Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. Running a business and having a baby in the midst of a pandemic… among other things…

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    It’s a funny thing – life. It carries on regardless of everything happening around it. I knew my baby was somewhat mis-timed when I first carried out the pregnancy test, but it didn’t matter. We were still overjoyed. After two miscarriages – one ectopic, one ‘just normal’, we had begun to wonder if a second baby was even possible.

    BUT, the timing was a little unfortunate. I had just gone back to working full time and had also agreed that when our financial Director – Kathy – retired at the end of March, I would take over the bookkeeping for Mulberry. Baby was due in April – the end of our financial year and my first month as financial director (among all the other hats I wear).

    Perhaps I should explain that, as a boutique agency, my fellow partner and certified angel – Claire – and I have to take on multiple roles. From actually doing the work we love and have trained in, to now also running the business and everything that goes with it. Understanding employment law, becoming an expert in the finer details of BT contract wrangling, keeping up with the latest office tech and support programmes, plus HR, client liaison, etcetera etcetera.

    So April was always going to be a little challenging, but we were ready, we had prepared. Plans had been made. Then the world decided to throw Corvid-19 into the mix and it all got a little weird.

    But baby was coming all the same so there was not a lot we could do except – accept, do our best, try and stay sane… and DON’T PANIC!

    Oh! AND we were also meant to be moving offices … which we sort of did but not to where we expected… by the 17th of March we had all moved to working from home.

    Having a baby in the midst of a pandemic is an unusual and somewhat unsettling experience. My final midwife appointments and hospital scans were very different to those early on in the pregnancy – when everyone was blissfully unaware of the sh#t storm heading our way. Now my appointments took place in virtually empty hospitals and waiting rooms.

    The friendly reassuring faces of consultants and midwives were covered with masks, and everyone was frantically following my every move with antibacterial wipes and sprays. Any receptionist I came across had a 2 metre barrier around them, so I had to hand over notes awkwardly, while my feet carried on social distancing.

    The most stark contrast to my previous pregnancy was the birth itself. For my second born I ‘chose’ an elective c-section. In the weeks leading up to the birth, my husband and I looked out for news about whether he would even be allowed into the hospital. Helpful people warned that he may not be allowed at the birth at all. I don’t mind admitting that the prospect of not having him there to hold my hand, and meet his son in the immediate aftermath, terrified me. It was an added anxiety to what was already a worrying time.

    As we headed towards the inevitable birth, I also had the additional
    pressures of running a business impacted quite severely by coronavirus. Many of our clients have big events over the coming months – these were all cancelled, much to everyone’s disappointment. It meant that all the communication materials we designed around these events were also cancelled, significantly hitting our income. As a result I had to furlough a number of our team – including myself. Our clients were equally worried and making big sacrifices – many of our contacts were similarly furloughed and any communications they were creating had, in many cases, been taken in-house to reduce costs. All eminently understandable but equally very worrying as we saw our income dwindle.

    I was left to navigate the government website to find information on claiming the furlough costs back, along with hunting out how to apply for the small business grant – absolutely fundamental to our survival. This of course was on top of sorting end of year accounts, plus all the other usual financials a small business has to do each month. It all needed to be sorted before I went into hospital.

    We also had to decided who was going to look after our little girl while we were in hospital. My parents and my husband’s parents are classed as vulnerable. So it didn’t seem right to leave our first born with them, or have them over to our house to babysit. Fortunately my sister is fit and healthy – and available to come to ours to look after our daughter. She had to come the night before because we needed to be at the hospital by 7:30am. We were very lucky she could stay a couple of days because we knew I would be in hospital for at least one night if not longer.

    When the day came, the rules in place meant I had to enter the hospital alone. This felt very strange and overwhelming. I went up to the pre-natal ward, where I was prepped for theatre (this predominantly consisted of filling out paperwork and donning some very attractive compression stockings) and awaited news of when I would be taken to theatre. This was dependent on the other planned c-section women and who was a priority case, plus if there were any emergency c-sections, which would naturally take priority too.

    My husband waited in the car, in the hospital car park, not knowing if he would be there for minutes or several hours. I was told that I would be able to call him to join me once I was about to go into theatre. He would be there for the birth and then allowed into the recovery room with me, but as soon as I was moved to the post-natal ward (probably around two hours later) he would have to go home.

    I was extremely lucky. We got to the ward early – because, quite frankly, I couldn’t really sleep and was up at 5am. There were no emergencies and so I was first into theatre. Everything went relatively smoothly and baby arrived at 10:08am. My husband got a few very precious cuddles in with our little boy before having to leave me at around 12pm as I got wheeled onto the postnatal ward.

    What a major difference awaited me to my first experience of post-natal ward life. The ward was virtually silent. Last time the chatter of excited couples filled the space. Now with no husbands and partners by bedsides everyone was virtually mute. There were hushed phone calls and occasional babies’ cries for milk or comfort, but that was it.

    Last time we were surrounded by intimate family life – some of it beautiful, some of it positively lewd and crude – as couples adjusted to the latest addition to their family. This time there was an eerie quiet that would have been very restful, if it wasn’t for a palpable feeling of fear of the unknown and anxiety of what was to come.

    In the middle of the night the woman in the bed next to me developed a fever. This caused mild panic on the ward (although I have to say the midwives and Doctors seemed to take it in their stride – how they remain so unflappably reassuring at such times I have no idea). My baby was wonderfully peaceful for most of the night but I don’t think I slept a wink. I worried about the poor woman next to me who was shivering and scared. I was on high alert to every noise – not just to the snuffles of the baby sleeping comfortably by my side. When breakfast arrived I was grateful that it was now a respectable time to be awake. The woman in the next bed seemed to be improving and I overheard the Doctor say they were certain it was not CoronaVirus but an infection. The whole ward breathed a collective sign of relief.

    It became clear as the day progressed that anyone fit to go home would be discharged as soon as possible. I was hoping that my little boy and I would pass all the necessary checks and be allowed home too. We each got through the various tasks we needed to as morning turned to afternoon. Our home seemed to be getting closer by the minute. Unfortunately for the woman beside me, her stay would have to be extended and I felt so sorry for her.

    I finally got discharged at around 4pm. The midwife helped me down to the reception area with all my hospital and baby paraphernalia, along with more drugs than Keith Richards takes in a month of Sundays.

    I was so pleased to see my husband and finally head home. I had an extremely excited toddler waiting to greet us. She was clearly so pleased to see both of us back home and meet her baby brother for the first time. We had tried our best to prepare her for Mummy going into hospital and baby brother coming home, but a few days after we were back she was lying in bed and suddenly said, “I missed you when you went away and I couldn’t come.”

    “When I went into hospital to have your brother you mean?” I asked.

    “Yes,” she replied “I wanted to come too!”

    “I know” I said, “but you know why you couldn’t?”

    “Yes,” she responded “…because of stinky rotten CoronaVirus!”

  2. Blue is the colour…

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    So Pantone have announce ‘Classic Blue’ as 2020’s colour of the year. They say

    “Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.

    It seems somewhat apt after the landslide win for the conservatives in December, coupled with Trump’s reign in America that the colour to hail the new decade is a ‘conservative’ blue-collar, well, BLUE.

    For all those disappointed by the election results it will also have a somewhat bitter sweet meaning as one imagines many people are feeling somewhat ‘blue’ about the state of affairs.

    However we at Mulberry are always seeking to find that silver line to the clouds and even better if we can catch a glimpse of some blue sky! So the fact that blue is generally a peaceful, restful colour that reminds us of the ocean, lakes and wide open skies, is what we’ll focus on for this blue period of all our lives. Now we must get back to all that blue sky thinking we promised our lovely clients we’d do…

  3. César Manrique – #IconicDesign No.2

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    César Manrique – Banderas del cosmos

    Welcome to the second instalment of our #IconicDesign series.

    I have always felt that a holiday is not complete without visiting a gallery or enjoying a cultural experience, unique to the place you’re visiting. With the inclement weather we’ve recently encountered, I thought I’d bring a bit of sunshine to our blog and share my discovery from our family trip to Lanzarote.

    César Manrique is kinda the Godfather of this extraordinary Canary Island. His influence can be found all across this volcanic paradise. It was fascinating to visit his house and glimpse inside this amazing man’s life.

    His art has a real sense of fun, mixed with the surreal and a heady dose of Picasso influence. It’s clear that his eye for design is ideal for sympathetic landscaping and architecture – examples of which can be found all over the island.

    My favourite experience of his amazing creativeness was in the Jardín de Cactus. This was the last intervention work César Manrique performed in Lanzarote.

    Surrounded by the largest cactus plantation of the island, dedicated to crops of cochineal insect, a product of great financial relevance to Lanzarote in the 19th Century. Jardín de Cactus has around 4,500 specimens of 450 different species, of 13 different families of cactus from the five continents.

    The green shade of the plants stands out against the blue sky and the dark volcano creating a harmonious explosion of colour. The only sounds that break the peace and quiet, are singing birds and boozing insects, enjoying their very own oasis.

    Who was César Manrique

    César Manrique (1919-1992) was born at Arrecife, Lanzarote, an island on which his art was to leave an indelible mark.

    After finishing his studies at the San Fernando Fine Arts Academy at Madrid (where he lived from 1945 to 1964), he exhibited his work on a regular basis both in Spain and abroad. In the early nineteen fifties, he ventured into non-figurative art and studied the properties of matter, concerns that would predominate in his compositions, bonding him to Spain’s contemporary “informalist” movement.

    Despite the artist’s abstraction and matter-centrism, the plastic roots of his pictorial production lie in Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape, transformed into a sort of non-realist naturalism which, rather than a copy of the original, is an emotional translation of its significance. “I try to be the free hand that forms geology,” he wrote.

    In 1964, he moved to New York, where he held three solo exhibitions in the Catherine Viviano gallery. The direct contact with American abstract expressionism, pop art, new sculpture and kinetic art afforded Manrique a visual culture essential to his subsequent creative development.

    In the mid-nineteen sixties, upon his return to his native island, he undertook a series of spatial and landscape artistic projects that were not only entirely new at the time, but constituted a statement of his plastic and ethical principles. These actions and interventions aimed to turn the landscape and the island’s natural attractions to value, with a view to generating a new international image and portrayal that would form part of Lanzarote’s adaptation to the tourist economy.

    His new aesthetic ideal, called art-nature/nature-art, integrated different modes of artistic expression visible in Manrique’s landscape art. All these works are imbued with the artistic principles he held most dear: respectful dialogue between art and the natural medium and between local architectural values and modern conceits.

  4. Changes coming to Mulberry…

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    2020 is proving to be a very exciting year for Mulberry. As well as working with a number of lovely new clients, we are also going through various changes in-house. We will soon be saying Farewell to the lovely Kathy as she retires. We wish her the very best and hope she enjoys spending more quality time with her grandchild.

    We also hope very soon to be sharing some other exciting news…

    Watch this space!

  5. Design Trends for 2020

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    We take a look at 5 of the hottest trends that are worth incorporating into your marketing over the next year…

    1. Liquids

    Go with the flow in 2020

    The prediction gurus at Graphic Mama have gazed into their crystal ball and are hailing ‘liquid’ as a key trend for 2020…

    “As opposed to geometric shapes which have strictly fixed edges and curves, liquidy shapes suggest creativity, agility, and movement. Leaving out the edges helps achieve a smooth, soft look which many designers want to recreate. As such, they definitely make it into graphic design trends 2020, often combined with other effects, such as semi-transparency, bright colors and color gradients, animations, etc.”

    Enjoy a fluid future

    We are inclined to agree, but I also believe that living in a time of very divisive political and environmental issues, we’re all beginning to crave a kinder, more fluid and flexible attitude.

    Graphic Mama

    The ‘liquid revolution’ is a creative way of demonstrating a more measured and diplomatic approach. The result of using this device in creative marketing is a subconscious emphasis on tolerance, openness and inclusivity.

    2. Cyberpunk Colour Schemes

    Adrianne Mesnard, the Art Director at 99designs, predicts that “Futuristic color schemes and designs will be on trend next year, continuing with the isometric trend and bringing in colors like blues and purples and hot pink to give designs that futuristic glowing feel.”

    In a world full of marketing noise, standing out from the crowd is the holy mecca for graphic designers. Colour has always been a way to achieve this. In 2020 creatives are playing with extremes.

    Heavily influenced by futuristic and sci-fi themes – colour has gone electric! We’re seeing a move away from the more naturalistic and nostalgic palettes of recent years and into a more neon Blade Runner-esque world of Japanese Urbanism.

    3. Inventive Typography

    Keep ahead of the curve…

    In 2019 we saw a sharp rise in the use of bold typography. This will only grow throughout 2020, particularly the use of typography to create images and shapes within the design.

    Graphic Mama suggests typography will be used in “Twirls, circles, or simply curves following the curves of other elements in the design.”

    4. 3-D, 360°, VR and AR

    Be a Busy Bee in 3-D

    You’ll see more of this tech being used in creative design and marketing. Truly bringing your brand to life.

    The clever people at Behance tell us “3d renderings have changed gradually with the emergence of increasingly efficient software and tools. 3d illustrations have become very popular because, unlike the 2d ones, it offers a more realistic image.”

    Certainly at Mulberry we’ve seen how 3-D animation has become more affordable and a viable option for projects – even those with a modest budget.

    4. Animated logo Design

    A trend we’re keeping a watchful eye on at the moment is animated logo design. Changes are afoot at Mulberry (you heard it here first).

    Behance tell us “You have already understood that animations are a “must have” in 2020, and in order to remain competitive we must also integrate them in logo design. Many companies have started to animate their logos to draw attention to them. This is also the main trend in logo design.”

    The important thing to remember with any type of logo design is that it will need to work in multiple formats and sizes… so start with a strong design, not an animation. A strong logo design will naturally lend itself to a little animation as long as you have a spark of imagination and a dollop of creative engineering.

    Best of the rest…

    There are a number of trends that you will see continuing in 2020. The use of montone/duotone was popular in 2019 and isn’t going anywhere. In 2020 you’ll see it combined with those key cyberpunk acid-colours of electric blue, purple, turquoise and pink.

    Patterns and prints are also here to stay – this time think, pretty crazy and colourful – reminiscent of the Memphis Group’s work of the 80s and early 90s.

    Read more about the Pantone’s 2020 Colour of the Year

  6. Watch Asda’s Christmas ad for 2019

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    This was a bit of a surprise to us and one member of the team (who shall remain nameless) had to take a moment to compose themselves after watching it. Full of proper Christmas magic and a bit of a tear-jerker too. Well done Asda a great Christmas surprise! A very deserving winner for 2019

  7. Watch the 2019 Walker’s Xmas Advert

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    This was a very popular advert in the office. The injection of humour at a time when we’re struggling as a nation to see the funny side of anything is the perfect balm to bloomin’ Brexit! Thanks Walkers x

  8. Watch Barbour’s Christmas advert for 2019

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    This is proper Christmas and only loses out slightly because Barbour have been going with variations on this idea for the last 4 years.

  9. Watch the Xmas 2019 Argos advert

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    This is a sweet advert, totally on brand and a lovely idea. Great effort Argos!

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