Jack Wills and Wonsuponatime Parties

(Or, don’t drink and blog)

As you all know, I’ve been having a massive Jack Wills love-in lately, as evidenced here. I was delighted to be invited along to one of their ‘Unmissable Parties’, in the Covent Garden store. If you haven’t been in, it’s a gorgeous space set over three floors packed full of precisely folded clothes and charming staff. Obviously the first stop, though, was to the drinks table for elderflower presse and bubbly. Mostly bubbly.

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As with all Jack Wills stores, this one feels sort of homely and sort of like school, which I very much enjoy.

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DJing among the jumpers…

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The place was buzzing with activity – including face and nail painting, a lot of balloon-popping, and…more drinking. I’m not going to lie to you, readers. We went for cocktails at Cellar Door beforehand, and by this point in the evening I was somewhat spiffed at this point, and very much on the train to Drunkville.

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When did candy floss get so difficult to eat? My companion and I attempted it, got candy floss beards, and discarded it in fury.

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Ultimately, in the rather tricky area of ‘in store parties’, Jack Wills manage to pull it off. The staff were charming as always, and there was a fun, laid back vibe. A bit like a house party but where you could buy things. Heaps of discounts and freebies if you wanted to shop, but equally accommodating if you were there for the candy floss and the atmosphere. We headed on (me in a slight haze) towards The Penthouse, Leicester Square, for my friend Sarah Betty’s party for her jewellery brand Wonsuponatime. The Penthouse isn’t the most prepossessing building from the outside, but LOOK AT THE VIEWS.

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Here’s the awesome Zoe Hellewell, aka The London Lipgloss, doing an absolutely smashing DJ set.

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SBA is one of the very coolest people I know. She’s down to earth and yet whimsical, and she’s created a jewellery company with such cohesive vision. A very hard-working young lady, and always a source of inspiration to me.

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Honestly, readers. I realise this is a very scant blog post but by this stage in the evening I was completely lamped on gin & tonics. I didn’t manage to get a single decent photo of the jewellery, but I’ll write another post to amend that.¬†Urgh. Maybe they should rename it ‘blogger’s ruin’ instead.

Awful behaviour. But look at these pretty flower arrangements!

Blog fail.

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Sussex Style Beauty Editorial

I’ve been terribly quiet lately, and I thought it was finally time to explain why. A couple of weeks ago, I was appointed Beauty Editor for a new glossy magazine called Sussex Style. I won’t bombard you with info on it as most of you will have already heard about it, and I don’t want to be a walking, talking ad, so I’ll just say that it’s going to be high end, aesthetically driven, stocked all around the South East, and ultimately something that this county needs!

Anyway, with my deadline looming large like a…large loomy thing, I had to set to work quickly. I’d decided that I wanted to aim high with my beauty pages. Instead of featuring products alone, I chose to create an actual beauty editorial. Now, this was one of those cases where I’d blindly opted to do something without actually knowing whether or not it was feasible, but I’d set my bar and I was determined to reach it.

I soon realised just what I’d let myself in for. First, there were the creative decisions to be made: what kind of looks was I going to go for? I began to compile moodboards, both in real life and on the dreaded Pinterest (I continue to be the only girl in the world who despises the wretched thing). That was the easy bit. Next, I had to assemble a team to help me get my ideas from the ol’ noggin to the page. I have to thank the Twitter community here, because it just wouldn’t have been possible without them. Within a few hours of tweeting I was overwhelmed with talented photographers, makeup artists and hairstylists.

Next, I talked to the people who’d been suggested, and we started to work out teams, and dates. I was extremely lucky to snag a makeup artist called Marie-Isabel Kennedy, aka Maz. Not only a ridiculously talented young lady, but she also pulled a team together as she recommended a wonderful photographer called Parisa Walklett, and also an absolutely fantastic hairstylist called Stephanie Hayes. From there, it was all systems go – I put together a brief, we started to arrange dates, and then it was time to cast a model.

This actually turned out to be the most stressful part of the operation. Up until this point, things had gone alarmingly smoothly – the team had fallen into place, we had Parisa’s studio all sorted out, the looks were signed off on, and jewellery had been sorted (more on that shortly). As we were working on such a tight time scale, it was extremely difficult to sort out a model, so I spent a rather stressful day frantically emailing and phoning all the big agencies, throwing myself on their mercy. Tell you what, it’s no joke when they talk about how young models are; heaps of the girls I requested were at school on the day of the shoot!

On Friday afternoon at 5.25pm, with the shoot on Monday, Select Model Management came up trumps with a gorgeous girl called Hannah Murrell. Hannah had the most perfect face for the shoot, and we were delighted to book her. When the booking was confirmed, I’m not ashamed to say that I leapt out of my chair, punched the air a lot and ran backwards and forwards shouting ‘YES!!! YEEEEES!!!!’ like a fool. Because what good is a crack hair and makeup team, a brilliant photographer and gorgeous jewellery without a model?!

On Monday morning I headed up to London to pick up the jewellery. I was incredibly happy with how lucky we’d been on the jewellery front. I’d put out a twitter call for some high end, quirky pieces, and while I had a good response, nothing quite fitted the bill until I got a tweet from the lovely folks behind Jolita Jewellery. Founded by Algis Abromaitis (the designer) and his sister Jolita (the marketing/press/PR guru), their pieces fit my brief perfectly, and I spent a happy hour browsing their site and pulling options out. Jolita was delightful to deal with and made my job extremely easy, and was hugely accommodating; I’d recommend them strongly to any stylists or anyone putting shoots together.

I picked up my precious cargo from the lovely Jolita, and headed out to Finsbury Park to Paris’ studio, where I met Hannah, Maz, Steph, Paris, and the adorable Henry, a French Bulldog/shih tzu cross. I’ll leave you all to put those two breeds together…We listened to a lot of music, ate a LOT of biscuits, fawned over Henry, drooled over the jewellery, and I got to watch some extremely talented people in action. The whole thing was a dream come true, and I genuinely kept expecting to wake up at any point.

I’d like to take this chance to thank my MD at Sussex Style, Sean, for giving me free rein; my amazing team of Paris, Maz and Steph, the wonderful Jolita Jewellery, the awesome Hannah, and all the tweeters who helped me out on a VERY tight deadline. That photoshoot was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I feel so proud of it. Not to get all soppy, but the whole thing meant so much to me, and I feel like I’m finally doing the things that I dreamed of doing as a teenager. I still can’t quite believe it’s all happened!

Sussex Style magazine will be coming out in November, and in the meantime hop over to the Facebook page or the Twitter account @SussexStyleMag to keep up to date with the latest news!

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

I’ve entered a few blog competitions in my time, and I’ve never won. Not once. Well, maybe a few tickets or something, but nothing….tangible. Oh, I know! Break out those tiny violins. Well, don’t actually, because I’ve only gone and won TWO competitions in a week! I feel very lucky, and perhaps like I should go and buy a lottery ticket.

The first I won was a giveaway by the adorable Caitlin of From the Heart who reminds me of Leighton Meester, which is filling the Gossip Girl shaped hole in my life. Along with her gorgeous sister Christie, she’s created a very sweet new blog, so it would be lovely if you could go and check it out. They’re just getting started but it’s already shaping up to be a lovely blog; a great mix of beauty, fashion, OOTD posts, DIY tutorials – my kind of blog, really! So do go and check them out. I won a gorgeous bracelet which you can see below:

The second thing I won was actually something I’d had my eye on for ages. I’d clocked (aha! Puns a gogo!) Larsson & Jennings a little while ago on Twitter, and was very taken with them. I’d spied them on Helen Glover and Heather Stanning during the Olympics and thought they were adorable, so when I saw that L&J were holding a Twitter competition and giving away a watch every day for a week, I thought I’d enter.

And guess what?? I won! I won the beautiful Windsor watch with white & gold face, and I’ve been wearing it every day since. It’s fab quality, has garnered heaps of compliments, and is really sorting out my life (I seem to have recently developed a rotten habit of being late a lot). If you like them as much as I do, the lovely people at L&J have kindly given my friends 20% off the watches. All you have to do is enter ‘LONDON’ at the checkout. Happy clock-watching!

Small Business

Happy Monday, dear readers. I promised you a break from the incessant talking about Tracy Anderson, frozen treats, and calories. (Although, if you wanted to know, today I did half an hour of Tracy’s cardio, and I nearly died, but I still love her, and I also made some frozen yogurt, and…oh. Ok.)

No, today, I am going to talk about something a bit different. Ah yes. The small business. I never thought that a year on from working in a call centre, and 6 months after working as an ad agency drone, I’d be doing what I’m doing: designing and making my own jewellery, and building my own website to sell from online. The ideas just slowly clicked into place – my course in fashion design at Central St Martins, my love of all things techie, my obsessive love of fashion, my strong convictions about how to promote yourself as a company, my strict aesthetic tastes….Combine that with the fact that I can NEVER find the jewellery I want to wear, and you’ve got it. Bingo.

Now, I’m not kidding myself. We’re in a double dip recession, apparently (‘sounds yums’ as Giles Wemmbley Hogg says), the luxury market is holding firm but it’s the small retailers who get hit, the people who make and sell their own things, etc etc. Ebay has become a complete buyers market. Everything is disaster. Doom, gloom, sob. I’m keeping expectations low – I don’t for one moment think I’ll be able to make enough to live on, and equally, I wouldn’t want this to be the only thing I do.

But setting apart the thorny issue of money, the things I have learnt in the past couple of months have been infinitely more valuable than what I learnt in any job so far. I didn’t realise how much I’d have to learn. I sat, furrowed of brow and square eyed, working out how to install WordPress onto my domain name. I learnt technical terms I’d never come across before. With the help of Youtube, I worked hard at learning how to build a website that looked the way I wanted, as opposed to using the disastrous Website Builder that came with my domain name. I had a specific idea of what I wanted, and I wasn’t going to stop until I got there.

It’s been infinitely more hard than I expected. I’ve worked for 16 hours straight, not moving from my computer screen. My head is full of ideas and thoughts, and I’ve long since sacrificed a good night of sleep for my overactive imagination. I’ve had to be everything, designer, maker of the jewellery, stylist, photographer, website builder, PR girl, and all before the website has even launched! Despite the fact that I no longer go into an office to work, I’ve worked more than double the hours of my former, exhausting Account Exec role. I work most of the weekend, and when I come offline I still work on things on my phone. Or sketch a design. Or start planning my next collection. Or work some costs out.

And this is for THE TINIEST BUSINESS IN THE WORLD! I have so much respect for anyone who does this, because it is TOUGH. I’ve started reading all those articles on young people who’ve started up a company, on a scale much bigger than me, and it’s very inspiring. And there are loads of you out there! I know, because I follow a lot of you on Twitter!

Despite the hard work, I’ve kept powering on because ultimately, I get the final say in everything. I haven’t ever had this kind of freedom in my working life. Should that header be Century Gothic? I say yes. I’ll change it. Don’t like the copy on one page? No worries, I’ll change it. I choose the way everything looks, feels, reads. Yes, I’m a complete control freak. But it’s intoxicating. I love doing it. I want to keep doing it. I can be as creative or ‘out there’ as I like, and there’s no one standing over me to reign me in (hopefully, this is a good thing!)

Every day in the UK, I hear bad news about unemployment figures for young people. This is the time to try something different. I don’t want to get into a full time office job and be all fidgety because I didn’t do what I wanted when I had the chance. I’ve learned more new skills doing this than I know what to do with, and it’s helped me understand which sides of a business I’m better at, and which I need help with. I’ve had fantastic support from friends, not least of all my wonderful friend Mikey who waded in when I was about to break the internet, and saved the day.

So, for all of you entrepreneurs out there, I think you’re ace. Let me know what you do, and how you’ve found it.



Upper East Side

For the past couple of months, I’ve been busily working on getting a jewellery line together, which I’ll eventually be selling via my own website, www.uppereast.co.uk (up and running very soon, I absolutely promise). For now, here’s a little teaser for my first collection. It’s not finished at the moment, a complete and utter work in progress, but I put together a little video just to tease it. Take a look!

Shine on, you crazy diamond

I’ve had this urge to create things pushing away at me for ages, and this week I finally got completely inspired. I’m designing and creating my own jewellery range, which I’ll be selling online, hopefully by the end of the month. I’ve got a name, but I’m keeping it under wraps for now. Being a complete and utter magpie, I can’t wait to get knee deep in Swarovski crystals, gold charms and feathers. I’ve got a couple of collections I’m working on, but for now, here are some sneaky preview drawings I did. As you can see, I’m already using one as my background…