Friday, 3 August 2018

Fashion School and Conventions! 👗

Hello. Does anyone remember me!? I'm that girl who used to blog a lot more regularly but got swept up in a ton of life changes that are transforming my 2018 (and hopefully my future).

So. In May I quit my office job. I was sick of being treated like crap, sick of the complete and utter lack of room to develop, and sick of having to put all my real hopes and dreams on hold because my job was draining me so much. It set back both my physical and mental health in a big way. You get one life, as far as we know, so you might as well not spend most of your waking hours of it in a place that hurts you deeply. It wasn't a decision I took lightly. There was a lot of scrimping and saving involved beforehand so that if I did finally take a leap of faith, I could comfortably do what I wanted to do. And I did it.

I routinely talk about my current life on instagram and I know some of you already follow me there, so you'll know I started a fashion design course! I never really got into specifically why, though.

I'm doing a Fashion Design HND, and then a work placement after I graduate. The way I see it is, I never got to have any kind of formal qualification or training in my passion, and I was getting to a point where I needed some form of guidance when it came to growing a business, learning more industry techniques, and generally understanding the design process. I also knew that if my business didn't work out the way I planned, I wanted to be able to have the opportunity to work in the industry in a different way, be it through doing alterations/bridal, or being a pattern cutter, etc.

I don't regret going to university and having done a degree in a different field. It made me a better writer and linguist (speaking of which, if the fact I regularly dream in French is anything to go by, I need to keep up my learning of that language because my brain clearly enjoys it!). It expanded my horizons in an interesting way. And ultimately, had I not done that degree and gone through what I did, I doubt I would have ever taken the leap to start my indie label in the first place!

Tip for small spaces: get a folding table so you can set up a workspace, and pack it away again when needed! Here I was doing a design sketchbook assignment and watching Project Runway!

I'm a couple months into the course and I'm enjoying it. It's fun and challenging, and it's been good to meet some new people along the way. On top of this, I'm pumping my time into my brand. I've got my first truly big event coming up in October: MCM London Comic Con! I've wanted to vend there for years but never felt ready. I am now! I'm in the process of making a ton of stock, expanding my product ranges, and piecing together all the little things I'll need to make my stall look the best it can be!

It's been such a long time since I found myself waking up in the mornings and having a clear, positive sense of purpose. Fashion is my passion, and knowing I can continue to make my own little mark on the alternative fashion world is a great feeling. 

It feels like a personal renaissance is going on. I feel inspired to create and to experiment with my own style. I'm learning how to manage time on my own terms again, and I hope I can put out more content that people will find interesting or useful or just plain entertaining! I hope you'll join me for the ride!

Have you ever made any drastic career changes or decided to re-train? Got any big life changes going on at the moment? I'd love to hear all about it!

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time 

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

🌸 Saint Aymes, the Cute Floral Café 🌸

This post will be about a day out that is hard to believe happened way back at the end of March! Where is this year going?

On Saturday 31st March I headed into London to meet up with Reina and Memz, to try out Saint Aymes, a café I'd been hearing a lot about due to its pretty decor and pastel desserts. It was a rainy day but was fairly mild, and the occasional bursts of sunlight made things feel atmospheric!

The café is situated fairly close to Paddington Station, in what we ended up describing as a "strange area." The place had a stuck-up, quiet air, and despite not exactly being far from central, it felt worlds away.

Once we'd all assembled at the café we were led downstairs to a further seating area and the friendly staff took our orders. We'd all come dressed in appropriately pastel, Easter themed outfits, and it only seemed right to try out the Easter cupcakes on offer!

All the choices looked heavenly and looking at this picture is making me want to go back!

Look at the little bunny ears peeping up through the grass frosting! This cake was super yummy!

Reina and Memz went for the little biscuits and they after sampling, I can confirm they were delicious, too. We also did a three way split of the pink unicorn latte which was... not the best, gold leaf, or no gold leaf!

Super cute, but underwhelming! We regretted adding the coffee and not simply enjoying it as a milkshake instead! I don't think any of us were that bothered, though, as the overall ambiance in the café was really quite lovely. On this day the playlist had lots of mid-noughties hits and generally fun music we found ourselves bobbing along to.

It was great to catch up with them and hear what was going on in their lives. I was recommended to try watching RuPaul's Drag Race. I've still not gotten round to it. After the hype about it everywhere and this huge build up, I guess I'm worried it won't live up to expectations!

I love this photo from Reina's phone! Reina went for super girly, almost hime gyaru look, and Memz went for her usual wacky style, coordinating pink with yellow most effortlessly.  I still have that habit of pretty much always wearing black but this was quite a pastel, different look for me, I think!

Naturally, we had to take some photos outside the café, too!

I accidentally ended up matching the flowers!

After we had our fill of photos, we headed off into central to areas with a less bizarre atmosphere... although I have to say, Dover Street Market was quite the experience for me. It was my first time going, and while it was super cool to see some designer brands in the flesh that I'd always admired online (Molly Goddard's pieces are so beautiful!), the overall vibe in there was incredibly odd. Our favourite find of the day was probably the short sleeved men's shirt made out of thick plastic bag material. Guess how much it was. I won't keep you hanging: £600. #fashion

Overall, I had a really lovely day, which was rounded off by a trip to Farm Girl café on Carnaby Street for the hipster staple that is avocado toast. Before we knew it, it was well into the evening-- which explained why we all felt so inexplicably exhausted!

I love days like this where you forget what time it is and can drift around merely enjoying one another's company. I'm looking forward to hanging out with them again, and trying more London cafés,  of which there is always something fun or unique to choose from!

Thank you so much for reading this Easter throwback post! Have you had any fun experiences recently at themed cafés? Ever found strange designer items that looked like they were made in a primary school art class? I'd love to hear about it!

See you next time! 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

😴 Hibernation and Transformation ✨

January is without question the hangover of the previous year for me. I never have any motivation, the momentum of Christmas and the New Year have burst, and nobody really wants to do much of anything because they're broke after splashing out over the festive period. And so, I generally find myself going into social hibernation! Still, a "hangover" usually suggests you really went in hard on something, and boy did I do that with 2017. I don't think I'd ever felt more alive and while it seems to have set me back a little health wise, it was so, so worth pushing myself to have what ended up being a beautiful, transformative time spent with people who inspire me every single day.

💫     💫     💫

My last post (which was woefully long ago, back at the start of December) was actually an account of a day in November. I never actually got round to talking about the Christmas period, which is a shame as it was a lively, positive time.

I spent several days hanging out in London with my partner, where we did a ton of shopping, tried some new food places, and generally enjoyed one another's company in our favourite place to be. We visited our typical haunts like Soho so we could pop into the Lazy Oaf shop, but also hung out in Camden, which I've not done for years, and visited a super cute boutique called Sister Jane on Portobello Road. That was a wild one and I wish I took pictures there because the shop was accessed down an alleyway, and then up a long fire escape into a converted chapel building, set on two levels. Really cool place!

In Lazy Oaf, which had a soft, dreamy installation during December!
I was pleased to be able to cross the adorable Peggy Porschen café off my list, even though by the time we made it there it was dark and pouring with rain outside. Still, it didn't stop us from sampling a slice of their cake, which I've heard so much about through Instagram. I can confirm it is really lovely, and I'm looking forward to going back when warmer weather comes so I can really enjoy the experience and not have to dash back to a hotel room in the rain to sample it in less than aesthetically pleasing conditions.

So many gorgeous cakes! We went for the lemon, rose, and raspberry layer cake and it was heavenly.

💫     💫     💫

The fact we're already two months into the year (which I can't even call the New Year anymore, really!) is a little scary, and I feel like there's so much I want to do and need to get a move on with. For one thing, my business space needs an upgrade. I simply cannot expand my brand in the way I'd like to while working from my bedroom, so I've been trying to put plans in place so I can have an actual studio space where I can be productive, instead of having my supplies spread out in various cupboards in different rooms, and no set working area. 

I want to release my cherry collection and actually do the things I set out to do ages ago, but simply haven't been able to due to various misfortunes towards the end of 2017. I still haven't figured out how I want to approach things when it comes to selling at conventions (the larger ones are just so expensive and my less than profitable Hyper Japan experience in 2016 makes me wary) but I know it's the logical way forward.

It probably looks like I spend all my free time at that shop but I swear I don't, haha.
Fashion wise, I don't have much of a shopping habit for someone who adores clothing, but it's felt good to actively tune out of the releases from my favourite brands, and try to look at my current collection with a fresh pair of eyes. I've been getting more and more into developing my own style outside of the framework of lolita, though that fashion will always remain close to my heart and still makes regular appearances!

Bury me with that AP bag tbh.

There's pieces I don't tend to wear very often that have been fun to dig out and style in ways I've not tried before. I find as the years pass, I feel less inclined to be involved in having this fast growing collection, or buying releases as they come out. I don't feel pressure anymore to keep up with other people and the limitations of not constantly having new pieces to coordinate outfits with has been  a refreshing challenge for my imagination. I do get the odd new thing sometimes (the purple Monki cardigan above was my anniversary gift!) but it has to be something that feels completely right, that I know I'll be able to coordinate in endless weird and wonderful ways.

Lately I've been documenting my daily outfits for work on my instagram stories. I find that the act of taking a picture of an outfit gives me the motivation to keep up with making interesting looks each day, and I'm really enjoying that little burst of creativity, which breaks up the monotony of dull days in the office.

So... that was a rundown of some of the things I've been up to lately, and some thoughts on where I'm at right now! How have you been finding the past couple of months? Do you thrive in chilly weather, or do you crash and burn at the start of a year like I do!? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and I've missed you while I've been away from here!

Thanks for reading as ever, and see you next time 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Lazy Oaf V.I.P Party

Hey everyone!

I'm a little behind schedule with the updates, so bear with! This next one is from November 7th.

So... this all came about rather by chance. Wing, a friend of mine, runs the Lazy Oaf Sales group on facebook, and is friends with one of the staff at the Lazy Oaf shop. Her connections ended up with her being asked to invite a bunch of people passionate about the brand to a V.I.P. launch of a new sub-label for the brand, called G.E.M. 

I could not have been more excited when I received my e-mail invitation, and set about planning to attend. I booked the day of work specially, so that I wouldn't have fatigue in the evening.

The event happened on a rainy Tuesday night at the Lazy Oaf shop in Carnaby, London.I ended up being one of the only people not wearing pastel pink! Why didn't I get the memo!? Mostly people were wearing super cute, fluffy looks, really going all out for the event. It was fun to see the details people added to their outfits, from handmade bunny ear hats, to customised Lazy Oaf pieces.

Outfit choice aside, this event was so fun and cute. We went down to the basement of the shop and Kunika, the cookie artist, had provided a bunch of special biscuits for everyone, and they tasted incredible-- so delicate and soft.

The downstairs had be re-decorated especially for the launch, with the walls painted a darling shade of pink, giving the whole space a warm, slightly surreal glow. 

Everybody oohed and ahhed over the new collection, and we took turns trying pieces on, and commenting on who suited what! It was so much fun to chat with everyone so enthusiastically about fashion! Most unexpectedly, Gemma Shiel, the founder of Lazy Oaf herself, attended the launch! I found myself suddenly being offered a cold drink by her, and engaged in conversation with herself and Wing. She was super friendly and down to earth, seemingly almost still in awe that there were so many people out there loving and appreciating her brand.

I was so happy to get a picture with Gemma! (@gemmaoaf) My outfit was more punk-inspired. I have such a thing for stripes at the moment and wear that top far too much, haha. Gemma's look was so simple yet edgy and totally perfect on her.

I didn't end up buying anything in the end (though someone did spend an extended period of time trying to convince me, even calling other people over for back-up, to buy a cardigan. But it had no pockets so I ended up leaving it) but it was good to be there to see a new collection in person, and be part of such a fun, special evening. I think all the things that I would have liked to say to Gemma, and questions I would have liked to ask as an aspiring fashion designer more or less went out of the window... but that's life!

I loved everyone's outfits so much! It was a lot of fun being surrounded by this lovely group of people and I feel so privileged to have been a part of this event! I'll leave you their instagram handles in case you want to follow these fashionable ladies (plus I just really like instagram).
Top row: @cgiolo, @chantillic, @dodopotato, @rfrenchillustration, @charliejamison, @chocoreverie, @memz_x . Bottom row: @herajika, @reina_roo, @spiffykidd (or, you know, me).

After a couple of hours, the event began to wrap up, and while most people went off to Chinatown for food and Tuesday night shots, I had to head home. It ended up only taking an hour total from Chinatown to my bedroom, so I was very pleased!

I'm glad that I've been continuing to step out of my comfort zone this year. Even earlier in the year, this is something that would have made me so anxious and unsure of myself. By allowing myself to embrace these opportunities and take people up on their invitations, I've found myself experiencing things I never would have in the past. It's not quite over yet, but this has been such an incredible year, and I feel like I have a lot more happiness in my life!

Have any of you ever met someone who inspires you, be it a designer, artists, musician etc? Did you remember to ask any important "interviewer" questions? Or were you like me, and got too carried away chatting to them like an old friend? I'd love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading as ever, and see you next time 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Catch Up Post: The Minori Tea Party 🍰

Hey everyone!

Seems like such a long time since I updated here! I ended up getting ill for an entire month (I'm only just getting over the last of a dry cough!) which threw all of my creative pursuits out of the window. I managed a couple of bloomer commissions during October (with difficulty. The fatigue was real, and working for an hour required a day's recovery from it) but otherwise, most things got neglected. It sucked wanting to see people, socialise, and experience my favourite season, but not being able to. Still, being laid up in bed with too much light sensitivity to check social media gave me a lot of time to think, which did me a world of good after spending so much of the year feeling like I was going at 100mph. It sounds strange, but I feel quite refreshed after that bout of illness, and ready to take on what's left of this year.

I thought I'd do a couple of catch up posts talking about a few things that I have been up to this season so far, before I got ill, and after. 

So, prior to falling ill...

Not too long after my last post was the Minori Tea Party at the start of October. I wasn't feeling amazingly that day, and the weather was grey and drizzly. Feeling a little fatigued, I headed to the Grange White Hall Hotel, for afternoon tea. 
It's just on the other side of Russel Square, which was beginning to look autumnal.

The food was a lot better than I expected. I thought it wouldn't be up to much due to the fact it would be served buffet style, but it was actually a very large spread, and everyone was able to have seconds and thirds etc, if they felt so inclined. 

I particularly enjoyed the sandwiches, and ended up having seconds! There were some good vegetarian options, too, which tasted great!

I'll let you in on something-- I'm very apathetic when it comes to meeting "celebrities" or "famous" people. I've yet to feel truly starstruck, or excited to meet someone in the same way I know other people can be. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing; I think it's important to remain grounded about the fact that no matter how well-known someone is, they're still just another person like you at the end of the day! I've met Minori once before at Enchanted in 2014, and she's pretty chill-- you never get the sense that she sees herself as being above anyone else, and I couldn't help thinking she just wished she shared a language with us so she could hang out like any other attendee and relax with people! I think it would be cool to meet some of these Japanese guests we get at these J-fashion events in a different, less stuffy setting, as like I said before... I don't really get the whole "meet and greet" thing.

This lighting does me absolutely no favours, but we endure. I felt like a giant compared to her! Minori's look was very intricate as ever, and I was amazed by how big her false eyelashes were!

The hotel had a small astro-turfed courtyard where we took a group photo, and later on, I was able to sneak off with Reina and Charlie for our own outfit photos in natural lighting. On the way, there was a surreal moment where I was accosted by a few people telling me that I should make bloomers with pockets. Well, I'll definitely think about it!

I went for something a little different than usual, with my Meta Vintage Cameo jumperskirt. I don't wear it too much as I'm not classically inclined, really, and see it as more of a normie piece. But it was nice to have a change, even if I did miss the more cutesy themes of my usual pieces!

We managed to get a group picture once back indoors. The lighting in the room wasn't great, but this still turned out pretty cute! Shame I didn't match the purple theme going on here! Their outfits were so lovely!

After our little photoshoot, it was more or less time for the raffle. I didn't win anything in the end, but that was to be expected. I've never been known for having much luck where these things are concerned! Some of the prizes were really decent, and I hadn't expected there to be so many.

Over the course of the day, we'd all been writing messages and adding stickers to a book to give to Minori as a gift. She had an interpreter with her, but it must be difficult to be in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by people you don't share a language with. She coped with this with so much grace, and overall seemed very good-natured.

The event started to wrap up as daylight began to fade outside, and I headed off with Reina and Charlie to Covent Garden for a mooch around. On our way, we found ourselves surrounded by people dressed as zombies, fake blood and latex injuries included. I wouldn't have minded, were it not for the fact it all seemed in very poor taste given the fact there had been a terror attack that very same day, plus the fact they kept growling as they walked past us, or breathing creepily at us. By all means, dress up how you want, do whatever it is you want to get your kicks, but don't involve people who haven't consented to your nonsense. It was the final straw for me when one of the zombies deliberately staggered close to me-- and ended up smearing fake blood on my white bag despite my best efforts to step out of the way. Thankfully, this wiped off without too much hassle, but I couldn't help feeling pissed off about the complete lack of  respect for other people displayed by these zombie prats.

It was with some relief we finally made it to Art Box, and I couldn't help feeling immediately better once surrounded by all the kawaii stationery and lifestyle accessories! After a trip into a very crowded Forbidden Planet, we finally decided to head home. 

Overall, the tea party felt very stuffy and low energy compared with DMC, where the entire day had felt like a chilled out party or something. I don't suppose it helped that I was feeling a bit ill, and the heat of the room wasn't helping matters! There was also an atmosphere of "post-Tea Party Club" uncertainty lingering in the air, with this being the first London event since DMC. Still, it was lovely to hang out with friends, the food was great (I actually wish I'd taken some home with me!), and Raven organised everything so well that the event actually wrapped up a little early! She did an excellent job!

"Let's get a group selfie!" *Instax develops to reveal a picture that mainly consists of my face*

How do you guys feel about "celebrities" or "meet and greets"? Have you ever been harassed in the street in the name of other people's fun? Been to any tea parties lately? Been in poor health? Let's catch up! I'd love to hear about it all in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading. See you next time! 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dream Masquerade Carnival 🎠 Finale: Vlog!

Hey everyone!

I felt as though I didn't film an awful lot over the DMC weekend, but thankfully, there was some salvageable footage (including a bit of dashcam footage because I do like to twirl around in front of my car after I've paid for train station parking. I cannot be alone in this).

It was important to me to put together  video account of the event, so that I could have a more "real" memory of what I saw and did. There's a few things I missed out on filming, such as people's outfits, and just some clips of me hanging out with friends, as well as a linear timeline of various aspects of the day. Regardless, I'm really happy with my final edit of the event (I had to cut down a lot of my talking because I went on for a good ten minutes originally, talking through a blow by blow account of vending and my emotions which I'm sure nobody really cares about, haha).

In future, I would like to make more indie artist/designer-focused content, where I share my ideas and tips for getting your business going or doing events for the first time.

Anyway, until then, please enjoy my video sharing my experience of Dream Masquerade Carnival as an indie brand, and a montage of some of the fun parts of the weekend!

I hope you like it! 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Dream Masquerade Carnival 🎠 Part 2: The End.

Day two of DMC was a lot more relaxed. The tea party started much later in the day than the Saturday event, and the fact I wouldn't have to do any organising or vending meant that I felt more calm. Too calm, perhaps, because I fell into bed the night before without really thinking through what I would be wearing the following day.

The tea party is when people really ramp it up a notch, as this is the day when the special guests make their decision about who should be awarded a prize for best outfit. I knew that some people had been planning their coordinates months in advance. Me? I grabbed something that morning and headed to the train station. I wore Dreaming Macaron-- a cute, fruit-themed print that I figured would be pleasant on such a hot, sunny day. In the last minute decision making, I didn't coordinate the dress as well as I knew I could have, but honestly, I didn't really care. Looking a bit ita was very much secondary to the fact this would be my first time going to a big tea party like this, and absolutely nothing could dampen my excitement!

I arrived right on time, and found myself at One Whitehall Place, the same venue as Frock On! 4 years previously. That sense of things coming full circle embraced me as I stepped into that familiar lobby, with its winding staircase at the back. Instead of heading upstairs, though, I was advised to go down, and found a crowded, talkative room of lolitas in a basement waiting area. I chatted to a few people, before it was finally time to be seated. Most unexpectedly (for me, at least), there was a mini-stampede as everyone pushed and shoved to be as close to the front of the queue as possible. I was actually separated from my friends because people barged in front of me. Thankfully, my pals promised to save me a seat and went on ahead.

The tea party room was large but very crowded. It was difficult to move between the tables, and I felt that too many tickets had been sold. There were people who I didn't get to speak to because it was simply too difficult at times to make my way across the room to talk to them! It took a bit of manoeuvring for me to merely claim my saved seat, and I felt tired at the thought of having to leave it again! I particularly felt for the wait staff. They did an amazing job of keeping us all topped up with tea, despite the space constraints.

There was an assortment of small gifts laid out on the tables. I claimed my pieces and we sat chatting, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did, so we got up to take pictures, to mingle with the other attendees, and generally relax.

My table! We were given badges, fans, and hair accessories. As well as food, of course. Look at those pretty sandwiches!

After a while, it was time for everybody to settle down for food. I quite enjoyed the afternoon tea-- the sandwiches had particularly nice fillings, and thee were enough provided to go round for everyone. Our table didn't seem to have very many desserts, though, so all I ended up with was a slither of carrot cake-- not that I'm complaining! I was very content! The only tea choice was breakfast tea, though, which was slightly disappointing as I'm an earl grey girl through and through! Bizarrely, an announcement was made as soon as we started eating that we would now all need to go take the group photo. I couldn't be bothered: I'd been in the group photo in the past and never really felt excited by the tiny brown blob that was my face way at the back each time. I continued to eat instead, and it was nice having the room a little emptier for a while. You can see who was on my table in this little clip of Charlie's video about the event! (can't lie, I really enjoy the rare occasion I get filmed by other people because I look much better on film than in pictures!)

It was wonderful to chat to some new people, and catch up with old friends. Not even getting my dress tulle stuck between two chairs, causing it to tear, affected my day too drastically (I'm thinking fabric glue will fix this little issue). Once upon a time I would have felt so anxious, and not made the most of the event. This time, though, I felt so in my element, and just enjoyed being there, being a lolita, and being part of this community. The day was such a whirlwind that I didn't really remember to take pictures. I actually filmed a lot of the weekend, though. Whether or not I will be able to create a decent event report out of this dodgy quality footage is another matter entirely, but we'll see!

Not my best look, complete with harsh sunshine to create a delightfully unflattering image, but whatever, haha.

Towards the end of the event, Kyra announced the end of the Tea Party Club, something I'd seen coming many months back. Regardless, it still felt like such a bittersweet moment. I completely understood why she did it, and I felt so privileged to have been there to see it go out with a bang. 

The Tea Party Club gave me a social life. It introduced me to people I never would have met otherwise, who I share real hobbies and interests with. How different would my life be had I not joined the LiveJournal way back when I was sixteen years old? It doesn't bear thinking about! But I've grown and changed so much since then, and so has the Tea Party Club. As painful as it can be to move on, to leave the past and your old self behind, it can also be rewarding and refreshing, and I have no doubt that while this era comes to an end, something new is just around the corner.

I didn't win anything in the raffle, and as the event had overrun by half an hour, I had to leg it to catch my 6 o'clock train home. I made it with mere minutes to spare, and couldn't help give myself a pat on the back for this impressive feat!

So, that was my Run DMC weekend! I think back on it often, because it truly is such a happy memory, and makes me feel so cheerful and positive inside! I know for sure that it will stay with me for years to come