Simply Elegant | Meet Cashmere Lover Catherine Robinson

Catherine Robinson |  Founder & Designer of Catherine Robinson Cashmere  |  One of Catherine’s favourite photographs taken by her daughter Victoria on a wonderful ‘mother and daughter’ holiday in Croatia

Catherine Robinson |  Founder & Designer of Catherine Robinson Cashmere  |  One of Catherine’s favourite photographs taken by her daughter Victoria on a wonderful ‘mother and daughter’ holiday in Croatia

Catherine Robinson is the designer & founder of a line of beautifully made cashmere knitwear and accessories of the same name. I was so pleased to happen upon her shopping site last spring and ended up following her blog: Cashmere Lover . Not only does she have an eye for design, I love what she shares on her blog about style, meditation and yoga. I asked Catherine to share with us how she how she started her business and where she finds inspiration—our conversation naturally led to her other passions, meditation and yoga. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. 

Q: Catherine, It seems that we all cannot get enough cashmere these days! Can you tell us what led you to start your business?

A: On a London shopping trip in the Summer of 2010 I purchased two lovely linen ponchos they were my favourite pieces that Summer…which got me thinking how wonderful this design would be in cashmere, I couldn’t find any that I loved and I thought, okay, I’ll design them myself!

My daughter had left home, things were changing…I was approaching 50 and thought it was the perfect time to start something new. I’ve always been interested in fashion, I did a little modeling in my younger days before entering the fast and exciting world of public relations but ‘style’ and the 'art of dressing well’ has always been something I’ve enjoyed…I devour magazines, exhibitions, photography anything related to the art of style!  

My next step was to find a manufacturer; a company I could work closely with.  Mongolia was my first choice as in my opinion it is simply the best cashmere. It was important that they were able to work with my ideas and designs and I’m happy to say I have a wonderful relationship with them and I’m thrilled with their attention to detail and the beautiful pieces they make for me.

I feel, I’m exactly where I should be and it’s such a privilege to be involved in the ‘world of cashmere’.  I’m enjoying creating a brand and extending my product lines. I like to listen to my customers and what they would like…this year it was…”please, please design a cashmere robe” and it’s just arrived and it’s simply gorgeous…the perfect luxurious, loungewear!

I think some of us feel we’re restricted by boundaries—many of them of our own making…I feel if you have an idea, a passion, explore it and see where it takes you. I have learnt so much since I began, the ups and downs of a small, growing business, the highs and lows and the constant energy and creativity needed and I can honestly say, I’ve loved every minute of it…

'if you are thinking about starting something new but are not sure whether to
‘bite the bullet’ I would encourage you to do just that, don’t be afraid
just listen to your voice and slowly begin.'

Q: I love what you write about simplicity and elegance. Can you tell us how you view style vs. fashion?

A:  I think there is a huge difference between fashion and style…everybody can follow a fashion but style is very individual…it’s all about ‘you’ it’s creating your own style, what works for you, what compliments your character, your personality, how you live your life…being identified by a signature piece, a scent they all contribute to your sense of style; for me, it’s definitely wraps and scarves, I can’t leave home without them! Friends can’t quite believe what I can do with a scarf!

I don’t think my style has changed that much over the years…I still adore my wide pants and v neck sweaters (cashmere, of course!) jeans and jackets, knitted dresses and boots and elegantly long dresses.  I’m definitely an Autumn/Winter person…
I like to wrap myself in cashmere, a cashmere wrap and ponchos are my favourites…
a tailored coat and trouser suit too.

Personal style is something that grows with you through the years, for me, I do believe ‘less is more’, a simple elegance…when you see an elegant lady she is timeless; that is why Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly are still very much revered today…one of my favourite quotes from Audrey Hepburn is ‘elegance is the only beauty that never fades.

Q: While you and I were writing emails back and forth our conversation moved almost seamlessly from cashmere to style to yoga. What can you tell us about your experience with yoga? 

A: I have been practicing yoga for over 13 years now and it is an absolute joy and passion of mine it has simply changed my attitude to life, this hasn’t happened overnight it has been a process, a journey.  

In recent months my meditation practice has become simply, a way of life, I began to believe I really could make a difference in my life if I meditated daily, learning mindfulness and simplicity. I am constantly learning and will continue to be a ‘lifelong learner’ both yoga and meditation focus your mind, they quiet the inner noise and you begin to live mindfully and to simply ‘be’ and from this you begin to live a much happier life, a life of simplicity.  Yoga, for me, has always been a spiritual discipline, a life practice.

Q: Your blog Cashmere Lover features some of the most beautiful and iconic women in the world. Who do you find the most inspiring?

A: Victoria Beckham inspires me, she has her critics, unfairly, I think…she works unbelievably hard, she has created a phenomenal brand, her designs are elegant and new…she always looks beautifully groomed and stylish and is a wonderful Mother too. I admire her because she re-created herself and endured and continues to endure all the criticism and personal attacks with such grace.

Photo provided by Catherine Robinson

Photo provided by Catherine Robinson

Audrey Hepburn inspires me greatly…her beauty, her grace, her humility…the list goes on and on…her way of being and kindness inspires me to be the best person I can be. Her life was far too short but still today so many people think ‘what would Audrey do?’ She is incomparable.   

My husband inspires me, he has taught me so much over the years, he has always been so encouraging and has taught me to believe in myself, he has such an enthusiasm for life, which I admire greatly...we’ve been together forever and in all that foreverness, I’m sure that’s not a word, he’s always made me laugh, we laugh more now than ever and that is a wonderful gift to have…he is my soul mate. And my daughter,Victoria is an inspiration to me, she makes me want to be a better person…she is the joy of my life.

Q: What is the single most powerful lesson you have learned along the way? 

A: ... to have faith and be honest with myself, not to be afraid to ask for help, it’s taken a long while to recognize and believe that ‘I can do it’ ...it may take awhile, there maybe setbacks but with faith and a belief in yourself you can see that it will all be okay…I take this into my daily life not only in business…and to be kinder to myself, I use to be very good at ‘beating myself up’ I’ve erased the negatives!

My Life Philosophy…Be in love with your life every minute of it…
live simply with grace and humility, be gentle and kind and always mindful to others
Catherine Robinson in her office in the UK

Catherine Robinson in her office in the UK

To read more about Catherine, please click on the links below: Cashmere Lover  |  Catherine Robinson Cashmere Site  |  Facebook  

Catherine, Thank you for sharing your insights and story with us! 

Patina & Hue: Favorite Books for summer reading

Between design projects and blogging this summer I've been trying to make more time to read for enjoyment, not my typical mode as I often default to books that can teach me something. This habit of needing to learn something when I read started in college and I've had a hard time shaking it! But it is summer and I love the idea of sitting quietly with a cup of tea and reading for fun. Over the last couple of months there have been a few books that have really stood out for me and I wanted to mention them in this post.

When I first heard about the WWII novel All the Light We Cannot See I was concerned I would have a difficult time getting into a book set in Europe during WWII. There seems to have been quite a few books centered around wartime lately and I was looking for lighter reading. But several people mentioned how good it was so I decided to give it a chance. It turned out to be one of the best books I've read in a long while. The way the author—Anthony Doerr—reveals the story line is non-linear and unexpected. All the Light is charming and magical while simultaneously bringing the reader into the lives of those experiencing the atrocities surrounding war. He writes in such a way that the reader grows to care about the lives of the characters—making it impossible to put the book down once you begin. This is without a doubt a new favorite.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron first came out in the early 90s and has been reprinted repeatedly. I attempted to go through the exercises many years ago but at that time I was working three jobs and didn't give it the attention it deserved. So when my good friend Gincy facilitated a 12 week workshop last spring that took the class through the process I was happy to sign up. I wasn't sure at first what to expect as I needed to make time to meet once a week, complete one to two small exercises and write "morning pages" each and every morning before my day began. During the 12 week process I did feel there were highs and lows. Or at least weeks that seemed less significant in what I had accomplished than others.

To my own surprise I got a great deal out of this book and process! Although I would have to admit that this book fits into my habit of reading to learn something I did find that the process works. Some of my fellow class mates who had not explored art or did not they consider themselves artists also commented that they benefitted from the process. 

A few things that really stand out about this book: 

1. One of the exercises involved writing a letter to your future self— at age 80—from the vantage point of the age you are right now. This was a great exercise for me. I have a very good imagination and easily imagined myself living in a tropical climate with a light filled studio, I was happy and healthy and I imagined everyone in my life was also thriving. I told myself —the current me— to relax and worry less. That it was all going to work out. Apparently the future me is quite optimistic. ;-) There are quick exercises like this one each week that help you to think differently or explore ideas you may have never explored. 

2. Artist dates: every week you are asked to take yourself out on a date by yourself. I found myself in Sam Weller's Used and Rare Bookstore, in junk stores, in consignment shops, art supply stores and taking "down-time" that I don't normally give myself permission to take. Part of this process is to go out and do something with no agenda and allow yourself to play. 

3. Morning Pages: I love getting up early in the morning when everyone is still asleep. Waking up about an hour before everyone else I got in the habit of making myself an almond milk latte, sitting down with pen and paper— enjoying the light and stillness of early morning. Starting a practice of writing for 30 minutes to an hour each day has been an interesting exercise. At first I found myself not knowing what to write. But the book guides you to keep going and eventually I saw that my writing moved toward my creative interests. I recommend this book to everyone—no matter what you do for a living. You need not be a painter or sculptor to find your artistic self. 

** In the spirit of art making please jump onto Patina & Hue/Growing Bolder to read about inspirational artist, poet and speaker Kristen Jongen of Soul Soup. We will be giving away two books and one of her prints so don't forget to enter the drawing. Read more about the giveaway at the bottom of my interview with Kristen. 

 

I just finished The Girl on the Train and I am really curious what other people think of this book? It was a quick read and everyone I know seems to be reading it right now. I don't want to say too much about it and give anything away. It is a fast-paced murder mystery that takes you inside the heads of the characters....until you realize you want out! If you are reading this book I would love to hear what your thoughts are on it. 

I just started Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, by Jennifer Chiaverini and will let you know what I think of it next month. 
If you are reading a great book or have a favorite book you would like to tell us about please do so in the comments section below! We would love to hear from you.

Jump on to Patina & Hue Facebook and tell us what you think of the books you are reading and any books you recommend! Hope you are finding time to relax and enjoy a good book this summer!

 

 

 

 

Shopping for floral pumps for spring: a personal first!

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I have a confession—I've recently been daydreaming about floral shoes! If you know me—the last thing you would ever have expected [ in a million years ] is to hear those words pass my lips! I called M and asked her if she owns / wears floral shoes and she texted back a photo of a very tired pair that have not been worn in decades. So we are both now on a mission to find a pair in the next month. How have we gone this long without these little lovelies? No one in my life would ever expect to see me turn up at a lunch or party with my feet adorned in a floral print and it is for this very reason that I am moving full steam ahead on choosing the perfect pair! I will post my final decision early May on Instagram at: pamelaquigley. Please follow so you can receive the feed. 

I have several very good reasons for needing [translation: "justifying"] this purchase: 
1. I could wear them to lunch with friends or my hubby during the spring and summer months. They would look gorgeous with linen palazzo pants or white jeans.
2. I can pull on any old pair of denim jeans with this shoe and look totally put together. I'm thinking bellbottoms which allow only the front toe to show would be a great look.
3. If I have an upcoming wedding or other formal event I will be prepared ahead of time!
4. I love being tall on date nights as my hubby is 6' 1" to my 5'3".
5. Any of the florals will look great with dresses I already own: summer brights as well as neutrals.
6. I don't have any floral heels or pumps YET and will only buy them if they don't hurt my feet!
Gotta feel good to walk in!

If you are considering adding this feminine look to your wardrobe check out some of my "research" to the right and email us at Patina & Hue with photos of floral shoes you have or are thinking of getting. We will add your photos to our post early May! Happy Shopping!

Wendy Chioji: SAYING YES & LIVING FEARLESSLY

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At the summit of Mt. Fuji in August 2014 with my 75 year old dad

At the summit of Mt. Fuji in August 2014 with my 75 year old dad

At the summit of Kilimanjaro February 2014

At the summit of Kilimanjaro February 2014

photos above: clockwise from top right: Wendy in a slot canyon near the Amangiri Spa in Southern Utah, October 2014; At the end of an Ireland trip with family; Summit day on Mt. Kilimanjaro; At the Livestrong headquarters. 

Wendy and I met initially while indoor cycling at Athletic Republic. I knew her as an amazing athlete and was told by several of our mutual friends that in addition to that she was also a completely inspiring person. A few weeks ago we met at Starbucks for a cup of tea and within a few short minutes I learned exactly what they were talking about. Wendy has achieved so much—from her years in Florida as a news anchor, to her many adventures which include summiting Kilimanjaro and completing multiple Ironman Triathlons. But it isn't just what Wendy has accomplished that makes her so inspirational—it is also her message of Living Fearlessly that I find a breath of fresh air. You don't hear that too often from women 40 and over. Taking risks and saying "YES" to life is an important message for us all to remember. Thank you Wendy for sharing your time and your story with us! 


Wendy Chioji

"In 2001, I was the main news anchor at the NBC affiliate in Orlando. I had just run the Boston Marathon and was training to do a cross-Florida adventure race. Until my doctor told me I had stage ll breast cancer. I was 39 years old at the time. I went through multiple surgeries, chemo, and a clinical trial, and obviously made it through to the other side. Up until that point in my life, I had done a lot of running races, adventure races, and a few triathlons. I was also entrenched in the Orlando community, donating countless hours of volunteer work and public speaking for non-profits in the area. I redoubled efforts in both areas of my life. I started doing Ironman distance triathlons (I’ve now done 6) and half Iron distance triathlons (I’ve done 24). I started raising money and support for Livestrong (with the podium of a tv station and generous friends and family, I have raised well over a quarter-million dollars for the organization). I was making sure that my Second Chance wouldn’t be wasted on  inertia.

 'The name of my blog is “Live Fearlessly,” and I believe it to be the mantra of my life.
It’s how I make decisions and choose adventures, options, even friends.'

A few years later, I realized that keeping busy "doing good" didn’t necessarily mean I would feel fulfilled. I had become increasingly disillusioned with my job and profession. I decided it was time to walk away. So I did. It took some finagling, but I left my 20-year position at the tv station and followed some friends out to Park City, Utah, where I have now happily lived since 2008. Here, my life is my own. I have loved and still love every day, never failing to look around and consciously note how lucky I am to live in this outdoor paradise full of like-minded people. It probably should have felt risky and scary to leave a stable job, friends I’d had nearly my entire adult life, and a town I’d been a part of for two decades, but it never did. 

To me, Living Fearlessly is making big life-changing decisions like the move to Utah… and saying “YES” to smaller opportunities and adventures on a regular basis. If your first response to an invitation or opportunity is “no” or is coming up with reasons that it won’t work, you are limiting your possibilities before you even get out of the gate. Say “YES,” and if you have to amend your commitment later, go ahead and do it. What’s the worst that could happen? I suppose moving to Park City, only having been here once before, could have ended disastrously… But I said “YES,” and it may have been the best decision of my life. Giving in to fear (or inertia) will paralyze you. So will "make do" because things are FINE. I’ve seen it happen, and there’s not much that makes me sadder or more irritated. 

Because I am now facing cancer for a third time. Standard chemo and radiation won’t work for me anymore. My only chance is to say "YES" to a clinical trial, experimental treatments that no one knows will work. I have no time or patience for fear or inertia. I am in one clinical trial and have lined up another one—if and when this one doesn’t work anymore. And in the meantime, I am saying "YES" to trips to Ireland and Australia and powder cat skiing in the Uintas and having reunions with old friends and launching fundraising cycling projects with Livestrong and Pelotonia (a new one, now run by an old friend). None of us know how long we have on this earth, and I believe our charge is to grab adventure by the throat at every chance. Live big. Live fearlessly.

"And always choose pie for breakfast." 
~ Wendy

To learn more visit the links below:

Pelotonia 

Livestrong 

You can learn more about Wendy on her blog: 

http://www.wendychioji.com