Sunday, 27 May 2012

What I Learnt At The iFabbo Bloggers Conference: London, 2012

Yesterday afternoon instead of braving the London heat, on a ticket courtesy of iFabbo, I attended the first annual iFabbo London blogger conference at Kettners for some fantastic panels on all aspects of fashion, blogging and social media, cocktails, cake and a keynote from Amber Venz: the co founder of my personal ad and affiliate network RewardStyle. It was lovely to meet so many new bloggers, as well as to catch up with some old faces, and while I was hearing lots of things that all bloggers know are the ingredients to a successful blog, I did learn a lot so I've decided to put together a round up post of what I learnt!
Sorry this post is not as picture heavy as usual; it was very, very hot and I don't think many of us were feeling the photos, so I have decided to focus on some of the really great information we were given instead!

#1: Becoming more valuable to brands and create lasting relationships with brands and PR companies.

Moderated by: Tonia Korakis, Co Founder of iFabbo and Editor of
Panelists: Tala Samman, My Fashion Diary, Edwina WynYard, Amazing PR, Hayley Carr, London Beauty Queen

This panel was really interesting, because while bloggers talk to each other about PR relationships, we all receive press releases, solicited or not, and interact on some level with PR's every single day, but it is not often we get to hear about blogging from their perspective. 

  • A blogger is valable to a brand if they have clear opinions and varied content. Writing about different things, such as food, fashion and beauty all on one blog is not a bad thing as it opens it up to a wider audience that brands can tap into.  
  • A bloggers influence is not just measured by their amount of followers; other social media outlets are also balanced, and how much readers engage. 100 readers who engage with a blog are more valuable than 3,000 who are just passers by. 
  • The consistency of your content is of the utmost importance. Want to post something which everyone else is posting about? Come at it from a unique angle! 
  • Sometimes PR's prefer to work with bloggers because unlike magazines, they can publish something instantly which is better for smaller, newer brands. 
  • Don't be afraid of contacting brands and PR's. Drop them an email explaining who you are, what your blog is about, any accomplishments or awards your blog might have won and let them know you're interested in hearing about their clients. A phone call would not hurt as well! However, make sure you do your homework on brands and agencies before you contact them!

#2: The business of blogging... how to make your passion your career.

Moderated by: Sinead Norenius, Co Founder of iFabbo and Founder of Beautisol and
Panelists: Sarah Bush, ShopStyle, Nik Thakkar, Creative Brand Strategist, Joe Stepniewski,, Christina Butcher, Hair Romance, Colleen Bulfin, RewardStyle

Because it is a personal aim of mine, I have read about professional style blogging until the cows come home, but I thought it was really great that this panel focused a lot of monetization, especially through affiliate marketing which is something I have recently been experimenting with, with a lot of success. 

  • If you want to make your blog into your career you need to approach it as if you are an entrepreneur; a business plan is key. 
  • When dealing with brands, ethically, transparency is key. 
  • As a professional blogger you need to create as many revenue outlets as possible; build your blog as a showcase for your personal brand, which will be a springboard for other opportunities. 
  • Build relationships by being proactive both online and off. Attend blogger meetings and industry events to network, and try to reply to and engage with your readers through your social media outlets, as well as reaching out to some of your favourite brands via social media. If a PR sends you a press release you are not interested in, instead of deleting it, ask them if you could see anything from their other clients. 
  • Random advertising that does not fit in with the ethos of your site alienates other advertisers. Also, try not to advertise competitors of brands you are collaborating with. 
  • You can monetize your blog at any point, however big or small it is. Your revenue will grow with your blog. 

#5: Social media: How to use it effectively to promote your blog, find new readers and build your brand.

Moderated by: Clare Neilson, CCLAREBEAR
Panelists: Alex Outlaw, Motilo, Zara Stone Rabinowicz, Almost Zara, Emily Quintin, Online Communications Consultant, Alisa Gould-Simon, Pose

  • Only use the social media outlets that you enjoy using. If you have to forse yourself to do it, it will feel forced and be inauthentic. 
  • Use your social media outlets to start a conversation with and among your readers, not just as a way of distributing your content. 
  • As far as Facebook pages are concerned, keep your updates short and snappy. Integrating your blog posts by using an RSS feed will make your life a lot easier. As a way of reaching out to brands, tag their pages, where relevant, in your content. 

Congratulations those of you who made it to the end of what has to be the most text heavy post I have ever written - I hope you have found it useful, and I promise you my posts will return to their full colour photo glory tomorrow!

Do you have any sucsessful blogging tips that are not run of the mill you would like to share? 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Weekly Love: Week 103

Firstly, I just wanted to apologise to you all for not updating in a while; I've been really rather sick in between attempting to sit my end of year uni exams. However, now I've finished I've got a lot of exciting new things planned for the blog, as well as a load of Press Day coverage from the last few days. I'm attending the iFabbo conference tomorrow which I'll be sure to jot down everything I learn for you all! I'm moving out of my London flat for good on Sunday, but I'm sure I'll be back in London to see people or for meetings too!
1. Kathryn eating a burger in The Diner with her Nails Inc Jubilee manicure a la Burgers and Nails. | 2. A trip to Canterbury in my new car Arabella. | 3. Sampling Pinkberry's new limited edition Salted Caramel flavour in Selfridges - I really recommend it! | 4. Non-alcoholic cocktails because I was driving! | 5. My favourite tee shirt print at the Mercy & Wild launch. I really urge you all to head over to their website and support the amazing fundraising and awareness they are doing for Dyslexia. | 6. A mouthwatering mixed seafood platter at Cafe Mauresque in Canterbury with Kathryn

Finally, I would really appreciate it if you would all lend your support and nominate me in the Cosmopolitan Magazine Blog Awards 2012. You can nominate in the category of 'Best Lifestyle Blog' and my beauty blog The Glossy Guide in the category of 'Best New Beauty Blogger' - thank you so much! 

What have you been enjoying this week?

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Introducing: Vestiaire Collective (My New Online Shopping Addiction)

Today marks the first part of a two part collaboration with what has to be one of the best fashion websites I have come across in a very long time and I am totally obsessed with: Vestiaire Collective. The concept is pretty simple, it is a specially curated shopping site exclusively for designer clothing and accessories, a bit like eBay but with no bidding, just fixed prices, an in built authenticating service and a total dose of awesomeness. Since I found out about the French site that has just launched in the UK I have spend absolutely hours browsing the amazing current collection and sought after past collection items to be found at amazing prices on the site, some of the things never even worn or used, or just worn once or twice. 
Prada Organza Lime Green Shirt, size 10-12: £337.76, Miu Miu Glitter Heels, size 5: £273.43, Marni Statement Necklace: £144.76, Prada Printed Skirt, size 12: £394.06

I think this lime green Prada shirt would be the perfect casual piece for Summer. I think Rumi Neeley has it, or it in a different colour? Speaking of Prada, how totally awesome is this black and white photo print skirt, and I really wish the sandals below were in my size when I was shopping. Prada shoes for only about £200?! I was also pretty peeved about the lack of Miu Miu shoes in my size. These pumps are my size, but I won't get on with this style of shoe, but now sold were some of those awesome embellished glitter and spike Miu Miu trainers in gold and lime green. Another style note, if your patient and check the site every day I'm pretty sure you could get your hands on some Isabel Marrant wedge trainers - I missed a pair in my size by about two days... 
Prada Pumps, size 6.5: £201.05, Acne Dress, size 10: £112.59, Antik Batik Python Bag: £160.84, Jimmy Choo Sandals, size  5: £361.89

I think this Acne dress for only £113 is a total steal, size 10, less than an All Saints dress even, and I'm still quite tempted by it. Also, please remind me why these Jimmy Choos in my size were not on the site while I had a little money to spend?!
So I could get to try out the whole process for myself the wonderful team at Vestiaire Collective hooked my up with some vouchers, and do you remember this beautiful black and gold See by Chloe bag I street style snapped during London Fashion Week? (It is from the AW10 collection I think) I managed to track it down for just under £250, brand new from Paris, and for part 3 of my Vestiaire Collective collaboration I can't wait to share outfit photos of it with you! I've been watching the tracking on my dashboard from purchase, to it being received by the authenticators in Paris to it being dispatched out to me, and it should arrive any day now!

Luckily for you guys, my fellow bloggers and I are not the only ones that the wonderful Vestiaire Collective team want to treat to celebrate their UK launch; keep your eyes out for my second Vestiaire Collective post over the next few days where the team will be giving £500 to spend on their site (hello new pair of Louboutins or Mulberry handbag) and some £100 and £200 vouchers (a pair of Prada sunglasses maybe?) If it were not for finding my new Chloe bag, I would be really jealous of the future winners right now! 

Have any of you heard of or used Vestiaire Collective before, maybe the French version? I'm going to try and see if my Kat Maconie boots I wore to London Fashion Week will make the cut to sell, as I'm not really enamoured with them as I used to be!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Style Inspiration: Los Angeles Style Bloggers

On my laptop, I like to have everything carefully organised, and this even extends even as far as my Bloglovin' feed which I have categorised by Country, City (if within the UK), and by State for American blogs. Something I have noticed, particularly in the style department my feed is overwhelmingly occupied by Californian blogs, mostly by style bloggers from Los Angeles. I don't know what it is about the chic, casual and laid back style LA bloggers seemed to have encapsulated, but I really wish I could emulate it! 
Mildly ironic that I'm starting my post on Los Angeles style bloggers with a Londoner, but Ashley from Ring My Bell is living my dream, living in Los Angeles for her acting (those of you who watch Revenge (if you don't watch Revenge, start!) will recognise her as playing Ashley, the scheming party planner). In spite of her roots, I think she captures laid back and chic LA style perfectly. She also wears Topshop on the red carpet and owns an enviable pair of neon green Louboutins

Julia, who writes Sincerely, Jules has personal style so effortless I'm eternally envious, but it is a style you really can learn from. Just from these photos you can see how she mixes brights and neutrals, or simply just slings her jacket over her shoulders, rolls her sleeves or tucks her shirt to add just that little bit extra to her look. Also, I love how she manages to effortlessly pair Converse with everything from girly skirts to evening dresses - I wish I could pull that look off like she does!
Living in West Hollywood and shooting a vast proportion of her outfit posts on the beach, it is Shea Marie from Cheyenne Meets Chanel who has me truly dreaming of the sunshine state. I love how she pairs wonderful basics from such affordable places (this is the blog to make your Forever 21 shopping list from, for example) into simple but stylish and durable everyday laid back outfits. Also, her outfits posts include other snippet photos from Los Angeles that have made up the main body of my Californication Pinterest board

Out of them all, Liz from Late Afternoon's outfits remind me the most of 'traditional' style bloggers outfits, but the ways she puts her clothes together is just impressive beyond belief; no wonder she now works as a stylist for Threadscence (remember the one with the kick as Coachella themed lookbook?) I love the way she can be versatile, dressing for anything from a glamorous fashion show to a desert music festival (her outfit on the far right was from Coachella, one of my all time favourites of hers) all with her signature polish.

Do all of your favourite blogs seem to be based all in one city, or do you like reading blogs from all of the world! I have not had any great new blogs to read in ages, so if you have any recommendations I'd love it if you'd leave them in the comments section! 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

DIY: Fun Floral Flower Pots

So, I thought this afternoon I'd post something a little different to the usual fashion DIY's floating around the blogasphere. I remember when I was really little after school every Spring I used to join my Mummy in the greenhouse to plant up flower pots and hanging baskets, as well as some basic vegetables. Want to know how to grow your own peas in a drainpipe? I'm your girl! 
While there will always be a special place in my heart for hanging baskets (I adore long streams of trailing flowers), what I love about planting big pairs of flower pots with brightly coloured themed arrangements you can put them either side of your door, or on your patio to enjoy, regardless if you live in the town, city or in the countryside like I do at the moment (these two particular pots are to go either side of the back door at my parents house). What I love even more about them, they are stupidly easy to put together and look amazing! 
First you'll need to prepare your pots. The ones I was using were prepared ready when the plants were taken out last year, but they are pretty simple to do. You can use any type of pot, as long as there is a hole in the bottom for water to drain through. To stop too much water coming out the pot however, and to stop all the compost washing out all the hole, it is a good idea to put a few oddly shaped stones or broken pieces of pot over the hole, so water can still come out, but not flood out. Next, fill the pot with about 2 inches left till the brim with good quality potting compost which you can buy from places like the garden section of B&Q, Homebase and I think they even have it in Tescos at the moment. 
Next, the most important thing is choosing your plants. I drove out to my local garden center (which I blogger some photos from last year) for mine, but again you can pick them up in B&Q, Homebase or Tescos to name a few places. How many you'll need depends on the size of your pot, but I would say you should be able to plant them as is with a few inches in the pot around each plant to allow them to grow. 
Two things are important when you are choosing your plants, colour and balance. Colour wise, this year I think it would be create to go for all whites, blues and reds, because they not only look striking together, but if you plant them this weekend they'll be blooming red, white and blue in time for the Queen's Golden Jubilee weekend! I was tempted to go for red, white and blue myself for this very reason, but I did that last year to celebrate the Royal Wedding, so instead I've decided to go for a pink, blue, white and purple pastel theme in keeping with this Spring seasons wardrobe, and inspired by these beautiful Geraniums that were already flowering when I bought them. They key is you want colours that go well together, and some variety so you don't have an overload of the same colour and shade. I also like to mix in a few plants with nice coloured leaves that don't flower for a bit of variety so it is not a total floral overload, too! 

As far as balance goes, I try to buy an equal amount of plants that say upright on the label, which means they will grow upright and like a bush, and training, which will grow downwards and trail flowers over the edge of the pot.
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Actually planting the plants is pretty simple. All you have to do is dig a hole, remove the plant from its pot, stick it in, fill around the edges of the hole with compost and press it down gently around the base of the plant gently with your fingers, repeating the process until you have used up all of your plants. 
The only bit that might be a little tricky if you've never potted plants before is removing them from the pots. Depending how long they have been in the pot and how developed the roots are, will depend on how easy they are to free from their pots. The trick is to gently squeeze around the plastic pot to free the soil and the roots from the sides of the pot, then hold onto the plant with one hand and gently pull the plastic pot off the bottom, maybe squeezing it a little more as you pull. Unless you are very, very unlucky and the plants are very, very young which they should not be, the plants roots will keep the pot shape with the compost for you to just stick straight into the hole you have just dug. 
When I am planting I try to keep the two pots like a mirror image of each other, either side of the door. I try to plant the plants that grow upwards towards the back and middle for height, and the larger training ones at the front. I like to fill in the gaps and the sides with a smaller training flower. I love a wonderful flower called Lobelia for this which spreads and grows like anything, and you can get in light and dark shades of pink, purple and blue, and in white too. I try to plant the brightest flower on the inside edge of the pot that will be nearest the door, and a trailing plant that has no flowers on the outside edge. This is personally how I like to do it, but you can mix it up and play around with your own arrangements and designs depending on which plants you pick out. 
It does not matter if you have got a bit messy with the plants and the soil, as afterwards once you have put your pots in place you need to water the plants in, giving them a nice drink to settle them into their new homes. Usually in the English weather, the rain will look after these, but if not make sure you keep them well watered, and they should bloom rather quickly! 

If you try this out on any scale, I'd love to hear how you get on, and hopefully see some photos! You can plant these any time over the next month to enjoy during the Summer, and I'll be sure to post some photos soon of my pots when they are in full bloom! 

Friday, 4 May 2012

Weekly Love: Week 102

After finally passing my driving test at the end of last week (!!!) this week has included another mini trip back up to London for a very important and exciting meeting relating to the big secret I'm just bursting to reveal to you all (I don't have a reveal date yet, but I hope it will be some time next month!), the Batiste Lace Party, some more catch-ups with friends and most importantly to vote for Boris in the London Mayor elections. I'm off to test my new found freedom by driving into Canterbury to pick up my friend Kathryn this evening, instead of the other way around! 
1. Batiste Cupcakes at the Batiste Lace Party. | 2. My nail polish shade of the week, Essie's 'To Buy Or Not To Buy. | 3. My obligatory watermelon Pinkberry with chocolate curls, strawberry, mango and raspberry.  | 4. Delicious Brazilian Barbecue Ribs at Cabana Brazilian Barbecue at Westfield, Stratford City | 5. I fell totally in love with the 'Natural' April Glossybox. | 6. Beautiful wedge trainers from The Kooples, modeled by Sherin.

What have you been enjoying this week?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Places To Eat In London: Cabana Brazilian Barbecue

On Tuesday night, in search of an early pre (and for me post) shop supper Eleanor and I were following our noses through the outside restaurant area at Westfield, Stratford City in search of the delicious BBQ smell that was wafting towards us. It turned out that what we were smelling was Cabana Brazilian Barbecue. We'd never had Brazilian food before, but we were rather impressed, and ate all of the sheer mountain of food we ordered! (I would have actually had more if I'd had been able to find room for it!)
The menu was pretty great. Either you can pick from combos or go a la carte, which is what we did. You can start with street food plates to share (though we had our own as most of them featured cheese which I don't really get on with). Then you can choose form any combination of skewers or other barbecued goods to go with salads or sides. We were too full to have any, but I spied a frozen yogurt counter in the back of the restaurant. When your skewers were served the server places a red table mat on our table, and told us if we wanted any more food or drinks we just had to turn it over so it was green and a server would be alerted. In fact, the service in the restaurant was fantastic up until it came to paying the bill which we were rather impatient to do, but I think that had something to do with wanting to hit the shops before they closed as we'd spend a bit longer in the restaurant than we'd originally intended!
The  cocktail menu was pretty extensive and creative, and it took me a very long time to choose. In the end I went for an absolutely magazine cocktail they had blended themselves called Toucan Iced Tea. It contained Cachaca (a type of Rum, national drink of Brazil), Pimms, Maraschino, fresh citrus juice, camomile tea, pineapple juice and rosemary. I had not had a cocktail that good since I discovered The Diner's Southern Iced Tea blend.
To start, Eleanor had crispy pastel pockets stuffed with cheese served with a side of chilli; she really seemed to enjoy them!
I had Chicken Coxinhas, which were slightly bredded and fried mountains of shredded chicken cooked in slightly creamy spices, absolutely mouthwatering. Both of these starters made us very, very excited for the main course to arrive.
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For my main I indulged in a side of sticky pork ribs which came off the bone perfectly and were fantastically and uniquely fragrant; I had never tasted ribs cooked quite like it and I would have happily eaten another side, and that is coming from someone who hardly eats any meat at all!
With my ribs I decided to try the Brio-Brio Rice which was fried with garlic, herbs, spring onions and shallots. It was lovely, and made a fantastic change from the chinese fried rices I'm usually sampling.
Eleanor had the bacon wrapped chicken and mushroom skewers. When they come to the table the server is holding the big metal barbecue were and slided the food off right onto your plate. I would have happily eaten her meal too, it looked and smelt fantastic!

When the bill came we were given two wrist ribbons that our server explained to us were Brazilian good luck ribbons. This was a lovely touch, but what I think was an even better was the fact if you return with your last bill receipt you get 10% off your next meal. Also, if you go to the Cabana feedback website and enter the code on your bill and leave feedback they'll send you a voucher for a free vegetable skewer. We ate in Cabana at Westfield, Stratford City but they also have a location in Covent Garden.

Have any of you eaten in Cabana or had Brazilian Barbecue before?