Sunday, November 22, 2015


Why not try packs of socks from Joules, in bright colours and prints they are a great stocking filler. Or for the man in your life that get's winter chills, how about these fleece lined slippers (1)?

If the man in your life is all about the music, John Lewis have a great selection of headphones like these Sony ones (2). Or for the forgetful one, how about this keyring (3) that is a cash-stash.

If you want to get a special table gift for you man, Molton Brown (4) offer some luxury cracker gift sets, or if traveling if in your man's remit, this holdall from Urban Outfitters (5) is a luxury and practical gift.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Insider Interview: Tracey Stapleton of The Spa PR Company

In our next Insider Interview, we chat to Tracey Stapleton, founder of The Spa PR Company about running a spa, beauty and wellness PR & marketing agency.

1. What’s your usual working day like?
Every day is different which is why PR is such an interesting career. Quite often I'm travelling the country to meet clients and talk through their PR and marketing activities, another day I might be speaking at an industry event or attending one of our own press events. In the office, I'm working on client strategies and creatives with my team as well as handling the operation of a busy SME.

2. What was your dream job when you were younger?

I originally wanted to go into law but after a year working with a family lawyer and seeing how much paperwork was involved I happily leapt into PR.

3. What's the best piece of career advice you've been given?

Just look ahead and don't worry about what everyone else is doing.  I'm a great believer that you don't have to do things the way everyone else does. My instinct has so far served me well.

4. What's your number one style tip?

Always have groomed brows. It can take years off you and makes you look more polished.

5. If you weren't doing the career you are now, what do you think you would be doing?

If I had my time again, I would have loved to have studied fragrance and become a perfumier. I think it's fascinating how scents can be blended to alter how you feel about something and so much still is to be discovered about essential oils and their benefits.

6. If someone was looking for a career change into your industry, how would you propose the best way is to start?

Show that you really want to work for a particular company and have a passion for their industry. So often I get approached by people for a job who have little interest in what we do beyond it being PR.  Highlight your skills which are relevant ie journalism, copywriting, social media, event organisation, management, new business etc and explain how they could be of benefit to that company. You may still have to start at the bottom and build your contacts but it will be an accelerated career.

7. What's the best thing about your job?

Making a real difference in our clients' businesses and growing awareness of the wellness benefits of spas and wellness beauty brands.

8. What's the toughest part of your job?

Remembering it's a job and managing time for each client. Sometimes it's tempting to spend more time on a project than the budget allows.

9. Most proud career moment to date?

Seeing a gap in the market and starting The Spa PR Company. Working in PR, you learn to spot opportunities and in 2004 I was seeing a huge interest in spa and wellbeing and knowledge of the market was becoming increasingly important.

10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Managing a company at least twice our size with a fulfilled team of staff and happy clients.

Follow Tracey and The Spa PR Company on Twitter and find more insider interviews here and look out for the next.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


If you read the KIKO eyes blog a week ago, then you'll know I had a little splurge in KIKO in Westfield, Stratford City, but I also picked up a selection of the Smart Lipsticks.

I purchased Classic Rose and Candy Rose two beautiful pink hues, the Classic Rose is a little more muted and the Candy Rose a little more of a vivid pink shade. On the lips these lipsticks are very moisturising, but are far shinier that I had expected...if you like that gloss look, these would be perfect for you, but for me, I prefer a more matte finish. The pigment and staying power of these lipsticks has quite a lot to be desired though. I have to apply a few layers to get a really strong colour, but one application is perfect for a natural flush. For less than £4 each, I couldn't expect the staying power of Clinique or MAC, but there are some high street lipsticks like the Rimmel, Kate Moss collection that are better for a vivid colour. However, for a moisturising flush of colour and a day to day look, these do the trick.

Have you tried the KIKO Smart Lipsticks?


Monday, November 9, 2015

Four skills to learn at the weekends

Making the most of your weekends with hobbies is a great way to escape from work and have some 'you' time. But what if your hobbies were enhancing your skills for a new career as well as your enjoyment?

Here are a few ways to enhance your skills in your own time...
Coding is one of the hottest skills on the market at the moment and coders can start lucrative freelance or in-house careers. If you are computer literate and like to design and create, learning to code would be an enjoyable skills for you to learn at the weekends. Websites like Code Academy, offer free tutorials to teach you how to code, you might be the next hottest coder in town.
 Creating your own clothes or starting your own fashion label is the dream for some. What better way to start than to learn how to sew? Tilly and the Buttons offers step by step tutorials on her blog and social media channels right from the basics of threading a sewing machine to creating skirts and shirts. You might be the next Stella McCartney from your weekend hobby?!

Ever wanted to travel the world fluent in the native tongues of your destinations? Learning to speak another language is a skill that you can converse in your world of wanderlust or secure that international transfer that you have been working towards. With Babbel you can pay per month, or sign up for quarterly or half years at a discounted rate, learning to speak, write and understand other languages.

 A little one for the green-fingered of you. Growing your own fruit and vegetables can be very fulfilling and what a better way to ensure you eat right and organic too. The RHS is a great way to start, the BBC have some great gardening and vegetable growing tips and advice too. Start with Thompson & Morgan the plant specialists to buy seeds you can grow into a full allotment of ready to eat fruit and vegetables.

What are you going to do with your weekends? 


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Insider Interview: Irina Bragin


      In our next Insider Interview, we chat to Irina Bragin, founder of accessories brand Made of Carpet, about running an accessories business

     1. What’s your usual working day like?

Most of my days go under the motto “What did you do today for tomorrow?”

Except regular everyday routine, I have to make decisions how we are going to progress in the future, considering things like exhibitions, fairs, catwalks, journalists’ request, competitions, awards, sponsorships, manufacturers, customers, social media, design, web-design... and list is still incomplete.

Also I know that I do not know lot of things and I need to learn them to run a business. I attend seminars, participate to webinars, read lot of articles and data related to fashion.

2. What was your dream job when you were younger?

An actress. Sounds silly, I know... It was right until I realised that it is not really a profession, but innate abilities and I do not probably have any.

3. What's the best piece of career advice you've been given?

I have never had any career really. I was born in kind of odd society, then have lived in many very different countries and my only “career” was to survive.

But if you ask me about the best business advice I have received, it probably will be not to follow advices of people who have started their businesses many years ago. No matter how successful they are. Today everything has changed so dramatically that all those old rules and tips do not work anymore.

Yes, they can tell you to work hard, to believe into yourself and so on, but all those business steps and actions they have taken when they started are mostly useless today.

I spent tens of thousands of pounds of my own money (yes, in fashion everything is very expensive!) and lot of effort on what I have been told by “people with knowledge” I “expected to do” as a fashion brand. The result was very close to zero.
Then I met one young, fresh and up-to-date consultant, who told me to stop spending for archaic nonsense and go with the progress.

4. What's your number one style tip?

Oh, it is very simple - if you would like to be taken seriously you must be clean, tidy and elegant. Perfect teeth, hair, shoes, nails and smell are must.

5. If you weren't doing the career you are now, what do you think you would be doing?

I was a graphic designer for a couple of decades and my latest speciality was localization: languages, alphabets, fonts and cultural differences. I have worked with 46 languages and 9 alphabets. I still do all graphic design for my brand and for friends too.

6. If someone was looking for a career change into your industry, how would you propose the best way is to start?

Forget about fashion, forget about design. Learn business. I would recommend a year, but it may take longer.

Your business will involve (in no particular order):

Intellectual Property
Taxes (incl. VAT, EORI etc)
Customs brokers
Trade shows project management
Trade shows attendance
Web-development and design
Merchant accounts
Fairs and markets
Celebrities endorsement
Customer service
Photo sessions
Design of leaflets, booklets, cards etc
Retail platforms, such as Amazon for example
Social media
Awards and professional parties

... and a smile J
Did I mention a design? No? OK, also design (about 3-5% of your routine).

7. What's the best thing about your job?

I do not have a boss and I chose people I would like to deal with.

8. What's the toughest part of your job?

Responsibility and loneliness.

You cannot rely on anyone. You have to find the way, you must know what and how to do, you must make a decision and it is better be right decision. If it is wrong there is nobody to blame.

9. Most proud career moment to date?

Well, I have several actually!

We are Finalist of Drapers Footwear and Accessories Award 2014

We are BRIT Award 2015 Official goodie bag partners (our bag you can see from the fortieth second of the video)

Also I was the member of the City and Livery Women float at Lord Mayor Parade 2013 and we were float number THREE from 154! Here is more from the first minute – I am the passenger of the red Jaguar, but it was raining and you can not see much.

10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? 

We are growing. Slowly, but steadily we are becoming very well known brand with more and more retail customers and wholesale buyers all around the world.
I am not sure I would like us to be listed on stock market (I will lose control of the business in this case), but I will do everything to make us big staying in charge.

For more information visit the website and read more insider interviews here and look out for the next.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Destressing after a week at work

The working world can take it out of the best of us, recouping and savouring those weekend seconds is everything. So here's some tips for de-stressing after a week at work and making the most of your weekend:

1. Make a Monday morning to do list
Before you leave the office on Friday evening, make a to do list for the best week. Not only will this ensure your mind doesn't wander throughout the weekend thinking of little things to remember and action on Monday, it will act as a little check list to ensure you have wrapped everything up before you leave the office and get you right back in super-productive-mode on Monday morning!

2. Turn your work mobile OFF!
Yes you. Do it. Do it now!! Your mind can't relax and separate from the preoccupation of work if it's always looming over you and the little red light on the top of your Blackberry brings you flashes of anxiety. It can wait 'till Monday. Turn it off!

3. Go out for drinks & socialise
Join your co-workers for a Friday end of the week tipple- even if it's just for one! You can rejoice in great results of have a little moan and all be in it together- it will give you a life and break up work and play before you get right into the weekend. (Just remember if you go for too many Saturday might throwback to your hungover student days, multiplied by a thousand because we just can't spring back like we used to.... And when Monday morning comes around that hangover on Saturday might still not feel too good!!

4. Have a bath
At the risk of sounding like a Radox advert, soak your stress away with a soak in the tub.... 

5. Listen to music
Some people take to classical notes to send them into a place far, far away, for others, Whitney a la Bridget Jones is a way to erupt emotions at the end of the working week to start the weekend fresh - the choice is yours.

5. Make plans
I'm not talking all singing, all dancing, hiking to Everest plans here. I'm just talking a plan, do something, anything! Do your washing, hit the park for a walk, grab a coffee in town, but be sure that when Sunday evening draws to a close you have done something for you, made the most of the weekend and feel relaxed!
As hump-day gets into full swing and the weekend draws a little closer - what are you going to do to de-stress and make the most of the weekend come 5pm Friday?!

Sunday, November 1, 2015


KIKO opened their store in Westfield's Stratford quite a while ago now, and I'll be honest, it's taken me quite a while to go in and have a look around because simply, it's always so busy it puts me off! Anyway, I finally took the plunge, on a Saturday morning, I picked up a number of lip and eye little treats. 

You can read all about my lip purchases in a post coming soon, but this is strictly dedicated to my smokey eye colours. I went for a few tonal shades of the single eyeshadows, shades, 131 - the deepest brown, 119 a light beige with a slight shimmer and 129, a light nutmeg shade. These eyeshadows are highly pigmented and do have the 12-hour staying power that they claim. Another bonus, at £2.90 they are, dare-I-say, MAC quality without the price tag!?

To use these to create a smokey eye with just these products:
1. I start with shade 119 all over my lid with any eyeshadow brush and work it into the crease to give a great base colour. 
2. Then, I go in with the 129 shade into the crease with my eye open to define the socket and take a clean blending brush in circular motions to blend the colour ad get rid of any lines. 
3. Then final I take a small brush or small eyeshadow applicator and add the 131 colour right at the bottom of my lid into my lashed in a lined effect, and add this to the very outer corners of my eyelids. 4. I go back with the clean blender brush and soften the line of my eyelids and blend the colour towards the outer corners of my eyes to 'smoke it out'. 
5. Finally, I take a little product on an applicator or very small blending brush and run this underneath my bottom lashes to define.
6. Then I add a sweep of mascara and my smokey eye is good to go! 

Have you tired the KIKO eyeshadows or any KIKO products - what do you think of them?

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