Top ten posts for overcoming personal (brand) obstacles

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Even if we have a strong sense of our personal brand and how to project it, we will always come up against those sneaky (or not so sneaky) life derailers: the break-ups, the difficult job interviews, those awkward conversations, the lockdowns…

It’s exactly at these times that our personal brand can act as a guide to lead us through. Moreover, sometimes the fall-out from a traumatic or difficult situation may even teach us something about our brands of which we were previously unaware.

Here I have gathered my top ten articles on personal branding obstacles, and how to turn to your brand to help navigate them:

1) How to build resilience into your personal brand:

2) Sidestepping the trap of perfectionism:

3) Dealing with those difficult people:

4) Personal branding for online dating – a challenge if ever there was one:

5) Coping with anxiety and professional speaking:

6) How to get others on board with big changes:

7) Reinventing your brand:

8) Using envy to motivate and inspire you, rather than drag you down:

9) Getting through heartbreak:

10) Last but not least, how to prevent everyday stress from hijacking your brand:

Of course, there are lots of life obstacles out there that didn’t make this list, but I hope this selection will give you an idea of how to prevent them from sabotaging your personal brand, even just a bit!


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“Brand Influencer(s)” of the Month: Meet our Vintage Fashion Influencers!

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Meet Vintage Fashion Influencers Larissa Blintz & Amy Roiland

Last month we looked at the colourful Courtney Quinn, aka @colormecourtney. While doing our research, we came across two fab vintage fashion bloggers who were equally intriguing and deserving of the spotlight.

Defining your personal brand as “vintage” may be appealing, but not everyone can pull it off. If you don’t have the right eye, it can quite quickly go very wrong. Luckily, each of these bloggers has that savvy, and each approaches it in her own unique way.

Larissa Blintz

First up is Larissa Blintz, who uses her Instagram account to promote a vintage shop, Miracle Eye, that she co-owns with her mum in LA. Larissa’s look is more playful and wackier, and her posts make it look as though she is having a whole lot of fun. The colours pop out, and she has been careful not to limit herself just to clothes – something which means she has more leeway to be creative. We also see her mum every now again, and the feeling she creates is warm and welcoming.

Moreover, with over 22k followers, Larissa is proof that one can get results from doing what one loves. She started selling vintage clothes from eBay as a teenager who was being severely bullied, eventually asking her mum (who was a seamstress) to come on board. They now have their own brick-and-mortar shop and specialise in 60s and 70s clothes, just like the Instagram account. Today, she employs her whole family.

Her story is hugely inspiring for anyone, especially young people who are feeling victimised or isolated.

Larissa has been featured in Voyage LA, Gem, and DazeyLA.

Amy Roiland

Amy is a designer, and you can see a high level of art in her posts. On her Instagram account with over 154k followers, Amy  manages to blend both smouldering and fun together, and uses her posts to tell a story of how she put the shot together which adds another layer of interest.

Amy also has the very visual blog A Fashion Nerd. There, she offers the option of paid collaborations with brands. And, with that many followers, it must be a tempting prospect to help put them on the map. You can find her own designs here; she also has an app, Fashion tap, a social network designed catering for the fashion industry.

Amy also lets us into her personal life, sharing pictures and links to her daughter’s account. She’s also been featured in MiloweKids, Olaplex, Voyage LA and Con Art magazine.

Two different bloggers, two different styles, two different stories: both of them proof that you can do things your own way, creating businesses and having fun along the way.



As always, you can find our influencers on the socials!

Larissa Blintz can be found on:




Amy Roland can be found on:






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It’s how you make them feel: Reconnecting with your community after lockdown

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Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Here she captures beautifully the importance of human connection and personal impact. However, many of us here in the UK and around the globe, have recently experienced a difficult lockdown; an isolative period that significantly compromised a sense of community and human connection in our lives. How do we start to make a personal impact in our communities again?

In this guest post, Personal Performance & Business coach Karen Burke of the MindBody Therapy Centre and Therapy 4 Healing shares her thoughts on how to reconnect and make an impact on those around you.

Photo: Pixabay

Here’s Karen…

If there’s a silver lining in these testing times, it seems that we’ve become more aware of our communities – local, national and global.  The impact of our own behaviours through 2020-2021 has highlighted what an important role we have to play at an individual and local level.

We usually take responsibility for ourselves and our family but the whole world? Too much, I hear you cry! Well, we don’t have to carry the whole world on our shoulders but perhaps we need to remember how much we do impact the world around us by how we act, react and the things we say or put out on social media, on a daily basis.

When we think of influence, big names may come to mind such as Branson, Oprah, Jesus, the Obamas, Madonna even! It is easy to see how they impact the world. Many may say, “Well…what can I do?” If we bring it into normal life, let’s think about how we influence those around us. What feeling do they have after being in our presence, even if that is over the phone?

We impact everyone we come in contact with every single day, whether that be family, friends, strangers or the online community. We can use that power to manipulate, strangle others’ dreams, undermine and cuss, or we can use it to say a kind word, to encourage, teach and lift up the spirit of someone who needs a listening ear and an inspiring message.

Why not make a move, a measured move, a move that will make a ripple in the lake effect for the better, so that you have a positive impact on those around you — then, they in turn can help to spread that positivity to others? Your mood affects someone else’s, so intent good thoughts and experiences for people in the community because after all, it is also your community.

Start with your family and friends, then go from there into your local communities, the ‘villages’ around you. Your village isn’t just geographical, it’s made up of those circles you move within. Reaching out can make newcomers and outsiders feel welcome, letting members know that they are seen and heard, cementing the bonds between you.  Your villages could be your sports team, work colleagues, local shopkeepers, gym members or the post person.

Start today, with a kind word, a listening ear…make someone laugh. Start with a healing hug (or use the elbows!) as it can reinforce and show support, enhancing the bonds within your local community. A healing hug is like reiki (channelling energy through touch or non-touch), passing energy to each other more than just verbal words. People who were once strangers then become a member of your ‘village’ and as energy crosses over they share that same spiritual connection; the village ethos, shouting out ‘WE CARE’.

A simple nod of the head or “hello” can make an invisible person, feel visible. A smile or a wave to a stranger can make someone’s day a little easier and maybe next time you’ll start a conversation.

So what can we do? Let’s be present in the moment and pause, by reaching out to someone today. Make that move, be the impact, make that difference and reconnect.


Karen F Burke, ACMA, MAAT, DipPPC, Business Owner, Power Up Coach (Personal Performance & Business), Author, Speaker, Accountant.

Karen Burke is the co-founder with her husband, Devon Burke of the MindBody Therapy Centre in Forest Hill, S. London / Karen and Devon also run a social enterprise, T4H

Karen Burke is also the co-author with Devon Burke, of Healing Hugs (coming out soon), a book of tips and techniques on looking after yourself, expressing yourself with the ones you love and your communities within the wider world. She is passionate about expanding people’s self-awareness and power, ensuring everyone she works with, has that ‘hug’ they need when someone is in their corner, championing them; their career and/or their business. Her strengths include being inspiring, positive, an implementer and multi-tasker. Her core values are integrity, honesty, loyalty and respect. “I hope I achieve this through all the people and businesses I work with by being supportive and encouraging”.

Twitter & LinkedIn: Karen F Burke

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“Brand Influencer” of the Month: Meet Courtney Quinn

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Meet Courtney Quinn

Image, colour and style are obviously important if you’re building a following on Instagram, and there’s no one who does all three in quite the same as Courtney Quinn. Courtney, who runs two successful Insta accounts, @colormecourtney and @colormemagic, is a candy-themed sensorial delight to follow. Every post shows real joie de vivre and vibrancy, and you can’t help but smile as you peruse her photos. To get an immediate sense of her personal brand, all you have to do is check out one of her YouTube videos like this one:

While her image may look light and frothy, her credentials are not. Courtney boasts an MBA in marketing and worked with brands such as Coach, Timmy Hilfiger and Kate Spade before deciding to take her blog full-time. Indeed, Courtney’s blog was started to help her get a footing in the fashion industry when she found that her MBA was getting her nowhere. And look how it worked!

Photo: Pintrest

One big draw to Courtney’s pages is approachability. She shares details of her life in New York with her boyfriend Paris and her paralysed French bulldog, Waffles, who even has his own hashtag, #waffiegram. Paris is also her photographer, although they occasionally share the limelight on posts.

Nevertheless, a smart business woman appears throughout. Posts on both her Insta and her website take you through how to “get the look”, involving purchases that range from a 37- dollar scarf to a rucksack for just under 1k. She has collaborated with brands that include Birchbox and Adidas, and talks openly about making money from both affiliate links and sponsorship. She also has her own range of merchandise, including sweatpants, bandanas, and phone cases. Courtney’s YouTube figures aren’t too shabby either, with around 7.75k followers, and viewings will also be providing Courtney with a nice residual income.

Courtney’s authenticity shines through her work. In a blog post she talks about the importance of having a budget. It was, admittedly, a sponsored post, but she talked through how Paris had paid off their student debt, put money aside for a wedding, and starting saving for a house. It portrays Courtney as a great role model, as does another recent Instagram post where she talks in frank detail about the amount of work that has gone into building up her account, including the ten hours a day she still spends on her business.

The role model brand is more than just icing on a few Instagram and blog posts. Courtney obviously takes this seriously, as April saw the launch of her mentorship programme for young women of colour. The idea behind it is to give them access to experiences like New York Fashion Week, and open doors to them in the fashion industry. It’s something that she is working on with one of her partners, Uber, and she documents a snippet of it here.

Courtney has appeared in Essence, Teen Vogue, and Yahoo Finance. She talks a lot about how her business is built around herself, i.e., her own personal brand, and how any sponsorships or collaborations need to be in alignment with her brand. As she says in Teen Vogue, “my personal brand is my north star that guides all my decisions.”

Wise words for anyone to follow.


You can find Courtney on her website and of course on the socials:












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Navigating Lockdown Heartbreak

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As Covid-19 restrictions ease and life becomes a bit more normal, many are emerging from lockdown as newly single. It’s no surprise that trials of a difficult lockdown and the subsequent economic pressures will have resulted in couples realising they no longer want to be together. After all, mental health professionals and lawyers have been predicting the Covid-19 break-up surge for some time, and we now better understand the myriad reasons behind this post-pandemic boom.

In a previous post, we focused on dealing with redundancy as a result of lockdown. This month, we take a look at post-pandemic relationship meltdowns. Just as with redundancy, your own personal brand can help you get through this.

Knowing your values

Being forced to spend a lot of time together, often in close quarters, has meant many people have realised that their personal values are incompatible. You may have been keen to instil family rules around education to keep the children occupied and learning, while your partner failed to support you. Or, working alongside your partner, you’ve realised that their ethics are a little shakier than you imagined. This can result in you seeing them in a different light, and perhaps everything, even those little habits you once loved, becomes annoying. This “values mismatch” can be the death knell for a relationship.

Of course, we don’t have to share all our values, but in most healthy relationships, they do overlap somewhere. Otherwise, a mismatch of values may keep showing up. What’s important here is that you don’t take the blame for how you feel. Values are a vital clue to who you really are — the authentic you — and compromising on too many of your values often leads to feeling like something is misaligned in the relationship.

Remembering how you want to present

Building on values, knowing how you’d like to be seen is important in navigating relationship issues. What qualities of your personal brand are important to you? Fairness? Collaboration? Compassion? Knowing how you want to be perceived can help you chart a dignified course through divorce or a break-up. If you are ever in doubt, and compassion is how you want to be seen, for instance, then asking yourself what is the compassionate choice here, may help get you through.

It will also help lead you to the right people. If fairness is important you, then you will know to seek out a lawyer who above all is working for a fair divorce. Likewise, someone who is willing to fight might look for someone who is more aggressive legally.

Family lawyer Joanna Toloczko of Royds Withy King says, “We all behave badly from time to time, when we are in an emotional state, but this only leads us to feel badly about ourselves and diminish our self-worth. Remaining calm and grounded and true to your core values will help to maintain your self-esteem and to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It will also help you to act in your own best interests and those of your children.”

Turning to your personal image

While we often look to inner branding strategies like values and strengths for getting through difficult times, looking to your outer brand (the outer representation of our personal brand) is also important for a number of reasons. First, our personal style is one of those things that can help us feel better about ourselves. Dressing in a way that enhances our personality or flatters us can help give us a boost at a time when we can feel down and confused.

Break-ups are also a time when our identities might undergo a transformation. Many women report that when they are no longer part of Mr and Mrs X, they take on a whole new identity, or harken back to their younger and maybe more adventurous selves. What does this mean? It means you can have some fun in experimenting with your outer brand, trying out a new style that you normally wouldn’t have worn before. It could be a great time to visit a stylist and get some ideas from an outside source, or just think about how you want the new single you to look.

Many films and books portray break-ups as a time when everything falls apart, but many men and women often say it’s a time that incentivizes them to become healthier, to eat better and start taking exercise. It can be a renaissance in taking care of themselves.

Confronting inner obstacles

Sometimes it’s not us that decides on a break up. When we aren’t in control of change it can seem even more scary and unknown. It’s easy to feel paralysed and get stuck, even if things can never be the same again. Alternatively, we may find ourselves getting hugely anxious about the future.

However, the most effective way to maintain any type of anxiety is through avoidance. In fact, it’s a fantastic way to feed it!  So, assuming that’s not your end goal, the best strategy is to “stare down the demon”.  There are lots of great resources out there to help with handling fear.

You may also see the inner critic becoming more at home at this time. That unhelpful internal voice can be pretty self-sabotaging…and it’s one of the biggest obstacles to building a strong personal brand and something I often see in my psychology practice, even with otherwise very successful individuals. It can sound like a constant monologue of self-doubt, one that builds up a flawed picture of us and our careers and relationships. It often rates us against others, and because this rating system is flawed and irrational, we almost always come up short. The inner critic can send our personal brand into a real wobble at the best of times, and during break ups it can run riot.

Unhelpful thoughts can undermine our confidence and kill our motivation, and ultimately sabotage our personal brand. One of my favourite tools to I turn to with my clients is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT uses the term “getting hooked” by thoughts or feelings to illustrate the concept that we can often become entangled with unhelpful thoughts, which limits our ability to take effective action and live a rich and meaningful life.

Another really helpful tool is Mindfulness and there are many websites and Apps that can help you lean into this, and learn how to recognise and put aside those self-critical thoughts.

Remembering the flip side

It’s easy to focus on the negatives while discounting the positives, something we refer to as “negative filtering” in cognitive and behavioural therapy. During divorce, negative filtering can become even more pronounced.

Lawyer Joanna Toloczko has these words of encouragement “Try to see the positives – it is rarely the case that either party wishes to leave a relationship which is happy, loving and supportive unless a third party is involved. Very often, people remain in unhappy or unsatisfying relationships because of the very natural human fear of change. Often being forced into situation of change can have positive benefits for you. Whilst the first few months of living without your partner may be difficult for you, it is likely that your future life will be better in the medium to long term. It can be fun to reinvent yourself. You don’t have to go the whole hog a la Madonna, but losing some weight, joining the gym, finding a new hobby, making new friends or reconnecting with old friends can often be enjoyable and empowering”.


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“Brand Influencer” of the Month: Meet Gabby Bernstein

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Meet Gabby Bernstein

This bestselling author, influencer, motivational speaker and spiritual guru has one shiny, multifaceted personal brand going on. With teachings of self-love, forgiveness and holistic spirituality, including with how to attract what you want into your life, she’s even been dubbed a thought-leader by Oprah. Gabby’s brand is sparkly and upbeat, and vows to help you to “become the happiest person you know.” Despite her positivity, she’s also open about her difficult past, including addiction and food issues and co-dependency. She regularly talks about hitting rock-bottom and the tools and practices that helped her build her way back up. She’s now “in the business of serving souls”.



Gabby’s social media combines memes with slogans like “You’ve mastered survival mode, now it’s time to live”, with short videos where she sits on her favourite chair and speaks into a microphone. She features longer videos on her YouTube channel, such as Dear Gabby, her weekly show offering up real-time straight talk life coaching to guests:



Gabby is obviously an astute business woman. In addition to plenty of info about her books, her website offers online courses, a membership club where you can listen to meditations and “manifest your wildest dreams.” Gabby has built a community of people who resonate with her spiritual beliefs and financial rags to riches story. Moreover, she regularly runs shorter challenges to give people a sneak preview of her club. Gabby’s books regularly hit the non-fiction bestseller list, with compelling titles such as Spirit Junkie, Judgement Detox and Super-Attractor. Her net worth from book-sales is estimated to be in the millions.

Everything is slick, stylish and professional. You can get an idea of her meditations here:



Gabby is no stranger to the mainstream media. She has been featured in the NYTimes, ABC News, Superfast Business, Elle and Cosmo. However, like our last influencer Trent Shelton, Gabby’s power lies in her own platform. She has had over ten years of growing her social media; her Twitter account, for instance, was launched in 2009.

One thing we have learned from our Influencer series so far is that they have all built up their followers over time, persistently posting well-crafted content to their target audience. They inhabit many platforms and their style and messages are consistent. While they may appear like overnight successes, it’s clear that a lot of work has gone into creating their influencer status. And Gabby is a stellar example one powerhouse of a personal brand.



You can find out more about Gabby on her Website  and of course on all the socials”











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“Brand Influencer” of the Month: Meet Trent Shelton

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Texas born Trent Shelton is a straight-talking powerhouse of a self-development guru and influencer. Previously signed as an American Footballer for the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, and Washington Redskins, Trent’s football dreams were cut short after a knee injury, which created a very different path in his life.

Image: Trent Shelton’s Twitter

An inspiration

If you listen to Trent speak, there’s something spellbinding going on. It’s not only in the inspirational way he delivers his message, but in the message itself. Trent is the ambassador for self-belief, self-respect and self-responsibility. He came to fame after making short and compelling rap-style YouTube videos to capture his own journey of self-development. He credits his success and motivation to two pivotal moments in his life: the birth of his son and the tragic suicide of his best friend.

“I was at a crossroads of my life, and I had to make a decision on who I wanted to become. I wanted to be a better father for my son and I wanted to honor the soul of my best friend.”

His video journeys soon went viral, kicking off a motivational speaking career and launching a global community of Rehabbers. Trent signs off his videos with his signature phrase “It’s Rehab Time. His other popular mantras are “It all starts with you”, “Never settle” and “Don’t die with your dreams.”

“Your perspective can be your power, it can be your prison.”


In his videos, Trent talks a lot about being authentic and transparent. While he speaks frankly about his own difficult struggles, he also shares the mundane moments that make up his day, such a getting annoyed with himself for thinking about posting on social media first thing in the morning. He’s also open and proud of his faith, although his work has a strong message for believers and non-believers alike.

One thing is for sure with his brand: what you see is what you get. You know exactly who he is and what he stands for.

Here’s a great example of Trent live:

“On this quest of growing your social media, growing your following, being an influencer, take care of your mental health, people.”

A passion and purpose

You only have to watch  videos like the one above to instantly see the passion that Trent exudes. When speaking in front of an audience, it’s also clear that this passion is contagious.

He often speaks of having purpose and vision in his life; a higher calling to do his work. He sometimes shares “signs” of this calling, such as a woman getting in touch after viewing his Don’t commit suicide today video on the day when she was going to kill herself, and choosing to not go ahead. Stories like this add a larger meaning and purpose to his brand. There’s a strong sense that his influencer status goes well beyond making money or gaining status.

A connection with his audience

Trent uses this authenticity to build a connection to and community around his brand. Once you notice him, Trent is everywhere – social media, podcasts, merchandising such as face masks…he even puts out his lyrics out on singles. You can find him in magazines like Success magazine and The Shadow League, as the author of Greatest You, you can of course find him on the bookshelves.

He also recently launched the Rare Breed Academy with fitness coach John Pruna. Even in this co-branded fitness programme, Trent has established a strong sense of community through their “town hall”, an online place for members to connect and ask questions.

Trent believes that when your life is a mess, you don’t need someone telling you what to do, you need someone by your side. With over ten years of self-help and personal development videos behind him, Trent has certainly created a far-reaching brand that centres on self-development, one that very much feels “by your side”.

In Trent Sheldon, we find a true example of someone who has worked persistently and consistently to use the power of personal branding to help and inspire others. Respect.


You can find Trent Shelton on his website, and of course all over the socials:


Twitter: and

Facebook: and





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Brand Yourself Creative: Interview with Chef Hülya Erdal

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In our “Brand Yourself Creative” segment, we interview inspirational professionals who have added a creative twist to their personal brand. Here we interview the fabulous

Hülya Erdal Made By the Chef

Photo Credit: Simon Warren;

Let’s start by learning about the different aspects of your personal brand. I know you have a few!

I am a professional chef, teacher, writer, lover of food and culture. I am also a Life Coach specialising in transformation and mindfulness, helping women to reconnect to their true essence and inner power, revive hopes and dreams and repurpose their skills for a fresh beginning. I use cooking therapy as a part of this.

I have been a professional chef for over 15 years, first running my own catering company, writing about food in a national newspaper column and ghost writer for various cookery books, then moving into teaching both at schools, colleges and private cookery schools.  I have been featured in food magazines, been on TV and have a regular monthly slot on the Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London.  Prior to this, I was in PR and Marketing for many well known, international food companies.

In my coaching business, I am currently developing online courses and coaching one to one, guiding women who have reached a crossroads in their life, after experiencing a life adversity.  I have a deep understanding and experience of domestic abuse and my purpose is to be of service to those that are looking to regain confidence and new energy.  I use the hero’s journey as a basis to identify where my clients are in their own journey, understanding their experiences so I can guide them to strength and self-worth.  I practice and teach mindfulness as a valuable healing tool as well as cooking therapy.

Here’s a taste of how Hülya brings these aspects of her personal brand together beautifully:


How did food and cooking become a central part of your brand (I.e., your story of how you came to be where you are today)?

I grew up in a Cypriot Turkish family, therefore our culture is predominantly centred around food, cooking and eating!  I was raised in East London and having immigrant parents which meant I was exposed to our culture daily, particularly through food.  Eating traditional dishes and experiencing ingredients that we could only buy from specific shops, was such a profound revelation for me, especially when school dinners were so very different, and bland to be honest.  All of the female members of my immediate and extended family cooked, so I had some amazing and hugely professional teachers!  I did go to Chef’s college, but my best knowledge and experience came from observing family members.  Beats You Tube any day!  Of course, the men of the family also had their skills, working the BBQ come rain or shine.  It was an enriching childhood I shall always be grateful for.

Food is such a healing tool as much as it is to nourish us.  I associate food with births, marriages, deaths and everything in between.  Food has the power to unite us all in one great language that carries no discrimination or prejudice.  Food offers hope and salvation.  Food creates conversations and love.  Food is the ultimate therapy when it’s been a long day.  I love cooking and my goal is always to impart that passion on others.  Cooking is such a vital life skills that we should all learn.

Do you tend to get creative with more traditional heritage dishes?

Absolutely.  I love experimenting so may do mash-ups like middle eastern spiced shepherd’s pie or jazzing up a roast
chicken with mediterranean flavours! There’s no end of possibilities when it comes to cooking.  I’m not a stickler for tradition or following the old, I like to modernise food and add my own little take on things.  That’s what food and cooking is, it’s an expressive creation that is individual.  As no two humans are the same, no two spag bols will taste the same.  The beauty of it is that food can bring us all together as one.  I believe in a world that is driven by love, compassion, kindness and understanding.  That we all have integrity and lift each other up, no matter where we’re from or what we’re eating.

This is not to say I don’t like the more ‘traditional’ dishes.  I love comfort food, dishes that evoke nostalgia.  Food has the power to create memorable moments in time.  Classic, traditional dishes are a wonderful way to learn about the history of a culture and people.  I love the fact that family recipes have a habit of being adapted and as humans, we should all be the same.  Flow with life and be fluid, as opposed to being rigid and closed to new ideas and change.

What have been your greatest inspirations along the way?

Family and culture.  Where I grew up.  Living in East London, in such a diverse community, growing up speaking two languages, travelling back to Cyprus on holiday and hanging out with family was probably the best childhood I could have ever asked for.  It certainly shaped my outlook on life.  I am very much a free spirit, allowing life to guide me.  I was exposed to a colourful history and upbringing, with lots of shouting and gesticulations, very much a typical family day!  Being from Cyprus is brilliant as our food is influenced by Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Near East.  This has definitely made me who I am.

Has social media changed the way you’ve developed your brand?

For sure. Being able to reach a wider audience simply by tapping into an app is phenomenal.  My work is incredibly visual and I have many messages to impart so I love the fact I can post pictures, recipes, quotes, tips, advice and more across a whole plethora of media.

I am as consistent as I try to be, although, it is nice to have a bit of a detox or a few days away sometimes.  I love the engagement with others and knowing I’ve touched the life of someone, but sometimes it’s important to also understand that you are entitled to have some time away from it all too and not let rule your life!

Photo Credit: Simon Warren;


You can find out more about Hülya at Made By The Chef and or on social media:

Twitter @madebythechef

Instagram: @madebythechef and @_therecipeforlife_

Facebook pages: @madebythechef and The Recipe For Life:

Linkedin: Hulya Erdal

Pinterest: Hulya Erdal/Made by the Chef

You Tube: Made by the Chef / The Recipe For Life



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“Brand Influencer” of the Month: Meet Mrs O Around the World

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Welcome to our “Brand Influencer” series, where we take a focused look at the personal brand of Influencers and discover the key drivers behind their success.

In the first of our “Brand Influencer” series, we shine a spotlight on:

Mrs O Around the World

Mrs O is the pen-name of Ana Silva O’Reilly. Originally from Portugal, Mrs O runs her own boutique strategic marketing consultancy, which she says on her website takes up 70% of her time. This means that her Influencer persona is her side hustle, and what a side hustle it is!

So, what are the key components to her Influencer success?

For a long time, Mrs O was known as a luxury travel blogger, reporting from destinations like the Maldives and Florence in beautifully shot videos, photos and prose. This year, she has proven herself to be adaptable by adjusting her website’s focus to include online shopping and lifestyle content. Pieces on shopping highlight Champagne and luxury beauty items alongside ads for brands like Fortum and Mason, as you would expect.

Despite the plethora of luxury items, you do get the impression that this is all part of the real Mrs O. She also shows us occasional glimpses into her life – her lockdown date nights her husband, photos of family, the personal stories of the disappointment of IVF – these all help build a rounder picture of the real woman behind the brand. Her voice is also an authentic one, informing us on everything from Coronavirus Lockdown Essentials to Luxury Hotel Toiletries Worth Stealing.

Outer Presentation
Across her site and social media, we can find well-composed and visually appealing photos – some great outer branding. It’s easy to keep scrolling and scrolling, living for a while in this gorgeously curated world. Even when she’s clearing out her shoe cupboard, she manages to make her post look like a busy afternoon at the Selfridges Shoe Emporium.

Audience Engagement
She also has that much sought-after element – engagement. Whether they are delicious pictures of foreign cities or glamorous dinner place settings, her posts invite her followers in. You can see the effort that she puts into replying to comments too; something that would take time and thought. Hers certainly isn’t a “post and forget it” kind of brand. Building up this audience has obviously been a labour of love – Mrs O’s Twitter account dates back from July 2011 – that’s a lot of posts over the years.

Marketing Savvy
She’s not afraid to be salesy either, with shopping lists of fab shoes, women’s accessories and Christmas gifts crossing all platforms. This is also the mark of someone who already has a captive audience that love her brand and trust her suggestions, or in branding terms, a solid “brand loyalty”.

Media Engagement
She’s no stranger to being covered in the media herself. Mrs O has been interviewed or covered in a wide variety of travel magazines and websites including Vuello, Inportobay, Traveltrolley, Agenceluxury, Luxury Travel Blog, and Civilianglobal.  Many of them focus on how she has built such a strong brand while remaining authentic and true to herself.

Social Responsibility
Last but certainly not least, there’s a strong social responsibility angle to Mrs O. She is currently campaigning for bloggers and travel writers to travel and stay at their own expense after the pandemic, as their way of giving back to an industry that has given so much to them. She has become a voice in an industry that needs people like this: professionals who understand that it’s not right to just take, take, take. She has the launched the Paying our Way movement to this end, which was also featured in the Metro.



You can find Mrs O Around the World…
and all around the socials, of course!

Her Website

Her Instagram

Her Twitter

Her Facebook

Her Pinterest

Her YouTube 



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Unlocking lockdown through journaling

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If you follow this blog, you probably know that I’ve previously written about the benefits of keeping a journal. It’s a really useful way to gauge our own mental health, work through issues, and even unleash creativity. I’ve been journaling daily for a couple of years now, and have found the process both cathartic and deeply gratifying, especially during lockdown.

Now is the perfect time to start keeping a journal. It’s a tool that can help ease you through lockdown, however long it takes. While it can help make sense of what’s happening right now, it can also help you get in touch with your hopes for the future.

The Material

There’s no one “journal kit” of course. It could be your computer, an app like Journify, or a good old-fashioned notebook…whatever gets the job done. I like using my laptop as I sometimes cut and paste things that I’ve written into other material, but the choice is completely yours. Just choose a medium that you know you will enjoy.

If it’s a notebook, consider treating yourself to a new, beautiful one just for the occasion, so that you’ll really enjoy using it. Maybe even some nice pens too. The other thing to say is that while the focus is on writing, a physical notebook means that you can doodle, draw, make diagrams, or even stick bits and pieces you’ve found in magazines or newspapers. A computer means that you can cut and paste emails, things you’ve found on the internet, or include links to something inspiring or that touches a nerve.

The Routine

Setting aside a regular time to journal helps make it a habit. What works best for you? If in the morning, you can include snatches of your dreams perhaps, or your plans for the day. In the evening, you can use your writing to make sense of things that have happened during the day, as well as a ritual to help you unwind.

In fact, making journaling into a ritual can make it something to really look forward to. This could mean sitting down with a mug of coffee and hot buttered toast first thing in the morning, and getting out your journal. Or snuggling up in bed with a hot water bottle and pouring your thoughts out last thing at night. You don’t have to book end your day though. As it’s lockdown, we may be able to take an afternoon break to journal when we start to feel that mid-afternoon slump, or take some time out mid-morning when you’ve got a bit of work under your belt. Experiment if you’re not quite sure what would work right now.

The “How To”

There are a few ways to journal. You can do choose one, or combine them in a long journaling session.

  • Free form
    This is where you just write. Popularised by Julia Cameron in the Artist’s Way, it is often used to bring creative urges to the surface, as well as a therapeutic tool. Write whatever comes to you, in longhand, for at least three pages. At first it may be trite, things like “have I paid the phone bill this month?”, for instance. Soon, things will start flowing. Thoughts about what’s going on, ponderings on your relationships, what you might do next, even mood fluctuations that day. The beauty of this is that you cannot do it wrong. Try not to edit yourself (these journals are for your eyes only) and don’t give up if you think it’s only gobbledegook coming out. There’s sure to be gems in there eventually.If you’ve always fancied writing a novel and don’t know how to get your writing practice started, this is a marvellous way to do that.
  • Structured writing
    You can also journal in a more structured way, letting questions provoke you to consider your life right now, and in the future. Answering the same questions day after day once again helps you gauge and follow your moods. It also reminds us that we are complicated beings, and that what we wanted on Monday may suddenly feel distasteful on Friday…and that’s normal!You can make up your own questions, but here are some you might like to include:
    What one small thing do I want to achieve today?/What was my main achievement today?
    What’s important to me right now?
    What five things an I grateful for today?
    What have I learned that can help me get through this (and future stress)?
    What do I want life to look like post-lockdown?
    What can I do now to move towards my goals post-lockdown?
  • Creative flow
    In addition to writing, you can also mix in audio files, video recordings, photographs, drawings, pressed leaves or flowers, etc, if you want to create something you can revisit in years to come.If you have a family, you can encourage family members to keep their own journals, and share the best bits through weekly readings.After all, journaling is really is such a rich, deep practice that anyone and everyone can benefit.




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