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Spotlight on…Creatives

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Welcome to our “Spotlight On…” segment!
In this series of interviews, we shine a spotlight on creatives to uncover what makes their personal brand so strong and, well, creative.

Meet Katherine Elizabeth of Katherine Elizabeth Millinery, an award-winning British designer specializing in luxury bespoke, custom hats. And as you will soon see in this post, her creations are truly fabulous.

Here’s our interview:

Has creativity always been a central part of your personal brand? If not, when did it start to become more prominent in your life?

I have always been a creative, ever since I can remember, I started drawing when I was young and then moved onto textiles and fashion. At the end of university, I discovered millinery from a tutor who also worked for Frederic fox, he was a milliner to the late queen mother.

She showed me a hat that she had cast from rocks and I was hooked, I realised that millinery was art, fashion, sculpture and textiles all in one! It’s amazing to be able to create pieces of art that you can wear.

How do you express your creativity, as part of your personal brand, on a daily basis?

I like to create something new every day, or at least start something if I don’t have time finish it. I love to be creative and come up with wacky ideas but I usually have to tone them down in order to sell the pieces. It’s a wonderful day when I can let myself go and create whatever I want.

I also put on a lot of millinery events for private groups and corporate hospitality, this enables me to meet other people who love the idea of creating but haven’t had the chance to explore it.

It keeps me motivated because I have to think creatively on my feet. It’s also lovely to see the joy on people’s faces once they have created something that they never thought they could.

Does being creative generally flow, or do you have to coax it out?

It depends how I am feeling, to create I usually need uninterrupted time and that can be hard to come across when you are running your own business. I have to run the business, market it, design the products and make them so it can be hard.

I absolutely love it when I am on a role and ideas come out of my head, it’s really exciting to start with one idea and end up with something totally different.

Today I wanted to design a small pink headpiece, that’s all I new and it ended up being a sculptural rose with an animalistic twist.

What would you say are some of your core values, and do you tend to turn to them in your creative work?

Honesty, ambition, enthusiasm, integrity.

  • Taking pride in offering a quality product
  • Demanding attention to detail
  • Promote craftsmanship
  • Great customer service
  • To behave ethically, honestly, courteously and enthusiastically

What or who inspires you?

I am always inspired by great artists, sculpture, architecture, nature and experiences. My favourite artists are:

– The late Alexander McQueen

– Vivienne Westwood

– Stephen Jones

– Phillip Treacy

– the late Zaha Hadid

– Thomas Heatherwick

What advice would you have for someone who would like to express more creativity as part of their personal brand? Any specific advice for those initiating a creative career?

Wow there is so much to say on this subject. Firstly if you don’t feel creative get out side and get some inspiration, take a notebook so you can scribble notes and scratches to take back to the studio. Designing is a process. First, let yourself go, this stage is the exciting time, express yourself and get all your crazy ideas out.

Second, pick a few designs from that collection to explore and develop.

Third, this is the time to tone those ideas down to a more commercial level, making sure that your ethics, core values and brand are integral to the designs. Don’t be hindered at the beginning by any constraints or social influences.

 

To learn more about Katherine and her designs, check out www.katherineelizabethhats.com.

For more tips and free videos, you can join her private Facebook group Inspiring Creative Women or website www.inspiringcreativewomen.com

 

 

 

Lisa

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Princess Diana: Celebrating the remarkable woman who redefined the role of a princess

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Twenty years ago today, Tony Blair addressed a grief-stricken nation after the shocking news of Princess Diana’s death, aged just 36. He described Diana as “the People’s Princess”.

Although her tenure as the Princess of Wales was relatively short, she succeeded in truly capturing the nation’s heart. Diana’s memory continues to permeate the British conscious twenty years after her death. Today a nation is once again in mourning, remembering her wit and vitality. Her grace and poise. Her activism and compassion. Her  vulnerability and authenticity.  Her bravery.

Princess Diana in carriage. Photo: Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archives/Getty

Princess Diana lives on as an inspiration to many, myself included. Without saying, there are so many personal branding lessons to be learned from her. She broke the mold of royal convention, and in many ways, reshaped the Royal Family, and perhaps even Britain itself.

In her memory, here are pictures of the key moments that shaped the hearts and minds of our nation.

 

The engagement interview.  Charles proposed at Buckingham Palace on 3rd February, 1981, after which couple gave an interview to ITV.

 

 

The fairy tale wedding. Charles and Diana were wed in July 1981 at St Paul’s Cathedral, in the ‘Wedding of the Century’. Photo: Getty

 

 

The newlyweds thrilled their crowd kissing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Getty

 

 

The “hands-on mother”. William was born on 21 June 1982 and then Harry on 15 September 1984. Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images

 

Diana and the boys.  Photo: Getty

 

 

The famous dance with ballet star Wayne Sleep.  Princess Diana surprised Prince Charles with a special performance at the Royal Opera House in 1985.

 

The charity work, combating HIV/AIDS misconceptions. In 1987, Diana opened the UK’s first dedicated HIV and Aids unit at London Middlesex Hospital. Here, Diana shakes hands with an HIV patient. Photo: Getty/Anwar Hussein

 

 

The Panorama Interview. In November 1995, Diana gave a controversial interview to the BBC’s Panorama, in which she famously stated, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”

 

 

The campaign to end landmines. Diana visited Angola (January 1997), which had been left littered with landmines after 30 years of civil war. Credit:  Photo: Reuters/File photo

 

Diana was well known for her charity work. Here she is with children who were victims of mines in Angolo, 1997. Photo: Getty

 

 

The style icon. Here she is posing for Mario Testino, Vanity Fair, 1997

 

 

The news that shook the world. Diana’s death, 31 August 1997. Flowers outside of Buckingham Palace. Photo: Getty

Prince Philip and the Queen look through the floral tributes left outside Buckingham Palace

One of the heartbreaking images of William and Harry, then just 15 and 11, paying tribute to their mother (Image: PA)

 

 

The nation mourns again. Earlier today, hundreds of people have come to pay their respects again. A banner outside of Buckingham Palace reads “Her work continues through her loving sons Prince William and Prince Harry”. Photo: PA

 

 

Radiant and full of vitality. How Diana will be remembered by many. Photo shoot for Vanity Fair, 1997, with Mario Testino

Lisa

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Team YOU: The importance of others in our personal branding

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It’s easy to be misled into thinking that personal branding is all about you, and only about you. However, building your personal brand is far from a solitary process. Despite the word “personal”, there are many others who factor into and shape our personal brand, and if you look closely, you’ll be able to identify (and celebrate!) those important individuals out there who are major players in “Team You”.

Our guest contributor, virtual assistant extraordinaire Natalie Guerin of Pebble, gives us some fantastic insight into the personal and professional relationships behind our personal brands.

Here’s Natalie….

A couple of years ago I was asked who was in my team?  I replied without really thinking, no-one, I am a sole trader.  Then I thought about it properly.

I have a large team behind me, and I am a member of many other people’s teams.  Being part of a team allows us all to succeed in ways that would not be possible without each other, personally and professionally.

How important is it that our personal brand reflects our business?
As a Virtual Assistant, my job is to ensure that my work is carried out in a professional manner, delivered to a high standard, whilst meeting tight deadlines.  This provides my clients with the peace of mind that the administrative tasks involved with running their business is in capable hands.  If I were to turn up late for an appointment with torn trousers and a creased jacket, or send them an email with a lot of errors in it, how can I possibly tell them that I am a high performing Virtual Assistant who works with premium clients?

We are our brand 24 hours a day
One of my newest clients came about after a chance encounter with someone I met in a pub on a Friday evening.  He asked what I did, I explained, and a few days later he got in touch saying that a contact of his was looking for a Virtual Assistant.  That would never have happened if I did not have a personal brand that matched my business.  It also taught me that I am my brand, and my business, 24 hours a day.  That may sound extreme, but when you think about all the people you have spoken to in the last day, week or month, they have all formed opinions of you, and if you tell them that you are a confidence coach yet stand slouched, in a corner, avoiding any interaction with others surrounding you, you probably are not giving off the right message.  The old saying, actions speak louder than words, is true.

If I had been in the pub that Friday night having had one too many drinks, dressed slovenly and unable to hold a sentence together, I never would have been put me in contact with my client.  There are certainly times when I may have had one too many, we are all human, but during those times I am less likely to be telling people what I do for a living or give away my business details.  I would, however, always be authentic.

So how does my team fit into this?
When I started to think about who was in my team and the importance of their role within my business, the answer is obvious.  Without them my company would not be a success, in fact, it never would have got off the ground.

My team is huge.  It includes:

  • One of my closest friends who, as a copywriter, not only wrote my website but helped me decide on my business name, choose my business branding and mentored me many times along the way – she will continue to do so I am sure
  • My friends and family, with whom I laugh with, cry with, and, of course, celebrate with
  • The photographer who took the photos for my website, and advised me to wear a top that complimented my brand colours
  • My accountant, for keeping me on the straight and narrow
  • My DHL delivery driver who ensured that deliveries and collections were made on time enabling me to deliver a reliable service for a client who was launching several new products
  • My personal trainer. Sadly I have let this one go for a while, but I have realised that time spent on myself is extremely important and I will be rebooking him very soon
  • The make up artist who sold me a lipstick in the same colour as my logo
  • My hairdresser: it takes a brave man to try and keep my hair under control

One quirky piece of personal branding that I have followed for the past six months is that as part of my preparation for a business meeting, I paint my nails in my brand colour.  Thankfully it is not lime green.

All of the support provided by my team compliments my personal branding.

Authenticity
There is a common theme running amongst my team, and my personal brand.  Authenticity.  In my mind, our personal branding needs to be authentic, true to our beliefs and values.  All the beauticians I know love skin care, make up and making their clients feel beautiful.  All the photographers I know love to see the happy reaction from their clients upon delivery of their stunning photos.  Perhaps that is why they run their own successful businesses.  But ask them if they can do this without a team behind them and the answer will always be no.

Business and personal life
My story concentrates mainly on my business life.  But if I was to think about my personal life, the story would be very similar.  My personal branding is just as important.  My team would include friends and family, for the same reasons as those listed above.  It would include the sales lady who sold me my go to pair of jeans, my hairdresser, yes him again, and the staff in my favourite coffee shop who, not only provide the best tea and cake, allow me to take some time out, relax, read or just watch the world go by.  These team members all have one thing in common, at that time their focus is on me and my needs. Authenticity and similar values run through this group of people, perhaps that is why they work so well with me.

Why it is good to be part of a team?
Being part of a team is not a one-way street.  I know that I fall into many other people’s teams. Clients who rely on me to keep their admin in check, friends who want fun or support at different times in their lives, elderly neighbours who need some help with their shopping.

Although I thought I knew my personal brand well, since I have asked my team what I can do to enhance it, the ideas have been endless.  I never would have thought about wearing my brand colour for work meetings.  A simple idea that really works.  Likewise, when I have been asked what others can do to enhance theirs I feel comfortable in suggesting ideas and talking through what could work for them.

We like to help
Life can be daunting, and sometimes lonely.  Often it can be hard to ask for support.  But people like to help.  We all like to assist others in finding a solution to problems, and we love to see people succeed and live their dreams.

Finding our personal brand makes us feel more confident, assured and credible.  This in turn helps us to provide support and guidance to others.

We all have different skills, but pool those skills together and we will all flourish.

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To find out more about Natalie and her services, check out Pebble. You can also find her on twitter at @Natalie_Pebble.

 

Lisa

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The art of resilience: The secret behind maintaining a strong personal brand when the going gets tough

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Developing a strong personal brand takes work. We can spend a lot of time and energy on identifying and communicating our brand attributes and what differentiates us, but what happens when life throws us a curve ball and all that branding work is knocked sideways?

In this post, we explore the question “why do some people bounce back from misfortune while others tend to sink?” The answer lies in their resilience. Resilience essentially equates to a durable level of mental toughness. A resilient individual will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under…and their personal brand remains a buoyant one.

So what exactly differentiates someone who is resilient?

They are flexible and adaptive
If you look at the Latin origin of resilience, you’ll find the word resilire — to jump back. So essentially, resilience means that one is able to jump or bounce back from life’s setbacks. It means being able to survive (and even thrive) in the face of adversity. Resilient people accept that failure and setbacks are temporary and a part of being human. Flexibility is a central attribute of resilient people, one that helps them adapt to new circumstances quickly. They not only bounce back from these struggles, they find healthy and effective ways to integrate such challenges into their lives moving forward. Resilient individuals also do not allow their names to become associated with the word “victim”; a highly resilient personal brand is not defined or shaped by adversity. Instead, resilience itself becomes a defining feature of their personal brand.

They don’t try to control everything
Resilient folks don’t try to control all the variables in the equation. They build acceptance around what they cannot control and instead focus on what they can control. This extends to how they handle unhelpful thoughts and emotions. In psychology, we know that struggling to suppress your emotions inevitably backfires. When we struggle with certain unwanted thoughts or emotions, we become embroiled in a control agenda that takes us out of the present moment and off course.  Instead, resilient people are connected to their emotions, handle them more effectively (vs. trying to get rid of them) and practice self-awareness, which gives them the bandwidth to focus on moving towards the life they want when the going gets tough.

They maintain a positive outlook and don’t buy into negative thoughts
In addition to regulating their emotions, resilient people hold an optimistic, positive outlook on life in general. And when negative thoughts do appear, they don’t buy into them. In other words, they don’t treat these thoughts like facts. They have learned that they can have any thought they want without letting that thought control them. For example, they can have a thought that tells them they “can’t do it”…yet do it anyway. They avoid getting hooked by cognitive distortions such as “catastrophizing” (irrationally viewing a situation as considerably worse than it actually is) and “all or nothing thinking” (being black and white, with no middle position). They also tend to sidestep placing blame on themselves for their misfortune, or pinning it on someone else. By and large, they are able to see more positives and persist in the face of self-defeating, critical thoughts.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela

They learn from misfortune and take responsibility
Resilient people will use what whatever obstacles that come their way to change their trajectory in a more positive or productive direction. They harness a sense of responsibility for their actions in the face of adversity, a hallmark of mental toughness. This responsibility extends to their thinking style, mentioned in the point above. Positive psychologist Martin Seligman believes that people are unable to be resilient unless they assume responsibility for the way they think about themselves. Learning from situations, taking responsibility and figuring out a way forward fuels determination. Despite setbacks, the resilient are able to come up with a Plan B that keeps them moving forward…and above and beyond.

They push themselves
In one of my previous posts, I discuss the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone. This uncomfortable space is typically where growth happens, and the more opportunities we create for ourselves to grow and evolve, the more resilient we are likely to become. Resilient people continually move outside of their comfort zone to learn how to handle their fears – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of looking silly, etc. – and move with these fears.  In other words, they don’t wait for their fears to go away before they take action in their lives, but instead confront challenges head on and push forward while feeling their fear. Instead of waiting for their circumstances to change, or waiting for others to change it for them, resilient people view themselves as the agent for change; they tend to believe they are the catalyst for their own rebound.  They continuously move towards a goal, and treat pain and despair as transient states.

“The things which hurt, instruct.” – Benjamin Franklin

Regardless of upbringing, genetics or circumstances, anyone can add a bit more resilience to their personal brand. At the core of resilience is a belief in oneself, a belief well worth cultivating…in personal branding or any self-development work for that matter!

 

Lisa

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From boardroom to bar stool…and beyond

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In previous posts, I’ve talked about how important outer branding can be in communicating your personal brand. This includes outer representations of our brand, such as our presence, personal impact, personal style and personal appearance. Part of our personal appearance involves grooming, which includes taking care of skin, hair and make-up. Things like uncared for skin, a tired complexion or careless make-up are often the first to get noticed.

In this post, our guest blogger is Rachel Barclay, a professionally trained makeup artist and hairstylist who helps clients create the best version of themselves through the power of makeup. Here, Rachel shares a guide of quick tips to have you glowing all the way to the boardroom, bar, buzz session and beyond.

Here’s Rachel:

Having been a city professional in a previous career, stepping up in front of sales teams, boards of directors and large audiences was routine and it was always important for me to face my audience looking on-brand from head to toe! However, time was in limited supply and usually a quick dash to the ladies to brighten up the makeup, or neaten the hair was just about all I could manage.

Now a professional makeup artist and hairstylist, I love to share my tips, tricks and experience on how to conquer the looking glass and look on-brand, every day, quickly and efficiently!

Moisturiser, primer & beyond. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of moisturising your skin in the morning before any makeup regime. I opt for a vitamin based cream full of antioxidants which will fight the toxins of the city, street and wine bar well into the late night. Rub your moisturiser all over your face and neck paying special attention to problem areas such as dry patches or oily zones.  Also, a primer is a must if you want your makeup to last. I love one that gives you a radiant glow and creates a smooth base for your makeup. If you have particularly oily areas then make sure you definitely apply primer to these areas as it can mattify the skin and prevent shine.  I love smashbox Photo Finish as it gives a gorgeous soft-focus finish and has such a smooth texture. Put a little product onto your fingers and rub into the skin, remembering to concentrate on any problem areas as this will help your makeup look fabulous all day

If you haven’t already got one, you’ve got to get a BB Cream. This magic little balm is a quick fix for instant, radiant and flawless skin.  This is a one-product-does-all, usually containing ingredients which hydrate (Hyaluronic acid), protect from UVA/UVB (SPF) and can mimic the texture of perfect flawless skin. You can apply this straight from the tube with your hands and apply it all over the face, even under the eyes and eyelids with no brushes or sponges required. If it takes you more than 30 seconds I’d be amazed. My favourite go to is L’Oréal Glam Nude BB Cream. A universal skin perfector with an SPF 20. I love the way this cream comes out silvery in colour, but when applied to your face it instantly adjusts to your skin tone, giving you radiant, nude skin with a flawless complexion. One small application will have you glowing, but this product can be built up for a fuller coverage without looking heavily done. It comes in light to medium and medium to dark, which is better for darker skin tones or suntanned skin. I never leave home without it on or in my makeup bag!

If using a foundation, I’d apply this with a beauty blending sponge which you wet first, squeeze out and dab on your foundation, it’s so quick, easy to blend and doesn’t pick up too much product as it has already expanded due to the water, leaving you with a smooth, glowing face.

Pop on a little eye primer, with your finger, onto your lids, which will keep any shadow or powder in place all day and into your night. Then just add a little concealer to under the eye area, be careful to press the product in gently with a finger instead of sweeping it across the under eye, as this will just move the product around and we want it to stay put and be pressed into the skin to conceal.

I frequently get asked why it is so important to set foundation and concealer with powder and the answer is that foundations and concealers are dewy and won’t stay put without setting them. I always use a translucent powder as it has no colour pigment in it, so it won’t change the colour of your foundation or concealer. I prefer loose powder but for ease and tidiness a pressed translucent powder works wonders and is easy to transport. Never over powder, remember your setting your makeup base not creating another layer!! Use a brush to apply and make sure you tap off any excess powder then gently dust over the face, not forgetting the eye area as well.

Bronzer, a perfect for adding radiance and warmth to your skin or enhancing your natural tan and can even be used as contour. It should be applied to where your face naturally catches the sun; I always shake off the brush once I’ve applied it to these areas and then cover the rest of my face to warm it up. So, brush some bronzer onto your cheeks, over your nose and above your temples up into your hairline for that warm, sun-kissed look. I also brush a very small amount in to the socket bone of the eye to enhance the shape of the eye. I’ve been using the same make for years and whilst I’ve tried many other brands, all of which have been great, I keep going back to my trusted favourite Clinique True Bronze. This is a pressed powder with a hint of sparkle but it’s so small you won’t look glittery. It warms me up so naturally and I am constantly complimented on my skin and how healthy it looks. It is long wearing, oil free and can be built up for the desired level of bronze!

Apply a very small amount of blush just to the apples of the cheeks to warm the skin and add radiance to where we would naturally blush. Again, take care to shake off any excess powder as you don’t want to look like a cherry, and you also don’t want any fall out of the product onto other areas of your face. Place the brush onto the apples of your cheeks and make small circular movements moving back very slightly to the cheekbone but don’t take the colour up the cheekbone, this has been warmed already by the bronzer. Build up the colour to a level that you are happy with, but don’t overdo it.

Eyeliner. If there’s one thing that brightens even the most tired eyes then it’s a black waterline pencil from Urban Decay. Their 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in the colour Rail is amazing. It glides on effortlessly and I put it on the top tear line which gives the illusion of really thick lashes, frames the eye and creates the appearance of bigger, wider eyes. This eyeliner is long lasting, as the name suggests, and is waterproof, so no smudging or running. Lift up your eyelid so you can see clearly the tear line of your upper eye and gently apply in soft sweeping movements from the outside corner over to just where your eyelashes finish on the inner corner. This may take a bit of practice and I use an optical zoom mirror, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it really does make a difference.


Mascara
. This little tube of joy always makes me happy. Mascara has that ability to change your look and therefore your mood and how others see you. It opens up tired eyes, thickens the sparsest of lashes and lengthens and lifts where needed. Hold the brush parallel with your eyes and get it as close to the root as possible, then make little zig-zag movements, which will transfer the product from the brush to eyelash. Now pull the brush up the lash and pull slightly to the outside edge of the eye which will give the illusion of a wider eye. If you already have lovely wide eyes, then just pull the brush upwards towards the lid/socket bone, to lengthen and thicken. I am in love with Lancôme’s mascara range and have been a fan since I was fifteen. My go to in their range is Hypnose Doll Eyes in So Black. It extends and lifts the lashes, coating them evenly and widening your eyes for that doll like look. This mascara can be layered to give an even fuller lash and is beautiful with a glittery smoky eye or just worn naturally with a bit of bronzer for a healthy, wide eyed glow.

With a slick of your favourite lip gloss or even just a gorgeous, shiny lip salve, you’re ready to leave for the office, but not before packing a few vital products that will take you from the boardroom to the bar stool.

At the end of the day you will need to tweak your foundation as it will have faded and worn away a little. I love a cream-to-powderfoundation which can be applied with a dry beauty blender much the same as you would your foundation or it can be applied with a blending brushing in circular movements over the areas required. This is just touching up, taking away shine and giving a little more coverage where needed.

Pack a cream eyeshadow stick or two in different shades. I just love these sticks, they are so versatile and go on effortlessly. Literally draw this onto the lids of your eyes (don’t worry if it is not neat) and with an eye blending brush blend it across the lid or if you prefer use your finger to move the product around. This won’t be as neat but is simple to do and very quick! Put a little of this stick under the eye too and with your brush blend it a little to the outside corner. With a pencil eyeliner, draw a line across the top of your lashes, starting just where your lashes start on the inside corner and bring it over to the outside edge and beyond if you want a wing. Don’t worry about the neatness as you’re going to blend this out to merge into the cream stick colour using your eye blending brush. Blend in circular movements from the inside to outside blurring it into the cream colour, this gives a lovely, smudgy, gentle smokey eye look. Run the eyeliner under the eye from about just over halfway out to meet the corner of top lid and blend it out with your brush. Add some more Mascara to thicken and lengthen up those lashes and add a little bit of powder highlighter to the cheekbone. Take a blusher brush and gently sweep upwards toward the temple, avoiding the under-eye area as you want to avoid getting the highlighter into any of the creases.

Haircare. Sometimes during the day your hair can become limp and lifeless and may need a little prepping, conditioning and some extra volume, but you don’t have time to go to the salon as your next meeting is in 10 minutes, or you’re due at the restaurant or bar. For those occasions, I just love Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo. It is so gentle on the scalp with soothing ingredients. It doesn’t weigh down the hair either, like some other brands, but will still give the lift and volume you need for that salon look. Try and section out your hair and spray the root but be careful not to over spray as this can leave it looking dull and heavy. Just little bursts are enough. Style your hair normally and off you go!

 

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Rachel Barclay is a professionally trained makeup artist and hairstylist who will help create the best version of you through the power of makeup. She specialises in one to one or small group lessons and also has a wealth of experience on the red carpet, special occasions, weddings, proms and photo shoots.

If you would like to use her for any of her services or would like more information about any of the products she uses, please contact her at Rachel@rachelbarclaymakeup.com. You can also follower her on Facebook, Twitter,  and Instagram.

Rachel says: “With me you will have a wonderful all round experience, becoming the best version of you. It will be a holistic journey; first and foremost, I will listen, I will hold your hand and lead you to have the confidence to ‘make up’ yourself whilst having the best of fun!”

Lisa

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Spotlight on…Creatives

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Welcome to our “Spotlight On…” segment!
In this series of interviews, we shine a spotlight on creatives to uncover what makes their personal brand so strong and, well, creative.

Meet Laura Milligan, designer and creator of Laura Felicity Design.  Laura creates designer wallpaper and home accessories, helping clients create unique and individual interior spaces for their home.

Here’s my interview with her:

Has creativity always been a central part of your personal brand? If not, when did it start to become more prominent in your life?

Yes, creativity is what started my business, and helped develop the personal brand I have today.

It began with myself drawing/designing what I love, and what I would like to see out in the market. As this developed, I realised I have a particular style to my designs, and now I make sure every pattern design I draw is in keeping with my original style.

Plus how I involved colour to begin with, and the colours I use for each design now plays a part in the over brand’s look. Again, this started as a personal taste, when it came to why I used the colours I did. And now it has evolved over the years to be a main factor in product development.

How do you express your creativity, as part of your personal brand, on a daily basis?

One area I express my creativity is through Social Media, in particular Instagram. This is a brilliant tool to show who you are/what you do, and what your business is about. Whilst putting together an online portfolio, to create your personal brand.

I do take the time to plan how my Laura Felicity Design Instagram page will look. I don’t put every/any photograph up on there, it has been thought through first. Instastories has been brilliant addition recently to Instagram, because I can now put more images and videos up that I wouldn’t necessarily use at that time, but people can connect with me more.

When people click and scroll through my Instagram page, I want them to feel like they understand what my business is about/what I am selling, and fall in love the Laura Felicity Design world.

This is the same for my Pinterest Page as well, but this is aimed more as inspiration boards for clients, rather than getting to understand me, and the business.

However, it does show Laura Felicity Design’s personal brand, and its style I’m aiming to achieve for/with clients.


Does being creative generally flow, or do you have to coax it out?

I would say yes, being creative does generally flow for me. I am always being inspired by what’s around me; my mind does not stop processing. Whether it’s taking photos of the everyday, on my phone whilst out walking the dog (being based in the countryside it’s mainly natural landscape, farm land and it’s seasons, nature etc).

Or spotting interesting colour combinations, and/or pattern design inspiration in different locations when out on trips away, or out with friends. Everything around me I find very inspiring. It’s how I then channel these focuses and turn them into something creative, which is needed to suit my brand.

There are times when I have had creative blocks. For this I’ve realised (over time), you can’t force it out. It tends to come back to me when I take a day off or have a break, and do something for myself. Without realising I will start to feel inspired again, taking in everything I see around me.

What would you say are some of your core values, and do you tend to turn to them in your creative work?

Everything I have designed, or go about designing has to make people smile and feel a sense of happiness, creating happy memories within their home.

I enjoy producing products to help people feel welcome and calm in their homes, from having a statement feature wallpaper, or window blind to bring a room together, freshening up a room by involving a new lampshade, ceiling shade or art print. To storing your make up in one of my ‘pretty useful’ make up bags. This is achieved through the pattern design, colours I use, and quality of the finished item.

I work alongside British manufacturers who I consider to be apart of the Laura Felicity Design team to make sure my brand’s standards for making are high, and all fabrics are of quality to last for many years to come.

What or who inspires you?

It sounds very cliché if I say everything…but it’s true. I am an avid collector of colour swatches and patterned fabrics and papers. I love combining eclectic patterns together, to design something a little bit different that’s already on the market.

Most of my inspiration comes when I am out walking the dog in the beautiful countryside, which we have recently moved to. Walking amongst fields and farmland through the different British seasons, and watching nature develop over these times is fascinating. I’ve always got my phone in hand to make sure I take photos, which may become an inspiration for a pattern later down the line.

Walking around design shows and events, and even in home department stores also inspires me. I try to take in pattern and colour combinations wherever I can.

What advice would you have for someone who would like to express more creativity as part of their personal brand? Any specific advice for those initiating a creative career?

Start off by keeping your eyes and mind open. Take in as much inspiration you can around you. Whether this is being out on your everyday journey to and from work, or walking around an exhibition, museum, and design event, to having an inspiring conversation with someone. Everything you do is research. Magazines and online platforms are also great, but I find being out and about is a more successful way to get your creative juices inspired.

Once you are on your path, you can then start to look around and see how you can define and develop your personal brand. Tweak it, alter it more, until it’s streamlined to your satisfaction.

You can find Laura at laurafelicity.co.uk, and follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Lisa

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The “Brand of the Month” goes to…

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Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest personal brand of the month goes to…

Leonardo DiCaprio

Here’s why:
Although well know as an Oscar-winning Hollywood super star, DiCaprio also has an exceedingly impressive socially responsible side to his personal brand. He is also a stellar example of someone who follows their passion and takes action. As a longtime environmental activist, he has used his Hollywood fame to highlight some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time.  Earlier this month, he did just that by speaking out against Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from participation in the Paris climate accord.

Leonardo DiCaprio Photo: Etienne Laurent / Epa/REX/Shutterstock

Let’s look at some of the ways he communicates (and acts on) his passion:

His Foundation
In 1998, at the ripe old age of 24, the Oscar-winning actor founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF), with the mission of “protecting the world’s last wild places”. Originally set up to give some structure to DiCaprio’s charitable giving, the LDF has since become an important player in environmental philanthropy, awarding over $30 million since 2010 to high-impact projects in more than 44 countries across the globe, “implementing solutions that help restore balance to threatened ecosystems, ensuring the long-term health and well-being of all Earth’s inhabitants”.

And the list goes on…in addition to his founding role and advocacy work at the LDF, DiCaprio sits on the boards of the World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, the funders’ collaborative Oceans 5, and International Fund for Animal Welfare.

His Documentary
Then there’s his documentary, Before the Flood; a collaboration project about climate change with director Fisher Stevens and executive producer Martin Scorsese. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016, the documentary addressed the peril the world faces due to climate change. DiCaprio shared the following at the European premiere in October 2016: “Before The Flood is the product of an incredible three-year journey that took place with my co-creator and director Fisher Stevens. We went to every corner of the globe to document the devastating impacts of climate change and questioned humanity’s ability to reverse what may be the most catastrophic problem mankind has ever faced.” National Geographic Channel aired the programme, and as part of their commitment to covering climate change, the documentary was made widely available and free (and be sure to check out the trailer at the end of this post!).

DiCaprio in Indonesia in Before the Flood, investigating the impact of climate change. Photograph: RatPac Documentary Films

His Media Interviews
Even when interviewed about his latest movie, DiCaprio seems determined to use the spotlight to highlight environmental issues. In an interview with The Telegraph earlier this year, he shared, “2015 was the hottest year in global history, and we are actually seeing the tipping point happen right now. I witnessed it myself, first hand, on The Revenant, when unprecedentedly warm conditions in Canada meant that we had to move the whole production to Argentina in search of snow.” Let’s not forget the grueling and dangerous conditions DiCaprio put himself through for this film, with one crew member describing the filming as ‘a living hell’. As mentioned in his 2016 Oscar acceptance speech, The Revenant connected deeply to the very cause he so passionately supports when the cameras stop rolling: man’s relationship with the natural world.

Which brings us to…

His Speech at The Oscars
The Academy Awards stage was yet another powerful platform for shining the spotlight on climate change and the importance of understanding the facts behind it. In his 2016 acceptance speech after receiving his first award for his role in The Revenant, the actor shared:

“And lastly, I just want to say this: Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

DiCaprio’s acceptance speech at 2016 Academy Awards. Photo: The Oscars

When interviewed about the speech, DiCaprio shared his aim was “to not only talk about the film, but to be able to talk about climate change on a platform that hundreds of millions of people are watching … to say this is the most existential crisis our civilisation has ever known – I wanted to speak out about that. The time is now. It’s imperative we act.”

His UN Role
DiCaprio also uses his position to call on world leaders to address climate change. In 2014, DiCaprio addressed one of the largest meetings of government, business and civil society leaders in history at the United Nations Climate Summit. “I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe mankind has looked at climate change in the same way, as if it were a fiction. But I think we know better than that.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed DiCaprio as the UN Messenger of Peace for Climate, calling him a “new voice for climate advocacy.” More recently, he spoke as a Messenger of Peace last year at the International Day of Peace special event at the UN Headquarters in New York.

DiCaprio speaks during the Paris Agreement on climate change ceremony, April 2016 at UNheadquarters. Photo: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

His Political Involvement
DiCaprio certainly doesn’t shy away from the front lines at home either. In a last-ditch effort to enlighten the president on climate change last December, he and the head of his foundation gave a presentation to Trump, Ivanka, and Trump’s team on how renewable, clean energy could boost the economy by creating millions of jobs.

While I have personally been a DiCaprio fan since What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993, my admiration for him increased exponentially after hearing about his White House presentation. While most of Hollywood was reeling from the election results, DiCaprio was taking action and reaching out to Trump…because it was that important. I’m sure this decision was not an easy one, particularly given that their presentation came hours after Trump chose Scott Pruitt, a climate science sceptic, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

At the People’s Climate March in DC. Photo: Just Jared

 

Here’s yet another impressive fact about this celeb activist: DiCaprio can also be found marching on the front lines, participating in marches such as the Climate Change Rally in New York City (below, 2014), or more recently, the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC in April 2017, right.

His Social Media
DiCaprio’s website and social media platforms are designed to engage and encourage fans to take action on key environmental issues. He also uses them for his own voice on such matters. Earlier this month, DiCaprio swiftly took to social media to decry Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. “Today, our planet suffered. It’s more important than ever to take action,” he tweeted (this came after directly tweeting the president the day before: “.@realDonaldTrump, I hope you’ll make the moral decision today to protect future generations”).

He then took to Facebook: “Today, the future livability of our planet was threatened by President Trump’s careless decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Our future on this planet is now more at risk than ever before. For Americans and those in the world community looking for strong leadership on climate issues, this action is deeply discouraging. Now, more than ever, we must be determined to solve climate change, and to challenge those leaders who do not believe in scientific facts or empirical truths. It is time for all of us to stand up, organize, fight back, and channel our energy into grassroots political action.”

DiCaprio further shared “organizations on the front lines of this fight” including Indivisible Guide, NRDC, Stand Up America, and Before the Flood.

His Lifestyle
If I’m honest, his brand gives off mixed messages with this one. Sure, he lives in an eco-friendly apartment block in New York and drives a hydrogen-powered BMW. But he has also come under fire for his use of a private jet, part of his lifestyle that is inconsistent with the socially responsible side of his brand (and a conservative carbon footprint). While much of his jetting around has had to do with environmental ceremonies, fundraisers, or investigating climate change in other countries, critics such as Fox News environmental analyst Robert Rapier stated that such an action “diminishes his moral authority to lecture others on reducing their own carbon emissions”. Certainly something for DiCaprio to consider when scheduling his itinerary!

With that said, DiCaprio’s tireless and passionate commitment to environmental issues is undeniably impressive. It quite simply works for his brand, as it does for our entire planet.

THANK YOU Mr DiCaprio!

 

Lisa

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Your personal brand begins with waking up with zest!

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Yes, that means looking after ‘numero uno’ – YOU!

Our guest blogger this month, sleep specialist Rachel McGuinness of Wake Up with Zest, talks about maintaining the single most important dimension of  your personal brand…your health! Rachel starts off by answering the question “what is ‘zest’?”:

“Zest is all about your health.  Your health is the biggest asset you have and of course affects everything about you – your energy and vitality, your mind set, your skin, your posture, your ability to focus and make decisions, so I guess we can say your health is pretty important!

So how do you get healthy? Sleep!

Get your sleep right and the rest follows.  Not having enough quality shut eye can impact on you physically, mentally and emotionally.  Your resolve goes out the window, especially your motivation to eat healthily or get off your backside and do some exercise!  One of the things that knocks your sleep off kilter is stress.  It’s all very well to say ‘stress less’, but getting your stress levels under control is essential for your health.

Why do we need our beauty sleep?

It’s when our:

  • brain does its back up, consolidates memories and detoxes
  • cells, tissues and muscles are repaired
  • free radicals are cleaned up
  • blood pressure, metabolism, hormones and appetite are regulated

If we don’t get enough we increase our risk of:

  • depression
  • high blood pressure
  • heart failure/disease
  • stroke
  • type 2 diabetes
  • cancer
  • neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia

So how do you get a good night’s sleep?

It actually starts when you wake up!  What you do during the day contributes to whether or not you’re going to have a good night’s sleep.  If your sleep isn’t in good shape and you want to get it back on track, you have to start somewhere. It may take a bit of effort, but it will be worth it in the end.

First of all you need to work out how much sleep you need and set a consistent “go to sleep time” and “wake up time”.

So how do you work out how much sleep you need? 

The amount of sleep you need is the amount that leaves you feeling refreshed in the morning, so try not to get caught up in having to have eight hours, we are all different.  Some people feel fine on just six hours and others need nine.

Start the day with a ten-minute meditation

Use an app like Daily Calm or Headspace if you want something with prompts.  Meditation is such a beautiful calm way to start the day, so that you’re ready to take on what life throws at you be it good or bad; it is also helps reduce stress.

Do some exercise

Just 10 minutes is enough, which means you don’t have to slog your guts out down at the gym.  Try and incorporate the three ‘S’s’ during the week – Strength, Sweat and Stretch.  10-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts are brilliant for this.  Just go online and google 10 minute workouts or stretch/yoga sessions, there are a plethora of them out there to suit all kinds of fitness levels.

Eat breakfast

Skipping breakfast is NOT an option.  Eating breakfast will make your metabolism more efficient.  Make sure it’s protein based to keep you full until lunchtime.  Have something like eggs, yoghurt (dairy or non-dairy), cheese, seeds, full fat milk with porridge (avoid sugary cereals and low fat products).

On your commute

Whether you’re driving or using public transport, switch off the news which is quite frankly pretty depressing at the moment and listen to podcasts or motivational books.

Keep hydrated

Make sure you’re drinking enough water or decaffeinated teas to keep your body hydrated, stop you thinking you’re hungry and reaching out for the carbs.  This will make sure your body fat burns and again, keeps your metabolism ticking along nicely.

Keep active during the day

Humans are designed to move and not sit  on their backsides all day.  Make a point of getting up and walking around every 25 minutes – try and get the whole office into it, may be doing a few squats, wall press ups, or run up and down a few flights of stairs.  Have ‘walk and talk’ meetings or if there are more than three of you, have 30 minute standing meetings, you will be sure to whizz through agendas in super quick time.  This will keep your energy levels up during the day.

Take a lunch break

Don’t eat lunch at your desk, get outside, go for a walk and get your fix of vitamin D and day light.  If you’re not sat next to a window, it’s important to get out in the light as your body clock is light sensitive and needs to know it’s still daytime.  Try and avoid carb based lunches such as sandwiches, baguettes and jacket potatoes, like breakfast have some protein – meat, fish, seafood, poultry, cheese (dairy or non-dairy), nuts, beans and pulses together some veg or salad with a piece of fruit.

Before you leave work

Get your to-do lists done for the next day.

Cut the sleep thieves

Stop drinking coffee, caffeinated tea, colas or energy drinks after lunch as the caffeine can remain in your system for six hours and can disrupt your sleep.

Eat early

Eating large or spicy meals before bedtime will disrupt your sleep and probably give you acid reflux!  Keep it light and keep it early.  If alcohol doesn’t disrupt your sleep, you can still have a small glass of wine with your meal.

Alcohol

Using alcohol to numb your senses to go to sleep isn’t such a good idea.  It may send you to sleep, but more often than not, you wake up in the night dehydrated and wanting to go to the loo.  Alcohol also disrupts your REM sleep which an essential part of your night’s sleep.

Wind down before sleep time

This should be around 60 – 90 minutes.  Switch off the TV, switch off your tech, add anything that needs adding to your do lists, write in your journal, get things tidied up, do your ablutions, read for a bit (book, magazine or e-reader with the screen turned right down) and then it’s lights out, snuggle down and drift off into the land of nod.”

Making sure you get your beauty sleep will help your personal brand ‘wake up with zest’!  If you struggle with your sleep and need some help to fall in love with bedtime again, Rachel’s contact details are below.

Rachel McGuinness - The Go to Sleep Expert will help you wave goodbye to insomnia

To find out more about Rachel McGuinness and Wake Up with Zest, check out www.wakeupwithzest.com or find her on Facebook @wakeupwithzest and Twitter @wakeupwithzest and Instagram @zestylady

 

 

Lisa

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The importance of passion in personal branding, as taught to us by Richard Branson

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“Convey a sense of passion for what you’re doing, and they’ll be hooked.” – Richard Branson

In order to clearly define and articulate your personal brand, it is important to look at the bigger picture. This initial process involves better understanding five principle elements of your inner brand: passion, purpose, vision, strengths and values. This “core identity” serves as the foundation upon which your personal brand is built.  In this post, we take a look at passion, as taught to us by Sir Richard Branson.

Sir Richard Branson. Photo by Inc

Think of passion as the fuel that propels a successful brand. You can’t necessarily see it, but when passion is conveyed — for an idea, cause or belief — your chances of bringing others alongside of you increases exponentially. In personal branding, passion is magnetic.

A sense of passion can be conveyed in different ways. For some, it’s the motivation that comes with connecting to certain issues or causes they care deeply about. For others, it’s the motivation to solve a problem or address a need.  One thing is almost always certain: passion is rarely self-indulgent.

Let’s look to mega-entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. Founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson has built one of the UK’s best known corporate brands. Branson’s business was built on passion from day one. After dropping out of school at age 16, he launched a student magazine, directly born out of his passion: giving young people a voice on current affairs such as the Vietnam War. Branson needed to sell advertising to make the money to publish it, and soon a business was born. He went on to create Virgin Records, after which he expanded his entrepreneurial endeavors into other sectors, with his Virgin Group holding more than 200 companies.

Branson has undeniably made his own name behind the Virgin brand, one associated with attributes like “nonconforming creator”, “creative problem-solver”, “rebel”, “philanthropist”, “adventurer” “passionate dreamer” and “risk-taker”. His Twitter profile brilliantly captures the essence of his personal brand: “Tie-loathing adventurer, philanthropist & troublemaker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Otherwise known as Dr Yes at @virgin”.

I’ve always felt that passion is an unmistakable feature of Branson’s personal brand, transparent in his actions as well as his words. He wrote in his blog, “Finding your passion means you will never have a job. I have learned this from my years creating businesses. I’ve never had what I would call a job, but I’ve worked every day for five decades. It’s all about finding a balance between work and play – it’s all living.”

Branson believes that passion is one of key motivators behind launching a business, and also one of the surest predictors of success. In Branson’s book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership, he shares how passion has propelled his panoply of successes. He also shares a strong belief that you can’t teach people passion – “it’s either in their DNA or it’s not.” He further admonishes against wasting “your time and energy trying to light a fire under flame-resistant people.”

I happen to agree that passion cannot not be taught. However, if passion is all about being motivated by something you care deeply about, then this begs the question: can you tap into (and communicate) this sentiment as part of your personal brand?

For example, Richard Branson became passionate about space exploration after watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon as a child. He tapped into this passion and channeled it into a sense of purpose. He then followed his vision and actively pursued ways to make it a reality for decades to follow; keeping a notebooks of ideas, gathering information and researching ideas to help transform his passion into reality.  The result of course was Virgin Galactic, the manifestation of a passion dating back to childhood.

If you are unsure of what exactly your passion is, check out the following exercise:

Take note of the events, people or issues spark emotion in you, and the problems you connect with. Ask yourself the following:

What in the world angers you?

What moves you during your day to day life?

What past or present events get you really excited or interested?

What are the challenges you see others face that you’d like to help resolve?

Such observations may very well reveal your passions!

 

Lisa

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Spotlight on…Creatives

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Welcome to our new segment, “Spotlight On…”!
In our upcoming series of interviews, we will shine a spotlight on creatives to uncover what makes their personal brand so strong and, well, creative.

Meet Ella Sharp, who designs for an interesting niche in the fashion world – tango fashion – alongside of her womenswear label Ella Sharp.

The designer Ella Sharp

Here’s my interview with her:

Lisa Orban: Has creativity always been a central part of your personal brand? If not, when did it start to become more prominent in your life?

Ella Sharp: How does one describe creativity?  I have always created, starting as a child I just didn’t stop. My family were all trained in the creative industries and my husband too.  As a result I don’t really have a place at which my brand starts and I stop.

The one line I tend to draw is in Social Media, there are different levels of engagement with the brand audience, so usually I will post about inspiration, ideas and events on the Todo Trajeado Facebook page but obviously not my cats, they might however make it into Instagram depending on how artistic they are looking!

In the past five years I have focused on Todo Trajeado which is my Tango brand, recently though I have decided to reintroduce my  womenswear …which is a wider audience.  In general my customers want to engage with me either in Social Media or in person.  This takes time and has obvious limitations however is essential to product development and customer feedback.

LO: How do you express your creativity, as part of your personal brand, on a daily basis?

ES: A combination of Facebook and Instagram – sometimes Pinterest but that is more for collecting products (vintage posts) – we are developing the website at the moment.  Usually posts about my vintage inspiration come through Facebook but that is more to do with the sources.  When expressing primary research, i.e., my ideas, Instagram.  Usually it is the story behind the product development but I’m not always as good at doing this as I should be.

LO: Does being creative generally flow, or do you have to coax it out?

ES: It depends how tired I am, sounds mad but I have to have had the energy to look properly – if I’m developing new products these can take a long time to develop, prototype and refine.  Usually from initial idea to final delivery from the production unit about 6-12 months which is standard.

If I am creating the first, second or third sample these can often take two weeks solid work to arrive at the final outcome.  This reflects my attention to detail and subtlety of design.

I’m not High Street, I do recognise the skill required by those designers but my work evolves and thereby lasts.  I’m much more of a ‘slow’ fashion designer, I expect my pieces to be wearable for years not months.

LO: What would you say are some of your core values, and do you tend to turn to them in your creative work?

ES: My core values are the classic Mies van der Rohe quote “less is more” – everything has to have beauty (not always a use, I’m not so much of a purist!) – the less detail something has the more difficult it is to perfect.  I’m not interested in fast and disposable living, my design is the same.

LO: What or who inspires you?

ES: Hollywood images and films from the twenties to the fifties, cinematography, Turner, Mark Rothko, Christobel Balenciaga, Holbein, Tanturi (tango) D’Arienzo con Eschague (orchestra and singer)  – Monteverdi – a bit of a mix really!

LO: What advice would you have for someone who would like to express more creativity as part of their personal brand? Any specific advise for those initiating a creative career?

ES: Research, you need a wide knowledge of ideas, approaches and communication.  Ideas and creativity require input, exhibitions, film, dancing, music – go window shopping – those are my sources as that is my way to inspire myself – find yours.

Don’t rely on Social Media or the Internet for your research – brands need to differentiate themselves and communicating with your audience requires interesting content, not algorithms – don’t be afraid to be different, how different your products are depends on your market segment.

Lisa

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