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The End

16 Jun

Last night was the friends and family evening of the BIAD show.

My family and closest friends accompanied me to the evening and mingled with my uni’ friends.

The evening commenced with a presentation by Alison, the course director about the past three years, followed by an awards ceremony for students who had particularly well at certain things.

1st year memories of styling hair for a fashion show at House of Fraser

I was astonished when my name was called for the final award: Fashion Retail Management Scholarship Prize 2011.

Accepting my prize

The Prize!

As well as a glorifying certificate I won a lovely bottle of Harvey Nichols champagne and some vouchers to spend in the Birmingham store! I can’t thank my tutors Alison, Julia and Ellie enough for giving me this award!

What a wonderful send off from a fantastic journey!

Thank you

x

I’m a Crafty Kitten!

10 Jun

Yesterday evening, before hopping on the train home at Euston I managed to go back to Harry Smiles for an evening of craft they were hosting. We were making cute lavender bags in shape of hearts, owls or birds.

It was great to get to know Kelly and Emma a little better, plus meet some other lovely lady and get creative…

Lots of vintage fabric and buttons to choose from!

 

Yummy cake and vino!

Crafty Kittens!

 

Putting a Face to the Tweets!…

9 Jun

While the sun is out I thought I would sit outside of a cafe in Exmouth Market before I head to the Mudpie seminar to tell you about my latest vintage find!

exmouth market

I first found out about Harry Smiles when the owners contacted me via Twitter, over a certain ‘Tweet’ regarding sandblasted jeans.

After exchanging a number of messages I thought, while I’m in London I’ll check out this new vintage store.

Harry Smiles is a vintage store with a difference…

Both originally from Australia, owners Kelly and Emma came to a turning point in their careers at the same time. Coincidentally they found that they had similar ambitions, prompting them to go into business together!

harry smiles vintage

Through painstakingly extensive research into the market place the girls found a gap in the market that they felt confident they could occupy.

“We felt vintage could at times be confusing, daunting and feel a little exclusive.”

They feel flea markets and jumble sales can be difficult to purchase from as it’s impossible to know if something will fit and it’s rare you are able to try things on.

Kelly and Emma also state that many vintage shops can make people feel uncomfortable if they don’t already look the part. Products are displayed by category e.g. dresses, shirts & shoes, so It’s hard to see what goes together unless you have an eye for it. 

This isn’t the case at Harry Smiles, where things are categorised into different trends or looks such as ‘Festival Frolick’ and ‘Cowboy Chic’.

harry smiles vintage
harry smiles vintage

Harry Smiles has collaborated with Ruth from Superstyling style consultancy, who is on-hand to offer styling advice for people unsure of vintage. This reminds me of my concept for ‘Covet’, my dissertation business plan, and re-affirms that I have a viable business idea!

 “We want to make vintage more accessible by offering high quality products and services at an affordable price. We want to give people the confidence to embrace vintage. To provide a stylist to help them understand what suits their body shape and style. Offer group sessions to put the fun into exploring vintage with friends and give advice and tips on how to use vintage.
Our aim is to turn a little bit of vintage fun into everyday style and for vintage to be at the forefront of the mind in future purchase consideration.”

harry smiles vintage

What else makes Harry Smiles special is the concept of the store. Harry Smiles is involved with Meanwhile Space, a community interest company working to activate vacant property and sites with uses that benefit the community, while something else is waiting to happen.

The idea is the girls will stay in their current unit (an ex-Subway!!) for a month, then move to a new unit, creating a pop-up shop frenzy!
This seems like a great way to develop  a loyal customer base who will follow them wherever they go!

harry smiles vintage

I was already VERY intrigued at this point, then Kelly starts telling me some of the tales behind the garments they have in store…

The cute dress is from the 1940s and has unusual side hook and eye fastenings!

This jacket is fully reversible. It belonged to a German lady who escaped the australia during the war. this was the first item of clothing she had made after leaving all of her belongings behind!

harry smiles vintage

This beautiful handmade 1950s dress and matching jacket was the graduation piece of a fashion designer. The inside label reads 'Miss Mitzou'.

Kelly and Emma really see to know what they are doing when it comes to community spirit too! Tonight they are hosting a craft workshop which I am very tempted to come back for before I catch my train back to Birmingham!

Anyway, off to the seminar for some new fashion!…

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

7 Jun

I’ve just got home from an evening at the theatre. My great friend Paul Brotherton was part of the cast of Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, at the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham.

The play is  set in Sidley Park, an English country house, in both the times of 1809–1812 and the present day. The activities of two modern scholars and the house’s current residents are juxtaposed with the lives of the characters who lived there 200 years ago.

In 1809, Thomasina Coverly, the daughter of the house, is a precocious teenager with ideas about mathematics well ahead of her time. She studies with her tutor, Septimus Hodge, a friend of Lord Byron (who is an unseen guest in the house).

In the present, Hannah, a writer investigating a hermit who once lived on the grounds, and Bernard, a professor of literature investigating a mysterious chapter in the life of Byron work together and together reveal  the truth about what happened in Thomasina’s lifetime is gradually revealed.

The set featured a large table, which is used by the characters in both past and present. Props are not removed when the play switches time period, so that the books, turtle, coffee mugs, quill pens, plastic trays, and laptop computers appear alongside each other as the two scenes blur together.

Paul Brotherton Arcadia

Hi Paul!

When I read the synopsis, prior to attending the play I was uncertain as to whether I would be able to follow such a complex story line. Some of the talk of science and maths flew over my head, but this was somewhat irrelevant to the overall outcome and plot of the play and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Barboot: A Nice Little Earner!!

4 Jun

Today I carted some pre-loved clothing and accessories to the Hare & Hounds Pub in Kings Heath to pitch a stall at the weekly Barboot Bazaar!

Like a Carboot, without the early mornings and risk of bad weather, people come together with clothing, crafts, homeware, books and other misceleaneor every Saturday between 11 and 3.

Here is my stall of clothing and accessories that I no longer want or wear…

But what better way to pass them on?

Today’s society has a real mix of attitudes towards throwing things away!

Many people think it is better value to buy cheap and in bulk, throwing things in the bin when they break or the condition deteriroates, or the product goes out of fashion.

However, everything just ends up in land-fill polluting the earth! Plus, many people in poorer countries continue to be exploited and abused due to thehigh demand for more of what has just been thrown out!

On the other hand, many people have embraced reusing and recycling as a way of life. Not just with paper and other household materials but with their wardrobes.

Vintage is not a new concept but the attitudes of wearing something old and hand-me-down culture are becoming more widespread.

Today I was not only lucky enough to have many customers with these attitudes, but also to make some great new friends (and useful future contacts).

One lovely girl (who was also selling her old things)  in particular noticed my eclectic style and was at my table like a shot. After chatting all day we agreed to have a swap of anything we liked of each others at the end of a day.

So now I have:

a) Earnt some pennies

b) Got rid of some things I no longer wanted

c) Done a good deed (in recycling)

d) Got some new clothes (recycled)

e) Made some great friends

A thumbs up all round!

Entrepreneurial Spirit…

25 May

I’ve just got home from a fantastic new event held at Urban Coffee Company on Church Street in Birmingham.

The Birmingham Entrepreneur Meetup group is held on a monthly basis and allows you to network with local entrepreneurs, and other people who want to start their own business, over a friendly cup of coffee.

As I am currently looking into starting my own business I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get some advice, talk to people who have been in my situation and pick up some useful contacts! It’s also a chance for me to hand out some of my brand new business cards!!

The group was small and a broad mix of people to say the least.

I spoke to a number of people there, which helped me realise that I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t currently running a business, which put me at ease!I quickly got chatting to Rickie, who incidentally is the organiser of the group. I realised I was definitely chatting with the right person as Rickie told me about an exciting new vintage fair she is organising in Birmingham!

‘Birmingham Vintage’ is a vintage fair with a difference, as the nostalgic mood will be elevated with a 1970s theme throughout with live music, refreshments and a great mixture of stalls including homeware, clothing, art, crafts and hair and makeup sessions.

The fair is being held on Saturday 25th June at Stan’s Cafe in the creative hub which is the Jewellery Quarter.

It was lovely to meet Rickie and talk about vintage in a more business sense. I am definitely going to hold a stall at the fair and start spreading the word about my business and myself (so come down and see me).

Better get some stock!!

All in all the meetup was a great night and a fab idea, I’ll be back for the next one! Plus, the artists at Urban Coffee made my cappuccino look like a bear!

Heroica

22 May

Last night I went to the Flapper & Firkin in Birmingham to see my good friends, Heroica play their last gig!

Founded in 2005, Heroica are a four-piece who met while studying at Aston University through the ‘Live Music Society’.

The guys describe their music as “Alcohol-fuelled hard pub-rock” and are influenced by classic rock and blues such as Thin Lizzy, Cream and Free.

Over the past couple of years I have had the privilege of (sort of) working with Heroica, in a somewhat “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ way.

I was organising ‘Get Your Rocks Off’ with a group of classmates. A huge event at Birmingham’s Custard Factory which involved live bands, DJs and a fashion show, combining vintage and River Island clothing.

Heroica volunteered their musical services and played a fantastic set at the event (in exchange for free haircuts!).

A few months later I found myself writing a few features for Spaghetti junction, the Birmingham City University student magazine.

The editors wanted a profile of a local band, and, instantly thinking of Heroica, I volunteered myself for the piece!

Click image to enlarge

You can still hear a selection of their songs via Facebook and My Space.

Knit-Wit!

18 May

I have recently taken up knitting. My good friend Sarah and I have already been to a couple of knitting groups, Stitches & Hos at Hare & Hounds pub in Kings Heath, as well as Urban Coffee Company.




Going to the knitting groups is also a great way to meet new people. There’s nothing to worry about as you already have a common interest and everyone is also there to socialise!

When I feel like doing some extra work on my knitting practise I also look to the internet as there are thousands of tutorials, such as this one, available on You Tube…

And what’s even better are the proven health benefits of knitting!

Did you know, that the repetitive actions used when knitting can bring the mind and body to a state called a “relaxation response” that is quite similar to what people experience during prayer, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and other relaxation disciplines.

Also, research at Harvard Medical School Mind/Body Institute found that when someone is knitting her heart rate can drop 11 beats a minute and her blood pressure drops as well. These results can have significant health benefits for people who knit.

It is also a great way to stimulate the mind and escape from the hustle and bustle of my usual everyday life, by focussing on knitting.

Finally, being a creative person, it encourages me to make something, as I feel the more I knit, I am getting closer to creating a garment.

Here are some great pictures of knitting that I can but aspire to at the moment…



Life’s a Picnic

4 May

Or at least it was for a day last weekend for my friend, Sophie’s birthday!

We were blessed with gorgeously warm, sunny weather as we gathered in Highbury Park, Moseley, with blankets, cushions and bean bags.  It was a quintessentially English afternoon of Pimm’s, sandwiches, cheese boards and most importantly, cake (SPECIAL cupcakes made to look like a vegetable patch!).

Here’s some of the photos from the day…

P.S. Guess who just learnt how to make a retro-style slide show!!

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