14th March 2018No Comments

Buying custom: Why ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t work anymore

Personalised, tailor-made or bespoke anything has always had an air of exclusivity about it, usually with a price tag to match. Now however, brands across several industries are offering custom products to suit the individual— beauty, fragrance, healthcare to name a few.

Why the change? Let me tell you…

  • Versatile products — A skin cream that does three things and not just one, what’s not to love? Once the ‘multitasking’ product firmly claimed it’s place, it was only a matter of time before bespoke came along.
  • Diversity — Most industries are realising that no single customer is the same and can fit into the four ideals you make for them. So catering to each and every one is becoming increasingly important. For example, there’s more choice for afro haircare in the mass market thanks to the likes of Bouclè Me and The Afro hair and Skin Co.
  • Social Media — Platforms like Instagram have provided an incentive to have a bigger conversation and allowed people to experiment with different looks and ideas. Sharing is the norm and most people are now discovering new brands through just their social channels.
  • Shattering ideals — The backlash of the ‘ideal body’ was a big one, empowering more women to embrace their natural selves and not aspire to an unrealistic representation. More and more people are taking control of how the media is shaping how we see things.

 

Bouclè me haircare

Bouclè Me

With Social media playing a key part in the conversations that take place, it has changed the way we perceive brands and how we make purchases. Brands are having to listen to the comments and chatter about themselves, their industry and how their customers are feeling to ensure they stay relevant and provide valuable goods. Emily Weiss behind beauty brand Glossier really believes this; “What we’re seeing through social media is the democratisation of the beauty industry,” she says. “The customer is becoming the marketer, she’s electing which brands win by posting what she’s using on social media — whether she has 200 followers, 2,000 or 2 million. Your opinion as a woman in beauty has never been more valuable.”(via The Telegraph)

buying custom Glossier beauty

Glossier

 

Thriva Health

Thriva via Thrivo.com

Genetic testing company 23andMe disrupted the scene with an easy way to discover more about your DNA makeup than ever before. You can find out your ancestry, any future health risks you might face and even things like your sleep. Health checks have also been made easier by Thriva, the UK based startup providing blood tests in the post that get analysed by actual doctors. They look at Cholesterol, Liver function, Iron levels, Vitamin D and B12 as part of their subscription product to help track your health every three months.

Talking of subscriptions, they have been huge in certain industries especially Beauty and Food where there’s thousands of products fighting for our attention. Birchbox and Glossybox launched entirely as subscriptions allowing consumers to test products before purchase, whilst Abel & Cole have full flexibility plus recipe inspo with their weekly fruit and veg boxes. Sniphprovides a step into fragrance with curated perfumes to try each month depending on your preferred ‘collection’.

Abel and Cole veg box

Abel and Cole

Sniph perfumes

Sniph perfumes

This is precisely why sample or tester kits work — for me, if I’ve never tried a brand I’d rather try a sample or test out the service before I buy it. Why would you invest in something that won’t truly enhance or assist in your daily life? Now if I’m given a choice to try what I think will work for me, then we have a winner.

Buying bespoke is less about the product and more about how it interacts with your life. Putting the power into the hand of the consumer, by giving them a chance to be involved with the design of a product is a part of the experience, rather than just being a consumer of the product. With new technology becoming more seamlessly integrated into our interactions, it’s definitely going to support the growth of being able to customise every aspect of our lives. We’re all different and it’s about time we’re able to celebrate it!

14th March 2018No Comments

A vision for 2018: Goals and habits

New Years resolutions aren’t for me, plus they’re not really all that effective. You can make change any time of the year right? However, this January for me marks the start of a journey I chose to take, shaping my life the way I want it to be. It started by quitting my job before Christmas — a nice shock to the system. Once that hard decision was made, I set about making some lifelong habits and goals.

After thinking about going freelance again and giving it a good go (along with various pet projects on a slow burn). Why not now? Planning and visualising has been the key thing to help me feel some kind of balanced so here we are. The year ahead looks scary and challenging but also exciting and promising.

To top it off, I turn 30 this year so it’s even more prevalent that my life is mine to live, so take it by the horns and go! I made a list of goals before 30 as well as a Vision Board for the year ahead.

Travel takes a firm position with Cuba, Mauritius for Rav’s birthday, the Algarve and Florence. Then there’s the goal of being as fit and healthy as I can be through exercise, working with Social Impact businesses and getting further into Fragrance.

2018 Goals and habits

However, there are lifelong habits I’m looking to make which will help improve my overall wellbeing;

  • Meditate each morning and make it a ritual — when I’ve consistently done this it’s really helped to keep my busy brain calm! I’ve used apps like Headspace and Daily Calm as I never have much time.
  • Make sure I have a better quality of sleep — I’m a bad sleeper. Stressful periods will keep me up, my brain won’t stop wanting to reflect on the day. Sleep is so crucial and proven to be the secret sauce to productivity, so more of that please.
  • Read, read, read — I haven’t finished a book for what feels like years. I love the physical feel of books so have been slowly stocking up and now I really need to get a move on! I prefer to read non-fiction — marketing, productivity, fragrance, blogging, psychology. Anything I can learn something.
  • Create — I used to paint, draw, you name it and I’m determined to get back to my creative self. So I want to create, anything and more often.

So here’s to 2018 — spreading my wings and hope to fly!

14th March 2018No Comments

Gifts that keep on giving – Help Refugees

We all know or are aware of the huge refugee crisis happening right now so you don’t need me to tell you about it again. It’s horrific and needs to stop and hopefully you feel the same? Thankfully there’s also lots of people that want to help in whatever way possible, not just the big charities. I found this particular organisation on Facebook by chance — doesn’t happen often!

Leveraging the power of Popups, the time of year and location, Help Refugees UK have just opened their (temporary) doors to the public. Instead of trawling through well-designed shirts and artisanal candles, you can choose to buy various aid items such as meal ingredients or a child’s coat.

‘Choose Love’ is the first of it’s kind to bring this mainstream into the retail arena by offering real items that refugees would need at various stages in their journey. Everything is simply laid out and clearly labelled with a price attached to the item itself. The friendly team are on hand to help, advise and give you more info.

Help Refugees UK London popup

Three simple steps to shop with heart

Help Refugees UK London popup

Clear statistics to show how resources help

Alongside the items of aid, you can purchase a ‘Choose Love’ sweatshirt to take away with you if you still want a piece of something and show your support.

The season of giving is upon us so why not give to those who really need help to get them through what could be, a fatal journey. Conveniently located in Soho, it’s in prime position for the Christmas hoards (and you maybe?). You might not leave with a thing, but at least you leave with a warm fuzzy feeling that no other retail therapy can bring!

They opened on Black Friday (24th November) until Christmas Eve (24th December) at 18 Broadwick Street, Soho, London W1F 8HS.

They continue to sell online so you can still support!

Follow Help Refugees on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Help Refugees UK London Popup

Some of the items on sale

Help Refugees UK London Popup

Sweatshirts for sale

14th March 2018No Comments

Pause. Take five. Have a breather.

Hello. Hi. So we have a new camera and the husband wanted to have a go so here you’ll see various images of my face, but the lovely lavender fields make it kinda nice no? Plus, he did a pretty good job on the Lightroom action don’t you think? Anyway, whilst you remember the feeling of calming lavender, hold that thought… doesn’t it feel good to just pause for a second and feel the silence?

The epitome of modern life is pretty much the word ‘busy’. That’s all we ever are and that’s all everyone else is. Too busy to enjoy the time spent with loved ones, too busy to make time to eat well and too busy to just — be. We’re all so blinded by our own ideas and thoughts of what life should be that we forget to actually enjoy it. That’s not to say doing life is easy, oh no. I know it’s not. The amount of choice, freedom and reach we have is actually crazy— we can do anything, now that we have a mini computer connecting us to the world in our pocket.

Mayfields Lavender farm Banstead

We all want to do more, see more, be more, whilst keeping an eye on what our peers are doing but always being ‘on’ is exhausting. You can’t always have your shit together, it’s not sustainable or healthy. When you have a large majority of people realising that it’s all getting too much and even getting ill from stress and anxiety, the world of wellbeing and mindfulness was born. Now, the ideas are not in any way new or revolutionary (a conversation for another day) but simply updated to fit our modern world.

Sometimes, its just difficult to manage everything whilst keeping a composed exterior let alone interior. I’ve struggled for many years managing my stress and anxiety levels — it really doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist by nature and a lover of order. There’s plenty of tactics and tips to help manage our daily lives so I’d like to share a few that have really helped me that may help you too.

Neom Organics — I love everything about this brand from the branding to the transparency in everything they do. My favourite items are the rollerball treatments; Intensive Stress Relief and Intensive Mood lifting. They’re perfect for keeping in your bag to use on your pulse points and take a deep breath. It’s the best for when you have one of those days when you’re literally up to your eyeballs and feel like it won’t ever end.

Headspace — When I’m extremely stressed or have a lot on, I tend not to sleep well at all. No amount of pillow spray will work so Headspace has really helped to calm my mind before bed. I know it’s more of a guided meditation app that most people use for ten minutes of calm during the day but I found focusing my mind when I can’t sleep just helps put everything back in it’s place if that makes sense. Download it and have a try, another app called The Daily Calm is good too.

Fitness — I hate to say it, but a good sweat is the best thing in times of extreme anxiety and stress. I can’t recommend enough that when you’re going through something hard, an intense workout consistently, like HIIT (High intensity interval training) is the closest to medicine. Going to the gym almost daily helped me to focus on a goal I had complete control over and helped me overcome a period of depression. So yes, I seriously recommend it, especially when you think you can’t.

The great outdoors — By outdoors I mean out of a city environment and into somewhere open, preferably with lots of green and trees around. The easiest thing is to head to your nearest park. Take your shoes and socks off and just stand barefoot on the grass. Not only does this ground you, it just brings a sense of calm that only being like this can. Obviously, when it’s raining a simple walk in the park is just as good.

Mayfields Lavender farm Banstead

The most important thing I’ve learnt is to have self-awareness. By listening to your body and your feelings, you’re better equipped to manage yourself and ultimately everything around you. It’s easy to snap at someone if you’re feeling particularly under it that day, but the minute you’re more open to being aware of what you’re feeling you can stop it in its tracks by helping yourself. Self-awareness takes time to develop because it’s about listening to your body and reacting in a way to manage your feelings, but also to assess your thoughts before they become words you can’t take back. But if you’ve read this far, I’m pretty sure you’re already on your way to figuring this out.

What helps you keep calm and feeling well?

Mayfields Lavender farm Banstead

13th March 2018No Comments

Living a minimal life

Since leaving home a few years ago and riding the rent wave with my now husband, it’s fair to say we’re more than accustomed to moving. For the average person I’m aware that I had a lot of ‘stuff’ — bags and boxes of it. The first time round it was about getting used to having an extra person in the bed and their way of living. But moving a couple times more is where it got real — er why do we have so much stuff?

Rav and I are all for efficiency and simplicity but it seems it wasn’t being applied in our living space. So first things to go were clothes and shoes. This started the bug and we were throwing things left, right and centre. Even then 10 laundry bags, countless boxes and storage later…

I’ve actively been trying to streamline my wardrobe for a while now to have just good quality staples and build on that. But being someone who likes colour and the odd print, it’s been really tough choosing which ones to keep! Black, white and grey are my go-to colours that always make up at least one part of an outfit so a pop of colour never hurt anyone. The Minimalists have also been a huge source of this change and thinking.

I digress — the point here is that chaos ensued because of all the ‘things’ we’ve accumulated for mostly no reason. Plus, irritable is an understatement when I can’t think straight because of the mess! (Sorry husband). It feels so good to get rid of unnecessary items that I just know I have no use for — Will I really miss a pair of 3 inch gladiator heels I haven’t worn since university? I think not. Heels are a rarity now.

Living a minimal life storage
So now the resolution is to keep everything minimal from how everything is stored and what I wear, to how admin is organised. Being creative helps — just because a shelving unit might be designed for living rooms, what’s to say it can’t be an alternative to a chest of drawers. Technology and contemporary design has made our lives so much more efficient so the less stuff I have the better! After all, it’s all about collecting experiences and not things right?

13th March 2018No Comments

The future of customer loyalty

With so many brands and offers open to us as consumers, companies are having to be more creative to keep our loyalty. Traditionally a loyalty scheme involves a card to collect points upon spend. However, with customers expecting more from their favourite brands, rewards are needing to be more relevant to the general audience or to a specific customer segment.

Whilst there might be more consumer data collected than ever, how is it being used and is it being used well? Data will tell the most about consumers behaviour, which is why bigger companies have started to look at their own data to pick up on trends to tailor rewards. Whilst the reward offerings may need to expand, it will only benefit the brand as it promotes further coverage with brand partnerships.

Customer experience is closely tied to loyalty; the experience should be good enough to make customers not want to leave. Making it easy to give feedback aids this, allowing one ear on customers and their needs at all times. I can relate to this, when my favourite websites have an easy to find feedback form or more than one way to connect instantly and easily. Making everything easier for the customer is king to ensure the big C (conversion) is met.

the-future-of-customer-loyalty

Tailored offers based on search or previous purchases doesn’t seem enough to keep a customer anymore. There needs to be value added to the customer in some way to encourage further purchases. For example, Abel & Cole send out emails on recipe ideass for your latest Veg box, or offers on new items based on previous purchases. This adds value in giving them more than just the product.

With the big shift to mobile, its been more important to ensure the mobile experience is just as good if on a laptop. This has even extended to the in-store experience to be as seamless as online, especially with millennials. So with all these forces influenced by the consumer, it literally pays to listen to them.

13th March 2018No Comments

We only have each other to help

This is Palo. Palo lives in Punjab, India in a village near the city of Ludhiana. Strict society and cultural ideals see her as the bottom of the pile because of her caste on top of being female. She was married young and so was never able to study or get a regular job. The same fate applies to her daughter and now daughter in law. The only job she is able to get is to wash, clean and take out rubbish in other peoples houses for food and a little money in return. That might not sound that bad, but in a village in India its very different.

This reality check was all on recent trip to India. Now I know this realisation isn’t new or a surprise, but it hit home so hard I had to take notice of the changes it brought about in me. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting involved with or starting something to support women like Palo. This experience cemented my feelings and urged me to do something to help.

I’m not sure how this will all manifest and grow but for now I’m doing my research. I'm looking to other brands that are doing similar. Looking at how brands are helping others through their business is so encouraging and inspiring me to do the same. Most of us are so lucky to have had an education, jobs and a roof over our heads whilst so many don’t. So why not help if we’re able to?

So now is the time I’ll throw my fear out of the window and enjoy the ride this takes me on and the wonderful people I know I’ll meet.