Category Archives: Interview

Author Interview: Andreas F Clenow

What do you get when a Zurich -based financier/best selling investment guide author decides to write a novel? A thoroughly entertaining crime mystery set amongst the world of secretive private banks in Switzerland. A Most Private Bank is the debut novel by Andreas F Clenow, a fictional story but one based on a world that does exist – the world of financial empires, rich kids, private banks and criminal empires. The novel oozes charisma, mystery, seduction, romance and enough twists and turns to keep you hooked. The characters you can visualise in your mind … Sandra (the faithful secretary/lifesaver); Jim Dixon – the middle aged dealmaker with a fallen past; Christina Rosenbaum – the young , rich, stunning & flirtatious client; …. the sidekick, police officer, spy, bank manager, gun slingers… Oh, and Jim’s knowledge and addiction to the finest Swiss watches. Add a pinch of passion. Definitely fast paced, definitely page turning and in a setting that gives it that added wow factor. Highly recommended.

I caught up with author Andreas F Clenow to find out more about his writing, his finance career and ….cows! Hi Andreas!

Hi Linda, and thank you for having me! I am quite possibly the only Swiss financier in the world who can brag about having grown up in a place with the tourist slogan “Cow Densest Town of Sweden.” I left my native country some twenty years ago after going on a business trip to Geneva that turned out to be a little longer than planned. Rather than going back North, I found a wife, moved to Zurich, founded a hedge fund, got a son and bought a house. It’s been an interesting ride.

“A Most Private Bank” is your debut novel – a fictional crime mystery set among the world of secretive private banks.   What inspired you to write a novel ? 

I have wanted to write a novel for decades but I wasn’t sure if I had anything really interesting to say.  I believe that, at least for most of us, it takes life experience to craft a vivid world and to tell a meaningful story. This story plays out in the secretive and amoral world of hidden money, a world that I know well, perhaps too well. 

We’re now all starting to get used to regular data leaks, again and again showing that so many banks and bankers are little more than highly paid grifters. I wanted to show my take on this, to tell stories from the inside without actually exposing real people to legal or physical danger. Most of all, myself.

And of course, now that finance, hedge funds and banks are getting a bad rep, and deservedly so, I thought perhaps we could get #notallhedgefundmanagers trending on twitter… 

You are a Zurich-based financier – so are your characters based on observations of people you’ve come across in the past and incidents you’ve experienced ? Who were the hardest characters to portray?

This was overall a very tough call. My book takes place in Zurich over a single week, and it involves only a handful of key characters. In reality, almost all people and scenes are based on real events, experienced by myself or people close to me. Of course, all characters are combined, based on multiple real people and the actual events involved far more people over a far longer time. My own role in these events vary just as widely. While my main character’s place is always front and centre, mine may have been anything from a key participant to an unwilling observer. 

It may be surprising to the readers of the book, but if anything, I have toned things down for the book. Sometimes reality simply isn’t believable. 

The hardest character to write was without a doubt Christina. I believe that it’s always tricky for a man to write a female character, but even more so if you need a manipulative Femme Fatale who won’t hesitate to use any means available to get what she wants. As a man writing such a character, you’re walking a fine line and you take the risk of the reader mistaking your male characters’ misogyny for your own.  

Were there any aspects of writing your novel that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected (considering you have written 3 non fiction books) ? 

Writing a work of fiction was orders of magnitude harder than writing finance books. At the same time, it was also far more fun.

What truly surprised me though was the publishing process. My first three books, all non-fiction, have hit all the top of the best-seller lists, achieved sales ranks in the top one percent globally and got translated into eight languages. Non-fiction publishers from all over the world have called me to ask if I’m writing another and if they can have it. 

In the fiction space, nobody cares. Publishers don’t take calls from authors and after fifty requests, only twenty agents got back to me with a copy/pasted ‘no thanks’. The rest didn’t bother replying to emails or returning phone calls. A large number of literary agents, quite oddly, state on their websites that they don’t deal with people of my race or background. I found the process rather absurd, but thanks to my previous work and contacts I found a way of getting the book out there and making it a success anyhow. 

Hypothetically speaking, if “ A Most Private Bank” was made into a film, who would you love to see portraying the characters, especially Jim Dixon and Christina Rosenbaum? 

I thought Matthew McConaughey would make a good Jim! A cynical fallen hedge fund manager, hiding out in Europe and playing the big fish in a small pond. The amoral leading man, concealing his true feelings and motives from the readers and playing the game on his terms.

Do you think we could get away with Keira Knightley for Christina? I know, she’s a few years older than my character but I think she’d pull it off! Would you mind giving her a call for me, Linda?

Have you always wanted to have a career in the financial field or writing or did you have other aspirations? 

My first week at the University of Gothenburg I found myself sitting on a couch with a beer, a guy from the computer club and a girl from the trading club. They were both trying to recruit me as a new member. I’d like to say that I turned the trading club down, but the truth is that I applied to both and got rejected from that one. That’s probably why I started my first IT company, back in the mid 90s, before I started my first finance company.

I always enjoyed the intersection of finance and computers, which is why quant finance appealed to me. But if you’re asking about earlier days, I have a dirty confession. In my teens, I was a… politician. Don’t tell anyone.

 Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

Absolutely! I carry my Kindle everywhere. When I was younger, I read only non-fiction. That flipped upside down some 15-20 years ago and now I devour fiction. In particular, I love the classic hard boiled masters, and I hope that shines through in my own work. Hammett and Chandler are of course at the top of my list.

I made the mistake of reading the brilliant World War Z by Max Brooks during the first wave of the pandemic. It’s such an amazing book, written with such realism, that I started to blur the real pandemic outside the door with the zombie pandemic that he crafted! 

Another author which gives me somewhat mixed feelings is Brett Easton Ellis, and in particular Less Than Zero. It’s the kind of book which makes me both impressed and depressed. The latter, because of the fact that he produced such a masterpiece at the age of 21 and that there is no way that I could ever learn to be that good if I had a hundred years.

 Is A Most Private Bank  available to purchase worldwide?

If you find a country where they don’t sell it, let me know!

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

I like to dress well, but prefer to mix styles for a bit of personal touch. At the moment, I’m wearing a grey pinstripe Ermenegildo Zegna jacket with a crimson pocket square, matching the short sleeve Boggi Milano polo of the same shade of crimson which I have on under it. 

At the risk of becoming a brand spokesperson, my blue jeans are also from Boggi Milano, secured by a brown spotted ostrich belt. The shoes are black On sneakers, the up and coming Swiss brand of comfortable sports footwear. A discrete steel Rolex Submariner on a black-and-silver NATO strap rounds off the picture.

For leaving the office, I have a black Hugo Boss overcoat, a grey cashmere baseball cap, naturally without any text or logo, and gold plated square aviators from Randolph Engineering.

For Pinning Later

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

In terms of fashion, I very much prefer the old brick and mortar experience. Perhaps that is at least in part due to not fitting the regular molds, and the difficulties of finding anything that fits off-the-rack. I have the nation’s most prolific shopping street right outside the office, but quite honestly I would rather take the car for an hour to the many excellent brand outlets in Switzerland and Germany. High fashion designer quality at half the price, what’s not to like!

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

Spring is approaching rapidly and a new pair of Bally loafers would be nice.

Boots or Shoes?

Unless I’m hiking the Alps, I’d go for shoes, either comfortable sneakers or oxfords. 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc


My novel, A Most Private Bank is available here: https://smarturl.it/amostprivatebank And of course, you can read more about the book, and get in contact with me through my author website, https://www.clenow.com/.

All photographs are by Linda Hobden (apart from the author pic, published with kind permission of Andreas F Clenow).

My thanks to Andreas and to Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity for the copy of ”A Most Private Bank” for review purposes.

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An Interview With Ace of Skunk Anansie

Design-led streetwear meets rock music this week on the blog as my guest is the uber talented Ace, guitarist with the UK rock band Skunk Anansie , who has just designed and launched his ”Muzzled” range of eco friendly streetwear on the new ethical marketplace, Beyond Bamboo. Hi Ace and welcome….

Hi! My name is Ace, I am the original founder member of Skunk Anansie, playing guitar and song writing for the past 28 years. I’m also an educator, author and entrepreneur. I have a love of illustration and graphic design, and a history of working with merchandising. 

People know you as Ace, the guitarist with UK rock band Skunk Anansie; so what inspired the launch of “Muzzled”, your new range of streetwear?

I was inspired by the fact that I’ve already been running the Skunk Anansie merchandising for the last 15 years, and I studied graphic design and art college when I was young, so decided to bring out my own brand that would display my own creativity and voice for fun. 

Music and graphic designing has shaped your working life, but did you have other career plans whilst growing up? 

From the attending of my first concert at the age 12, I acquired a strong and persistent desire to become a rock musician! I had no other career plans apart from wanting to go to art college and do art. I actually ended up doing graphic design at college and working in an art studio until I gave that up to become a professional musician. 

I’m interested in your brand name – Muzzled – why did you specifically pick that name? Were there any other contenders?

The name really came about from a conversation with one of my road crew when I was on tour thinking about a cool T-shirt brand… I can’t really remember the concept to be honest it just popped up out of the conversation! Then it was just about Googling it and seeing if it was already used. 

I love the Muzzled skull & serpents tee –  what items from your collection are proving most popular amongst your customers?

The Skull and serpents is based on my re-drawing interpretation of an old 14th century would cut that just seemed to catch my eye, as I am really into mediaeval history and iconography. Other popular T-shirts seem to be, the Swallow,  Sk8ter Dumbskull, Dead on Time and Tree of Knowledge

Do you have a favourite item from your collection? 

I think the one that I presently wear the most is probably ‘Dead on Time, but my favourite always changes when I release a new one!

Your range is available via the new ethical marketplace, Beyond Bamboo.  What are your reasons that you picked Beyond Bamboo to launch your collection?  Are the products available worldwide? 

I chose Beyond Bamboo for a couple reasons: 1. My whole brand is ethically sourced and climate friendly, and 2. it is because of the people behind it, their reasons and their morals and ethics. 

Music also plays a big part in your life. What or who inspired you to take up playing the guitar? 

At the age of 12, I went to a Motorhead concert with my big brother. As soon as the show ended, I just decided that that was my direction in life. The Next step was to make it a reality and go out and buy a guitar and teach myself!

There have been many memorable musical moments – Skunk Anansie has headlined at Glastonbury; toured with bands such as U2, Bon Jovi, Rammstein, Muse, Lenny Kravitz … as well as selling over 6 million physical LPs.   What moments have personally stood out for you in your musical career with Skunk Anansie?

There are so many, and we are still lucky enough to be making more! Milestone moments probably include playing for Nelson Mandela for his gift to Nation concerts, playing for the Dalai Lama for his charity concert, headlining Glastonbury, and more recently headlining Polish Woodstock to 700,000 people!  

I hear that in your “spare” time you are Global Change Ambassador for Roundtable Global Charity and Ambassador for The Music For All Charity.  Busy man!  What do those roles entail?

This basically sees me being involved with the Global Youth Awards. From actually presenting at the awards to working behind the scenes and arranging acts and artists to play, as well as volunteers to work there. 

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

Currently, I’m just getting into a new brand called No Fixed Abode London which was founded by a lady called Emma Man who found herself homeless many years ago and brought herself out of it to create this brand. I also wear my Muzzled T-shirts all the time… Ha, ha, and you’ll probably see me lounging out in Skunk Anansie Hoodies too.

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

I tend to just go with how I’m feeling, what catches my eye and most of the time recommendations from other people. I’m not sure if I have a particular favourite, apart from No Fixed Abode (NFA) at the moment. 

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

Some shoes for the tour from NFA. 

Boots or Shoes?

I like both to be honest, but I tend to like hi top sneaker boots as they’re great to jump around in on stage, and leather boots as they are hardy against the cold! 

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Muzzled, Beyond Bamboo and Skunk Anansie 

https://beyondbamboo.life/collections/vendors?q=Muzzled%20Streetwear

@officialskunkanansie

Thanks Ace for the chat ! Love your artwork, tees and music!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Ace/Skunk Anansie.

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An Interview With Empire Copper

Talking all about copper this week! Copper is the traditional gift for the 7th, 9th and 22nd wedding anniversaries and my guest has certainly lots of copper based gift ideas (and brass) from homewares to clocks, art to jewellery. Copper is the first metal to be worked with by man alongside gold and meteoritic iron. Working their magic with copper are my blog guests, Cam and Beth Hayes, makers & owners of Empire Copper based in Perth ,Western Australia. Hi and welcome!

Hi everyone, we are Cam and Beth Hayes, the husband and wife duo behind Empire Copper. We have been married for seven months and live in Perth, Western Australia.  We both still work full-time jobs as well as running our small business. I (Beth) come from a huge, Irish family, I am one of seven. Cam’s family isn’t as large but they’re definitely as crazy. Cliche as it may be, we are truly each other’s best friends and for our second Valentine’s Day together, got matching doughnut tattoos!

What inspired the setting up of your company, Empire Copper?

Cam was working for an architectural roofing company that specialised in copper, brass, zinc and slate from 2017 – 2021. As he is a sheet metal worker by trade, he spent many days manufacturing copper gutters, rainheads and downpipes. Cam’s interest in copper grew each time he would visit a site and see a piece that he had made or recently installed, had begun to change in colour and texture, in a process known as patination. Soon after, in early 2019 Cam began experimenting at home. Reading every book or resource he could find on copper and copper patination. Not wanting to bombard his friends on social media with his experiments, Cam decided to set up a second Instagram account to be more like a blog. We needed a name and had always said anything we ever owned would be Empire ‘X’ and so, Empire Copper was born. After many experiments, Cam decided to make a couple of household copper pieces. These were a serving tray and a set of coasters. The coasters were the first item we ever sold!

I have a fondness for the “Copper Wall Clock Halftime Blue Patina ” – it is gorgeous!  What copper & brass items are your most popular sellers?

Our Copper Wall Clock ‘Half-time’ Blue Patina is BY FAR our most popular product of all time. We sell at least 5 of these a week on average. Brass is pretty new to us however, our brass trinket/candle tray has been quite popular! 

Have you got a favourite item from your collection?

My favourite item would have to be our Brushed Copper Clock, I am a less is more kind of girl and I think it is so simple and stunning. Cam’s is the Blowtorch (or flame) patina clock as it is the first all copper clock he ever made and he has a great fondness for that.

I never realised that copper can be available in blue/green colour due to patination. What exactly is patination?

Love this question! We spend a lot of time educating our customer’s on patination so that they can know the true value and individualised nature of their piece. A patina, patination or oxidation is a thin layer that forms on the surface of copper, brass and other metals. This happens naturally, when copper is exposed to the elements. For example, the Statue of Liberty which, many years ago was copper, bronze and brown in colour. Now, she is green. This is known as a patina or due to it’s green colour, verdigris. For us to achieve colours like blue, green and gold we undertake a process known as a controlled or forced patination. We can use many mediums to alter the appearance of copper. This may include natural products or chemicals, salt, rain, wood, soil or fire. There are many contributing factors to creating a good patina with time and temperature playing a huge role in the final outcome of the colour. 

As you are based in Australia, are your products available to purchase internationally?

We handcraft everything in our workshop in Perth, Western Australia but we do ship worldwide. We ship for free to Australia, New Zealand and the United States on orders over $100AUD

You have recently introduced a brass collection to add to the copper collection.  Is brass more fiddly to work with than copper?

Brass is not fiddly but it is a harder and stronger metal than copper. This in itself poses a new set of challenges. Brass can be harder to cut, mark and stamp. Also, with our polished brass pieces, we spend A LOT of time perfecting them. 

Have you always wanted a career in design/metalware  or did your career plans lie elsewhere?

We kind of just fell into this, Cam especially. We are both very ambitious so I think I knew one day we would be doing our own thing. I am working in my field of study at the moment whilst also doing most of our administration, social media, marketing and networking. I leave all the manufacturing to Cam. However, even though it wasn’t entirely planned, there’s never been a moment that we’ve not been grateful. We’ve loved every second of it.

You have done a few custom orders in the past – what has been the most unusual or favourite bespoke item you have undertaken?

 A  few pieces that come to mind are: a copper bird bath, a huge 2 metre long copper tray, to act as a bar top on a wine bar and a wall art piece of Kokopelli. 

Your copperware encompasses a lot of products – homeware, art pieces & jewellery – where do you draw inspiration from when deciding to make items for sale? Do you go by customer requests, current trends, old favourites, items you personally would use or a mixture of them all?

 A mixture of all of this. Some new products have started out as a special request from a customer and then we’ve drawn inspiration from that. Other times, its other creators, or family and friends who make suggestions. We always have a huge list of things we want to do and try. We kind of run our business on the motto that ‘we will try EVERYTHING once’ and if it doesn’t work out, at least we can say we tried and we’ve never regretted anything with that mindset.

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

Beth: If I’m not at work, I’m in my pyjamas which I change into almost immediately after I get home. 
Cam: I can be found wearing expensive sneakers and shirts full of holes!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Cam is a Bunnings fanatic which is basically a huge tool and hardware warehouse. We really like them because although they are a market leader, they’re not trying to take advantage of people and still offer a premium service. I have a love for skincare and make up. I love MECCA in Australia as their in store customer service is unparalleled. They also have a great online presence and experience. Also, I love the ICONIC too for fashion. They are a huge company but still doing customer service so well! 

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

Can I say a bag? Because if yes, I’ve been eyeing off Chloe Woody Large Leather-Trimmed Cotton-Canvas Tote! Hopefully I will be able to treat myself to one later this year. Cam said he’d like more space so he can get more shoes… he’s a sneakers kind of guy.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes for us both! I love a pair of converse ballet flats. They’re cute, they go with everything and they’re super comfortable. Cam wears work boots 40 hours a week so loathes being in boots outside of work hours.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more aboout Empire Copper

Thanks again so much for this, we’d like to give all Boots, Shoes and Fashion readers a little something for coming along on this journey. 
Enter the code: bootsshoesandfashion for $10 AUS off. (valid until 31/12/2022)

If you’d like to visit our website here is the link: www.empirecopper.com 
If you’d like to connect with us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/empirecopper/?hl=en

Or, if you prefer Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Empirecopper/

PHOTOGRAPHS: All photographs are by Caitlin Ruth. Her Instagram is: @caitlinruthcreative and her website is: https://www.caitlinruth.com.au/

Linda x

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An Interview With Floco

As International Women’s Week comes to a close, my topic tonight on the blog affects all women at some point in their lives – periods. Fed up with period inequality, my guest this week Mhairi, co founder of Floco, explains her products and why it is important to increase access to period products in countries where availability isn’t wonderful as well as to introduce an education programme closer to home to help young people tear apart the stigma surrounding periods and learn the facts. Sounds good to me! Welcome Mhairi!

Hi! My name is Mhairi. I am one of the co-founders of Floco. I am passionate about using innovation and education with compassion to try and make the world more equal and kind. I love dogs, going for a pint with friends and eating tasty food. 

What inspired the setting up of your company, Floco?

We set up Floco after Alison (my co-founder) conducted her dissertation research in rural Kenya. This  revealed the devastating impact of period poverty on young students. The fact young students were being forced to give up school, risk their wellbeing and even their lives just to access period products completely horrified and angered us. We became committed to finding a solution that would actually work for these students and help increase access to period products for the long term. After both visiting Kenya we set up Floco (previously Lilypads). We trained local women to run their own “pad projects” increasing access to safe and affordable period products. Returning to the UK we recognised that the scale and complexity of period poverty meant we would need to create something that could expand and be flexible. We started brainstorming solutions and recognised an opportunity to start designing and selling high quality and innovative reusable period products that would help support and fund the international organisation to keep operating as effectively as possible. 

Our UK business stemmed from our social mission to help fight period poverty and it remains at the heart of our organisation. 

Floco is on a mission to help everyone have the best period they can. We do this in 3 ways. First we design revolutionary reusable pads that are more discreet and comfy to help people who flow live sustainably without having to compromise on quality. Next, we are fighting period poverty with every pack sold by increasing access to period products in communities around the globe that don’t have access. Finally, we deliver fun and inclusive educational workshops across UK schools that is smashing stereotypes and inequalities.

 I love that the reusable pads come in 6 different styles  – What are your most popular sellers?

I love the 6 styles too (keep your eyes peeled as we increase this even further soon!). 

Floco’s best sellers are the Superstar. The Superstar is named after what it will make you feel like. It is our standard day pad but there is nothing standard about it. The technical materials we use have allowed us to create a pad that is ultra-absorbent yet thin. It feels as soft as your undies and looks great in them! Whether you use it as your sole product or as a backup to something else we know it will make you feel confident and secure- because let’s be honest, periods are hard enough without a pad that feels like crap! 

The Sleepy Pad is our next best seller. This is our night pad. It is soft and comfy and provides you with full coverage to save your sheets and give you a great night sleep.  

What are the key benefits of Floco reusable pads compared to disposable pads? 

A key benefit of reusable pads is environmental impact. As it says in the name, reusable pads are reusable! The average person who flows can use more than 11000 disposable products in their lifetime, these can be made of up to 90% plastic taking hundreds of years to degrade in landfills or washing up on beaches across the world. Swapping to reusable pads can save you 64kg of plastic and 316kg of CO₂E.  

Reusable pads have other benefits too, they feel super soft so tend to be more comfortable than disposables. They can save you money in the long run (our pads last between 2 and 5 years). Some other slightly more specific benefits; the toilet bin will fill up slower so less emptying! They are always in your room so no more running to the shops last minute if you forget! 

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase internationally?

Currently we are only able to ship to the UK. However, our not for profit organisation works internationally across 8 different communities including in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Cambodia.

As a brand, Floco, is committed to stopping period inequality and to encourage education surrounding periods and puberty.   What does that entail? 

Every pack of pads we sell supports our not for profit organisation. 

This organisation partners with communities around the globe either to donate products or to support women to set up pad projects increasing access to pads to the entire community. We have donated thousands of pads in the past year and have big targets for 2022. 

As well as increasing access to period products we have developed an education programme of workshops that is delivered to people across the UK. Our workshops range from topics such as periods and puberty to gender stereotypes and sexual harassment. There are different workshops aimed at school students, young adults and parents. The aim of our workshops is to combat the stigma and inequality that often surrounds these topics. We focus in on the social side of these topics and deliver them to all genders in a fun, inclusive and interactive environment. By creating environments of laughter we believe we can combat the misconceptions, shame and stereotypes that can often surround them. 

Changing habits of a lifetime to have a low impact on the environment isn’t easy but it is possible – for example, through changing to reusable period pads. What other changes do you recommend or have undertaken yourselves? 

I think making small changes can often be the best way for people to stick with them. Personally I have focussed on understanding the environmental impact of fashion and clothing. I have focussed on learning more about the environmental impact of fast fashion which has prompted me to start questioning my consumption habits (asking do I actually need something new?). I now try to shop second hand at stores and using apps such as Vinted and Depop and using rental apps for big occasions such as By rotation. 

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

A usual day for me will look like me in either my second hand dungarees with a comfy jumper or top underneath or my staple long black skirt with a fun button up cardigan. (I love a cardigan!) I live in my Vegan Platform Doc Martens so I will most definitely be wearing them! I love accessories, in particular chunky colourful resin rings. 

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

By rotation is a super cool App that allows you to rent designer clothing. I love fashion and so I think it is fab to think I can still shop for something exciting and nice to wear to big occasions without relying on fast fashion or feeling guilty for only wearing it once! 

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

I would love a new mid length skirt or a new denim oversized jacket as we head into spring!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots! I love a chunky platform boot. Doc Martens are my absolute favourite. I think they are just so comfy, they are appropriate for all seasons (vital when we live in Scotland) – perfect for cold winters but also look so cute with summery dresses. I love that they give me a bit more height without having to wear heels. 


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

www.flocowear.com

@floco.period https://www.instagram.com/floco.period/ = Instagram 

@floco.period www.facebook.com/floco.period = Facebook 

Thank you for chatting to us Mhairi. I love Doc Martens too – height without heels – love it! Seriously though, I love your product and your determination to spread period equality and to educate young women on the facts. Let’s break the stigma! 😊

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Floco.

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Interview: Food Addiction Coach, Dr Bunmi Aboaba

There is strong medical research and evidence that certain foods, along with other factors, can trigger Food Addiction. My guest, Dr Bunmi Aboaba is a Food Addiction coach and her work covers a full spectrum of food addictions including overeating, compulsive eating and emotional eating. I caught up with the lovely doctor recently to find out more about food addiction and how she helps people to build a healthy relationship with food. Hi Bunmi!

Hello! My name is Dr Bunmi Aboaba. I help men and women overhaul their unhealthy relationship with food, reach their goal weight and improve their mental wellbeing through a compassionate, holistic and non-diet approach

  • What made you decide to launch your career as a food addiction coach?

I had my own struggles with food; bulimia when I was in my teens, then I switched to alcohol and then, in recovery from alcohol addiction, straight back to food. My eating was out of control and particularly with foods that were unhealthy: pizza, cake, fried chicken that kind of thing. It was ferocious and, in many ways, worse than the alcohol addiction. It came with a lot of guilt and shame and feelings of failure. I knew it was an addiction because I had the same feelings of obsession around food as I had with alcohol. Cravings, denial, compulsion and withdrawal were all the same.  

  • What sort of food problems do people come to you for help? 

There is a lot of stress eating at the moment. Food has become a primary coping mechanism for many, meaning binge eating and food addiction. People are experiencing feelings of unmanageability around food, feeling anxious if they don’t binge and guilty when the binge has finished. This all can impact daily life, relationships and mental health, where many report lower self-esteem and self-worth and poor body image. The list goes on.

  • For helping clients achieve a healthy relationship with food, what approach(es) do you tend to use?

The R4 method is a simple and effective road map that will steer the client in the direction of healthy eating, that is not a diet and doesn’t need willpower.

The steps taken along the way looks at the root cause of our food issues –  which is R1. R2 is reframing a person’s beliefs and attitudes around themselves and also the food. R3 is building the resilience needed to diminish cravings and R4 is pulling it all together with a nutritious food plan which is not restrictive but nutritious and filling; along with lots of kindness, compassion and support along the way.

It is not a linear process, its constantly in flow but it a framework that allows the person to feel a sense of safety in the process.

  • As you have had many years experience in this field, what is it about your job do you enjoy or gives you the most satisfaction? The downside?

I love the wide eyes when I explain what they are struggling with and the realisation that they are not lazy or greedy or lacking in willpower. They have a disease and it’s called food addiction. Once the client gets this it’s like an epiphany or them and they are ready and willing to start the process. 

Also, I love how they start to find themselves and get to know who they are, what makes them tick, what they want and don’t want in their lives. I suppose that’s empowerment at work.  Seeing them blossom, increase in confidence, and every aspect of their lives starting to improve.

The weight loss is kind of a by-product of the process, That we get to realise it’s a “Me” problem and not a weight problem.

© LindaHobden
  • Do you offer one to one coaching or do you operate online?

I offer one-to-one, as well as group coaching and it’s all online which suits many.

  • Growing up, did you always want a medical career, or did you want to pursue a completely different direction?

I wanted to be a criminal lawyer but my Father said no. Back in the day there weren’t really any black lawyers and my Dad wanted me to do medicine, where I stood a better chance of gaining positions. I grumbled at the time but looking back he was right and I am deeply grateful for his guidance. It stood me in good stead.

  • You are creator of the The R4 Method – a Food Addiction Certification. Who would benefit from the certification and what does the R4 Method cover? 

It benefits any health and wellness professional wanting to help any of their clients with issues around the relationship with food. It’s also good for people who may want to help family members or friends.

  • As you are based in the UK, are your services available just for UK or is it also available worldwide?

I am based in London but work worldwide.

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

Oh Goodness! Since the pandemic, my style has gone to pot. I need a stylist to revamp/resurrect me!

To go out, jeans, boho shirts, leather /suede jackets – I usually shop in Selfridges. I used to be a converse fan until my knee operation and now I’m into Fitflop, which are stylish and great for comfort walking.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Yes, Fitflop, Selfridges, Asos, ME+EM, Om & Ah, AllSaints , Sweaty Betty, Moncler.

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

Khaki leather biker jacket; Misty lounge set

Boots or Shoes?

BOOTS BOOTS BOOTS – all the way

For Pinning Later .

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Web: www.thefoodaddictioncoach.co.uk

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bunmiaboaba/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefoodaddictioncoach/

Twitter: @FoodAddicti2  

Instagram @thefoodaddictioncoach

Great to talk to you Bunmi and I am so pleased that you love a leather biker jacket and boots! You rock!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Dr Bunmi Aboaba (apart from the header pic, pin photo & the cheese platter photo – © LindaHobden)

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An Interview With Handmade By Tinni

This week I’m featuring a brand – Handmade By Tinni – that is all about sustainability and joyful colours – jewellery and home decor signs using organic cotton rope and yarn. Let me introduce the lovely designer Paulomi Debnath onto the blog….

Hello, I’m Paulomi and I am a textile jewellery designer and the face behind Handmade by Tinni. I create colourful, bold pieces of designs that brings joy and inspire confidence. I am a coffee lover, passionate about jewellery (read obsessed!), slightly eccentric, a pretty good cook (Asian mainly and certified by my other half!) and a proud small independent business owner.

I was born in Kolkata, India, a colonial city with a rich heritage and history. Charming and extremely busy, my birth city holds a special place in my heart forever. When I set up my brand finally in 2020, I drew my design inspiration from the bright colours of nature, amazing places that I have travelled to over the years and most importantly from the rich heritage of India.I studied sales and marketing and started my career in hotel sales in India. I am passionate about travelling and have always found great pleasure in promoting hotels and destinations.

In 2004, I met the love of my life and in 2006, we got married in Kolkata. We both belong to this ‘City of Joy’ and very proud to have strong roots there. Soon, I joined my husband in London to start a new chapter of our journey together. With my experience in hotel sales, I was back in hotel sales management.

It has been a challenge – managing a creative business while working full time as a Senior Buyer, a wife and a mother of a 10-year-old boy (who always keeps me on my toes). You constantly need to learn to juggle a busy work & social life with loads of multitasking. But with constant support from my family, I always have been able to overcome that. When it has come to living my dream, I don’t want to resign into a life of missed callings and dreams.

My brand is all about sustainability and joyful colour. My vibrant, bold designs bring joy & inspire ethical living. I am based in London and make all my designs from my home studio.

What inspired the brand name of “Handmade ByTinni”? What made you decide to concentrate on textile jewellery? 

Tinni is my nickname that my family lovingly call me. It is like my alternate personality – cheeky, full of fun and colourful! When I was searching for an ideal brand name, I really wanted it to represent my soul and my passion for Jewellery. AND…… I am totally addicted to jewellery. My mum often teases me, and says that I am building a secret jewellery museum. And being an Indian by origin, I am spoilt for choices. I am extremely proud of my eccentric collection which is a mix of vintage and contemporary design. 

So, my brand name is my cheeky pet name and echoes that I design every piece of my jewellery home studio based in London. When I started Handmade By Tinni last year, I wasn’t even sure how far I could go with it, because everything was uncertain at the time. But I knew that I wanted a brand name that would mirror my passion and my hard work. My designs are handmade, and hence, it’s Handmade by Tinni. 

I also launched my home décor designs a year back and they have been very popular too. 

I love the Red Knotted Statement Cotton Necklace as well as the home decor signs. What items/colours are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you, Linda. That Red Knotted Necklace – Maya Necklace is one of my first designs and a all time favourite. The design is simple yet classic and very easy wear for all occasion. And not just in red, this necklace (and all others) is available in twenty-eight colours, which makes it popular as a gift too. 

In terms of colour, currently I am seeing an increased demand for Mustard, Fuchsia, Turquoise and Emerald Green. These colours are very vibrant and add glamour to any outfit. So, a great choice if you want something new that is not Red or Black. 

In terms of designs, I am so excited to see customers are increasingly embracing colours and experimentation. I am receiving more and more custom requests with design details, colours, shapes, and whole array of words when buying our custom word necklaces. I would forecast a lot more experimentation and adding a bit of glitz and glamour to classic designs. More and more customers are being open to statement pieces to show off their individual styles. This fashion forwardness really inspires me to create unique designs knowing there are accessory lovers who admire statement niche designs. 

Being a small independent brand, customers are also feeling confidant in approaching the designer to commission a custom, unique design that they will treasure forever. I am blessed to make someone’s dream design for them!

Out of all your collection, do you have any favourites?

It is very hard to pick among all your creations as you put little bit of your soul in each of them. However, if I really must, I will choose the ‘Love’ word necklace.

This was the first design that really earned my place in our creative community and became my signature design. I have since created several custom word necklaces as I can make any word (4/5 letters max recommended) like your name or belief or fun words, into wearable pieces.

This is a unique piece of jewellery which is perfect to gift to a loved one. It makes a great valentine’s day gift, a Mother’s Day gift or a anniversary gift.


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

Absolutely. We can deliver worldwide. I would always recommend choosing tracked shipping when buying from international designer for additional peace of mind. 

We are also stocked at various boutiques in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, France, Italy and of course in UK. 

It always gives me greatest pleasure if I am introduced to a jewellery lover from overseas. Just a little appreciation for social media here, as without that, many small designers like myself might not have achieved a bit of global recognition. My own Instagram is so colourful with stunning, inspiring posts from all over the world, makers and buyers combined. Just make me very happy to see so much love for small creative industry especially over last 2 years. 

When designing jewellery to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, or bits of all those?

When designing a new collection, I do not follow any rules. I am influenced by nature and colours around nature. I keep myself updated around the colour trends and design influences around the world like minimalistic or geometric and incorporate that in my designs. I do rely on Pantone colour trends and colour charts when considering new colour collections. 

My custom designs are really a mixture of what the client envisioned and my creativity. It is so exciting to create someone’s dream design with a bit of my own twist. 

What do you enjoy most about making textile jewellery? What was the hardest piece of jewellery to make or the most unusual request you have had? 

There are some who would say you don’t choose the craft; the craft chooses you.

I love the whole look and feel of knotted jewellery but I am also very drawn to the art of repetition. I love the feel of knotting, the comfort of making the same movement over and over, and the oozy happiness when you create something with it. I take great pride in making modern wearable pieces of art using this traditional craft technique.

I’m self-taught in the art of rope knotting and I spent many days perfecting and learning the craft. Even today, I get excited about learning a new knotting technique, which I may or may not be able to use in my upcoming designs, but it is thrilling to do something new. The experimentation of mixing and matching different knots excites me too. Some of these techniques are ones I learned when I was trekking in the Himalayas.  

Hardest piece of Jewellery – Without a doubt my cotton wrapped collection. This wrapping technique is time intensive and requires precision. Each piece is unique and timeless. The delicate craftmanship makes them really ‘hard to find’ jewellery pieces. 

Most unusual request – I have designed plenty of custom designs and each are unique. From brand name to first name to their favourite word to special tangled designs, I have really done a spectrum of unusual designs. This particular designwas6 unusual as it challenged me to recreate a necklace design to a pair of anklets for a special customer. I had to carefully redesign to make it as close as to the original design they loved. 

 What are your top tips on looking after your Statement Textile Jewellery?

Very good question and I have a website section dedicated to product care

Please treat your jewellery / accessories with care, whilst it is durable, handmade jewellery / accessory still needs love and care! So, look after it well & it will last a long time.
 • Avoid contact with water, oil, lotions, insect repellents & perfume

• Please store away from extreme heat, strong sunlight, water or high levels of moisture & try not to drop it!

• To keep your Textile jewellery shiny clean, always use a super soft cloth to get rid of any smears & smudges. A microfibre cloth, similar to the sort you get with your reading glasses is a good choice  

• Jewellery with Magnetic Closures – Kindly open and close the magnetic clasps by holding the metal section only. Try not to pull the rope endings. They are glued and strong pull might unglue the magnets

. • Always ensure the cloth is clean, dust free & rub lightly to avoid losing the shape of the product. For more stubborn marks, a little bit of water or baby wipe should help

  • Avoid contact with body oils, and other chemicals, including household cleaners. 

• Remove when sleeping, exercising, or doing other physically strenuous activities

• Do not use chemical jewellery cleaners.(

• Do not wash. 

Storing jewellery whilst not in use: 

• Kindly always store the necklaces flat when not in use to maintain shape. 
• Try to keep them away from children’s hands as the shape is written in calligraphy way and manhandling can ruin the letters and / or writing.

• Store your accessory in a cool dry place.

Your company has partnered with Ecologi. What does that involve? 

When I began creating my statement jewellery, I knew that I had to do so sustainably. Protecting our planet is no longer an option, it’s essential. As a small business, I ensure I’m eco-conscious in every decision I make. I chose cotton as my main design medium as it is sustainable & bio-degradable, soft to wear and anti-allergic. My zero-waste collection ensures that every offcut is used so that I’m not wasting materials. Handmade By Tinni is also committed to sourcing materials ethically and continuing to find ways to reduce my business’s carbon footprint. One way we do this is by supporting Ecologi, a wonderful organisation dedicated to reforestation. Together with Ecologi, Handmade By Tinni enables the planting of 32 trees per month.

See Handmade by Tinni Forest here.

Growing up, did you always want to be a jewellery designer or did your aspirations lie elsewhere?

I am totally addicted to jewellery from early days!  I designed and dressed up my own collection. My aspiration was always around jewellery and I wanted to become one as soon as I finished studies. However, I followed my second passion at that time and started working in travel industry. 

I am a bohemian traveller at heart, and I have been very lucky to have travelled to many places over the years due to my work or simply holidays. Nothing inspires you more than the multitude of traditional art and craft, the people and textiles from different countries and cultures.

So, imagine my excitement when I could finally launch my own jewellery brand inspired by nature and the places that I have travelled over the year. 

Could you explain your creative process?

I am a dreamer! I dream a design and then work my way to it. Ideas can hit me at any time, so I carry my small sketchbook with my everywhere. It’s full of scribbles and sketches of designs. I also keep an eye on popular colour trends (Pantone has a helpful library of colour palettes to experiment with). Once I have an idea, I play around with the material, colours, different knots and patterns to find the best combination to create a wearable piece – although some of my designs are so intricate, they are only for galleries and exhibitions.

I like to find a quiet corner and just get busy with my ropes and accessories. Some days it’s easy and I can make the final design in one go. However, there are days when I need to work longer and harder before I can transform that thought in my mind into a design. Some days, I must start again from scratch. I guess that’s the life of an artist! It’s the best feeling, though, when you see your idea coming to life exactly how you imagined it

For pinning later

Hypothetically speaking, if you could nominate a famous person (dead or alive) to be the “Face of Handmade By Tinni” who would you pick to represent your brand and why?

I am a HUGE fan of Iris Apfel. Her trend setting eclectic style of layering bright colors and patterns while pairing oversized accessories together, especially her signature black glasses, just makes me supercharged and inspired. Every time I see an image of Iris, I find myself just ogling! 

Given a chance, I would love to raid her wardrobe and just amass every accessory! (Iris Mam, if you are reading this blog, don’t judge me please. Many fashionistas have the same dream, believe me!)

So, it is only my dream to have Iris Apfel as the face of Handmade by Tinni. 

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

My brand reflects my personal style. Colourful, edgy, structured! 

Work-wear – I am huge fan of vibrant colours paired with eternal classics like blue denim or pleated skirt. For a more polished look, I just pair my outfit with a cotton blazer. I own quite a few structured jackets in an array of colours. 

Another look that I really love is printed dresses paired with jackets or blazers. 

I love prints and abstract colour combination. Most of my clothes are handpicked and from good brands to ensure long shelf life. 

Of course I always pair all my outfits with statement jewellery pieces. 

Holiday Look – Floaty dresses, pair of classy shades, long beaded / tassel necklaces and dark lippy. 

Indian wear – Due to my heritage, I am fortunate to own a huge collection of handloom sarees and Indian dresses. They are handcrafted, some are handstitched all over the body and just purely stunning. I dress up quite often when attending cultural events. 

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

I am a huge fan of Kate Spade New York and Desigual. I have a weakness towards designer bags, and I celebrate my big wins with a fancy purse few times. I have a Desigual coat, and it is a head turner! Whenever I wear that, I get compliments, and everyone wants to know where I got it from. Ted Baker – OMG! I love their design essence and own quite a few dresses, skirts, tops etc. Just love the simple, classic yet colourful designs. 

Is the rest of your personal jewellery collection is as bold and colourful as your work?

I have always been an avid collector of antique and hand-crafted jewellery. Here are some of the pieces from my own collection that are truly treasured and valued antiques. They hold very dear memories for me…

Pic 1: Gifted on my wedding by my Grandmother-in-law, who received this as a wedding gift from her mother-in-law. This armlet is at least 100 years. It is one of my treasured vintage pieces. I am truly humbled to own it.

Pic 2: Another weird-shaped silver piece! This was part of an elaborate Indian anklet. I only received this part and wear it as a choker. Thankfully, I don’t have thick neck!

Pic 3: This was a gift from my mother-in-law. The armlet belonged to her great grandmother. The main piece of the earring is a bit bent as it is part of an armlet (I only got them as those pieces) and I then designed it as a earring pair.

Pic 4: This was an heirloom hair accessory used by aristocratic ladies in a traditional Indian household. I transformed it into a statement neckpiece.

Pic 5: An original piece of antique Afghan jewellery, I bought this necklace and anklet set on a trip to Dubai, from a little shop in the souk. I absolutely love this piece – it’s entirely unique and was very hard to find. 

Pic 6: Look at this riot of colours! This awesome piece is from Sorrento in Italy. It features original Italian semi-precious stones and is very heavy but such a head-turner. 

Pic 7: An amazing piece given to me from my sister who bought it from a local designer in my hometown of Kolkata. I love the colours and simplicity.

Pic 8: This is another gift from my sister and was chosen by my little boy. My darling sister took him to a jewellery exhibition and apparently, he wouldn’t leave until my sister bought this necklace for his mumma. He knows I would LOVE it.

Pic 9: This is pure silver jhumka. It is extremely dear to me, although it’s quite heavy and not for the faint hearted! Gifted by my Ma.

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

I have spotted a Kate Spade quilted bag and that is definitely on my shopping list.  Also, I am eying the Kurt Geiger rainbow bag that is a stunning showstopper.

Boots or Shoes? 

It used to be shoes but slowly and steadily I am moving away from pointy heels, stilettos and replacing them with comfy, stylish boots or flat slip-ons. I own a pair of Kate Spade sparkly boots and a pair of Mulberry flats. Really comfortable and awesome style quotient. Love them both.

Links you would like to share e.g.website/Facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Handmade By Tinni. 

Website – https://www.handmadebytinni.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HandmadebyTinni

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ByTinni

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/handmade.bytinni/

What exquisite jewellery and I just love the colourful vibes! Thank you Paulomi for the wonderful tour of your jewellery loves and lusts!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Handmade By Tinni

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An Interview With Adio

Adio is a new health and wellness portal that is the brainchild of my guests this week – Jess Braid and Xandra Middleton. These lovely ladies are sisters and both are doctors – Xandra is a doctor of chiropractic and Jess is a trained NHS doctor who specialises in treating patients using alternative health approaches including nutrition, Chinese medicine, etc. I caught up with the busy sisters to find out more about their venture! Hi ladies ….

[Jess} Hi, we’re Drs Jess Braid and Xandra Middleton. We’re sisters, best friends and the founders of Adio! Xandra is a doctor of chiropractic and I’m a former NHS doctor, now IFM (Institute of Functional Medicine) practitioner, qualified Chinese and Western herbalist, acupuncturist, kinesiologist and homeopath.

What inspired you to set up your new health & wellness portal “Adio”?

[Xandra] We own a busy chiropractic and natural health clinic in Cheshire and have treated thousands of patients for well over a decade. But there are only two of us and so many people who we would love to be able to benefit from our approach to wellness. So we set up Adio to empower everyone to take control of their health and to create a community where our members can connect, grow, share and learn together.

What are the benefits of becoming a member of Adio?

[Jess] Through an affordable monthly subscription, our members have unlimited access to a vast resource library of content tailored to 8 zones of health. Whether you’re browsing the Gut Health & Digestion zone for ways to improve your IBS, the Family & Pet Health zone for tips on how to get your kids to eat more vegetables or heading to the Immune System & Infection zone for ways to boost your immunity, you’ll find a wealth of articles, courses, quizzes and webinars. You can participate in yoga or mindfulness classes, learn how to get better sleep or look after your gut heath. You can even enrol for free in Adio’s ground-breaking programmes – Refresh, my revolutionary 30 day “food as medicine” reset and Xandra’s posture transformation programme, Realign.
As a valued member of our community, you can post status updates, ask for recommendations, offer advice and join specific forums where members can support each other. Our members also benefit from exclusive discounts on Adio’s own powerful multivitamin and Plant+ adaptogen supplements that are pure, eco-friendly and perfectly balanced.
[Xandra} A big part of Adio is about giving back. As we grow, we will give more and more of our profits to good causes and establish Adio as a not-for-profit trust. In the shorter term, we are donating 10% of membership profits to ten charities that are close to our hearts and we encourage our members to get involved too – their participation in our community earns them coins, which generate donations. We also partner with Ecologi so member interactions also convert to more trees being planted!

Monte, Madeira © Linda Hobden

Jess, as you are a trained NHS doctor who specialises in treating people using alternative health approaches including nutrition, Chinese medicine etc what common health conditions have had new approaches which incorporate alternative medicine?

[Jess] We appreciate many different approaches to health, from ancient traditional Chinese medicine practised for several thousand years to the latest scientific research and credible thinking. All our articles are backed by citations, references and other sources. We also share our own remedies, taken from home life and our clinical experience. Published research on the gut microbiome exploded in 2012 and turned our understanding of health on its head. Now thousands of clinical studies all point to the same conclusion, that nearly all long-term health problems will have a root cause in gut health – a truly mind-blowing fact.

Xandra, as a doctor of chiropractic, what ways can Adio membership be of benefit to your patients?

 [Xandra] Looking after our joints, muscles and spine is as crucial to our physical and mental health as diet and exercise. My Structure & Movement toolkit in Adio highlights the importance of good posture, mobility and balance and teaches our members how to use movement, fitness and nutrition to heal themselves. My Realign programme shows you how to take control of joint or muscle problems and how, from dedicating just a few minutes a day, you can transform your posture and eliminate those aches and pains for good.

© Linda Hobden

How is Adio funded?

[Jess] Adio is funded entirely by the affordable monthly subscription fee. We do not take payments, sponsorships or incentives for promotion. Anything we recommend is because we have genuinely used it and loved it, not because we were paid to say so!

Adio members are encouraged to take part in conversations and courses on Adio – what health areas seem to be most discussed at the moment?

[Jess] Immunity is definitely a hot topic at the moment and due to the pandemic, more and more people are looking for answers on how to stay well and how to look after their physical and mental wellbeing. So our Immune System & Infection zone is a fantastic starting place for members to dive in and learn more. Plus our popular yoga and mindfulness classes provide the perfect environment for people to feel safe, calm and grounded. 

As you are based in UK, is Adio available to subscribers overseas?

[Xandra] Yes absolutely, Adio is a global brand! The desire for optimal health is universal and the vast number of ways we can all take control of our own wellbeing translate to every corner of the world.

© Linda Hobden

Growing up, did you have career aspirations in the medical field or something entirely different?

[Jess] We grew up surrounded by alternative medicines and therapies. Grandad taught us about plants and herbs, Grandma taught us homeopathy, Mum showed us all about massage and essential oils and Dad was a chiropractor. So it was inevitable really!Our careers have seen us venture off to explore different healthcare paths and travel different routes in our personal lives, but we have always stayed close. These days, we work together virtually every day, live nearby and we both share a vision for what we hope Adio can become. Our shared values and beliefs about what make effective healthcare and the things that can make for a better planet have become central to what we do.

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

[Xandra] We’re always keen to support sustainable and ethical brands like Sezane and Giesswein. Jess and I have just got two gorgeous black labrador puppies so at the moment, it’s hoodies and wellies for us a lot of the time! I love Emblazed, a local screen-printing company that embroider all our clinic and Adio sweatshirts that are 100% organic. 

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

We love Naturisimo’s range of natural, organic beauty products and skincare

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

[Jess] Xandra has actually just bought me some Muck boots for Christmas after years of telling me how good hers were…..and she wasn’t wrong! They’ve got a memory foam sole so they’re super comfortable and warm and the neoprene means they’re really easy to get on and off. Now I’ve got my eye on a colourful spring shirt from Baukjen.

Boots or Shoes?

[Xandra] You’ll find us both in Veja trainers in the summer for the comfort and support. And at the clinic, Jess lives in her Rothys pumps, made from recycled materials. In the winter, my go-to boots are Timberland and Jess loves her Danish Duckfeet!

For Pinning Later

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

www.adio.orgwww.instagram.com/adio_health

https://www.facebook.com/Adiofamily/

Great to talk to you both about your exciting plans for this informative health portal!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Adio , apart from the photographs marked in the article which are by Linda Hobden.

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An Interview With Catherine Marche Jewellery

Add a little bit of ” Ooh La La” to your jewellery collection, as my guest this week is London based but originally from France – Catherine Marche Jewellery. Her jewellery is desirable with a French chic twist that simply oozes style. Without further ado, let’s say hello to the lovely Catherine…


Bonjour ! I am Catherine Marche. I love creating precious little things. I have been described as an ebullient, fun, passionate and elegant person and also as “very French”. Whatever that means, I take it as a compliment! I have been an expat most of my life. Growing up in 14 different houses and 3 countries. I feel like an eternal globe trotter, I love discovering new places, meeting new people, helping my friends, listening and playing music, dancing and eating good food. 

I feel happiest when near turquoise waters, bright blue sky, palm trees and white sand. I also love “sports de glisse” i.e. ski, waterski, snowboard, ice skating, roller skating, surfing … 

What inspired the setting up of “Catherine Marche Designs”?

I fell into it by chance. During a trip to Alderney, one of my friends purchased a set of jewellery pliers as she was thinking of enrolling into a class. I got one too and enrolled into a class on my return to London. Thinking about it, jewellery has always been part of my life. I used to make tiny necklaces for my dolls and designed my 1st gold piece when was 9, as my mother wanted my input for my communion cross. Thereafter, I used to purchase or commission jewellery wherever I went on holiday as a memento. I still have earrings from Carnaby Street I purchased on a school trip aged 11.

I guess I will always be fascinated by the world of colours, shapes and the way they make you feel. Jewellery is a great medium to express your creativity freely. Furthermore, jewels tell stories and are tokens used to represent emotional milestones. I realise I love the way jewellery spreads joy and love around. 

I do adore your Keshi Pearls Luxurious Cuff and the Queen Of The Sea Cultured Freshwater Pearls Bracelet. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

The Keshi pearls are quite popular indeed. This season, my clients have also loved the mini gold stacking rings, which they mix with colourful gemstones cocktail rings, the dotty collection and statement sculptural rings.

Out of all your collection, do you have any favourites ?

My favourites keep changing. At the moment, I am very fondof the Calypso ring with a muted orange spessartite garnet and a set of 18ct gold stacking rings. I am also layering several talisman necklaces on chains of different lengths and wear long gold earrings with carnelian. Seems I need a pep of colour to go through winter. I admit I like mixing them with items from my personal collection: creations by other designers, gifts from family and friends, jewellery picked up during trips abroad…

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

Yes indeed. I have a few online and brick and mortar stockists in France, USA, and Australia. 

Thankfully, international clients are able to indulge online from my website as I do ship to many places around the world.

When designing jewellery to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, traditional pieces, or bits of all those?

It does depend on the piece. I have to say bits of all those infused with my design flair. When I have a commission, what matters most is the person who is going to wear it. His or her input will fuel the design. For me, it has to complete them and they must enjoy wearing it with pleasure. I am always anxious when a client opens their little box to discover what I created for them. It is so fulfilling. I must say it might be one of my favourite moment in the process, when my client discovers the creation and is overwhelmed with emotions. I also receive lovely letters and photos which fill my heart with joy and keep me going. I am very grateful.

I know that you are an eco- responsible jewellery designer, working with recycled 18k gold, 22k gold, sterling silver, natural gemstones and pearls. You also enjoy remodelling old jewellery.  What was the hardest piece of jewellery to make or the most unusual request you have had? 

One of the trickiest piece is jewellery encompassing several techniques. For example, I made a hinged bangle which also features diamonds and rubies and 24K gold Keum Boh. It is textured with photo etching and has lovely fish details. Many hours of labour were involved in its fabrication.

Most unusual… I had a client who came with a beautiful piece of wood charged with meaning, which I  turned into a jewel for his dulcinée. I quite enjoy the special relationship with my clients around creating something special and when the commissioning process takes me beyond the realms of my usual daily routine. 

If you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection, where would you go and why?

I think I‘d like to go to India. There is so much ancient art, palaces, colours and history there. I have met and worked with so many people from India in the past who told me wonderful tales about their country and regaled me with stunning photos of their world. I am definitely enthralled and willing to visit it myself. Added bonuses: The food is delicious, the weather is amazing and it is a treasure trove for gemstones too.

I guess it will have to be in a few years once the pandemic is over (or has calmed down) and travelling feels safe again.

As you are originally from France, now based in London  -have you noticed any differences in jewellery tastes between France and the UK? 

It seems to me that people in France wear more gold and that silver is sometimes considered like costume jewellery (less precious). Children also wear gold. It is common to gift babies a gold medal or a name tag bracelet and offer children gold jewellery as different milestones. It is also quite traditional for a mother in law to welcome her daughter in law with heirloom jewellery or to offer, for example, a pearl necklace when there is a new baby.

Most people will say that gold below 18ct is not even gold as we have been used to 18ct and legally anything under was not able to be labelled gold.

One thing I have also noticed is that women in France definitely indulge in more impulse self-purchase than in the UK.

When French women like something, they do not need any justification or their friends or husband’s opinion to buy it. French women enjoy looking stylish and wearing items they hunt down and will not see on anyone else. They love using their hard earned cash to indulge in precious little things for themselves and people they love and are going to enjoy life on their terms as much as possible.

Growing up, did you always want to be a jewellery designer or did your aspirations lie elsewhere?

As most children, my aspirations have been changing thought the years. When I was little and  Claude Francois and Karen Cheryl were all the rage, I wanted to be a dancer and singer. Hopefully a Clodette. Later on, I wanted to be a school teacher in maths and drawing. (did both). In fact, I ended up studying computer science, maths and physics and worked many years as  an IT consultant for international companies. I was always inspired by arts and also studied arts and music in parallel. Some of my art is in private and public collections and I still enjoy playing a bit of saxophone.

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

Oh la la! I am not sure I have a definite normal… I can be a bit unconventional. I take fashion like a chameleon, I embrace change.

I love wearing vintage dresses, especially in summer when I can wear bright colourful fabrics in the sunshine. Thinking of a big flower power print dress? I have a few. 60s clothes? yep. Lamé dresses for the evening too. I grew up watching Bewitched and loved their fashion. In the winter, my main thing is being warm. I will layer silk, cachemire, wool, tweeds. I love combining them with long woollen trousers, Aline woollen skirts and boots. You will always see me with hat, scarf and gloves. And either woollen or fur coat. 

When I was pregnant, I definitely wanted to be able to close my coat on my bump. I tried a few coats but being tall, they did not fit me well (sleeves are usually too short). I ended up at a French fur factory designing and commissioning a special shearling coat made to my specifications. It has extra extra long sleeves and is super long too, almost touching the floor.  I still enjoy wearing it. So warm, comfy, soft and really just one made for me. Makes me feel ecstatic when I find and wear something special; Especially when it is one of a kind.

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

Since a girlfriend introduced me to thrift stores when I was a student, there has been no going back. I love American thrift stores. Especially the ones in Florida where retired old ladies will sell their amazing wares. Here, I like shopping in charity shops too. It is fabulous to be able to give another life to garments which will not end up in landfills and knowing that I do not contribute to fast fashion is a good feeling. For shoes, I love LK Bennett. For classic pieces, it can be tricky as I have to read every label to ensure there are no (or few) synthetics involved and the brands need to fit my tall stature. Some of the brands I favour are Hobbs, Max Mara, Calvin Klein, LK Bennett, Roland Mouret… Some brands make me dream like Oscar de la Renta. For special items, I like the website 1stdibds. 

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

Ooh, my list. It is ever expanding. I hope my husband is not reading this. He would love for my wardrobe to be smaller.

A very long, soft and luxurious bootleg type cotton velvet pair of trousers. Being a 36 in seam leggy woman, it happens not to be an easy hunt as I have ruled polyester out.

I also like shopping second hand. Definitely the best to ensure we help to safeguard the environment and for not seeing similar clothes on other people.

French navy style wool sweater and trousers (+ very necessary navy handbag of course), vintage Pucci silk top, another Hermes square, something feathery, a Westwood bustier dress or top…

Although I admit to having more than 50 pairs of shoes (ahem), there are always new things to add on to my little collection; for example: Some raffia and leather summer sandals, preferably with some shells, a pair of zebra print pony leather flats, tan leather square-ish toe pumps with a 60s vibe…

Boots or Shoes? 

Oh ! Do I really have to choose? In a way, I should say both. My wardrobe has many more shoes than boots. However, with the unpredictable weather we have in London, I realise I am wearing boots more often than shoes. I am sometimes going around in boots with a pair of shoes (usually a rather delicate, heeled leather affair) in my rather large handbag, doing a swift exchange when coming out of the tube.

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

Hoping to tempt you and connect with you, do get in touch, I love a little talk about fashion, jewellery and style.

My website http://catherinemarche-designs.com

To keep in touch via my newsletter : https://catherinemarche-designs.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=83a338d27cea890507e43b941&id=9d0301a04a

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/catherinemarche/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Catherinemarchejewellery/

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.co.uk/catherinemarche

Twitter https://twitter.com/catherinemarche/

I also get trees planted using tree nation, here is a link to my little Forest. Maybe you’ll get inspired and start your own https://tree-nation.com/profile/catherine-marche

Thank you ! Merci beaucoup !

Merci beaucoup to you Catherine for chatting about your jewellery and your love for fashion & shoes! I absolutely adore your fashion & shoe choices (as well as your jewellery, of course!)

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Catherine Marche.

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An Interview With Jessica Bell

My guest this week is the multi-talented Jessica Bell : she is author of the fantastic dystopian novel “How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness”; a poet with 3 poetry collections under her belt; a writing/publishing coach; graphic designer; voice over actor; daughter of iconic Australian indie rock legends; singer-songwriter; and singer with the ambient electronica band ”Keep Shelly” (where she is known as the ballsy alter -ego Bruno). Phew! How does she do it all?! First, let me tell you about her book, ”How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness” …..

MY BOOK REVIEW

I was sent a copy of the “How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness” book by Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity & Marketing for reviewing and are my views are entirely my own. “How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness” is written by Jessica Bell.

Let me admit from the start – I’m a thriller fan that also likes to read the odd historical novel, travelogue and classic literature. So, when Ben approached me with this book, a dystopian genre offering, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’m glad I welcomed the book with open arms though, as the story kept me riveted from the very beginning to the very last word. The story is set in a near -future world that is ruled by happiness and the pursuit of happiness is everybody’s goal in life – without happiness you are doomed to die young; with happiness you are granted immortality. But finding real happiness isn’t easy especially when time is running out. Selma Beyett runs the new local bakery, and her husband, Jerome, must die in six months unless he finds perpetual happiness. He has a loving family, a job he adores … so why can’t he find happiness. Icasia, a misfit and ”tatter” doomed to die young for the crime of her child’s unhappiness. Icasia gets food for herself and her son by bartering, and when she walks into Selma’s bakery to barter new customers for food, Selma and Icasia strike up on an unexpected friendship. In a desperate effort to save Jerome from death, the two ladies go on a profound search for happiness and what they discover leads to some questions about what we take for granted and what happiness really is. Very thought provoking, highly entertaining and a great read. Loved it. 9/10

THE INTERVIEW

I’m so pleased to be able to welcome Jessica onto the blog! Hi Jessica!

Hello 😊I am Jessica Bell and I’m an author, designer, singer/songwriter and publisher and I work from a little corner in my loungeroom. I’m also a mother of a two-year-old boy named Madoc Maximus, whose first spoken phrase was ‘half a moon,’ and who once claimed the renovation banging next door, was ‘the heartbeat of building’.

“How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness” is set in a near-future society ruled by happiness. Where did you draw the inspiration to write this futuristic novel? 

I was watching The Giver. And I wondered what would happen in these kinds of stories if the characters didn’t fight against these totalitarian societies, but instead learned to live happily within them, and of course, whether that would make an interesting story. Would these dystopias potentially become utopias, or a mix of the two? And how/why?

I loved the variety of characters – Who were the hardest characters to portray? Who were the easiest?

I love getting inside the heads of my characters, so I wouldn’t say any were particularly hard or easy. I did very much enjoy writing Jerome’s character, though, I think because I love the challenge of writing a person who is totally different from myself. I think I most enjoyed the very first time he attended DeathCare Therapy. I also loved writing the secondary character of Phyvwonoh, the therapist that behaves a little like AI … but perhaps isn’t!

I loved the main character Icasia Bloom –  and I did have a soft spot for Selma’s husband, Jerome, too. Do you have favourite characters?

Jerome is a clear favourite. But since the antagonist of this story is actually the Globe and not one particular person, I pretty much fell in love with all them for one reason or another.

You have, so far, written, a memoir, 5 novels, 3 poetry collections and a “Writing In A Nutshell” series and a variety of publications. Were there any aspects of writing “How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness” that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected? 

This is the first book that has ever started with a clear outline and chapter summaries. I usually write by the seat of my pants, but this book needed clear organization. When reading the final product, the world doesn’t actually seem very complicated, but in order for everything to make sense, and slot together, a lot of backstory needed to be written that actually didn’t need to end up in the book. It was very hard for me to cut it all out! I’m going to provide access to all that backstory to subscribers of my newsletter soon.

 If “How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness” was to become a TV film, who would you pick to represent the main characters eg Icasia Bloom, Selma Beyett, Jerome and Leila?

Oh gosh, I never do this. I always create a unique picture in my head. Okay, after a bit of Googling, I’d say the following:

Icasia: Claire Foy

Selma: Nicole Kidman

Jerome: Matthew McConaughey or Colin Farrell

Leila: Sophia Lillis

Music also plays a big part of your life – being the daughter of iconic Australian indie rock legends as well as being a singer/songwriter and singer in the ambient electronica band “Keep Shelly”. Have you always wanted to have a career in writing or in music or did you actually have other career aspirations?

I wanted to become a dancer as a pre-tween. I would make up my own choreography in my bedroom to artists like Madonna, Prince, MC Hammer and Technotronic! As a teen, I wanted to become a rock star. That dream has never left me. I still want to become a rock star! But I guess I’m getting on a bit now, so I’ve accepted my fate. As a young adult I aspired to become an archaeologist, so I started out at university studying archaeology. But I was terrible at maths and continued to fail the research methods modules, and therefore quit. I then asked myself, what do I already know how to do? (I was a lazy young adult!) and decided that I already knew how to speak English, so signed up for a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in English. Ha!

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?

The last two years since having my son have been difficult to find time to read, but before that, oh yes. I devoured around one book a week. I’m open to any genre if the writing hooks me. I do especially love speculative fiction, especially Margaret Atwood’s. Also a big fan of Marilynne Robinson, Rebecca Miller, Roz Morris, Jeanette Winterson, and Magdalena Ball.

 Is “How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness”  availableto purchase worldwide?

Yes!

If you could travel to any place on Earth to get inspiration for your next novel, where would you go and why?

I will most likely be diving into the sequel to my memoir ‘GO: A Memoir About Binge-drinking, Self-hatred, and Finding Happiness’. The sequel is tentatively entitled, ‘STAY: A Memoir about Self-love, Changing Your Life, and Living Your Dream’. So, the place I would ‘travel’ to again, is the STAGE. I’ve really missed performing live since the pandemic.

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

Pre-mother/pandemic days:

Outfit one: ripped black faded jeans, a band t-shirt and a black pair of laced ankle boots from Camper (flat no heels).

Outfit two: Bright coloured leggings, and a body-fitted casual black mini dress, and black converse sneakers.

Post-mother/pandemic days: Barefoot, viscose lounge wear from Oysho!

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Love Oysho for me, and Mori Baby for my son.

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

To be honest, to fit back into my performance outfits! I haven’t been able to get back to my skinny self since having a baby. My favourite is a pair of black sequined fitted pants and an apricot-coloured semi-see-through tank. Yes, I wear a lot of black.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots! More rock ‘n’ roll.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Best I just share my portfolio site iamjessicabell.com where you can access all the different facets of me and all my socials. 😊

Fabulous chatting to you Jessica! I love your style of writing and you’ve probably converted me to including some dystopian genre books to my reading list! Thanks also to Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity & Marketing for sending me a copy of ”How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness” to review.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Jessica Bell.

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Being Lean

”Lean” is a well known and scientifically proven idea that has transformed businesses for decades – a methodology for focusing on what is really important. According to my guest this week – Lean business expert Michelle Leong – Being Lean means living efficiently and not wasting time, energy and money on the unimportant. I caught up with Michelle recently to find out more about Being Lean. Hi Michelle!

Hello! I’m Michelle. I’m a self-confessed Lean fanatic & dedicated Lean practitioner with almost 20 years’ experience in changing people’s lives and businesses for the better. I am a very health-conscious keen traveller, a monumental food & drinks fan and it may be a midlife crisis thing but I make every effort to look good for myself all the time.  My quest for perfection in living life to the fullest makes my staunch advocacy and adoption of Lean in everyday life inevitable & necessary. 

Your book, “Being Lean”, is truly inspirational. What made you decide to write your book in the first place?

Actually, Being Lean is the result of my laziness and impatience about doing things twice or taking the long way around. It is basically all about how I increase productivity of my fun time. I hate housework, I hate exercising, I like, but don’t love work. This book is 20 years of how I managed to do lesser of what I don’t enjoy AND still get the same if not better results. 

I was already naturally organised, I’m a keen planner, I’m a fantastic time manager but it was only when I started using Lean as a methodology & a structured approach, that I realised that all this time, I’ve been so effective in wasting my time & effort. I was basically just tidying up clutter, when clutter is clutter no matter how neat they are.

I’m a terrible person. I remember secretly judging my colleagues & peers, all those years, for not being truly Lean. I felt they only do it at work, like switching the lights on & off. Outside of work, I remember thinking “what process slobs” they are 😜! I’ve been collecting scribbles & thoughts along the way, knowing I had to put it on paper in a structured manner…to boast about my processes if anything! I only actually sat down to write this book at lockdown.

Lean  is a well known and scientifically proven idea  – a methodology for focusing on what is really important, and being lean means living efficiently, using time and energy and money effectively … when did you first realise this empowerment that being lean can have over businesses and life in general? 

Lean has been around & popularised here in the West by the car manufacturing industry since the very early 90s. Thanks to discovering Lean 10 years later for my work in construction that I’ve been living Lean for almost 20 years. I started consciously applying the methodology “Doing Lean” for work mainly but once I got my Lean glasses on, it felt applicable to all processes including outside of work. Gradually, I evolved to doing Lean outside of work and since then evolved again to “Being Lean” i.e. naturally rather than contrived.

Your book is jammed pack with hints and situations which will help to apply the lean approach in all aspects of life – workplace, wardrobe, home life, travel food and health- even down to sorting your laundry! I was quite pleased to see that my method of sorting out washing  being endorsed!  Were there any aspects of writing “Being Lean” that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected? 

I realised that applying Lean to work is SO much easier. There are many relevant examples and much expertise out there for us to learn from and even duplicate. At the same time, we are held accountable for our productivity and quality of work so we do it more consistently as it is necessary for our livelihood. We push ourselves more and we try harder. Whereas, privately, we only have to account to ourselves. There are no immediate consequences, or if there are, we deem them to be of less magnitude as time loss is less apparent than the loss of cold hard cash from a paycheque. Hence, application of Lean outside of work is so much less consistent. I am actually surprised after-the-fact that I have enough to structure this book in a coherent and hopefully, easy to follow way. When I finished it, I felt incredibly lucky that I had been doing Lean for such a long time and so consistently that I was able to follow through, fill out that many chapters and achieve the flow. 

You have been advising businesses on lean practices for 20 years and you were part of the team that introduced lean to the construction industry in a government funded Construction  Lean Improvement Programme (CLIP).  What sort of lean recommendations were introduced?

We started from scratch with Construction. Everyone was strongly sceptical. CLIP offered the industry free consultancy & lean projects hoping to get wide uptake of the thinking & practice. We went out touting companies to apply Lean to their construction projects. Construction teams are dynamic & they change with each project so you can imagine how difficult it is to achieve sustainable organisational results. You keep starting from scratch with each new project, teaching them the theory & methodology then applying it practically on site – learning by doing. We persevered & slowly noticed the difference when project percentages slowly evolved from 90% on building sites & 10% in boardrooms to 50%-50%. This meant the industry was starting to adopt the Lean approach of looking at the bigger picture, doing a diagnostic i.e., identifying waste in the process & doing the business case of prioritising where best to invest in improvement efforts. It’s always leaner eliminating waste further upfront the process when they aren’t as big, before they snowball & become more expensive problems down the line i.e., manifests when you are actually constructing the building. 

What aspects of Being Lean did you personally find hardest to adopt and adapt into your own lifestyle?  What aspects did you find easiest to incorporate?

As human beings, we rotate towards the easiest to do. For me, with Lean, it was a gradual process. It started out with huge concerted effort to learn & then to do. But with each effort, like everything one does, it got easier & the interest grew because the benefits prevailed & I wanted to know more. It became a challenge to be better at it & a lifestyle and quest to make as much of my processes leaner. Suddenly, I’ve become anal retentive, which I take as a compliment. I have to say it is a creep process & still creeping! Unlike weight creeping up with age, this is a positive creep from flexing & using the Lean muscle. I just transitioned from consciously Doing Lean to Being Lean. I ended up getting flow in my processes without thinking about it. I see waste & combat them bit by bit, it’s no effort for me but might be a crazy effortful to a beginner. Whatever my processes are now, it’s taken 20 years of Being Lean. I’ve even process mapped my relationship, doing risk analysis to look for issues & their impacts. I use root cause analysis to manage my “flare-ups” to maintain that precious relationship. I’ve just celebrated my 31st year anniversary with my husband 🥰😎.

Growing up, what career aspirations did you have?

I was born in Singapore & became a “Singapore Girl” (flight stewardess) very young at 18 so never “had time” to aspire to be anything else. I regretted not going into higher education then as there was no such thing as mature student in Singapore in those days. Once the opportunity passed you by, it’s gone! Thankfully I met my husband & got a second chance when I moved to Sweden in the very early 90s. I learnt the language & took the university entrance exam & never looked back. It is thanks to this, that life led me to Lean. 

Is “Being Lean”  available to purchase worldwide?

The book is available for sale on Amazon & many bookshops like Waterstones online. On the Being Lean website, the hardcopy is available worldwide, IF one is willing to pay postage at cost. The e-book is available on the website for download wherever you are in the world & the audiobook is underway and will be available on the website soon.

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

When applying Lean Thinking to our Health. Lean states that ill-health & bad lifestyle are defects in a System, our System. Whether it is self-inflicted or due to circumstances or environment, the point here is not to blame but to find out why. What are the wastes & what are the root causes? If we apply the methodology & use the Waste Glasses, we will get a diagnostic of the causes of these defects so we can work on preventing or managing them. I’ve worked really hard on my health & fitness. As an outcome of Being Lean, I’ve been fasting & lifting heavy weights for the past 10 years. I am at my tippest-toppest condition having just turned 50 this year and planning to keep it that way.

I adopt the Lean visual management tool to maintain status. My wardrobe has been designed to induce my correct behaviour. I no longer have baggy clothes that allow me to hide the consequences of long-term unhealthy living or bad choices, whether this is food, fitness or the mental confidence to rock an outfit. I only wear snug clothes to restrict the amount I can indulge in. Snug clothing visually displays quickly and obviously when I over indulge in one meal but also when I have been lax over a longer period. This triggers me to rein things back. My reward for the consistency is looking & feeling strong & powerful.

I have been wearing a LBD (little black dress), benchmarking (a Lean tool) for my 40th, 45th & 50th birthday. We’ll see if it fits on my 55th!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I used to shop quantity above quality & have loads of unused clothes that I’m still going through. Nowadays, I only shop online and for specific style/design that I know flatters me and I never follow trends. I’ve taken on board the Lean concept of modular dressing i.e., having a few different basic accessories & layers of clothing, mixing/matching & getting triple the look from them to suit all occasion & seasons. I’ve got a few websites bookmarked including The Outnet, Joli Closet, TK Maxx, Selfridges (when on sale), occasionally ASOS etc. and charities like Sea Shepherd, which don’t have much of what I want to wear but I buy for presents periodically to give them support. 

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

I’ve got more clothes & shoes enough to wear a different outfit every day of the week! But I’m also a huge accessories person so I’ve got a couple of items on my wish list currently including a Gucci Lionhead gold-toned brass and bead ring & Maje’s Precious Day of the Week ring.

Boots or Shoes?

I’m a wedge (ankle & knee) boots for autumn/winter & wedge sandals for summer, kind of gal. Wedge being key because it started with me having plantar fasciitis from training too much and not being able to wear flat shoes. Now I can’t be without them because they are very Being Lean! It allows me to not compromise on “quality” as they are comfortable, looks good (feminine the way I like it) & gives me the height to make me look tall & slender. I can walk on wedges for hours on a glorious fun London shopping day out! I’ve got 3 colours of the same Hush Puppies wedge sandals that are very comfortable.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Personal Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011056549136

Being Lean Website: https://beinglean.net

Being Lean Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/beinglean.net

LeanPac Website: https://www.leanpac.co.uk

LeanPac Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LeanPaccouk-1614091645336481

LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-leong-94837918/

My thanks to Michelle for agreeing to be interviewed and to Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity for a copy of Michelle’s book “Being Lean”. All photographs have been published with kind permission of Michelle Leong (apart from the Pinterest & header pics which are by Linda Hobden)

Linda x

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