Behind… the filters we apply

the filters we applyThis ‘behind…’ is a bit different to normal. I usually go behind the scenes of a campaign, competition or product launch. Now, fear not, I’ll be going back there next week, but today I want to talk about the filters we apply. No, not to our social media pics. The filters we apply to our lives and the events that happen to us.

Filters?

Yes. Filters. You can call them frames if you like – lots of people do. Basically, it’s the way you view something. Exciting or scary? Hard work or challenging? Get it? Now, if we explore the filters idea (because, you know, I like social media!), then I think it becomes clear…

Let’s talk about filters

Imagine you take a picture (well, no need to imagine, I’m sure you take a lot of pictures!) and now let’s think of the filter you apply before you show the world.

Let’s look at Instagram’s filters… I’m just going to pick a few to illustrate. Don’t be a filter snob here. I might not mention the ones you like… it’s OK… and if I mention the ones below and you disagree with my assessment, that’s fine too. I’m all about the metaphor!

So, we start with no filter. In Instagram terms (and real life), this is what it is. There’s nothing added or taken away to give a different feel, thought, look or opinion. The picture here is a dandelion.

Now, Clarendon… this makes everything pop, makes it all more vibrant (well, on the image I’m messing around with it does). This has made the image brighter – it looks sunnier than before, everything looks lush, green, rosy and spring like. So maybe, if we flip around to our own filters, Clarendon is an optimistic filter than makes everything look a little ‘better’ than it is.

Reyes… the image I’m using now has lost its vibrancy. The yellow dandelions, the green grass… they feel less than they should be in this context. It’s almost like the image has been subdued in some way. Flipping to the life filter, this could be a filter that makes things look less ‘shiny’. Maybe a really exciting opportunity becomes great or ‘ok’.

X-Pro II… the drama! The colours have become deeper, so has the road surface in the image… it feels dramatic and exaggerated. I don’t dislike what it’s done to the dandelion image, but if you have your X-Pro II filter on in real life, it could be good or bad.

See where I’m going with this?

So, what do filters have to do with anything? How do the filters we apply change anything?

They change how we view things. The filter doesn’t have to change the thing we’re seeing, but it’ll change how we feel about it all. The story we create around it. The picture here, the one of dandelions. What do you see? A weed? A flower? Something yellow? Food? A life line for bees? It’s all of these things, depending on how you view it.

Take a situation. I’m going to use public speaking. So, you get invited to speak somewhere. Now what. Are you scared? Excited? Fearing ridicule? What are you thinking? It’s actually completely up to us BUT it can also change the outcome of this kind of event. It’s a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy. My amazing friend, Emma Warren, made me think about this the other day. She asked me how I was feeling about my TEDx talk. I said I was nervous. That I was not good at public speaking. She suggested that each time that thought entered my head I did a physical thing and repeated a basic mantra to change how I viewed it. To change my filter. To switch nerves into excitement. I only did this a couple of times and I felt the worry lift. And then I didn’t think of the disaster scenario again, that was connected to my anxiety. I was still a little anxious – I mean – public speaking is not something I do lots of – but I wasn’t scared. I was kind of excited. If I’d had the wrong filter in place, I wouldn’t have been.

I like the filter analogy. I’m sure it’s been used before (so I’m not saying it’s my idea, I just haven’t seen it myself), but I usually see it referred to as framing. I always understood the concept, but when I was walking the dog, pondering life, listening to an audiobook and saw that the verges were lined with dandelions, everything started to fit together. Weed or flower? Food or decoration? It depends what filter you apply. This depends on your pre-sets (you can tell I work with a lot of photographers, can’t you?!), but it also means that YOU CAN CHANGE IT.

I hasten to add that I am no mindset coach and I’m no expert in psychology, far from it, this is very much my take on it, based on my own thoughts.

Do you apply filters to certain scenarios? Are you aware of the filters you’re applying? I’d love to know.

What to wear for a TEDx talk – part 2

What to wear for TEDxToday, we’re looking at what to wear from the waist down, when giving a TEDx talk. If you didn’t see the first post about what to wear on your top half, have a look here – what to wear for a TEDx talk – part 1. But now we’re onto shoes, boots and trousers.

Trousers or a skirt?

I think this goes back to the comfort angle again. Some people are a lot more comfortable in a skirt, some trousers. I’m going for the latter. Actually, I’m going for dark blue skinny jeans because I like them a lot. Some people might wince at the thought of jeans for this kind of talk and I would agree if they weren’t smart. But they are. They are hole free, they’re a dark colour… and I like them. So I’m wearing jeans.

This was one of my non-negotiables when I was talking to Sophie and Karen initially (the ‘Glam Squad’). It was going to be jeans. I can wear skirts and dresses, I do occasionally, but I’m a lot more comfortable in jeans.

Footwear

Ah… footwear.

You might remember for ‘what to wear for TEDx -part 1’ that my height is a bit of a thing for me. Well, one that I don’t want to draw further attention to. So flat shoes. They’re all I own to be honest. So that was a given. But there were more considerations too…

  • Comfort – always
  • Smartness
  • Soles
  • Colour

So- comfort. Why? There will be walking and standing involved. I have instructions on where to park and where the venue is, but I want to wear something that will mean wherever I park, I can happily walk to the venue without developing a limp. This isn’t just because badly fitting shoes hurt, but you know when you’re in pain and it’s all you can think about? I need to give a talk and I really need to focus in on that… not if my feet hurt. They won’t…

Smartness. Is that even a word? But yes, the footwear choice has to be smart. I have plenty of boots and shoes that are not smart, that I walk the dog in, but that’s not right. No one wants a trail of mud across the stage.

Soles. Soles need to have some form of grip, whether that’s caused by wear (in the form of a leather sole) or rubber. I’m not exactly sure on the stage surface but I really don’t want to be landing on my face/backside mid talk… it would distract for the overall message a little.

Colour. It goes without saying that I need this to coordinate with everything else.

So I have two contenders. Both from Fairfax & Favor

Henleys

I bought these at last year’s Badminton Horse Trials and love them. They’re made from suede and have really good rubber soles that are grippy but not clunky, so that’s a big win. I like the plated cord detailing, the casual yet smart overall look… and did I mention the comfort?! They are so comfy but also tick every other box. My Henleys are navy (they do come in other colours too!) so will coordinate with my jeans really well as they’re also that kind of colour. My gut feeling (and from talking to the Glam Squad!) is that I will wear these in the end.

Fairfax & Favor Regina BootsReginas

These were always a contender… actually, I thought that these were the only contender for a while before we got into outfit detail. I wear these a lot and I love them. The only thing about them is they’re tan, so they make quite a statement without really meaning to. This works really well if a stronger colour is being worn on the top, or something with tan/brown detail because it carries the colour through. One of my jacket options is grey – so they won’t really work with this – but the other option is a green tweed with orange detail, so they could look really smart with that.

The other great thing about these Fairfax & Favor boots is that you can change the colour of the tassels to bring a look together. So, if I went for this and the green blazer, I could switch the self coloured tan suede tassels with forest green. Or I could pick up the pink or orange from the tweed using tassels too. When I wear these I usually switch the self coloured tassel for the plum or navy to tie in with the rest of what I’m wearing.

Bag

This isn’t so much of a discussion as a statement! I will want to take my phone, purse, copy of my talk, cards for the talk… maybe even a back up of my slides, you know, in case, so I need something sizable to carry this in. So I’ll take my trusty Fairfax & Favor Windsor… and that’s in navy too.

Fairfax & Favor Windsor HandbagI’ve had this bag a while and I love it. I don’t use it all the time (I have twin toddlers!!) and it lives in its dust cover when it’s not in use, but I really do love it.

 

So that’s what I’m wearing for my TEDx Malvern talk. As I hope you can see the clothing and footwear choices are quite considered. I think when you’re working out what to wear for a TEDx talk – or any important talk or event – there are lots of considerations to take into account. And some that you don’t tend to think of in everyday life.

Another key thing to note is that while it doesn’t really matter what you wear – as in – it’s not a fashion show – it kind of does too. You want what you wear to represent you properly. You want it to be smart enough to show you respect your audience and the time they’ve given to hear you talk, but still you. And you want it to be comfortable so you don’t spend the whole time faffing around with in. You also want it to allow your focus, and your audience’s focus, to be on what you’re saying and the idea you’re sharing. That’s why you’re there, afterall.

If you want to see any of the items above or from my ‘what to wear for TEDx – part 1‘ blog in more detail, then pop over to Instagram and check out the ‘Speaker Style’ story highlight. There will also be additional non-speaker related information about some of my favourite pieces in future blogs.

A huge thanks to Sophie Callahan and Karen McConnell for their help in getting me to think about what I wear and working with me (and all my quirks).

My talk is at TEDxMalvern on Wednesday 25th April.

Behind… the Small & Supercharged group | Rhea Freeman

Small & SuperchargedToday I wanted to tell you a bit more about my Small & Supercharged group. This Facebook group has now reached over 1000 members (and there will be a competition to celebrate over on my Facebook page very very soon!!), so I thought it would be a good chance to catch up.

What’s Small & Supercharged all about?

In essence, Small & Supercharged provides a safe, online place where small business owners can share ideas, ask for advice and network. Originally, lots of different people joined the group from a variety of different industries, but it definitely has a central theme. And that’s canine, equestrian and rural. It’s hardly surprising that the group has attracted people from this space. I have worked in this area for a long time, so most of my contacts are also active in this space… and a lot of their contacts are too.

The community is a fab, busy and buzzing place with so many different skills. I should emphasis here that while canine, equestrian and rural links MOST of the people in the group in one form or another, don’t be fooled, there’s a real diversity in the group. We do have people who run tack shops and equestrian centres, of course, but that’s not all. We have PR and marketing people (equestrian PR and marketing and not!), computer whizzs, website designers, graphic designers, photographers… LOTS. Some of these people might simply own a horse or a dog, so understand a little bit more about what makes the industry tick. You don’t have to be up to your eyeballs in the equestrian, canine or country industry to gain from the group. Promise. It’s the diversity of the group that makes it work so well. There’s people in there with very different skillsets. And this means that lots of people benefit.

Is Small & Supercharged UK only?

Nope. We have members from all over the world, and that absolutely thrills me. I find it so interesting seeing what other people get up to and how the industry differs from continent to continent. Many of the businesses in the group are international, so whether someone is based in Australia or England, it matters not. We can all help and learn from each other.

Why is it called Small & Supercharged?

The group is aimed at small businesses (well, small and medium really) so small was easy. Supercharged refers to the drive of the people inside it. Their desires and passions are infectious and inspiring.

Why community matters

Community is important. As humans, we’re pretty sociable creatures (well, most of us!!) and while some industries have more of a defined hub- this one doesn’t. Whether it’s because we have the ability to trade all over the world, or that people who are in the equestrian, country and canine industry tend to be geographically ‘remote’, I don’t know. And I should say when I say remote, I don’t mean on the top of Everest, more rurally located. And that makes them difficult to gather in a face to face format. Facebook groups, like Small & Supercharged, provide this place. This community if you will. Of course, there are rules and running a group is not without its challenges, but when I hear of how much good the group has done, things that have happened as a direct consequence of our little corner of the internet or someone who has been lifted by another member or comment, it makes it all so much better.

If you’d like to become part of the Small & Supercharged community on Facebook – we’re all over here.

What to wear for a TEDx talk – part 1

What to wear for a TEDx talkSo, today we’re delving into what to wear for a TEDx talk a bit more, in light of my TEDx Malvern talk that’s fast approaching. Today I’m actually going to focus on the top half. I was going to do top, middle and bottom but it felt a bit too ‘The Price Is Right’ so I went for top and bottom. I probably didn’t need to explain that. I might have shown my age a bit. You know, with Michael Barrymore? No – let’s crack on…

What to wear for a TEDx talk – the top half

In this blog, I’m talking tops, blazers, jackets, ponchos, shirts and jewellery.

If you haven’t see my first blog about how to dress for a TEDx talk, then you can follow the link and have a read. It introduces ‘the Glam Squad’ without who I would probably be sat in a corner rocking. They had a really tricky brief.. mainly because I’m a complete nightmare when it comes to clothes, but to recap on a few things before we carry on…

  • The background of the stage will be black
  • The talk will be filmed
  • I’m ‘aware’ of my height and don’t wish to look any taller
  • I am rather conscious of my stomach area (I blame my children) and would like to avoid any attention being drawn to that

On top of this, I think when you’re doing any form of public speaking, meeting people for the first time, presenting a professional, you want to look ‘right’. This doesn’t mean a suit. It doesn’t mean black. It means smart but, more importantly, authentically you.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m wearing something I feel awkward in, the day/event doesn’t feel good. You know when you’re made to go to weddings and social events and you wear things that make you feel odd but you think you have to? Yep, I’m talking about that. And I for one am done with feeling awkward because of what I’m wearing. Of course, the people who have come to see the TEDx talk, well, anyone who has given up their precious time to see any talk, deserves respect. You should make an effort. They have given up their most valuable commodity and while you need to plan and prep what you’re going to say, I also think it’s important to show effort in your appearance. But not at the expense of feeling odd, because you just won’t do your best work. But there’s a happy medium. And that’s what the ‘Glam Squad’ – Karen and Sophie – and I had in mind.

The top

We talked about the top… layer one if you will. There was the stomach issue to contend with, but apart from that it was pretty fair game.

I’ve always loved the Joules Rosamund Top and the shape of the neckline and the way the shirt falls ticked a lot of boxes. Each season they have different prints and there have been some completely gorgeous ones in the past (I mean, I’m cross I didn’t buy them then!), but that’s just life! At the time of writing this, there are three prints available in the Rosamund: Blue Bird Blossom, Cream Dog Walkers and Navy Poppy. They’re all lovely, but the cream one did it for me. I also felt that this option would contrast enough with the jacket options I was looking at but wouldn’t compete. The hemline was also nice as it worked tucked in or hanging outside trousers… some shirts work much better tucked in, but this is really adaptable. So that was on the possible pile.

Next up was a top from Boden. Karen suggested something with my brand colour in, which is maroon. Until I spent most of a weekend looking at maroon tops, I didn’t realise how many different colour maroons there were! They vary hugely from proper red to deep and dark, like red wine. I much prefer the wine end of the spectrum… I’m a bit pale for full on red. Anyway, after a lot of searching, I found two possibles on Boden’s site and they were both on sale. Yay. By the time I pulled my finger out one was available in my size. Egged on my Karen and Sophie it was ordered and appeared two days later. The top in question was Aurora and I picked Black Forest as a colour. They also did/do (depending on when you read this!) a really lovely green that I’m tempted to buy too, but that’s another story! The main body is jersey fabric, it has a simple round collar and semi-sheer sleeves with a spot design. Is it something I would have normally looked at? Nope. But when Karen suggested the colour choice, that was my focus and it made me think outside the box. The colour is absolutely lovely and although a touch more pinky than my maroon, it feels like it’s very much from the same family. It’s very different to the Joules shirt, but really nice.

Last but not least, the third contender was a navy and white striped shirt from Crew Clothing. This was, again, in their sale section, but we all thought that the vertical stripes would be slimming and that navy and white is a classic combination.

What to wear for a TEDx talkThe jacket

We discussed jackets, blazers, coats, capes and ponchos for a while. Now, as I have said before, comfort is important to me… so that was at the forefront of any decision. In order to address the stomach issue, any top jacket/cape/poncho would need to be of a suitable length to finish below my waistline, and this would also help to soften the height issue. Nothing says ‘you’re tall’ than a jacket that looks too short!

We discussed different ideas and agreed that the blazer format was best. This is smart and shows a serious-ness, which you want. Professional but when teamed with other garments, gives a relaxed and friendly feel while still showing respect.

When we agreed on this, I called on my friends at Butler Stewart and they very kindly agreed to loan me two different jackets. Both are cut to the Jemma pattern, which is single breasted with two buttons. I’ve always loved the shape of this jacket, and the length too. Its cut means it looks great buttoned up or unbuttoned, and the shape of the jacket when buttoned means  you can still see the top underneath, which is nice.

Anna said she would send me two different options – both the Jemma Jacket, but two different colours: Pearl Grey and Willow Green. Both colours are really lovely and completely my taste. The grey will clearly work well with stronger colours (like the Boden top and the Crew Clothing shirt), but the Willow Green has orange and pink detail in the tweed, which will also work well with the Boden top and also the cream Joules shirt too. I also liked the fact that Butler Stewart is a ‘friend’ and Anna, the lady behind it, is a member of the Small & Supercharged group. Wearing a tweed also gives a strong nod to my countryside roots, but the way this tweed is would mean it works really well in a more ‘corporate’ setting too. A MASSIVE thank you to Butler Stewart for letting me loan these jackets.

The jewellery

I’ll put you out of your misery – I’ll be wearing Hiho Silver!

As you know, I work with Hiho Silver, own lots of the pieces they make and love the range. Emma, the MD, kindly said I could loan anything I like, so I chatted to the Glam Squad. I asked to borrow the Long Chained Cherry Roller (three and five roller versions), a Bobbly Necklace, and a circle necklace too, which Michelle (the Countess of Contentment) sent with two chains. I do also have my own Double Chained Cherry Roller that I wear all the time too. As for my wrists, I always was an old sterling silver bangle I was given as a gift by my grandmother (no idea of its origin), a Springy Bangle, Cherry Roller and Foxtail. I also have a Foxy Roller that comes out on special occasions. Ring wise, my Snaffle Ring never leaves me, and neither does my wedding and engagement ring. Last up – ears. I always wear diamond studs. They were my other grandmother’s and I wear them all the time. I kept them ‘for best’ for years and then decided that was a rubbish policy.

So, why did I chose the pieces I did?

The Long Chained Cherry Rollers were chosen so we could experiment with jewellery over the top of a shirt. I’ve seen the five roller one look gorgeous over chunky knits as well as shirts and tops, so that was a must. The shorter one makes a great addition too and can be worn on its own or layered with the longer one.

What to wear for a TEDx talkThe Bobbly is a true statement piece. I adore this piece of jewellery. It’s a great weight, is beautifully made, moves is a really lovely way and is thick enough to be seen from afar. I like the detail of the balls and the links and I like the story behind it too.

The ring necklaces were something I asked for at the last minute. As I was sending over my list, I recalled an image I had seen from a recent Fairfax & Favor shoot where the ring necklace was used on a longer chain and I just loved it. I thought it might work with the two shirt options because of the ‘v’ shaped neckline that could be created… well, that was the thought.

Although the Long Chained Cherry Rollers have rose gold plating detail, silver is my colour really. My wedding and engagement rings are white gold, and I’ve just always been drawn to silver. I love the rose gold detailing on the Cherry Rollers and my Foxy Bangle, but I am more comfortable with silver being the key colour. Again, you have to feel comfortable. I’ve never been a huge fan of yellow gold – I don’t think it really goes with my complexion…

All my hand and wrist jewellery is special to me, so that was always going to come with me! I’ll talk you through all of those pieces another time! You can find out more about the story behind the Cherry Roller here though!

And if you’ve got to here – WELL DONE YOU! I would love to hear your thoughts on what to wear for public speaking… what do you feel comfortable in?

 

 

 

Behind… Hiho’s EXCLUSIVE Official Badminton Horse Trials Collection

Hiho Silver Official Badminton CollectionI am so SO excited to be able to write this one. It’s been bubbling away in the background for a while but, quite rightly, it was top secret. Now it isn’t, I am going to tell you a bit more about Hiho Silver’s new collection, because the company was unveiled as the Official Jeweller for Badminton Horse Trials not that long ago. And with this accolade, there’s an Official Badminton Horse Trials Collection. And I am beyond excited about it.

Hiho’s history with Badminton Horse Trials

If you’ve ever been to Badminton Horse Trials (and if you haven’t, it’s incredible, you MUST go!) you will have no doubt seen Hiho’s stand. It’s a big stand on the main run (Deer Park Drive) and acts as a real beacon for anyone who loves jewellery. The gorgeous purple branding draws me in each time (and did long before I started working with the company!), and that’s before you see the lovely display cabinets glistening with stunning jewellery. Hiho’s King Of The Road, Andrew Ransford (again, if you’ve been to the Hiho stand anywhere, ever, you will have met Andrew!!), and his family have been exhibiting at Badminton for nearly 20 years… so Hiho and Badminton go way back. They’re old pals really…

And then there was the sponsorship of the best dressed at the first horse inspection

Last year, Hiho sponsored the best dressed at the first horse inspection (also known as the trot up) in front of Badminton House. This happens on the Wednesday and has become a cross between a fashion show (I mean, a bit different to London and Milan!) and, obviously, a chance to make sure that horses are sound and fit for competition. The outfits that the riders wear are incredible. Some are rather wacky and out there, some beyond elegant, some bespoke. Articles are written about the fashion as much as the horses. Hiho is well known amongst eventers (and sponsors Emily King and supports Abi Boulton, Tina Wallace, Becci Harrold and Lucy Robinson in the eventing space!) so it was a great fit. The first ‘best dressed’ competition was judged by Hiho’s Andrew, Emily King and Dani Evans and was won by Paul Tapner and Danni Dunn. It was a superb sponsorship and fitted the company perfectly. So much so that Hiho is also sponsoring this year’s trot up and beyond. This further cemented Hiho’s link and passion for Badminton. And it was just lovely.

The Official Jeweller for Badminton Horse Trials… and the Official Badminton Horse Trials Collection

A couple of weeks ago, Hiho was announced as the Official Jeweller for Badminton Horse Trials. For me, I was beyond excited. And it was great to be able to tell people! Everyone at Hiho is delighted and the Badminton team are just the nicest to work with. As part of this comes an Official Badminton Horse Trials Collection, which is now available for pre order and people are already loving it!

This year’s Official Badminton Horse Trials Collection

This year, Hiho’s Official Badminton Horse Trials Collection is a capsule collection with a few key pieces. This will be built on over time and continue to develop going forward too… how exciting is that? The collection is currently made up of three pieces: a Spinner Ring, a Roller Bead and a Roller Charm Bead. All of these have ‘Badminton’ written on them and are gorgeous – combining Hiho quality and Badminton’s magic. All pieces have been approved by Badminton, as I’m sure you can guess, which, in my eyes, adds a further seal of approval.

How do you get hold of the Official Badminton Horse Trials Collection by Hiho Silver?

Simples – you can pre-order now (on the website) and your lovely Badminton pieces will be delivered at the end of April, or you can visit Hiho’s Badminton stand (188 Deer Park Drive) and see the Collection in person. Actually, you can try the ring on, spin it around, get the Roller Bead or even Roller Charm added to your Foxtail, other charm bracelet or Cherry Roller… or any other charm bracelet too. If you order online, Hiho has a superb returns policy, so if there are any sizing issues, they’ll sort it out for you!

So, that’s a little bit of the story behind Hiho and Badminton Horse Trials. Are you going to the event? Make sure you pop in and see Hiho if you are!!

How to… dress for a TEDx talk… well, what I’m doing anyway!

How to dress for a TEDx talkAs you may have seen in a previous post, I’m a speaker at TEDx Malvern later this month. I’m completely honoured and excited to have been asked and actually can’t wait to give my talk. I mean, any form of public speaking, especially something like TEDx, does get the heart pumping a bit faster and give the tummy butterflies a work out, but I really am excited about it.

Why does how to dress for a TEDx talk matter?

Bizarrely, the bit that has caused me the most ‘discomfort’ is what I am planning to wear. I know. Does it even matter? Well, yes, the more I have delved into this area, the more I really believe it does. So much so, that I have ‘recruited’ a ‘Glam Squad’ to help me dress for my TEDx talk, and will be putting together a fair amount of content around the subject. Yes, I’ll be looking at how to dress for a TEDx talk, but I’m hoping that the insight that I can produce (well, the Glam Squad can!) will help anyone who is planning to do something that’s a bit more public than they’re used to. If it’s public speaking, attending an event, meeting new people, networking – whatever, what you wear matters. But not just on a superficial level. It’s actually about the way it makes you feel, and that’s something I am really focusing on for my TEDx talk, and one of the things that has been at the front on my mind when deciding how to dress for my TEDx talk.

Meet the ‘Glam Squad’

I titled our Facebook Messenger chat ‘Glam Squad’ and it’s stuck (for me anyway!!) but I wanted to introduce you to two ladies who have been a massive massive help in helping me put together outfit ideas. The first is Karen McConnell (of KA Equestrian and Karen & Clan), and the second is Sophie Callahan (of, well, Sophie Callahan!).

About Karen 

Karen is a mum of two, she’s horsey, she has a dog, she’s a Toggi blogger and has really exceptional taste in clothes. Both of Karen’s blogs show this. Her equestrian style is best showcased through KA Equestrian, and the clothes she wears when not on the yard are showcased through her lifestyle blog, Karen & Clan. Karen’s style, for me at least, ticks a lot of boxes. It always looks well thought through and everything just works. The clothing is practical (OK, unless she’s off out somewhere swanky, then it’s full on glamour!) and by that I mean she can actually walk, play with the kids and move about when wearing it. I see many, many gorgeous outfits and clothes on my travels but, for me, it has to be practical. I always like to feel that I can be ‘useful’ if needed, and if I’m wearing something I can barely move it, I’ll struggle to drive, let alone anything else! Comfort is a word that makes me think of pyjamas and hoodies, but when I say comfortable here, I mean it as an extension of the above. Comfort is a big deal in my world. If I wear a top that’s an inch too short, I will spend the whole time pulling it down. The same applies with every other item of clothing too – I’ll fiddle and faff with it constantly. This isn’t sit on the sofa comfort, it’s more a smart comfort. I feel Karen does this so well.

About Sophie

Sophie is an absolute diamond too, and I’ve always loved the way she dresses. She’s best known for her photography – well, I say best known, she’s also very well known as an equestrian and country lifestyle blogger and vlogger!

There are many similarities between Sophie and Karen’s overall style vibe in many ways – practical as well as pretty. Sophie tends to wear jeans a lot (same as me!) and she has curves that she freely admits/blogs about. Since having my children, I’m more conscious then ever about certain areas, mainly my stomach, so having Sophie’s knowledge of how to dress curves well is a huge help to me. If you saw Sophie’s blog last year about what she was wearing for HOYS, you’ll find out a lot more about her style, and you’ll see why I wanted her as part of the Glam Squad too.

Both these ladies have been a HUGE help. They have dealt with me sending pics of things I’ve seen and liked at various times of the day and night, chatted through colours and ideas, accepted my many (many) quirks and been very accepting on the areas I want to hide/not draw attention to. I am going to go into this in more detail in the blogs to follow. And I see the irony that I am quite literally highlighting the areas I want to hide, but what I’ve come to realise is that we all have these quirks. I think both Karen and Sophie’s figures are fab- enviable in fact – but both have areas that they’re not as confident about. And they address this by being careful about the clothing that they pick. I tend to huff and puff, get cross about it all and revert to something that has tent like qualities. Sure, this hides a lot of issues, but creates another in that it increases my overall mass by a huge amount. Which is not what anyone really wants to do!

What was the brief?

I spoke to Sophie and Karen about helping me when I first found out about the talk. They’re both clients and friends and I respect their opinion. We also have a relationship that means they can tell me that I’m wrong and be completely honest. And that’s what I need. I need people whose opinion I trust and I can be honest with. Because I have pretty strong opinions too.

I’m not sure either of them realised just how ‘quirky’ I could be when it comes to what I wear.

So, the TEDx talk will be filmed, I’ll be speaking against a black background, and it will be in front of an audience of people, on a stage. That’s the easy bit.

As for how to dress for the TEDx talk… the girls had some criteria to work with…

  • I’m tall – 6ft tall in fact, and although this is something I clearly can not change, it’s not something I’m hugely comfortable with. Some styles and cuts elongate and make you look taller, that was something to avoid.
  • My stomach – yep – I’m not sure I was that thrilled with my whole stomach area before, but after having twins it’s certainly not an area I’m very pleased with. OK, that sounds harsh, it looked after two tiny humans for nine months, so I can’t be too cross at it, but it’s not toned or flat. Again, I’m OK with this day to day, but I wouldn’t want anything to particularly draw attention to this area. So they had to contend with that too.
  • I’m pale. I have pale skin, darkish hair, and I am not confident when it comes to the application of make up. So the colours picked need to work with what I affectionately refer to as a ‘pasty’ complexion.
  • Jeans. I made it very clear from very early on that I was planning to wear jeans. I can do dresses (just!), I can do skirts, but I am 100% more confident if I’m wearing jeans. Maybe it’s something to do with being useful? They’re dark and smart and skinny in appearance. But they were pretty much a non negotiable.

See, I bet you thought the ladies had an easy time, didn’t you?

I’ll be creating a variety of different content over the next few weeks to show you how I’m dressing for my TEDx talk and why, some of the lovely products I’ve borrowed, what I’ve bought and more. I have some gorgeous pieces to show you and I think you’ll love them too. So here’s to our little journey about how to dress for a TEDx talk!

Why I love… The Brand Stylist

The Brand Stylist - Brand BrillianceIf you’ve seen my Instagram in particular, you will have noticed that a book is a regular feature in my pictures. And this book is Brand Brilliance. It’s by the very talented Fiona Humberstone, also known at The Brand Stylist. But saying I just loved the book wasn’t enough… because I’m also taking Fiona’s fabulous online course, Design for Go Getters, and loving the whole process.

How did I find The Brand Stylist?

I actually can’t remember with complete certainty(!) but I think that I first found Fiona and The Brand Stylist on Amazon. I mean, that’s where I find a lot of people… either that or through podcasts I listen to. But I’m fairly sure that my first ‘meeting’ with Fiona was on Amazon, when I bought ‘How To Style Your Brand’. I have a HUGE thing about branding and being on brand. Having worked with so many business over the years, ‘on brand’ is a phrase I have used a lot. It’s something that any and every business owner needs to be concerned with and something I continually assess. And I don’t always get it right – far from it – but I am constantly trying. Over the years I have picked up a huge amount from the talented graphic designers I have worked with, but Fiona’s take was a little different. She clearly is bursting with technical knowledge, but she brings as slightly ‘softer’ side to it. Fiona talks about what ‘season’ your business is and the colours and style of these. It’s something that (in my experience at least) has taken a while to kind of marinade and develop in my head. I did enjoy ‘How To Style Your Brand’, but it left me with a lot of questions (I tend to think about things a lot!) that swilled about in my head.

Then Brand Brilliance came along

I was listening to a Me and Orla podcast where Sara Tasker interviewed Fiona. She was LOVELY. Approachable, jolly, insightful and passionate. I listened to the podcast a number of times and felt inspired after each listen. Fiona spoke about her new book, Brand Brilliance, and it sounded incredible. I trundled off to Amazon again and bought it. It’s not a cheap book (it’s around the £20 mark), but it is worth every single penny. I’ve paid £5 for books and felt ripped off, but I felt that Brand Brilliance was exceptional value. Before we even get to the content, the book is a work of art. It’s a lesson in layout and font, style, imagery… and that’s just how the book is, rather than what it contains. The content blew me away. It’s superb and I have recommended it to SO many people. When I meet up with people, I regularly take it along for them to see… and I think that everyone I have shown it to has purchased it! I loved the book and will be re-reading it again very, very soon.

But it didn’t stop there…

See, when you have a positive (I mean, really positive) ‘experience’ with someone, you find out more about them. I related to the book and Fiona’s philosophy and wanted to find out more about her and what made her tick, so I signed up to her newsletter and followed Fiona on social media (she’s usually found under her brand The Brand Stylist) and adored her content. And then she announced a course… Design for Go Getters. The course was run online and, again, not exactly cheap but, because of the book, I was quietly confident I would get exceptional value… and I was right.

What’s Design for Go Getters?

Design for Go Getters is The Brand Stylist’s online course that sheds a lot more light on design, its impact, how it works and what it says (and how to achieve it too!). As I said, I have a huge interest in design and have seen first hand the impact of good design vs. poor design and the impact this has on every area of a business and the perception of a brand. So I was keen to get some ‘proper’ education under my belt, that built on what I had learnt and loved from Brand Brilliance. I’m yet to finish the course (but when I do I intend to revisit, review and expect I’ll get more and more from it each time I look at it!), but I am enjoying every second. Combining mixed media, examples, information and challenges, I am lapping up the experience, the course… and have taken huge inspiration from it in terms of in terms of branding and design… but a whole lot more too.

So, that’s why I love The Brand Stylist. If you have even the slightest interest in branding and design, I would suggest ou follow Fiona on social media and have a good read of her blogs, they’re inspiring too. You don’t have to buy any of the above at all (and I haven’t been asked to write this, just FYI, I just want to share things with you that I love that I think you might like too!), but I wanted to share it with you, just in case.

Find Fiona here, at her online home The Brand Stylist

How to learn on a budget

how to learn on a budgetAs you know, I’m a bit of a learning junkie. I love learning don’t just focus solely on business. As I write this, I’ve just finished a book on psychology, have started a book on photography (yep, really!), then I have a book on public speaking (in preparation for my TEDx talk) and then I have Arianna Huffington’s ‘Thrive’, which I started, but then stopped as it was picked as the Small & Supercharged Book Club’s book. As you can see… it’s a diverse mix! In this blog, I’m going to share some ways to learn on a budget. Why? Because I see huge value in upskilling and believe everyone should seek out knowledge. But I also appreciate that not everyone has the budget for some of the methods, hence I’ll be chatting about how to learn on a budget.

Finding the time to learn

Obviously reading books is one way to learn, and I do a lot of it. I know the next sentence makes me sound rather sad, but I rarely watch TV. Although watching something mindless has its place, I just felt it was a waste of my time to be doing it too often. So I diverted to books. So, after the children are in bed, I will read for a bit, and I love it.

It doesn’t all revolve around books!

Of course, learning doesn’t start and end with books. I don’t like to think about the money I spend on books too much (!) but I have to say I have found a way to buy a lot of them for next to no money (and I mean, I have picked some up for 1p plus postage!) but I’ll cover book buying on another blog and share some of my tips. Don’t get me wrong, I do buy a lot of new books too, but if it’s an older book, there are bargains to be had! If you like to learn by reading, there’s a plethora of free material out there. You can learn a HUGE amount on a budget. Actually, you can learn masses for free. I mean, this blog is one example… and there are plenty of other blogs too, obviously. In addition, many people have freebees created to grow their mailing lists, and a lot of these are really useful. If you’re also interested in other ways to learn, there’s lots out there… and lots for free or low cost too.

So free is best?

There’s nothing wrong with paying for learning materials, coaching, courses, etc. Far from it. In fact, I pay for all of them! I also believe that paid content is actually better, but that’s another discussion. My point with this article is that even if you have no money or are on a really tight budget, you can learn amazing things for free. It’s a real ‘how to’ guide for how to learn on a budget.

What’s the difference between free and paid for content?

There are lots of differences between paid for and free content and, in my experience, you have to ‘work harder’ for free content. By this, I mean you’ll need to kiss a few frogs to find the Prince of content. You’ll find it might take you longer to extract what you need… and it might be spaced out over a few blogs/type of content. You might also find that the content is produced in a less logical fashion. For example, if I was doing, say, a course on how to get into magazines, I would create it in such a way that it guided people through the process, gave examples, templates and helped show the possibilities using a range of media. It would all be in one place and flow. You can find out how to get published in magazines online. You can Google it, you can poke around this website, and there’s lots of information there, but you’ll need to read, filter, curate it and come up with a plan.

There’s plenty of ways to learn on a budget… here are a few free/low cost ways to learn on a budget…

Ways to learn on a budget

  • Blogs – yep, the humble blog. Many thought leaders, entrepreneurs and experts have their own blogs – it’s the most basic form on content marketing and helps their SEO as well as their ‘status’, so many have blogs.
  • Groups – there are many free groups (like my Small & Supercharged group on Facebook) that allow business owners to engage, ask questions and learn from each other. These can be so SO useful and I’ve see amazing things happen inside the S&S group in this way.
  • Newsletters – subscribing to newsletters from people you feel can teach you something (hint, hint – I would love it if you’d sign up to mine – you’ll get PR, marketing and social media tips as well as general news from me and my clients… and I promise not to bombard you!), isn’t a bad idea. My advice here would be to pace yourself! If you sign up to too many in one hit you’ll realise that your inbox is full of stuff you won’t ever have the time to read…
  • Podcasts – if you enjoy learning on the go, podcasts are for you! Actually, I often have one on in the background if I’m doing admin or something that is more of a process rather than creative. I also listen to podcasts when I walk the dog. There are some great ones out there – I work with Sam at Haynet on the Haynet Podcast and really enjoy listening to Sam’s (we do alternate episodes!). For more podcast inspiration, hope over to iTunes and select your genre and see what you can find.
  • Books and audiobooks – yes, these are paid for if you want to own them, but the cost varies hugely.
  • Videos – I LOVE YouTube and find the never ending stream of videos a joy. You can find videos about anything on YouTube, you can subscribe to channels you like and people you enjoy, and YouTube will even tell you when they’ve uploaded if you like. Again – shameless plug, but my YouTube Channel is here if you fancy subscribing!

 

I’m not going to include courses, retreats, coaching, masterminds and live events here because although I believe they are all hugely valuable when used correctly, they are an investment. If we’re looking at value, they can deliver a huge ROI, but as we’re looking purely at the pounds, shillings and pence, it would be wrong to include them here.

How do you like to learn? What’s the best way you learn for free? I’d love to know.