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We talk rule-breaking, changing the narrative and kids fashion with Zig + Star

Let’s kick off with a question that’s been on my mind – why shoes? What sparked that initial inspiration to start your own business? 

I’d always been frustrated generally by how gendered the kidswear market was… I often shopped in the boy’s section for my two daughters to avoid all the pink unicorns, but when my son arrived, I realised there was a real lack of unisex products. Even as a child myself, I remember feeling how unfair it was that I was expected to dress or behave in a certain way, just because of my gender. In particular, the shoe market remained very old-school in its approach to product development, design + gender. I had worked in fashion for over 20 years but my first (and favourite) category to develop was footwear. So this, combined with being a frustrated parent, who couldn’t find cool shoes for my own kids started me on the journey of developing Zig+Star. After talking about it for a long time, I eventually left my job as Head of Buying at Topshop just over 2 years ago to start working on the brand properly.

Zig + Star are not like any other children’s shoes – they’re so cool. Do they come in adults sizing?!  Tell us your story, Ali. 

Ah, thank you so much!

We’ve had such a great reaction to the brand since launch, I think people appreciate what we’re trying to do, the whole reason for starting the brand was to challenge old gender stereotypes that really do limit our children’s aspirations. Our mission statement is “Let’s give little feet the freedom to take big steps” and that truly represents what we’re about.

Our product is genderless, we love seeing #moreboysinleopard, but the point is, there are no rules – feel free to express yourself and be whoever you want to be. Another key part of the brand is that we wanted them to be good for kid’s feet. The first thing we did was develop a bespoke children’s shoe last (this determines the shape and fit of the shoe) + then worked with a fantastic Paediatric Podiatrist called Tracy Byrne to ensure the product was perfect for kids developing feet. The final part of the Zig+Star puzzle is that we wanted shoes that lasted longer. All our designs are fully adjustable so they can grow + adjust with each child. Adult sizes are definitely on the to-do list, I’ve had lots of requests since launch!

Where can we purchase your collections?

For our first season, we are selling through our own website www.zigandstar.com plus four brilliant London stockists. As a small brand, we only want to work with people that mirror our values and all our stockists have been great, supportive partners (@wordstoreldn, @lunaandcurious, @whatmothermade, @windmill_kids).

Your IG showcases your rule-breaking designs and the importance of being podiatrist-approved. How has Social Media helped to build your brand?  

Well especially as we launched in Lockdown, it has been an absolute lifeline. I’ve never been a particularly avid Social Media user, but I have to say I love it now. As we have been developing the brand and people have joined the journey, it now feels like I’m building a community of like-minded people + like-minded brands too. I’m still at a stage where every like, comment, share means so much… we’ve had some lovely cheerleaders supporting us which is great!

I think people appreciate seeing the work that goes on behind the scenes too. As a small business owner, you are the creative, the Admin Assistant, the Order Processor, even the Delivery Driver. One of the things I have really loved is doing London deliveries and chatting to customers. Social Media is amazing but it can be very consuming, and you can’t beat a good old chinwag on someone’s doorstep.

How do you evolve a business to become sustainable, as well as safe for children’s feet?

The adjustability is key – not only does it mean you can adjust it to any shaped foot securely, but it will grow as they grow. Extending the life of your shoes (either through longer wear or handing them down) is a very simple way to reduce your carbon footprint. Also, all the materials we use have been chosen for their longevity and comfort – breathable leathers – recyclable rubber outsoles that are durable and flexible – even all of our packaging is recycled/recyclable or compostable. Another nifty design element is our shoeboxes. We wanted to remove the need for a secondary bag when you left a shop, so we added a handle. Then we thought, how can it have a life beyond its original purpose.. so we made it into a suitcase design that you could take on your next adventure + added a handy foot measuring chart inside.

The children’s fashion and accessories market is growing year on year, how do you stay unique +  stand out from the other retailers? 

As a parent, I was aware of what was out there in the market. I would go to one shop for their sandals, one for their boots, one for their trainers. But there wasn’t a brand that covered all my needs, or that resonated with me on a personal level. Zig+Star has a clear mission, so every product will be unisex and will have the flexibility of fit and longevity in mind. We use a combination of vintage or sustainable brands in all our shoots and every decision we make has sustainability in mind. Plus we work with like-minded, talented people to help bring our vision to life. I think if we continue to focus on our own mission, we will always stand out.

What’s next for Zig + Star? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years? 

We have a range of boots and shoes coming in for Autumn, also with some very clever design details to add flexible fit. The plan is to introduce other footwear categories, such as podiatrist-approved trainers, jellies + more. Then the sky’s the limit… I have other areas I’d like to branch out to within unisex accessories and clothing… the issue isn’t how far we can take it, it’s the time and money!

Do you have any other brands that you simply love? Or small businesses bosses out there you support?

I have some ex-colleagues absolutely nailing it…. @tibaandmarl, @binibamba, @wildheartswonder, @cabanakids.tm.

They all brought something new and different to their categories and have become THE must-have brands. Looking at them provides real motivation to where I can take Zig+Star in the future.

As an entrepreneur with a parent demographic in mind, how do you find the best work/life balance? 

I don’t think any parent ever feels they are getting the balance right, whether you are working or not. I think the answer is to trust your instincts and not be too hard on yourself. We’ve come through a tough couple of years and we all deserve a lot of credit for that. What I have learned with starting my own brand (and which applies to parenting too) is to roll with the punches – appreciate the highs + know that the lows aren’t there forever.

Follow Ali’s journey online now.

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We talk Imposter Syndrome, powerful healing + the Luna Room with Hannah Lily

Your digital channels + Luna Room feel like such calming places… 

Hannah, tell us your story.

Well, it’s safe to say that my path to Self Mastery first began by walking an utterly uncomfortable, chaotic + wildly dysfunctional road in life. Thankfully, I was destined to alchemise these burdens into my blessings and transmute my complex trauma into self-transformation. Those early years of survival mode + dysfunction alchemised into my greatest gift to be a healer + a way-shower for self-actualisation. 

I always knew I was a Healer, for as long as I can remember I was the agony aunt at school + had such a drive to help people and to see less suffering in the world. But by the time I had grown up… I found myself in the fast lane of life, on the neat path paved out by society, chasing a vision that looked ‘successful’ on the outside, but felt desperately unfulfilling on the inside. I had ended up as a corporate cog, and it was slowly sucking the life force out of me.

Through this wave of unfulfillment, I started to listen more carefully to those little whispers of my intuition, and one day I responded with a bold move. On a whim, I decided to take a sabbatical from my corporate job… little did I know that this decision would lead me to the Mayan Temple of Inscriptions in Mexico, this is where my Dharma was revealed to me. The unraveling of my life’s purpose was so clear! Hand on heart, that moment changed me forever. As soon as I returned from my trip, I began to retrain and invest my time + money into a career change. It’s cliché, but the rest really was history!

As an expert in mindset, self-sabotage, Imposter Syndrome and so much more, tell us your journey to where you are now.

The reason I speak to all of these areas is that once upon a time, I was a master of self-sabotage and an absolute pro of letting the Imposter Syndrome prevent me from reaching my potential! However, I used these defense mechanisms + limiting beliefs as signposts, to direct + show me the way to what needed healing within me. It was a powerful process to journey through and that’s why I am so unbelievably passionate about sharing these insights and guiding the way for my clients. I always remind my clients that ‘I am on this human journey with you.’ It’s through my lived experienced that I have really refined my professional expertise. 

Your events + workshops look incredible, we always ooze over your offerings. In short, what is a sacred place + why are they so important?

I’ve always had a clear vision of creating a place of healing that stirred up inner inspiration. After stepping into numerous temples across the world and placing my feet on ancient lands, I wanted to capture that feeling I used to get from visiting places like these. That is how The Luna Room was born in. 

Of course, sacred spaces don’t need to be as grandiose as this! In fact, I encourage all of my clients to create a sacred space of their own, whether that’s an altar in their bedroom or anchoring into a spot in nature, regardless of what form it takes, it’s a place for you to return home to yourself.  

A sacred space is somewhere that is held with pure intention. It’s the resting place where you can return to your true essence, settle into the now and quieten down the busyness of the mind. When we invite the essence of sacred space into our lives, we find the magic in the mundane and transform elements of our routine into ritual. It’s a  place where you can remember who you really are before the world told you who you had to be! 

How exciting that you can now begin to reopen the Luna Room. What can we expect to see soon? And, can we book immediately!?

Frankly, I cannot contain my excitement! After 6 long months, I can now finally hold face-to-face sessions back at The Luna Room. I have so much in store: from 1:1 Therapy Sessions, Private Healing Journeys, Women’s Circles, Full Moon Ceremonies, Fire Circles, Goddess Supper Clubs, Meditation Classes & Retreats! My events page is up and live with a few gatherings already, so hop on over to www.hannahlilyhealing.com to take a look! Can’t wait to see you there my love.

A big topic for us + the business bosses we love to work with is Imposter Syndrome. What are your initial thoughts on the subject?

By the very nature of the Imposter Syndrome, it leaves you feeling like you’re the only imposter in the room. Like everyone else has it figured out and sussed apart from you. So, firstly, let me oust this… it’s important to note that a whopping 70% of people experience it at one point in their life – so you most definitely are not alone! Imposter Syndrome is a distorted view of your capabilities that is rooted in the feeling of not being enough. If we track this feeling right back to where it began, you’ll find that it often develops in our childhood, and as a result, we adopt various subconscious defense mechanisms or strategies that we use right into adulthood. So, the things that we once used to help us get by can indeed be the very same things that stop us from making progress in the future.  

We love the ideas of the 5 different types of Imposter Syndrome. Could you talk us through these?

The wonderful Dr. Valerie Young has dedicated a lifetime of work to unpacking the Imposter Syndrome and I bring a lot of her theories into my work with clients. Here is an overview of the 5 different types:

The Perfectionist:
This type of person will set extremely high expectations for themselves, even if they meet 99% of their goals, they feel like a failure. Even a small mistake will make them question their own competence and bring on self-doubt. For this type, getting work done is rarely satisfying because they always believe that they could’ve done even better, finding the fault in all that they do.

The Superwoman/man:

This can show up by being a workaholic and often results in burning out. They will work tirelessly hard towards unrealistic goals, pushing to work harder and harder to measure up. But this is just a false cover-up for insecurities. This type feels the need to succeed in all aspects of life. At home, work, relationships, parenting + projects. As they are driven by validation, they aren’t addicted to the work itself but the validation that comes from working.

The Expert:

They fear being exposed as inexperienced or unknowledgeable. They feel the need to know every piece of information before they start a project and constantly look for new certifications or training to improve their skills. This type of person will hold back a lot from speaking out as the fear of saying something incorrect will hinder them from sharing their message and work with the world.

The Natural Genius:

They judge their success based on ease and speed, rather than their efforts. In other words, if they take a long time to master something, they feel shame. This type of person is used to skills coming easily and when they have to put in the effort, their brain tells them that’s proof they’re an imposter.

The Soloist:

They have to accomplish tasks on their own, and if they need to ask for help, they think that means they are a failure or a fraud. It’s okay to be independent, but not to the extent that you refuse assistance so that you can prove your worth.

Is there one can you identify with? Maybe a bit of them all?!

What are your top tips to help navigate the Imposter Syndrome?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when working with Imposter Syndrome.

  • Imposter Syndrome quite often arises when you are getting out of your comfort zone, you’re entering new territory and expanding your wings. Your subconscious mind chimes in and it’s essentially trying to keep you safe within the confines of that comfort zone. But we know nothing grows there, right? When this is the case, don’t take it as a sign to stay small, take this as an invitation that you are expanding and growing towards your fullest potential! When there is growth, at times there can be growth pains too. 
  • One thing to remember is that our inner narrative is a direct reflection of the state of our nervous system. If you want to think differently, you have to FEEL different. Quit living life on hypervigilant survival mode energy, this will not drive the success of your business. Take time to slow down, learn the language of your nervous system and tune into what it’s saying. This shift from hustle to flow will help you lead from an empowered + regulated place. 
  • Another thing to note, Imposter Syndrome is ultimately a distorted view of your capabilities. With this in mind, make a list of your achievements to date, this is something concrete to focus on even when that distorted view wants to come + make an appearance. 
  • Imposter Syndrome also arises when we start comparing ourselves and our journey to others. Do you find yourself doing this? If so, please remember to stay in your lane, shift that focus back to you and your own progress. You are your only competition. 
  • If you find that Imposter Syndrome has become so overwhelming for you that it’s inhibiting the progress of your work, it can be a sign that it’s time to heal your relationship with your self-worth + bring your dysregulated nervous system back into homeostasis. This is the time to seek out support. Trust me, in the future, you will thank you for it! Talking to a trusted friend, go to a local women’s circle, book yourself a session with a coach or a therapist. 

How can our girl-boss readers reach out to you for further healing?

Come have a cuppa + chat with me at The Luna Room! I offer free consultations to anyone who is feeling the call to journey with their healing. This is an informal platform to explore what you need support with – be it anxiety, Imposter Syndrome, or unearthing your purpose. It’s also a place for you to get a real feel for me and how I work, clicking with your therapist is key! For anyone who lives further afield, I offer sessions via Zoom too. 

You can contact me on any of my channels:

Hello@hannahlilyhealing.com

www.hannahlilyhealing.com

www.instagram.com/hannah___lily

As a gorgeous energy, we would love to know your morning routine? 

My routine changes all the time, it will shift and adjust to the energy of the time of year or where I am in my menstrual cycle. It’s so important to remember we are cyclical beings and bring a different energy into each day, so I like to give space to + honor that. I suppose the only routine thing about my morning is asking myself ‘What do I need right now, at this moment?’ This might be to bring some badass energy through energetic breathwork + cold water shower. Some days it’s a slower pace with journaling and a cup of Cacao. Regardless, I have a phone-free morning and make it a priority to fill my cup before I get into the space of work. 

When working with ancient healings, how do you stay on top of new ideas + external pressures in business? 

This is a really great question… when facilitating sacred space for ancient healings, it is really about igniting innate wisdom + traditions of my native land. It is my duty to be grounded and authentic in my work and offerings, not falling into the trap of creating ‘new ideas’ to just keep up with business pressures, as this will take away from the ethos of having a heart-centered + soul-led business. Being a white woman in the wellness industry, it’s also my responsibility to maintain integrity with my offerings and not to cherry-pick healing practices from other cultures just to glamourise the work I’m offering. I always strive to be aligned in my work as this is what lights me up. I’m all for slow and sustainable growth rather than pushing boundaries to keep up with trends + external pressures. 

Finally, what advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Something as simple as this: 

Trust the process, everything is unfolding just as it needs to. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to get it wrong, or to walk the ‘wrong’ road in life. It all serves a purpose + eventually, it will lead you to exactly where you need to be in the end. 

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We talk fashionable kid’s teepees + the coolest accessories with Cabana Kids

Your products are so trendy + with such a passionate ethos.. using eco-friendly natural materials, as well as being recyclable with mindful production. Lizzie, tell us your story.

The idea for Cabana Kids was hatched on a sunny trip to the nearby South Coast shortly into the Lockdown of spring 2020. We had struggled to find a suitable sunshade for our daughter Lillie (who was one at the time) something portable, made of natural materials, and in a colour palette that fitted with our home. Essentially, we were looking for a sunshade with the sun factor AND fun factor! So we thought, in the midst of a life-changing global pandemic, why not be bold and come up with our own concept?

What was the initial inspiration to start your own business?

With my 15+ years experience in the fashion industry as the ex Design Director of URBAN OUTFITTERS combined with my partner, Jamie’s creative and technical know-how from owning Cookie Media Design Agency, a huge shift in personal priorities saw us centering our lives around our family as we sought out a healthier work/home life balance. We set about applying ourselves to the challenge of creating a brand that combined our business experience with our new identities, co-parenting our daughter and Jamie’s two children.

It was from this seed that our range of UPF 50 and anti UV tents and teepees grew!
We wanted to launch a children’s brand which focused on desirable sustainable products for children and teach our children a new way to shop that supported a more ethical approach to living and taught them to think and buy more consciously.

Where can we purchase your gorgeous products?

We launched our Instagram less than 9 months ago and launched our website www.cabanakids.co.uk only 6 weeks ago – the incredible support has blown us away. Daily we see the appetite for our unique collections and daily we are amazed at the response we receive from new customers and clients. The community of entrepreneurs and small business owners on IG is like nothing we have experienced in our careers. There’s a true sense of comradery and everyone wanting to support one another which is fantastic!
We had instant messages of support and recognition from the guys at Gus & Beau whose products we have bought and used long before we launched Cabana Kids and feel quite in awe of their achievements.. similarly, Jo the genius behind Scamp & Dude, someone I worked with many years ago in fashion, has been a huge inspiration on how to create and own your brand identity with a clear and emotive message and most recently we have had some lovely content from an IG brand Kid of The Village, who again styled our products in a unique and different approach which has truly inspired us!

We love your content. Have Social Media helped to build your brand?

We are incredibly lucky that Jamie’s business is branding and website development so he has been able to build the entire Cabana Kids brand as a 360 project! It’s been incredible to watch him take an idea and transform it into what it’s become today – I’m in awe daily of how he interprets a thought and digitally presents it for our audience.
It’s been interesting to see how shifts in consumer habits especially online are paving the way for a new breed of customers and defining their spending habits… to think only 10 years ago the thought of purchasing via a phone or social media platform was almost unthinkable and yet now we are finding the majority of our online traffic is coming from such platforms!

Teepees and tents are such a great play space for children – and adults! In your opinion what’s the importance of ‘play’ for both children and adults?

We believe strongly that play allows children (and adults alike) to use their creativity while developing their imagination and interact with the world around them. In developing Cabana Kids we wanted to provide a range of open-ended toys to allow this sense of discovery in order to grow little and big minds.
We felt strongly that in order to do that we had to make our teepees and tents travel friendly which in turn meant there was flexibility in where the play could happen impromptu, again ensuring imaginations were allowed to be free to explore!

The children’s fashion, nursery, and accessories market is growing year on year, how do you stay unique + stand out from the other retailers?

In order to stay unique and ahead of our competitors we continually design and develop with our own families’ needs in mind. We are forever parent-testing our products with our 3 children’s desires at heart to ensure Cabana Kids continue to grow in the right direction. It’s so hard in a world of constant inspiration online to not get sidetracked into thinking you should be doing something other than what you set out to do, or compare yourself to others… but by constantly reminding ourselves in what we set out to achieve, a range of interior friendly unique dens for little and big imaginations, we hope we can continue to deliver some lasting play memories to our customers.

What’s next for Cabana Kids? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

We have a hugely exciting year ahead in terms of growth and the journey we see Cabana Kids going on.
We are introducing some new products to the range that we believe will enhance the play setups we offer as well as some truly exciting collaborations we can’t wait to share. It’s hard to think of where we will be in 5 years after the unprecedented year we have just had but our biggest dream is to still be providing lasting play memories for our customers for many years to come.

As an entrepreneur with a parent demographic in mind, how do you find the best work/life balance?

The work/life balance is a real struggle for many and we are no exception. It was one of the deciding factors for us setting up Cabana Kids. Jamie and I both work from home and so we have to be disciplined in our work schedules, but we also have the luxury of stealing a break together or taking it in turns to do the school/childminder run! We are very fortunate in that respect.

Finally, what advice would you give your 20-year-old self now?

Follow your gut… always! It very rarely lets you down.

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We talk slowing down + hustle culture with The Weekly Woman

We love The Weekly Woman, ‘Weekly Life Lessons. For Living Your Best Life.’ Tell us, how did it begin? 

Thank you so much for reading! When I was younger, I used to love channelling my creative energy into writing but as I got older and into my late teens/early twenties, this is something that fizzled out. 

I started journaling again a few months back and fell back in love with the whole writing process. I wanted to start writing more consistently and have an online base that I could work on consistently as I’m a big believer in doing small regular practices to improve your skills. I’ve really enjoyed venturing further into the social media world, particularly with blogging and running the Instagram page.   

We are inspired by all businesses launched in Lockdown, what challenges have you had to overcome? What made you ‘take the jump’? 

During the first lockdown, I started a side business on top of my 9-5 and studying for my law exams, which was an amazing experience as I’ve always wanted to start my own business, but the pressure of trying to keep everything ticking over led me to feel overworked, stressed and burnt out. I wasn’t taking care of my body, was always distracted and my sleeping pattern was non-existent. This naturally had a huge negative effect on me. 

In the past year alone through the pandemic I’ve learnt so much (and made a ton of mistakes too) so I thought it might be useful for others to read about some of the ‘life lessons’ I’ve taken from situations that might be perceived as negative. I wanted to take my health and wellbeing more seriously so I’ve been on my own wellness/self-help journey the past few months and over the course of this, I’ve been exposed to some amazing content (through books, podcasts, videos) which has helped change my outlook on life completely. 

My biggest realisation has been that in taking any risk or trying something out of your comfort zone, one of the biggest challenges people face is trying to overcome the fear of failure or rejection. I realised that when I’ve taken risks in the past, although they might not always have paid off, these experiences have taught me so much about myself so I was really excited for this new challenge.   

Do you feel that social media has had a crucially positive impact in your journey? 

I think social media overall has had a positive impact on my wellness journey and provides a great platform to connect with other people, particularly within the wellness community. Social media in itself can be a great tool for promoting yourself, your brand or your business and I think it’s amazing in its ability to help people create something out of nothing. 

On the flip side, I think there is always going to be the risk of it negatively affecting mental health and that the concept of social media in itself profits off of people’s insecurities, particularly young girls. I know from personal experience in starting my blog, I would often compare what I was doing to other people’s journeys or content, and sometimes get disheartened that I wasn’t progressing as quickly as I wanted to be. I think in these circumstances it’s important to re-align what you’re doing with the why behind it; be clear on what your message is and why you’re doing what you’re doing rather than just looking for that next dopamine hit through likes and notifications.

There are days when I sometimes feel social media can be a huge burden, so I try to have at least one day a week where, for the majority of the day, I’m screen free. This gives me the opportunity to detach myself from the digital world and try to do something that is hopefully going to nurture the soul, whether that’s going out for a long walk in nature, reading (instead of bingeing Netflix), or doing something practical, like working out, cooking, catching up with a friend (post Lockdown). 

One of our favourite pieces written was surrounding ‘The Hustle Culture’, for our readers… in a nutshell… what are your thoughts? 

From my own experience, I know I’ve felt validated in the past from trying to be seen as ‘busy’ or always ‘on the hustle’. During the pandemic last year, I was studying for exams, working a 9-5 and then took on a side business, which in essence was the peak of my ‘hustle period’. The expectation I had in doing this was that I would feel the most successful and validated I’d ever felt. In my mind previously, my level of busyness equated to productivity and success, whereas I think it creates quite the opposite effect in the long run and can lead to detrimental outcomes instead, like stress and burnout. 

I think the promotion of hustle culture on social media has been a big thing and on some level I may still be propagating the idea of it in starting this blog, but I’m now trying to be more aware of my reasons for doing what I do. I’m doing it as it brings me personal satisfaction, rather than doing it for external validation and I’m really trying to slow down rather than always needing to have something to do.

Are you a night owl or an early riser? 

If you’d have asked me a year ago, there was no way I’d say I was a morning person. 

I’ve slowly been cultivating my mornings to enhance a slower pace of life, so I usually start the day around 5.45/6 and avoid the temptation to check my notifications first thing. I think it’s so key to carve out some ‘you’ time without external interference or influences, whether that’s reading a book, journaling through your morning thoughts, doing a workout, going for a morning walk or even just quietly enjoying a hot drink to yourself. I find the mornings so peaceful and my morning ritual really helps set me up in the right mindset for the day ahead. 

It can be quite tricky to start getting up early but if any readers want to do this, I’d recommend waking up 5-10 minutes earlier each day until you get to your desired wake up time (and try to get to bed slightly earlier too). 

What are your top productivity hacks? 

Before anything else, I prioritise my sleep. Sleep is such an important part of our lives and without good sleep, our brains find it more difficult to function and it can also create hormone imbalances within our bodies. 

Working a 9-5 during the pandemic has been a big adjustment – I now work solely from home and save the 2 hour commute each way to work I used to do pre-pandemic. At first, I would be rolling out of bed 5 minutes before I was due to be logged on for work, but I found that this made me feel chaotic so I try and have at least 30 minutes to myself at the bare minimum. 

My key productivity tips for working throughout the day are:   

  • Keep your phone on airplane mode or in another room (out of sight, out of mind and all that);
  • Set designated times to check your phone if you need to throughout the day; 
  • Set timers for tasks – so when I start my work day, I’ll set a 90 minute timer of intense focus, and then have a 20 minute break and repeat. You could vary this with different intervals, like the 60/10 rule;
  • Do your most important task first thing in the morning when you’re most energised;
  • Make sure to stay hydrated and take regular breaks. 

Staying on top of a thriving blog like The Weekly Woman must be so exciting, yet how do you stay on top of the latest trends? 

For me at the moment I’m trying to focus more on topics that resonate with me most and things that I feel have been my biggest challenges in the past, rather than staying on top of the most recent trends. I think in doing this, it will hopefully make The Weekly Woman relevant long term, rather than just for a snapshot in time. 

With Lockdown easing, I’m hoping to be able to centre some written pieces on my more adventurous side or doing more solo activities and trips – I love to travel. I’ve found the past year has been an amazing opportunity to reconnect with myself and have learnt to enjoy my own company again, which is something I think every woman should focus on. As cliché as it sounds, the relationship you have with yourself is going to be your longest relationship in life so it’s important that you have a really good one. 

We love that alongside cold showers + power napping, you have also taken up new habits like skating – do you have any new hobbies you’d like to attempt? 

Lockdown 3.0 has been a time for exploration for me, especially when it comes to new hobbies. I’ve been using the downtime to get back in touch with old hobbies I used to love when I was younger, like painting and drawing. I’ve recently taken up boxing and with Lockdown starting to ease and gyms re-opening, I’m really looking forward to trying a Muay Thai class. I’ve also been practicing yoga daily from home over the past few months and would really like to get out to an actual class post-lockdown. 

What’s next for The Weekly Woman? Where do we see yourself in the next year? 

Without giving too much away, I’m working on a few projects and ideas that I’d like to develop and launch over the next few months but for now I’m really focusing on consistency and writing more often. I’m a big believer in making daily progress towards your goals and trying to ‘announce’ what I’m doing less; before I would get so carried away with my ideas and tell anyone and everyone, and then lose momentum in actually carrying them out. 

As a long term goal way way in the future, I’d love to be in a position to launch a podcast for The Weekly Woman and interview other entrepreneurial women, but baby steps for now. 

As fellow Female Founders, we wish you the biggest success in your new venture. Which other Girl Bosses are you loving? 

Thank you so much, that’s so kind of you! I’m massively inspired by Sophia Amoruso, the original founder of Nasty Gal. She created a podcast called Girl Boss Radio, which is solely dedicated to interviewing entrepreneurial women (I would definitely recommend listening to a few episodes of this if you haven’t). I also love the women from The Receipts podcast, and really admire the drive and enthusiasm Maya Jama has.

In my personal life, so many women I know are winning, especially when it comes to building their social media profiles. I’m really loving Cait Mansfield’s make up page (@caitm.makeup), and my friends Emily and Beth run their own skincare accounts which are doing really well too (@emily___skincare and @face.norm). I just love how many female owned businesses are popping up and how many women are actually pursuing their own side projects at the moment. 

Finally, what advice would you give to your younger self? 

This is something I’ve been reflecting on a lot recently. I would definitely tell my younger self not to take life so seriously all the time, or wish away the time you have now. I was so focused on growing up and living a fast paced life when I was younger that I don’t think I took as much time to actually enjoy each moment. If we’re looking for silver linings to take from the pandemic, slowing down is something I’m particularly grateful for and I would tell my younger self to do the same.   

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A day in the life of a Studio Assistant

 

Hi Leila! Our wonderful Studio Assistant…

Firstly, tell us a little about your career so far, your education + how you have landed a spot on the You & Me team?

After exploring a few different industries and undertaking a lot of work experience I found my passion in events. From there, I decided to complete my degree in International Events Management BSc at Sheffield Hallam University. During my course I spent a year at an Events and Marketing Agency dealing with automotive, medical and charity sectors.

Finishing my degree during the pandemic gave me the drive to continue to learn new skills and develop my training further, so day in day out I was completing Digital Marketing courses and similar training to create a more transferrable skillset. That’s when Abi asked me to join You & Me and I was over the moon to be working in a fantastic team, with incredible luxury brands and in a role in which I could really prove my creativity!

What would you say has been the most positive learning(s) since joining a Digital Marketing team?

One of the skills that I have been able to develop would be how to manage different accounts simultaneously. It can be incredibly tough to ensure that you are satisfying each client’s needs fully, especially when each client has different targets, timescales and expectations of you; but when executed correctly, this can be incredibly rewarding.

I have been able to achieve this is by working on my prioritisation, communication and organisation skills – these are my three ‘musts’ of working in Digital Marketing. 

Now, we know and see the magic you create – but, tell our readers a typical day for you.

A typical day in the office for me would be, starting the day with updating our client statistics, it’s always so interesting to see what is working for our clients and where we can ‘up the ante’, it’s also so rewarding to see when our hard work is achieving our client’s goals!

Next up is scheduling content for my client accounts, where we get to work on our Instagram grids and content creation. I would then spend some time writing our You & Me Journal posts or brushing up on my ProCreate skills – I am hoping to be creating in-house graphics in the near future!

Finally, I allocate the rest of my time to proactive work on our client accounts – it is so important in today’s age for our brands to be interacting, accessible and relatable so we set a good amount of time per client to ensure all of their hard work is being noticed by other accounts.

Honestly, every day can be different and that is something I love about the job, it’s never the same so it always stays interesting!

As well as working with our fabulous clients already, who would be your dream client to work with?

Wow, this is a tough one. Either Bob Bob Ricard or Chloé, each are in very different sectors and both are the epitome of luxury in their own ways. Expensive champagne, incredible food and designer fashion – a girl has got to dream!

What would your no.1 top tip be for a small business looking to improve their Social Media?

My number one tip would be: streamline your goals and decide on exactly what you want to achieve from using Social Media. For example, do you want to increase sales, is it brand awareness that you care about or are you wanting to drive traffic to your website? It is important to know what you want to achieve so that the steps that you are taking are relevant and considered, rather than wasting your time, resources and hard earned money.

At You & Me we have our ‘go-to Toolkit’, what are your favourites apps or programmes to use to create a beautifully aesthetic grid?

Pinterest, Hootsuite and UnUm, I couldn’t work without these three. Pinterest gives me the opportunity to find content on any topic, no matter how niche. Hootsuite is the most reliable platform that I have found to schedule in content. UnUm is amazing as it allows me to check my grid is flowing well and is harmonious with the brand I’m working on. I’d definitely recommend trying these out, you won’t be disappointed.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Honestly, the two best inspirations are Pinterest and TikTok. The sheer variety of content, new ideas and trends that can be found on these platforms is nothing short of amazing. For aesthetically pleasing content, go to Pinterest. For new hacks, tutorials and trends, TikTok is incredible and not to mention highly addictive. You’ve been warned!

Are you a night owl or an early bird?

For work, definitely an early bird, I like to get up and tackle my tasks! Generally as a lifestyle, and as someone who loves events, I have to say a night owl, I just can’t say no to a good festival lineup even if it means being awake into the early hours!

How do you manage your time + remain productive throughout the day?

This was something that took a little practice; I think it is vitally important to get to know yourself and the way you work best. Personally, I find that an early start and tackling the big tasks helps to eliminate stress throughout the day. It’s easier to be productive when you are not dreading several tasks on your list, so shift these first!

What is your ideal weekend?

My ideal weekend would be brunch and drinks in Shoreditch with my closest pals, hopping onto a tube to have a quick browse in Zara and Selfridges followed by a fancy meal in the evening, giving us a reason to get our glam on. Then the following day would have to be at one of my favourite music venues Printworks, 93 Feet East and the likes, for an event with some of my favourite DJ’s.

… tell us a piece of advice you would tell your younger self now?

Sorry to sound cliché… but appreciate every moment. You never realise that in the future you’ll look back on this very moment and wish you were back there reliving it. ‘Living in the moment’ is my best advice. 

And finally, what’s your favourite thing about working at You & Me?

I love this one! The team, without a doubt. I have the most incredible boss, the girls are the best team I could ask for. We have constantly been giggling from day one of me joining the team, and as they say, if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.

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We meet the first closed-loop yoga brand

What was the initial inspiration to start your own business?

The seed was planted at an art exhibition in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2017. In one artwork the Turkish female artist Pinar Yoldas accused yoga practitioners of acting hypocritically. She pointed out that they often think they are acting very sustainably, but then they do not think about their yoga mat. Through this artwork, our founders Anna and Sophie felt caught. Ever since that day they have been working on building a sustainable yoga brand that offers closed-loop products.

Explain ‘the first closed-loop yoga brand’ to our readers.

hejhej’s vision is to reduce the amount of plastic waste on our planet and promote conscious consumption through their yoga products. Every product is recyclable at the end of its lifespan. That’s how we close the loop, how we do not produce further waste and give our mother earth a break. We are enthusiastic about raw materials that flow in endless cycles. After all, we are motivated to make this planet a place worth living for future generations. Another benefit of recycling is that we spare lots of natural resources by using as many already existing materials as we can. By doing so, we can proudly say that we are the first closed-loop yoga brand.

Where can we purchase your mats?

We sell our hejhej-mat and our other yoga products like the yoga mat bag, the yoga strap and soon our yoga bolster online in our own web-shop. Our mats are 100% made in Germany.

Luckily we also have a bunch of partner yoga studios and shops that use and sell our products. There are a few local stores and yoga studios in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland for example that we’ve also listed on our website for you.

Why yoga? Where did the passion to produce a gorgeous yoga product stem from?

Anna and Sophie are both passionate yoga practitioners. So the idea really came from an inner calling, as one could say. We weren’t all about founding our own business at first, but we were all about our passion to do something good for our environment and combine that with something we truly appreciate. That’s how we got to creating our own yoga product.

We love your content. Have Social Media helped to build your brand?

Thank you so much. We’re all about minimalistic and natural vibes. Social Media has definitely helped to build our brand, it is such a beautiful platform to create a whole story around our yoga brand. It also allows us to connect with yoga-lovers from all over Europe, and even beyond. Especially right now, we’re happy to see our hejhej-mats in many people’s home-practice. We share those special photos regularly in our hejhej-moments. We love the sense of community those photos create. We might all be at our homes right now, yet we are still connected through yoga and our interest in making this world a little healthier.

We find spending time on the mat helps with mindfulness and leading to a more productive working space. What are your productivity hacks?

A clean desk (less distraction), open the windows regularly, do intentional breaks where you really do not look at the laptop or phone, stretch (lots of it) and lots and lots of liquids (tea, water, and a little coffee). And then, whenever we feel tense, roll out the mat and move!

On days you are feeling uninspired, what are your top tips to shake the funk?

Definitely spending time in nature and digital detox. To us, there is nothing more relaxing than the sounds of nature. It really helps us to recharge and reconnect with our inner muse.

What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?

Open your eyes, open your heart, embrace life! There are so many beautiful people and opportunities around you. Embrace them and ask yourself.. ‘what do you really enjoy doing?’.. Then- do more of that!

Finally, what piece of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs at the moment?

Stay strong, stay healthy and never hesitate to ask for help or advice. That’s a lesson we’ve learnt early on. And lastly, believe in your self and your beautiful idea. You got this!

… and are there any small businesses you would like to say ‘hello’ to?

Yes! hej to Mit Ecken & Kanten, an imperfect online shop. Hej to dariadéh and hej to our local zero waste shop, and also hej to natural products and inclusion, Mari & Anne.

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All things bold + beautiful with House Homo

Tell us about House Homo, how did it begin?

It all started last January when I came to view this house; as soon as I saw the archway in the hall I knew I needed to a) buy it IMMEDIATELY and b) paint it gold! I wanted the house to be super colourful and fun so the rest just sort of fell into place after that, the Instagram following was just an unexpected, dreamy, totally supportive bonus!

Everyone’s toolbox when decorating a house is so different, how do you find it best to go about deciding on the final idea?

I’d love to say there was a really clear method but it varies each time! I usually start with a colour palette and go from there but, more recently, when I decorated the bathroom, I won £100 worth of paint from Pickleson so I picked 5 different colours and just let the colours decide where they wanted to go; it was definitely stressful and time consuming but I love the result. 

The same thing happened with the guest room too, maybe that’s my method now?

I usually have one really clear nugget of an idea so I just run with that, even if it doesn’t work and you paint over it later! It’s definitely always best to go with your gut instinct!

Your style is so bold + beautiful, have you always had an eye for home decor + final details?

I come from a background in Visual Merchandising so I’ve always been big on fashion and finer details but i just fell into home decor in the last few years, and now I’m obsessed. I eat, breathe, sleep interiors now. In my last flat, I used to do monthly Feng Shui move rounds and change everything up, I guess practice makes perfect!

You have come so far with your brand + your social media, what was the initial inspiration to launch your own channel?

I started the account just before the first lockdown just to document the progress; a lot of my friends live across the country and world so it was the easiest way to share it with them. I had no clue it would have grown as quickly as it has, or that I’d be working with so many amazing brands before the year was out!

Do you feel that social media has had a crucially positive impact in your journey?

100%, the interiors Instagram community is the biggest love fest I’ve ever known! Everyone is so supportive and caring, it’s like having 22,000 best mates on hand day and night! 

It’s definitely pushed me to be more daring too, there are so many amazing accounts celebrating the colour revolution so I have a duty to the movement!

The world’s most recent events have caused us to adapt and become more ‘digital’ with decor shopping + our own businesses, how did you find time at home? What were your productivity hacks?

I actually love shopping online for interiors; Birmingham is a great city but it is definitely lacking in interiors shops, so this way I get the whole world of interiors to draw from!

For productivity, I find it so easy to get sucked into an Instagram hole sometimes so I try to hide my phone away to focus on projects. I try and set myself daily goals – even if it’s really small like tidying one room – so anything after that is a bonus and you feel super productive.

We love that you complete most of the DIY yourself! As we both know, the Design world is forever evolving – how do you stay on top of the latest trends?

It’s definitely hard to keep up! I try to avoid following trends too hard because I don’t wanna dilute 

what I’m doing but I’ve tried to make your Instagram feed look like my ideal magazine, so every time I open it I see something that inspires me! That way you see trends coming up through all different angles; trickling down through fashion, budding through the interiors community, from architects, anywhere and everywhere! 

Most important question, what is your favourite colour + store for home pieces?

My favourite colour hands down is orange, definitely need to incorporate some more orange into househomo, I’ve just painted over the orange dining room! 

My favourite store changes so quickly, ask me tomorrow and it will be different but a great option is Trouva; they have SO many different styles and boutiques so you’re not only getting so many options, you’re supporting local business too!

Finally, what advice would you give your 20 year old self now?

Stop going out and focus – I was definitely a bit wild aged 20!

I know it sounds so cheesy but I would tell him to believe in himself more, I was so unsure of what I wanted / what I wanted to do, but who knows I could have been the new Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen by now.

Check out Richard’s journey here.

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Travelling the world with Lydia Collins

Big question, tell us about your journey into photography. How did it all begin?

Photography is something I have always been fascinated with and passionate about; from a young age I remember family holidays with disposable cameras. Even though at the end of the holiday you’d have to come home, I always remember that excitement of getting rolls of film developed and re-living the holiday all over again! In fact, each trip I go on now, I always make sure I have a disposable or polaroid camera – there is something so lovely about having a physical copy of an image that you can hold and keep forever.

It was around the age of 14 when I got into digital photography, my secondary school was starting up a new Photography course and I jumped at the opportunity (mainly because it sounded like fun). I absolutely loved the course, I found it was a way I could really express myself and experiment with different styles. I then continued to study Photography as an A Level where I learnt a lot about the technical side, spending many hours in the darkroom. Graduating with a degree in BA Photography at the University of the Arts London was where I really noticed the value of networking and understanding the industry. It was at University where I really saw it for an opportunity to become a career.

The year I graduated, I worked hard through the summer and winter months, generating a large portfolio that would showcase my work. Although it was and still is long hours and hard work, it never really feels like work when you’re doing something you love! I would encourage everyone to work hard in their passion because one day, it’s very likely it could become your career! No hard work goes unnoticed or unrewarded.

Explain your style to our readers.

I’d say my work is in-trend fashion focussed combined with a dreamy glow. I try to keep creativity at the forefront of any shoot as this is where you engage the audience through captivating and unique angles, edits and style. I feel like it’s only in the last year or so that I have found the style that I love, although I am also open and will always be keen to explore new avenues as this is how your style develops and changes with the times.

Photography is a world of beautiful subjects, styles + formats, how do you stay on top of the latest trends as well as remaining perfectly unique to your brand?

Great question! For me, it’s the bravery to step outside your comfort zone and not to be afraid to try new things! For example, on shoots I often ask my model to try a pose that I haven’t shot before – this is the only way for you to know if it’s a pose you’d like to keep using or if you need to change your angle and way of shooting in order to make that pose work. Another thing is to remember your brain is like a big filter sponge, it will only take in visuals if you consistently supply it with them! I feed my brain with visuals everyday with the use of search engines like Pinterest – it’s full of creative people showcasing amazing visuals and work. You’ll find the more you expose your brain to creative visuals – the more you’ll use these throughout your work.

Wow, you have come so far. What was the initial inspiration to start your own business?

I always knew that I wanted to follow my passion and for this passion to become my work, even if it wasn’t my sole income. I’m a firm believer that you should focus on the things that make you happy; if you put enough work and hours into these things, they will one day pay off – even if it’s not the route you initially thought! Creative people I met in the industry was another big push, I exposed myself to as many successful people in my industry as I could and wasn’t afraid to ask questions (that’s the only way you can learn quickly, right!). Networking was the fundamental reason I was able to become freelance and one of the ways I meet new clients nowadays!

We love your shots! Where can we purchase your prints? Do you have a favourite, and why?

I have a few of my travel photography work available on my website – www.lydiacollins.com under the shop section. Initially, I started selling these to raise money for the devastating bushfires in Australia at the start of 2020 – to my absolute surprise, I raised just over $6000. When I ended the fundraiser and took the photos off my website, I had several messages asking to purchase some for presents and for peoples new homes, I felt so grateful. So I decided to set up a permanent digital print shop on my website where I update each time I go on a trip.

What was your first piece of kit, and what would you recommend to beginners looking to expand their hobbies?

My first piece of photography kit was actually borrowed from my dad and it was his Nikon – I think it was a D40 paired with a 16-35mm 2.8 lens. I used this as a hobby camera when I was going through school and college. When I had saved up enough money, I bought myself the Canon 70D – I used this camera for a long time before investing in the camera I use now which is the Canon 5D MKIV.

For a beginner camera, It totally depends what you want to be using it for and if you want to have the option of interchangeable lenses as some cameras, like compact cameras, often have fixed lenses. There’s a lot of great and affordable cameras on the market this day and age so definitely explore your options. YouTube is an amazing place to source reviews for cameras and lenses – definitely do some research but don’t be too nervous as most companies offer a 7 day return if you’re not totally happy!

You must miss travelling so much! With the world sadly on stand-still, how have you adapted to continue being creative?

I miss travelling SO much, I had planned to be in Australia the beginning 3 months of 2021. It’s so important to remember that this situation is temporary and things will get back to a new normal, even if it’s not totally the same as what we knew… who knows it could be better!

I have split my time being creative behind my camera but also down other avenues such as painting, glass cutting, reading – anything that gives me that same creative buzz! It’s amazing how much joy you can actually get from trying something new!

When we can, where will you be travelling to next?

Hopefully Australia as it truly is my home away from home and I have a lot of friends there that I am desperate to see! But honestly, I would love to go to Europe and explore some beautiful destinations that I have not visited yet! This time, as I imagine for many, has made me realise how accessible and easy travel was – I want to definitely make the most of being able to travel to Europe so easily from the UK.

Tricky, but where is your favourite place you have visited?

Work-wise – I’d have to say Tulum in Mexico, it completely blew my mind and I was able to shoot with some incredible women for a beauty brand and ended the trip shooting a 4 page spread with a magazine!

Travel-wise – The Philippines is a destination that totally shocked me with it’s endless beauty. Every island is so different and offers breathtaking beauty such as waterfalls, turquoise waters that are rife with tropical life, huge rope swings off palm trees – I could go on but if you are lucky enough to travel there, you are going to absolutely fall in love with the place and people!

Are you an early riser or a night owl, and do you have ritual which you stick by to maintain productivity?

I am absolutely an early riser. I love the simple pleasures in the morning of making a coffee before anyone in the house is up and having a moment to myself. I find my productivity in the morning is so much better. A little routine which I have been doing for the past 9 months is to laptop work or shoot in the morning until 2/3pm, workout or go for a walk, come back and read my book before making dinner and winding down for the evening. I also said to myself in the first UK lockdown in March 2020 that I wasn’t going to work on weekends unless absolutely essential. I have pretty much stuck with this up until now, with the exception of a few occasions if some of my clients can only shoot on weekends. Having a big break every week really helps me maintain productivity and focus when I am working.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

I actually get a lot of my inspiration from other creatives, not just photographers. I find most of my inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram – there are so many talented people out there and I love finding new accounts and styles! Some Photographers that I love are; Jessica Kobessi (her YouTube is filled with creative ideas and she offers some really great tips!), Bonnie Cee is an Australian photographer that shoots the most beautiful swimwear campaigns, Clint, an LA Photographer, blows me away with his creative shots and edits – he also creates some beautiful imagery on film.

I also listen to a lot of podcasts which keep me motivated; The BossBabe Podcast, The Health Code, The Creativepreneur Podcast are a few of my fave! Also The Winging It Podcast by my friend Lucy Hitchcock and It Starts With A Click by my photographer friend Olivia Bossert are amazing! I honestly could go on with the amount of people that inspire me on the daily, I think we are so lucky to live in a generation where this sort of motivation and career advice is so accessible!

What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?

To really put myself out there when it comes to networking and to not be afraid of rejection. Rejection is a common fear in most people but it isn’t always a negative thing, it can actually shape you towards the career that you’re destined to be at. I only really started networking and contacting people that inspired me at the age of 22/23 but I would recommend from such a young age to just talk with people about your passion and ambition as you can learn so much from others.

Finally, what piece of advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs at the moment?

Again, network as much as you possibly can – even if it’s online or sending someone an email! The more you put yourself out there, the more chance you’re giving yourself for doors to be opened. At the early stages, say yes to a lot of things, even if you’re unsure it’s the route you want to go down. I learnt and shaped a lot of my career by saying yes to shoots that didn’t interest me to begin with but allowed me to meet with people that were a big asset to my career moving forward.

Also, graft and work hard but always reward yourselves with days off with friends – don’t burn yourself to the ground as you may begin resenting the very thing that actually gives you so much joy. ENJOY THE PROCESS – it’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of career building but remember to take a step back and be proud of yourself for the little achievements you’ve made.