Monthly Archives

February 2015

Fashion & Beauty

What’s In My Handbag

February 26, 2015
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I really like reading ‘what’s in my handbag posts’. It is my guilty pleasure. Here is a snoop inside mine:

Bag

My coral clutch bag is from New Look, it comes with a gold chain shoulder strap that tucks inside whenever you aren’t using it. The colour matches much more than you might think.

Purse

I adore this purse from Khmer Creations. It is made from handwoven cotton and silk. It was handmade at Khmer Creations by a Cambodian artisan who has been affected by human trafficking. The company teach women skills such as sewing and provide them with sustainable jobs in a safe environment. Each stitch is absolutely perfect and just looking at it puts things into perspective.

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Music and Headphones

I don’t leave the house without my headphones, I have several sets stashed in different handbags. I am listening to The Velvet Underground as I type this post, I was playing Katy Perry on my walk to work and had the People’s Playlist by BBC Radio 6 Music on earlier.

Sunglasses

Finally the nights are getting lighter and soon we will be able to say that Spring has sprung! My sunglasses are from Topshop, I got them because they looked a little like a Prada pair that I loved.

Lipstick

Kiss and blush by YSL, the colour is so pretty and it can be used as a blusher too.

Cream

I’ve tried loads of expensive under-eye creams but I always come back to this one by Simple I actually use it as a lip balm too!

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Projects and Tips

Apps: A Blogger’s Best Friend

February 21, 2015
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Once a blog post is complete it’s time to share it on social media. More often than not there can be a few hold ups at this stage, perhaps the image is too large or the URL wont fit due to the character restrictions of Twitter. Here are my top apps to help make blogging a breeze.

Latergramme

Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform. I love scrolling through snaps and seeing how people curate their little squares, and I have been known to post the occasional *cough* regular selfie too. Instagram is the perfect visual tool for bloggers to promote posts, the only catch is that it doesn’t allow you to post images directly from your computer or schedule images in advance. That is where Latergram comes in handy, this app allows you to post from your PC and select the time that you wish to post, the app then sends you a notification at the scheduled time, which you can open and post via Instagram.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most accurate app for monitoring the progress of your blog. You can see everything from the towns that your readers live in, to how your visitors found you. This information is really interesting as it enables you to be smarter with your content planning. It also provides you with the relevant readership figures and conversion rates for sponsors. I found the Google Analytics site a little difficult to navigate around at first, but the app is super easy to use once you know the jargon and completely free.  This blog post is full of handy tips.

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PS Express

Cameras on smart phones are so smart these days that many bloggers use them to capture all of their visual content. Sometimes images just need little tweaking, perhaps some red eye removal here and a saturation adjustment there. The PS Express tool is fantastic for this, and free! This is the newest addition to my app list but it is quickly becoming a favourite.

Buffer and HootSuite

Twitter is the obvious choice for all bloggers, it is great for getting social and interacting with people. Tweeting is always best done in real time, so that you can be responsive and topical. Occasionally you do need to schedule content in advance and so HootSuite is my tool of choice. Among other things, it allows you to shorten links, set up streams and manage multiple accounts. The only downside is that it isn’t great for scheduling photos,  it converts them into links which don’t appear in your photostream. That is where Buffer comes in, it is a nice and easy way to schedule photos for Twitter. There are lots of other social media management tools out there which do similar things such as FutureTweets and sproutsocial so have a play and see which ones suit your needs best. I use the free versions of all of the apps mentioned in this section.

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Old School App

When my iPhone battery dies or I fancy some screen free time its nice to revert to a notebook. I’m a bit fickle when it comes to stationary, the prettier it is, the more it gets used. Pages with scribbles on get removed and black ink looks best. I was recently sent the book pictured in this post, it is a Nuuna Notebook The banana leaf print leather is gorgeous and it smells like the luxury accessories department in Selfridges!

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Projects and Tips

Interview: Yellowstone Art Boutique’s Hannah Stoney

February 8, 2015
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Let me introduce you to Hannah Stoney, the owner and creator of Yellowstone Art Boutique. This is one of my go-to places for creative ideas, gifts and homeware. The walls are full of trinkets such as bobbin spools reworked into coat hooks and maps of the world transformed into artwork. The stock consists of handpicked, British artist’s work and Hannah’s own paintings, fabric and stationary.

Hannah launched Yellowstone when she was fresh out of University and it has since become a roaring success. She recently launched a series of master classes including: Approaching Shops & Galleries (to sell your artwork), Mixed Media and Floristry.

Here is my interview with Hannah and photographs from my tour of Yellowstone Art Boutique.

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Where did the idea for Yellow Stone Art Boutique come from?

I always knew I wanted to have my own space, even at University. I thought it would be more of a gallery back then, as I was on a Fine Art degree. I wanted torepresent artists and makers who didn’t have a reputation and give them achance. As soon as I began looking in to the work I wanted to showcase, Idiscovered a world of handmade that got me so excited! It shaped my businessplan and the idea for Yellowstone was born. I worked on my business plan, researching and sourcing for a few years before I even thought about renting a retail space so I felt more than ready.

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Have you always wanted to run your own business?

I never really thought of it like that – I knew I wanted my own gallery so I guess I did, but I’ve only recently come to think of Yellowstone as a business. I knew I couldn’t open up with anyone else because I had such a clear idea of what I wanted to do. I also knew it was a risk, and I didn’t want anyone else to be responsible if things went wrong! I’m so glad I do run my own business now. It totally balances out my brain. I’m too organized to paint all day every day, but wouldn’t hack the business side 24/7. So being an artist and business owner is the perfect combination for me.

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In the recent years there has been a craft revival, why do you think people love handmade?

I hate it when people harp on about the recession (we opened in it’s lowest low) but I really think it made people stop and think. We found that our customers wanted to buy less, but of higher quality. Customers began to care where the item was made, who by and why. They trust us to be fair on pricing and they know that their money isn’t going to a big corporate company of suits (I don’t even own a trouser suit). Their purchase supports a small independent shop, that in turn, supports over 40 British artists. We have lots of customers that are creative themselves, and although they may not be full-time makers, they come for inspiration, for positive words, and to learn about what other creatives are up to. It’s lovely to feel part of the handmade community.

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Your brand prides itself on championing the work of British artists; tell me more about how you meet the designers and select the products?

Mostly, I find new makers at shows (both trade and retail). There are some wonderful craft and design shows all over the country, and that way, I can meet the artist and chat straight away. I also find artists on twitter on instagram. I find there are little networks of like-minded artists who ‘hang out’, so if you find one, you often find a little team of brilliance.

The bottom line of it is, that when I see a product, I just know. If I have a flicker of doubt, it’s usually right, so I always trust my gut.

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What is your favourite piece in the store and why?

This question is impossible because I don’t stock anything that I don’t love! I’m so proud of everything in here. However, Emma Louise Wilson’s ceramics still make my heart melt even after years of selling her work. She’s become a firm friend, and we’ve watched each others businesses grow. The care and detail that goes in to every single bowl astounds me. They really get our customers excited and I totally understand why.

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Who or what inspires you? Both creatively and in a business sense too?

My customers. I get all my best ideas from them. Not many artists get to stand and listen (mostly anonymously) to feedback from ‘real life’ customers. They often assume I’m not the artist, so you get pure honesty- for better or worse! But this is invaluable to me, as those comments have grown my collections for my exact audience. My partner and family, inspire me to keep pushing the
boundaries of Yellowstone, as they know I have more to give. Just knowing that people have confidence in you can make a world of difference.

I used to gain lots of inspiration from blogs and other businesses, but if I was having a bad day, I’d compare myself to them and beat myself up about it. It can be so damaging to compare yourself to strangers on the internet but it’s so hard not to! So I try not to spend too much time doing that these days. And I feel much better for it.

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What is the goal for Hannah Stoney and Yellow Stone? What does the future hold?

I decided last year that rather than push the business in its obvious way (to open another store), I’d focus on my work as an artist to grow Yellowstone. Since then, I have developed my range of cards, prints, ceramics and fabrics and I have launched my Wedding Stationery Design, which I run alongside the shop. I split my time between my ‘freelance’ design work, Yellowstone design work, and ‘business’ work (invoices, chasing orders, ordering etc.). I also work in the shop – sorting framing, displays, commissions, customer queries and serving. Oh and run the social media channels. Basically, my aim for the future is to keep
doing all of these things that I love, together. I’m so lucky to spin so many plates at once. I think it really shapes what I, and Yellowstone Art Boutique are about. I’m not sure if you can tell but I’m not very good at doing nothing…

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