Saturday, 16 July 2016

Are Holland and Barrett changing the way we shop?

One of only 3 flagship Holland and Barrett More stores opened in Plymouth's Drake Circus mall on Thursday – have you been in yet?   The other two stores are in York and Chester, so the South West really has something to shout about retail-wise this week!

I think I've only ever been into H&B for energy bars (read Nakd cocoa bars) however I popped in on launch day for a complimentary tour and was hugely impressed with the range of healthy beauty products available alongside the healthy food options, including the fabulous Dr Organic, Weleda and  Yes to Carrots/Tomatoes/Cucumber et al range - which I've sent MrS15S pootling around Europe for in the past - so my inner twirl was seriously twirling. 

All beauty items in store are natural and paraben- SLS- and microplastics- free, and I'm sure the knowledgeable and friendly staff would help you identify the best products for your own needs, as well explaining the chemistry behind the nature.

You can even have a go at creating your own scrubs and lip balms - perfect Christmas ideas aplenty!

Or try out the vegan nail polish range, Zoya (I suspect my Mum's vegetarian friend will receive one or two of these for her upcoming birthday).

 I could easily potter around the Beauty Kitchen for hours, and it's a great place for gift ideas - who doesn't deserve a little bit of natural luxury every now and then?

But lets not forget the food and drink, which includes a frozen and chilled section for vegetarians who like food on the go - also suitable for non-vegetarians - the Bees Knees honey centre, and some fabulous bars/stations for you to select your own goodies: 

The Tea Bar (very stylish tea cups displayed under glass cloches; automatic relaxing life hack?)

The Olive Bar 

The Dressing station (fab range of balsamic vinegar and oils)

The Pick n (freakin' gorgeous) Mix (absolutely recommend the pineapple chunks and Dark Chocolate Coated Cranberries)

This new concept store encourages that greatest of shopping vices; b r o w s i n g. Slowing down your mind and body to simply indulge your senses, which ultimately empowers healthy living. 

Swiftly followed by invigorating interaction in supporting customers to really understand healthy living - it's like Legoland for Mummies and Daddies.  Try a ten minute browse next time you're dashing around on errands; as much fun as a Zone Out Latte in the sunshine.

When was the last time shopping was so much fun?

I received a cute goody bag at the launch, however all comments are mine own. But obviously.  

Saturday, 30 April 2016

How many hand creams is too many?

Hello, Dear Readers 

As I made my way to the railway station for the journey to Marie Claire Live last weekend, a sudden thought whacked me around the head and near halted my stride ‘I need hand cream’.

Perfectly  ordinary thought, and possibly not deserving of such a lightening bolt mention.

Apart from the fact I have a bunch of hand creams at home. In every room of the house.   And in my several work bags, and in Mr S15S's car (though weirdly not mine; must amend that once I’ve finished uploading my post). 

But, again, I’d forgotten to pack one, and had to buy a new one, lest my hands shrivel up and lose their function.  Rather like that side of my brain which won’t let me settle until I’ve handed over more money to a beauty sales person, for that one or two uses before the tube lingers so far at the bottom of my hand bag that it may well be one of those funky fish at the bottom of the ocean with it’s own light system.  And I still would forget to pack a tube in my bag even if they came with lights, like my daughter's fab trainers.

I really can’t abide the rough cuticles and thumb/index finger skin that comes of the gadget-era.  So much typing and swiping takes its toll on our digits.

How was I going to smooth down my panic and nails with only a Spar, Pumpkin Cafe and WH Smith for company between me and my train? Hmmm?

Well, it being almost Summer, the time of increased female traffic at airports, railway and service stations around the globe, the magazine industry is out to tempt us, isn't it?   

(Tempt me away) 

The very same Marie Claire team I was off to meet had a handy Neal’s Yard hand cream attached to their May issue - I chose the Garden Mint and Bergamot, and it smells thoroughly gorgeous. And reminds me of home-made mojitos, such is the prolific mint in our garden. (And just who wants to make mint sauce all the time?)

I tried to forget that I’d bought one only the previous week in exactly the same scenario...

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Marie Claire At Work LIve: Part 2 The Afternoon

Ahhhhh, Mini Stylist is in bed – how long she keeps her four year old self there for is anyone’s guess – and I have a lukewarm coffee by my side.  Time to continue with the reflection on the 2016 Marie Claire #AtWorkLive event.

After a lengthy lunch working our way around the sponsor’s stalls, sampling tasters of the Cointreau Fizz, and devouring gorgeous peanut butter brownies for dessert - in the ginormous lunch queue - it was back to the second breakout session to re-engage myself with business advice from insiders (Sharmadean Reid of WAH nails, Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company, Kate Unsworth of wearable, productivity-enhancing tech, in search of a tech-reliance-free-life company Vinaya and Amy Hanson of the humanitarian SmallSteps Project), chaired by the inquisitive and engaging deputy editor of MC Miranda McMinn. 

So, what were the best tips of the Starting your Own Business session?

  • You don’t need a fortune to start your own business; Deane had £600 and was motivated purely by family responsibilities.
  • You should work in phases to ensure control over your finances and your project, advised Reid.
  • Ask people to work for free and you might be pleasantly surprised (the Unsworth art of negotiation).
  • Apply transferable skills and engage with something you’re incredibly passionate about, as did Hanson.  

I was so awed by their stories that I didn’t have time to take notes, and I forgot to take photos. 

By 3 o’clock I was flagging, however; perhaps next year Marie Claire could set aside a dimly-lit retreat room with lavender scents and blanket-laden beds for 20 minute power naps?  There were so many ideas generated from the sessions, hastily tapped into phones and scribbled into notebooks, that I imagine it would be as busy as the Cointreau trolley.   

I was so was looking forward to an express manicure by a fabulous lass from the at-home beauty team, Le Salon, which was great, AND it’s still chip-free a day later! 

There was just enough time for beauty hacks from Bruce at Vidal Sasoon, which I think overran a little; essentially he advised us not to be afraid of products, and to ditch the straighteners; yeah, not gonna do that. 

SJ from Bare Minerals applied the fastest 6 looks to three models I’ve seen since Lisa Potter-Dixon at last year’s event...

Marie Claire At Work Live: Part 1 The Morning

Hiya, how was your weekend?

I took to the trains again; Great Western Railway is doing well out of me this month!  

I closed the work bag of my full-time job on Thursday night and thought, ‘bring on the blogging this weekend -the marking can wait until Monday.’  

Marie Claire’s annual #atworklive event, held this year at the Millbank Tower overlooking the Thames, whilst not strictly a blogging event is designed to help the career-bemused, women looking for a day out (the annual cocktails are fabulous, this year hosted by Cointreau) and regular subscribers to Marie Claire who know a beauty shindig when they see one advertised. 

And, Dear Readers, the day was so stuffed with magic that this is part 1 of a 2-part post, lest your eyes start to glaze over, or Mini realises that I'm working instead of watching Frozen with her....

I packed my Inner Twirl blogging diary (a treat to myself from the fab Bloggers Planner team at Christmas) to plan content, alongside my gadgets and snacks, and caught up with a fab friend and fellow attendee on the Friday night in Kent – we take our cocktail practice very seriously, you know.
After coffee and registration on the day, the inspiration began with the Game-changers panel, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Trish Halpin and featuring:

Laura Bates (writer and campaigner, Everyday Sexism project)
“Learn very’s okay to ask for don’t have to answer a question, just go off in a different direction”.

Nishma Robb (Head of Marketing at Google)
“Take control...demonstrate the how...How did you overcome challenges?  Think about your you went about them, how you learned from them....present yourself as an opportunity”. 


Laverne Antrobus (Psychologist)
“What’s the worst that can happen.....really positive statement. Failure is a building block to which direction to take. Listen to the internal narrative you hear”.

Anita Rami (Broadcaster and all round challenge-seeker)
“Fumble your way through....with drive and ambition.....How? No idea....going to get there. What’s the worst that can happen? Just deal with the challenges”.

Fully invigorated and raring to go it was time to select one of three breakout options - I chose, From Blog to Business: Dream. Dare. Create, and so bloody pleased that I did...