Category Archives: Interview

An Interview With Harmonia Lily

Springtime. New beginnings, flowers, spring cleaning & sprucing of old items, Easter rabbits. What has Spring got to do with my guest this week? My guest is Aphrodite, who hails from New York and her company has just been launched in 2019 (New Beginnings); her company name, Harmonia Lily, is very florally (Flowers); her business is concentrating on making vintage accessories modern & accessible (Sprucing up of old items); and rabbits…. well her first limited edition vintage reproduction handbag “Freya” is a delightful bunny shape!

Hi Aphrodite and welcome! What inspired you to set up “Harmonia Lily”?

I have always been fascinated with vintage wicker handbags.  The craftsmanship in them is unlike anything else.  They are each handcrafted, and the details of each piece is remarkable.  From the simple square bags, to the animal shapes, each one has a story to tell and it all started with one person sitting down and picking up materials to start weaving them. 

You have spent years collecting vintage, so what is it about vintage fashions that you feel warranted a special modern makeover? 

I don’t feel that anything deserves a modern makeover really.  The thing about many vintage pieces is that with age it has been through many homes, hands, and simply can’t stand the test of time. Sometimes you pick up a piece and its meant to be admired and not adorned because of its age, and I want to be able to share it with the world. I want to recreate pieces that make people happy and will last them a lifetime so they can pass to down for generations to come.  

I love the “Freya” – the first limited edition vintage rabbit design bag – so cute! What colours of the bag are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Funny thing is that I thought pink and black would be the most popular colors, but it looks like purple and blue are proving me wrong!  I even have a natural color bunny that I thought for certain people would love because colors scare people sometimes.  Color takes people out of their comfort zone.  But it is the least selected color out of the 5 of them so far! 

Where did you get the inspiration from to design “Freya”?

Several years ago I saw a vintage bunny bag at a flea market that was in the worst shape imaginable and the price tag on it was even more ridiculous than the shape it was in.  When I finally sat down to decide that this was what I wanted to do, I wrote out a list of items I’d want to carry under Harmonia Lily and handwoven handbags was on the top of the list.  Then I had to figure out how to get the handwoven bags into animal shapes and that has not been an easy task!  

Hypothetically speaking, which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of Harmonia Lily?

Someone like Dita Von Teese or Debi Mazaar.  Both of them not only have style and grace, but they have such confidence that doesn’t say ‘I’m wearing this because I have to and it’s my job, I’m wearing this because it’s who I am and this is my style’  

Have you any other new products/accessories in the pipeline for 2019?

Future designs of handbags will include a unicorn, a flying pig, dinosaur, and a few secret ones too! I have vintage inspired belt buckles, necklaces and bracelets coming towards the end of the year.  If you keep a look out on @HarmoniaLily instagram, you might end up being able to win some of those accessories in a few weeks 😉  

I love knowing how brands decide their company names – so what is the story behind the name “Harmonia Lily”?

Well my name is Aphrodite Rose.  Aphrodite was such a strong woman in greek mythology, and in some stories her daughter’s name is Harmonia.  I wanted to keep with the greek name line and name the company since this is now my pride and joy, my child.  Roses and lilies also happen to be my favorite flowers, so wanted to keep the names just right.   You’ll see as time goes on, that many of my bags will be named after gods/goddeses.  Such as Freya, my bunny bag.   

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

You can purchase my products from anywhere in the world. 

When designing bags to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, vintage quality or bits of all those?

A combination of all of the above.  

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

There is not a ‘normal’ day in my world.  I can go anywhere from highwaisted wide leg pants and flats, to a dress and heels and flowers in my hair.  Every day is a mix up. 

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

There are so many to mention! I follow most of them on instagram, so if you wanted to find out you could stalk me there. 

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

For me personally, I love styles that are unique, bold, stand out from the crowd.  I am a fan of Trashy Diva because they use vintage patterns and use modern patterns and prints for their clothing line.  And they also happen to carry lingerie and shoes that are vintage style as well. 

Boots or Shoes?

Depends on the outfit, and the season.  I live in New York, so depending on the season, boots are necessary.  

For pinning later

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

You can find Harmonia Lily at www.harmonialily.com

www.facebook.com/harmonialily

www.twitter.com/harmonialily

www.instagram.com/harmonialily

Thank you very much Aphrodite for sharing your passion and future plans with us! I wish your brand continued success and I, for one, will be looking forward to seeing your new products as the year unfolds!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Harmonia Lily.

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An Interview With City Dance Parties

It might have been the popularity of TV shows like Strictly Come Dancing or it might have been the heady days of the 1970s/1980s with the emergence of films such as Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Fame…but one thing is for sure is that on the whole the UK seems to be “dance- mad”. I’m sure the other world nations are the same, though. Since launching in January 2017, City Dance Parties have gained in popularity, and they were winners of the “Best Hen and Stag Provider” category at the 2019 British Wedding Awards. The dance parties are not just for hen nights, as I found out when I chatted with founder, Jenny Haynes. Hi Jenny!

Hello! My name’s Jenny Haynes, and I’m the founder of City Dance Parties, a nation-wide dance party company that specialises in dance classes for hen parties, birthdays and corporate events. 

Congratulations on being the winner of “Best Hen And Stag Provider” at the 2019 British Wedding Awards  – so, what triggered the eureka moment to begin your company, City Dance Parties? 

Thank you! What a bonkers surprise, I’m absolutely over the moon still. I trained as an actor at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and to earn a bit of extra money to help with living expenses, started teaching hen party dance classes on a Saturday afternoon (we were in school Monday-Friday from 8am -7pm). It was after my partner pointed out that he always really enjoyed hanging out with me after I’d finished teaching the classes as I was in such a good mood that  I realised how much I really enjoyed the work, and thought this was something I might want to take more seriously.  After I graduated from Bristol, I started putting things into action, so I could try to forge a side hustle that would work in tandem with auditions, and acting……we’ve grown step by step from there really! 

Have you always wanted a career in dance or did your aspirations lie elsewhere? 

I’ve always loved dance/movement, and always wanted to work in the physical theatre and movement side of acting – discovering how much I enjoyed teaching hen parties dancing took things on a slightly off piste path (a path I’m very grateful for), into a career that is a mixture of event planning, dancing and teaching!  

You offer a vast range of dance classes, including Burlesque, Beyoncé, Bollywood, Dirty Dancing, 80s & 90s dance classes, salsa ….What would you say are the most popular dance masterclasses?

The most popular last year was definitely Beyonce! Everyone is loving Queen B (and with good reason in my opinion) – we once had a booking for a Beyonce class for a 70th Birthday, which I thought was absolutely F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.  This year (for obvious reasons), Spice Girls have been making a big resurgence, and 90s dance is always super popular, as 90’s Children/Teens are all starting to get married now! Disney, which we added last year,  has been a really popular choice, and, Dirty Dancing continues to be a firm favourite! 

Which dance masterclass is your personal favourite? 

I have to say I love a bit of Roaring 20’s…..it’s the perfect opportunity to get dressed up, and get really into the feel of the class (we’ve had some fabulously dressed groups for our 20’s classes over the past few years!). 90s Dance, Beyonce and Belly Dance are also solid favourites of mine to teach! 

What does a typical Hen Party Dance Class include?

The exact details of the class can vary slightly depending on what length of class you choose, and what style, but you can expect lots of laughs, all the basics of your chosen style, taught to you by a professional choreographer, dance-offs, and a fun-filled group routine (we sometimes even crack out a MegaMix routine depending on the style of dance!) that everyone can perform together, and video, so that you’ve got a long lasting memory of your special day. 

A lot of parties like to dress up or at least have a few accessories to jazz up the weekend – what clothing guidelines do you recommend? What dressing up outfits are most popular? What has been the most unusual/unique dance party outfit you have seen?

We tend to say that as long as you can move comfortably, that’s the main thing! Some groups love to dress up, others wear dance/gym gear, and some wear slightly more relaxed clothes they’re wearing out later on. It’s all about finding what you’re comfortable in, and what will make the session most enjoyable for you. We’ve had some fantastic fancy dress, and some absolutely bonkers costumes….some of my highlights are: a group we had come in dressed as archaeologists and dinosaurs, a group that came dressed as various iconic artists from the 90’s (YES to the lady who came in a power rangers morph suit!!), and a group who donned the most stunning vintage outfits for a 20’s masterclass. One that always sticks in my memory though, is one from a few years ago, when a group of ladies came to a burlesque class slightly later on in the day (I think a few glasses of bubbly had been had by that point!), and within 5 minutes of the class, one lady had stripped completely naked, and was stood covering her modesty with two strategically placed feather fans!!  (NOT compulsory for Burlesque Classes I might add!) 

You currently operate in Bath, Bristol, Brighton, Cardiff, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and York. Any new places on the horizon for 2019?

We actually added Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, Birmingham and Chester to the list last year! I’m always keen to keep expanding and branching out into new cities. Sheffield is one that’s definitely being added to the list, and we’re slowly taking over the UK! I never want to rush things and try and grow too quickly, as I want to really establish a good quality base in each city we offer. We do have our first international booking in May this year, so just watch this space!! 

Would the dance classes take into account those who may be uncoordinated, unfit or not as agile?  

Absolutely. With an event like a hen do, or a birthday, there’s often going to be a big range in abilities, ages, and often co-ordination, so I try to cater the sessions so they’re really suitable for all abilities, and they’re fast paced enough for those experienced in dance, but also really accommodating and fun for those who have never donned their dancing shoes before! We’ve had groups of ex professional dancers in before, and ladies who have never taken a dance class in their life; whatever the ability, our main focus is creating a class that’s fun for you, and will ensure you have the best time possible.  
Often the idea of dance can be a bit nerve-racking,  especially if you haven’t got much experience, or haven’t danced in a while, so we try to make the sessions focused around having fun, creating some special memories and building confidence. It’s actually one of my favourite things about the work….having ladies come in who aren’t confident at all, and are perhaps a little resistant about the idea of dancing leaving with big smiles on their faces, new skills, and the realisation that dance can be great fun! 

I love shows like Strictly Come Dancing – I especially love watching the Argentine Tango! Which dance style do you enjoy watching?  Is there any dance style that you would like to try that you haven’t attempted before? 

I LOVED watching So You Think You Can Dance when I was a teenager – it’s an American reality dance show, that showcases some incredible choreographers and dancers of all different styles. I personally love a bit of jazz and commercial….the sassier the better! I’ve never been particularly good at tumbling or flips, so I’d say the ‘Acro’ or ‘Gymnastics’ side of dance is something I’d love to really master one day.  

Personal now, what outfits/footwear would you normally wear for a dance class?

Now…I’m a sucker for a lace leotard. I have some customised City Dance Parties leotards I wear for classes I teach (I mostly work on the admin side of things now, but always try and jump in and teach on quieter weekends!) , and my absolute favourite is a backless black lace number. Combine it with some bright, funky leggings (my wardrobe is 99% lycra so I need to make sure I’m kitted out properly!) and some bright trainers and you are good to go! A brand I’ve been LOVING recently is KYODAN, which I buy through TK Maxx; they’re really gorgeous designs, fab fitting, and won’t break the bank. 

Boots Or Shoes?

I have to say shoes…..in particular trainers!! I grew up wearing high heels on any occasion (Geordie Girl born and bred!)  but after a back injury in my early 20’s switched over to trainers pretty much full time, and I’m now a convert to trainers for pretty much whatever occasion I can get away with wearing them! 

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more about City Dance Parties

City Dance Parties – www.citydanceparties.co.uk Facebook – www.facebook.com/citydancepartiesTwitter: @CityDance_UK Instagram: www.instagram.com/citydanceparties

Thanks Jenny! Those classes sound a lot of fun! Talking about loving lace leotards – in the 1980s one of my favourite “disco” outfits was a bright yellow lace leotard/bodysuit which I wore with black satiny leggings and a bright yellow/black kimono style shirt/jacket held together with a wide black patent belt! And black patent court shoes with a high thin metal stiletto heel! 🙂 Couldn’t dance in heels like that nowadays though!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from City Dance Parties; apart from the Pinterest photo which is by Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Lana KK

Abstract canvas paintings and gigantic world or country maps can help when designing your perfect interior. With basic pastel walls in rooms, which is the current trend, the splash of bright co ordinating colour from a large canvas painting adds not only colour but interest and character. I was lucky enough recently to catch up with Kathleen Kolibius-Konig, graphic designer, artist and owner of Lana KK ….Hi Kathleen..

Hello, I am Kathleen. I am a very creative but still goal oriented person. Besides my life as an artist and company owner, I love nature and animals. I enjoy spending time with my husband, our chicken, dogs and cockatoos. For people who do not know me perceive me as a reserved person, but if people get to know me better the find out that I am a very happy and warm person.

What was the inspiration behind the setting up of your company, Lana KK?

I always loved art and design. I always wanted to inspire people to surround themselves with beautiful things.

I love the World Maps and the Wonderland Green Wall Picture particularly caught my eye! To date, what has been your most popular art work or item?

The world maps are our most successful products, closely followed by the abstract designs. 

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

I really love our world maps. Apart from the fact that the world maps are one of our most successful products, they represent a lot what Lana KK is about. Our goal was to create something new out of the ordinary world map. We thought that a world map could be great piece of art and design that people would love to have in their homes and offices. Picking a real favorite is hard for me as every picture represents a part of my own development.

I’m a bit of a map geek and your world maps are really gorgeous.  What do you like about maps and why do you think they are popular? 

I think we have found a really good balance between excellent design themes and geographic information. Our goal was to combine a piece of art with the benefits of a world map. Besides visuals, I think our customers love the cork magnetic variants of our world maps as this allows them to interact with the map and keep track of holiday dreams and memories. 

Growing up, did you all have dreams of being an artist or did you have other career plans?

I did not plan to be an artist. Although I always loved drawing, I imagined myself being an assistant or manager in a company. I love organizing things and building processes. Having my own company gives me the opportunity to do creative work and organize things. Win win.

As Lana KK  is based in Germany, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

At the moment, we deliver all over Europe regularly. We also deliver worldwide on request. As you can imagine, especially the shipment of large products, needs some extra planning, but we try to make everything possible for our customers.

If you could visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a new artwork collection, where would you go and why?

I love places that are as natural as possible. I really enjoy to be astonished by nature in all of its beauty. For me there is no such thing as one single place for inspiration. Most of my inspiration I can draw from small details. I believe nature has always been the greatest inspiration for humans.

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

I love showy and sporty outfits and shoes with a tendency towards elegance. I am always looking for special pieces with a great design. Sometimes I buy high heels just for the design. I do not wear them very often, but if I wear them I do them with pride 🙂

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I have no real favourites. Generally, I love sites with well curated offers.

Boots or Shoes?

Both 🙂 In everyday life I often prefer shoes. They are simple and comfortable. My husband and I enjoy walking with our dogs, that often requires the more practical choice. Sometimes I prefer boots, because I just think boots are more elegant and just look better on me.

For Pinning Later

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

https://www.lanakk.com/uk/

https://www.lanakk.com/uk/magazin.html

https://www.facebook.com/lanakkart/

https://www.instagram.com/lanakk_art/

https://www.pinterest.de/lanakkart/

Thank you Kathleen for fabulous abstract designs and for taking the humble world map to a new dimension. Dear reader, would you consider having a world map on your wall or do the abstract paintings strike more of a chord with you?

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kathleen (Lana KK)

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An Interview With Made With Respect

I’m heading down under to New Zealand this week to chat to Susan Stevens, founder & CEO of “Made With Respect”. Made With Respect’s mission is to support sustainable brands from around the world in the areas of fashion, self care, home and outdoor products; as well as educating and informing consumers of the importance of making conscious choices and living more sustainably. Sounds very impressive! Hi Susan & welcome….

Hello! My name is Susan Stevens, I live in NZ with my husband and 3 children (2 girls and a boy) aged 6, 9 and 12. I travelled extensively in my 20s with my husband, experiencing many vibrant cultures and appreciating contrasting landscapes.  I have always loved spending time outdoors and at the beach and now with our children we spend almost all our free time in the water surfing. I have a huge appreciation for nature and what it provides us. I am passionate about protecting the amazing natural resources that we have been blessed with, particularly the ocean and the wildlife that we share this planet with.  

What was behind the inspiration for Made With Respect?

In 2018 we launched Made With Respect, but my journey really started when I left behind a successful corporate career after experiencing a suppressive work environment and learning the importance of empowering and enabling others.  In 2014 when I launched my first business working with artisan brands and overseas suppliers, I saw first hand the transparency (or lack of) in supply chains. Through my work over the past few years I’ve become gravely aware of the negative impact we as consumers have on our planet, it stirred a passion within me to create a business that made a difference whilst supporting and enabling others with a shared vision.  

The stats are quite scary.  If the global population reaches 9.6 billion by 2050 (currently 7.5 billion and projected to increase by 1 billion in the next 12 years), the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain our current lifestyles.  Given we’ve only got one planet, that is quite a concern. Add to that the WWF 2018 Living Planet report which shows evidence that nature is dying with 60% decline in the animal population across the planet, 83% decline in freshwater species and 90% of seabirds consuming plastic. Alarmingly, if we continue with the current rate of plastic waste there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.  We have to stop burying our heads and being ignorant of our behaviour because unless we change, our future looks bleak. I created Made With Respect to not only be a platform that champions sustainable brands who give a damn, but through MWR Movement, we are educating and informing consumers of the crucial role we play in the problems our planet face and through taking consistent conscious actions we can start to be part of the solution.  

Your company is a proud member of “1% For The Planet” – what does that entail?

As a member of 1% for the Planet, MWR donates a minimum of 1% total revenue to approved nonprofit partners who do essential work across six core focus areas; climate, food, land, pollution, water and wildlife.  So that means that every dollar Made With Respect generates gives back to the health of our planet.

Your website features brands from all around the world – from  France, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Spain, Peru, Italy, USA, Ireland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Iceland, Germany, Lithuania. What criteria have you have set for brands to qualify to partner with MWR?

Brands who we partner with that design and manufacture sustainable products in self-care, fashion, home and outdoor must fall within the following 4 pillars;

  1. Devoted to craftsmanship; making quality products that last and can be passed down through the generations.
  2. Transparent supply chain; good working conditions, no child labour
  3. Natural materials & natural ingredients; no chemicals or toxins (organic where possible), recycling, upcycling, regeneration and reduction of waste, embracing renewable resources and preserving the environment
  4. Contributing to make the world a better place; supporting local or disadvantaged communities, being more than a profit driven operation

We have amazing brands who are giving back on so many fronts, not only are they operating in a circular economy, minimising waste and making the most of resources but many are contributing part of their profits to worthy causes or supporting disadvantaged communities.  

We absolutely have to embrace these brands, we have to shine the spotlight on them and make them the example.

From clothing to bed linen, and lots of categories inbetween, your website caters for many. To date, what has been the most popular items/products/brands ?

Skin care, followed by children’s & women’s fashion, has been the most popular categories so far.  But ideally we want to be known as a place where consumers can conveniently shop (and support) sustainable brands across categories.  There are amazing sustainable brands in the market, but often they’re not easy to find as they don’t have the marketing budgets or distribution networks of the multi-nationals that are purely profit driven.

In a world where people tend to be time poor, if we can’t find what we want then we’ll resort to the easiest and most convenient option – the problem with this is often the quickest and easiest is also the most damaging and destructive.  One of MWR’s goal, through our partnerships with sustainable brands, is to make it easier for consumers to find, buy and support those brands that are making a positive difference.

What’s your favourite item?

I’ve got so many favourite items and brands that I can’t name just one!

This southern summer I’ve loved wearing my NZ & Brazilian Aurai swimwear top made from bio-degradable and regenerated materials.  You’ll also find in my wardrobe my Wolven leggings made from a fabric that is regenerated from recycled plastic bottles, along with my Atode Skater Navy Lace Dress and Atode Audrey Orange Silk Dress.  My daughters favourite fashion label is Feather Drum in Australia, they have a selection of timeless, gorgeous organic cotton pieces hanging in their wardrobes too!

In my bathroom you’ll find certified organic skincare products from The Divine Company in Australia, Soley in Iceland and Icelandic brand Hannes Dottir.  You’ll also find my husband’s all natural male grooming products from Hunter Lab in Australia, 66°30 in France and C3 in the USA. And I accessorise with my gorgeous Tamara Salman Cherry Red Mini Tote

As Made With Respect is based in New Zealand, are the products on the website available to purchase worldwide?

Absolutely, our brands are located from all around the world and their products are shipped to customers around the world.

At Made With Respect we are conscious of our own carbon footprint.  To ensure we operate sustainably and in order to reduce our own impact on the environment, rather than holding our brand’s products in a central warehouse, instead the brand ships directly from their workshop to our customers.  There is no double handling of product and no additional packaging wastage.

I noticed on your website you have The MWR 31 Days Of Sustainable Habits Challenge – can you explain this challenge?  What habit did you find was the hardest to change?

The objective of MWR 31 Days of Sustainable Habits Challenge is to show consumers we don’t need to go to extreme measures, we simply have to make more conscious choices in our everyday life to make a positive impact, we want to reinforce that small changes ultimately make a difference. I see this as being the crucial place to start, because it’s often the starting that is the hard part, once started it’s much easier to build momentum and once you start something you become more aware and more educated, education is key.  

I think people can become overwhelmed when they don’t know what to do and where to start, the mentality then becomes `how can one person possibly make a difference’.  What our Sustainable Habits Challenge does, is it shows consumers there are simple things they can easily implement into their lifestyle that will make a difference. For instance;

  • Place lint in the trash rather than wash it down the drain.  Why? Because microfibres, which are too small to be caught by waste treatment plants, are responsible for 85% of shoreline pollution across the globe.
  • Buy natural fibres instead of synthetics materials.  Why? Because they are by-products of petroleum and are non-biodegradable plus during the wash cycle these micro plastic fibres are released into our waterwaste and end up on the shoreline, eaten by wildlife and fish and polluting our foodchain.
  • Carry a reusable drink bottle.  Why? Because 50 billion plastic drink bottles are consumed every year, for every 10 bottles, only 2 end up recycled the rest end up in landfills and polluting our oceans and beaches.

The Sustainable Habits Challenge isn’t just about telling people what to do but also educating and informing them why they need to do it.

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

I generally wear very neutral colours; white, grey, beige, navy blue and in particular black.  I’ve always felt that colour dates and may only be ‘on-trend’ for that particular season whereas neutral colours, especially black is very versatile, timeless and can be dressed up or down.

In summer you’ll mostly find me in shorts & a camisole or a little black floaty summer dress with sandals.  In winter I love wearing jeans or black pants, a tee, jacket or blazer and a pair of casual white sneakers or ankle boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Yes, Made With Respect!  

I’m a very conscious shopper (I always have been), I prefer to buy less but buy quality pieces that last and look great for years.

With MWR I always support our brands first.  If I do find myself browsing in clothing shops and I see something I like I always check the label first, if it’s made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, linen, tencel then I’ll try it on.  Once you become aware, it’s amazing how easy it is to spot synthetic materials.

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

At the moment I’ve got AmaElla lingerie on my wish list.

I don’t buy a new wardrobe every season. I have pieces that I’ve worn, both clothes and shoes (that get reheeled) year after year, because they are made from quality materials that wear well, wash well and last.  They are designed to be timeless so they transcend fashion trends and for any pieces I do chose to take out of my wardrobe, they are always in great condition to recycle at op shops, or loved all over again when passed on to girlfriends, my mum & more recently my daughter.

Boots or Shoes?

I love ankle boots in cooler weather.  A good quality & timeless style will last you years, they are so versatile with pants, jeans, dresses and skirts, you can dress them up or down.   

For Pinning Later

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

Our website: https://www.madewithrespect.com/
The MWR blog: https://www.madewithrespect.com/blogs/the-mwr-blog

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/MWR.movement

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MWR.movement

Thank you for your interview Susan. So many important points to ponder over and the sustainable habits challenge is a start and doable. Your website features some beautiful products too – thank you for introducing us to some quality and sustainable brands.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Susan Stevens (MWR).

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An Interview With Elaine Robertson North

I’m an avid bookworm. I make no apologies for that. I read all sorts of genres – I do have my favourites such as thrillers, mysteries, travel based – I like the occasional romcom, autobiography, historical drama, English literature classics, classics from non English writers, fantasy. I like to read out of my comfort zone at times and when an author comes along whose debut novel just hooks me in on the first page, spins me along on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, makes me feel the characters inside out and upside down, each page a revelation that it is hard to put the book down and turn off the light to sleep – that’s when you know you have to spread the news far and wide to fellow bookworms that this is a book and author you need to check out. I was sent a complimentary copy of “I Can’t Tell You Why” by Elaine Robertson North to read and review. Apart from reviewing the book and leaving my 5 star review on Amazon, I couldn’t resist being cheeky and asking for a chance to interview Elaine herself….. Hi Elaine!

Hi, I’m Elaine. I’m originally from Scotland but spent most of my childhood in Berkshire. After three years in Bournemouth studying for a degree in Media and Communications, I couldn’t get to London quick enough to get my career underway and have basically been here ever since. I enjoyed an exciting career spanning all corners of the media but always wanted to write. There were sporadic attempts along the way but it wasn’t until I drew a line under my career and my youngest son started school, that I was able to make it my focus. Today, I’m happily married with two beautiful boys. I’m proud to call myself a wife, a mother, and finally, an author!

After working for 25 years in the marketing & communications field in the media & entertainment industries, including several years in a variety of senior executive roles in TV, radio & film; who or what inspired you to write a novel?

The need to write has always been there. It was just something I always felt I would do so I don’t think there was ever one person or event that inspired me. I think I’ve just been subconsciously soaking up the many characters, situations and events I’ve experienced over the years, waiting for the moment when I could put it all to good use!

“I Can’t Tell You Why” is your debut novel – and what a debut novel – I enjoyed reading the book from start to finish. Definitely a page turner, I got sucked into the novel straightaway.  My feelings towards the characters changed with each chapter – like a rollercoaster! Which character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Which character was the hardest?

Thank you! That really is lovely to hear. I’d have to go with the main character, Dani, as the one I most enjoyed writing about. I love the fact that she is strong and gutsy and able to handle tough work situations with a cool head. But personally, she’s massively flawed and getting that balance right was a real challenge, which also made her the hardest character to write. She’s a good person who makes some very bad decisions. It was tough, therefore, to make sure she was always believable and was someone who readers would still root for.

Were there any aspects of writing a novel that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?

I’m constantly surprised at how long it all takes! In many respects, writing the book is the easy part. It’s the endless rounds of editing that are obviously essential, but hideously time-consuming for someone annoying like me who likes everything done yesterday! I do love, however, when after days of struggling with an element of the plot, everything suddenly falls into place. That is very satisfying!

“Most people believe that affairs are wrong. That they lead to heartbreak and suffering for everyone involved and never end well. Most people think they know better. Yet they do it anyway….” Your book is about a powerful subject – love affairs – and the characters are all totally believable. Why did you pick this topic for your first novel and did your own personal opinions and thoughts about the subject material change as the novel developed?

I’m one of those people who has pretty black and white views about things so I love a moral dilemma when I’m forced into the grey! I was hooked on the idea that a perfectly reasonable and likeable person, can cheat and lie, even when objectively speaking, they know it makes no sense. Once I had that as a starting point, a compelling love triangle seemed like the most effective way to explore this. As for my opinions and thoughts, my starting point would always be that affairs are wrong. Simple! The reality is that of course, they rarely are, so it was great to explore why people have affairs, whether it’s ever possible to say that good can come from an affair, and also how our childhood experiences can have a massive impact on our own approach to relationships. 

Are there any new novel ideas or writing plans in the pipeline?

I’m about two thirds of the way through book number two. The central theme is about taking control of your own destiny and having the confidence to just be yourself, whatever life throws in the way. The tension comes from a ruthless desire for revenge and the backdrop this time is a newspaper. 

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

Yes to the bookworm! I’m probably a contemporary women’s fiction fan first and foremost, but I also like the odd thriller thrown in for good measure. As for authors, I recently discovered Sally Hepworth and immediately read every book she’s written, and also Kathryn Hughes. Read all of her books back to back too! I’m a big fan of Liane Moriarty and Lisa Jewell, and also Clare Mackintosh and Fiona Barton. The key thing for me is a book that has me hooked from the very beginning. I love actual books but have to confess I do most of my reading on a Kindle or my phone. I spend lots of time hanging around while my sons enjoy various activities, so being able to read while I wait is a massive plus for me!

Is “I Can’t Tell You Why” available to purchase worldwide?

The paperback and ebook are on Amazon in all key territories, so wherever Amazon is available, you should be able to buy it! 

If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why? 

I’m tempted to say anywhere hot and quiet! Just having uninterrupted time to think would be a joy! That said, I’m a people-watcher and love bustle and noise, and as it’s likely I’ll be sticking with the worlds of media and entertainment for the time being at least, I’d probably go for somewhere like New York or Los Angeles.

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

At this time of year, it’s all about coats and boots for me! I walk my boys to and from school so am normally in jeans, a jumper and then it’s the coat that makes the outfit. I have a long padded coat, a slightly lighter-weight quilted coat, a parka, a raincoat that I love, a fur-lined bomber jacket – basically, a coat for every mood or weather condition imaginable! Ankle boots or trainers and that’s me sorted! 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I tend to do most of my clothes shopping online. I’m a big fan of ME+EM and Finery when I fancy something different that I know I’ll feel really great wearing. I love an oversized jumper and have a couple from Baukjen that I would hate to be without. If I’m looking for a really great pair of boots, Penelope Chilvers would be the first place I look, but I’ll also happily browse M&S for everyday stuff.

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

I have a favourite pair of wedge heel ankle boots that are definitely past their best, so top of my list at the moment is finding a replacement. 

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely boots! Unless I’m going somewhere that requires a posh frock and heels (which is very rare!), I’ll always opt for boots. Whether I’m wearing jeans, a skirt or a dress, the appropriate ankle boot always works for me!

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

Facebook: @elainerobertsonnorth
Instagram: @elaine_robertson_north
Twitter: @RobbieNorth

Thank you very much Elaine for agreeing to be interviewed. I’m so looking forward to reading your 2nd book! My thanks also goes to Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity & Marketing for sending me a preview copy of Elaine’s book in the first place.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Elaine Robertson North (apart from the Pinterest picture which is by Linda Hobden)

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An Interview With Deyongs Ltd

Deyongs Limited has been trading in household textiles since 1876, producing luxury bathroom towels, beautiful bed linen and throws. The company is now under the guidance of the 7th generation of Deyongs in Daniel and Oliver Deyong. I caught up with Daniel Deyong to find out more about this long standing family business…. Hi Daniel….

Hello. My name is  Daniel Deyong and I am the joint Managing Director for Deyongs Ltd. I am 46 years old, married with 2 teenage boys, our cavapoo Hudson and our cat Jazz.

Your family company, Deyongs Ltd has been trading in home textiles since 1846 … you are the 7th generation of Deyongs … growing up did you automatically want to follow in the family footsteps or did you inspire to follow a different career path?

Growing up was always spending summers coming to work with “dad” seeing other members of the family involved at the time, the warehouse was a great place for hide and seek! My initial career choice was always design and leaving school I pursued that course and found a great company who did exhibition design and display and also a graphic design studio. However in the late 80’s when the recession hit, Design studios went inhouse and the company I worked for collapsed and I found myself working the summer months in the family business doing all sorts to earn some money to pay for a holiday. I returned from the Mediterranean refreshed and eager to continue working for the family where I decided my creative flair could spark something new.

I am particularly fond of the Freewheel Beach Towel, The Egyptian Cotton Mudeford Beach Towel; luxurious bed linen, especially the Lyndon Company Printed Duvet Bed Linen; and your very warm looking throws. To date, what has been the most popular items/products/brands ?

Deyongs have always been known for their towels. I guess you can only judge success by numbers, our plain dyed Bliss Pima Cotton towels are very well known and popular not just in the UK but abroad. Very close behind that would be our throws, we sell out every winter, maybe next year we will sell more throws than towels!

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

My personal favourite is The Lyndon Company 400 Thread Count Sateen Cotton bedding. It says Hotel, it feels silky soft, keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Technically I haven’t felt a sheet on the market like it and I am always in the stores comparing.

When picking items to add to your collections, do you select by what has proved popular in the past, current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of those things?

We have certain briefs from our store group buyers that we work from. We also pay attention to the trends and forecasts coming through making sure not to miss out on the colour or style of the season and of course certain qualities that have proven successful over the years can always be enhanced with a new colour and twist. At the moment we are all about the environment and well being, constantly striving to bring new innovation into textiles.

As you also supply to retail shops in the UK, Europe, Middle East and Australia – is there a colour that is universally popular at the moment in textiles, or is there a marked difference in colour demand between the 4 different areas?

Ha, white will never go out of fashion! it works in every quarter of the world, but when it comes to colour, then yes different countries certainly have different colours and styles, right now the UK is huge with silver and grey tones

As Deyongs is based in the UK, are your products on the website available to purchase worldwide?

Yes all our products can be bought on our website and we ship internationally worldwide, only last week shipping to New Zealand, Japan and Singapore! We also ship next day to anywhere in the UK and only 2 days to anywhere in the USA.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were able to visit any place in the world to feature a new brand/collection to your website, where would you go and why?

I have always wanted to photograph our beach towels in Mauritius, some of the best beaches in the world, the heritage of the island and the changes of its independence are fascinating, to the food and extremely friendly population makes its a place you just want to visit again and again.

Are there any new products in the pipeline for 2019?

Yes we always have new ranges, not only in towels, we will release our winter 19 throw collection at the end of the summer and new additions to our bedlinen collections. Right now we are working on products that give Well Being, kind to your body and kind to the environment.

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

Since I spend a lot of time in the gym I do live in jogging pants, t-shirts and trainers during the weekend, if out over the weekend I am very much dark jeans, black polos, keeping it classic and not an embarrassing dad!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I do shop at urban outfitters and banana republic, Timberland and Ralph are my go too brands that fit me well. My kids are constantly giving me fashion advice!

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

New trainers! I do seem to go through them! Also a smarter pair of shoes for the summer for going out, something suede I think.

Boots or Shoes?

Timberlands in the winter, my north face boots for trekking, they have been all over the world with me when trekking.

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

www.deyongs.com is our website https://www.facebook.com/Deyongs1846/ for our Facebook; our Instagram is @deyongs1846

Thanks Daniel! I must admit shades of grey are my favourite home colour palette with bright colours co ordinating – yellows, turquoise, lilacs, black, silver …. and the colours and styles you offer are simply stunning! I hope Daniel’s products have given you food for thought too, dear reader!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Daniel Deyong.

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An Interview With Stools Online

Stools. I didn’t realise there could be so many types of stools from bog standard kitchen stools to bar stools, adjustable stools to swivel stools, stools with arms to stools with back rests…. Family run company, Net Furniture Ltd, obviously did as they run a sister website alongside their main furniture business, called appropriately enough, Stools Online! I spoke to company founder Zed, about his company’s stool range….

Hello. My name is Zed. I am the founder of netfurniture.co.uk and stoolsonline.co.uk which I founded 15 years ago in 2004 with just £400 and have built it up to become a leading online furniture retailers with turnover in excess of £3 million over that time period!

Stools Online is part of your family run business, Net Furniture. What inspired the setting up of the predominantly stools website in addition to your main site?

Stools were the first item that I sold on NetFurniture so stools have a special meaning to me, which explains why we have nearly 900 stools more than any other item! Once I saw we were doing well with the stools, I wanted to set up a separate site devoted just to bar stools and related bar tables, as I saw there was a demand for these items. By devoting a site to bar stools enabled the customer to find what they were looking for quicker.

You sell around 20 types of stools from kitchen & bar stools to acrylic perspex stools and brushed satin stools.  What type of stool seems to be the most popular? Do you have a favourite style of stool?

We sell a lot from all categories – the brushed steel stools seem popular at the moment as they fit in with a lot of brushed appliances that people have in their kitchens. I don’t have a favourite – I love all stools equally!

On your main website, Netfurniture, what type of products are most in demand? 

We sell a lot of tables, especially the made to measure ones, as they cannot be found in regular shops and are unique to us. From our bedroom furniture range we sell a lot of ready assembled bedroom chest of drawers and others assembled furniture, as it saves the customer having to assemble it themselves

Your clients include the BBC, Sky Sports & several celebrities as well as the general public.  When sourcing products, do you go for  past popularity, current trends, customer requests, your own tastes or bits of all those?

We attend the trade shows so we get a good idea of popular trends and we try to give our customers what they want. We try to also look for products that are not available in regular furniture shops to give our customers more choice and options.

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to customers abroad?

We are UK based. We do ship to Europe – Germany , France, Italy, Spain etc. Generally we ship the smaller items abroad such as the flat packed chairs, tables, bar stools, and other related bedroom furniture.

 What do enjoy most about having a career in the furniture industry?

Helping people make their homes beautiful – it is a place where we spend a lot of time, so if I can help make their homes more comfortable then I have done my job. 

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

I am a boring dresser – you are better off asking my wife! I normally just wear a plain white shirt, trousers and black shoes – I do wear a suit on special occasions eg a wedding.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I enjoy the news sites such as the BBC and the sport sites such as Sky Sports as I am a huge sports fan.

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

A trip to Saville Row to have a hand made suit made for me.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots in snow; shoes the rest of the time – easy to put on and take off!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Stools Online & Net Furniture.

Sure! We are redoing our site which should be live in a few weeks – it will be very user friendly and have a lot of cool things on it. In the meantime we can we found on www.netfurniture.co.uk and www.stoolsonline.co.uk and www.modernbarstools.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NetFurniture
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mynetfurniture

Blog: http://netfurniture.wordpress.com/

Quidco: http://www.quidco.com/netfurniture-co-uk/

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Great to chat to you Zed! You have some great pieces of furniture and a mind boggling range of stools to suit all decors, tastes and pockets!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Net Furniture Ltd; apart from the Pinterest picture which was taken by Linda Hobden.

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An Interview With Aurora Pets

Husband and wife team, Jonathan & Ashton Rose, along with their dogs Yianni and Yoko are my guests this week. They are the founders and owners of Aurora Pets, a UK luxury retail pet site celebrating only the most luxurious and premium brands available – the ultimate Designer Dog Shop. I caught up with them to find out more about their delightful shop….. Hi Ashton, Hi Jonathan…

Hi! We are husband and wife team Ashton and Jonathan plus our two little Frenchies Yianni and Yoko. Jonathan comes from a background of international distribution for luxury products and Ashton is an expert in customer experience. We wanted to create a place where you could not only find the best quality products for your dog but also enjoy the best experience at the same time. We are head over heels in love with our dogs and they are part of our journey no matter what we are doing. Aside from the weekly walks, we travel to different places every weekend to adventure and explore with the dogs. 

What was the inspiration behind your designer dog shop, Aurora Pets?

Yianni and Yoko were our entire inspiration for Aurora Pets. When we first got Yianni we had a lot of difficulties finding quality products that were not made with cheap materials or looked tacky. We ended up shipping products from all over the world which is when the inspiration for our business occurred, with both of our experiences combined we launched Aurora Pets. Yianni and Yoko of course are our chief testers for all products which we road test fully to ensure our customers get the best.

Only the most luxury and premium dog brands are featured on your site from dog fashions to luxury dog treats. I really love the unique Modern Beast vintage t-shirts for dogs! Which brands and/or dog products are proving most popular with dog owners so far? 

Thank you, Modern Beast are awesome and we love their ethical values, one of the many reasons we stock them at Aurora Pets. Generally, our customers love our entire collection of brands and products, each brand has its own unique quality and values which makes them loved by many and us. From Cloud7 and their extremely clean and stylish approach to design, or Max-Bone and Mister Woof with their playful designs with prints and fabrics. Most important to us and our customers we think is the product being functional, that it will survive 100 washes in the washing machine or that they work out on walks or at home. This is always at the forefront of our mind before anything else.

As a company, you strive to ensure that all your packaging does not contain plastic & is 100 % recyclable.Your company also strive to collaborate with brands who are contributing to improving lives of unfortunate dogs.  Such a worthwhile cause – have you got a particular animal charity that you support?

We work with many different charities selecting different companies to receive donations of beautiful joes and products from our collections. We worked quite closely with the Last Chance Animal Rescue Shelter to document their charity and meet the dogs at their rescue, it was incredibly sad to see all the dogs in the rescue but also reassuring to know they at least have somewhere they are being cared for and loved whilst they wait for their forever home.

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

Yes we ship internationally and many of our customers are based in the USA, Japan, Australia and Europe

Being passionate dog owners yourself, you also write blogposts on your website which are of interest to other dog owners. What themed posts create the most interest?

We see a lot of interest in our dog walk blogs, we try to make it a little different using a drone to document the landscape whilst walking, currently, we are documenting the UK, we hope to cover other parts of the world to find the absolute best places to adventure with your dogs. Yianni and Yoko’s second love is being outside exploring, their first love is and always will be food. 

Going on long dog walks is one of your favourite things to do…. where are your favourite places to go dog walking? 

Jonathan: The Devil’s Punch Bowl in Hindhead was absolutely incredible for me, it had so many different aspects for a good dog walk, great vista’s, forest, marsh areas and a little stream for the dogs to play in. We were exploring there for more than 4 hours and loved every minute of it.

 Ashton: Epping Forest because it’s such a vast area to explore, you can visit 10 times and each time walk can be different, it is also extremely quiet and peaceful with dog-friendly restaurants to visit once the walk is done to relax in.

Obviously your products have been tested by your adorable dogs, Yianni and Yoko.  Have you ever come across a product that for some reason they took an instant dislike to it?

We have to say balls, Yianni and Yoko are not huge fans of chasing or returning a ball, unless it has treats in it, Yianni is a heavy chewer and destroys most toys we give him within minutes, the rope toys are great for him to sit and chew on as they also clean his teeth while he is chewing. Yoko wants anything Yianni has got despite her always having one for herself she will ignore it and wait for Yianni to finish with his.

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

Both of our looks can vary day to day, classy street style would be a good way to describe our daily looks as we have to fit in working plus the chance of getting muddy whilst out walking the dogs. when we are going out for events or a night out, we both like to look smart.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Ashton: Zara, Ted Baker, and Gucci are my favourites

Jonathan: I love Zara and Farfetch 

Boots or Shoes?

Ashton: Boots – comfortable, versatile and they look great with most outfits.

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

Website: https://www.aurorapets.co.uk

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/aurorapets/

Thank you Ashton and Jonathan. I’m so glad that Epping Forest is one of your favourite places to visit when dog walking. I grew up in East London and I had Epping Forest on my doorstep. I spent many happy summer holidays climbing trees, getting lost, nature spotting, having picnics in Epping Forest. It certainly is a special place.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Ashton & Jonathan Rose (Aurora Pets)

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An Interview With The Vegan Society

Living the Vegan Lifestyle has been in the news a lot recently – January was “veganuary” and the spotlight was on all things Vegan. The reactions from various people have been mixed when the word “vegan” has been mentioned – most people I’ve spoken to hadn’t really got a clue what the Vegan lifestyle entailed; some guessed that it was a more extreme form of being a vegetarian; some have embraced the ethics of being a Vegan wholeheartedly; some were interested and some were not. Personally I am not a Vegan – I do eat meat but I do embrace vegetarian and vegan dishes too. There are a few Vegan restaurants springing up and with thousands of products being granted the coveted Vegan trademark on a daily basis, embracing a Vegan lifestyle is not as daunting as you may think. I caught up with the lovely Dominika of The Vegan Society to find out more about The Vegan Society and living the Vegan lifestyle. Hi Dominika….

Hello! My name is Dominika and I work as media and PR officer at The Vegan Society. We are the world’s oldest vegan society whose co-founder, Donald Watson, came up with the word ‘vegan’ back in 1944. Everything we do is to help people go vegan and remain vegan! 

The Vegan Society has produced an app – Veguide App – that covers the basics of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle with 30 short daily videos. What inspired the creation of the app? 

We wanted to bring vegan pledges into the 21st century – we know that most new vegans are young people, and this demographic is also the one most likely to use mobile apps and social media. VeGuide features two mentors in the similar age group to our target audience which we thought would help its users to relate to them.

VeGuide is free to download on Android and iOS devices. Its users receive a combination of daily informational videos, motivational quotes, quizzes, recipes and discounts, all of which aim to help them ease into vegan living.


The Vegan Trademark – sunflower symbol – guarantees that products are free from animal ingredients and animal testing.  There are now over 30,000 products and services registered with the Vegan Trademark.  How does a brand go about registering their products? 

Brands can contact our Vegan Trademark team at trademark@vegansociety.com, which will be followed up by some questions that include the number of products a company wants to register, their turnover and size, so that my colleagues can provide them with a quote. After this, the Trademark team carefully checks all the ingredients in the products about to be Trademarked to make sure they’re animal-free. We can also help brands veganise products and suggest alternatives to any animal products their items contain. 

From curries to cakes, virtually any recipe could be made suitable for a vegan lifestyle, as long as they are made from plant-based ingredients. Have you got a personal favourite vegan dish or recipe?

I’m all for quick and easy recipes that don’t require tens of ingredients! I’m personally very much into Korean and East Asian cuisine, so I love dishes like kimchi jjigae, ddeokbokki, jjajangmyeon, Japanese curry, mapo tofu, bibimbap, and various side dishes, called muchim in Korean cuisine. For those with a less oriental preferences, I find that making vegan versions of easy classics like lasagne, chilli con carne, shepherd’s pie, enchiladas or roast dinner is best! 

I read on your website that honey was the product probably most frequently mistaken as vegan -friendly.  I must admit I thought it was! Why is honey excluded? What other foodstuffs are also mistaken as being vegan friendly?

Honey is a product made by animals, so for the sake of consistency is excluded from a vegan diet. Veganism opposes the use and killing of all animals. Other foods that sometimes may not be vegan are alcohol (beer and wine mainly).

What are the nutritional  and other benefits of becoming vegan?

You can get everything your body needs on a vegan diet – vegans actually tend to eat much more fruit and vegetables than the rest of the population which has amazing health benefits. The British Dietetic Association, an independent UK authority on nutrition, states that a vegan diet is suitable at any age or life stage, including infancy, childhood and pregnancy

Eating a balanced vegan diet helps to limit saturated fat and get plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Research shows vegans have lower blood pressure, lower chances of getting heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. This is partly because animal products, unlike vegan food, contain a significant amount of cholesterol.


In the UK all medicines are required to be tested on animals before being deemed as safe for human use.  Obviously, if you are a vegan how are you able to get the medication needed without compromising your beliefs? What are The Vegan Society’s recommendations?

Vegans avoid using animals as far as is practicable and possible. When choosing cosmetics, vegans can pick products that have not been tested on animals but unfortunately we don’t currently have such a choice with medicines or vaccinations. The Vegan Society never advises anyone to stop taking prescribed medicines but we do encourage patients to speak to their doctors to see if a vegan-friendly alternative is available.

What is the hardest part, or the hardest thing to forgo, did you find, of transitioning to follow a vegan lifestyle?  

Many people find it difficult to avoid cheese. However, the human tastebuds have a wonderful ability to adapt, so if you resign from cheese for a month or two and then try vegan cheese, you’re very like to enjoy the flavour. Most vegans say the hardest part of going vegan was simply making the decision to do it.P

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?  

I shop online a lot, on websites like Asos, EMP and Yesstyle which features East Asian fashion. When I go to a shopping mall, I often wander around all the different stores in search of a thing I’m looking for at that moment. It’s amazing how easy it is to find vegan clothes and footwear on the high street!

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

I’ve been looking at Luxe Derbys from Will’s Vegan Shoes for a while now. They’re beautiful but pricier because they’re made of eco-friendly, durable vegan leather. I’m just waiting for the right moment to get them!  

Boots Or Shoes? 

Boots – I get cold very easily so I like footwear that covers my ankles! However, I’m 6ft tall which is a lot for a girl, so I’m not at all interested in adding any more inches which makes it tricky with boots!

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

Website: www.vegansociety.com

FB: www.facebook.com/TheVeganSociety

Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheVeganSociety

Instagram: www.instagram.com/theoriginalvegansociety 

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Thank you for the chat Dominika – those Japanese and Asian dishes really do sound interesting (and no doubt delicious!) I really hope, dear readers, that Dominika has helped to dispel any myths and if you do want to follow the Vegan route, then Dominika has given you some inspiration to go ahead and take that leap!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Pinned Photo by Linda Hobden. The other photos in the article have been published with kind permission from The Vegan Society & Dominika Piasecka

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An Interview With Global Sound Group

The world of music, live music and promoting music is changing. As a musician you want to be getting yourself into venues, perhaps wanting to broaden your horizons by stepping out of your comfort zone of the local pub circuit, perhaps wanting somebody who could help promote and guide you. As a promoter you want to find the latest star. As a venue, you want to attract the musicians that will attract audiences and keep music live. Global Sound Group are a London based music and sound company specialising in music promotion. They’ve just launched the ground breaking virtual booking agent …. online musicians (and booking agents) can get in touch directly with over 20,000 venues & promoters worldwide, allowing them to submit their music directly for consideration. The virtual booking agent is just one highlight on their peer-to-peer website, Sound Finder. I caught up with MD James Dyble to find out more…. Hi James…

Hi! My name is James Dyble and I am the managing director at London based music company Global Sound Group. 

What was the inspiration behind launching the peer-to-peer website, Sound Finder?

We have recently created our peer-to-peer website, Sound Finder with the intention of connecting musicians with professionals worldwide. It was inspired by many years of noticing that musicians struggle to find the best professionals to work with on their projects. 

 What benefits can the musician have by logging onto Sound Finder?  

The musician will benefit from a FREE membership and also the ability to work with the best professionals worldwide from as little as $5 ranging from graphic designers to mixing engineers. Also the website is completely secure and we offer a 100% money back guarantee on all services. 

One of the latest additions to the website is the ground breaking virtual booking agent. In a nutshell, what does the service provide?

The virtual Booking Agent enables musicians to submit their music to more than 20000 music venues and promoters worldwide for gig consideration. It is an extremely powerful tool for musicians to get more gigs and get paid more for their shows. 

What were your musical influences growing up?

I have always been influenced by the major record labels, I have always been interested in how they work. 

Have you always wanted to be in the music industry or did you have any other career in mind?

Since I can remember, I have always wanted to work in the music industry. 

Are you a musician yourself?

I am indeed a musician and I can play various instruments although I do not play in a band and just play at home in my free time. 

What genre of music do you personally listen to? What was the last concert you attended?

I listen to a broad range of genres, however the genre you would most likely catch me listening to is Indie/ Rock. The last concert I attended was The 1975, in Yorkshire. 

Imagine you are driving – what song would be top of your list to croon to whilst playing car karaoke?

Most probably The Killers – Mr Brightside. 

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

Formal clothing, suits and formal shoes. 

Do you have any favourite websites? (Apart from your own!)

I am a big fan of YouTube and spend time listening to new music on there. 

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. 

For Pinning Later…

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more about Sound Finder.

Main website – www.theoutsourcer.cohttp://www.theoutsourcer.co

Virtual booking agent – www.virtualbookingagent.co

www.facebook.com/soundfinder1

www.instagram.com/soundfinder1

www.twitter.com/soundfinder1

If any of my readers are musicians, then check out the Soundfinder website today! There may be a venue just waiting for you!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of the Global Sound Group

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