Second Floor Flat – An American Expat in London

Second Floor Flat follows an American expat and magazine writer living in London. Expect travel, fashion, design, lifestyle, and photography.

Very Fine South enso Collection

I won't harp on yet again about how proud I am of the talent coming out of my hometown of Atlanta.

Let's just say I'm really proud, and we'll leave it at that. (There's also always this post that will give you an idea of the extent of my admiration.)

But anyway.

One of the designers at the center of all of this talent is Very Fine South – Laura Shope's ever-beautiful handbag and accessory line.

Laura just released the enso collection, which was inspired by her love of the "form follows function"  philosophy – and she should know. This gal studied Industrial Design at Georgia Tech, where she learned about the design movements that followed the Industrial Revolution and began to embrace the "less is more" idea and aesthetic. Think early mid-century modern. Simple, yet full of intention.

All of the pieces in the enso collection are crafted from leather tanned in Italy and handmade by Laura in her Atlanta studio. And while I haven't gotten my hands on one these new bags just yet, they look soft and supple as ever.

Very Fine, indeed.

Now that's a damn handbag.

See the complete enso lookbook here or – better yet – pick up one of your own here


Photos by Claudia Bost / Styling by Her New Tribe

Good Reads: 1 May 2015

We're officially back from Barcelona and my oh my, what a city it was.

I (poorly) described it on Instagram as a tropical Paris, and that's what it felt like to me. The history and architecture has the same romantic feel of France, but the colors, vegetation, and vibe is all tropical. 

Needless to say, I loved it and so appreciated all of your recommendations. Photos to come just as soon as soon as they're reviewed and in other words, it'll be a while. Until then, you can see a few snaps on Instagram

This weekly link roundup is heavy on independent makers and retailers because the list represents two weeks of finds – that's 26 favorite finds, y'all. Hold on to ya pocketbooks.

Have a great weekend!

(P.S. – it's another long weekend in the UK! I'll still be working on Monday but man. #Europe, amiright?)

like the rest of the internet, i'm so into amy schumer


lusting over linen sheets, big time.

this sketch of this photo. (so f-ing cool. thanks bridget!)

"what an artist captures, what a mother knows and what the public sees can be dangerously different things."

totally on board with the whole coloring book thing. 

my favorite restaurant in london has opened in our neighborhood, just as we're leaving. planning to milk it while we're still here!

this important documentary. (thank you, britany, for alerting me!)

the cutest pin.

an uplifting story on baltimore.

good news for anyone feeling challenged at work, or at home.

a beautiful wall hanging.

best style award goes to...

after i finish the buried giant, i plan to start this book. doesn't it have the best premise?

have actually been talking about buying these shoes since november. should i shut up and get them?



me elsewhere: how (and why) to build an online community

favorite finds: chay / apres ski / janessa leone / materials + process / language of the birds / consider the wlldflwrs / susan hoff / nell & mary / freda salvador (via block print social) / c. keller (newly relaunched!) / truss / risotto / baleen / charlotte stone / nu swim (via lisa says gah) / we are out of office / me & arrow / knock knock linen / cotton & flax / margaret jane design / little bear pots / miss balader (via light rust studio) / the boyscouts / ann margaret ceramics / ramble supply co. / arrow + sage 

Shopping List: Spring Wants

Barcelona, y'all. That's where we're going.

We leave tonight to sleep a friend's flat that's closer to the airport, since our flight leaves London at an unmentionable time on Saturday morning. Very unmentionable. But that's what you get when you're traveling on a budget, folks. That's what you get.

Anyway, in honor of Spain – and in honor of Fashion Revolution Day – I put together a little dream packing list for what my ideal Barcelona suitcase, and ideal spring/summer wardrobe would look like. Per usual, all pieces are from quality, sometimes smaller makers and those who support those makers. 

Here we go:

leonard sunglasses ($177) via need supply co.

felt hat ($98) by westerlind 

bucket bag in nude ($485) by building block

indigo kiss flat ($140) by osborn

bleach rancher hat ($105) via the lady & the sailor

flat clutch ($54) by lee coren

multi-task mini oil ($12) by soul sunday

summit vest ($248) by kieley kimmel

antiparos sandals ($196) by kyma

the cruiser ($185) by mother

dahl open toe mule ($415) by rachel comey

lipstick crayon in 99 red balloons ($24) by ilia

chord voyage top ($190) by ace & jig via accompany

rafia platform shoe ($395) by robert clergerie

tee shirt in ocean blue stripe ($188) by california tailor

tamarisk necklace ($56) by melissa sonico


You can follow along on my Barcelona travels here. Otherwise, I'll catch you guys next week!

Staying On Schedule

Most days, my life is pretty boring. 

Despite the fact that I'm a freelancer, and a freelancer living abroad, no less, schedules and routines dictate my every move. I basically wear my routine like a thunder shirt.

Even though I'm lucky enough to be in the position where I could mostly make my own hours and work wherever I want on any given day, I choose not to.

Instead, I wear a work uniform, eat the same meals and drink the same drinks at almost the same time every single day. I get up when my husband gets up on weekdays, if not earlier, and (more or less) stop working when he comes home. I even sit in one part of our flat to work for the first half of the day, and move to the other in the afternoon hours.

It's paradise.

Routine guides me. It helps me, keeps me sane. When I fall off track and start to overanalyze or question things, it's usually because I'm having a day without routine. 

"An idle mind is the devil's playground," my dad used to jokingly quote.

But I think there's some truth to that. For all this talk of stillness, what about those of us who are happy and fulfilled when our days are scheduled and filled with routine? That doesn't mean our minds can't rest or that we swear off relaxation and mindfulness, but it does mean that, at least for some of us, there's a lot to gained from the regular hum of a filled schedule.

For many, the whole point of being a freelancer, small business owner, or working from home is that you're likely to have the luxury of making your own schedule. To work all night, if you like, and sleep during the day. I tip my hat to those who do that, but me? I've never been the type. Instead, I  like to be up with the birds and on with the coffee. And when the day is done, I (usually) put down my laptop and relax.

Erin swears by it. In fact, without strict routine, she wouldn't be able to be the mother and successful multi-business owner that she is. I was glad to learn that she's a stickler for routine, just like me.

Change and uncomfortable situations are of course paramount for growth. I try to put myself in uncomfortable situations regularly, and change often.

But the underlying current that keeps it all together is my routine. Knowing that no matter where I am, what I'm doing, or what's going on in my life, there will be a PBJ to eat at 1 p.m. each day and on Sundays, a flat white and a walk in the park. It's my constant and my comfort.

I'm breaking my routine for a couple of days and taking some time off at the start of next week. I'll be in Barcelona, enjoying the sunshine and sangria, forgetting about the routines. I'm looking forward to it – I can't wait to get into that Southern European sunshine and check out some of the incredible recommendations (thank you!) that have been sent my way.

But I'll look forward to getting back. Isn't that sometimes one of the best parts about travel? To smell your home again, sleep in your bed, wash your clothes, and get back on that routine.

My life can be pretty boring. And I couldn't – wouldn't – have it any other way. 

Behind The Scenes With Proud Mary

For me, Proud Mary is just one of those brands.

One of those brands that you come across and say yes, that's exactly it. That's exactly how it's supposed to be. The colors are right, the product is right, the styling is right. It's all exactly, exactly right. 

I've said this before about a handful of other brands and I'll probably say it again, but that's how I felt when I first came across Proud Mary – that if I was going to start a line, this is what I would want it to look like.

Southern gal Harper Poe of Charleston, South Carolina is behind Proud Mary – a line of homeware, clothing, and accessories that flawlessly combines modern design with products like pillows, shoes, and bags – all of which are made using traditional methods of production. 

Harper, sweet gal that she is, agreed to take me Behind The Scenes where she explained the process of building Proud Mary – a line that values ethical production methods as much as it values design.

Let's go.

You began working with artisans in the developing world in 2008. What made you want to start Proud Mary?

 HARPER POE: I went to school to study Construction Management because I wanted to build houses (Editors Note: Um, awesome) and textile design is something I stumbled into because it could facilitate me working in the developing world. 

After traveling, I realized that sourcing traditional craft (which is my thing) that focused on textiles would be the perfect way to fuse my passions for travel, international development, and design. Eventually, Proud Mary was born.

What does Proud Mary's message of "pride not pity" mean to you?

HP: I want Proud Mary to be a source of sustainable income for our artisan partners. Giving hand outs and accepting subpar work doesn’t do anyone any good. Demanding quality goods, on time, in exchange for fair wages and access to greater markets creates sustainable income for our partners.

A Malian artisan that creates dresses, crochet pillows, and bags for Proud Mary. Harper describes her as a "master indigo dyer." 

I imagine your work with Proud Mary involves periods of travel, followed by periods of time at home. What’s your favorite aspect of your job?

HP: The balance of travel to being home in Charleston works really well for me. I get antsy if I’m not moving around, so as soon as I feel that way, it’s usually time to go again. The travel, discovering new cultures, and meeting people is the best part of the job. I love the relationships I’ve formed with our artisan partners and colleagues along the way.

Let's talk Charleston. Have you always lived there?

HP: Yes – I'm very lucky to live in this charming little city! I moved here 6.5 years ago after stints in New York, Los Angeles, Colorado, France, and Costa Rica. I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, though, so the South is in my blood.


You’ve recently began working with some big retail partners – specficially Urban Outfitters and Madewell. Landing a partnership like this would be a dream for many young brands. Do you have any inspiring words for upcoming designers?

HP: Have a unique and authentic voice. Stick to what you do and do it well.


What's one thing you want people to walk away knowing about Proud Mary?

HP: That we collaborate with global artisans to create our lifestyle products and provide impact through job creation.

And just for fun...

What's one book everyone should read?

HP: The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho


If you weren't living in Charleston, where would you live?

HP: Mexico City


Thanks to Harper for sharing her beautiful line and story, and for you for going Behind The Scenes!

Shop Proud Mary here, and follow the brand here and here

Good Reads: 17 April 2015

I won't lie. I've felt a swirl of emotions lately. 

We still don't have a move date yet and as more time passes – another season is here, another month is more than halfway through – it gets harder and harder. Some days I wonder if it'll all ever end. I know it will, but that doesn't make it any easier.

I'm taking each day almost an hour at a time. I've been feeling really hopeful and happy some days, and other days full of anxiety. That's what living in a limbo is like, as anyone who's ever been in one will know. When you're just waiting for something to happen, especially something this big, you don't know how to feel.

All in all I'm fine, it's just stressful times, that's all. We've finally gotten some sun and higher temperatures this week, which I'm endlessly grateful for, and we're headed to Barcelona next weekend which is, of course, amazing. I'm looking forward to exploring a new city, walking around all day in the sun, and stuffing my belly with food and wine when it's over. Start that countdown!

Hope you guys have a great, relaxing weekend!

picked up these slides from need supply co. for the barcelona trip and had the best experience of my life with international shipping. ($15 flat rate shipping, arrived in less than a week, no customs charges!)

in love with poetry again thanks to andrea. 

england in 1928.

perfect for summer: california tailor's new t-shirts.

it's times like this where i just really love lena dunham.

what's that? just a nurse cat.

in "need" of a new summer hat! going to look for something in barcelona, but otherwise am considering this, this, this, this, or this.

this is a crazy, devastating story.

just going to go ahead and grab this. (still so freakin' pumped, you guys)

let's get cookin'.

perfect spring flats.

young women experience different symptoms when they're having a heart attack. educate yourself.

time for this best-ever onion article.

"do i have a baby or a career?" – best advice.

...and on that note: this inspiring post by a lovely, successful mom + small business owner.


favorite finds of the week: lisa says gah (via her new tribe) / lazzari / gretel / first rite / the good closet / people i've loved (via june letters) / jordan grace owens / equal uprise / arela / baladi

Jordan Grace Owens

Jordan Grace Owens is a designer and fine artist that I found just yesterday. As soon as I came across her work, I dropped everything and planned a post. You'll see why in a minute.

Her prints got my attention first, then I was drawn to this amazing tote bag, then this collaboration with Italian brand Lazzari, and, finally, some fine art from her portfolio. What makes this all the better is that Jordan is based in my soon-to-be hometown of Durham, North Carolina. (For the win!)

She's a multi-talented gal, so the best way to see her full body of work is to just visit her site or Etsy shop yourself. 

In the meantime, here are a few examples of Jordan's work. These are her Paint Chip Portraits, which are tiny acrylic portraits of women from vintage photographs, all done on paint chips from the hardware store: