Written by Sophie Wyatt
Oh Valentine’s Day, you’ve snuck up on us once again. While expectations usually run astronomically high on the 14th of February, this year is going to be a little different. Instead of eating at fancy restaurants, city breaks or dancing the night away with friends, much like the majority of the past 12 months we are at home with only Netflix and homemade cocktails to comfort us. While some people are lucky enough to be with their loved ones in these strange times, the roll around of holidays like Valentine’s Day may be hard for people who are spending lockdowns alone. This is why we’ve put together a list of some gorgeous items that you can treat yourself (or loved ones) to this Val/Gal/Palentine’s. So switch on Bridgerton, pour yourself a piña colada and read away.
Instagram – @waterdaily_
Shop – waterdaily.co.uk
One of our favourite Valentine’s picks this year is Water Daily’s herb bouquets. While we wait for the plant loving companies online launch, they have set up a sweet valentine’s treat for us. For just £20 you will receive (via door-step delivery in London) a gorgeous bunch of fragrant herbs and edible flowers including: lemon vibina, apple blossom, silver fennel, lavender, rosemary, thyme, parsley, coriander and chives. You will also be able to choose between two different designs of card which will include a handwritten message, and receive a printed zine including over six cooking suggestions for your herbs from London-based chefs. With all the contents being entirely edible and being gift wrapped in compostible wrapping paper, this gift really is one that you can gift to a loved one or treat yourself with, with an entirely guilt free environmental-conscience. And (it just keeps getting better) for every herb bouquet sold, Water Daily will be adding one to a family’s weekly food parcel which provides extra support during the pandemic. The last date to order these gorgeous gifts is Wednesday the 10th so slide into Water Daily’s Instagram DM’s to bag yours now!
Instagram – @bysop.h
Shop – By Soph
After starting up back in June 2020, By Soph has been exploring different styles and products and in doing so has grown a huge and loyal customer base. Since speaking to Soph back in November last year, the budding small business has gone on to start expanding it’s jewellery from a focus on earrings, to gorgeous matching bracelets and necklaces too! The made-to-order pieces are bright, colourful and completely unique (and sometimes customisable if you ask nicely). Soph explained that while she had no expectations when she first created By Soph, she has been overwhelmed by how it has resonated with people; ‘It feels amazing knowing that people love my jewellery enough to want to buy it and wear it. I get so much fulfilment from it especially when someone takes the time to leave a positive review. Also every time I make a sale it’s so exciting and motivates me to make even more.’ While By Soph started with mainly plain wire earrings, the small business is now flooded with bright colourful beads, including these stunning Valentine’s inspired pieces. So whether your gifting them for Valentine’s, Galentine’s or for yourself to embrace that self-love, these funky pieces of jewellery are definitely a winner.
Megan Wicks Designs
Instagram – @meganwicksdesigns
Shop – Megan Wicks Designs
While revising for her final year exams, Megan Wicks started designing some of the most stunning prints we’ve ever seen. Megan told us that although she started by painting succulents in the repeated style, she soon became drawn to painting fruits and veg; peaches to pears, apples to apricots. Aiming to create something that would brighten up kitchens and living spaces, Megan explained that ‘after all, they had been where most people were confined to whilst working from home during the lockdown. So why not try and create something bright and colourful to liven up their interiors?‘. Although Megan and a close friend set up a separate small art business (MW Illustrations) back in 2019, Megan realised in 2020 that she wanted to find her own artistic niche, and thus the repeat peach patterns were born. Although she started out just doing prints, Megan has big ambitions and plans including wrapping papers, fabric patterns and coaster making, and has already moved into making greetings cards (queue deliciously tempting Valentine’s cards). While each and every one of the designs are good enough to eat, we asked Megan what her favourite piece is; ‘I think the OG repeat pattern peaches have to be my favourite. Every time I look at them I remember how far I have come since I started’ (we love a growing business woman) ‘and they inspire me to keep going. Saying that though, I do love my Jammie Dodger heart Valentine’s cards. They’re so deliciously enticing I’ve had to keep one for myself.‘ While we will be getting our hands on some of these adorable Valentine’s editions, we will also be eagerly awaiting what else Megan and her phenomenal fruits have in store.
Instagram – @gashtrays_
Shop – Gashtrays.com
Next we have ceramic geniuses Gashtrays (isn’t that the best business name you’ve ever heard?). After creating the first ever Gashtray back in 2014 for a friends birthday, founder of the small business Hani explained that it wasn’t until after she posted a picture of the gift on social media that she realised how well this ceramic masterpiece had landed with people. She told us ‘originally the idea was nothing but a cheap, dirty pun. I loved the image of my feminist friend (a man) awkwardly interacting with this vulva dish that he both admired and feared. But as the business evolved and I was introduced to this incredible community of sec and body positive art, Gashtrays has taken on a different meaning. I realised that there was actually serious power in depicting this ‘shameful’ body part. It was breaking boundaries, and whether you agreed with that idea or not, it was starting conversations.’ Hani told us that while she is on a mission to ‘Love Thy Labia‘, she has been using her art to educate herself more on male genitalia and intersex anatomy. Making pieces in different sizes, shapes, colours etc. makes her work not only inclusive of just about everyone, but also beautiful to have around your home. Hani also gave us an insight into her thoughts around the stigma of genitalia; ‘Having more honest and celebratory representations of genitals helps to normalise the imagery and destigmatise conversations around them. They’ve been so clouded in taboo so far that it has stunted our ability to openly learn about sexual health and pleasure. Not only that but this inherited shame can be so incredibly damaging for our body image and self worth. Labiaplasty (surgery to shorten the length of the inner labia) is currently the worlds fastest growing cosmetic surgery, despite the fact that having longer inner labia is actually more common! We have been mislead into thinking we’re abnormal. Today I use Gashtrays to share my sex ed findings and raise money for charities surrounding these topics.‘
Although these pieces are of course visually stunning, it is Hanni’s passion and will to help educate people that really draws us into this small business. 5% of each sale is donated to charities surrounding sexual health and education. Needless to say, Gashtrays is very high on our list of self-love Valentine’s gifts.
Zoe Jane Ceramics
Instagram – @zoejanebb
Shop – Zoë Jane Ceramics
Since finding a love for ceramics at uni 4 years ago, Zoe Jane has turned her passion into her small business. With everything from grinning dishes to stunning mugs, adorable bowls to uniquely shaped vases, Zoe Jane’s shop is full of bright and colourful ceramics in all shapes and sizes. Not only are the pieces all hand-crafted, Zoe also adds her identifiable patterns in funky, vibrant colours. And in amongst all of her beautiful pieces is her new Valentine’s collection. ‘My valentines collection was made for treating yourself or your loved one with a unique gift and a love message to keep forever, especially in these hard times it’s the little things that mean the most. The thought of someone keeping a piece of my work in their homes forever and treasuring it brings me so much joy, reminding them of the love they are surrounded by.’ And reflecting the wholesomeness of her sweet ceramics, Zoe explained that ‘The idea that one of my pieces can brighten someone’s home and daily life makes me so happy.’ While Zoe’s work should definitely be appreciated all year round, we absolutely adore her Valentine’s collection and will be sipping our cocktails from a heart covered mug come the 14th.
Quite Nice Clothing
Instagram – @quiteniceclothing
Shop – quiteniceclothing.com
Next on our list we have past Haste interviewee Quite Nice Clothing. Since speaking to artist and founder Milli Collins towards the end of 2020, Quite Nice Clothing has continued to flourish. Starting off with deconstructed meal designs on tees, Milli has gone on to expand her products to bags, prints and scrummy looking place mats. With designs ranging from ingredients for carbonara and Negroni’s, to Christmas dinner and mulled wine, picking your favourite might be difficult. Even for Milli, picking just one was a struggle. However, she chose one of her more delicate designs; ‘My favourite design is the Salmon Nigiri tee, I really like how it’s quite difficult to work out and I loved drawing the salmon and the Japanese ingredients. They have really lovely packaging!’. The growing business has also started creating some bold and colourful sticker collections, including some saucy Valentine’s inspired pieces, perfect to brighten up you laptop, notebooks and any surface you want to cover them with.
Peach Fuzz Candles
And last on our list, but certainly not least, are these adorable vegan, cruelty-free, eco-friendly candles from Peach Fuzz. While at the time of writing the candles are currently sold out, we just had to add these to the list (even if they make a slightly late Valentine’s, they’re too gorgeous not to shout about). Candle maker extraordinaire Anya told us that her desire to create these candles was initially brought on by lockdown boredom, and has since blossomed into a great passion; ‘I officially started a Peach Fuzz page at the end of November, without really any thought that it could be a genuine business or income, so I’m so so thrilled!‘ From beautifully realistic peaches to adorable tiny strawberries, Peach Fuzz has got candles that look good enough to eat (although we would strongly advice against that).