• Hi Corona(virus)! Staying calm amidst the craziness

    So yeah, the world is crazy right now. I know a lot of us feel anxious about uncertain times ahead, watching wide eyed at the selfishness of others in a crisis. However with the bad comes the balance of good and it’s been amazing to watch communties pull together to help those in need, companies altering the way they do business in order to offer free products like hand sanitsers from breweries, which are essential to those that need them the most. And of course, the heros on the front line at the NHS, care workers and supermarket staff all getting out there every day to ensure we’re safe, fed, and cared for.

    Amidst all of this, so many of us are now finding ourselves working from home or self isolating. It’s easy to sit on our phones every day, reading post after post about Covid-19, increasing our own anxiety and sense of panic in doing so. We want to be checking in on what’s happening and keeping up to date, but it shouldn’t take over our entire lives and become the only thing we focus on. Let’s use this time for something positive, something frivolous, something we wouldn’t normally do! 

    Here are a few ways to keep yourselves entertained, (many of which I’m doing too) to help turn those frowns upside down 🙂

    1. Keep dressing up! I know maybe you’re not seeing anyone, but who cares! Always dress for you. The art of dressing in itself; picking out something to wear which makes your heart sing, and prancing around the house in it will make you feel uber glamorous and lift your mood. I love going through my rails to find something ridiculous to wear to do the washing up in on a normal day, so this is an easy one for me. Banish the sweat pants at least once a week, especially if you’re working from home.

    Working from home never looked so good.

    2. Try out some hair and make up tutorials. Maybe you want to up your vintage hair game, or learn how to do something thoroughly modern but have never gotten around to it, or the hang of it. Now’s the time to call to action and seek all the answers on Youtube! Practice, practice, practice. We’ll have plenty of time to perfect our coiffs and and slick cat eyeliner wings. I have always loved Cherry Dollface for easy tutorials and she’s uploading new content regularly too, but there are 1000’s to choose from so if that’s not your style, have a search for something else and get to work on your pretty new pout!

    Always wanted hair and make up like the elegant Grace Kelly? now’s the time to perfect it.

    3. Retail therapy. This has always been my favourite pastime and shows no sign of stopping. I’m a hoarder and enjoy looking at my stuff, so Marie Kondo doesn’t make my list ha! though sorting through your wardrobes is always handy too and clears the mind….making way for new pretties! Help keep independent brands going by using their websites and buying something small from them, if you can. Receiving cute parcels in the post at the moment is really helping brighten my days. Obviously don’t buy beyond your means and be sensible about it. A little pin badge here, a fakelite bangle there. It doesn’t have to be much to feel cute and add to your existing outfits.

    “Quick, it’s an emergency! I need a fabulous accessory, can you help?”

    3. Watch something uplifting – maybe your favourite comedian’s tour show or funny movie. Belly laughing right now is so good for the soul. I have a couple of Audrey and Grace Kelly box sets to watch again, so if you prefer the classics, old hollywood glamour is a great way to bring the pazazz back into our lives.

    Also released online are a whole host of museum and gallery virtual tours, so whether you were always wondering about the Louvre, a Van Gogh or the Guggenheim, there’s something for everyone.  I particularly love the British Museum tour (found here).

    3. Read, read, read (not all the heightened panic stuff on the internet), tap in to some of your favourite novels, magazines, blogs etc. Podcasts and audio books are fab too if reading isn’t your thing. I was addicted to Serial years ago and will be dipping back into podcasts again shortly.

    Living your best life while social distancing

    4. Cook up a storm! Batch cooking is a positive way to use up what you have and freeze in case you need something delicious later on. You could try out a new recipe, a new style of cooking, a new cake….I’m all about the cakes – I’m actually just about to whip up a couple of banana breads as they’re over ripe and I don’t want them to go to waste. Super easy recipe (bbcgoodfood) which always comes out looking and tasting amazing. 

    5. Learn something new. I recently reignited my love for Duolingo and I’m currently pelting my way through it. There are so many languages available and it’s such a fun (and free) way to learn.

    6. If languages aren’t your thing, maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument, or add to your existing repertoire? We have the time to indulge these fancies now. I’ve dusted down my old clarinet and will be working my way through some rather honky first attempts as I reunite with her (sorry, neighbours!). There are so many tutorials available online. I’m a very visual learner so Youtube is always my first port of call. If you need to learn to read music first, again, there’s a tutorial for that too! If that doesn’t float your boat, browse your way through Spotify setting up new playlists.

    My actual clarinet

    7. Art and drawing is always a great way to express yourself. Maybe you haven’t had time to explore this before. Whatever the medium, give it a try! It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece either, if you just want to try adult colouring books, they make a good creative outlet which allows your brain to have a break from the stresses of the day.

    8. Get crafty! I’m a big knitter and will be digging out my needles again which I also find very therapeutic. I never usually make for myself so it’ll be a nice change to do that. You may prefer crochet (which is quicker to see the finished project) or something like sewing, needlecraft, felting or paper craft. The options are endless and you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to get started.

    9. Brain games. Keep those little cells ticking over with some puzzle games (have a browse through your apps, there are some great Escape Room style games) or go old school and get the Scrabble out. I love a board game and regularly get my nerd on so they’ll be coming out sooner than planned. Or maybe you’re a Sudoku addict. If you can’t source the books any more, there are lots available online for free.

    Time to get your Scrabble on

    10. Crack on with those jobs that needed doing. I have some wallpaper which has been waiting endlessly to go on the walls, so I’ll be trying to not bodge that up soon. Just moving furniture around for a new look or adding a couple of new cushions will help make your safe place feel fresh and cosy.

    11. Keep moving. This could be a little jaunt around outside, (at a safe distance obviously), a run up and down your stairs to keep you active, popping on the tunes and dancing around the house – whatever it is that sends you to that happy place and keeps you active. Get the kids involved too! I love a bit of yoga, so I’ll be brushing off some of the old moves. Video games don’t have to be stagnant either. I really love Beat Saber and Rock Band so I’ll be getting those back out and living my best life as a Guitar Hero! 

    This is how I feel I look when playing but the reality is completely different, but it’s hilarious and good fun!

    12. Keep calm with some Headspace. There are some brilliant apps which ensure you take some time out for yourself – even 5 or 10 minutes in the day to focus and centre yourself. It’s natural for the fear of the unknown to unsettle us so being mindful of our feelings but not allowing them to take over is so important. Headspace is a free app (with add ons if you want to use those but you don’t need to) with some guided meditations and reminds you to take some time each day. 

    Mind full or Mindful? Take time out every day

    12. Most importantly, stay connected. Call, Skype, Facetime, or use any other free video messaging service to see and speak to your friends and families during isolation. Get together with your gals on a Friday night and chat like you normally would or have an online games night.

    13. Use social media, in a good way. Join local groups and online communities. Find out if you can help and contribute (time or help) or if you’re vulnerable and need help, make yourself known so that people can help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help should you need it.

    Overall, stay safe, but have fun. Don’t drown in the fear; be mindful of keeping joy and a sense of calm in your lives. We may have limitations on our lives but we still have so much to fulfill us! What will you be doing to while away the time? x

  • Collectif is all grown up! 18th Birthday Celebrations

    A couple of weeks ago I had the great pleasure of attending the Collectif 18th birthday party (held on the 25th November). From humble beginnings on a stall at Camden Market, the brand has flourished during those years and now boasts a sucessful online store shipping worldwide, international stockists, and shops in Brighton, Spitalfields, Commercial Street and of course where it all began, Camden. 

    To celebrate this massive achievement, Collectif hosted an extravaganza at their Camden shop and FEST. With tickets snapped up fast including hair and make up at the event, I bagged a silver ticket for £20 which included a free dress (I chose the absolutely gorgeous Maica green velvet dress which fits like a dream!).  What an amazing deal those tickets were! It also included a free drink at the shop (sponsors Sailor Jerry saw to that!) and a pink cocktail at FEST which was particularly yummy.

    I headed to the shop early to have a browse (you can’t go to Collectif without buying something, right?!) and picked up a Jasmine skirt I’d been after which was no longer available on their website (woohoo!), then had a mingle with the staff and ladies starting to trickle in for the celebrations. 

    Serving rum, donuts and cupcakes at the Camden store – delish!

    There was live entertainment outside the shop, with fabulous groups like the Victory Sisters, the Tootsie Rollers and Britain’s Got Talent finalists, the D-Day Darlings bringing cheer to the crowds in the crisp night air. I went over to FEST to be met by the delightful Collectif team (all looking fabulous in their Collectif finery), and joined the ladies that had been coiffed to perfection while we waited for the evening events to start, chatting amidst exquisitely dressed stables and everyone dazzling in their Collectif frocks (honestly, everyone looked stunning!).

    Fest Stables hair and make up stations

    It wasn’t long until the doors opened to the main stage and everyone gathered on the dancefloor to listen to the launch of the birthday party. The live music started and we were treated to The Danny Mcvey Trio, more Tootsie Rollers, D-Day Darlings and Victory Sisters.  It was a delight to see the SwingDancers burning up the floor with their awesome moves! I really must learn how to dance one day.

    The Swingdancers in full swing with live music from the Danny McVey Trio

    The evening was peppered with talented acts in between the fabulous musical numbers, featuring burlesque and drag performers Lolo Brow, Meth and Tigress.

    Lolo Brow’s Burlesque performance

    The Mythical Menagerie team were there too, sprinkling us all with a friendly dusting of unicorn sparkles.

    Bedazzled with my bestie by some unicorn friends

    There were some truly moving moments too – just looking out over the hundreds of guests and feeling the love and warmth in the room, the sheer joy of everyone being who they are (most apparant when the song ‘This is Me’ came on), lifting each other up in confidence and enjoying each other’s company – things this brand stands for and prides themselves on. It was a very magical evening.

    The dancefloor was filled with revelry. So many gorgeous ladies (and gents!)
    Fest fabulousness!
    Myself (far right) with the beautiful Bella from Collectif (second left) and our friends

    Later on the MD made a rousing speech and commended his wonderful team of staff that help make the brand what it is. I had spoken to the MD a few times that evening and he wanted guests to know how grateful he was to have such a brilliant team, and that they really are what makes the company. I have to say I agree, as the Collectif team go all out for their customers and it was lovely to hear an MD recognise the efforts of all members of his workforce – be it customer facing or behind the scenes. If you’ve ever been to a store you’ll know how awesome the staff make you feel when you’re trying something on; if you buy online, they’ll try to get it to you as quickly as possible and work extra hours to make this happen, and if you’ve ever had an unfortuate issue with something not working, the customer service team just want to make you happy and rectify it as soon as possible. As well as the many others like the creative teams and office staff that all make up the amazing Collectif family.

    It was also very exciting to hear him promise more events going forward and a pop up shop near the Head Office was the start of these last week. Keep an eye on the facebook page Events section for the latest updates, can’t wait for more of these types of things next year!

    I was also given a little insight into how the company decides what to make and who we are as customers. I absolutely loved this as I have a Marketing background so I found it incredibly fascinating. Customer engagement and listening to feedback was clearly evident here and hugely impressive.

    It was such a well organised and fun night and I had an incredible time, as did everyone I spoke to (it was great to meet so many of you!). I’m thankful to Collectif for building such a fantastic community, caring about their customers so much and continuing to design the most fabulous clothes which suit everyone, regardless of age, gender, size etc. We all looked and felt amazing, and that’s what it’s all about. 

    See you next year!

    ps for my outfit info click here and for further photos from that night, follow Collectif’s instagram tag #collectif18