Category Archives: Interview

An Interview With Oriental African

Fashion blending both African and Far East Asian cultures with a pinch of Western mainstream influences is today’s topic on my blog. Snubbing mass-produced disposable fashion, Oriental African, online fashion retailers,  instead offer to both men and women of all sizes, responsibly sourced and ethically produced fashion from independent grassroots designers.  I recently caught up with Mary Akpeki, creative director & co-founder, to find out more ….hi Mary!

Hi, my name is Mary.I’m a co founder at Oriental African and a student at Kent University.

What inspired you to set up your brand, Oriental African?

My niece because she represents a mixed heritage of Korean, Nigerian, and British cultures. This made me realise there is a gap within the fashion industry, these three distinct cultures are already powerful on their own and have vibrant styles, prints and patterns. So my sister and I began to imagine how we could infuse these influential prints together and that’s how Oriental African was born. We were also really passionate about helping African and Asian designers who wanted to reach a wider audience in the West.

Have you always had a passion for fashion, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?

Yes I’ve always loved fashion and love dressing up, styling pieces together. I was lucky enough to have African print clothing growing up, that my mum would bring back from Nigeria and I was able to style these with western clothes from shops like H&M etc so that’s where my interest in fashion really started to grow.

Your online shop retails a fashion blend incorporating both African and Far East Asian cultures. What items are proving popular amongst your customers?

We have a shirt that blends Chinese frog buttons and African print, a ripped dashiki hoodie that channels the Yeezy collection, and Dashiki longline shirts which are really popular in the entertainment industry right now.

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

I really like the co-ord sets that I have, the OA crop top and trousers or bra-let and skirt they can be styled for both work and leisure and I think that represents my style.

Snubbing mass-produced disposable fashion, you consciously only showcase independent grassroots designers. How do you make sure everything you offer is responsibly sourced and ethically produced?

Quality checks, we insure we buy all the fabrics, that we give them the fair price for it and they are all ethically sourced and all the money we make from the clothes a percentage is given back to the designer.

As your clothes are from two distinct parts of the world, I am going to put you on the spot and ask whether you have a favourite country? What place is number one on your travel bucket list?
What place is number one on your travel bucket list?

Thailand – because the beaches look so beautiful and I love Thai food. I’ve always wanted to go to Bangkok.

Your company is based in England – are your designs available to purchase worldwide?

For now they’re not but within the next few months we should be able to ship worldwide,so watch this space.

When adding outfits to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional styles or bits of all those?

All of the above factors contribute and inspire us for each piece of clothing we put on the platform.

 Hypothetically speaking, who would you pick, dead or alive, to be the “face” of Oriental African?

Beyoncé is really an amazing personality and we also love Keyonce who impersonates her really well.

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

Ankle length boots, choker, high waist jeans, Bardot tops and our OA Lere bomber jacket.

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

ASOS and New Look

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

Well I’m creating a range of African print swim suits and I would to steal one and take it with me on holiday. Timberlands.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots because they go with anything and I love versatility when it comes to fashion.

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

www.orientalafrican.co.uk
@orientalafrican

Fabulous speaking to you Mary and I wish Oriental African every success in the future.  So, dear readers, what do you think of “blended” fashion?  Do you like the ideas that Oriental African are promoting?  Have you ever mixed an expensive designer dress with cheap shoes bought at a garage sale for pennies?  Teamed a tankini top with jeans for a night out? Worn your partner’s shirt as a dress? Do share your stories – I’d love to know!

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission of Mary Akpeki/Oriental African

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An Interview With Ozalia Australia

Australian  icons known globally include the sheepskin flat boots known as uggs – although the company known as UGG is just one of the Australian manufacturers that make this iconic style boot – and this week I’m talking to one such company, Ozalia Australia, about their brand and their ugg boots.  This interview is a 2-parter … An interview with Aaron Robbins, Founder of Ozalia Australia  followed up  in my next post with my review of the sheepskin boots – do they live up to Ozalia Australia’s claims?  You’ll just have to wait and see! Without further ado, let me introduce you to Aaron… Hi & welcome…..

Hi! My name is Aaron Robbins, I’m 34 years old and I’m from Sydney, Australia. I’m the founder of Ozalia Australia boots.

What was the inspiration behind the founding of Ozalia Australia?

During one of my traveling adventures, I found myself in Mexico. While I was there, a lot of people were asking me where they could buy Australian Ugg boots. They were in huge demand and at that time it wasn’t possible to buy them in Mexico. (Yes, it does get cold there!) I thought, maybe I could contact UGG and open a store in Mexico, but after a bit of research, I realised how expensive they were. So I decided to start my own brand “Boots Australia” that focused on giving the highest quality to customers without breaking their bank account. That’s how it all began and since then, the business has doubled in size every year. After being away from Australia for the last 7 years I have decided to move back home. Due to its popularity in Mexico, I’m now about to launch the business under its online brand name “Ozalia Australia” selling to customers in the UK, USA and Europe.

My favourite boot from your website this season is the Icon Tall Boot. What boot styles are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our full range totals over 50 styles but over the years we have seen the most demand for 6 of those styles. Those 6 are what we are launching with in the UK, Europe and USA now. I’d say the most popular out of those 6 styles is the Icon Tall Chestnut.

Have you got a favourite style from your collection?

I really like our moccasins. They are stitched by hand and are crafted beautifully. They are super versatile as they can be styled up and worn out in the cold or also worn just relaxing at home. They are easy to slip on and off, are suitable for all age groups… and they’re unisex! As with all of our styles, after just a few wears, the extra soft merino wool lining will mold to the exact shape of your foot. It really is like walking on a custom made warm cloud!

Your company goal is to revolutionise the ugg boot world. What is so special about the boots you sell compared with other makes?

We use a very special grade of Australian fleece that’s thicker, softer and warmer than others. Because we ship direct to our customers, our boots are almost half the price of other brands. Our slogan says it all: More Warmth for Less.

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

It would have to be Australian actress Margot Robbie. She is really classy but also down to earth and fun. Having lived by the beach while she was growing up, she also embodies the Australian culture which is the root of our brand.

Although you are based in Australia, are your boots available to purchase overseas?

Yes! We have 2 warehouses in the USA and another in the UK that also ships to our European customers. All boots come with free shipping and exchanges. We also guarantee that Ozalia boots are the warmest boots you’ve ever owned, if not, we’ll give you your money back!

I hear you are an avid traveller – have you got a favourite destination? What’s number one on your travel bucket list?

I love the outdoors and could happily spend most of my day outside in the sun. For the breathtaking scenery, it’s got to be mountain climbing in the Nepalese Himalayas and for the culture, without a doubt it’s magical India. For the future, I’m looking forward to going on safari in Africa and also discovering the Arctic Circle.

With travel on my mind, if you could do a photoshoot of your boot collection anywhere in the world – where would it be and why?

There are so many places I’d love, but I guess top of the list would be Vienna, Austria. I can envisage the boots sitting on a snow covered cobblestone street, surrounded by stunning old buildings and the majestic, strikingly beautiful mountains in the background. Heaven.

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

My style is pretty relaxed. Right now I’m wearing a pair of Diesel jeans, a G-Star denim shirt with a white undershirt… and of course a pair of Ozalia chestnut coloured moccasins. 🙂

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

I’ve just ordered a pair of old school brown suede leather shoes. They kind of have a farmhouse style to them. A simple relaxed look with loads of character and being Clarks, they’ll be comfy. You have to be comfortable!

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

Website: www.ozaliaboots.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ozaliaboots

Thank you Aaron for introducing us to your brand!  To read my review of the boots, press HERE

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Ozalia Australia.

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Slim Mind

Keeping healthy and maintaining a healthy weight is not an easy feat, but it is not impossible to do  –  I believe you really just need to be in the right frame of mind, otherwise your attempts to exercise and/or eat the right foods will just fritter away.  I was really pleased to come across a book called “Slim Mind” which helped to reinforce my “mind over matter” belief as its aims are to develop the reader’s long term skills & motivation to think, act and stay slim; therefore liberating you from weighing scales, low fat foods and yo yo dieting.  The author, health psychologist Dr Catherine Sykes, has spent a long time researching health behaviour change and I was lucky enough to interview Catherine about her work and her book.  Hi Catherine…

Hi! I’m Dr Catherine Sykes, a psychologist who develops mindsets that promote life-long success, health and happiness. I do this through therapy, coaching and consultancy. I’m a working mother of 2 children.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Slim Mind”. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I’ve worked with lots of people who want to lose weight and one thing that struck me was that people wanted quick and easy methods to lose weight and had tried so many methods in the process. These methods were always contrary to what the evidence in psychological research found was needed. Firstly, weight lost is not quick and easy and the overuse of willpower does not work, in fact it backfires, keeping people in a pattern of yo-yo dieting pattern and self blame. I wanted to bring the psychological evidence to a wider audience and to simplify the techniques as much as possible so that people could try them in a self-help format.

The book is a series of psychological techniques, including cognitive behaviour therapy, to help you understand your eating behaviours, helps you to develop long term skills and motivation to think, act and stay slim. Written from your own private practice experiences and scientific world discoveries – what is the main objectives of the book?

The main objective is to inform people that weight loss is not quick and easy. It takes a long-term sustained approach. This book aims to empower people to take control of their weight loss journey without self-blame and with realistic expectations of what is needed to lose weight.

One bit of advice I gained from the book is “Eat when you are hungry, not when you have a craving”. If you have to pass on one piece of wisdom or advice to a person, what would be that pearl of wisdom?

Restricting certain foods with willpower does not work. Evidence suggests that if we suppress thoughts about certain things then we are more likely to think about it. So if you tell yourself not to think about the chocolate cake in the fridge, you are actually increasing the likelihood that you will think about it and eventually reach for it.

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

Yes, it can be purchased on Amazon.com

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

Slim Mind is the first book in the Zenitude Coaching series which aims to bring easy to follow solutions to promote life long success, happiness and health. Other books to come:
The Juggling Act. Returning to Work Following Maternity Leave.
Zestful Ageing.
Confidence at Work
Positive to Return to Work Following and Illness

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I love reading lots of genres including mystery and espionage, history and bibliography, suspense, travel. I can always read an Ian McEwan book.

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

I had other ambitions. I’ve always been increased in jobs that relate to promoting a better society. When I was young, my mum’s friend was studying sociology. I picked up one of her books and could not put it down. Although, I did not know exactly what it was but back then, I wanted to be a sociologist.

You are particularly concerned about the global growing obesity epidemic. What do you feel are the reasons behind this epidemic?

Availability of unhealthy foods.
Sedentary lifestyles.
Emotional eating and inability to understand and name one’s emotions.

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

Cooking and eating with friends, reading, country walks.

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

For work, I tend to go for comfortable elegant clothes. At the weekends, I can be found in Sweaty Betty gear.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I do love clothes from Joseph. I love the fabrics and style. I also like Reiss.

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

I’m looking for an elegant winter dress.

Boots or Shoes?

Both – depends what I’m wearing. Currently I seem to be wearing my Russell and Bromley black suede ankle boots with everything.

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

twitter – drcsykes1
Facebook:
https://m.facebook.com/drslimmind (on mobile device)
https://facebook.com/drslimmind (on pc)

Lovely to talk to you Catherine and I personally found your book very inspirational.  Funnily enough, I studied sociology at school and at college – I loved the subject as well!  Well, dear readers, do you have a slim mind?  How do you get into a healthy mindset?  Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know,

Linda x

All photographs have been  published with kind permission of Dr Catherine Sykes.

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An Interview With Nubian Skin

Frustrated by the lack of skin tone choices, Ade Hassan, my guest today on the blog, launched in 2014 her own range of skintone lingerie & hosiery for women of colour.  Inspired by women such as supermodel Iman  who created Iman Cosmetics, Ade has created a rather gorgeous collection of lingerie and hosiery  – with a handy foundation guide to match pretty much your shade of skintone.  I caught up with Ade recently to find out more…. Hi Ade!

Hi, I’m Ade Hassan, the founder of Nubian Skin. Nubian Skin is a nude lingerie and hosiery brand for women of colour.

What inspired the launch of Nubian Skin?

Nubian Skin was essentially born out of frustration. I wanted a product that I couldn’t find in shops, so I decided to create it. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt the same way.

Have you always had an interest in hosiery or fashion?

My background isn’t particularly fashion-y, but I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I’ve always wanted my business to be fashion related. When I took a 15 month break from work several years ago before starting Nubian Skin, I took some sewing and pattern cutting classes in Paris.

How many different shades of skin tone do you offer? How would a customer know what skin colour tone to go for?

We have four tones with Berry being our darkest, followed by Cinnamon, Caramel and Café au Lait. We have a handy skin-tone matching guide that matches our tones to popular foundation brands. For example, if you wear MAC NW47, then you’ll be Cinnamon! You can check it out here: https://www.nubianskin.com/global/skin-tone

Your range of skin tone hosiery is superb from tights to hold ups. Do you cater for the curvier lady?

Thank you! Yes, we do have a Curve hosiery range that goes up to 3XL, and are currently working on our fuller bust range which should be out early 2017!

I love the classic lace push-up bra from your collection. What lingerie styles are most popular at the moment?

Thank you – we love that bra too! All of the styles are really popular, but the T-Shirt bra is probably the most popular as it is the kind of bra you can wear every day!

When designing/choosing skin tone items to go into your collection, do you go for popular trendy styles, customer requests, personal favourites or do you take all 3 into account?

When I initially designed the products, I went for the ‘essentials’ like the T-shirt, Strapless and then added something pretty like the lace. Since, we’ve been developing the collection according to customer feedback, which is incredibly valuable to us.

As you are based in the UK, are your items available to purchase overseas?

We are based in the UK, but our products are available in 9 countries including the US, Portugal, Nigeria & The Middle East.

Are you planning to extend your range in 2017?

Yes, we are currently working on a fuller bust range and a few other exciting ideas, so watch this space!

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

Now that I work for myself, I dress significantly more casual than when I was in finance. Now it’s winter, I can be found wearing a cashmere jumper and some tapered trousers with some loafers, or thick tights with a knee-length dress.

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

I shop a lot less now to be honest! But I do check out the outnet.com every now and then, and hipandhealthy.com to mentally build an amazing work out wardrobe instead of actually doing exercise >_<

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

I’ve got a Nico Giani handbag on my wishlist.

Boots or Shoes? 

I love shoes – boots make me think of cold weather, and I spend all of winter waiting for spring and summer!

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

Website: www.nubianskin.com

Instagram: @nubianskin

Facebook: /Nubianskin

Twitter: @nubianskin

Thank you for visiting us on the blog, Ade.  I think your bras are very pretty – I do like a lacy style to wear every day although the basic t-shirt bra is my go to for workdays!  What about you dear lady readers, do you have a favourite bra style? 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Nubian Skin.

 

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An Interview With Beat Theory Fitness

Welcome to the first post of 2017!  My first post of the year is usually inspiring and/or motivational in some way and this year is no exception.  When I stepped on the weighing scales yesterday morning to survey the damage that often happens over the Christmas and New Year period,  I was so glad that ex – professional footballer, Riccardo Scala, was being interviewed today.  He is the tonic I need to give me inspiration and motivation to lose those naughty pounds! Riccardo is the man responsible for launching Beat Theory Fitness in the UK – workouts based on the “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption” theory – which basically means that you keep burning fat well after your workout has finished.  Sound good?  I thought so too. I caught up with Riccardo to find out more… Hi Riccardo…

Hi! My name is Riccardo Scala, and I am the Founder and CEO of Beat Theory Fitness®

Where did you get inspiration from to start Beat Theory Fitness? –

My inspiration has come from seeing the success of other Boutique Fitness companies in America do immensely well in this new market sector, and I wanted to create my version based on all the science and technology that is now available to assist fitness enthusiasts toward their individual goals.

The workouts are based on the “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption” theory. Can you explain the theory and how it differs from other types of workouts? 

What happens to your car engine after you have completed a journey? Your car engine stays warm as it gradually cools to a resting temperature. The same happens with our bodies after we have exercised. EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (called homeostasis). The more oxygen you require to do this, the more calories you will burn in the process. So if you increase the amount of oxygen consumed both during and after a workout, you can increase the amount of net calories burned. EPOC is influenced by the intensity of an exercise, not the duration of an exercise. Research has shown that training with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the best way to stimulate the EPOC effect, and that training in this manner is far more effective than training for longer durations at a steady pace. Here at Beat Theory, we have structured our whole training philosophy behind the EPOC effect. Shorter workouts, higher intensity, greater calorie burn, and of course, faster results for clients to see and feel. 

So what do enjoy most about being a personal trainer and fitness expert? Have you a favourite exercise?

Every day you get to wake up knowing that you are going to be responsible for helping someone different from hour to hour. Being able to give back and help others achieve the confidence and belief in themselves to not only make their health and lifestyle better, but in turn they will then allow this confidence to rub off on others. Being the guy that helps people and that people turn to for help…

What aspects of Beat Theory Fitness seem to be the most popular with your clients?

I am constantly being told by clients that just knowing that all they need to do is book their spot in a Beat Theory session via our Beat Theory mobile App, and turn up, makes their lives so much easier. Every Beat Theory session has been designed to get the most out of every fitness level in attendance. We do all the hard work and clients simply turn up and allow our coaches to train them. They don’t have to worry about what they are going to have to do that day, or how much time they are going to have to spend on an exercise. We do all the planning. With a combination of running, rowing, lifting, jumping and sweating, they get everything they need in our 40 minute sessions. Then it is back off into the real world to continue their day, satisfied.

What exercise(s) seem to yield most results? What seems to be the least popular – or gets the most groans when you suggest it?

When it comes to High Intensity Training, all exercises are extremely beneficial, you just have to know which ones to combine together and how hard to push yourself to achieve the desired effect. As soon as we announce that their will be a Burpee in the workout, that certainly gets a few groans. Although I wouldn’t say that this means that it is the least popular, they just know that the sessions are being delivered as hard as they want them to be. I think it is worth noting too that we can and do frequently have lots of variations to our daily workouts so as to accommodate clients that have long term injuries from previous exercise before Beat Theory.

Being an ex- professional footballer as well as having lived and worked in California as a personal trainer, you must have come across many famous names. Which famous lady or gent would you love to see doing a Beat Theory Fitness workout?

You mean in addition to Scarlett Johansson, who I have already worked with? Well I’m a huge comic book fan, so in line with staying current, I would love to put Gal Gadot [Batman vs Superman (2016) and Wonder Woman (2017)] through her Beat Theory workout.

How can clients book sessions?

We have our Beat Theory Fitness App on the Apple and Android stores. Clients have our full schedule at their fingertips so that they can plan their training ahead.

Beat Theory Fitness is seeking to be the first franchised chain of aggregated studio concepts in the UK. What would a franchise consist of?

Our franchise model consists of a franchisee owning their own Beat Theory facility, being given all the equipment that is part of our training concept, full ongoing support with setting up each facility and marketing the facility for opening and beyond, full training and templates for delivering our training model, and ongoing monthly support to make the franchisees Beat Theory facility the no.1 boutique training facility in their catchment area.

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

As you would assume I am a big trainers fan, but I do like putting on a nice formal suit and shirt every now and then, especially for business meetings.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Being as busy as I am, I do all my shopping online. My favourite online store is Zalando.

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

Well I really need to increase the number of shirts that I wear. Most of the time I am in t-shirts and polos.

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely shoes. I love the sheer variety of different styles available to me.

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

beattheoryfitness.co.uk 

Facebook.com/beattheoryfitnessglasgow

Twitter: @BeatTheory_GLA

Thank you Riccardo for taking me through my paces and describing the Beat Theory Fitness process …. And I wish your business every success in for 2017.  So, dear readers, have you overindulged over the Christmas season?  What ways have you decided to keep fit and healthy?  I’ve got my Fitbit and I’m determined to up the steps! Do share your fitness goals…

Linda x

Photos:

Photo of Riccardo published with kind permission of Riccardo Scala;

Photo of Dumb Bells from Pixabay;

Photos of trainers and bike  by Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Jack-It Bag London

Sometimes I come across an item that is so totally different and useful that it is fantastic when I do get to interview the founder/designer concerned.  Today’s blogpost features such an item. Is it a bird or a plane? Is it a jacket or is it a bag? Crazy as it may seem, this item is both a jacket and a fully functional bag.  I caught up with mumpreneur Jo Tribley recently to find out more … Hi Jo and welcome…

Hi, I am Jo, a married mum of two daughters; modern foreign language teacher and now founder and creative director of Jack-it-bag, London. Jack-it-bag , London is a newly launched company, selling unique, stylish jackets that magically convert into neat, compact bags, perfect for busy, style conscious people, who like to live life to the full. The dual-functioning jackets/bags provide a burden free experience, whether at a festival, on a day out, out shopping, at parties, globebetrotting or just out walking the dog!

Your mission is to create stylish outerwear with dual functionality, but what inspired you to create the Jack-It Bag in the first place?

The inspiration for the ‘jack-it-bag’ came from my daughters’ reluctance to wear a jacket or coat when going out to clubs and gigs. They didn’t want to queue for the cloakroom and didn’t want to be burdened with a coat once inside the club, preferring to freeze instead, as winter hit and the temperatures plummeted. After numerous debates/disagreements, I decided I would try and invent a jacket that could be slipped off once inside the club and be quickly converted into a bag. My daughters gave me plenty of criteria that the “jack-it-bag” would have to conform to. It would have to be stylish, so as not to ruin the all important party outfit. It would have to have room to contain all the essentials for a night out, such as their money, phone, keys, lipstick etc; it would have to be easy to convert into a bag, without the need to remove any items; and finally it had to be a neat compact bag, so that they could enjoy a burden free party experience. After much thought and experimentation, I finally designed a prototype, which ticked all these boxes and more besides. The design ensures that possessions are zipped away in secure pockets, some of which are concealed within the bag, thereby ensuring that valuable items are safely tucked away. Some of the fabrics are also wipe clean ,so that if a drink is spilled, your jacket isn’t ruined.

Have you always had a passion for textiles/fashion, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?

My background isn’t in fashion or textiles and nor did I have a particular passion for it. As a young child, I always liked making things and liked sewing, but then I really wanted to be a ballerina!

I love both the Velvet Crush and the Rock Chic Jack-It Bags. What items are proving popular amongst your customers?

The Rock Chic has been very popular as has the Olive Longline bomber jacket and the Relaxed fit bomber jacket.

Out of all your Jack-It Bags, do you have any favourites?

The Rock Chic and Olive longline bomber are also my two personal favourites, although I do like the Party Shimmer. It looks great on and is really eye-catching. The Rock Chic is great because it can be wiped clean and the Olive longline bomber is a fantastic fabric and great when I am walking the dog in our very changeable weather.

I read one review on your website that said: ” (The Jack-It Bag is) one of those things you don’t realise how useful it is until you’ve got one”.  As a fellow mum, I can see it’s usefulness – what did you feel the Jack-it Bag’s main attraction?

The Jack-it-bag is so versatile and I am forever discovering situations when it has really proved so useful. Most recently, whilst Christmas shopping at a very packed Christmas gift fair, it was great to be able to slip off my jacket but not be burdened with having to carry a coat and bag around in addition to all that Christmas shopping. Yet that same jacket also was a great addition to my suitcase for a recent trip to Singapore. Its versatility and dual functionality is definitely the main attraction.

Looking towards Spring/Summer 2017, are you planning to add any new ranges or new colours?

I already have my eye on some great fabrics that pick up on the key colour trends for Spring/summer 2017. I also hope to add some additional ranges including a festival jacket and a gym buddy jacket.

Your company is based in London – is the Jack-it Bag available to purchase worldwide?

The Jack-it-bag is manufactured in London but it can be purchased on the world-wide web at www.jack-it-bag.co.uk. I am happy to ship overseas.

When choosing the Jack-It Bag outer look to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional styles or bits of all those?

The Jack-it-bag is designed to be a classic jacket, either collarless, bomber style or parka style with added hints of the seasons key trends. The classic style is updated to reflect current trends, be that in the choice of fabric, e.g velvet/ checks ( a key trend for autumn/winter 16/17), colour ( Olive green), style ( fitted, longline, relaxed) or with features such as eyelets, pom poms , tassels. The current fashion trends are definitely taken note of but they are quite subtly introduced to what is otherwise a classic style, which will not necessarily date. The customer base is really very varied; in fact there is a jack-it-bag for everyone and I try to choose outers that will suit a multitude of different users, be that a school child with no room in their locker for a school coat to a gap year student to a retired globetrotter.

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

I am a natural classic. I suit structured, tailored, fitted clothing, which is nevertheless comfortable. That doesn’t mean I go around in tailored suits. I love a classic pair of jeans, ankle grazing trousers, cosy knitwear, stripy t-shirts and tailored dresses. You will never find me in anything floaty or frilly. Regarding shoes, I love boots, classic pumps and kitten heels, which are comfortable to wear but still make your legs look amazing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite shops are The White Company, Hobbs, Zara and Pure. For shoes I like the Dutch company, Panara.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

I would love a shearling gilet.

Boots or Shoes?

I love my flip-flop sandals. They look good with trousers or dresses and I just love the summer and having the chance to wear them. Maybe it’s because the summer in Britain is so short-lived.

Links you would like to share:

Jack-it-bag, London has its own e-commerce site at www.jack-it-bag.co.uk. You can also follow us on www.instagram.com/jackitbag or on Facebook : Jack-It Bag, London

It has been great talking to you Jo and thank you for introducing us to your fabulous Jack-It Bag.  I think it’s a brilliant idea.  Dear readers, what is on your clothes/shoe/bag wishlist?  Is it a Jack-it Bag?  Do share – as always I love reading your views!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Jo Tribley.  The photography was by Tess Salmon Photography; the model is Olivia.

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The Mystery Of You

Revealing the mystery of you – my guest this week is engineer, entrepreneur, personal trainer and author, John Ferris, who has just written a potentially life-changing book “The Yo(u)niverse Paradox: Revealing The Mystery Of You”.  Written from John’s own life and discoveries, plus merging spirituality and science; John attempts to guide the reader to reveal their uniqueness and to start building the life of their dreams.   John also has a passion for personal training and sport, even using his engineering capabilities to design and manufacture his own home gym equipment.  I caught up with John recently to find out more …. Hi John …

Hi, my name is John and I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the beginning of the troubles. My initial experiences were groomed on a Belfast estate later moving to the suburbs. I left school with little qualifications, but under my mother’s influence I attended college and then university, graduating in mechanical engineering. I initially worked in the aerospace industry, but from the outset I knew for me, fulfilment would always be out of reach; being such a small cog in a big wheel. In conjunction with my full-time job, I set up a small part-time business manufacturing my own unique exercise equipment. Alas it transpired I was probably a decade too early, at least here in the U.K. Either that or my ideas were rubbish! In saying that it acted as a stepping stone, turning my hobby as a fitness enthusiast into my current profession as a Personal Trainer. I opened Northern Ireland’s first personal training studio and was very content with my life through my fortieth year.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “The Yo(u)niverse Paradox: Revealing The Mystery Of You”. What was the catalyst that in effect changed your life?

Thank you. Just prior to my forty-first birthday my mother passed away. Terrible times most of us have to endure, but inevitable in the general sequence of events. What happened next brought me face to face with my worst nightmare. Three weeks after my mother’s passing on my 41st birthday, my wife and I were informed our six-year-old daughter Robyn had an incurable brain tumour (from western medical point of view). That moment changed everything. It was the catalyst for my spiritual awakening. The beginning of seeing the world through new eyes. The gradual removing of the veils that hide the truth. Everything I thought I knew about the world was turned upside down, back to front and inside out.

The book promotes a model of reality using the fundamental principle of nature overlooked by the mainstream view which merges science and spirituality into an all-inclusive model -allowing for everything, omitting nothing. Written from your own life experiences and discoveries – What inspired you to put pen to paper?

A catalyst is easily definable. Inspiration on the other hand can quite often come from numerous experiences. I guess after seven years of reading, researching and most importantly meditating on the question of “when you die is that it or is there anything I can do to in my lifetime to change the past and experience my daughter growing up?” I amassed an incredible amount of information and felt the urge to put pen to paper to create some space in my mind. As I was writing I could see a repeatable pattern that combined the inner self with the outer experience of the world. I applied the latest scientific discoveries with the esoteric wisdom (spirituality) hidden within every religion to show a pattern that connects everything. This pattern is the key to reality. At times I was blown away by the clarity that was evolving. I was writing off the cuff and didn’t follow any writing protocols or techniques especially since I had never written a book before, but to my surprise it all seemed to fall into place. I realised so much throughout the process. It is a very liberating experience!

If you have to pass on one piece of wisdom or advice to a person, what would be that pearl of wisdom?

You are not an insignificant being living on an insignificant speck in an infinite universe. You are imbued with the most powerful gift of the universe – the power of choice! Use it wisely by letting go of being the victim and take full responsibility.

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

Yes,  my book is published by Balboa press based in the States so can be purchased through their or my website (revealthemystery.com) and also around the world on Amazon.com.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

Yes,  I would imagine myself writing some more. Probably similar in nature, but also might link into the health and fitness industry from a functional everyday perspective.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I don’t think it will come as any surprise that’s its books based on ‘What is reality?’  Conversations with God book 1 by Neale Donald Walsh was a mind blower. Various books by Deepak Chopra, Gregg Braden and Bruce Lipton on the relationship of science and spirituality. Fred Alan Wolf’s Mind into Matter and The Yoga Of Time Travel are very good and of course The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. In the distant past I would have mainly read sporting autobiographies.

You are an engineer and entrepreneur by trade – you have designed and manufactured home gym equipment. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the engineering field or did you have other ambitions?

Not at all. I ended up in the engineering sector purely as a result of the U.K. educational system and like most teenagers feeling somewhat lost on where my future lay. I, like a lot of kids, liked the idea of being a fireman until I remembered I had a fear of heights. When I was 17 and learning to drive, on one of the few occasions my mother braved a lesson, I do remember she asked me what my ambitions were for making a living. I told her one day I’d like to own a gym. Months earlier I had purchased a home gym barbell set which initially ignited my passion. Ironically the advice I recently gave my son was to ‘find his passion and put it into action’ because you are a long time working.

You are currently involved in an unique global soccer initiative called Circular Soccer. Could you explain a bit about that project?

About 4 years ago a retired client (the father of Mr. Grey himself – Jamie Dornan) told me of the idea he first had 50 years previous, when he was a teenage boy, playing one versus one football around a central goal (hence circular) which removed the need for a goalkeeper. As young kids few want to play as the goalkeeper. He asked me to go away and develop it. I came back with the idea of a pop up three-sided triangular net which we named the tri-goal, a no play zone and cones for restarting game. Rules were drawn up and after years of prototypes and a number of FIFA trials conducted in Japan, Barbados and at the FIFA headquarters in Switzerland we finally got to market. There are five core members of the team who have worked extremely hard to get this far and time will tell how successful Circular Soccer will become. The game itself has expanded and can cater for up to 10 players and is being used at numerous football clubs to develop players skill set, but can also be purchased for kids to play in the street, back garden or park. Our website is circularsoccer.com.

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

I still play football most Sundays and still get the same thrill scoring a goal as I did when I was a kid. We men never grow up! I love the Marvel movies which bring me back to my childhood reading the comics. I also enjoy eating out in nice restaurants and occasionally have been known to partake in the Belfast pub culture. My body is a temple, but only for part of the week and there are those who would say my body reflects that! I firmly believe life is about balance. Did I mention coffee shops?

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

My daywear reflects my job so no interest there. I love Ant and Dec bomber style jackets. I call them that as during each year watching the television programme – “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” – I drive my wife crazy pointing out all the bomber jackets that look cool. My “go to” look I guess would be a nice crisp white shirt with black or denim jeans transported on a Ted Baker brogue.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Not particularly, but thinking about it I do seem to have accumulated a fair amount of Ted Baker/Guess labels and the odd Primark.

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

A new white shirt……seriously!

Boots or Shoes?

Back in the day it was definitely boots. They ranged from Dr Martens to Chelsea boots with the Cowboy boots or ‘Cowbs’ as they affectionately became known somewhere in the mix. I still have them in the hope that one day they will come back into fashion. My wife has just informed me they never were in fashion!

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

My book webpage is revealthemystery.com
On Facebook my book page is also revealthemystery
Also check out circularsoccer.com

Great chatting to you John – it has been a pleasure to have you on the blog.  Your book is  certainly interesting and you’re truly an inspiration.  I love the advice you gave your son: find your passion, put it into action.  That’s the kind of advice I offer my children too. Dear readers, what was the best advice you’ve received?  What advice have you given to your offspring? As always, do share  – I’d love to know your thoughts…

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission of John Ferris.

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An Interview With Mo Endfield

Being the wife of a celebrated film director (Cy Endfield – who directed Zulu, amongst others) and a model in her own right, I’m so excited to welcome onto my blog Mo Endfield.  I wanted  to know all about her new book about being a film director’s wife, her uber glam life as a model in 1950s, her marriage to Cy and what her fashion tastes are like today …. And I’m sure you’d love to find out too! Hi Mo & welcome!

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Hi!  I’m Mo Endfield.  My interests now are my family, friends, films, theatre (especially musicals) long walks and reading. Also I must start exercising more. A few things that happened in my life I would change – wouldn’t we all?

I was lucky enough to read a preview copy, thank you, of your book, “The Film Director’s Wife” – a tell-all autobiography of your life, how you and Cy met, and your life together.  What attracted you most about Cy?

I met Cy in January 1952 because he was dating my best friend Peggy Priest for several months. Through Cy I met Jack Berry and Chan Canasta. We didn’t “get together” until1954. Cy fascinated me
because he was like a guy from another planet. ( ” The Film Director’s Wife” p46:  ‘I had never met someone like him. I had never met such a sophisticated charmer. He made me feel very, very nervous and tongue-tied. I instructed Priest, “Don’t ever leave me alone in a room with him.” I was bewildered by his sneaky verbal assaults and sly digs. He laughed at my acquired Roedean accent. Cy liked to lounge on my bed with Priest, and goad me, smiling his silly smile.)

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Although your parents refused to attend your wedding to Cy, you had a happy 40 year partnership.  Did your parents decision make your early married years difficult? Did they accept Cy in the end?

My father died just 2 weeks after we returned from our honeymoon in France and Italy – a brain tumour, he was only 54. My mother had lost both her daughter and her husband. I remained close to her, she lived with us for the last 10 years of her life. Her relationship with Cy was always politely cool. Dying aged 87 she said to Cy, “Take care of her for me, Cy” which was the closest she came to acceptance.

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As a child what books did you enjoy reading? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

My favourite book was Dombey and Son, everything by Charles Dickens. Also Snow White, when I was 11 I tried to set up a play (with me playing Snow White) but it proved a bit difficult to find 7 dwarfs in Menston. I have belonged to a book club since 2007, we meet once a month for several hours, all contributing hot food
and wine (very lively!) We choose a book in turn, the last two were Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski and a memoir of Irene Nemirovsky by her daughter – both great reads.

As a former model you rubbed shoulders with many celebrities including Christian Dior, Terence Stamp, Jean Shrimpton and Michael Caine. Who was your style icon at the time?

My style icon was the American model Suzy Parker (my daughter Suzannah was named after her.) Also meeting the model Barbara Goalen ( foot size 2 ) and Fiona Campbell-Walter.

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Out of all the things you’ve experienced as a wife of a film director – what experience did you enjoy the most and what was a nightmare experience?

My most enjoyable experience – when Cy received the accolades he deserved after ZULU :
“Three times I’ve had to remake my life,” declared Cy Endfield, who’s now on top of the heap as director of Zulu, one of the biggest grossers in British film history.” New York Herald Tribune.
A nightmare experience – Cy struggling to find work in England 1952/62 – as he was unable to make films as America would
not accept any film directed by anyone named on the Blacklist.

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Hypothetically speaking, if “The Film Director’s Wife” was made into a film, what actors would you pick to be the main characters playing yourself and your husband?

Peter Sellers and Anouk Aimee.

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

I’m happiest in trousers and loafers, Adidas and Nike. Like to get tarted up occasionally in a posh frock. I love shoes – currently I’m wearing Chanel, Ferragamo, Cardin, Russell and Bromley and Prada. Never heels.

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?  Do you have a clothes/shoes wishlist?

Never. I don’t want to be tempted ! When I was a model, I was often given clothes, or at much reduced prices. The result is I cannot pay full price for anything. For years I would trudge around sales, now I tend to buy from catalogues – current favourites WALL, PURE and ARTIGIANO.

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots in winter, shoes all year. I am wearing Emma Hope and Robert Clergerie. My favourite ankle boots I bought a long time ago in the Harrods sale. They cost me £3 ! I don’t like the current fashion for clumpy boots with short skirts, but I guess that’s an age thing.

Links you would like to share:

Copies of The Film Director’s Wife can be purchased from The Book Guild, here: http://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop-collection/biography/film-directors-wife/
The book is also available from any good bookshop.

It’s been fabulous chatting to you Mo and like you, I do like a good bargain – ankle boots from Harrods at £3! – one of my favourite bargains was a brand new NEXT dress that was handed in to a local jumble sale, tags intact, for sale for 50p – I was so pleased it was my size.  I had seen the dress in NEXT a week or so prior to the sale priced up at £40 or so!  Dear readers, have you got any bargains you’ve picked up over the years in your wardrobes?  Do share!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Mo Endfield.

 

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An Interview With Afrika Presents

On the blog today is Mara Menzies, Kenyan-Scottish storyteller and founder of Afrika Presents.  Afrika Presents draws inspiration from Africa’s rich stories and vibrant cultures when designing its products.  I was particularly drawn to their “The African Fashion Design Sketchbook”, a book that combines the history and beauty of African fashion textiles to children, with the aim of inspiring children to want to learn more about the amazing continent. I caught up with Mara recently to find out more…. Hi Mara and welcome….

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Hi, I’m Mara, a storyteller, founder of Afrika Presents, mother of 2 incredible children, dreamer, dancer, reader and traveller.

“The African Fashion Design Sketchbook” is a book that brings together the incredible history & beauty of fashion textiles from Africa to children. So what was the inspiration behind writing & compiling this book?

I returned home from Kenya and wanted a gift for my daughter and bought a fashion book where she could design a model and I found myself wishing that there was an African version of that so she could create, imagine and explore the things she loved but learn about her African heritage at the same time. Then I thought I’m going to do that and I did! African fashions and textiles are so beautiful and their histories are so intertwined with other cultures around the world but we never hear about that so I took the approach to make sure it was fun but informative too.

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You are a Kenyan Scottish storyteller – so how come you decided to start up your company, Afrika Presents?

Once the idea of the fashion book was born, there was so much else to explore that it made sense to form the company and think of what direction it could go. Being a storyteller is a real privilege as you share some very personal moments with small groups of people. I felt that there were so many stories to be told, so many other ways to explore such a vast and vibrant continent that it was impossible to do it just by myself. Through Afrika Presents, I have been able to work with a wider range of people – artists, designers, people experienced with the business side of things, and so many more.

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Africa has many rich stories – do you have a particular favourite tale?

There are so many to choose from but I do love an Ethiopian story about a woman who innocently throws a bone out of the window which is fought over by 2 dogs, which results in 2 boys fighting, then 2 women fighting, then 2 men fighting, then 2 villages fighting until suddenly the whole thing has spiralled out of control. Finally they realise that everyone involved could have stopped it before it reached that terrible point. Sacrifices are made and peace does return but the moral is that we must always think before throwing our bones out of the window. Of course the bone is symbolic of so many things in our lives but I love sharing this story because everyone gets caught up in the ruckus without realising where the story is heading and then suddenly BAM, they get it, and it is a wonderful feeling to take people on that rollercoaster.

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You are currently developing an app that will bring the pages of the book alive. That project sounds totally awesome, I must say. What parts of the app do you think will particularly grab a child’s attention in more ways than the book?

Yes, we’re really excited about it. There are videos, games and quizzes and we plan to continually upgrade the content too. I think the children (and adults) will really like the interactive elements as they can then test themselves and we live in a digital age so it is amazing to able to fuse pen, paper and the digital world.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I grew up in Kenya and my diet consisted of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, The Famous Five, The Nancy Drew mysteries, a series of books about twins from various cultures, and we always had National Geographic magazines around the house. I also loved the books where you had to choose which page to go to to change the path of the story. Nowadays, we are lucky to have access to authors from all over the world. I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Muthoni Garland as well as random books that I stumble upon, often with a traditional folktale structure. I’m currently reading The Book of Lost Things which turns folktales on their heads and is hugely enjoyable and thought provoking and I love books about Scottish mythology and mystical creatures. Scotland tells a great story.

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I have been to Kenya myself and was captivated by the beauty of the country – Mt Kilimanjaro was a particular favourite spot of mine. Have you got a favourite part of Africa? Any part of Africa you haven’t yet visited but is on your bucket list?

One of my favourite memories was at our farm in Kenya which is on the side of a valley. there was a silver river snaking its way at the bottom and quartz in the ground always twinkled at sunset. On one evening, somebody somewhere was playing a reed flute and it was just so beautiful. That is now my favourite place. I’d love to visit Botswana and Namibia and I love Malian music so will hopefully get there too.

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

I am seasonal in the sense that winter I close shop and wear boots, jeans and thick chunky jumpers and go for comfort over fashion. But in the summer I adore bright colours and patterns. I like shoes with small  heels. I can’t wear very high heels but I’ve always loved the grandeur of Victorian fashion and so the shorter, curvier heels make me feel part of that!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love raiding the charity shops and then tweaking what I find at home. I also find treasures in vintage shops. I do visit Zanjoo.com every now and again as they have some fantastic skirts and often match colours successfully that really shouldn’t work but always do. As I go to Kenya every year, I always find stunning fabrics and I have a tailor who makes beautiful clothes so I go with a wishlist. Otherwise I buy basics on the high street.

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

Now we’re heading for winter, it’s time for my annual boot splurge. I would love to own good quality boots in a vibrant red but they are hard to find! I sometimes find incredible boots for my 9 year old that I want in my size!

Boots or Shoes?

Flat boots for everyday comfort and lovely shoes or high heeled boots when I’m trying to impress:)

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

Visit the website at www.afrikapresents.com and we’re at https://www.facebook.com/Afrikapresents

Thank you Mara for introducing your fab company! I have always been fascinated with the continent of Africa and my youngest son has the continent in the number one slot of his bucket travel list – he loves animals and the vast outdoors.  Like you I grew up with the stories of Raold Dahl and Enid Blyton; I read the National Geographic Magazine from cover to cover – and my children have grown up surrounded by the same … along with modern technology.  One African story I liked was about the baobab tree that I heard whilst in Kenya – it is known as the upside down tree as its branches don’t have leaves and they look like tree roots!  Dear readers, are you fascinated by Africa? Would you like to visit? Or have you travelled there already? Do you have an African story to tell? As always, do share – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Mara Menzies.

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An Interview With DBR Bags

Ethically made bags is the topic on the blog today as I meet  Diana Rennie, founder & creative designer of DBR Bags – a brand that combines on-trend designs with ethical beliefs – ideal for the stylish, cosmopolitan and socially conscious woman.  Hi and welcome Diana….

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Hi! My name is Diana Rennie, I am the founder and creative director of DBR Bags, a recently launched independent luxury leather handbag brand. The handbags combine unique designs, expert craftsmanship and are ethically produced and they appeal to a diversity of women who love fashion and appreciate being on trend.

What inspired you to launch DBR Bags?

A few years ago my mum passed away at a relatively young age, following a short illness. My mum, whilst still alive, would have loved for me to pursue what she called my life’s purpose – fashion design… After she passed away, I needed something to let a little light into my life, a different focus. I thought I’d make a handbag – just a couple of hours, a little indulgence to take my mind off things for a little while. So, maybe you can say it started with that one handbag. A handbag, my mum would have loved, no doubt, as she loved fashion as much as I do and handbags held a special place in her heart. That one handbag turned into 20 as everyone I knew loved it and wanted one. That’s when I came up with the idea of the DBR brand – a collection of handbags of the highest quality, unique, head-turning, limited edition designs, ethically produced.

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Have you always had a passion for fashion & bags?

My love for fashion and handbag making began in my teens if not even earlier. Obsessed with the latest trends, I’d spend hours teaching myself pattern cutting and sewing in order to duplicate the latest designer fashions as seen in Vogue or Elle. However, when the time came to apply for a University place, I lacked the confidence to follow my passion in fashion design and instead I chose a degree in French studies. I embarked on my University studies determined to focus on my studies and put behind me any thoughts of fashion and design. But, choosing French as a degree meant spending a year in Paris which in turn meant – you guessed it! – not being able to escape fashion! Hard to escape fashion in Paris! I remember getting to the last 3 months of my stay in Paris, leafing through my study folder and wondering how I’d managed to find my way to every fashion show in town not to mention put together over 100 sketches of clothes and accessories yet not find the time to get to a library and finish my dissertation… So, here I was again saying to myself to focus on my studies and put that fashion thing to one side. And yes, I did finish that dissertation, got my degree and pursued a very enjoyable career in teaching French until very recently.

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When designing bags to add to your collection, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

I only design when guided by inspiration. And I find inspiration in many places, some unexpected, some predictable. Sometimes, it could an element in nature like the shape of a leaf, or the colour of some striking flower like the bougainvillea. Sometimes it could be a casual remark made by friend or customer. I also love leafing through the Vogue editions of the 50s and 60s as they provide a wealth of ideas and inspiration.

I am personally rather smitten with the DBR Elodie Shoulder Bag. What bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Oh, thank you. One of my personal favourites too! The Fleur and Valentina bags were very much in demand in the summer months perhaps for obvious reasons. They’re both light hearted, flirty handbags that go hand in hand with a summer holiday vibe. Over the past couple of months we’ve had a great demand for the Sienna Tote and the Madison Satchel. They are both very versatile in that they can be worn in the daytime with smart clothing but come the weekend they can be worn just as elegantly with a pair of jeans.

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Out of all the bags in your collection, what is your favourite?

It’s such a hard call! I fall in love with each and every handbag as I design it and then I fall in love with them all over again when I see the finished product. I might forget about a certain one which I might have designed a while ago, only to see it again and re-discover its beauty. Sometimes, when I revisit a handbag after a while, it takes me by surprise: ”Can’t believe I designed this one myself! It’s gorgeous!”

As a brand, your company strives to do its best by its customers, workforce and environment. You aim to do that by combining on-trend designs with ethical practices. So, how are your handbags produced ethically?

Firstly, I wanted the women wearing the DBR handbags to do so with pride, knowing that the handbags were created with respect to the workforce and the environment. To that extent I spent months finding the ideal factory which would enhance the lives of the talented and skilled people working there. The factories I work with, not only pay their workforce a fair living wage, but they also invest in the training and skill upgrade of their workforce, too. Besides, they engage in zero-waste sample making, creating minimum material waste and consuming as little energy as possible in production – all of which are key principles of reducing the environmental impact of production.

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Hypothetically speaking, which famous lady (dead or alive) would be your ideal “face” of DBR Bags?

The face of DBR Bags is every woman who finds joy in wearing the handbags! The designs are varied in order to appeal to women of all different ages, from all different cultures and backgrounds, which luckily, indeed they do.

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

Without giving too much away, let’s say that the accent will be on pastel colours and miniature shapes.

As you are based in the UK, are your bags available for overseas customers to order too?

The bags are available for sale worldwide and we also offer free shipping and returns worldwide.

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

I am quite a girly girl, so I feel most comfortable wearing a well-fitted dress and sky high heels, always accessorized with a DBR handbag, of course! In winter, I also love a nice Ted Baker coat as they are so beautiful and made to last. I know, high heels and comfortable it’s a bit of a contradiction but I can’t even walk in flat shoes, I constantly trip up in them!

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

I do! I love to shop for pieces that I can wear time and again as I don’t appreciate the fast-fashion concept – too damaging to the environment. I love Ted Baker, Karen Millen and Coast as their designs are quite unique and the finished product is guaranteed to last. I also love Gucci shoes, their designs are jaw-dropping! I started saving for a pair a few years’ ago and I’ll let you know when I’ve managed to save enough!

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

At the moment I’m focused on the next handbag collection which is not far off from being completed. Then, ideally I would love the opportunity to launch a footwear collection.

Boots or Shoes?

Possibly shoes to start with, because as a designer a shoe collection would stretch your creative abilities more and I always like a challenge!

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

Yes, you can find our online shop at www.DBRbags.co.uk and we would also like to offer your readers an exclusive 30% off website wide by using the code DBRTAKE30 at checkout.
Also, we would love for your readers to say hello to us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DBRbags/
or twitter: @DBRbags

Thank you so much the discount offer Diana – that’s Christmas sorted or perhaps a New Year’s treat for yourself.  Dear readers, I’ve been wondering – do you buy handbags to match your footwear or do you buy bags that just catch your eye?  I buy a bag because it catches my eye, irrespective if it actually matches my outfit or footwear.  I remember in the 1970/1980s the trend was matching shoes and bag ensemble… So I acquired many bags in all colours to match my shoes…. Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Diana Rennie and DBR Bags.

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