LIFE // How to organise yourself (by someone who wasn't very organised)

Friday, 31 July 2015

I'm not naturally the most organised person in the world, and I know so many people who are gifted with the power of being able to have their shit together with minimal effort. As for people like me and you (assuming you are, since you're reading this) we have to put in that little bit of extra effort to organise our lives. That's okay. It's something you can pick up easily with practice and, with these simple tips and tools, you'll soon be on your way to blissful organisation in no time at all.

Write one, detailed list
Sometimes it really doesn't help at all to have 20 lists on the go at once. It's better to have one huge list with everything on it. And be sure to write every single little thing you need to do on it, no matter how embarrassing or shameful (yes - Even if it's the washing up from last night's dinner, you dirty thing!)

Colour code your lists
If you are a very visual person like I am, it may benefit you to colour code some of the items on your lists based on importance. Invest in some cute highlighters, like these cute cat ones from Paperchase. Then pick a colour for each category: Do immediately, do later and do this week.

Use notebooks to your advantage
Nothing makes you feel organised than buying pretty new stationery. That's great, but there's not point in having lots of gorgeous notebooks and pens if you never use them, so make sure you do. Keeping a notebook is a brilliant way of having everything in one place, and being able to refer back to it when you need to. I used to do a few fashion related short courses in my spare time and I have a book which I will only ever use to keep my notes from these classes. So if I ever need to remember something I learnt from that buying course I studied back in 2014, I'll know exactly which notebook it's in. I also kept to-do-lists in notebooks back when I worked for a stylist - I filled up a lot of notebooks during that job. Start a new page for every new day and always write the date, just in case you ever need to recall the phone number of that person you called on May 19th.

Make your diary your new best friend
I bought the best ever pocket diary from Muji towards the end of last year. There's a page for every week with a little squared page opposite, in case you need to write any notes or additional info for your week's activities. It's so small you can carry it around with you anywhere, and there's even a little section at the back you could slip a couple of business cards into, or something. I've also just invested in the new Ban.dō Agenda (pictured above). This cute 17 month diary starts from August 2015, and includes great graphic design, motivational quotes and some really fun fictitious holidays such as "National Ice Cream Sandwich Day" (This Sunday, guys!) it's bound to cheer you on during your journey of personal organisation.

Utilise apps to help you get organised
The notes section of your iPhone or iPad is a great place to write detailed lists, but you can always try list making app Todoist. This is a really useful app which can be used across many platforms. I have it on my iPad, Macbook and iPhone, which is fantastic since the app is seamlessly linked and allows me to access my lists anywhere.

Keep on ticking off items on your list
Towards the end of my degree, I had a list with about 67 items on it. This felt hugely overwhelming, but also brought my back down to earth and helped me to realise the extent of my workload. I developed a personal mantra: "As long as I am always doing something on this list, I am never being unproductive". Keep on working through that list no matter how long it is and feel the satisfaction of seeing it slowly grow smaller.

Never give up on trying to be organised
Even if people laugh at your lists and schedules, just ignore them. You're doing it for your own benefit, so why pay attention to what anyone else thinks of you? It's like revising for exams: Everyone has their own personal methods of learning, and my way was always to use colour coded posters and flash cards. It's about whatever helps you. If one method isn't working, maybe try another.

FESTIVAL // Lovebox 2015

Thursday, 23 July 2015

I've been so overwhelmed by things lately that it's been difficult to blog so regularly. I lost my Grandad last Monday which was absolutely heartbreaking. I was actually sat at my desk drafting up an idea for a new post when I found out the news, and since that day haven't really felt like writing anything. To be totally honest, I became a little apathetic towards everything including this blog for a few days. My head has been a complete mess, but I am slowly coming to terms with losing such a close family member. When I really think about it, I've been very lucky to be able to grow up knowing my Grandparents on both sides.

At times like this, I am ridiculously thankful for my supportive friends for being there for me. We had tickets for Lovebox at Victoria Park in London this weekend, which seemed like an ideal opportunity for cheering myself up after a really horrible week. None of us had ever been to this festival before too, so it was interesting to have an explore and try out a few things we might not usually do.

Here's a photo of the girls with an elephant dancer on stilts at Elrow presents 'East Meets East'. This was a themed area with DJs playing all day long, where performers in costume would beckon you to come over and dance with them. There was also a big box of props and fancy dress (hence the doughnut rubber ring, pictured). We really enjoyed this space, since it was nice to escape from the rest of the festival for a while to do something a little different. I also managed to acquire a pair of Minnie Mouse ears while I was here, which remained on my head for the rest of the day. It's definitely ok to unleash your inner child at a music festival. I mean, where else would it ever be acceptable for me to wear Minnie Mouse ears outside of Disneyland?

...that also counts for glitter too, of course. The three of us were originally hoping to either do some glitter make-up beforehand, or go to one of the little stalls to have our faces painted. I think as young adults we wanted to make the most of this, since it's not acceptable to wear face/body glitter to work. Attempting to be a proper grown up is SO hard, guys! We met this really nice girl in the long queue for the portaloos and she kindly shared some of her holographic glitter with us. Top festival tip: Bring enough glitter (and eyelash glue) to go around. People will love you for it, and Maybe if you're good enough you can be like Candy Queens, who did some amazing glitter makeovers for festival-goers.

I am wearing a navy patterned jersey playsuit from H&M (link), Mini Palace earrings from Finchittida's Empress collection (link), a blue metallic backpack from Topshop (sold out, similar here), and silver glitter Topshop sandals (sold out, available in black here)

I generally don't enjoy the food situation at many festivals and outdoor events, but was pleasantly surprised to find Popdogs. Most other stalls were selling really bad, hugely overpriced food, but here I ordered the Dirty Dog (a chilli dog with 100% beef steak mince sausage) which was huge and seemed great value for money considering how absolutely incredible it was. Sure - I was a little drunk at the time, which only served to make it taste even more amazing, but still sober enough (maybe) to know this hotdog was a solid 10/10.

After this we decided to get our skates on at BUMP the pop-up roller disco which - based on the volume of gin and tonics consumed that day - probably wasn't the best idea. I can't ice skate, despite having tried numerous times, so I had absolutely no idea what possessed me to try rollerskating (Gin, is that you again?). The last time I'd worn a pair of rollerskates before this, they were pink with Barbie on them and I was 6 years old. Needless to say I was pretty terrible at it, even though I kept trying. Looks like my dreams of being on a badass all-girl roller derby team (like in the movie Whip It) are completely over. Sadly, there are no photographs of our time in BUMP, as we were too preoccupied with trying not to fall over. Apart from my friend Louise, who just has a knack for these things.

All I've talked about so far is gin, glitter and hot dogs - With all that excitement you might have forgotten that Lovebox is actually a music festival too! We managed to catch some artists amongst all of the exploring and merriment. Ella Eyre was really good, and we also saw Rudimental, Snakehips, Skepta, MK... For someone who was raised on a balanced diet of indie rock, motown, punk and new wave, this was quite a different live music experience to what I'm used to. It was also pretty interesting to go to a festival where I'm not on a mission to see every single band on my agenda. Not knowing many of the acts allowed me to relax and do different things which was totally refreshing. My favourite performance of the day was from Mark Ronson, who did a DJ set. His mix of absolute classics was so much fun to dance to and of course everyone went crazy when he played his own hit, Uptown Funk.

This colourful picture (above) is the dazzling ceiling of the Little Gay Brother presents 'Vegas' tent. If you don't know who Little Gay Brother are, they host legendary parties in Dalston Superstore. Upon approaching the tent we were welcomed to Little Gay Vegas by a man dressed as a playing card with a pair of red patent high heeled gogo boots on. Everything here was camp and glittery, and the music was such good fun. You could also get mojitos from the bar, so of course I had to do that. I honestly could've spent the whole of my day at this tent, since it made me smile so much.

I've realised this is a slightly photo heavy post, but I was very excited to share with you my experience at Lovebox this year. It was a brilliant day out, and I'd love to go back there next year too.

EAT // this week in food

Sunday, 12 July 2015

I've had a really busy week this week, meeting up with various people, travelling back and forth between London and home. As a result of this, there's been a few meals out. Here are a couple of the places I've been eating at this week:

Snog // Brewer St, Soho
I'm a huge fan of frozen yogurt, since I can't really eat ice cream. When I was in Soho the other day, I couldn't resist having a little Snog (It's still so punny to me, I'm sorry). You can choose from 4 different flavours of frozen yogurt, and a selection of toppings and sauces - Think of it as a similar system to Subway only much sweeter! The chocolate flavour with raspberries and chocolate sauce is my favourite combination, but since I was feeling particularly in need of a treat the other day, I added some brownie chunks too. There's a few places you can go to have a Snog in London, and also a couple in places outside (Check the website here for more info and all of the locations). Personally, I think they need to open up shop in Birmingham's Bullring centre, since it would make a perfect addition to Selfridges' foodhall.

G'rillers // High Wycombe
I went here the other day with the girls, since it's local to where we all live. High Wycombe isn't my favourite place in the world, probably because I'm spoiled by the choice of places to eat, drink and visit in London. It's a big-ish town with your standard selection of chain restaurants (Pizza Express, Nandos, Wagamamas...) which can make it feel somewhat soulless and lacking in character in comparison to other towns. G'rillers is a great little independent which has only just opened up in the last couple of years, specialising in grilled food with African flavours. I had the joto moto g'rilled chicken burger with zulu mayo, leafy salad and viungo dusted chips - It was pretty tasty, and great value for money. This is a very casual place to eat, since it has a coffee shop sort of feel to it, but it's a good place to go with friends on a budget. Check out their menu on the website here.

Pimlico Fresh // Wilton Rd, Pimlico
I had brunch this morning with my Dad here (on his recommendation since I had never been). Immediately upon walking in I noticed a great selection of really lovely juices, cakes and pastries on display, all of which looked so appetising. It was also very busy, which is usually a good sign. For Breakfast/Brunch they mostly serve a lot of different things on sourdough toast, but there's porridge and granola to choose from too. My dad had the Chilli eggs on toast, which were scrambled with bacon, and I went for the homemade granola with greek yoghurt and compote. I also had a mango, passionfruit and orange juice to drink, but ended up wishing I'd gone for the freshly squeezed orange juice my dad had instead. It's a little bit pricey if you're a poor recent graduate like me, but still great quality and worth the money. The portion sizes were substantial too, since I couldn't even finish my bowl of granola!

SHOP // Quick trip to Oxford Circus

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

I had a job interview today in central London and afterwards decided to take the tube to Oxford Circus and have a little look around the huge Topshop and Lush flagship stores there. I find myself going to the shops more often to browse than to buy, but today I was there to make a few purchases I'd been contemplating for a while. Of course it didn't hurt to have a little look around at the same time, however. I genuinely enjoy the whole act of going shopping just to see the clothes in shops since I design and make them myself.

It was really nice to find a whole display of the Topshop Boutique collection, since I had only ever seen them on the website. I don't always like buying clothes online because you can't even feel the fabric, look at the colour or try them on without buying anything. The internet can really take away a lot of the enjoyment I get from clothes shopping, like appreciating the work that's gone into a garment or the smaller details you might not notice in a photograph on a computer. But seeing the Topshop Boutique collection in real life finally was very cool. I loved the palm prints, silks and metallic jacquards. Another thing I noticed was that all the darts were on the front side of the fabric in some of the garments, which definitely isn't the conventional way of doing it (Technical Fashion Design things, sorry...)

This is the dress I wanted to try on, since I'd been lusting over it on the website for ages. They didn't stock it in my local Topshop branch, which was why I had to try it on when I was in London. It's pretty isn't it? I just love a little white broderie anglaise sundress for the summer, since it's so classic. All of the details are super feminine, and the back of the overlay on the dress (not pictured) has three little buttons and a slit. I decided to buy this as it was far too lovely to miss and perfect for wearing in the hot weather we've been having lately.

I really wanted a floppy straw sunhat to wear with it, but couldn't see one I liked enough and decided to save my money instead. Besides, it's always so typical of a British Summer to consist of a three day heatwave before it starts raining again.

The jewellery and accessories section of the Oxford Circus Topshop store is one of my favourite parts, since they have the biggest range of any store and there's also so many cool brands you may not find elsewhere. How crazy are these Patricia Nicolás for Topshop earrings? The ones with the golden mirrored crabs are just so much fun! This exciting jewllery collaboration is filled with shimmering metallic seashells, pineapples and fish. Major summertime kitsch and perfect for mermaids, obviously.

I also made three little beauty purchases today while I was out. I went to the brand new Lush flagship store on Oxford Street to get some more of their amazing lip scrub. The last one I bought was the cola flavoured christmas edition, but this time I decided to try the popcorn one. While I was browsing through all the lovely lip products, I saw this Key Lime Pie flavoured lip balm and I had to have it (since it's one of my favourite puddings, and I also make a mean Key Lime Pie if you ever wanted to try it)

The third beauty item I bought was this Magic Liner from Topshop's 5 Years of Beauty range, celebrating the birthday of the store's hugely successful make-up line. I'm a big fan of Topshop beauty, and generally buy a lot of my lipsticks and nail polishes from there. I'm also forever on the hunt for an eye-liner that'll give me the most perfect cat eye flicks. When I saw that this one had some really great online reviews and was only £6.50, I knew it would be worth trying.

What do you think of Topshop's flagship Oxford Circus store: Is it your shopping heaven or personal hell?

STYLE // Finchittida Mini Palace Earrings

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

I've been super excited about this incredible jewellery brand for a while now. Based in London and founded by twin sisters Lisa and Tida, Finchittida create mirrored perspex jewels inspired by the beautiful symbols and temples found in Laos. Their accessories are designed to make every woman feel like an empress! The artist FKA twigs is a huge fan of this brand too, regularly wearing custom made pieces for her live performances and music videos.

I managed to have a chat with the Finchittida girls at their jewellery stand at London Fashion Weekend earlier this year, whilst admiring some of their gorgeous jewellery. They told me all about the brand, and how the proceeds from each piece sold goes towards the absolutely amazing cause of clearing up bombs in Laos. Which, if you didn't know, is the most heavily bombed country on earth due to US bombing raids between 1964 and 1973. One of my best friends from University currently lives in Laos, and was telling me all about how much of an issue these bombs are still causing for the people there.

I didn't end up buying any Finchittida jewellery at London Fashion Weekend, because I simply couldn't decide which piece I wanted - A decision I ultimately ended up regretting since I spent the rest of my term at uni lusting over their glitzy jewels on the website! Since it's recently been my birthday, I thought it was about time to treat myself to a pair of their stunning mini palace earrings.

My earrings arrived in this really lovely printed monochrome box, and a handwritten postcard from Lisa and Tida - Who actually remembered who I was from London Fashion Weekend! They thanked me for introducing them to my friend who lives and works in Laos as a textile designer, and actually managed to go and meet her in person on their last trip out there. I genuinely get such a buzz from networking and introducing people. (That sounds super uncool of me, doesn't it?)

I've hardly taken my gold mini palace earrings off since receiving them in the post last week. I usually wear quite minimal studs and earrings on an everyday basis, but these are my new favourites. They're particularly great at the minute since it's the summer, and look fantastic with everything I've been wearing recently. Dressed up with a slip dress and heels for cocktails out with the girls, or with a floaty bohemian maxi and sandals on hot summer days.

I've recently been experimenting with some of those gold foil temporary tattoos. I'm not sure if I would wear some of the larger designs for everyday, but they look quite delicate if you cut them up and put them on your earlobes (like how I've worn them in the top photo). I'm thinking of pairing the golden transfer tattoos with my Finchittida earrings for a festival I'm going to soon.

Be sure to go and check out the Finchittida website where you can purchase some of your own gorgeous jewels, read all about #FFBOMBSQUAD, and have a listen to their inspiring TEDx talk on "Why having a purpose is sexy as hell".

Are you a fan of any awesome brands with a conscience? Let me know in the comments section below.

REFLECTIONS // June 2015

Monday, 6 July 2015

June has been a really crazy month for me! To start, I had the incredible opportunity of being at Graduate Fashion Week and staying in a gorgeous flat on Brick Lane for the duration of it. There was also a second home-coming fashion show in Birmingham, which made for a very an emotional end to my university journey. I also turned 23 this month which I enjoyed celebrating with my friends and family. Last but not least, I started this blog in June to give me a creative outlet and a focus now that I'm done with university. I hope you've enjoyed reading my posts as much as I've enjoyed making them.

Here are a few of my photo memories from the month:

1) Breakfast at Cereal Killer Cafe on Brick Lane. My uni girls and I visited this cafe three days in a row whilst we were staying in London during Graduate Fashion Week. This place is decked out with cereal memorabilia from decades past, and you can mix and match your own perfect bowl from a huge selection of cereals from around the world. There are also cereal cocktails to choose from. This one pictures is called 'Double Rainbow' and is made up of fruit loops, fruity pebbles, freeze dried marshmallows and strawberry flavoured milk. I highly recommend this place to anyone who likes their breakfast with a side of nostalgia!

2) Pretty little succulents on our University's GFW stand. At Graduate Fashion Week, each University has their own stand to showcase the work of its students. My university's stand was particularly amazing this year: It had a really cool industrial feel, contrasted with some pretty potted plants. I adore cactuses and have a few of my own at home, so I couldn't resist taking a little snap of these cute little ones on our stand.

3) Models lining up backstage wearing my collection at GFW. This month started in London, where I was showing my graduate collection in the Old Truman Brewery for Graduate Fashion Week. While the fashion show itself was on May 30th, GFW crossed over into June and I've been enjoying all the buzz from it over the last month too. I also had the opportunity to show my designs on the catwalk for a second time in Birmingham. The response my collection has received has been absolutely amazing and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for me.

4) Photo booth moments with my bestie at Rough Trade. One of my favourite parts about coming back home from uni has been catching up with all the friends that I'd missed seeing while I was very busy finishing my degree. I've had some lovely times with wonderful people over the past Month, like this day out in London with my best friend. We went to Rough Trade East for a bit of record shopping, had the most amazing sourdough mac n cheese toasties at The Big Chill Bar, got our nails done together at Imarni Nails, and had a cocktail on the rooftop bar at Queen of Hoxton. A fabulous day out - We always love our "friend-dates"!

What are some of your favourite memories from June?

LIFE // 5 things university taught me

Saturday, 4 July 2015

After spending the past 5 years of my life in higher education, I am ridiculously proud to say I'll be finally graduating this September with First-class Honours in Fashion Design! I wanted to write a post to share some of the most important things that my university experience has taught me, for anyone who is starting soon or still thinking of applying. These are not things I learnt from studying or even specific to my degree, but actually some pretty big and transferrable life-lessons.

It's ok if you're not ready
When I finished my A-Levels at 6th form I didn't feel ready to go to university. The prospect of having to leave home was really scary for me, and at that point I didn't even know what I wanted to study. I took a year long Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at my local university, which gave me a taste of what student life would be like before making any decisions. Having that year helped me to gain more confidence, experiment with different types of art, and also meet some wonderful like-minded people (who are now some of my best friends). After my Art Foundation, I knew exactly what degree it was that I wanted to study and felt so ready to move away from my little hometown. Going to university is such a huge (not to mention expensive) life decision to make, sometimes its better to give yourself time to figure things out first. It doesn't help when your school and/or parents put the pressure on for you to do a degree - Just ignore them and do what you feel. If, in the end, you decide university really isn't for you, then that's alright too. Don't let anyone tell you that you need a degree be successful in life. I know many people who are happily doing their own thing really well without higher education.

Do what you're most passionate about
I did my A-Levels at a school that was really bad for pressuring it's 6th form students to study certain subjects at certain universities. They seemed way more concerned about the reputation of their school than the individual skills, talents and happiness of it's students. A good friend of mine was discouraged to study music by our head of year, who basically told him he was making a huge mistake and wasting his time. The thing is, he was great at Maths and Science, but not passionate about it. He followed his own path and is now getting to do the thing he loves the most (which is drumming) every single day as a job. Don't just choose a subject simply because you've got good grades in it, or because it sounds better on paper than another degree you'd much prefer to do. Make sure you pick something you're going to enjoy studying for three years at university, or pursuing as a future career.

Embrace new experiences wholeheartedly
University is a real opportunity to experiment and try new things. Build your own identity and form your own opinions of the world: You are not your family or the town you grew up in. While it's good to be close to your family/significant other/friends at home, make sure you don't miss out on some of the things going on right in front of you. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my first year was not really embracing university life as much as I could have done, because I had a boyfriend. When he and I broke up, I became depressed and felt like I didn't have any friends. Luckily, I started spending more and more time a girl in my flat, her friend and a couple of other nice people they both knew. We quickly all became good friends and moved into a house with each other for second year (the funnest year of my life). I was having drinks with a friend yesterday, and we were talking about how he embraced his time at university by being in a sports society - That's definitely one way to meet loads of new people! It's great to find like-minded folks, but also learn to appreciate people who maybe aren't so similar to you. One of the best things is getting to meet all kinds of people from different places. Try learning from others, embracing new experiences and you might find something you love. Even if you don't end up liking some of it, you'll regret the things you didn't do at university more than the things you did do. It's all a big learning curve.

Take the steps you need to get to where you want to be
You should never feel like you need to do anything the same way as everyone else just to please anyone. Always choose the path that's right for you personally. While many of my friends moved away to university straight after school, I stayed behind to study my art foundation because it ultimately helped me get to the degree I wanted to do. Another example of this is when I made the huge decision of deferring almost half way through my final year. It was so hard to leave behind some of my best friends and watch them graduate without me. I knew I had to take time out for my own mental and emotional well-being, so I did. During my time out, I took a couple of short courses in things I wanted to study and also worked for a stylist in London. I grew stronger as a person, gained confidence and came back next year feeling ready for anything. The worst thing about it was the people who told me I had given up or that I was a coward for choosing to put my life on hold for a year - Those people are not my friends anymore. It's braver to face your demons than it is to ignore them. Not only did I get myself better again, but I was also able to grow and better myself in so many other ways too. I have now finished university and will be graduating with First-class Honours, having achieved everything I'd wanted (and more). There is absolutely nothing selfish about making your own way, and never let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Never, ever write yourself off as not good enough
When I chose to do Textiles at A-Level, I was the only one in the class who hadn't previously done it. While I wasn't the best in the class, I tried my hardest and somehow ended up being the only one going on to do Fashion Design at University level (This is not something I expected myself to be capable of at all!). When I started my degree, I didn't think of myself as skilled at sewing or pattern cutting compared to my peers. While I enjoyed designing, I didn't think I would ever be good enough to do the final collection pathway in my third year (I thought there was no chance of someone like me getting their work picked to be in Graduate Fashion Week!). During second year, I had a very encouraging and supportive tutor who taught me to have a lot more confidence and self-belief. He also made me realise I was good enough to make a final collection, so I ended up doing exactly that in my third year AND I got chosen to show it on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week. Despite all of this, I still thought I would come out of uni with a 2:1 grade and, despite working myself half to death, had almost given up all hope of achieving the top grade. Again I was wrong, since I managed to get a first. What did I learn? That you shouldn't ever think you're not good enough to do anything - Keep on working at it until you succeed.

I hope this post was helpful. Are you going off to university soon, or have you already been? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.