There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
Published December 3rd 2015
This is the time of year when the advertising industry tells you to consume to be happy, only to rub it in my face when you can get it cheaper in the sales. Problem is, it's all mass production fare. If you want to go and be really original, you're in Nathan Barley country, or nowhere. Writing this on the fly as I plan my Christmas shopping, I saw some people doing great stuff, just off Brick Lane.
For starters, you can't get any more Nathan Barley that the essential beard grooming kit from the London Beard Company. Their "well weapon " grooming oils are all vegan, made with Argon and Olive Oil has a cinnamon and clove grooming oil that, appropriately, smells like a mince pie. So long as they're not man eaters, all the girls will be over you and you'll be fine. You can go to their website and order at www.londonbeardcompany.com.
Being hipster territory, they've appropriated the DIY ethic. In one case, they're knitting to create a DIY Woolosophy in the form of a knit your own beanie. It even takes me back to my childhood, when mum used to knit me jumpers from patterns. With a tag line of "knitting is the new yoga," I can see why mum loves it so. It really relaxed her. Ironic how a survival skill has become a hobby with the arrival of mass production, but go to www. woolosophy.com to take your prescription.
Thinking about my nephew, I saw these wonderful t-shirts with wonderful hand crafted cartoon of Sid Vicious, the worst bass player of the 1970s, and same era Elvis Presley. Knowing that you're looking for a few bespoke items, they even do commissions. Get them at www.aahkid.com and tell them I sent you.
One Lithuanian artist, Karolis Kauneckas, makes these exquisite minimalist jewels with a twig motif that suggests something very primal, almost caveman like. In an earring, it really looks like a sigil used in ritual magick. Just out of curiosity, I asked Kauneckas whether they did grilles for dogs. She laughed, knowing these were on permanent back order. Talking of which, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, see her portfolio at www.pickatwig.eu and buy at www.pickatwig.etsy.com
Gifts are sometimes more meaningful if they have a story. Kiwii Shiu, a Taiwanese traveling artist, paying her way around the world by painting her way. She is taking contemporary interpretation of Chinese art to wider audiences, hoping to stay in Britain for a year. When I spoke to her, it was her first day on the market. Whether she succeeds in this country is up to you, so contact her at email@example.com and go onto Facebook at www.facebook.com/kiwiinherarts. You can buy from her in person at wherever she says she is on Facebook, as her story is a good one. Do you want to make it a good one?
Since these aren't advertised on telly, you can be sure that these'll astound and surprise even the most mundane person in your family.
The dullest people can brighten up at Christmas time with something that would shake them out of their comfort zone with something unique and unlikely. Are you game for the gift game?