Equestrian & Country Business

Running your own business can be hard, can’t it? It can be lonely, you feel overwhelmed, confused… and a lot more besides. Here, in this area, I hope to share stories, tips and information from equestrian and rural businesses just like you to inspire and motivate.

There are lots of different kinds of equestrian and rural business, and there are lots of ideas that can help all of these thrive. Here you’ll find business podcasts, interviews from business owners of equestrian and country brands you know and love, and more besides. You might find tips and tricks connected to how to run your social media platforms better, or even an explanation as to the new developments in these areas. You might stumble upon information connected to PR and marketing that will really help you promote your business more effectively.

I’m sure you’ll find something that you can try now that will help your equestrian or country business. You’ll definitely find some inspiring stories from some great people in our industry.

TEDxTelfordI’m really, really excited to say that I’ve been invited to give my second TEDx talk this month. The talk will be at TEDxTelford and, like my previous talk, it’ll all be about social media. Of course the actual subject will be slightly different but it’s about social media all the same. I’m really excited to have this opportunity and can’t thank the selectors and the team at TEDxTelford enough. However I want to tell you a little bit more about this talk and about the superb venue it’s being held at. At the time I write this, I know there are few tickets left. I also know that the speaker schedule is incredible. I’m really excited to go and do my talk, but I am also really excited to hear the other speakers that I and anyone attending gets to listen to on the day.

Where is it

TEDxTelford is being held at the Telford Innovation Campus, part of the University of Wolverhampton. It’s a really lovely campus (and really easy to find too!). For someone that only goes places on their satnav(!), trust me when I say it’s really easy to find! The venue is lovely and the campus is clean and there are lots of places to park to. The room that we’re in is nice and airy and as you walk into the main building there is a Formula 3 car on its side. I don’t know why, but this  impressed me, and I spent more time than I should have done taking pictures of it from all angles!

When is it

TEDx Telford will be held on Saturday 29th of September this year. Some tickets are still available, the price includes lunch and a whole day’s worth of amazing talks. When I say amazing, trust me on this. I had a rehearsal last weekend and the talks I heard were absolutely mind-blowing. The journey home was quite something as my little mind kept churning away and thinking of all the superb things I’d heard and how inspiring they were. And I only heard three of the speakers. Altogether there are 16 speakers giving talks on the day. All the talks sound really interesting. I know that you’ll take something amazing away from listening to them.

Who’s speaking?

Well as I said above there are 16 speakers talking at TEDxTelford. The theme is ‘not business as usual’, but within that the topics are hugely diverse. We have social media talks, we have talks about helping to educate children, we have talks about all sorts of things, and they all sound incredible. Here is the link to the TEDxTelford site where you can get a full list of the speakers and the titles of the talks. All the people who are giving talks have had to go through a pretty rigorous application process. Obviously I went through this process so I know(!). Not only did we have to apply giving our credentials and detail the talk and why we should give it, we also had to submit a video. From what I understand, a number of speakers applied and only 16 (including me) were selected. I think this really shows the level of the talks you’re going to listen to because I can’t imagine anybody who applied was anything less of fabulous.

Should you come?

If you’d like to listen to some really superb speakers, feel motivated, and spend the day in a really lovely inspiring setting around people who are there for the same purpose, then absolutely yes. As I said, there are still a few tickets available and I would be going if I wasn’t already speaking at the event.  Another great thing is as this is a day-long event, the speakers will be there over lunchtime and you can go and speak to them if you’d like to. I really like this idea because it means I get to speak to people who have heard or will hear me speak.  It also means that you get to interact with people who you want to ask more about. The thing about TEDx is it’s all about short and punchy talks with most ranging between 10 and 15 minutes as the limit is 18 minutes. I like this idea because it means that people have to really think about what they’re saying and condense whatever they’re saying so you get the key info. The negative side of this is if it’s someone that you’re really interested in and really like listening to you may feel that you want to know more. But you can ask them at lunchtime. How good is that?

So that’s a brief overview of TEDxTelford. I really think if you can come and you’re in the area, do. There are a limited number of tickets and it’s amazing value. If you want to get in get in now, here’s the link. I hope to see you there

They say the consistency is king, and I for one preach that. But what happens when your life and work mean that you can’t be as consistent as you want to be? Do you throw in the towel? Do you just struggle on? Do you become completely overwhelmed and brand yourself as a complete failure? Well over the last few weeks I have not been as consistent as I want to be with my blog, just because I have not physically had enough hours in the day to do the work I need to do and do the blog as well. And I wanted to explain a little bit more about why that is. I’m also here to talk about how I am getting back on the path to being consistent. Because it really is important.

Ahh – September…

September is always a really busy month in my world. I have Christmas things that are kicking off for PR and marketing clients, but I also have Burghley Horse Trials and Blenheim Horse Trials. And this year I’ve chucked in a couple of extra fun things too. So first there’s Burghley Horse Trials. A number of my clients attend Burghley Horse Trials and it is a really big deal for them. I don’t actually attend in person and haven’t for a few years, but I am very involved in all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes to make the Horse Trials a big success for my clients. One particular client is Hiho Silver. Not only do they have a stand there, but the company also sponsors the best dressed at the first trot up. Because it is a sponsorship, a lot of preparation goes in behind the scenes before the event even starts. I was absolutely thrilled with how all this came together during the event, but it does take a lot of time. Worth every second though – seeing a big project come together perfectly is a real buzz and one I wouldn’t trade!

Then there was Style, Skills & Silver

A few days later we embarked on Hiho’s very first instameet which was called Style, Skills and Silver. This took place at The Fish Hotel in Broadway and was absolutely amazing on every possible level. I loved every minute, but it took a lot of work behind the scenes too. Emma Warren, Hiho’s Queen Bee, was the person who came up with the idea and did do a huge amount of work, but everyone involved also worked their socks off on their respective elements to make the day the huge success it was. 

Then there was Blenheim Horse Trials

The next thing was Blenheim Horse Trials which, again, was a brilliant event. I did actually attend on the Friday too. Again, Hiho Silver sponsored the best dressed at the first trot up, and there was quite a bit to do around that. I did go for the day on the Friday as I mentioned, and met up with a few people and had a really great time. But it’s another day out of the system and when I have a certain amount of work to do, it’s my blog and content that takes the hit (and so it should be!).

And then there’s my second TEDx talk…

And then this month, just for a laugh, I was very very pleased to accept the invitation to do my second TEDx talk. This one is at TEDx Telford in 10 days time. Not only did the application process take a little bit of time in terms of having to submit various things, but also preparing a talk. I’ve got another rehearsal to go and then the actual event itself. At every stage, this does take quite a lot of time, and so it should do. TED and TEDx are big institutions and when you have the privilege of being invited to speak at these, you need to pay it the respect it deserves. This means time, energy and a whole lot of sweat(!) go into making sure that what I am presenting is useful to the audience and withholds TED and TEDx’s values too. I take this quite seriously because I think it’s such an honour to be invited not just for one talk but for my second. I kind of think this proves that the first one wasn’t all that bad!

Excuses?

I’m not trying to make excuses but I’m being realistic here. My blog and the content I create have to support my business. When I have plenty of work to do, and the reason I have created this content (as in, to help people, create opportunities and show what I can do) has created the work I want, it would be crazy not to do those things in order to create more content, to get the opportunities that I’ve already been given. See what I mean? So the blog is the thing that’s taken a hit. I do tend to schedule my blogs in advance and I have a load saved as draft, but being a bit of a perfectionist (which is not a great thing), I like to proofread, tweak, add links and images after I’ve written them. This means that although I have quite a few saved and ready to go, they still take quite a lot of work to get to the final stages.

This isn’t a bad thing. I did really beat myself up about it because I do preach that consistency is king. I’m not changing that – it is!

But it’s not everything…

I haven’t dropped ball on everything. My social media is still pretty strong. But that’s how I think it should be. I like to experiment, try and test different things on different platforms, so I can pass this learning on to my clients and then they get the to use my ‘testings’ on their own accounts. Also, I feel that the referrals and everything else from my social media to my website and to my other social media platforms makes them really really valuable. And as someone who teaches and lectures on social media, I need to be on the pulse on that.

I really love writing and sharing what I’ve been up to with you all. Because of the amount of time and energy each blog takes to write, that tends to be the thing that gets the biggest hit when I’m busy. So I’d like to apologise. I’ve still been putting out at least one blog each week, but it can be up to three (as per my schedule). I’m thinking of revising the schedule too – but that’s another blog!

What do you do to get consistency back?

If you feel like you’ve dropped all the balls and want to get your consistency in content creation back again, I have some tips…

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. These things happen. We all make mistakes and when things get busy it’s very easy to become less consistent because you’re overwhelmed everything else. Accept that this is life. But also accept that you need to pick yourself up and crack on. Don’t dwell.
  2. Start with one thing. If you feel like you’ve dropped all the balls don’t try and pick them all up and start juggling at the same time because you’re just going to feel overwhelmed. If you think that you can pick up one social media platform at a time, for example, then do it. And do that one well. You can then add the rest in when you’re feeling a lot more confident in what you’re doing. So rather been completely overwhelmed by everything being thrown at you all over again, just add one thing at a time into your schedule so you know that you can cope.
  3. And last but not least – you need to get back on it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with work, you might wonder why you need to get back on it. Because things have been going well without being consistent in your content. But I think it’s because you’ve been consistent for so long. And this means it’s not something you should consider stopping too quickly. I’m not prepared to drop it. I’ve kept my social media channels running as I said above, but the blog for me is really really important for so many different reasons. It’s been so useful for me. I know how much it helps people and I get lots of lovely comments from people saying they’ve read something on my blog and it’s changed the way they view something. That, to me, is so important. 

So I hope that’s helped. Being consistent is king. It really, really is, but I also want to acknowledge in this blog that we all make mistakes and we all drop the ball. What’s important is how we pick it back up and carry on. 

 

The Fish Hotel BroadwayThere are going to be a few blogs about Hiho Silver’s amazing Style, Skills & Silver event, because I’m still buzzing from it. Last Thursday (6th September) was the day of the event we’d been working towards for a while. And I say we because it really was a we. The event was the brainchild of Hiho’s Queen Bee, Emma Warren, but the two workshops that were held were a huge team effort, that I will tell you about in more detail soon. Today, we’re focusing on the beautiful venue – The Fish Hotel, Broadway.

The Fish Hotel, Broadway

Based on the Farncombe Estate, The Fish Hotel is a real hidden gem. And it is properly hidden too! You clamber up a hill called Fish Hill (and it’s a serious hill with some quite surprising bends!), before taking a left down a long drive. The Estate is massive and contains three amazing venues/hotels – there’s The Fish Hotel, Dormy House and Foxhill Manor. As you turn off the main road, you are taken down an incredibly long drive. It would have been useful if I’d measured the length of the drive but this thought only dawned on me as I started to write the paragraph. The thing is, the length of the drive isn’t the thing you remember. It’s the view. I headed to the venue with Ruth (Dressage Anywhere) and as I’d been there before, I wittered on about the view for most of the drive down the drive. I’ve seen the view before but it was no less impressive second time around. Worcestershire stretches out beneath you and it’s just a sight to behold. I took a picture when I went for a recce, but it doesn’t do it justice. The scale can’t be appreciated in a picture. The entrance is impressive and sets the tone for everything else.

Springfield House

The Fish is made up of a few different areas. The Hook is the restaurant were we had a very nice pizza for dinner the night before, Springfield House is where we held Style, Skills & Silver, we stayed in the Coach House (I think). They also have a number of other buildings in the grounds, including some stunning shepherd huts by Blackdown Shepherd Huts that people can stay in too. It’s clearly a big place, but the careful design of it all means it all feels rather private and lovely. There’s also a lot of greenery – when we walked up from the restaurant the night before (we didn’t stop setting up until gone 9pm so dinner was quite late), it was lovely – tree lined, beautifully lit… heavenly.

Springfield House has quite a different vibe to the restaurant but it’s absolutely lovely too. It manages to strike the mix of modern, cosy, funky, quirky and practical. And that’s quite a combination! We had four rooms in total on two different floors. The first floor was where we held the workshops – the space and the light were lovely and worked so well with the practical workshops. Up a level we had a lovely lounge where we met at the beginning and end of the day, and the room next door where we had lunch and chatted too. The rooms were lovely and having the space over the two floors worked so well with the way the day ran.

Where we stayed

The night before I stayed in the Coach House. I shared a twin room with Ruth and it was the most beautiful room. Lovely fresh white bed linen, Galaxy hot chocolate (yes, I’m very easily bought!), a huge bathroom with lovely toiletries. Everything was beautiful. But like with Springfield House, it was beautiful but very cosy and comfy too. There was a handwritten welcome note, really lovely blankets on the bed, a wooden book with ‘All you need to know’ written on it including all the important things you needed to know, like how the wifi worked. The decor was so pretty, but so comfy. I couldn’t fault it.

Breakfast was included but as I made my way down I got summoned by Sophie and Harriet, who were also staying in the same building, to have a look at their room and give opinions on what to wear. I say summoned. Sophie shouted out the window and I decided I’d rather spend time with them than eating. I felt a little nervous anyway and the last thing I need when feeling a bit nervous is food! Their room was as lovely as ours. It was a slightly different design. It had a little hall and a gorgeous outside terrace space with a glimpse of the stunning view I have spent a lot of this blog wittering on about.

This isn’t a TripAdvisor review – I mean, why be conventional?! But I wanted to explain a bit about the venue as it was really special. It’s not your average hotel, or conference room, or meeting place. It’s way more special than that. I’m looking for an excuse to return as soon as I can!

Find out more about The Fish Hotel here…

To see more about the event, see Karen & Clan and Sophie Callahan’s vlogs.

Super X Country SXC Sports LeggingsIf you wandered over to Super X Country’s stand at Burghley Horse Trials, you may have seen the company’s new SXC Sports Leggings. I say may, because the stand looked absolutely stunning and was bursting at the seams with beautiful pieces. From sequin hoodies to bespoke cross country colours, new gloves to breeches galore. I took a bit of time to catch up with the lady behind the brand, Becci Harrold, to find out more about the SXC Sports Leggings. And why they’re so special.

Behind Super X Country’s SXC Sports Leggings

Leggings have become so popular, haven’t they? Why do you think that is? It always nice to have different riding pieces to choose from according to your style and the weather. I think the leggings make you
feel less restricted and also make you look more normal in the shops, when you’ve had to nip out!
What makes your SXC Sports Leggings special? I have designed these with affordability in mind. I know what it’s like wanting a new pair of breeches or leggings every few months; who doesn’t want something new! I have always found the problem is the cost! These leggings tick a lot of boxes and come well within most people’s budget at £38.99. They use good, strong, high quality Lycra that is not see through! They feature the all important gel knee, and in keeping with our practical ethos, we opted for two pockets on each side of the leg which, again, fit the biggest of iPhones. They are super easy to access too. I went for piping detail in a contrasting colour, which makes them really flattering from behind. The Lycra sock and top of pocket detail also match. The wide waistband is super strong and supportive, offering great comfort and support.
How did you choose the colour combinations you did? I have found our new colours for this season aqua & turquoise have been so popular in base layers, so with that in mind I wanted to add a touch of colour to
the grey & navy base colours we went for in leggings. Everyone loves matchy matchy too, we even have a hat silk, tops & saddle pads to match them!
What features do the SXC Sports Leggings have that make them must haves? The pockets on either side of the leg are real must haves for me. The gel knee is also a must. For the leggings, being made from Lycra offers extra support too. I love the waistband and the piping details too, anything remotely like them would
cost a hell of a lot more!
Have you been wearing them and testing them too? Yes, I wear and test all my own designs before going to manufacture with them. This ensures I get all the details exactly right. I also have fantastic sponsored
riders who help with this job too!
To find out more about the new SXC Sports Leggings, have a look at the over on Super X Country’s website here.

Rhea Freeman - Equestrian PR and marketing - business coachAs you’ll know, I’m lucky enough to work with some amazing photographers in the industry. And I was even luckier when Sophie Callahan gifted me a shoot as a Christmas present. Bless her. The shoot was one of her portrait shoots, but I also wanted to use the opportunity to take some images for my website. Because images are SO important for your brand. Now, I’ll level with you – I was a teeny bit anxious before the shoot, but definitely in a good way. But I thought I’d use my experience and share it with you. So if you’re thinking of having a shoot and you’re on the fence, I can (hopefully!) reassure you. So this first part is all about getting ready for a photoshoot for your brand.

Getting ready for a photoshoot for your brand

Well, the first thing I did was book the date with Sophie… and I’d suggest that is THE place to start! I was lucky in that I could be really flexible on the date… the only real issue for me was the time of year (my horses were involved, both live out, and they don’t look their best in the winter!). We managed to coincide Sophie’s visit with a trip to The Game Fair as it was at Ragley Hall this year, which is only about an hour from me… so that worked.

So, the date was booked… and it snuck up on me a little. The weekend before I had all my clothes sorted… but realised that even though the horses looked good coat wise, they were a bit grubby. I have a skewbald and a piebald. And both have a lot of white. More than I realised. I think you start to realise how much white a horse has when you’re scrubbing away at it! So, the areas of prep… for me at least…

What I was going to wear

For me, I wanted to wear clothes that I was comfortable in, looked good and I loved. I felt quite organised, despite a small pile of ironing. Then it was hotter than the sun, so the tweed gilet (by Rydale- SO gorgeous!) and burgundy tweed jacket (by Really Wild Clothing, that I bought at Badminton and was really excited about wearing), were going to be featured, but not in the central way I expected. Because I was pretty sure I would melt. I also had three shirts (two by Joules, one by Rydale), my newly cleaned Hiho Silver jewellery (thank you Michelle!), my Fairfax & Favor Explorers with plum tassels, two fedoras from Mackenzie & George and a Bora sunhat from Annabel Brocks. Sounds like a lot, but I want to use these for a good while, and I didn’t want to look the same in every image!

The heat concerned me. But I shouldn’t have worried. When Sophie arrived I showed her my pile of clothes and she made sure that we took pictures of everything I wanted but in a way that would ensure I didn’t overheat. So we got everything ready and in position before I put my gilet, jacket or fedora on, for example. And actually, I didn’t feel that much warmer for wearing them because everything was slick. Complete credit to Sophie here… I wouldn’t have just sweated and got stressed.

What about the horses?

Well, after my realisation that the horses needed *some* work, I set to work on Monday afternoon and gave them both a good scrub… and they looked much better for it. I did manes and tails and legs, and trimmed what was needed. I had left myself rhea freeman equestrian business coachThursday morning to rewash them, but was pleased to get the bulk of it done. Of course, horses being horses, they needed a fair bit of rewashing on the Thursday morning too. And a bucketload of mane and tail conditioner, but that’s life.

Now, although I am pleased that I washed them twice and did all this (although I’m pretty sure they were both convinced they were being sold!), I was cross that I couldn’t make them really shine. They live out 24/7. And you know what horses are like. You nearly kill yourself washing them and then they roll. When Sophie arrived I apologised profusely for the state of them, and she wasn’t even remotely concerned. She (quite rightly) pointed out you couldn’t even see the grubby bits I was stressing out about. Argh!

And the location for the shoot?

I’d always planned to do the shoot in the field, but as for exactly where, I didn’t really think about it. I knew there was plenty of space, but I also knew that Sophie would know what would work the best and understand light and shadows and all the things that I don’t really get and make all the difference. And I was right. Sophie had a little look when she came and got two or three ‘locations’ in the field earmarked.

Are we talking about a shoot for a brand or a portrait shoot?

In my case, it was both… actually, we also did a commercial shoot for a client of mine too as the location worked and we had the right ‘resources’ (Ok, my children!!) to make it work. I’m going to go into this in much more detail, but it was an absolute breeze and so much fun. Sophie’s good with horses, we know this, but she’s also very good with children and people, so it worked incredibly well. But more about that soon.

For me, I wanted pictures of the horses with me, pictures of the horses without me, and some ‘headshot’ ones of me, because I’m being asked for more and more of these and keep recycling one from a while ago! I’m planning to use all of these on my social media and in my content.

But isn’t preparation key to a good shoot?

Yes, yes it is… but you don’t need to stress yourself out over it. Sophie is very, very laid back and is there to help. She’ll help you put outfits together, help you with your horses when you get changed in the middle of a field (!), listens to what you want and also gives ideas to make it as successful as possible for you. And more than this, she knows what is editable and what isn’t. As the shoot progressed, I was getting hotter and hotter and was worried I’d be way too red (it was the hottest day of the year I think…), but Sophie assured me it would be fine. And she was right. I’ve seen all the pics now – the image on this blog is one – and I have to say I’m delighted.

As I may have said, Sophie very kindly gifted me this shoot for Christmas, but I have already booked next year’s shoot (not an actual date!), so if that doesn’t reassure you about how much I loved it, nothing will. For someone who doesn’t like having their picture taken, this is quite a bit deal!

To find out more about Sophie’s photography skills and what she can do for you and your business, have a look at her website (just click here!)

 

What I wore for my photoshoot - Sophie CallahanI’m really, really excited to be able to share the pictures from my photoshoot with Sophie Callahan. You’ll see these on my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog, website… OK, everywhere. I want to give you a bit more information about what I wore for my photoshoot. Because I do get quite a few questions about where I get things from (which is lovely). I also really, really adore the things that I wore for the shoot and wanted to share them with you…

What I wore for my photoshoot…

Jewellery

Yep, it’s mostly Hiho Silver… so I wore…

Exclusive Double Chained Cherry Roller Necklace with sterling silver and 18ct rose gold plated beads – I’ve had this for a little while and adore it. I wear it all day, every day, and feel naked without it.

Snaffle Ring – my husband bought me this about five years and it still looks as good as new. As per my necklace, I wear it all the time.

Exclusive Cherry Roller Bangle with two solid rose gold rollers and three CZ purple ones – this has been tweaked and adjusted a few times! This started off as the classic two tone version… and then the sparkly beads came out and I loved them, so I sent it back to Hiho and swapped one bead for one. Well, long story short, that’s happened a couple of times now. I still love the original, but this is really special as I designed it. Well, with a bit of help from Michelle. I should say, this is an option for everyone, not just me, you can just decide to customise your cherry roller and pick all the beads when you buy… or you can swap beads as and when by sending it back to Hiho or getting it adjusted on the show stand.

Exclusive Fox Roller Bangle with 18ct rose gold plated fox – I was given this as a gift – isn’t it cute? I don’t wear this all the time, only for special occasions, but when it’s not on my wrist, I hang it on the top of a kitchen cupboard handle so I can admire it when I’m in there!

Exclusive Sterling Silver Foxtail Bracelet with three beads (Badminton 2018 and 2017 and CZ red bead) – I always loop this through my cherry roller- no idea why! The beads are a work in progress as I just keep adding to my collection as Hiho brings out new ones I love. That’s the great thing about the Foxtail.

Springy Bangle in sterling silver – another bangle I have had for ages and wear each day. I think I’ve had it for four years now? Maybe? A long time anyway!!

(I should add that Michelle at Hiho very, very (very) kindly cleaned these for me pre-shoot… that’s why they look so shiny!)

My wedding and engagement ring – these are white gold and the engagement ring has three diamonds, two of which were from a ring belonging to my late grandmother.

Diamond earrings – I always wear these – they were my grandmother’s too

Hats

What i wore for my equestrian photoshoot I wore two different hats for the shoot…

Annabel Brocks’ Bora Hat – this is superb. It arrived on the morning of the shoot and it’s so clever. It’s adjustable thanks to the adjustable elastic band inside, and it has a SPF of 50. Having got sunstroke a few weeks ago, I’m now a bit obsessed with hats. I mentioned my sunstroke to Belle when we were chatting and she very, very kindly offered to send me one of hers. It’s so lovely. I’ve bought one in blue and cream for my mother in law since!

Mackenzie & George Fedora and Feather Brooch. I love this combo so much. I had the brown hat and pin picked out as the tan coloured band coordinated with the colour of my boots. I do also have a lovely navy version, but the brown went better with this. The hat feather moves between the two as needed… although I have got my eye on a peacock feather one for my navy one too!

Shirts

I picked three shirts to wear. All were quite loose and floaty because it was SO hot I just couldn’t bear anything tight to be honest with you. I also really love these shirts – I’ve had all for a little while…

Rydale Willow Shirt – I’ve had this for a while and bought it in the sale, it was a complete bargain. I have the navy spot version and love the fit. It is so easy to iron, goes with everything and is a lovely length. There’s a pale blue daisy version too which is rather lovely.

Joules Dog Walker Shirt – I bought this for my TEDx talk and haven’t worn it much since, but really do like it a lot. It’s cream with a dog walker print on it, nice neckline and it’s a light and floaty material that is really cool.

Joules Pheasant Shirt – this is a classic… I think everyone has one of these, don’t they?

Jacket

Really Wild Clothing – I bought this at Badminton Horse Trials in the sale (I know- I do love a sale!) and fell in love with it. I mean THAT COLOUR! I also thought the length was really flattering and would work well with jeans, skirts and trousers.

Waistcoat

Rydale Bramham II Gilet – I was very kindly gifted this by Rydale. It combines tweed with suede-like fabric on the top of the shoulders, around the collar and down the fastening too. It’s really lovely. It has a closer fit than I would usually buy (and I ordered the size I usually am!), but I tend to order everything in a bigger size because I don’t like things that cling. However, this gilet fits really nicely and for a tweed gilet it is super flattering too. I was planning to wear it to The Game Fair, but due to the heat wave, I left it at home. There are a number of colours available.. and it’s an absolute bargain. This one is £45 and is made in the UK. They have great deals on in the sale too.

Boots

Fairfax & Favor Explorers – I wear these every day, whatever the weather, so I was always going to wear these for my shoot… although I did think I’d wear my Reginas too for a bit. In the end, I decided that when trying to hang on to two horses in a dusty field, good grip was a must… and I just felt the smooth leather, rather than a suede, would be better with all the dust. I switched the self coloured tassels for the burgundy suede, because, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I do like burgundy!

Jeans

Well… these weren’t actually proper jeans, they were jean leggings and were about £8 from Matalan.

And the horses…

They both wore their bridles. Marilyn (the piebald) has a Kate Negus bridle with padded headpiece and diamante browband. Gu (the skewbald) has a Kieffer bridle with a pair of Kate Negus X-Suregrip reins.

So that’s what I wore for my shoot… and what the horses did too… 

If you do want to see more of Sophie Callahan’s amazing work, have a look at Sophie’s website.

Lavenham Leather Tote - Rainbow Edition - Annabel BrocksIf you follow me on social media, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Annabel Brocks. Not just the brand and the stunning products, but the lady herself too. Belle is one of the sweetest, nicest and most creative people I’ve ever met, and is an absolute joy to be around. I love seeing her Annabel Brocks brand continue to grow and develop, so you can imagine my delight when the new Lavenham Leather Tote popped up on my radar. As this style of bag is new to the brand, I took the chance to catch up with Belle, to find out all about the Lavenham Leather Tote… are you ready?

Behind… the Lavenham Leather Tote by Annabel Brocks

I’m really excited about the new Lavenham Leather Tote – it’s gorgeous! Can you tell me how you came up with the design?

Thank you for your kind words, I am glad you like them! Following the success of our Pina Festival bags lots of customers asked if I could design a larger bag. It had to be roomy enough to carry  a laptop/tablet, bottle of water, make up and generally fit in everything you might need in a day.

I wanted to offer two base colours which work well to complement other products in our collection. I am a tan girl in the summer months but the navy is equally eye catching and can be used in the cooler months too. I wanted a strong colour pop and classic bag so I designed two variants. The classic Lavenham is your day to day bag. Elegant, but with the tassel and contrast stitching it can be dressed up or down. I played around with trims and just fell in love with the rainbow. To me this sums up my designs – contemporary,  fun and the colour pop will brighten any outfit.

Tell me about the special edition lines – what made you create them and how have people received them?

I wanted to introduce Limited Editions for those customers who like to have exclusive products which are not mass produced. We are offering a certain number and once they are gone they are gone. We have loyal customers who like to have something unique.

Tan is a big part of the Annabel Brocks range with many of the belts having a tan base – what made you pick navy and tan for this range?

I always design around what I would wear or need in my wardrobe (so I can of course steal samples!) and the tan to me is such an easy to wear colour for Spring/Summer but I know I will use this year around. However the navy is such an easy to wear colour and I am not really a fan of black bags as I wear blue or white jeans. The navy is so striking worn with one of our sweatshirts or t shirt and jeans. I looked at other colours but you can’t go wrong with tan and navy.

I love the tassel detail on the Lavenham – what made you add this to the bag?

I just wanted to add a bit of interest to the bag and our contrast trim tassel does just that.  I have also incorporated the contrast stitch detail so it matches the design on other areas of the bag and who doesn’t love a tassel?!

What kind of testing period did the Lavenham have? Did it take a while to perfect the design?

I always do all the testing on any protypes and used the bag around the house and used it to go to the office. I wanted  to see how much I could cram in and used it on my daily errands. The children used to laugh as I  used it as an additional shopping bag. Could it carry wine (yes) , crumpets (yes and yum),  a magazine (yes) , a bottle of squash (yes), M&M’s (yes)?  I thought bingo, it ticked all the boxes for me so I was happy to sign it off as an approved new product.

What details about the Lavenham Leather Tote do you really like?

I am biased but I love the simplicity of them, but being a horsey girl, I love the fact both saddle and bridle leather are used to make the bag. The smell, the way it’s a natural leather which is strong and provides the structure which will wear and soften, and I think every crease in leather adds to the charm. The detail is subtle from a distance yet strong when inspected closely. The rainbow Lavenham Leather Tote is one of the best things I have designed. I literally squealed when the sample arrived and I am not letting my one leave my side

To find about more about Annabel Brocks and the gorgeous collection of bags, including the Lavenham Leather Tote, see the Annabel Brocks website.

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/annabelbrocks/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/annabel_brocks/

Twitter – @AnnabelBrocks

Website address- www.annabelbrocks.com

I’m beyond excited to be part of Hiho Silver’s Style, Skills & Silver, which will be taking place at The Fish Hotel, Broadway on Thursday September 6th. I’ve had a few people ping me messages about it, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to have a little chat with your about this fab event. Whether you’re a business, a blogger or a vlogger, I KNOW that you’ll love this event!

What’s #styleskillsandsilver all about?

Well, that’s the hashtag for the Style, Skills & Silver event – but as for the event itself, read on…

The event, hosted by Hiho Silver, has been designed to bring together Hiho’s brand ambassadors, team, brand friends and more under one roof. The day will be lighthearted and fun, but also packed with value. There will be…

  • A style workshop run by Melanie Clarihew from Mackenzie & George, Harriet Edwards aka A Girl About Country, and Karen McConnell aka Karen & Clan
  • A skills workshop run by Rachel Bragg from Sweet Images, Sophie Callahan from Sophie Callahan Photography, Emma Warren from Hiho Silver and Ruth Chappell from Dressage Anywhere, and me too.

And they’ll be lunch, tea, cake and the most amazing goody bag.

What will happen in the workshops?

I’m heavily involved with the Skills workshop, so I’m going to focus in on that! I know that we’ll be learning all about flatlays and have expert advice on how to create them and use them on in our businesses, we’ll have real life examples of how flatlays can work for all businesses including service based ones too. We’ll chat about the power of social media and how to harness it for what you want and we’ll be looking at how to repurpose and use the content you create, to help ensure that all your effort works as hard for you as possible AND generates the response you want. We’ll also be talking about how to manage that little voice in your head that suggests you shouldn’t do things and you shouldn’t try… because what if you’re not good enough? What if you fail? We don’t like that voice… we appreciate his good intentions but there’s no need for that kind of madness in #styleskillsandsilver.

In the Style workshop, the three ladies will be looking at how they style outfits, how accessories make all the difference, and how you can dress up and dress down looks with a few minor tweaks. I’m excited.

But I won’t know anyone at Style, Skills & Silver?

You know me, don’t you? In all seriousness, I know all the ladies involved and they are all absolutely lovely and within a few minutes you’ll feel like you’re lifelong buddies. I also reckon that you’re connected to a lot more people than you think. That’s the beauty of social media. I know a lot of people from my Small & Supercharged group are going, so if you’re in there, it’s a great place to meet the people you chat to. In real life. And if you’re not in the group, you should join now… here’s the link.

But in all seriousness, I get it. It can be really daunting to think you’re going to be spending the day with people you don’t know and you’ll be on your own and isolated. You won’t be. The way the workshops are designed means that you’ll have lots of chances to engage, interact, chat and enjoy. Yep, the day will be really interesting and you’ll be learning new skills, but you will also have chance to speak to people, pick up ideas to help you grow and develop your business or blog, and meet new people. And if you’re feeling funny, I’ll be the tall one eating the sweets and the cake – we can have a chat, OK?

OK, you’ve twisted my arm, how do I book a ticket for Style, Skills & Silver?

I know that #styleskillsandsilver only have a few tickets left, so crack on! You can book up through EventBrite here. If you have any other questions, just drop me an email or a DM. I promise you that I won’t bite and that I’m really looking forward to the event. I should be able to answer your questions, but if I can’t, I will find the answer! Hope to see you on 6th September in Broadway!

how to pick fonts to represent your brandFonts can be a game changer when it comes to a logo or brand identity. In all honesty, the biggest change between my old logo and my new one is fonts that were used. Picking fonts to represent your brand can be challenging, but the good thing is that if you get the right one, it can make a HUGE difference.

How do you pick fonts to represent your brand?

I start with magazines, Pinterest and searching the web. There are a LOT of fonts available, a huge amount in fact. These go through fashions, like all design does, and more are being added all the time. There are a few different kinds of font family:

Serif type fonts – these are generally older style fonts and tend to have small lines at the tops and bottoms of the letters. A good example is the Word favourite Times Roman. When I say ‘older style’, there’s nothing wrong with using older style fonts at all. They can show heritage, knowledge and tradition when used correctly. Baskerville is a really nice example of a font that works really well today. You’ll see it’s classic and elegant but not old fashioned. Have a Google!

Sans Serif type fonts- sans means ‘without’ in French, so you’ll find a sans serif font doesn’t have the little extra bits. Generally these fonts are seen as a little bit more modern and feel a lot more curvy and round because there are no extra lines. This can make them feel soft and friendly too. Arial is a popular example of this (again, a Word favourite!), Avant Garde is another good one.

Script types fonts- should make you feel like they have a handwritten quality, even though they’re obviously more uniform than handwriting. They tend to flow and feel approachable too. The font I use for ‘Rhea Freeman’ is a hand lettering script font, but my previous one, Lobster, is also a Script font.

Decorative fonts- usually more elaborate than a Script font and can look incredible if used carefully. Some of the decorative fonts are not that easy to read (of course. some are!), but they should be used with caution in branding… in my opinion. Pick the right decorative font and it can work really well, but there are many caveats.

How to pick the fonts

So now you know the different font families (and it is useful because now you know what you’re Googling!), think about how you might use them. My logo is made up of two fonts – a premium handlettering font called Winsome and Oswald, and I use another font for my website copy. This means I can use these fonts in different ways on my website, social media graphics, etc etc. Size is important as, especially with a decorative or script font, if it’s too small, you won’t be able to see it. And if the person who is reading your website can’t actually read it, you might have the most beautiful font in the work and it won’t do the job!

But how do I know which fonts represent my brand?

Well, you need to think about the values of your brand, your customer avatar (and what they like and expect) and lots more. Some fonts sit better with different kinds of jobs – you’d expect a solicitor to have a very bold, easy to read, no nonsense font. This doesn’t mean it can’t be a premium font or even bespoke. This works with the values of the brand, the serious nature of the business and more. But if you’re an artist or more creative, a more decorative font can help you express your creativity in a way that doesn’t undermine your work… see what I mean?

A good place to start is to look at the kind of fonts that similar businesses use. You’ll probably see a pattern in the families they use and the styles. You don’t have to do the same, but it’s a useful reference point and place to start.

A word of warning about fonts

Less is more. There are so many beautiful fonts available that it can be really hard to pick which to use. The good news is you can use more than one font in your branding, but these need to a) work together and b) be limited. Too many fonts can confuse a message, and fonts that clash rather than complement can feel amateur and a bit manic… which no business wants!

 

If you have a country business, this blog is for you. It’s all about how to use social media to promote your country business. And it’s really, really important that you do. Even if your strongest ‘marketing’ is your customers and word of mouth, or even traditional forms of media like printed ads, I would urge you strongly to get on board with social media. It’s free to get started and allows you to reach people who will have never heard of you. More than this, it adds a new dimension to your PR and marketing as the world is your stage. Not just people in the local vicinity. Social media does level the playing field and also expands your audience to global. Even if you have a local business who serves the local community, you need to get on board. Yes, social media can have global reach, but you can also really focus in on your local area if that’s what you want to it. It also helps you to create a real brand. The kind that brings people in from afar. So let’s get cracking, shall we? Here are five ways to use social media to promote your country business.

Five ways to use social media to promote your country business

  1. Who are you? Use social media to introduce people to your team. Who do they speak to when they call you? Who packs orders? Who serves in the shop? Who churns the ice cream? Who started it all? Share the information. This can be done through images and text or, even better, video. This helps people get a real feel for your business and what makes it tick. It’s a really easy thing to do that can make a real difference.
  2. Where does the magic happen? If you’re a country business, why not show people where you’re based? You don’t have to give people your full address and postal code, but why not show a studio for a craft business? Your animals? The surrounding countryside. Help people buy into the lifestyle, the animal welfare, the feeling that your company wants to create in its customers.
  3. Share tips. If you sell produce, create some recipes- video them/write them up/take some nice images. If you create clothing – style tips. If you run a rural accountancy firm- how to keep track of your receipts. Tips help people and they also help you and your expert status. You can decide to display these tips in a blog, as graphics, as video… or, better still, all of the above.
  4. Document, don’t create. This advice is from Gary Vaynerchuk, and it’s so right. Your everyday life as a country business is filled with things that you might find mundane but, to someone who doesn’t know about what you do and how you work, it’s fascinating. If you run a farm shop, opening up in the morning, dealing with suppliers and restocking could create really great content. Maybe you’re talking about new season’s asparagus that only comes in for a limited time. Yes, it’s your day to day life, but why not share it with your customers? Get them excited about your new asparagus too!
  5. Get people involved. User generated content is a really big deal, and it is a great way to use social media to promote your country business too. Retweeting, sharing and reposting content from your customers can help them feel special and cared for, but it does huge things for your social media too. You could always introduce a competition to encourage this kind of engagement too.

So here are five ways to use social media to promote your country business. Of course, there are loads more, but it’s a good start!

If you’d like to find out more about one aspect of social media, Instagram Stories, download my free guide here by signing up to my newsletter list.

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