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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An Interview With Paulia Scarves

This week I’m talking scarves with the lovely Julia of Paulia Scarves.  There’s nothing better than updating and adding colour to a plain coloured dress or sweater than a colour printed scarf, and even better a limited edition one in luxurious silk. A colourful printed scarf is such a versatile accessory – from brightening up your daywear to adding a touch of glam in the evening – it certainly is a must-have for your wardrobe.  Julia has also sorted out a lovely offer just for readers of this blog… details at the end ! Without further ado, let me introduce Julia and let’s find out more about Paulia Scarves….image

Hi!  Paulia is a venture set-up by my brother Paul Davis assisted by me. By day I work in IT sales and by evening I am known as Julia Hollywood,wife of Bret Hollywood – Boxing ring announcer and TV sports presenter www.hollywoodmc.com! Both Bret and I are very keen on fashion and hence my involvement in Paulia. Paul is an IT consultant and also a gifted and talented photographer. Paul and I hail from an ‘arty’ family as our father, Eric,  was a very talented artist and writer. Many of his pictures adorn the walls of our family home in Ruislip and the walls of my home.

What inspired you to launch your new prints and scarves business venture in June 2015?

My brother is a truly excellent modern photographer and I am very keen on fashion and we came up with the idea to develop some of Paul’s photographic images into scarves. Paul’s photography can be viewed at www.pkds.pics.

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

Art is our blood – with Paul, his talent manifests itself in primarily photography but I reckon he could paint too! My talent is mainly seen in interior design and I have had articles published on a garden and kitchen I remodelled at my former home and I have also nearly completed re-modelling my new home. Fashion is just my passion and I really found my feet in fashion when I married Bret as Bret is known for his sartorial elegance and sense of style and I have been very indulged by him and frankly have a wardrobe to die for!!

Indeed Bret’s shoe wardrobe is very impressive as I found out a few years back when I interviewed him ( press HERE to read Bret’s interview)…

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Early days yet I know, but what colour scarves are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season via your outlet at the swish Lisa La Moda Boutique in Gerrards Cross?

We have four scarves available from our limited edition range and they are all proving very popular but the monochrome effect may be just in the lead! They are designed to be flexible and complement many outfits and have topical, on-trend colours such as pinks, blues and greens.

Out of all the scarves in your collection, do you have a favourite? Favourite print?

My personal favourite is the wall abstract design as it is the perfect match for a super blue jacket which I bought from my most favourite fashion store ever – Lisa La Moda (www.lisalamoda.com) and the scarf with the blue and pink is just a perfect match.

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Apart from selling your scarves and prints at Lisa La Moda, you also had a “pop-up” stand at a recent Art Fair. Did you enjoy the experience? What items went down a treat there?

The art fair was a super weekend – the scarves were very well received and one lady even bought two, Paul’s photographic art was also well received and he sold some pictures too. We will be doing more art fairs so watch this space.

Which famous lady would you love to see wearing your scarves?

For me that would be a lady with elegance,someone like Victoria Beckham or Kiera Knightly or Angline Jolie. For Paul, he thinks they might suit Kristin Scott Thomas.

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Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2015 – what colours do you hope to introduce to your collection?

The scarves we have just launched will continue into the Autumn/Winter Season but watch this space as we will be releasing new designs and we are also looking at other fabric options as well as the top-quality, hand finished silk scarves we produce today.

As you are based in the UK, are your scarves and prints available to purchase overseas too?

Paulia is based in the UK and our scarves are available on our website www.paulia.co.uk. They will be available to order online to overseas customers.

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

The style you will most frequently see me in is a body-con but I also have many other styles of dresses. Dresses are my thing – I collect them and I have many timeless pieces as I do like value for money too and I do make sure I get lots of wear from my wardrobe. Sometimes I will say to Bret – I haven’t had the opportunity to wear such and such a dress for a while let’s plan an evening out so I can wear it! One of my favourite designers for cocktail wear is Catwalk Collection – these dresses are available at Lisa La Moda. Shoes are not my thing so much as I have size 3 feet which leads to much disappointment as many shoes I like are out of stock! Even though I have managed to cobble together a collection of some 200 pairs of shoes and boots over the years…

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (I think I know the answer to that question already!)

Lisa La Moda is top of the list as I love the experience of being able to try on all the dresses which you just can’t do shopping on line and Lisa always offers me a glass of champers, having said that, I do also shop at Net-a-Porter. They have great clothes and a fantastic delivery and returns service. I also like Selfridges this is where I go to buy jeans they have the best jeans selection in my opinion.

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

Next on my list is a lovely laser cut skater style black evening dress that I saw at Lisa’s shop the other day as I have the perfect jewellery to match… but do I need another dress? Well of course I do!!

Boots or Shoes?

Different shoes for different occasions but nothing beats a pair of elegant stilettos and my favourite are Stuart Weitzman as they are comfortable and as a good looking as a comfy shoe can get. I do also have several fabulous pairs of Jimmy Choos  and my favourites are some fur lined biker boots that I have worn to death…

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

www.paulia.co.ukwww.pkds.pics

STOP PRESS! SPECIAL OFFER!

I just wanted to let you know we have created a special page for your followers to access purchasing the scarves at £55.00 (inclusive of packaging and UK delivery) as opposed to £85.00 list price.

Instructions are :

Go to http://www.pkds.pics/bootsshoesandfashion
Enter password boots_55.

We will keep the page live until 31st December 2015.

Thank you so much Julia …. I agree, one can never have too many dresses …. but I don’t think you can honestly say you’re not a shoe person!!!! Wishing you and Paul much success with your venture – the prints & scarves are fab and I look forward to seeing the introduction of the new fabrics in 2016!  So, dear readers, a question for you – if you have a plain black dress & need to add a scarf, what colour(s) would you pick? For me, I would go for hints of red! I look forward to reading your ideas!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Julia Hollywood and Paul Davis.

 

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An Interview With Rock That Look

In the house tonight is Natalya (AKA DJ Talia UK) who has her own fashion line, Rock That Look, inspired by music and the fashions worn by clubbers that enchanted her as she worked on the decks as house DJ at various clubs and bars in the UK. Her mission is to support UK businesses as well as seeking to prove that fashion can be affordable, sustainable, environmentally friendly and ethical.  Sounds good to me!  I caught up with Talia recently to find out more…. image

Hi I’m Talia, one of the founders of RockthatLook.co.uk

What inspired you to launch Rock That Look?

My inspiration for RockthatLook came after the birth of my last baby: I realised that I could not travel the U.K and beyond as easily as I had before as a house DJ. I have always loved fashion – love,love,love! I became enchanted with the beautiful outfits worn by the crowd. This made me determined to bring some of this glamour to girls throughout the UK whilst being aware that many had a limited budget.

Have you always had a passion for fashion?

My passion for fashion started when I was a little girl. I used to make outfits for my dolls. It just grew and grew.
It’s important as a woman to look and feel your best. Being in the public eye DJing, it was very important that I stood as a women in my profession.

When selecting outfits to represent your brand, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

The selection process for our products takes many hours, days and weeks. It’s also very exciting! We start with a mood board, showing us exactly the look  for the following season. We do this by buying all the fashion magazines, cutting out what we love. We also attend local fashion shows, putting the pictures in a file. We then have the hard task of taking pieces out. We have to be very brutal, it’s a bit like clearing your wardrobe and finding that you really don’t want to throw anything away.

I love the Aztec Print Hareem Trousers – the black/white print lends itself to be teamed with brightly coloured/neon tunic tops! What outfits are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

I’m really glad that you like the hareem trousers and bright tunics they really are lovely items. The most popular outfits we’ve sold this year are the tye-dyed shorts and the Michelle Keegan wet look leggings.

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

My favourite outfit on the site is the black jumpsuit.  Jumpsuits are a fashion must-have this season, flattering for all figures, practical while stylish – you can dress them up and down. I love mine especially with the turquoise-crystal-necklace.

Rock That Look exclusively retails garments & accessories designed & manufactured within the British Isles. How important is your mission to support UK businesses to you?

We firmly subscribes to ethical and responsible business practice and these values are enshrined in the Rock|That|Look philosophy. Rock|That|Look exclusively retails garments which are designed and manufactured within the British Isles. Our mission is to support UK businesses by carefully selecting a wide selection of quality garments sourced only from manufacturers based in Britain. We seek to prove that fashion can be affordable, sustainable, environmentally friendly and ethical, all whilst supporting the local economy.

Which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of Rock That Look?

Now that is a great question!  My aunty is my fashion icon. She has sadly just passed away, but she built her own fashion empire in Cape Town, South Africa where she is and was, a fashion icon.

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2016 – what styles/colours do you hope will dominate your collection?

We are already looking at the Autumn 2016 collection! I think we are going to have a lot of neon pastel colours and geometric patterns. It’s going to be a very fun year for fashion!

As you are based in the UK, is your clothing range available to purchase overseas too?

Yes we are based in the U.K. We do not sell abroad at the moment, but watch this space.

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

I love to wear skinny jeans, floaty tops and big statement necklaces.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite online shop is Misguided, with Boohoo a close second.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

I’ve got my eye on a beautiful pair of long black boots with a 2 inch slim heel and pointed toe. I have also seen a stunning flowing jacket, which will be a great look for the autumn.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots for me all the way, I love Boots 🙂

Links you would like to share so that readers can find out more about Rock That Look:

Twitter https://twitter.com/rockthatlook1
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/rockthatlook
Pintrest https://uk.pinterest.com/rockthatlook/
Instagram https://instagram.com/rockthatlook.co.uk/
Website http://www.rockthatlook.co.uk/

Lovely talking to you Talia and I am loving your style!  I hate clearing out my wardrobe …. my favourite pieces remain until they come back into fashion and then I do like updating the look with some new accessories, fashion piece, jewellery or shoes…. especially for a night out! What about you, dear readers? Do you have a yearly clearout or do you hoard? What do you like to wear on a night out? Drop me a line, I’d love to know!

Linda x

Photo Credits: © Gail Braznell Reflected Images

All photos have been published with kind permission from RockThatLook.

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An Interview With Linzy-Lous

I’m talking handbags this week with a lovely lady, Louise.  Louise has a real deep passion for all things handbag that has given her the courage to set up her own online boutique selling stylish bags at affordable prices as well as running funky handbag parties in the Christchurch/Bournemouth area of Dorset, where she lives.  I recently caught up with Louise to find out more about her handbag passion…Hi Louise…image

Hi Linda!  My name is Louise and I live in Christchurch near Bournemouth in Dorset, with my partner and child. I work for myself, and I just love handbags as well as having a strong passion for fashion. If I’m not working on my handbags,  I do love exercising and generally having fun with the family and the girls.

What inspired you to launch your online handbag shop?

I gained my inspiration for my online shop because I want people to be able to purchase handbags that are in  fashion for affordable prices.

Have you always had a passion for fashion & bags?

I have always been interested in fashion from a young age and trained in beauty after school. I love girly things and I want to be able to show people my fashion side. I feel it’s OK to have lots of handbags and that it’s possible to do that at affordable prices  –  it doesn’t always have to be designer!

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Your website offers a lovely variety of bags at affordable prices. So, when deciding which bags to sell, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

When choosing my stock, I go by what people might like of all ages and also a little bit of my taste as well. I occasionally put on Facebook a status out asking whether people think the handbag is nice and whether it should go on my website or not?

The unusual “flower and dots” handbag is gorgeous, especially in the green. What bags are proving popular amongst your customers?

Definitely the most popular bag this season is the flower and dots bag in black and green and the houndstooth handbag in black and white.

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

My favourite handbag is the ribbon detailed handbag in fuchsia at £22.99 – it has plenty of style.

Apart from selling your bags online, you also host handbag parties in your local area, selling your range of bags. What areas do you cover with the handbag parties?  How can somebody book a party?

I do handbag parties at my local holiday site for the customers and also I do charity events. People ask me to do certain bag parties for them – I am in the Christchurch area. People often facebook me on Linzy-Lous for enquires.

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Which famous lady is your current style icon? What bag from your collection could you imagine them using?

The Duchess of Cambridge has a very elegant style, which I like.  I think I would pick her a handbag from my collection at £22.99 which is called the quilted ladies patchwork handbag in black and white and looks to me slightly retro as well as chic over the arm.

What colours do you hope to introduce into your collection for this Autumn/Winter?

For the Autumn/Winter season,  I like to add  blacks, browns, beiges, greys but I will also add colour too for the people who like to be bright all year round. A touch of colour in the winter makes you look a lot better and feel brighter sometimes.

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

My bags aren’t available at the moment overseas; maybe one day in the future.

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

I like to wear in the summer my Ugg flip flops , shorts or skirt and a vest/cammy top or if I’m going out I have a lovely belted dress with small kitten heels.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite shop is River Island – I love the fashion styles. I do sometimes look online as well .

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

My next items I would like to buy are a leather jacket in tan and some new jeggings!!!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots wins hands down in the winter – I love to wear them. I prefer winter clothes than summer as I seem to find more to suit me.

Links you would like to share:

https://twitter.com/linzylous

https://www.facebook.com/linzylous?ref=hl

https://instagram.com/linzylous14/

https://www.pinterest.com/linzylous/

Thank you for chatting to me today Louise.  I have a black/white zebra print bag with red handles that is my current everyday bag – and I use smaller clutch bags for nights out.  Have you, dear readers, got a favourite bag that you use all the time or do you like to have a variety of bags to mix and match with your outfits? Do tell!

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission of Linzy Lous.

 

 

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An Interview With Les Amies Anglaises London

This week I welcome onto the blog a new high fashion label to hit the streets of London – a label for women specialising in edgy handmade silk tops, conceived, inspired and based in London mixed with the Italian sense of luxury and French “nonchalance” – representing the dual culture of the founder, Oriana Abbondanza.  I caught up with Oriana recently to find out more about her brand, Les Amies Anglaises London … Hi Oriana!          image

Hi! I’m Oriana! I am originally from Rome, where I studied at university – I took a degree in Modern Languages. After my degree I moved to Spain to complete a doctorship there and after working in Spain for few years, I eventually moved to London. I have been working within the fashion and luxury goods industry for the last 15 years. Last year I decide to give it a go and create my own company and label, Les Amies Anglaises London. It is really only in 2015 that I decided to commit myself 100%  LAAL.  Also, I love Japanese food and of course Italian Food !

What inspired you to launch Les Amies Anglaises London?

Although  I have been working within fashion and luxury goods industry in the last 15 years,  I never worked in the ” proper creative area” of the business, ie designing a collection;  but since I moved to London the idea of having my own label and my own company became stronger and stronger in my mind.  The idea of designing tops came suddenly.  At the beginning it was about designing simple T-shirts, then the idea became more elaborated and …it ended up being the LAAL collection: each top is a masterpiece itself. I wanted to use a simple item as a top and make it… a statement !

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Have you always had a passion for fashion?

I discovered my passion for fashion a bit late, but I have always been a very  “creative” person.  Art has been my main interest. I would have loved to study a fashion related degree for example, but when I was at the university, the choices were limited  – not like the ones you have now!

Your tops are very edgy – a sort of cosmopolitan glam rock twist in the most luxurious of materials, 100% silk. Where do you draw your design inspiration from for your top collections?

As I often mention, London is my main inspiration. It is such an inspirational city for creative people and everything can inspire me really: from graffiti on a wall, arts exhibitions, people in the street, to the simple nature around me.  The ADASTRA top was inspired by the stars of the summer sky in Rome ( my hometown)! The silver studs of the tops remind me of the sky full of stars in Rome!

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The Harnessless Criss Cross Top is gorgeous, so me! That is my particular favourite. What tops proving most popular amongst your customers so far this season?

I have to say that the whole collection has been very well received, but definitely there are some tops that made a special impact –  Harnessless is one of them actually! Then ADASTRA, CHIMERA, BLACK ORCHID, URBAN ENCHANTRESS, Rêverie and Spleen.

Out of all the tops in your collection, which one is your favourite?

This is a very difficult question to answer ! I have to say that I love each of the 12 tops of the SILK OBSESSION collection, because I know all the hard work there is behind each of them… I definitely love Adastra – I can’t thank enough my couturiers  for their patience because it was really complicated to sew on the studs! But honestly I love all of them, each of them are special to me!

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The photographs on your website of LAAL’s first fashion shoot (with globally acclaimed photographer, Simon Songhurst) are just as edgy and fabulous as your tops. Shooting at the uber cool Penthouse Studio in Shoreditch, must have been a fab experience. If you could travel to any place in the world for your next photoshoot for your next collection, which place would you feel would sum up your next collection and why?

Working with Simon has been an unforgettable experience and I will only shoot with him for LAAL – that’s for sure. Actually, we are already thinking about our next shooting…it will probably be an  outside environment, completely different from our first shooting…I will reveal it in the next interview if you want !! hahahahah!

I look forward to that Orianna!
If you could pick any famous lady in the world to be the “Face” of Les Amies Anglaises London- who would you pick and why?

I won’t be too original here I am afraid! For being so ” London”, Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne would be the perfect match for the LAAL look. I do like the  intensity of Edie Campbell and the coolness of Binx Walton too!

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Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2016 – what styles/ colours do you hope to introduce to your collection?

I am attracted by contrasts so you will always find in my collection dark and bright colours/prints. For SS 16 I definitely would use brown/chocolate tones and I am obsessed with turquoise and red- pink tones! And you will always find animal prints ! Love them!

Although you are London based, you ship from your warehouse in Spain. Are you able to offer a global delivery service?

Yes, definitely. We have a worldwide logistics system and we ship from Spain to the rest of the world!

What are your plans for the future?

This year is about promoting the brand and gaining visibility. Next step will be the participation at international fashion shows, such as Scoop, Tranoï in Paris and White in Milan – definitely a bubbling and intense time for LAAL !

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

Obviously LAAL tops! I love miniskirts and minidresses  during the week. At weekends you will find me in leggings, blazer, leather jacket. Regarding shoes : I love ankle boots and generally speaking I am always in high heels!

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

I love YOOX.com  and mytheresa.com. I am a big fan of mix & match so I love to mix some couture pieces with high street pieces. This is the thinking behind LAAL when I call my label a Prêt a Couture label!

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

The whole RESORT Collection from Balmain if LAAL will boom ! hahaha.. If not, I could always queue for the Balmain and H&M collection in November !

Boots or Shoes?

Although I love both of them, I would definitely go for shoes or ankle boots – probably because I am not super tall and I feel that high heel shoes suit my silhouette better! Even if – as a good London girl should – I carry my secret in my bag ! ( ballerina shoes before the commute!!) I found this English habit great! Now I can’t commute any other way!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Les Amies Anglaises London

My website : www.lesamiesanglaise.com.
Twitter : @LesAmiesAL
FB : Les Amies Anglaises LAAL

Wow Orianna – it sounds as though 2016 will be a busy and exciting year for you!  Being a born & bred London girl myself, I’m pleased that you’ve adopted the English habit of ballerinas in the bag! Dear readers,  what fashion habits do you have? Do tell! I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from LAAL

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