Gift guide: gently rugged carry goods

We are proud to introduce one of our sponsors Rural Kind: makers of simple, functional and gently rugged waxed canvas and leather carry goods for everyday adventuring, handcrafted in the hills of Wales

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Key Carry
A sturdy and dependable strap for carrying your keys, with a brass stud fastening for attaching to a belt or bag. Handmade with oak bark tanned leather and solid brass hardware. £28

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Roll-top Rucksack
Rugged enough for the hills, handsome enough for the city. This refined roll-top design is made with heavyweight waxed canvas and Devon leather. £250


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Glasses Case
Be kind to your eyewear with this strong, refined and protective glasses case. Made by hand in our rural workshop from rich and characterful oak bark tanned leather. £89

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Utility Bag
For everyday adventures, carrying tools, loading with books or filling with fresh groceries. Strong, durable and handcrafted from waxed canvas and oak bark tanned leather. £190


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Card Wallet
A simple and functional two pocket wallet for carrying a few cards and some notes. Crafted from oak bark tanned leather and hand-stitched with a waxed linen thread. £36

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Musette
For city strolls, gentle rides and everyday rambles. This waxed canvas and leather cross-body bag is our gently rugged take on the classic cyclist’s musette. £129

To find out more about Rural Kind, visit our Directory

Uneek perspectives

Meticulously crafted to compliment the shape of your feet – while providing balance and flexible movement – UNEEK has been a firm favourite with Ernest since its launch in 2016, accompanying the team on many an adventure. We check in with KEEN to find out how their one-of-a-kind hybrid shoe has evolved.

Editor Jo explores the Galapagos Islands with her trusty UNEEK originals. Photo: Graeme Owsianski

Editor Jo explores the Galapagos Islands with her trusty UNEEK originals. Photo: Graeme Owsianski

UNEEK is the ultimate hybrid shoe: a versatile sandal, made from interlocking cords that adjust to provide custom fit for your foot, which is smart enough for urban rambles yet robust and ready for wilder adventures. Over the past year, this quirky piece of footwear has protected our feet from sea urchins in the Adriatic and accompanied us on rugged volcanic paths in the Galapagos and while springing for trains in the city. While the original design has found a firm footing with the team, and with its followers, there are now new styles, new colours and new materials to consider. Before we have a look, here’s a quick introduction…

Dynamic design: an introduction

It’s easy to recognise UNEEK for its disruptive aesthetics, but the form has always followed the function. Designed to create a custom fit on any foot, UNEEK provides unparalleled comfort and versatility for outdoor adventures. The interlocking cords adjust to provide custom fit for your foot, while the bungee entry system lets you adjust the tightness. Support, motion and flexibility are key design features in the shoe, with its lightly cushioned heel, flexible mid-sole and free-moving cord system – all and which work with the natural movement of your foot. On top of that, they’re lightweight and breathable – ready to ramble whether you’re roaming through the city or setting out into wilder terrain.

Your UNEEK. Your way.

This footwear is all about self-expression and this year there are even more styles so you can find the right sandal to suit your individual lifestyle and performance needs.

UNEEK Original

Back by popular demand – the classic design returns for another season in a fantastic new range of colours and a choice of flat or round cord. Featuring a free-moving cord construction, heel strap for stability and a durable but lightweight midsole for arch support, it’s a versatile shoe, which now boasts some special editions!

UNEEK Original: Leather (special edition)

This is the original style but upgraded with soft leather cords. A cushioned strap supports the ankle, while the midsole offers the support of a sneaker. Fancy.

UNEEK Original: Urban Trail Pack (special edition)

Premiering this summer, the special edition UNEEK Originals: Urban Trails Pack offers an eye-catching aesthetic with a distinctly athletic profile. A lightweight PU midsole in a bright sporty finish contrasts with tan gum rubber pods on the outsole for versatile traction and cushioning.

U NEEK Originals: 79.99

UNEEK Originals: 79.99

UNEEK O2

Twenty five per cent lighter than its predecessor, this robust style – part sandal and part sneaker – has a lightly-cushioned enclosed heel as well as grippy rubber outsoles. It’s a pioneering, athletic design and the cords adapt to your foot so you’re assured a cosy and customised fit.

UNEEK curation

It’s not just new styles either, each month KEEN curates a special collection to show off key threads and themes within the UNEEK range. This month sees a collaboration with Zebu – a dynamic illustration and artist duo from Berlin, who take inspiration from abandoned spaces in the city and produce bold, abstract artworks through screen printing, drawing and mural painting. The collection draws on bold blues and greens as well as urban shades of aluminium, slate grey and bright white. Or perhaps you prefer the Camp Life Pack? Natural tones, perfectly suited to slipping on by the campfire after a day of climbing, hiking, paddling, or just chilling. Watch this space for the latest pack.


This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with KEEN. Read more stories from the Ernest x KEEN partnership in our directory

Choose your style on the KEEN website.

Follow and share your UNEEK adventures on Instagram using hashtag #UNEEKPERSPECTIVES

Essence + Alchemy: the relaunch

Lesley Bramwell of Essence + Alchemy spends a lot of her time in her laboratory mixing batches of rapeseed wax candles that crackle and smell of wild gardens and the sky above the clouds. We've spoken to her about her relaunch...

Lesley, tell us about what you've been up to in your laboratory the last few months.

It’s been a busy time, working on the E+A relaunch and designing the new store and products. I’m also in the process of designing and building a new garden laboratory. 

A garden laboratory, you say? Tell us more.

I was struggling to find a place in Sheffield that ticked all the boxes – clean, light, warm, nice view etc, so I decided to look into building a lab at home. My house is built on 1/3 acre – we have the space so it made perfect sense. 

Building starts end of July. A local timber frame company will erect the frame and my husband is finishing the external and internals. Hoping completion will be end of September.

It will have a dedicated lab store room, a desk area facing double doors onto the garden and lab area with benches under the windows facing the garden. Water used will be filtered and collected for reuse in the garden. 

The dream is to eventually grow and distill my own oils, which I can use in products. I like the idea of distilling my own rose essential oil but I might need to plant a few bushes before I can do that! 

What's been the inspiration behind your redesign?

The look of the brand has always been about my scientific background and the formula behind the name E+A.  I wanted a fresh and clean look that reflected this and with the help of local Sheffield designer Sean Coleman, I think this has been achieved - a combination of scientific text and pastel colours to reflect the natural scent of the products with a clean minimalist edge.  

Tell us about some of your new products.

There is a new handy travel size gold tin candle, great for popping into your bag or giving as a gift.  There are also candle refills for tea-light holders and large beaker candles and I’m also offering a candle refill service now whereby you can return your candle beaker for refilling.  

What is the candle club?

I created candle club to encourage the reuse of the large candle beaker and offer refills at discounted rates. Customers can either sign up to a 3 month or 6 month package and choose which candle scents they’d like and they also receive little gifts each month. 

What's on your bedside table?

A hardback copy of Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and an E+A Aroma Mist.  At the moment I’m using Unwind with lavender and sweet marjoram to help create a relaxing atmosphere before bedtime.  

This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with Essence + Alchemy. Find out more about them in our Directory.

 

Photo boards: mastering the backdrop

The art of creating a beautiful backdrop for small-scene photography has been made far simpler with Photo Boards – rigid, lightweight background boards where every splinter, grain of wood, rusty nail and thread of linen are true to size. We spoke to Lyndsey James about her designs...

Lyndsey, Photo Boards® is such a clever, yet simple, idea. How did you come up with the concept?

Thanks! As a commercial photographer, I have spent a lot of time looking for backgrounds. I had the idea about three years ago, when some vinyl backdrops I purchased just weren’t of the quality I needed for close-up work, like jewellery, but I had just started teaching online and knew it would be a huge undertaking to manufacture, market and ship products to customers at a time when I was already super busy. 

I decided back then that if someone still hadn’t produced something like this in three years, then I'd go ahead and do it. It helped that I had a huge customer database of photography students to market them to, but I didn’t quite expect them to go viral in the way that they have – after just two months we were dispatching worldwide from a warehouse! 

What exactly are Photo Boards? 

They are table-top sized background boards for small scene photography with two essential features – they are true to size replicas and in a board format. As a photographer taking close up shots, you want a fake background to look like the real thing, so every splinter, rusty nail and thread of linen in the designs is actual sized. 

It being a rigid lightweight board design is also important for photographers, because it means that your set becomes mobile, allowing you to pick it up and move to a window for more light, or rotate your board to adjust your shadows without having to set up from scratch. To use a Photo Board, you simply use it like you would an actual piece of board, placing it on the table or floor or propping it up for a vertical background.

The textures of each Photo Board are strikingly crisp and as close as possible to the real surface - how do you achieve such clarity?

Yes, they look so real sometimes we do a double take! We spent a lot of time researching the base materials, inks and processes used to create the boards. They are created using the latest in high-resolution scanning and printing techniques, and laser cut to perfection to ensure each board looks smart before being wrapped in a clear sealed wrapper. 

People often think they're just prints of stock images but you just couldn’t get the true replica quality without having full control of the resolution at every stage. Each board starts out as an actual board from my collection of backdrops or we paint new designs when we fancy introducing a new colour or texture to the collection.

Which Photo Boards are the most popular? 

The most popular designs are neutral because they are the most versatile. Our customers can add a splash of colour to a neutral background with their subjects or props, layering their scenes on top of the neutral Photo Board base. We have seen the same wooden design used as an effective wooden floor, cabin wall, kitchen table, rustic desk – our customers always delight us with their creativity!

Why is it important for makers and bloggers to carefully consider backdrops for shooting their products?

A good background can really make or break an image, which of course is important for makers and bloggers who want their shots to be shared on social platforms to pull traffic and interest to their blogs and stores.

Readers and buyers love to aspire to a lifestyle, and for effective lifestyle shots you should always ask yourself does this photo look like real life? One example is that solid surfaces, such as wood and marble, don’t usually bend and curve, so if you use a wood or marble effect paper that curves behind your subject, it won’t look like a real lifestyle setting. Using a flat wood or marble effect base for the table and plain wall behind would look more effective in that scenario.

What's your personal favourite go-to Photo Board?

We particularly love the marble designs and bloggers and food photographers love them too – marble is very on trend at the moment because it adds a touch of style and glamour to scenes. If I had to choose a personal favourite, it would be our French linen design because it looks so wonderfully real, yet, like all our boards, it's wipe clean!

You also run Photocraft, an online photography school that teaches makers how to tell the story of their products - when's your next course?

There are exciting changes going on at Photocraft – we're about to embark on the summer season of live workshops here in Rutland, which are fun, relaxed days of styling with lots of pretty props.

Online we're moving towards mini workshops and free webinars. Photo Boards has taken over big time so after three years of hosting tutor guided courses, Photocraft will now become the place to go for free webinars and mini courses about specific photography topics, such as how to create dark and moody lighting. Watch this space!

Discover more about Photo Boards at photoboards.org and follow @photoboardshq on Instagram. Find out more about Photocraft in our Directory.

This is a sponsored blog post, created in collaboration with Photocraft

Twin Peaks

Our friends at KEEN have launched a new hybrid hiking boot fit for outdoor play and urban exploration

KEEN Feldberg WP in anthracite grey suede; £140

KEEN Feldberg WP in anthracite grey suede; £140

When we heard that KEEN’s new hiking boot was being named after two famous mountains in Germany, we started to take notice. The two peaks – the highest mountain in the Black Forest and a popular urban climb on the outskirts of Frankfurt – give a clue as to what the Feldberg is all about: grappling rugged peaks in the wilds and treading asphalt on the high street. 

The Feldberg Mid WP (£140) is essentially a hybrid hiker – a versatile, European-made book that epitomises the duality of our outdoor lifestyles. Since their inception in Portland 2003, KEEN have focused on crafting innovative, hybrid outdoor footwear – boots, shoes and sandals that perform just well in the asphalt jungle as they do on hill treks. 

The Feldberg is positioned firmly in this compelling ‘hybrid’ space. It is for those of us who embrace curious and adventurous lifestyles – who invite exploration into our everyday lives, see just as much potential in an urban ramble on the streets of Manchester as an overnight camp in the Peak District, and who like to stay curious about the discoveries on our doorsteps.

The boot is available in two colours – a rather handsome earthy brown nubuck leather or an anthracite grey suede with dashing red laces. Both styles are made with a highly breathable KEEN.Dry® waterproof membrane, providing reliable protection against the elements, and are identical in terms of fit and comfort. A closer look reveals…

A waterproof, breathable membrane
Direct inject PU midsole for long-lasting comfort
Robust, strong metal eyelets and classic lacing
An integrated heel cushion to maximise step-in comfort and shock absorption
Optimum grip and durability in the rubber outsole

If you’re after a durable, versatile hiking boot, this is definitely one to look out for this autumn!

Follow KEEN's Feldberg adventures using hashtag #feldbergiswhereyoustand.

We’re partnering with KEEN in issue five and six of Ernest Journal. Meet Laura Kennington – everyday adventurer, kayaker, sea swimmer and circumnavigator of islands – and hear about her journeys with the UNEEK sandal in issue five (Aug 2016). Delve into the stories behind the Feldberg in issue six (Jan 2017), and keep an eye out for more stories and a chance to win hybrid kit on the Ernest blog throughout autumn and winter. 

Feldberg Mid WP, £140, keenfootwear.com. Read more about the KEEN story in the Ernest Journal directory.