I am a little behind on blogging this week due to currently being on holiday..okay, I confess, I am currently writing this from the side of a pool on a sunbed in Tenerife, whilst sipping a pina colada (don’t hate me!). It certainly makes a pleasant change from my usual office, perched on a chair at my desk in my dining room facing a wall, so I am going to savour this blog post because if I read it back again in the future, I will enjoy recalling where it was written, no doubt wishing I was back here again….
Anyway, I digress. I am not here to talk about Tenerife just yet, so will save my family holiday for a future post and once I have caught up on my Marrakech adventure, which I also can’t wait to share with you. Today’s post is all about my first ever blogger meeting and at last, a chance to meet and chat to other bloggers, in a brilliantly organised event at The Imperial on the Kings Road in London two weeks ago.
When launching my fashion blog a few short months ago, I was very aware that I was entering a world that was seemingly dominated by young and beautiful twenty-somethings who made Snapchat look like child play. I learned very quickly all about the super bloggers The Blonde Salad, Man Repeller and Camille Over the Rainbow and wondered where I fitted in. My unique selling point (USP), I decided, was that I was a blogger who would likely appeal to perhaps a more mature audience that still embraced fashion just as much as the twenty somethings but who could also appreciate some life experience thrown in.
I knew I couldn’t be alone in my secret USP so decided to seek out other bloggers who were also waving the flag for women over thirty/forty, proving that just because you’re not twenty five anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t be attainably fabulous!
It was during this quest that I discovered a brilliant blog by Catherine Summers called Not Dressed as Lamb. Deliberately defiant in its blog name alone, Catherine had clearly defined her niche and was the perfect ambassador for women who wanted to look great frankly at any age, but who also proved that fashion blogging was not just a younger woman’s game. I began reading her posts with interest and found her a great source of inspiration, mainly because of her dedication to professional blogging but also how she had strategically grown her audience and importantly how she interacted with her readers. Through Catherine’s blog, I also began to connect with a number of other fabulous bloggers such as The Sequinist, Lady of Style and What Lizzie Loves.
I was understandably delighted therefore when I heard that Catherine was to host her first 30/40 Blogger Meet in London, sponsored by Hope Fashion so quickly signed up for the event with eager anticipation.
Having lived close to Fulham and Chelsea for a number of years during my twenties, I arrived rather nostagically at the Kings Road and made my way to The Imperial restaurant and bar, a stunning Victorian building in the heart of the Chelsea Design Quarter. Despite being a little early myself I arrived to an already crowded reception of prosecco sipping bloggers chatting like old friends at a reunion, while others signed in and claimed their goody bags, the contents of which were beyond impressive! After signing in myself and waving an enthusiastic hello to Catherine the host, I headed straight to the bar for a glass of my own prosecco and joined in on conversation with fellow blogger Julie from That Age Style, who was chatting to blogging newcomer Nicola Pedley along with the fabulous Suzi Grant from Alternative Ageing and Siobhan Watkins from Well Styled (all shown in the photo above along with Catherine the host from Not Dressed as Lamb wearing orange behind and Beate from Fashion Adventures at Any Age).
After a relaxing hour of networking, buying raffle tickets, perusing the rail of gorgeous Hope Fashion clothing and enjoying an endless stream of delicious canapés, we headed into the restaurant for a wonderful lunch. It was here I got the opportunity to meet and chat to yet more brilliant women about their own blogs and blogging journey including Catherine the host herself, who was sat opposite me during lunch. I also had the privilege of sitting next to Hope Fashion CEO and Founder Nayna McIntosh who I immediately warmed to such was her inspiring attitude towards life and business. To the right of me was handbag designer Jennifer Hamley, whose gorgeous bag I sadly didn’t win in the raffle(!) but who was great company nonetheless and who I felt full of admiration for after she told me the story of how she was attempting to launch her new range of stunning high end handbags using crowd-funding. You can see her gorgeous bags for yourself here at: Jennifer Hamley.
After lunch Catherine got up and gave a very informative and interactive talk about ‘How to Win at Blogging’, giving us all an insight into her own life as a blogger and giving invaluable tips about how to grow your blog and make it stand out from the crowd.
Next on the agenda was an official introduction to Hope Fashion by Nayna McIntosh, the Founder and CEO of the brand. Admittedly, I was not aware of Hope before the blogger meeting which is not particularly surprising as it is still relatively in its infancy having only officially launched last year. That said, the brand could well take the market by storm, due to its beautiful designs that have a luxury feel but with a relatively modest price tag in comparison.
Despite the brand being tailored for the 40 plus market, it is incredibly wearable for women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Nayna, has a career that spans thirty years in the retail industry including nine years at Marks and Spencer. It was this experience that helped Nayna recognise that there was a gap in the market to create a brand that was specifically tailored for an age group of women that wanted to still feel confident and stylish in their everyday wear but which also catered for real body shapes and proportions. Hope Fashion for the 40 plus market was therefore born – a collection of wearable and stylish clothes in quality fabrics. You can read more about the ‘Hope Code’ on how they come up with their designs here: Hope Code
Although you can order directly from Hope online, Nayna appreciates that this can prove to be an unemotional experience so has introduced a new shopping experience that is much more fun. Providing you with a pop up boutique and a Hope stylist who will provide a personalised service, you can host your own Hope Fashion party. This gives you a great excuse to escape the unfriendly lighting of the lonely changing room experience, in exchange for trying on clothes in the company of your friends, over a glass of wine and in the comfort of your own home instead. It’s a great concept and brings to life the meaning of social shopping – friends, fashion and your favourite tipple. What’s not to love?!
Within minutes of Nayna finishing her talk there was an enthusiastic rush of bloggers (including myself!) to the rails of clothing on display followed by an amusing ‘jolly nice to meet you’ experience as inhibitions abandoned two or three of us squeezed behind the modest screen made for one and stripped down to our undies while trying on the various garments we had grabbed off the rail. It was certainly an icebreaker!
I fell in love with the navy cotton stretch ankle grazers and lurex ‘pop on knit’ in silver featured below in this post and had to order, particularly after receiving affirmation of their fabulousness and an excuse to bond with brilliant Life Begins At bloggers Lucy and Diane after I borrowed Lucy’s silver Van trainers to try on with the outfit!
Apart from the all together amazing goody bag mentioned earlier which included a stunning bracelet courtesy of Lizzy O, a notebook, pen, lemon sorbet body spray, a Laura Geller waterproof gel eyeliner and Blogosphere magazine I was rather overwhelmed at the generosity of the Hope team who gave each and every one of us a beautiful fuchsia pink poncho knit (shown below) as a thank you for attending the event. It was the perfect accessory to my contrast print Zara tunic dress and is a welcome edition to my wardrobe! The goody bag alone was worth far more than the £45.00 price tag of the ticket for the day’s event, not to mention the drinks and canapés on reception and delicious lunch thrown in which was proof of the incredible generosity of the organisers and sponsors of the event. Most importantly for me though, it proved to be a brilliant opportunity to meet and connect with some wonderful women who share the same passion for life and blogging as I do. Thank you Catherine and Hope Fashion for a truly fantastic day. I am already counting down the days to the next meeting (whenever that may be!).
The Fuchsia Pink Poncho Knit
The Lurex Pop On Knit and Navy Cotton Stretch Ankle Grazers
A little bit of behind the scenes fun showing what it took to nail just one shot!