My new tattoo from Cassandra Frances

cassanda frances tattoo face.JPG

As I said earlier, I had no idea what I was going to get when I turned up for my appointment, so after arriving, I flicked through her book of flash. Flash is pre-drawn tattoos, some are used repeatedly, and some are designed for once-only use. Some tattooists will tweak flash, and some won't. 

My most recent tattoo was my rose neck tattoo, and it was a pretty traumatic experience. So I'd forgotten what a walk in the park most of your arms are to get tattooed. This was almost joyous in comparison (minus a couple of tender spots). I only wished I had a third arm so I could start over again!

The world seems to prefer tattoos that can be justified with meaning, perhaps it helps people understand why people get tattooed, when the idea feels so alien to themselves? I picked this one as it was pretty and it filled a spot that was empty. Sorry world.

As ever, my top tips for getting tattooed - pick an tattooist where you like almost every single tattoo they create. Eat right before your appoinment, and take something sugary with you. Start in places that are more easily hidden by clothes....just in case you realise that being a visibly tattooed person isn't for you.

What has 10 sessions with a personal trainer been like?

is a personal trainer worth it

After signing up for my first ever personal trainer in January, I've now hit the 10 session mark. So, 5 hours, and £300 later, what have I learnt so far?

1. Firstly, and perhaps most critically, I've realised that I've never pushed my body as hard as she makes me. This means that when I've been at the gym, I've not been working my body how I should have been. I always knew (and believed) that you needed to lift a weight that was too heavy to lift at the end of the set, however I've realised I was doing this wrong. I think when I used to work out alone, I'd lift a weight that I found hard to lift at the end of maybe set 2 or 3 (of 10-12 reps each). But now I struggle to lift it at rep 8 of set 1. Sometimes I swear out loud at even lifting it up to start. When I'm ready to go to the gym alone again, I'm going to be really stretching myself to lift heavier.

2. I've had 5 weeks of 2x half-an-hour sessions a week. My arms feel different. I can see my calf muscles again. My trainer says I'm fitter, but its hard to tell myself (as she just keeps upping it, so it always feels hard!). 

3. When we go to the gym alone, we tend to gravitate towards the exercises that we find easier, or that we've done before. Its scary trying new moves out in a public place. Having a private training sessions means I've been pushed to try things I've never tried. Targeting muscles I would have usually ignored completely.

4. I've learnt the power of the attempt. My PT asks me to do things that currently I cannot do. However, the failure is still the exercise. So I simply attempt and fail 10 times. If I were in a public gym, I'd be too embarrassed to attempt and fail, so its been interesting having the space to do so. It makes sense really, you have to keep trying, improving and growing, before success will come. I do look rather silly at times!

These sessions were a gift, and clearly most of us cannot afford this sort of training forever, but I'm excited to see where they springboard me to. I'd completely lost my way with my fitness, and had become unfit in a way that was getting me down. I needed a shakedown!

Valentine's Day Alone....

valentines alone

It's nearly that time of the year, when your relationship status is pushed to the very forefront of your mind. I'm not anti-valentine's by any means. If you're with a loved one, its a lovely excuse to buy a gift, or tell them how you feel. It's another prompt to go above and beyond, or to be extra thoughtful, for no reason other than its nice.

Last year my Valentine's was pretty shite, in the tail-end of a relationship that would finally be shot dead in the back alley a couple of months after, but could have probably been put out of its misery a little sooner. The year before that? 

So...facing forwards, what about Valentine's this year? I'm flying solo, and focusing what I'm brilliant at. I'm going to shower myself with love this Valentine's. I've been working on enriching myself, and am doing a few evening classes, and on Feb 14th, I've got two of my weekly classes, so that will be the focus of my day. I will remind myself that just as Valentine's day can prompt us to be extra appreciatitive of others, it can also remind me to appreciate myself.  To compliment myself without a but. To acknowledge the things I am proud of.

Dress for Success - A charity that is helping get women back to work

Last week I did my first day with Dress for Success, which is a global charity that works to empower women into becoming financially independent. Basically, it means they help assist women get back into work. They do this largely by providing interview clothes for women who have secured a job interview, but may not have access to appropriate workwear. They also provide interview practice.

dress for success.JPG

The women that visit the boutiques are referred from a variety of agencies, from job centres to other charities to social services etc. They are often women who have been out of work for a long time, or even never been in work. Getting a job can be life changing, and while clothes may seem shallow, can you imagine the impact on your confidence if you had an interview, but no appropriate clothes? Interviews are all about judgements, and turning up in the 'wrong' clothing can really ruin your chances of getting hired.

dress for success london.JPG

My job as a volunteer is to act as stylist and confidence booster. The guests can be nervous, both about their upcoming interview, and the actual vist to the boutique. The stock isn't on view, so the 'stylist' element comes into play when you pull items for them to try on; the guests don't get access to the full stock room. If you've seen Say Yes To The Dress on TV, it's a little like that. A few items get pulled/selected for you, and you work from there.

It was a busy first day, as we had 5 appointments to oversee. I loved it. I loved selecting an outfit for a woman that would make her feel awesome. I loved being allowed to be part of the guests' journeys; this could well be the start of a brilliant new chapter for them. There were tears and hugs, and even a Prada dress.

If they're headed off to an interview, we kitted them out in a complete outfit where possible. This means an outfit, shoes, a bag and a coat. We even had brand new Louboutin perfume to gift too. Oh and jewellery.  If they've got the job (apparently 50% do!) they can return and get kitted out in a week's worth of work clothing.

Clothing matters. Confidence matters. Being employed matters. 

So what next? Dress for Success need donations. The items need to be new or really great quality second hand. Interview ready clothing. At the moment, the London branch is particularly short on interview bags, and all plus size clothing. When we had plus sized guests, we struggled to offer things over size 22, and we really need donations in these sizes.

You can find out more about how to donate here

I can't wait to do my next shift! 

Getting tattooed by Cassandra Francis (again)

cassandra+frances+tattoo.jpg

Almost exactly 4 years ago I got my hand tattooed by Cassandra Frances, and next week I'm getting tattooed by her again. I recieved a tattoo gift voucher from my cousin, and some tattoo-cash from my step mother, so I got myself booked right in!

I actually have no inspiration as to the design, I really don't have any idea that is pulling me towards it. However, I'm not worried about it at all. Over the years I've been tattooed, I've learned that you should go with a tattooist that you just love all of their work. Then you can relax, as you know you'll get something that you love.  Cassandra is one of those artists, where I'd happily have basically any of their work on me.

Her work is soft and pretty, and she nails faces each and every time. Faces are such a great test, as many tattooists just can't quite get them right.

So watch this space, I may well just select something on the day from her available artwork/flash, and I'm happy to just see what happens!

A quick chat with Charley - Rockalily Cuts' manager

"I started hairdressing at 15, back in 2005. I needed a saturday job while I was at school, and I stuck with it as I like the creativity, and every day feels brand new. 

I'd been told about Rockalily Cuts, and it looked like you guys were having more fun than I was at my current salon so I applied! And I've now been at Rockalily Cuts for 3 years. I've been presented with lots of awesome opportunities and I have a lot of fun. I get to do fun colours every day, and get really creative. We have a great team, and really fab customers."

rockalily hair products

"My current favourite products? I like Slick Gorilla Hair Styling Power (which we use and sell at Rockalily Cuts) as it doesn't feel producty, and gives great volume. Loreal Techni Art Constructor is a great salon product. I use it when I use straighteners as my heat protectorr and to stop fly aways. Layrite, again a product we both use and sell at the salon, my favourite is the blue one. It's easy to apply, easy to spread on hands, and easy to wash out. I also love Bed Head Tigi Maxxed Out; it's great for curly blow dries."

"What makes a great client? Someone who knows what they like, but trusts us enough to take advice. And anyone who keeps their head still!

What makes a bad client? Someone who doesnt listen, or take advice. Lateness. Or no shows.

Why do people get nervous?  Previous bad experiences, which is completely understandable. They don't know how to explain what they want (btw the solution is bringing photos!). Being somewhere new can be intimidating too.

Not everyone can afford to tip, or wants to tip, and I really don't expect it. I'm always really grateful for any tips, even just £1 is appreciated. The best tip I ever got was £100! I was once tipped free concert tickets, when I cut Paul Weller's hair. He gave everyone in the salon (when I worked in Portobello Road) tickets for his gig that evening. Paul was grounded and awesome, and the gig was amazing!"

How would I describe I personal style? Varied! From everything from rockabilly to 90s hipster. I like coming to work wearing what I want, it puts me in a better mind frame, I'm up and ready for work once I've got done up. I even wear heels; they make me sassy and empowered. Like I'm ready to take on the world. I really enjoy getting ready for work, especially as we're not like other salons where you wear all black.

If you're considering getting into hair, you'll need to love it. Its long hours and can be tiring, pay isn't always great. If you don't love it, it's not worth it. One great tip is that the best juniors make the best stylists. How hard you work as a junior is noticed by everyone. You learn the skills you need as a junior, even when it doesn't feel like you're learning anything.

If I could do anyone's hair, I'd love to get my hands on Yolandi Visser, from Die Antwood.

A post shared by ¥O-LANDI VI$$ER (@prawn_star) on

I'd love to put some colour in her hair as she's so famously white blonde, and give her haircut a Chelsea girl spin.

You can follow Charley, Rockalily Cuts' manager on instagram ---> Chaz Todd.

Trying on every wig I own - video

Trying on every wig I own.jpg

You know when you have an idea, and half way through you absolutely regret starting it? That was me, after deciding to film me trying on every wig I own. Turns out I currently have 25, which makes a 45 minute video.

All my wigs are synthetic, and range in price from £5 - £90, with my average spend being £45.

I've been wearing wigs every day for about two years now, and although I have 25 wigs currently, I've had many more in that time.