Category Archives: Music/Entertainment

An Interview With Rufus Publications

If you are passionate about music, books and publishing, there is no career finer than the job that my guest, Mark Smith, does! Mark is a publisher with the independent publishing house, Rufus Publications, that specialises in creating and distributing high end coffee table books about bands and music.  Working directly with artistes and bands, the books and the photography bring to life some iconic concerts.  I’m thrilled to welcome Mark on the blog, to find out more…

Hi! I am Mark Smith, a 52 year old publisher from Newbury Berkshire. Married (30 years) with three sons, a daughter and a plethora of grandchildren based in the UK and South Africa.

Mark (left) & David Coverdale at his studio in Reno

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in publishing?

I have worked for myself since I was 19. I ran a design and marketing company until 2007, stopping after having a small stroke (probably stress induced). I have always loved books, music and films so I decided to start a business that would encompass these passions in 2010.

Rufus Publications specialise in creating & distributing high end coffee table books about bands & music. What were the reasons why you decided to stick with bands & music?

Well, I’m starting with the music I know and love. The biggest surprise is how long it takes to pull a book together. I thought it would take 4 months but really it’s a year or more.

What has been the most popular publication so far?

AC/DC followed by Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

David Coverdale on stage – photo taken by Mark for the new Purple book)

What has been your favourite book to date?

We are just launching a Whitesnake book and we worked directly with David Coverdale and his producer MIchael McIntyre, following the band on an arena tour of the UK and taking many of the shots used in the book. This time we haven’t licensed other people’s work so we have more freedom. They have been fun and professional to work with and we got to visit the band’s studio in Reno. Good fun. We are also working with legendary guitarist Peter Green on a forthcoming title. He’s amazing to work with and it will be quite some book.

You have worked with bands in the past such as AC/DC and Deep Purple, however, if you were given the chance, who would you love to publish a book about?

We would love to do Metallica and perhaps some of the more obscure American blues artistes. We are also considering some classic film books.

A spread from the forthcoming Peter Green book

Most of your books are designed, printed & bound in the UK. Are they available to purchase outside the UK?

We ship anywhere in the world. We are passionate about UK production because we have lost so much to China and England used to be a major centre for book production.

I have seen AC/DC a couple of times, including the concert  where Axl Rose was the lead singer. My last concert was to see Paul Rodgers. What was the last music concert you went to?

The Iron Maidens and Bernie Marsden a few weeks ago and The Darkness next week.

A shot of Meatloaf and Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) confronting each other backstage at the Monsters of Rock in 1983 (from the forthcoming history of the festival). Photo by PG Brunelli

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

Jeans, t-shirts and converse boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Amazon because I can’t buy music in Newbury but the internet has taken the fun out of the high street.

A classic guitar photographed in the Rufus Publications studio, from a forthcoming book on rare & unusual guitars belonging to Bernie Marsden. Photographed by the Rufus Team

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

A decent striped jacket, if I can find one that fits.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. They’re chunkier!

Links to follow & discover Rufus Publications:

www.rufuspublications.com
www.facebook.com/rufuspublications

For pinning later

I do hope you enjoy seeing The Darkness next week – I saw them live in 2004! I really enjoy seeing bands that put on a show – like Metallica, Alice Cooper, Kiss, AC/DC, David Bowie and Whitesnake – to name a few that I’ve seen.  Dear readers, do you like seeing live bands? Any favourites? Do share your stories…

Linda x

All photographs (apart from the Pinterest photo) have been published with kind permission from Rufus Publications and the photographers have been credited in the article.

The Pinterest photo was taken by myself,  Linda Hobden, at a Status Quo concert held at Newmarket Race Course in July 2015

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Kinky Boots Weekend

It was all about boots last weekend in my household – a trip to London to see the West End smash hit musical, Kinky Boots. Wearing my favourite boots (not kinky, but stylish) – cowboy boots by Jeffery West – my husband and I set off to be wowed!

First stop was Piccadilly Arcade and a visit to the iconic Jeffery West shoe shop. Although my boots are by Jeffery West, the brand is mostly male orientated. The shop oozes sophistication from the shining array of leather shoes and boots on display, the comfortable snakeskin sofa to the iconic rock posters on the wall.

Jeffery-West is the brainchild of Mark Jeffery and Guy West, who both hail from the shoe making capital of the UK, Northampton.  Using an array of colours, leathers and imagination not often found in men’s footwear – if you’re looking for classic English brogues, then this is not the shop for you. The shoes and boots are inspired by actors and rock legends, such as Keith Richards, Oliver Reed, Peter O’Toole, Jarvis Cocker, Bryan Ferry, Roger Moore, Bram Stoker, Richard Burton. The footwear all have the signature red lining and even their men’s accessories, eg the leather gloves are red silk lined and the men’s briefcase is fashioned in black snakeskin and lined in red suede.

However, I was not here to merely window shop or to buy boots for myself.  My husband has had a pair of Jeffery West boots on his wish list for a while.  He was all smiles when he opted for some black snakeskin boots. They did look fab! As all the boots and shoes are named after icons, it was great to discover that the boots he chose were named after one of his favourite musicians, Phil Lynott.

If you fancy checking out Jeffery-West shops, you can find them online or visit their shops – they have 2 in London (Piccadilly & Cullum Street, part of Leadenhall Market); Barton Arcade in Manchester; The County Arcade in Leeds; and at 19 Christopher Street in Manhattan, New York.

Having changed into his new boots, my husband and I toddled off through the crowds that were celebrating Chinese New Year onto our next port of call, the Adelphi Theatre, to see the musical Kinky Boots. The musical, written by Harvey Fierstein, is based on the 2005 film of the same name.  The film is a big favourite of mine so I was looking forward to seeing how the story would act out on stage, so to speak.

The basic plot: “Price & Son” is a fictional traditional menswear factory based in Northampton.  Although Mr Price was into his shoes, his son Charlie did not have the same enthusiasm.  He ups sticks and moves to London with his fiancée – then he gets a phone call telling him that his father has died.  Charlie returns to Northampton and immediately everybody in the factory assumes that he’ll be taking over. Charlie finds out that the company was verging on bankruptcy, orders had been cancelled but as Mr Price couldn’t bear to see his workers suffer, he continued to make stock that was virtually useless. He thought about making the workers redundant, he thought about taking some stock to an old friend in London to shift at his store.  Whilst in London, Charlie spots a lady being accosted in an alley and goes to rescue her, but he wasn’t prepared for the lady’s deadly right hook.  The lady was drag queen, “Lola”.  Moaning about her cheap useless boots whose heel kept falling off, Charlie & Lola collaborate to save Charlie’s factory  by developing a line of high heel fetishwear sexy enough for a lady yet strong enough to support a man’s weight.  There were hiccups along the way – “it has high heeled, it has to be red, and scream sex” as Lola was trying to convince the straitlaced Charlie that was the way to go. Especially as they want to make inroads into the Milan footwear catwalk show! Interlaced with the main story, was factory prejudices, “Lola’s” story and a moral ending that is not exactly what you would at first think.

My verdict:  The show stuck to the plot of the film, near enough – a couple of variations that did work better on stage, for example,  the background of the factory & Lola’s story featured in detail at the start of the film was condensed in the show; in the film there was a hand wrestling match – this was replaced with an awe inspiring choreographed boxing ring bout.  Oh, the live drag show was spectacular – how do those blokes dance in heels? And, they were all utterly gorgeous! The songs/music were written by 1980s pop star  Cyndi Lauper (remember “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”?) so the 1980s vibe was alive and kicking.  I was mesmerised from start to finish – I laughed, cried, sang & danced.

Purchasing a T shirt to remember my fantastic day – I urge you all to Keep Calm and Buy Kinky – buy the DVD, buy tickets to see the Show or Film – honestly, you won’t be disappointed.

Finally I want to thank my gorgeous husband, Adam, for buying me the DVD & show tickets for Christmas – and for a brilliant London trip!

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

Disclaimer:  I have not been paid or sponsored to feature either Jeffery-West or Kinky Boots.  The boots were purchased by my husband. I’m such an avid fan of Jeffery West that I just couldn’t let this post go by without mentioning their website!

 

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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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Be Iconic

The creative arts is the theme of today’s blog and I’m pleased to welcome singer – songwriter and  record label owner Susanna Westwood, who launched on 31 October her training programme, Be Iconic. The training programme aims to offer both practical and psychological advice,  covering every aspect required to build a sustainable creative business for actors, musicians, dancers, filmmakers and fashion designers. I caught up with Susanna recently to find out more…. Hi Susanna!

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Hi, my name is Susanna Westwood. I am the CEO of Emergeination and founder of Be Iconic.

What was the inspiration behind Be-Iconic?

Be iconic was formed out of frustration for my own creative career: I had been working in the industry for over 15 years and I was tired of struggling month to month living like a “starving artist”. I was done being told what to do and feeling like I was selling out. I wanted to create my career on my own terms, make my own rules but I knew I had to find a new way in. So, I made it my mission to learn about the business, about the industry, how to promote myself without it being sleazy, how to get funding & investment, how to build the right team around me and most importantly how to develop the mindset skills that would help me succeed. I became obsessed with learning this stuff and it totally paid off. So much so that I now get to run an award winning creative company, I have my own music and dance career and I get to work with amazing creatives in the fashion, art and entertainment industry all over the world. I have had so many conversations with emerging fashion designers, artist, musicians, dancers, film makers about how to develop their careers. No matter what area of the creative world, every creative has these amazing big dreams but often they don’t know how to make it happen and they are left struggling, frustrated and often broke. That is why I created Be Iconic.

What are the training programme’s goals?

Be Iconic, is everything I have learnt on how to build a successful creative career, it takes artists by the hand through every practical and psychological step they need to build a creative business that generates income from their talent so they can do what they love to do…. create.

Be iconic is designed to help creatives:

  • Unlock their inner icon, so self-doubt never drags you down again.
  • Use social media effectively to build a raving fan base and automatically sell their products – No more starving artists.
  • Get momentum and results in just 90 days.
  • Get investors, managers, agents, labels, galleries, and other “career makers” so excited, they’re scrambling to back you.
  • Pinpoint your unique angle that sets you apart from the sea of sameys.

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Who would benefit from the Be Iconic training programme?

Be iconic is for Fashion designers, filmmakers, actors, musicians, fine artists, dancers — you name it … who have tried to go it on their own — using youtube, itunes, instagram, everywhere they have heard they need to be — and it hasn’t worked. It’s for creatives who are feeling stuck and frustrated with their career and long to make it but have no clue what to do first. Maybe they have been told they are too old or they have the “I can’t” voice replaying in their heads any time they think about the business end of getting out there. Be Iconic is designed to meet creatives where they are at and give them a clear roadmap of where to go and what to do in order to succeed in their industry.

Can you tell us a little bit about what a trainee would experience once they signed up for the programme?

As soon as a creative signs up to Be Iconic they get instant access to Module 1: “The Master Key: Kick Start Your Creative career”, this show them how to unlock their biggest dreams, giving artists a clear roadmap of what they need to do to make it in their industry.
Every week a new module if released which looks at the areas an artist need to be iconic in their industry. Such as:
– How to access to major investment and funding that could transform everything you do.
– How to sell creative products online, mapping your hands-free, automated promotion system that makes you income 24/7.
– How to “Gaga-fy” your brand: Create a core message that hits home with your ideal audience
– How to make crucial industry connections.
– Your secret edge: Find out exactly how you’ll blow your competition out of the water.
– How to understand your talents and creative flow, so you can identify the partners who fill in the gaps.
– How to see and smash through the limitations that are blocking your success and how to build a bullet-proof, professional mind set.
Not only to creatives get huge amounts of industry training, they also get access to my signature platform emergeination, A one-click system where creatives can put their art (music, film, fine art, clothes, online dance classes — whatever they create) online, and start selling literally that same day.

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You have also developed “Emergeination” – a platform for creatives to sell their work – like Etsy, EBay, ITunes & Facebook rolled into one. What was the inspiration and motivation behind starting that project?

The idea for Emergeination began back in 2012, I remember watching the Social Media movie before I went to bed and that night I couldn’t sleep so I got up at about 4 am and began to scribble down ideas. I like to call it my “rain man” moment because I just had a flood of inspiration. In that moment I came up with the idea of ceating a platform for all creatives, for; fashion designers, film makers, dancers, musicians, artists, a place where they could sell and promote their work worldwide, a place where they could gain more exposure to new audiences who loved their work and a place where they could connect with other creatives and collaborate on new work. Emergeination was created to help creatives earn even more from their creative products, in comparison to other platforms that take huge percentages from artists. In a nutshell, Emergeination – it’s like walking into a beautiful storefront with your sign on it, and all you have to do is stock the shelves.

Being a singer-songwriter, you’ve teamed up with artists who have worked with artists such as Beverly Knight and Prince on an album in the past. If you had a chance to duet with anybody you like, dead or alive, who would you choose & what song?

Ohhh wow that is a good question –  it’s so hard to pick just one. I would have to say Lionel Richie, for a male vocalist, because he was one of the main artists I grew up listening to. So many memories listening to him in the car. And if I could pick a female one, it’s got to be Ella Fitzgerald – I melt every time I hear her voice.

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

Gotta love a good pair of skinny jeans but I do have a thing for jackets, If I had enough wardrobe space I would buy loads of coats and jackets. Love them. When it comes to shoes, as I am only 5ft 2” (hobbit size) I am all about the heels –  I love stilettos.

When you get a chance, what genre of music do you like to listen to? Any favourite artistes?

I love soul and jazz music, which you can tell when you listen to my new album “Unlocked”. My favourite artists right now ( this changes depending on my mood) are Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. They are amazing vocalists.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

As I work a lot, I find it hard to get out and go shopping so I have to say my biggest weakness is Asos. I have their FREE next day delivery membership package and I buy from there all the time. I love the variety and the convenience of it being delivered to my door.

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

Ohh this I do know, there is this a fashion designer on Emergeination called Tamara Joseph. She is amazing, she has been featured in New York and London Fashion week. I love a dress she has designed.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots, I love the variety you get and if I am honest I am less likely to fall flat on my face.  Though, if I am on a night out, heels are a must.

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

www.susannawestwood.com/beiconic

www.facebook.com/susannawestwood

Thank you for chatting with us Susanna and I can envisage both Be-Iconic and Emergination being big successes!  I love how you describe our heights as “hobbit size” – for the record, I’m 5ft3 – and although I do like heels I enjoy wearing my flat shoes too.  My mum is only 5ft and she has always worn heels because of her height, as did her mum before her. So dear readers, do you pick your shoe heel height because of your own height? If you are tall, do you wear flats because you feel self conscious when wearing heels? As always, I love to hear your thoughts, so do comment….

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Susanna Westwood.

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Revisiting Buckso Dhillon Woolley

Way back, almost exactly 2 years ago, on 7 November 2014, I interviewed actress/singer Buckso Dhillon Woolley (read original interview HERE) who had just starred in a UK countrywide advert for frozen food company, Iceland, alongside heart throb Peter Andre.  Buckso was looking forward to auditioning for a part in the West End stage show, Bend It Like Beckham.  So now, two years on, did Buckso  get a role in Bend It Like Beckham?  Is she still singing? I caught up with Buckso recently to find the answers to those questions and more…. Welcome back onto the blog Buckso!

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Hi there! I’m Buckso DHILLON-WOOLLEY and I’m an actor/speaker just finalising my 1st eBook on RESILIENCE as I make a segway into the speaking arena!

I was fortunate enough to interview you in November 2014 …. so, what made you want to become an actress in the first place?

Yes you did! And my what a journey these last few months have been! I’d say the very first time I knew the entertainment industry was the only way for me, was after I’d discovered I had a voice singing the theme tune to Why Don’t You back when I was a young teen. After that, I as bitten by the bug!

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Congratulations on your appearance in the West End production of “Bend It Like Beckham” as Auntiji ( Aunty G) for the 2015 run! Being picked for a West End show is such an achievement in itself… and a role you was hoping to get when I last interviewed you too! What was it like being in such a fabulous West End production? Any memorable moments that stand out?

Yes, it was something I finally nailed after auditioning for it 3yrs on the trot, and it was such a relief to get a yes! The thrill of a live audience was fantastic as I’d never experienced theatre before so wasn’t sure what to expect, which was good in some ways as I was going in with no expectations and I have to say it was phenomenal to be in such a well received show..with 5 star ratings and brilliant reviews I was a tad spoilt you might say! Most memorable moment would be the press night party..seeing something like that in such a scale was lovely and the fact my sister and husband had the chance to share it with me made it even more special considering I’d been mugged at gunpoint the night before. Maybe that’s the most memorable part actually!

As you revealed in 2014, you have a love for films … So I was dead chuffed to hear that you’ve been filming a new feature film written & directed by Andrew Hulme called “The Devil Outside”. Can you reveal what the film is about and the part that you play?

Oh yes I’m a big fan of films and SO pleased my first one was based and filmed in and around an area I live near. In short, I play the mum to the young lad and it’s a sort of coming of age film, set in Nottingham about religion, madness and repressed sexuality, and that’s all I can say! You have a lot to look forward to as Andrew Hulme has a great eye for shots and capturing a story with ability for fine detail.

In 2014, you met THE man himself, Peter Andre, whilst filming the Iceland advert. So as you’ve forayed since then into the world of theatre and movies, who have you encountered that have made a lasting impression on you?

You know I’ve yet to meet someone who has had a lasting impression on me as I’m really not that in awe of anyone as such. It’s more about how a person makes me feel by what they say after they’ve gone. If I’m still pondering what they’ve said more than 24hrs later then I know they’ve left their mark.

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In 2014, you hoped to release an album or set of songs based on the Bond films… depending on whether you got the “Bend It Like Beckham” role or not! As we all know, you did get the role – but did you manage to do a Bond set or is it still on the back burner? Do you still get to do any singing?

Ah I’m still waiting to do that! It’s on the back burner right now but most definitely something I want to do in my life. I’ve sang at a couple of charity dos this October but there was a point after the show finished where I thought I’d never sing again as my voice totally decided to leave me for a few months! At that point I realised just how important it is for me to sing, whether it’s paid or not, as it feeds my soul.

Looking ahead to 2017 – any plans in the pipeline that you can reveal to us?

Well one thing I can definitely say is happening will be the release of my new ebook which should be out at the end of November. I’m booking now for talks and speaking gigs for networking groups and schools so should be rolling that out next year alongside my acting etc. The book itself is called “The Resilience Queen: 7.5 Steps to finding your own”. It gives motivation and guidance to finding and maintaining your resilience in times of adversity and uncertainty. This is with a view to following it up with another book that talks more in depth about each chapter with examples of times in my life I’ve had to be resilient and continue to overcome any and all obstacles! Also recently started to work with a fantastic new skincare and cosmetics company, MAELLE, which launched in October and you can visit my website below for more info or email me direct.

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

Weellll,  I’m a die-hard Primark fan but even I’ve noticed lately I’m choosing more of the Marks and Spencer gear – it’s actually quite appealing to me and I’m shocked! I guess my taste is becoming more refined as I age but I’ve always maintained I’d never do designer stuff and I stand by that still. I’m not knocking those who do, I just choose to spend my dollar elsewhere. Shoes wise,  I’m again going for the comfy foot glove range from Marks & Spencer. More so because, since April this year, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which thankfully is under control now, but if my feet are squished in a shoe, they ain’t happy!

Do you have any favourite designers?

Not as such but when I buy from QVC (yep still a big fan!) I do love Dennis Basso for coats and Nina Leonard, Attitudes by Renee, Anything Design, Chelsea Muse and BIBA for clothes, as they’re so unique!

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

I’m now on a bit of a mission to get some gorge autumn/winter boots that are faux fur lined, like the EMU boots range that come in a host of fabulous colours.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots win hands down!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more you & follow your career.

Instagram : @buckso_
Twitter : @bucksodw
Facebook : https://m.facebook.com/bucksodw
www.myelle.co.uk
www.resiliencequeen.com

It has been fantastic to catch up with you, Buckso, and am so glad you have so many things in the pipeline and plenty for us to look forward to! Glad your auditioning perseverance on stage with Bend It Like Beckham paid off, although being mugged at gunpoint is not an experience I would like to have! So, dear readers,  Buckso has admitted that her shopping preferences have changed as she’s got older – finding herself being attracted to M & S whereas previously Primark was her main go to shop –  have you found yourself drifting away from your favourite shop as you’ve got older? Drop me a comment… I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Buckso Dhillon-Woolley.

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An Interview With Crystal Parade

A bit of sparkle and razzmatazz on the blog this week – Crystal Parade  is the UK’s premier partner and supplier of Preciosa Crystals, Swarovski Crystals, and Crystallised Swarovski Elements – as well as supplying fabrics, feathers, fringes, crinolin and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion, bridal and theming industries, among others.  I caught up with Wendy Miller, the Managing Director, to find out more about her sparkling inspiration and her passion for boots!

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Hi, my name is Wendy C. Miller. I’m an entrepreneur, Director/Producer of Musical Theatre, and Managing Director of Crystal Parade. I enjoy acting, gardening, singing, travelling, and spending time with close friends/family.

Crystal Parade was awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant accreditation this year. What was the inspiration behind Crystal Parade?

The inspiration behind Crystal Parade was to essentially collaborate with the Creative Arts sector in a closer way. Having a certain amount of knowledge, experience and a great passion for the industry, my desire was to build an online business which could add further value to the marketplace by providing high quality products, specialist advice, innovative ideas and excellent customer service.

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Your main areas of speciality are providing all kinds of Swarovski Crystals, Preciosa Crystals, principal fabric, abstract fabric, fancy fabric, feathers, fringe, crinoline and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion and theming industries. You’ve recently supplied the products to embellish the outfits for Fleur East, Little Mix & Olly Mur’s dancers on X Factor, for example. How satisfying is it to see the finished costumes on stage that your company have helped to produce?

It is extremely satisfying to work with some of the world’s leading stylists, designers and artistes. We are very passionate about our business, our product range and the services we offer, the whole
team strive to provide excellence at every opportunity. The end result always gives us great pleasure and we are enormously proud of our collaborations.

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You also supply Swarovski Crystals, Crystallised Swarovski Elements and Preciosa Crystals and other such products for use in bridalwear, beauty, costumes, cardmaking, dance, equestrian,
jewellery and nail art. What products are most popular?

At Crystal Parade we have such a comprehensive range of high quality products to choose from, be that crystals, fabrics or trimmings, we find every industry has a different requirement. For instance our smaller sizes of Swarovski flatback crystals are extremely popular with nail artists and beauticians, and the larger sizes are used more for crystallizing dancewear, shoes and theatre costumes. The Crystal Clear and AB (aurora borealis) are easily our most popular colours in both Swarovski and Preciosa however, it depends on seasonal inspirations and of course which pantone colours are on trend. We’re always on hand to offer specialist advice whatever the requirement.

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You recently launched Crystal Parade TV where you showcase your latest ideas and fun projects which people can easily make – what has been your favourite “idea” or “project” which is featured
on the channel?

We have filmed around 10 episodes so far, crystallising different types of desirable objects for the home and garden, all of which are easy to make plus they look fantastic when complete. My favourite is a close call between the Marmite Jar episode & the Winter Lantern video . Both were interesting projects to work on and topical but the Winter Lantern episode features a cheeky cameo appearance by my cat so I would have to choose this purely for the entertainment value!

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What has been the most unusual item/ enquiry requested to be decorated with crystals?

As you can imagine, we receive all sorts of requests, some more interesting than others but one of the most unusual, not to mention humorous, enquiries we received when we first started out was to help crystallise a battery powered adult toy. Unfortunately we were unable to assist on that particular occasion!

Can you tell us about the Crystal Club?

The Crystal Club is an exclusive member’s only community for those who love to add sparkle to their lives and are dedicated to the art and craft of crystallising! Crystal Club members are able to build up ‘Sparkle Points’ every time they purchase from our website and then receive money off as well as receiving up to date information on all competitions, freebies, discounts, giveaways, special offers, downloads, projects, inspirational ideas plus all the latest news & workshop updates.

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As you are based in the UK, do you offer products or services overseas too?

Yes we do, Crystal Parade are recognised in the industry as the source of creative inspiration. Known as the go-to supplier of crystals, fabrics, feathers and trimmings for both consumers and businesses, we regularly work with customers from Europe, Middle East & Africa, America & Australia.

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

On the whole I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl. We have a smart casual dress code in the office so I get to wear jeans every day, consequently I have lots of different types,styles and colours. Joe is my favourite brand. I usually team them with a cool pair of boots, shoes or brogues, a nice artistic shirt/top, finished with a funky scarf and nice handbag!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Apart from www.crystalparade.co.uk? 😀 I like Steve Madden for shoes & I love shopping in Waitrose!

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

I just got some new ankle boots from Moda in London but I need some more Joe Jeans

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Boots or Shoes?

It would have to be boots. I’m a huge fan of boots, plus we are currently working with the award winning musical Kinky Boots in London. We provide the crystals & fabrics for the show. You should see the boots! WOW!

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

Website – www.crystalparade.co.uk
Crystal Parade TV – https://www.youtube.com/user/CrystalParade
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crystal-Parade/301559506525421
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CrystalParade1
Pinterest – https://uk.pinterest.com/crystalparade1/

It’s always a great pleasure to have a fellow fan of boots on the blog – I do love your fashion sense too, Wendy – you can never have enough boots, shoes or jeans I say! (Plus the odd glamorous dress or two)  I will try to get to see Kinky Boots – if only to witness the boots themselves! And as for the request for a crystallised adult toy…. Ah, dear readers, are you into crystal embellishments? What fashion/footwear item would you love to embellish? Dare I say it, but any other items?   Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Crystal Parade except for the shoe photo.Last photo: Daily Mail 
[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3357710/Girl-power-Little-Mix-Fleur-East-leggy-display-team-epic-mash-hit-singles-star-X-Factor-final.html ]

Shoe photo credit: Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Lifestyle Entrepreneur Cato Hoeben

The term “Lifestyle Entrepreneur” was first coined in 2013 by ex American footballer, Lewis Howes, to describe an individual that creates a business with the purpose of altering their personal lifestyle and not for the sole purpose of making profits – focusing more on the rewards that enhance enjoyment and passion. To find out more, I caught up with the talented composer and lifestyle entrepreneur, Cato Hoeben, who has recently co written with his mother a book entitled The Lifestyle Entrepreneur… Hi Cato!

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Hi! My name is Cato Hoeben and I am a composer who writes music for film, adverts, games and documentaries and I have also released a number albums that you can find on my website.  In addition to composing, I also do voice over work and have a varied history of working in science journalism-related work as well as working as a web developer. I live in London, but spend a number of months in Seville where my wife is from. Over the last 4-5 years, I’ve become what’s known as a ‘lifestyle entrepreneur’ which, in a nutshell, is an approach to making a living that allows you to shape a lifestyle the way you want by earning through multiple revenue streams.

Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur, you are co-author of the book “The Lifestyle Entrepreneur” – a step by step guide for people of all ages looking in depth at what is actually entailed in becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur. Having worked in London at a media production company where you created online GCSE science modules, what made you give up your belief that the key to financial security & future happiness was stable employment?

When you look at the ‘single job’ approach objectively, it’s pretty illogical. While it’s true that there is a hierarchy in place in many organisations that you can wrestle your way through, today’s work environment is much more hostile and less stable than it was a few decades ago. Once you lose that line of income, you’re back in line to find a replacement, and usually you’ll need to do it fast if you have a mortgage, family and bills. So, in my opinion, there is no ‘job for life’. You can easily be dropped by your boss, replaced by someone (locally or even remotely now) or the company just goes bust and in fact I have seen this happen a couple of times in previous jobs. When that happens, you suddenly have no income which blows the ‘financial security’ argument out of the water. Obviously, if you’re happy in your job and have the free time to do all the things you want to do, then that’s fantastic. But I’ve come across many instances with friends, colleagues and other contacts saying they are tired of the often tense employer-employee relationship in their jobs, the lack of time for family, friends and the limited salaries they receive to believe that the antiquated work model we’re told we have to follow is the path to happiness. Being more entrepreneurial seems to me a much more exciting, empowering (although I hate that word) and potential lucrative way of bringing in an income and shaping how you live your life.

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What are the differences between being a lifestyle entrepreneur and being a freelancer?

Good question and one I’m asked a lot. One of the principle aims of being a lifestyle entrepreneur is that you build a ‘buffer’ for your earnings so that you don’t fall into the typical employer-employee model. As a freelancer, you work to commission i.e. you are employed to do a specific job for a client and then it’s usually over. I call that type of income ‘active earning’ as you dedicate time to actively doing the work on a contractual basis. In contrast, ‘passive earning’ would be the equivalent of setting up an investment of some kind and is often much slower to build up but can turn into a regular income stream. In my case, my albums and the royalties I get from licensing my music for film, adverts and other productions are ‘passive’ income streams. I put the work into creating the product and then it continues to earn me an income stream in the future. Freelance work is almost always purely an ‘active’ income stream as you will usually earn no more in the future from that work. It’s essential to have both of these types of income when becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur as it will allow you some important benefits like having income streams you can fall back and shape the day as you want. I discuss both of these approaches to earning in The Lifestyle Entrepreneur and how you can approach a healthy balance between the two.

What do you love most about being a lifestyle entrepreneur? Is there a downside?

It has to be the flexibility of how, when and where I work. Those three things hold so much value when I realise the extent to which I can move work around to fit my needs or simply free time up to work on the things that require intense periods of attention (like a feature film…or my wife!). Even though it’s totally possible to earn a lot of money working this way, for me, it’s much more important to build a lifestyle that makes you happy. Once you realise you’re covering your basic costs like a mortgage, bills and supporting your family, there’s not much more that I find I want in life. In terms of the downsides, getting going as a lifestyle entrepreneur can be difficult and frustrating like in any entrepreneurial endeavour. There are ups and downs based on how your income streams / businesses fare, but a lot of the downsides can be flipped on their head by looking at the negatives or lack of interest in what you’re offering as something you can improve upon. The Americans are great at this and use something like a drop in sales as an opportunity to analyse what is ‘going wrong’ with their business. It can lead to all sorts of things to try out like advertising to a different demographic, modifying your product or service or even realising you’re offering something that has no demand so you either need to create that demand or try something different. Do I get tired sometimes with the workload? Yes, absolutely. But the energy I get from doing things I’m passionate about helps enormously as the division between work and play is thoroughly blurred for me.

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Your book goes into depth about lifestyle entrepreneurism – but what is your main piece of advice to anybody who may be unhappy with their work/life balance at the moment? What should their first steps be?

As I’ve been in the same place, I know very well what it is like to feel trapped in a job you’re unhappy in and all the doubts that go through your mind as to whether you’ll be able to make ends meet if you give that job up. And it’s unrealistic to expect someone to drop everything at once if you’re dependant on that income. So, my approach to making the transition was a gradual one and is primarily what I recommend to those who are more risk-averse. I began experimenting with things I wanted to sell online and built up some income streams related to music (my passion) all while I worked as a web editor at a mental health charity. As these passive income streams grew, I started taking on the occasional freelance commission outside of my primary job to help bolster my income. Time is always an issue when you’re in a full-time job, but these mini ‘businesses’ can take as little as a few hours a week to maintain depending on what you choose to do. Once I knew I could pay my basic living costs, I decided to take the plunge on a more permanent basis which freed up my time to find new clients and develop my income streams further. And don’t be misled by the fact some income streams bring in small amounts, $80 a month from various streams can build up fast.

Is your book available to purchase outside the UK?

Absolutely. It’s available as a physical book in stores like Waterstones and online via Amazon as a physical book and an ebook. There’s a link on our website too.

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

Yes, although I’m still exploring those ideas. Something I think would be useful would be looking in depth at how the Lifestyle Entrepreneur approach can be employed in specific industries as it can be daunting trying to figure out how to make money from multiple strands in certain sectors. Some initial topics I’m considering are science journalism and music as I have experience in those areas. But any area that is that competitive and difficult to work in would make good topics to investigate as if you can make a living in a tough niche, you should be able to do it in any industry.

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

As the son of a journalist, I’m a poor example of a bookworm! As dry as it sounds, I tend to read more for ‘function’ than ‘fun’ as it feels like wasted time otherwise, so you’ll find lots of self-development and practical books on my shelf rather than Nietzsche and Goethe. Feel free to label me a philistine. That said, I am a fan of great stories and my childhood was full of Greek Legends, books like Moby Dick and Robin Hood. I particularly enjoyed A Portrait of Dorian Gray and science-fiction books like Brave New World. In all honesty though, I get much more out of film than I do books because of the interplay between music and picture.

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Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur and author, you are also a talented composer, composing music for films etc. Growing up, did you aspire to have a musical career or were your aspirations quite different?

Since the age of seven I’ve been playing piano, so I’ve always had an interest in music. But I was firmly en route to becoming a science journalist having studied chemistry and biology at A-level, biology at Sussex University and then doing a Masters in Science Communication at Imperial. However, as any composer will tell you, there are a lot of parallels between maths and music so in a funny way I guess all those years molecular biology calculations and breaking my brain over molar masses was actually feeding my inner musician!

When you’re not writing, web designing or composing what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I love travelling abroad, exploring new places to eat in and play basketball regularly. Both Seville and London are fantastic places for food, the former being considerably cheaper of course, but some of the most amazing places I’ve eaten in have been in Japan. I’m also interested in sampling unusual sounds that I can transform into virtual instruments for use in my music, so you’ll often find me recording things like pots and pans, bowing strange objects with a violin bow, etc.

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

I’m a fan of Aldo shoes which is a chain that can be found throughout London, but also Grenson’s do some great shoes that I’m always drooling over when I pass by their shop. In terms of fashion, if you ask my brother, I’m the anthesis of stylish and he accuses me of wearing Cornish pasty-style shoes, but I like to think that hidden underneath my inner science geek there is someone incredibly stylish who is ahead of his time. My outfits are usually smart casual.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I spend quite a lot of time on the sites where I offer my services and products to gauge how I’m doing and seeing what other opportunities are out there, but in terms of keeping up with news, I tend to follow the BBC website, Guardian, Lifehacker and TechCrunch. I’m not much of a shopper, but I do have an unhealthy tendency to spend lots on virtual instruments to use in my music that often needs taming.

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

I want to replace my pseudo-leather jacket that is starting to peel and show me up in public. But that could take some time as I need to find something that has a cut I like and long enough arms (the bane of my life).

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes as I find them more comfortable and less cowboy-ish. That said, I’m starting to try the boot look since a friend of mine convinced me to get some leather boots from Valverde de Camino – a small village in the province of Huelva, Spain that is renowned for having some of the best leather products in Europe. Since I bought them, I’ve worn them twice, so the adjustment is taking its time.

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.

The site for The Lifestyle Entrepreneur is http://bit.ly/lifestyle-entrepreneur you can also buy the book and read more about it at http://www.lifestyle-entrepreneur.net. We also have a FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/lifestyleentrepreneurnet/ and our Twitter page to follow is https://twitter.com/TheLifestyleEnt. For music-related stuff and info about my composing work, visit http://www.catohoeben.com.

Music from my album Vulnerable Beauty, here’s a soundcloud link:
https://soundcloud.com/catohoeben/vulnerable-beauty-montage

Or there’s my new album Flaming Flamenco:
https://soundcloud.com/catohoeben/flaming-flamenco

Thank you Cato for enlightening me, and hopefully my readers too, as to what being a lifestyle entrepreneur is all about.  I also loved knowing about your music too – the idea of recording virtual instruments sounds fun to me!  Pots & pans make great drums, and I made a virtual guitar once using a shoebox and elastic bands…. Dear readers, have you any virtual musical instrument stories to tell? Does being a lifestyle entrepreneur appeal to you?  Like always, I love to know so don’t be shy, drop me a line….

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Cato Hoeben.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Interview With Melody Carr

Nu-Soul/ blues-pop sound is well and truly alive and kicking in the English Midlands, inspired by  great singers such as Diana Ross and the Supremes and Dusty Springfield, with the gutsy vibes of gospel, rock and jazz added into the mix.  With the name and sound to go far, my singer/songwriter guest, Melody Carr, epitomises that new sound Midlands scene.  I caught up with bubbly Melody to talk about her passion for singing and shoes…. image

Hi! I’m Melody Carr, a 25 year old singer/songwriter.

Congratulations on getting your debut single out there & what a smashing single it is too! When did you realise you had a passion for singing? What made you take the plunge to choose singing as a career?

Thank you! Since I can remember I have always loved singing. I was lucky enough to be brought up in a musical family. So whether it watching my uncle perform in his rock band, singing along with my nan on the piano at home or sat in the studio while my Mum was recording, singing was something I just felt like I was meant to do.  Even before I realised I wanted to give singing my all,  my family would constantly encourage me to sing  – then it just got to a point that I decided I was ready!

“Turn Back The Hurt”, written & produced by Youngheart, is a Nu-Soul sound with, I feel a touch of the soulful blues in it too. You are also a songwriter in your own right. Who are your musical influences?

As cheesy as it may seem, my mother is my main influence. I had a lot of musical interests growing up but seeing the process of what it takes to write a song, record a track, add harmonies etc… I learnt that all from her. I am also inspired by artists who try create something new within the music industry, breaking the mould.

What do you love most about being a singer?

Simply the fact that I’m able to do something I absolutely love.

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Is there any song that you really enjoy belting out, either on stage or in the privacy of your car?

One of my favourite ‘go to’ songs to sing is Amy Winehouse – “You Sent Me Flying” – the passion and emotion she sang with is inspiring!

What music genre do you enjoy listening to?

I have an ecelctic mix of music interest so I couldn’t actually specify one specific genre. I obviously love a bit of old school Motown but I find inspiration from all genres of music – so everything really!

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If you had the chance to sing a duet with anybody in the world, dead or alive, who would be your partner and what song would you sing?

Very hard question! A random selection but as I like to mix things up I would actually like to sing one of my favourite songs ‘Master Blaster’ by Stevie Wonder with another one if my favourite artists, Ed Sheeran.

Hypothetically speaking, if you had to perform a song that was not Nu-Soul or Gospel … what song or genre would you pick?

I would choose Jazz. I love the real emotions portrayed when listening to live/ open mic Jazz music especially.

How do you try to keep your voice limbered up and ready for performing? How do you avoid the dreaded sore throat/croaky voice etc?

Hot water, all day everyday. From previous experiences when having to perform a lot, hot water got me through it! I also hum  first then have a couple of warm up songs.

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

I’ve never really been one to stick to fashion rules. I pretty much wear whatever I think looks good or what I like the look of.  My wardrobe is full of bright colours and patterns (mainly floral);  on stage,  I tend to stick to bold/ block colours with lots of jewellery!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I’ve recently come across Justfab.com – so many shoes in one place.. I love! Boohoo.com is also a go to. High Street shops:  I like River Island, TopShop and also Forever21… can always bag a bargain there.

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

A pair of floral Doc Martens!

Boots or Shoes?

Well I love both but if I had to choose I would say Shoes… (heeled of course). They go with more outfits and well,  they take up less room in my wardrobe so I can fit more in!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can follow you and your career.

www.facebook.com/melodycarrmusic
www.twitter.com/melodycarrmusic
Instagram @melodycarr

I love your shoe wardrobe logic Melody!  Thank you for telling us about your passions and I look forward to following what will be, I’m sure, your glittering music career! So, dear readers, with Melody belting out Amy Winehouse in her car; me belting out cheesy tunes of the 80s – what songs do you belt out whilst driving?  Don’t be shy, do tell!

Linda x

All photos and video have been published with kind permission from Melody Carr.

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An Interview With The Blackout Project

Preston, UK – the town may not be known as the centre of film making but this year a collaborative, independent feature film is being not only filmed in Preston, but it is based in Preston using creative and enthusiastic people from that area.  Called “The Blackout”, the film centres around 6 characters going about their everyday lives when there is a total power blackout…. a modern-day apocalypse almost…it sounds intriguing anyway! I caught up with the lovely Su Moffat, who is heading The Blackout Project, to find out more…image

Hi! My name is Su Moffat and I’m a freelance screenwriter based in Preston, Lancashire. I’m currently working on a feature film project here in Preston, The Blackout.

What was the inspiration behind the project?

The project is the brainchild of our Coordinating Director Alan Livesey. Alan has a great deal of experience in short film making, but was keen to move into feature films. Features, however, are notoriously huge beasts to wrangle and incredibly costly, so The Blackout Film Project is Alan’s way to approach this challenge. By building several production crews, each responsible for producing a short story within The Blackout, we are sharing the workload and producing our feature film in a fraction of the time, and for a fraction of the cost, of an ordinary independent feature film.

What is the goal of the project?

The goal of the project is to produce a multi-narrative (think Love Actually) feature film, from scratch, in 12 months. We’re relying on our crew and cast to contribute their time and we’re pulling resources from our wider community.

It is quite a costly and time-consuming challenge – how do you hope to achieve your goal?

Our writers and crew have given their time for free to get us to this point in pre-production. We’re raising funds to pay towards transport, locations and catering for our actors by holding monthly film screenings here in Preston (check out Facebook or Twitter for details BlackoutFilmProject, @FilmBlackout). This gives us a small monthly income without which we would have no budget at all.

Can you tell us a little bit about the film, The Blackout?

The story of The Blackout revolves around the first 12 hours of a complete power blackout; no electricity; no motorized transport; no telephones, and how the people of a small city will cope without the luxuries of modern living. The film concentrates on six individual stories and shows us how dependent we’ve become on technology and how little we’re prepared to live without them.

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Any particular reason why the film and project are based around Preston? Has the support you’ve received so far exceeded your expectation?

The film itself is located around Preston because this is where most of the crew live and where most of our resources are. We set out to show that this kind of film doesn’t need to be all ‘government conspiracy and military intervention’ – if The Blackout happened in real life, people in smaller areas will simply have to get on with it alone. And that’s where we think the more interesting stories lie. We’ve had an overwhelming response from our community towards this project. We’ve had offers of help from junior football teams, scout troops, dancers, catering companies… the list goes on… and it’s really humbling to hear so many people excited to get involved. We’ve had tremendous support from local bloggers, ‘Blog Preston’, coverage in the Lancashire Evening Post and radio coverage from BBC Radio Lancashire and Preston FM. It’s an amazing project to be involved in and I’m so pleased I got involved at the beginning!

When do you hope the film will be finished & released?

We’re shooting the film in sections over June and July, then the post-production editing will happen over the summer. We’ll then be holding a red-carpet preview screening in November in Preston before the film heads over to the film festival circuit.

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

Hmm, outfits and shoes… I’d love to throw some designer names around, but I’m a jeans and Uggs/Converse girl really. I do like Radley bags though and I once bought a pair of Kurt Geiger boots that I love but have never worn!

When you get a chance, what genre of films do you like to watch? Any favourites?

I don’t think I have a specific genre of film that I enjoy. As a writer I’m all about the story, but I’m learning to appreciate film from an aesthetic point of view now too. I don’t honestly think I could choose a favourite but we recently watched ‘Birdman’ – at our first fundraising evening – it’s fabulously bonkers, I love the dialogue and it’s beautiful to look at, so that’s probably one I’d recommend.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Despite living in Preston we regularly go shopping in Newcastle and my favourite department store up there is Fenwicks. They have an outstanding selection of everything, from shoes to food! It’s shopping heaven! I also like Hollister, even though it’s too dark to see anything, but it smells great!

What’s next on your clothes/shoes/bag wishlist?

I’m after a pair of white Converse for the summer and I’m expanding my skirts wardrobe – I really like that maxi length skirts are back in. I also need another cross-body bag from Radley – anything in blue – hint, hint!

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots September – April, shoes/bare feet May-August. Why? ‘Cos I always have done?!

For further information:
@FilmBlackout

 Thanks so much Su for taking time out to talk to us and I look forward to seeing the film once it’s released.  It’s quite exciting watching a film being made – the BBC filmed the opening scenes of their TV film Great Expectations around my village and surrounding marshes. It was great fun sitting on the sea wall watching the film being acted then watching it evolve months later as a finished film on TV.  Have any readers got any film stories they’d like to share? Do tell!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Su Moffat and The Blackout Project.

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An Interview With Natalka Design

The newly elected children’s laureate, author and illustrator Chris Riddell, has recently stated that he wants to encourage children to indulge in drawing every day as well as reading.  It is an ethos most likely shared by my blog guest this week, Natalia Talkowska of Natalka Design.  She describes herself as being not only the Founder of Natalka Design but “Chief Visual Storyteller”… and she’s inspiring enough to be chosen by Microsoft to illustrate the benefits of the Microsoft Surface Pro in their recent advertising campaign (to watch the video, press HERE).  I caught up with Natalia recently to find out about her business plans, the Microsoft campaign, her drawing ethos and I got doodled too…. Join us….Hi Natalia!…image

Hi! I’m Natalia. I run Natalka Design and Doodleledo. The first is all about giving businesses more personality, playing with visual communication, refreshing consulting and show ways to liven events and meetings. Doodleledo is fun drawing get togethers for anyone that says ‘ I can’t draw’.

You have an unique business and one that you certainly excel in! When did you first discover your talent for drawing & doodling?

Since I was a kid I have always been drawing. My mum would say: give her a pen and a paper and she’s happy. Whilst studying I realised more that I can easily record real time conversations and ideas through pictures, not even knowing this could start my business one day. I just loved expressing my ideas as well as others through visuals. I remembered it much more than just text. I cry when I see an excel sheet, my brain can’t grasp it!

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You founded Natalka Design/Doodle-le-Do. Where did you get the inspiration from to start the companies?

Inspiration can hit anywhere and anytime. Anyone that’s very visual knows what I’m talking about. Natalka Design was born at the right time after years of not really loving my jobs to finally standing my own ground and using my skills to help others grow and communicate easier. Now we’re a full service agency working on several projects at a time globally. Our ethos #resisttheusual is something we all treat with care and respect. There are enough approaches and ways of making things happen the same way. We wanted to be different and always be surprising. That’s how Doodleledo was born…a new, different idea out of my observations on how people network in the same boring way and how they often tell me they can’t draw….Doodleledo is for small fun gatherings with drinks and nibbles for anyone that says ‘I can’t draw’. The idea is to leave with a bunch of new friends, not business cards. I must have done something right as now we’re a growing community – launching in 10 cities across the globe with partners and press behind us. We’ve got exciting plans for the future, so watch this space and come to one!

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Congratulations on being chosen by Microsoft to illustrate the benefits of the Microsoft Surface Pro in their YouTube video/advert. The video, apart from showing the tablet & its benefits, also showed ways that visual techniques could be used for events, team meetings and brainstorming. Was it a fun project to embark on?

Oh yes! Totally different fun experience, we had so many laughs and a great time filming in different locations. When the Microsoft team approached us, we knew it will be a great new adventure to embark on. The idea to film me working in natural environment came naturally after first meeting. We knew it would be a great way to showcase some inspiring new ways of working better and faster. Hopefully that came across.

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Powered by Natalka Design, Doodle-le-Do parties were started in London in 2014 and have since spread further afield to Dublin, Poland, Dordrecht, Milwaukee, Nairobi, Toronto, Atlanta, New York and Paris. In fact, more cities are being added as we speak! They sound great fun – can you describe a typical party?

This video will hopefully give you the best feel of it. To really experience it from within, come and join us in London or any other city from where they’re run. If there’s no Doodleledo in your city and you’d like to run your own, get in touch, let’s make it happen, it naturally grows from word of mouth and people seeing it’s a new, fun relaxing and creative way of meeting new friends. Best of all, you get to draw again, like when you were a kid, without thinking too much about it, just enjoying yourself!

Have you got any drawing/doodling tips?

Just do it – get a pencil and pen and observe things – start drawing. It’s like any muscle, it takes practice to develop it. I wasn’t straight away drawing as I do now. It’s such a great thing for your brain to keep it young, energised and on creative mode.

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You’ve worked in a variety of places from 10 Downing Street drawing the Prime Minister to a 5 Star hotel in Miami Beach speed drawing at a tech conference for 3,000 people. What has been your favourite assignment?

I don’t have one favourite as sometimes the most initmate work like visualising private thoughts by a CEO of a company and drawing their stories feels so inspiring, special and private, like they’re sharing a piece of themselves with you is way cooler than speed drawing at huge conference. So I’ve got a lot of favourites that we can’t show results of to the public as it’s just for the internal communication but one of my most favourite assignments would be connected with travelling to new places. That’s always an exciting  learning experience.

You have many fans of your artwork, including celebs such as Khloe Kardashian and Jonathan Ross. Is there any famous person (dead or alive) that you would love to meet to doodle?

Stephen Fry…we would definitely have a cool conversation. It may be possible though that I wouldn’t have enough paper to cover his thoughts! I wouldn’t mind meeting Beyonce and draw whilst she sings haha.

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

I think it depends on my mood. For meetings or events you’ll see me wearing something comfy yet classy, a black nice jacket with a splash of colour underneath is always a yes but for everyday I like casual, chic, city girl kind of style.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

The list is long but I love Anthropologie, Revolve, Goodnight Macaroon, Asos and Free People for fashion; Other Stories for beauty products; and Intimissimi for underwear.

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

Oh, this is hard! So many!! I’m definitely a shoes person… so shoes and cute dresses are on my list.

Boots or Shoes?

Both…depends when and what’s the occasion!

Links you would like to share

Here you go:
Website:Natalka Design & Doodleledo
Twitter: @Natalka_Design #resisttheusual @Doodleledo #doodleledo
Instagram: @natalkadesign @doodleledo
Fb pages: Natalka Design Doodleledo

You can catch me here:
@NatiTal
hello@natalkadesign.com

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Wow, thanks for chatting to us Natalia -and I absolutely adore my doodle.  I love to doodle – especially pictures of shoes – but faces are not my forte!  Have I got any artistic doodler blog readers?  What do you love to doodle pictures of?  Do you think doodling could make your company meetings more entertaining? I love to hear your views so please get in touch & comment!

Linda x

All photos and videos  have been published with kind permission of Natalka Designs.

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