This week we caught up with Klara from Birds in the Attic, an event and lifestyling service based in Derbyshire. Klara curates styled events, occasions and venues, transforming blank canvases in to the most jaw droppingly beautiful spaces. Using her extensive experience she regularly hosts lifestyle and styling workshops, immersing you within current styles and trends, showing you how to transform your home.
Klara joined forces with Joy Interiors in 2018, and from here Joy Events was born. Hosting a selection of seasonal events that have been beautifully curated to encompass everything they love about country homes and interiors, the next one is an open air country home & brocante event on Saturday 5th September. A curated selection of stall holders will be selling vintage treasures, bespoke homewares, artisan creations and more. You can check out the website, Joy Events for more info on this.
We have long admired Klara's style and so we were delighted when she agreed to speak with us...
Hello Klara, it is lovely to speak to you, thank you so much for your time! So, tell us a little bit about yourself;
Hello, I’m a freelance Events & Lifestyle Stylist. I love styling, am obsessed with interiors and take great pride in curating beautifully styled events, occasions and spaces that don't only look good but make you feel great too.
Having studied at Falmouth School of Art, I established Birds in the Attic in 2013 & enjoy creating spaces (however temporary they maybe) that resonate with individuals.
I currently live in Derbyshire with my husband and two children, Lola (7) and Arlo (3) and fit the running of my business around motherhood.
I love the creativity that being a stylist brings with it, as it often comes with a variety of briefs in an array of settings. Whether I’m styling for a large-scale event, wedding or celebration, setting up tablescapes for intimate dinner parties or even dressing someone’s home for seasonal festivities; it’s safe to say that in my line of work no two days are the same.
I also enjoy hosting my own events & workshops throughout the year, when you can often find me collaborating with other small business owners such as the lovely Nicky from Joy Interiors, and Deb from Fabulous Places. I love working with fellow independents and it’s great to be part of such a vibrant community of them here in the East Midlands.
What inspired you to start your business?
I officially launched Birds in the Attic back in 2013, coming off the back of being on maternity and reassessing my work life balance and prioritises overall. Prior to parenthood I had been working in a senior management role, after completing a degree in Arts Therapy at Derby University.
I found myself at a point where it was time to pause and pursue other avenues, especially as my work had become less and less creative over the years as can happen in senior management roles. My husband Matt, at the time was working on many of the high-profile events hosted here in the UK and event styling was slowly gaining more traction over here too.
In 2011 Matt and I married, and we opted for a laid-back ceremony and party at my parents’ house in Gloucestershire. As Matt was well connected within the industry of events, he took charge of the logistics, whilst I was left to the decor and aesthetics. It was the perfect match and I was totally in my element; spending hours immersing myself in sites such as Green Wedding Shoes for inspiration. This was back in the day when social media was nothing like it is now, so a Pinterest Board or Instagram Account just wasn't available in the same way. I spent hours creating physical mood boards from magazine cut outs and online inspiration that I’d have to download and save.
The wedding was beyond amazing for all the right reasons and just the most perfect day. I received lots of compliments on the styling and realised just how much I’d missed being hands on and creative in this way. Life carries on though and I soon fell back into the swing of work and responsibilities. It wasn’t until Lola arrived two years later; that I finally felt like the time had come to pursue another path for myself.
The work life balance that having my own business offers is perfect for us as it allows me to spend precious time being a mum as well as a business owner. For me it’s really important to have something for myself, and Birds in the Attic has organically grown alongside my young family.
Where do you get your styling inspiration from?
Books, Magazines, Pinterest, Instagram, Fashion, Interiors… the list is endless and it's a big yes to all of those things and so much more. I’m a strong believer that everything has the potential to inspire; it just depends on how you see the world around you. I’m such a visual person and so I’m forever being inspired by my surroundings, the changes in seasons, landscape, interiors and trends… accessing all of these elements and looking at how certain combinations can then compliment and come together is truly my happy place.
There’s definitely a correlation in trends when it comes to fashion, interiors and styling as a whole; so, keeping on top of these and actively exploring the direction as to where these are evolving is important in my line of work.
I love how accessible inspiration is these days and I’m a big fan of the ‘Gram’ as a well as Pinterest as a starting point. I also have various magazines that I subscribe to which cover everything from lifestyle, interiors, fashions and food.
Do you have one styling shoot or job that really stands out from the rest?
The nature of the work I do means that every job I take on is unique to the client. I get to work with a wonderful variety of fellow small businesses and don't work with pre-existing packages per se. I like to create something that's personable and bespoke to the individual, so it’s hard to think of just one job or shoot that really stands out over the rest.
That said, I did recently do a shoot with a lovely group of wedding industry suppliers, which was super fun…. The Wedding Industry like so many has been hit hard by Covid 19 and the restrictions that have been placed have all but brought us all to a halt. The sector is tentatively finding it’s feet now in amongst the bigger economic picture and as a result has meant that the majority of our work has been postponed until 2021 whilst we ride out these uncertain times.
It was off the back of this that as the lockdown restrictions started to lift, a group of us decided to come together for a styled shoot. We have all missed being creative within our roles and there’s also been a lot more discussion around whether within the industry we’ll see a rise in couples choosing to elope. Certainly, more intimate gatherings will be on the cards if couples wish to get married sooner rather than later and as a result we’re all having to challenge ourselves to evolve and adapt to meet our client’s needs.
We wanted to create an effortless elopement styled shoot set in the Derbyshire Countryside celebrating the great outdoors and wonderful weather we’d been so blessed with over the past few weeks. This approach would also allow suppliers within the industry to come together to showcase their individual services; striking a balance between both our collective desire to continue to work and bring to view an alternative more intimate approach for wedding trends moving forward, whilst of course remaining safe and responsible in doing so.
The vision was to keep the shoot totally stripped back and simple, highlighting the raw romance and intimacy of eloping, keeping a focus on the love of two people, in the moment, on the day, and celebrating a lifetime of togetherness. Whilst large-scale weddings have all but been postponed for the foreseeable, the simplicity of eloping finally has the opportunity to take centre stage…. So that's just what we did!
Some would say it’s advisable never to work with animals… so of course, we threw in a horse for good measure… (because let's face it dogs at weddings is old news!) We had the most wonderful time and the photos snapped by the wonderful Sophie May Photo speak for themselves – Love is most definitely not cancelled!
What do you love most about what you do?
There is so much I love about my job, whilst it’s not always easy running your own business, I am truly grateful for the freedom and flexibility it offers me.
Having the freedom to be creative within a variety of briefs, settings and spaces is something I’ll never bore of. It allows me to re-imagine the vision for a styled space, whether it is a large-scale event, wedding or simply an intimate dinner party. It gives me the opportunity to elevate any room or occasion, which is truly a privilege, and one that I never take for granted when it comes to working with my clients and helping them create memories.
My attention to detail is always personalised, thoughtful and truly considered so that I can ensure that I always create an aspirational and special environment to be part of. To have the opportunity to work in this way day to day is not something that is lost on me and enables me to also balance my working life with that of my family, which is really important.
What are your top 3 tips for planning an event?
My top 3 tips for planning an event…. Good question!
First off would have to be to begin early and begin planning as soon as you can! It's a good excuse to shop for new stationary but being organised and planning in advance will takeaway lots of the stress and strain going forward, meaning you’re far more likely to enjoy the process rather than resent it.
Walk around the space or venue and visualise if from the perspective of your guests or attendees. Spending time thinking about how they will experience your event will help you plan and ensure all bases are covered.
Remain flexible, as over the course of planning your event, it’s likely that things are going to change. You don't have to see this as a negative though as being pliable will open you up to all sorts of possibilities that will often enhance your original vision rather than dampen it.
Get in suppliers rather than taking it all on yourself. In a world of Pinterest and Instagram we can all often be in danger of thinking things look straightforward enough to go it alone, but in actual fact it’s never that easy. Don't be fooled, it is our role to make this look effortless, but that's our job as professionals with years of experience behind us.
Lastly - take photographs!!! Photograph everything! Sorry that was more than 3…
When you need a little R&R, what do you do/where do you go?
As a country girl at heart, I love to go for walks whether it be alone, with the family or catching up with friends, there is something so reenergising about spending time outside surrounded by nature.
I try and fit in some yoga flow most days when I can, as I find it’s great for helping me focus before my working day starts. This can be easier said than done with two kids in tow at the moment, but I’m all the more productive on the days when I have managed to find the time.
Hanging out with friends is also a big one for me and I’m lucky to have some amazing people in my life who know how to make me laugh and not take life or myself to seriously.
Equally a Bubble Bath after a long day at work is a standard event, even better if it’s surrounded by candlelight with a large gin to the side…
How do you balance work and family life?
Balancing work and family life can sometimes be a struggle, but I think it’s safe to say that's pretty much the same for us all. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to build up my business organically around my family so that I can be mum as well as having space to also have something for myself. My husband Matt is totally hands on when it comes to parenting and is a huge support to me and my business, which is crucial in making it work for us all.
Now that the kids are getting a little older and are in school, I ensure that I only work a certain number of weekends throughout the year, as I was conscious that I was otherwise not seeing enough of them. Safeguarding that time for us to spend together as a family has been an important business lesson for me and results in everyone feeling much happier which is ultimately what it’s all about.
I also seem to have fallen into the tradition of throwing the kids a themed and fully styled party each birthday, which in honesty is totally self-indulgent and something that I love to do. Celebrating things (no matter how big or small) are important in our household. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of weekends away from the family working and they are brilliant in being patient, understanding and leaving things well alone. I find that I’m often having to consistently say ‘sorry darling but that's mummy’s work stuff ’ when their inquisitive little minds are pondering on my latest creation, so to include days when none of that applies and I can go above and beyond for my children is so important. I guess I feel that if I can do it for clients then I can most defiantly make time and space to do the same for my kids.
What is top of your bucket list at the moment?
In honesty, I’m pretty content with the life that Matt and I have built together with our children. I don't have a bucket list per se although I’m always up for new experiences, adventures and travel.
A friend and I were talking about Soho Farmhouse recently though and how dreamy it would be to hang out there for a while, so I guess if I was to create a bucket list that would certainly feature.
Do you have any exciting plans for the year ahead?
It’s hard to make any concrete plans at the moment with the uncertainty that Coronavirus has brought to us all. If anything, these past few months have taught be a lot about what’s truly important and how it's the little things in life that mean that most.
We like to come across to Norfolk each year and have a holiday planned in Brancaster in the coming weeks. I love being by the sea, it takes me right back to my time spent living in Falmouth and so I’m looking forward to feeling the sand between my toes and visiting some of my favourite independent small businesses when I’m over there.
The summer will no doubt fly by (particularly now that home-schooling can be put to one side) and then it will be time for me to look at what the rest of the year ahead looks like in line with whether further restrictions will have been lifted by then.
I have a number of exciting plans and work in the pipeline for the rest of the year so I’m keeping everything crossed that these will be able to go ahead as planned.
In one word;
Favourite independent home décor store
Ooooo it’s so hard to pick just one, - Derbyshire wise I’d probably say Lavender Grey, although a trip to Norfolk is never complete without a visit to Stiffkey Stores and Birdie Fortescue. I am also a big fan of Neptune and deVOL, and clearly not good at a one-word answers!
Favourite season of the year…
That another tricky one because I love them all… lets go with Spring?!?!
Favourite place to escape
The Beach… or the Bath… depending on which is closer!
What are you currently reading?
91 Magazine is a firm favourite of mine, although a good friend has also just sent me ‘Conversations with Friends’ by Sally Rooney, which I’m looking forward to starting after binge watching Normal People at the start of lock down.
If you could give your teenage self-one piece of advice what would it be?
Just Do You!
Your Best is Good Enough!
Klara's Top Picks from our Norfolking Around store;
Glass jars with wooden lids. These are available in three different sizes and are a Norfolking Around favourite. It’s a must have for any kitchen storage. Keep pasta, granola and dried food fresh for longer. These will help to create your stylish pantry/kitchen cupboards as well as keeping them organised too.
Gathered greens bouquet. The gorgeous gathered look of this artificial flowers bouquet is a wonderful way to bring the outdoors in and add a natural feel to your home.
Scandi boho stripe blanket throw. This Scandi Boho blanket throw from Sass & Belle features beautiful texture and tassels. Made from 100% cotton, the gorgeous woven stripe details are created with a natural colourway of cream and black.
Berber storage basket. A beautiful and hardworking basket to grace any home. Perfect for storing toys, logs or shoes, even for a trip to the beach. It has a round base so will cope with whatever gets thrown in.
Coastline Bracelet. This Ingot Tube Bracelet is minimalist style and looks delicate on any wrist. Treat yourself or make it a gift! Available in silver or gold.
Life is Wonderful wall flag. We truly love the Wall flags they are a great alternative to a traditional art print and is suitable for any room! Easy to hang either from the holes or by sticking with adhesives like command strips.
Panama Raffia Hat. A stylish summer hat for the beach or garden. Handwoven with raffia. Keep cool and look cool this summer!