Behind… Hiho Silver’s Thelwell Collection

Thelwell CollectionI’ve had the privilege of working with Hiho Silver for a number of years and have the joy of writing about all the jewellery, including the Thelwell Collection. I adore the company, the ethos behind the pieces created, and the exclusive designs are out of this world. I see many other pieces of jewellery on my travels and, call me biased if you like, but the pieces are a cut above the rest. Before I started working for them I was a huge fan… and the more I’ve got under the skin of the brand, the designs and the pieces, the more I love them.

Hiho Silver’s Thelwell Collection

A little while ago Emma Warren, Hiho’s MD, told me about an exciting new collection. That’s something that makes a PR’s heart sing… then she told me what it was. It was Thelwell. But Thelwell the Hiho way. Hiho Silver has full permission from the Thelwell Estate to create and sell these pieces, and works very closely with the team there too. But what Hiho has done, what it always does, is create beautiful pieces that are practical but still have that authenticity… and I’ll tell you how.

Initially, the Thelwell Collection was made up of three pieces: two charms and a pendant on a necklace. The charms took me back to my childhood, when I would read and be able to relate to those amazing cartoons that see Penelope and her pony tackling all sorts of activities. I found myself smiling thinking back to those cartoons that mirrored equestrian life so closely… and that was from simply looking at a teeny sterling silver cup charm!

The two charms were designed with clips to make them easy to attach to pretty much anything. The cup was designed with the right proportions and the handles were totally ‘Thelwell’, and the rosette was the same. The pendant was designed differently as it showed a complete Penelope and pony celebrating a win.

The range has now grown to include three necklaces (featuring a boot, saddle, and horseshoe, all with those instantly recognisable details) and two pairs of earrings that match the charms. The Thelwell Collection is lovely and although great for children and younger riders, the pieces are ‘grown up’ enough for anyone to wear. They’re beautiful in their own right and give that nod to well spent childhoods on opinionated ponies!

Why did Hiho Silver decide to create a Thelwell Collection?

Hiho Silver in an iconic equestrian brand in its own right, and teaming up with brand that is such an integral part of the equestrian scene was an obvious choice. Hiho’s customers spans generations, meaning that Thelwell and its broad appeal fitted perfectly.

“The Thelwell Collection is such a fun one for us,” said Emma Warren, Managing Director of Hiho Silver. “We just love it and adore the feedback we get from our customers. We love that a piece of well designed jewellery can transport people back in time and relive amazing memories; that’s so special.”

To see the full Thelwell Collection, just trot on over to Hiho’s site.

How to hide hashtags on Instagram Stories (and why you should!)

How to hide hashtags on Instagram StoriesWe all know that hashtags make a difference on Instagram, in fact, they make your content a LOT more discoverable and increase engagement. Of course, there’s more to a good post than a load of hashtags, but on a post for the main feed, hashtags are really good. But what about Instagram Stories? Of course, you can add a hashtag to a story (in fact, there’s a specific ‘sticker’ you can use for hashtags if you like!), but what if you want to add more than one? Won’t it make your Story a mess? There’s much debate about whether to include hashtags in the first comment or caption on the main feed… and a lot of that is down to aesthetics. So why on earth would you plaster a pic in them? Well, there’s a way you can add hashtags to your Instagram Story without making it look a mess. It’s simple really… you hide them. And that’s the subject of today’s blog – how to hide hashtags on Instagram Stories.

Why add a hashtag to an Instagram Story?

Well, we’ve talked about how hashtags makes you more discoverable, but the thing is, this also works for Stories. Now, word of caution… well, not exactly caution. If you use a hashtag (sticker or underlined) is MAY appear on the corresponding hashtag page. It may not. But if you don’t add a hashtag, the chances of it being featured on the relevant hashtag page are zero. If you can add it, and hide it (if you like), there’s a better chance of you increasing your reach. Or you don’t. And you definitely won’t get featured on the page…

So, if you do add a hashtag and you do get featured, it may appear on the hashtag page in the Story but at the top. If you’re not sure what I’m taking about, follow these steps…

  • Open Instagram on your phone
  • Press the magnifying glass
  • Click on the search bar at the top
  • Select ‘Tags’
  • Type in your desired hashtag and tap
  • And you’ll see a page with lots of pics… at the top there’s a circle with the Instagram colours framing it – that’s where you may appear.

How to hide a hashtag on Instagram Stories

We know that Instagram is a visual platform. So if you spend a lot of time creating beautiful images for your Story, you might not want to slap an ugly hashtag over them? Maybe? Worry not… you can hide them…

So, it’s worth noting that in order to be considered you need to either use a hashtag sticker (more challenging to hide, but you can change it to be a bit less obvious!) or you put the # and start typing and then select the hashtag you want from the bottom of the image. This underlines it and makes it a hashtag in this way. Now, if you opt for this, it’s much easier to hide.

I’m sure there are lots of ways to hide a hashtag, but the one I use (and I find the easiest) is to use the colour match tool (you know where you pick what colour you want the text to be?) and just change the colour of the hashtag to match a bit of the background of your image. You might need to shrink it down (especially if your photo has lots of colours and shades), but it’s easy, it works, and it’s done.

Of course, when you want to use a hashtag to direct someone (like #linkinbio) or you don’t mind using one that’s visible because it adds to what you’re doing, the stickers are good, or just pick a colour that contrasts with the background so people can see it and click if they like?

I’ve been using this function for a while now and have seen some Stories do really, really well… and this is the only thing I have done differently…

Have you tried hiding a hashtag? How do you do it?

An exciting announcement about TEDxMalvern…

Over the weekend I announced that I have been asked to speak at TEDxMalvern‘s event next month. To say I’m excited is an huge understatement. I’ve known about this for a while now but had to keep it quiet until the full speaker line up was announced. You can find out more about TEDxMalvern here.

What is TEDx?

TEDx talks are a relation of TED talks, which are talks aimed to help support, educate and inspire people through ‘ideas worth spreading’. TEDx talks are independently organised talks that follow TED’s ethos, but are organised by people who have had to apply for a license. The ‘x’ denotes that the talk is independently organised. All talks are under 18 minutes – the point is that these are short, powerful talks designed to share an idea

If you haven’t been to a TED or a TEDx talk, don’t worry, TEDx and TED talks are organised globally. But what’s even better is that you can enjoy these talks from your living room as there’s an extensive library of TED and TEDx talks on TEDx’s YouTube channel.

I have to say that I have spent quite a bit of time on the YouTube channel above, and others connected to TED too. I’ll warn you now and say it’s a bit like going down a rabbit hole because you’ll watch one, think ‘wow, that’s amazing’, and then you’ll click on the next and so on. I love the fact that the talks are short too… because you feel like you’re getting a concentrated version of the passion that person has, and the information is the creme de la creme relating to that subject.

…but I digress…

So, what’s TEDxMalvern about?

TEDxMalvern this year is connected to the theme ‘Thoughts for the Future’ and takes place on April 25th in Malvern. I’m delighted to be speaking at the event alongside Revathi Timms (Executive Director, Avatar Enterprise Ltd) and Ross Renton (Pro Vice Chancellor Students, University of Worcester). I’ll be speaking about social media (I know, that’s not that surprising!) and more specifically the power of social media in the rural setting, Ross Renton will be speaking about student expectations of university and Revathi Timms will be speaking about 3D printing. I’m very, very excited to be delivering my talk, but I’m also really looking forward to listening to Revathi and Ross’s talks too.

Over the next few weeks, I will be creating some blog and video content around ‘big’ talks. As you can imagine, there will be a twist, and I really hope you enjoy it.

I’ll be doing my best to document my prep for this talk on my social media channels, so please do make sure you’re following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you want to join the journey.

Now, if you’re interested in TEDx or TEDxMalvern in particular, follow this link to TEDxMalvern, or follow Dr Adrian Burden who’s half of the TEDxMalvern organising team on Twitter too.

If you have any questions about TED or TEDx, do get in touch and I’ll do my very best to point you in the right direction. I would advise you to subscribe to the TED and TEDx YouTube channels though. They’re incredible!

Behind… bespoke cross country colours from Super X Country

bespoke cross country coloursA little while ago, I wrote an article for Horse & Hound all about what cross country colours mean to the people who ride in them. With insight from Paul Tapner, Mary King, David Doel and Nicki Strong, the piece attracted lots of attention and was also fascinating to write. Cross country colours, in my mind at least, cross over into branding. But how on earth do you get ones that reflect what you want?! And how do you stand out from the crowd? The answer lies in bespoke cross country colours.

Enter Super X Country

Becci Harrold runs Super X Country and is also an accomplished event rider in her own right. She started Super X Country in 2010 when she couldn’t find any base layers that suited her taste.

“Before there was a very very slim choice,” said Becci. “There were no online XC colours back then, so it was a case of turning up to a tack shop and seeing what they had. I was horrified when my mum pulled out a heavy, dull, dark rugby shirt! We put it back on the rail and went home to design my own. I was 16 when I did my first event and wore my own colours that I had made from the very start. It was only when I left A levels at 18 I decided to start the business as I had more time and knowledge having done business and textiles!”

Now, Super X Country offers a staggering array of highly customisable designs. At the time of writing this (so, depending on when you read it, the numbers might change!) there are 19 breathable base layer colours to choose from that can be customised with stars, spots and checks in 31 different colours (and, if you select a ‘burst’ pattern, you can have up to three different colours in the design). In addition, there’s a rose gold and a unicorn set. And I haven’t even mentioned the custom hat silks…

Do you find people pick similar colour combinations for their bespoke cross country colours?

“When I post a picture on social media of a set, that usually becomes the favourite for many people for a week or two, and then something different shows up and then that takes over,” said Becci. “It goes in waves! Some people are deadset on their favourite colour but I’m finding now that many people are influenced by a good looking set that I might have put together or another customer”

Becci has some amazing plans for the future and will be appearing at a number of events this season and beyond. In addition, she’s incredibly active on social media – you can follow Super X Country on Instagram, or Facebook, and obviously you can visit the Super X Country website to see the range of amazing designs available, to give you inspiration to create your own bespoke cross country colours.

Why you should be excited about tagged products on Instagram

tagged products on InstagramAh… you know when you’ve been waiting for a social media update and willing it on to hurry up? And then it’s here?! And you go and carry out a standard action and you see the new options? And you let out a little shriek?! Well, that describes tagged products on Instagram for me. And I am very pleased that this amazing new feature is now here in the UK.

What are tagged products?

For quite a long time now, you’ve been able to tag products on Facebook, so I’m going to explain product tagging through Facebook’s functionality, just in case you have no idea what I am on about! Tagging products means that if you post a lovely image on your Facebook page, you can tag the image with the specific product/s featured. Tagging the product makes it infinitely easier for your fans and followers to shop, because the final destination is just one click away. And it looks really neat too. On Facebook, you click on the image of the product below the main post in the News Feed and BANG, you’re on the right page to make your purchase. BOOM! For the customer, this just makes the whole thing so much easier… you don’t have to go to the website, try and remember the product’s exact name and use the search function, or even guess which category it might be in. Previously, you could have included a link in your caption, but if you had a long caption, this would be hidden and very messy. The ability to tag a product on Facebook makes the shopping experience easier and more direct, and that helps brands and businesses. People invest huge amounts of time, effort and money into streamlining the buying process for a customer… and this continues this.

Until recently, this was not available on Instagram.

A very warm welcome to tagged products on Instagram!

I have read many an article about the introduction of tagged products on Instagram. I’ve seen pictures of the testing of this and I was excited. One of the ‘flaws’ (and I mean that in the nicest sense of the word… quirk might be a better word) of Instagram was the lack of ability to link from posts. Now, it wasn’t a huge issue as it kept the platform focussed on what it set out to achieve, but saying ‘link in the bio’ all the time and then directing the potential customers to your main site was always a big ask. Putting the URL in the caption was another option, but it didn’t have the ability to link. That was a faff at best… and didn’t really help you get those all important conversions…

When people are on a platform, then don’t really like to leave it…

See, when people decide to spend time on Instagram, they like to stay there because they made that choice. So, imagine you see a picture of a beautiful product on Instagram that you might like to buy. Previously you would have to click on the profile pic, then the link in the bio, then hope that went to the main site, then try and remember the product’s name or at least a keyword in order to find it and buy. Now, you have to be seriously committed to do this. Option two would be to copy and paste the URL from the caption into a browser… and I know with my fat fingers this is always a faff and results in a lot of swearing and cursing. It wasn’t easy for someone to buy something that they saw in a post in the main feed. Well, until now.

Why am I excited about tagged products on Instagram?

Well, it’s just made one of my favourite social media platforms a WHOLE lot more commercial. Shoppable links are something I have been waiting for and willing on, because I think it will help prove the huge value of Instagram for business even more. I also think it’s going to encourage much stronger imagery and styling because it’s now a place that can generate easy leads. Tagged products on Instagram- you’ve made me a very happy camper.

Have you tried tagging products on Instagram yet? Do you think it’ll help you and your business?

What I learnt from doing the #30dayruralbusiness challenge

#30dayruralbusiness challengeWhat a month February was! It was Valentine’s Day, it was my Dad’s birthday, it snowed, it was cold… but more important than all that, it was the month of the #30dayruralbusiness challenge.

What was the #30dayruralbusiness challenge?

This was an Instagram challenge created by photographer, vlogger and blogger (and client and friend!) Sophie Callahan. The idea was a simple one, and that was to encourage people to embrace and use Instagram more. The way to do this – create a list of simple prompts that gave people a focus for the image they put up that day. I say simple in a positive way, because the simplicity of the prompt gave a huge amount of scope, allowing people to post what felt right to them. It was a genius challenge. I spoke to Sophie at the very start of the #30dayruralbusiness challenge to find out more, but I thought revisiting it now would also be useful.

What did I learn from the #30dayruralbusiness challenge?

I actually learnt quite a few things…

  • I knew that the rural business community and Small & Supercharged community were brilliant, but I LOVED the way that they really embraced the #30dayruralbusiness challenge
  • I loved seeing everyone’s posts. Not a huge surprise, but I went and checked the hashtag very regularly to look at the latest posts… they were superb.
  • A hashtag has the power to unite people. The #30dayruralbusiness challenge did this incredibly well. Obviously big hashtags concerning awareness days and news also have this power, and I get that, but with something as niche as this, it was brilliant to see this level of unity.
  • I don’t have a shortage of content ideas. This sounds like I’m blowing my own trumpet and that’s not my intention at all. What I mean is that I usually post twice a day, sometimes three times, but with the challenge too, I was finding a lot of content I had saved in drafts had to be dumped to another day… some is still waiting to emerge as more time sensitive stuff needed posting instead.
  • It was hard work. Creating content, for me, isn’t too hard (I mean, I do it for part of my job!), but to a schedule? When I had to plan specific pics that fitted the prompts? Yes – that was quite hard, but in the best possible way… it made me think, try, batch photographing things, and look for opportunities to get some good pics in stock.
  • How to take better pics. I’m not an expert, and I would not for a second pretend I was, but I played around with my now beloved portrait mode, moved things around, cropped them differently, took a LOT of pics of the same thing, got a bit obsessed about light and much more. Don’t get me wrong, there is MASSIVE room for improvement, and I mean massive, but I felt the concentrated effort of having to photograph specific things made me think and pushed me more than usual.

To me, it also emphasised the power of, not just Instagram, but of community. Some people in my free small business group, Small & Supercharged, enjoyed huge growth (percentage wise – I’m all about percentages as I think it’s the only fair way to level the playing field) and it’s given their account a huge boost. A big thank you and a big well done to Sophie for putting the time and effort in to come up with this idea. I learnt a lot – what did you learn?

If you loved the #30dayruralbusiness challenge and are feeling a bit sad it’s finished, WORRY NOT, Sophie is planning to create monthly post prompts for Instagram over on her blog. Enjoy!

Behind… Sweet Images’ photographs for Brooke’s latest MyHackathon campaign

Brooke HackathonToday, we’re talking about Sweet Images’ photographs for Brooke

I’m really excited to share a bit about the latest campaign by my client and friend Rachel Bragg, the incredible photographer behind Sweet Images. Rachel is an equestrian portrait, event and commercial photographer and has some amazing projects on the go. But there’s one we’re allowed to talk about now, and that’s a campaign she photographed for Brooke.

A bit about Brooke’s latest campaign – MyHackathon

Brooke has recently launched the MyHackathon campaign; a clever fundraising initiative that raises vital funds for the charity. The challenge, for those taking part, is to hack 100 miles, in 100 days, and raise £100 for Brooke. This isn’t the first year that Brooke has run this campaign, with last year’s attracting support from Charlotte Dujardin, Richard Waygood and Claire Harker.

So what about Sweet Images and this year’s MyHackathon?

We’re going to focus on Claire Harker, whose Instagram account @life_through_the_ears has just under 5k followers (at time of writing!). Last year, Claire took part in MyHackathon and raised £450 for Brooke.

So… now the scene has been set, it’s over to Rachel at Sweet Images…

How did you meet Claire and The Ears?

“I originally met Claire and ‘The Ears’ having made contact with her through Instagram. I’d been following them for quite a while and just loved their daily dose of life in Windsor Park. Rock’s character (‘The Ears’!) is very strong and comes through the images well. I approached Claire and we did a shoot together towards the end of 2017. I’ve been further hooked on their life ever since. Claire is a fabulous woman who clearly dotes on her boy and is incredibly surprised how well her IG account is being received. She’s incredibly humble, and I love that!

Tell us about this amazing duo

“The image of Claire and Rock was taken during a photoshoot I worked on for Brooke as part of their 2018 #MyHackathon campaign. Claire and Rock, who is also known as ‘The Ears’ within his role on Instagram featuring on the account @life_through_the_ears, have been chosen by Brooke to be their Brand Ambassador and Face of #MyHackathon

What do Claire and The Ears to together?

“Claire is also a rider with the Light Cavalry, sort of a Territorial Army version of the Household Cavalry. The horses are mostly privately owned but come under the care of the Light Cav so they can be used for ceremonial duties, mostly around London. They take stage in events such as The Lord Mayors Show and the annual inspect. Rock was brought into Claire’s life specifically as she wanted to become a LH rider and he’s been the perfect horse for this line of work. He’s a big strapping dark black horse with a white blaze – just what we’ve all come to see on the streets of London really! Sadly he’s got some joint issues now which means much of the ceremonial duties he used to perform are now not really possible for him.”

Where can we find 0ut more about the first shoot?

You can read more about Rachel, Claire and Rock’s shoot here.

To find out more about MyHackathon, just potter on over to Brooke’s site and get involved.

To find out more about Rachel and Sweet Images, visit the Sweet Images website.

How not to sell on social media

How not to sell on social mediaDo you want to have a coaching session with me?

In short, I have just committed what I believe to be a cardinal sin in terms of social media, content marketing… actually any form of PR at all. I have committed this to illustrate a point- it’s horrible on every level. And if it made you feel half as uncomfortable as I felt typing it, then I apologise.

How not to sell on social media

If you didn’t see anything wrong with my direct approach, then you have a little bit to learn about social media. But worry not. Because you’re here now and we’ll get it sorted. You’re going to find out how not to sell on social media. And you’re not alone if you think this is OK. It’s not, but you’re not on your own.

So… social…

I’ve heard both Gary Vaynerchuk and Dan Meredith use an analogy that perfectly describes why the above is wrong. But it’s not really ‘PG’ content so we’ll go a different route. Imagine you are at a bar, or a restaurant, or a party. You walk over to someone you see and out of nowhere ask them to buy from you or do something to help you. Just because you want them to. They don’t know you. You haven’t added any value to them or their lives. You haven’t even had the courtesy to introduce yourself. How do you think that encounter will go? Do you think they’ll be reaching for their purses and wallets while asking you if you accept cards? Or do you think you’re more likely to get told where to go? Or laughed at? Or, depending what you ask, a slap in the face? I know where I’d put my money…

See, there’s a reason why you can’t just ask for what you want. It’s not socially acceptable. The clue is in the name. I mean… it’s flipping rude! Social media isn’t about saying ‘I have this – buy it’. An advert can do that. Social media is about being sociable. Finding out about your fans and followers and what makes them tick. It’s creating interesting content and tips to help support their goals and objectives. It’s about actually caring about your audience. It’s about delivering more than they could hope for and asking for nothing. You should look to make friends of your fans and followers. To forge real connections and to actually engage with them in an authentic way. And if you don’t want to, don’t be surprised to get slapped in the face. Metaphorically or otherwise!

How do you sell on social media then? If you can’t ask?!

You can ask, but you can’t ask all the time, and you can’t ask without putting in any effort. Treat your fans and followers as friends. Share things you think they might like to read or watch, create content that might be useful to them, tell them where you’re going and share information about new things you’re doing. Create polls, how tos, videos, memes… whatever appeals to your audience and strengthens your brand. You can say you have things for sale. You can share news of products and services. You can do all these things, but they mustn’t be your sole online strategy… because it won’t deliver.

If you’re looking for a little help with how to sell on social media (or how not to sell on social media!), you might find Five Ways To Grow Your Equestrian Business On Social Media a good read. Enjoy 🙂

Why I love… Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crushing It

gary vaynerchuk crushing itI make no secret of the fact I’m a Gary Vaynerchuk fan. His books form the foundation of my business book library (which is pretty extensive… I love them!), and they are the books I recommend the most too. If someone wants to find out more about social media and how it works, how to market themselves on a shoestring, the value of customer service and lots more, I refer them to Gary. I’ve just finished Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest book, Crushing It, and I want to tell you why I love it… because I really do.

Why I love Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crushing It

When I saw that Gary Vee (that’s what he calls himself too, I’m not just being casual!) said he was bringing out a new book… I was excited. I adore business books and love reading them. I find them assuring and inspiring in varying degrees… and both feelings are very nice. Gary, I believe, is a real visionary. He’s a ballsy and he makes sweeping statements… they’re all logical and well thought through, but they are sweeping. I admire his bravery, because sometimes he’s wrong (and he’s open about this too), but he’s very often right – and when he’s right, he wins. Because being right about something and not committing, not going ‘all in’ as Gary himself would say, is kind of pointless. And it’s always better to try something and have it fail than not try it and see it succeed. And I agree with that. When Gary says ‘all in’, he talks on a different level of ‘all in’ to most of us. He has invested in a number of companies with his own cold hard cash… when I say ‘all in’, I tend to download an app or buy a product… it’s a different all in, but it works just the same.

But I digress. I saw he was releasing a new book. That excited me. I hurried to Amazon and it was on flipping pre-order, due out at the end of January… and I think this was December. I ordered it straight away… and as someone who can procrastinate with the best of them, particularly over something that wasn’t even available at that point, that’s a pretty good endorsement! I regularly checked to see the estimated delivery date… then I saw other people on social with the book… then the delivery date moved. That put me in a slightly challenging mood for about an hour, but it was OK. You know. I am a grown up and it was only delayed by a couple of weeks. Then the day came. I was like a kid at Christmas when my Amazon package arrived… and it was worth the wait.

Is it like Crush It?

Umm… I’d say Crush It is its sister, and I would probably suggest buying that before you buy this one so you get a feel for it all and his ideas. Crush It is a really good read, and although it came out in 2013, it’s still very relevant today. And before you think I’m trying to spend all your money, if you buy a ‘used’ one, it’ll cost you from £1.69 plus postage. I buy a lot of used books. It doesn’t bother me that someone else has read it as I enjoy the savings, and I always get Like New, Good or Very Good, to ensure the condition is going to work for me. So if you’re thinking of getting Crushing It, pop Crush It in your basket too, because this book refers to it a lot.

So, about Crushing It… how is it different? Why is it good?

Because I love a case study. I like to see stuff in action and see the cogs behind how things work… and Crushing It does this. In this book Gary has checked in with a number of entrepreneurs who read Crush It, applied it to their life and business, and have flourished. He speaks to Pat Flynn (the legend behind Smart Passive Income… he’s a good one), John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur On Fire fame and a lot more. Seeing how these people started their business (and how it improved with a little Crush It kick) is hugely inspiring.

But it’s not just a book of case studies. Although that alone would have been a must-read book. It looks at the big platforms and refreshes the facts and stats, it talks about content (lovely, lovely content!) and more. It’s hugely inspiring, it’s very easy to read (educational and informative but very well written in my opinion) and it’s a real must read if you have any interest in business books. It’ll give you a kick up the backside (whether you think you need it or not!) and show you what’s possible. It’s the antidote to procrastination. I can’t speak highly enough of it. I’ve recommended it to so many people, and as at time I’ve writing, I’m re-reading it. It’s that good. I’m also going to re-read Crush It. One of the superstars in the book re-reads Crush It once a year… and it’s not done him any harm!

Have you read Crushing It, Crush It or any of Gary Vaynerchuk’s books? I’d love to hear what you loved and what you learnt!

Behind… Mackenzie & George’s new feather brooch collection

Mackenzie & George Feather BroochI’ve decided to give my Friday blog a little reshuffle. You’ll still see interviews with new businesses and more established ones, but I wanted to broaden it out a little. See, I have the privilege to work with and coach some of the most amazing equestrian and country businesses in the UK and beyond. I find it beyond exciting to have this involvement and seeing a plan comes together fills me with joy. In my job as a business coach, I often can’t shout about things, at least not until they’re out in the world… but when they are, well, it’s a shame not to! It’s celebrating the wins of my amazing clients and also explaining a bit more about what goes on behind these campaigns and achievements. Because as lovely as they look and seem (and they are fabulous), a lot of hard work goes into each and every success. And I want to highlight just how hard these business owners work to achieve the results they do.

Today we have a good one, all about Mackenzie & George’s lovely new feather brooch collection. Not only are these brooches stunning, but there’s a great story behind them too.

A bit about Mackenzie & George… before we get to the feathers…

So, if you don’t know about Mackenzie & George – WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! Don’t panic, we’re going to get that sorted now. Mackenzie & George is run by husband and wife team Chris and Melanie Clarihew in Shropshire. The company is best known for its stunning range of handmade British leather belts that are designed and made in the Shropshire workshop. The attention to detail is simply incredible, and the fact that all the belts can be personalised too makes them even more special. In addition to belts, Mackenzie & George also sells a range of country accessories including beautiful felt fedoras, clutch bags, key rings and bracelets… and the company has just launched a new feather brooch collection.

Why are the feather brooches so special?

Unlike the belts, Mackenzie & George don’t make the feather brooches, but that doesn’t make them any less special. Because they’re made by a lady called Wendy Goode who Melanie and Chris have known for years.

“We were helping Chris’ parents on their stand at Badminton Horse Trials back in 2011, and they were opposite Wendy, who has been making these gorgeous brooches for over 20 years,” said Melanie. “We got chatting away and it turns out she was living the village along from where Chris’ dad grew up in the Scottish highlands. And this place is TINY, so that was quite a surprise. Anyway, we got on really well and continued to be wowed by her beautiful creations and the care that went into each piece in terms of preparation and her overall approach. Fast forward to Chris and I setting up our own business and going to our first BETA International in 2013, and Wendy was also exhibiting. Again, we got on really well, and she mentioned her current stockist at the shows was going to focus on their showrooms instead. She liked what we did and we all thought our products would work nicely together. We created some hats on variations of designs she had, and the feathers completely transformed the hats giving them a completely timeless look.
“We’re now the exclusive stockists at the shows, as she is very protective over her pieces not just being all over the place, and loves the way we present them and explain her story.”
Why am I telling you all this now? Well, Mackenzie & George has just brought out a new Wendy Goode feather brooch collection.

The new feather brooch collection available from Mackenzie & George

The new collection has a larger range than before but is still amazing quality with each piece being beautifully designed. Wendy is also an incredible, meticulous artist, and nothing leaves her workshop without her exacting approval. Each brooch uses hand arranged feathers mounted in upcycled shotgun and rifle casings or handmade silver and bronze cones. The feathers come from a range of birds including game birds like pheasant, mallard and guinea fowl, as well as peacock, blue jay and more. I was about to write a note next to guinea fowl saying how much I love those brooches, and indeed it’s true, but I haven’t seen one I don’t like (and as I work with Mackenzie & George, I’ve seen a lot of feather brooch pictures!). The great thing is the range available as there’s a huge range of different colour combinations and different sizes. If you’re looking for a subtle feather pin, Mackenzie & George will have the perfect one, and if you want something bigger, to make a bolder statement, I have seen plenty that fit the bill too.

How to wear the feather brooch

The feather brooches are incredibly adaptable and can be worn with fedoras or on jacket lapels. They’re the perfect accessory to complete a true country look, and with such a fab story behind the company selling them and the lady making them, they’re definitely the feather brooches to buy this season.

Find out more about Mackenzie & George’s new feather brooch collection online or see them at shows.