Makers Making A Difference: Nicky of Love Milo

After spending a morning with the lovely Nicky Ellis at Love Milo‘s studio in Cape Town, I was compelled to get to know her better and share this authentic creative’s beautiful brand. It was a festive event that marked the launch of the brand’s latest range: ceramics, accessories and wallpaper with beautiful magnolias that add vivid pops of colour to their traditional black-and-white palette. With pink drinks, Turkish Delight, and the most amazing macaroons EVER, we were even more smitten with Love Milo. During our chat, Nicky tells me about her passions, inspiration, and love for nature.

Turkish Delight and Flowers

Shop Love Milo homeware, accessories and wallpaper online here!

 

Nicky Ellis of Love Milo

Q: When did you start Love Milo, and why?

Nicky: I studied cinematography and worked as a photographer and a film colourist for about six years. I thought it was going to be a very creative job, but I just ended up making things look how everyone else wanted me to make them look. And often it didn’t look nice to me, but then I’d have to put the work out anyway. That started getting to me! It didn’t feel authentic, and it didn’t feel like the kind of a path I wanted to follow.

Then when I fell pregnant with my first child, Milo, I got this sense that I wanted to make my own things. That motivated me to leave my job to make things I love and then hope for the best! Which of course, thinking back now, is a ridiculous thing to do when you’re pregnant! I’ve always done ceramics, and so I rented a studio, and I started making plates. I used my photographs and turned them into more graphic elements to add to my ceramics. That was seven years ago, and Love Milo grew from there!

 

Q: You’re obviously creative and artistic but what else are you truly passionate about and how does that translate into your work?

Nicky: I’m very passionate about photography. My mom’s also a photographer and an artist, so art and photography are the things I’m most passionate about. That and nature. I spend a lot of time on our farm in Namibia, and that’s actually where the first design, the branch design, came from. We’ve got a big old dead tree outside our house set against this beautiful desert backdrop.

Love Milo Magnolia Cup

Q: You’ve featured a lot of insects in your previous designs. Were those also originally your photographs?

Nicky: Yes, because what makes me really excited is imperfect lines that I find in nature. Lines in wings, in leaves, in branches; there are these beautiful patterns which are not something that you could get on a computer. They’re imperfect, but there’s something so magical about these shapes and lines. I find that whenever I walk outdoors, I look for things that have pretty patterns and shapes. Sometimes even my son will bring me dead things that he thinks should be my next design! The dragonfly design came from one of the insects he brought for me.

 

Q: Do you have a favourite project or a favourite design up to date?

Nicky: I think my first design, the branch, will always be my favourite because it was the birth of the company. It’s like the symbol of where I came from and how it began. Everything else is special and stays special for a while before I move to the next thing, but the branch will always be the anchor of the company. It holds a deeper place in my heart.

The branch is also the one design that no matter how much time goes by, everyone still wants. It’s become quite symbolic of Love Milo.

 

Q: Tell me about your new magnolia range.

Nicky: Our look for Love Milo has always been black and white. I wanted to maintain that look, but I also wanted to start incorporating colour a bit. So, I played around with different flowers. I love flowers, and I’ve been dying to use flowers in my designs. I thought about doing pressed flowers because a lot of my designs come from things that stir up nostalgic memories for me and I used to press flowers as a child. But it still wasn’t quite right. And then I found the magnolia. The branch of the magnolia fits so nicely with the Love Milo graphic branch, and the colour is just so special. It works well because it’s not too different from what we’ve been doing, but it brings in some colour through the blossoms.

Love Milo Magnolia Bag

Q: And challenges with this new range?

Nicky: The challenges mostly were the colour. When red is fired in the kiln, it changes a lot. Getting the ink ratio right took me months! Every time I would fire it, the purple would come out blue, or it would come out grey.

 

Q: Any big plans for your business over the next 12 months?

Nicky: We are busy moving more into the online space, and so we’re launching our new website towards the end of the year. Our main focus for the moment is just developing our online store.

 

Q: Are you also working on a new range already or you’re taking a break from that for a while to see how this one goes?

Nicky: I’ll probably start working on a new range in about a month. Once the new online side of things is stable, I’ll work on the next thing. Because I play so many roles in the company, I don’t have the luxury of doing just design. I have more time now to do design because I’ve got people doing some of the other things, but I still do 4 or 5 people’s jobs! I photograph the products, I run the website, upload all the products, and do the marketing. So, in between, I have to find time to be creative as well. I have to structure it in a way where I can fit everything in without one aspect of the business losing momentum.

When I started, I was doing everything. I was invoicing on Photoshop because that’s how much I knew about accounting! Luckily, I don’t do that anymore. But like any business owner, I’m still picking up lots of other jobs in between.

 

Q: What advice do you have for people also wanting to start their own small online business or design business?

Nicky: I would say be prepared not to make money for a while. Have a salary set aside for yourself because it takes a while to start turning a profit. And then, as your business grows, you have to put more cash in, so it takes a while.

The other thing I would say is don’t go too big too soon. Grow it organically, starting with just a few products. See what works, and then you grow from there. Don’t buy loads of equipment; get the bare minimum, and when that has paid for itself, you invest in the next thing. We tend to think we need a lot more than we actually do. Keep your costs to the bare minimum in the beginning. Take your own photographs, do your own website, try and take on as much as you can until you’re in a place where you can spend more. Otherwise, you shoot yourself in the foot.

Love Milo Floral Display

Q: Your husband is also in the business with you, how do you manage that work-life relationship?

Nicky: I’m very lucky that Matt is the opposite of me. He’s more left-brain thinking and systematic than me. So, the side of the business which I’m terrible at like the accounts, the managing of stock and the crossing of the “t’s”, he’s taken over. That’s a huge burden off my shoulders because it’s something I don’t like doing. So, it’s a nice symbiotic relationship because he enjoys that aspect and I enjoy mine, and we don’t step on each other’s toes.

Also working together in the company means that we’re both sharing the profit and we’re building something together, which is very nice.

 

Q: You have two other kids as well?

Nicky: Yeah, I’ve got three children. Milo is the eldest, Phoenix is my daughter, and then Mason is my baby.

Milo loves the brand, and he loves reminding everyone that he has a company named after himself. Phoenix often asks why she doesn’t have one, so I’ll have to do a range for her at some point, and I’ll have to call it Love Phoenix or something! And Mason is still too young, but I am sure he will catch on at some point as well.

 

Q: And then lastly, anything that you’re proud of in your business?

Nicky: We have been asked to exhibit at New York Now for the third time, and we’ve also exhibited in Paris three times. And we are stocked in some really nice shops worldwide. I think it’s quite an achievement that shops love our products and that people from around the world have our cups in their homes. I am very proud of that.

 

 

Watercolour ceramics

I love collecting ceramics – probably due to my love of entertaining and food. It’s a relatively inexpensive hobby and makes all the difference at a table setting. These wondrous watercolour ceramics simply stole my heart and I’m sure I’ll be acquiring a set of them before setting my Christmas table this year. And lucky for me, it also ties in with the Homeology festive watercolour theme!

Be inspired by the lovely creations of Lindsay Emery from Suite One Studio and get to know the person behind this incredibly beautiful range a little better.

CERAMICS_MOOD

bloesem.blogs.com woohome.com

Be bold!

When you think of a watercolor palette, a subtle pastel-like colour scheme comes to mind, doesn’t it? Have a look at these punchy and bright colours used with a watercolor technique: it adds a modern tone to these ceramic sets.

CERAMICS_MOOD2

diycandy.com bloesem.blogs.com

Easy does it

These watercolor mugs were created using a very exciting marbling technique with nail polish. I’m can’t wait to try this for myself – I think the result is simply stunning! You can do the same by following this easy step-by-step tutorial from diycandy.

Just look at how beautifully the pastel blue set on the right works against the textured grey wall!

CERAMICS_MOOD3

suiteonestudio.com

Meet the lovely Lindsay Emery

I came across the simply gorgeous creations of Lindsay Emery under her brand called Suite One Studio. Her take on ceramics are fresh with a hint of nostalgia like this platter at the top. I desire one of every piece this talented designer sells!

Learn a little more about Lindsay and her inspiration behind the brand.

“Hi, I’m Lindsay Emery. I’m the owner, designer and ceramicist behind Suit One Studio. I have a broad aesthetic vision paired with the simple desire to make mealtimes more beautiful.

Suite One Studio items are produced in short runs in my cozy studio in North Carolina. The small batch nature of my work results in coveted limited editions. I work with high quality porcelain, formulate my own chic, colorful glazes inspired by watercolor paintings, and finish many of my pieces with a delicate flourish of genuine gold. Exclusive collaborations are available through a select handful of high-end boutiques and thoughtfully curated shops around the world.

Few things make me happier than good food shared with good people. I work to design and make tableware special enough to accompany the heartfelt gatherings that make up some of our most memorable moments together. In short, I believe that your plates should earn their seat at your table, and that together we can make mealtimes everywhere more beautiful.”

Shop the latest Suite One Studio collection here.

CERAMICS_MOOD4

suiteonestudio

What really inspires me about Lindsay’s collection, is her pairing of watercolour with a touch of metallic. I’ll definitely use this combination for our Homeology festive table setting this year – keep an eye out for it!

Keep following our blog and happy styling!

margaux

Styling ideas: botanical

Using botanical prints, seed packets and collections of plants add a lived-in feel to a space. Try these simple styling tricks in your home.

Layered walls

Combine botanical prints with magazine cut-outs and add them to a wall. It looks like wallpaper and adds depth and interest. Then place a distressed furniture item in front of it and add a collection of glass and ceramic vessels with a few of your favorite plants and succulents.

styling_botanicals2

sfgirlbybay.com tumblr.com

String them up

Create a greenhouse effect by stringing up herbs and plants that look good when dried to a piece of string and secure them with pegs. Then add an indoor potting table to display a collection of cuttings and plants. This will work very well in a sun room. You could also string up seed packets or prints like bunting or simply suspend a few fern leaves as a backdrop at a dinner party.

styling_botanicals1

tumblr.com designlovefest.com

Stack it up

Try this impressive and graphic collection of wooden boxes stacked up to display your collection of plants in beautiful vases and pots. Paint some of the backs of the boxes in a muted color like this grey to tie it all together. Leave some of the pots empty and incorporate geometric-shaped items and books to add interest and texture.

styling_botanicals3

makethemwonder.blogspot

Framed

Display black and white botanical prints in different frames to achieve this eclectic look on the right. If you like it more distressed opt for suspending a glass vase with a single leaf as the ‘picture’. It’s an unexpected twist that is sure to attract a lot of attention. The bottom picture shows another way of framing botanicals by using industrial windows to showcase a lush garden.

styling_botanicals4

remodelista.com flickr.com vtwonen.nl

Collections

Combine lovely ceramic items like these hands with succulent plants, feathers and black and white photos to create a still life in a corner of the home. It’s structural and graphic with a lot of impact. Alternatively you could use wooden artist figures available from your local craft store.

Hanging plants are still all the range and grouped together they make a lovely collection. Have a look at the wide range of plants available from Opus. They specialize in hanging gardens, flowers and plant related designs.

styling_botanicals5

pinterest.com

Happy styling,

signature_margaux