30 July, 2016

Book Review - The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

It's been a while since I posted a book review; this isn't because I've not been reading, quite the contrary, but because I've gone a very long time without finding a book that I really felt invested in (cue a lot of 3-star Goodreads reviews). That was until I read Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist.

I had tried (& failed) to read The Miniaturist a couple of times, the unusual setting & opening to the book requiring my full attention, which sadly wasn't always there. However, third time's a charm & after being told for the millionth time that this book really was worth the read I started again. And I'm so glad I did.

The Miniaturist is unlike any book I've ever read before; set in the Netherlands in the 1600s, I knew little to nothing about the society that was under scrutiny throughout the 400+ pages. Despite this, I found the book utterly mesmerising, with unusual characters, goings on & issues that felt very modern despite the book's setting.

As a piece of historical fiction The Miniaturist provides a rich & dark look into the world of Dutch merchants in the 17th century, charting one in particular whose social clime & ultimate demise becomes the central tragedy in the narrative. Because of this, the story became more about human relationships & the complexities of loving someone that society has deemed inappropriate. Full of strong, intriguing women & the mystical figure of the Miniaturist, I found the characters within the pages very compelling in a backdrop as thick & enveloping as velvet.

Have you read The Miniaturist? What did you think? I would love to know how others perceived the book.

C x

16 March, 2016

Snapchat Marketing: the Rise to the Top as Fashion’s Must-Have

This post first appeared on Inside Stylight

Snapchat is the name on everyone’s lips, the must-use tool for brands everywhere. Unlike it’s established social cousins, Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat is still a little rough around the edges (and all the better for it). With none of the shiny, perfect angles of photo sharing sites, but with the immediacy and realness of tweets and live streaming, Snapchat marketing has given fashion week a fast and dirty spin. A channel that’s no longer the preserve of tweens everywhere, with 41% of adults in the US under 35 consuming content this way, and the likes of high end fashion houses, glossy magazines, and the fashion world’s elite taking to Snapchat to document a real, intimate side of fashion month.

How Burberry and Gucci Won at Snapchat Marketing

Two labels making waves both on and off the runway are Brit brand and digital staple, Burberry, with Italian counterpart and Alessandro Michele’s brainchild, Gucci, bringing some much needed Mediterranean flare to the social sphere.
Gucci used Snapchat to promote #GucciGhost before autumn/winter 16’s show in Milan, with graffiti artist ‘Trouble Andrew’ spraying Gucci GGs & little ghosts around the derelict-looking showspace.

This gave the Gucci Snapchat audience more than just a view from the FROW, but an insight into a different, urban side to Gucci’s new collection, which was then revealed in full with graffiti adorned items hitting the runway piece by piece. This coverage built up to the show with more than just a countdown, it provided an experience and gave an insight into Gucci’s latest creative process

Burberry have also embraced Snapchat’s unique features, such as their filters, to edit and cut together engaging and entertaining Stories. Mario Testino launched their spring/summer ‘16 campaign with a Snapchat Story introducing the collection and the latest faces of the brand.

But perhaps most interesting, was Burberry‘s use of Snapchat to emphasise the immediacy of ‘see now, buy now’ at London Fashion Week. Audiences on the channel watched autumn/winter’s pieces make their way down the runway and then be packed up and taken directly to the brand’s Regent Street flagship ready for eager buyers (plus, there was even a cheeky hello to users from Christopher Bailey).

This kind of unique visual storytelling is why Snapchat has become so coveted, because it genuinely brings something different to the table. There’s no shaky filming or intermittent coverage like Periscope, but instead it gives users an opportunity to share their experience, or Story, in a real way. And with marketing focussing more and more on a mobile first approach, app-only channels such as Snapchat come further into the fore.

Another “brand” utilising Snapchat in a unique way is BBC News, who back in September 2015 published their first ever ‘mobile-only digital short documentary in portrait native format’ following the refugee crisis on Snapchat. Lifestyle brands could learn a lot from these story-lead Brits as they take otherwise sober news articles and tell them using this completely different, yet incredibly accessible, medium.

Are you ready to take your brand onto Snapchat? Here are our top tips for approaching Snaps:

1. Just because the channel is popular with millennials, it doesn’t mean that you need to start talking like a 16 year old.
Audiences appreciate authenticity, decide on your message and stay true to your brand voice; if your content is engaging and different, your audience will appreciate it.

2. Limited insights shouldn’t turn you off
New features are implemented all the time (seriously, there’s new filters e v e r y day) and with such a fast-evolving channel, Snapchat will only add more features that are useful to both brands and users alike.

3. Have fun!
One of Snapchat’s most appealing qualities is that it’s fun! Take a step away from traditional social with the one goal of driving referrals back to your site. Show who your brand is made of and why you’re worth being interested in. The limited timespan of Snaps makes the channel very forgiving and a great place to let your metaphoric brand hair down!

C x

29 January, 2016

Girls Who Made it OK to Use the F-Word

Waaay back when, in the mid (ish) 90s, before I'd even heard of the F-word, I, along with the rest of the world, discovered the Spice Girls. I didn't realise it at the time, but looking back on the early years that the Spice Girls were around, the message that came along with catchy pop tunes and school disco-worthy dance moves, was incredibly important to the young me.

Before I'd even cottoned onto the different ways that women were treated, compared to their male counterparts, these five incredible girls were telling me that I was a force to be reckoned with and Girl Power meant that I was just as important as the boys around me.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs that around 20 years later not a whole lot has changed for us girls. Yes, there are more women in high-profile, senior roles (Sheryl Sandberg, Marne Levine, I'm looking at you), but there's still a vast gender-based pay gap and it still feels like we've got a while to go before we’re given the same opportunities and status as the boys.

Of course, the F-word I’m referring to is that much brandished, but often misinterpreted, word: feminism. Feminism has become a bit of a dirty word of late, with it so often being linked with female superiority and not its intended message of equality for both sexes

Years after the Spice Girls had sung their final “hi-see-ya”, I discovered another of my feminist icons, much by chance, as part of a book club I joined. After devouring (at a fairly slow pace, but steady nonetheless) all 1000+ pages of Gone with the Wind, I started to appreciate Scarlett O'Hara more and more. She, like so many other women in history (fictional or otherwise) is often portrayed as an unlikeable, rude character, but Scarlett to me was the sassiest, badass bitch around and no one was going to hold her back. Whilst her actions are often ruthless and shocking, I saw Scarlett as a victim of her time, a woman who was as business-minded as any of her male counterparts, and oftentimes more successful, but who was constantly held back simply because she was a woman. She was a woman who endured the very worst life could throw at her, but carried on regardless, because, well, what else can you do? Her sheer determination and reliance upon only herself was so exciting to me as a reader, and to this day I still find her such a refreshing and modern a character.

In the last couple of years, feminism has had a resurgence in, I won’t say popularity, but awareness. With celebrity faces putting their name to the F-word, a new generation of young women are learning about Girl Power. Emma Watson and Karlie Kloss are examples of this, taking part in #OurSharedShelf, an online book club community where the first book chosen wasn’t some bestseller with a stamp of approval from Richard and Judy, but Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road. With over 800 images on Instagram alone using the hashtag, young women are discovering feminism in new shapes and forms, from different decades and voices around the world.

I can’t say if or when our lives in the workplace, at home, intellectually or otherwise, will be more equal, but what I do know is that thanks to Ginger, Baby, Scary, Sporty, and Posh I won’t give up on Girl Power and neither should you.

C x

07 June, 2015

Book Review - Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I started this year with the challenge of reading 25 books; sounds easy, right? Hmm, ye I'm not so sure at this point. However! I last year I read Tina Fey's book Bossypants & loved it; I have so much love for Tina & so really wanted to like Amy Poehler's book, too. I mean, when they're together they're hilarious!

The overarching feeling I got whilst reading Amy's book was that she didn't really want to write it. I get it, I often felt like giving up/crying/throwing my computer out of the window whilst writing my dissertation (which was only a measly 9,000 words), but I think if you're going to commit to writing a book you really need to want to do it & I just wasn't 100% convinced.

That being said, there were some hilarious parts to the book which made me actually laugh out loud & occasionally think I'd judged Yes Please a little too soon. However, after finishing the whole thing I can say it was definitely a bumpy ride of interesting/funny/uncomfortable/vaguely boring/nostalgic/self-absorbed narrative.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. I don't regret buying it & enjoyed the read, however, I do think it could have been a bit more consistent in quality & content. When it was good it was really good, & when it was not so good it was... OK.

Have you read Yes Please? What did you think?

C x
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