An Interview With Alex Proud

March 14th, 2014

Tonight I’m really proud to be interviewing the man about town, Camden Town that is, Alex Proud.   I can’t remember exactly when I first became aware of Alex – it was either through watching one of my favourite TV programmes, Channel 4’s Four Rooms, where Alex is one of the regular dealers; reading one of his highly entertaining articles for the Telegraph Men section ( I know I’m not male but I love Alex’s writing style and wit and quite often I agree with his sentiments);  or, hearing about his fab entertainment venues – BUT most recently I discovered that he had a love for Jeffery West shoes, a love shared by most of the men that I’ve interviewed as well as by my darling husband too.  So, without further ado, let’s meet the man himself….hi Alex, welcome to the blog:image

Hi! Alex Proud, pleased to meet you.

Although you are a nightclub & gallery owner & dealer & TV dealer & journalist, you studied politics at the University of York.  Do you still have a love for politics?  Is being a politician next on your impressive career list or is writing a regular column for Telegraph Men a sort of “political” outlet for you?

Yes I still love Politics, I used to be Charles Kennedy’s advisor, and I still actively engage with the Liberal party. Also, I am the Vice Chairman of the local business improvement district and I’m heavily involved in Camden politics. But yes, sometimes I do see this column as an outlet for my political passions.

You started your dealer career by selling Japanese art and eventually moved on to Rolls Royces.  Were you driven to selling items that personally appealed to you or because these items were in demand?  What made you opt for Rolls Royces?

I hate to destroy any romantic imagery, but I did what I did to make a living. Ha! But I do love British cars – I currently drive an Aston Martin and I love Jags – the new advert is fantastic; it is good to be bad!

imageYour fabulous famous photography gallery, Proud Central, was opened in 1998 and has become one of the world’s foremost private photographic galleries.  What inspired you to open such a gallery?

A series of coincidences led me to put on Dennis Morris’ Sex Pistols exhibition and when I saw the reaction it garnered, I quickly developed a passion/love affair that has endured since.

imageThe photography shown in your galleries focus on popular culture, encompassing rock & roll, fashion, sporting moments etc.  What sort of photography do you like to look at? Have you a favourite print?

Somewhat like the referee of a football game, it would be undiplomatic of me to express my personal favourites. I enjoy all good photography.

In 1999 you set the publishing company, Vision On, with well known photographer, Ian Rankin. I am a great admirer of the work of Ian Rankin, so I am well impressed! Do you do any photography yourself, as a hobby?

Yes. I’m a keen Instagram-er if that counts? But I have to admit I’m pretty dreadful.

imageIn 2006 you opened the stunning 700 capacity bar & music venue Proud Camden, which was soon followed by Proud Cabaret, the burlesque restaurant within Proud Camden; and Proud Brighton. What’s the most memorable gig held at Proud Camden? 

Most memorable gig would be the launch of the first Proud Bar, when The Libertines played…

imageBeing a bit of a party animal, having co hosted parties with people as diverse as Paul McCartney and Hugh Heffner,  you probably are not easily starstruck … so any great party anecdotes?

I’ve got hundreds of great party anecdotes. You will have to take me out for dinner and get me drunk to get them. Sounds good to me… ;) 

imageYour close ties with Mencap has led you to put together club nights in an effort to change people’s attitudes towards people with learning disabilities.  What inspired you to help in this way?

I dislike the way the British are obsessed with puppies and kittens and donkeys and we seem to ignore human beings with far more desperate needs. Mencap and people with learning difficulties are a wonderful way for all of us to put a little bit back into society. I only wish I, and many of us did do more.

You appear on Channel 4’s Four Rooms – I love that programme – so do you enjoy the TV experience?  What item would you say was your best deal as a result of the TV programme?

It’s great fun, albeit long-winded and tiring and I don’t deal well with the early starts that are necessary in the television industry. The best deal I’ve done as a result of the show is still purchasing the world’s first passport which I’m holding onto, but which I believe to be worth much more than I paid for it.

imageYour wife, Danielle, is an interior designer, Creative Director of your Proud establishments  and in her previous job, Head Designer at Biba,  so she obviously has taste too for certain items – do you share a similar taste for objects?  Have you ever done a deal and brought home or to the gallery an object which didn’t quite meet her approval?

Danielle and I don’t have very similar tastes but we respect each other enough to manage to live with each other’s differences. Yes, I regularly bring home things that don’t meet her approval and ditto the other way around. It tends to mean that things disappear. Like some sort of dictatorship when things randomly disappear in the middle of the night.

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

I normally wear Jeffery West shoes and Gresham Blake suits.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love ASOS, because I hate walking into shops. Again, Jeffrey West shoes, I have them handmade bespoke for my feet and I have blue croc skin, brown with flames up the side…

I like Mr Porter for the odd treat.

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

A new tailor that Holly introduced me to – he’s going to make me a suit. He’s called David Brooke.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. Always. I just think that Chelsea Boots are cooler. And preferably with Cuban Heels to make me a bit taller.

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

Twitter: @AlexanderProud

Instagram: alexproud55

Proud: www.proud.co.uk

 

Wow, thanks for a great interview Alex!  If any readers are in London, pop into the Proud Chelsea gallery and view the fab photographic exhibition currently on show until May 4th 2014 charting the career of legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna – as 2014 is the 30th anniversary of Senna’s debut as well as being the 20th anniversary of his death.  Entry is free.

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photographs have been published with kind permission from Proud Publishing Limited 

An Interview With Mel Boteri

March 7th, 2014

I’m talking bags again this week, although this time I’m chatting to Melanie, the gorgeous person behind the luxury handbag company, Mel Boteri.  Not only has she designed fantastic bags to die for, but she has written a bag guide providing an unique and exciting inside look into the fab world of handbags.  So, a big warm welcome to the blog Melanie:image

Hi! My name is Melanie Mueller, and I am the Founder and Creative Director of Mel Boteri.  My mission is to inspire women to discover their unique style and to express it confidently through luxury, one-of-a-kind custom and bespoke accessories.  

What inspired you start up your business? 

Shopping frustrations are what ultimately inspired me to start Mel Boteri.  There have been countless times where I envision something precisely as I want it – a dress, a piece of jewelry, a handbag – whatever it might be, and it would either be impossible to find the right size or the style simply did not exist. I felt stuck in the world of mass-produced fashion and wanted to make a change. Luckily these frustrations hit their peak while I was studying to get my Masters in Business Administration, so I was able to lay down the groundwork for my business during my last semester of school.

imageWhen choosing designs/styles/colours for your bags, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends, your own tastes/needs or bits of all those?  

I believe keeping up with current fashion trends is part of my job so that I can intelligently consult with my clients.  However, I do not believe each trend is appropriate for every individual.  It is all about incorporating the elements that work for you, your body, and your unique personality and style.  That being said, when designing my bags it is a bit of everything you listed – trends, client requests, my own taste – that directs the look and style of the finished bag.

You launched your brand in 2009, how did you come up with your brand name, Mel Boteri? 

The name came to me over a few glasses of wine with my parents.  As a first generation American (my mother is Colombian and my father German), it was important for me to incorporate my family heritage into the name.  Mel therefore stems from the German name my father gave me, Melanie, and Boteri stems from my mother’s maiden name, Botero. Oddly enough, soon after starting my business I discovered that my maternal grandmother also designed bags, which she hand-knitted for family, friends and neighbors in her small town of Calarca, Colombia. I guess I was destined to have this fabulous job.

To date, what has been your most popular bag ordered from your repertoire?

That is difficult to say since the majority of my orders are customized to the particular needs of each client, but most recently I have noticed the ‘Blake’ style to be quite popular.  I believe it is the perfectly-sized everyday bag, holding all of your essentials without looking or feeling too bulky.

imageI love your handbags, especially from your latest collection the cobalt blue “Sayde”shoulder bag with its gorgeous turquoise suede lining. What gave you the idea to line in suede?

Mel Boteri has evolved quite a bit from its inception until now, but one thing that has never faltered is the dedication to quality.  To me, suede was the most luxurious lining option against the fine Italian exterior leathers.  Lambskin lining is used in our new line of exotics, but the turquoise (my favorite color) is signature across the board.

imageOut of all the items on your website,what is or has been your favourite?

My favorite would have to be the ‘Boteri’ tote.  This was the second handbag I ever designed (the first being the ‘Mel’ hobo), and so it is the most representative of my personal style.  

Mel Boteri has partnered with luxury brands including Mercedes-Benz and Hideoki Bespoke to create both co-branded and private label accessories for a discerning and selective clientele.  If you had the chance to design a handbag for any famous lady in the world (living or dead) who would you like to see flaunting your handbag? 

Hands down Jennifer Lopez (I hope she sees this)!!  Even before Jennifer became as popular as she is today with all of her music, movies, and especially American Idol, I have always looked to her as a style icon.  She is the epitome of a confident woman, who knows how to take a trend and make it her own to flaunt her best assets.  I would LOVE to see what kind of handbag she would customize!!

imageAll your handbags on your website can be customised with a choice of leathers and hardware. What has been the strangest or most memorable bespoke handbag request you’ve received?

The most unique handbag I have created to date was a patchwork version of the ‘Cynthia’ tote.  I love a good challenge, so it was also one of the most exciting ones to bring to life.  

You’ve written the first of many bag guides planned, “7 Secrets of Handbag Shopping”, created to provide an inside look into the fab world of handbags.  With secrets including how to learn to select a handbag that will best flaunt your body, what are the most popular handbag mistakes you feel that ladies make?

To me, the most prevalent mistake women make is carrying a handbag simply because it is the current “It Bag” or because all of her girlfriends are coveting the same style.  A handbag, just like any other piece of fashion, should be personal and a representation of your unique style.  Bag Servant, one of my favorite sites for scoping out what’s new in the world of handbags, has a fabulous tool where you can shop by personality.  A “Vintage Queen”, for example, should not be carrying the same handbag style as the “Boardroom Perfectionist.” Once woman make this switch and begin to discover their personal style, they will look and feel much more confident.

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

I have a saying, “when all else fails, wear black and accessorize,” and with my hectic schedule, I often find myself doing just that!! Depending on the day, my shoes will either be part of the “all black” of my look or more of an “accessory” in leopard-print or a pop of color.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I cannot get enough of Net-A-Porter.com.  They literally have something for every fashion mood that comes my way – classic, trendy, sporty, girly, you name it and you can find a beautiful version of it on Net-A-Porter.com!!

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

I am a huge fan of Tamara Mellon, not only for what she created with Jimmy Choo, but more so for her innovative approach to business and the fashion industry specifically.  I am dying to get my hands on few of her #BuyNowWearNow shoes and clothing.  

Boots or Shoes?

It really depends on the season. During fall and winter, you won’t see me in anything other than boots, and in warmer months my go-to are strappy, platform wedges.

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

Sure!! Readers can follow me and Mel Boteri on the following sites:

Website – www.MelBoteri.com

Download “The Bag Guide” -http://shop.melboteri.com/pages/7secrets

Facebook – www.facebook.com/melboteri

Twitter – www.twitter.com/melboteri

Instagram – www.instagram.com/melboteri

Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/melboteri

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+MelBoteri

It has been great chatting to you Melanie – your bags are fantastic and I’m a big fan already.  I’m sure you’ve inspired a lot of my blog readers to check out your wares too!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Photos have been published with kind permission of Mel Boteri

An Interview With Isla Rule

February 28th, 2014

imageLadies, what do you look for when picking a bag?  For me, I look for spaciousness, sturdiness and it has to be stylish.  It needs to be big enough to perhaps carry a change of shoes, pack of baby wipes, make up bag ….and if it can house a technical gadget or perhaps a bottle of wine then I’m happy …and if each item had a compartment pocket so that I could locate my keys without tipping out the contents of my bag …well that would be heaven.  If that sounds good to you too, then you’ll love my interview tonight with the lovely Gisela of the bag company Isla Rule …plus she has a fab competition for you to enter to design your own bag.  First though, let’s welcome to the blog Gisela… Hi, Gisela!

Hi! My name is Gisela Rule. I’m the Marketing Director of an international company by day and an artist by night.

imageWhat inspired you start up your business?

My job requires a lot of international and local travel. Finding the perfect all-purpose handbag became the bane of my life. I either had to lug around several bags to cope with all the items I would need in a  day (change of shoes, cashmere wrap, 3 types of technology, make up and all the other handbag essentials) or I would compromise and hurl everything into one tote, only to spend the entire day fishing through the contents of my bag in search of a nail file/umbrella/mint/book. I shared my frustrations with my husband and he suggested that we have a go at designing our own range of luxury laptop handbags. And the rest is history!

imageWhen choosing designs/styles/colours for both your bags and your pashminas, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends, your own tastes/needs or bits of all those?

I love classic timeless pieces, particularly when  it comes to bags. That’s why I design bags that will become wardrobe staples. Unlike most designers, I start with the interior of the bag. My philosophy is that you should love what’s inside.

imageI love the secret double compartment in the Hannah bag – ideal for housing baby wipes, flat shoes etc.  What did you envisage the use of the secret compartment when you first designed the bag – what would you store in the compartment?

I use mine to carry a change of shoes. I often find myself running through airports (ballerina flats are the best footwear for that!) and I then change into my heels en route to my meetings.

imageTo date, what has been your most popular item ordered from your repertoire?

Our flagship bag, the Hannah, has been a winner.

A bonus for handbag lovers is that every gorgeous bag ordered includes a free Isla Rule umbrella and a crystal nail file – 2 handbag essentials,how brilliant! Spill the beans, who came up with that idea for those particular items?

In discussing our initial designs with friends and family, these two items consistently came up as handbag essentials. In keeping with our philosophy of loving what’s inside, we wanted to surprise our customers with something extra when they buy one of our bags – hence these practical gifts with purchase.

imageOut of all the items on your website,what is or has been your favourite?

The red patent Hannah, definitely.

You offer 14 colour choices of pashminas – all gorgeous – although I am drawn to the bright Biscay Blue and Harvest Pumpkin. Have you a favourite colour?

I think I gave it away already, it’s bright red.

imageI am pleased to note that your pashminas are made from cashmere in a small family run factory in Nepal and not mass produced in large factories in China/Mongolia.  How important was it to you that your company adhered to fairtrade principles?

Very, very important. I would never want to build a business on the suffering of others.

imageAt the moment you offer bags, tablet and eReader folio cases, and pashminas.  Any plans to extend your range?

Yes, we’re working on several new designs at the moment.

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

Classic dresses and jackets are my go-to look.

imageDo you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I am addicted to the Polyvore app.

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

There is a Teal Rag & Bone blazer I have my eye on at the moment.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots for winter; shoes in summer.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Isla Rule.
www.islarule.com

Thanks so much for chatting to me tonight Gisela and I wish Isla Rule continuing success.  

Linda x

Don’t forget to enter Isla Rule’s fabulous competition!  Go on… release your imagination and design the ultimate dream bag….


image image

Photo Credits: All photographs have been published with kind permission from Isla Rule.

An Interview With Feel Fab! Look Fabulous!

February 21st, 2014

As I type this blogpost the sun is streaming through the window and after weeks of seemingly endless rain, this February sunny morning I’m feeling really good and full of the joys of Spring!  How appropriate that this week’s interview is also about feeling fab –  I’m chatting to Rose, co-founder of Feel Fab! Look Fabulous! a beauty and well being events company.  Hi and welcome to the blog Rose…20140221-150535.jpg

Hi I’m Rose Holden and I’m co- founder of Feel Fab! Look Fabulous! I’ve just read an article in the Sunday paper and I guess I am best described as a Mumpreneur as I’m a proud working mum of two teenagers, Nick 14 and Kitty 16. Having been in the corporate world of Brewing for over 35 years, I opted for redundancy two years ago and decided to start my own business which would allow me more time and flexibility to spend with the children in their important final school years.

Where did you get inspiration from to start a beauty & well-being events company?

Two years ago I decided to take on a matchmaking franchise and found advertising a minefield. I had confidence in my ability but didn’t know how to reach the right audience. Being a new starter I was easy prey to the relentless touter of advertising space, genuine and sadly some scams. I also became a distributor for Forever Living, which has a fantastic range of Aloe and Bee Pollen products. I found these often helped my clients with improvement in their inner well-being and outward appearance. Sitting down one day over a cup of coffee, with a fellow networker, a style and life coach, we found we had a similar client database and the same aim which was to help improve our clients’ overall wellbeing. We had had the same advertising nightmares and hit and miss success at local trade fairs. And so we came up with the idea of running our own event, where we could market our individual businesses to our target audience. Deciding the name was the hardest part! And so Feel Fab! Look Fabulous! was born.

Have you always been in the beauty/wellbeing industry or more the events side of things?

My background was brewing and I worked in many divisions: sales, marketing, finance, but never actually brewed a pint! I had always been involved in project planning to some degree and latterly my role in facilities and contract management meant dealing with suppliers and event profitability at our in house conference centre and hotel.

You take a prestigious setting, add local sole traders or small businesses, stir in some retail therapy, sprinkle in some mini treatments, & mix in the general public – so what sort of venues or event seems to be most popular at the moment?

The events we held last year were in a luxurious 4 star hotel and a Golf and Country club, both in prestigious surroundings. We find that people like to come out and make an evening of it, with family and friends or as individuals where they can socialise, take time out for a drink or a coffee in between waiting for treatments or a spot of retail therapy. We discovered early on that people love mini treatments, head and shoulder massages, holistic therapies and manicures are always in demand, so we are increasing the number of these. People love to shop and we seek out good quality, unique products. Handbags and jewellery are firm favourites and we couldn’t hold an event without a chocolate and cake retailer present. This year so far we have a real mix of events planned. The Octagon Shopping centre in Burton for a Saturday daytime and evenings at Trent Lock Golf Club, Hilton House Hotel, Trent College and 107 Station Street, Burton.

20140221-150527.jpgHave you had any memorable events you can tell us about? Any funny moments?

We had to laugh when we discovered that we had arranged our first event on Comic Relief night! It didn’t seem to put people off though and many said they were glad to escape the television for a few hours, all though it was on in the bar just in case.

How do businesses benefit from booking at your events? You usually run a charity raffle too. Who has benefited so far?

Firstly, the host location is important. We work in partnership with businesses that, apart from meeting our criteria of style and ambiance, also wants to enhance their public awareness and increase footfall with repeat business. The host will often offer a free meal or spa day, for example, as a raffle prize. Our ‘showcasers’, as we like to call them, are often local sole traders or small businesses who are looking for a low cost method of marketing themselves to the general public. They don’t usually have a high street presence unless they are working independently in a shared shop or office. We give them a platform to ‘showcase’ their products and services, gaining experience and confidence along the way. We are on hand to offer advice and tips too.

 We normally let the host decide on the charity. We ask each business showcasing to provide a raffle prize, a product or service which is an opportunity for follow on or repeat business. The charity takes the prizes and runs the raffle on the night so that everyone wins. We have so far raised money for St Giles Hospice and Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness. The charities that will benefit this year are the YMCA and Breast Cancer. We are also helping the purchase of a defibrillator for a local golf club and school charities.

What mini treatment or “service” is your absolute favourite when visiting an event, either as a host or customer?

That’s a tricky one. I personally adore a shoulder or head massage but a foot massage wins every time.

You can also arrange corporate events – what type of business benefits from your event?

We like to work with companies who value their employees or customers and would like to reward them in a unique way. What better way to say thank you than with a beauty treatment or therapy and time out for themselves. We offer half days or evenings which can be incorporated in away days for example. We try to use local traders too who may get repeat business afterwards. We work within our client’s budget parameters to deliver a memorable event from which everyone leaves feeling and looking fabulous!

You also have a monthly networking group – Not Just Networking – set up for individuals & small businesses operating mainly in the beauty/health/wellbeing industry and apart from networking you offer support, education, personal & business growth. What do you believe are the main advantages of belonging to such a group? What do you enjoy most about belonging to a network group?

Phew! That’s a lot of questions. I am passionate about networking and am in several clubs. I love meeting people and discovering how I can help them as an individual. It’s a bit like being a matchmaker, where you spot that two people have things in common and together they would make a good couple! Networking isn’t just about you selling your product or service, it’s about getting to know someone, building trust and being able to recommend them to someone you know who needs them. You can only really do this by being part of a regular group. If you have a group of like-minded people with similar goals then it’s a great recipe for success.

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

At this time of year I’m always in boots and have few shoes. I love jeggings and thick tights and long jumpers or knitted dresses. I only wear a dress for a formal occasion and then I like to really dress up. In the summer I’ll go for A-line dresses and flip flops. I don’t like my legs so shorts are a no no.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I’ve probably bought most from Fat Face and Phase Eight in the past. I prefer the whole shopping experience and day out to on line shopping.

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

I’m determined to find a pair of comfy shoes that preferably have a bit of a heel. I had a toe operation some years ago and find it really difficult to find shoes to fit. Hence why I wear boots and flip flops!

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

People can find out more about what we have going on at our website www.feelfabevents.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @Feelfabevents or like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/FeelFabLookFabulous

Thank you very much for a FAB interview and I’m sure my readers will be looking out for your events in the future…

Linda x

Photo Credits: Photos published with kind permission of Look Fab! Feel Fabulous!

An Interview With Evanji

February 14th, 2014

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

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

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

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

What’s the history behind sugaring?

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

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

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

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

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

20140214-154722.jpgWhat service is your absolute favourite?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

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

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

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

Linda x

Photo credits:  Photos published with kind permission from Evanji Ltd

Own It – Spotlight on BooHoo’s Latest Campaign

February 7th, 2014

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

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


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


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

 

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


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


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


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

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

 

Linda x

Pictures published with kind permission of BooHoo.

An Interview With The Miniature Perfume Shoppe

January 31st, 2014

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

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

An Interview With Be Free Style

January 24th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What service is your absolute favourite?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

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

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

 

An Interview With Jinxbug

January 17th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes? 

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

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

www.jinxbug.co.uk

www.facebook.com/jinxbugshop

www.twitter.com/jinxbug_

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

Linda x

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

Spotlight On SaleServant

January 10th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.  V73 ST TROPEZ YELLOW BAG

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

3. ISLA RULE HANNAH LAPTOP HANDBAG IN PINK PAISLEY

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

4. V73 TWEED CLUTCH

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

5. V73 CAPRI ORANGE BAG

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

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

Linda x

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

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