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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Just a quick message...

It's that time of year again where you eat until you burst, drink until you fall over, or asleep, and you spend time with people that mean the most to you: yes, it's Christmas. This year, I'm in Devon with Mumma and Pappa Scribbles and my big bro. Just a small family affair this year, but still filled to the brim with food and happiness. This is the perfect time to reflect on what I have, things that happened and what didn't happen for me this 2011. All in all, I can safely say this has been the year of self-discovery: nothing has been perfect, in fact, at times, things have been bloody difficult, but that's not to say I've been amazingly lucky to get through it all and come out of this year knowing a little bit more about myself and who I am. 
Short of boring you all with the dull, I shall concentrate on the good, there has been a lot of it. I am now nearly 2 years into living in our first home with my partner Mark and the adorable Scruffy - Mark ha been my very own power house at DIY and generally putting the house back together when it didn't look so good. I learnt how to run this year, y'know, that small feat of putting one foot in front of the other? yeah.. that. I also joined a Team that changed my life for the better: Team Bangs on The Run2. We ran a half marathon don't you know!? I have had the best, close friends: the rather amazing Emily who I work with, who without her laughter, this year would've looked alot differently. And to Mike and Emily who are the dream couple of 2011 (Congrats on baby Oscar!) Also, Twitter. Massive thanks to Twitter this year. For giving me friends and support I never knew I had or could get - it's an amazing world and once again without it, I'm not even sure I'd still be sane this year. And lastly, my family who, always, I adore in every way - THEY are what makes Christmas, Christmas.

To you readers: Thank you for still being here and reading my waffle, its not an easy task that's for sure. But one thing I ask of you all this Christmas, is to support the people that don't have as much love as me, those who are alone and without someone, and those who find this time of year just a little bit harder. This dedication is to you. You are NEVER alone, NEVER. There is people out there who want to help and can be there, remember that, and for those needing it, this list is for you:

0300 123 3393
08457 90 90 90

Alcoholics Anonymous
0845 769 7555

Info line 08000 50 20 20
London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard
0207 837 7324

0845 767 8000

Preventing young suicide

For people in Northern Ireland
0808 808 8000

0800 1111

Depression alliance

0808 2000 247

Eating Disorders Association
0845 634 1414
0808 800 4444

NHS Direct
0845 4647

No Panic
0808 808 0545

Please think of those less fortunate this Christmas.... I give my love to those this year.

Thank you.

*Special thanks to Kellie over at Big Fashionista for compiling the list and reaching out to us bloggers to help others*

Thursday, 22 December 2011

The past weeks in photos...............

Been a bit slack with the ol' my week in photos, but here it is - my last couple of week's in photos..... Hope you enjoy..
Lots of Black Forest hot chocolates have been consumed

Stared and swooned over the giant rabbits..... Santa??

Stroked and cooed over the Reindeer at the Bideford, Devon light switch on...

....The lights!

I made mince pies...

...then compared them to Heston's mince pies, complete with pine dusting

Finally decided on my 'scheme' for Christmas wrapping

Planned ALL my Christmas TV

Dressed as Santa and went on a 5K Santa run.

Finally finished the red wall.... oh and my Christmas deco's clash.

I baked, iced and decorated 108 cupcakes for the boy's 30th party...

... and this is what I wore to the party

then the boy and me went for some beauty treatments for his birthday. I got Geleration!!!

That's me for the last couple of weeks, what have you been up to?

Small Business Series: BoBelle London

Not long now before Christmas right? well, here is something that I am wishing will appear under the tree this year, failing that, how about as a New Year treat to myself! Welcome to BoBelle of London. BoBelle was founded in the heart of London back in 2008, they specialise in offering fine leather accessories - these are top class pieces that combine elegance, and a classic vintage style. Normally I don't really take much notice of leather as a material - all I know that it's my 'go-to' material for bags, but at BoBelle they use a combination of leathers including eel skin leather, which is a by product of the food industry in Asia. Eel skin leather is pretty similar to the more traditional cow hide, but Eel skin tends to get softer over time and doesn't crack. The driving force behind BoBelle London is Claire Watt-Smith, this amazing lady has dedicated herself to BoBelle to make it the absolute success it is. What I personally love about BoBelle is the originality of the designs - from the classic but glam styling of the Athena leather purse, to the more studious, preppy looking Brackenbury satchel, there is so much to love about the original collection. Here, Claire answers the Small Business questions:
  • Tell me about you? I am 28 years old and I am the founder of BoBelle London, the luxury fashion accessories label. I love the luxury fashion world, all things business and a hot strong cup of tea.
  • How did you first get into / come up with the idea of: BoBelle London? I always wanted to set up my own business and I absolutely adore handbags and accessories – I am incredibly driven and hard-working, so I just got on and did it!
  • Was this always a dream for you? Yes it was. It was either that or becoming a policewoman...but my Mum wasn’t so keen!
  • What is the best and worst thing about working for yourself? You don’t fully appreciate just how much work there is involved when setting up on your own; every goal that is achieved, there are more around the corner. With me, I am rarely satisfied and always want more for BoBelle. It also takes time; and patience is not one of my strongest points! It can also be very lonely starting out when you do everything – no one really warns you that in the beginning. Having said that, knowing that BoBelle is my own company and I have grown it from nothing is a wonderful feeling and one which I am very proud of. That’s what keeps the motivation up.
  • What’s a typical ‘day in the life’ like? There is not really a ‘typical’ day, which is what I love! I have regular meetings lined up each week/month; be it with buyers, networking events, award ceremonies, journalists or other events. I do have an admin day where I try to keep ahead of expenses and bits and pieces; that is a must when growing. I tend to start work at 9am ish and finish around 6pm; I always a good dinner with my husband where we often discuss what has happened in the markets etc and see how BoBelle can develop – my brain is constantly active!
  • What is your favourite item to make? My favourite piece from the collection so far has to be the Brackenbury satchel. This is an amazing bag and I absolutely love it; as do our customers and the press! It looks great on women of all ages and is a classic vintage style with a modern feel.
  • Where do your inspirations come from? Inspiration comes from all forms; be it colours, shapes, locations. The BoBelle London collection really encompasses classic styles with a modern twist that are reliable, wearable and desirable.
  • Where do you see BoBelle London in 5 years time?
    I see the brand having a more dominant market presence and loyal following. I see the collection growing organically and the brand’s personality shining through.
  • Any advice for someone wanting to create a business from their hobby?
    Make sure you do your research. It also takes far longer than you think for it to be a ‘success’; don’t give up on the first hurdle
  • Your guilty pleasures outside of the brand/work?
    This might be very controversial, but I love cleaning! And getting my feet massaged – I love that.
  • How do you chill out? My husband and I love going for long walks which relaxes me. I also go for a jog once a week and I am trying Zumba with a girlfriend soon! We always go out at the weekend with friends/family and just relaxing with a glass of wine or cup of tea and my book instantly calms me.
  • Tell us something not many people know I have recently opened BoBelle London’s first boutique and it is on a gorgeous street called New Quebec Street, just behind Marble Arch. The well known landmark, Marble Arch, was originally built as the entrance to Buckingham Palace, but was never used. There is actually a tiny office inside it, which use to be used as a police station.

So, yeah, regretting adding them to your Christmas list? Thought so! Get yourself over to BoBelle HERE and follow them on Twitter @BoBelleLondon I think you'll agree, a worthy member of the Small Business Club!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

L'oreal - Casting yourself

A while ago I told all you lovelies about L'oreal giving you the superb chance to star alongside Cheryl in a Casting Creme Gloss advert, this was an amazing opportunity to put yourself forward, to flash your pride and glory in front of the cameras and utter those elusive words: "because I'm worth it" dunno about you but I pretty much say this day daily.. what??

Whether your a Redhead, Brunette or Blond, this really was an amazing opportunity to stand, swish and smize next to Cheryl. Now for the bad news, the competition to enter closed on 27th November, now if you weren't lucky enough to nominate yourself or someone and be picked, I hope you at least clicked and voted?!

Competition was hot, and all the lovely ladies who got through were feature on L'oreal's facebook page, Personally they are all gorgeous and I'd love hair like any of them! If you want to have a nose at the lush hair gallery, head over to Facebook HERE

Keep your eyes peeled as they announce the winner shortly and why not think of copying some of the lucious locks by sporting a new shade for Christmas.... a nice dark red would be Festive!

*please note this is a sponsored post, all entries were open to female UK and ROI residents aged 16+. Entrants must register with L’Oréal Insider, colour their hair using Casting Crème Gloss and upload a photo on facebook. No purchase necessary. Closing date was 27/11/2011 and voting has since closed*

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A new muse for Chanel?

When I think of Chanel I cant help but think of luxury... Chanel's advertisements are always womanly, graceful and expensive looking. Over the past years, the likes of Jerry Hall, Lily Allen, Diane Kruger and Blake Lively have been the faces of Chanel's much sought after handbag range: all of the above women are exactly what Chanel are about, they are beautiful, pure to look at, with luscious clean and natural looks, simple make up, and a certain air of innocence. Imagine my shock when the latest rumour is that Chanel have picked Alice Dellal as their new face of their handbags.... I dunno about you, but really??

With her well-known trademark shaved locks, and dark, aggressive looking features, for me, she is hardly the 'typical' Chanel face right? Personally? Me no likey and I'm hoping this is just a rumour. I always like looking at the Chanel campaigns and adored Blake Lively and Diane Kruger.

Alice just doesn't seem to fit in for me. I will more than likely take this back once official photos are released. Perhaps they may do some feminine style make over that will make her appear somewhat less, angry and err, dirty looking. Who knows...

What do you think? has Karl Lagerfield chosen a good muse? who would you pick?

Monday, 12 December 2011

Small Business Series: Cathryn's Designs

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, come forth and peruse the next Small Business Christmas addition. This one is a pure, unadulterated corker!
Like to think you like Art, well you haven't seen proper art till you've seen this. Cathryn's Designs by Cathryn Nicholson is an amazing feast for the eyes and soul of every fashionista out there. If you are looking for something original, made with utter love and something that is all together gorgeous to look at, Cathryn's Designs is just perfect. Illustrations of Chanel, Louboutin, Mulberry, Dior and Hermes, I adore every single piece. I simply wish to own a collection of all these whimsical pieces to adorn every single wall in my study, so I can stare out whilst blogging and picture all the amazing things that inspire me. They are a mere snip also, and would truly make a perfect gift for a special friend, girlfriend, wife or anyone that is a fan of contemporary art and illutration.

Here Cathryn tells us more:

  • Tell me about you?

My name is Cathryn Nicholson and I am 25 years old. After working as a designer within the fashion industry for a few years, I have recently taken a brave jump and gone freelance, but in the evening I like to dabble in the world of illustration. I live in Hampshire with my fiance (I am getting married next May), but I am originally from Devon.
  • How did you first get into / come up with the idea of: CathrynsDesigns?
I didn't intend to set up a shop to sell my prints, it just sort of happened! I used to spend many (MANY!) hours on the Internet torturing myself by 'window shopping' for Christian Louboutins, I knew that my finances couldn't stretch to owning a pair, so out of frustration I decided to illustrate a pair of Louboutins. I got so much great feedback via my blog, with people requesting to buy a print that I decided to set up an Etsy shop! Ever since then I have slowly added new items along the way, most of these are of things that are on my 'lust' list!
  • Was this always a dream for you?
I have always loved being apart of the fashion industry, and have always known that this is where I belong, but in regards to my illustrations, at the start, no, but now I have set up a shop, I get huge satisfaction everytime I make a sale. Knowing that one of my prints will be going to a good home puts a huge smile on my face.
  • What is the best and worst thing about working for yourself?
The best thing is having complete control over everything you do, and having the final decision. The worst part is, it can be quite lonely, and there is a lot of pressure to pay those little things called bills.
  • What’s a typical ‘day in the life’ like?
It completely differs day to day! I normally start work between 7.30am and 8am, where I always check my emails and respond to as many as I can. If I have any orders come through over night, I always print them out straight away and package them up. I then get on with my day job as a fashion designer, working on whichever project I have going on at the time. During my lunch I take a trip to the post office to send my prints off to their new homes! I then head back to carry on with the day job. When 6pm comes along, I put pencil to paper and illustrate whatever is inspiring me at the time. I also like to update my blog every other day!
  • What is your favourite item to make?
I think my favourite items to draw are perfume bottles, as they are such works of art in themselves. They come in all shapes and sizes but I think I have a slight obsession with Chanel...they are my favorite!
  • Where do your inspirations come from?
Shopping, reading magazines, blogs! Literally anything and everything around me could spark an idea off in my mind!
  • Where do you see Cathryns Designs in 5 years time?
I would love illustration to become more apart of my day job! I love designing, but I would love to combine the two more! I would also love to see some of my prints on sale in a shop somewhere!!
  • Any advice for someone wanting to create a business from their hobby?

As long as you believe in your product, and you know you can sell it then you are half way there! No one is going to want to buy a product if the creator isn't 100% sure about it! No matter how much fun it is to create items you love, you have to remember that you are running a business so you won't always be creating things you love from 9 to 5, realistically you need to have a good balance of accounting/selling/promoting and then creating! You need to swot up on the whole business side of things, which was a real eye opener to me! Also what you put in, is what you will get out of it!
  • Your guilty pleasures outside of the brand/work?
I love to go back home to visit family and friends in Devon & Cornwall! Me & my fiance both surf, so we always try to get in the water as much as possible! I am also getting into baking, which my fiance is loving!
  • How do you chill out?

Any one who knows me, knows that I struggle to switch off, I'm always checking my emails! However I do love to sit down and read a good book!! I love going to the library and picking up a few books to read my way through!
  • Tell us something not many people know about you
I have a guilty pleasure of listening to country music!!

I have just fallen in love with Cathryn and would mostly like her to be my roomie, to decorate my house and for us to sit, with a cup of tea, country music on in the background, talking about our fave shoes/bags/perfume..... isn't she lovely!? Go check out her illustrations on Etsy HERE and for more insight to her lush world, check out her blog HERE

Please RT and advertise this blog post as much as you can. I am not getting any payment for these blog posts, but I want everyone to get behind the smaller businesses out there. Go show them some love this Christmas.

Monday's Must - Have Christmas Purchase

For her....

These are too cute for words! Not only are the Jelly Belly cushions a delight to look at, squeeze, cuddle, and rub your face on, but they are also heated, yes that's right, heated! All you have to do is pop them in the microwave for less than a minute and they will stay warm, cosy and positively snugglable for over an hour! This is a perfect stocking filler for the girl in your life, the mum's and grandparents! I think these are beyond cute and a mere snip at only £14.99. Go get yours over at Firebox HERE

Friday, 9 December 2011

Scribbles Christmas Star Buy: Boots No7

By now, I'm that person that is going a little bit nuts with the thought of Christmas just round the corner. I have done *ahem* little to no shopping and well, am feeling a little bit at a loss. I hope I'm not the only one?? anyone? Well, I have had my eyes peeled for some bargainous goodies that are going to give me more for my buck, or pound,  this Christmas . Easier said than done right? From now until Christmas, I'm going to try and feature some tip top deals that quite frankly, will make your Christmas, by saving you money, and someone else's, by giving it to them!

First up is everyone's favourite, especially mine, Boots. A real pampering gift that would be ideal for pretty much any female, and yes... I do want it (hint, hint) This week, Boots are offering a No7 Ultimate Collection gift box - this is just a little bit exciting, I very nearly fell off my chair with this!

This hat box is filled to the brim with the well known, and my personal fave, skincare range by No7 and all on offer for the teeny, tiny amount of £30.00, instead of £65.00 Err, dunno about you but that is just a little bit of awesome right!? So, what's in it right? Here goes:
  • No7 Heavenly Hydration Moisture Mask
  • No7 Cleanse and Care Eye Make-up Remover
  • No7 Protect and Perfect Intense Beauty Serum
  • No7 Protect and Perfect Night Cream
  • No7 Protect and Perfect Day Cream
  • No7 Eye Shadows - 6 of them
  • No7 Lip Gloss
  • No7 Exceptional Definition Nutrient Mascara
  • No7 Quick Thinking 4 in 1 wipes
  • 5 piece brush set
Isn't that a little (alot) amazing? and if that's not enough you can get 120 advantage card points with every purchase to put towards another Christmas pressie... for you.

This offer is only available from Friday 9th - Thursday 15th December so go go go - buy online HERE or go to your nearest branch!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Small Business Series: Temporary Secretary

Another one for you now, and a more popular one I think! Temporary Secretary are more well known in the blogger and twitter world than most, and have been featured in many famous publications such as: Look, Heat, and Glamour magazines. What I think attracts me to Temp Sec most, and I'm sure those fab publications will agree, is Sarah's eclectic collection - there is no, one generic scheme or design, there is literally something for everyone individual taste and styling. I have long been a fan personally, and remember them being the first people I followed on Twitter. The Temp Sec website is like a home from home, with vintage-esque styling, it is beyond friendly and easy to read and I love the fact that these home made trinkets and jewellery can make such a good present, especially at this time of the year. My absolute faves to look out for are the Black Bow Neck Tie Brooch - this is a Fashion essential in my book, the Bee ring which just needs to adorn your fingers and the rather amazing Ampersand wooden necklace which is just perfection and so geek-chic.

Here Sarah answer's some of the Small Business Series questions:
  • Tell me about you?
My name is Sarah, I’m 26 years old and I run my own business Temporary:Secretary. I graduated in 2009 from Northumbria University in Fashion Marketing. I can paint, illustrate, design and sew.

  • How did you first get into / come up with the idea of: Temporary:Secretary?
It happened by accident. I was selling things on ebay to earn a bit of money for university. I spent my loan on rent and was left with very little. Stupidly, I was financially unprepared for student life! To begin with, I was selling my old things (clothes, cd’s, dvds, shoes, the usual jumble sale things!) and when I ran out of things to sell, I started making things like skirts, dresses and customising tshirts and vests. I enjoyed this and got a lot of feedback from it in which I took on board. I decided to get a website up and running and do things properly. During my 2nd and 3rd year at uni, I took up an internship at a fashion company where I learnt a lot of things. I never had plans to run my own business but doing work experience there made me realise that this could be a career option for me. It was really difficult to juggle my 4th and final year at university and the website but it was a massive learning curve and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I like to keep busy!
  • Was this always a dream for you?
No, as this happened by accident and I never intended to keep the business on because I underestimated how well it would do and how much I would enjoy it. I always thought that I’d move to London after I graduate and get a job within the fashion industry. The more money I invested in to the business, the more difficult it was to let go of it. It has had its ups and downs. It started off really well and then it dwindled a bit and it is depressing when this happens but I have persevered and I haven’t given up (yet).
  • What is the best and worst thing about working for yourself?
Learning something new every day is the best thing about being your own boss, as well as flexibility in time and full control of the business. It’s also a brilliant feeling whenever something good happens, I know that I have achieved this myself. It is lovely to hear from happy customers saying they’ve appreciated that I have gone the extra mile. I want to give them a shopping experience that they wouldn’t experience on the high street. Apart from PR, I have very little help. All decisions are made on my own. Having said that, the worst thing is when I get things wrong and I have no one to blame. I take it very hard on myself and it’s a struggle to pick myself up and rectify things. I would think about it for days, analysing where I went wrong, how I could’ve changed things and how I would never make the same mistake again. I’m still learning every single day.
  • What’s a typical ‘day in the life’ like?
I would love to say that it is different every day but it isn’t! Not very glamorous life at all. I start the day with a big cup of tea! I check what orders have come through and what I need to make during the day. Then to answer all emails and get up to date with correspondence. I have Twitter up on the screen all day as this to answer any queries such as “do you have this in stock? When will it be back in?” or “does this come in any colour” etc. Customer Service is so important to me and I will always answer every tweet, email, message. Other tasks to do throughout the day are paperwork, packing orders, go to the post office, update the website with new products, stock count, blog, graphics, product photography and image/graphics editing.
  • What is your favourite item to make?
I love making the Alice in Wonderland bracelets because with each charm I put on, I go through the film in my head. I also love making the Keep Calm and Carry On necklaces , they are my favourite! Both items are exclusive to our website and when I make them, I know that someone is receiving a special item.
  • Where do your inspirations come from?
Admittedly, I used to be more creative with inspiration. When the website first launch, I was still at university and making jewellery was just a hobby. I was constantly generating inspiration and I would act upon it straight away. There was no pressure and I was having fun with it because I never saw it as a long-term venture. I thought to myself that if the website didn’t work out then I could still follow my dreams and move to London armed with my portfolio, fresh from university and find a job in industry. When I was doing this as a hobby, I could buy things in very small batches, maybe even a one-off. And if it doesn’t sell, I would give it to my friends or keep it for myself! I would be more creative with the items I make. However, as well as having bills, fees and overheads to pay now, the pressure also gets to me and I constantly think in “business mode”. I find that I’ve been restricting myself with factors to think about such as whether something will sell, is it “on trend”, will it fit in to magazine features, will it even be requested by the press, what are the press looking for this season, and if it gets featured, will I be able to source anymore of that product?
  • Where do you see Temporary:Secretary in 5 years time?
It would be fantastic to have a shop! A proper shop! Maybe in 10 years time. But realistically, in 5 years time, I would just like to be in a proper business premise and be able to create job positions. It would be a dream to work within a team. I miss the interaction with people, it feels very isolating at the moment working on my own. I can’t wait to employ people, I would be a good boss! We could all sit around making jewellery, eating sweets and watching chick flicks!
  • Any advice for someone wanting to create a business from their hobby?
To take it to the next level whilst keeping it as a hobby is completely do-able. I helped Hero And Cape (www.heroandcape.com) with setting up their business and my advice to them was to make sure you do market research before you embark upon launching your business. Check what is already out there and be prepared to be stand out. Differentiation is really important, even if it’s small aspect, otherwise you will find a hard time competing with others in a saturated market. Your concept has to be strong and everything has to be cohesive. Think of the branding, who your target market is, how will it fit within the market and what will be your USP and how will it be communicated to your customer? I know it sounds really businessy, and boring, but I am a fashion marketing graduate and luckily, this is the sort of thing I am really interested in! Hero and Cape is a good example of a business that has thought of all the different stages prior to the launch of their business.
  • Your guilty pleasures outside of the brand/work?
I don’t do much other than work! My guilty pleasure is watching tv shows like The Only Way is Essex and Made In Chelsea! I am addicted. I love tv shows like this, I used to watch all episodes of The Hills on repeat!
  • How do you chill out?
This will sound crazy but I don’t. I hate this about myself. I imagine this to be true of all that are self employed, but I find it really difficult to switch off from work. I’m the only one that can bring home the bacon! I’m the only one who can make this work. I am constantly working. I am always on the computer, laptop, mobile phone – working. People that know me will tell you this. Even when I am watching tv, or if I am out shopping, I’ll go on the Internet on my phone to answer tweets and emails. It’s crazy but last year I used to work from 9am until midnight! I never went out and I hardly saw my friends! I got really ill from stress and overworking and it was really scary, I neglected myself and it made me realise that I HAVE to calm down! I haven’t been too bad this year, I’ve been able to find more of a balance between work and personal time. This year, I have given myself the weekends off!!
  • Tell us something not many people know:
Things I keep quiet from people… I went to ballet lessons from the age of 3 until I was 14 years old. I am a grade 5 pianist. I have a fear of pot plants (although real life friends will know this about me), I cut the tops and bottoms of all fruit and vegetables before I eat them (including cherry tomatoes and grapes…), I only eat the long shaped chicken McNuggets (When I was younger, someone told me the round ones were not “real chicken”!). And one of my eye is slightly bigger than the other!…I sound like such a freak!

How cool is Sarah and Temp Sec?! I can root for hours on the site and my Wish List is still growing - this is the ideal Christmas pressie site and if that's not enough for you, check out the blog, cos quite frankly it is awesomeness! Check out the website HERE and follow their musings on Twitter @TempSec.

Lastly, I want to please urge you to RT this post, advertise this and all of the ones in this series - it is imperative to try and help the smaller, more needy businesses - especially at Christmas time! Let's keep UK's business alive.

Winter Warmers Number Four: Dressing it up

Number Three on the winter warmers list for me is the Dressing Gown. Oh how you are so overlooked. Everyone loves a good pj don't they, but what about the dressing gown peeps?! For me, it comes part and parcel with the pj, you cant have one without the other in my book and y'know what? the bigger, the fluffier, the better.

As long as I can remember, when the nights started to draw in, my mum used to pack me off to have a bath and get in my pjs and dressing gown much earlier and more frequently. The thing that stood out for me, even to this day, was how putting on my humble towelling dressing gown made me feel instantly cared for. I was warm, snugly and cosy. To me, it didn't matter what the thing looked like, oh no, Fashion didn't really come into it. The only criteria it had was it had to be a size bigger than me, was in a lush towelling or fleece fabric and it was full length. oh yeah, have I told you how I'm sitting in mine right now? This tradition stayed with me through my life, and even now at, shhh, 28 I still love that feeling of putting on my dressing gown.

My dressing gown of choice right now is a vivid and baby pink number - does it match with any of my pjs? no, does it coincide with my decor? no. I love it because it is cosy and its my dressing gown.

Here are my picks of the dressing gown world:

A: Sorbet Love Print Robe £25 Very, B: Long Velvet deluxe robe £150 The White Company C: Animal Print £28 Marks and Spencer D: Cotton Flannel print £36 Charlotte and Co E: Reindeer print £26 Next F: Satin Bow Hooded Robe £35 IdleWild

What do you think of the humble dressing gown: an essential or novelty? do you dare to bare and not wear one?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Monday's Must-have Christmas Purchase

For the stationery addict....

How absolutely stunning are these - not only to look at, but can you seriously imagine how awesome you are going to feel if you are seen scribbling your ideas down in one of these recycled sari fabric journal's. I have completely fallen in love with them and as a self-proclaimed stationery-addict these pretty much have to be delivered to me on Christmas Day.
These journals have so much history surrounding them and some of the fabrics covering them are over 20years old and what's more the paper inside, is recycled cotton paper. Priced at £15 these are a beautiful bargain. Go grab yours HERE

Friday, 2 December 2011

The way underwear should be... Freya

I'm never normally one for caring about lingerie, I am usually a strict white or black, no lace, no frills kinda girl - some might say verging on granny, but I like to think I keep it simple. However thanks to Freya I have a gone a little undie mad!

Their collections are not only divine to look at but are made for real women. No more will I have to look at some size 6 Victoria Secret-liquid-only-diet model, but now I can look at lush lingerie on women who are of a realistic figure and know I'm not going to be in for a big surprise when I get home to try it all on. For me Freya are at the forefront of lingerie design, ,but not only are they making our breasticles look good, they are of amazing quality and fit. Racing to the top of my 'naughty' Christmas list is pretty much all of the new collections!

With bold, vibrant colours with classic stable, but sexy styling, every set is pretty unique, all with their own personalities. As a certified member of the Freya fan-club (yes, there really should be one!) I find myself feeling more attractive in my lingerie, yes Im no Kate Moss, but hey, I sure as hell wear my Freya well!

My personal faves are the 'Nina' collection - to me, I am Queen of the jungle and I just love the delicate embroidery and glitter - gives me that "I am woman, hear me roar" feeling

Nina Rosewater Plunge from bra £31 shorts/brief/thong from £12.50

Next up is the Lyla. This is pure, unadulterated lush-ness. It's dark, sexy and very sensual. In sheer fabrics, crystal drop bow details this is pure opulence and sex-appeal. This is the bond girl of the underwear world. What is especially nice about this design is the co-ordinates that run along side it: Briefs, shorts, luxury thong and even suspender sets - these are just stunning.
Black Balcony Bra from £31.00 Briefs/Thong/Shorts/Suspenders from £17.50

Going traditional and chintzy now, with Nieve. I adore this design purely for its vintage-esque feel but with a much more modern, confident design. With it's classic Liberty inspired print, this padded long-line bra creates really good uplift, but still with the intricate ribbon detailing. They do this style in a normal un-padded bra, but personally, I love the longer length and classic shorts to match!

Nieve Padded long line bra from £31.00, brief/thong/short from £12.50

Next up, and last on my wish list is Taylor. I simply adore this one. This is not too far away from what I would normally wear, but by God, it is sexy.as.hell. Velvet ribbon and black lace frames your body to give a real tailored and structured look, but the difference in fabrics and textures plays with your senses. Plus, tell me if I'm wrong, but look at that neckline - sexy as!

Black moulded bra from £33.00, brief/short/thong/suspender from £16.00

Now try telling me you haven't fallen in love Freya. Go check out their really amazing website HERE 

What's your underwear style? and what's your favourite brand?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Small Business Series... Nauticoco

Ok, so it's not quite a Sunday, but after being away and having a 'time out' over the last couple of Sunday's, I owe it to my lovely Small Businesses to get my ass into gear and get their names out there! So, for them and for you, I am going Small Business crazy and posting a weeks worth continuously! So if you're planning your Christmas shopping, look no further, and shop smaller but better.

Introducing Nauticoco. This is a firm favourite of mine, and in fact I'm not sure I can even stop staring, or should I say dribbling and making long long wish list and distributed to everyone. Nauticoco have a real, unadulterated passion for real fashion and style. Eclectic is exactly what it is - they have used their passion and natural flair to create a collection of 'add on' accessories such as a range of silk collars, a versatile and timeless item that comes in a variety of colours based around the ultimately fashionable Peter Pan shape, that allow all of you lovelies to personalise new and existing wardrobe pieces,getting more usability and creating your very own style. What I really love is the pure focus on style - every piece just creates a timeless elegance. Another bonus with purchasing from Nauticoco is every piece if developed and manufactured here in the UK. Here, Nauticoco answer some questions!
  • How did you first get into / come up with the idea of Nauticoco?
I truly love fashion and wanted the pieces in my own wardrobe to be brought up to date with cute, feminine, whimsical accessories and felt there was a gap in the market for a boutique dedicated to these types of British-made products. The aim is for women to be able to use Nauticoco accessories in many varied situations so that they become the hardest working items in their wardrobes! Everything I have created is adaptable and flexible, designed for women who go out straight from work or want to update existing clothing in an instant.
  • Was this always a dream for you?
My dream has naturally been to create, whether that be in art, graphics or fashion and I certainly have entrepreneurial spirit! Running my own business was something I always knew would happen, I enjoy the journey of not knowing what each day will bring and the excitement I get from watching the business grow. When fashion editors and bloggers email to tell me they love the products and want to feature them, it really makes my day!
I love to imagine an idea and watch it turn into reality, my vision is always very clear, I know exactly how the products must look before the process begins and will never compromise on quality. I still enjoy the fantastic comments and feedback we receive from customers, it is a wonderful feeling that they are wearing the products I designed.
  • What is the best and worst thing about working for yourself?
The best part is being allowed the creativity and flexibility to be able to follow through ideas and take the business in the direction I choose, being in control of my own future. Another huge benefit is being able to have 'Jimmy Chew', my mini Dachshund dog, work alongside, he is officially in charge of the post!
There are not many negatives to this situation, of course some days are more challenging but if they weren't, would the good days be so great? I do not think walking away from employment is the easy option, you do have to do your research, be self-motivated, have clear vision and be very determined but the rewards do make it all worthwhile. I believe that the future will be full of entrepreneurs with creative businesses and with sites like Etsy, Notonthehighstreet and ASOS Marketplace going from strength to strength, there is definitely a move towards this and I am excited to be part of that future.
  • What’s a typical ‘day in the life’ like?
First job, kettle on! next, I check and answers emails, organise orders for dispatch and the important accounts paperwork! I also make sure I spend time informing all the editors and fashion magazines of any new products or news, I have had some great press exposure and they have been extremely supportive. I fulfil any press requests for the day and make sure the website is kept fully up-to-date.
I am currently working on several exciting new products so there are a lot of fabric, leather and embellishment samples to go through and make decisions on. It is important to select the right colours and textures to create the new Spring 2012 collection so I work up ideas on mood boards and display them in the office for a few weeks to make sure I am fully happy with every element chosen. I work up 'pattern' designs for production in Illustrator and get these ready for sampling. I liaise with our seamstress and from my 'pattern' she creates a prototype sample. Normally, this takes several attempts before I am completely happy with the product but when it's finished, it is a truly great moment!
  • What is your favourite item to make?
All Nauticoco products are solely made in England, I have utilised traditional seamstresses, hand embroiderers and local crafts people, used fabric from one of the remaining silk mills and in time aim to print my own original fabric designs. It has been a real challenge to source all materials in the UK and remain competitive, having achieved this, I feel great pride in every product that leaves the building.
The benefits of producing products locally means shorter production runs, in quicker timescales, reacting to customer needs and fashion trends in an instant, with room for greater creativity, more quality control, the generation of local employment, the reinvigoration of the textile industry and of course the huge benefit to the environment.
  • Where do your inspirations come from?
I have taken inspiration from different era's in fashion, the 1940s with its fitted tailored dresses and pussy bow blouses, delicate tops and cropped cardigans, topped with fur detailing and pearls and the iconic style of Audrey Hepburn which inspired the best selling 'Hepburn Collar'. I also looked to the 1960s with its beautiful tunic style dresses, cocoon coats, peter pan collars, twin-sets and a-line mini's, this era that included style icons such as Mary Quant, Twiggy and Mia Farrow, inspired the range of brightly coloured Portman Collars and two-tone Bowsorth and Newton collars.
  • Where do you see Nauticoco in 5 years time?
Fashion has changed and people want to be more creative with their individual looks, adding their own touches, creating their own style, moving away from mass-produced product, you just have to look at the huge 'home-craft' Internet community sites popping up to see this phenomenon taking place. Nauticoco products allow the fashionable person to personalise new and existing wardrobe pieces, maximising usability and a person’s individuality.
I have a fabulous new product launch for Spring 2012 which is soon to be revealed and am hoping to wholesale these new products into boutiques and stores, the vision has become much bigger, after a successful 2011, I'm increasing the production and investment so there are no limits as to how far the brand can develop. All products will still meet the original criteria of being made in England from high quality materials, be versatile and able to work in many varied situations.
  • Any advice for someone wanting to create a business from their hobby?

I would advise adding your products to sites like Etsy, or apply to Notonthehighstreet or ASOS Marketplace, you can then test the market, get valuable feedback and see if your product appeals to your target customers. This way, you can stay employed and start on a part-time basis before committing 100 percent to your new venture. Play to your strengths in that you can offer a more personal shopping experience to compete with the larger stores, write personal notes with each order and strive for excellent customer service. I have many great testimonials from customers, especially about the high level of customer service and style advice, this has created good customer loyalty and recommendations.
  • Your guilty pleasures outside of the brand/work?
X-Factor! (sorry)
  • How do you chill out?
I live fashion in the form of shopping online and in boutiques.
I eat fashion in the form of tea and cakes with friends at Pret-a-portea in London
I breathe fashion in the form of 'sighing' every time I find the perfect pair of shoes...
  • Tell us something not many people know
My favourite designer and creator of the now infamous 'Galaxy' dress, Roland Mouret, called me at home for 20 minutes last year!

So who else is a little in awe of Alison at Nauticoco - she is Lil miss style right?! Personally, a Nauticoco collar, for me, would be an absolute dream pressie for Xmas, and if I wasn't receiving it, I'd love to give it to someone special (provided you could get it out of my clutches!) Go get yourself over to Nauticoco HERE and follow them on Twitter @nauticoco

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