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CEW(UK) Mentoring Event – Freelancers Guide to Flourishing in Beauty

8 Mar

I currently work alongside trade body CEW(UK) which means that I get to attend most of their talks and events geared towards women working in the beauty industry. The latest was the ‘Freelancers Guide to Flourishing in Beauty’ held on Thursday, which saw freelance beauty journalists Beatrice Aidin, Bella Blissett and Sarah-Jane Corfield Smith talk about what it means to be a freelance beauty writer in a competitive and rapidly changing media industry. Here’s what they had to say…

Beatrice Aidin, Bella Blissett, Sarah-Jane Corfield Smith

With the global beauty industry estimated to be worth £378 billion and projected to grow by 29%, the question was raised as to whether the future of beauty is freelance. The numbers of independent professionals has grown in the UK by 63% between 2004-2013 and it seems now more than ever it is essential to differentiate between types of freelancers as well as bloggers.

Each journalist began by providing a brief overview of their career trajectories and identifying the differences between themselves. Financial Times writer Beatrice spent five years in New York before moving back to London and now specialises in ‘intelligent beauty’, luxury and interviews for the FT’s Style pages and How To Spend It. Bella’s foray into beauty writing came during her time at the London College of Fashion where she was encouraged to die her long, brown hair blonde for a feature to be published in the Evening Standard. Now she works from home combining her role as YOU magazine Beauty Columnist with freelance features. Sarah-Jane has had ten years’ experience in the industry and now freelances in various magazine offices for varying lengths of time, getting a unique view of their different functions and processes.

The first discussion revolved around pitching. Sarah-Jane identified that there were no definitive rules when pitching as a freelancer to an editor but that it can help if you demonstrate knowledge of who you are pitching to, any buzzwords or ideas the editor is known to like, the key brands in the title and most importantly, the readership of that title. The best type of pitch was agreed to be ‘short and sweet’ and can always be followed up by a gentle email or a phone call.

Sarah-Jane then moved onto the pitching process for PRs to journalists and recognised that it can be overwhelming for a PR to keep track of all freelancers’ movements. With this in mind, she said that it helps if freelancers are kept on all call-out/media lists and that the small things count, such as getting the name of the freelancer right and being honest in an email if unsure of their work. Again, she agreed that a gentle nudging email from a PR is acceptable but never to hound, as a writer will be sure to be in touch if they find a story interesting.

Bella then discussed the pragmatism of life as a freelance writer, stating that the most important facets are reliability and being able to develop good relationships within the industry. She acknowledged that everyone works differently so it becomes important to design your own structure that works best for you, for example, she works best earlier in the morning and enjoys changing her scenery and location depending on the type of feature she is writing. She also recommended a well-rounded work/life balance in order to keep calm, making sure to separate work and play time as even leisure time can inspire new ideas. She finished by stating that although freelancing can take a lot of energy, the benefits of being released from monotony, working on your own terms and being the master of your own life are worth it.

Beatrice finished the session by discussing the relationships with PR professionals, identifying that the best relationships work when there is integrity, respect, positivity and manners on both sides. Beatrice agreed that each writer works differently and that she herself prefers a phone call and setting up meetings rather than arranging interviews over email. In regards to press launches, she argued that prompt meetings in convenient locations no longer than thirty minutes are ideal, as well as one-to-ones. She believed it is important for a freelancer to notify ahead if they absolutely have to cancel and also to be clear about what coverage is going to be generated, especially with press trips. If an editor rejects a feature, she suggested that best practice is to notify the PR with as much information as possible with a PR respecting the decision. She finished with her maxim: ‘Always apologise, always explain’.

LFW AW14: Hema Kaul

16 Feb

Hema Kaul’s AW14 showcase was a masterclass in 1950s vintage glamour with a modern twist.

Held in the beautiful hall at the Vauxhall Fashion Scout venue, the grand backdrop was completely fitting for the elegant, glamorous items that took to the catwalk. These included striking floor-length dresses, feminine tailored trousers, peplum tops and satin skirts, with velvet and the designer’s signature embroidery adding an intricately updated twist. Some of the stand-out items were the classy oyster and nude outfits that came first, such as the champagne coloured V-neck peplum top embroidered with lace and matched with a fitted satin pencil skirt. The midnight blue two piece was also gorgeous, featuring a velvet peplum top with detailed sleeves set against silky trousers and glamorous heels. Finally, the striking scarlet floor-length gown drew a gasp from the audience as the full skirt was set against a detailed, intricately embroidered top, looking like something that could easily be seen on the red carpet.

Hair and make-up also embraced the vintage glamour feel, as models all walked out with full, rich red lips and groomed, waved hair pulled back. It is safe to say that Hema Kaul’s AW14 effervescent showcase transported the audience back to 1950s glamour, celebrating the female form whilst also giving it a modern edge.

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LFW AW14: Orla Kiely

16 Feb
It wasn’t only raining cats and dogs on the cobbles of Somerset House yesterday but also at the ever creative Orla Kiely AW14 showcase. 
I am always excited to see what format the contemporary Irish designer will take for her showcase – one of my personal favourites was the jazz club creation for her AW12 collection – and this showcase certainly didn’t disappoint! As guests entered the space inside the old Central Saint Martin’s Building, they were greeted with a projection of the iconic Orla Kiely floral print cast over an outdoor bench and lamppost in the middle of the room. Hot tea and coffee in branded Orla Kiely mugs were passed around by staff which was a warming – and very welcome! – touch, before the lights dimmed and the show began. Suddenly, the floral projection turned into rain and puddles and models came out to a soundtrack of rain, miaowing cats and barking dogs (cuter than it sounds)!

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Cats and dogs were very much the motif-du-jou for Kiely’s AW14 collection, whether it was the large black cat outline on a preppy roll-neck jumper or the small whimsical cat prints dotted all over the patent belted trench coats. Amidst these patterns were Kiely’s notorious retro floral prints as well as navy, green, pink and browns on pleated skirts, preppy jumpers and 60s style dresses. The outfits were layered with vintage-style fur coats or cute swing pea coats and teamed with chunky clog/brogue style shoes, gorgeous velvet collars, cute printed umbrellas and vintage-style satchel handbags, making this a wonderfully stylish homage to retro fashion. Hair and make-up were kept fresh and simple, with gently backcombed hair swept into a low side pony and dewy skin with coral cheeks. 

The Orla Kiely AW14 show was as creative and unique as ever, with cute retro preppy styles teamed with the designer’s whimsical prints making it a welcome departure from the miserable weather outside (even if it was still raining cats and dogs inside). Another thumbs up from me!

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LFW AW14 Day 2

16 Feb

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The cobbles at Somerset House are getting filled with fashionistas, Proper Corn and Vita Coco water as another season of London Fashion Week starts again! I am down for the weekend covering shows for Who’s Jack magazine; yesterday I got to see the fabulous Orla Kiely AW14 show (read my review here) and plenty at Vauxhall Fashion Scout including Xiao Li (review here), Kiev Fashion Days (review here) and Hema Kaul (review here).

February is always a hard month to dress fashionably for in London and especially so this season with the gale-force winds and storms! I decided to go for a monochrome checked trench coat which I actually got years ago from the Clothes Show in Birmingham, a bright yellow mini skirt c/o Motel Rocks, a white shirt from Missguided and a black top from H&M. This is me with the rest of the Who’s Jack girls:

Who's Jack team

Corin – Kathryn – me – Camilla

LFW street style

At the Felicities event at ME Hotel

During a break between shows, a couple of us went to visit the Felicities designer event at the rooftop bar of the 5* ME Hotel (see pic above). The ME Hotel is absolutely gorgeous and so chic – I can’t wait for the summer when it is warm enough to drink outside on the rooftop bar! Thanks to Felicities PR for having us.

After a stop off at Itsu, the girls and I went to the Jasper Garvida after-party at Movida, Oxford Circus. We were kindly treated to free drinks – thanks again to Felicities for organising a fabulous evening!

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REN Bloggers Evening – The V-Cense Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

28 Jan

REN blogger evening

Last week I popped along to the REN Bloggers Evening held at the REN Head Office near Edgeware Road. As healthy snacks and a surprisingly nice green tea/apple juice drink were offered around, we were given a (slightly delayed!) presentation all about REN and the latest offerings for 2014.

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For those that might not be as familiar, REN is a skincare brand that prides itself on formulas that do not contain parabens/synthetics etc and are still enjoyable and spa-like to use. (One of my favourite REN products is their Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask – you can read my review of that here).

The most exciting product launching this 2014 is the V-Cense Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial, a gel-rinse that is designed to instantly revitalize and rejuvinate the skin after just 1 minute and last for 72 hours! It aims to neutralize ‘urban grey’ (that dull look that city dwellers – especially Londoners! – are faced with), remove blackheads, eliminate dead skin cells, reduce the signs of fatigue, diminish the signs of wrinkles and overall leave skin looking firm, toned and smoothed. This all seems quite impressive and exciting for a product only being used for 1 minute! 

How it is applied: Massage onto dry skin, then add water and continue massaging for 1 minute, then rinse off

How it works: The key ingredients used to make this facial work are a combination of boswellic acid, magnesium and ‘stabilised 10% Vitamin C’ (meaning it avoids oxidation too early). Once water is applied, this activates all the ingredients, thus delivering an intense shot of active, potent Vitamin C. This Vitamin C is responsible for boosting skin radiance, elasticity and evening out skin tone. 

Launching: March 2014, RRP: £30.00

My thoughts: We were given a couple of little sachets of the facial (apparently there were delays on the finished product) so I decided to test one out at the weekend. The formula came out in a blue gel that felt like an exfoliator, which I massaged onto my face before adding water and continuing to massage. After rinsing off, I could definitely tell that my skin seemed brighter and fresher! As I don’t really have any wrinkles yet, I can’t really comment on this aspect of it but I could definitely see this being an ideal pick-me-up before (and after!) a night out.

Guests were also given the day and night creams of the V-Cense range (previously known as the ‘Frankincense’ range) – I will test out and report back on these asap!

vcense collection1 minute facial

V-Cense range by REN

Have you got a favourite REN product? 

Just Fab

29 Dec

I was rooting around looking for a potential evening bag for New Years Eve and suddenly came across this fabulous black and gold clutch from Just Fab which I had completely forgotten about:

Clutch

Just Fabb

Not only is it super sturdy but it also is a dead ringer for a (more expensive) Zara version! I was gifted it after attending the JustFab event last month, held at the very swanky Penthouse in Leicester Square. JustFab is an online fashion subscription retailer specialising in shoes, bags and accessories. The idea of the website is that you pay £35 each month and can choose any item on offer; if there is nothing that you like the look of that month, you can simply skip payment that month and wait until the next! (Personally, I think the bags are the strongest part of the website).

To celebrate the event in London, artist Boyade was also there customising bags live. She explained that she began her career by painting on women’s bottoms (!) before she was commissioned to customise a bespoke designer bag for someone, which led to her delving into this form of artwork. Guests were given their own art materials in the event goody bag and encouraged to try customising one of the JustFab bags but as I am rubbish at crafts/like my bag as it is, I’ve left it to Boyarde

Boyarde customising bags at the JustFab event

Boyarde customising bags at the JustFab event

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CEW(UK)’s Women in Beauty Talk – Joey Wat, Managing Director of Superdrug

10 Oct

Superdrug

I’m lucky enough that in my role at work, I get to go to a lot of the CEW(UK) beauty industry talks and mentoring sessions. This morning I popped along to the presentation by Joey Wat, Managing Director of Superdrug about her career and it wasn’t until I was listening and thinking about it that I realised Superdrug has actually come quite a long way from being the hot, cheap discount shop I remember from my local precinct! Anyway, I found it quite interesting so wanted to share it on here.

Joey Wat, Managing Director

Joey Wat, Managing Director

Joey began by outlining her humble beginnings, describing her early years growing up in a very small village in southern China where boys were always deemed more important than girls. In this village, Joey’s grandmother was the only midwife, and Joey credited her as one of her key inspirations who instilled the values of positivity and focus which have helped her get to where she is today.

At 8 years old, Joey and her family moved to Hong Kong where she and her siblings all worked in factories whilst studying at school. School was a great escape for Joey and she was determined to excel quickly. Her enthusiasm for academia saw her complete her degree before undertaking an MBA in America. She became the first girl in her village to hold a degree in 100 years; an achievement she hoped helped to inspire a better attitude towards women in her culture.

Moving to the UK in 2004, Joey took on the daunting task of transforming the Savers brand, where at the time only 9 out of 250 stores were making profit. Employing her key mantras of positivity, focus, determination and problem solving, Joey eventually managed to ensure that stores were profit building.

In January 2012, Joey took over 860 Superdrug stores in the UK and has been committed to helping the high street evolve. There are a number of ways that Joey and her team have been attempting to drive footfall back to the high street and into Superdrug, for example investing in Superdrug stores to create a more appealing store environment. By the end of 2013, over 500 stores will have been updated with the new look. Joey focuses on both popular and declining high streets and she revealed that there is always a way to improve stores, even with low budgets.   

As well as this, Joey is improving the Superdrug ‘beauty experience’, where she is targeting the product offerings and developing the store services. This has led to Superdrug introducing its first automatic spray tan booth in Sheffield as well as expanding Bourjois nail bars and threading services in stores across the country. New brands, such as Blowpro, B. and Cheeky, will also be introduced whilst two concept stores are being designed for 2014.  

Investments have equally gone into staff and training, ensuring that the level of service draws customers back. The Superdrug management team makes an effort to visit stores and get involved in every level of the day-to-day workload in order to connect with both the customers and ground level staff.

The internet has been another key focus for Joey and the team pride themselves on credible content on their website which helps retain customer interaction. The website has been invaluable in deciding which products and brands suit the Superdrug customer and new launches will often begin online before hitting the stores in order to ascertain the reaction. In a fortnight, Superdrug will also be launching a ‘click and collect’ service to further encourage footfall into the bricks and mortar stores.

Joey finished her talk by looking ahead to Superdrug‘s 50th Anniversary next year, hinting that there will be some exciting surprises to look out for in 2014.