An Interview With Evanji

February 14th, 2014

This week’s interview is very much beauty based as I delve into the realms of the ancient Arabic art of sugaring with my knowledgeable guide Denise of Evanji Limited.  A warm welcome to you, Denise….20140214-154800.jpg

Hi! My name is Denise McGowan and I own and run Evanji Ltd. I was previously a Secondary School Head of Food and Textiles. As a student I played International Canoe Polo and later on achieved my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. I was in a life changing accident at the age of 19 and now try to acquire as many skills and much knowledge as possible…life is too short! I love to travel and experience other cultures. My passion is passing on my skills and knowledge.I have 2 beautiful daughters and a fabulous husband who is a Firefighter. I do a lot of charity work with Evanji and Arbonne International awarded me the Spirit of Arbonne last year, out of 20,000 Consultants! Very honoured.

20140214-154748.jpgWhere did you get your inspiration from to specialise in the ancient art of sugaring and to set up Evanji?

The inspiration behind specialising in Arabic Sugaring was more of a specific need! I was becoming a single Mum and needed to pay the bills! I already had a successful craft workshop but this wouldn’t reach the income I needed quickly enough. I came across sugaring at a charity ladies night and was asked if I’d like to learn. I could see the potential for the growth of the business but didn’t anticipate how quickly it would grow. My teaching skills and course writing experience helped when we became a registered training provider so that we could pass on this skill.

What’s the history behind sugaring?

Sugaring is an ancient Arabic Art of removing hair from the root with a ball of paste made from sugar, lemon and water. We manufacture the pastes ourselves. In Arabic and Egyptian countries the ladies would meet and sugar each other, indeed before getting married all the hair was removed except for the hair on the top of the head, the eyebrows and the lashes!

20140214-154733.jpgSo, what are the benefits of choosing sugaring over other forms of hair removal? Is there a downside to sugaring?

The benefits of sugaring include that the hair grows back softer, sparser and lighter in colour. Unlike waxing it only sticks to dead skin and hair so it will never rip the skin. The paste is applied and removed by hand so there is no blistering and peeling. The paste is effective on stubborn hair, yet can be used over eczema and psoriasis. It is gentle enough to use on elder skin with our oldest client being 92.

Evanji has now expanded to support a growing number of franchisees… and as well as sugaring, Evanji offer a range of courses including eyelash/eyebrow tinting, massage, manicure, pedicure, hopi ear candling – what seems to be the most popular service that therapists want to master?

As well as sugaring we offer a large  range of treatments and courses. Therapists are very keen to learn massage and facials. Among Clients nails are a popular treatment. We are in the process of adding baby massage to our repertoire of massage courses.

20140214-154722.jpgWhat service is your absolute favourite?

My favourite service is sugaring because it is my passion. So many ladies suffer with polycystic ovaries which results in greater hair growth. They are often then lacking in self esteem and confidence. By helping to keep the hair under control and eventually encouraging it to cease we can raise self esteem and confidence. After this my next favourite is Deep Oscillation a very specialist treatment and a whole new blog!

Out of the services you personally provide what seems to be the most popular amongst your customers?

Sugaring is most definitely the most popular, followed by Deep Oscillation.

Are there any new services you hope to introduce in 2014?

In 2014 we will be introducing baby massage by March. Later in the year Accupressure will be arriving!

20140214-154812.jpgA little bird told me that you’re hoping to expand your franchises overseas  – so how’s it going planwise? Where do you hope to expand to?

As a company we have expanded by word of mouth and have been very lucky to have trained Practitioners abroad. We have 3 ladies in Milan who have now expanded to a further salon. We have a Practitioner in the Dordogne and were very excited last year to train a Practitioner in Australia. In February we are adding to the countries by training a lady in the Canaries.

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

My favourite colours are orange and turquoise…although not together. I tend to team them with black trousers and black, flat shoes. I do own some heels but definitely know when I have worn them. If I know I don’t have clients or meetings I can be found in a bid white shirt and jeans. I definitely like to be comfy.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I am a bit of a M&S girl. I do like boutique style shops and in my home town we have a fabulous one called Curves.

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

I actually make a lot of clothes as I used to teach textiles. I am currently making a jacket, shirt and bra. I am looking to buy some boots but know specifically what I want which makes it more difficult.

Boots or Shoes?

I usually wear shoes because I have a high instep and chunky calves…not ideal for putting boots on!

Links you would like to share so that readers of the blog can learn more about you!

www.evanji.co.ukwww.evanji.myarbonne.co.uk, we are on Facebook as Evanji Limited and Twitter as EvanjiSugaring.

Thank you very much Denise for chatting with us today and I hope that Evanji carries on spreading the beauty word well into the future….

Linda x

Photo credits:  Photos published with kind permission from Evanji Ltd

Own It – Spotlight on BooHoo’s Latest Campaign

February 7th, 2014

Have you ever bought an item of clothing that looks sensational on the model online or on the hanger in the shop, but when you go to put the outfit on you resemble more the sugar plum fairy than the image you wanted to portray? Do you know your body shape? Do we really know what style outfits will enhance and flatter our body shapes? Or do we just hope that the dress that looked great on the tall, slender model would look just as stunning on a short, slightly dumpier version? Worry no more, because BooHoo has just launched their Own It campaign to help people dress for their body shape and discover what new styles would suit them.20140207-203727.jpg

I have the “Hourglass” figure, a well defined narrow waist and larger hips,thighs and bust. I already know that the full skater style skirt looks ridiculous on me (hence my sugar plum moment in the first paragraph) and that closer fitted pencil style skirts look miles better. So I was interested to see what new styles BooHoo recommends me to try….


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Totally agree, my favourite style of dress and if too short I like to team with my favourite denim jeggings or slinky leggings.


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I’ve yet to take the plunge with this style, but it is one I didn’t think my figure could pull off … so we’ll see … watch this space!

 

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Of course, my leather jacket is my most constant wardrobe staple. A bomber jacket is so versatile too.


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I prefer a longer top, but I’m glad it’s because of my body shape and not age related ( who am I trying to kid?!)


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I like the shirtdress, so I’ll probably still dig this style out because my hips could be considered more pear shape at times.


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Definitely agree this wouldn’t be the style for me!

Have fun experimenting with new styles when you’re out shopping and find that gorgeous outfit that will enhance and flatter you, whatever body shape you happen to be!  And Own It!

 

Linda x

Pictures published with kind permission of BooHoo.

An Interview With The Miniature Perfume Shoppe

January 31st, 2014

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

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

An Interview With Be Free Style

January 24th, 2014

New Year, New You, New Wardrobe…. if that’s your New Year’s resolution then you’ll love tonight’s blog guest.  I’ve been chatting to image consultant and life coach, Belinda, who has led the life of an ex pat wife in America and Thailand, where the non stop social whirl of lunches, dinners, fundraising events, corporate entertaining etc  made getting your wardrobe details right very important indeed.  So, a warm welcome to you, Belinda…20140124-204900.jpg

Hi, I’m Belinda Freestone, a Style Coach based in Nottingham, covering all of the East Midlands. A style coach is a combination of an image consultant and a life coach. I help people to look good on the outside and feel good about themselves on the inside.

Where did you get inspiration from to become an image consultant & life coach?

I’ve always been interested in fashion and looking good, so when I found myself in Thailand as an expat wife with lots of free time on my hands, I began to research distance courses I could study in my own time, with a view to setting up my own portable business. The Style Coach Institute offered a comprehensive course I could study anywhere and in my own time.  When I graduated with honours in 2010, my thoughts turned to starting my own business and so Be Free…Style coaching was born.

20140124-204909.jpgHaving been an expat wife living in both America and Thailand, and now back in the UK, have you noticed any style differences between the three countries?

There are a lot of style differences between the 3 countries I have lived in. Here in the UK we look to Paris & Milan for style inspiration as well as the stars in Hollywood, whereas on the east coast of America, they view the whole of Europe as the essence of style. Americans tend to be more conservative in their dress, especially on the East Coast and aged 35+.   Locals in Thailand also aspire to follow western trends.  Thai people place a lot of emphasis on hierarchy and their place in society, so they dress according to, or above their standing. The women especially love glamour, accessories and shoes.

What are the ups and downs of being an expat wife?

An expat life in Thailand can be one long round of social engagements, either through work or as part of one of the many expat groups i.e. British Women’s group, etc. Most expat families have drivers and live in maids, therefore the everyday tasks for a wife and mother are taken care of. Leaving the expat wife time to exercise, shop, and socialise. This sounds great, but I struggled with losing my identity, I could no longer do the job I had done for nearly 20 years, I was a long way from family and friends and had left my older children in the UK. You have to take up every invitation going and mix with a variety of people you may not usually associate with just to avoid being bored and lonely. As a westerner you got privileged treatment wherever you went and had access to all the elitist places as well as experiencing the real Thailand at street level. Traffic was always horrendous and simple journeys took ages, but overall the experience was amazing.

20140124-204838.jpgYour services as an image consultant & life coach include finding out your body shape; colour, season & style profile; full wardrobe de-clutter; personal shopper; networking style package; wedding services + shop; holiday wardrobe. So which service seems to be most popular so far? Did you do similar services when you wereabroad and if so, what were the most popular services there?

Wardrobe de-clutters and personal shopping are my most popular services here. I had only just started my business in Thailand when we had to move back to the UK, but I did do a couple of wardrobe de-clutters and  shopping would have been popular because finding clothes in larger sizes was difficult.

What service is your absolute favourite?

Personal shopping is my favourite. I love really getting to know a client and seeing their face light up when they find the perfect outfit. I love seeing people’s confidence grow as I show them the correct things to look for.

20140124-204850.jpgHave you any funny stories or unusual events you can tell us about whilst personal shopping etc?

Confidentiality is important in my job so I don’t tell tales but I do get funny looks when doing my research for a client as I go from shop to shop taking photos and making notes on the items they stock. It is funny when I note an item is in a certain place on the day of my research, only to find when I go in the next day with my client, the store have moved it somewhere else.

We all make some wardrobe mistakes at some time in our lives – what common mistakes or style misconceptions have you come across? What are your pet hates?

The most common mistake people make is wearing clothes the size they used to be, that works both ways either too big or too small. My pet hates are trousers that are too short and ill-fitting underwear.

20140124-204825.jpgAre there any new services you hope to introduce in 2014?

In 2014 I hope to introduce a loyalty scheme and a once a season shopping trip.

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

At home I usually wear leggings or skinny jeans with a tunic top or jumper and ankle boots. For work I prefer shift dressers or smart trousers and a fitted top. I love high heel boots or shoes but if shopping with a client I have to go for stylish but comfortable.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite shops are Zara, Phase8, M & S and Next. But I love to hunt for bargains in TKMaxx and designer outlets.

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

Smart/casual pair of trousers that aren’t jeans or leggings.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots every time! They keep my feet warm, I can wear socks or tights with them and they make me feel sexy!

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

To find out more about BeFree or to make an appointment visit www.befreestylecoach.co.uk you can also follow me on Facebook at Be Free Style Coach or on Twitter @Befreestyle47

 

An Interview With Jinxbug

January 17th, 2014

When I was so so much younger I remember going to the pictures with my friends and our mums and apart from “Swallows and Amazons” which was a film we reenacted afterwards with an upturned table as a boat, the other film that was a big hit was “Herbie Rides Again”, closely followed by “Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo”.  Herbie, that lovable VW Beetle! Sweet Memories! So it was with lots of glee that I welcomed onto the blog for today’s interview the sweet Jess from Jinxbug, an emporium built upon a love for all things Beetle & VW Campervans! Welcome Jess!20140117-153553.jpg

Hi! I’m Jess and I run an online business called Jinxbug which specialises in selling VW Campervan and Beetle gifts along with retro and unique jewellery, greeting cards and much more. I created the business in April 2013 and launched the website in June 2013. I started off by selling my own handmade greeting cards and then things went from there!  You can now find over 200 handpicked items on the website. 

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You obviously love Volkswagens/Beetles – was that the inspiration that made you start your award-winning Volkswagen and Beetle emporium?

The main inspiration behind creating the business was my very own 1966 Beetle called ‘Jinx’, which is also where the business name stemmed from!

You have sourced a fantastic range of campervan gifts, Beetle gifts, Volkswagen decorations, homecare, jewellery, fashion accessories, & greetings cards.  What products seem to be most popular at the moment?

20140117-153543.jpgWith Valentine’s Day approaching fast, I am selling a lot of the romantic greeting cards. The jewellery and heart shaped trinket boxes are also very popular!

I love your range of greetings cards, especially the unique range of Valentines Cards and your personalised caricature cards.  Have you had any unusual caricature request?

The personalised caricature cards have been a real hit with Campervan and Beetle owners who love to see their cars immortalised in a character version!  The most unusual request I’ve had to date was to draw a Beetlenext to a Panda Bride and a Meerkat Groom for somebody’s wedding!

20140117-153603.jpgI think I’m most impressed by the glass campervan mosaics – they’re gorgeous! Have you got any personal favourites out of all your range of gifts on your website?

Where do I start!  I have handpicked all of the items on the website, so each and every one is dear to me.  However, I really love the Campervan money boxes which are totally unique and really special.  

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What item has been the most unique/unusual that you have sourced?

I think the hand-painted vintage record wall hangings have got to be one of the most unusual but fabulous items I have currently got on the website. They make a great gift for that somebody we all know who’s got everything!

Are there any new gifts you hope to introduce in 2014?

I am about to introduce a range of Wedding stationery to the website which I think will go down a treat!

You have a range of footwear/clothing – the orange/black wellies are rather funky! – if you can design the perfect Jinxbug outfit to sell what would it be?

think it would be great fun to introduce a range of Jinxbug clothing. Branded T-Shirts, hoodies etc. Watch this space!

20140117-153528.jpgMy husband gigged at a large VW Festival at Jimmy’s Farm, Essex last year.  I loved seeing the colourful campervans and Beetles on show and the spirit of the place.  Do you own a campervan or Beetle? Have you been to the Festivals to pick up ideas for your website?

I travel to a lot of car shows and festivals throughout the year in my Beetle, Jinx.  It’s a great way to network with like-minded people, and get inspiration and ideas from the things I see.

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

My fashion sense can be a bit quirky at times! You’ll probably find me wearing a pair of funky tights with a skirt and some rock chick boots!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite kind of stores are unique independent shops which have lots of interesting and unique items to buy. Whether that’s clothing, things for the house or gifts for family and friends.  When I’m shopping online I also like to discover niche businesses, much like Jinxbug!

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

My beloved pair of Rocketdog boots have had their day, so I’ll be looking to replace them next!

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots! Because I’m a rock chick at heart :)

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

www.jinxbug.co.uk

www.facebook.com/jinxbugshop

www.twitter.com/jinxbug_

Thanks Jess, it’s been brill talking to you and I hope you and Jinx enjoy another summer of VW Festival living!  

Linda x

Photo Credits: Photos have been published with kind permission of Jess Teague.

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: saleservant.com   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: saleservant.com/publishers-bloggers/

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…

1. MEL BOTERI WHITE & EMERALD “AMBER” WRISTLET CLUTCH

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

2.  V73 ST TROPEZ YELLOW BAG

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

3. ISLA RULE HANNAH LAPTOP HANDBAG IN PINK PAISLEY

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

4. V73 TWEED CLUTCH

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

5. V73 CAPRI ORANGE BAG

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: 

www.stevenbrown.co

and blogsite:

http://fashionphotographystevenharrisonbrown.blogspot.co.uk/

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
https://www.facebook.com/movementformodernlife
https://twitter.com/M_F_M_L
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:

www.gypsophilacouture.com 

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

20131219-091308.jpg

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 www.everything5pounds.com.

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