I am sat writing this in the garden on a very hot August day contemplating where the last two years have gone. Much like the summer of 2020 just before I launched FERN+FELL, 2022 has had some super sun scorching moments which remind me of that lockdown summer. As I prepare to celebrate two years of FERN+FELL on September 1st I cannot help but reflect on how I got here and how my own path seeking a more natural way of life has shaped how my business is today.
If you have read my previous posts, you may already know it was the combination of attending a green business workshop and receiving a health diagnosis that spurred on some major life and work changes for me in 2019. The results of these pivotal moments saw me close a business, move one hundred miles north and reshape my life to focus on my health and wellbeing.
Being diagnosed with the auto-Immune disease, Psoriatic Arthritis was quite a shock, especially as I was told that the only route to wellness was a nasty Chemotherapy drug. A drug so powerful I would need blood tests every fortnight for the first 6 months to check any potential damage to my organs and blood cells. A drug with a list of side effects as long as my arm.
What shocked me most was there the lack of options. There was no room for any other treatments according to the specialist I saw. No consideration of any possible natural or holistic approaches to help alleviate symptoms. There was absolutely no discussion about diet or addressing the root cause of the disease. Just “pop the blue pill and be on your way.”
I am lucky the disease was caught early with me so there was no chance I was taking this drug. I did not believe that there were no other options, in my gut I just knew a radical change of lifestyle had to happen first before I would ever consider the pharmaceutical route.
On reflection this Doctor did me a favour, I had to find my own way forward and research alternative ways to treat myself. You can be genetically predisposed to auto-immune diseases but a major factor in their progression is stress. Very few people live a modern life without some form of stress, and many have more stress in their lives than I did. But I did feel stressed and had suffered this feeling for over a decade. I worked a job I hated which took a toll only to be compounded by my grief at losing my gran, my brother, and my dad.
Although by the time I was diagnosed I had already escaped my 9-5 hell it all had a cumulative impact on my physical health and just to add some extra interest the perimenopause thought it would be a good time to show up too.
Stress is a 21st century health epidemic which costs our national health service over £70 million pounds a year. But there is so much that we can do as individuals to help mitigate this impact, to reduce stress and recovery quickly. Back in 2019 I was also learning just how much our surroundings impact our health and how important a connection to nature was to support mental and physical wellbeing. Biophilic Design is a science and research-based approach to designing interior spaces that support our health. It is a subject I am now fascinated with and have since gone on to study.
I stripped everything in my life back and a took close look at everything I ate, consumed and surrounded myself with- checking everything that came through the front door so that I could create the healthiest, happiest home to live in. When you scratch the surface of this subject you realise just how much we take for granted and how much faith we place in the brands and products we bring into our homes.
Without realising it we can be easily be layering toxic chemicals into our homes, the very place we want to feel most nurtured, restored, and safe. Paint, cleaning products, synthetic fragrances and furniture treatments - combine this cocktail with not enough ventilation and you can unwittingly create toxic indoor air which can be up to one hundred times higher pollution level than outside. If you want to jump down the same rabbit hole, check out these books: Happy Inside by Michelle Ogundehin and Design a Healthy Home by Oliver Heath
My fascination with biophilic design and striving to live a more natural life as a way to support my health has led to a radical overhaul of both my personal and business life.
What came next
We closed our Peak District Gallery and Interiors Shop and moved to the Lake District. This happened the week before the first UK lockdown, so I had plenty of time to review and plan my way forward. Moving to the Lake District meant I could completely redesign my life, I could finally slow down enough to focus on my health.
Whilst I concentrated on my own wellness path, the inspiration for my future business life really began to appear to me. I wanted to do what I loved, in the most natural way possible then share with others. Over the last five years running our business in the Peak District my favourite elements were always candle making and interior design. It felt like the natural way to move forward combining my love for these activities with what I was now learning.
The focus I have put on my own health, creating a natural home sanctuary, and practicing daily connections to nature has had such a positive effect on me, I wanted to share this with others.
In 2020 FERN+FELL launched with 6 all natural candle fragrances, then in February 2021 A STORY OF HOME (biophilic interior design) followed. Both businesses are dedicated to helping people discover a connection to nature that supports their health and wellbeing, be that through natural fragrance or interior design.
In the last two years those first six candle fragrances have become ten with four more seasonal scents, each blended to support a specific wellbeing mood. I become a partner on Not on the High Street, then came new products like wax melts, the Candle Lovers Club (subscription service) and reed diffusers. Stockist partnerships have been forged with some unqiue independent Cumbria businesses, it has been such a thrill to work with these beautiful small businesses over the last twelve months.
A Story of Home is currently working on three design projects which have sadly been plagued by delays as trades and suppliers navigate the post lockdown era. Hopefully as we move into Autumn there will be some progress on these projects. If you like the sound of nature inspired interiors follow me here.
It has been a very productive couple of years.
What is next for FERN+ FELL?
There is no denying year three could be a tough one. The third year of any new business is always a challenging one and current economic pressures will make this even tougher. It feels like the right time for me to focus on the true value of what I do, I see my brand as being all about Connection. Connection to nature, connection to those moments of calm, connection to the special place I live in and connection to creativity around me. The next 12 months I will be focuses on and sharing inspiration on ways to let nature heal, ideas on how to make more mindful moments happen, celebrating the connection of Lake District as well as some special collaborations with talented Northern creatives.
More news on my plans for year 3 will follow in my birthday post coming on September 1st. Look out for a very special giveaway for you lovely people who have signed up to follow my story. It will be my biggest giveaway yet, and will only be open to subscribers of the Studio Notes mailer so tell your friends to sign up too. Not signed up? It's easy to do, just head to the website home page, scroll down to the bottom and sign up.
Thanks for reading, bye for now