The Spike


March 2017

Mags Walker from Toolally

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Marvellous Mags

After writing the other day about marvellous wacky earrings from British designer and manufacturer Toolally, the founder Mags Walker (no relation) got in touch with me and we fell to chatting and I thought she was just terrific. So I asked her if she would do a short interview for The Spike and she said yes!

And here’s how it went:

Tell me a little bit more about your domestic life (if you don’t mind) – where are you from originally… kids? Married? 

I’m from Barnoldswick, in Lancashire. I’m married to Martin and have two children, Jack who is 25 and Katie, who is 29.

Where did the idea for Toolally come from?

Katie has cerebral palsy and in 2014 I opened a small creative emporium for kids in Barnoldswick as somewhere for Katie to go to work, having exhausted further education opportunities. I wanted her to have a purpose make a contribution – she loves having a job and having work colleagues.

She enjoys not having to have a carer with her when she’s working (just for a couple of hours at least). She has a wonderful work ethic, which she definitely got from me, and often tells her carers that she’s not ready to leave for the day because she has to finish whatever she might be doing

We called the emporium Tilltots after Tilly, the family Westie. We thought it would be cool for the kids who visited us to design their own jewellery using acrylic charms.

I didn’t want to get the pieces off the peg, so I bought a small laser cutter and got cracking. On a visit to the perspex factory to choose materials, discovered some beautiful frosted acrylics which didn’t look plasticky, (if that’s a word), but almost jewel- like.

The colour palette in acrylics is amazing so decided it might be nice to make some jewellery for adults as well. (Me, to be absolutely precise)

I’ve always loved fashion and jewellery – and I’ve always wanted my own brand having worked on other people’s for years. I decided I’d like to try and create something really unique. I also felt it was time for something a little bolder and more colourful again.

The idea for earrings actually came about by way of a lucky accident. Lucinda Chambers, Vogue’s Fashion Director, who loves acrylic, was doing an 80s inspired editorial; some of her team had spotted me wearing some Tilltots jewellery and asked if I made earrings. I said I did (I didn’t).

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Art Deco chandelier earrings – £45

Lucinda’s assistant asked me to send some samples to Vogue House. I made several pairs over the course of a very long weekend, inspired by memories of my youth, and sent them down. They used them in the shoot! I got my first credit in the August 2015 issue of Vogue – I figured I was on to something.

The name came from the letter T. I had already invested in some tags for the kids jewellery featuring a single letter T for Tilltots. Martin insisted I use them up, (I can be a little profligate), so I insisted he thought of an appropriate name for adult jewellery beginning with T.

Toolally was his immediate response inspired by his opinion of me as doolally! No-one else was using the name (who’d have believed it?) so we went with it. I kept meaning to have some important brainstorming-type creative romp around lots of clever words for our new jewellery brand but it never happened. Toolally we became.

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These are so Celine. I think. £45

Having held down demanding jobs in London – how is life different now you are somewhere less urban?

It now takes me 10 minutes to get into work (I could cycle and have done at least once). The views are amazing, we have squirrels and peacocks running around and there is always somewhere to park.

Road rage was a constant feature of my former life, that and a two hour commute. I actually worked in Manchester for 8 years and then split my time between Manchester and London for another 8. I commuted to London on the 6am from Skipton rather than live in London, though.

All my family live in London now and I very much regret that I have never enjoyed the privilege. I had kids, Martin worked in Manchester and I’m from the North so I don’t think it entered my head to move South at the time. My sister has lived in London for 20 years now and Jack moved straight there after uni – he now works at Deloitte – so I visit a lot.

I still work full-time at the content marketing agency Fabl. I do imagine a time when I can spend all my days designing and making things that people love… that would be heaven to me.

Can you expand a bit more on your dream of recreating the camaraderie of the mills? (Without the TB and the 18 hour days)

I’m a terrible romantic and the building our shop and studio is based in is really pretty.

There is a lovely cafe next door which is incredibly picturesque and from the large Victorian- style windows you can watch the world go by.

Lots of kids wander past on their way to school and I started to think how nice it would be if the mums could drop the kids at school, come to the studio for a few hours to make jewellery and have a gossip – and then go pick their kids up. What a great job that would be!

It’s maybe something I might have liked to do if I hadn’t been climbing the corporate ladder. As it was, I didn’t get to spend much time with my kids when they were little. Or get to know other mothers – flexi-time wasn’t a thing. Plus I worked in a man’s world; if you had kids you certainly didn’t talk about them.

When I was young I would go to see my dad when he was at the mill and all the ladies seemed to enjoy going to work and having a good gossip. The mills have all closed now and I thought it would be incredibly cool to bring some manufacturing back into my home town.

Hope (the bike people) have a fabulous Willy-Wonkaish factory in town and I thought it would be fab to create a very pretty factory making beautiful things and surrounded by succulents.

I think my vision is straight out of the sort of novels I read every year on the annual trip to rural France.

6 What were the last two items of clothing you bought? 

A black linen dress from Bitte Kai Rand and some really cool vintage Golden Goose trainers.

What are you most looking forward to wearing when the weather warms up?

White and sunglasses – you can’t have too many pairs.

7 What are you having for dinner tonight?

Manx queenies and chorizo with a green salad .

Longwear eyeliner no.2

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Okay I have had a complaint about the staying power of that Max Factor eyeliner I recommended last week – so I went and bought a Bobbi Brown Ling-Wear Waterproof Liner for £24 and this really seriously, seriously doesn’t come off.

You can only get it off with an oil-based make-up remover and is a nice creamy consistency and very precise but also smudgeable. It is £24 but I got one in Hazy Brown and I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever bought.

It is from the same long-wear family as the Bobbi Brown long wear gel eyeliner that comes in a pot and you have to use a brush but honestly who’s got the time or patience for that?

But now it comes in a sort of wind-up stylus format like the Max Factor one. So there we go, I hate to give a bum recommendation, so here’s a better one.

Though I stand by claim that for the price, the Max Factor eyeliner is very good (she said defensively).


***** UPDATE****** This eyeliner lasted me TWO FUCKING WEEKS! Very poor value, I reckon. The actual crayon is very slim and snaps easily – I lost about an inch of it just from it snapping off. I have gone back to my pot of old, dried-out Bobbi Brown long wear gel eyeliner just to feel like I’m getting some of my money back.

Longwear Eyeliner

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I have historically been a bit shy of eye make up that is very waterproof or long-lasting. I once had a mascara from Paul & Joe (I know, what are they doing making make-up?) that was waterproof and would literally not fucking come off, it wasn’t very nice.

But recently I am a bit sick of putting my eyeliner on in the morning – a hasty and inaccurate task, as I’m sure you can envisage – only for it to have fallen off during the morning and need to be reapplied later. Or to have smudged horribly under my eyes, which when I was 25 I’m sure would have been sexy but is now just a bit… bag lady.

So I went into Superdrug and randomly bought a Max Factor Excess Intensity Longwear Eyeliner for about £5, vaguely thinking that I ought to be spending a bit more on something from Bobbi Brown.

But this is amazing! Not only does it stay on all day, (even after an absolutely ginormous coughing fit), you twist it up rather than sharpen it with a pencil sharpener, as I find myself doing about once a week. Although… packaging… landfill…

How about you? What make-up discoveries have you made recently?


New crush


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Tobias Ellwood

Never been groped/Chanel

Now feminism is just completely IN, in every regard, I find myself being emailed quite often by various commissioning editors (HI GUYS LOVE YOU LOVE YOU MWAH) being asked: “Looking for women who are endlessly whistled at or groped on the tube, propositioned while jogging etc.”

And I was like, what do you mean ETCETERA? None of those things has ever happened to me, ever.

Very occasionally I am whistled at by a builder or by someone in a van and, to be completely honest with you, I am relieved. I don’t want to make light of sexism and sexual assault and stuff but genuinely I feel relief,  like, as in, phew I do actually exist as a woman and not just as a flesh puppet wandering about doing my shopping.

There was a totally hilarious piece in the Daily Mail the other day, written by a woman called Julia Stephenson, who someone is trying to turn into the new Samantha Brick, saying that she’s too pretty to be faithful.

And I looked at her and I thought, is she really that prettier than me? Is my ridiculous high self-esteem and body dysmorphia, (in my head I look like Giselle), so rampant that I am genuinely imagining myself to be many degrees more attractive than I actually am?

If not, why has no-one, not a single soul, propositioned me in the 7 years that I have been married?

It’s because I’ve been constantly pregnant or with small children, I tell myself. It’s because I’ve got a standoffish air, I am scary, my face in repose says BACK THE FUCK OFF OR I WILL SKIN YOU – even though I am only ever thinking about wallpaper.

If hassled I will give you a look like an eagle peering through plantation shutters. Useful in many circumstances! But not very winning to men.

But I suspect the truth is less that I am unapproachably cool and tough and more that my pouchy hamster face, freckles and ruddy cheeks remind men of that kid off the cover of MAD. And luckily my husband was more of a Beano fan.

Anyway fuck them! Who cares. Who needs men. Not me. Well I only need one man and we all know who that is:


I have my heart set on a Chanel neckerchief, to be tied jauntily around the neck, hair, wrist or bag this Spring. I have decided that an actual Chanel bag is unnecessary and possibly even dangerously foolish.

At roughly £300, a silk Chanel handkerchief is properly sploshingly bonkersley expensive for what it is, but in the grand scheme of things, not that expensive.

I rather love the colours on this one:

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or this one:

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There are also lots available on Vestiaire for less pukey amounts (you have to sign up to look on the website – but here are my favourites).

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Dig out your blazer

I am really into this look, done typically well by Sarah Harris here:

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She is wearing with this on her feet a pair of embellished kitten heel shoes from, I think D&G (I might be wrong) but you can finish off this outfit with whatever shoes you like really.

The best thing about this ensemble is that it ought to require no actual money to be spent. You just need 1 pair jeans, 1 largish t-shirt – extra points for a B&W graphic or band t-shirt, one blazer.

Blazers are back, you see. “Where did they go?” I hear you cry. You *ought* not to have been wearing them for the last few years, instead wearing sleeveless jackets, coatigans, cocoon coats, that fucking Zara coat and/or a shacket.

I remember the look of pure and genuine horror on Becky B’s face when she took me shopping once and said “what blazers have you got?” and I said “what’s a blazer?” Okay I didn’t quite say that but I didn’t own any. Becky B was once upon a time Queen of the Blazer, I think she’s stopped wearing them now – she is a hardcore NewYorker these days so she stamps around in Doc Martens and a flak jacket.

Anyway this look really appeals to me as, like all the big-titted, I look best in tailoring.


THAT Rixo dress is now available in blue on Net A Porter. Snap it up, ladies.

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Tom Hardy says hi…

… have a good day.

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I’m a bit under the weather NOT A HANGOVER SRLSY. Back soon.

Mad earrings

On the subject of massive earrings, Anthropologie have got some absolutely fabulous ones in at the moment.

My favourites:


But there are masses more to choose from here. I can sense the designers at Anthropologie being quite relieved that big earrings are back in, being as they are the purveyors of mad colourful art teacher jewellery. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

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