Monthly Archives: March 2016

The experience of work

So on the show recently, we discussed business, and different aspects there in, and I wanted to look at unpaid work, and whether it is something you should seriously consider/does it actually help. We looked at volunteering on an earlier show, and I am no stranger to the concept of volunteering. I have done it in one form or another over most of my life.

But there is a difference between volunteering and interning – something which has been in the news for a while. In a job market where there are plenty of graduates and people with a lot more experience, it really does seem to be an employers market. But there is a difference between what is expected from a volunteer and an intern.

work2

Interning is more or less the same as the work experience weeks you will have done while at school and may have been part of your course at college or university. It is a chance for your to shadow people, to get an idea of what the job actually entails, experience the business environment. You gain valuable insight to the company, as well as training that can stand you in good stead for seeking a job. But internships should not be long term. They are an excellent way of getting your foot in the door, of giving the employer a chance to see if you would be a good fit for the company.

Now not to sound too negative, getting work experience is a great idea, it gives you a chance to learn new skills, a chance to network and figure out if the job is right for you. But you need to make sure that you are not being used. An internship should be a week, 2 at the most. It needs enough time for you and your potential employer to figure out if it is a good fit. However, having an internship does not imply there is a job at the end of tit, It is equally likely that the company has a busy time ahead and needs some extra hands.

work3

Remember you don’t have workers rights as an intern – this is why they are very short term arrangements. The moment there is a sign of a contract or agreement for full time hours and or responsibilities – you need to ensure that you are being paid, at the very least the minimum wage. No matter how much you want a job, don’t allow the employer to push you into a situation you can’t afford to be in.

But there is another angle you might want to think about – giving your time for free, because is something you love. It doesn’t need to be big, is a friend might be setting up a new business and you can help them with advice or an extra pair of hands. Or maybe you can help at an event, there are many different roles that need to be filled at fetes, runs, festivals. Could you run a stall, or a work shop, even be a steward? You can look at this as an opportunity to network, maybe get paid next time. If you don’t have strong enough skills or confidence to want to charge to your time, doing things for free can give you a boost and change to practise your skills.

work4

If you are starting, or running a small business, you will not have enough money to pay staff, don’t be afraid to ask your friends, put a shout out, discuss your business with people. You never know who might be able to give you a hand, often people will be able to give at least a little of their time for free. Just make sure you don’t push too hard or you might end up with people being resentful.But, and this will sound more like me, the self titled Social Media queen that I am (I love social media… its amazing!) – reach out. You never know what skills or connections people have. Often people forget as well and need a nudge.

What I would say, don’t jump into something feet first. You are going to need to have an income for at least the first 2 years, so take your time and gather skills and knowledge as well as the savings to help you on your way. If you are serious, make sure you are doing something you love, but not at the risk of ruining what you love. Don’t pick something you enjoy to unwind relax, or take a time out as a new career. Unless you have something else to do in the same situation, you will not only hating something you previously loved but potentially burnt out.

A signpost directing work life balance

Well to round up as I have covered a little ground here – if you are looking to change your career path, see if you can get a little work experience, shadowing. You can do this within the company you already work at. It is often encouraged and will help you make decisions about whether it is right for you. It will mean losing out on free time in the short term but will have long term benefits. Even if you realise it wasn’t for you, at least you know!

Next, offering your time for free – do you have a skill, a hobby, knowledge that you can pass on? There are so many places to do this, charities, local communities, schools, church groups often rely on the help of volunteers. It is important to make sure you are CRB/DRB checked if working with children. It is also worth making sure you know who is covering insurance, for example if you are going to help out at a local Family Fun Day by doing a workshop – are you already insured? Will the organisers cover you? Yes, it is boring but better safe than sorry! Even if you don’t feel you have a skill or knowledge to offer, ask around and see if there are any ways you can help out! It is a great way of getting to know new people, feel like you are part of the local community and do a little net working!

work7

Lastly starting a business – this is a biggie! It isn’t something i have every done, and therefore not the best person to ask. I have an earlier blog post covering help and advice from some very talented friends of mine. Remember, never be afraid to ask for help, you never know how might be able to help! Networking is fun, don’t overload people though. Make sure that you are making time for yourself and still have time outside your new business venture to unwind – starting your own business takes a lot of guts, it is ultimately rewarding though! Never be afraid to ask for help and advice though!

Have fun, remember, this is not the employers market, don’t let that attitude make you undervalue yourself! Don’t be afraid to try something new, it may not work out but equally you might find a new love! Have fun, enjoy yourself! 

Click Here to listen to the radio show on Mix Cloud 🙂

work6

 

Advertisements

An Aborted conversation

Massive trigger warning – clue is in the title. Do no continue reading this blog post if you feel that it might upset you.

Now, a beautiful friend of mine, based in America, shared a post last night. It was beyond upsetting. I was swearing before i even opened it up to read. Now, it is only fair that I share the article with you if I am basing a blog on my reaction to it … well if you want to see if Click Here.

This is the opening stanza of the article :

On Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed one of the most vicious anti-abortion bills in the country into law. It forbids women from getting abortions in cases of fetal disability, requires women to inter or cremate fetal remains, and a whole host of other fucked-up things.

Now, at the risk of spending the remainder of this article swearing again and not being entirely eloquent, I want to look at abortion. I want to discuss what is wrong with the attitude that has made this law possible.

To do that, I will give you some background. I have had an abortion. I was … 23 years old, in a relationship, using contraception , it was an accident. But lets go back a little further. My own mother had a rather… relaxed attitude to abortions, how they effected people. Watching Sex and the City and it was repeatedly implied that abortions were used as a form of birth control, and speaking to people working in hospitals again, implied that abortions are widely used, and repeatedly, by women as a form of birth control as others might use a condom or implant. So you will have to forgive me for thinking that, I would be okay.

I was pretty stubborn about being pregnant. Missed periods aren’t always the best indicator. I guess the fact that I was in deep, physical pain if I didn’t eat when hungry could have been an indicator. As it was, I did buy a pregnancy test, and discussed it with my partner. We were sensible in our discussion, not having our own house, I was at college waiting to go to Uni (mature student… what a joke), we realised that we were just not ready to be parents. I quickly made an appointment with my G.P and was seen the next day (Tuesday) by one of the senior partners. And WOW. I have been belittled, felt small, stupid, insignificant many, many times in my life. But I have been bought up to think of the family doctor as someone to trust, to turn to in times of need. But I have to be honest… rude doesn’t cover his attitude to me. I felt like I was dirty, a whore, cheap, a slut. Did I know who the father was (after explaining my living situation etc with him) and had I discussed it ‘with the father’. Now this was a while ago, I am sure things have changed, but at the time, you had to see two doctors in the practise to sign off on the abortion. I was lucky that the next doctor was a completely different story and treated me with dignity and respect. Although I found out I was approx. 11 weeks gone and was referred to the hospital for … well… again this was all new to me, I had gone by myself and suffered a horrific questioning already, I thought it was an out patient’s appointment, before an abortion date would be organised. I really didn’t understand how these things worked and didn’t have anyone to turn to. (more on that to come)

So when i rocked up at the clinic, I was there… maybe 5 mins, nervous doesn’t begin to cover it. I am not good in hospitals. So I was hoping for reassurance, help, understanding…. no. Big bag of no. I was in and out in 5 mins, I was told to come back the following morning, and to bring a pair of PJ’s and slippers. So.. as quick as all of that. When I came back the following morning,  I was told that my partner couldn’t wait, but they would call when I was ready to leave. No ETA, no nothing (this resulted in my begging that he wait anyway). He was shipped off, I was asked to change and sit in a waiting room with other women, who I had to assume were all there for the same reason. But we were not even making eye contact, let alone conversation. No member of staff to speak to, until I was called in to see the doctor. Great, I thought I would be able to have a conversation with the doctor, have an explanation… nope, a quick overview of stats, and a rather unpleasant experience later, I was back in the waiting room. None of us had a way to pass the time, no one to talk to, to offer comfort. We were called in one, after the other. No way of really telling the time. Finally, I was called in, and because of the medication it gets super hazy around this point. But a nice man stabbed a needle in my hand without explanation and then told me he was going to put me to sleep, could I count back from 10. Being me, I suggested he sing a lullaby.. and BAM i was gone.

I have only been under general (or in a surgical situation) twice that I know of, and I don’t stay down long. I came around to the nurses laughing about my asking of a lullaby… I guess that gave them something to talk about for a couple of days at least. I was offered squash and dry toast, and told to get dressed. So, drug induced sleep to getting dressed in under 10 mins? I made it groggily to the waiting room, saw my partner, and ran past him to the toilets. Threw up. At this point, I am feeling thoroughly miserable. The only other person I had told was my manager to explain why I couldn’t work that weekend (working as a bar supervisor, I felt it best I take the weekend off work) but I suddenly needed to see my mother, which was massively out of our way home. And of course she wasn’t in. I must have thrown up 5 more times on the journey home. Pretty undignified, having to pull over, to throw the door open and carry on a moment later.

I was in pain,not so much that I couldn’t move.. more that moving was pretty uncomfortable, and stayed on the sofa for the weekend. I didn’t go to my follow up appointment with the doctor, and my GP neither asked, or followed up either, although I went in for a change of contraception shortly after. Now, I have never wanted children, that is a story for another blog. I will be honest, I was a little upset. There is something about being pregnant that changes everything. I would have happily taken that baby to term. But it was right for me, my situation. I don’t begrudge the abortion as such. But what I do begrudge is the taboo surrounding the subject. If I am honest, out of all the health care professionals that I saw during the ordeal, it was the second doctor that signed off my application for the abortion. To everyone else, I was cheap, nasty, a number, cattle. I was not human. I was not worthy of basic dignity and respect.That, that is what I take away from the situation.

Now, I realise that I have rambled on quite a bit about my own experience. And I thank you for sticking with me. I went back to work, and was honest with my co-workers about my time off. My boss was lovely, and understanding. My co-workers, shocked and curious. I worked in a student bar and I guess this was part of the rich fabric of their education. And yet, not even a month later,  I realised what a taboo an abortion was (if you recall earlier, my view was formed on open conversation and pop culture references so I assumed it was open season). I hadn’t really mentioned it to people because of time, and I didn’t really have any close friends as such at the time. So when a co-worker came to me and said he had been told off for mentioning my abortion… I was shocked ? It was … public I guess. In the way, it is now. Because I am transcribing it ready to go live on line. So I felt strange that he was being told not to talk about something, like it was a dirty secret when I hadn’t presented it as such. It was just something I did. And then having another co worker, a year later, swear, loudly, to my face about how disgusting I was. Then I started to realise being open about abortions, free and open debate.. not the best way to play it.

And so, it has continued, I mention it generally speaking in context, but when i feel it safe to do so. Not long ago, a FB friend threw up a Pro Choice article, I saw red and went on the offensive. It resulted in not only us connecting via messages, opening up in a way neither of us had, but the resulting thread was a forum for women to be open and express themselves in a way that they maybe felt they couldn’t or shouldn’t.

AND THIS MY FRIENDS IS WHAT IS WRONG.

Having an abortion is not something we should be ashamed of, of course we shouldn’t view it as a form of birth control. But there are reasons, many, many reasons women chose to go through with it. It is not a simple choice, not one anyone takes lightly or goes through unscathed.

As I said on my friends post last night, Pro Choice, we have the right to chose. It is not saying one is better than the other. It is just saying that many have fought hard, and in many cases, died for our right to chose. And that choice is actually – because I am a facetious cow, the same right to choose to go to Whole Foods to pick up dinner over MacDonalds. It is about our right to make informed, educated choices about our lives, and our bodies. To take control about what we do, say, think, our actions. And be RESPONSIBLE for the outcome.

And so we come back to the start of this blog. It is a disgusting and not especially subtle dig at Pro Choice. Let us not get bogged down in the arguments surrounding abortion, wrong sex, disability  – no different than my own reasoning when you come down to it. If that is really the concern, tackle it head on and don’t make families, who are emotional and vulnerable, feel any worse than they already do. It is a cheap trick and a low blow. We need to talk about this. We need to have conversation, we need to bring it out of the shadows, be honest. Stop making women feel like shit for even considering it. Only then will this stop happening.

Running from inspiration

So I did a rather waffly, self absorbed piece on fitness recently. It was my explanation that as much as I can try to excuse my weight gain on my injury, it isn’t entirely to blame. So I am making some changes, slowly but if you rush into these things they tend not to last.

I went to see my beautiful friend Ren run in the Silverstone half marathon on the 13th March. It wasn’t planned as such, I knew that she had been training to do the London Marathon later this year after smashing Tough Mudder last year. She mentioned Silverstone and since it is just up the road from me, I thought I should go give her some support.

fit3

I used to run, cross country, long distance, with the dog… it was in my soul. I got to the track and felt…. in awe, I felt inspired, I felt sad that I wasn’t also running…. (although the course looks pretty brutal!). We walked over to the finish line to see people coming in, I wasn’t sure where Ren would come in so this seemed like a good place. I was seriously so knocked sideways by the emotions. I cannot really put into words how it feels watching people come over the finishing line, it was a collection of pretty palatable emotions from both spectators and competitors, the joy and in many cases relief as people realised they had finished.

ren1

Now I mentioned that Ren is running in the London Marathon in a few weeks, the Silverstone half marathon is something of a ‘warm up’ for many competitors. Ren has done extremely well, and I am so proud, i may well burst by the time she makes it across the finish line. She is running for Mind – an amazing mental health charity that has helped her personally. It is important that we talk about these things, the work that is done to support people when they aren’t able to access it though the usual channels (as much as we may wish otherwise, resources are finite). They do a fantastic amount or work in the community – if you are interested please click here.

Ren has her reasons for running for Mind – so far she has shaved off her hair and done a half marathon, and as I may have mentioned is also running in the London Marathon. If you have a couple of coins to spare, I know she will appreciate it, as will Mind! Even if you can’t donate, read Ren’s story if you need any further inspiration – please click here to check Ren’s story!

ren

I said that I felt inspired by the runners didn’t I ? I was debating joining the Race for Life and going a gentle walk/job around the course. But being I came to this decision all of 3 weeks ago, I am going to wait until next year and try and train a little. What is difficult for me is that I am a little broken. I only have tarmac to run on, and that will only make my injuries worse. So as much as I may want to get back into running, it just isn’t feasible for me. However I have managed to find a dance class that is 5 mins away and have really enjoyed it! Great to get back into the swing of things! 

Now I want to take a moment to talk about muscle memory. It is pretty important and yet something we all manage to forget about. I have danced for a few years, and so when I went back to dance a couple of weeks ago, I found I was able to do things that I didn’t think I would be able to, purely because I have drilled certain moved over the years. I also walk for at least an hour a day to get to and from work, so I am relatively fit. Relatively. I decided on the first day of Spring to go for a bike ride. First time this year, killing two birds with one stone, the boy suggested going to the pet shop as there is a cycle path that takes us to the industrial park. I got into the ride pretty quickly however, the seat… help me the seat! And I am fairly useless at hills. By the end of the ride back, I was getting quite upset at myself and how badly I was coping. But as the boy pointed out – muscle memory. I run, I ride horses, I dance, I lift… bike riding is something I pretty much stop as soon as my booty remembers how uncomfortable it is. Muscle memory – riding is different kettle of fish. Every time you start a new exercise, you are more than likely using a different set of muscles than you are used to. So instead of being discouraged… embrace it. I love feeling sore after exercising. And it is also a great reason to mix up your exercises – using different muscles groups is great and it helps you keep motivated! 

bike

So I have bought a new seat for my bike – I will keep you updated with that and the rest of my fitness journey! 

If you want to get your hands on the leggings Ren and I are wearing – head over to Wild Bangarang by clicking here for the website and clicking here for the facebook page.

Two faced? No, I have many!

No secret, I don’t have one, I don’t have two, there are many faces that I show to the world. This really isn’t a surprise to many of you, as I have been fairly open, well, prolific in my love of make up, making up and changing the image you show the world. I have been equally vocal on my feelings toward body shaming of any type.

I have had comments directed at me over the amount of selfies I take, if you go onto my makeup page, and combine that with my IG … well it is the tip of the iceberg. I rarely take just the one and think it is perfect. In my defense, I am trying my best to capture whatever I managed to create with makeup. But you know, sometimes, like the last couple of days, I just feel fabulous and take a selfie. I have said it before and I will say it again, I often don’t recognise myself when I have put makeup on, and that is part of the reason.

There is nothing wrong with using makeup, wigs, extensions, corsets, padding, colour, anything that makes you feel good. Confidence is key, if it takes a dash of red lipstick, or a full contouring routine, it makes no difference. 

3d0330fb3ea8e897922f300635074cc7.jpg (736×548)

So who hasn’t seen this MEME over the last few months? It has been shared, tweeted, copied, updated more times that I care to guess at. I will be the first to admit at commenting on someone else’s heavily/badly edited picture. Okay, so to me, it didn’t look so good. So what. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We have no real control over how we are perceived by others 99% of the time – no matter how hard we try, something may go wrong – I for example, ran into one of my consultants at work, looking bedraggled. I had just been swept in and he asked if I was okay. It wasn’t until 10 mins later looking in the mirror, that I realised that my hair gave the impression I had been dragged backward through a bush on the way to work. (as much as I normally love my short hair, not being able to tie it up into a pony tail is testing at times!)

20151202_185419

My current hair style with end of day makeup, so you might say, a little different from how i look in most of my photos. Et voila :

So this isn’t a vanity post, this isn’t a post asking you to bask in the glory that is my face. (although you are more than welcome to!)  This is just a post stating, it is okay to look how you want, wear as much paint, synthetic hair, layers of clothing. Don’t let others make you feel bad for doing it. Most of the time people won’t realise what they are saying is upsetting, it is just a thoughtless and throw away comment.

Truth behind injury

Specifically, my injury. I can’t and won’t talk about another persons injury – as if!

So, a few years ago, I came off a horse, I thought we would be continuing to the right of a bush, my horse decided at the last moment, to go left. I had a Hollywood worthy pitch over her head, landing first on my head and then on my booty (which luckily has plenty of padding). The worst thing was a. realising the other 2 riders hadn’t noticed, and secondly… most importantly to me …. how the hell was I going to get back on…. Yikes. But I managed it – I have years of experience of adjusting stirrups on the hoof so we didn’t hang around.

I didn’t really think much of it for the rest of the hack, I had bigger things to worry about, but once I got off… oh boy! Every part of my felt bruised. So off i went to the pub and enjoyed the rest of my afternoon.

Wow that was a short blog!

fit4

But that wasn’t what I wanted to write about – shortly after my stunt dive, I developed a lump on the arch of my left foot. I am the worlds worst patient and will only go to my doctor when it becomes borderline fatal. But after six weeks, a pea sized lump was on my foot, and I couldn’t walk properly. So off I go to the GP…. I get fobbed off and asked to wait another 6 weeks. I go back to the GP and get told that I need to book an apt with another doctor at the surgery who would remove the lump under local anesthetic. Not a good patient, remember? So off I got to reception and book in an apt and duly attend in another couple of weeks for – what I thought – was an apt to remove the lump. But no, I am instead referred to my local podiatry department – another 6 weeks waiting, still not entirely sure what is going on… now I am going to have to cut this short because it is already ridiculous. I go to podiatry, I have a steroid injection directly into the lump. I go back for a follow up after 6 weeks, and get told that the injection should have been in my ankle… After another 6 weeks I go back to the GP because at each stage I had had a different diagnosis. At this point having already seen 5 medical professions, I finally see a doctor who can diagnose the issue and give me advice. Great.

During this time i have continued with my dancing, classes, workouts and walking (I walk for at least an hour a day to and from work) and consequently have managed to cause irreparable damage to the tendon on my foot, congratulations to me. It was certainly a combination of not understanding what the cause was, what the injury was, and certainly not having the right information on how to best treat it.

fit

So what does that mean for me now? Well frankly it means chronic pain in my foot, whereas I had previously had pain on getting up after being stationary for a while thanks to the plantar fasciitus, now I often find it painful and tender on the side and top of my foot, difficult to negotiate stairs, sudden onset of pain. Basically every step I take is painful, with the added bonus pain. It means that I stopped dancing, I quit high impact, and I slowed down.

What else does it mean….it means, that I got fat. I mean I was never thin, I was not skinny, but I had toned and honed my body so that I didn’t hate looking at it, that I would wear a body con dress and feel happy. But you know what, diet? Yeah you can have a questionable diet when you are burning those calories, but the moment you stop? Yeah that.

fit1
Blue Weights, Green Apple, and Tape Measure

Things change, I used to run long distance as a teenager, worked with animals as long as I could remember, dancing has always been part of my life, but when you grown up, things change. Your body changes. What doesn’t change is your responsibility to your body. I am fat, I am not happy about it. And yes, I can say that I stopped my usual forms of exercise because of injury, certainly if I hadn’t had the injury I am unlikely to have stopped.

But equally, I could have paid more attention to what I was (am) eating, I could have made sure that I wasn’t putting in more energy than was being expended, especially as my job has become more and more sedimentary. I certainly should have looked at alternative forms of exercise. But I didn’t.

fit6

This is what I am trying to say is that IT HAS TO STOP – I have literally no excuse, the pain is chronic, it won’t get better, I put up with it daily so I can damned well put up with it during some classes. With that in mind, I have signed up to a new local dance class, and I am hoping to go to a skate class as well. And you know, if the pain gets all that bad, I could even pop an anti-inflamatory…

No more excuses people, this girl, can and will stop hiding being the injury. It isn’t what makes me, it won’t be what kills me.

fit3

Paying for postage?

So something that crops up every now and again – from both sides, if having to pay postage and packaging. Some places now actively discourage charging for postage and packaging (Ebay, I am looking at you) and there is always the worry of what you will be charged on top of the cost of the item you are paying for.

Now, when we are talking internationally, we have not only the cost of sending the item abroad, but we also have to factor in the import cost. When you buy internationally, you can’t always work out what the cost will be, as it isn’t a given that it will be checked and charged, and companies will not be held responsible for these charges.There is nothing more frustrating when you have ordered something abroad, to have the import duty cost more than the item you bought.

fd1

Some places have tried to avoid this, by sending items to Germany and then they are sent onwards within Europe to try and avoid the import duties. I can understand why, if I am working out the cost of the item, then the postage and have to factor in potential import… often you end up thinking paying a little more of the item and buy it domestically makes sense.

But that isn’t what I wanted to discuss – if you recall my review of Revenge Wigs – I discussed the attention to detail that was used for the packaging, the envelope, the address label – there were a lot of small touches included. I don’t know about you, but it is little touches like this that make me think that the person who sent the item cares? Likewise, when I get a delivery from Wild Bangarang, there is always a little personal note on the packing slip, and a wristband/little bag of goodies. The leggings themselves are always wrapped in tissue paper, it makes it feel as if you are receiving a present?

fd2

But something that keeps coming back is the cost of postage – it is something I was chatting to a friend about – and it struck me that somewhere along the way, we forgot that P&P stands for postage… and packaging… so when you see the postmark isn’t close to what you paid in postage and packaging.. take a moment!

My friend is a stationary and fountain pen aficionado – I want to have his collection it is amazing. But it also means that he spends time and money buying the perfect paper, one brand of paper he buys is Tamoe River, the paper itself is expensive, imported from Japan, with few suppliers here in the UK so retails £25 for a block of 100 sheets A4 paper. When David put in his order, the P&P came to £2.99 and when it arrived, it was post marked at £0.67 – his initial reaction was that it was a complete ripoff.

Now, this next part is in David’s own words : But the parcel was nicely wrapped in wax brown paper, it can withstand hurricanes. Double layered. So I’m impressed as I open it.

 The inside is a handwritten thank you note, nicely done. More a card really.
 

Then the Tomoe river block is inside a cellophane wrapper again with a biz card in from the seller with a stock number handwritten on the back of the card

 

Makes it more personal again

 

Inside that cellophane is the actual Tomoe river paper in its production cellophane

 

So the whole thing is an experience in care and attention.

So really, what you have to bear in mind as a customer – when companies put together their pricing, they are going to attempt to be as competitive as possible without doing their brand a disservice. The postage is another cost that they have to factor in, and again try and make as economical for all involved. And as a customer, I of course keep in mind the cost of a product, I will try and make sure that it is not extortionate. I won’t buy in the USA if I can buy here. Sometimes i have to do without, but that is fine with me. As a customer, it doesn’t matter if I am buying for me, or buying for a friend, when I see attention to detail in the packaging, it makes me happy.

fd3

I have a review of an Etsy shop to put together which also looks at packaging as an important part of the relationship between business and customer – no matter how big. It is something that we should consider. But also think about how much the business is investing in this part of the relationship. Think again before you complain about how much you are paying, or that you didn’t quite get enough items in your basket to qualify for free shipping.

And please support small business! 

FD

 
 

The business of inspiration part 1

This week , the show was about business, and as it happened we recorded the show early at the site of a new business. It also happened to fall on International Women’s day – which was lucky! 

I asked a few of my lovely friends to discuss pros and cons of business, and it was interesting to get prospective from people’s personal experience. But it was also empowering that the respondents were all female. Because of this I wanted to spot light my amazing and inspirational friends.

Firstly we have Donna Bull MUA click here for her facebook page. Her biggest tip for being self employed/running your own business is to keep on top of paper work. She also suggested using Joist which is a great application that you can download onto your phone or tablet to help you create estimates and invoices. Donna also suggested making sure that you don’t spend all night on your phone. With much business being conducted on line, it is easy to forget to switch off. If you are interested, Donna is a fantastic makeup artist, face and body painter. She is based in Slough.

Lisa and David had a couple of suggestions – Lisa said that you shouldn’t try and learn everything at once, there is a lot to learn. Just the way it goes. And her husband David offered this bit of advice: Try something, if it works repeat it, if it doesn’t build a hypothesis on why not, then test that by trying something new, if it works repeat, if it doesn’t loop till it does. Cashflow is king for first 3 years, spend your cash wisely. Enjoy

Lisa owns and runs Espiritu Salon & Spa in Radlett click here for their website, and  click here for the Facebook page. The Salon is a gorgeous place for a mini spa day, a quick treat or a little general upkeep. Very relaxing, with a fantastic range of treatments and I recommend a visit at your earliest opportunity! 
Lisa also has a blog – go check it out!
spa3
Katherine – who has taken a break from running her Etsy store, Handmade by Ify had this to say : Definitely the paperwork as Donna said, but also, if building the side hustle around work then it’s about being organised with your time, that’s where most people go wrong when starting a business. My main struggle was balancing motherhood and side hustling whilst working my day job… Also be patient if progress is slow at first, always be thinking what can I do in this down time? When times were quiet for sales at etsy I always built up more inventory and started designing for the following seasons stuff. Ify has taken a break from running her store – she initially started her store while at university, but after finding herself in full time employment and with a new baby wound down the shop until she could find a better work life balance. I am patiently waiting the big reopening!
Hazel runs Jax ‘n Boo with her husband as well as being a part time model – and online wax melt (and accessories) business and has the following advice: Learning to seperate business and home life, that Facebook message on you page doesn’t need to be answered at midnight when they sent it lol. Utilise social media to access a wider audience. Paperwork I agree with what Donna says, keeping on top of it so there’s not the end of year tax return panic. If you are creating your own product, pricing it correctly and not undervaluing… Oh and to remember it’s your business and livelihood, I always struggle cos I want to help people out, that’s not the way to earn yourself a paycheck though lol
 I highly recommend their products, some of my friends have had the starter kits inflicted on them as gifts – great value! I find that they are not too strong so even if you or another member of your household isn’t a massive fan of scents in the home, I am sure you will find a compromise! If you are interested, click here for their website and click here for their facebook page. 

 

Last (for this blog) we have the lovely Gillian who runs Emerald Wig Emporium Click Here for the website and Click herefor the facebook page- she is also a fantastic costumer and cosplayer! So you will be hearing more from her as I have picked her brain about a cosplay blog I am putting together. I haven’t approached her yet about the Lady Gaga wig suggestion we came up with on the show so watch this space! Now, this is what Gillian had to say : Yeah, the paperwork side of things is huge, and can become an issue down the line if you don’t get on top of it from the start.
I registered as a private limited company, Directors etc., from the very beginning, to protect my family in case there was ever an issue in the future (you must always think ahead). This meant a million times more paperwork, costs, effort and confusion – including all sorts of official scary paperwork and vat returns after the first 6 months.
I’m very organised anyway, and my hubby is an auditor/quality manager/systems developer so having him helping me was priceless. He’s created stock databases, automated order sheets and so on. Absolute time savers.

Try to restrain yourself when it comes to giving out freebies. While I’d only love to give all the wonderful people I’ve met through wig wearing, a free wig as a present, it still costs me to purchase the wig and then ship it…..this money comes out of the funds for advertising, promotional material flyers etc. and brings in no profit which can be used to increase stock variety.
It is a business after all, and if you intend growing a business, you always need to aim to increase stock variety etc.

Work hard, but have fun. I love what I’m doing, and that makes all the difference. There’s no effort involved when it’s something you enjoy.

Be fair to yourself and ignore the negative Nancy types. Hehe! You’ll never please all of the people all of the time. Dream big, and go for it.

Now I am more than honoured to count these people amongst my friends, all inspirational, finding their own path, and happy to help when and if they can. Donna is a stunning makeup artist, she genuinely can turn her hand to it all and will not hesitate to give you tips and advice, Ify is such a kind and generous person – she will help create anything you have a mind to make. She is also the inspiration behind my ‘clashes but matches’ fashion approach. Lisa and David – these are just the kindest, sweetest couple. Will do anything in their power to help and are good to have if you need advice. Hazel is a sweetie – she has had some setbacks in the last 12 months but instead of allowing it to break her, she has come back with a business. Gillian is fabulous – she has put a lot of time and effort into her new business, and is happy to share her experiences. Gillian is not only a great business woman, she is a fantastic cosplayer and I love seeing what she comes up with next. When thinking about what or whom inspires you… you don’t have to look far. Have a look at the people in your life and see what they have done, what they are doing. Every day people are setting new goals and challenges and it is fantastic to see people helping each other, building each other up. 

 

FOR THE GLORY OF MAKEUP

Yeah no secret, I love makeup, it allows me to not have one, not two.. but many faces. I enjoy creating new looks, I love special effects makeups, I adore a challenge and being inspired by a new wig.

None of which is news to you.

But something that keeps cropping up and … I know i have bought it up before. Instead of people appreciating it as an art, you have comments about how too much makeup is employed, or how a person doesn’t need makeup, as they are pretty enough, asking for makeup free photos.

makeup1

One example is Ursula Goff who shared photos on her I.G account which was picked up in this article – not entirely sure I agree that it is refreshing that she is happy to share photos. It does imply that there is some expectation on people in the spotlight, or otherwise to share all their sides… that nothing should be left private. But also to women to go natural or be brave enough to bear their faces. It doesn’t ease pressure, rather it will add pressure.

makeup4

People wear makeup for very different reasons, and it is both insulting and naive to assume that women are wearing makeup to cover themselves because they don’t feel beautiful. I cant’t speak for all women, but I wear makeup to become someone, so when I am at work, I put my ‘game face’ on – I am old enough to have been schooled in what looks professional. So let us call it my ‘professional’ face. I don’t often wear makeup at the weekend or when I am on holiday, frankly I am lazy, and my skin does need a break. But equally, give me a reason to throw paint at my face, I am your girl. I love dressing up so I spend a fair portion of my free time experimenting. It is no different than having a work wardrobe, a dossing abound the house, but not wearing PJ’s wardrobe, a going out wardrobe. So yes, it is about confidence. But don’t ever mix a woman’s perception of her own beauty is solely tied to her self confidence. We are much more complex.

A while a go I came accross a makeup artist, Nikkie Tutorials who was getting berated to the point she released a ‘no makeup’ photo for people – which of course led to people commenting on her looks.. without makeup .. ever get the feeling you won’t win? Nikki regularly shares video where you can see every step of the transformation. I understand the interest in what people look like, it helps you work out the steps, you can see how much when into the transformation, and it is interesting.

makeup2

And then there is a friend of mine who recently happened to comment on a thread on a facebook page which has nothing to do with makeup, or wigs. And yet people jumped on her, commenting on how much makeup she wears, her hair (a wig – an awesome one at that) and making some personal comments. I find it bad enough when strangers insist on passing comment or judgement on people in the public eye but to do it, unprovoked, and unwarranted? What makes a person think they have the right to make these comments? Would you walk up to a complete stranger in the street and pick apart their outfit?

I shared a video a couple of days ago on my page, a teenaged burn victim who has learnt how to use makeup to great effect to disguise the scars. But the important message she relays in her short video is that we should all be happy in our own skin. 

makeup5

Makeup is AMAZING – I adore make up, I love how different it makes me look, and feel, how it helps me change up my look so often, so that I can not even recognise myself. It is my choice to wear makeup, no one should feel forced to prove anything, makeup is a mask. It is one of many masks we all wear for various reasons and doesn’t make us liars, or responsible for men thinking our eye lids and naturally glittery. 

ENJOY THE ART PEOPLE!

makeup3

Born to be … in a tribe?

So a couple of weeks ago, on the show, we looked at what it means to be different, what are our differences, are we really all that different.

When I was a kid, 7/8 years old, my mother asked me to explain what makes men and women different. Having a younger brother, I have some rudimentary idea of the difference in anatomy. However, every one of my suggestions were shot down. She attempted to explain that there are no real differences between us, and that the difference between the sexes is not so easy to quantify. This was an early lesson that never left me.

different

But we are different, we have to find non verbal ways of communicating our differences to others, to show which tribe we belong to. This can be to open up lines of communication but to also warn people. To show what you care above, what you love, to show where you come from or where you intend to be.

There are many tribes that you can belong to – when I was growing up, I would say that music was the strongest influence on me, and how I dressed. I spent most of my free time working with horses, and animals which meant that I was dressed in old clothes, and not easily identifiable. But I found myself becoming more and more interested in music, it had always been a strong influence in the home, and I fell hard for rock, and later, goth music styles. There are pretty broad and I won’t dissect the sub cultures within. Let us just say that because I wanted to be ‘different’ I found myself dressing in a way that would help people easily identify me as part of a culture. Of course, at the time I didn’t think so, at the time I was being utterly ‘non conformist’ by refusing to wear the fashions of Miss Selfridge and River Island. And yet again  my mother pointed out that by dressing in a certain way (band t shirts, leggings etc) I was conforming to another group. You will generally speaking always be conforming to a group no matter how hard or little you try. It is human nature to try and fit you into a box so you can understand that person a little better.

different2

But it isn’t always so easy, like Johnny Ruckus who I interviewed recently – he has been fairly open about the problems he has when he is in costume, and alcohol is in the mix (although not always) and shared recently how he had been picked on by a bunch of guys while wearing a Star Trek sweater (irrc) and therefore being a Geek… while they were wearing football t shirts. Because some things are more socially acceptable. 

There are so many horror stories, we all remember Sophie Lancaster, literally killed for looking different. If you don’t remember or want to learn more, please head to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation Here. They work hard to help promote understanding of subcultures – the aim that people will not be targeted for their self expression. 

different3

Now, if it feels as if I am spinning in several different directions, it is because I am – being different is something extremely difficult to quantify, because what if different for one person, is normal for the next. What you might consider weird, is just average for the next person. That is more that what people wear, it is jobs, lifestyle, hobbies, pursuits, where you live, who you live with. 

We should all appreciate each others differences and instead of making fun of things that we don’t understand, learn, ask questions, show an interest and who knows where that will lead. There is nothing wrong with the path you chose, you are no less of a person because you outwardly show your individuality, or if you keep a little bit of you inside. Be yourself, because it is the only you there is. And you are beautiful 🙂

different1

Visible mental health

I know, what am I even talking about! Mental health isn’t visible… isn’t that the problem? Or when it is something you notice… do you understand what the symptoms are, what the ticks, clues are. How to help or react? Is is something you worry about in yourself or a family member.

mh6

I was tasked with looking at whether social media is good for mental health as my feature in this weeks radio show. I normally do a shout out for people’s comments or stories for the show amongst my friends .. but I stopped. This was one subject I just didn’t feel comfortable asking of people. And yet I am a campaigner for visibility in mental health. Why then would I not want to offer people a platform to discuss their own experiences.

Because often the reason I know that someone else even has a mental health condition who isn’t already pretty close to me, is because it is being discussed in a closed group, in a safe environment. I want to normalise mental health discussions and I want to help people talk about it. And being able to discuss it in a safe group is the first step. I have writen a blog with my own struggles, but I am also secure in the knowledge that many of you don’t know me. And that you won’t bring it up with me. Because frankly when someone tells you they suffer with a mental health condition you want to know how to treat them. Are they telling you because they need to share it with someone or because you have been treating them in a way that isn’t cohesive with their condition and they want to help you understand so you can change how your interact with them ? Do you know anything about the condition, are you going to research it. Do you ask questions?

mh2

One thing I do continuously find myself battling with personally, is what do you share with people, I mean at what point to you stop being a little ‘weird’ or ‘quirky’ and start becoming a liability. When do people start looking at you with other eyes, when do they stop mentioning things, inviting you to things, at what point to you drop to the bottom of the list because you have ‘issues’.

Social media is a wonderful thing in this respect, because it stops you feeling so isolated, you can join groups, you can find people who understand, who have been on similar paths, who have words of wisdom or advice, somewhere free of judgement, or at least if there is, it isn’t from someone you need to interact with again. It can even just be a place to vent away from prying ears. Social media is fantastic as it has broken barriers, it has opened doors, it has meant that geography is just numbers on a map, that you don’t have to go out to talk to someone, that you have potentially people to talk to at a moments notice, if needed.

mh3

I love social media for these reasons, but on the other hand, it is incredibly isolating, not only for you, but for those around you. While you are emotionally investing in your new friends, who may live thousands of miles away, you are increasing the distance with your friends and family, co workers, peers, who are in close proximity but feel as if they are in a different galaxy. And conversely, may be able to share some of those same fears, and hopes that you are pouring into your virtual friendships.

Now, I am the first to say that the internet is not evil, it is a great tool, and does good things, but it can’t and won’t replace being able to pick up a phone, and invite someone out for a coffee. There is nothing really that will replace that social interaction and sometimes you genuinely need that human contact. If you are feeling isolated, or have moved to a new area, friends have moved into different phases of their life and don’t have time to meet, social media can be a great tool to meet new people. There has long been jokes about it being a dating site. Have a search on local groups, activities, see if there is anything you can join, be it a hobby you already have, an exercise class, or new skills. Being on social media often means people involved can start communicating and then it feels a little less daunting when you actually go to the group. You make new friends and learn new skills, or pick something up you didn’t do before. 

mh7

So what I am trying to say, is that talking about mental illness is great, the only way to ‘normalise’ it in our society is to ensure that talking about it no no longer something we avoid, or find odd, difficult, or other. When we don’t talk about it, we never learn about it. Shutting it away makes it seem like a bad thing, something that should be covered up. And the internet is not only a powerful tool allowing you to seek advice, and find people who are empathise with you, to make connections. It is also a tool for people to educate themselves on mental health. We literally have all the information at our finger tips. We can and should educate ourselves. Be positive in all things.

Peace.

peace