Spotlight On SaleServant

January 10th, 2014

Way back, 27 February 2013 to be precise, I interviewed Lenka Gourdie, CEO and Founder of website BagServant (press HERE for interview). This brilliant bag website has been a favourite of mine and I have discovered lots of delectable bags through their recommendation.  So, it is with great pleasure that this week I am spotlighting Lenka’s latest venture, SaleServant, a platform for fashion websites, bloggers and magazines wanting to feature products of emerging designers as well as small to medium sized fashion brands and be rewarded for their efforts. They have some fab designers already on board, including V73, Jaunt Accessories, Hemsley London, Marshall Bergham, Storksak, ShopBizi… to name but a few.

For my designer friends, this website launch is a great way of getting your designs “out there” – SaleServant’s tracking technology delivers plenty of additional technical benefits for brands, such as SEO. Another benefit is that SaleServant not only allows you to market your products on the platform, but they can help find publishers and help educate on how to work with publishers more effectively.  In fact, SalesServant’s mission is to help brands to engage new customers, drive traffic, and to sell more fashion online. Sounds good to me! So, if you’re a designer and would like to join the network, here’s the link:   and for a generous 10% discount on the joining fee, quote code SS10.

Lenka is also looking for publishers/bloggers to join too  – it is really simple to sign up, free to join, and you really don’t need to be technical savvy to use the tool either! If I can do it, you can! I love the chance to check out all the emerging designers too … so, to my blogger friends, here’s the link:

So, what have I spotted from the site already?  Lots of gorgeous bits! Here’s 5 of my favourites … but rest assured I will be featuring all these fab designers as 2014 unfolds…


These colours are going to be a big hit this summer, plus this bag is so dinky!20140110-205851.jpg


Gotta have a big bag and this one is certainly funky!20140110-205840.jpg


Have laptop, need to carry it! …. this is a totally stylish way to do it!20140110-205902.jpg


What can I say? Just bang on trend from this delightful Italian designer.20140110-205910.jpg


Must say, I have fallen in love with this bag – the colour, the style…simply gorgeous20140110-205922.jpg

I wish Lenka all the best with this fabulous venture and I can’t wait to showcase brilliant up and coming designers in the future!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Photos have been published with kind permission from SaleServant

An Interview With Photographer Steven Harrison Brown

January 3rd, 2014

Happy New Year!  My first blogpost for 2014  is a truly fabulous interview with the uber talented London fashion photographer, Steven Harrison Brown – you will have seen his work in many top fashion magazines – and it really is an honour to chat with him about his work … hi Steven and welcome:   20140103-113651.jpg

Hi, I’m Steven Harrison Brown, I am a freelance fashion and portrait photographer and have been for the past 15+ years.  I am presently based in Beckenham, London, working from my own studio and on location.  I was born and brought up in and around Battersea. I have always been creative and first thought that I would use this gift through creating culinary delights.  Soon after training as a chef I realised that I had more leanings to visual forms of art and creativity, so after completing an Art Foundation course at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, I then went on to gain a BA at the London College of Printing.  From there I started my journey into photography by assisting various esteemed photographers in the field of fashion, portraiture and advertising.

20140103-113712.jpgYou did an art foundation course at the prestigious Central St Martins College of Art & Design and a photography BA degree at the London College of Printing. Your love of art certainly shines through your work – how old was you when you discovered this love?  Was art your favourite subject at school?

My first memory of being recognised as an artist would probably have to be when I was in my first class at school; I had been playing with the plasticine, I soon realised that my teacher was removing the other children from the table and giving me all of the available plasticine.  My finished creation was then carefully removed and put to one side and later was proudly shown to other members of staff and my mum. After this, my teacher always seemed to be putting my pictures up on display and making a fuss of them.

 20140103-113628.jpgAlthough you can turn your hand at all styles of photography, fashion photography is your real forte. What inspired you to follow the fashion photography path?

My mum would design and make clothes and surrounded by four sisters, I was always interested in style and would browse through their fashion magazines and be coerced into giving them second opinions on their outfits.  I wouldn’t say I was into fashion, but I do have a love for it, really more from a style point of view.  My fashion shoots are more about having a narrative, taking influences from the past styles and works of art, creating a story within the shoot.  With fashion shoots you have more freedom to express yourself and to shoot in a more experimental way, collaborating with up and coming designers is always exciting.

20140103-113619.jpgYou’ve worked alongside many esteemed fashion photographers – what hints/tips/working practices etc have you adopted? Have you any favourite photographers whose work you admire?

My major thing is the lighting and painting a picture with it. I have been lucky enough to work with a few prestigious photographers in the past on location and in studio, working for high profile clients you learn to think on your feet and make quick decisions.  Working as an assistant had its good and bad points, but is the best way to gain experience.  Sometimes I was just there to make cups of tea and hold equipment, other times your point of view is considered and any ideas are respected and considered, the photographer would take time to explain why he was using certain lighting or techniques.  If a particular photographer had a studio you may have been offered the use of this for your own projects. There are a few photographers with different reasons why I like and admire their work: Koto Bolofo – for his use of natural light and timeless imagery, also the angles he chooses to shoot from.  He is an artist who uses photography to express his creativity.  Miles Aldridge – he tends to tell stories with his shoots and uses very punchy colours, beautiful lighting, very different to Koto.  Greg Lotus – who has great use of lighting and a way of using it to which I also aspire, creating beautiful pictures.

 20140103-113608.jpgYour work has been published in many magazines including Vogue, GQ, Face, Runway Italian, Face, Canary Wharf Magazine.  What has been your most favourite photo shoot?

I don’t think I have produced my favourite shoot yet.  I am always thinking about the next project. A successful shoot is when everything comes together from that first idea/mood board to the final images, knowing this when these images just jump off the screen or page at you, or you just can’t take your eyes away from it, sometimes there is an element of surprise when you see everything completed.  You are only as good as your last shoot.  I am always trying to push boundaries a bit more with each project.

20140103-113638.jpgYou have photographed many actors, models and musicians.  If it was possible to arrange, who would you most like to photograph, dead or alive?

It’s not about someone’s status etc. in society, I have never tried to build my career on other peoples success, if I see someone whether they be a road sweeper or the CEO of a top company, famous actor or musician, or top fashion model, it’s all about the texture, composition and how the picture looks, trying to create something worthy of hanging in an art gallery.

Apart from fashion photography, what other genre of photography do you enjoy pursuing as a hobby/ free time? Is there any genre that you would like to try that you haven’t already?

I pretty much will do most genres, I would love to try my hand at moving images. A lot of ideas that I would like to do more of require a big budget, I love fine art and would love to produce more things for gallery exhibitions, but as with most people, its still about paying the bills and it is a luxury to be able to put something like that together.

20140103-113725.jpgHave you got a favourite photo shoot location? Is there any location or place you would like to visit for photography purposes?

In terms of locations and going to beautiful places, its all about budget, most photographers given the chance would go to somewhere with fantastic lighting and scenery, you can’t really go wrong.  I think you have to be more creative to work with what you’ve got, than having a huge budget and pick of exotic locations, (but don’t let the advertising companies know that.)

20140103-113658.jpgYour interests outside photography include visiting art galleries & museums, painting, sculpture and travel. So, where is your favourite destination? What destination(s) are on your visiting wishlist? Being a fellow Londoner like myself, which museum or art gallery in London are you most likely to be found visiting?

I love the Tate Gallery and the Saatchi Gallery and also the Photographer’s Gallery.  I like the idea of Cuba and all the grand decaying buildings, I would love to do a big project there.

Cuba – Old Havana – I love that idea too!

Can I be cheeky and ask THAT question – Nikon or Canon? ;)

I bought into Canon at an early age and for that reason had the lenses when everything went digital so stayed with Canon as I didn’t have to replace all the lenses.  With the event of digital photography, cameras are changing really quickly, it’s not good to get too bogged down with equipment, you could become a geek that buys all the latest stuff that’s out, but it shouldn’t really be about that.  My oldest digital camera has settings that I haven’t even used and no idea what they do.

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

It’s more about the style than the fashion, so if something stirs something within me I wouldn’t be afraid of wearing it.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Not really, but love exploring, shopping and taking in the atmosphere in the North Laines of Brighton.

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

A vintage leather coat.

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

Please visit me at my website:

and blogsite:

Thank you so much Steven for joining us tonight – I’ve really enjoyed interviewing you and I look forward to seeing more of your fantastic photographs throughout 2014.

Linda x

Photo credits: All photos have been published with kind permission of Steven Harrison Brown.

An Interview With Movement For Modern Life

December 27th, 2013

New Year – time to make resolutions to help make your life easier, healthier and happier – what resolutions have you made or will be making? One of the most popular resolutions is to keep fit or take more exercise – if you can’t face the prospect of joining a gym or if you have two left feet that the Strict Come Dancing craze just isn’t for you or you’re looking for something that is different, in which case, I have found the perfect solution – check out online yoga classes!  Whether you’re a complete beginner or already addicted, Movement For Modern Life will transform your outlook on yoga at any rate. Don’t just take my word for it though – my guest today on the blog is the lovely Kat of Movement For Modern Life – hi Kat and welcome:

Hello I’m Kat – very pleased to be on this blog!20131227-211222.jpg
Being previously a city solicitor, what inspired you to take the plunge and start Movement For Modern Life? 
I have always loved yoga, and trained as a yoga teacher whilst I was training to be a solicitor! I even taught yoga to my colleagues in the office in the city. Quite a few things – most importantly, things happened in my life (a bad car crash and then a divorce) which made me realise that life moves fast! Whilst I could sit at my desk as a lawyer for the rest of my life, I would also wonder about the ‘what if’s’. I knew that I wasn’t a typical lawyer, I was always very energetic and creative and had a passion for yoga. I always wanted to start a business and I knew that I wanted to tell the world, in one way or another, how amazing yoga is. I pondered opening a yoga studio. But it was when I was living in the countryside and felt so frustrated that I couldn’t get to my favourite teachers that I started to think about the possibility of starting an online yoga community…
You’re the only British online yoga company to be showcasing the best of UK teachers and teachers who visit the UK and you describe the wide range of yoga classes available as an “all you can eat” buffet of yoga. What are the main benefits of your subscription based service? 
I think it’s the sheer diversity of the yoga on offer, as well as working with the very best teachers, people can get a chance to say to themselves ‘Hey, I wonder what Indaba (a studio in London) looks like?’ and then they can check it out. Or if they’re feeling anxious, they can do stress-relieving practices, or if they have just cycled, they can do yoga for that. Or perhaps they’ve always wondered what Ashtanga is – they know that if they check out our Ashtanga class they’ll be getting a great teacher and this is a great way of finding out about the best of that practice. I’ve learnt so much from working with so many inspiring teachers from such a variety of yoga backgrounds, it’s been a beautiful process for me.
You are passionate about how yoga has improved your life – what were the main reasons that got you hooked? 
At first, I just loved the physicality of it. I did really hard, physical practices, so I got very flexible and strong in quite a short time. I was the stiff kid at school who was terrible at all sports and games. But I started to practice and I found an improvement in how I felt so quickly. I loved the fact I could try all these cool new poses and challenge myself  by doing something that scared me. And then, about 10 years later, I was in a car crash and lost movement altogether for a while. So my yoga practice deepened and I found out the real meaning of yoga, which for me is a deepening relationship with yourself. Finding out about how to learn to really love life.  Now I see my yoga as a tool in the toolkit of dealing with the stuff that comes up in life. 
20131227-211241.jpgFrom absolute beginners to yoga addicts, you have classes to suit everybody. So, which type of class is proving most popular at the moment?
Right now, the Forrest yoga classes are super-popular. We were so lucky to interview Ana Forrest, the creator of the Forrest yoga movement. She was the most beautiful, awe-inspiring person I’ve ever met. Forrest yoga is an amazing tool for dealing with the difficulties and particular stresses poses in modern living.
Have you got a particular favourite yoga class or movement?
This is really hard. I choose different teachers or classes depending on my mood, or what I need on that particular day or moment.
What clothes do you feel are appropriate when about to engage in a yoga session?
Absolutely anything that won’t rip during the practice!!! At home I often do yoga in my pyjamas! In class I like to wear something colourful which moves with my body, so I feel more confident and capable. I think the joy of doing yoga at home online is that you get to call the shots. No need to worry about that kind of stuff.
How do alignment mats help when practising yoga? Would you recommend them?
Absolutely! I use and love liforme mats. They can be handy for practicing yoga classes at home when you don’t have a teacher present to tell you about your asymmetries. They can help give home students confidence. Definitely a good idea.
Looking ahead to 2014 what plans have you got in the pipeline to extend your services?
Oh my word! SO many!!! I often get frustrated that I can’t do it all RIGHT NOW!! But that’s also the practice of yoga, so I am practicing patience… We are working to make collaborations across the health and wellness industries, but also I want to make the site more community-oriented, so that people can interact better with one another and their teachers. That’s really important to me. I am working to make the site easier for people to search for the best classes for them too…
The music that accompanies your videos – how easy is it to pick the right music for the yoga classes? How important is it that the music reflects the right relaxing mood?
I don’t use music on my site. I think if people are at home they can have the fun of picking their own background music. Best not to second-guess music tastes and I don’t want the omnipresent new-agey whale-song in the background…
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Ha ha! I actually live in my yoga clothes most of the time. So I can have a sneaky stretch and make sure I feel good all the time…
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
I like Lululemon for their yoga clothes.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Some warm boots which aren’t uggly… also no sheepskin as I’ve heard how inhumane the making of sheepskin is.
Boots or Shoes?
Boots! So I can walk my dog in the countryside. Or barefoot.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Movement For Modern Life
Thanks for joining me today on the blog, Kat, and for being so inspiring!  I wish everybody a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Linda x
Photo Credits: Photos have been published with kind permission by Movement For Modern Life.

An Interview With Gypsophila Couture

December 20th, 2013

20131220-161938.jpg‘Tis the Party Season and who better to interview at this time of year than the luxurious fashion label Gypsophila Couture  based in Liverpool and are well known for their glamourously designed and flamboyant party dresses. Hi and welcome to the blog – please introduce Gypsophila Couture:20131220-161925.jpg

Hi! Gypsophila Couture is owned by two girls called Nicky Tudor and Kaydee Williams.

Your fashion label started in 2010 creating glamorous bespoke garments. What inspired you to start the business?

Our  inspiration to start the business was our love of fashion, friendship and passion to own our own boutique.

Your label is known for its flamboyant lace tutu dresses, elegant structured dresses, pretty bows and peplums. So, when designing your dresses do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends, your own preferences or bits of all those? 

20131220-161956.jpgEach item of our collection is inspired by a theme which we choose and research together. We then look at recent trends and popular styles and create our new collection with all our research.

You offer a bespoke service as well as your ready to wear collection. What’s the most unusual/strange/flamboyant dress you’ve designed?

Our classic tutu style dress with glitter net and spiked shoulder that we made for Scouse bird Problems.

My favourite dress from your current collection is the Chloe Dress in the navy/red lace colour way ( I love the way you’ll change the colour lace to suit the preference of the customer). What dress is proving popular in your shop? Online?20131220-162013.jpg

The popular dresses at the minute are the Chloe dress and our Nicole dress.

Out of all the dresses you’ve designed, what has been your favourite?

Our favourite has to be the spiked tutu style its girly with attitude.

What do you feel are the advantages of shopping for your dresses online and the advantages of visiting your boutique?

Online you get to see each garment on our model which gives a better picture of what the dress will look like compared to on the rail, they are also available worldwide so you will get something your friends have never seen before. Instore we can personally measure you and show you a swatch card of the fabrics.

20131220-161949.jpgLooking ahead to Spring/Summer 2014 what colours do you feel will be dominating the season?

Pastel colours and you never can go wrong with a classic nude.

 Have you any plans to extend your garment ready to wear range?

We have no plans to extend for the winter it will just be the new summer collection that will be released early March.

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

Personally we go for a very indie style by day with boots or converse,at night we wear our dresses or suits with a pair of statement heels.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?(apart from your own!)20131220-162023.jpg

My favourite shop has to b e River Island as their stuff is always on  trend and different from other shops; online we usually purchase from ASOS.

 What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

Next on my personal list is a pair of purple suede stilletoes I’ve seen in KG, they’re amazing.

Boots or Shoes?

I don’t really have a preference I just wear what goes with my outfit or with the mood I am in that day.

Links you would like to share:

Our new website that has just been redesigned to suit our style is: 

or you can find us on twitter @Gypsophila21

Thank you for speaking with us, your dresses are absolutely gorgeous!  I wish everybody a really Happy Christmas! 

Linda x

Photo Credits: Photos have been published with kind permission of Gypsophila Couture.

True Blues

December 18th, 2013

20131218-222848.jpgThis season, blue is challenging red as the bright colour to be seen in, from teal blue via cobalt to pale blue, there are some stunning pieces to be found not only for this winter but also for Spring/Summer 2014. I’ve spotted some gorgeous blue outfits this week to grace your wardrobe; some blue footwear that’ll make you squeal with delight (well, that was my reaction at any rate!); some hosiery and lingerie to give your underwear drawer a bit of a lift; and a swimsuit to show off your curves on that winter sun holiday… 

ASOS Crepe Dress With Twisted Waist Details

20131219-091138.jpg ASOS Smock Dress 20131219-091410.jpg Top Shop Check Velvet Tee 20131219-091342.jpg Free People Peggy Opaque Tights 20131219-091351.jpg Free People Cover Me Hoodie 20131219-091333.jpg ASOS Midi Bodycon Dress 20131219-091327.jpg Guess Sleeveless Shirt 20131219-091320.jpg DKNY Polka Dot Cut-Out one-piece swimsuit 20131219-091314.jpg Free People We The Free Raglan Top


ASOS Deep V Jumper Dress 20131219-091255.jpg J Brand Waxed Skinny High Rise Stretch Jeans 20131219-091249.jpg Free People Lapis Metal Belt 20131219-091240.jpg Forever 21 Sophisticated Open Front Blazer 20131219-091232.jpg Rebecca Minkoff Neon Mab Mini Tote 20131219-091226.jpg Forever 21 Classic Moderate Push Up Bra 20131219-091220.jpg DSquared2 Long Sleeve Poplin Blouse 20131219-091213.jpg     Brian Atwood Cut Out Booties 20131219-091206.jpg Carvela Glitz Suede T Bar Stiletto Court Shoes 20131219-091158.jpg Be true to blue!

Linda x 

Photo credits: Lyst ; apart from the header pic of the blue cobalt boots – these are my boots that I purchased from

An Interview With Bonny Read

December 13th, 2013

Are you sitting down comfortably, with a cuppa or glass of vino? You are? Good! Then I shall begin … Tonight I welcome onto the blog a lady called Sarah who once had a dream about pirates and fashion and lo and behold her passion was about to unfold….

Hi, my name is Sarah and I am the captain of BONNY READ®, if you will. I have a passion for accessories! For one, because they can round off or jazz up any outfit, and secondly because you don’t have to worry about finding the right size!

What made you start up your business?

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the fashion industry, to be honest. On the one hand, I love how clothes and accessories can be utilised to express one’s personality, aesthetics and values. On the other hand, however, I am more than annoyed about fast-fashion, short-lived fads and the size-0 phenomenon. Fashion should be fun and not make you feel like you have to drop half your weight to be considered pretty. I founded BONNY READ® to infuse the fashion industry with an appreciation for personality and individuality rather than following the lead of companies that focus on mass production and advertising a certain ideal of beauty.

20131213-145623.jpgYour company is named after legendary pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read. What was the reason(s) behind the company name?

I was looking for a name that conveys a sense of adventure and individualism, while also honouring someone who actually respresented those values. The first breed of people that came to mind were pirates, so I did some research and stumbled upon Anne and Mary who dared to be different despite all circumstances.

All scarves of a collection are tied into an engaging story. As a child, what stories influenced you?

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Disney movies and always tried to draw my favourite characters as true to the original as possible. I especially liked storylines that involved protagonists following their heart regardless of what other people thought of them, namely Belle or Pocahontas. Another idol of mine was Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking (the daughter of a seafarer!) who is so enchantingly unconventional, courageous, assertive and cheeky.

20131213-145653.jpgYour studio is based in Stuttgart, Germany – although your collection is currently available online with free UK delivery – will your city feature in any future storytelling collections? What do you love about being based in Stuttgart?

I love Stuttgart! It’s a very lively, diverse and inspirational city to live and work in. I don’t want to rule out the possibility that a real city could be the setting of a future collection, but I would certainly add an unexpected, magical twist to it. Currently, I focus on launching designs that take you to faraway lands and wondrous worlds that cannot be found on any ordinary map.

Your company offers a free premium membership offering benefits such as being treated like a creative team member and have a determining influence on the theme of the next collection as well as access to the new collection before its official launch date. So, have any good ideas been generated by members that have surprised you?

20131213-145726.jpgPremium members have the opportunity to vote for different themes suggested by me, so I don’t expect anyone to come up with her own concept. That would be too much to ask for!  However, it has been very interesting to see that the majority of members prefer stories that are somewhat mysterious.

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

I would describe my personal style as casual with a twist. I love to combine basics with one or two eye-catching elements. The two brands that probably represent my taste in fashion best are All Saints and Guess. I’m not a high-heels kind of person at all, so I usually wear sneakers or ballet flats.

20131213-145743.jpgLinks you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Bonny Read.

You can find out more about my brand on the following website:

Thank you so much for having me!

The pleasure has been all ours, Sarah – it has been great seeing your fabulous scarves and I wish you continued success for 2014 and beyond…

Linda x

Photo credits: The photographs have been published with kind permission from Sarah Schaller.

Bandeau Time

December 12th, 2013

From one-arm styles last week to completely strapless this week, the bandeau dress has been very popular again this season, amongst brides on their wedding day; for evening Christmas and New Year parties where the dress style takes on an elegant feel; and if you’re packing your suitcases for that winter sun holiday, don’t forget to pack your bandeau swimwear. To show off this style, make sure your arms,  shoulders and cleavage are well toned, perhaps tanned and how about a dusting of shimmer powder to finish off? Wearing a good strapless bra helps to give confidence especially if you are unsure about going braless – I personally recommend the strapless bra range by Wonderbra and the NEXT “WOW” range – they tend to help keep your bust shape as well as holding firm rather than flatten your bust as I have experienced with some other makes. Without further ado, here’s some strapless beauties I’ve discovered this week, varying in price from £12 upwards….

As U Wish Strapless Sequin Rhinestone Dress20131210-212952.jpg

Bebe Lucy Strapless Lace Dress20131210-212944.jpg

Lover Courtney Strapless Lace Dress20131210-212937.jpg

Pussycat Strapless Denim Bodice Dip Hem Dress20131210-212927.jpg

Josh Goot Strapless Dress20131210-213050.jpg

Bec & Bridge Kathy Strapless Dress20131210-212919.jpg

Zac Posen Strapless Orgamifold Dress20131210-212914.jpg

Tibi Strapless Lace Dress20131210-213106.jpg

Mango Strapless Gown20131210-212919.jpg

Betsey Johnson Strapless A-Line Dress20131210-212900.jpg

J Mendel Melody Strapless Gown20131210-213319.jpg

Ariella Leah Strapless Sequin Gown20131210-212854.jpg



La Blanca Twist Front Bandeau Swimsuit20131210-212812.jpg


Jane Norman Monochrome Strapless Bodycon Dress20131210-212820.jpg

Burberry Prorsum Ruched Strapless Dress20131210-212835.jpg

ML Monique L’Huillier Tea Length Lace Gown20131210-212827.jpg

Gareth Pugh Leather Strapless Dress20131210-212842.jpg

Ann Taylor Floral Jacquard Dress20131210-213143.jpg

Have Fun!

Linda x

Photo credits: Lyst.


An Interview With Barbara Lea Pottery

December 6th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever been asked to produce any unusual figurines?

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

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


twitter barbaraleapottery .  

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

Linda x

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

One Arm In, One Arm Out!

December 5th, 2013

“You put one arm in, and leave one arm out…..” OK, not the exact words to Hokey Cokey, I know, but the subject of my blogpost tonight is ” Asymmetric ” dresses and tops! The topic of many a debate amongst my friends and I, you either love or hate the style – one friend declared that she couldn’t understand the point of having just one sleeve – it made her feel undressed! Personally, I feel that the style can look gorgeous, especially if you have a nice toned upper arm and shoulder.  For evenings, adding a touch of shimmer lotion or powder and a dab of perfume onto the exposed shoulder, can make all the difference. So, for that Christmas office party, New Year’s Ball, or looking ahead to Spring – have a look at these gorgeous asymmetrical outfits that I’ve spotted this week:

Emilio Pucci Printed Asymmetrical Jersey Dress  20131204-210347.jpg Sodamix BodyCon One Arm Dress20131204-210428.jpg Halston Heritage Safari Print One Shoulder Dress20131204-210406.jpg  Cut25 One Shoulder Colourblocked Dress20131204-210418.jpg Elie Tahari Sandrine Two Tone Shoulder Blouse20131204-210447.jpg Giambattista Valli One Shoulder Dress20131204-210439.jpg Marchesa Silk Embellished Navy One Shoulder Gown20131204-210525.jpg Parker Sheer Beaded One Shoulder Top20131204-210533.jpg Rachel Zoe Azur One Shoulder Jersey Maxi Dress20131204-210539.jpg Alexon Lace One Shoulder Maxi Dress20131204-210550.jpg Balmain One Shoulder Dress20131204-210557.jpg BCBGMAXAZRIA One Shoulder Ruffled Blouson Dress20131204-210609.jpg Adrianna Papell Beaded One Shoulder Gown20131204-210603.jpg TFNC One Shoulder Embellished Mini Dress20131204-210616.jpg Givenchy Ruffled One Shoulder Silk/Organza Top20131204-210622.jpg Mason By Michelle Mason One Shoulder Glam Dress20131204-210636.jpg Bebe One Shoulder Sweater Dress20131204-210628.jpg Yigal Azrouel One Shoulder Dress20131204-210644.jpg Blue Label One Shoulder Satin Dress20131204-210653.jpg Tibi Jasmine Jersey One Shoulder Dress20131204-224621.jpgAnd, for that perfect bra to wear underneath:

Helmut Lang Asymmetric Bra20131204-210358.jpg

Go on, show off that shoulder!

Linda x

Photo credits: Lyst

An Interview With Jaylen Grace

November 29th, 2013

Tonight I’m really pleased to welcome onto the blog the totally lovely Jaylen Grace, an International life coach, relationship counsellor and author of children’s and inspirational books. She’s also a bit of a foodie, a cat lover and a shoe addict!

20131129-193852.jpgHi Jaylen! Congratulations on being nominated for the Greenhouse Funny Writer Prize in 2012 for your children’s book, Omzak and Porridge, the Two Faced Parrot. Where did you get inspiration from to write your children’s adventure stories?

Thank you for congratulating me on being shortlist winner of Greenhouse Funny Writer Prize 2012.  It came as a lovely surprise because I have only been writing books for children for a relatively short time (Compared to my personal development/spiritual books).

You are deeply committed to helping children’s development and your debut book, Omzak The Space Cat Warrior, was written originally as a script for children to act out the characters. I still read to my younger boys and they love to read along as the characters, in fact, all my children loved reading and stories. Did you read stories to your daughter? What books did you share? Is she an avid reader now?

20131129-194208.jpgI am indeed deeply committed to helping children’s development and have coached many  children in my lifetime.   I believe that all kids have unique talents that can be overlooked, and I strive to bring these out – whilst giving them confidence and self belief – because at the end of the day, it’s confidence and self belief that makes the difference between ordinary and ‘extra’ordinary isn’t it?  I feel like you do, that reading to our kids and getting them to read is really important.  My daughter wasn’t fond of reading books, however, when she was young.  I did read all the most loved children’s books to her and by regularly telling her which books I was reading and what made them amazing, inspiring, touching, she slowly developed a love of books.  I gave her Perfume to read when she was about 14. This was what started her off.  Now, she can rattle off titles like the Kite Runner and Shadow of the Wind etc and rarely has a book out of her hands.

At the tender age of 23 you became PA to the Rolling Stones! That must have been some experience! I would’ve been totally awestruck – so, was it fun? Were the Rolling Stones your idolsat the time? 

Yes, what an amazing period of my life that was when I worked for the Rolling Stones. Everything was SO different then and to be honest, landing that job was a stroke of luck  (right time, right place).  I wasn’t that much into the Stones at the time – preferring soul and artists like Aretha Franklyn, Cat Stevens,  Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers  (hopefully some of your readers will be old enough to remember them haha!).  The amazing thing was that after the Stones came under the WEA umbrella  (Warner, Atlantic,Electra) and set up Rolling Stones Records, all the big artists of the day, used to stop by the WEA offices  (They were in New Oxford Street).  I have to say the Stones were a great band to work for.  They had their demands like all divas/divos but were very generous to me.  A funny story your readers might find of interest is that the lyrics on the back of the Sticky Fingers album were written by me because Keith couldn’t recollect where he’d put the original lyric sheets.  I’m sure some of the words I wrote down don’t exist – but hey – I also don’t think anyone would notice!

20131129-190931.jpgWhat made you realise that you were yearning to explore life coaching? What impact did travelling to India make to your new career path? 

India made a great impact on my life.  After the Stones I was head-hunted to help run Warner International Music but told my new boss I could only work for him for one year because I wanted to follow a spiritual path and have a business in this field.  The yoga/personal development/life coach centre I opened in Athens in 1990 saw this dream come true.  As far as my entrepreneurial streak, I think I’ve always had that.  In my teens, I took over a food kiosk for a (little known) football team.  I got my younger brother involved and was going to give their football fans the best home-made burgers and snacks that had ever passed their lips.  This I managed but the team had so few people turning up for the matches, I had to give it up because I was losing money – however, few have ever trodden new ground without losing money and I have accepted that as part and parcel of life – along with the fact we can build successful businesses and lose them – as happened with my centre in Athens, when a storm destroyed the building!

20131129-193914.jpgNow back in London, you still teach but you spend most of your time doing your first love, writing. I find your blogposts very inspiring and uplifting. What life coaching subjects seem to be most popular amongst your followers?

Thank you for kind compliments regarding my blog posts. They are all based on rising to life’s challenges which could be what makes them popular. We all need encouragement to keep going don’t we?

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

I’m a ‘here, there and everywhere’ reader.  I’m currently reading No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, The Dodger by Terry Pratchett and Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella. All three are excellent by the way.

20131129-191003.jpgAre there any new children’s books planned? Are you sticking to the same format or going to be trying something different?

I am currently working on Porridge book two.  This is called Porridge Goes to Summer Camp and will be published in November 2014.

You are such a busy bee, but your love of writing shines through! I hear you are a bit of an adrenaline fan – jumping out of planes, kayaking, etc and that you like to try and learn something new each year. So, what have you learnt in 2013 and what’s the plan of action for 2014?

I have given up jumping out of aeroplanes and bungee jumping for the moment. In 2013, I learned the Argentine Tango because it’s so delicious and I wanted to bring out my inner tiger.  In 2014 I am considering running a marathon – which will be another first.

20131129-194157.jpgJaylen Grace is a pseudonym – your real name is bit of a Greek tongue twister! will you reveal it to us, pretty please?!

My name is interesting on many counts.  Firstly, I write under two names.  Jaylen Grace for spiritual and children’s books and Stella Ralfini for the more adult content, ie  my next book Three Faces of Sex, which will be published in January 2014, is in short a lovemaking manual.  I studied Tantric lovemaking in the nineties and wanted to show lovers the benefits of integrating this ‘from the heart and soul’ lovemaking method easy , contemporary ways.  And before I carry on with the question about my names, I just want to say that whilst I’m an open minded person, I feel that porn is doing a lot of harm to our children and it’s time for a major overhaul on the way we view sex.  Look out for my next blog ‘Lets teach our children about real sex.’  …. So, I was born with the name Stiliani, Evripidis, Sotiris Raouna.  My father was from a simple Greek Cypriot village and since my mother was fairly old when she had me (in her forties) – and did go on to have my brother, which wasn’t expected -my father wanted to ensure, I at least would carry forth my grandfather’s name and his name, so two of my names are actually boys names – Evripidis, Sotiris.

20131129-190951.jpgPersonal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

 And here we are onto one of my favourite subjects. Fashion and shoes.  For a woman in her sixties, I dress in an avante garde manner.  I still wear high heels (but now take a pair of  flats because my feet kill me after a few hours!) and my style is fairly unusual. Regarding online sites, I think yours is brilliant and offers something for every taste.  My favourite shop is one you won’t know because it’s in Greece.  It’s called Rococo. Similar to Armani, heaps cheaper and they’re styles are the bees knees every season.

Boots or Shoes? 

I adore shoes. I look in shoe shop windows and salivate with the desire to own most.  I used to have 200 pairs of shoes but half were only worn a couple of times.  These days I alternate between about 20 pairs and find that more than enough.  I like boots as much as I like shoes – my favourite pair look like horse riding boots.   I’ve had them for 5 years and will definitely keep wearing them until they fall apart.20131129-194146.jpg

Links you would like to share eg website/Facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you!

Thank you for suggesting I share links with your readers.  They can find out more about my work at and soon my new website will be up and running.  I personally don’t have a Facebook page but Omzak The Space Cat Warrior does…he’s reached nearly 10,000 fans which is wonderful Anyone who would like to follow me on Twitter can find me here  @jaylengrace   @omzakcatwarrior and ( soon)  @stellaralfini

Thank you for chatting with us Jaylen – it has been a real pleasure!

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos published with kind permission of Jaylen Grace. The illustrator of both Omzak and Porridge is Almuth Scheller.




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