I got chucked out of The Ritz.

Well....I sort of did. But apparently this is how we write blog titles these days. Soz about that. 

I was off for a family birthday at The Ritz, to celebrate with afternoon tea. I didn't arrange the booking, and honestly didn't give my plans too much thought. Found a dress I liked ('cos you don't wear jeans to afternoon tea) and off I went.

We arrived, and the doormen swiftly told me that there was a strict code of "No Trainers." He advised me that they had shoes they could loan out, but gosh no thank you. So it was time to find a pair of shoes nearby and with haste.

Managed to find a Cath Kidston store, and within all of the baseball shoes, I found these flats in their sale. Sold!

So I rushed back, made it in time, and enjoyed our afternoon tea. I'm not against places having a dress code, I just honestly wear the same shoes every day (they give my back good support and my damaged ankle doesn't move about too much in them), however what seemed odd was that people were allowed to wear boots. Very casual, and vaguely scruffy boots. Just not trainers (mine were all black, including laces). Anyhow, their house their rules I guess.

Afternoon tea is a rather odd concept really. You pay quite a lot of money (for the plush surroundings largely) and then you eat a ridiculous amount of food. Some sandwiches, fine, then scones (plural) and then cakes. Then an extra round of cake. When did we sit down to eat three rounds of cake? My teeth felt pretty furry by the end!

We enjoyed the pianist playing happy birthday and bringing out a cake for our table, which had a lovely (and very polite) applause from the other tables, which is pretty cool. And I ate a ton of food. Blimey. A ton of food. And I now own some new pumps. With houses on them.

5 wig wearing tips (how to make synthetic wigs look more realistic)

I'm no vlogger, so excuse the quality here, but sod it, it was just easier to do a bit of a show and tell.

I attended a couple of blogger events recently where I received a lot of compliments on my hair, and a lot of shocked faces when I said that I wear wigs. So I grabbed my phone and made this short video of my 5 top tips for wearing synthetic non-lace front wigs.

1. Buy one with a fringe. Fringes cover the tell-tale hairline, and make it much easier to make a wig look more real.

2. Buy a wig that has multi-toned strands in it. So my green wig has strands that are of varying greens, and my peach wig has orange, pink and peach strands in it. Dark roots help too.

3. Wear a hair accessory to help keep it in place, and distract from the hairline. I love a bandana, but many people wear hats for this purpose too.

4. Style the wig to have some of the hair away from your face. 

5. Buy a wig that has a faux parting, so that the wig sits more  naturally on your head, and less cone-head shaped.

Hope that helps, and do let me know if you have any questions!

Why I walked out of your blogger event

blogger events

Dear famous PR company and big high street brand,

I'm aware that this may come across as ungrateful, but let's not fall into any of the common misconceptions about brand activations. Bloggers are not invited to events because brands want them to enjoy a free cupcake. It's a transaction; a trade that should benefit all parties involved.

I get it, events are often done on a budget, without a creative lead, and with crazy expectations and demands from head office. However, what is being passed out as influencer events just isn't good enough. And I refuse to feel ungrateful for thinking so.

I was recently invited to your event, and I decided that sure, it sounded interesting enough for me to get back out into the world of influencer events. I turned up, got a coffee and waited for the talk to begin. It was a small room, and I'm pretty sure I was one of maybe 2 or 3 'guests' in a room with maybe 10 staff (a mix perhaps of PR, brand and event staff). No one asked my name, no one tried to chat to me, or welcome me. Or thank me for coming, in a room with a lot of empty seats. No one offered me a WIFI password either, despite being in a basement with no signal.

I stayed for the talk,  where a very cool person had been asked to include a few tacky lines about your product in her presentation. Not cool of you. Someone should have told the brand that too. The talk only lasted about 15 minutes, so I had 45 minutes to wait before I was meant to have a booked session. I stood up, and got chatting to some of the other people there. I presume they were staff. It was awkward, and there was nothing to really do. Some instagram worthy food, but that's it. Still no one really spoke to me as a 'guest', as someone who had made the effort to show up, which considering only 1 or two other people had felt a little odd.

As I waited, I just decided I didn't want to. This transaction didn't feel fair or worth it. Bloggers are invited to attend an event, to give up their time, with the hope that the brand will gain some social exposure. But this is only half of the transaction. What a lot of event organisers seem to forget is that the guest needs to receive something in the transaction too. Bloggers do not just need to be grateful enough for a branded cupcake that they don't need to expect to recieve something in the trade too.

The trade can comprise of a variety of things, from direct cash, to a goody bag with things that feel worth having, to a really awesome event experience. But it's a trade. The brand wants to buy reach, exposure, credibility, and that shouldn't be (and isn't) free.

So today, I'm sorry but I walked out of your event, as my time (and online publishing potential) is worth more to me than an exchange of a couple of hours of my time for a cupcake. Your event sadly just wasn't worth a trip, and that's a shame, but it wasn't. I don't need a free coffee so much that I'll write about your product for you. 

This may sound harsh, but I'm sorry, this is a trade, and too often influencers/bloggers/publishers are treated as if they hold very little value. Yet the invites keep proving otherwise.

A good event doesn't necessarily need to cost more money, the money just needs to be spent in more creative ways. Ask the question, "Why would people come?" more during planning meetings, and map guests' user-experiences with more thought. What would make a trade for online exposure feel more beneficial for those you're inviting? What would make a room full of strangers less awkward and more awesome? The answers are rarely complicated, just creative.

I accidently tried a personal trainer.

I've never had a personal trainer, partly due to the cost, and partly due to some anxiety about the one-on-one attention, so I was rather surprised yesterday to experience one by accident!

I'd signed up for a new running club, after finding out that my gym offers one once a week. I used to run with Good Gym, and I've also run with a Nike running club. However I've not run for ages, and I still have a bad ankle from Bali, so I was feeling a little nervous. I'm sure I'm not alone worrying about being the slowest, or not being able to keep up. But I know that running clubs are for everyone, and you should never be ashamed for turning up. Everyone is entitled to fitness, not just really fit people.

So I turn up. And I'm the only one who turns up. Just me with a personal trainer going on a one-to-one run. Eeek.

Off we went, we ran to the park, and then did some drills. JUST THE TWO OF US. All of my vague social anxieties kicked in. Having all that attention on me, having to chat to a person I don't know with a new social dynamic I don't understand yet (trainer/client), and being really out of breath. REALLY out of breath. But none of that matters. I ran, and I did it all. 

My point is really that even the more confident of people (I'm pretty confident) find new social situations stressful. I think the main difference is that some people find it easier to just ignore the feelings and just get on with it. It's that cliche of feeling the fear but doing it anyway.

I was knackered. I mean I go to the gym twice a week, but don't work this hard. My cardio fitness is pretty low at the moment, as I do more strength based stuff, but this run was tough. I definitely hadn't eaten enough for it, and felt pretty zonked for the afternoon. But I did it!

I can see why an investment in a PT would pay off. There is no space for slacking, no room for holding back. They push you and push you to maintain the stress on your body required to change it.

Will I be running next week? I'm not sure yet, it was pretty intense, but I know that's exactly how exercise should be! Watch this space.

I had a job interview, and I'm going to celebrate it regardless of whether I get it.

I had a job interview last week, and I thought I'd write about it, even if I don't progress any further in the process. We should celebrate the smaller successes just as much as larger ones. I hadn't really wanted to look for another job just yet, but when ASOS come knocking....well....it didn't take much thought before I said yes!

I had a ten minute phone interview first, which always confuses me a little. What exactly are they judging in 10 minutes? How many people get cut at this stage? I opened with my excitement at being served by a waiter that morning from First Dates, and then answered the questions about my experience. Ten minutes later I was done.

self love brings love tshirt

I was invited to an interview at ASOS headquarters, which was pretty exciting. It validated that my CV was worthy of exciting jobs with exciting companies, which is always good to know! It means that if I don't get it, I'll have confidence when applying for my next batch! I also recently got offered an interview with Refinery 29 which was pretty cool too (they emailed to offer an interview, but then they never arranged one?!). But proof that I'm qualified for the types of job I'd like to do at the very least!

I went for the interview, which was a very informal half hour chat, and I'll hear from them by the end of the week I think. Hard to judge a 'chat' but I think it went fine. No regrets. So whether I move forward to the 'give a presentation' stage or not, I'm going to celebrate that I was asked. I've heard ASOS are a great company to work for, and the job role sounds effing brilliant.

So whether I get the 3rd interview or not, bravo me. And I encourage you to cheer small mile stones too. Life is tough so find more reasons to celebrate. 

An open letter to Garnier - you need to do fucking better than this

I'm struggling to visualise the agency meeting that signed this campaign off, but I'm going to have a little go. 

"Guys, guys. We need a Garnier International Women's Day thing. You remember the Dove thing from ages ago? You've seen the recent L'Oreal campaign? Yeah something like that. We're starting to feel the weight of responsibility that comes from being one of the billion dollar companies that shapes and defines beauty standards. We need to show we get it, you know. Great, great. Yeah, like a hashtag. That shows we stand for something that matters. What was that? We are women? Fuck yes. We are women. We're literally all women. Let's do that. Inclusive messages are critical these days. Let's do that."

There's been such a turn of the tides recently, we expect more from these massive companies now. We expect them to at least try. To least offer a small level of balance from the bullshit that tells women they are never enough. They are never ok as they are.

But this example from Garnier is frankly embarrassing isn't it? I get it, no one can get it perfect every time, but this is Garnier. They have money, and teams, and agencies to get this stuff right. To be better. If the image was just a stand alone, fine, whatever, it look likes so many other forgettable beauty images. But look at it, paired with the messaging. We are women. It's a political stance, attempting to prove that they're more than a beauty brand, that they're on our side. That they have a reason to speak up on International Women's Day. But what a fucking pretty narrow vision of 'women' they hand up to us. Back the eff off.

We're over this Garnier, and we expect better from you. You need to be fucking better now. The world is moving on, and your team of creatives need a stern talking to. This simply isn't good enough anymore. You need to lead from the front. You also probably need to hire a more diverse team to manage this shit. This needed calling out, and your agency/team dropped the ball.

#iblogmylife - old school blogging

Back in the day I was a chat room addict, and then we all upgraded to forums, which allowed a more permanent way of getting to know people, while sharing your daily life. Forums were pretty anonomous places, we'd all have fake names and avatars. Mine was chocolatejo and a gif of a cat licking the screen.

handbag forums

We'd share everything, under lovely segmented areas; relationships, beauty, work etc. You knew where to go if you needed advice, or to vent. You'd learn so much about people's lives, without really knowing who they were. We started to merge real life with online life, by arranging nights out, and it was such an amazing thing to be part of. 

Then forums started to die. The one I used was bought by Boots (the pharmacy) and it drastically changed. We fought so hard to keep hold of it, but the community was broken and lost. We all moved to blogs, and eventually social media. Which are great too, but different.

I still miss the forum way of life. I know its lame to cling to your rose tinted glasses but I can't help it!

Last year I started focussing on making my blog old school again (I changed my header to reflect this), and I'm starting to see a trend on social media of other bloggers feeling the same way too.

So if you blog about your life, like regular old life with regular old emotions, tag your post with #iblogmylife so I can read it. I miss reading about people's realities. So show me yours!