An Interview With Ann-Celeste London

For a special night out when you need to be the belle of the ball you can’t go much wrong with a dress.  Not just any dress.  You need a dress that has that “wow” factor.  I’ve come across a fashion line that has certainly made me go “wow” :  Ann-Celeste London.  This London-based fashion line is for that confident lady and the range of edgy cocktail dresses, regal full length gowns and trendy 2 piece ensembles are to die for!  Using the opulent, patterned traditional fabrics of Africa the dresses are crafted into contemporary, European silhouettes.  Every single piece has the wow factor!  I recently caught up with the lovely Celeste, Founder & Creative Director to find out more behind the designs…. hi Celeste!

Hi, My name is Celeste. I am the Founder and Creative director of Ann-Celeste London fashion brand.

What inspired you to set up your fashion brand, Ann-Celeste London?

I have always loved and enjoyed fashion. In 2012, I was able to pick it up properly when I found myself in between jobs. I started doing research and learning the ropes of starting a fashion brand. Heritage is important to me. It is what distinguishes me and informs my identity.  Through my designs, I can share my story and inspiration

Have you always had a background in, and a passion for, fashion?

My background hasn’t always been about fashion design although as a young girl, I always wanted to sew my own dresses! Later in life, I worked in the retail fashion industry for over 3 years and eventually decided to guide my passion and focus towards developing a brand.

I love the Abby Dress, Lulu Dress, Oyin Dress & the Lade Cape – I couldn’t pick just one favourite, they are all so gorgeous & glamorous. What styles are proving popular already amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you! We have 13 different styles and 5 of the styles are in demand. Which are Lulu dress, Calabric Dress, Oge Jumpsuit, Abby Dress and Oyin Dress.

Out of all the outfits in your collection, do you have a favourite?

I love the Lulu dress. It’s very versatile you can wear flat shoes or heels depending on the occasion or mood.

Your brand is influenced by the African love of colour/patterns mixed with European silhouettes, giving a fresh approach to fusion fashion. If you could go anywhere in the world to photoshoot for a new collection, where would you go?

Tanzania would be ideal having Mount Kilimanjaro
(highest mountain in Africa) in the backdrop, riding on a horse would be epic.

Hypothetically speaking, which famous lady (dead or alive) would you love to see as the “face” of Ann-Celeste London?

I would like Michelle Obama to wear our brand as she very elegant and gracious. Her strength and presence would be perfect fits for some of our designs and looks..

In September 2016, your “Mope” collection was showcased during London Fashion Week under the renowned House of iKons catwalk. How did you feel seeing your outfits on the catwalk? Was it a good yet nerve racking experience?

The House of iKons boasts of showcasing some of the world’s most creative designers and with all the hard work and pressure that was building up to my first catwalk, I told myself to stay calm and enjoy the moment!

As you are based in London, are your outfits available to purchase overseas?

Yes! Our outfits can be purchased on our website: ann-celeste.com. We are looking towards having stockists in different locations around the world.

When designing outfits to add to your collection,do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional styles or bits of all those?

I would probably say a bit of everything.

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

Mid-length dresses, warm jacket, tights and a pair of heels

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

I have lots of favorites shops. I currently like Whistle, Reiss, Hobbs and Cos for everyday wear. However, it changes from time to time depending on what the brand has to offer for the season.

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

Double breasted navy blazer and chelsea boots.

Boots or Shoes?

I love shoes but have to go with boots! Boots keep my feet warm and comfortable during the winter months.

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

Please check out our website and social medial platforms.
www.ann-celeste.com
https://www.facebook.com/AnnCelesteLondon/
https://www.instagram.com/anncelestelondon/‎

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Kinky Boots Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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

 

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An Interview With Classic Portuguese

Launched in October 2016, new artisanal menswear brand Classic Portugal aims to showcase the traditional manufacturing techniques from the rugged, yet beautiful Serra Da Estrela in Northern Portugal.  The Serra Da Estrela region has long been the centre of a thriving wool trade and each sweater in the Classic Portuguese collection has been made from a fine blend of 90% merino wool and 10% cashmere.  I recently caught up with the founder, Robin da Silva, to find out more. Welcome Robin…

Hi!  I’m Robin, the son of a Portuguese Father and British mother and a recent graduate from University College London. I have lived in London for over 5 years now and have no intention of leaving it behind! I enjoy going shopping and seeking out new fashion trends that I can adopt. I’ve really become a young fashionista with a passion for entrepreneurship. I love designing, creating and seeing ideas turning into real items I can touch and feel.

What was the inspiration behind Classic Portuguese?

I was walking through the hills of the Serra da Estrela, when I came across an old Portuguese mill. It was only after we’d met with the owner that we’d understood how much heritage and history there was behind wool trade and manufacturing in the area, that had been passed on from generation to generation. It so happened that I’d already been living in London for a few years now and I’d learnt to understand the luxury goods market, and the growing demand for quality Portuguese items. That’s when the idea was born.

Growing up, was your career aspirations fashion orientated or did you have another career in mind? When did you start to cultivate an interest in textiles?

If I’m honest, I always thought I was going to become a footballer, as I was playing professional football throughout my teenage years. I was put through to the Belgian national trials and a friend of mine is now playing for Atletico Madrid. As you can see, my career was never intended to end up in fashion, but I quickly developed a passion for dressing well while in London due to the constant exposure to new trends and styles. Although I also wanted to start my own company and couldn’t find a brand I could 100% relate to, my visit to the Serra da Estrela and life in London, perfectly aligned with my growing passion for fashion and starting a company. I believed (and still do) that I had an idea that was unique enough to make a positive change to everybody’s perception of Portuguese luxury.

Your Serra capsule collection of sweaters consist of 3 styles. What do you look for when deciding what styles to add to your brand – popular trend styles, traditional designs, customer suggestions, your own tastes or bits of all those?

I look for styles that are simple, classic and make people look and feel good. I like to create designs that never go out of fashion and I also try and avoid clothes where the logos are too obvious. I want people to recognise the piece of clothing for its quality and style, not for the brand.

From your current collection, what has been your most popular design? Have you got a personal favourite?

The Terracotta Serra (beige) has been the most popular by far but my favourite definitely has to be the Alpine one. However, I do like all three in the collection (of course).

Your artisanal menswear hails from the Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain range in Portugal. What is it about the area that has encouraged such a thriving wool trade?

For centuries, the Serra da Estrela has been known for its unique characteristics, offering an ideal meeting point for seasonal flock paths which enabled many mountain towns to specialise in wool manufacturing. Some of these flock paths date back to the 13th century which were formed by shepherds who would follow wool routes with their herd. The people of the Serra relied on wool which was used to protect, provide comfort and make a living. This rare culture, allowed manufacturing and dyeing knowledge to be preserved and improved throughout hundreds of years, creating an unparalleled hub for wool manufacturing.

The Serra capsule collection of sweaters for this current season are available in shades of Alpine, Ocean and Terracotta. What new items/styles/colours are you planning to add to your menswear collection in 2017?

We will be diversifying our selected range by adding a few more dyes, possibly black and will also be looking at offering thick 100% cotton t-shirts, made in Portugal.

Although the sweaters are made in Portugal, are they available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, we offer free delivery world-wide as standard. We pride ourselves in offering nothing but the best service. So you’re definitely in good hands.

Do you see Classic Portuguese branching out into womenswear, unisex, or children swear in the future or are you just concentrating on the menswear market?

Yes, eventually we see ourselves developing a women’s range as we’ve had considerable interest. It’s still very early days but we are excited for the future. We’re concentrating our efforts on menswear for now.

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

It really depends where I’m heading to, but I always like to be ready for any occasion. That’s why I like blending smart and casual items, and the Classic Portuguese sweaters offer the perfect balance. I’d often wear the Alpine Serra or the Terracotta Serra over a white shirt or t-shirt with some black jeans, complimented by some black desert boots. My collection turns dressing elegantly into an effortless task.

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

I really like A.P.C. and A.M.I, or the select range Liberty offers as they focus on luxury boutique brands. I also really like J.Crew as they offer quality staple styles.

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

I was thinking of purchasing a couple of light shirts fom J.Crew that would really look good beneath one of the sweaters of The Serra Collection. I’m also looking at some Clarks desert boots which go well with anything when you want to dress smart casual. I also love my Superga trainers for those chilled-out evenings, so I’m also looking at getting another pair.

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely boots for me. I prefer the style that they have when wearing slim jeans which is what I always wear.

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

www.classicportuguese.com
Facebook: facebook.com/classicportuguese
Instagram: instagram.com/classicportuguese
Twitter: https://twitter.com/classicportu

Thank you very much for agreeing to be on the blog, Robin, and I’m so pleased that you’re loving life in my home city & birthplace, London.  Going back some generations though, my mum’s family (via her dad) originally came from Portugal.  I’m loving how your idea for Classic Portuguese came about too.  Dear readers, have you ever experienced such a moment when a visit to somewhere changed the course of your life?  Don’t be shy, do share your experiences, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Robin da Silva/Classic Portuguese.

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An Interview With My Dress List

Imagine scenario A:  You are invited to a wedding reception, you buy a new outfit only to find another guest has the same dress sense as you.  Imagine scenario B:  You have been invited to a prestigious social gathering and you don’t want to look overdressed or underdressed or drop a social faux pas.  Imagine scenario C:  You want to host a party, you have an idea for a theme but unsure how to get your ideas on dress over to your guests.  Well, my guest on the blog tonight has launched an app that can address all three scenarios.  I recently caught up with Leila, founder of My Dress List, to find out more…. Hi Leila!

Hi! My name is Leila,  I have  just turned 30 and I’m the founder and CEO of My Dress List app. Originally from France,  I actually live in London . What an amazing city! I love fashion and technology.

What was the inspiration behind developing your app, My Dress List?

My dress list was created to solve a problem . Most women love dressing up  & looking their best whilst attending events, unfortunately there is always a little chance  that you turn up at events not feeling your best. How many people attend events feeling underdressed, overdressed or wearing the same as someone else? How many people spend hours trying different outfits without being satisfied? How many people decide to skip events because they don’t know what to wear? Our answer is too much. Women work so hard, so when it comes to having fun with friends and family they should have a tool to guide them. My Dress List was born with an attention to details – guiding users by creating a platform that helps people feel good whilst enjoying events.  You can create events, personalise your page and invite your friends. Once invited every person will be able to see what the others will wear without knowing who is who. You will just know, for example, that there are already 2 people wearing red dresses or blue jumpsuits, etc. It’s visual so it’s easy and you can be sure to feel unique. Going to events feeling and looking your best is the main objective for My Dress List.

 

As a party-planning tool, what makes My Dress List so appealing to customers?

My Dress List is popular for a few reasons: people love planning big events with their friends; they love sharing pictures;they love to give fashion advice to their friends. My Dress List helps girls feel better together. The app also acts as a guide, when the host creates an event, she can add information such as select color swatches and add location time, etc. Once done, every guest will receive information and see what others plan to wear. Sometimes on party invites, the dress code – whether casual or formal – is not clear, therefore, with the chance to visualise what people are going to wear beforehand, you can be sure to understand the dress code and see it. It’s so easy you will love it.

 

I love the idea that someone can download the photos onto the app of the outfits they plan to wear to a party, for example. It does cut down the odds of turning up in the same outfit as somebody else – which has happened to me before at a wedding. What kind of reasons did you decide to create My Dress List as a photo-sharing app too?

The app was created to guide people as a group. Women are so supportive of each other, but having your own style is also very important. In a group of friends everybody has got their own identity but sometimes it happens that you do buy the same clothes and I think it’s really nice but,  going to a special event, wearing exactly the same dress as your friend can be a little bit uncomfortable. For example: you plan to go the Races on Ascot Ladies Day. You are a group of 12 girlfriends  so using My Dress List you can all see what everyone will  be wearing as soon as they get their outfit. Being sure that everyone is not wearing the same style or the same colour or simply the same dress can ensure that everyone can spend the day feeling their best.That’s why My Dress List is an asset for every woman because it gives her assurance that  when you attend events you are satisfied with your outfit.

Can the app be downloaded globally?

The app is available worldwide, in IOS and IPAD. My Dress List can be used for every type of event: girls night outs, proms, weddings, birthdays, Halloween, galas, fashion events, corporate and much more. 

Prior to the app launch in September 2016, what was your career background? Have you got any other app ideas up your sleeve?

Before My Dress List I worked in advertising and sales for years, but I had always wanted to do something related to fashion . Technology just happens to be the answer. The fusion between both made me decide to launch My Dress List in September 2016. I’m focusing on My Dress List at the moment but  I would love to launch two more apps with a fun theme. Look out 2017!

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

Depending on  the situation, I can be find wearing trousers and  a shirt or a pencil dress at work; a midi dress when I socialise and just jeans and a lace top at the weekend.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

When it come to fashion, it’s such a privilege to live in London. With retailers  like Selfridges, Harrods and much more, the list is endless. However, I have to say  that I love shopping online – finding the perfect dress whilst sitting confortably is definitely my favourite.

What’s next on your fashion wishlist?

With the sales on, I’m looking for the perfect coat that will help me get though this cold winter.

Boots or Shoes?

I love sandals and heels in Summer but, at the moment, my heeled boots are the perfect companion.

Links you would like to share.

Check our website: www.mydresslist.com
Download our free app : https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-dress-list-share-your-fashion/id1130319985?mt=8
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dresslist
Youtube: https://youtu.be/adKYqEr9Quw

Thank you Leila for introducing the app on my blog.  So, dear readers, have you ever encountered  an embarrassing moment where you’ve been to a formal function dressed in the same outfit as somebody else? Or have you attended an event where you’ve turned up overdressed or underdressed?  Come on, spill the beans – I’d love to know, so please do comment!

Linda x

Photos have been published with the kind permission of My Dress List. 

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An Interview With Oriental African

Fashion blending both African and Far East Asian cultures with a pinch of Western mainstream influences is today’s topic on my blog. Snubbing mass-produced disposable fashion, Oriental African, online fashion retailers,  instead offer to both men and women of all sizes, responsibly sourced and ethically produced fashion from independent grassroots designers.  I recently caught up with Mary Akpeki, creative director & co-founder, to find out more ….hi Mary!

Hi, my name is Mary.I’m a co founder at Oriental African and a student at Kent University.

What inspired you to set up your brand, Oriental African?

My niece because she represents a mixed heritage of Korean, Nigerian, and British cultures. This made me realise there is a gap within the fashion industry, these three distinct cultures are already powerful on their own and have vibrant styles, prints and patterns. So my sister and I began to imagine how we could infuse these influential prints together and that’s how Oriental African was born. We were also really passionate about helping African and Asian designers who wanted to reach a wider audience in the West.

Have you always had a passion for fashion, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?

Yes I’ve always loved fashion and love dressing up, styling pieces together. I was lucky enough to have African print clothing growing up, that my mum would bring back from Nigeria and I was able to style these with western clothes from shops like H&M etc so that’s where my interest in fashion really started to grow.

Your online shop retails a fashion blend incorporating both African and Far East Asian cultures. What items are proving popular amongst your customers?

We have a shirt that blends Chinese frog buttons and African print, a ripped dashiki hoodie that channels the Yeezy collection, and Dashiki longline shirts which are really popular in the entertainment industry right now.

Out of all the outfits that you sell, do you have any favourites?

I really like the co-ord sets that I have, the OA crop top and trousers or bra-let and skirt they can be styled for both work and leisure and I think that represents my style.

Snubbing mass-produced disposable fashion, you consciously only showcase independent grassroots designers. How do you make sure everything you offer is responsibly sourced and ethically produced?

Quality checks, we insure we buy all the fabrics, that we give them the fair price for it and they are all ethically sourced and all the money we make from the clothes a percentage is given back to the designer.

As your clothes are from two distinct parts of the world, I am going to put you on the spot and ask whether you have a favourite country? What place is number one on your travel bucket list?
What place is number one on your travel bucket list?

Thailand – because the beaches look so beautiful and I love Thai food. I’ve always wanted to go to Bangkok.

Your company is based in England – are your designs available to purchase worldwide?

For now they’re not but within the next few months we should be able to ship worldwide,so watch this space.

When adding outfits to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional styles or bits of all those?

All of the above factors contribute and inspire us for each piece of clothing we put on the platform.

 Hypothetically speaking, who would you pick, dead or alive, to be the “face” of Oriental African?

Beyoncé is really an amazing personality and we also love Keyonce who impersonates her really well.

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

Ankle length boots, choker, high waist jeans, Bardot tops and our OA Lere bomber jacket.

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

ASOS and New Look

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

Well I’m creating a range of African print swim suits and I would to steal one and take it with me on holiday. Timberlands.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots because they go with anything and I love versatility when it comes to fashion.

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

www.orientalafrican.co.uk
@orientalafrican

Fabulous speaking to you Mary and I wish Oriental African every success in the future.  So, dear readers, what do you think of “blended” fashion?  Do you like the ideas that Oriental African are promoting?  Have you ever mixed an expensive designer dress with cheap shoes bought at a garage sale for pennies?  Teamed a tankini top with jeans for a night out? Worn your partner’s shirt as a dress? Do share your stories – I’d love to know!

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission of Mary Akpeki/Oriental African

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Ozalia Australia Review

Welcome to part 2 of my spotlight on Ozalia Australia, the makers of totally luxurious sheepskin boots.  Part 1 concentrated on my interview with Aaron, the founder – to read his interview click HERE.  Part 2 is my review of the Ozalia Australia boots themselves, putting Aaron’s claims to the test! DISCLAIMER ALERT: The boots have been supplied by Ozalia Australia for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100%mine.

First of all, the website – www.ozaliaboots.com. It came across to me as an easy to navigate website, clear descriptions  and placing an order is simple.  Although the prices are not cheap – we are talking luxury sheepskin boots of the highest quality – they are, nevertheless, very competitive, working out to roughly half the price of similar style boots by fellow luxury brand competitors.

Delivery of the boots:  After you’ve placed your order, you’re provided with a tracking number. Despatch was pretty quick, arriving within 2 days.  Having warehouses in both the USA & UK (for UK & Europe deliveries) as well as in Australia, makes a speedy delivery possible. Best of all, the company offer worldwide FREE shipping.  When I received my package, I was impressed.  Inside the large logo clad shoe box, was a logo clad tissue paper cover enclosing a sumptious black velvet bag housing the boots themselves. In with the package was a “social media” envelope enclosing a welcome card to the Ozalia Australia community and a two-sided banner card so that you can pose on Instagram and other social media places. It’s a feature that I wouldn’t take advantage of personally, however I do think that for younger Instagram fans it is quite a cool addition.

The Boots.  They look luxurious, are well made and have the thickest fleece lining I have ever seen.  Aaron explained that the fleece has natural lanolin which, when the boots are worn with bare feet, moisturise and soften the feet.  Absolute bliss.  

All Ozalia Australia’s boots come with a “warmest boot guarantee” – in other words, if the boots are not the warmest you’ve ever owned, then they will send your money back. My feet are snug as a bug in a rug! I couldn’t believe though how thick the fleece lining was and so I compared the lining with similar boots from a different brand ….

My last test was the water & stain resistant test.  The boots, whilst not recommended to be worn during a blizzard or a torrential downpour, have been treated to make them water & stain resistant for at least 6 months. Aaron assured me that if I poured a glass of water over the outside of the boots, the water will just roll off. So I reluctantly took my boot, filled a glass with water and poured it over the boot. Well, what happened was …. In fact, I took a video so that the experiment could be conducted live:

Water Demo IMG_6345

My Verdict:  Very snug & stylish boots indeed. Although they are not recommended for long walks in deep snow, they will certainly keep your feet warm whilst doing ordinary day to day activities. On long journeys by car, plane or train, these boots are ideal slipper substitutes. I wouldn’t recommend wearing them with thick socks and jeans – but I would recommend wearing them with a knitted dress & tights OR with leggings OR even denim shorts.  I must add though, that if you are used to wearing heels, the completely flat sole will take some getting used to.  I kept tripping over my own feet when I first wore them!

STOP PRESS!

If you fancy these snug boots for yourself, or perhaps some moccasins, then Aaron at Ozalia Australia is offering readers of this blog 15% discount off everything in their store (www.ozaliaboots.com).  Just quote the special promo code “BSF15” at the checkout.

Happy boot shopping!

Linda x

All photos by Linda Hobden

 

 

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An Interview With Ozalia Australia

Australian  icons known globally include the sheepskin flat boots known as uggs – although the company known as UGG is just one of the Australian manufacturers that make this iconic style boot – and this week I’m talking to one such company, Ozalia Australia, about their brand and their ugg boots.  This interview is a 2-parter … An interview with Aaron Robbins, Founder of Ozalia Australia  followed up  in my next post with my review of the sheepskin boots – do they live up to Ozalia Australia’s claims?  You’ll just have to wait and see! Without further ado, let me introduce you to Aaron… Hi & welcome…..

Hi! My name is Aaron Robbins, I’m 34 years old and I’m from Sydney, Australia. I’m the founder of Ozalia Australia boots.

What was the inspiration behind the founding of Ozalia Australia?

During one of my traveling adventures, I found myself in Mexico. While I was there, a lot of people were asking me where they could buy Australian Ugg boots. They were in huge demand and at that time it wasn’t possible to buy them in Mexico. (Yes, it does get cold there!) I thought, maybe I could contact UGG and open a store in Mexico, but after a bit of research, I realised how expensive they were. So I decided to start my own brand “Boots Australia” that focused on giving the highest quality to customers without breaking their bank account. That’s how it all began and since then, the business has doubled in size every year. After being away from Australia for the last 7 years I have decided to move back home. Due to its popularity in Mexico, I’m now about to launch the business under its online brand name “Ozalia Australia” selling to customers in the UK, USA and Europe.

My favourite boot from your website this season is the Icon Tall Boot. What boot styles are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our full range totals over 50 styles but over the years we have seen the most demand for 6 of those styles. Those 6 are what we are launching with in the UK, Europe and USA now. I’d say the most popular out of those 6 styles is the Icon Tall Chestnut.

Have you got a favourite style from your collection?

I really like our moccasins. They are stitched by hand and are crafted beautifully. They are super versatile as they can be styled up and worn out in the cold or also worn just relaxing at home. They are easy to slip on and off, are suitable for all age groups… and they’re unisex! As with all of our styles, after just a few wears, the extra soft merino wool lining will mold to the exact shape of your foot. It really is like walking on a custom made warm cloud!

Your company goal is to revolutionise the ugg boot world. What is so special about the boots you sell compared with other makes?

We use a very special grade of Australian fleece that’s thicker, softer and warmer than others. Because we ship direct to our customers, our boots are almost half the price of other brands. Our slogan says it all: More Warmth for Less.

Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of Ozalia Australia?

It would have to be Australian actress Margot Robbie. She is really classy but also down to earth and fun. Having lived by the beach while she was growing up, she also embodies the Australian culture which is the root of our brand.

Although you are based in Australia, are your boots available to purchase overseas?

Yes! We have 2 warehouses in the USA and another in the UK that also ships to our European customers. All boots come with free shipping and exchanges. We also guarantee that Ozalia boots are the warmest boots you’ve ever owned, if not, we’ll give you your money back!

I hear you are an avid traveller – have you got a favourite destination? What’s number one on your travel bucket list?

I love the outdoors and could happily spend most of my day outside in the sun. For the breathtaking scenery, it’s got to be mountain climbing in the Nepalese Himalayas and for the culture, without a doubt it’s magical India. For the future, I’m looking forward to going on safari in Africa and also discovering the Arctic Circle.

With travel on my mind, if you could do a photoshoot of your boot collection anywhere in the world – where would it be and why?

There are so many places I’d love, but I guess top of the list would be Vienna, Austria. I can envisage the boots sitting on a snow covered cobblestone street, surrounded by stunning old buildings and the majestic, strikingly beautiful mountains in the background. Heaven.

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

My style is pretty relaxed. Right now I’m wearing a pair of Diesel jeans, a G-Star denim shirt with a white undershirt… and of course a pair of Ozalia chestnut coloured moccasins. 🙂

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

I’ve just ordered a pair of old school brown suede leather shoes. They kind of have a farmhouse style to them. A simple relaxed look with loads of character and being Clarks, they’ll be comfy. You have to be comfortable!

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

Website: www.ozaliaboots.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ozaliaboots

Thank you Aaron for introducing us to your brand!  To read my review of the boots, press HERE

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Ozalia Australia.

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Slim Mind

Keeping healthy and maintaining a healthy weight is not an easy feat, but it is not impossible to do  –  I believe you really just need to be in the right frame of mind, otherwise your attempts to exercise and/or eat the right foods will just fritter away.  I was really pleased to come across a book called “Slim Mind” which helped to reinforce my “mind over matter” belief as its aims are to develop the reader’s long term skills & motivation to think, act and stay slim; therefore liberating you from weighing scales, low fat foods and yo yo dieting.  The author, health psychologist Dr Catherine Sykes, has spent a long time researching health behaviour change and I was lucky enough to interview Catherine about her work and her book.  Hi Catherine…

Hi! I’m Dr Catherine Sykes, a psychologist who develops mindsets that promote life-long success, health and happiness. I do this through therapy, coaching and consultancy. I’m a working mother of 2 children.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Slim Mind”. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I’ve worked with lots of people who want to lose weight and one thing that struck me was that people wanted quick and easy methods to lose weight and had tried so many methods in the process. These methods were always contrary to what the evidence in psychological research found was needed. Firstly, weight lost is not quick and easy and the overuse of willpower does not work, in fact it backfires, keeping people in a pattern of yo-yo dieting pattern and self blame. I wanted to bring the psychological evidence to a wider audience and to simplify the techniques as much as possible so that people could try them in a self-help format.

The book is a series of psychological techniques, including cognitive behaviour therapy, to help you understand your eating behaviours, helps you to develop long term skills and motivation to think, act and stay slim. Written from your own private practice experiences and scientific world discoveries – what is the main objectives of the book?

The main objective is to inform people that weight loss is not quick and easy. It takes a long-term sustained approach. This book aims to empower people to take control of their weight loss journey without self-blame and with realistic expectations of what is needed to lose weight.

One bit of advice I gained from the book is “Eat when you are hungry, not when you have a craving”. If you have to pass on one piece of wisdom or advice to a person, what would be that pearl of wisdom?

Restricting certain foods with willpower does not work. Evidence suggests that if we suppress thoughts about certain things then we are more likely to think about it. So if you tell yourself not to think about the chocolate cake in the fridge, you are actually increasing the likelihood that you will think about it and eventually reach for it.

Although you live in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes, it can be purchased on Amazon.com

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

Slim Mind is the first book in the Zenitude Coaching series which aims to bring easy to follow solutions to promote life long success, happiness and health. Other books to come:
The Juggling Act. Returning to Work Following Maternity Leave.
Zestful Ageing.
Confidence at Work
Positive to Return to Work Following and Illness

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

I love reading lots of genres including mystery and espionage, history and bibliography, suspense, travel. I can always read an Ian McEwan book.

You are a health psychologist. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the medical world or did you have other ambitions?

I had other ambitions. I’ve always been increased in jobs that relate to promoting a better society. When I was young, my mum’s friend was studying sociology. I picked up one of her books and could not put it down. Although, I did not know exactly what it was but back then, I wanted to be a sociologist.

You are particularly concerned about the global growing obesity epidemic. What do you feel are the reasons behind this epidemic?

Availability of unhealthy foods.
Sedentary lifestyles.
Emotional eating and inability to understand and name one’s emotions.

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

Cooking and eating with friends, reading, country walks.

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

For work, I tend to go for comfortable elegant clothes. At the weekends, I can be found in Sweaty Betty gear.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I do love clothes from Joseph. I love the fabrics and style. I also like Reiss.

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

I’m looking for an elegant winter dress.

Boots or Shoes?

Both – depends what I’m wearing. Currently I seem to be wearing my Russell and Bromley black suede ankle boots with everything.

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.

twitter – drcsykes1
Facebook:
https://m.facebook.com/drslimmind (on mobile device)
https://facebook.com/drslimmind (on pc)

Lovely to talk to you Catherine and I personally found your book very inspirational.  Funnily enough, I studied sociology at school and at college – I loved the subject as well!  Well, dear readers, do you have a slim mind?  How do you get into a healthy mindset?  Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know,

Linda x

All photographs have been  published with kind permission of Dr Catherine Sykes.

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An Interview With Nubian Skin

Frustrated by the lack of skin tone choices, Ade Hassan, my guest today on the blog, launched in 2014 her own range of skintone lingerie & hosiery for women of colour.  Inspired by women such as supermodel Iman  who created Iman Cosmetics, Ade has created a rather gorgeous collection of lingerie and hosiery  – with a handy foundation guide to match pretty much your shade of skintone.  I caught up with Ade recently to find out more…. Hi Ade!

Hi, I’m Ade Hassan, the founder of Nubian Skin. Nubian Skin is a nude lingerie and hosiery brand for women of colour.

What inspired the launch of Nubian Skin?

Nubian Skin was essentially born out of frustration. I wanted a product that I couldn’t find in shops, so I decided to create it. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt the same way.

Have you always had an interest in hosiery or fashion?

My background isn’t particularly fashion-y, but I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I’ve always wanted my business to be fashion related. When I took a 15 month break from work several years ago before starting Nubian Skin, I took some sewing and pattern cutting classes in Paris.

How many different shades of skin tone do you offer? How would a customer know what skin colour tone to go for?

We have four tones with Berry being our darkest, followed by Cinnamon, Caramel and Café au Lait. We have a handy skin-tone matching guide that matches our tones to popular foundation brands. For example, if you wear MAC NW47, then you’ll be Cinnamon! You can check it out here: https://www.nubianskin.com/global/skin-tone

Your range of skin tone hosiery is superb from tights to hold ups. Do you cater for the curvier lady?

Thank you! Yes, we do have a Curve hosiery range that goes up to 3XL, and are currently working on our fuller bust range which should be out early 2017!

I love the classic lace push-up bra from your collection. What lingerie styles are most popular at the moment?

Thank you – we love that bra too! All of the styles are really popular, but the T-Shirt bra is probably the most popular as it is the kind of bra you can wear every day!

When designing/choosing skin tone items to go into your collection, do you go for popular trendy styles, customer requests, personal favourites or do you take all 3 into account?

When I initially designed the products, I went for the ‘essentials’ like the T-shirt, Strapless and then added something pretty like the lace. Since, we’ve been developing the collection according to customer feedback, which is incredibly valuable to us.

As you are based in the UK, are your items available to purchase overseas?

We are based in the UK, but our products are available in 9 countries including the US, Portugal, Nigeria & The Middle East.

Are you planning to extend your range in 2017?

Yes, we are currently working on a fuller bust range and a few other exciting ideas, so watch this space!

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

Now that I work for myself, I dress significantly more casual than when I was in finance. Now it’s winter, I can be found wearing a cashmere jumper and some tapered trousers with some loafers, or thick tights with a knee-length dress.

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

I shop a lot less now to be honest! But I do check out the outnet.com every now and then, and hipandhealthy.com to mentally build an amazing work out wardrobe instead of actually doing exercise >_<

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

I’ve got a Nico Giani handbag on my wishlist.

Boots or Shoes? 

I love shoes – boots make me think of cold weather, and I spend all of winter waiting for spring and summer!

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

Website: www.nubianskin.com

Instagram: @nubianskin

Facebook: /Nubianskin

Twitter: @nubianskin

Thank you for visiting us on the blog, Ade.  I think your bras are very pretty – I do like a lacy style to wear every day although the basic t-shirt bra is my go to for workdays!  What about you dear lady readers, do you have a favourite bra style? 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Nubian Skin.

 

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An Interview With Beat Theory Fitness

Welcome to the first post of 2017!  My first post of the year is usually inspiring and/or motivational in some way and this year is no exception.  When I stepped on the weighing scales yesterday morning to survey the damage that often happens over the Christmas and New Year period,  I was so glad that ex – professional footballer, Riccardo Scala, was being interviewed today.  He is the tonic I need to give me inspiration and motivation to lose those naughty pounds! Riccardo is the man responsible for launching Beat Theory Fitness in the UK – workouts based on the “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption” theory – which basically means that you keep burning fat well after your workout has finished.  Sound good?  I thought so too. I caught up with Riccardo to find out more… Hi Riccardo…

Hi! My name is Riccardo Scala, and I am the Founder and CEO of Beat Theory Fitness®

Where did you get inspiration from to start Beat Theory Fitness? –

My inspiration has come from seeing the success of other Boutique Fitness companies in America do immensely well in this new market sector, and I wanted to create my version based on all the science and technology that is now available to assist fitness enthusiasts toward their individual goals.

The workouts are based on the “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption” theory. Can you explain the theory and how it differs from other types of workouts? 

What happens to your car engine after you have completed a journey? Your car engine stays warm as it gradually cools to a resting temperature. The same happens with our bodies after we have exercised. EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (called homeostasis). The more oxygen you require to do this, the more calories you will burn in the process. So if you increase the amount of oxygen consumed both during and after a workout, you can increase the amount of net calories burned. EPOC is influenced by the intensity of an exercise, not the duration of an exercise. Research has shown that training with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the best way to stimulate the EPOC effect, and that training in this manner is far more effective than training for longer durations at a steady pace. Here at Beat Theory, we have structured our whole training philosophy behind the EPOC effect. Shorter workouts, higher intensity, greater calorie burn, and of course, faster results for clients to see and feel. 

So what do enjoy most about being a personal trainer and fitness expert? Have you a favourite exercise?

Every day you get to wake up knowing that you are going to be responsible for helping someone different from hour to hour. Being able to give back and help others achieve the confidence and belief in themselves to not only make their health and lifestyle better, but in turn they will then allow this confidence to rub off on others. Being the guy that helps people and that people turn to for help…

What aspects of Beat Theory Fitness seem to be the most popular with your clients?

I am constantly being told by clients that just knowing that all they need to do is book their spot in a Beat Theory session via our Beat Theory mobile App, and turn up, makes their lives so much easier. Every Beat Theory session has been designed to get the most out of every fitness level in attendance. We do all the hard work and clients simply turn up and allow our coaches to train them. They don’t have to worry about what they are going to have to do that day, or how much time they are going to have to spend on an exercise. We do all the planning. With a combination of running, rowing, lifting, jumping and sweating, they get everything they need in our 40 minute sessions. Then it is back off into the real world to continue their day, satisfied.

What exercise(s) seem to yield most results? What seems to be the least popular – or gets the most groans when you suggest it?

When it comes to High Intensity Training, all exercises are extremely beneficial, you just have to know which ones to combine together and how hard to push yourself to achieve the desired effect. As soon as we announce that their will be a Burpee in the workout, that certainly gets a few groans. Although I wouldn’t say that this means that it is the least popular, they just know that the sessions are being delivered as hard as they want them to be. I think it is worth noting too that we can and do frequently have lots of variations to our daily workouts so as to accommodate clients that have long term injuries from previous exercise before Beat Theory.

Being an ex- professional footballer as well as having lived and worked in California as a personal trainer, you must have come across many famous names. Which famous lady or gent would you love to see doing a Beat Theory Fitness workout?

You mean in addition to Scarlett Johansson, who I have already worked with? Well I’m a huge comic book fan, so in line with staying current, I would love to put Gal Gadot [Batman vs Superman (2016) and Wonder Woman (2017)] through her Beat Theory workout.

How can clients book sessions?

We have our Beat Theory Fitness App on the Apple and Android stores. Clients have our full schedule at their fingertips so that they can plan their training ahead.

Beat Theory Fitness is seeking to be the first franchised chain of aggregated studio concepts in the UK. What would a franchise consist of?

Our franchise model consists of a franchisee owning their own Beat Theory facility, being given all the equipment that is part of our training concept, full ongoing support with setting up each facility and marketing the facility for opening and beyond, full training and templates for delivering our training model, and ongoing monthly support to make the franchisees Beat Theory facility the no.1 boutique training facility in their catchment area.

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

As you would assume I am a big trainers fan, but I do like putting on a nice formal suit and shirt every now and then, especially for business meetings.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Being as busy as I am, I do all my shopping online. My favourite online store is Zalando.

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

Well I really need to increase the number of shirts that I wear. Most of the time I am in t-shirts and polos.

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely shoes. I love the sheer variety of different styles available to me.

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

beattheoryfitness.co.uk 

Facebook.com/beattheoryfitnessglasgow

Twitter: @BeatTheory_GLA

Thank you Riccardo for taking me through my paces and describing the Beat Theory Fitness process …. And I wish your business every success in for 2017.  So, dear readers, have you overindulged over the Christmas season?  What ways have you decided to keep fit and healthy?  I’ve got my Fitbit and I’m determined to up the steps! Do share your fitness goals…

Linda x

Photos:

Photo of Riccardo published with kind permission of Riccardo Scala;

Photo of Dumb Bells from Pixabay;

Photos of trainers and bike  by Linda Hobden

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