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Archive for November, 2010

I like to think that I was pretty cool as a one year old (I have photographic evidence of me with a pixie crop sporting red t-bar shoes and reading a newspaper (although I’d like to think it was Vogue) which I failed to find just now because of the fact that I still haven’t really unpacked since moving in the summer. I’ll post it as soon as I do though…) but I wasn’t quite cool enough that anyone wanted to throw me a champagne and cupcake birthday reception…

Chic&Seek, on the other hand, is one of those special one year olds that aren’t just reading Vogue, but being featured in it.

Founded by Tara Nash-King, Chic&Seek is a high-end wardrobe recyling company specialising in designer goods, in pristine condition, and at fantastic prices.  So you’ve saved for months for a bag that you’ve used twice and gone off? Instead of archiving or binning it, why not recycling it, make some money and then spend it on some other piece of eye-candy that you’re now obsessed with? Perfect!

With the thought of all of my impulse purchases in mind,  I popped along to Chic&Seek HQ last Tuesday to catch up with Tara, eat birthday cake, and find out how Chic&Seek came about.

***

TSA:  Before starting Chic&Seek, you came from a fashion background.  How did you originally get into fashion and what drew you to the industry?

Tara:  After uni I did some work for a small fashion accessories company, mainly handbags, which I loved and I remained there for a year. It was great because I saw how a small business was run and got experience of sales, marketing, PR, accounts etc. Then I moved to Anya Hindmarch to manage the production of the “Be A Bag” range, I did that for two years and then on to the wholesale team. Working in sales gave me commercial business experience and the opportunity to meet buyers and work in a show room, which has been invaluable for what I am doing now.

TSA:  What was the inspiration behind Chic&Seek?

Tara:  When I was working in production at Anya Hindmarch I saw that there were a lot of raw material which went unused. These still held value, but it was difficult to know how to find buyers for them. I started thinking about a website called wastenotwantnot.com but this was a huge concept and would need lots of investment and more people than just me to start. I spend the next 4 years thinking of business ideas until I hit upon the idea of a website specializing in luxury women’s wear and that is when Chic&Seek was born.

TSA:  What has been the biggest obstacle that you’ve faced with Chic&Seek?

Tara:  I think the biggest obstacle is knowing what to invest your money in. It is difficult with a small business to know what to prioritise in order for it to grow.  Should it be staff, marketing or PR? I guess it’s trial and error, with balancing the taking of risks, with being caustious.

TSA:  What has been your most satisfying achievement with the business?

Tara:  I am a huge fan of Daily Candy, so when they featured Chic&Seek a week after it launched it was a dream come true. It has had a huge impact on the business and I am very grateful for that.

TSA:  Have you ever come across anything that you kept for yourself as you couldn’t bear to part with it?

Tara:  Oh yes! I have bought quite a few things from Chic&Seek.  Mostly I am quite disciplined and see it as stock and cash flow.  However, there are a few instances where I have sold things and felt heart broken afterwards. I still think about an amazing pair YSL platforms that were my size, I totally should have kept those!

TSA: You’ve also branched out into charity work with Chic & Seek and started the Chic & Seek Trust.  How did this come about?

Tara:  Fundraising for charity has always been important to me and I wanted to incorporate it into my business. It kind of happened a lot faster than I expected. I met Lesley Pimm from Charities Aid Foundation and set up the Chic&Seek Trust. I did my first event last month to raise money for St Marys Hospital Paddington.

TSA:  What advice can you give to other budding fashion entrepreneurs

Tara:  If you have a passion and a feeling about starting a business then do it! It will take over your whole life, so you have to believe in what you do. Listen to the advice and opinions of others and remain flexible in your thinking.

***

And with those pearls of knowledge firmly noted, why not have a peep at what else the fairy godmother of Chic&Seek has to offer…

Party favour anyone?

So shiny, high and perfect… Erm Santa? I know I stopped believing in you when I was three, but I’m willing to give you one more chance.

I’m not sure I can cope with this much glamour on a Tuesday…

And lastly, the trusty cake shot!!  These were  lightest Red Velvet cupcakes in the world. Mine made it as far as the end of the street before meeting its demise.

 

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I’ve lived in London for 10 years, and I’ve found a lot of favorite places in that time… but the last area that I thought I’d find my new favourite place in the whole of London ever would be Kings Cross. Yup… Kings Cross.  But I did. And it’s amazing.

I had a feeling I was going to love Drink, Shop & Do before I set foot inside.  I’d read enough about it since it opened a few months ago to know that it was going to be my kind of place. But when I walked in with Natalie on a rainy Wednesday evening (after the death of a second bag in less than 2 weeks..!!!), I wasn’t quite prepared for just how much love I was going to have.

Started by two friends, Drink, Shop & Do started life as a pop-up shop, but it was so successful that it’s now open permanently. And thank god too, because I might just have to move in.

Set inside an old Victorian bathhouse, Drink, Shop & Do comprises of 2 seperate rooms joined by a staircase. The first room, which you enter from the street, is a shop selling the kind of kitchsy goodies that I’m trying to wean myself off. Cute mugs, adorable earrings, silly badges and a moving wire&fairy light deer…

Where can I fit this into my flat?

The second part of the shop is the cafe/bar of my dreams containing such delights as tealights, floral fabrics, scotch eggs and cocktails….  And if you’re not a fan of a scotch egg, there’s so much more on offer. Stew of the day (screw soup of the day!!), quiche, sandwiches and an intimidating selection of cakes. No cup cakes here, instead huge slices of classics such as victoria sponge and bakewell tart. I’m indecisive at the best of times, but I think me and Natalie managed to embarrass ourselves with a full 10 minutes of umming and ahhing before committing to our cake choices.

Being licenced means that Drink, Shop & Do also offer beer, wine and cocktails along with the usual range of teas and coffees. And I discovered (to my Wednesday night detriment) that the staff aren’t stingey with their wine measures. A couple of larger than large glasses of red wine made Thursday feel a wee bit slower than it should.

Everything in Drink, Shop & Do is for sale, so if you fancy that swan vase thing, why not buy it?

A whole wall of saucer clock probably wouldn’t be enough to stop me being constantly late.

The ‘Do’ part of Drink, Shop & Do is the bit that I am yet to experience but very eager to.  Comedy nights, gingerbread decorating, scarf knitting and Scrabble matches are on (and usually free or free if you buy a drink) various nights of the week to try and keep you out of trouble.    I think Scrabble Sundays are going to be a firm favourite.  Although I’m not promising a high score once I’ve had a couple of huuuuge DS&D wines.  Maybe I should just stick with the Drink part?

Drink, Shop & Do

9 Caledonian Road

N1

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Back in April, I had an impending New York trip looming (ahh… those pre-holiday days were the days… the excitement, the plane films, the G&Ts..).

As I was without a handbag (that I liked), I panic-bought this pretty little satchel style bag from Nica at Topshop.

(Curiously, I chose ‘mushroom’ as a colour instead of black.  Not completely sure why.)

It appeared to be roomy, but not so roomy that you’d never find anything, functional, but not so functional that it was ugly, and hard-wearing but not so hard-wearing that it looked…hard-wearing.  Unfortunately, I was wrong. Despite appearences, the bag was too small to carry daily basics without having to fit them in like Tetris pieces, the strap was sooo long that I had to tie a knot in it, and most annoyingly, the catch didn’t always close properly so there was a constant danger of scattering your belongings everywhere…ARG! Still… I struggled on with it, until the damn thing broke a week ago. Good riddance.

But the mental bag scarring lives on… now I’m plagued with bad-bag memories and fears.

Will this rather hot looking faux leather and gold studded number from River Island be as infuriating?

I love the combination of gold studs on the black background, but I’m not sure I could handle the fiddly lock. Will it be another thing that pushes me to rage on a daily basis?

And as much as I’m drawn to the heavily studded handle, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to use it to carry the bag, as it attaches directly onto the closing flap and seems to be unsupported.  I’m not sure the faux leather would be able to hold the weight… hmm.

I can find no faults with the bright indigo lining, but can I really keep a bag based on the secret bit that no one sees?!

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Brrr it’s cold. I’m always cold to be fair, but this time of year reminds me that I really haven’t got any shoes (or anything else) that are suitable for winter.  Ballet pumps aren’t going to cut the mustard, no matter how thick my tights are, and neither plimsoles nor Converse are quite waterproof or smart enough for anything other than a bit of a hungover wander (to the corner shop for Irn Bru and salt and vinegar Squares…).

Basically, I’m trying to give myself an excuse for the fact that I bought two pairs of boots last Friday night on the way home from work.  I don’t need an excuse, but it makes me feel a little better.

The first pair are these highly-practical things from M&S

I’m not generally an M&S shopper but their Limited Collection can be surprisingly appealing…

Faux suede ankle boots complete with shearling cuff, ankle buckle and 4 inch heel. Perfect for winter(!)

The buckle and shearling combo is a bit of a winner.

Although I’d be guaranteed a trip to A&E if I decided to wear them on a frosty day.

The sole looks rather practical though doesn’t it?  No? Oh well.

And, with new purchase in hand, I crossed the road to New Look, just couldn’t help myself and ended up buying these:

Suede desert boots with a 2 inch heel (which is slightly worn looking already… I’ve only had them a week but have worn them every day since then.)

Lace up ankle boots are perfect for toughening up most of my outfits without actually making me look ‘tough’ (not that looking too tough is every a worry for me… I couldn’t look tough if I tried.)

They remind me of a pair from Office that I ummmed and ahhed about for a while before deciding that they were a bit too chunky.  The almond toes on these are much cuter.

Of the two, the desert boots get my vote. I’ve got a cupboard full of shoes that I don’t wear very often. The last thing I need to do is add another pair to the mix.  The first are also a bit “Twiggy”. Or worse, “Dannii”.  Bloody M&S advert ruining everything.

The desert boots are my new favourite obsession, and they also come in black. I might do my multiple-buys party trick and get those too. Good job I’m taking back the first pair then isn’t it?

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Buy My Wardrobe!!

..Well not mine personally, it’s rubbish, but the wardrobes of people who don’t hate their clothes every 5 minutes and threaten suicide.

Buy My Wardrobe is a fashion recycling event with a difference – most of the products for sale are things that you actually want to buy! No out-of-shape, out-of-date tat from the bottom of a musty closet, but an impressive array of high quality goods, designer, hand-made and vintage, all under one roof and all at heavily discounted prices.  It’s not every day you’re offered a Balenciaga Lariat in perfect condition and at half price (sadly, half price was still half a price too much for my cobwebbed pockets…).

Twenty stalls of fashions finest wares were on sale last Saturday at the Adam Street Members Club, including these beauties:

I had a bit of a love affair with this red Luella bag…

Being completely inept at shopping meant that despite loitering around the aforementioned Luella bag, trying to force myself to fit into a  gorgeous pair of black satin and diamanté Chanel T bar heels (1 size too small) and piling on armfuls of jewellery, I still managed to leave empty handed. What is wrong with me?

And did I mention that there was not only champagne but cupcakes?  Sustenance was vital for keeping up energry levels during some frantic browsing and I might have needed more than one (ok, I admit it, I had 3!! Happy now!?!)

Courtesy of Bake Me Happy.

The next Buy My Wardrobe event takes place on the 29th January 2011.

Purses at the ready…

 

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