nearly there

Over the past year or two, I’ve intermittently mentioned our master plan to set-up an Olli & Lime office in the US. Well, it’s finally within reach. And it’s getting a bit scary.

We’ve had an amazing year of North American exploration – Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Boston (of course), thanks to British Airways.

Winning the grant has allowed us to check out all the places on our American short list (Vegas was for a trade show, incidentally) and, unsurprisingly, we’ve settled on Boston.

I say unsurprisingly, but there are 101 other places that would have made things far smoother financially, but none that would have fit our future plans and needs so snuggly.

So, now just the small matter of getting our VISA. I jest. We have to invest plenty of $, commit to employing US citizens, etc, etc. So it’s certainly not to be sneezed at.


christmas miracle

Okay, miracle may be a little strong, but as we sit in the BA lounge at Terminal 5, it looks like we’re going to make our flight to Boston, and better still, arrive in time for Christmas.

This really wasn’t on the cards yesterday. Masses of flights were cancelled, including one either side of ours, so we’d resigned ourselves to staying put for a few days. We got lucky!

Update: an added bonus. A Christmas menu choice on the flight over. Not the best turkey dinner ever, it has to be said, but it certainly put us in the mood for things to come…


rooftop blanket

We awoke this morning to a fresh covering of snow! So, I just thought I’d share the view from a top floor window at he back of our place, looking across the chimneyed rooftops…

As our Boston Christmas trip approaches, I’m not only concerned that we may miss a white Christmas in our home town, but also that BA may cancel flights, as per today.


buy buy sfmoma

We like visiting museums. But not just for the exhibits. As much (perhaps even more) to admire the often interesting architecture and rummage around the obligatory design store.

Examples of our growing collection of resulting artifacts can be found in previous posts on New York’s MoMA. I find it almost impossible to leave without buying something.

Well, the other day we visited SFMOMA, the San Francisco equivalent. The building itself was impressive in its own way, inside and out. Not really to my taste but certainly striking.

Inside, the usual mix of familiar design-related items along with some surprising finds. That reminds me, we sent them bib ‘n’ burp samples a while back. Must chase that up.

Needless to say, we picked up a few items. I got myself a brand new (and long overdue) mousepad to rival Karen’s (from the Guggenheim), which I’ve secretly coveted for years.

I also picked up a couple of books, not from the shop attached to the museum though; at the airport. Yep, just when I thought I was safe…there it was. Good timing, actually.

I always buy a book on city architecture and hadn’t found any for SF thus far so I got this, along with a book from apartment therapy, above. Perfect for decor voyeurs like us.

As you may have guessed from the airport reference, we’ve left San Francisco. Great city and I’m sure we’ll be back. But first on the agenda, an all too familiar bout of jet-lag!

Oh, if you’re not a regular reader, and thinking ‘how can they afford to be jetting-off all over the place?’ our recent trips have come courtesy of a British Airways grant.


daily telegraph

Great piece of coverage for us yesterday, in The Daily Telegraph, about the BA grant we won this year, and the progress we’ve made so far. Note the (very rare) photo of us…

Click for the online version. Really good exposure. Shame some people see it as an invite to peddle their wares. Actually, I’m not complaining…it feels good to be popular!


the journey begins

The first of our business trips (thanks to our grant) has begun. We arrived at Terminal 5 yesterday in plenty of time, determined to take advantage of all the perks on offer.

But before all that, just a word about T5. Third time here and I still find it visually so impressive. I just love the way the structure is such an integral part of the design…

And there’s something strangely beautiful about the gigantic structural features…

Following fast-track security (what a pleasant change) we headed for the one of the business lounges to enjoy free…um…everything. I could seriously get used to this.

This was a smaller lounge by the gate, which was deserted (hence the snap). I also couldn’t resist taking the one below. What is this ‘horse shade’ all about?

After a very long – yet indulgent and relaxing – journey, we arrived in Boston…only to discover the computers were down at immigration! A long night, but we woke to this…

Bright blue skies, in our temporary neighbourhood. We know Back Bay well, and it’s the perfect base from which to explore. We’re staying just off Newbury Street…

Specifically Hereford Street, in a very small, yet perfectly formed, apartment…

It’s in the brownstone building below. Good job we’re only staying for a week. This made the cases significantly lighter than last time. Good news in a third floor walk-up!

Today we’ve settled in and walked FAR too much. Typical us. Work proper starts tomorrow, as we visit our new distribution centre to firm-up arrangements.

Edit: I have since learned that the bizarre ‘horse-shade’ is actually a much sought-after, not to mention expensive, designer piece.


opportunity granted

Without wishing to over-cook it, this is probably the most exciting news I’ve ever posted here, with potentially huge business implications. Intrigued?

Last year we applied for a British Airways Business Opportunity Grant, with a prize including 12 business-class flights and 5 cargo shipments, across the BA network.

The grant is for small to medium-sized companies and it’s assessed on how a year’s free business travel would help to achieve specific, measurable business objectives.

Having submitted a carefully-worded application, we sat back…and waited. And last week we were told, along with 99 other businesses, that we’d been successful!

I was out when I got the news and, on my return, was greeted by the rather fetching handmade sign, above. Karen clearly has too much free time. Haha, so not true!

Karen was deliriously happy as she’s “never won anything. Not even in a raffle”. On the other hand, I was very optimistic as the grant just fits our objectives so perfectly.

It means 2010 will be a year of growth and progress, just as we’d planned. We’ll visit key territories, make retail pitches, set up US distribution and attend trade exhibitions.

This is a huge boost for our business, allowing us to accelerate our expansion plans, and even removing the worry of meeting costs for stock and equipment transportation.

True to form, we’ve already mapped out our business travel plans for the next 12 months. It’s gonna be an incredible year! I’ll keep you posted as things take shape.