Created By You: Meet our Christmas guest stars

‘Tis the season to shout about incredible small businesses. So, we invited locals Pepper Loves and Illustrated By Weezy to stay for the weekend at our Marble Arch store in London. They managed to carve out some time from their very busy Christmas schedules to chat about their creative process and how they built their businesses.

Shop Gifts for Her

Shop Gifts for Him

Shop Gifts for Girls

Shop Gifts for Boys

Hannah from Pepper Loves Candles

Tell us a little about your business – what do you do and how did you get started?

I started my business during lockdown after losing my job in events because of the pandemic. I come from an arts background and had some experience in calligraphy, so I decided to take up a course to expand my skills (and to keep busy during the surreal time). I started creating wedding menus with the titles ‘Let’s Eat’ Let’s Drink’ and during this time I became inspired by the painted candles noticed on Instagram so I decided to combine the two, created a name (after my cat Pepper) and that was that. Letters are hand dyed and made in small batches in my London home. Each letter is sculpted and contoured to fit their place on the candles.

How did you get involved with the RI Pop-Up shops, and what are you looking forward to about your time in store?

I am really lucky to have opportunities come my way through my Pepper Loves Instagram account and website. So thrilled to be approached to take part! I am really looking forward to showcasing my new products to the River Island customer while surrounded by gorgeous clothes and accessories!

What makes your candles “conversation starters”?

The candles come in an array of colours and you can pick your own slogans so this always starts a conversation when people see them.

What kinds of things inspire your creations?

I get a lot of inspiration from fashion and homeware mainly. One of my designs (Metallic Gilded Bows) was inspired by a bow blouse I came across. I also love looking at colour combinations from glass and tableware products.

Do you have any personal favourites from your collection?

Gilded Bow candles are my favourite!

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

A few things! A River Island cream fringe cardigan because it’s such a statement piece and so cosy. A new coffee table and I think I might treat myself to some Chanel perfume too.

Louise from Illustrated By Weezy

Tell us a little about your business – what do you do and how did you get started?

Hey! I’m Louise Whittaker, but I’m more often known these days by the name Illustrated by Weezy, a South London illustrator who creates bold and “disco-esque” wall prints carefully curated to bring colour, joy and a dash of sparkle into every home. I set up my small business in 2021 during lockdown alongside my full-time marketing job because I was in desperate need of a creative outlet.

How did you get involved with the RI Pop-Up shops, and what are you looking forward to about your time in store?

I was lucky enough to be invited to pop-up in the Marble Arch River Island store, and I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. I absolutely love the atmosphere and buzz around Christmas time on Oxford Street, and there is nothing I love more than talking with customers old and new in real life and seeing them resonate with an illustration of mine.

What do you love most about illustrating?

It tends to be when I’m on the tube or out in nature, when an idea comes to me. Typically, I will put on my favourite podcast and will sit on the sofa with a cup of tea to illustrate too. It is my time to close off from the world and quiet my overactive mind. There is an element of mindfulness and peacefulness that comes with illustrating which I crave whilst living in busy London.

What kinds of things inspire your creations?

I was lucky enough to go travelling after I finished university and that is what inspired my “I left my heart” travel collection. A small piece of my heart remains in all the places I visited, and I wanted a way to bring an element of them into my home. My other art collections aim to capture those magnetic feelings and special moments shared with friends and family whether it be travelling, at a festival or celebrating a wedding.

Do you have any personal favourites from your collection?

“London is my stomping ground” because the illustration is just me down to a tee. I also love my “What comes next will be marvellous” illustration because we never know what is round the corner and when I look at it, I feel better about the future and that everything will work out just fine. It is a very popular graduation and wedding gift!

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Every Christmas without a doubt, I have to get a new set of pyjamas – I am an absolute sucker for colourful, stripey pyjamas with cute illustrations on them and lots of bows.

Missed Pepper Loves and Illustrated By Weezy's pop ups? Don't worry, there's more to come! Keep an eye on our events page to see what else is coming to an RI store near you, soon.