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My Name is Prince: Telling the story of an icon

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After the world lost Prince last year, I spent some time researching and writing about the legend and what elevated him to an icon. So I was curious to see if any retrospective could rise to the enormous challenge of telling his story. The My Name is Prince exhibit at the O2 in London rose to this task, and drew me even closer to him, as the best retrospectives can do. After all, the retrospective is perhaps the pinnacle of any given personal brand. A carefully curated exhibition of personal items that includes costumes, pictures, personal trinkets, instruments, hand-written notes, videos, quotes, and music… all strategically chosen items which define the person. We walk around as welcomed voyeurs, getting up close and personal with objects now known as artifacts, intimately exploring each and every corner of that person’s life.

My Name Is Prince is the first official Prince exhibition to open outside of Paisley Park, Prince’s famous Minnesota private estate. As the website boasts, it’s a rare chance to peek at the “hundreds of never before seen artifacts direct from Paisley Park. Visitors will get a unique insight into the life, creativity and vision of one of the most naturally gifted recording artists of all time.”

Personal branding is all making a name for yourself, and Prince did that brilliantly, even when his name was an unpronounceable symbol. At the heart of personal branding are the core attributes of passion, purpose and vision. Prince undeniably exuded all of these. Here are the ways in which I felt the retrospective communicated these aspects of his story:

It reminded us that he was a sheer musical genius, one with vision and purpose.
Prince’s panoply of talent is widely known, but this exhibit hit home just how prodigiously gifted he was. His debut album For You, released when he was 20, was produced, arranged, composed, and performed by Prince. He is credited with playing all 27 instruments on the album. His range of talent was that immense. The intent behind the album was to establish Prince as a musician and to prove his merits, and one can certainly argue that it went above and beyond that purpose. Perhaps this article says it best: “Prince didn’t develop into the kind of artist who could do everything from beginning to end. He started that way.” Not only that, but Prince had a vision from day one. As a teenager, he not only signed his first major-label contract with Warner Bros, but he somehow managed to get the mammoth record company to sign over complete artistic freedom to him, a rarity for even the most established artists.

As part of the ‘VIP experience’, guests get to hold the guitar from his Musicology tour (with special gloves of course!)

An uncompromising artist from day one, Prince seemed to find purpose in creating and perfecting his music, and to do that, he needed to be hands-on. Prince would continue to be heavily involved in all aspects of his music, even after bringing in other artists, such as when he created The Revolution. In some of his most famous albums, such as 1999, he was still the main force behind most of the music.

As a visionary, Prince went on to redefine pop music in the 80’s, and continued to break barriers over the next two decades. Even rebellious moves in the 90’s (mostly against record companies), such as changing his name to the Love Symbol, proved to be genius avant-guard branding for Prince.

It demonstrated that he was almost inhumanly prolific.
Prince was so passionate about music that he seemed to live and breath it. His album covers adorn the walls of the exhibit, just under the ceiling; they surrounded you, like festive bunting, and capture the sheer magnitude of his musical accomplishments. Prince is of course most famous for his late 1980’s records, but he has 39 studio albums to his credit (mind you, that’s over a span of 37 years!), four live albums and multiple compilations. And let’s not forget all of the hits he wrote for others, including Sinead O’Conner’s Nothing Compares to You and The Bangles’ Manic Monday. He was also a songwriter for Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Chaka Khan to name a few.

Notebooks of lyrics and ideas displayed at the exhibit

For Prince, commitment and passion went hand and hand. He not only released several hundred songs over a 40-year-long recording career, but it’s said that Prince challenged himself to write a new song a day. He left behind his legacy in a music vault in Paisley Park, which is said to house hundreds of unheard songs (Prince had shared with some in confidence that he saved his best work), along with more than 50 fully produced music videos that have never been released. Some estimate the vault’s treasures are “enough for a new Prince album every year for the next century. Whatever the exact figure is, it’s safe to assume that, even though he’s gone, his music will outlive us all.”

It showed us that he had one kick-ass outer brand.
Prince’s iconoclastic style was a big part of his brand. He often pushed boundaries with gender stereotypes; his range included straddling a motorcycle in leather to wearing glitzy and ostentatious suits with heels. The exhibition showcased 100 outfits, which were described as “a drop in the ocean” by Angie Marchese, director of archives at Paisley Park. She shared that “he kept everything he wore on his early tours, and the entire wardrobe from the Purple Rain tour and movie – not just his own, but every band member’s.”

Prince’s Purple Rain jacket, Photo: Peter Nicolls. Above, sampling of heeled boots

Given his petite size (some report he was 5’2”, however the exhibition tour guides insist he was “5ft nothing”), he had a team of tailors on demand in Paisley Park, ready to make bespoke clothes for him. In spite of his size, Prince was able to create an effect that he was “larger than life”. This was likely accomplished by his powerful personal presence, gargantuan talent and showmanship, along with his flamboyant costumes. He also never performed without 3” heels, typically custom made to match his outfits.

Larger than Life: “Backstage” at the exhibit

The exhibit tour guide indicated that Prince would often travel with a vast array of wardrobe selections, and would choose what he (and subsequently the band) would wear based on the type of mood and vibe he wanted to create.

The road case at the exhibit from Prince’s Welcome 2 tour. It had been left just as it was found at Paisley Park. The last to touch the items was Prince himself.

Prince also created powerful brand associations with imagery. The Love Symbol was one, which, in the exhibit, was featured prominently on everything from his guitars to his hand towel. Even though he changed his name back to Prince in 2000, the symbol became inextricably linked with his identity. The other powerful association is with the colour purple. Since his untimely death, purple-coloured tributes have appeared across the world. Fans have adorned the gates of his Paisley Park studio with purple flowers and balloons. Prince, his symbol and purple are now together embedded deep in our psyches.

It shared his carefully curated his story, respecting the mystery shrouding it.
Prince was not only one of the most naturally gifted artists of all time, and he was also one of the most mysterious. Throughout his career, Prince developed a reputation for secrecy and eccentricity. The exhibition respects this secrecy and purposely avoids giving too much of a personal glimpse into his mysterious lifestyle, while still beautifully capturing the personal brand of our mega-star.

Mystery is a key ingredient of great storytelling, and Prince worked this, while at the same time, actively controlling the brand image and story-line he put out there. He rarely gave interviews (he announced that he would never talk to the press again after an interview to promote 1999), yet after death he made his story easy to tell…on his terms. Before his death, Prince had already turned Paisley Park into a museum devoted to his career. Angie Marchese, director of archives at Paisley Park, shared with the Times: “Incredibly, most of what you see [at Paisley Park Museum] is as it was when we arrived. The murals, the theme rooms, the corridor of awards, the wall with a timeline of Prince’s influences and protégés, the closets containing memorabilia plastered with his pictures. He made telling his story easy because he’d put the story there for us.”  She goes on to say, “It’s clear he wanted to share his experience here.”

A piece of that experience is now accessible to us here in London, and there’s a good chance that this is exactly how Prince wanted us to experience him.


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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…

Lady Gaga

Here’s why:
Since Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta transformed herself into the pop sensation Lady Gaga, her name has since become associated with artistic and visual experimentation, eccentricity, unpredictability and provocation. Similar to the late great David Bowie, she has cultivated a wonderfully strange and “otherworldly” dimension to her brand, while balancing it brilliantly with a “human” and highly relatable side. This month, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, we see yet another example of this with a public service announcement for the It’s On Us campaign to end sexual assault (we’ve also seen her latest album just go platinum in the US, not a bad month!).

Photograph: Mariano Vivanco

Launched in 2014, It’s On Us is a national movement with a mission to raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses and flip the “culturally accepted narrative” about sexual assault. The campaign followed from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, established by President Obama and Vice-President Biden. As a survivor of sexual assault, the initiative is one that is close to Gaga’s heart. She’s teamed up with Vice President Biden, who has been an outspoken proponent for campus sexual assault awareness.

There are so so many things to say about Lady Gaga’s powerful personal brand, however this PSA hits on a few interesting aspects I wanted to highlight that make her brand particularly fascinating to me.

Her unconventional yet brilliant approach to co-branding.

Her teaming up with Biden may seem a bit unusual, but it works, particularly given the cause behind their joint venture. This is not the first time Biden and Gaga have paired up. At the 2016 Oscars ceremony, Biden appeared in a telecast to introduce Gaga’s performance of her song, “‘Til it Happens to You,” a song about sexual assault.

Gaga has also made some interesting choices with artistic collaborations. In 2014, she collaborated with Tony Bennett in 2014 for a cover album called Cheek to Cheek. It turns out that Gaga had much in common with the veteran crooner, who she described as one of the few people she can “relate to”, someone who has encouraged her in her time of need. She further shared that Cheek to Cheek changed her as an artist and a person, describing her work with Bennett as ‘liberating’. The pairing of one of contemporary pop’s greatest provocateurs matched with an old-school crooner of a bygone age was an unexpected and risky one. But unpredictability and a proclivity for breaking boundaries have become part of Gaga’s brand, and it works.

Lady Gaga with Tony Bennett. Photo: Steven Klein

Of course, there’s also her co-branding with corporate brands. Partnering up with young and edgy trend-setting brands like H&M and MAC cosmetics seem like fairly solid choices, but then there was that Tiffany’s campaign earlier this year. At first glance, this co-branding may seem like a misstep in co-branding, with the Tiffany & Co name being known for classic (and conservative) luxury jewelry, but the campaign played to the human dimension of the Lady Gaga brand, and it gave us something new and unexpected from both names.

Her personal disclosures create an authentic, human side.

Some of her co-branding choices above have certainly humanized Gaga, but what makes her so relatable is her personal disclosures, as seen with the It’s On Us PSA, which also brings balance to her otherworldly pop star image. As Biden shares in their recent public service announcement, ‘I’m not only with a great friend, but a fierce advocate. Lady Gaga has been the voice for people who have been forgotten and people who have been abused … Well it happened to her. She’s shown enormous courage.’

In addition to coming out as a victim of sexual assault, she has also opened up about her struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in an open letter last year. The letter was posted on her Born This Way Foundation website, her non-profit dedicated to empowering young people. She shared that her decision to disclose was made to help her to heal, and also to encourage others facing similar issues to talk about it. Earlier this year, she further discussed her personal struggle and thoughts on mental illness with Prince William in a video chat as part of the prince’s charity Heads Together anti-stigma campaign. In the video, Prince William praises Gaga for her “incredibly moving and very brave” open letter. The video, which has been viewed by thousands and posted on the Royal Family Facebook Page, shows a very genuine side to both Gaga and the Duke of Cambridge.

Gaga has also spoken openly about her struggles with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. She offers a glimpse into living with chronic pain in Gaga: Five foot Two, a  “behind-the-scenes” Netflix documentary about the making of her recent album and Super Bowl stardom.  She has recently cancelled a string of concert dates of her current tour, sharing that ‘past traumas that still affect her daily life, and result in severe physical pain in her body’.

And just as quickly as she reveals her human side, her fans blink and Gaga shape shifts back into some new ethereal creation. She reminds us: ‘I’m half living my life between reality and fantasy at all times. It’s best not to ask questions and just enjoy.’

Lady Gaga during the Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show, Feb. 5, 2017, Houston, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images





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Facebook etiquette: The good, the bad and the ugly

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Social media. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. It’s also a big part of shaping our personal brands. With so many of us carrying out a significant part of our lives online, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the unspoken online etiquette of social media, particularly Facebook.

She really posted that?! Photo: Stylist

I asked Susan Heaton Wright, voice and communications expert, for her thoughts here. She explains:

“Online conversations and networking are interesting concepts. Because you can’t hear the nuances of the voice when people speak – or their body language, you are reliant on what people actually write and the accompanied emojis or photos. In its best form, it is great. But it is a noisy place, Facebook; and rather like a busy pub or party, people show up with their own worries, levels of sobriety and emotions. But, like any party, there are people who annoy you – you know the ones who talk at you, or who aren’t interested in listening to you. There are those who make loads of noise: who are in your face; who make comments you don’t agree with; who don’t listen. They want an audience, and they are on Facebook.”

Susan’s analogy intrigued me, so I decided to take a closer look with an informal survey of Facebook users. After all, what better way to understand social media etiquette than to ask the users themselves? I specifically chose to focus on Facebook as it’s the largest social media platform, and asked two simple questions: “What do you hate seeing people do on Facebook?” and “What engages you?”. Here’s what I found:

Top Pet-peeves

Sloppy posting.
This of course includes careless grammar but also posting pictures without discretion (some participants described this as “inconsiderate tagging, adding or sharing”). I’ve also included the posting of inaccurate information here.

“Dumping the entire night or event’s iPhone snaps on FB without editing/removing dark, blurry and unflattering photos.”

“I absolutely hate poor spelling and grammar (e.g., “your” when they mean “you’re”).”

“I hate being tagged with photos of me that are clearly unflattering.”

“Re-appropriating (not sharing) all your new (hard found) content in your private group on their own page, group or profile on the same day or within hours of your post!”

“Tagging: whether this is a photograph or post to lots of random people. If the photo has you in a compromising position it could have sad consequences – as one of my clients found. His fiancée saw a photo of him cuddling up to another woman and broke off the engagement.”

“I’ve seen a number of posts in recent months, particularly ones with political slants, that simply are not factual. It seems we are moving backwards with the widespread sharing of misinformation, and now live in Orwellian times when facts simply don’t matter. However, when you don’t check your facts and post nonsense to justify your political beliefs, you just end up looking a bit silly, or worse yet, downright ignorant.”

One respondent pointed out that the way we respond to these posts is also an important part of social media etiquette:

“Another piece of etiquette I think is important is the responses to the more nutty posts and comments. There are loads on my stream about the MMR jabs and autism. Still. I have my own views on this, and realize that any rational response or opposing view is not going to end prettily – and partly because what I would have responded might not have been construed in a positive, constructive way and my response would have been PUBLIC! Likewise, someone posted an extraordinary post saying that PTSD “like what servicemen have” is something we all suffer from – we can ‘catch’ it after a common cold…… After the initial disgust, I decided not to respond – realizing this person was not in a good place.”

At the same time, another participant believed it was important to address misinformation.

“Given the widespread misinformation as propaganda on Facebook and the damage we’ve seen it cause, especially in America, I do think it is critical to carefully and thoughtfully respond to these posts with accurate information. Hopefully by present alternative views that offer fact-checked information, we can limit the amount of harmful and insidious misinformation out there.”

Oversharing of information (or over-disclosing) was a popular pet-peeve. This included disclosing too personal information, posting too often, and posting about “every little thing”.  This differs from more careful, strategic disclosures (e.g., sharing a condition or experience to raise awareness).

Comments included:

“Keep some things to yourself. If you wouldn’t announce certain facts to a room of acquaintances, don’t do it…”

“Over-disclosing intimate things such as certain medical conditions can have an opposite affect in that they can make people feel uncomfortable or even turn them off. What’s more, it can also come across as attention seeking. Oversharing these personal disclosures runs the risk of being associated with your illness, probably not what you want to be known for!”

“General over-sharing: there is someone in my stream who live FBs from ‘her death bed’ with some incurable disease. Then two days later, she’s arranging major deals with international clients to change their businesses. There was no filtering; it was a constant stream of communication to everyone. And more than one person has said to me that they wouldn’t work with her, because of her health issues… “

“Over-sharing of personal stuff; sharing too frequently; grandmothers who post far too many gushing posts, etc.”.

“The ‘friend’ who posts, live FBs, PMs you constantly with blanket information about themselves, without taking a breath to listen or respond to you. I have had to ‘unfollow’ those people – only to find the Live FBs then clog my stream and FB notifications – then when I manage to find how to switch off these, the darned person then starts sending posts to my messenger with ‘their day’ information. Phew, I’ve managed to mute those too…. TOO MUCH – and my first etiquette comment would be to not overshare. Please.”

Pushing agendas.
This includes “spamming” with a product or service, proselyting and forcing or hijacking a conversation.

“What I find really annoying with Facebook is when people who just recently send a friend request and then start spamming your page or message you with something they want to sell. It’s a bit like asking you to get married on the first date! Also, when people constantly self- promote – I find it very “in your face” and quite a turn off.”

“Plenty of people create FB pages and groups. Wonderful. I have got a lot out a number of groups. Some people just add you to a group, GGRRR!”

“Over sharing their opinions and using Facebook as some soapbox”.

“Anything with an –ism at the end is rarely a good idea, whether (overt or implicit) racism, sexism, discrimination, etc.”

“Another annoying thing is when you get invited to be in various games – and inevitably they go into messenger and you get alerted. These blanket invitations are annoying!”

“I also hate people who use FB to overtly sell their products & services.”

“They just spam the group with their business services GRRRR! Or – and this really annoys me, when someone asks for a recommendation, of course there are various people mentioned, then someone says “The only person to talk to is X” – of course they are being supportive to a friend, but if you were in a group with these people would you be so disrespectful???”

“People hijacking posts and changing the conversation to their own agenda.”

Passive aggressive or vague posts.
This was one of my personal pet-peeves so I wasn’t surprised when this came up. This is when people make public insults, threats or express hurt or disapproval towards unidentified “friends”. This includes “vague-posting/vague booking”, which is defined as an intentionally vague Facebook status update, that prompts friends to ask what’s going on, or possibly a cry for help.

As one survey participant vented:

“People who air dirty laundry on Facebook or write cryptic messages to piss someone off! Fortunately, on Facebook you can unfollow people so you stay friends but don’t see their posts. I’ve done it to a few friends who keep writing nonsense – i.e. “why do people always feel like my kindness can be taken for granted! I’m a good person and I don’t deserve this – you’re lucky I haven’t gotten rid of you this time” blah blah! Stuff like that or to seek attention in some way where people comment “oh if you need to talk, call me” or “hugs” lol – things like this are personal – and a message privately to whoever – so bloody annoying!.”


“The worst is when public threats are made, “You know who you are!” type thing. I see this more frequently with younger users, but have also seen this on my feed from adult users. It’s just a bad look. Please directly message the person and resolve your issues in private.”

Losing your identity to your kids.
This one hits at the very core of personal branding. In short, this is when your own online image gets usurped by pictures of your kids or pets.

“When friends use pictures of their children as their profile picture. It almost suggests that once you have kids, you lose your sense of identity completely. Once and a while is perhaps ok, but please remember that you still get to have your own identity after children!”

“Using your kids or pet as your profile picture. You are not your kid.”

“Posting anything and everything about your kids.  I don’t give a crap.  And they are rarely as cute or as interesting as you think they are.  Dogs are much better.”

Feel-good Factors

On the other hand, people did have some positive things to say about Facebook and here authenticity and usefulness seem to be important themes:

“Being able to share good news, get advice in groups or even reach out when you are feeling down are wonderful.”

“Positive videos engage me (but not too long). I love live broadcasts – but I don’t want just any – mainly business people or women with a good message, positivity and inspiration! I like groups on Facebook – again, mainly business, inspiration, etc “

“The sense of community. The connecting (and re-connecting) with friends, and the ability to share my life with them, and vice-versa.”

“In its best form it is great: I have connected with one pupil I taught when he was 8 years old in Kenya. It is a real privilege to keep in touch with him, and my husband’s family – many of whom are based in Australia. Keeping in touch with people across the world who we know need our support with floods (my friend Jenny who is in India where there are floods), bush fires (husband’s cousin), checking people are okay (my assistant who was in Barcelona when the terrorist attack happened).”

“What I do like on Fb is interesting stories (life stories where people are real) and engaging- those would be the people that I would more likely be following. “

“I’m engaged by good news and updates supported by photos that capture the magic moments of life.”

Taking the Good and the Bad

So people really do love it AND hate it…and use it. With more and more awareness of etiquette, perhaps Facebook has the potential to become a bit more civilized of a party. I’ll end with a final helpful reminder from Susan:

“Facebook, whether you like it or not, is public unless you set up some really strong privacy settings. Sharing EVERYTHING is going to bite you in the future, because you are going to leave a virtual ‘footprint’ of your activities. Once it is out there, you can’t take it back. So think before you post; is the post something you will regret saying later? Will the photo damage your reputation or personal brand? Recruitment execs do look at your virtual footprint, including Facebook accounts, and it could impact your success in getting a job.

At my son’s school they have a rule about social media: only write on social media what you would be happy for your mother to read.”

Not a bad rule!



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A glimpse into gourmet branding

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What’s in a name? If we look to the world of gastronomy, this question is as important as “What’s in a recipe?”. And what we tend to find behind the name (be it a restaurant or particular product) is a lot of the chef’s personal brand; his or her passion, vision, personality, inspirations, creativity and talent. Equally important, we can also see that what and where we choose to eat can be a huge reflection of our own personal brands!

This month’s guest blogger is Hulya Erdal, chef, educator, marketeer and culinary consultant extraordinaire. Here, Hulya gives us some insight into the fascinating world of gourmet branding, and reminds us of the importance of allowing yourself the freedom to be true to yourself and letting your authentic personal brand shine through.

Chef Hulya Erdal gets down to business

Here’s Hulya:

Every chef’s dream is to acquire the eponymous Michelin stars (yes, the ones from that tyre company). Actually, it seems not every chef is that desperate.  In fact, some give them back.  The world of hospitality exploded recently with the story of French chef Sebastian Bras of Le Suquet a Laguiole, who with his father, Michel Bras, held three stars for two decades.  After years of perfection, Sebastian asked Michelin to take the stars back, saying, “Today we want to proceed with a free spirit and without stress.”  What this proves is that you can either allow your brand to control you, or you can allow your brand the freedom to evolve while still retaining your true intentions and most importantly, not forgetting why you started this journey in the first place.  For Sebastian, the opportunity to break free of what seemed to be the shackles of Michelin, now affords him the fortune to experiment and make food true to his heart and nation.  Better still, he gave the stars back rather than seeing them brutally stripped from his establishment as can be the case.

A Michelin Star is one of the greatest honours a restaurant can receive,
but it’s not for every chef. Skye Gould/Business Insider

Take MacDonald’s, the polar opposite. They grew from fast food outlet with a fun image to a backlash from some who saw McD’s as being pivotal in the contribution to America’s obesity problem, to now a fast food restaurant with a concern for charity, children’s health, incorporating ingredients from locally sourced producers and a menu that features salads and wraps.  Possibly not where they originally thought they would be but looking at their brand from where it was to where it is now, they’ve recognised that in order to keep the customer happy and buying their products, this is exactly where they should be.  I’m sure that jolly Ronald McDonald clown still lies within the heart of everything they do.

A food brand and its beliefs can influence our decisions as a diner, a shopper and a consumer.  If you’re a vegan with strong beliefs for animal welfare then the likelihood is you’ll be more conscientious about your food choices and would likely shop somewhere such as The Wholefoods Market chain, with a wide range of ethical foods and alternatives to the mainstream.  Likewise, if you’re concerned over price then Asda, Tesco, Lidl and Aldi have it all wrapped up for you.

Coming back to that tyre company, well case in point, they continue making the tyres and I’m sure some folk still haven’t quite connected the dots.  One company but two very different brands although quality personifies both.  Michelin tyres are top of the range as far as rubber goes.  Eating at a Michelin starred restaurant denotes fine dining, the best of the best, food beyond all imagination if you can afford to eat there.  For a chef, it’s being top of their tree, the ultimate accolade for years of hard work and strive.  However, for some, shunning the Michelin infamy is a chance to keep freedom of expression and truly shine in their own right within their sector.

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

There’s no harm in being different, whether it’s having a star or not.  It’s all about knowing who you are and what you want to tell the world.  As a chef and educator, I’m developing a culinary arts programme for a new gastronomic institute that will have many strings to it’s bow.  This is a chance to create a brand from scratch and gently navigate it’s growth, developing an image that both moves with the times but also understands their target audience.  When you have the chance to start from the beginning, as Chef Sebastian knows too well, allow yourself the freedom to move forward, be your authentic self and others will admire you for it.

©Hulya Erdal 2017



Hulya works as a chef, educator, marketeer and culinary consultant, developing cookery courses and training others to be chefs.  From charity organisations to private institutions, Hulya utilises over 20  years of food knowledge and experience within the catering and hospitality sector to benefit educational establishments looking to grow their brand and advance in the world of gastronomy.  Hulya is currently working with Docklands Academy, London and the Tas group of restaurants to market their new range of higher education hospitality programmes and develop an exciting new gastronomic institute.

Contact her at





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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…

J.K. Rowling

Here’s why:
With the recent launch of her new series, I thought I would take this opportunity to showcase the impressive brand that is J.K. Rowling. Most of course know her for the exceedingly popular Harry Potter book series and the series of films based on them. Whether you are a fan of her work or not, there’s little debate that she has built one strong personal brand for herself.

J.K. Rowling. Photo: Debra Hurford Brown

When I think of J.K. Rowling, a few things come to mind.

She has incredible resilience and determination.
Most of us might view a train delay as a frustrating inconvenience. But Rowling actually turned it into an opportunity, conceiving the idea for Harry Potter on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990. The next seven years were marked by major life events such as the death of her mother, divorce from her first husband, subsequent single motherhood, struggles with depression and brush with poverty until the publication of her first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997. Rowling’s is truly a story of “rags to riches”; within five years, she transformed her life from relying on state benefits to becoming a multi-millionaire. She ranked as the world’s highest paid author in 2017.

Just last month, the BBC released Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was also picked up by HBO for distribution in the US and Canada.

She calls the shots.
Rowling’s own hand shapes her product, and quite literally her name.  For one, she seems to maintain careful control over her work, as seen in the way she brilliantly positioned herself to have final approval over the Harry Potter films. She also went on to become a producer for some of the final films in the series.

When Rowling decides to put her name out there, it’s out there. If she decides to hide her name behind a nom de plume, it’s hidden…until it’s not, and then it’s a sensation. She wrote her first crime fiction novel, The Cuckoos Calling, in 2013 under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The novel was the first of her Cormoran Strike series, followed by The Silkworm (2014) and Career of Evil (2015). Rowling shared that she had found it liberating working under a pseudonym (she reported taking the name from one of her personal heroes, Robert Kennedy, and a childhood name she had invented) and was quite angered when her identity was revealed. However, within days of Rowling being revealed as the author, sales of the book rose by 150,000%, and publishing house Little Brown printed another 140,000 copies to meet the increase in demand. In March 2017, Rowling revealed the title of her fourth novel, Lethal White, via Twitter in a game of “Hangman” with her followers.

Part of staying in control involves managing her reputation. For example, she knows how to take ownership of missteps.  After being called out for misinterpreting footage of President Donald Trump appearing to refuse to shake the hand of a disabled child at a White House event, she quickly took to Twitter and apologised “unreservedly” to the boy’s family.

Her reputation also took a brief hit following a damaging Daily Mail article in 2013, but quickly bounced right back after getting an apology from the Mail and winning a lawsuit (the damages were donated to charity).  Speaking of which…

Rowling at a Fundraising Event for Lumos in November 2013

She’s a dedicated philanthropist.
Rowling supports a number of causes through the Volant Charitable Trust, which she established in 2000. Her charity’s annual budget of £5.1 million is used to combat poverty and social inequality, and gives to organisations that aid children, single parent families, and multiple sclerosis research. She is also the founder and president of the international children’s non-profit organization Lumos, whose mission is to end the institutionalization of children across the globe and promote safe and caring environments for children.

Some might be surprised that her three companion books to her Harry Potter series were written in support of charity: Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in support of Comic Relief; and The Tales of Beedle the Bard in support of her children’s charity, Lumos, which raised millions for the charity.

She isn’t afraid to share her voice.
Rowling has become one of the most popular voices on Twitter, with nearly 13 million followers. Whether it’s shutting down trolls, sharing candid political commentary, or tweeting messages of hope, she shares an refreshingly authentic voice social media. She certainly doesn’t hesitate to add her voice to the ever growing chorus of people condemning President Donald Trump. Her razor sharp take-downs on twitter have been brilliant, as seen in this piece.

Rowling also campaigned against Brexit, sharing on her website: “I’m the mongrel product of this European continent and I’m an internationalist. I was raised by a Francophile mother whose family was proud of their part-French heritage. My French ancestors lived in the troubled province of Alsace, which spent hundreds of years being alternately annexed by Germany and France. I’ve lived in France and Portugal and I’ve studied French and German. I love having these multiple allegiances and cultural associations. They make me stronger, not weaker. I glory in association with the cultures of my fellow Europeans. My values are not contained or proscribed by borders. The absence of a visa when I cross the channel has symbolic value to me. I might not be in my house, but I’m still in my hometown.”

 Thank you J.K. Rowling for your strong, unwavering voice when we need it most!




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

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





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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


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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.

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.


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



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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!



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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.

. 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!



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 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!”


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