Behind The Blue Door

Afternoon Tea | April 13, 2016 |

Muse you can use:

How to be your own creative inspiration


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Looking for inspiration? Turn your own experiences into your catalyst for change. These three seriously inspirational women used their own lives to create flourishing businesses.


Bec Astley Clarke MBE


Image source: Astley Clarke

Bec Astley Clarke’s eponymous jewellery brand is dripping with awards and celebrity fans – Bec herself was appointed MBE in 2013 – and the company hasn’t even hit its 10th birthday yet.

Having identified a gap in the market for contemporary fine jewellery, Bec put her e-commerce background to smart use. She knew many luxury brands were still lagging behind when it came to a dynamic digital experience. Soon, a slick online destination was winning customers as well as plaudits for Astley Clarke.

Today, the website is just as elegantly luxe but Astley Clarke jewellery is stocked in all the heavyweights, including Selfridges and Liberty – as well as its own Paddington boutique.

Bec works closely with creative director Lorna Watson and team on the collection but her initial inspiration came from the heart of her family.

Paternal grandfather Sir Cyril Astley Clarke was a famous doctor and geneticist, whose pioneering work with Rhesus Negative babies was one of the major advances in preventive medicine in the second half of the 20th century.

Not only that but his important butterfly collection was housed at the Natural History Museum.

As Bec says, “My grandfather’s pioneering spirit and single-minded drive has been a strong influence in our family.”

She’s not wrong. Bec grew up surrounded by academics, politicians, travellers and mountaineers (her father climbed Mount Everest).

The butterfly motif has been a direct source of inspiration – she uses a wing design in the Astley Clarke gift wrap and the butterfly icon pops up throughout the brand.

And the women in her family have made a powerful impact too. She recalls a childhood spent playing with colourful jewels from all corners of the globe, which spilled out of her grandmother’s jewellery box.

In fact, family pieces, including her mother’s moonstone engagement ring and an amethyst and diamond engagement ring given to her mother by her paternal grandmother have directly inspired Astley Clarke pieces. And the pioneering spirit is imbued in every one; from the collectable collection of Biography bracelets to the elegant Icon collection.

Inspired? Follow Bec’s mantra, “Don’t be afraid of rejection. Embrace people saying no and push through until they say yes.”


Ella Woodward


Image source: Deliciously Ella

Ella Woodward is one of the biggest blogger successes, cooking up hundreds of thousands of readers, an app, two best-selling cookbooks, a healthy living programme and even her own deli.

But it was a very personal battle with Postural Tachycardia syndrome that prompted the teenage Ella to rethink her diet. When prescribed medicine had little effect, she took a drastic step, overhauling her diet almost overnight.

Ditching meat, dairy, sugar and wheat for plant-based food worked so well, she was able to stop taking medication – and start her now-flourishing blog

While not a cook at the beginning of her journey, Ella’s foodie guru status has been fuelled by her own transformation.

Inspired? Follow Ella’s lead: “I jumped right in at the deep end. I am so an all or nothing person.”

Kit Kemp


Image source: Firmdale Hotels

Some say she is the saviour of hotel interiors. Kit Kemp has spent 30 years in the design industry, predominantly working her magic to create vibrant hotels, as co-owner and design director of Firmdale Hotels.

She’s also brought her unique sense of style to brands, including a whimsical Mythical Creatures collection for Wedgwood and colourful Folkthread furniture and textiles for Anthropologie.

Her style? Vivacious colours, intricate detail and pattern, brought together in a playful and carefree manner.

With a background in graphics, she moved into hotel interiors, frustrated that design wasn’t being given priority.

Today, Firmdale Hotels comprises nine properties, including Soho’s Ham Yard and the Crosby Street Hotel in New York, with a second US property opening in the same city later this year.

Her inspiration is extraordinarily personal – no corporate corridors here. With a design ethos rooted firmly in her English life, Kit has that peculiarly British skill of gathering ideas, magpie-like, from her travels all over the world.

These experiences are reflected in her interiors. Kit believes ‘hotels should be individual with a real sense of arrival’.

Alongside the bold colours of, say a Ghanaian textile, Kit will add distinctly domestic touches: The Haymarket Hotel’s restaurant is named after a family dog and lamp bases designed by her daughter can be found throughout the hotels.

It’s that smart mix of home and away that characterises all the Firmdale properties – with personal touches that make these hotels stand out from the crowd.

Inspired? Stick to Kit’s advice: “You can never stand still, you always have to be moving on.”

For more creative inspiration, discover what makes chocolatier Paul A Young dream up flavours that have propelled him to cocoa stardom. 


Shop the Story

Like Bec Astley Clarke, Wedgwood has found creative inspiration in butterflies. The Butterfly Bloom collection includes intricate patterns of butterflies, mixed with colourful florals.

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The Jasper Conran Tisbury collection offers a plethora of informal tableware and home accessories that allow you to mix the collection into your everyday living. The tailored shapes with renowned Jasper Conran precision combine with a resilient porcelain, glass and wood to withstand wear and tear of everyday use. Natural colour styles contribute to an effortless look and feel.

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