Free-writing has us in fits at Inspired Collective this week!

Who is your Samantha?

This may seem like a funny title for a blog post, so let me explain a little...

Thursday morning was the first 'art of writing freely' workshop with Rosalind Brookman, and we weren't quite sure what to expect, or how brilliant we'd be at it.  Yet 120 minutes later, we had all produced six different pieces of written text on widely ranging subjects and had great fun doing it! 

We were given various writing prompts, random titles that we then had to write about, nonstop, for ten minutes.  

Probably one of the most important pieces of advice Rosalind gave us was the three biggest blocks to creativitity:  focusing on form and structure, our own judgment and other people's judgement (or perhaps more correctly, what we perceive as other people's judgment, but is in fact, creativity block number two ie:  our own!)

So since Inspired Collective is aiming to build a creative community that learns from the skills of others, builds each other up and inspires us to explore our creativity, I'm going to throw caution to the wind and write my own 'Samantha story' here, and urge all other attendees to post their own in the comments string below.  Let's see what comes out!

Samantha's Story:  Things to include:  Samantha, 29, moody, Henry VIII, 'right a wrong', 

'Her alarm didn't go off, meaning she was late out of bed, so no time to wash her hair, and it was day two of 'batiste' and there's only so much dry shampoo you can put on your hair before it starts to look bad.  Either you a) look like a sloven, who is too badly organised to get up early enough to actually manage freshly washed hair and have resorted to expensive talcum powder so you can convince yourself it counts as 'groomed' or b) possibly worse, depending on where you sit on the age spectrum, but at 29, she wasn't overly concerned with this scenario:  you look like you have grey hair (which you do, but you spend obscene amounts covering it up only to be too lazy to wash it frequently enough) and a greyish tinge to your forehead,which if you have fine lines, your normally delicate creases now look more like crevasses.  

Anyway, that's not what's bothering Sammantha today.

Having made the journey into work, she's now trying to focus on mentally preparing for her Year 9's History lesson, yet another day in the court of Henry VIII. God, the Tudors bore her stupid.  Absolutely rigid.  And all of her students too, since this is probably the third time so far in their school career that they are tackling the subject.  Synopsis:  a fat, old, ugly, lecherous, libidinous b****** who, through the abuse of power, gets to bed and 'shed' (poetic license) any woman that he wants.


Bit like Weinstein really. Didn't turn turn out so well for him though.  She smiles a little wry smile to herself. Today she might introduce the concept of 'righting a wrong' into class.  See how this flies with the testosterone-fuelled Year 9'ers.  Should spark all sorts of fireworks and some interesting conversations. God, it was exhausting trying to inject some life into the disinterested lot she had to teach these days.


Or maybe, the reality was she was a little moody because the IVF had failed. Ok, truthfully, she was a lot more than a little moody. She wanted to find someone to blame. Someone she could, guilt-free, strangle, kick and punch with complete immunity.  But no pain inflicted of course. Because Samantha wasn't really a bad girl. She was teacher for goodness sake!  She spent far too many hours for far too many days looking after other people's children.  Just one day she'd like one of her own.  To bore them with the Tudors :-)

PS Sammantha delivered the best Tudors lesson ever, totally rocked it.  She went on to give birth 9 months later to twin girls who went on to excel in every capacity, gaining A*'s in History.  Of course.

Just a little fun!

Happy weekend all :-)

Petrica x


The ABC of being a female in the modern world today...



If January was about planning, then February so far is about doing and we've kicked off our workshop series with an Art Talk with a Twist (a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the Impressionists) and a Business Blogging workshop, which helped lay down the foundations of how to do it and do it right!  We're following up shortly with a Modern Calligraphy workshop, so the ABC analogy couldn't slip by me :-)


What has really inspired me these past couple of weeks though is the countless new people I've met, either online or IRL (in real life, for those that don't have teenagers yet).  From new mums, to those female businesses helping mums, to women in general.  One thing they all share in common is an amazing resilience, a perseverance to keep on doing, even when it gets tough.  


@power_ofmum's letter to @hi_mama_letters (a great feed for cheerleading new mums and supporting each other through those early months and years) reminded me of a moment when I was holding my eldest as a newborn, ecstatic to have him, but also so inspired by a newspaper article of a women who'd only really launched her career as a BBC radio producer in her early 40's when her children were pretty much grown.  It made the hairs on my arms stand on end.  Although that was one of the happiest times of my life, I knew even then, that there would come a time for me and that it wouldn't be too late to start something new.  Your life comes in phases, some come all at once, and that can be tough, some take their while to pass,  but there's a whole world out there to explore and what an exciting place it is.


Being a woman and having children is a brilliant leveller, whether you're at the start of that, or at the end of that, it messes with your identity and that can be bewildering, but it's also an amazing opportunity for re-discovery, re-invention and a time when the creative juices can really flow.  I've met so many women who are busy juggling little children, jobs, elderly relatives, but are still driven to start something new and create a business for themselves, and I'm so inspired by them.

 A brave new world..celebrating the centenary of women's UK suffrage

A brave new world..celebrating the centenary of women's UK suffrage

But it isn't just having children that makes women's place in the world an interesting subject.  We aren't defined by being mothers, or what jobs we have. Seeing Harriet Harman being interviewed this week, the week celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage in the UK, she mentioned a time when speaking in the Commons that she was told she was a 'silly little girl'.  (The only ever female Speaker of the House, Betty Boothroyd, insisted the male MP apologise.  Enough said).


So in answer to @social.happy's great post this morning on Instagram, about why we women are so self-deprecating to the point of belittling ourselves and almost not allowing ourselves a voice and a strong, positive identity, I think those outdated attitudes are some of the reasons why.


And so I'm thankful that so much has changed, and as I sit here now, I'm reminded of that  article and how it inspired me and I am, finding my way at last.


What are your sources of inspiration? I'd love to hear, please drop a comment below, and in the meantime,


Happy Weekend!


Petrica x

PS Here's the workshop list if you're interested:


Our Christmas Cocktail Party went with a bang!!


So last night was our Christmas Cocktail party, celebrating Sarah & Bendrix's 8.5 years as an online business, first 6 months as a real-life shop, and three months as burgeoning creative community hub, through Inspired Collective.  It's been hectic but throroughly enjoyable and I wanted to share my musings with you...


I had a really interesting conversation last night about how men and women in business differ so much.  Now I'm a feminist (no-one in their right minds isn't, right?), a sister to 3 brothers, mother to 2 boys and wife to 1 lovely husband, so I haven't traditionally thought that women are any different to men, but I am of the school of hard knocks variety.  In fact, my favourite phrase, and indeed, our family motto, is "Man the **** up!"


So I'm wondering why it is that we women seem to need stuff like vision boards, assertiveness training, confidence-raising and the like, and I think it's because...we are ALWAYS trying to do it all.  Trying to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the most dynamic businesswoman, the caring friend, the loving daughter, the thoughtful wonder it sometimes falls apart and we run out of steam!  Added to that, (in varying degrees), the limiting self-beliefs we have, it can sometimes feel like such a huge effort to keep going.


Yet here's the thing....I LOVE working with women, because when we're trying to do it all, fit in those last few meetings before the Christmas break, make that networking thing as we really must meet new people, be more active on Insta and follow everyone back..when someone actually says 'Sorry, I can't - it's my kids play/child's ill/mum needs me", we get it.  That's ok.  There's no need to feel guilty or somehow less professional because of a personal reason we've given.  We understand what it feels like and we know, to our very core, that without the personal, there really is nothing.


So thank you to all the lovely women who so happily share their stories with us, you remind us that we are all in the same boat, that we are all doing our best, and that, you know what? that's absolutely good enough.


Also want to say a massive thank you to Tom from TattamsBar, who created some gorgeous cocktails for us last night.  He is a new business, a one-man band with a wealth of experience already, garnered from different parts of the world, a professional mixologist who's already worked with the best and is now striking out on his own.  He's a guy with a dream to open his own bar and yet, when he met with founders, they loved his concept, rated his business plan, liked his style and said...NO.  Because he was too young.  How did ridiculous is that?  So rather than take the knock-back, he decided to make it happen anyway, and I've no doubt he'll realise his dream.


So whether you're male, female, young or old, people like Tom, people like you, are an inspiration to us.  There's no reason why you can't do something new, something brave, and being surrounded by creative people, who are curious, energised and insightful, is a great way to get there!

I'll leave you with the print from our goody bag last night......

Happy weekend all!


What we've been up to at Inspired Collective.....

Hello everyone!

So this is our first blog post, a chance to get creative with words, share what we've been up to and invite you to share your stories too, so welcome!

The last couple of weeks have been crazy busy here at Inspired Collective.

We kicked off our late-night openings at Sarah & Bendrix with organic wine-tasting with our friends at the organicwineclub, of Worcester Park, and hosted our first chocolate truffle-making session with the award-winning Aubel Chocolates of Ashtead.

It was a fun evening of learning a little about chocolate, how to make gorgeous little truffles, all washed down with a little prosecco and in the company of good friends!

There were a lot of laughs, a few dusty faces and some truffles, in varying degrees of professionalism!

Thanks to all those who attended, we really appreciate your support and the feedback you've given.  

We've got loads going on here over the next couple of months, with Christmas wreath-making with the award-winning Mad Lilies of Banstead, on Tuesday 28th and Thursday 30th November, another chocolate workshop on Wednesday 6th December and the latest creative session to be planned is a fun activity for children, wtih ceramic Christmas gift-making with Made in Sutton, a community pottery cafe run by the lovely Kirsty Prescott, on Saturday 9th December, please check out our workshop/event listings at:

At Inspired Collective, we're slowly building a local community of creatives:  those who already do, and those who want to learn.  By supporting each other, we grow stronger, both individually and collectively, forge new friendships, and get some invaluable personal development in the process.  So if that interests you, please join us and be part of our tribe!  And if you have some super-creative friends who might benefit from getting to know us...please spread the word and invite them into our cosy little club too!

Connect with us by dropping an email to and let us know what you're particularly interested in, follow us on Facebook and Instagram or even better, come in to the store (6 Upper Mulgrave Road, Cheam SM2 7AQ) and say an old-fashioned 'hi'!


We look forward to getting to know you better,


Petrica & Veronika