Living a healthier, happier life

Meet Amy Rom, a former teacher who retrained as a health coach after having children. She brings a unique and honest approach to helping others achieve a healthy relationship with food and maintaining a positive body image. Amy shares her career story and tips for nurturing a healthy mind, body and soul.

How did you become a health coach?

After embarking on the first of innumerable life long diets while still at primary school, it’s fair to say that my battles with food and my body have shaped most of my life. It wasn’t until I was fast approaching 40 that I finally decided that enough was enough.

I have two young children (now 6 and 8) and I wanted to do all I possibly could to prevent them from wasting their energy fighting similar exhausting battles with body image. The best way to prevent this happening is to prove that I can be happy, healthy and confident in my own “imperfect” body. So I started reading, learning and soul-searching until I reached a place where I now feel more comfortable in my own skin than ever before.

I took a career break from my previous teaching role in order to raise our two children, and just as my youngest started school, I decided to put my experience to good use by embarking on a change of career. I’d felt so empowered by the lessons I’d learned that I wanted spread the message far and wide. I knew that I’d be able to offer a slightly different perspective to many of the other health coaches out there, because I look nothing like your average yoga toned health coach! I have a wobbly, 40-year-old, size 16 body and I wanted to prove that if I can make peace with my body, and lead a healthy and happy life, then anyone can!

After gaining a Diet and Nutrition Advisors diploma I then decided to take my education further by embarking on the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) Health Coach Training programme. I loved my year with IIN and shortly after finishing the course I established my coaching website happilicious.co.uk.

My thirst for knowledge hasn’t yet been satiated and I’m now embarking on a Psychology of Eating diploma – something that I’m very excited about!

What are your top tips for women who want to regain a healthy relationship with food and their bodies

  1. Nurture yourself
    I love the concept that we should treat ourselves as we would a small child: eat good nutritious food; offer ourselves words of comfort, love and encouragement; get plenty of sleep; and try to get some fresh air every day!
  2. Social media detox
    Try to distance yourself from diet culture and instead cultivate your own happy social media party. Speaking from personal experience, it really helps if you start following accounts which showcase real, every day bodies. Women of a similar age to you, complete with wobbles, lumps, bumps and stretch marks. The more you are exposed to these body types, the more you appreciate that they (and you!) are totally normal. The media has dominated and twisted our view of female bodies for such a long time that we now have to work hard to redress the balance.
  3. Crowding out, not cutting out
    We could all write a book on the foods that the diet industry tell us we should cut out. But once you start concentrating on all of the things that you can’t have, you automatically feel deprived and hard done by. So try shifting your focus. What goodness can you crowd IN to your diet? You’ll find that by just making this one simple mindset shift, your food options are suddenly abundant and the world looks like a much brighter place!
  4. Feed the soul
    We all know that in the real world, food isn’t just fuel; it plays an important emotional part in many aspects of our culture and pretending that it doesn’t is a waste of time. Take the time to really notice and appreciate how the food that you eat makes you. Most of the time food is nourishment for your body, but there are also many occasions when it becomes nourishment for the soul – and that is totally legitimate! But likewise when we are missing fulfilment in other areas of our life, we sometimes try to fill the gap with food. Pay attention to what really lights you up.
  5. Ditch the inner bitch
    This is something that I talk about A LOT, because I believe it’s so important! So many of us are trapped in a perpetual cycle of negative self talk which does nothing but make us miserable. If your best mate came and told you that her new man was talking to her in the same way that you talk to yourself, you’d tell her to get out of that abusive relationship quick smart. Notice when that inner bitch is piping up and make a conscious effort to silence her. Tell her to shut the f**k up, and then find alternative words to fill the gap – a positive affirmation that you can memorise and repeat to yourself works a treat.

Amy is following…

Taryn Brumfitt: the lady behind the inspirational Embrace Documentary. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should!

Louise Green (Big Fit Girl): an awesome plus size fitness trainer and triathlete.

Dana Falsetti: a plus size yogi who makes me realise that all yoga poses are accessible to me, I just have to practice.


Amy’s work

Through Happilicious, I offer a one to one coaching programme which can take place face to face at my office in Truro, or via Skype. If you’d like to find out more call me for a chat to see if coaching would work for you.

I’m also preparing to launch an online programme where you’ll be able to work at your own pace through a range of materials. If this is something that appeals to you, why not join my mailing list for all of the latest Happilicious updates? You’ll also receive a free seven-day challenge and e-book with other top tips.

If you’re looking for a body positive online body positive community, come and join my Happilicious Living Facebook group which is a private and safe space in which like minded women discuss their successes and trials and share tips, articles and support. We’d love you to join us!

Style tips that don’t go out of fashion

The beginning of a new year is a great time to think about how you want to look. Give your wardrobe a refresh and ensure you’ve got clothes that work for your lifestyle and make you feel good. Here are a few of my simple styling tips to help you smash 2017.

Wear colour

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist

As a Personal Stylist I am always telling my clients about the importance of colour. Wearing the right colours for your skin tone, hair and eye colouring can instantly make you look younger, more radiant and healthier by diminishing lines, blemishes and dark circles, bringing definition to your features and defining your bone structure.

So many men and women opt for black as it is the safe option, goes with everything, think it makes them look slimmer and doesn’t show the dirt. However not everyone can wear black. It can be draining, cast shadows and have a negative and ageing impact. I think black can be boring and dull – if I am wearing black on my top half I will usually glam up with a slick of red lipstick, add statement jewellery or a bright accessory. Most Personal Stylists offer colour analysis as part of their services if you want to find out your most flattering colour palette. Wear colour and shine!

Dress for your body shape

I love fashion and follow the latest trends but I know that not every look will work for me. The high fashion trends we see on the catwalks always diffuse down to the high street in a more wearable look but they still aren’t for everyone. I strongly believe in style over fashion and dressing for your body shape.

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist
Body shapes (left to right): round; rectangle; inverted triangle; triangle; hourglass

Look at your figure, identify your body shape and recognise your best bits to draw attention to and the areas you want to distract from. Don’t be governed by fashion, only wear the trends that are flattering for your figure.

If you love it, buy it!

When personal shopping I always have a plan of action, a list of what my client needs and a targeted approach but actually I’m all for impulse buying too. Sometimes you just spot an item and know it is right for you, in which case if you love it and can afford it, definitely buy it. Most of my favourite things have been bought on impulse, snapped up instantly with no regrets as I know it’s ‘so me’.

If you love it, wear it!

Don’t keep clothes for best. Think of how you can work the items you love and been complimented on into your every day wardrobe. You deserve to feel fantastic all the time so style them up for any occasion. Dress down your favourite dress with a denim shirt over the top. Team those killer heels you bought for your Christmas night out with jeans and a jumper. Wear that summer dress you love also in the colder months layered with tights, boots and a leather jacket. Think about making your wardrobe work harder and wearing your favourite clothes in different ways.

Show your personality

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist

Does your style reflect who you are? If you are stuck in a style rut and need inspiration think of a celeb or someone you know whose style you admire and look at what they wear and how they put together an outfit. Pinterest and Instagram are a great source for style inspiration. Also consider making an appointment with a Personal Stylist. They are no longer just for the rich and famous and will save you time and money in the long run by teaching you how to dress for your colour and shape and avoid making fashion mistakes in the future. They will pass on tips and styling hacks to freshen up what you already have in your wardrobe too.

Add interest to your outfits

Look at how you can implement updates to the clothes you already have in your wardrobe and show your personal style. Experiment with different ways to wear your clothes.

Play with cuffs: roll up sleeves to show off your wrists, a flattering part of a woman’s body and show off bracelets. It’s also fun to layer different sleeve lengths in colder months.

Play with collars: colour on coats and jackets can frame your face or undo an extra button on your shirt to open up the neckline and reveal your décolletage or a layer underneath.

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist

Half tuck your tops: tucking a t-shirt in on one side is a way of adding a little definition to your shape and creates a relaxed look.

Turn up your jeans: experiment with cuff thickness depending on the style of jeans and the shoes you are wearing.

Wear your accessories

Styled by Lucy personal fashion stylist

In my opinion jewellery doesn’t get worn enough. So many of my clients have beautiful items stored away never to be seen. When I ask why, they say it’s either too special or stored in a way that it is forgotten about and not considered when putting an outfit together. Belts are a great way to tie a look together and highlight your waist. Scarves add a pop of colour or a different texture and can be worn in so many different ways. Quality accessories can make a budget outfit look expensive and unique. If you pay attention to the details you’ll achieve a high-end look for a fraction of the price.


Lucy Eastment is a Personal Stylist who lives in Bristol with her husband and two children (aged 4 and 2). She runs her own business Styled By Lucy and works with men and women of all sizes, shapes, ages and lifestyles using colour analysis, wardrobe consultation and personal shopping. Lucy offers simple solutions for everyday style problems and inspires her clients to look good and feel good, even when juggling family, work and social life.

Lucy’s career story…

“I was a PA for many years but when I returned to the office after maternity leave I decided it wasn’t for me and if I was going to be away from my gorgeous babies I wanted to be doing a job I loved. I was always a wannabe fashionista keeping an eye on trends and I was often asked by friends, colleagues and even strangers in the street about my style and where I bought my clothes so I looked into a career change as a Personal Stylist. I trained with Style Me Training Academy in London, following that I became the Bristol based Personal Stylist for Style Me and have since launched Styled By Lucy. I absolutely love my job and feel so lucky that I have found a vocation that I am passionate about.”

Lucy on social media…

“I have found that potential clients look at websites to find out about services and prices but they want to know more about you and see your personal style before they book. I have a website and Facebook page but it is Instagram that has really helped me grow my business. I use Instagram to show my own personal style and Instagram Stories when I’m out and about to show great buys I come across when I’m out and about in the shops or looking online. I find selfie taking all a bit cringe but I’ve had great feedback from my Instagram page and I’ve been told by clients that my visuals are why they have chosen to book with me rather than other Personal Stylists in Bristol.

Lots of my clients use Whatsapp to keep in touch with me. If they are out shopping or trying on outfits at home and aren’t sure about something then they’ll ping me a photo for advice. Likewise if see a killer outfit I know would suit a certain person I will snap it and send via Whatsapp instantly. It is a great way to connect again with previous clients and easily show them new looks and how to update their wardrobe whilst I’m on the go.”


Lucy is following…

Chloe Loves to Shop

@chloelovestoshop: “My Instagram fashion crush is west London fashion blogger Chloe, a classy mum of three who shares her daily outfits. I love how she mixes high street with designer. Her Instagram Stories are full of good buys and a glimpse into her world which is the reason I look at her Instagram account every day.”

Selfish Mother Molly Gunn Fmly Store

@selfishmother: “Molly Gunn mother of two with another on the way is the founder and editor of selfishmother.com blogzine, sells #goodtees through thefmlystore.com to raise funds for charity and is a freelance journalist. The super mum has also recently opened The FMLY Store a funky shop in Bruton, Somerset selling her iconic slogan clothes and other lifestyle and homeware brands and hosting events. I have paid the shop a visit and loved the vibe and the welcoming family feel.”

Elena Perminova model russian

@lenaperminova: “I follow Russian model, socialite and mother of three Elena Perminova for style inspiration but mainly for extraordinary luxe life ogling. She flaunts her lifestyle and wealth with a feed of dreamy couture dresses and exotic family holidays. Elena is the founder of the first global Instagram charity auction for her childrens charity @SOS_by_lenaperminova with donations from fashion houses and her high profile friends.”


Lucy’s work

styledbylucy.com
instagram.com/styled_by_lucy
facebook.com/styledbylucy1

Gifts that rock

Meet Charlie Male, the self-titled ‘Chief Rocker’ at Rockbox, an independent business that sells stylish and beautifully curated gift boxes. If like me you struggle to find original gifts for friends and family then these thoughtfully themed boxes are the perfect solution. You can even personalise your box, choosing from a range of covetable goodies. We asked Charlie to share her story so we could find out a bit more about the woman behind the business.

Tell us about yourself

I launched Rockbox just over a year ago, although it was a few years in the planning. The initial inspiration came in 2012 when Mr Rocker and I moved to Singapore. Whilst this was the most excellent adventure it was very far from our favourite people and their celebrations. Maintaining connections became even more important and I wanted to still send beautiful gifts that felt like I had chosen and sent them myself rather than something generic and impersonal. I struggled to find something that really hit the mark and the idea for Rockbox started to form.

We’ve moved back home to the UK in 2014 and the next life event hit – Mini Rocker was born adding another dose of (fabulous!) chaos. Time became precious and gift giving became a last-minute rush or (more often than not) totally forgotten. What I needed was a stylish yet effortless gifting solution and in 2016 I was able to put my ideas into reality and haven’t looked back since!

Simple, stylish packaging.

Before Rockbox my career has mainly been in aviation (I’m a bit of a secret plane geek!). Being in aviation has given me the opportunity to travel to some amazing places and work with some great people. I met Mr Rocker whilst working at an ‘orange’ airline where our eyes met over a check-in desk. I love to travel (I am an airport geek too!) and I have a wandering spirit, although currently my feet are firmly planted on the ground in a little village near Buckingham. I have a daughter (aka Mini Rocker) who is nearly three and Baby Rocker is due in July this year. I could live on sushi and cold beer with a large gin chaser although all three are currently off the menu until July so in the meantime I am a tea and cheese addict!

How are you embracing digital media to promote your business online?

As Rockbox is an online gifting service digital media is hugely important. Our website is our shop front and it is essential that this represents the Rockbox brand and provides a strong indication of the level of quality you can expect from our gifts. We are continually reviewing the website to identify opportunities for improvement to ensure our customers have an easy and consistent shopping experience that totally rocks!

One of Charlie’s favourite boxes ‘Sleep’.

Social media has been a huge part of the journey. Rockbox is a very visual product and it is important for potential customers and suppliers to be able to get a visual sense of what we offer and what our brand is all about. I use social media to not only promote the brand but many of my current suppliers have been sourced through Facebook and Instagram. I have built a great network of friends because of interactions on social media and get so much support from this community – it’s amazing how people you have never met in real life become your go to tribe!

What are your tips for aspiring businesswomen?

Never underestimate how much time social media will take if you intend to actively use it to promote your brand. You need to clearly define your social media presence – how do you want your posts to look, what do you want to say and make sure that it really represents who you are and what your brand is all about. Take time to plan your posts and think about what is important to share and what will engage your followers.

What are your personal favourites from the Rockbox collection and why?

I genuinely love all the our products and spend a lot of time researching the brands that I work with and the products that I offer. A particular favourite however is ‘Lazy Days’ (see photo below). As a busy working mum, I often need encouragement to take time out for myself and I believe that this box is the perfect way to get someone to put their feet up and chill. I love seeing people send this as a gift to their mothers, sisters, daughters, besties to encourage them to take some much-needed time out. The ‘Sleep’ box (see photo above) that we launched as part of our first Mother Day campaign is also a favourite and I just love the Tom Lane Alpaca bed socks – they are one of our best-selling products and I wear mine constantly!

‘Lazy Days’ features a range of items to help unwind.

I am a huge fan of our ‘Rock Your Box’ service where customers can choose from our selection of products to make a customised box for their favourite rocker. I absolutely love being able to offer this and it has been a very popular choice with our customers – the ability to create your own Rockbox to suit your budget and the style of the person receiving the gift really enables the customer to feel in control of their gifting decisions whilst still letting us do most of the work.


Charlie is following…

Hayley Southwood @hjsouthwood: inspires me with her infectious enthusiasm for women and business. She is a great support and is all about building women up and working together to achieve fabulous things.

Etta Loves @ettaloves: Jen is massively inspirational – she has launched a super cool brand whilst working full-time and caring for her gorgeous mini rocker Etta. I love watching her brand develop and evolve.

Not So Smug Now @notsosmugnow: Cat makes me cry with laughter almost daily – which is a pick me up that every busy, stressed out mama needs! She is massively supportive of women in business along with her work wife @gayle_carry_me_home who collectively are @hustleandfox.


Charlie’s work

rockboxrocks.co.uk
instagram.com/rockbox_rocks
facebook.com/rockboxrocksgifts

Top 10 Takeaways from Blogtacular

I attended Blogtacular last weekend (a blogging and online conference in London). Rather than write a blog post detailing my thoughts on the event I thought it would be fun (and a good way to test out new skills) to try my hand at recording a Podcast. I used the Opinion App on my phone, so bear with the quality. I think it sounds OK and it goes to show what you can do with mobile technology these days (record, edit, overlay music and share).

Stop dreaming, start doing

The Step Up Club is a fresh, new voice in the women’s career conversation. We are here to celebrate all women – whatever your job. The two of us sit at either ends of the creative/corporate spectrum: we know that it’s just as valid to aspire to career contentment, as it is to want to become your company’s next CEO. We are the authors of the newest women’s career manual: Step Up: Confidence, Success and Your Stellar Career in 10 Minutes a Day. Through our stylish events, online content and newsletter, our aim is to make women feel empowered, boost their skill set and broaden their network to really love their work and life.

Phanella is a former lawyer and banker who retrained as an executive career coach, working (alongside The Step Up Club) on women’s leadership and diversity with all kind of big companies as well as individuals. Alice is a former fashion features editor at The Times, Marie Claire and Red, who alongside The Step Up Club continues to write freelance for many of the broadsheets and glossies. Between us we have five children and live in North West London.

How has digital technology and social media changed the way you work?

Getting our message out there has definitely been enabled by social media and digital technology. Our book, of course, exists offline and contains a huge body of content, career workouts and advice. But without our blog and social feeds, it would be that much more difficult to get the more personal element of support out to our community of women – many of whom can’t make it to our events in person. We are working on a full online programme to reach and connect these women, but in the meantime we rely on these other channels to have an impact.

It is hard, when Instagram and similar feeds are bursting with edited images of life perfection from all corners of the world. It takes a mind of steel to remain completely unmoved by this – but as we say at the start of our book, finding success (and when we talk about success, we do so with a view to all facets of life) is about celebrating our own uniqueness and not allowing ourselves to have the lives of others impressed upon us negatively. Sure, it’s brilliant if other women inspire us to reach our own goals, but it is also important that we stay true to our own beliefs and values, which is why we spend a lot of time helping readers (and attendees at our events) unearth theirs. We like to refer to values as the hashtags of our lives: we can’t get away from social media, but we can let it help us guide us towards our own success.

What are your confidence building tips for women in business?

We feel passionately that confidence is an integral part of career success, fulfilment and enjoyment. Confidence turns our thoughts into actions, it is the emotional driver that we hold within ourselves and women do tend to struggle more acutely with confidence levels. Why? Because our internal thoughts, the ones that make us empathetic, kind, unique and brilliant, also have the capacity to hold us down. Who hasn’t succumbed to the voice inside their heads that says we aren’t good enough, or that that other person is much more capable? Of course, everyone has these thoughts but when we allow them to feel comfortable within our heads – when we let the proverbial devil dwell for too long – it has a negative impact on how we feel, how we function and in turn, how others respond to us too.

Confidence is not innate, which means that we all have the capacity to change our internal rhetoric and in turn, build our confidence. Also, in our book, we explore fully the practical tips that you can employ to also improve your confidence levels from the outside in. Neither will happen overnight, but if you can break the negative belief cycles that dictate your thoughts, and implement some positive physical changes – standing bigger, speaking more slowly and taking the time to really listening, all of us can become a more confident, self-assured version of your current self.

Finally, we believe that each of us is uniquely brilliant. We each have our own unique definition of success and if we play to that – no one else’s – then we will feel more confident about our careers.


Alice and Phanella are following…

Style Me Sunday: We love Nat’s no bullshit message, incredible sense of style and massive smile. She is gorgeous inside and out. We are especially loving her Friday finger slot.

Cherry Healey: We’ve both been watching Cherry on TV for years and she brings the same sense of humour, openness and honesty to her social feed and in real life.


The Step Up Club

We send out a weekly newsletter with loads of career advice, our latest blog posts, first dibs on our event tickets – they often sell out here first – and (coming soon) discounts on our favourite work related brands. At the moment we’re giving away an exclusive excerpt from our book that WILL help readers define their personal success when they sign up. Just follow this link: bit.ly/SuccessGiveaway.

Sewing her way to success

Meet Helen Baker, a former primary school teacher who pursued her creative passion and retrained as a fabric and soft furnishings designer after becoming a mother. We asked Helen to share her story of career reinvention and her tips on how to style your home office space.

I’ve always been a creative person and I grew up making things on my mum’s sewing machine, playing around with any left over fabrics we had at home. Over the years I learned from my grandmother and mum, who would often be running up a pair of curtains or creating cushion covers, constantly making home improvements. My home has always been important to me and became even more so when I was on maternity leave, nearly 10 years ago. I wanted my surroundings to look as good as I could whilst I was spending so much time at home with a baby. After my second child, I found returning to work as a primary school teacher increasingly difficult – trying to balance work and family life, having no time left to be creative. I decided to leave my teaching career of nearly 10 years to be with my two sons, then aged two and four years. I went on to set up a small sewing business that I could work around the children but soon came to realise I enjoyed the designing more than the making.

In 2015 a change in my husband’s job meant a move from Cornwall to Wiltshire. Whilst renovating our new home I was searching for fabrics that weren’t too feminine, floral or fussy (I’m the only female in our household) and wanted something that suited all ages and genders. Frustrated that I couldn’t find what I wanted, I looked into how fabrics are designed. I took an online surface pattern courses, taught myself digital illustration and read as many books on fabric design as I could. Throughout this learning process I was constantly refining my design principles which I narrowed down to being nature inspired silhouette designs, shapes that everyone can recognise and relate to. I sent off my initial designs to be printed onto fabric which I then made into roman blinds, cushions and lampshades for our home. I was so pleased with the results that I wanted to take the fabric design further and create my first collection.

Growing up and living in Cornwall has always been a big influence in my life so I was drawn to create a contemporary coastal inspired collection – a far cry from the clichéd nautical knots and anchors that we so often see. I wanted the designs to reflect modern-day Cornish life. Designs include ‘Cornish Clouds’ and ‘Surfboard Scallop’ in colours such as Atlantic blue and Saffron yellow. From talking to people I heard how so many people have connections with the coast and how it evokes many happy memories. I wanted people to have these positive feelings everyday within their homes through a subtle nod to the coast, whether they lived by the sea or not. This is my debut collection titled ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall…’, my story in a nutshell. It is family friendly and gender neutral to fit with how modern families live today, increasingly in open plan spaces. My aim is to create fabrics and home furnishings that fit the needs of everyone.

STYLING TIPS FOR YOUR HOME OFFICE SPACE

We live so much of our lives online, whether it’s working from home or online banking, we all need a comfortable space that allows us to concentrate on the task in hand. With so many distractions at home it’s crucial to create the right working environment. So here’s a handy guide on how to style your home office.

  • THE RIGHT SPACE: To create an effective home office it has to be somewhere you actually want to be, ideally with lots of natural light. This could be a separate room or just an area within another room but a designated area is preferable to the kitchen table otherwise you will be constantly moving your work to make room for meal times at the table.
  • DESK: Any sort of surface can work. From small desks to large worktops, as long as you can fit all the items you need, you can make any space work. The key is to keep things organised and keeping extra items to a minimum to avoid unnecessary clutter, wall mounted shelves are perfect for home offices.
  • CHAIR: Is it comfortable and at the right height? Two important factors that can really effect how long you are able to sit comfortably at your home office. I also recommend having an easy chair nearby for times when you don’t need to be at your desk but nearby, taking a phone call for example, or enjoying a drink away from a screen.
  • ACCESSORIES: Cushions are my go-to home office accessory. They not only look good and show your personality but they provide comfort and can boost your sitting height if needed. Keep everything you need for your home office nearby so it can be easily accessible and tidied away.
  • INSPIRATION: Keep whatever inspires you nearby. This could be books, photos of your loved ones or an inspirational quote, but think about where they can be displayed, on a wall instead of taking up room on your desk, perhaps? Peg boards and picture shelves are an easy way to restyle items that inspire you.
  • PLANTS: They create fresh air and are soothing to look at, perfect for a home office. I would suggest a small plant for a small desk or again you could think about having it on a shelf or nearby rather than on your actual workspace.
  • GET CREATIVE: It’s your space so make it work for you! By using colours, accessories and items that you love, your home office will reflect your personality and will become a space that you love spending time in.

Helen is following…

Phillips Kay @recipeforflowers: sells the most beautiful wild and seasonal flowers from St Agnes in Cornwall, the village where I grew up. Her bouquets often include foraged snippets from hedgerows and she can send these blooms anywhere in the UK. Her Instagram feed is a floral feast.

Alison Bick @alisonbickdesigns: a friend, inspiring business woman, talented designer illustrator and creator of generally lovely stuff. I love seeing how her business and design style has grown from strength to strength over the last few years.

Mari Andrew @bymariandrew: an amazingly perceptive illustrator. Her work captures modern life and how we cope with everything that’s thrown at us. She is authentic, inspiring and has a great sense of humour.


Helen’s work 

helenbaker.com
instagram.com/helenbakerhome
twitter.com/helenbakerhome
facebook.com/helenbakerhome

Interior design with a difference

Zoe Hewett began her career as an Art Director in the film and television industry before retraining as an Interior Designer. She is now expanding her digital business offering and running workshops alongside her consultancy work. We asked Zoe to share her story and tell us about her plans for the future.

How did you become an interior designer?

Growing up in Cardiff, I spent my childhood making rudimentary props and sets for the plays we would put on for the grown ups, and my teenage years making giant carnival costumes and redecorating the house when my parents’ backs were turned. When I took the school quiz to find out what career path I should follow, I got into trouble for being interested in too many topics. Little did I know at the time that is precisely one of the best qualities for being a designer! I knew that I wanted to be a set designer though, so I went to art college in London and had a ball making live performance art installations in broom cupboards, period costumes and miniature models of monolithic opera sets.

The reality of making a living as a jobbing designer in Wales was incredibly difficult, particularly as I had trained in a different city and didn’t have those all important college to industry links. I was an outsider in my home town, and never quite managed to get enough work. Instead I found work in the film and TV industry as an Art Director. It was heaps of fun and better paid than theatre, but the crazy hours and feast or famine nature of it all eventually left me feeling disillusioned and burnt out. To get out of this rut I moved quite suddenly to Bristol, and as cringe-worthy as it sounds I kind of found myself, or at the very least my mojo, upon starting Capoeira. It had a profound effect on my outlook and confidence (not to mention physical fitness).

I decided to retrain and enrolled on an open learning Interior Design Diploma. Although the design process and required skills are exactly the same for both roles, the two industries are quite different. As career changes go this was more of a tweak than a total transformation, but that’s just as well, because having been creative all my life because I can’t really do anything else. So far it has gone smoothly, probably because people expect to have to pay interior designers, whereas the art world runs on air and broken dreams.

My business, although micro, is finally starting to grow after being in start-up mode for an extra long time. Midway through my first big job (a furniture store) I found myself unexpectedly expecting a baby with a (very) new man. Our daughter was then born suddenly at 26 weeks. It was a pretty hideous time and as a result she has additional needs, so it is imperative that at least one of us has flexible work, and for the moment that’s me. It is important to me to be able to also offer something affordable, because consultation, design and project management fees are exclusive for most, so I have started running interior design workshops which seem to be going well. That also fits around family life better than a full-time job with a commute!

How has digital technology and social media changed the way you work?

Digital technology has absolutely revolutionised how I work. When I was documenting scenic continuity on film sets the preferred method was (the now amazingly retro) Polaroid camera! Digital cameras were just coming in but it was easy to lose track of scenes. It also used to be almost impossible to photograph anything in a dark theatre without paying a professional photographer, which would have cost most of the design fee, but of course without photos of your work you can’t get more work.

The iPhone for me has been amazing. Being able to show all your previous work in the palm of your hand is serious luxury after years of lugging around a heavy A2 portfolio of artwork in all weathers. I used to have to burn CDs with home printed front covers to send people my portfolio, which makes me feel like an old lady saying “we didn’t have TV when I was young”. I did go on a Dreamweaver course to make my first website, and I managed a one page CV with a photo which was pretty impressive for someone as analogue and non-techy as me.

Now, my website (an easy drag-n-drop template, of course) is all singing and all dancing with video, a shop and a rather earnest design blog. All these little graphics apps are my favourite, for editing photos and overlaying text on images to quickly get messages out on social media – it is just amazing. I just need to keep gradually growing my audience.

Tell us about your new design packages

The idea for the Newlyweds Nest came from wanting to give friends a meaningful wedding present at a time when I had no money. They had not long moved into a new house that needed some character, so I gave them some pointers and it grew from there into a comprehensive interior design service. Initially it was email based, which is quite a popular concept in the States but hasn’t really caught on over here. Somehow I arrived at the idea of putting it in a gift-box, to make it a more tangible present, which is infinitely more charming than printing out documents from an email!

The idea is for couples to enjoy filling in the questionnaires inside the box together, whether their home is old or new to them, and return their answers with photos and dimensions to me. From there I can put together a bespoke design scheme for the room of their choice, complete with sample boards, drawings and a budget spreadsheet, with an action plan for them to follow, to make it a reality under their own steam.

There are two packages: a classic monochrome version and a rainbow pride ribbon option for LGBT couples, and those who just prefer joyful colour. I think there is something fun about using the postal service in this crazy digital age. This is a scaleable business model which is potentially quite exciting, plus because I never meet the client in person it is easier for me to work and still do the school run.

I love face to face client work, but there is a limit to how much I can take on, because the logistics of getting to site to let tradesmen in and simultaneously take a small person to school without any grandparents nearby are a bit tricky. Luckily I have some fantastic builders and project managers to call upon for help with bigger jobs where we do meet the clients and undertake the installation work for them. But I think the digital-postal design packages like Newlyweds Nest (I have more in the pipeline) are likely to take over, because it is also a more affordable slice of luxury service,  especially for clients who would rather save money by doing or organising the hands-on redecoration work themselves.


Zoe is following…

@blackparrotsstudio: Sarah Mitchenall won The Great Interior Design Challenge in 2016 and kindly loaned me a few of her fab monstera lights for a roomset I designed for Grand Designs Live last year. As a former garden designer, her work with jewellery designer Alexa as Black Parrots Studio is just utterly fantastic. There’s a lot of interiors ‘noise’ on instagram, but these women actually HAVE IT!

@ware.london: Jewellery designer Emma Ware is a long time buddy of mine from when we were students at Wimbledon School of Art. When she quit TV working as a Focus Puller to set up her brand, she was a huge inspiration to me and set the bar high. Her work is hugely stylish, wearable and ethically produced. Amazing!

@iris.apfel: How could I not follow this inspirational woman? Interior designer turned fashion and style icon, still working in her 90s, Iris Apfel has such a wonderful outlook and a gentle, joyful demeanour. She is an incredible wit, huge intellect and cheers up my feed every time. I also covet her architect’s glasses!


Zoe’s work 

zoehewettinteriors.co.uk
instagram.com/zoehewettinteriors #mybristolhome
twitter.com/zoehewettdesign
pinterest.com/zoehewettdesign/zoe-hewett-interiors
facebook.com/zoehewettinteriors