Our hand knitted t-shirt yarn necklaces are a Crafthood staple and we tend to expand our collections with the changing seasons. Influences for our necklaces are drawn far and wide, whether it be our tropical necklace with influences from Hawaii or our Classic Navy with a nod to France. For this launch we were inspired by the Pantone Colour of the Year - Ultra Violet; whilst we didn't choose this tone, we love that Purple is having a moment and for a Spring vibe we plummed (get it?!) for Lilac and white stripe.
For those who don't know about t-shirt yarn let us explain. Firstly it is something that you can make yourself, see here for a good tutorial. As we are making things to retail, we buy rolls of t-shirt yarn and whilst not DIY it still has excellent eco credentials. Made from off cuts and remnants from the fashion industry (that would otherwise go to landfill), we ensure we source only the softest and stretchiest fabric for our necklaces. This tactile quality makes them uber comfortable to wear and another perk is that due to the stretchiness little hands cannot damage them - win, win.
When we were deciding how to launch this season's statement necklaces, we remembered how much we loved the styling session we did with Intu Metrocentre last year. We were also keen to echo the recycled nature of the t shirt yarn so decided we'd do another style challenge, this time though we would celebrate and champion styling with pre loved clothes. We've been following Boutique by St Oswald's charity shop in Jesmond on Instagram and LOVE their stock and Their Deputy Manager, the lovely Alice, has been to a few events with us now and has her own fashion & lifestyle blog. The stars were aligned and Alice was really helpful in getting our styling challenge off the ground.
As we were completing the style challenge, Alice answered some of our questions about the charity and here's what we found out.
Alice and the Store Manager Mark are responsible for the glorious styling that you see on their Instagram Feed - top marks! It was what drew us to the shop for our challenge. Alice told us that the store often attracts customers from far afield with the record so far being a customer all the way from Australia! We wondered how they managed to get such great stock. Alice explained that the items come in a variety of ways; it is either directly donated by people dropping into the store, sent from a central warehouse location (where it is filtered) or stock is redistributed from other stores. St. Oswalds also have shops dedicated to furniture (Restyled St. Oswalds in Newcastle who also deliver furniture upcycling courses), children's wear (in Byker) and bridal/ occasion wear (in Whitley Bay); all brilliant ways to help attract customers. The St Oswald's shops are mostly staffed by volunteers and Alice highlighted that being a volunteer has many benefits by providing retail experience, allowing people to give back and make friends. Alice noted that some volunteers choose to work with St Oswald's as the charity had personally helped them in some way. The volunteer network working for St. Oswalds is approximately 12, 000 strong in a whole host of roles including retail but also within the Hospice itself. St Oswald's Hospice provides vital help and support for people and their family coping with end of life care and this includes children. If you'd be interested in becoming a volunteer you can do so by approaching any of the in-store Shop Managers.
We were keen to learn more about how having a store concentrating on higher-end items had been beneficial to the charity and asked Alice which piece she had loved the most and which raised the most for the charity - the answer was one and the same.....a vintage Chanel quilted bag. Here it is in all of it's beauty. It's heritage and authenticity had been verified by a retail expert.
So....the clothes!! Boutique By St Oswald's is one of those charity shops you read about, y'know the ones where you can just pick up high end designer pieces that never go out of fashion, aka the holy grail of charity shops. It took a while to get into the task at hand as we were oohing and ahhing at all the stock; once we did get started there was no stopping us.
We'd asked Alice to choose an outfit to style with the necklace before we arrived; we always love how different people style theirs (if you ever fancy tagging us in when you're wearing yours we'd love to see #crafthoodnecklace). Alice chose muted tones with a subtle Oliver Bonas shirt in an iridescent grey colour and teamed that with some on trend Marks and Spencer wide leg, monochrome dot patterned plazzo style trousers. We thought this would make a great Spring to Summer transitional outfit.