Friday, 1 July 2016

Zara Patch Bag

Zara, girl we don't tend to get along all that well. I find your stuff over priced and sometimes too poor quality to justify the price tag but every now and again you show me how much of a babe you are and come up with something so undeniably perfect I could jump for joy.

This lil' Zara beaut of a crossbody bag has been gracing my shoulder for the better part of the last three months after I destroyed my eerily similar bag from Marks and Spark's while in New York due to my obsession with over stuffing things. I genuinely thought for a moment I was never going to find a bag like it again and then this one came along.

A little on the small side, but perfectly formed for days when I don't feel the need to tote around half my belonging with me. The little patches add a cute and quirky edge to a plain black bag and really make a statement without making too much of a statement y'know. My absolutely go-to for outfits that consist of the shame shade of black it really pops and adds a fun edge which I like to tell myself is one of my style signatures.

I've been harping on about doing a DIY version of this bag for the absolute longest time and I FINALLY have all the bits and bobs and the patches I want to make my own version of this patchwork bag! But for now this one hits the spot. Good Job Zara!

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Thursday, 30 June 2016

The Absolutely Fabulous Diet Coke Red Carpet Experience

So here's the score. A couple of weeks ago I got an email from the ladies over at Diet Coke. They asked if I'd be interested in attending the Absolutely Fabulous World Premiere in London and if I'd like to make it extra fabulous by being dressed, head to toe, in pieces from Liberty London - the famous London Department Store. What do you think I said? You're right, I passed on the opportunity. AS IF! I was straight in there and it went a little something like this. 

First, I stopped by the Absolutely Fabulous Diet Coke windows outside Liberty, to pay homage to the ladies and brand, and found myself getting more excited than I would have thought possible. Ab Fab, me, Diet Coke in hand and a red carpet (rumoured to actually be gold) await. Pinch me, no really. These women were half the reason, for better or worse, that I pursued a career in PR, which lasted for over a decade. Wouldn't they have been proud? 

In I stepped, into the hallowed halls of this famed London department store. For those of you that have never been in Liberty, mark this as a must visit if you're new to town. Their edit is insane and stepping into the store truly is like stepping into a time machine. For all the times I've visited Liberty,  however, I've never before entered the personal shopping suites. That was all about to change. I spent the morning working with Diet Coke and the stylists at Liberty selecting the perfect outfit that would fit right in on the premiere carpet for Ab Fab.

I tried everything. This is for Absolutely Fabulous, after all, and these ladies would wear just about anything and everything. At first, I thought casual might be better. Wear something bright and attention grabbing - hence the tassels, the stripes and the bright red trousers. I was looking for quirky yet stylish. In the end, it came down to a dual between two rather fabulous dresses- one of sparkles and the other a complete colour pop. Can you guess which one won the game? Scroll below to see. In the end it was all about the accessories.

So then we have the big event itself. The crowd gathering in Leicester Square was immense; the carpet was indeed gold; and there was a large population of drag queens ahead of us in line that were stealing all the outfit attention. These ladies defined the words "absolutely fabulous." When we finally made our way onto the gold carpet, each and every one of the ladies from Diet Coke was bringing some serious style to the premiere show. Eat your hearts out, paps. 

We all made our way inside, having witnessed Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, Dawn French, Emma Bunton, Kylie Minogue and many more enter the cinema. On our seats we found limited edition Diet Coke bottles, naturally, decorated with the two famous ladies - FYI there are three limited edition bottles, one for each character and one of the two ladies together, available to buy at Liberty London, Boots, Selfridges and Ocado while stocks last. 

The lights went down, Joanna and Jennifer took to the stage to thank the audience for their support, and the movie began. I'll just say this, as I don't want to ruin anything. The Absolutely Fabulous Movie is exactly like watching a 90 minute episode of the show. Fans will absolutely love this and will see it again and again without tiring of the concept. Go see it and check out my coverage of everything from outfitting to red carpet jogging below, thanks to Diet Coke UK. 

Clothing provided by Diet Coke in collaboration with Liberty

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

A Facial tool that doesn't suck

Foreo Luna Play* £29

No word of a lie, when this came through my post box I genuinely thought it was a vibrator. I didn’t get and press material with it or any context I just had this small little green thing sitting on my desk not sure what it was.  Then the rational part of my brain kicked in and my pal Kate's morning routine came to mind where she used this little device and it all slowly (and I mean v. slowly) clicked into place.

After the initial confusion I realised it was the little sister to the widely popular Foreo Luna the Foreo Luna Play.  Kinda does sound like a sex toy though right?

Not one for the hype train I sort of ignored the idea of a Foreo as I've never really got on with things like the Clarisonic and presumed it was a similar type deal. Oh boy was I wrong. This lil' beaut uses sonic technology (which sounds very fancy but it's just little vibrations) which in theory is supposed to make your cleanser more effective and remove impurities. No bristles or scratchy brush heads just these tiny little nodules that barely feel like anything on the skin.

I used this paired with my go-to cleanser the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser to leave my skin feeling super smooth and buffed to perfection without buzzing off the top layer of skin leaving my skin a raw broken out mess - Im looking at you Clarisonic. Overtime I feel like it's improved my complexion tenfold, my cheeks are less congested and my skin is smoother than a babies bottom.

At £29 it's pretty affordable but the only downside is that it doesn't last forever. You get 100 uses out of it so it'll roughly last you two months depending on your useage (obvs if you use it day and night). It's non rechargeable and doesn't take replacement batteries which is a bit of a bummer.  However if you really like it you can always upgrade to the Luna Mini which is a bit of a price increase BUT it does recharge and lasts a lot longer. The Play is designed for travel/the girl on the go rather than long term use at home but it's also a nice way to try a super pricey tool for a lot less to get a feel for it.

Overall, I like it. I like it a lot. While it's not a game changer and its something that I don't feel is really needed it has worked wonders for me in ways that other facial tools have not. I always thought I was over skincare tools writing them off as unnecessary junk but I have to say this had impressed me.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Style Update: Totally Taupe and a Pomeranian

You know people say nude is slimming? They're usually referring to shoes, but I took it all a bit too seriously when it came to this ensemble. In al honestly, I didn't mean to have this be a totally taupe moment, but hey ho, it ended up being one. The fact that my God-Puppy, Pepper (the most beautiful Pomeranian), matched as well was just a coincidence too perfect not to capture.

Shop the Look:

Photos by Terence Webb.

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Riding shotgun in the Ferrari 599xx at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2016

I'm terrified of so many things on this earth. Truly. Ask my parents and they will most likely tell you that never in a million years would they have imagined I'd end up living in a foreign country, working in a profession that has zero stability and, in fact, requires constant reinvention. What can I say? Over the past two decades I've made a concerted effort to kill all fear, all the while being petrified. This past week I was thrown another curveball. Last Monday I received an invitation to ride as a passenger in the supercar display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed with Ferrari. Naturally, I got the email and responded with an instant "hell, yes, I'll be there."

Five minutes later the reality of the situation set in.

While I adore beautiful supercars and the power and speed that come with them, I much prefer to be the one behind the wheel controlling such a beast. I am, in short, the worst passenger in existence - always have been, always will be. Planes- can't stand them. I want to be the pilot. Helicopters - yeah, them too. Even when it comes to boats, if someone else is at the helm, I'll have a near panic attack. Only no one ever sees this. Naturally, it's all hidden away in a nice little Crocodile skin vanity case, deep within my soul. But it's there and the thought of sitting as a passenger, while a professional racing driver sweeps me around a track at 140 miles an hour in one of the world's most beloved Ferrari models (the 599xx), might as well have thrown that box clear across the room. The hinges were officially off.

No one knew. I was cool as a cucumber. We took a helicopter down to Goodwood in the early morning hours- no problems there, just beautiful views of green rolling hills- and arrived at the Ferrari supercar paddocks with time to spare. We were introduced to our cars. Hello, Ferrari 599xx, which I had to travel in as I was too tall to be comfortable in the other models on offer- won't hear me complaining.

From there we were fitted with our helmets and before I even had time to register a fear, I was buckled into my seat, the swish Ferrari red belts screaming "don't worry, you're in a luxury bubble here."  At this point I had more excitement than fear and absolutely no idea what to expect. Of course I knew the Hillclimb at Goodwood was one of most famous tracks in the world - renowned for showcasing the best the universe has to offer when it comes to fine automobiles. But, only a very few in this world get to see what it's like to drive this track, in a supercar, with thousands of people cheering, taking pictures and begging you to go faster or rev your engine just one more time before you move on. I had no idea what was in store.

We made our way to the starting line and my driver, a lovely chap named James, who I do so hope I meet again, informed me that he would not actually be driving me around the track. This man who has just assured me that all would be OK, that I would have a great time and that I would be in safe hands, was leaving me. WTF? Yes, queue the panic.

James stepped out of the vehicle at the start line and in slipped James Calado. Familiar with this chap? He's a big deal on the racing circuit and had just come from racing in Le Mans - another legendary event in which the drivers race for 24 hours. I kid you not, he got in the car and received instructions on how to drive it. I took out my iPhone and whatsapped everyone I loved - "I'm about to take off in the Ferrari. In case anything happens, I love you and I've lived a great life." True story.

The first "zero to some insane speed" off the starting line was where it all changed. With my helmet on and belts tightly fastened, we took off like a rocket ship. Fear flooded every inch of my skin and seconds letter was replaced by an incomprehensible exhilaration. I had spent a week worrying about 2 and a half minutes that I asked to do over again the moment I stepped out of the car. "Again, again," I cried. But, alas, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I can't help but think about the fact that I almost said no. I almost said no right up until the moment we took off. I nearly offered the ride to someone else.

There's a lesson here, that I do believe most Ferrari owners themselves have mastered a hundred times over- otherwise how would they be successful enough to own the beautiful toys they do? The lesson is this: recognise fear and then tell it, face to face, that you're coming for it and do it. Feel it and seal it, people.

Now, about that car ride. You know I got as much as I could on video. In full disclosure though, I didn't film the Hillclimb itself (but did capture the ride back) as I wanted to really experience this for myself. I was 100% selfish. I was also unsure if I would even have the ability to hold the camera as we sped along at insane speeds. Here's the result:

Note of thanks: Ferrari - you remain a legend in my mind. The fact that I had a chance to not only be a part of such an incredible day, but also to ride in a Ferrari 599xx, will forever seem like a dream I once had. This video is the only proof I have for myself that it happened at all.


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Monday, 27 June 2016

How the F do you make money from blogging?

If I had a pound for every time someone asked me how I made money from my blog then I would probably be retired by 30. Every time I tell someone I’m a blogger they always ask about money, always.


They all cry like it’s a unknown fact there are many people now out there making a sole income from the internet!

I always feel like asking them how they make money just to prove a point on how rude it really is to ask someone how they make money. It used to really bother me, but I grew to just accept it as curiousness and lack of knowledge about a pretty secretive field. I can totally understand from the outside looking in that you would have no idea how tapping a few words out onto a computer could potentially make money let alone sustain you as a full time job. 

So this post is in part for them and for anyone who wants to know how to monetise their blog if they weren't quite sure what to do or where to go.

There are lots of options out there to start monetising your website or blog. I will point out that not all monetisation methods work on every single blog, and there is no "set way" to make money. 

None the less each monetisation avenue is worth exploring until you find the one that works best for you and your own content. 

Affilate Marketing

It’s probably (in my opinion) controversial but I think that beauty and fashion bloggers get most of their income from affiliate marketing. This is when you earn a percentage of the sale when a reader clicks through and buys something via your special snowflake affiliate links. 

If you post about personal style or homewear, then this is p. lucrative money-maker. There are many networks out there you could look into that provide affiliate marketing, so look around for the one that suits you best. 

Selling Ads Yourself

Im not actually sure if people still do this as it's been years since Ive done it. But hey. You may want to start selling ad space in your blog’s sidebar. 

Target these prices towards small businesses and other bloggers who want a bit of exposure. Direct ad sales are a great way for smaller bloggers to get income, as these ads don't rely heavily on CPM, as you can set a fix price for these.

It might be a little more time consuming managing your own ads, but they can help build strong relationships with smaller brands. This type of advertising works a lot better for smaller blogs looking for a revenue stream that doesn't rely on huge amounts of traffic.

Ad networks

Ad networks are often more beneficial for blogs that have good/high traffic, as you are paid based on how many people see the advert or per page view. But to be honest I wont be alone in saying ad revenue from ad networks is way down. Like really down.

Back in 2013 the main chunk of my income came from ads, albeit my traffic was much much higher at the time but the actual amount of money you earn per person visiting your site has gone way way down.  Part of it is that theres just more blogs out there so CPM is spread a little thinner and part of it is I think advertises tend to go down the sponsored post route for more effective targeting.

Its not just me who noticed this so many of my old sk00l blogger pals feel the same. There's very little money in online ads these days and I often take mine off my blog because I don't think the pennies are worth it

None the less I think having ads is down to personal preference. The downside is that you also have no control over your adverts. I’ve had terrible takeover ads all over my blog once about feminine hygiene products and chips. While both useful and delicious in their own ways - hardly the most chic ads for a fashion blog!

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are when a brand approaches you about posting specifically about their product for a fee. Look at it like taking an advertorial out in a magazine.

Sponsored posts can come in many forms, they can be about promoting an event, product placement, paid-for reviews, pictures of places, etc. The downsides of sponsored posts are that your readers may grow to mistrust you if you start accepting posts on brands that dont fit your niche, personal style or can sense you don't believe in the product. 

Always, ALWAYS be honest and never take a sponsored post if you're not into the product or brand. Your brand is ALWAYS more important than money. This is something I think that people often forget, I personally don't believe a blogger/vlogger would do a sponsored post without thinking about what their audience will think about it, we really do care about our audience more than money compared to what some people think.

Sell something 

IDK if so many people do this anymore but starting up a shop off the back of your blog is a really simple way to get some extra income. If you're known for your DIY skills or your amazing thrifting, it might be worth opening up a shop to sell those bits onto others. You might even want to explore the possibility of writing your tips into an e-book and sell it! 

There are many merchandising options too for bloggers, so have a think about it as an alternative revenue stream if you arent quite at a level where you can draw money from sponsors or traditional adverts I think this is a good way to start. 

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