Getting to know Sarah Prout, a leader of a love infused lifestyle

 

 

Sarah Prout is a social genius and an exceptional lady of business, I stumbled across her website recently to be left feeling inspired  and motivated. There was an incredible sense of charm and energy emanating from the site so I just had to get in touch and learn more about this interesting personality.

Sarah Prout is an entrepreneur, writer/author, artist and publisher (co-founder of Alska Publishing). She is passionate about empowering women in business to follow their creative spirit and ignite their entrepreneurial sparkle. Nothing excites her more than someone with an amazing idea and a burning desire to turn their dream into a reality.

Sarah has had an interesting journey she comes from a creative background and spent much of her time as a child in galleries and studios. The entrepreneur has moved about more than the average person ‘I’ve  lived in over 28 different homes in nearly 33 years’ and she went to 2 primary schools and 3 high schools. Personally I imagine these various changes and experiences have contributed greatly into making Sarah Prout who she is today, she has a fabulous outlook on life and shares a positive ‘can do’ attitude which I believe stems from personal experiences of life, people and the world in general.

I think it’s fair to say something magical was always on the cards for Sarah Prout who I believe has always pushed for something more…you know not settling for anything but something that has real value to herself, her family and the worlds around her. Sarah is clear about the fact that she has never been very good at ‘jobs’ and it seems her first job experience at the age of 14 working in a cafe was more than enough to confirm ‘jobs’ aren’t very good! Since those early days Sarah has always been generating income through entrepreneurial pursuits and impressively at the age of 14 she was labelled Hallmarks Youngest Designer Worldwide for creating a range of wrapping paper that was printed internationally.

Sarah Prout has been featured in various publications including the Tiffany & Co. website, Problogger  and in particular she caught the attention of The Australian Financial Review who  say she ‘ranks among the top Australian media profiles and it’s not an opportunity she wastes’.

In an interview with Joanna Penn 2009 Sarah Prout said ‘I absolutely adore Twitter! I’ve made so many fabulous connects via Twitter.http://www.twitter.com/sarahprout

Trends indicate that Twitter is set to skyrocket in 09 so my advice is to get yourself an account now J Think of it as an alternative method of list-building but with a focus on connection and adding valuable micro-content on a regular basis’.

Today 2012 Sarah Prout can proudly say she has a huge fan base of almost 55,000Twitter  followers…incredible…well done!!

Now then everyone this is the part you’ve been waiting for… below is what I found out about The Sarah Prout...

Favourite food:  Anything Vegan.               

Favourite Restaurant:  Shakuhari (Vegan) in Carlton, Melbourne.                            Favourite bar: Polly in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Quote of the moment:  “Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do.” ~ RUMI

Recommended music: Anything you can dance to.

Favourite travel destination: Vegas!

Studied at:  Monash, RMIT and Deakin University                     Course:  Psychology, Journalism and Design

Website:  http://SarahProut.com + http://AlskaPublishing.com

Name of business and the story behind the name: The name of my publishing company is Älska (elsh-ka). It means ‘to LOVE’. One night my partner and I were laughing and trying to give our combined energy a name and the word ‘Älska’ popped into my head very clearly. We had no clue what it meant and another thought to Google it surfaced to the front of my mind. We Googled ‘Älska’ and it turned out to be the Swedish verb to LOVE. We saw this as a sign that it would be a good name to call our company.

Please can you describe what you do and who and what has influenced you to make you who you are right now? I understand life has thrown some challenging times at you especially when you were younger.

I would describe myself as a writer first and foremost. My true passion is empowering women to see their own unlimited potential in business. I’ve always been a creative entrepreneur ever since I was little.

I got married when I was 20 to a man that was 12 years older than me so I felt like my emotional growth was somewhat stunted due to our domestically volatile existence. I had to explore creative ways to feel fulfilled through starting various business ideas and through study of meditation and personal development.

When I became a stay-at-home mum when I was 21, it was my ticket to empower myself to create an enterprise. I became a veracious reader and student – heavily influenced by women that had created massive success for themselves. At 26, I watched the movie ‘The Secret’ which is where I think the biggest transformation started to take place.

What was life like growing up for you? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in galleries and studios because my parents were both artists – so the entrepreneurial gene was really quite strong! There was never a dull moment and there was always something creative going on. I went to 2 primary schools and 3 high schools so I moved around a bit, but my ‘childhood’ really happened in a place called Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

What were your favourite books growing up and why?

I loved (and still do) the books of Roald Dahl and his amazing imagination. I loved ‘Matilda’ and ‘The Witches’. When I was a teenager I loved the books of Margaret Attwood and she introduced me to subtle themes of feminism.

Did you always want to be a writer and what writers do you admire most and why?

Yes. I think I’ve wanted to be a writer and an artist for as long as I can remember. The thought of not doing something creative just wasn’t an option. As I mentioned before, I loved Margaret Attwood and her writing style which was a strong influence. I also loved the non-fiction writing style of Florence Scovel Shinn and her prosperity advice.  Strong female voices have always inspired me.

When did you start believing in metaphysics, how did this happen?

I don’t think that there was a specific start date. My mother is very into spirituality and self-realization so there were always interesting books on our bookshelves. The concept that ‘everything is energy’ really hit home for me when I started studying meditation when I was 19. Our teacher was a really amazing old Sikh man called Sri Bhai Sahib Ji – with a long white beard and a purple turban. He was the first person to explain the bridge between science and spirituality in a way my heart could absorb.

What were your first job experiences?

I’ve never been very good at ‘jobs’. I first worked in a café when I was 14 and the manager touched my bum so I quit. The next job I was a freelance designer for Hallmark at 15. And then at 17, I became a charity collector for the Wilderness Society in a Koala suit…during summer!

I worked in semi-corporate roles in visual merchandising until my son was born when I was 21 and since then I’ve always earned money from my entrepreneurial pursuits.

Can you describe the transition from the start of your business to where you are now? What has the process been like? Where have you worked and who have you worked with?

I started my own publishing company back in 2007. This is when I created my first bestselling book called ‘Sprout The Life You Love’. My business was all run in the stolen moments when my children were sleeping. Some nights I would work until 3am and then up at 6:30 to make the lunches and do the laundry.

Since Sean and I partnered up for the beginning of Älska Publishing back in 2010, our business model has changed a lot more to outsource to our team to create a lot more flexibility. When I started I was the designer, the accountant, the bookkeeper, the copywriter and the cleaner. Now I can happily say that I outsource to our Älska team.

We work from a home based office so I can be here for my 2 children. Our goal is to move to an office building with the next 18 months or so.

There must have been some challenging times…what were they and how did you respond to these?

I left my husband of nearly 10 years, moved states, landed an international book contract with Wiley, had 12 coaching clients and a social media consulting business. The stress was unbelievable! I had to write ‘The Power of Influence’ on such a tight deadline while dealing with my children and the adjustment that leaving Daddy, leaving Melbourne and leaving everything we knew had on their little hearts.

I would block out 5 hours per day to write about 4,000 words. Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it, but I did and it was a fabulous lesson.

How does having your own business differ from working for a large corporation?

Whether it’s a big or a small business, the one aspect that makes it great is the energy and the culture injected into the corporate philosophy. With us here at Älska Publishing we want to ensure that everyone that interacts with us has an awesome experience. We’re truly passionate and know that this approach will ensure our overall success and longevity of our brand.

What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your website? You have about 55,000 followers on Twitter…incredible How have you achieved this and how long has this taken you?

I’ve been online and in business since 2006/07 so it’s been a gradual building process. I’ve achieved this by connecting with people and making sure that I keep everything pretty authentic. I even met my boyfriend and Älska co-founder on Twitter! He was living in Hollywood and I was living in Noosa.

I think that building a personal brand and a corporate presence has been really important for my growth as an entrepreneur. Media exposure has always helped a lot as well. I believe that the key is to keep engaged with your audience and express gratitude for their presence in your online life.

What has helped your success most?

Believing in myself and my strength to see the best outcome possible.  Also landing a book contract with Wiley helped a lot too in terms of adding to my credibility.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Our Adventures IN Manifesting books will be a household name. In just 12 months we have over 20,000 books in print so I can only image what another few years will bring.

I would love to work a little less and be less of a workaholic. I would love to spend more time with my kids and my dogs sitting by the pool of our dream home.

I definitely see myself as being happy.

For anyone wanting to start up their own business what are your top 5 tips?

  1. Love what you do.
  2. Believe in yourself.
  3. Invest in the growth of your business.
  4. Be smart with your money from the very beginning.
  5. Never depend on anyone else to make you happy.

 Please go follow Sarah Prout on Twitter for the latest news and updates

 

 

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An inspirational writer/author, Cristian Mihai

Author, writer and bookseller Cristian Mihai has really caught my attention, what a passionate and inspiring young person who is clearly on his way to a successful future.

I have read his blog and a couple of his free e books which come highly recommended.’One’ is a short story about addictions and the manner in which they break us down. I found this an interesting read since I have a couple of friends who I think would relate to that experience and I was also thinking the piece places you temporarily into the mind of those persons who smoke all day every day. I too used to smoke and can understand the psychological ideas Mihai presents and it’s interesting to think just how complex and powerful an addiction can actually be.

‘Memento Mori’ was another interesting read and I think it’ almost daring…people just don’t like to talk about these things and perhaps that’s a problem in societies. We don’t talk about certain things enough and therefore when it comes to crunch time it’s all very shady and uncomfortable. What did happen Sept 6th 1957???

If you’re interested in writing his blog offers some great words and advice. Please visit his site to find out more and access some of those interesting short stories.

For regular updates and news follow Cristian Mihai on  Twitter

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Great Cafe/bar, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Radio was an unexpected and nice surprise for a weekend find whilst out exploring Fitzroy. In fact this sweet find perked us up since we’d heard so much about the area and so far we couldn’t work out what the big fuss was about.We hadn’t explored enough at this point…a little more investigating and our opinions have completely changed.

It had been raining and there was a cold chill about the air so my partner and I were looking for some where cool and cosey with a delicious menu. Check out the delicious pizza and some yummy soup!!

The prices on the menu were very reasonable. The venue was cool and stylish and had a mix of modern with original  features and to top it off the building had real history which just made us love it a little bit more.

The people running the joint were really friendly too, made you feel welcome. They had created a really relaxed chilled atmosphere and the music was well chosen.

This place comes highly recommended, great place for a chilled Saturday afternoon.

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The Ultimate Olympic Shopping Experience, London 2012

SalesGossip have got your back here. If you’re travelling to London for the first time it’s important to be organised and prepared. The City has lots to offer, it has a great transport system and a place for every taste and every style.

Do you know where you’re going? If you’re unsure please check out SalesGossip London Walks, not only do Sales Gossip know the best deals they know London and they know where to go, and what to expect.

Being in London and not familiar with areas can be disappointing and time consuming. So if you do decide to take this little bit of advice, you may well  find that not only are you getting to see some of the best parts of London,, you’ll also be getting the best deals and more time for shopping!!

Happy Shopping!! xx

&

Happy Cocktailing xx

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War of the Worlds PR crisis

An old PR crisis has caught my attention and this case illustrates just how powerful credible information sources can be.  Also it brings into question …was this a PR stunt or was this a crisis that coincidentally did good things for some??

The media love a story that will sell and the masses can be irrational thinkers who can believe everything they read and forget to question what is before them. A great example of how audiences can easily be influenced dates back to October 30th   1938. The Mercury Theatre on Air (Orson Welles Producer) broadcast over station WABC and Columbia Broadcasting System’s coast to coast, a play based on the H.G.WellsWar of the Worlds’ causing mass hysteria. Audiences missed vital information at the start of the show, perhaps forgot or didn’t realise this station regularly produced radio plays and there were various other elements affecting the behaviours of its sensitive listeners. The National Geographic says in 1938, with the world on the brink of World War II, audiences were already on razor’s edge. The format used in War of the Worlds, with its shrill news bulletins and breathless commentary, echoed the way in which radio had covered the “Munich crisis”—a meeting of European powers that became the prelude to World War II—a month before.  “Welles and his company managed to closely duplicate the style and the feel of those broadcasts in their own program,” said Elizabeth McLeod, a journalist and broadcast historian in Rockland, Maine, who specializes in 1930s radio. “Some [listeners] heard only that ‘shells were falling’ and assumed they were coming from Hitler.”

According to the New York Times a dramatization of H. G. Wells’ fantasy, “The War of the Worlds,” led thousands to believe that an interplanetary conflict had started with invading Martians spreading wide death and destruction in New Jersey and New York. Throughout New York families left their homes, some to flee to near-by parks. Thousands of persons called the police, newspapers and radio stations here and in other cities of the United States and Canada seeking advice on protective measures against the raids.

According to historian Jennifer Rosenberg the power of radio had fooled the listeners. They had become accustomed to believing everything they heard on the radio, without questioning it. Now they had learned – the hard way.

This hoax caused mass disruption to various services, businesses and lives whilst at the same time propelling the broadcast and Orson Welles into the world of fame. National Geographic says, historians say the hoax worked because the broadcast authentically simulated how radio worked in an emergency.

The Mercury Theatre on the Air was an unsponsored cultural program and research suggests that it was looking to increase its audience. The program ran at the same time as a very popular show called Chase and Sanborn hour and it was in the breaks people tuned into the play and heard the disturbing and true sounding news bulletins with realistic sound effects.

According to the New York Times, Welles expressed profound regret that his dramatic efforts could cause consternation. “I don’t think we will choose anything like this again,” he said. He hesitated about presenting it, Welles said, because “it was our thought that perhaps people might be bored or annoyed at hearing a tale so improbable.”

Information about this story on Wikipedia says that within one month, newspapers had published 12,500 articles about the broadcast and its impact. Hand cites studies by unnamed historians who “calculate[d] that some six million heard the CBS broadcast; 1.7 million believed it to be true, and 1.2 million were ‘genuinely frightened'”. NBC’s audience, by contrast, was an estimated 30 million.[11]

An article on awesome stories.com where you can also listen to the archived broadcast says the following day after the event Welles held a press conference during which he insisted his broadcast was just a holiday prank. Twenty years later, however, he admitted to additional motives.  Welles, and his colleagues, were convinced that people would believe whatever they heard from “the box.”

The War of the Worlds broadcast – specifically reworked from the original story to impact Americans – effectively demonstrated the power of radio to manipulate a mass audience in a time of political crisis (awesome stories.com).  Adolf Hitler cited the panic, as Richard J. Hand writes, as “evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy.”(Wikipedia) In a prescient column, in the New York Tribune, Dorothy Thompson foresaw that the broadcast revealed the way politicians could use the power of mass communications to create theatrical illusions, to manipulate the public (Transparency.com).

The notoriety of the broadcast led the Campbell Soup Company to sponsor the show; The Mercury Theatre on the Air was renamed The Campbell Playhouse (Wikipedia).

MY PERSONAL SUMMARY…IT’S JUST AN OPINION NOT FACT!

It’s amazing how an action has so many varied angles, understandings and responses. Was this play promoted enough? Seeing as it was going to be so real, should it have been under serious consideration? It was different to previous plays and therefore the promotional efforts perhaps should have been much more. However imagine if it had been promoted so well that no one reacted?

In addition I learnt an element about what feeds media since papers really picked up on this. Back then it was more of a newspaper vs. radio scenario so this presented opportunities for them and they continued the stories for a few weeks.

The National Geographic states historians also claim that newspaper accounts over the following week greatly exaggerated the hysteria. There are estimates that about 20 percent of those listening believed it was real. That translates to less than a million people.

At the time, newspapers considered radio an upstart rival. Some in the print press, resentful of the superior radio coverage during the Munich crisis, may have sought to prove a point about the irresponsibility of the radio broadcast.

“The exaggeration of the War of the Worlds story can be interpreted as the print media’s revenge for being badly scooped during the previous month,” McLeod said

It’s important to be aware of environments and the potential effects on various publics.

On one hand it looks as though it was deliberate seeing as there was a huge amount of publicity and generated worldwide attention. On the other perhaps the producers really didn’t think about the consequences…still what a break-through for radio back then…to pull off a play and create an illusion to hundreds and thousands of people is pretty impressive. Also frightening to think that’s how audiences can work, obviously today we have access to much more information and can be more prepared. Now though I think there is other creative ways such as using phrases like ‘war on terror’ that hold powers to influence audience behaviours, playing on emotions through a different mean. Could this happen again? Do people know better?

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Interview with Hana the Shopaholic

Hi everyone, I’m back! After falling off the blogging waggon, I’m back on it thanks to a little inspiration from Hannah Moss fashion blogger (Confessions of a Shopaholic) and Editor of Salesgossip.co.uk.

I feel as though blogging has been a slight gym experience…once you’re in to it you can’t stop and can become obssessed but as soon as you disrupt your routine it’s a nightmare to get back on it!! Sometimes all you need is that little spark and you’re away and I feel like this was Hannah….so thank you for sharing your energy…CLEARLY I NEEDED IT!!

Fashion blogger Hannah Moss grew up in the sunny town of Derby where I was lucky enough to make a connection to her and be ‘mossed’ so to speak! I got chatting to her and whilst we shared our love for make-up it became clear we had lots in common mainly interests in fashion, PR and blogging. To be honest though what girl couldn’t get on with Hannah???

In 2010 Hannah was nominated for the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards which was a real surprise and a great accolade since she had only been blogging for short while.  Hannah has shared some of her time with us and below you can find out a little bit more about her. The shopaholic offers a great insight into the blogging world, how she came to be there and what’s propelled her into the very visible blogosphere.

Favourite food: Italian                         

Favourite Restaurant: Darley’s – a lovely place on the banks of the river Derwent in my home town, Derby

Favourite bar: Anywhere with a great cocktail menu

Quote of the moment: ‘Shopping is my cardio’ – some of my favourite words of wisdom from Carrie Bradshaw                                         

Recommended music: We Are Scientists       

Favourite travel destination: New York

Studied at:  University of Sheffield                                Course:  MA English Language & Literature   

Blog: Confessions of a Shopaholic: http://hana-m-m.blogspot.com

Website: Editor of: www.salesgossip.co.uk

 What inspired you to get involved with social media and in particular blogging?

The fact that blogging can give anyone and everyone a voice attracted me. Being a fashion journalist is one of those dream jobs everyone wants to do and blogging provides a great way in.

How did you become involved in with blogging?

After uni when I was looking how to break into the industry I started writing my blog as a portfolio so potential employers could see what I could do.

What inspired you to get involved with the fashion industry?

I’ve always loved fashion. I can’t remember when it started – probably playing dress-up. I used to keep a scrap book of my own designs and would have been tempted to pursue a design career but English was always my strongest subject at school – so fashion writing seems like the perfect mix for me.

Is there anything you wish people would understand about the industry?

That girls who work in fashion aren’t bitches. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been asked if I’ve met any Miranda Priestly types (Devil wears Prada)and I’m sure lots of people I know think I don’t have a ‘proper job’ so to speak, but it is an industry and we all work hard at what we do.

What do you find most challenging about blogging about your topic?

Every day we all see crazy outfits we hate whether out on the streets or on the red carpet – but I’ve always said I wouldn’t post anything negative. I don’t like the whole culture of don’t they look fat/ugly that puts people down.

 Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working on your blog?

It was through my blog that I got the job as Editor of SalesGossip. Zabetta, the CEO and founder read my blog and got in touch to ask if I’d like to be guest blogger on the site and my role developed from there.
How would someone describe your blogging style?

I got a nice comment a while back from someone who said I have a ‘witty style all of my own’ – which I thought was a really lovely compliment. Wit is something I associate with the likes of Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde, and where I can’t hope to compete with their genius, it’s true I love puns and word play – so maybe it comes from that.
What do you do when you aren’t working on your blog?

More blogging! I’m the Editor for a sales alert site called SalesGossip (www.salesgossip.co.uk), so most of the time I’m tracking down great bargains to blog about. Once away from my laptop I love going to galleries and exhibitions. I recently went to see Princess Diana’s dresses on display at Kensington Palace and the Louboutin retrospective at The Design Museum is next on my list.
What networking do you do that you feel helps the blogging business most?

Something I’ve learned is how incredibly important networking actually is. That old adage ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ is true. You could write the most amazing content, but if the right people don’t see it…

I’m quite a shy person, but I’d say if you’re invited to an event then go. You never know who you might meet. Press shows are great opportunity to meet people and going along shows your interest in the brand/designer – plus you might even get some freebies!

How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog? Many people struggle with coming up with different articles/posts and they only have one blog.

Fashion never sleeps. There’s always something new and exciting to write about, whether it’s a new label launch or the latest looks on the red carpet, so writers block has never been an issue for me. It’s more a case of picking out the stories which appeal to me and, importantly, fit with the style of whichever blog I happen to be writing for.
What’s your strategy in general? A lot of people are interested in blogging for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

Being realistic, it’s not an industry where you can just roll up and start earning instantly. It takes a lot of time and energy to make the contacts and build up lasting relationships which result in payment. Personally, my strategy was never to make lots of money through my blog directly – by generating advertising revenue, for example – but to use it as a portfolio so potential employers could see my work.
What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?

The Cosmopolitan blog awards nomination was great publicity. I had only been blogging a couple of months when this came along, so it was a huge surprise. Twitter is great for networking and increasing visibility and I really should push it more. One thing I would say is let brands/designers know if you’ve written about them. It could help kick-start a working relationship.

Everyone has a favourite/least favourite post. Name yours and why?

Favourite? Well, my number of page views went through the roof when I posted about David Beckham’s underwear range for H&M! As for least favourite, any post where I’ve only included images. I’m never happy if I’ve not had time to write a thorough review.

What’s your take on sponsored reviews?

Come on, who doesn’t love a freebie? In my opinion sponsored reviews are a perk of the job, but there is a way of going about it. If you have been given something, say so. If you don’t like a product, don’t go there. I’ve heard a few stories about bloggers asking for free stuff, and I know they say ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’ but personally I think it’s rude.

Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?

The best thing about blogging is that it is so inclusive – anyone can have a go, so everyone who has gone ahead and put their content out there for the world to read deserves to be recognised. The Clothes Whisperer, Susie Bubble and Liberty London Girl are great examples of very successful career bloggers whose content I love.

If you had to pick a celebrity wardrobe whose would it be and why?

Victoria Beckham. Always my favourite Spice Girl, she’s progressed from pop star and wag to become a bone fide designer. Her designs are simple, sophisticated and so flattering of the female form.

If you could go back in time what year would you got and why…or you can go into the future?!!

It would definitely be back in time – I’m a sucker for a good old fashioned costume drama and I’m more than a little bit obsessed with Pride and Prejudice – so it would have to be the turn of the 19th century for me.

Hannah thank you so much for your time, I really enjoyed getting to know you and anyone else who enjoyed getting to know this fabulous fashion blogger please follow Hannah on twitter for the latest news, tips and advice on fashion. Oh and some amazing deals that aren’t to be missed!!!!

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A Mouth-watering Menu Melbourne

Looking for a new place to go for brekkie? Look no further GALLERY 324 Toorak Road is the place to go. Great atmosphere, excellent service and most of all a delicious menu that not only tastes and smells amazing it leaves you with a hunger for more of where that came from!!

GALLERY like Melbourne itself is Australian, European and multi-cultural with an awesome twist of class. This trendy find is not just a place for a great coffee, naughty cakes and mind blowing breakfasts the menu extends. GALLERY caters to all your needs, tastes and budgets at almost any time of the day at home or in the relaxing GALLERY space.

GALLERY is in a league of its own, this isn’t any old place or take away this is some where you can truly rely on. The team get it right every time whether it’s a romantic night for two, a friendly share, a corporate event or a party.

Now please do go to the website and check out the mouth-watering menu, you won’t be disappointed. Oh and one more thing, please help share the love by Tweeting, Face-booking and any other kind of social ing!

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Interview with Posh Fruit, amazing artist

And this is what happens when Creative Director Lara Ostertag and Claire Bentley-Smith get together…it’s dangerously amazing and very desirable. Claire a.k.a Poshfruit has brought an image from Lara’s Twisted Heritage shoot to life in a whole new way, I’m blown away by the transformation.

Claire Bentley-Smith knows how to maximise time and yet still remains to be extremely skilled, being efficient and effective on this scale is a serious juggle. There is no doubt about it… this lady is highly organised, determined and hungry. A mother, a cat carer, a body painter, production designer, illustrator prop maker, art director, teacher and the list continues… this is a sweet smell of success.

Poshfruit somehow had time to answer a few questions and not half heartedly, she has given 110% percent and it was a real pleasure getting to know this talented young lady. So now ladies and gentlemen I present to you Claire Bentley-Smith a.k.a. Poshfruit

Favourite food: 

Food and cooking is a huge pleasure of mine and I’ve been very interested in healthy nutrition for many years. Firstly, as I used be a party girl, I used healthy eating to try to re-dress the balance, in my mind at least but now it is a natural way of life.  I love to cook with game as I think it’s a very healthy way to eat meat but we only eat meat in about 50% of meals. As for dining out, I love everything from a good Sunday roast, world foods, fine dining or the occasional Ikea hotdog!

Favourite bar:

Since having my son I rarely have the luxury of going to bars any more but in Leeds we are spoiled with many great ones. Through my work as a body-painter and production designer I’ve worked in many of them but I’ve worked at Bar Fibre for the longest and as their window display person for 10 years am part of the furniture now. I Love its flamboyance and being part of a great family team! For lunch with the girls and kids it is often Normans or Nation of Shopkeepers but Neon Cactus & Jakes Bar & Distrikt are always the best for evening drinkies with old friends behind the bar and a shimmy round the dance floor to cool music!

 

Favourite Restaurant: In London it’s Bentleys Seafood Restaurant, just off Piccadilly, as my father took me there from being very young and we would sit at the bar chatting to the staff as they opened hundreds of oysters.  In Leeds I take my son to Little Tokyo Japanese for lunch as it’s so healthy, Normans for their fried chicken wings (the crack cocaine of the food world), Harvey Nichols 4th Floor & Gauchos for occasional decadence and the Deer Park Pub in Roundhay for the best Sunday roast after a walk round the lake!.

Quote of the moment:    

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life… as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
 Booker T. Washington quotes

Recommended music:

All sorts, depending on mood! I’ve passionately lived through many generations of dance music so I have nostalgic favourites spanning the last 20years and as I work in clubs I am surrounded with this constantly evolving genre. I adore classical & jazz for working to including anything from Eartha Kitt, Ella, Nina etc to Amy Winehouse & Corrine Bailey Ray, Nouvelle Vague, Melody Gardot and the like. For more up-beat listening my fave album of the moment is Bag Raiders and elecro music such as Ted & Francis, Chromeo, Maceo Plex, Neon Neon…………..and I love Spotify Radio for finding new stuff I’ve never heard!

Favourite travel destination:

Not so much the destination as the travelling, I love it!! I have many favourite places and have travelled all my life so am happy in the tropics, on beaches, learning cultures, being active. I took my son to Australia, Thailand and Cyprus last year but, at 2, he was really too small to appreciate it all but we’ve just come back from snowy fun in the French Alps and looking forward to Barcelona & Ibiza this summer! Wish we could travel more but with 2 Darling cats we are prevented locking the house up and deserting!

Studied at: Leeds College of Art                                    Course:   BA Visual Communications Degree

What influenced you to do Fashion Design HND and BA(honours) degree in Visual Communications? And why did you pick Leeds?

At the time I started college at 16 I was going through quite tumultuous times in my family life and this had an effect on my concentration and also brought the move from Kent boarding school to Yorkshire to be nearer to my Father. I started a foundation course first and at the time found myself really frustrated that we spent so much time making pictures from spaghetti and the like, so I swapped to fashion as I adored illustration and designing and had more time to draw with purpose. I suppose my art practice was further forward than the foundation course catered for. Following that I started the Fashion Degree at University of Northumberland at Newcastle but I had to leave after 4 months to look after my Dad who passed away soon afterwards. As sole benefactor of his estate & business it took 2 years to tie up probate and then I moved to Leeds to be near friends and went back to Uni ……….and stayed!

Who are your favourite artists and influences?

So many to mention as I like things I wouldn’t paint myself, and get influenced even by things I dislike! I adore and admire most genres of art & design and love the way art is such a link between the sociology, political landscape, fashion, music and culture of any particular time. Whilst I learn draughtsmanship from the great masters and their figurative techniques I also admire contemporary work, deconstructing traditions, finding beauty in strange places and challenging us to think differently all the time.  In my illustration work I am really influenced by such artists as Gerald Scarf, David Downton and the late Ronald Searle and I only consider myself at the beginning of my painting career and a fledgling so am constantly influenced by many things currently.

You went to boarding school as a child in Kent  and spent a lot of your child hood immersed in culture in South East Asia as well as Australia,  Africa & Europe what was it like growing up such a diverse style? What are your memories? Was this an easy lifestyle?

There were immense highs and lows of having such a childhood. Whilst living in exotic places had, what we all think, as huge luxuries such as palacial homes & servants, in reality, as an only child of a single parent who spent much time travelling for work I was isolated, lonely and at times left in a very vulnerable situation. The culture, history and beauty I experienced whilst living in those countries was indeed amazing but the loneliness was equally devastating and when political unrest was at it’s highest, after President Akino was assassinated in Manilla I asked my Dad if I could go to boarding school in the UK. Being a boarder immediately immersed me in a family of friends and brought routine and stability with girls I had lots in common with. I loved every minute of boarding school and as a kid that had little family and a pretty rocky past it was brilliant fun and I made life long friends I still have to this day!

Do you think your history plays a key influence in the diversity of your work today?

Well, I am very adaptable, liberal in my views and draw on the experiences of my past both good & bad for concepts & ideas. As I have so many strings to my bow professionally I suppose that my past has helped me work independently and given me the drive to succeed. That said, when I lost my Dad I went off the rails for a long time whilst I rebelled and wasn’t as productive as I should have been and I still punish myself for not being further ahead with my career, but that was the grieving process and there’s no time limit for it!

In 2007 you travelled around the world taking undertaking art projects in Thailand, stock horses in Australia and nudes in L.A what was it like working in these places and different environments?

It is always easy to be inspired when travelling and as long as one packs some decent brushes, it’s easy to find paint to buy in most places and plenty of people who love art. I have a real interest in the trading of art for bed or food when travelling and I’d love to do a project in future travelling and trading artwork, mural paintings and see how far and what I could get. In this age of consumerism and financial unrest it is a comforting back-to-basics way to survive; swapping something that comes natural to you and gives people pleasure. I’d like to see if I could make a documentary about this actually. I’m planning to take my son away over next new-year to India so perhaps I could develop my idea then I hope??

What are the challenges and highlights of working around the world?

 

At the moment it is challenging having a toddler who needs constant vigilance and 2 cats at home that need looking after! Otherwise it’s easy to find work as word of mouth is the best advertisement. Everywhere I’ve painted so far there have been further requests for paintings and nothing is better than hearing the sea lapping as you paint and seeing the joy and smiles of people enjoying your work.

In addition to teaching at several locations around Leeds you also manage to squeeze in face painting, how did this come about?

I’ve worked in the club industry a long time and thought it could be a fun side-line, but it has taken off brilliantly and is now a significant part of my work. I look forward to doing more artistic body painting with upcoming projects for fashion stylists but even painting faces at events is fun and gives people pleasure, which I love!

What are your favourite pieces of work?

It changes on a daily basis, especially as I work in such a diversity of mediums and genres. I’m usually not too happy with work on completion then it grows on me, unless it sells right away, that’s my favourite work, the ones that put food on the table, haha! No, always the horses & people!

In particular I was blown away by 3, 4 & 7 or your original portraits and illustrations and all of you horse and animals work…how long did these pieces take and what was involved?(please find pics on the poshfruit website)

The drawings done  with wire dipped in ink are very quick , half an hour perhaps, but I usually do several before I get into the swing of it and one bad move means a new page. I do portraits drawn with a feather quill in 10 minutes which is good for parties, whereas oil paints take a long time to layer up and drying time in between colours & varnishing , throw a toddler into the mix and it takes me a month to do an oil! Window paintings in town are simpler in technique and I seem to be fast a working large scale and murals a bit longer as they’re permanent.

 

I reeeeally liked no.1 of your sample illustrations from working alongside Ibiza DJ Erick Morillo  how was it working with him and will you be doing more for him in the future?

I didn’t get to meet him personally but the project was through a friend of mine who ran his label & PR etc.

What are your key tools, favourite software’s and programmes for creating amazing work? Have you got a favourite that works its magic on all types of work?

Although I do use Photoshop & illustrator to clean up and put colour/filters on some work I am fiercely proud that the basis of my work is traditional draughtsmanship! Only years of patient practice and observation can hone those skills and no amount of technology can fake it! I use wire to draw with which is unusual but makes for an unpredictable line that is also very detailed when handled gently. I also challenge myself to draw & paint with varying mediums & scales so this prevents one becoming jaded and precious.

Why when and how did you come to collaborate with Lara Ostertag?

I’ve known Lara socially for many years and we’ve always had creativity in common, she’s always looked immaculately styled and stood out which I admire in people. As her career has blossomed over the last several years she has been dedicating every moment of her spare time to creating inspired fashion shoots and I have been delighted to assist with styling along the way (toddler allowing). As things have taken off for both of us we often use each other as sounding boards and voices of reason and I hope our working relationship can continue to give us both the strength to go much further and be mutually beneficial for a long time.

What’s happening this year, what can we be expecting?

Absolutely all sorts, no project is ever the same and that’s why I’m incredibly lucky to have a career that keeps me inspired. I’ve just finished making a mirrored crucifix for a Drag-Queen show at the Viaduct Showbar and this week installing a promo window display for Cream, bank holiday party at Mission Nightclub. I’m also illustrating for several projects, body painting lithe Lovelies for Tongue ‘n’ Cheek Events and researching a restaurant mural painting to come. All very exciting!

What are your words of wisdom for anyone interested in getting involved in your line of work?

Develop good relationships with your suppliers, mine are the key to creating slick work, on time for the best price! I can’t say hard work got me where I am as, in truth, being a party girl for years meant I was part of the establishment that gave me much of my work to start with and still remain clients to this day. I certainly think you can’t be a wall flower in the events world or for the murals and widow painting as you are often working in public and with different teams all the time.

With regards to drawing & painting skills, there’s NO short cuts so practice, practice, practice, see exhibitions, observe and go see your subject in real life………no copying from books……………or google!

If you could have a celebrity wardrobe, who’s wardrobe would you have and why?

Vivienne Westwood of course………………LOVE! (reminds me of someone else i know…Lara Ostertag!!)

If you could go back/forward in time which year would you visit and why?

December 21st 1994, to tell my Darling Daddy not to go!

Please follow Poshfruit on Twitter and do check out her fab website. Thanks again Claire.

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The future is geo-metric, the future is Bracher Emden

It’s almost non-stop for Richard Emden and his amazing team at Bracher Emden, since our last communication back in December Bracher Emden have been working very hard on some more fabulous designs for the SS12 collection. (now launched online)

The image above showcases collaboration of designs with Jean-Pierre Braganza and if we take a closer look you can see exactly why this collaboration was so spectacular…

Jean-Pierre Braganza and Richard Emden both share a keen eye for the female shape as well as both being inspired by comics, science fiction and futurism. ‘Bracher Emden’s signature style is all about structure and 3-dimensional shapes.  We never venture far from this; even our soft day bags include an element of structure, in their appliqué or shape’.

In December I remember Richard saying ‘I have always had a passion for anything futuristic, and SS12 has been the best time to let this lead my designs. Futuristic trends and geometric shapes are huge right now’ and it seems this trend is expected to continue into the future. Last season saw the launch the Geo Tote & Geo Clutch with appliquéd geometric layers of leather ‘I’ve always been inspired by comic books, HR Geiger, anything Sci-Fi & futuristic, so when I saw the ‘geometric’ trend returning I jumped on it’.

This years London Fashion Week also saw the Bracher Emden brand collaborate with Bora Aksu whose work has been described as dark, romantic and elaborate. I love Bora Aksu and Bracher Emden so to see them collaborate is an exciting moment.

Perhaps you’re wondering how these collaborations came about… Bracher Emden is a reasonably small, independent brand, a proud British label that have managed to stay successful throughout the past ten years in the Fashion industry.  ‘We wanted to extend our designs and products to different markets, and the best way to do this was through the collaborations’. Bracher Emden has their own design and production team as factories won’t touch their products,our bags a very detailed and must be handmade individually , so the process is rather drawn out.  I usually make several mock-ups of each design to test the shapes and sizes, and then when they are perfect, we will produce the final sample’.

As Bracher Emden has its own design and production team it is able to work closely with each designer in producing a bag specific to their collection. Richard Emden can test and try all kinds of designs and materials allowing him to extend his design skills and inspiration.’We chose these designers because, one, they suit our brand.  Jean-Pierre’s structure and geometric print and Bora’s dark romantic elaborate designs.  They are both extremely talented designers.  We also wanted to support London Fashion Week designers.  They have both been a dream to work for, despite the tight deadlines and last minute dramas!’.

London Fashion Week was a very busy time for Bracher Emden and so it should be after all the hard work and efforts that goes into showcasing new designs. It isn’t just a day job, the team are working through the nights to make sure deadlines and high standards are met. Richard Emden managed a half an hour break before returning to the hard work ‘the catwalk shows were amazing, and once the designs had been sent to each designer, I could sit back and watch the show, for atleast half an hour and then I was back to designing the new styles for our AW12 mainline’.

Bracher Emden has an extremely efficient, creative and effective in-house press and marketing team working their magic behind the scenes. ‘They dream up ideas each season (e.g. the taxi service) and plan every detail in time for the shows.  It’s all been pretty organised in the run up to London Fashion Week’. The taxi service was to offered editors during London Fashion Week, which was ‘Bracher Emden’ branded and offered a goody bag inside.  Editors could go from show to show stress free!

Tala Elle Samman founder of the amazing ‘My Fash Diary’ was one of Bracher Emden’s honored bloggers to be picked up by one of these fantastic cabs ‘The Black cab was adorable… it waited for me with a big sign saying ‘TALA’ from my pick up points’. Please visit Tala’s post to find out more on what was in the cab!!

We were really busy this London Fashion Week, which was great!  Preparing the taxi was probably the most stressful for our team as they had to deal with the logistics of it all, whilst also being at the show!’. In addition there were the usual touch ‘n’ go moments like materials not arriving in time, tight deadlines and working through the night to get the amount of bags needed for each show.  But this is a normality now, and the team are all used to it at Bracher Emden!

Most recently the Bracher Emden team have been enjoying the Paris Fashion Week but still very busy selling products to stores at Premiere Classe. Twitter and Facebook have been sharing their positive experience ‘J’adore Paris’!!

Obviously, the catwalk shows for JPB and Bora Aksu were the highlights at Bracher Emden as well as the great feedback from all of the press (an exclusive with Grazia daily, Elle.com tweeting about  the taxi along with the millions of comments on their bags).  There were a few other favourite designs that caught the eye of the Bracher Emden team and surprisingly one thinks, geo-metric and futurisitic!! So please do check out the Bracher Emden blog for an interesting read and fab images.

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Amazing Givenchy Shoes

I recently discovered SCANLAN & THEODORE along Chapel Street in Melbourne, it’s an amazing boutique with the most fabulous items or should I say treasures. It’s the first and only place to currently stock these amazing Givenchy shoes…

I love the fact they’re armadillo print, for someone who is mildly obssessed by leopard print these are a nice change and the zip detail outlining the shape of the boot make them extra special. These are the kind of boots you get stopped in wherever you are to be told ‘I love your boots’ and ‘where did you get them from?’

SCANLAN & THEODORE are a leading Australian fashion label boutique or should I say boutiques as they are dotted in a few places…Paddington, Chatswood, David Jones (Sydney) Armadale, David Jones (Melbourne City), South Yarra, Fortitude Valley (Brisbane), Adelaide, Perth (Claremont).

I really recommend this wonderful boutique, the staff are fantastic, stylish and helpful.

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