Saturday, 28 September 2013

Kudos to those thinking BIG when the means are small...

Ellie Good editor of Egg Mag

Hello to Ellie from Egg Mag who I think is doing a splendiferous job in making green and sustainable issues accessible, fun and relevant. Using all her work experience from doing Art & Design Direction for women’s glossy magazines she wanted to buck the trend for ‘must-have items’ and mass consumption and Egg Mag was born. She started Egg Mag in March 2009 as a print magazine then realised online was where it’s at as of July 2011 Egg Mag has been doing its thang on the world wide web ever since.

The criteria for production? A magazine that Ellie and her friends would want to read, with a non-preachy, chatty tone. With over 3,000 unique hits per month Egg Mag is a mash-up of green events, green and ethical fashion and cool products which don’t harm the environment.

So I’m sure the questions on everybody’s lips is - Why call it Egg Mag?

“The name came from when I was setting up the printed mag and I was thinking of names of trees and other natural things, but they all sounded very ‘worthy’ and hippy. I wanted it to sound catchy, quirky and interesting. An egg is a natural thing and is the start of a new life, so it fit the bill well. Mag, obviously because it is a magazine (online now of course). My initials are EG too, so it was kind of a combination of these things that made me choose it.”

What’s next for Egg Mag then? Ellie has hit on a wonderful idea of creating an Egg Mag agency called Egg Makers – a collective of ethical and sustainable businesses which can help other companies who want to become more ethical in their practices. Then there is her on-going Packaging Protest and whispers of an Egg Mag shop as well.

Hoorah! No more sweeping the green issues of the day under the carpet – get your Egg Mag out and get ready to change your world. Kudos for thinking green BIG when the means are small. 

You can read the wonder of Egg Mag: click here 
And tweet Ellie from Egg Mag: click here

Friday, 20 September 2013

Purer than the driven....cashmere (think it's too early for snow, don't you?)

Pure Collection

You may have seen Pure Collection catalogues dropping out of the woodwork when you ripped open your Sunday papers. You may have seen their banner ads online. You may have even heard their name mentioned around York as the latest place to shop. But if you haven't let me fill you in on who and what they are. Pure Collection is one of the biggest online and catalogue retailers of cashmere in the UK. Started 11 years ago as a catalogue brand they have since upped their ante by expanding into the world wide web and are now bucking the retail trend by actually opening some stores instead of closing them down.

Now I think cashmere is a little bit wonderful, a true wardrobe hero. You can style it up, dress it down and it goes with almost anything. The sheer beauty of cashmere is that it is the one of the most luxurious fabrics on the planet and Pure Collection have transported that luxury into your wardrobe. How very kind of them. Last week I was honoured to go and see the new Autumn/Winter Collection in the York store and do some styling for some of their customers at a preview evening.

SELFIE ALERT!!! Wearing a washed Silk Blouse and
Cashmere Roundneck Sweater

Some things I found out whilst I was there:

  • The cashmere crop can only be harvested once a year.
  • Said crop originates from goats in Mongolia.
  • It is too warm in the UK for said goats to survive that's why they thrive in Mongolia  where it is mountainous and cold. Brrrrrr....
  • It takes 4-6 goats to make 1 jumper.
Ever wondered why the price of cashmere differs so widely on our Great British High Street? Pure Collection uses the longest fibres of cashmere to weave their jumpers which cost the most. Brands like M&S use the shorter ones which cost less but will start to pill more when you wear them. There are also different weights of cashmere: 1-20. 20 being the thickest (called Gassato), 1 being the finest (called Featherweight.) 

So what of Pure Collection AW13? Just heaven. I love a roundneck and some jewels so the jumper from their Core Collection suited me down to the ground and what a revelation in the washed Silk Blouse: modern asymmetric hem, set in sleeves AND IT FITS OVER THE GIRLS!!!!! I struggle BIG TIME with shirts as they usually 'pop' open over the bust which not only ruins the line of an outfit but also exposes your bra. Classy. But the washed silk blouse runs true to size and the buttons stayed closed, the fabric sat flat to my breastbone and all was well in my world. 

Other beauties which caught my eye were the Soft Wool Coat (the almond colour now with a 9 week waiting list after recently being featured in the Telegraph fashion pages), the wonderful Portland bag in buttery soft leather and the Pashmina Shawl in modern camel which is perfect on a long haul flight or for just looking awesome in. 

Do you want to know what else is great? The scarves also come in 3 lengths and they make an excellent Christmas gift for that person who you really should know better....but don't. The brand is also ethical and sustainable - TRUE FACT. The factories where the cashmere is spun adheres to western working hours and conditions and the Pure Collection goats are a well looked bunch so much so that Pure Collection has received a 100% sustainable accreditation. 

So leave your pre-conceptions about cashmere at the door and head over to Pure Collection for the ultimate winter wardrobe. But check out how fit the shop-fit is first:

Pure Collection do their own cashmere care liquid.

The shop fit screams quirky luxury 

The story of the Mongolian goats - check out the mini jumper!!

The wallpaper in the fitting room - yes please.


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Swish Leeds

I love a good clothes swap. And here's why (in numbered format no less):

  1. It keeps clothes out of landfill: We all get bored of our clothes. But the clothes that may (and it pains me to say this, it really does, but it happens 10,000 times every 5 minutes) end up in the bin out of sheer boredom or "can't be arsed" to take to the charity shop can be given a new lease of life when given to somebody else.
  2. Free clothes: The only money you'll spend is the ticket price to get in or buying the cup of tea when you are there. 
  3. Free clothes: Such a good point I made it twice. When it's the end of the month and you are a bit squeezed on the financials front but you really, really, really want some new clothes then these are essentially free! You just need to donate some of the clothes you are bored with/can't fit in to to get the ball rolling.
  4. Takes you outside your comfort zone: You know that zone you get in - it may be jeans, ballet flats and a cardigan. It may be leggings, ballet flats and a long cardigan. That zone is full of little patterns that you repeat...and repeat... and repeat. But throw off the shackles of cardigan-dom! Kick the ballet flats to the curb! Use those lovely, free clothes we talked about (twice) and EXPERIMENT!! Try a jacket, get some high heeled boots! If you don't like them you can swap them again. That's the sheer beauty of clothes swaps!
  5. Networking: Why yes. As a business woman I am always looking for ways to extend my networks. Clothes swaps are a great place to meet other women and bond over a common love/hatred of clothes. You never know who you might meet there.
This month there is cracking clothes swap for you to test the water in: 

SWISH LEEDS on the 19th September in the Corn Exchange in Leeds. 

Accompanied by a DJ and whilst stuffing your face with tasty (free) treats you can swish the night away at this high end event which only costs £20 to attend. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Behold the 2013 M&S AW13 campaign shot by Annie Leibovitz. They brought out the big guns didn't they? So who have we got here: Helen Mirren, Ellie Goulding, Katie Piper, Grace Coddingon (the flame haired beauty), Tracy Emin, Karen Elson, Nicola Adams. It's like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy except Actress, Singer, Artist, Boxer - and a gold medallist to boot.

Well, what can I say? I love it.

I frequent M&S to buy my pants (not my bras - Bravissimo all the way) but rarely do I venture there for clothes. I pass through the racks and routinely feel....uninspired. The worry that comes with the "best stuff" on offer is that everyone will be wearing it because the "best stuff" is so few and far between. But glancing my eyes over the shots for the latest campaign, not only have M&S nailed the new season looks (leather, pink, tartan) they have showcased them on women of all ages making them instantly accessible and wearable.

What will left to be seen is if M&S have got their supply chain right and bought enough of the "best stuff" in the first place or whether just the larger stores will be serviced with the gems leaving the dregs for the smaller stores thus pissing women off who have been fashion-penalised due to their geographical location. But then again, there's always online (click here for M&S website)

With a supplement in the September issue of Vogue, M&S have upped their fashion credentials and with the canny mid August press sweep they are leaps and bounds ahead of other retailers in the AW13 new season rush to secure consumer spending power.

Job well done M&S, job well done. Now Karen Elson - hand me those leather leggings.

You've guessed it...more tea...

My love for tea is well documented. Now a teetotaller tea has risen to the top of my drinks cabinet. It has been known that I order a tea on a night out from time to time. A couple of months ago I was working on my Wardrobe Angel Social Media Strategy (read: losing time in the Twitter vortex) I entered a competition to win some tea and I WON!!! I was the lucky recipient of some very awesome tea from Melissa the owner of Choi Teas.  

When my Chinese tea arrived - heaven. Beautifully packaged with instructions on how to brew I couldn't wait to get the kettle on. In my box I received: wild green tea, chrysanthemum flowers and giant flowering tea bulbs (personal fave). First up - the tea bulbs. Disregarding the mugs in my kitchen cupboard, I cracked out some china (an Xmas present that had been waiting for an occasion to rise to) and set to...

Visually arresting non? They literally bloom before your eyes! In the bumph Melissa sent one of the quotes is "few teas have the glamour of Choi Time's range," and it's true. Such an awesome idea for a dinner table decoration - china, water and flowers - simple yet abundantly decadent. Or simply if you need a bit of low-key drama in an otherwise average day - sling one of these in a cup and away you go!

Then there's the health benefits as well: caffeine free, aids digestion and can purify the skin. These sets would make a great xmas gift/stocking filler so get yourself over to the Choi Time website and fill your cart; December will be here before you know it. 

Business Growth? Yes please!

Kudos to those working in their community, for their community, to further their community

 Jocy Hunter of Business Growth Calderdale

When I was thinking about starting The Wardrobe Angel (TWA) I bought "Starting a Business for Dummies" but no amount of reading can prepare you for the leap of faith you have to summon when you strike out for yourself. When people ask me how it felt to give up my "proper" job and start out on my own I always say it's like toppling over a cliff, hanging onto a cliff edge with your fingernails and I stay or do I go? You don't know what's beneath you, or what's going to catch you but you can't stay on the cliff edge forever so you just have to let go and trust in yourself that you will survive. 

One organisation that has helped me beyond belief has been Business Growth Calderdale (BGC). I happened upon them last October when TWA was 15months old - still a start-up and still finding my feet. It was just one of those random afternoon surfing the Grand Old World Wide Web and boom! Suddenly I had a meeting arranged with Jocy (Head Honcho at BCG) about getting a business mentor. For me the vital tool has been the mentoring scheme. I sit down once a month with my business mentor, Dawn, and without a shadow of a doubt she has focused my mind, aligned my business thinking with my career and personal goals and helped me strategize my business, month on month, quarter on quarter. I often joke that Jocy should start a dating website because she was responsible for 'matching' Dawn and I! 

So....we have the who, now the wherewhat and why. The What - BGC is a scheme which helps businesses overcome obstacles to their continue success, it's all about identifying the barriers, knocking them down and letting business thrive, in turn increasing profit, in turn creating jobs . 

The Where is in Calderdale - the scheme is a pilot which is now being copied by Leeds City Region. Lucky Yorkshire folk, aren't we?! The Why happens to be because of EU funding (I know! And you thought they did nowt!). Started in April 2011, BGC kicked in like a defibrillator sending a shock to an ailing heart and started seeing results in October 2011. The project runs until March 2014 and council worker bees are gathering evidence to show how and why the scheme has worked in order to secure more funding. Jobs is one of the measuring tools used: with advice and mentoring from BGC 1 firm safeguarded all their employees jobs. Other companies have stopped doing low profit work and have started driving higher profit as a result of BGC intervention. 

All in all a bloomin grand scheme doing excellent work (and providing work!) in my manor! Maybe you should take note, George Osbourne - the solution to fixing the economy may be closer to home than you think. 

For the BGC website click here and for BGC Twitter click here