I started Bright.Bazaar in 2009 when I was 22 years old and across those five years almost everything in my life has changed. Apart from one thing: my dear fiancé. Having been together since our first year of university we’ve stood alongside one another through the myriad of opportunities and obstacles that life has presented to each of us. I wish I could articulate just how much he means to me but excitable superlatives wouldn’t do my feelings justice: he is the first and only man in my life I’ve ever admired; the warmth and joy of my life – my heartmate. Bright.Bazaar has grown to a scale beyond anything I could have ever imagined when I clicked Publish on my first Blogger post all those years ago. At the time I was full of mixed emotions: recently out of university and trying to adjust to a new way of life, I felt lost working in an office job that stifled my creativity, but also excited as we embarked on the next chapter of our life together post-graduation. With all the wonderful experiences Bright.Bazaar has afforded me there have been times when I have felt young and impressionable; exposed and awash with fear; raw with hurt at being let down by those I thought I could trust. I’ve always been acutely aware how important it was for me to keep an element of humanity and personality at the blog’s core. In fact, this was the exact reason I started my 10 Things I Learned & Loved This Weekend series four years ago; it was the antithesis to the professional, magazine-style design reports I shared across the rest of the week. I wanted my readers to know that ‘Mr. Bazaar’ was in fact just a young guy, in his twenties, sharing his love for design and colour and navigating a new digital and physical world as he did. The lessons of life and business that one might learn in the relative comfort of an office with colleagues and co-workers during the early years of a career have often had to be learned on-the-go – I’ve dived in full of enthusiasm only to have my fingers burnt when it transpired the other party had an ulterior motive. I was on a conference call with someone recently and they said that I needed to become more ‘hard-nosed’ and ‘less concerned about how my actions might impact on others in business’. After the call I felt empty and kept asking myself: ‘Do I really I have to change my values and motives to be ‘successful’ in life?’ I remained resilient in my thinking; no, I don’t. OK, so I might not get the first exclusive or the highest rate of payment on a contract but you can be damn sure that I will have my integrity. I know that this means I will be susceptive to more let-downs and hurt, but I figure that I have also managed to achieve so many fantastic things by being who I am. And the main thing that gives me the confidence to know that I am on the right path and leading my life and business in a positive way is my fiancé. His wisdom, kindness and pure, genuine soul are of boundless guidance for me. As Bright.Bazaar grows I am being pulled in lots of directions and, while I am grateful for such opportunities, I’m finding it really hard to know who genuinely wants to work or collaborate because they admire my work vs. those who don’t. Right now I feel like I still have so much to learn and experience, so I’m just trying to absorb all of life’s experiences – good and bad. I hope that in doing so I will continue to build my confidence and broaden my horizons. And along the way, it’s of great comfort for me to be able to just hang out at home with my man. It’s for this reason that I felt compelled to share these intimate and personal photographs with you today. It’s such an honour that our living room made the UK cover of my first book, but with all of my tweets, Instagrams, blog posts etc. full of excitement about the book, it could be easy to forget that this is, at the core, the place we call home. The glossy image that graces my book cover is really just where we hang out together; bicker together; and hug one another through good times and bad. So it’s refreshing to share these snaps of our home today that aren’t styled or tidied – just natural pictures of what life looks like in our apartment day to day. Those who have read the Introduction to my book will know not only of the importance of Home to me, but also those I share it with. Book tours, photo shoots, travel – none of these things are a patch on the everyday life we share together inside these four walls. Hanging out in the kitchen chatting, baking (and sometimes bickering!) is what makes us happy – it’s those everyday moments that seem insignificant but are, really, what’s so important. I think that’s why I felt so emotional when I saw the picture of our slippers side by side; we both felt it was the pictorial description of the warm and welcoming feel of our life together at home. I’ve not written such a personal post, nor shared such intimate pictures, of our life before – to be honest, it’s just not ever been something I’ve ever even considered blogging about. Yet the conference call I had a few weeks ago really made me think – I’m proud of the life I’m living and have accepted that, in life, others will always have both positive and negative perceptions of you are. It doesn’t matter whether someone cures a disease, writes a book, works as a vet, is gay, straight, religious or not and so on; there will always be those who bring light and joy to one’s life, and those who bring darkness. I know that life ahead will no doubt hold great disappointments, alongside exciting adventures. However, throughout the ups and downs I feel blessed to be able to share my life with a man whose warm hug and soothing voice makes everything from a worldwide book deal to nasty backstabbing pale into insignificance. Toby, I love you.
// Photography by Jean-Laurent Gaudy