Category Archives: Bridal

Let’s Go Boutique Shopping

imageI can’t deny it – I love online shopping – the convenience of shopping at a variety of department stores around the world and just searching for exactly what you want in a matter of minutes rather than trawling through countless rails for hours on end; all done in the comfort of your home, whatever the time, no aching feet, no screaming bored children …. oh yes, the perks are endless!

However, sometimes boutique shopping is bliss.  I’m not talking about the huge enclosed all weather shopping centres/malls …. I find them too claustophobic nowadays… I love the quirky unique boutiques in quaint little back roads, the open shopping arcades housing just a few shops with a coffee shop to relax in inbetween shops, and markets.  During the summer I loved the local night market close to where I was staying in the south of France…. I was really pleased with a cotton hippy style cotton vest top I bought, and I enjoyed rummaging through rails of floaty colourful cotton skirts with the smell of crepes and cheese wafting in the breeze …..

When I was living in London as a teenager/young adult, every Saturday I spent shopping until I  dropped in various locations as diverse  as Walthamstow Market, Romford Market, to Bond Street, Carnaby Street, Covent Garden and King’s Road.

imageThen you’ve got the minipalaces – the flagship stores whose decor is just as stunning as the goods they sell.  Stores such as Galante, owned by Belgian actor Alain Van Goetham, in Bruges – it has a massive chandelier, a wall full of red roses based on the movie American Beauty and a table based on the table in Alice in Wonderland. Fairytale shopping at its best. Oh, it sells exclusive shoes and bags too!

So, if you feel you would like to give online shopping a miss this weekend and fancy some boutique shopping and discovering some superb “minipalaces” whether you are in London, Paris or beyond, my friends at Farfetch have come up with another brilliant quiz for this blog this week to introduce you to some of the world’s best boutiques.  So, let’s go boutique shopping:


Shop Boutiques at Farfetch

And, if you really can’t leave that comfy sofa – visit their websites instead! I’ll love to hear what unique boutiques you’ve visited on your travels ….

Linda x

Photo Credits: Photos – Linda Hobden;  Infograph – Farfetch.

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Doing The Blog Hop

imageThis week I’m talking “blog hopping”!  Blog Hopping? I hear you ask!  Let me tell you, it was a question on my lips when the lovely Eve from the Feel Better Every Day Consultancy nominated me to take part.  I’ve never done this kind of thing before, but I was willing to have go!   The idea is pretty simple : I have to answer 4 questions on my blog, then pass the “baton” to two other writers.  So, here goes… bear with as I step up to the mastermind chair….

1. What Am I Working On?

Currently I’m preparing interviews to appear on my blog in the next couple of months …I won’t say the “C” word but it is looming!  I have a great line up already in place this Autumn – I’ve interviewed models, authors, bag designers, shoe designers, start ups, jewellers, beauty product companies, fashion houses, TV psychics….

2. How Does My Work Differ From Others In This Genre?

Probably the interview style blogposts I would say, as I don’t do an awful lot of photographing myself in various outfits! I try to concentrate more on interviewing interesting and inspirational people and companies from all corners of the globe, some connected with the fashion industry , others not – but all linked with personal fashion and footwear tastes at the end of the interview.  Another factor is that I’m a lot older than the average fashion blogger.

3. Why Do I Write What I Do?

I enjoy it.  I enjoy chatting to different people and I have a wide variety of interests and I have a passion for writing and reading that matches my passion for fashion and boots!  As I’m a bit older (just a tad!) than your average fashion and shoe blogger I hope, through my blog, to pass on the message that as you get older you can continue to dress fashionably without looking like “mutton dressed as lamb” or resorting to looking like a frump! As mum to a trendy and glam 21 year old daughter, I am pretty much kept in check if something I wear is OTT or frumpy!

4. How Does My Writing Process Work?

My blogposts differ each week and I enjoy chatting and getting to know the people I’m about to interview. Most interviewees I either know personally or have got to know and followed via social media for a long time. Others have been introduced to me at events, via PR agents, others approach me direct and some I email direct asking to interview them.Some interviews are done in person but most are online. I do a lot of research before I do an interview so as I can really understand and get interested in the person or company. I tend to work in advance, so “interviews” are often held about 6 weeks prior to the publishing date.

Thank you Eve for nominating me, it was fun!  I’m passing the baton onto two completely different but equally as fab writers…. author Carol E Wyer who has just published her 7th humorous book, Three Little Birds ( read Carol’s interview with me HERE) imageand to fellow blogger, Hosiery For Men, whose knowledge about hosiery has no limits and regardless of gender, his hosiery reviews and opinions are most highly regarded….image I look forward to reading their blog hops…..

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos published with kind permission of Carol E Wyer; Hosiery For Men; Linda Hobden

STOP PRESS …. the lovely people at Wear Eponymous have awarded me their blogger award and I now proudly display the award badge on my blog!  I interviewed Wear Eponymous last year and I’m pleased to say that their stylish outfits are continuing to wow!  To read my interview with Wear Eponymous, press HERE.

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An Interview With Essex’ee Legs

Way back in November 2012 I interviewed Anne Tyler from Essex’ee Legs (to read the original interview, click HERE) – my favourite hosiery shop – and since then Anne’s business has continued to grow and this year the website has had a revamp, her daughter Victoria has joined the business, but I’m much more excited to announce that Essex’ee Legs have now launched their own brand range of hosiery.  I caught up with Anne and Victoria to find out more …. image

Welcome ladies…what made you want to introduce your own hosiery brand?

Our own brand is something we wanted to introduce from day 1. We wanted to see the Essexee Legs name on our own hosiery that we were proud to sell, and is of an excellent quality, and to see it finally happen is great. To see our Essexee Legs branded bags, in pink of course, is amazing.

Was it difficult to decide what hosiery styles to include in the brand family?

No not at all. This is something we will build on. Hosiery essentials was a good start, with a few fashion items, and fuller figure, as there is limited choice out there for larger ladies.

imageWere your choices dictated by your personal tastes, popular customer requests, hosiery trends, or bits of all three?

A bit of all 3. What the customer wants, was priority.

What is your favourite pair?

We love them all. If I had to pick from present styles I would say from regular range: Essexee Legs Footless Tights with Lace Cuff, and from Large-Plus range definitely the Essexee Legs Open Toe Tights

If it was possible, who would you like to see being the “legs” of Essex’ee Legs?

Abbey Clancy and Rebel Wilson if they want to give us a call 😉

imageYour own brand has only just been launched, but has there been one style that has begun to create a stir already?

The Essexee Legs Open Toe Tights for large-XXL are selling fast. Due to a gap in the market, and the high quality. Ladies are coming back for more.

Are there plans to add to your own brand any new styles in the future?

Yes, we want to grow the brand and will be adding lots of new styles in the future.

imageLooking ahead to the Autumn/Winter season – what hosiery styles do you think will be hitting the headlines?

Bold statement tights with very striking patterns are on the horizon, plus lot’s more choices for fuller figure ladies. Lots to look forward too.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

http://www.essexeelegs.co.uk

imagehttps://www.facebook.com/tightsandstockings
http://essexeelegs.blogspot.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/EssexeeLegs

http://www.pinterest.com/essexeelegs/essex-ee-legs-tights-and-stockings/
http://essexeelegs.tumblr.com/

https://plus.google.com/111792881149222095036/posts

imageThank you ladies for telling us about your exciting new range – I am already a big fan but any readers who haven’t yet checked out this online hosiery site you should do so as they also stock major brands and swimwear too, fabulous customer service and speedy delivery…. the real service with a smile  🙂

Linda x

All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Essex’ee Legs

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An Interview With ROSAvelt

This week I’m interviewing Sadia of ROSAvelt, an independent British clothing label whose women’s clothing has wowed me with their fab mix of classic, contemporary and vintage influences. I really adore touches of lace, crochet and the sensualness of silk –  classic touches that can be updated each season to accommodate passing trends, that can also easily be worn during the day yet still come alive at night. Welcome to the blog, Sadia…image


Hi! My name is Sadia, founder of ROSAvelt. From a very young age I had a lot of interest in fabrics, colours and fashion; as a child, I used to design my own outfits and hand-sew doll outfits for my crafts homework. I embarked on a career in Engineering and Investment banking, but it didn’t allow me to pursue my creative interest to the degree I wanted. However, I persevered, slowly working towards my goal and after years of background work, research and personal enthusiasm, I was able to launch ROSAvelt in 2012.
imageROSAvelt is an independent British clothing label established in 2012. What inspired you to start the business?
I feel that most retailers and even designers are easily going out to markets abroad, sourcing products in mass quantities and pushing them onto buyers well over 4 times a year on the name of “Fashion”. Salaries unfortunately do not change with the same rate as does the fashion, so consumers are left out of pocket with these ever changing looks & trends. I researched the products which were loved by consumers season after season, year after year – call it the “wardrobe constants” if you will. These are the products which ROSAvelt specialises in. We want to bring evergreen, all season boutique concepts so our customer make the most out of their money and wear an outfit with many seasons, holidays and parties to come. Our dresses are classic, clean cut and tailored beautifully, with an added benefit of them being Limited Edition. Let me elaborate on the Limited Edition concept a little bit more – I once went to a wedding where 3 girls turned up wearing the very same electric blue dress which was retailed by a well-known high street clothing brand. Much to their annoyance of course, let’s face it – it’s hardly an ideal situation! So going completely against the mass production retail market out there, we are creating pieces in truly limited quantities using old school, traditional tailors. You’ll never bump into someone wearing the same outfit at a party ever again.

imageYour limited edition women’s clothing combines classic, contemporary and vintage influences. So, when designing your outfits do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

 I follow and research all possible fashion events;  red carpet looks, colours of the season, fashion runways, Oscars, movies, all-time favourite fashion icons…you name it. Sometimes just a passing by bus with a massive promotional banner can give me an idea. My main source of inspiration is nature, which is why I used a lot of natural backgrounds in the photography and used real pictures with no air brushing of any sort.

imageMy favourite dresses from your collection are all the floral printed silk dresses and the flower printed silk dress. What dress/outfit is proving popular amongst your customers this season?

Linda,you certainly have a good taste! Indeed, our silk dresses are proving quite popular – I like to call them our “Multi-tasking dresses” because they are made of pure silk, very lightweight for your holiday wardrobe, colourful for a summer party, barbeque or a wedding. We intentionally use pure silk to create these dresses because silk is natural fibre,so it adjusts itself to your body temperature, unlike polyester which sticks to the body and works against its natural temperature. Also very popular is our handmade collection which required a lot of effort and precision.

imageOut of all the outfits in your collection, what has been (or is) your favourite?

I personally love our pure silk printed trousers. They are very versatile; easy wear yet luxurious for all season wardrobes, especially spring/summer. I like the comfortable, no fuss look which doesn’t require too much time but still look fashionable. Our silk printed trousers always receive many compliments and I wear them with our lace tops for work, casual T’s for a holiday and with plain T shirts/cardigan for a day out.

What do you feel are the advantages of shopping for limited edition outfits?

I think it’s for women who do not wish to be consumed with the ever changing fashion industry. They want to own looks which they know they can safely wear for a few seasons for a few different occasions. Also, for women with certain taste who like the delicacy of pure silk, pure guipure lace, original jacquard and of course hand embroidery.

imageI’ve also a soft spot for your white embroidered crochet dress – it has a definite 60s wedding dress vibe to it – reminds me of the sort of thing that the young Twiggy would’ve worn!  Which famous lady would you love to see strutting their stuff in one of your dresses?

I can see Olivia Palermo and Big Brother House’s Emma wearing it. This dress was in fact inspired by an Oscar after party look which caught my eye and I created a more “wearable” version of it.

I love the idea of the monthly competition on your website, “Face of ROSAvelt” giving customers the chance to appear on your website and could potentially get a chance to model for future collections. What were the reasons behind launching such an initiative?

We are a young company and really want to connect with our customers. I mentioned above that photography was real with no magic wand techniques of air brushing so it’s something we want to adhere to in our future shoot, therefore we want to find models from real life instead of professional models only. It’s a win- win situation both ways because it gives newcomers a chance to start their modelling career and it gives us a platform to connect with our customers and see how they wear our clothes. We are open to ideas and all ages are welcome to become Face of ROSAvelt.

Your collection is full of bright colours! My summer wardrobe seems to be leaning towards the bright citrus colours, intertwined with shades of blue and snatches of red, white & navy too! What colour(s) are you personally leaning towards this season?

Yellow! An all-time summer favourite! Yellow is a very safe summer hit almost every season and I love the Canary yellow Crochet dress in our collection. Pink is another colour you can’t go wrong with; it instantly lifts the mood. In fact, I was reading an article just the other day and one of the recommendations to enhance your mood is to wear bright colour outfits – I couldn’t agree more. We also have some great new additions to our collection coming up soon so look out for Nautical dresses, Ceramic print silk and sequinned shift dress featured on our website in coming weeks.

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

In summer: Sandals, skirts and tops as casual and always a dress for some outing/formal event.Winter: Velvet skirts, Cashmere clothing, boots/heels etc. This winter I teamed our hand embellished velvet skirts with some cashmere plain tops for evening outs and they gathered many compliments because they are so lightly embellished without overpowering the entire clean look.  

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

I like Vivienne Westwood for her edgy looks, Marc Jacobs for his laid back approach and Jenny Peckham’s styles.

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

This summer I plan to experiment with many of ROSAvelt’s collection for nights out and work, I do however have a Burberry black handbag on my wish list at the moment.

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots – they are easy to run around in rainy London.

Find out more about ROSAvelt by checking out their fab website:

www.rosaveltonline.com

Thanks Sadia – I certainly love your current collection and I’m going to give those printed trousers a try too!  

Linda x

Photos Credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission from ROSAvelt.

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An Interview With The Miniature Perfume Shoppe

20140130-133720.jpgLove is in the air… it’ll soon be Valentine’s Day and what lady doesn’t like to be wooed by perfume? For this week’s interview I’m chatting to Leslie Ann and Allen Aaron White of the Texan based Miniature Perfume Shoppe – a perfume bottle shop and museum rolled into one. Leslie Ann White is the Founder and Owner of Miniature Perfume Shoppe. Her professional career of more than twenty five years in the cosmetics industry includes time spent as the Cosmetics Buyer for Foley’s (now Macy’s) Department Stores, and an Account Executive for Clinique Labs responsible for 24 accounts and $10M in annual sales. When not out on the hunt for the next great mini through either her travelling or surfing the web, most of Leslie Ann’s time is spent researching, processing, and professionally cleaning/restoring minis for Miniature Perfume Shoppe. As co-owner, Allen Aaron White (Leslie Ann’s husband), created the MPS website that launched online in 2009. With a varied and successful professional career that has included work as a retail manager, human resources executive, and ordained minister, Allen joined Miniature Perfume Shoppe full-time in 2011 where he currently serves as curator, photographer, and resident perfume historian.

A big welcome to you both, I adore your idea of a miniature perfume shop – it is the first & largest online store of its kind in the world devoted exclusively to the collector of miniature perfume bottles – where did you get your inspiration from?image
Leslie Ann : The inspiration for Miniature Perfume Shoppe began with a small sample bottle of Chanel No. 5. My mom had  just finished using a mini of her “signature” fragrance and asked me (I was thirteen and living in Scotland at the time) if I would like the empty bottle. Little did either one of us realize then that this would not only be the beginning of my personal miniature perfume bottle collection, but also my professional career in the cosmetic industry. Soon, I had two, then ten, then dozens of tiny perfume bottles. My collection continued to grow through the years (I still have that original bottle) with some of those minis ultimately becoming the first inventory for Miniature Perfume Shoppe. My personal collection today is less than a hundred bottles – mainly vintage Chanel minis – but being surrounded by literally thousands of minis every day, I feel a special connection with each and every one. It’s hard to let them go!
20140130-133731.jpgYou stock over 5,000 minis including limited editions,famous brand names, antique, vintage and new too.  What’s the oldest bottle you have, the rarest, the most extravagant, the priciest and the newest?
Allen: First launching with about a hundred bottles, Miniature Perfume Shoppe has since surpassed the 5,000 bottle mark (we currently have our eyes set on that 10,000 mini milestone.) Truth is, since we’re constantly searching for and buying minis from all over the world – individual bottles and entire collections – our inventory is constantly changing. With collectors in more than 35 countries our minis are often here today and gone tomorrow, and with hundreds of “new” minis arriving each week, every day is like Christmas around here. Through the years, some of the oldest (and rarest) minis we have had include miniatures from the mid-1800s, with quite a few regularly arriving from the 1920s such as a Grossmith Phul-Nana, Jaspy Myrodata, and a scarce La Mysteree by Lothaire. As for the most extravagant mini, well that is in the eye of the beholder, but it is hard to beat an Adrian Designs miniature or early Irice Czech glass bottle. Although most minis sell at our shoppe (on average) in the $10 – $25 price range, we also offer “Paris minis” as low as $2.95. Of course, scarcer, hard to find, discontinued miniatures in very good-to-mint condition sell for much, much more. The Priciest? A sealed Guerlain Shalimar “Umbrella” bottle from the 1950s, and a signed, numbered, Serge Lepage Botticelliana mini by Schiaparelli c1970s come to mind – each valued at around $200. We work hard to maintain as diverse a selection as possible with a mini for every taste and every pocketbook. As for the newest, well that depends on what arrives on any given day. Last week it was Wonderstruck by Taylor Swift and Flora from the Gucci Garden Collection.
20140130-133756.jpgTo date, what has been your most popular bottle requested?
Allen: There are some minis that are considered timeless and classic, usually because of either the bottle design or the fact that the fragrance has been discontinued or reformulated. Minis that we find very difficult to keep in stock (and usually sell within days of arriving) include: the original Shalimar, Lauren, Must de Cartier, Poison, and Anne Klein II.
What’s your most favourite perfume bottle?
Miniatures
Leslie Ann: Chanel No 5 from the 1920s-1930s
Allen: Champagne (with wire) by Yves Saint Laurent
 
Commercial
Both: Hedonist by Parfums Viktoria Minya, Paris
You also buy in bottles – have you any that you are particularly hoping to come across?
We are always on the lookout for very early Guerlain minis (especially Jickey and Shalimar) and early ornamental Czech glass minis – the older the better.
You’re a big supporter of the Institute of Art and Olfaction – every mini that is bought you make a donation to the Institute – plus you’ve made a donation of books for their perfume library.  How did you get involved with the Institute?
Allen: Since we first opened for business, we knew that at some point we wanted to partner with and financially support a worthy non-profit organization. That happened last year when we discovered the Institute for Art & Olfaction, based in Los Angeles. For us, it was love at first sight (or sniff) because in the IAO we found the best of all worlds: fragrance, art, and perfume education. When we learned they were trying to build a perfume library we jumped at the chance to help, so since their opening in January of 2013 we’ve supported the IAO monthly. We also donate 10% of any sale made with an IAO discount code. The Institute is involved in some of the most innovative, cutting-edge work being done in the perfume world today and we’re proud to play a mini part in their success.
20140130-133709.jpgThe Vintage Bottles are intended for display purposes and not for use as an everyday personal fragrance.  So, tell me, what is your perfume of choice for everyday wear?
Leslie Ann: Because our miniatures come from diverse people and places from all over the world, we seldom know for sure how a bottle has been cared for over the years. Ideally, minis are kept in a closed display case protected from light and extreme heat or cold, but we cannot always say that with absolute certainty. For that reason, we don’t guarantee that “the juice” in a bottle is still good or wearable. That said, often the perfume in a bottle may be perfectly fine – even after decades of sitting on a shelf, although more often than not some of the top notes have “gone off.”.  As for my personal perfume of choice? That’s easy. My “signature scent” at this time in my life is Hedonist by Viktoria Minya. I think it is the most beautiful, intoxicating perfume on the market today. In fact, I love it so much (and my husband loves it on me so much) that we now carry the line at Miniature Perfume Shoppe. But I also have a fragrance wardrobe that I can choose from based on the season or special occasion. Of course, I also have the luxury of being surrounded by thousands of minis and fragrances every day. Depending on my mood, I can wear just about any fragrance I want anytime I want.
You also sell very cute perfume pins/brooches – I love the Montana silver tone – what’s the most popular? What’s your personal favourite?
Leslie Ann: All of our perfume pins and brooches are adorable – that’s why they are so collectible (especially in Europe), but you’ll almost never find my favorite in stock. That’s because they sell as quickly as they come in – vintage sterling silver perfume pins by Judith Jack.
20140130-133805.jpgYou have a library/resource area too – a great idea – what sort of historical enquiries do you get?
Allen: There is no shortage of great books, websites, and blogs on perfume. Through the years we’ve tried to include links to some of the very best on our website. But we’re excited to have just launched a perfume project we’ve been working on for sometime – The Mini Museum. (www.TheMiniMuseum.com) Although our ultimate goal is to one day have a brick-and-mortar building for our collection (we’re looking at sites in Houston and Paris, Texas), our virtual museum and timeline provide a photograph, fragrance facts, and perfume history for “every” miniature perfume bottle in our collection. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re hoping over time it will become a great perfume resource not only for mini collectors, but lovers of fragrance as well.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Leslie Ann: Less now, than when I was in the corporate world, I have always enjoyed wearing timeless, classic, tailored clothing and accessories. Generally, some of my favorites include: Clothing: Christian Dior & Talbot’s, Cosmetics: Clinique, Handbags: Gucci and Coach, Shoes: Clarke’s (casual) and Vaneli (dress), Watch: Gucci, Coach, Mondaine
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
Leslie Ann: With my many years in retail, I do very little shopping at department stores anymore, preferring to do almost all of my shopping online. Besides, the internet is open 24-7-365 and delivers right to my front door! However, Allen and I both love vintage so we really enjoy “going antiquing” (and mini hunting!)
 Boots or Shoes?
Leslie Ann: Always shoes, maybe an ankle  boot. I prefer comfort and simple elegance. For me, I find boots too constricting – like I can’t breathe, lol. Besides, more often than not here in Texas the boot of choice is the cowgirl variety. Definitely not me.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about the Miniature Perfume Shoppe
Miniature Perfume Shoppe
Spring, Texas 77388 USA (Near Houston)
 
 
(New) Instagram/Miniature_Perfume_Shoppe
Thank you both very much for chatting to me…I love perfume and have found your shop and museum really fascinating. Hedonist is the featured fragrance of the Miniature Perfume Shoppe this Valentines Day – so don’t forget to sniff out a bottle soon…
 
Linda  x
 
Photo credits:  Photos have been published with kind permission from Allen Aaron White and for the Hedonist photo, with kind permission from Parfums Viktoria Minya, Paris.
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An Interview With Barbara Lea Pottery

This week I’m interviewing a lovely lady whose business is a real family affair and she makes the most exquisite figurines… If you’re looking for gift ideas that would be cherished, then take a peek at what this lady can do! Hi Barbara, welcome to the blog:20131206-131920.jpg

Hi I’m Barbara from Barbara Lea Pottery, based on the Fylde Coast. I make handcrafted figurines and gifts and am helped by my lovely family, husband Allan,  son Adam and daughter Clare.  

You started trading in 1989 and your beautiful unique and bespoke figurines are certainly very collectable. What made you start up your business? Have you always done that line of work?

That’s a good question!  My first career I trained for was a cook/baker, then I was a singer, but I have always loved art, painting,  photography etc… but it was only after I had my first child that I decided I needed an outlet and signed up at a local pottery evening course and loved it ! Although everyone there were making pots the tutor didn’t mind that I did my own thing and made figures.  I had a good reaction from family and friends so decided to jump in the deep end and invest in a kiln and trade fair! I never looked back. 

20131206-132011.jpgThe figurines are bespoke handmade pieces, so each is totally unique. What inspires each sculpture?

I have always been inspired by people’s attitudes and stances, there’s just something special about capturing a moment, whether it be in clay, paint or photography.  In my work I endeavour to capture the spirit of children and family.  Just observing my family and friends is all the motivation and inspiration I need, in fact each child range is named after a member of the family!

Your elegant collection of figurines include depictions of mother & child, brides/bridesmaids, father & son etc. What type of figurine seems to be the most popular?

As we can incorporate wedding colours and add names, dates etc..our wedding  range is the most popular, bridegrooms, bridesmaids and pageboys gifts, even the cutesy Bride and Groom customers sometimes buy for cake toppers! But a close second is the `Mother & Baby’.

20131206-131932.jpgI personally adore the Winter Ladies Collection – they are so cute! What’s your favourite figurine style?

This is a difficult one! Erm,  well I always love the latest design I’m working on at the time, probably because its fresh and I’m excited to see how the piece will be received, but I suppose the design I enjoy the most is the `Three Sisters’.

Each item is crafted in white earthenware, then painted in a cream glaze with touches of colour  – they look very intricate – how long does it take to produce a figurine?

Well each piece is different, I tend to start a few pieces at the same time,but from starting all pieces to completion is approx 10 days. After I have made them, it usually takes approx, 4 /5 days to dry out, then into the kiln to bake, when cool, glazed, then back into the kiln.  

20131206-132001.jpgHave you any plans to extend your range? 

Yes, I have a few new ranges that will be going on the website in the New Year. One is a little boy range called Lewis. Also a range called `Cherish You Angels’, I have had numerous commissions for angels over the past few years so have designed the new range, it has took me a while to get them just right, but I’m now happy with the range now.

Have you ever been asked to produce any unusual figurines?

Well I haven’t had that many unusual requests but I did have a commission from a rock band, who wanted themselves depicted in clay, that was fun!

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

Well if you popped around for a brew, you would find me in Jeans and Jumper! I know, not very exciting, but when you are working with clay, you have to be practical and warm!!

20131206-131942.jpgDo you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Oh dear, well I have to admit I am a lazy shopper, I do a lot of online shopping, the sites I tend to use are `Very’ and `Next’.                                                                                                                                                                                                

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

Well at the moment I have my eye on some blue DM’s , been hinting for a Christmas pressy, but if not,present to self!

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely boots! Love them and have many pairs. Plus love the fact I can wear high boots but never feel I’m teetering!!  

Links you would like to share eg website/Facebook/Twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Barbara Lea Pottery:    

                                                                                                                                                                                 www.barbaraleapottery.com .  

twitter barbaraleapottery . 

www.facebook.com/barbaraleapottery

www.etsy.com/shop/barbaraleapottery  

Thank you very much indeed for chatting to us Barbara, and I wish you continuing success in the future – you are one inspiring lady!

Linda x

Photo credits: The photos have been published with kind permission from Clare Peace.

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An Interview With Petra Jewellery

Tonight I’m really pleased to welcome onto the blog the delightful Mitch from Petra Jewellery. Hi Mitch, please introduce yourself and Petra Jewellery:Mitch

Hello, I’m Mitch! I am a local Hampshire girl, happily married with one gorgeous daughter. Look out for her as she sometimes models for us! I took over from my Mum, Petra who started the business, about 8 years ago.  I’m a mechanical engineer grad, ex Royal Engineer officer, investment banker and construction project manager – actually all proven to be perfect training to become one of the best jewellers in Hampshire!

What’s the background to your business?

My Mum started the business when she met my dad (on a ski slope in the Alps – he was an Army Officer, she spoke no English) and he’d left the Army. They arrived in Basingstoke needing her to make some money.  She did not speak any English, so had to do something with her hands! The only thing she could do was make jewellery (trained with a Master Goldsmith in Germany).  My Mum has always insisted we keep her high German standards in terms of product offering and also customer services – we take huge pride in both of these!

Capture_00018The company description is the “Not So Traditional Traditional Jewellers”…the Champagne Design Experience for engagement couples and the Engagement Offer in association with Tylney Hall .. are just two examples of the little extra you offer. What’s the inspiration behind these ideas to highlight the engagement of couples?

Our official description is the “Not So Traditional Traditional Jewellers” And we’re sticking with that! We take such time in getting to know our customers and understanding exactly what they want and need.

The recently launched, Champagne Design Experience for engagement couples at our workshop that really helps make the moment even more special! And the Engagement offer in association with the local, beautiful Tylney Hall are just two examples the little extra special bits you get with Petra!

We always Mystery Shop at other jewellers – including some big names in London and were shocked at how little enthusiasm and compassion the retail assistants demonstrated as we posed as customers looking for engagement rings.  So we’ve decided to blow our customers away with the most amazing engagement experience ever, that they will remember for ever with tons of expert design advice thrown in as well. So you come away with a unique experience rather than just hearing the tills ringing as you leave!

As well as offering a comprehensive range of jewellery services and you have your own exquisite jewellery range too – where do you get your inspiration from?

Anything and everything: I’m constantly taking photos of things that inspire me, I’m a magazine junkie, I always ask to look at people’s jewellery even if I’m not in the shop, trade fairs… but the underlying emphasis is creating beautiful jewellery that lasts a lifetime.  Not many designers seems to care that much about how their designs are actually going to suit the lifestyle of the wearer.Unbenannt-1

What’s the most unusual item of jewellery you’ve designed or have you had any strange design requests?

Loads of unusual and wonderful requests: a vial for someone’s dog’s ashes, a child’s tooth made into a pendant, copies of crazy costume jewellery designs, a major’s badge, wedding rings for a pilot mum who met in the cock pit of a plane (yes, up in the sky), banana cufflinks, snooker cue brooch and diamond set ball triangle pendant for a snooker World Champion…BUT – for me, these creations are amazing in their own way, they are truly individual and the recipients have been beyond excited at the end result.

To date, what has been your most popular item ordered from your website/ shop?

Hard to say as we don’t do any one design en masse – our new Angel Whisperer Collection is really, really popular. I think because it is so beautiful and different and again, it can be personalised and changed immediately, depending on where your mood takes you!

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

That’s an easy one! My 30th birthday present from my Mum: an 18ct gold bangle immaculately set with 30 diamonds.  It is stunning and is so me! So many customers have seen it and asked us to re-create it for them – that’s an honour.

You do a “your gold” service – using old gold provided by the customer melted down to make a new piece of jewellery – what a lovely idea!  What’s the most popular recycled jewellery piece?

It’s all about memories again and making something special and unique. Our solid gold handmade bangles that will last forever – we normally use the customer’s old gold and they talk to us about how they would like it ‘recycled’. Every single customer who has used this service, has been over the moon with the final result – that’s a pretty satisfying thing at the end of the working day.

DSR11.jpg (white)When it comes to wedding rings, you can make rings out of platinum; 9ct, 14ct, & 18ct white, rose, & yellow gold; palladium and titanium.  My own engagement & wedding ring are platinum (I’m a lucky girl :)) …what metal is the most popular with your customers?

You are a lucky lady – platinum is still the best!  I’m also big fan of palladium – it is a good alternative to platinum although our goldsmith moans like crazy about making anything bespoke from it as it’s not easy to work with!  Our best-selling metal however is our 18ct white gold – it’s ‘palladium rich’ so naturally much whiter than normal 18ct white gold so we can guarantee it will never will look yellow like most High Street white gold will – this is a huge selling point and our customers trust that we are right (we always are!)  Lots of people are disappointed with their white gold as once the rhodium plating wears off their rings take on a ‘straw white colour’, not a nice experience!

You do offer branded jewellery from other designers that you’ve picked for their creativity and flair – what brand seems to be of interest this season amongst your customers? Any favourites yourself?

Both from Germany: unrivalled quality and finishes:

My iMenso – interchangeable pendants –

Angels Whisperer

Festina and Candino watches (new brand to UK – swiss mech and sapphire crystal face but only £200- £300)

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

Calvin Klein style but sometimes from charity shops, Primark – anything plain which works well as it shows off the jewellery I’m wearing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Oh dear, I discovered LK Bennet dresses: perfect for Saturdays in the shop – makes me feel like a lady!  Off duty I’m on ‘Wiggle’ buying cycling kit!  Always on the look out for sexy sports clothing!

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

Our brand colours ,sports kit that I can brand as Petra Jewellery and advertise as I run and cycle round the Hampshire countryside!  And then a new time trial bike in Petra colours and I might even add some diamantes!

Boots or Shoes?

Now – boots ‘n’ skinny jeans – so I don’t get wet feet!

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

 

https://www.facebook.com/PetraJewellery

www.petrajewellery.com

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission from Petra Jewellery

 

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An Interview With Sarah G Cosmetics

drama queen lipstickThis week I’m talking make up with the gorgeous Sarah, founder of cosmetic company Sarah G Cosmetics and make up artist extraordinaire! With many years experience in the cosmetic industry, Sarah has a strong knowledge of what women want when it comes to makeup which led her to create Sarah G Cosmetics an innovative,high quality brand. The brand’s theory tells us that makeup is ageless; it is one size fits all and should be attainable to all walks of women, bringing colour to skin of all colours. Sarah likes to keep the packaging understated and let the products do the talking. The products are manufactured in the USA using extremely sophisticated scientific and pharmaceutical technology. They are not tested on animals. The range consists of everything from primer to pencils and all other essentials combined with trend led seasonal products and innovative breakthrough products, keeping up with the ever competitive cosmetics market. Above all Sarah’s main ambition is simple, to make women feel beautiful.sarah g cosmetics shoot pallette

So, let us talk to the lady herself…welcome Sarah! What was the inspiration behind setting up Sarah G Cosmetics?

I decided to take a break from the cosmetics industry and go down the fashion route. I opened a ladies boutique, however a year in I realised how much I missed what I had now discovered was my true passion – makeup. I looked into stocking makeup within the boutique and the idea snowballed from there to create my own line. As much as I enjoyed my fashion jaunt I realised my heart was in makeup more than anything else and so I gave up my store, launched a website and began the journey with SGC.

Have you always wanted to be in the make up beauty industry?

Ever since I was in my teens I wanted to be a MUA. I got my first job with MAC and my determination to have a place in the cosmetic industry grew.

What make up products seem to be most popular currently?

blush palette openThe most popular products right now seem to be palettes, whether it be eyes, cheeks or face. The customer is getting more looks for their money and it enables them to experiment and create multiple looks from one product. By far my best seller is my Face Kit which contains 4 versatile shadows/highlight a contour/bronzer powder and a suit all blush, its gorgeous! Of course glitter is always popular for party season SGC has some pretty amazing ones!

I love your lip glosses! All the colours! What’s your favourite make up item from your range?

I have to say my favourite item from the range is my concealer palette, a must for gorgeous flawless skin, hand in hand with this a gorgeous blush can do wonders for your complexion, so I have to say my Baked Mineral Apricot Glow is a must for luminous skin.apricot moulin rouge

What do you think will be the dominating makeup colours this winter? 

The dominating shades for this season are browns, burgundys and plums for lips; for eyes, dramatic, graphic liner and full lashes are bang on trend.

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

I am always looking to expand the line! For next season expect bold colours and skin perfecting products.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Little MermaidSince most of my work involves a computer, my shopping is mainly done on line. I love Asos! The quality of their items are so good, I dont think I have bought anything from there and been dissappointed. I love a rifle through Primark also for seasonal trends.

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

Next on my wishlist for winter is a pair of dressy knee high boots, I havent seen any so far but I am thinking an old school vibe style in black patent…

Boots or Shoes?

Clue in the previous question… I am a boot girl! I just love boots, ankle, knee high, thigh high, I love them all! I feel like a good pair of boots will go with any outfit, dressy or casual.

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

www.sarahgcosmetics.com 

https://twitter.com/SarahGCosmetics 

https://www.facebookcom/pages/Sarah-G-Cosmetics/162057843849505

Thanks for a fabulous natter Sarah…I love the fact that you are a fellow boot lover like myself!  I must say that your new eye palettes for this season, Sarah, are to die for … check them out peeps … bright jewel colours just ready for partying as well as the other delights Sarah has on her website!
Linda x
Photo Credits:  Photos have been published with kind permission from Sarah G Cosmetics.

 

 

 

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An Interview With Love Umbrellas

As I sit and type up this blogpost, outside the sky is threatening rain…and so it seems appropriate to welcome onto the blog today the gorgeous ray of sunshine that is Klair and her fab company, Love Umbrellas! Hi Klair!LU5

Hi! My name is Klair Ward, I’m 33, and 2013 has been an amazing journey for me. I got married in August to my best friend Stephen. We have a little boy Charlie who is nearly 3 and the light of our lives. I live in a lovely old chapel in Rawtenstall where it rains a lot! I love Thai food, Sailor Jerrys rum, all things sparkly, lunching and shopping!

What made you start up your business?

In the summer of 2011, I was bridesmaid for my best friend, Elaine, and we were looking for some special umbrellas in case the weather wasn’t at its best on her big day. There were simply none on the market that appealed so I designed and created some! Before I knew it Love Umbrellas was born and the orders started ‘flooding’ in. I had been made redundant in April 2011 when my son was only 5 months old. My background is in retail and I had always wanted to be my own boss so this was now the perfect opportunity. Although Love Umbrellas happened by accident, it made sense to pursue as a career. Within 2 years I have gone from being made redundant and wondering what kind of job would offer security and flexibility with a newborn baby, to creating my own job security, which allows me to not miss out on any of my little boy, Charlie’s “first’s”

When choosing stock/styles/colours of umbrellas for your website, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends or is it a bit of all of these?

It’s a bit of all of these to be honest. I subscribe to lots and lots of magazines for inspiration and use social media for customer feedback and react to this. I will sometimes design and create something that I personally really like and post a picture to facebook to get some feedback, if the customers love it as much as I do then I add it to the website as a new design. Our limited edition owl designs came about because the owl trend is still massive and is popular with our very  young to older customers. It would seem a lot of ladies love bling and sparkle so our sparkly brollies are always very popular. 

klair1You have umbrella hire service too – apart from brides, I guess a lot of the umbrellas are hired for photoshoots etc. Any photoshoots/unusual uses/famous weddings or stories of that nature involving your umbrellas you can tell us about?

We have been featured on lots of lovely bridal blogs and one of our favourite recent ones has to be that of a civil partnership shoot at Mitton Hall, it was a wonderful rainbow themed shoot. We have also had the pleasure of supporting lots of fashion shows and last year were involved in Liverpool Fashion Live and also designed and created unique bespoke umbrellas for Desperate Scousewives new shop. The heart shaped umbrellas we sell were featured on ITV’s This Morning. We have lots of celebrity fans from Amy Childs to Sian Lloyd. Last week we attending our first celebrity ‘gifting’ event in London that was an exciting opportunity to gift celebs with our umbrellas! 

What’s the most unusual or strange umbrella design request you’ve had?

To make an umbrella into a mini skirt for a catwalk show! We get LOTS of unusual requests, scottie dogs, lips and a full on heavy mental tribute umbrella is on the cards for an upcoming wedding!
To date, what has been your most popular umbrella ordered from your website?klair4

The Love To Dream umbrella – it’s simple, but romantic, and perfect for wedding photographs…not far behind is the skull-tastic umbrellas though!

I love your limited edition owl umbrellas – what’s your favourite umbrella in your collection right now?

I think it would have to be the Kaleidoscope Sparkle umbrella – I just can’t stop twirling when I’m using it, and it certainly grabs ‘umbrella envy’ stares!

For the blushing brides & for other special occasions, what has been the most popular colour for umbrellas in recent seasons? 

klair5Ivory is usually the choice of colour for our lovely brides and we really love to see our bridal brollies in action. Check out our Facebook page for lots of our customers showing off their gorgeous brollies including lots of sparkly bridal ones.

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

I tend to keep my day to day dress comfortable so I can sit on the floor designing and creating umbrellas whilst entertaining a 2.5 year old! Working from home does means I have the luxury of working in my PJs from time to time too! I love getting dressed up for special occasions and events and love a bit of sparkle. I always carry a new Love Umbrella design with me when I’m out and about – perfect for marketing and photo opportunities!klair6

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I am a big believer in shopping local and supporting other women in business. I love discovering new boutiques and online shops through Facebook. 

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

I’ve just seen some amazing boots today actually, so new that they haven’t been uploaded to the shop’s website yet! They are a local boutique called Love Shoos.

Boots or shoes? 

Hmm…a tough one, boots for cold wintery days, funky Converse for during the day in the summer – whether it matches or clashes, they’re mega comfy & I love them!

Links you would like to share:

www.facebook.com/loveumbrellas

twitter @loveumbrellas

instagram @loveumbrellasumbrellas

Pinterest www.pinterest.com/loveumbrellas

 

Thank you Klair – your umbrellas are delightful whatever the weather and if you are having a winter wedding, check out Klair’s designs you won’t be disappointed & you’ll soon be singing “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

Linda x

Photo Credits:  The photographs have been published with kind permission from Klair Ward

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An Interview With Kellie K Apparel

Image 3Strapless bras!!! Love them or hate them, there comes a time in a woman’s life when you definitely need them!  Finding the right sort of strapless bra is the key – some flatten your boobs, some are bulky that they become uncomfortable, some ride up as the night goes on (that has happened to a friend that wishes to remain anonymous!) and some fall down!  In a few months the party season will be upon us… those little black dresses and glitzy bandeau tops beckon …. and, yes, we need help ladies in finding that perfect strapless bra!  Kellie experienced the same problems, and as she stood in front of her wardrobe having a moan that her strapless bra didn’t look right in the drop dead gorgeous dress she hoped to wear …her husband took note …and the rest is history …so I’m really thrilled to welcome onto the blog tonight the Founder and President of Kellie K Apparel (and Kellie’s husband)… Dr Anthony Roy  and Kellie K Apparel’s VP of Marketing, Tara Clark…
Hi, please introduce  yourselves and Kellie K Apparel :Tony_Roy_Headshot_Square_compact
Dr. Anthony Roy, Founder and President: I founded Kellie K Apparel with the goal to provide all women with a superior strapless bra.  I’ve had prior experience in designing prototypes in the support of various multi-million dollar start-ups as a research engineer at Idealab.  I received my B.S. and M.S. from The Ohio State University, and my Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, all in mechanical engineering.
Tara_Headshot_compactTara Clark, VP of Marketing.  I have over 10 years of experience in customer care and developing small businesses. Prior to Kellie K Apparel, I was the Senior Manager of Customer Care at SlideRocket, where I expanded to product scope from a small private beta to a large-scale operation with over 1.5 million users and acquisition by VMware.  I attended the University of Oregon, where I double majored to get bachelor degrees in both psychology and philosophy.
Kellie K Apparel launches our revolutionary strapless bras through our Kickstarter campaign on August 26th. Our American-made strapless bras are engineered to provide the necessary support and refined to deliver the utmost comfort. The patent-pending lining that keeps the bra in place without irritating the skin! Finally a strapless bra that women will want to wear.

What was the inspiration behind making your strapless bras in the first place? 

Kellie K Apparel started one evening when my wife was lamenting her lack of clothing options.  She wanted to wear a particular top that bared her shoulders, but didn’t want to wear the strapless bra that went under it.  When I asked her what was wrong with her current bra, she said she didn’t feel like having to deal with pulling up the bra all night.  When I said she should get a new one, she said it wouldn’t matter because she can never find a bra that is both supportive and stays up.
I set about making a crude prototype that consisted of me super-gluing the very first iteration of GeckTeck to one of the strapless bras my wife said wouldn’t stay put.  She tried it on and said it fixed the problem.  However, I knew I had truly struck gold when one night we were going out, and she once again wanted to wear that top which required her to wear a strapless bra.  Instead of using one of her store-bought bras, she grabbed the prototype I built and enjoyed a night of not having to worry about her bra once.  At that moment I realized I truly had a great idea for a business.”

Image 1The unique patent pending lining uses the same principles as geckos use to cling to virtually any surface – it must have been quite an “eureka” moment when you discovered that this gecko idea will help solve a nightmare when it comes to the world of strapless bras!  What made you turn to the gecko for ideas?

It was actually, it was the other way around. I had been aware of the gecko-inspired, wall climbing robots for years. The eureka moment came when I realized my wife had a problem of never being able to find a bra that stayed in place. Once I realized my wife preferred my crude first prototype over her store bought strapless bras, I knew this idea was a winner.

I wear quite a few tops and dresses that require the services of a strapless bra, especially as I’m a lot older and bigger busted than I was as a teenager when going braless under a camisole/ bandeau dress was not an issue. The bras look very pretty and not at all bulky – so who picked the material, look and choice of colours?  Did you have an opinion poll, or did Kellie state her preferences or a bit of both?  

Image 2Thanks! A bit of both. Our team at Kellie K is made up of highly trained individuals who have come together to create a cooperative bra that feels good and is functional with a variety of clothes.  We’ve explored LA’s fashion district to the get the right fabrics. We’ve worked pattern makers with decades of experience, and gone through tons of trial-and-error to make sure the fit was perfect. For the colors Kellie and Tara separately stated their preferences, then several potential customers were polled.

Apart from your strapless bras,have you any plans to introduce other items too?

Currently, we’re focused on creating the best strapless bra on the market. Of course, we’re always bouncing around other ideas.

Dr Roy, what other items have you created or have helped create a prototype, not necessarily in the fashion field?
One of the first pieces of complicated hardware I ever helped create was on a team that made an autonomous robot that could navigate an obstacle course. For my master thesis project, I created a two degree of freedom probe and haptic controller where a magnetorheological fluid would provide force feed back to the user when the probe collided with an object. For my doctorate, I used simulated evolution to generate robotic controllers based on neural networks. After school, made several heliostat prototypes, which are mirrors that track the sun to collect solar energy. I also made a refrigerator shelf that could tell when an item was almost empty and order more of that item, a case for an iPhone that could be plugged directly into a wall for charging, helped in the design of a giant ski-lift for electrical smart-grid technology, and this weekend I’m using a program I wrote to determine my draft picks for fantasy football! Some worked well. Many didn’t. But, we always knew very quickly when we had a winner!
These beautiful bras are American- made … so apart from the USA, will they be available to purchase in the UK, Europe and Australia too? Image 4

Yes, during the Kickstarter the bras will be available for purchase and shipped globally.

Dr Roy, what would you like to try to make that you haven’t tried as yet?

I had planned on making a program that could properly size a woman’s bust from iPhone pictures, but a group in the Bay area may have beat me to it! Continuing my doctorate work and making systems that could learn would be nice too. And I’m sure in a few months I’m going to be cursing that fantasy football program and wanting to make it better!
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Dr. Roy- Shorts or blue jeans, and a t-shirt or casual button. However, my favorite shirt is one made for my former softball team, Base Invaders. It’s a great shirt!
Tara- Most of the time I’m in NY and Company Jeans, Banana Republic shirts and Naturalizers shoes. Since I have a toddler, if it’s not machine washable it’s not in my wardrobe.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Tara- I buy almost everything online. The delivery guy and I are on a first name basis.
Dr. Roy- I honestly don’t buy many clothes online! In fact, I haven’t bought clothes myself in a long time. Somehow, my wife took control of my wardrobe!
Tara- And she does a great job with it!

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

Tara- Either An incredible pair of shoes to wear to my friend’s outdoor wedding this fall. Or a pair of gray ankle boots.
Dr. Roy- Ask Kellie K!

Boots or Shoes?

Dr. Roy- Shoes. I live in LA and it never snows or hardly rains here, so there no reason for me to wear boots.
Tara- Can I pick both? All boots are shoes, but not all shoes are boots, so shoes I guess.
Fun Fact- The cowboy boots our actress Kamala wears in the Kicstarter video are her own. She wore them to the shoot and we loved them so much we included them in the video.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that my readers can follow the progress of Kellie K Apparel and start wearing comfortable strapless bras!

www.kelliekapparel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KellieKApparel
https://twitter.com/KellieKApparel

Thank you very much for chatting to me at the start of what could be an exciting era in bra history … I wish Kellie K Apparel a lot of success and I’m sure you’ve not only solved your wife’s dilemma, Dr Roy, but solved the dilemma for women globally.
Linda x
Photo credits: The photographs above have been published with kind permission from Kellie K Apparel
PS  Whilst we are Stateside this week, Californian company Access Tattoo are offering readers of this blog a brilliant 10% off their tattooing products…just quote the coupon code!

 

Get 10% sitewide when you shop at Access Tattoo. Valid until October 2013!

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