my little heavenly corner, minus the collection of mugs I now have there. That little red dotty one just wasn't big enough, and I treated my boyfriend to a NY Giants one so he can share in the tea drinking bliss. 

Getting a travel kettle for my 24th (took a long time to remember how old I am) birthday was honestly more exciting than it should have been, and thus the tea corner was born. The box of soy milk portions is a real highlight, as is the tin of the best decaf around. The majority of my tea is loose leaf (thank you, teatourist) so I brew it in my tiny red teapot that normally gives me around two mugs worth. There's brown sugar in the jam jar, normal teabags in the gold foil, and more brews than you can shake a stick at.

interview

Interview: Anna Lambert on Freelance Stage Management, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Tonnes of Stationery

12:00 pm


It's always a wonderful, fuzzy feeling inside when one of your oldest friends ends up in the career they always dreamed of in school. Anna is that friend for me and I have nothing but pride for her and her work. She always managed to stay cool, calm, and collected when we worked together backstage at our upper school's annual musicals, and I just knew it was the job for her. She was one of the first people to pop into my head when I was toying with the idea of this interview series as stage management seems like a career you don't hear a lot about, but has so many facets to it that people would find interesting. In our interview we chat about Lin-Manuel Miranda (our number one topic of any conversation we have), her journey to becoming a freelance stage manager, and how crying is pretty much always the best solution to a stress problem. Enjoy!

Magic & Musings:

Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Anna! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do. What does your job actually entail?

Anna Lambert:

I work as a freelance stage manager, usually as an assistant stage manager. The stage management team is the team that works backstage on theatre productions, and the assistant stage manager (A.K.A ASM) is usually running the stage during the performance with a stage manager, and during rehearsals we source props, research, and do whatever needs to be done really! Deputy stage managers (DSM) are in rehearsals the whole time and work closer with the actors and director, and then calls the lighting and sound cues during the show. The whole team works closely together and have to be able to communicate well. A lot of the time I work on a comedy show as a technical stage manager – and it's just me! I run the sound and lighting for the performances and generally organise etc. - but that is a whole different kettle of fish. It's all quite complicated! Different companies work differently too – so it can be quite difficult to explain... Basically, stage managers are part of the creative team and you usually don't know about them in a performance until sh*t hits the fan...

Magic & Musings:

When did you first get stage management and why? Did you study it formally or come across it in another way? 

Anna Lambert:

I got into stage management when I was in school. I was supposed to be helping for the wardrobe and make-up for our annual school musical when the director needed extra people to swap to the stage crew team. My friend and I were happy to move across and I've never looked back. I studied Stage Management at the Birmingham School of Acting after finishing my A-Levels and now have a BA (Hons) Stage Management degree.

Magic & Musings:

Of all of the productions you’ve worked on, which are you the happiest with and why?

Anna Lambert:

Probably all of the productions I've done with The Thinking Drinkers. I worked with them at the Edinburgh Fringe festival after I graduated university, which was one of my first professional jobs. Fast forward almost 3 years and we're preparing for our 4th Fringe together and our third completely new show. It's been really interesting to watch how the new shows develop, especially because The Thinking Drinkers are drinks journalists! Part of the show involves giving out free drinks during the performance – which the audience obviously love – and I get to enjoy a bit now and then too! It's a great comedy show and I'm proud of how well the show does, getting more and more popular every year. I'm the technical stage manager so I have to deal with all of the technical side of things as well as liaising with venues and helping with props and set. It's difficult doing it alone but also I fun challenge!


Magic & Musings:
What is your favourite aspect about working in stage management? What is your least favourite or do you find the most difficult?

Anna Lambert:
I love being a part of a well-received production; making the audience happy is our main goal as a theatre company. Being a part of a great team always makes you feel good and I've made some great friends working on productions. My least favourite thing is having to talk to lots of different people all the time. I'm a massive introvert which is probably not the best attribute for someone in the theatre industry... I'm social and open with people once I've known them for a while but having to introduce myself and remember lots of people's names and faces is quite the challenge. Looking for work every few weeks is difficult too; it gets a bit soul-destroying when you have so many jobs fall through too...

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Anna Lambert:
Cry to start with, I'm an emotional wreck 95% of the time. Then maybe try and clear my head - listen to a podcast, play a video game or watch some of my favourite YouTubers. I'll try and do something different and creative – that I usually fail miserably at – and then I'll focus on the things I can do. I'll sort my spreadsheets out for my taxes, go through my stationery, or bake a cake. Just do something productive and try and get myself back on track! I'm not very good at getting myself out of a creative rut but I have a great support system around me that usually helps me. I love my friends and family!


Magic & Musings:
I can imagine that stage management can get quite high-pressure at times. How do you keep yourself cool, calm, and collected in these situations? How do you stay organised?

Anna Lambert:
The best way to keep cool, calm and collected is to just bottle it up and rant about it later when you're away from the situation! I'm usually bottom of the chain of command. I'm fairly early in my career so I generally am the Assistant Stage Manager, with a Deputy Stage Manager, Stage Manager and a Company/Production Stage Manager at the top. It's only stressful and high-pressure at the end of rehearsals, during the technical rehearsal sessions and previews. This is because the hours are long for everyone which puts the entire company on edge a bit. Opening night and then 'press night' are two big reliefs for us as it means the most stressful bits are over! Being organised is the most important trait of being a stage manager. It involves a lot of lists, spreadsheets, and various bits of stationery. We love stationery and notebooks in stage management world, mainly because we have to write EVERYTHING down, because directors usually forget what they've said or asked for. Someone has to keep all the conversations together.

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Anna Lambert:
How hard it is to get work! I'm always applying for jobs and having interviews. At the moment I'm in a bit of a lull and have no planned work until July which sucks. I just have to keep applying for jobs and hoping. I'm not great in interviews either which is bad as I'm having them almost every month... 

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song? 

Anna Lambert:
I've been really rubbish at keeping up with my reading recently but I got Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge for Christmas and it's really moving. Horrible and terrifying, but a really interesting read. It's about Saturday 23rd November 2013 in America, and 10 gun-related deaths of children which didn't make national news. Not a very happy read though... A film – that would have to be Moana. I've always loved Disney films and Lin-Manuel Miranda is a modern day musical Shakespeare. I just love it so much! Which would lead me to music – anything by Lin-Manuel Miranda! Specific non-Lin songs would be Paramore's new song 'Hard Times' and 'Open Your Eyes' by Austin Hargrave (A.K.A PeanutButterGamer) and Yungtown from YouTube. It's an amazing song written about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and I would recommend it for anyone who loves the Zelda series and the new game!


Magic & Musings:
Thank you for being a part of my interview series, Anna! Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? 

Anna Lambert:
Thanks for all the questions, Megan! It's nice when people are interested in what I do because most of the time we're a bit invisible in the stage management world, until something goes wrong! If people want to find out more about me you can check out my StageJobsPro profile which is basically an online CV. Also, check out the Stage Management Association and Equity Stage Management if you're interested in our world! Both have very responsive Twitter accounts @SMAssoc and @EquitySM. Don't forget to celebrate International Stage Management Day every year on 10th October!

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Enjoying this series? Want to keep it going? Consider supporting me on Patreon for lots more exciting things in the future. Find out more here.

tea

teatourist April Subscription Box*

3:00 pm


* teatourist are such a lovely bunch and sent me another of their subscription boxes with no obligation to review, but you know me, I LOVE HOT DRINKS *

Hot diggidy damn, teatourist are at it again with the wonderful flavours and fantastic companies! Take a look at what they offered in their April subscription box...

Hibiscus Flowers by Tugboat Brews - Ding ding ding, we have a winner. This is by far and away the best tea I've had from a teatourist box, and can be had both hot and cold! Absolutely perfect for the summer, this brew of 100% hibiscus flowers is a gorgeous pink colour with a tingly berry flavour.

Peppermint Tea by Mais Ervas - We all know at this point that peppermint tea is my all-time favourite, so it's always a joy discovering a new one. This one from Maiservas is made from 100% peppermint leaves and really packs a punch. You can tell this is only made with the best-quality leaves as you can actually taste peppermint rather than just a minty flavour. Wonderful!

Chocolate & Ginger by Shibui Tea - How can you turn down anything that tastes like chocolate? This brew is made of ginger, cocoa husks, and liquorice root, producing a warming sensation and offering a sweet treat that doesn't contain sugar! I can imagine this going down well at a tea party or as a replacement for your evening hot chocolate.

Shades of Grey by MDTea - A flavoured black tea containing Sri Lankan tea leaves, orange peel, rose petals, and bergamot. This is a fun, floral take on the classic cuppa from a lovely curated tea company in Brighton. Also, look at how gorgeous their packaging is on  their website!

Thieves' Brew by Bev's Tea Company - This is a simple black tea from a plantation in Sri Lanka (the last making this kind of tea!) with 'notes of toffee and citrus'. This is certainly one to be enjoyed simply; not all tea needs to be fancy!

Pumpkins Go Bananas by Leaves of the World - I've passed this one on to my mum, so a review will follow!

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Teatourist is a fantastic way to discover new teas from specialist companies all across the country that you may not have otherwise heard of. In each monthly box, teatourist select one of their bestselling teas and pops it in the box for us lucky folk to try. Every month will treat you to different teas from different companies. As you can see in March I received a few redbush teas, which I didn't have the previous month, so it's a wonderful way to discover new tastes. Each sample gives you about four cups, so that's a whole lotta tea-love to share. 

You can choose between a rolling subscription (£15), fixed 3 or 6 month ones (£40/72), or purchase a one-off if you just want to give it a try (£15). Easy squeezy. Free delivery and usually ship around the 20th of each month, but if you're ordering a one-off you'll get it within three working days.

Each tea comes with a mini profile telling you where it's from, what it tastes like, how much you need, and how to brew it. You can really tell these people care about their tea being made properly!

You can find teatourist on their websiteFacebookTwitter, or Instagram, or follow along with their official hashtag #beateatourist

Don't forget to use the code MAGIC30 at checkout to get 30% off your order!

interview

Interview: Victoria & Sarah on Plain Pins, Colour Combinations, and Printing Studios

12:00 pm


Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Victoria and Sarah! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, tell me a little bit about yourselves and what you do.

Plain Pins:
We are sisters living in London. We have many different interests and passions, one of them being colour combinations. Together we dreamed up the idea of enamel pins that were different shapes and colours like the parts of a composition or brushstrokes in a painting. When we couldn’t find these pins, Plain Pins was born. We have backgrounds in both selling and display and have a keen interest in branding. We believe Plain Pins is the beginning of combining these interests.

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your designs in three words, what would they be?

Plain Pins:
Fun, colour-curated and inclusive.

Magic & Musings:
When did you both first get into design? Did you study it formally or come across it as a hobby? If you did study it formally, would you say this was a good or bad experience regarding allowing your creativity to flourish?

Plain Pins:
We both studied arts and communication-based subjects formally and would say this has given us an understanding of how creativity can flourish. However, we also strongly believe that you can push outside of that formality and that it is sometimes in the unknown and seemingly unapparent practices that creativity can be further explored. Genres and mediums are all crossing over nowadays and with that we are all wearing many different hats. I am more analogue in the way that I work, using sketchbooks, collage and objects, whereas Sarah is much more digital and likes working with computer programs and photography.

We both love creating mood boards and brainstorming. Pinterest has been really helpful with organizing all of our thoughts and ideas and is a great tool that’s accessible to everyone. We have a lot of ideas but sometimes it’s in knowing which ideas to pursue that’s the hard part! We are still learning how to hone that skill.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first start selling your designs and did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place?

Plain Pins:
We launched Plain Pins in November 2016, so we are 6 months old. We have learnt a lot so far and some of those lessons have been enlightening and others, let’s say they have been amusing and frustrating at times! You are always overcoming those type of barriers; when it comes to self-confidence, there is a lot of yourself in a business and that can feel very exposing at times. We have each other which is good, because we can reassure and entrust we are making decisions that resonate with our brand. With starting a business, we have met some great people as a result of it and that’s been a really exciting discovery. Talking to like-minded people, and becoming part of a community is in part what we have been looking for. The reason we kept pursuing this particular idea though is because we have some great pin appreciators out there, friends, family and followers. We tend to try and focus on that achievement and feel very fortunate to have that. We also come from a big family, so they will always tell you exactly what they think, even when you don’t ask them! That helps with breaking down some of those self-confidence barriers!


Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying and non-binary artists and their work. Which female artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Plain Pins:
We have a lot of favourite artists, makers, designers and communicators. We love going to exhibitions and seeing different types of work and how different makers/artists are either communicating ideas or trying to make sense of the world.

Although we have not seen it up close, recently we have been introduced to the work of Kristin Texeira, who is a painter and some of the work she creates she calls ‘Memory Maps’. Her compositions, colour palettes and use of nostalgia appeals to us and our personal understanding of place. We love her work!

We also recently went to see the work of ceramicist Kinska at her show called ‘United Kinska’, where she had created her own world and displayed her work in very imaginative and fun ways. We liked that it was an insight into the way she sees things. There are so many people out there doing incredible work and we are probably more influenced by that in a general sense. Putting yourself out there, it can be a hard thing to find the confidence to do but it’s also very rewarding to have something you can call the shots on.

If we are looking for a spark and just some reassurance that sometimes things don’t always make sense straight away and that your work can embody many different mediums, Ray Eames is always an inspiration. We love her collections and the way she worked. Everything she did in life was in some way informing what she created and we love that about her. The Eames’ and the Girards are probably are most go-to sources for colour, content and concept. There is so much going on and so much to discover and we especially admire the inclusive nature of their designs.

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your designs, which are you the happiest with and why? Is there a colour and shape combination that really sticks out to you as your favourite?

Plain Pins:
Our favourite pin and pin combination changes all the time! We wish we could say there is just one, but sometimes it is dependent on what you wear them on, who you give them to, what pair you put together. They are quite versatile. We did have a surprise favorite design come out of this - our backing cards! We wanted to keep the packaging simple but be part of the product as much as the pins themselves. We had wanted to create a blank canvas for our pins with a range of enticing colours and combinations. We worked with Hato Press, a riso printing studio in London, to make our cards. When we received them we were really happy. The stacks of backing cards and the shimmer of the gold iridescent ink was so satisfyingly simple, they did exactly what we had hoped. Piles sat on our desk for days because we just liked looking at them. So we were really happy with the design of them.

Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do either of you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to?

Plain Pins:
We have a studio that we work out of. It is pretty small, but we get all we need to get done in there. We like to be organised and don’t like working in chaos. We really don’t like rushing so we try and keep on top of things as best we can, so this doesn’t happen. Obviously, it’s life, chaos happens! We both have our own ways of coping with that and balancing productivity with fulfillment. If it gets too much, we sometimes just walk away. We like to go to galleries and museums so we go and see something, we just get ourselves away from the task or question at hand, When you come back you usually always have the answers. We love Jonathan Fields’ book How to Live a Good Life. He explains that you can’t always just focus on the work and not focus on the other ‘stuff’ in life, so you need to make sure you are always checking and balancing it all. So we would say, to get things done we try and stay organized and if we don’t have the answers we don’t stay in, we go out!


Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Plain Pins:
This follows on from what we were saying, we try and go out and think about other things. We try and explore something new. We also try and remember that it’s a phase and it’ll pass, not to get too worried about it as that doesn’t help you come up with ideas or answers. We are really lucky to be getting an opportunity to explore some of our ideas and we don’t take that for granted. Trying to keep gratitude for what we do and what we want to do at the heart of it all is really important to us.

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in another medium?

Plain Pins:
We have explored working in other mediums and are trying to develop our photography skills as it is something we both enjoy doing. We are also working on getting an online journal/sketchbook up and running as we would like to share more of our process, how we get to the decisions we do and to share more of our story.

Magic & Musings:
What would you say your relationship is like between your business and the internet/social media? Would you say this has helped you greatly in your success, or not?

Plain Pins:
For us this has been the biggest lesson. Without social media and the internet, we wouldn’t have reached as wide an audience as we have. We really love that we have sent pins all over the world; from London to Los Angeles, Manchester to Mexico. That is our favourite part about it! In terms of our relationship with it, we also appreciate you need to step away from it and make sure you are staying true to your brand outside of social media. Not just looking at the likes, but whether you like what you are creating yourself. We call it learning on the job! We just want to keep engaging and building a community that appreciates colour and conversation, and try and stay as true to that as possible.

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Plain Pins:
We have read quite a lot of business, branding, start-up, marketing type books which has been very helpful in preparing us for the uncertainties and challenges in these early stages. We do have a business plan that we are sticking to but we are also trying to be flexible and adaptable where we feel we need to be. What we might not have been prepared for is how much people would ask us about what we are doing down to the very last detail. With leaving full time employment to set up Plain Pins, ‘How are you doing this? How much money are you making?’ have been popular questions! But we put it down to excitement and intrigue and even though people are out there building businesses every day, for all types of services and work, you always have this allure of curiosity following you. When we have figured it out, we will share it!

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Plain Pins:
Sarah has been reading Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa and would definitely suggest it to anyone who is exploring their own creativity. It’s funny, light-hearted and pretty accurate as to how most creatives feel a lot of the time.

We saw La La Land at the beginning of the year and we loved it, which might be controversial for some people! It was about dreamers and dreaming, and following your dreams (with Ryan Gosling), so we were probably a good audience. Then we fell in love with the soundtrack and have playing it ever since, maybe too much now that we might need to ask other people for some music recommendations.

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?

Plain Pins:
We are really excited to hear from you and what you think of the pins. You can sign up to our mailing list through our shop, plainpins.com and you can find us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest @plainpins . We have lots of projects and collaborations coming up in the next few months which we are excited to share! Thanks!

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Enjoying this series? Want to keep it going? Consider supporting me on Patreon for lots more exciting things in the future. Find out more here.