An Interview With Ruth Emily Davey (RED Shoes)

From Machynlleth in Wales, my guest this week is the lovely shoemaker Ruth Emily Davey who has been making handcrafted shoes designed to last for over 12 years. She began shoemaking when she was apprenticed to designer shoemaker Alan James Raddon – she still makes Alan’s designs under licence as well as having a range of her own designs too. In 2016 she travelled to Mexico and Japan to investigate the passing down of shoemaking techniques between master and apprentice; in 2013 she won a QEST scholarship to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis; plus she has trained to be a reflexologist so she really does know how to create shoes that benefit your feet.  I caught up with Ruth recently to find out more. Hi Ruth….

Hi! My name is Ruth Emily Davey. I am a Shoemaker, trading under my label Ruth Emily Davey or RED Shoes. I make footwear for people from all walks of life from my shop in Machynlleth, Wales which I opened in May 2016. My shoes are made to the unique shape of your feet, so they are broad in the toe box, narrow under the arch and flat, which is much better for your body. They are made from bespoke Italian leathers which last for years and years and are repairable too.

What was the inspiration behind your venture into shoemaking?

I am from an art based background, so I had just finished 3 years of Art college and was a bit unsure of what to do next, lots of my friends were going on to university and I felt like I wanted to do something much more creative and hands on instead of spending hours writing about conceptual art projects. It’s all about who you know in Wales and Alan was a friend of a friend and my mum had heard he was looking for an apprentice. I went to see him, we clicked and it began as an informal apprenticeship which developed into a 5 yeas of learning how to make shoes and also how to run a business (Alan left his successful career in advertising to begin life in Wales in the 1970s). This was 12 years ago so I have been making shoes independently of Alan for 7 years. I have won several awards for my work which has really helped boost my business. I am a Balvenie Young master of craft, a QEST Scholar and a WCMT fellow and I have been on judging panels with Kevin McCloud, all of which has helped me on my way.

You still produce shoemaker Alan James Raddon’s designs under licence as well as having your own range of designs. What styles are popular requests?

So I had the need to breathe individuality into my work as well as continue the legacy of Alan’s designs after I had finished my apprenticeship and so I made a range of boots which are really popular amongst my own age group. The Shandals®, which are Alan’s creation are timeless and people of all ages wear them all over the world as they are so unique looking and really good for the feet.

Have you got a favourite style from your collection?

I have been busy making a collection of footwear using handwoven cloth from my travels and I love the combinations of leather and fabrics together, I am greatly inspired by colour.

Early in 2016 you were awarded the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship which enabled you to visit both Mexico & Japan to investigate the passing down of techniques between master & apprentice. What were the most interesting/ surprising things that you learnt whilst in Mexico & Japan? Do you use any techniques/ideas that you learnt whilst abroad in your shoemaking nowadays?

The trip was one of the best times of my life. I got to visit small indigenous weavers in Mexico and amazing craftspeople all over Japan that continue the work of their ancestors. I learned so much about what craftsmen and women put into their work and it reaffirmed the reason why I believe making things are such an important part of our skills as human beings. I also learned a lot about the passing on of skills and how important it is to bring forward the work of our past. Like here in the UK, for example, we have a kind of devotion to the handmade product but there is masses of infrastructure to encourage us to bring workmanship from abroad instead of employing the hands of people here. It means there are thousands of young people with no skill sets and as time goes on people are becoming emptyhanded and a bit depressed. Skills are becoming lost or forgotten and I think that is criminal. There needs to be way more support for individual apprenticeships to bring back the revival of cottage industry. Children need to be taught hands on skills and creative education needs to be brought back into education to bring forward a new generation of makers and creative thinkers.

Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of RED?

That’s a good question! Hmm Natalie Portman because she has nice feet! And I always wanted to get a power woman like Alex Polizzi in my shoes, I always see so many celebrities teetering around in high heels and their feet are so squashed it must be excruciating! I always think they would look so much better in shoes that are the right shape for their feet and COMFORTABLE so they can feel grounded and powerful and their toes would look so much better!

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2017 – what new colours/styles do you hope to introduce?

I can make shoes in pretty much any colour and I love seeing outside inspirations coming through people’s choices, so someone can walk into the shop and choose combinations that I would never have expected to go together or they might have always dreamed about a pair of scarlet brogues or sapphire blue suedes and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to fulfil that inner desire. I recently made a pair of bright red/yellow/green brogues for a woman in her 60s who was determined to turn heads as she walks down the high-street. I love making shoes for men and and women of all ages, from all sorts of backgrounds.

Although you are based in Wales, are your shoes & boots available to purchase overseas?

I am based in Wales but have a postal order service so you can send your measurements and I post you a fitting. This means you can order my shoes from anywhere in the world. I have several customers in the USA and Australia and all over Europe. It’s always nice to meet the person you are making shoes for though and this week a lady from Sweden came all the way to my workshop to order her shoes in person.

You won a QEST scholarship in 2013 which helped you to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis and also enabled you to train as a reflexologist. How important was it to you that you trained in reflexology and how has it helped with your shoe designing?

I think Reflexology is such a fascinating and deeply ancient practise, I wanted to learn more about the feet from a holistic perspective and the course has been great at really understanding how important the feet are and how many ailments can be targeted through reflexes in the feet. We so often bundle the feet into shoes that are totally immovable; we have lost the connection we should have to the earth and as a result SO many problems begin with the feet. You only have to walk barefoot in grass for 10 minutes a day to feel the benefits and although I am a shoemaker I tend to be barefoot as much as possible!

With travel on my mind, if you could visit any other place to study footwear/shoemaking or just to gain inspiration – where would it be and why?

So many places… I would love to go back and spend 6 months solidly learning how to make traditional Huarches in Mexico (one day..) and in terms of fabrics there is some really interesting places all over the middle east, India and Africa. One day I will have made shoes from fabrics from every continent in celebration of the work of craftspeople all over the world.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I can normally be found wearing boring black suede ankle boots despite having access to literally any shade of any colour under the sun.. but I love unusual designers and cuts in clothing that are really original so you know you are the only one wearing it.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)

My friend Haley Trezise is a great designer with unique style, see www.raggedyrags.co.uk

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I only wear my own shoes, I have tried other shoe designs that I like but it just feels wrong! I love quite understated but unusual clothes but often don’t have time to search for them. I am 8 months pregnant right now so all I am looking for are nice stretchy clothes at the second!

Boots or Shoes?

I find a short ankle boot goes with nearly everything. I also have a pair of gold brogues which I love wearing at the moment.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about you & your footwear.

www.ruthemilydavey.co.uk

www.facebook.com/ruthemilydavey

www.instagram.com/ruthemilydavey

www.twitter.com/ruthemilydavey​

PHOTO TO PIN LATER:

 

Thank you Ruth for joining me on the blog today and I hope all goes well with the birth.  I love the bright colours and I do so love the Shandal … in fact I would like all the shoes in your photos! 🙂 So, dear readers, what colour combinations would you go for? For me, a combination of turquoise, teal & cobalt blue would be my choice.  What about you? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission of Ruth Emily Davey.

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An Interview With Henrik Jeppesen

I love travelling. I am an avid armchair traveller too – watching documentaries about far away places, reading travel blogs and magazines like National Geographic. As a child I used to look at my globe and atlas for hours on end. Maps fascinated me – still do.  So this week I’m pleased to welcome onto the blog somebody whose Facebook page fills me with delight when a new photo or update is posted. He has made being a traveller a profession.  He has visited every single country in the world.  He has lots of stories to tell.  And he has taken time out of his busy schedule to chat to me! Welcome to the blog, Henrik Jeppesen! ….

On the island of Socotra

Hi! I’m Henrik, 28 years old. I’ve spent 3,000+ days to visit every country in the world.

From 2006 to 2016 you have visited every country in the world. What made you decide that you wanted to do that?

Inspired by watching TV and foreign films about the different countries around the world. Then I set a goal of visiting 50 countries and then 100 countries. I decided to go for all of them as I became more comfortable travelling.

I was a geography geek as a child (still am) with my head in an atlas or in a guidebook – I’m quite happy being an armchair traveller (reading & watching TV programmes) as well as exploring the world for myself. Did you have a fascination with countries as a small child?

Don’t remember exactly when it started, but might have been my early teenage years. Liked geography in school as it was one of the few things I liked about going to school.

You grew up in Denmark, so apart from your own country, what was the first country you visited?

Must have been a short trip to Germany. The first big trip on my own was to Egypt when I was 17.

Have you got any favourite destinations and why are they specifically at the top of your list?

Many favourites for different reasons. South Africa, New Zealand and Italy are three. South Africa as it has so much to offer. New Zealand for the beautiful nature and Italy for the food.

What place is your least favourite and why?

My driver went to prison in South Sudan for taking a photo of me in front of a building. They wanted to throw me into prison as well, but after they checked my camera, they let me go.

Corinthia Hotel Khartoum, Sudan 2013

We all have preconceived ideas of what a country will be like – what country totally took you by surprise and was totally opposite of what you thought it would be?

There are many, but Rwanda would be one of them. I had very low expectations, but it’s a surprisingly great country that feels well organised. In that part of the world you normally have a bad infrastructure and a lot of problems to deal with as a traveller, but not in Rwanda. It’s such a beautiful country as well. Paying 5 dollars for a bus ticket across the country is one of the best things you can do.

Your current aim is to visit every territory in the world – are you rattling through them at a pace?

No, I am taking it slowly like I did with every country. 3,000 days of travel is a lot and it will take me some time to visit every territory as well.

Rwanda 2013

I love travelling & flying but I hate airports! What’s your favourite and least favourite airports?

Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel is the worst airport experience. First, I joined the queue for foreigners where they asked me questions that no other airport in the world has asked me. They wanted to see my Eritrea visa, hotel reservation in Eritrea and it just felt like they didn’t believe a word of what I was saying. Horrible and other travellers have had similar experiences. The questions are one thing, but the security is the worst experience I have ever had at an airport. They don’t treat you like a human being and they make you feel so uncomfortable you don’t want to ever visit Israel again. They are searching every single little piece of your bag like no other airport. They are touching you like no other airport is touching you. They wouldn’t allow my brand new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (a gift from my father), to be in its case for security and as a result, I got scratches on the screen. I complained, but the staff screamed at me and there was nothing to do. If you ever want to visit Israel, make sure you are at the airport three hours before on the way out and prepare for at least a couple of hours of absolute horror.
Favourite: Not sure. I also don’t like airports.

Henrik’s only car accident that happened near Cite Soleil in Haiti, the most dangerous place in the world.

Do you have a favourite mode of travel?

By car in the countryside of countries I like.

Some places are notoriously difficult to enter or are normally closed to outsiders, eg North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan. Which place was the most difficult to enter & how did you manage it? Which place scared you or made you feel most uncomfortable/unsafe?

There are different requirements for visiting the different countries around the world. Equatorial Guinea was really hard but managed to get my visa in Lagos (Nigeria) after writing about myself on a piece of paper. Saudi Arabia is very difficult for tourism so went on a business visa and had Radisson Blu sponsoring it.

North Korea

Let’s talk food. Which country, in your opinion, has the best cuisine so far? And the worst?

Best are Italy and France for sure. Worst was North Korea. I didn’t eat much there as it was just horrible. Thought I couldn’t go wrong with icecream but it was terrible as well.

Has it all been plain sailing or do you have any memorable disasters?

Food poisoning in the Andaman Islands, India. In a destination without luxury hotels, Ixzire (with a Tripadvisor rating of 5) was one of the best options in the Andaman Islands, located between the Indian mainland and Thailand. While the property was fine, the dinner on the first evening was the beginning of the worst six months of my life. A fish curry made me seriously sick where I couldn’t breathe properly. After three days I tried to fly back to the mainland, but it was the worst flight of my life. The cabin crew gave me oxygen and asked for a doctor. I had to lay down for the entire flight. I couldn’t even sit up for landing. I arrived in Chennai, and it took me a week before I was able to fly again. The problems with my breathing ability came back multiple times over the coming months. Lesson learned. Be very careful about what you eat.

Interviewed By Yemen Today

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when in travelling aeroplane mode?

I travel very light. Jeans, shirt and everyday-use shoes.

Do you go shopping for clothes/accessories whilst travelling? If so, which country was shopping a pleasant or otherwise experience?

I live minimalistic. Everything I own can be in a small backpack. Life for me is not about owning things, but experiences.

Bonaire in the Caribbean, 2013

What items of clothing/footwear/accessories are your “essentials” when travelling?

I try to avoid travelling places where I would need a jacket so I don’t need to travel with much clothes.

Boots or Shoes?  

Shoes. Lightest weight 🙂

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can follow your adventures

You can follow Henrik’s travels and get his tips on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and his blog.

At the time of this publication, Henrik is currently exploring South Georgia Island – catch his beautiful photos of the island and its beautiful penguin inhabitants.  It certainly is an island that has captured his heart.  Dear readers, what destination is number 1 on your bucket list? Do share your dreams….

PIN FOR LATER: 

Linda’s travels – Madeira 2016

Linda x

All photos (apart from the pin later photo) have been published with kind permission of Henrik Jeppesen. Photo Credits: HenrikTravel.com;  Pin Later Photo: Linda Hobden 

 

 

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An Interview With Kites & Bites

Ladies – if you’re looking for something beyond the Little Black Dress for your nights out; if you’re a woman who is outspoken, who likes to be unique and willing to try new styles – then my guest tonight on the blog will be right up your street! I’m chatting to Alexandra Ursan, founder of London based but globally inspired fashion brand, Kites & Bites. Hi Alexandra and welcome….

Hi! My name is Alexandra Ursan and I’ve got a Romanian heart that fell in love with the vibrant London scene. Influenced by this multicultural city I founded KITES AND BITES womenswear.

What inspired you to set up “Kites And Bites”?

I’ve always been interested in discovering different cultures and fashion worldwide. This melting pot brings together people and styles from around the world and there’s no better place to set up a fashion brand that stands for diversity and multiculturalism than London. However, the initial idea came to my mind with a trip to Morocco where I bought some traditional fabrics, made some clothes and wore them at London Fashion Week. Then came the development, the sourcing, the sketching, the white nights and endless learning.

Your brand name certainly stands out from the crowd, as well as your outfits – but I was wondering, is there a meaning to why you chose “Kites And Bites” as your brand name?

I actually have a kite tattoo. It’s the only thing that can rise as high as it can without losing its ground sight, as it always has a string towards Earth. Plus, it’s bright, colourful and has great patterns and prints. As for the bites, they leave marks, just like a confident woman never afraid to try new things.

I love the “I’m In Heaven Dress” and the “Champagne For Breakfast Skirt” – both are totally gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

I feel like this spring we’re all living “La vie en rose”. Pink is getting a lot of attention, so I would say that “Be always blooming” trousers and “Save your goodbye” dress are definitely the favourites. Also, prints are winning again, with “Fight for this” skirt being a popular one.

Out of all the outfits, do you have any favourites?

Honestly, I don’t play favourites with my brand’s clothes nor any other piece in my closet. Today, I could love a huge tutu, tomorrow, I could be obsessed with metallic leather or fringes.

Your clothes are for the woman who is unique, outspoken and always willing to try new things – so which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of “Kites And Bites”?

I love Anna Dello Russo’s kaleidoscopic style. She’s an inspiring woman that not only I would be honoured to dress, but also to meet. If Anna would wear something by KITES AND BITES, just to buy juice at the shop around the corner, I would probably do a flicflac in my heels.

Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2017, have you got plans to expand your range?

I will launch a capsule collection of accessories.

What colours do you predict will be popular next season?

Blue, all shades of it. From cobalt to lapis to berry. I personally can’t get enough. It’s my favourite colour and you can see this in the KITES AND BITES collections.

As you are based in London, are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes, definitely. The brand is multicultural inspired and would be crazy not to be available worldwide.

When designing / choosing outfits to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

A little bit of everything. I’m trying to follow trends my own way, as I’m not creating fast fashion. It’s time to be more independent, to build our own unique style, to dare more and step into new territories. It’s such a shame to see so many women dress alike.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Now that we’ve dumped the coats, I’m back in my blazers. They’re my first love. Currently obsessed with an Escada sequinned embellished one. Friends are calling me MJ, but sadly I can’t moon walk in my heels. So yes, for shoes I normally wear heels. Red soles for when I don’t need to walk at all.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

Bookmarked on my browsers: & Other Stories and Asos. However, I honestly like the old fashion shopping. I know that time is limited, but browsing through brick & mortar vintage stores calms me better than yoga. Moreover, nothing compares with the thrill of finding an amazing piece. Viva London for a great variety!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Believe it or not, I’ve never made a wish list. If I see something I like, I buy it. If I don’t buy it straight away it means it wasn’t love at first sight and I’m going to forget about it. As for the expensive items I’ve learned not to obsess anymore. It’s not healthy to have crushes on material things. Love people. It lasts longer!

Boots or Shoes?

Both, preferably with heels. Also, boots during summer and sandals during winter. I hate “rules”.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Kites And Bites.

Shop online at: www.kitesandbites.com
Social:
www.instagram.com/kites_and_bites/
www.facebook.com/kitesandbites
www.kites-and-bites.polyvore.com/
www.pinterest.com/kitesandbites/

Thanks for the chat Alexandra and I look forward to seeing your accessory collection later in the year.  I love that you change the “rules” eg  wearing boots in summer & sandals in winter!  I like to wear white in winter and black/navy in summer.  Dear readers, which fashion/beauty “rules” do you like to flout? Do share!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kites And Bites.

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An Interview With FoPo

In my last post I was talking about some new discoveries, including cauliflower pizza  and Tony Lozzi’s cauliflower bread recipe – using cauliflower in other ways other than a bog standard vegetable.  This week I’ve discovered FoPo – a company that powderises food products that would otherwise go to waste, retaining 90% nutritional value and vastly extending shelf life. Not only was I intrigued by the idea of food powder but the CEO, Vita Jarolimkova, just happens to be a bit of a fashionista too …. I couldn’t let this company pass me by without an interview… Hi Vita, please introduce FoPo…

Hi! Our mission is to give rejected fruits another life by upcycling them into nutritious, sustainable and tasty food products! There are now three of us working full time. Gerald is in charge of finance and marketing, he comes from a very entrepreneurial family and already had two dessert businesses in the Philippines. Ada is heading our operations, she has also background in nutrition and market research and her family runs a funeral company (no shortage of dark humor at the office). I, Vita, am responsible for strategy, management and navigating the complex maze of German bureaucracy – but originally I am a biochemist and I worked mainly in various research projects in Europe and Asia. We all met during of Food Innovation and Product Design master’s program, which gave us a backstage look at the food industry and helped us realize the problem with current food supply chains and the impact of food waste. It also helped us in developing the concept into a viable business and get a great network of great professors and experts in food industry to support us.

FoPo food powder is a simple yet brilliant concept – powderising food products that would otherwise go to waste. What inspired the conception of FoPo?

We developed the concept through a design thinking lab organized by the Thought for Food Challenge: How to Feed 9 Billion People by 2050. We were looking at ways to prolong the shelf-life of easily perishable foods, overcome aesthetic problems of “ugly fruits”, and to make a product that would not be at a risk of going to waste itself. We decided on dehydrated powder due to its long shelf-life, easy logistics, and versatility of application. It’s just as god as the fresh fruit, but undestroyable. 🙂

Food powders including olive & mango are among your products and on your website you feature some recipes using the powders. What is your favourite recipe?

My favourite recipes actually come from our customers – it’s amazing to see people being creative with the product. Someone just made homemade mango marshmallows! From our own recipes, O-love Olive Dip is great. You just need to mix a bit of the olive powder with cream cheese and voila, healthy dip for chips, veggie pieces or bread sticks. Also, Injust discovered the magic of overnight oats. Mango, pineapple, calamansi, oats, chia and coconut milk – simple tropical breakfast or healthy treat for afternoon coffee.

Out of the food powders currently available, what flavours are proving popular amongst your customers?

Everyone loves the olive powder, it’s a real best-seller. It has a very intense taste and is so easy to mix with salads, sauces, pasta, cream or cottage cheese etc. Among the fruits, mango is really popular, but it varies a lot depending on people’s interests. For example, our banana powder is great for vegan baking since it improves the dough texture and kids love the fact that by adding a bit of water and grated nuts to apple powder, you get apple dough from which you can make small edible statues.

How do you source products for your powders? What’s the process that the fruit and vegetables go through to become a powder?

We are getting produce from farmers, exporters/importers and manufacturers that has been rejected because of different reasons. For example, bananas cannot go into supermarkets if they are too yellow, a lot of olive flesh is wasted during canning process when the pit is removed, sometimes there is also surplus produce no one wants at the moment. The fruits and vegetables are then checked for quality & safety (no moulds!), washed, chopped or puréed, dried and powderized. We are currently exploring several different drying processes: freeze-drying, spray-drying and solar-drying to get the ideal combination for each fruit and each country where we produce.

What are the benefits of your food powder?

It prevents food waste, which also indirectly means it prevents release of carbon dioxide and saves natural resources that went into cultivating the fruits. At the same time, it preserves the taste, aroma and nutrition of the fruit, making it available for much longer time in very convenient form. Many people do not eat enough fruits and vegetables (86% of EU population to be exact), often because it’s challenging for people to plan purchasing and prepare fruits that need to be peeled and de-stoned. FoPo can be mixed directly to anything from yoghurt and muesli through drinks (juices, smoothies, yogurt drinks…) to creams, pastry, soups and cooked dishes. This makes it a very convenient and delicious way to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables.

As you are based in Germany, are your powders available overseas?

We take orders within EU through our webshop, but customers living outside of EU can send us an e-mail if they would like to get a pack as well. We are also planning to expand our products to distributors and retail overseas eventually.

Have you got plans to expand your food products/ powdered food range in the future?

We have just developed a recipe for crispy 100% made-from-FoPo bars that taste like candy but are made from our powders. We plan to scale-up to industrial production by end of 2017. After that, we have still more ideas in mind – functional powder blends for different occasions and seasoned guilt-free fruit and vegetables crisps. On a more futuristic note, we are looking into the use of FoPo in food 3D printing!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Quite atypical for a start-up founder I guess, haha – I wear mostly skirts, dresses and low heels in very feminine designs and wide range of colors. I’m a big fan of pastels and bright pink too. I worked in Japan and Korea before, and I still get a lot of inspiration from their fashion and make-up trends.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I buy most of my clothes second-hand and I also like to design and make my own. In Germany, eBay is a goldmine for affordable, barely used brand clothes and shoes and it still has the same thrill of digging through piles of clothes in normal second-hand store as you browse and bid. Zalora (online store in the Philippines) features also local brands and young designers, but you have to use a shopping service to order from abroad.  For brick-and-mortar stores, I like Goodwill in the US (e.g. Ted Baker dress for 12 USD), “Beautiful Store (아름다운가게)” in Korea (many local + international brands – I got the mint and black A.P.C. jacket that apparently sold out everywhere since Kim Kardashian bought it – for 8 USD), Don Don Down on Wednesday and Mode Off in Japan. And finally coming from Czech Republic, our local brand Pietro Filipi has beautiful, high-quality clothes for professionals at very decent prices.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Elegant backpack since I have to carry laptop, documents and samples around a lot, comfortable nude mid-heel pumps to replace my dying pair, nicely fitted black dressy jacket since I don’t have one yet, and I’d like to design something inspired by what I’ve seen on the 2017 runway when I have a couple days off during Easter.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, I feel like they suit me better.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about FoPo.

www.myfopo.com
https://www.facebook.com/fopofoodpowder/
https://www.instagram.com/myfopo/
https://twitter.com/myfopo

Some interesting food ideas there using your food powders Vita, and  exciting plans afoot. I quite like the sound of the homemade mango marshmallows!  Dear readers, do you like the idea of the food powders?  What powder recipe would tickle your tastebuds?  Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from FoPo.

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5 Spring Discoveries

Following on from my December 2016 post “6 Discoveries I Made in 2016” (read it HERE) – here are 5 new discoveries I’ve made since the start of 2017. When I say “new”, the discoveries themselves may not be “new” as in “just out in the market new”, but in the sense that I’ve either stumbled across them for the first time or have tried them for the first time.

1. Cauliflower Pizza.

According to the Slimming World magazine, the latest food fad is cauliflower pizza. My first thought was, I admit, “yuck” but thinking about it, I like cauliflower cheese and the ingredients used to make that are essentially the same, just put together differently.  I then came across Tony Lozzi’s blogpost (Fit2Father) talking about cauliflower bread and his yummy recipe gave me hope for the cauliflower pizza.  Here’s the recipe for Cauliflower Pizza (slightly adapted from Slimming World) – serves 2 :

Ingredients:  1 cauliflower, cut into florets; 2 eggs; salt & pepper; 1 teas dried oregano; cooking oil spray (try Frylight’s garlic spray); 3 tab tomato purée; red onion, sliced; yellow pepper, sliced; 4 slices of ham, sliced; grated cheese (optional)

Method: Preheat oven to Gas 5 or 180C.  In a food processor whizz cauliflower florets until very fine. Tip into a microwaveable bowl, cover with cling film and zap in the microwave for 5 minutes. Add beaten eggs, seasoning & oregano. The mixture should be really wet.  Line a large baking tray with nonstick baking paper, spray with cooking oil & pour on the cauliflower mixture.  Shape it using a knife, wooden spoon or your fingers. Bake for 25 minutes, until base has solidified and gone golden. Flip base over & cook for another 10 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven, spread with tomato purée & top with ham and vegetables (and cheese). Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Serve sliced.

2. Silvaner Pinot Grigio Wine

No discovery post of mine can be complete without a reference to wine.  The discovery is not actually Pinot Grigio itself – I’ve tasted Pinot Grigio wine from Italy, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa … but not from Germany.  This wine is deliciously light and went well with my chicken dinner tonight.  I will definitely purchase this wine again – thank you mum for the introduction!

3. Italian herb secret

Famous UK cook Mary Berry caused a stir this week when she revealed that she uses an old recipe for making spaghetti bolognese using WHITE wine and double cream (and chicken livers & bacon).  Most people were outraged that she used white and not red wine – some commented on the use of double cream.  Personally, I add red wine if there is any in my kitchen and occasionally Worcestershire sauce. I think I’ll stick to my tried and tested recipe. However, a native Italian pointed out that Italian cooks don’t actually add herbs or garlic at all when making bolognaise….so, now you know….

4. Sheer Knee Highs

OK … knee highs or pop socks are not new.  Despite my day job being a hosiery merchandiser, and knee highs are a mega big seller in the stores where I work,  I actually bought & wore knee highs for the first time ever last week.  Not the sexiest of hosiery items I must say, but it was more comfortable wearing them under my trousers than tights. 

5. Drops Of Youth by Body Shop

When is a face mask peel not a peel? When it is a fantastic liquid peel such as Drops of Youth by Body Shop. This is absolutely fantastic stuff.  My Body Shop At Home gave me a sample to try and I was so impressed that I immediately purchased a bottle. I’m using it instead of a night cream – this stuff works! It not only deep cleans your skin, it works immediately, leaves your face feeling clean, refreshed, moisturised and soft.  It doesn’t irritate my skin either.  To use: after taking off your make up, apply a blob or two into the palm of your hand and rub over your face. The peel immediately gets to work. When finished rubbing, rinse off with warm water and dry.  Add night cream if you wish. My skin gets extremely dry but this stuff does such a good job that my skin is fully hydrated afterwards.  Excellent product.  Give it a whirl.  Apparently use it long enough and your skin takes on a youthful appearance…

That’s all for the moment dear readers! What do you think of my recent discoveries? Do share your thoughts 🙂

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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Lilac Invasion

Spring is nearly here in the Northern Hemisphere!  This Spring THE pastel colour to be seen in is shades of lilac ( I do include hues of lavender, violet, mauve, iris blue, cyclamen, hyacinth and purple here). For UK at any rate, Mothering Sunday will be here on the 26 March, and as my own mum is rather partial to all things lilac, this post includes lilac gift ideas too.

Flowers  –  a traditional good gift.  Instead of a traditional bunch of multi coloured flowers why not look at pots of hyacinths or plants for the garden. Talking of gardens, do you colour co-ordinate your plants or do you mix colours? The photo below is taken from my mum’s garden – she has green fingers and finds gardening therapeutic.

Books – many garden centres, stately homes, and public gardens have gift sections/shops where other gifts can be purchased other than plants.  How about a book about flowers?  I bought this book from a National Trust property … 

Toiletries –  from body lotions to foam baths and shower gels to soaps; there is a vast range of lavender based colours and smells all set to entice you to relax and breathe in that lavender scent reminicescent to Southern France in summer.  I quite like the Tesco lavender bath foam – plenty of bubbles –  and the new shower gel scents from Avon. I just love jasmine perfume.

Make Up – lilac colours have been around since time began but I do so love the new eye colour and lip glosses from Body Shop…

Eye shadow can be so versatile – in this photo I’ve used the eye shadow as an eye liner too.  Avon do nice eyeliners in purple hued colours too. This particular eyeshadow is by Sarah G Cosmetics.

Sometimes I like to buy a perfume based on its bottle and this perfume by Vera Wang not only smells divine it looks good too.  So pretty to have on your dressing table!

When it comes to slippers, these lilac polka dot slippers by Avon caught my eye.

And there are some pretty canvas shoes and sandals about too!

Dear readers, are you ready to embrace the lilac invasion? Have you dyed your hair lilac?  Do you like the lilac pastel hues or have other pastel colours caught your eye? Do share your thoughts!

Linda x

Photo credits: Linda Hobden

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The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book

I love colouring.  I love fashion. I love art. I love the latest fad for adult colouring books. And I love “The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book” by fashion designer Natasha Itzcovitz.  “The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book” features 100 hand drawn fashion illustrations, showcasing her own unique designs as well as her interpretation of fashion styles of previous decades.  I just had to interview the talented lady that has created through this book a chance for us all to be budding fashionistas, designers and artists in our own wacky colouring world. Please welcome onto the blog Natasha….

Hello! I’m Natasha Itzcovitz, a fashion stylist/ author/ illustrator from London 🙂

“The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book” is a fabulous adult colouring book that showcases your designs. So what was the inspiration behind compiling this book?

I was working in a retail shop that was selling patterned colouring books and felt inspired to make one in my own fashion style. I had already been drawing colouring pages for my cousins for years but never thought to make it into a book until then!

There are 100 hand-drawn illustrations that follow fashion through the ages – from famous fashionistas including Marie Antoinette and Jane Austen, to more contemporary styles eg boho chic and hipster street styles. Where did the inspiration for each colouring page come from – your own fashion designs, historical designs, fashion magazines, your own wardrobe?

The colouring pages are a mix of clothes I’ve made, some I wish I could make, clothes I own and fun characters in my head! I looked to fashion photoshoots for poses as well as manga and vintage fashion for historical inspiration and my cat may feature in a few pages.

Do you have a particular favourite colouring page? What fashion style is easy to recreate? Which fashion style was hard to capture?

My favourite page in my book is the drawing of the girl made of wool that’s knitting herself – it’s just so mad! I’ve drawn a lot of street style and the men’s wear especially, can be recreated. Also, if you head to a costume shop, I’m sure you’d find Mary Antionette’s dress and wig! The historic fashion eras which I found hard to capture were not included in the book – only the best for my readers.

Although you are based in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes, my book is available on Amazon worldwide and if you search the title on google, you’ll find that it is on book related websites from many different countries!

Have you any plans to expand your range of colouring books in the future?

I’d love to illustrate more books and do more with my art in the future – look forward to it!

What do you do when you are not drawing?

I’m currently a freelance stylist so I assist on photoshoots and when I get down time, I like to watch anime, ballroom dance and play the guitar.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

A typical Natasha look would be a fun printed dress, over-the-knee socks, grungy boots, a choker, chunky knit and maybe a cheeky bandanna – I’ve gotten into those recently (try and spot one in the book).

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

High-street shops are my favourites, I find different ones are good for different things. Topshop, New Look, Forever 21 and asos are pretty good to me and recently I’ve fallen in love with Zara’s Kidswear.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I went into Zara kids for a styling job and wanted to buy things for myself – think my next purchase will be a dress from there. I’m also planning on getting summer shoes as soon as it brightens up!

Boots or Shoes?

Both boots and shoes suit different occasions so it’s hard to pick one or another. I personally love boots and would wear them all year long since I love how they grunge up a feminine look and are comfy at the same time but you can wear shoes for all occasions and in any season so shoes win on practicality.

Links you would like to share:

Check out my Instagram @itzdrawings for regular artwork! My twitter is @natashaitz and my website is www.itzfashion.uk if you’d like to see some of the clothes and accessories I hand-sew.

Thank you very much Natasha!  I find colouring therapeutic – I loved art as a child and my children do too. Dear readers, do you find colouring therapeutic?  What sort of illustrations would appeal to you?  Do share your thoughts!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Natasha Itzcovitz

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Spotlight On Rivage

My skin is very dry and prone to eczema therefore I am quite fussy and alert when it comes to skincare.  Certain perfumes irritate and some skin creams leave my skin itchy so I really try and stick with face/body products that I know work for me.  I had read an article about the benefits of the mud and minerals of the Dead Sea in Jordan and how it can help alleviate skin complaints such as eczema; so when I was approached by skincare brand Rivage, who use Dead Sea minerals and mud sourced directly from Jordan, to review their products, I jumped at the chance.

Rivage sent me their night cream and eye cream, plus samples of their eye contour gel, facial scrub, hand cream and face masks.  I’m not a fan of face masks so I must admit I haven’t tried them out.  The main thing to report is that I had no adverse reaction to the products  which is a brilliant start.  I was impressed with the packaging of the products – the coral colour is very trendy and they ooze “spa”.  I was extremely impressed with the eye contour gel and the facial exfoliant cream – these are my favourite products.  I am prone to eczema around the eyes, and the gel moisturised the eye area well and left a cooling effect which was really lovely.  The eye cream worked in a similar way to the gel – it is just that I preferred the consistency of the gel rather than the cream version. Both do an excellent job though.  The night cream was slightly “sticky” when first applied but it does quickly absorb into the skin to leave the skin moisturised.  I usually use a heavy hemp based hand cream on my hands twice a day to keep my eczema around my knuckles at bay – I did use the Rivage hand cream, it did leave my hands soft but it is difficult to judge fully as my hands are not sore at the moment and I am not sure how the cream would fare during an eczema flare up.  However, I will say that if your hands are not prone to eczema, this hand cream will keep your hands feeling soft and lovely. So, all in all, I give Rivage the thumbs up. I wanted to know more about Rivage, so dear Bryony agreed to be interviewed! Hi Bryony….

Hi! I’m Bryony. Rivage is a skincare brand that prides itself in its use of all-natural ingredients, including mud, salt and minerals sourced directly from the Dead Sea in Jordan. I am incredibly proud to be a part of the team in the UK!

What was the inspiration behind setting up Rivage?

Rivage began in 1996 when we were inspired by the power and results of the Dead Sea to transform the health of our skin and hair. The Dead Sea is the beginning of natural skin care – a healing and medicinal natural spa that has been celebrated since 3000 BC. Our skincare products are a fusion of the ancient and the modern. The minerals and botanicals that enhance our skincare blends are as old as time, but they are optimised and refined by our laboratories to deliver a remarkable home spa experience. Each product in our range is carefully engineered to work in harmony with your skin’s natural qualities to renew, detoxify and nourish your skin, naturally.

Have you always wanted to be in the skincare industry?

Ever since I was very young, I have always struggled with my skin, from eczema to acne I’ve dealt with problem-prone skin for as long as I can remember so when I was given the brilliant opportunity to be a part of Rivage starting in the UK, I was obviously sceptical of the products but they have proven to be fantastic for my skin and have really helped with my confidence in the products and the company.

What products seem to be most popular with your customers? Have you got a personal favourite?

Our bestsellers definitely seem to be the Bath Crystals, Day and Night Creams and the Mud Masks (particularly the Nourishing Honey Facial Mask). My personal favourites would be the Eye Cream and the Facial Exfoliant Cream as they are both brilliant products that helped with my problem areas in a huge way! 

 

What is so special about the Dead Sea & its minerals?

The Dead Sea is a true wonder of the natural world. As well as being one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, the Dead Sea is located at Earth’s lowest point, 410 meters below sea level. The Dead Sea is so-called because of its hypersaline waters are inhospitable to marine life. In this rare environment, we find mineral-rich salt and mud, hypersaline water, reduced solar radiation and a higher concentration of oxygen. For centuries, the Dead Sea has attracted people looking for relaxation and well-being. The salt, mud and water of the Dead Sea contain 23 minerals, 12 of which do not exist in any other sea in the world. Together these minerals speed up cell metabolism, regulate water balance, relieve and heal skin disorders and stimulate the natural process of repair. Our Ecocert Dead Sea mud offers your skin a unique blend of minerals and compounds. This material, which is world-renowned for its healing and restorative properties, forms the basis of all of our products.

Apart from the Dead Sea Waters & associated minerals, what other natural active ingredients are used & their benefits?

We have many active ingredients in our products apart from mud, salt and minerals from the Dead Sea. Aloe Vera is an ingredient that is included in many of our products as it aids in moisturising as well as its healing properties. It is used in many of our Mud Masks, Skin Correcting Serum, Olive Oil Soap and Facial Moisturizing Cream. Almond is another of our most popular ingredients included in products such as our Body Butter, Foot Cream and Intense Hair Repair Mask. Almond oil is an incredibly effective moisturiser and is effective with nourishing dry skin whilst also aiming to soften your overall complexion and balance your skin tone. A more lesser-known ingredient that we use for its anti-ageing and moisturising properties is the Beech Tree Buds. The Beech Tree can live for up to 250 years, making sense why it is used for slowing down the ageing process. These buds are used in our Eye Cream, Eye Wrinkle Gel and the Revitalising Night Cream. Fruit, such as blueberries, passion fruit, lemon and pineapple, are vital ingredients for ensuring that our products are full of the best vitamins, nutrients and enzymes for the healthiest looking skin possible.

What plans, if any, have you got to extend your range of products? Any new products in the pipeline?

We do actually have plans to extend our product range. We are planning to introduce some products that are available in the retailers in other countries but are not yet in the UK. This includes some more bath products and ‘problem solver’ products so keep an eye out!

All products are proudly environmentally friendly and are not tested on animals. Are the products suitable for all skin types?

Some products are suitable for dry skin and some are suitable for oily or normal skin so it varies depending on certain products but the majority are suitable for all skin types unless stated.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Outside of work, I can be found in a simple t-shirt (nothing too exciting!) and jeans with my favourite Converse, I’m more for comfort than style! If I’m going out, though, I do make an effort and pair a printed dress with black wedges. I like to dress simple and safe!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

New Look and H&M are two of my favourite clothing shops and Amazon just has to be up there at the top for a favourite online store! I just love the amount of random, crazy stuff you can find on there too! The Gift Company is another lovely little store and I adore the things they have in there. Any bookshops too! I’m always open to trying out new stores so if you have any in mind, send them my way!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I would love more tailored clothes and more dresses. An LBD would be a lovely addition to my wardrobe! More heels are a definite and some cute pumps!

Boots or Shoes? 

Shoes! I find that boots are harder to pair with clothes (maybe that’s just me though) but shoes feel more universe with some outfits so I will definitely be found with shoes more than boots!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Rivage.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/rivage_uk
Instagram – www.instagram.com/rivageuk
Facebook – www.facebook.com/RivageUK
Website – www.rivage.co.uk

Thanks for letting me try your awesome products Bryony! It is so nice to discover new products that don’t irritate my skin.  Eye creams, dear readers, do you prefer creams or gels? I’d love to know your views. 

Linda x

DISCLAIMER:  Although Rivage sent me products to review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

All product photos are by Linda Hobden.  Picture of Bryony published with kind permission of Bryony.

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Talking About Regression Re-Birthing

This week I’m delving into the world of regression re-birthing, also known as the “recreation of the womb and birth experience”.  The object of regression re-birthing is to achieve a happy and healthy mind and body.  The subject sounded interesting to me and so I asked Nicolas Aujola, leading practioner and columnist for the Beverley Hill Times (yes, Hollywood!) what regression re-birthing entailed and its benefits…. as well as chatting about fashion, of course!  Welcome Nicolas….

Hi! I’m Nicolas Aujula – a London based Holistic Therapist, Life Coach, Intuitive and Designer with over 10 years of experience. I offer 1-2-1 sessions in person and via Skype, run workshops and have spoken in front of large audiences. My work has appeared internationally on ITV, Channel 4, Biography Channel, British newspapers and Hollywood magazines.

What inspired you to become a coach & therapist?

It all started when I was 17 years of age when I fell into a trance state that stimulated an out of body experience and flashbacks of my past-lives that literally changed my life. It was like an awakening where I instantly realised the power of the soul and the undying quality’s within us all that we carry forth beyond death. It helped me realised by own strengths and weaknesses, talents and personality traits, as well helping me resolve some of my teenage challenges of dealing with bullying, heartbreak and depression. I realised the power within me to change my past patterns to create the future I want. I left my A-level education to pursue my new found vocation and the rest is history. My main inspiration as a coach and therapist is to free clients from limitations, make them realise the power within and push them to be the best that they can. I love to see others blossom into their potential as there is so much each one us can do in our very unique ways. Empowerment is key that comes from making deep internal changes and developing personal tools for success that I’m proud to say my techniques ensure I share very short term yet intense relationship with clients that is focused on getting results. I’m privileged to have helped thousands of people from all walks of life from businessmen, politicians, celebrities to housewives learn to be more successful, self-confident, and happy, no matter what comes their way.

What attracted you to regression re-birthing? What are the main objectives of Regression Re-birthing?

Birth is a sacred and to be celebrated event. I believe happy births equal happy beings but actually how many of us have had happy births? I often found during my sessions that clients would regress back to their early womb experience where they spoke about absorbing beliefs, feelings and even traumas of their mothers and what was going on in the outside external world. I quickly understood that working through these imprints enabled great healing and freedom that re-birthing has become an important technique as part of our journey to self renewal. The ultimate goal of Regression Rebirthing is to regain true, high self-esteem in every area of your life. I feel Regression Rebirthing is an incredibly life changing process as clients relive their own births – discovering the tremendous impact being in the womb and birth had had on their own lives. Being a holistic process – it can also focus on our childhood and life experiences for healing and life change. It centres on breathing techniques and inner journeying that brings to your awareness unconscious thoughts, feelings and memories – some of which goes back to your birth – with the intention of accepting and integrating any ‘limiting emotions and thoughts’ in the cells of your body. This simple, yet powerful technique offers a natural way to manage stress and disengage behavioral patterns by putting trust in the healing power of our own breath. We can not have limitations and relaxation in the same space at the same time. Relaxation is the ultimate healer. Every breath induces relaxation. Therefore, breathing is the basic healer.

Could you describe a typical session?

Each session involves both inner journeying into the past and deep breathing process. The process rejuvenates the cells of your body and brings to awareness unconscious thoughts, memories and feelings. By accepting anything that occurs in a session and continuing with the breathing, you are able to dissolve the original ‘charge’ and integrate whatever is happening. This is what is called a deep release – a cellular cleansing of tension and stress in the body. You have the opportunity to clear limiting patterns that you’ve built up over years, for example the fear of not feeling good enough, low self-esteem, emotional pain, destructive patterns, the behaviours that you’ve built up over time. It’s like being a sponge and finally getting an opportunity to clear and release everything. You literally breathe underneath the pain, fear, trauma, and let it go. It allows you to make space for positive feelings of love, joy and happiness. Combining deep breathing with positive thoughts supports us and expands our joy and vitality to create lasting life change. Holding onto and suppressing negative, fearful thoughts creates tensions, unhappiness and disease. With the aid of visualisations and positive affirmations, given during the Regression Rebirthing, you will be able to create and attract exactly what you want in life. My philosophy stresses that “Thought is creative” that all our thoughts and beliefs create results in our life. If we change our thoughts, we change our lives because everything follows on from thought.

What are the benefits of Regression Re-birthing?

It enhaces our well-being by helping a variety of physical, emotional and psychological areas:
Traumatic Births;
Difficult Mother/Father Relationship
Asthma, IBS, Arthritis, Migraine, Insomnia, etc;
Low Confidence and Self-Esteem
Fears & Phobias
Body Image and Weight Problems
Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks etc;
Sexual Abuse and Related Patterns of Behaviour;
Psychosomatic Conditions;
Suppressed Emotions;
Limiting Relationship Patterns
Lack of Life Purpose;
Loneliness; Isolation, Social Anxiety
General Stuckness in Life

You also practice Street Regression – what does that entail?

Street Regression arose initially from the desire to challenge myself as a practitioner to see if it was possible to practise my craft on the streets amidst the noise and chaos of urban life. Despite a usual session being undertaken in a private, serene and peaceful environment, the streets of the city provided a particularly testing opportunity to prove the potential of regression therapy. Within 10-15 minutes, I have successfully been able to guide passers by through a unique insightful experience right in the middle of the street, many of whom were amazed and gob smacked by what they realised and experienced. We’ve all seen street hypnosis used for entertainment purposes but my aim is to provide a more insightful and therapeutic approach that can help people in their daily lives.
– VIDEO LINK – https://youtu.be/3Pc1EF8GBSw

You are a columnist for the Beverley Hill Times. What advice or articles were most popular?

My readers in Beverly Hills love my advice on dating, relationships and self-improvement, much of which is inspired by my knowledge of Astrology and how it can gives us perspective. It’s a real privilege to write for the Beverly Hills Times as it’s enabled me to meet many talented and inspirational people – the editor Suzanne Takowsky tells me the cast of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are the biggest fans of my column.

You are a coach & therapist. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the medical world or did you have other ambitions?

Growing up I had many ambitions from wanting to be a Writer, Psychologist, Historian, Astrologer, Fashion Designer and Film Director. In many way I’ve been able to incorporate many of those into my career. Whilst I’m not a conventional psychologist, I use alternative methods to empower people to deal with mind and emotion, overcome limitations and fulfil their potential. I’m written for numerous publications, practise Astrology, listen to historical accounts as people relay their past-lives, have designed dresses for clients and have created a short film exploring taboos. I firmly believe we should never limit ourselves to one chosen path in life but to be open to explore new avenues and develop personal talents as we are all multifaceted individuals.

Although you are based in the UK, are Regression Re-birthing sessions available overseas? How can a person register for sessions?

Yes,sessions are available to those abroad. Distance is not really a problem as I’m increasing using mobile technology like Skype which works just as well as face-to-face sessions. I have worked with international clients from USA, Canada, Australia, India, Spain, Brazil to UAE over the past few years. For sessions via Skype I can be emailed via my website.

When you’re not working, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

– Travel and Adventure: I love travel, especially city breaks as they are full of history, culture and great night life. My favourite city’s are Istanbul, Rome, Madrid and Lisbon. Adrenaline pumping activities that get you all worked up and excited are always invited from jet skiing, hot air balloons to paragliding.
– Yoga and meditation: I’ve been practising daily for the past 16 years. It’s the secret to a healthy mind, body and soul. My favourite poses are triangle and cobra into downward facing dog
– Cooking: I love to get in the kitchen and cook. Great food is simple, healthy, fresh and flavoursome. I adore Mexican, Indian and Thai cuisines with a love for dark chocolate, oaty treats and anything with ginger.
– Sewing: my artistic side is expressed through taking some material, cutting out patterns and get cracking on a sewing machine. It’s thrilling yet creative. I have so much respect for those machinists who make our clothes because I understand what is involved. Over the years for friends and clients I’ve put together some great style creations. Inspired by helping clients go through breakups I created the Divorce Dress which has featured in Daily Mail, Glamour and Huffington Post.
– Books: I love to immerse in books. Only the hard stuff that I can hold as I can’t do kindle or digital. Anything from spirituality, self-improvement, biographys to esoteric subjects take my fancy.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

A pair of skinny jeans/trousers paired with a brightly coloured fitted top or shirt – I love vibrant colours such as orange, yellow, pinks and greens. I’m a firm believer in how colour can influence our mood and energy that we should pay more attention in how we use colour, it can only influence our daily lives. Am currently loving my one shouldered pair of dungarees. Shoes must be metallic – my current favourites are my Supra high tops which I have in gold, silver and rose gold. Finish the look complimented by a pair of Tom Ford aviators.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love high street staple Zara for their stylish interpretations of catwalk trends. For online shopping ASOS.com and Zalando.com are firm favourites that offer great choices. It has to be Supra for my high top shoes. For designer fashion, I adore Aspinal for bags, Tom Ford and Prada for sunglasses and Versace for their bold pieces.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I know when I’ll see it as long as it’s form fitting, bright, funky or metallic. Currently on the hunt for a great tote manbag – any suggestions anyone?

Boots or Shoes?

Pointed boots with metal caps are definitely a sexy style statement. Be sure to add a layer of gel sole cushions so you can strut and paint the town yellow at all hours.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Regression Re-birthing.

Website – www.inspired-artisan.comwww.knowyourpastlife.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/nicolasaujula
Twitter – www.twitter.com/nicolasaujula

Thanks Nicolas for the insight into a fascinating subject and I love your flair for fashion too!  I’m quite interested in your love for metallic shoes … I have some silver gladiator heeled sandals and I have seen some bronze/rose gold sandals recently that I quite fancy this summer.  So, dear readers, what do you think about wearing metallic coloured footwear? Do share your thoughts…

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Nicolas Aujula.

 

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Changing Face Of The UK High Street

Near enough every day on the news one hears about a chain of stores closing down, shops boarded up, flagship stores opening, restaurants changing ownership, pubs being converted into houses, pop up shops opening for a season… the High Street is constantly changing due to many factors from the introduction of online shopping through to  changing needs of the consumer.  It’s not all doom & gloom – however, when I was a teenager there were many fashion & shoe stores lining my local High Street – shops such as Freeman Hardy Willis, Chelsea Girl, BHS, Woolworths – now the High Street is more likely to house coffee shops, convenience stores and beauty salons. ParcelHero, e-commerce fulfilment specialists have launched findings of their major report: 2030 – The Death Of The High Street. I spoke to David Jinks MILT, Parcelhero’s Head of Consumer Research and the main author of the report, to find out more.  Hi David!

Hi! I’m David Jinks, Head of Consumer Research and Public Relations at ParcelHero. ParcelHero is an online parcel broker that gets lower prices with the likes of DHL, UPS and DPD than consumers can get if they book directly. We also ensure your parcels are picked up from your home or preferred location. E-commerce and home deliveries are transforming retail right now; so it’s a fascinating industry to be in. Before I joined ParcelHero I was publisher and PR Manager for The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport; and before that an Editor at Time Inc on magazines as diverse as model cars, coin collecting and sci-fi toys and merchandise. You get the picture… don’t come looking to me for fashion advice!

Seattle, Washington, USA – May 27, 2012: The Banana Republic downtown Seattle store location prominently features its store name on banners to increase visibility of its name.

You are the main author of the recent ParcelHero report: 2030 – The Death Of The High Street. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

Our retail-based customers are enjoying booming sales; which is great for us as well as them! But at the same time several rather niche but loved shops in my home town have closed. Looking at the rising online sales figures there was obviously a direct correlation between the two. As a part of the home delivery industry we wanted to draw attention to what could happen to our town centres if businesses and local councils, etc, don’t wake up and smell the coffee. The impact on our High Street could be profound if shops are just left to fall empty.

The report has revealed that by 2030, the impact of online shopping and home deliveries will mean that over half of today’s UK town centre stores, including the majority of today’s fashion outlets will have vanished. What do you think has contributed to the decline of the High Street & the rise in online shopping?

It’s all about price and convenience. You can order up-to-the-minute quality clothing online in the comfort of your own home for prices even Primark may find hard to beat. You are not at the mercy of what’s in stock right now in your local fashion stores. The tense and depressing trog around shopping centres, unable to find the item you really want, is behind us. And buying online gives you better rights. You can return most items within 14 days without giving any reason whatsoever. So it’s easy to order the same item in a couple of different sizes and simply return the one that doesn’t fit. Or simply send the lot back if you don’t like it. Online sellers don’t have the overheads involved with stores; and are not at the mercy of what their buyer thought would be in fashion when ordering many months before. It’s far easier for, say, ASOS to introduce new lines swiftly, than it is for M&S who have to stock all their stores; or your local indie fashion store that will have had to commit to a certain order weeks in advance. So there’s little wonder High Street fashion stores are suffering. They are the new fashion victims.

In 1950 there were 600,000 stores in the UK, in 2012 there were 290,000 and just 220,000 will survive by 2020. It is not only fashion outlets that struggle but other outlets like bookstores too. What types of stores have lost their High Street allure?

There’s a list as long as your arm. Department stores suffer from the same issues as fashion retailers. They must commit to large stocks and are then unable to respond swiftly to the latest retail trends. BHS won’t be the only big name to disappear. There’s likely to be an unhappy ending to toy story either. Toy shops are disappearing faster than you can say Buzz Lightyear. Even supermarkets are not immune. As more and more of us do the big weekly food shop online they will be left as white elephants in our town centres.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – what types of outlets are more likely to prosper in the High Street in 2030? Why the growth of these particular outlets?

Nail bars! Seriously, any beauty place where physical contact is needed, such as hair dressers and beauty salons will always be needed. If things go on as they are then most of the rest of our streets will be full of chicken shacks and charity stores. However, if local authorities and retailers learn to live with e-commerce then there is indeed a bright future. People need to move back into our town centres; turning some sites that were once stores into homes. Around these houses will spring up convenience stores, restaurants etc; ensuring our city centres cease to be no go areas after 6pm. A 24-hour community will need local stores serving niche needs with expert service to compliment what’s available online. Local stores will also offer parcel pick up and drop off points and even 3D printing stores as technology moves on. The High Street could become vibrant even in the evenings again.

London, UK – October 27, 2013: American Apparel Store on Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London on a quiet

When you compiled the report, were you surprised by the end results? What was the most unexpected fact?

When I started, we still had American Apparel and Banana Republic, as well as stores such as Staples. The swift collapse of major brands in the UK had me rushing to keep the report up to date and get it out before any other big names vanish!

In 2006, just 2% of UK fashion spend was online, now it is almost 25%. The online fashion industry could reach £36.2bn by 2030. This figure doesn’t surprise me as I now do most of my fashion shopping online. I do miss the old shops, especially the shoe shops such as Freeman Hardy Willis ..However, in Colchester, a new Primark has just opened on the site of the old BHS; and in Chelmsford, a new shopping centre with John Lewis as the anchor has just opened. How are retailers fairing who have both a High Street & online presence?

Good point! Don’t forget it was our very own Tesco’s that sold the first ever item online – groceries to a Mrs Snowball way back in 1984. Tesco’s is now frequently our second biggest e-commerce site after Amazon. And John Lewis makes more money online than from its entire flagship Oxford Street store. So those retailers that embrace e-commerce do have a future. The problem is that sometimes online sales are cannibalizing a brand’s own High Street shop sales. If you bought a dress or a washing machine from John Lewis online; that’s a sale that could have gone to their local store. So their internet sales could end up propping up your local branch. It’s a tradeoff that all multi-platform retailers must keep in mind.

If town centres/High Streets are not rejuvenated they could potentially become “no go” areas after dark. What do you think could be possible solutions to prevent that happening?

As I’ve briefly mentioned, planning regulations need to be relaxed so town centre commercial properties can become homes for a community returning to our towns and cities to live. We need to go back to the future, returning to a Victorian style scenario where people live and work locally and there’s a thriving local retail scene that’s a sociable experience; to compliment the home deliveries that will form the bulk of retail in the future. More homes mean more convenience stores and restaurants open till later; and a vibrant place people want to go to – and we won’t need to build on Green Belt land!

Although the report is based on the scenario here in the UK, have you read or looked into similar reports in other countries, such as the USA? Is the outlook similar?

Your average Market Street or mall in the US is facing exactly the same problems. Macy’s and Sears for example are closing hundreds of stores nationwide. And once the main department store in a mall closes – they are known as anchor stores to US retailers – the whole future for all the stores is endangered as footfall decreases rapidly. So, the US retailer is facing the exact same issues; if not worse.

Are there any shops that you used to visit yourself that are no longer on the High Street?

I’m a bookshop addict! From Borders to Booksetc to Ottakers I miss all the old stores. And I still pine for our local Woolworths; and do you remember Times Past? I loved that shop!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

You may already have guessed I’m not the best dressed man in London. Among the young and fashionable team here at ParcelHero my choice of ties – which no one else wears – is a constant cause of amusement. My 14-year old son, who spends hours agonizing over which jeans to wear, always walks several feet behind or in front of me so people don’t think we’re related.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

If ever I do have any money to spend on clothes I like Next; otherwise it’s Primark for me. Apart from clothes I love Waterstones, Argos, Ikea and, of course, Amazon!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

This question has got the many more fashion conscious staff here chuckling. I can make a shirt and tie look messy. If I sit down on a bench at the weekend people give me money. But if I am dressing up for something I do like a nice shirt with cufflinks.

Boots or Shoes?

A pair of Oxford brogues thanks. Ideally with magical self-cleaning powers. Unless by boots you mean wellies? If so Hunters; and as this is a fashion site I’ll make them green, of course!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about the report.

You can read the full report here: https://www.parcelhero.com/blog/news-updates/2030-dead-end-for-the-high-street There’s lots more on the plight of fashion stores and how the High Street might be saved.
And you can also take a drive down Memory Lane, seeing all the brands that have disappeared from our town centres since the 1980s, in our fun interactive graphic here: https://www.parcelhero.com/highstreet

Thank you very much David for joining us on the blog.  I really did enjoy strolling through the fun interactive graphic – shops such as Dixons (bought my first DVD player from there), Radio Rentals (I remember all the TVs that adorned their shop windows all showing a channel & you could catch a glimpse of the latest football match on a Saturday afternoon, and crowds used to gather around at full time when the tele printer issued the full time scores!) So dear readers, do you have fond memories of stores you shopped in that are no longer trading? Do share your memories!

Linda x

All photographs are published with kind permission of David Jinks/ParcelHero

 

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