Q+A with Andie Devlin Ball Founder of Darling Collective

The Darling Collective is the online boutique for things to do. The site features services from top-end small businesses in the UK, hand-picked and curated by a small and dedicated team devoted to promoting unique, high quality entrepreneurial ventures. Online you will find features on everything from beekeeping courses, perfumery lessons, guided tours of galleries and gin tasting to bookbinding classes, passion coaching, homemade crafting circles and wild food foraging.
 
 
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(Photo : Darling Collective :Corporate Natural Beauty Workshop)
 
Andie Devlin Ball is a Mamma, co-founder (with her husband) of the Darling Collective, and Head of Events at sister company Darling Events. She has a background in set design and styling, and extensive experience in the event and design industries. 
She specialises in event design, production and styling. When she’s not elbow-deep in spreadsheets, mood boards and Peppa Pig games, she enjoys yoga, running, baking and learning new things. This year she is hoping to see Darling Collective continue to grow and make partnerships with other unique and creative businesses. In 2014 they will be launching their fabulous new ‘Darling Hens’ site, which will be dedicated to activities for stylish hens.
 
What inspired you to choose your career ?

I’ve always been interested in art, design and visual language. I studied Art History at University and then did a diploma in Set Design in Rome. After a stint in retail I had a chance encounter with caterer Alison Price, and realised that what I really wanted to do was design and manage events. I worked as an event producer for 8 years before we launched Darling Collective, and now I get to combine my love for events with my love for craft, creativity and learning – It’s my dream job!

You are super at your job, but if you had to be something different, would you have run away with Cirque du Soleil, been an impressionist painter or something completely different ?

I still harbour secret hopes of becoming a yoga teacher…in my ‘spare’ time.

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Which are your favourite cultural/ creative places to visit (and take kids if you are in charge of any that day)?

I never get bored of wandering around the galleries of London – The V&A and The National Gallery in particular. I did my university thesis on Holbein’s ‘Ambassadors’ and I like to pop by to say ‘hello’ every now and again. Dennis Severs’ House (see photo) and the Sir John Soanes Museum are both wonderful too. My little girl, Cecelie, adores The Science Museum and whenever we visit, we have to pop into The Hummingbird Bakery for cupcakes afterwards!

Chinese New Year

Which products/ areas of your business are you most excited about ?

I am most involved with the corporate events side of the business, and I absolutely love receiving new briefs for events, getting creative with moodboards, and coming up with new designs. We are about to launch a new sit dedicated purely to hen parties, and we’ve been working on the designs for so long – I am really excited about seeing that come to life.

Which talented people or companies are you most impressed with at the moment?

I work with some amazingly talented small business owners and designers – too many to name – but I can share a few. I love Nadia Stopnicer’s sugar-craft. Nadia teaches icing workshops for us, and her designs are amazingly detailed and beautiful . I also adore Odette Toilette who runs fabulous scent workshops, and I love the idea of the Sunday Assembly a ‘radically inclusive’ meet-up every Sunday to celebrate life and community.

You’ve won a (paid) year off from work for being a ‘good citizen’ (& school for the kids) where do you take the family ?!

Id be torn; My husband was raised in Durban, and my daughter was born in Cape Town. We haven’t been back to South Africa since she was a tiny baby, so I’d love to take some time to show her the country, take her on safari, visit the winelands…But a year in Italy (my husband and I have had a love affair with Italy since our first holiday together) would also be pretty amazing! Maybe I could finally do that life drawing course in Florence I’ve been dreaming about…

The BIll Gates Foundation is giving you the role of ‘COO of changing the world for a day’ what campaigns/charity do you back ?

I have become a real softie since having my daughter, and my heart belongs to any charity that helps children – One of my personal dreams is to get more involved in charity work once the business is a little less all-consuming.

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Which are your favourite shops/ or destinations for birthday treats?

I have so little time for shopping these days that I tend to use net-a-porter for convenience. We don’t live too far from Bicester Village, and I love a trip there too! My family all know my favourite treats – Charbonnel et Walker sea salt caramel truffles, Laura Mercier cosmetics, and Jo Malone scented candles – the new Incense & Embers candle is divine!

Where is your favourite spot for a long lunch with family & friends?

We are pretty low-key – we love hosting at our place most of all. I love planning the menu, the wine, flowers and a playlist and really spoiling people with a great meal. If I do go out I love a long pub lunch or family-friendly traditional Italian places – La Famiglia on King’s Road springs to mind.

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Which 3 children’s books are you most fond of ?

Easy – J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit (I’ve read this about 5 times in adulthood too!), C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, and Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree books. I literally can’t wait until Cecelie is old enough for me to read them to her.

What was the first record you bought, and what music are you listening to at the moment on spotify?

I was a bit grungy when I was younger – I remember buying Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins and playing it to death. I’ve been getting into country a bit recently – Bob Harris on radio 2 is such a favourite (I feel old just writing that) and I have been listening to Haim, Bat for Lashes and The Lumineers a lot recently.

Who is on your dream dinner party list ? Prince is in town, so we can arrange that if you’re keen!

I love witty, slightly naughty guests so can I have Stephen Fry and Eddie Izzard for the conversation, Nicole Scherzinger, as she seems so happy, lovely and bonkers, and Nigella to help with the cooking (and to get the inside story).

Thanks for your time Andie. xo
 
Credit : photographer : Mel Wilde Photography
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