“Mother’s day was strange, visiting my mother to hold a poster up at her window and then having to have my photo taken holding it so she could show her friends!! More embarrassing that strange!!” Nicola Ball of Halo & Co on the strangest thing that’s happened during lockdown
Back in 1990, two sisters kickstarted a brand that would cause glittering waves in the wedding industry and beyond. That brand was Halo & Co, and those sisters were Stephanie and Nicola. Dedicated to crafting edgy, British-made accessories and couture, no bride will be able to resist this duo’s unique take on the formulation of distressed crystals, celestial details and glistening jewels. Featured by the likes of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Brides and Tatler (to new just a few), and worn by celebrities, Royalty and fashion royalty (yes, I’m talking about Suzy Menkes), Halo & Co are celebrated throughout the industry for their truly beautiful creations. Driving their brand “towards the discerning end of the market and into the hands of fashion lovers,” there’s no doubt Halo & Co will be top of your wedding accessory wish-list. I caught up with Nicola to get the lowdown on her lockdown…
#1 Provide us with three words that sum-up how you were feeling about lockdown when it first started, and then three words about how you feel now:
“You should know by now that I always have a lot to say so three words is always a challenge! When lockdown started I had the same feelings I think of most people: fear, panic and anxiety, but as its progressed I have found solutions to problems and, in fact, new opportunities, and my feelings have changed to optimism, excitement, enthusiasm.”
Before: “Fear, panic, anxiety.”
After: “Optimism, excitement, enthusiasm.”
#2 What time do you get up? Has this changed? Is life a little slower? Talk to us about your new daily routine…
“I have to admit I was secretly excited about being on lockdown at home! I love my home and studio and I am very fortunate. So, the thought of days in the garden and watching Netflix sounded great (I never have the time so it seemed a nice thought). The opposite has happened, I get up at the same time (7am), let the dog out, grab a strong coffee and get geared up for the day. The rest is work work work and I now have no boundaries at all and days can still be going on at 10pm! I think maybe it’s an anxiety thing of having to keep pushing forward in fear of sinking!! We have been so lucky to have been supported by customers, brides and actually the government. It was facing the unknown at the beginning that was horrendous.”
#3 How is lockdown impacting your business, and how can people support you?
“Our whole business stopped initially!! And, in 27 years that has never happened. Pause was pressed, orders were frozen and our team no longer came into the studio. That went on for the first two weeks and it was awful! But, we rolled our sleeves up and got the studio safe to work in. Our staff are and have been so amazing and supportive. They are the heart beat of Halo & Co and between us all we carried on meeting all on-line orders, shipping out Liberty London orders and Harvey Nichols too. Many brides have also been contacting us as they have had the time to research suppliers and found us! And, many have booked bespoke commissions so designing has been a daily occurance.
During the first week of lockdown we had one of our brides in Washington contact us as she had just received her headpiece in the post and said, “its the only thing that’s kept me going and I try it on everyday knowing as soon as this is over I can go ahead with my wedding”. It’s been messages like these that inspire us to keep going. For every NHS worker that’s ordered our fashion line we included a little gift from us to thank them, and again getting their wonderful messages was so nice, and they are the ones really doing something important!! I think we have all learned to show appreciation and this is the biggest lesson of all this and something I will take forward.”
#4 Name three local businesses you are supporting or would like to support more…
No.1 “Battersea Dogs Home, I worry ever day about all the animals.”
No.2 “Every one of our wonderful stockist networks that we have chatted daily with, each one giving words of encouragement. We are ready for when they need stock and we will move heaven and earth to support them and get them what they need. Most are re-opening on the 15th of June and we are here waiting to assist!”
No.3 “Tesco! They have been amazing. I arranged deliveries to my parents who are self-isolating each and every week without fail and they have been great.”
#5 What’s your favourite isolation snack?
“This is the hardest question! I love a snack, the first two weeks I had a custard cream biscuit issues but its under control now!”
#6 What’s your most recommended quarantine pick-me-up when you’re feeling down?
“I am so so lucky as we live in North Wales so I have fields all around my home so, when it all gets too much, I can safely disappear to a hill top and just take a moment overlooking the coastline. It has really helped on some of the very difficult days. My heart goes out to some people in high rise flats.”
#7 What’s the item you can now NEVER find in the supermarket (and consequently dream continuously about)…
“This is a weird one, Panko Breadcrumbs! I love how crispy they are but nowhere seems to have them! And my constant fear is of original Bisto not being available!!”
#8 What’s the strangest thing that’s happened during your lockdown period…
“Mother’s day was strange, visiting my mother to hold a poster up at her window and then having to have my photo taken holding it so she could show her friends!! More embarrassing that strange!!”
#9 Favourite app for keeping in touch digitally with friends and family?
“Well Zoom seems to be the latest thing and I can’t understand why we can’t stick to Skype which I know how to work!! I am constantly communicating with my family as we all work together everyday and its been hard to have distance. I can’t wait to hug them all!!”
#10 Name your lockdown hate:
“People who don’t know what two meters is!! Please people stick to this. I can’t stand other people coming too close to me with no regard for social distancing.”
#11 Name your lockdown love:
“Thankfully its been such beautiful weather. It’s impossible not to see things more positively when the sun is shining. I love it!”
#12 The person(s) you will hug first when social distancing is no longer in place?
“Stephanie my sister and co-founder of Halo. I spend every moment with her in real life! And, even though we still see each other at distance its not the same. Then my mum and dad followed by all the family dogs!!”
#13 An act of kindness towards you that you’ve really appreciated?
“So many people checking in to see if I am OK, I have felt really touched at times. It has made us so much closer with our customers and suppliers.”
#14 Talk to us about what’s new at your brand?
“We have got some exciting projects underway for AW 2020 but I can’t tell you about them just yet! We have launched our trade portal for stores and in July will be launching our new web-store that will give our retail customers a better experience plus new products! Its been busy busy busy as it always is here.”
#15 Name three things the lockdown has made you grateful for:
No.1 “Friends, family and people’s kindness.”
No.2 “Being privileged, I watch the news at how some people are really suffering in lockdown and I feel so grateful.”
No.3 “The chance to come out of this strong and better.”
#16 Which restaurant will you dine at first once restrictions are lifted?
“I will be at my local pub to support them as soon as they can re-open!”
#17 What series have you now completed on Netflix? Any recommendations?
“I have had no time to get hooked on much, the last thing I watched on Netflix’s was Gilmore Girls!”
#18 What would be your quarantine book list?
“I love a good novel. Something light-hearted and fun. I can’t cope with serious stuff – there is enough real life drama! All my time at the moment is spent researching all our new lines and collections. I have been a creative sponge!”
#19 And, finally, your quarantine cocktail/tipple of choice?
“I have been really good and have had a Becks Blue alcohol free beer and I enjoy it!! If its alcohol then it would be Chablis, the colder the better. I would love a cocktail but I feel they are much better made for me by a professional!”