Monday, 30 September 2013

I have realised I am a smelly person

I have realised I am a smelly person. No I don't stink, I love nice smells. Lately I have noticed how much my emotions are driven by smells; when I am stressed out there is nothing like my favorite aromas to bring me back to my happy place. I don't know, maybe it's an age thing?

When I first smelt L'Occitane's citrus verbena shower gel a few years ago I was immediately reminded of childhood - I can't remember where I know the scent from but it's somewhere in my unconscious memory. I clearly remember the shape of the leaves from the verbena plant and rubbing them together to get the smell on my fingers. This is one plant that I must have on the fire-escape garden.

This is one plant that I must have on the fire-escape garden
The Australians have hit gold with Aeseop, my latest smell crush. Carrying round the Ressurrection Aromatique Hand wash is taking things a bit far but the hand balm is enough to feed my addiction for now. Ex hairdresser Dennis Paphitis stopped cutting hair in 1996 and the rest is a lovely smelling history. Dee Zeen Magazine has a great interview with the founder, and if you take a look at the interview you will see from the pictures that the Aeseop shops are totally lush.

How lovely would it be to have this stash in the bathroom cupboard

Can you even imagine how good mandarin rind, rosemary leaf and cedarwood atlas smells?

My craving for room sprays, candles, hand creams and shower gels is working out much cheaper than my old shoe addiction; which is just as well given how much work we have to do in the house!  When it comes to shower gels in this house there are family ones and there are Mummy's ones - the one's no one is allowed to use. Selfish I know but the boys just need to not smell horrible, they don't need to smell of fig, sandalwood or rosemary!

My 'room' should be ready for me to move furniture into this weekend - thank goodness, so as well as making a giant inspiration board - I am going to celebrate with a new room spray!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Everyone is a business advice expert - or are they?

Everyone is a small business advice expert able to give advice on starting a business according to my twitter feed and I have to confess, I am finding this quite annoying.

Now don’t get me wrong I am all for people sharing advice, encouraging business start-ups and generally championing entrepreneurship. What gets me is that many of the people who are self proclaimed ‘business experts’ quite frankly are not.  Personally I want small business advice from a business entrepreneur who has a track record of success, not someone who self published a few books that are sitting in their bedroom, nor from someone who runs a business that hasn't made any money in real terms for years. Too many of this crew have really bad reputations too. If they were giving ‘how not to do it’ advice – I’d be right there listening to them.

Here's me at Sky for International Womens Day

 I run a business; it is successful in its market. I have been asked to do a few talks based on my experience of having a portfolio career and starting a business alongside having a day job but I am no business guru and I don’t claim to be one. I know I still have lots to learn, that's why I did the School For Creative Start Ups programme last year. It is also why I love Inspirational You – they bring together people starting out in their careers with experienced professionals to talk about the real issues is a really friendly and open format.

I want advice about business finance, business plans and building a better business website, I don't want to know about how great a 'business expert' thinks they are.

Of course I am all for valuing yourself and recognising what you are worth but in my opinion you have to earn the badge of being a business expert from others, it is not something that should be self appointed. Apart from making you quite delusional and rather aggravating it is also really unfair on the unsuspecting people who look to you for advice.

A great book is always good reading, even on holiday.
The people I follow on twitter for the best business advice and inspiration are all successful and experts in their field, not insolvent (as far as I know). And they and are well placed to give advice based on years and years of successful business experience.

 “Don’t believe the hype, business spokespeople are 
recommended to you – not recommended by them self.” 
Denise Rawls, 2013 

If you have a look through my list of good sites you will see that each of these organisations work as collectives, pooling advice, experience and expertise and that is what is so great about them. These organisations are all well established and known for their field of expertise and that is so important. Starting a business is a rocky road regardless of the size of the business and you need the best advice, guidance and support available. There is a very thin line between sharing your story to inspire and encourage and just wanting people to sign up to news feeds to boost your revenue.

StartUp Britian   @Startupbritain
Enterprise Nation - they very nicely put me in one of their books @e_nation
Oh My Hand Made @ohmyhandmade
School for Creative Start Ups  @CreativeS4S
Smarta @Smarta
The Design Trust @TheDesignTrust

'Make Money from Makes' by Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation and features me and Strange Fruit
Emma Jones has a great story to tell. She knows her stuff, people respect her, she has been a business adviser to government for years, people buy her books and she is a lovely warm person. She loves what she does and I think she sees her role as helping people build their business, if she makes money at the same time then win win. You will never get the impression from Emma that she is just in it for the money! That, for me is what makes her special and what makes her worthy of her business expert badge.

I am sure there are more fabulous organisations to add to my list who are equally as useful and informative as those I like to get advice and thoughts from, however, if you are one of those self appointed business advice ‘chancers’ mentors or advisers – I know who you are and so do you.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Excuse the in transition mode

So you will see that the blog is going through some changes so please excuse the messy-ness while the change is in motion, but you know how it is. You have to make a mess to tidy things up - seems this is also true online??

Hopefully the 'About' page sets out where I plan to take this blog and hopefully you will be back soon to see more changes.

Meet Stuart Hall, one man who shaped my life.

I first discovered Stuart Hall, a leading cultural theorist during my media studies. He is in some ways part of why I wanted to start my business.  He beautifully explains the impact on society and identity when there is a lack of diverse visual representation. As well coining the word 'Thatcherism”he puts the world to rights eloquently discussing war, feminism, nuclear disarmament, the miners strike, race and equality. Stuart Hall is one of the people who shaped my world view so seeing The Stuart Hall Project, directed by John Akomfrah for me was an opportunity not to be missed.

In short, Hall's central argument is that a person's identity is continually shaped by surrounding forces. As Peter Bradshaw said in the The Guardian this "film is a tribute to the critic and New Left Review founder Stuart Hall." 

This film is not just a tribute though, it is a personal insight that puts 50 years of history and insight into perspective and gives us some clues into what our future holds if we do not get our crap together and really talk about our county's cultural identity. 

I know I shouldn't but I couldn't resist the old photos!
Now if I can just get my hands on those photos....

Friday, 6 September 2013

A little planning for a trip to Paris

I am excited. I am planning a little shopping trip to Paris with a lovely friend. I haven't had a trip away with a friend since life before Cory (B.C) so more than six years and I cannot wait for a totally Mummy free weekend. The planning is proving to be equally exciting as I am sure the trip itself will be.  November is looking really good for this little Strange Fruit.

I have been looking at hotels, checking maps for flea markets and thinking about the ultimate travel mac and I may even go as far as buying a granny shopper! I must remember to buy one of those cute little pop up maps.

I have been following the Paris related tweets of Natasha Semmence (@ishootandtravel) and her lovely pictures - this girl loves street art - are partly responsible for my wander-lust. I was really grateful when Natasha sent me Marjorie William's guide to flea market shopping in Paris and some links to some gorgeous hotels. 

My favorite hotel has to be Hotel Joyce - I think I need to copy these starburst clocks and how cute is this bedroom?

Hope my O'level French gets me by and oh, did I mention I am so excited?

Buy cheap by twice

My Granny always used to tell me "buy cheap, buy twice" - as usual she's right.

Remember this little school chair? It has been sitting in the basement waiting to be used and now the Boy's room is decorated I decided to paint it.  The chair isn't in great condition and I only paid .99p for it so I figured it would fit the style of the room better black and I wouldn't be ruining a classic. 

Not wanting to spend £20.00 on a whole tin of paint I opted for a tin of all purpose paint, with a gloss finish for £6.00 from the local DIY store.  Said chair was sanded and primed - all good so far. I then, one night last week before bed I did a coat of black paint and left the chair to dry. In the morning all I can say is the chair looked like the equivalent of a cheap, shiny, plastic mac. Put some earrings on it and Pat Butcher would have loved it. 

It looked so horrible I could have cried. Obviously, crying over a chair would have been really silly so I ordered some Autentico furniture paint instead. I used this chalk paint for the bathroom cabinet and it's gorgeous and best of all you don't need to sand the furniture before using. I have a little glass cocktail cabinet in the basement waiting for a make over - I'll use the left over paint on that. 

I knew this cheap paint would be a disaster but I wanted the job done. Note to self - cutting corners never pays - the Autentico paint cost £22.00 including P&P but it is worth every penny isn't it?

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A very vintage shopping list

I know if I go to Judy's Vintage Furniture Flea at York Hall without a plan I will buy way more than a) I can afford and b) have room for so I have spent time thinking about what I really really want. I have surprised myself with a very short shopping list.

Firstly, I would really like to find a wall light. The florescent overhead light we currently have is 100% horrible but as the kitchen is not getting refitted until next year we have to live with it. I am quite sure nicer lighting would make a huge difference, especially as the nights close in and the lights are on more. 

I am liking the idea of adding a neon cord like these one's I've pinned.


Secondly I would like a Sunburst, or other convex and gold mirror. The husband doesn't know it, but I am thinking gold and white for our bedroom. Once we have built the wardrobes and the en-suite the room will be even smaller so we will definitely need mirrors to bounce the light around.

I am hoping our bedroom will look like this eventually.

I am meeting a luscious friend on Sunday, I am tasked with bringing coffee and croissants - we'll see if I can be that organised!

A little shopping update - no convex mirror but I did get the lights - will rewire those soon and pop them off to an electrician for a PAT test.