Thursday, 28 November 2013

Fill your cup

Staffed by writers, musicians, graphic designers, Teacup has been rocking the Northern Quarter with its home brewed creative juice for the past 7 years. I meet clients there to chat wardrobes, have munched on poached eggs surrounded by  friends, and even treated a  family member to some cake and I have been known to hang out there Hans Solo and read a magazine whilst enjoying the tasty tea shaped treats.

Cake. CAKE!!!!

Scrolling back through my twitter feed, I tweet about tea a lot, especially where Teacup is concerned. What I love is their rock solid branding; their online identity matches your experience inside. Tweet them up and you get back such response as “Holla!” and “bloggy blog blog blog” – the marketing and SM lady Bex has distilled the Teacup atmosphere with her online wordsmithery and tweets it out loud and proud. In a quarter of the city where every street contains at least 2 tea/coffee drinking establishments, Teacup has carved out its niche, put down roots and turned on the oven,

“In this area everyone has something to offer but we try do what we do consistently well. We are polite and welcoming.”

Never a truer word spoken, Zoe, General Manager. Not to mention the CAKE. And the roots are spreading – with pop-up shops springing up in the Market Restaurant there are lots of plans afoot. Is Teacup expanding I hear you cry? Whisper it – yes. But where? Couldn't tell ya but at least you know what you are going to get when Teacup opens its doors in other locations around Manchester: tea, cake and awesomeness. They use the best quality ingredients, Fairtrade and locally sourced where possible and all the food is prepared in house. So high is the demand to wear the brown t-shirt of Teacup that people drop in homemade cakes instead of a written CV. 

When the Pussy Riot ladies were arrested in Russia, Teacup was the location for a fundraiser for them, “it was a fantastic night, really interesting,” with debating and a live band. This kind of behaviour typifies the brand, reflecting the times. And I couldn’t complete the blog post without a ‘holla!’ to the inventive 50 Shades of Earl grey menu that Teacup got going on!

Teacup, I salute you. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christmas Baubles

Fed up with tarnished and scratched jewellery? Well, you’re not alone. A question the Wardrobe 
Angel gets asked regularly is‘how are you supposed to look after your jewellery?’ So, I decided to find out and get some advice and tips from GillianTinney who owns 
Yorkshire based Dee and Gee Designs selling luxurious yet affordable jewellery made from
precious metals, stones and pearls sourced from all around the world. 

“When we get ready to go out, there’s tendency to spray on our perfume and put the finishing touches to our hair at the end,”says Gillian. “The trouble is direct contact with liquids and 
aerosols, including perfume, insect repellent, creams, makeup and hairspray, can really affect the 
quality and condition of pearls, precious metals etc, so really need to be avoided. We realised a lot of people don't know how to care for their jewellery so we included a little 'Care and Cleaning' card as standard with each item purchased as well as having a page on our website (click here to be transported!) dedicated to jewellery cleaning. "The simplest advice I can give anyone, " Gillian explains, "is jewellery should be the last on and first off as it makes an amazing difference. Also there are slight differences in how to care for you pearls and precious metal jewellery."

Gillian's top tips for Caring for Pearls:

Before putting on your pearls make sure your body cream, perfume, hairspray have all 'dried' first. To remove natural body oils prior to putting your pearls away, just gently wipe them using a soft lint-free cloth. If dirty, use a lightly dampened lint-free cloth. Always make sure they are air dried before storing though. 

NEVER clean your pearls:

  • Using an ultrasonic cleaning machine
  • In solutions that contain ammonia or harsh detergents
  • Using an abrasive cleaner or by rubbing them with an abrasive cloth. 
You have been warned!! One of the reasons Dee and Gee Designs places all of their pieces in their very own jewellery bag is that jewellery, particularly pearls, should be stored separately as they can get scratched. Store your pearls in their own slot in your jewellery box. If you don't have a jewellery box then store them in a small drawer. 

If you are thinking about Christmas presents then I can highly recommend Dee and Gee Designs: they bridge the gap between high street and designer jewellery so effortlessly and are classical with a contemporary twist. 

Next up: looking after Sterling Silver!!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

In praise of sensible clothing...

Late last month I trekked over to Holland to see my mate Clare and take part in a half marathon on the island of Terschelling. This winter season I have been rocking my grey Cos wool with it's hint of androgyny but Holland ain't like here - the dress is a lot more casual and they bike EVERYWHERE. I also knew that Terschelling would be, in the kind words of Clare "freezing" so I didn't think said Cos coat would cut the freezing cold mustard plus I didn't want to tempt fate by getting greasy bike oil all over it either.

Now I have a very dramatic style and it has taken years for me to settle on a wardrobe which works for me and the upshot is that I don't really do 'dressed down'. Each year when my family pile into Centre Parcs I am probably the least equipped and therefore the most cold. I love an oversized camel coat but at Centre Parcs it won't really keep you toasty when you are hanging
out with your nephew at the outdoor play area with the wind whipping around you. I was determined to be warm for my Holland trip, Being cold is downright miserable and I wanted to enjoy the whole experience of cycling EVERYWHERE and not be thinking "how long is this going to last? I want to go home and have a brew."

So casting off my stylish sensibilities I went in search of a down jacket...

My Cos coat shot at dusk

The criteria were clear: black, belted and won't make me look like the Michelin man. With that in mind I took my search to eBay, found a jacket and promptly ordered it. I don't think I have ever had such a warm coat. It was hands-down IMMENSE. Black, belted and with faux fur around the hood all the way from Zara - it served me so well during my 4 day away - it was like living in a sleeping bag. Only my nose was cold. 

Hi Selfie! You can just see a peek of a vintage scarf creeping out, 

Vintage boots and bag completed my sensible "look".

 The weekend was lived out of a carry-on suitcase so all of my clothing was tonal (except my high vis vest which I had ready to rock on the morning of the half marathon) - black Jamie High Waisted jeans and black cashmere were the wardrobes of the day with some navy cashmere thrown in for good measure and a couple of vintage scarves to add some pattern and a shot of colour.

Ah sensible clothing! I can remember trotting out in the snow through the mean streets of Halifax on many a winters night our when I was a teenager in nowt but a dress - that's right - WITH NO COAT. Maybe its because I turned 33 this month but sensible clothing, I salute you. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

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

Kudos this month goes to Chris Sands – the brains behind Totally Locally.

Not heard of Totally Locally? Shame on you. It is the concept of shopping locally, supporting your local businesses and creating a sense of place in your community. Now it seems like a simple idea and therein lies the beauty – it really is a simple idea with BIG THINKING behind it. Devoid of Mary Portas and white papers from David Cameron this grass roots movement germinated in Yorkshire in 2009 and, as with all great ideas, sprouted legs and over the years has reached into far flung corners of the earth including California, Australia and Greece.

There is a Totally Locally toolkit available online to download. Now, tread carefully – Councils are banned from downloading the kit. Why? Totally Locally has to start with the shop owners, the traders, the retailers themselves. Get their investment and the rest will follow. Top down ideas from the Council and the idea falters – people are alienated if they are not involved, it’s the Council thinking they know best.

2 towns download the kit each day. They are simple marketing tools which are a guide to help towns figure out how they want to launch and maintain Totally Locally. One success story (and there are far too many to include here) is Brighouse. They launched a street market, closing off the main street to cars and filling it with stalls laden to the brim with local wares. That Saturday was the busiest Saturday the market had ever seen. The knock-on effect? The following Saturday was the busiest Saturday the shops in Brighouse had ever seen: shoppers wanted to come back, the retailers had made it worth their while. Brighouse have since gone on to hold a 1940’s weekend which is/was a huge success.

Chris Sands has worked on Totally Locally without getting paid – pro bono at its best.

Click here for the Totally Locally website