Official Blogger for Female Entrepreneur Week

female entrepreneur week

I quit my job and became self employed over 6 years now, and my hair salon opened about 5 years ago. Having a blog really was the stepping stone to me quitting the world of education, and becoming my own boss. This meant that my blog really followed my whole journey, and I used to blog a lot about business. More recently I blog less about this, as it feels like my life has moved on a bit, but of course, my business still fills my whole life (our jobs do fill more time than anything else we do!). 

I've sort of dipped my fingers in a lot of pies, and when I first quit I had a part time job in a cabaret club to tie me over. Then I created my lipsick brand which paid my rent for a year before I decided to open a salon instead. My lipstick brand meant that I worked solo, from home. To get me out of the house, I launched a Women's Business Support Group, called Wonderful Women: Minding Our Own Business, which ran as a subscription model for a couple of years, with regualr meetings (and homework!). Then I moved to owning a bricks and mortar business, my salon, and alongside opening this business, I also took a year away to work for a digital marketing agency. I run the salon full time, but I am not a hairdresser; my strengths are in marketing, social media, running a business and writing. I do some freelance writing on the side, and I have a book agent. Phew!

Anyhow, I've been invited to be an offcial blogger for FEW, Female Entrepreneur Week, and I leapt at the chance to chat business again! I often find that those of us running businesses with actual physical products are left out a little with all of the digital entrepreneurship flags flying, so I'm going to be bringing it all back to help those of us who have IRL products and services, not just digital ones. 

It starts on the 21st June, and runs until the 30th, and there is a facebook group to chat and share with other female entrepreneurs. There will be online seminars and all sorts, and of course I'll be reflecting on what is being said, and blogging my own take (I always have an opinion! He he!)

So if you've been missing my business chit chat, or looking to reflect on your own business goals, perhaps join me in the FEW facebook group, or keep an eye on my blog for more entrepreneur inspiration next week!

Mini Garden Make-Over

I'm 34, and this is the first time I've had my own garden. I enjoyed one as a child, but obviously its a bit different being responsible for mowing, or just playing in the paddling pool. So having moved this month, I'm now a garden owner (well, renter, but you know what I mean). I now possess that rare London thing - a piece of green to call my own.

I'm not what you'd describe as homely. I don't cook very much, and I don't have green fingers. My soul just doesn't hear the call from hobbies like gardening and baking. But I do love a picnic, and a BBQ, so now that these are in my grasp, I needed to give my new little back yard a mini make-over.

I have to confess, I got my Mother in to help. She knows gardening, and she's not afraid of getting down and dirty with some weeding. I just didn't really know where to start. She handed me the mower, instructed me to not electrute myself by cutting through the wire and let me enjoy the satisfaction of cutting the grass. You feel kind of powerful with a lawn mower! Meanwhile, she started pulling the weeds from the flowerbeds, so that sometime in the future we can start planting some prettier things in there.

Although my garden isn't a pretty one (yet?) it is now a very usable space, and an extra room on a sunny day. It took all day, but was well worth it. I now plan to do some minimal upkeep, to ensure that I can keep enjoying it. Now...where's that sunshine.

UPDATE - 7 weeks on

Time to get planting! Again, I wouldn't really know what to get, so my Mother told me what I needed! We've gone for perennials (which means they flower again year after year) and we got digging!

I've been given strict instructions to water them all every other day to begin with.....uh oh. I'm going to give it a good go, as it would be such a shame not to let them settle in and make my garden glorious.

reeree garden make over

Now I just need a second heatwave!

Knomo Bags and Baileys' Books

I've been rather vocal over the past 5 years about giving up high heels, and this year I've given up on hand bags too. As I've become more aware of the sexism that silently drips into everything we believe and see, I've got crosser. I got cross that women are taught to wear shoes that cause pain, and keep them vulnerable as they hobble down the street. Women are taught that these shoes make us 'sexier' and that they feel more 'empowering'. We're taught that part of beauty is pain. There are still jobs that make women wear heels (Airport staff are one that spring to mind but there are others). We're told they're professional. Sod that. They're bad for us, and they hurt. And they keep us fragile; likely to fall, likely to go slow. I'm chucking out the heels. I deserve to be as free, comfortable and safe as men. 

Bags. Women carry bags, often with a Mary Poppin's amount of belongings, just in case. Our possessions are heavy and many. The world teaches us that to look glamorous, or expensive, we should carry a shoulder bag. Often with a thin and delicate strap. Sensible back packs are for men, the gym or school kids. I'm over the pain of carrying a one-shouldered bag. Even wearing it crossed over my chest gave my back pain. I'm so over pain. 

I've been wearing a small and smart back pack only since January now, and by gosh I notice the difference. Style still matters to me, it can be fun and exciting. I'm just over it making my body suffer.

So with my new gorgeous but practical bag requirements firmly in my mind, I happily accepted a bag to review from Knomo, a bag company that launched in 2004, and make stylish but uber practical and long lasting bags. Now, I've never had a £129 backpack before, although I have had expensive handbags, and it definitely felt like a luxury item when it arrived. As ever, although I received this to review, I have no obligation to say anything specific about it.....you know the drill.

knomo bags review blue

Here I am, nonchalant and pondering, at Southbank before heading in to the awards ceremony for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction. Less than a week after the London terror attack at London bridge, enjoying the culture that London has to offer, felt vaguely political. The dresscode was technically 'Cocktail' but I'm always someone who bends most fashion rules. So I donned a Collectif anchor-print dress, and a leather jacket (what is this weather recently?!) and my new Knomo bag. It's smaller than my current backpack, and definitely dressy enough to be worn somewhere a little fancier.

ree and ella 2017

Being an event sponsored by Baileys, I was rather excited to get myself a cheeky Baileys. If you watch the video at about 0:23 you will see a rather excited Ree grabbing for a drink as soon as I enter the room! Ha!

Why was I at a fiction awards?? Good question. The fabulous Ella Masters, my blogging pal, had been commissioned to paint each of the short-listed books. How bleedin' exciting hey?!

ella masters book illustration

My Knomo bag was the Mini Beauchamp in Navy, and if you love pockets, you'll love the bag's interior.

For someone with READ MORE tattooed to their knuckles, I'm embarrassed about how little I read these days. My phone and connectivity to the online world have just replaced reading fiction for me, and attending a celebration of fiction hightened my sadness. Luckily I was given two of the shortlisted novels in the my goody bag (well I was given one, but Ella already has all of the books, so I got hers too!) so hopefully I can start to develop a reading habit again.

knomo bags review blue 2017

At least with my new back pack I can carry my books on the go, without causing my body bother. Because style really isn't worth suffering for.

 

Your top 5 tattoo questions - Answered!

getting a tattoo 2017

7 years ago I did this to my body. If you've seen me since, I've done a hell of a lot more since, but this one felt like a really big deal. It marked the step into being seen as someone who was 'heavily tattooed' as I ended up with an almost chest piece by accident!

As someone who has now spent over 7 years as a tattooed woman, I thought I'd answer some of the most common questions I get asked!

getting a tattoo

1. "Do all of your tattoos mean something? I think tattoos are ok when they mean something." I think people get a shock when they ask this. I generally get quite defensive and find the question a little offensive. No, they don't all mean something, and tattoos aren't 'better' just because they represent a life event. Tattoos certainly can 'heal' and there is a reason that so many people get in them while grieving. They help give a little control to your life when everything feels lost. They help soothe a fear that you'll forget something or someone. They help show the world that you are a changed person. But they can equally be something fun, and silly. Some of mine represent something, and some are just picked at random because I felt like it. All good.

tattoo questions 2017

2. "Do you regret any?" I think people ask this because it's what they're most scared of themselves. It taps into the fear of permanence that most of us have. My answer is always no. I have a few I wish I could move to somewhere else sometimes (Mr Happy on my wrist for example) but honestly I don't regret what my skin has become. Do I look at other people's designs and wish I had a third arm to redo and start over - sure! But tattoos are about their permanence, and you don't get to make the decision twice (we'll talk about removal later!). They're mine, and they're all okay as they are. However, going back to the original question. The regret fear is real, and potentially harmful. This is why the newer trend for going big and fast is so scary to me. I'm a big fan of starting small and hidden, and working up to larger and more visible things. Tattoos aren't for everyone, and many people do regret them. Tastes change, people change.

do you regret your tattoos

3. "How do you pick a tattoo artist?" I've been somewhat lucky that I've always been fussy with who tattoos me (despite being very impulsive!) which means I enjoy a shower of compliments when I'm in tattoo shops, as they play "Guess the artist". It's really awesome watching people recognise an artist's work on your body. It's ok to be led a little by price, we all have rent to pay, however for something permanently on your body, saving for a little longer really pays off. back before Instagram, we only had Tumblr to discover what was truely possible. And before Tumblr we were all just stuck with what our local neighbourhood shop provided. Now we get to see how good tattoos can really be, and we have no excuse for settling for shoddy work. So...how to pick one. Look at a lot of pictures. Browse instagram. When I wanted a tattoo in Bali last year I browsed the hashtag #Balitattoo (there are 100s of shops there). Most were average, and average isn't good enough for my skin. Then I spotted one, that instantly stood out as being done brilliantly. I booked in, and knew I'd love it, as I could see the skill dripping out of every piece of work he'd done. You should like 90% of an tattooists work before booking in.

bali tattoo

3....cont. When picking someone to tattoo you, you're picking their style. Don't take a drawing along, that is nothing like the work they usually do, and expect it to look brilliant. A good tattooist specialises. Pick one that does the stuff you love. Seems common sense, but isn't that common. Really good tattooists also don't want to tattoo the sketch your mate has drawn for you. If you want a little piece of art, let the artist draw it. Give them the inspiration and let them create it. You'll end up with something much better. My final tip....have high standards for your body. You only get one. Travel a little, save a little harder. Get something great.

hand tattoo flower

4. "How do tattoos change with age?" You know how sunlight fades things.....yeah it fades your tattoo ink too. And not just your holiday sunshine, the UV that is exposed to your skin daily. Even on cloudy days. You want your tattoos to last? Get involved in sunscreen and staying in the shade a little more often. Placement also impacts this. Tattoos on your hands, wrists and feet will not last as well as other placements. Tattoos here never heal well as we can't stop using our hands and feet, and tattoos here are known to 'fall out'. The skin here just does so much for us, and tattoos on fingers for example can often almost completely disappear (unevenly!). Some people aren't happy with faded and patchy tattoos here, and so may be better suited to getting something elsewhere. You can have tattoos touched up, or covered over, but this can often mean needing something larger and bolder over the top.

leg tattoos 2017

5. "Do tattoos hurt?" Yes. Getting tattooed hurts. Of course it does. But lots of things hurt and it doesn't stop people doing them. Childbirth hurts. Getting your ears pierced hurts. Love hurts (he he). Walking in high heels hurt. The question is really, "Do tattoos hurt so much I won't be able to finish it?". If they were really too painful, you wouldn't see people like me walking around. There is a myth that tattooed people must like the pain, but I promise that's a very small select group of people! I don't enjoy the pain, and the healing really hurts too, but it isn't that bad. Or we'd all stop wouldn't we? Things to make getting a tattoo easier (this applies for larger tattoos more than smaller ones) - Eat. make sure your blood is full of some glorious energy and sugars. Take some sweets or treats in your bag. When people faint getting tattooed, its usually because their blood sugars just drop too low. Your body will pump adrenaline around your body; it thinks something bad is happening to you and will try and get you to fight or flight. This is the reason you may feel a little buzzed when its all over. Pain does weird things to our brains! But please.....eat. Whenever I get a tattoo I eat a twix and a ribena just before. A weird little ritual, but based in science! Ha ha.

I could keep going.....but that's enough for this post. 5 tattoo questions with answers I hope prove helpful! 

What I wear on holiday and how it makes packing easier

what to wear on holiday

I recently returned from holiday (Read my reasons you should go to Menorca if you're in your 30s here) and I thought I'd help answer some of your "What the eff do you take on holiday" worries.

When you pack for holiday you can often feel overwhelmed - how on earth do you know what you'll want to wear 4 days from now, in weather you can't remember how to dress for? But you don't want to overpack (heavy luggage sucks), but you also don't want to feel like crap the whole time. I'm okay with the fact that how I choose to present myself matters, I like to feel 'right', and that requires a certain amount of stuff.

So here are some of my tips for holiday packing, if you also don't like to travel too light, and don't want to look too casual while you're away in the sun.

1. The fact that I naturally stick within one colour pallette works in my favour when I need to travel. You can see from these Menorcan lift selfies that I wear blues, blacks and leopard print! This means that more things match interchangable.  I only bought two pairs of shoes, and they'd both match all outfit options.

2. I took two long tube dresses, one in black and one in leopard print as I've found I just feel really good in them. They're great for day time excursions and evenings out, and easy to wash and dry should you need to. They also provide cover from the sun, and take a minute to throw on. More time for sleeping on a sun lounger! Find something you love and take more than one!

3. I bought two pairs of crocs with me, as they're an ideal holiday shoe. They work for day, night, walking and for getting wet. They're also super duper light to carry.

crocs for holidays

4. I took 4 wigs for a weeks holiday, they're not heavy and I still like options. I do own over 20 though. So my tip is generally only allowing yourself a section of the things you usually have lots of. I take a big suitcase because I know that having my 'things' with me are important. I'll never travel small, but I do try and travel light (enough to carry my bag at least).

5. Wear as many of your regular clothes as possible. I know a holiday proves a fun reason to buy a new wardrobe, but unless you're planning on lots of sunshine getaways, this just becomes a waste of money. If you need to buy something new, be strategic. I bought one dress for this holiday, but I knew I'd wear it loads back in London too. Don't buy things in 'holiday' patterns that wouldn't fir into your normal wardrobe. It's pretty wasteful but costly too.

5 reasons you should holiday in Menorca if you're in your 30s

menorca holiday review

I ‘travelled’ in my 20s. I felt the ache to discover myself by chucking myself into unknown worlds to see if I prefered the version of me that I was running away from. I’ve backpacked alone, and had to find out the hard way if I’m the kind of person who can make friends with strangers easily (I am). I worked out how to eat in restaurants alone, and tricks to make staying in hostels less creepy. I wandered through the rougher parts of town with a broken flipflop in my hand, while people warned me to hurry up and get in a cab. I’ve got on ferries not knowing where their final destination was. I’ve sat in bars and made friends with women who then ‘adopted me’ for a few days, driving out of their way to collect me and take me out with them. However now that I’m in my mid-30s, I just don’t feel that itch. I don’t seek ‘newness’ in the same way. I don’t feel a need to run away from myself, and I’m pretty sure I get who I am, the bits I like less as well as the bits I like more. I crave comfort, and relaxation in the ways that I used to crave random adventures. I now want to holiday, rather than travel.

menorca holiday jet 2 review

I think I realised a lot of this while I was on a press trip with 50 travel bloggers (I was sent to Menorca to review, but as ever, all words and thoughts are my own). They excitedly collect stamps in their passport and stories of off-the-beaten path adventures. They’re ticking off lists of cities they’ve visited, and are consuming the world in such a joyous (but exhausting!) way. I realised I now love holidays, not travel, and I’m ok with that making me sound dull and a little old.

menorca holiday blog

As the group were whisked around on tour buses, seeing local buildings, and learning about the history and factories of local crafts, I settled onto my sun lounger, and made friends by the pool. The responsibility of a travel blogger is to review, gather details and take inspirational photos. As a lifestyle blogger on a holiday, I eagerly shared my selfies, outfit pics and excitement about seeing a gecko. But I adored it, and remembered why holidays are so good for the soul. There’s no shame in wanting a holiday, without wanting too much travel.

menorca old town

So, after being sent to enjoy the small island of Menorca, and having a bleedin’ brilliant time, here are my top 5 reasons you should consider going to Menorca if you’re in your 30s.

1. It’s so peaceful. I had wrongly dumped sweet and beautiful Menorca in the same box as some of the more rowdy parts of Spain. I imagined fast food, loud noise and hen parties. I am so sorry Menorca, please accept my apology. You are quiet and still, and simply glorious with your glistening blue ocean and bright white buildings. Please forgive me.

holidaying to menorca

2. It’s a perfect retreat for the hobby you never dedicate enough time to. I found the trip so tranquil, and the streets so pretty, that I can imagine a trip away would be perfect for a painting holiday, or a photography trip, or just a ‘tackle the book pile’ trip.

dinner in menorca

3. The hotel we stayed at, although is ocean facing, doesn’t have a beach as such, and the Menorcan landscape is made up of volcanic rock, which is fun but sharp. This means that it’s not super kid friendly, which is fabulous if you’re child-free like me! The hotel was popular with older couples, who loved a friendly chitchat with some of us ‘younger’ lot.

holiday in majorca or menorca

4. We were flown by Jet2, and the flight was just a smidge over 2 hours long. I tend to forget that Europe has lots of lovely sunny holiday destinations, and seem to always think, oh I should go further afield (for example I went to Bali last year). The memories of the hideous long haul flight, including my own tears and misery, make this short haul option deliciously appealing.

minorca holiday

5. If you're looking for a relaxing holiday, just some time to switch off and reset, going somewhere that speaks English can just make it all a little simpler. It is fun to learn some phrases when you travel, but if you're just on a well-deserved break, ease of communication is a winner in my eyes.

I was so surprised at how beautiful the island was, and disappointed in myself that I had previously written off short-haul travel as a little less fabulous. I loved how sedate the island was, and have returned refreshed and ready for action.

Thanks again to Traverse Events, Jet2, The Menorcan Tourist Board, The Spanish Tourist Board in the UK, and all of the fabulous content creators I was able to spend a week in the sunshine with.

As a little fun bonus, check out my little appearance in Brendan's vlog (I'm at 3mins in)

You can also read some of my daily #MustSeeMenorca blogs by giving this a little click and scroll.

An Oarsome Time in Menorca (Kayaking with #MustSeeMenorca)

kayaking in spain

Well, today was fun. Its day 5 of the press trip to Menorca that I am part of (a total of 60 influencers!) and blimey we had a great day exploring the island on a kayak! Hard work but so much fun!

menorca water sports

I've kayaked before in Bali, but in a mangrove, which felt so different to being out in the massive ocean. Definitely felt more of an adventure and took a lot more manpower. Menorca is a Biosphere Reserve, and the water is gloriously clear. There are lots of kayaking routes all around the island, and we set off on a mini-beginners trek to some caves. 

cave kayaking in menorca

You can see in the above picture one of the small caves we got into, some of them required putting our oars down and using our hands against the walls of the cave! 

kayaking in menorca

We then stopped and did some swimming, including a cheeky beer and snack on a rock. What a perfect way to spend a few hours! All of our shoulders certainly felt it the next day!

I loved it. It was the perfect way to work up an appetite, and earning some time to rest by the pool the next day!