A Christmas Message

 

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This year, the 25th December falls on a Friday and so this week’s blogpost is more of a Christmas message wishing all my readers around the world a Happy and Peaceful day!

Looking back over 2015,  here are my fun awards:

My Favourite Colour of The Year:  Navy has predominated my wardrobe  all year round!

My Favourite Clothing of The Year:  My silver grey cotton waterfall cardigan from La Redoute –  looks fab worn with my navy dresses.

My Favourite Shop of the Year – Online:  I’ve been impressed with BooHoo lately for both male & female clothing.

My Favourite Shop Of The Year:  Sainsburys Superstore at Weymouth, Dorset –  loved the shop layout in the clothing section and their summer sale was excellent.

My Favourite Boutique Of The Year:  Jeffrey West Store in London.

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My Favourite Shoe of The Year:  Red canvas pumps from Next and my black lace ballerinas – a snip at £5 from Everything £5 website.

My Favourite Skincare Products:  This year I couldn’t live without the English Rose Cosmetics Eye Cream,  Garnier Moisture Protect Moisturiser, W7 Clear primer and Leichner Hint of Beige Foundation.

My Favourite Make Up Products:  Arbonne Black Mascara; my eyeshadow brushes.

My Favourite Discovery:  Jeffrey West now do ladies cowboy boots – not ordinary ones – these are truly exquisite!

Thank you all for reading my blog posts this year – your support has been fabulous!  I have a great jam packed year of interesting interviews waiting for you in 2016.   Looking forward to meeting with you all on Friday 1st January 2016 – I’m chatting to Shaman John Norseman – so please join us!

Linda x

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An Interview With Tiannia Barnes Shoes

It has been a while since we’ve talked shoes on the blog, so I have great pleasure in welcoming American footwear designer Tiannia Barnes to chat footwear.  Mentored by esteemed London-trained shoe designer/maker, Sissy Puccio,  Tiannia has now got together her own snazzy shoe designs that she hopes inspires sexiness, timelessness and boldness.  Without further ado, let’s meet the lady herself ….

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Hi, my name is Tiannia Barnes. I am a shoe designer and CEO of Tiannia LLC, the TB – Tiannia Barnes Brand. I am a mother of an awesome 11 year son. I enjoy fashion, designing, traveling and spending time with close friends/family. I’m always up for an adventure!!! Live.Love.Laugh…I try my best to wake up every day with these 3 words in mind to kickstart my day.

As a small girl, did you always want to design footwear or did you have other career aspirations?

My educational and career background is not in fashion. I studied mathematics and industrial engineering in undergraduate school. I also have an MBA. My career started off in engineering for a global company. After a few years of engineering, I moved into technology. I’ve worked in the Insurance sector for many years of my career as an IT Program/Project Manager. I knew that I always loved fashion and business but subsequently didn’t study either until later in life. As a kid, I never wanted to go into a particular field. I just happened to do well in a few subjects that required thinking and creating solutions. I’ve always had a vision of me as a powerhouse…not any particular ‘job’ association.

What do you like best about being a shoe designer?

It’s liberating and creative. You take an idea, then a sketch and manifest it into a piece of art that you create and people love. Great feeling!

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Your first collection, for Autumn/Winter 2015/16, is stunning and the shoes certainly inspire sexiness, timelessness and boldness. What was the inspiration behind your shoe collection?

My inspiration for my “Inspire” collection are all things that have inspired me on this journey of finding my passion and pursuing my dreams. I’m inspired by color, travel and culture, fashion and anyone living their “truth”. Hence, my collection of F/W 15’ women’s luxury shoes are all named after women who have encouraged, supported, loved and inspired me…my Mother – Jackie (RIP), both of my grandmother’s names are Pearl, my Sister – Regin, myself and my friends style and personalities can all be characterized as Jazzy; and my sandal/bootie is named Misty, after Misty Copeland. She’s AMAZING!!! I’m inspired by her story…you must look her up!

If you could visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a shoe collection, which place would occupy your top spot?

Any place vivid and full of culture. Barcelona, Spain is definitely on my short list.

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I LOVE the look of the Jackie heels – the spicy shade of mustard, the fringing and the very sexy metallic heel. Have you got a favorite out of all the shoes you’ve designed?

As a designer, all are my faves, however the first shoe that I had ever sketched was the Jackie, plus it’s my mother’s namesake so if I had to choose that would be it. However, my clients seem to love the Regin!!!

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2016, what colours, inspiration and styles will you be featuring in your next collection?

I’ve designed a wedge for the summer and an espadrille that I love. My color palette includes colors of the sunset and hues of oceans in the Caribbean.

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Hypothetically speaking, which famous lady do you feel would be the ideal “face”of your brand?

I love what Oprah stands for and her business savvy. All around the TB woman that would be able to wear every shoe in my collection effortlessly is Queen Bey – Beyonce. I have created a line strongly targeted towards fashionably conscious women on the go. I envision the TB – Tiannia Barnes women as a go-getter, confident, chic, timeless and empowered. Whether she works in corporate, owns her own business, philanthropy, stays at home and occasionally likes to hit the town, etc….she has a TB shoe that matches her attitude – bold, fearless with a little edge!

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Your luxury leather and suede shoes are constructed in Italy although designed by yourself in the USA. Being based in the USA, are you able to ship overseas?

Yes, my global logistics carrier is actually headquartered in Italy, but has US based network of warehouses/operations in New York, Miami, and LA.

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

My everyday go to shoe is the Pearl. Mainly because it’s a flat and it goes with everything. I do a lot of running around during the week so I need comfort for on-the-go. You will find me in business casual attire for most of the week, but I feel most at peace and comfort in some combination of a nice pair of jeans, blazer, and sweater, cute shirt using accessories and my shoes as my pop. I also love elegant events where I can really “dress up” and be adorned with a gorgeous gown, shoes, and jewels.

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

Yes, aside from my own I like Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Anthropology, Free People…I like personality, uniqueness, variety and quality, all things I find at these stores and others. I also love visiting cities that have independent boutiques. You find the best pieces at boutiques.

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

I’m excited about the shoe new line that I’m designing. With fashion week ongoing globally I’ve seen a few really chic jackets out this season that are hot.

Boots or Shoes?

Sandals are my favorite…maybe because I love the seasons in which you would wear them. I think designers get more creative when it comes to sandals so there are lots of variety in styles to choose from in the SS seasons.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc. so that my readers can learn more about Tiannia Barnes.

Website: tianniabarnes.com/shoes
Facebook: facebook/tianniabarnes
Twitter: @tianniabarnes
Instagram: @tianniabarnes

Thank you for coming onto the blog Tiannia and I wish you all the best in 2016! To end the year, I like to ask you dear readers the same question as I ask my interviewees – boots or shoes? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Tiannia Barnes 

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An Interview With Will Bees Bespoke

Devon bound this week on the blog  to chat to Will Bees Bespoke, a maker of luxury personalised accessories  from tote bags and pouches to keyrings and notebooks.  Using over 500 luxury fabrics and the finest selection of quality vegetable tanned leather, there is plenty of choice to suit everybody and amazingly enough the large totes are still hand embossed using the old fashioned method of hammer and block by Will himself.  I caught up with Will recently to find out more about his lovely bags and his fashion passion too…..

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Hi! I’m Will.  I’m from Bristol originally but came to Salcombe with my parents on holiday as a child and then we moved down here permanently. I’m married with two young children, both adopted. I founded a nautical clothing company called Quba Sails in 1996, which we expanded to 14 shops and a successful online presence. I’m proud of what I achieved there and it gave me the confidence to embark on a new brand – and to take the risk of putting my own name to it!

I used to own a couple of Quba Sails sweatshirts in the late 1990s – I bought them whilst at the London & Southampton Boat Shows.  My favourite was a pale blue half zip sweatshirt!  So, what inspired the launch of your “new” company, Will Bee’s Bespoke?

I’m always exploring new concepts and this is an idea I’ve had for a while; there just hadn’t been time to look into it properly. I soon realised it was going to be complicated; I found so many wonderful fabrics, it was impossible to choose between them, and I started thinking about how we could accommodate them all. It’s never been tried before on this kind of scale and that excited me. Once I’d decided to offer so much choice, and to give customers such an individual experience, it was a natural progression to add the personalisation element.

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Your English made range of accessories encompasses over 500 luxury fabrics and quality vegetable tanned leather. So, when designing products to include in your range, do you go for uniqueness, current trends, previous popular colours/styles, your own personal tastes or bits of all of those?

It’s largely my own personal choices. Over the years I’ve grown to trust my own eye. I do watch trends too, and I’m keen to get feedback from our customers and evolve what we do to meet their demands. Some of the bags we’ve launched this year, for instance, are a direct result of listening to our customers’ comments and doing our best to fulfil their requirements.

You are able to offer an unique bespoke embossing service – for the tote bags they can be hand embossed using the old fashioned method of hammer & block; others can be embossed using your bespoke embossing machine. What do both processes entail?

Most of our embossing is done on a bespoke machine. We’ve selected our preferred font and it’s then machine tooled into brass letters. These are securely mounted on the machine and heated to 120 degrees. The chosen letters are then ‘branded’ onto the leather. The result is very accurate, perfectly spaced. Alternatively, I can hand emboss our totes using the old-fashioned method of a hammer and block. The result is a bit more rustic than the machine embossing – the letters might not be perfectly aligned – but it has its own charm and it’s in keeping with the traditional hands-on craftsmanship. Interestingly, most customers opt for this service for the larger totes.

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I love the Emmeline Totes using the Liberty Art Fabric and all the colours of the gorgeous Florence pouches! Which products are the most popular amongst your customers? Any differences between what your visitors to your shop like and those that order online?

I haven’t really observed a different profile between shop and web orders. The smaller items – the Octavia clutches, Florence pouches, notebooks, key rings etc – clearly appeal to the gifting market. It’s premium product at a sensible price, and the personalisation makes them unique. Some customers have come in and snapped up a dozen personalised pouches or notebooks, and there’s an audible sigh of relief as their Christmas shopping list is halved! Others customers will have had their eye on one of our totes or maybe a Beatrix Cross body for a while, or will spend a long time browsing the range, carefully deliberating over which silhouette, print and shade best fits their personal style.It’ll come as no surprise that the Liberty fabrics have enduring appeal with a significant cross-section of our clientele, in store and online. It’s such an iconic British brand, managing to combine contemporary design with timeless quality.

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You are based in Salcombe, Devon – do you cater for overseas customers at all?

Obviously for now the vast majority of our clients are UK-based, but we have had a few customers overseas, either because they’ve visited our shop on holiday, or come across our website or social media pages. There’s clearly room to expand here and it’s something I’d like to focus on. I believe there’s a huge market for products that showcase the best of British manufacturing.

If you had the chance, who would you pick (dead or alive) to be the “Face” of Will Bees Bespoke and why?

I struggle to align our brand with any one face. When we opened our doors for the first time in the summer of 2014, it quickly became clear that a much wider range of customers were attracted to our products than I had initially envisaged, from teenagers upwards. That said, Yasmin Le Bon pretty much ticks all the boxes. Her beauty is timeless – it’s hard to believe she’s turned 50. She’s been at the top of her game for so long and yet has remained happily married to a high-profile popstar for almost 30 years, neither of them going off the rails like so many in the limelight do. They’re a successful yet down-to earth couple. It would be a dream to have her as the face of my brand – although I would naturally hope to appeal to her teenage daughters too! I also like our brand to showcase our core values, such as being a truly British brand. When it came to naming our bags, we decided to pay tribute to some of the most pioneering ladies in British history. Our Emmeline Tote is named after suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, our Octavia Clutch after social reformer Octavia Hill, our Florence Pouch is in honour of Florence Nightingale, and so on. Interestingly, it was one of our younger customers who remarked that it was “Great to see things dedicated to people who fully deserve recognition rather than a ‘girl of the moment’ bag!”

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Looking ahead to 2016, are there any future plans to expand your range of products at all?

I fully intend to continue developing new product ranges to fill the gaps in the market that our customers have expressed an interest in. We launched a key ring bar earlier this year, and in the summer introduced notebooks and men’s accessories. We’re exploring more full leather ranges too. I want us to continue to get better and better at what we do, while staying true to our roots and core values.

Have you always wanted to be in the fashion industry? What do you enjoy most about what you do?

When I was about 19 I travelled to Biarritz, France in an old Land Rover to sketch surfers. I came up with a “Vive La Mer” logo, found a local printer and got him to mock up a T-shirt with the logo. I was going to order 200 to sell and fund my trip. I called my Mum to tell her and she told me I was mad so I never did it. I still regret that now! It’s the creative aspect I enjoy the most; coming up with an idea, developing it and watching it turn into something three dimensional. It’s so exciting when a sample ends up just the way I envisioned it.

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

For work I wear a white T-shirt, skinny jeans and lace-up brogue boots. Off duty I usually wear a graphic T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops. We live by the sea in South Devon, so I normally wear a little sand between my toes too.

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

Double RL has to be right up there. The flagship shop in Mayfair is one-of-a-kind; a thing of beauty. The look and feel combines vintage Americana with the heritage of turn-of-the-century London. It has to be seen to be understood. I’ve heard it’s Ralph Lauren’s little baby, not necessarily the most commercial, but truest to his heart.
Mister Freedom, a vintage clothing shop in L.A. is another favourite. It’s true vintage, not vintage-inspired; the real deal. The exquisite taste extends right down to the details like the swing tags. A visit there feels like a trip back in time.  And I have to mention Liberty and their truly unique flagship store in Marlborough Street. They are so innovative and they do some great collaborations. Every time I go to London, and I check out what’s going on at the big stores, I’m always drawn back to Liberty. There’s a timeless beauty to that building, and it succeeds in being intimate even on a vast scale. There’s nothing quite like it.

Ooh yes, I love the Liberty Store too!  An “Aladdin’s Cave of Loveliness”. What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new slub yarn white long-sleeve top with breast pockets to wear at work. So simple and yet so hard to find the right one!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. I find boots more versatile, harder wearing, particularly where we live – they don’t let the sand in! – and they just look cooler in my view. I bought a pair of vintage Sorel boots from The Vintage Showroom in Ladbroke Grove. It’s owned by a guy called Doug and you have to ring for an appointment. It’s a treasure trove. I love this particular pair; I’ve worn them to death and they’re still going strong. My wife got me replacement wool liners last Christmas – best present she’s ever given me!

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

facebook.com/willbeesbespoke
instagram.com/willbeesbespoke
twitter.com/willbeesbespoke

Fantastic talking to you Will and I think your bags and fabric pouches are totally gorgeous – and mirror the quality that I experienced when I wrapped myself in my favourite Quba Sails sweatshirt!  As I said earlier, I echo your love of that iconic London store, Liberty, too.  The Northampton Shoe Museum is another place I love to browse around & lose myself in!  Dear readers, have you got a favourite iconic store or place to go to browse for ages?   Do tell!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from Will Bees Bespoke.

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Spotlight On Samuel Windsor Menswear

I do like the impeccably tailored country look on a gent – tweed jacket, with a lambswool scarf, wool jumper, moleskin or dark denim jeans, and a shirt…. plain or tartan!  Featuring this week on my blog is a company that has specialised in quality formal menswear since 2003, Samuel Windsor.  Come and meet them …

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Your company has specialised in quality formal menswear since 2003. What was the inspiration that launched the company?

The inspiration behind Samuel Windsor is to create clothing which epitomises quintessential British style at an affordable price. The Samuel Windsor collection gives men the opportunity to dress with style and panache for any occasion, ranging from casual wear to formal or black tie, without compromising on quality or breaking the bank! Popular for its footwear, Samuel Windsor is renowned for its hand-stitched Italian leather shoes and boots, of which the majority are made using the Goodyear Welted technique. Again the focus is to create a smart, trendy collection without compromising on quality and available at an affordable price.

This Autumn/Winter, your campaign is very dapper country style clothing – tattershall shirts, wool tweed jackets, lambswool scarves… what inspired your collection?

Put simply – British tradition. The classic country style is often seen on the catwalk, mixing traditional green shades, brown hues and hints of burnt orange with tweed and modern fabrics, which help to give a modern twist to what is essentially a classic style. Our ranges are also guided by the seasons – for example, at present our collection includes warmer, autumnal colours and thicker fabrics.

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What outfits are proving popular in the UK amongst your customers so far this season?

Our brand new Fairisle jumpers matched with a pair of jumbo cords have proved to be a BIG hit this season. Tweed jackets, tattersall shirts and moleskin trousers, finished off with a pair of robust, rubber soled, Goodyear welted shoes. Classic wool mix winter jumpers styled with casual shirts are also very popular for men of every age group.

When designing and putting together a collection, do you take into account the latest trends, customer requests, tried & tested favourites, your own tastes or a bit of all of those?

We take inspiration from many different arenas. In terms of new colour pallets and patterns, we closely monitor trends and the catwalk. In terms of product updates for our best sellers, we develop materials, technology and incorporate new colours and hues. Whilst we have many influences, our primary focus and inspiration always comes down to building the range most suited for classic British gentlemen’s apparel, whether this be in the form of covert coats, tweed jackets, peacoats, jumbo cords or moleskin jeans.

Which famous man would you love to see as the “face” of Samuel Windsor?

Colin Firth

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Looking ahead to Spring/Summer – what styles/ colours / era do you hope to see being worn?

The “dapper” style is very strong and we expect this to continue into 2016, with slightly toned down colours compared to the bright / bold reds / greens we have seen over the last couple of years.

Will you be adding any new items to your range in the future?

For SS16 we have linen shorts in development, as well as some new lightweight summer chino shorts. We also have some new patterned shirts, a summer tweed jacket and finally, a check lightweight wool jacket.

You also sell a range of handmade leather shoes and slippers. What style shoes are proving popular this year?

BV251 – Prestige deck boot
BV242 / 241 – Prestige country boot
BV248 – Prestige Belgravia boot
The rubber soled prestige range
BV240 – Prestige dress shoe
BV3 –Classic penny loafer
BV1 – classic semi brogue
BV135 – classic sandhurst

Although based in the UK, are your clothes available to buy overseas?

We are now fully available in Ireland, and ship to a series of European countries. For the first time, we are entering the US market with our first catalogue out to market this Fall/Autumn.

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

http://www.samuel-windsor.co.uk/
http://blog.samuel-windsor.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/samuelwindsorofficial
http://twitter.com/samuelwindsor

What do you like about the “dapper” style? I’d be interested to know from both my male and female readers – so don’t be shy, leave a comment!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Samuel Windsor.

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Let’s Chat Whiskey!

I’m pleased to welcome back onto the blog, wine connoisseur Richard Betts, who wowed me back in April with his fabulous “scratch ‘n’ sniff” guide to wine ( read that interview HERE). Richard has had a busy summer and has got together another fab guide but this time we’re chatting whiskey! Hi Richard … I know you, but for any new blog readers, could you please reintroduce yourself?

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Hi! I’m Richard Betts, I’m a winemaker, author, master sommelier and mezcalero. I make wine in Australia under the banner of “An Approach to Relaxation” and in France where it’s called “My Essential”.  The mezcal we make in Oaxaca, Mexico is called “Sombra” and it will make you smile. I spend about 300 days a year on the road making and selling and am the luckiest kid around.

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Following on from your excellent Scratch & Sniff Wine Book, you have just released your whiskey version, The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-it-All. So, what inspired you to turn your attention to whiskey?

Well first of all, I really like drinking the stuff! I also really like making people happy and while there is a ton of enthusiasm around whiskey there is also a lot of room to make it easier to understand and enjoy. Plus, our methodology of dissecting a topic, making it clear and then allowing the reader to reassemble the pieces they like to arrive at the drink that will make them happy works really well here. That’s the magic, everyone’s taste is unique and giving people the road map to their individual tastes is such a fun thing to share.

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Helping would-be whiskey connoisseurs to learn their personal preferences by using a mixture of facts, humorous illustrations and scratch & sniff scents – this book has already received rave reviews … I spotted Sir Richard Branson amongst them. Was it harder to compile this book than the wine version or about the same?

It was definitely different because I wanted, in fact needed, to relearn everything. There was a point in time many years ago when I passed the Master Sommelier exam and all of that knowledge was really fresh. Of course you begin forgetting all of those facts the very next day :). So, I started from scratch and relearned it all which was very fun but it also puts you in the frame of mind of the novice which is very useful when your ambition is to explain something in an accessible way.

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How many whiskeys did you have to sample as part of the research for the book?

We tasted nearly 500 of them – all blind (as in, we didn’t know what they were when we tasted them so we would be candid!) This was actually physically really hard but also really interesting and it took up all of last summer.

Do you have a favourite whiskey? Any whiskey that didn’t tickle your fancy?

I love Japanese Whisky as a category and Scotch from the Islands takes a close second place. Favorites in there include Hakushu 12yr and Laphroaig 18yr.

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Your books cover whiskeys from around the world – what place surprised you most by having actually a decent whiskey?

I was really impressed with Irish Whiskey actually. It is dominated by a few big brands but if we dig just a little there are actually a whole bunch of small, interesting drinks such as Red Breast and Connemara.

Are you planning any more scratch & sniff style guides in the future?

Indeed! We’ve got a couple ideas – including a potentially somewhat scandalous one – that we’re considering.

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

The best place to start is yobetts.com and you can go everywhere from there. I’m also yobetts at everything – twitter, instagram, fb

It’s been brill to have you back on the blog, Richard – wine is more my drink but I am not adverse to whiskey!  So, dear readers, what drinks do you think would make a good “scratch & sniff” guide? Gins,? Vodkas? Tea? Coffee? Do share your thoughts!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Richard Betts.

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An Interview With Melody Carr

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you love most about being a singer?

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

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

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

What music genre do you enjoy listening to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

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

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

A pair of floral Doc Martens!

Boots or Shoes?

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

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

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

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

Linda x

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

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An Interview With Author Suresh Purushothaman

I’m brimming over with positivity this week – I’ve come across a lovely motivational book that contains short yet uplifting phrases that the author hopes would inspire readers to live a happier and more meaningful life.  I caught up with the author, Suresh Purushothaman, recently to discover what motivates and inspires him….

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Hello everyone, my name is Suresh Purushothaman, author of the new book, “Being In Oneness”. I live in London with my wife and son. I was born in Pondicherry, which was previously a French colony in South India.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Being In Oneness” – a motivational book containing uplifting short phrases to inspire readers to live a happier and more meaningful life. Where did you get inspiration from to write this little book of positive affirmations &
quotes?

I always venture deep into the consciousness to get my inspiration. I can also say why I wrote this book. I wrote to share my deep thoughts on life and happiness with everyone. I want to keep it short and simple, so people can read quickly and ponder over the thoughts to find their own meaning of life and true happiness. I decided to write and finish my little book when I was facing a possible medical scare. I know that things like that can happen to anyone anytime, so I can also say my medical scare pushed me to complete this book.

Your book focuses on themes such as success, achievement, life, happiness, fear, etc. The book, however, has no chapters – so you can just dip in; and is not meant to be a formula for life; simply signposts you can use in your journey of life. Being born and brought up in
Pondicherry, India and having lived the last 16 years in London; which short phrases or inspirational thoughts helped you when you relocated to London, which must have been daunting for you?

London is a great place to live, but I have had to start from scratch. I lost financially before I started a new life in London. So I can say this thought is my famous one: “ Never wish to have anything in your past back, even if you lost a fortune. The beautiful connections of life will reveal numerous opportunities as you step into the future: Be guided by your oneness, your soul. And help it to open up new beginnings”.

“Love and life are so interlinked that one cannot live without the other. Start loving yourself and others; and life will start loving you” – that is just one of my favourite phrases that I read from your book. Have you got a favourite saying/phrase?

I also like the phrase you chose because it sums up everything for you about life and love. If you are asking my favourite phrase, it’s
“Live a life of happiness within you first; it will then radiate to cover the universe.”

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Your powerful words are enhanced on Kindle versions by beautiful photography which helps to assist the reader to reflect on their thoughts – which is a glorious bonus. The pocket sized book can be carried easily & provide an opportunity to dip into it on a regular basis.
Although you are based in London, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes, I decided to have pictures in the Kindle version, so readers can take time out to think on the thoughts and see how they can apply in their everyday life. You can buy my book on Amazon – it should cover the world.

If you had to write a book in a different genre from “Being In Oneness”, what genre would you pick?

I would have picked  “Leadership skills through the application of oneness”.

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

The next book I am planning is the application of oneness in leadership, which can create great leaders who can inspire and motivate others for a bigger and better cause naturally as opposed to the coercive nature of modern management skills.

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

I like books on happiness, life and leadership. My favourite authors are Dale Carnegie and Dalai Lama.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you some book inspiration, which place would you love to venture to & why?

I would like to visit places where people are happy in the midst of poverty and war and want to see what makes them happy and content.

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

I love watching news and debates. I love going with my wife for weekly shopping and doing a little house work for my wife.

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

Normally you can find me in tee shirts, cotton trousers and sneakers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I normally shop on Amazon. I like their price, delivery and customer service.
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What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I am planning to buy a pair of shoes.

Boots or Shoes?

I always prefer shoes; they are more fitting to my style.

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

www.beinginoneness.com
https://www.facebook.com/beinginoneness
https://twitter.com/beinginoneness

http://www.amazon.com/BeingInOneness/dp/0993313701

Thank you so much for speaking to us Suresh and sharing with us your positive and inspiring thoughts.   So, dear readers, what makes you happy? Have you any tips or phrases to share? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Suresh Purushothaman.

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Working From Home – Sewing

I’m heading Down Under this week to speak to the lovely Joy who has written a brilliant e-book aimed at stay at home mums who want to start their own sewing business from home.  Surrounded by business since she was a small child, Joy offers a wealth of information and  practical advice.  I was also taken with her “folded book art” business, so I had plenty of questions to ask!  Welcome Joy….

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Hi! My name is Joy, I live in Australia, I am a mum, wife, writer and freelancer, thanks for having me.​

Congratulations on publishing your e-book about starting your own sewing business from home. Where did you get inspiration from to write this e-book? Who do you hope to inspire?

I wrote the book to help stay at home mums that are feeling deflated from “just being a mum” – I know the feeling all too well and I think the only thing that kept me sane was having something on the side to make me feel valued. This isn’t your million dollar income, though it could be, it’s more about providing a little more income without added stress.​

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You’ve been surrounded by business ventures in one way or another since you were young. Growing up, was your career aspirations business orientated or art orientated or did your dreams follow a different path?

Growing up my Dad worked for himself at markets and fairs so I was exposed to that life from about 3-4 years of age.  I enjoyed it.  I have always been entrepreneurial. My mum always said I could be anything I wanted when I grew up and I believed it. This led to me being 28 and having no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I decided not to grow up, and keep with my folded book art but share more of my knowledge.​

As I’m somebody who cannot knit or crochet and can barely sew despite 3 years of needlework lessons at school, I really am in awe of you! Do you find sewing/ craftwork therapeutic?

I personally am like you, I can do little more than basic alterations, I was working with a client to set up her sewing business when the inspiration for the book came to me, that you don’t need to be an expert to make money sewing.​

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I was mesmerised by the fantastic folded book art featured on your website & shop. Did it take long to learn? Is it a craft talent handed down by generations?

I would like to say it was easy, but when I started about 7 years ago there wasn’t a lot of information available. I purchased a tutorial for a basic folding pattern and with trial and error learnt how to create my own patterns. It is still one of my biggest forms of income. I decided to start selling tutorials myself because I was getting a lot of interest from the US but $40 for shipping was a killer.​

Apart from the folded book art, you have also launched themed book jewellery. Sounds very fiddly to me! What pieces of jewellery or folded book art in general are your most popular sellers? Is there a difference in preference in Australia compared with, say the UK & USA?

The book jewellery is a bit fiddly, and it’s the only item I make in batches -the process of all the gluing is just too hard for single pendants. I have found that popular books make popular pendants. I am working with the Twilight series at the moment, and they are proving popular. Another of my best sellers is wedding confetti cones – in fact, this last weekend, I coiled and posted 250 of them to celebrate various weddings!

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

I will be writing more books. I am following a business start up trend – things you need to know, getting started with wordpress – internet marketing is the umbrella genre.​

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

At the moment I am following author Dave Koziel, who is also an entrepreneur. I do like reading success stories and advice. I implement them and then write about how to model them for smaller businesses.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you art & craft or business inspiration, which place would you love to venture to & why?

Ooooh, such a tough question! I imagine doing a folded book art lesson in the castles of the UK or Europe would be amazing.​

When you’re not sewing, blogging or running your art & craft business, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

My internet business/entrepreneurial pursuits are my hobbies.  I love getting out there, learning the latest changes and helping others achieve their success. It’s a bit of a running joke in my household. I truly am earning doing what I love.​

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

Normally in jeans and a shirt, something comfortable. We have up to 5 children home at any one time and much more than this is just too impractical for me.​

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love vintage and used clothing so mostly I will purchase awesome finds on ebay or etsy.​

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

For the last 3 seasons I have not been able to find knee high boots I like  – they are still on the list and I guess since it is nearly Summer here they will need to wait until next season.​

Boots or Shoes?

I can’t make such a choice, it’s all about the heel! I am addicted to heels but I have no where to wear them.​

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you, your crafts & e-books.

Book art can be found at http://tintiara.com
​Small business advice and a link to Amazon for my book can be found at http://joyouscreature.com
Twitter @joyouscreature​

It’s been a total joy to speak to you and I wish you all the best in your business ventures.  I must say, your dream of holding folded book art lessons in a castle sounds good …. Thornbury Castle in South West England is now a hotel but it still has original features and lounges lined with bookshelves galore – I can imagine that being a good venue!  Any readers got any good ideas of the perfect location?  Do share, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Joy Ireland.

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An Interview With 7ven Crystals

Despite the spookiness and darkness of Halloween, I think it’s now “time to shine” as I introduce onto the blog Luis of London based 7ven Crystals, whose company makes items into works of art by using the finest Swarovski Crystals.  Everything from jewellery to clothing can be crystal customised and I caught up with Luis recently to shine a light on his sparkly business ….image

Hello my name is Luis Moreira, I’m 28 years old and I am a Portuguese crystals designer. I attended a school in arts but, to be honest, all my life has been connected with arts somehow.  Over the last five years I’ve become more and more experienced in working with this kind of material. I moved to London three years ago because the market is way more open to luxury items than in Portugal. The crystals that we use are from one of the most famous crystal brands – Swarovski.

What inspired you to launch your business venture, 7ven Crystals?

Ever since I was 18/19 I always wanted to start my own business, but at that time I had no idea of what kind of business it would be. Then one day I was watching a fashion show on tv and they were talking about this big brand of crystals called Swarovski. The programme covered everything from how it was made to the designs that they did, and I’ve became obsessed with the idea! I did some research and around three years or so later, I was starting to make some small designs. From that point to starting my own business, I knew that it was only going to be just a matter of time!

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When did you start to get a passion for fashion and art?

The passion for art was first – my grandmother used to draw incredibly well and my uncle from my mother’s side was very talented in arts as well – so I guess that was already in my blood!

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Early days yet I know, but what products are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season for embellishing with Swarovski Crystals?

Oh that’s easy, it’s definitely the high heels and lingerie! There is a slogan that says ” diamonds are a girl’s best friend” – I would like to change that to ” crystals are a girl’s best friend” – simply because diamonds are very expensive and not everybody can afford them, but crystals are luxurious and glamorous but still much more affordable for any lady. It’s not only for ladies –  we make items for gents as well, watches for example.

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Out of all the products you’ve decorated, do you have a favourite item?

Probably a pink and white crystal bracelet and a black watch I did for an international celebrity. The bracelet was my first big design.

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What has been the most unusual item you’ve decorated with the crystals?

The most unusual request was from a lady that asked me to glue a crystal onto her leg – for obvious reasons I didn’t do it! The most unusual item that I’ve done was probably a trash can – the lady loved crystal items and asked me if it was possible to do it. Of course I said yes, because any item is doable. One of the things I really liked was the fact that this lady understood our brand message.  I would like to make it very clear, that we can make any item not only from our collection but from your own house as well. Basically you can become the designer – just let us know your idea and we will make it happen. Remember the old shoes that you don’t wear anymore because they are old and ugly? We can make them look even better than they were new.

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How long does it take to embellish a standard pair of heels?

It depends! If we are talking about a pair of heels with just the heel in crystals then maybe around one hour.  If the customer asks for a pair of shoes all covered with crystals it will take approximately one to two days, but if it’s urgent it is possible to make them in seven hours.

Looking ahead – are you hoping to expand your collection of ready embellished items or will you be concentrating on doing bespoke items?

For me the biggest priority is to get 7ven Crystals known by as many people as I can! In terms of collection, yes, I am preparing a new collection to be released after my planned photoshoot. But I love it when a customer comes along with his own ideas for the items.

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

Yes, we can ship items anywhere in the world. That is one of the reasons that we are doing a photo shoot – to get ourselves known worldwide! I was very lucky that I’ve got a brilliant, gorgeous model (Cat Voysey) and the only thing I can say is that this shoot is going to be out of this world – so stay tuned everybody! Well, our slogan is Time To Shine!

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

Always  jeans – I love jeans – and probably a white shirt, leather jacket, and  a nice watch. I have a passion for watches! In terms of footwear, probably Christian Louboutin trainers. (And, of course, some crystal item!)

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Yes, The 7Ven Crystals ahahaha! I have – probably the essentialone.com for new daddies and mummies.

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

Buscemi Trainers – I am in love with them, and a MCM backpack.

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Boots or Shoes?

It depends on the weather!  When it comes to the ladies, I think a high heel shoe will always look prettier than a pair of boots.

Links you would like to share:

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Seven-Crystals/1488583511369929?ref=hl

Twitter: @7venCrystals

Website:http://wallett7777.wix.com/the7vencrystals

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Thank you for dazzling us with your beautiful crystal products!  I have had a phone case crystallised and many of my friends have had their shoes crystallised with stunning results.  A crystallised bra top would be really fab to own (although not sure if I would be brave enough to strut my stuff in one…. well, I might need a glass or two of wine beforehand!) Tell me, dear readers, have you had anything crystallised? What would you love to have embellished with gorgeous crystals?  Do tell!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from 7ven Crystals.

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Nightmares Are Made Of This

Adults should never underestimate the power of a child’s imagination – from clowns to parental lies about bogeymen or monsters who live under the bed in an effort to get your child to behave – these figments of imagination run riot in tiny minds!  Exploring the topic of parental lying, Singaporean author/illustrator Trivia Goh, has got together and published a collection of local lies commonly heard in Singapore and presented them in a book of gorgeous illustrations and light hearted rhymes.  Nightmares are never far from anybody’s mind during spooky Halloween week, so I caught up with the delightful Trivia to find out more …… 

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Hi! I’m Trivia Goh, a 24-year-old artist, illustrator and designer based in Singapore. I studied at the School of Art Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, majoring in Visual  Communications. Currently, I’m working towards my dream of living off my art.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Nightmares Are Made Of This” – a children’s book for adults, touching upon the topic of parental lying; the lies parents tell their children to get them to behave as desired! Where did you get inspiration from to write this passionate book?

Thank you very much! The inspiration stemmed from the culture here in Singapore, where, every so often you’ll catch wind of a parent telling scary lies to their kids to get them to stop crying, to stop running, to stop talking…it is all very instrumental and the stories they come up with are incredible. (I have to give them that!). Some stories are passed down for generations while others are just made up on the spot to instill that momentary fear. I like my works to be meaningful so I decided to illustrate these dark stories for parents to better see what kind of imagery they are putting into their childrens’ head and henceforth be more mindful of their words.

 

 

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As well as being published author, you are also an accomplished illustrator too. Growing up, were your career aspirations writing or art based or did your dreams follow a different path?

When I was growing up I thought I’d be an artist. But somewhere along the way I got caught up with all the expectations to get a “real” job. So I allowed myself to go down a more commercial path of a designer. But I think I’m back on track now!

Your book contains a collection of local lies that are commonly heard in Singapore, presented with illustrations and light hearted rhymes. What was the lie most used on you as a youngster growing up in Singapore? What’s the funniest, oddest or your favourite “lie” in the book?

The one about the watermelon seeds! My mum used to tell me not to eat watermelon seeds otherwise they’d grow a watermelon in my tummy. I always thought to myself that the seeds are germinating in the tummies of those who ate the seeds. The oddest lie in the book has got to be the one where parents tell their children not to pick their nose because there’s a fanged worm in there and it will bite their finger if they do. It took a while to figure out how the illustration would be like if they do and the whole time I was thinking that is such an odd thing to say!

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Your book though is meant to be educational for adults – to make parents aware and be mindful of their interactions with the young ones and not to under estimate the power of a child’s imagination. Although you are based in Singapore, is your book available to purchase overseas? Do you offer a digital format (eg Kindle) as well as the giant sized book and smaller sized version?

Yes the small sized graphic novel ( 20mmx 80mm) is currently available online on my website, at My Imagination Kingdom (an independent bookstore) and soon it will be up on the shelves of Kinokuniya. I felt the need to get this out there to the world and not just in Singapore. The giant book is making an appearance again at My Imagination Kingdom at a meet the author session and I’m looking to make it available for sale in future.

If you had to write a book in a different genre from “Nightmares Are Made Of This”, what genre would you pick?

I’d pick children fiction and fantasy. Those books are precious precious gems. I once read a children’s picture book about picking stars and I learnt a whole lot more on how to grow as a human being from that book than any adult self-help book I’ve ever read. When we create the impossible things, we inspire people to do the impossible.

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

I’m looking at a part 2 for Nightmares Are Made of This, and this time with contribution of parental lies from people all over the world. (I’ll make an announcement on my Facebook page  when this will be in time). For now, I’m focusing on illustrating and I will be compiling my works into little books on a regular basis. I’d like to cover topics that seem very trivial but matter a lot. It is how it is with little things.

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

I like reading fantasy and fiction. My current favourite is The North Star by Peter H Reynolds. My usual reads include JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you some book/illustration inspiration, which place would you love to venture to & why?

Gruyères, Switzerland! To visit the Giger Museum! H.R Giger, Tim Burton and Edward Gorey are great inspirations I live by.

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When you’re not writing and illustrating, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I like to watch movies. The romantic comedies, fantasy films and animations provide a very good form of momentary escapism and that really brings fresh perspective to things.

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

Denim shorts and baggy shirt with plain black flats – they go with everything! 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Yep! I frequent postsecret.com & iwrotethisforyou.me – to feel human.

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

A blue grey bridesmaid dress. A friend of mine is getting married in November!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. Adds a little edginess!

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

My Website : www.trivialities.com.sg

My fb page : https://www.facebook.com/trivialities.sg

Meet the author session event pg:
https://www.facebook.com/events/ 82549393434355 /

My instagram : @trivialities

Thank you Trivia for taking time out to chat to us about your wonderful book and illustrations. A lot of people I know find clowns scary, but for me it’s the humble cow … no particular reason why… so what gives you goosebumps dear readers? Do share your secrets!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Trivia Goh.

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