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March 24, 2017

Fifteen years ago, fashion designer and new mum Nessie MacKay decided to hand-paint her own Christmas cards. Sitting at the kitchen table in her home on a West Sussex dairy farm, she had little idea that this creative pursuit would grow into a business specialising in bespoke illustrated stationery with 13 staff, recognisable for its scribble-and-splash watercolour style (à la Quentin Blake) and partnered with Not On The High Street. We asked Nessie how it all began.

I used to be a fashion designer but when my first child was born, I realised that fashion design and children just wasn't going to work. I'd always made greetings cards for myself, so that became a source of pocket and coffee money while I was cradling my first-born. It was never planned as a business: it just grew organicall...

March 17, 2017

Is this a still from the latest hollywood action thriller? Well, no. Actually we (that's my bum in a walk-on role) are the cast and crew of an entire opera house. Perhaps the smallest touring opera in the world… 

After three weeks working on the music and creating the drama in rehearsals with our musical and artistic directors, we pile into the van and set off to the four corners of England, and sometimes further afield, bringing opera to unusual venues. 

There's almost always no set at all (what could we fit in that minibus anyway?) and the music is provided by an electric piano, or sometimes an acoustic piano if the one at the venue's in good shape. And there are voices. Everyone in the cast is of course professionally trained and many have sung on the bigge...

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