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To mark Breast Cancer awareness month, team Saffron Souk will be featuring market items and creative activities with a feel good factor, as well as the obligatory pink thing here and there! 

It’s been a tough few weeks for the Saffron Souk ladies with reviews, improvements and changes to the website, the development of our in house product range (which we have to admit is rather good fun!) and another little (teeny tiny but punchy) project that will be revealed soon. So the bottom line is, we are ready to embrace the "goodness" and the warm pink fluffy’s of October with open arms. And Saffron Souk shop Willow Tree is just the place to let off some pent up online shopping steam…

Willow Tree currently stocks a range of organic natural and environmentally friendly products from across the globe. And we also smell a whiff of ‘credit card bending worthy’ goodness coming our way soon – with Willow Tree’s fashion line of kimonos and kaftans hitting the shelves of their online store in the very near future. We had to find out more, so we sat down for a lovely virtual chat with Jodie, the gorgeous Dubai based Australian behind the brand. Want to know what Jodie had to tell us? Of course you do…

2. Jodie – decked out in one of her fun kimonos – coming soon to her Saffron Souk online store! 3. – 5. The items currently in store at Willow Tree include (3.) a range of organic perfumes, including this intense silk temple roll on with notes of citris, jasmine, rose and frangipani – delicious; (4.) Divine kids organic cotton clothes – that look lovely, are good for your kids, and good for the farmers that make the products – that’s a win win in our eyes, and (5.) the Harper + Hudson range of silicone teething jewellery in a collection of vibrant colours.

What sort of products do you market?
I have two tiers to my business – an organics range and a fashion line.  Our organic’s store stocks organic perfumes, organic baby and children’s wear and gifts, and eco-friendly, non-toxic teething and nursing jewellery for Mum’s and Bub’s.   Our fashion line comprises of our recently launched a range of locally made Kimono’s and Kaftans. 

6. – 14. Some of that organic, non toxic goodness you can expect to find at Willow Trees online boutique here!

When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and started my first business was I was only 19 years old in my home country, Australia.   I ran that business, an Entertainment Agency specializing in Wedding’s, for 5 years before getting married and starting a family.  In 2009 we moved to Dubai and always dreamed of I’ve having my own business again.  I noticed a gap in the market for certain organic products here in the UAE and thought ‘why not’.

What’s the best thing about setting up your own brand?
To see your vision unfold and then share it with a wider audience.  Also, to have full creative and business control and to enjoy the constant learning curve along the way.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
Lack of time!  I guess this could be down to time management skills, however I’m always trying to cram in too many things in too short a time frame.  If only we didn’t need to sleep each night!

Where do you source your materials?
My organic products and teething jewellery is all sourced and made in Australia, as the quality is excellent and meets strict safety controls.  My Kimono’s and Kaftan’s are made from conventional material purchased here in Dubai from the different textile souqs and are then handcrafted by local tailors in Dubai.

15. – 18. The non-toxic silicon teething jewellery at Willow Tree is sourced from Australia’s Harper & Hudson.

Where do you get your inspiration to be creative from?
Visiting the fabric stores here in Dubai feels like stepping into Aladdin’s Cave!  I know instantly when I see a fabric whether it will work on not, despite the best efforts of the staff to show me every item they have!  

Any exciting news to share?
Yes – I’ve just finished a photo shoot with my Kimono’s and they will be released for the first time, exclusively at Saffron Souk early October! 

19. Jodie modeling one of the kimonos that you will soon be able to get your hands on at Willow Tree. Loving that fabric. 

Tell us 5 words to describe yourself.
Determined, Stubborn, Workaholic, Loving, Trusting

What’s your favourite colour?
Duck egg blue is my current favourite

What’s your favourite film?
There’s too many to choose and often the only time I watch films is when I’m on a flight somewhere.  Some recent ones I saw which I loved were The Great Gatsby, The Grand Budapest Hotel and I love the Game of Thrones series.

When did you last laugh?
At one of those silly cat videos being shared on Facebook.  

What keeps you awake at night?
Nothing!  I’m so exhausted each night a collapse into bed and sleep like a baby until morning. ?

Do you have any regrets?
Many – but I try to consider regrets as learning experiences rather than mistakes. There’s no point dwelling on them, but rather learn and move on.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
No-one.  I’d quite appreciate the alone time!

How many foreign languages do you speak? 
Does Australian English count as a foreign language? ;p  It might to some English speakers who visit there!  I did spend a year learning Indonesian at University but sadly remember none of it.  I can speak and understand some very basic Arabic words and terms and hope to learn a lot more.

20. Thats right.. we can’t quite imagine these ‘aussie-ism’s’ coming out of Jodie’s mouth…

Do you have any pets?
I do have pets as I’m a huge animal lover. We have a giant bear of a dog called Monty who weighs in around 35 kg and is taller than me when he jumps up, and we also have a cat called Chewy.  Both were rescue pets and we love the craziness that they bring to our family life.

Do you collect anything?

Do you believe in luck?
To a certain extent such as avoiding injury or ill health.  But I believe we have to accept some accountability for some aspects of our lives.

What is your greatest aim in life?
To raise happy, healthy and well-rounded children and to have enjoyed my life and lived it to the fullest.

What are your 5 favourite finds from the Saffron Souk market?

  1. Hayet Zerelli – love, love love,
  2. Rootz and Petals for their fab soaps,
  3. Raw bags – I have one of their clutches which I adore,
  4. Barnaby’s Buttons created a beautiful 3 piece picture for my daughters room and
  5. Maddy & Eva children’s clothes – I love their girls tunics.

21. Trinket bracelets from Hayet Zarelli Designs – these are a bit of a bargain and we love wearing them stacked 22. Have you visited Maddy & Eva’s childrens boutique? With its timeless, quality kids clothes, it is easy to see why Jodie picked this in her top 5 favourite finds at the marketplace 23. Handmade soap from Roots n Petals; made right here in the UAE, the garden mint scented bars are a frequent request in our Saffron Souk! 24. This framed button art from Barnabys Buttons is made to order, so you can customise the components – perfect if you are trying to impress with a thoughtful gift 25. RAW bags – how gorgeous is this bucket bag? We are afraid to admit it but we have developed quite an obsession as well Jodie…

Jodie – we can not thank you enough for sparing the time to chat with us. We love Willow Tree’s online boutique and will be clicking refresh for the next few days in anticipation for those kimonos to arrive in store – they look gorgeous.

And if something has caught your eye, never fear Saffron Souk community, you can get your hands on it in a jiffy, right here! Happy shopping…

PS. Jodie rebranded Willow Tree in May 2015 and her business is now called iland co. Find her online boutique at www.ilandco.saffronsouk.com.