FIVE to See…


Sticking to our FIVE theme, with the launch of Sugar Group + FIVE Club, we will be heading down this month to London’s Southbank to check out FIVE great new films, by some of our top British directors at the BFI Film Festival. Sugar is particularly excited to see the talented and handsome, Callum Turner, in John Boorman’s new film, Queen & Country, he is just as gorgeous on screen as he is in the flesh.

Sugar Loves…Best of Britannia

Best of Britannia

In honour of Buy British Day tomorrow and the fabulous Best of Britannia event in London this week SG Loves have chosen a few of our favourite items from the exhibitors…

1 Hedon Peacock Helmet  |  2  Claire Gaudion Icart Scarf  |  3 Clara Francis Swan Necklace

4 Brennan and Birch Tape Cushion  |  5 St Leonards Bodium Burton Handbag

6 Hetty Rose Hana Shoes  |  7 Orgin Espresso Coffee

Sugar Lady of the Month – Samantha Denny-Hodson of Homespun Cashmere

Samantha Denny-Hodson of Homespun Ca

Lovely, talented, sugar lady, Samantha Denny-Hodson, wife, mother of three, cook and chief bottle washer, talks to us about the launch of her stylish new range of quality cashmere clothing, HOMESPUN Cashmere. Well that’s Christmas pressies sorted!

So, Homespun Cashmere what a great name, how did you think of it?
I wanted a name to get across the simplicity and authenticity of the 100% cashmere pieces in Homespun.

Who is behind the Homespun wheel?
Currently the main driving force is me…I’m the Creative Director ably backed by a brilliant Financial Director and a Sales an amazing creative team who produce the photo shoots for us.  One of the joys of middle age is that you’ve made friends in the same business over many years, all of who are at the top of their game.

How did you find the perfect Cashmere, and what makes a good grade cashmere?
I had worked with John Smedley, a leading traditional British knitwear manufacturer for years, so had come across many knitwear experts. Once I started researching and speaking to knitwear designers, I kept hearing about this one factory in Mongolia who’s quality was unbelievably good. A lot of cashmere is made from very short goats hairs, so they break quickly and hence you see the bobbling (pilling). The best cashmere is made from longer hairs and when these are twisted to give them extra strength, you get the minimum amount of bobbling (pilling).

How do customers get hold of your range?
We work with fantastic retailers in the UK and US, but the easiest way id to go to


What did you do before this?
I worked in the fashion industry for over 20 years.

How long have you been into Cashmere and where did you love for it begin?
I got the knitwear bug quite early…growing up in Derbyshire near to some fantastic old mills. As I have 3 sons & a busy business. My daily clothing choices have to be made swiftly and are based on looking as good as possible as quickly as possible & with the maximum comfort…for knitwear this means cashmere

Plans for the future?
My dream is to work with a limited number of inspirational retailers world-wide, such as Liberty and Net-A-Porter …to grown my website sales…and survive my sons teenage years!

Will it be a cashmere Christmas?
It certainly will!  Whether in this country in which case layer up and get cosy for snowy walks (or retreat to the sofa in our fabulous Vicks cashmere robe and Dawn lounge pants) or pack one of our cardigans (Viva, Ella) of poncho (Nicky) for cooler evenings in warm climates

Any plans to expand the range?
Yes, I’ve found 1 factory in Nepal that produces a gorgeous cashmere silk range for Spring Summer 15.  Not only does this give lightweight warmth but holds colour brilliantly…look out for deep magentas & neon pink.

Cashmere knickers?
Never say never…I was on our Spring Summer 2015 yesterday in the freezing cold & the stylist said she wished she had cashmere knickers to wear over her own for warmth under skirts…

Do you take your i-Pad to bed?
Guilty!…but so does my husband. The difference is that he’s watching a box set and I’m monitoring the site!

Cook or ready meals?
I usually pull out the family favourites that I can make with my eyes closed such as shepherds pie or sausage and mash but around shoots and production deadlines, Marks & Spencer’s profits go up as I scoop up the ready meals.

A pat on the back for Michael Gove

So, what can we say? A free school in the little ol’ East End has produced the best A level results in the country with five star pupils. The “Academy Famous Five” have secured spots at Oxbridge, and three of those five are young women. They thanked the former education secretary, Michael Gove, stating that their success was due to his controversial free schools programme.

The London Academy of Excellence in Stratford, East London is the brainchild of Richard Cairns, the head of Brighton College. His dream was for the Academy’s pupils to secure as many Oxbridge places as a typical independent school. With backers including Eton, Roedean, City of London, Highgate and Brighton Collage, the school has achieved just that.

Amina Ali, the daughter of a minicab driver from Bangladesh must be over the moon. She is off to study chemistry at Oxford. When she spent a night at the college for her interview she felt lonely and scared overnight, as she had never been in a room alone without someone barging in! She is used to sharing her bedroom with her mother and sister and the rest of the house with 11 or so relatives. Study time was always cramped and noisy.

Olivia Hylton-Pennant was frustrated with her previous state school and the constant class disruptions. So much time was wasted with the teacher having to sort out the naughty kids. At the Academy, everyone wanted to learn. Olivia knuckled down and has now secured a place at Cambridge to read philosophy. Today she has the last laugh. It seems the Academy has outperformed every sixth form college in England.

A great school in a great part of London, here’s to many more. A* for the Academy of Excellence!

And Sugar Loves a school who quotes Coco!


Will you marry me?

As you know, Sugar Group occasionally lets the boys in! We thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to one who has caught our eye in our Man of the Month feature. First up is Dale Weeks; an alternative wedding photographer who takes photos of your special day with a twist.

His main focus is to capture the emotions and feelings of the day, not stopping the flow for guests to pose or say cheese! He sounds like our kind of photographer so much, we want to get married all over again. In fact Dale, what are you up to next Saturday afternoon?

I bought my first camera around my 4th birthday at a zoo – I used my birthday money, then spent the whole day taking photos of plastic dinosaurs.
I have a little collection at home of shots I’ve taken around that time – the photos have a real documentary feel to them!

I had no ambitions for photography until I was 24. I dropped out of college twice, played in a few bands – toured the country and then gave that up too at the grand old age of 21. I became a recluse for a few years and when I moved back home I got really serious about taking photographs.
I got a job in a call centre and instead of working, I spent most of my time on the internet learning everything about cameras – shutter speeds, exposure, apertures.
I found a cool website called – where you can select your interests and it brings up websites that it thinks you will like.

That’s when I started getting exposed to photographers from the states – Carl Zoch, Feather Love, Wreckless girl – especially wedding photographers for some reason.
I loved the way they used natural light, natural smiles and the colours popped.
Instantly I knew I wanted to shoot those kinds of photos.

There’s a really nice community online and in pockets of the world where everyone helps each other.
A photographer called Emma and her husband Pete run a workshop in Birmingham called Welcome Home – that for me was life changing and it put me in touch with friends and photographers that help me out whenever I need advice.

My favourite weddings are the ones where the couples just let go and have fun.
My couples have usually seen my work and that’s hopefully why they’ve booked me, they know what to expect and they trust me to do a good job – make them feel relaxed, get along with their friends and family and make them look awesome!

I would say my style is a mix of fine art and documentary. I love shooting candids of people having fun and laughing – I get right into the thick of what’s going on and can tell when the laughs are about to happen, a lot of the job is about being social and reading peoples minds.
I absolutely love the time I get to spend with my couples just after they’ve been married and I get them alone for half hour/ an hour.
We have some fun taking portraits – this is where I can get creative and they can spend some time together for the first time as husband and wife.

I actually carry a couple of items around with me to every wedding or shoot for good luck.
I have a dollar coin that was given to me when I went to California a few years ago- and a shell of a bullet from Spain that was used on the old western film sets for Serge Leoni and Clint Eastwood!

This year has been pretty cool so far, I’ve shot weddings in national trust houses, in fields in the woods, on beaches, in the mountains and at the Bell in Ticehurst – which is an awesome venue!!

I love to carry on shooting weddings, meeting awesome couples and taking photographs that not only I can be proud of, but my couples can pass on down the generations of their families.