Head & Hands : In Residence

Since the doors of my 6-month incubator space closed in January 2017, I've been quietly manifesting a home for Head & Hands. 

A welcoming sanctuary with bright natural light, full of plants and space to browse the products, relax talk and drink tea. My dream has always been to find a space not only to display the Head & Hands collection but also to run workshops and classes. Back in September, I came close to finding a shop space which offered all of this and more. But, after many sleepless nights, of feeling deeply uncertain about it, It fell through. But, honestly I had known that it wasn't right and that it was going to be a stretch for me in too many ways at that particular point in time.

Feeling a little defeated, I let go of the idea. I decided to shift the focus from shop space, back to my online store. I remembered the mantra which served me, back when I opened my first shop space - trust and allow. This mantra meant so much to me that I had it made into a sticker for my parcels! So, with these words close to mind - I decided to surrender my plans to the universe knowing that everything would fall into place, just as it was meant to and shifted my focus elsewhere.

For much of September and October, I'd been noticing the number 11.11 every time I looked at the clock, and I was noticing it too many times to ignore. Each morning and each evening, I would glance away from whatever I was doing to my bedroom clock, or my phone and bam! It was 11.11. It began to happen so frequently that I asked some of my mentors what it could mean. I had been aware of these numbers significance, but they'd never before meant much to me. I discovered that seeing 1111 was a clear message from my guides, a little nod and a wink to pay attention to my thoughts, reminding me of the power of manifesting. It also instinctively felt like a memo which whispered 'you're on the right path, don't doubt it'.

About a month after that shop had fallen through, at the start of October - I received an email. It was sent from a customer turned friend, Jessica - a yogi in the local area who wanted to introduce me to Thea, the owner at the nearby Leyton Yoga. She had just taken on the studio from its previous owner and had big plans for it, having just knocked through the adjoining office space next door and transformed it into a therapy room and reception space. She was looking to have a shop as part of reception and Jessica had mentioned Head & Hands to her. A few days later we were having a meeting. I popped into the studio, and over a cup of tea, we discussed all the things that Thea was looking for. I was amazed just how perfect a fit it was. She wanted a shop but didn't have the capacity to launch one herself, and I wanted a shop, but just needed a space. "So when is the new reception opening?" I asked. "21st October" Thea giggled, just a week and a half away. And just like that, after showing me the empty room - we set to work getting the shop ready together for a three-month residency at Leyton Yoga.

We hired a van to gather all the things we collectively needed while my friend and sign-writer painted the logo onto the windows, and I carefully arranged all of the stock and display. After a week of drilling and lots of too-ing and fro-ing - Head & Hands had a home. And I couldn't believe how easily it all just came together. No sleepless nights, worries or nagging doubts. 

Together we planned a little launch party, with herbal tea, a crafty workshop, raw treats and a guided meditation. We celebrated this collaboration, by sitting in a circle of community. It was perfect. I stood back and just let it sink in, what a surprise the universe had gifted to me. It had been listening all along.

Head & Hands is now in residence at Leyton Yoga until 16th December 2017.

Upstairs 691 Leyton High Road, E10 6RA

Opening times :

Monday 10.30-12.30pm

Tuesday 4.30pm-6.45pm

Friday 12pm-7pm

Saturday 10am-2pm

Sunday 10am-2pm

We also have a number of workshops lined up in the space including Slow Down Tea Ceremony,  Root Chakra Yoga & Mindful Flower Arranging and An Evening of Winter Wellness.

amanda wayne
Koolaah - Reviving The Lost Himalayan Craft

For me, there's no greater joy than getting home, unlacing my shoes, shaking off the day and sliding into my slippers.

I first spotted my very own pair of Koolaah lounge slippers about 5 years ago on a stall at Spitalfields market. I struggled to walk past them, their bright threads and geometric stitches beckoned me over to for a closer look. The vivid colours reminded me of Peruvian blankets, so I was curious about the origin of the design. I was warmly greeted by Anuj, who delighted in telling me they were in fact from his home, high in the Himachal Pradesh state in northern India.

He explained that traditionally, these slippers were known as POOLAAH and crafted by village women and a big part of their local identity. They would be made using natural fibres such as hemp. However since hemp had become a controlled substance in the region due to its association with cannabis growing, the craft began fading away. So he, along with other passionate entrepreneurs forged Himalayan People, a social enterprise aiming to revive this lost tradition.

Bringing new sustainable materials such a jute, chord and wool Himalayan People began meeting with clusters of village women. Together they developed a range of contemporary colour combinations using the same weave, stitch and rope sole design that had been passed down through generations, renamed KOOLAAH.

High up in the Himalayan mountains, people congregate in close-knit family clusters. Himalayan People work with a number of these clusters, who live at altitudes of between 2500 – 3000 metres about sea level. From the highway, a two-hour steep uphill drive along a dirt road would bring us to the base of a village cluster. Beyond that, a further 2 hours on foot up the steep mountain close to the snow line would lead us to where Koolaah's community of makers is settled.

Each Koolaah is lovingly handcrafted, with no two pairs ever quite the same. This lack of uniformity brings such beauty to this collection, unlike the consistency we have come to expect from manufactured footwear, Koolaah represents a true expression of the people who are at the heart of every pair.

Anuj is passionate about sharing the crafts from his region and creating a fair and sustainable commerce for its locals. He explains,

Having had the good fortune of spending the early years of my life in the Himalayas, I have always been drawn to these mountains and the simple lifestyles of the hardworking people that live there. Experiencing the majesty of nature at a young age and seeing the quiet ritual of the lives of people that live among those valleys and hills has on reflection left a lasting impression on me.

“The Himalayas are a mountain range that, despite the awe-inspiring spectre of their desolate heights, are incredibly soft at their core! The hardy exterior hides within itself a gentleness that is difficult to fathom. Therein lies the essence of the Himalayan People. The difficult terrains, climatic gauntlets, day-to-day logistical challenges and often, tough economic conditions, have over the aeons produced a people of remarkable perseverance and ingenuity. Despite artificial political and national boundaries that have nominally differentiated them on paper maps in modern times, there runs an unmistakable unifying grain of socio-cultural proximity in all the people of the Himalayas. It is visible in the colours of their fabrics and handicrafts. It lends an audible oneness to their folk music & dance styles and imparts a familial flavour to their cuisines and food habits. The people are industrious and efficient in using the local materials and available resources to fashion artefacts of incredible beauty and practical utility. Above all else though, what ties the Himalayan People together most is an invisible thread of unassuming humility, peace-loving, friendly nature and an impossible-to-miss openness with which they welcome the outsider into their homes and lives to share in the collective human experience.” - Himalayan People

I feel so fortunate to be able to share these gifts and support makers high in the remote Himalayan mountains. We have just updated our collection in time for winter gifting season and have 25 new slippers now in stock in both the slip on and enclosed designs. Find your perfect pair in store.

amanda wayne
on repeat : LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL
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As part of the Office Group and Universal Design Studio's collaborative structure 'The Pavilion of Repitition' for the London Design Festival, Head & Hands was invited to be part of the exciting 'On Repeat" programme of repetitive and mindful workshops hosted in the space.

The striking temporary Shoreditch structure designed by architects Universal Design Studio is an outdoor pavilion constructed with open timber sides, letting the air and light flow freely through the space. The pavilion includes a long wooden workshop table, designed to seat thirty participants. Installed on the ceiling are hundreds of delicate paper forms made my visitors, which billowed above us in the breeze.

The pavilion’s form physically manifests repetition in its architecture but also through a collaborative installation of hundreds of paper forms.

On Repeat will be home to a programme of free events and workshops that explore the power of frequency and repetition, designed to give visitors the opportunity to temporarily depart from everyday work life and reach a free-flowing mind-set.
— universal design studio & the office group

I began by talking about my interests in self care and slow immersive crafts, giving some context to Head & Hands. I then spoke a little about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's theory of Flow; a big influence on my work.

The Hungarian psychologist described the state of Flow as:

being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one.

Csíkszentmihályi identified the following combination of components in experiencing a state of Flow:

  • Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
  • A loss of reflective self-consciousness and a sense of 'oneness' with the activity
  • A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
  • A distortion of temporal experience - one’s subjective experience of time is altered
  • Experience of the activity as intrinsically and immediately rewarding
  • A balance between ability level and challenge level

A perfect example of a Flow activity is the crafting of an Ojo de Dios. The exercise requires the mastering of new techniques, while the results are immediately visible and continue to develop. This craft is very personal, with each person bringing their unique choice of colours and complexity of design. While crafting an Ojo, the maker becomes instantly absorbed, often losing track of time. It's so interesting to see how different each Ojo looks, some choosing colours which unconsciously match their outfits, appealing to their own personal creativity. Some choose loud palettes while others select more subdued and muted tones. Some create multiple bands of colour, while others choose a more minimal approach.

The workshop was only an hour and it flew by very quickly. Much like the beautiful temporary structure of the pavilion - each Ojo represented a perfect moment in time where we wove repetitively together in an immersed state of Flow, moving freely yet in-sync. Much like the suspended origami creations swaying gently above us.

What a pleasure to be in such an inspiring setting and part of such a fantastic lineup of workshops and talks, from Donna Wilson, Booker Print House, Patternity, Sans Pere and New North Press.

 

amanda wayne
Under The Oak Tree

On Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th July, head & hands well and truly kicked off our summer festivities at the Walthamstow Garden Party.

I started bright and early, setting up the market stall in a sweet little gazebo under an oak tree. As it was my first outdoor market, I had been working on ideas for weeks behind the scenes. With some help from my partner and a trusty saw, I crafted a shelf with the offcuts from the very tall ladder which had made my much loved original shop shelves. I created some wooden hanging signs and decorated the stall with plants and ojo de dios. I brought along a new selection of crystals, plus a curated collection of handcrafted favourites - candles, apothecaries, herbal teas, ceramics, jewellery, oracle decks, incense and macramé. 

This free festival takes place in leafy Lloyd Park Walthamstow over 2 days and is full of musical acts, circus tricks, film screenings, spoken word and dance performers. It attracts thousands of visitors from all over London in their shorts, summer dresses and sandals. It was really special to be part of something so vibrant on my own doorstep. I was situated on Fellowship Island, named after social activist and artist William Morris who famously lived in Walthamstow and once said 'fellowship is life and lack of fellowship is death'.

Fellowship is life and lack of fellowship is death.
— William Morris

Fellowship Island is a lush haven, surrounded by Oak and Willow trees and framed by water. The Island was packed with a diverse mixture of community-minded, wellbeing focused and eco-conscious stalls. From East of Eden yoga studio to Shed Homewares - a reclaimed furniture enterprise, and conscious food growers Organic Lea to Appetite Food Market - full of tasty offerings from local food producers. 

head & hands was proud to join the party with our handmade wares, and from 12-3 a free mindful mandala workshop teaching passers by to weave an Ojo de Dios. This grounding craft attracted a lot of attention and kept us very busy. With help from some friends, Head & Hands taught around seventy people to make one. Many insisted they were just passing through and wanted to quickly try the activity, but soon found themselves engrossed, sat on our colourful blanket weaving away.

Ojo de dios are woven with yarn between wooden sticks in several colours, and are traditionally an ancient contemplative and spiritual practice for many indigenous peoples in the Americas. The practice of making one is repetitive, grounding and meditative; an excellent tool to quiet the mind and reconnect with yourself. It's also a really accessible activity which can be enjoyed by all ages, and the perfect craft to take outdoors.

When I had my little shop, I had memorable conversations daily, and during the Garden Party I was reminded of how much I miss it, having visits from lovely customers old and new. Everyone I spoke with was so encouraging towards head & hands, insisting I should open up my doors once again in a local shop space. It’s so affirming when other people love and believe in what I’m doing and I came away feeling really excited for what's next.

That weekend under the oak tree,  I decided that rather than just wishing for it, I am now manifesting in some permanence for head & hands. Like my customers could see for me, I am visualising head & hands back in a shop space, locally or near enough. A modest size storefront, with a little area to host workshops too. So stay tuned for good things!

- Amanda