Home Office, Sweet Home Office

Working from home is one of those things that you either love or hate. I totally believe that adapting to a home office is a matter of personality more than anything. You have to be extremely organized, disciplined and self-motivated, otherwise the chances of turning your living room into chaos are high. As the trend of remote work increases, I think more and more people are willing to give it a try, so this post is dedicated to sharing my experience of over 10 years doing it and tips to build a “home office, sweet home office”

Routine: you got rid of commuting and office hours but it doesn’t mean that a routine is not important. Keep in mind that you’ll need to reply emails and make phone calls during the 9 to 5 period, and that deadlines still exist, so establish a schedule and stick to it.  Of course, you have the luxury to sleep a little more if you went out the night before or had insomnia, for example, and there will be days of extra procrastination on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube (hello, makeup tutorials!), or an afternoon in the kitchen baking chocolate muffins (love them!) – which is perfectly normal as long as they are exceptions.

I usually go to the gym in the morning, so I try to check emails and reply anything urgent by 10 am. Before lunch, I tend to organize my mailbox and set up the day tasks. Obviously, I don’t need to take exactly one hour of lunch, but between preparing the food, having the meal (never ever in front of the computer!) and doing the dishes I spend at least 30 minutes. I also take the break to post on Instagram and Snapchat, so the afternoon is dedicated to work on clients’ projects or write the blog. I try to finish at 7 pm tops, however, depending on the time I start and amount of work, I can go on until 8 pm. After I check the final emails of the day and make the round of social media, I really turn off and don’t even leave the mobile near me. This separation between office and leisure hours is kind of sacred and I try hard to not mess it up.

Space and décor: your office can occupy an entire room or be in the corner of your living room but it needs to be the place where everything related to work is close – and organized. Investing in a proper desk and chair is one of the best things you can do to your physical and mental health so put a real effort here. Also, take light (natural is better) and noises into consideration, especially if you live with other people. My desks have always been by the window in order to take advantage of natural light and because I love to be able to look at the sky and at whatever the view allows and do some wandering. It’s great to inspire! By the way, try to decorate it with colours and elements that reflect your style and are inspirational, after all, you are the boss now!  The images above can be good references.

Personal Image: the time saved when you don’t need to choose different outfits every day or waste 10 minutes just concealing a pimple is incredible, but, on the other hand, working in your pyjamas can’t be part of the deal. As I said in the first topic, it’s essential to establish a routine and to differentiate work from chill time, so leave the PJs in the bedroom.

Evidently, you don’t need to dress up, but choose some “work clothes” to rely on, something comfortable that doesn’t embarrass you when the postman or the Amazon delivery guy come in the door, ok? Also, don’t ignore your hair and skin cares. I wash my hair every other day and style it as if I were going out. The same applies to my skin regime: after cleansing, I apply a moisturizer with SPF because even indoors the light from the computer screen can be damaging. My current favourite is Clinique Superdefense Daily Defense SPF 20. Lip balms (Chapstick, Ceralip or Dr. Paw Paw) and hand creams (Cowshed Cow Pat, Roger Gallet Crème Sublime Bois d’Orange or L’Occitane Vanilla Bouquet) are always strategically near. I truly believe that taking care of ourselves help improving our self-esteem, thus when I’m feeling down I swap the lip balm for some layers of bright lipstick. I can’t get enough of Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy or Clinique Pop Lacquer Lip Colour + Primer  

Human Contact: as much as you love the freedom of listening (or not) to your own playlist loud and clear (singing along when a favourite song plays!) and the fact that you don’t have to deal with annoying co-workers that are part of every company, sometimes, is normal to long for some interaction.

Since I don’t drink coffee and can be easily distracted by the noises inside a café, I’d rather schedule regular network  events and kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Meetups and talks/workshops from organizations as General Assembly and Google Campus are great to meet people with similar interests and unwind. I try to go to one of them at least twice a month. The events don’t necessarily need to be related to your work, but surely will bring a breath of fresh air, so just sign up and go – work hours is not an excuse anymore, remember? Also, don’t forget that you are more flexible to catch up with friends, so instead of meeting them in a packed bar at happy hour, schedule brunches, lunches or afternoon teas, for example. Feel the good vibes and enjoy it!

Icon: Linda Evangelista

Linda Evangelista truly deserves the title of super model. As a blonde, brunette or redhead, with short or long hair; blunt, side or no bangs she is one of these rare human beings that can wear any colour, length or texture. Chameleon? Maybe. The perfect definition of the word “model”. Always.

Dream Spas: Amankila, Bali

You know those beautiful images from idyllic resorts that go around on Pinterest and Instagram? Amankila is featured in many of them! The resort, which name means “calm hill”, is located in one of the most traditional Bali regions, Karangasem, and is an invitation to day dreaming…

With 34 independent suites, some with private pools, and a décor inspired by typical Balinese elements, you will forget about everyday life minutes after stepping into the hotel. Needless to say, the spa offers a heavenly experience!  First of all, you can choose to have the treatments in your room or contemplating the sea, at the Beach Club. All of them use locally produced aromatic oils and include from reflexology to the Mepijet, a deep relaxation massage that improves circulation, and the Cinta therapy, a full body exfoliation followed by a warm bath with flower essences and an aromatherapy massage to infuse harmony.

At this point, you are sure that Paradise is right there, right now!

In Search of a (New) Style

I totally believe that the way we dress reflect our personality. Back in Brazil, I was a lecturer in many Personal Style workshops and learned the tools to build one.  Throughout the years I learned what flatters my body type and how to use trends in my favour, going for some and ignoring others. In general, I was pretty happy with my style and with most of the outfits in my closet.

Nevertheless, I knew that my style would have to change when I moved to London. First of all, the weather requires different clothes, but furthermore, I wanted my looks to be a reflection of this new personal and professional moment in my life. A lot of pieces were either donated or sold in Brazilian thrift stores and my suitcases came with a very well thought selection of pieces (ok, some tops and dresses can be worn for only a few weeks in a year but still have an emotional value!).

So, before buying anything new, I created a wish list of what was worth having in the closet, and gathered some references to help in the process (go Pinterest!)  The result was 10 basic but versatile pieces that reflect my style:

– Black skirts: in the plural because I have models made with lighter and warmer fabrics, shorter, midi length, pencil, pleated, A line….

– A line dresses: floral-printed and sundresses are practically impossible to wear here, but the structured ones, in A line shape, just over the knees, are my favourites.

– Jumpers: one of the most worn items. Some are in neutral colours, like grey and black, but I’d rather invest in bright colours and cheer up an outfit!

– Plaid shirts: the grunge version stayed in the 90s as my current models are more fitted and great to wear under a jumper, with leggings + boots or ballerinas.

Leggings: speaking of leggings, I stock them since I don’t wear jeans (only have 2 pairs and one of them I can’t even remember the last time I wore). And they must be black.

– Leather jacket: the motorcycle style, fitted and cropped. Mine is black, with a detachable fur trim, but I’m considering purchasing a second one, just in case.

– 60s Coats: as in the skirts and dresses, I like coats with an A line, big buttons or a zipper, the typical ‘mod’ style from the 60s. Besides the 2 black and 2 grey that I wear the most, I have a shorter model in red and one in Royal blue to break the winter mood.

– Scarves: must confess I had no interest in them but had to change my mind as they warm up the neck area – and can be very stylish as well. Almost all of them are in cashmere or wool, but I guess the silk and cotton gauze ones are great for mid-season temperatures.

– Colourful accessories: I love red shoes and bags (but never wear them together) and think that any look is more interesting and less predictable with a hint of colour.

– Ankle boot: probably the best investment I made. It has a short heel, a side buckle and is perfect for all seasons!

Tea Etiquette

Yes, it’s true, tea is a big part of the British culture and in every social or professional meeting there will be someone asking if you’d like a ‘cuppa’ (the short, cute abbreviation for a cup of tea). In the workplace, coffee may be popular, but tea is still king and I’ve seen people having it from the moment they arrive until they leave. As I only drink herbal tea, usually before bedtime, in an almost lukewarm temperature because I can’t stand super hot drinks, learning how to make a regular cup of Earl Grey was a little tricky, but ended up being the biggest lesson learned during my days as an intern… So, in order to help interns and assistants to be, or just to impress friends, here goes my 101 on tea making:

  • When people ask for a ‘cuppa’ they probably expect it to be Earl Grey. If there’s more blends in the cupboard, you are more than welcome to check if the guest wants another flavour. Always ask if they will have it with or without milk, sugar or sweetener.
  • Since milk nowadays can extend to coconut, soya, almond or oat milks, stick to whatever is in the fridge if you are not given specific requests.
  • Earl Grey was invented for the 2nd Earl Grey in 1830s and is a black tea with notes of bergamot, whilst the English Breakfast Tea is also black, but with floral undertones.
  • Once the water is boiling, pour it in the cup and wait a couple of minutes to brew. Then, add a splash of milk, stir, wait a little longer and remove the tea bag. I have no idea why people don’t like to drink with the bag inside, but anyway…
  • You can serve the cup without sugar, so the person can add the right dose, otherwise one teaspoon is good. For sweeteners, is best to check first.
  • If your boss or co-workers like a particular mug, blend or temperature, make a mental note and always try to meet it – it will surely add extra points for a future promotion or even a kinder letter of reference! ????

Apart from the work tea etiquette, if you want to experience the traditional afternoon tea, which, contrary to popular belief, is served at 4pm, not 5pm, here is a list of glamorous places in London. Enjoy!

Claridge’s Hotel

Flemings Mayfair 

Hotel Café Royal 

Sketch 

The Berkeley Hotel

The Modern Pantry 

The Palm Court at the Ritz 

Ting at the Shard 

How Chanel 2.55 Bag Inspired a Trend

When Chanel created the iconic 2.55 bag, all she wanted was to free a woman’s hand from holding clutches. The rectangular, quilted model, with gold chain straps turned into a classic. However, along the tweed tailleur, for decades it was associated with rich and elegant ladies who lunch and even though it was very chic, wasn’t exactly cool. Then, in 2005, when it celebrated 50 years and during the it bag fever, Karl Lagerfeld decided that was time to revamp the 2.55 and make it coveted by grandmothers and granddaughters. With marketing campaigns and it girls holding them, it didn’t take long until the bag became as desired as a Birkin or a Kelly.

Ironically, not only Chanel relies on the model to be a best-seller. Many luxury brands got “inspired” and developed bags with gold chain straps and locks (most with the brand logo), rectangular shapes and frontal flap. In a quick search, I found quite a few 2.55 alike, from Gucci to Saint Laurent, from Stella McCartney and Mulberry to Proenza Schouler.

Do you think any of them overcomes the original?

From left to right: Valentino Lock medium, Stella McCartney Falabella shoulder bag, Saint Laurent Monogramme, Proenza Schouler  PS small, Mulberry Lily, Lanvin Jiji small,  Gucci Icon, Chloé Drew, Chanel 2.55 and Coco with the original bag.

Brands We Love: Clarins

My memories of Clarins products come from childhood. I remember watching my mother applying this “luxury” sunscreen to avoid dark spots. The packaging wasn’t special and had too much text (probably in different languages), however, you could tell there was something “scientific” about that lotion. Years went by and I kept an eye on the brand, one of the biggest in France since the Medicine grad student Jacques Courtin-Clarins opened in 1954 the first Clarins Institute de Beauté in Paris.

Even after over 60 years in the market, the company still follows the same philosophy of love and respect for women’s beauty. Actually, Jacques started to create plant-based formulas thinking in our happiness, as he believed they offered solutions for common cosmetic issues. If you browse the Ingredients Glossary in the website, will find that sunflower, water lily, rosemary, jojoba, Sequoia leaf, chamomile and fruits like raspberry, tomato and kiwi are the base for different skincare lines. Synthetic ingredients don’t take part in the formulas and since 1987 the company doesn’t test on animals, which shows how Clarins is ahead of the organic/environmental conscious trend.

From anti-aging products to moisturizers, contour treatments and even invigorating lotions and oils there is always the vision to improve the skin appearance/texture and provide well-being to customers. This is one of the reasons that you may have seen a Clarins spa close to a counter or inside resorts all over the world!

In the last decades, the company invested in expansion, with the inclusion of makeup lines, My Blend range and fragrance divisions (Thierry Mugler and Azzaro licensing), but managed to keep the family control. Jacques sons’, Christian and Olivier, are in charge and have the help of heirs Virginie, Claire, Prisca and Jenner to make a lot of PR thanks to their it girl status!

Note: Clarins wasn’t Jacque’s surname but a character he played in school and later used to name the brand. He got so lucky that by mid 1970s it was added to his ID card, and he became Jacques Courtin-Clarins!

My favourites

clarins-celulite

Body Lift Cellulite Control 

clarins-multiactiv

Multi-Active Day SPF20

clarins-doubleserum

Double Serum 

clarins-lotus

Lotus Face Treatment Oil

clarins-antieau

Contour Body Treatment Oil 

clarins-mousse

Gentle Foaming Cleanser Normal or Combination Skin

clarins-instantsmooth

Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch 

clarins-flash

Beauty Flash Balm 

Who’s Who: Kevyn Aucoin

You may have heard or tried one of the products that carries his name, but did you know that Kevyn Aucoin is one of the most celebrated makeup artists of all time? His life story could be a Hollywood movie: small town boy from Louisiana goes to New York to try a career in the beauty industry. Even with little experience doing make-up, his talent is so outstanding that in a matter of months he becomes one of Steven Meisel’s protégés. Moreover, the legendary photographer Irving Penn requests him in many shootings for Vogue. Another successful American dream! Kevyn was also the favourite of Tina Turner, Liza Minelli, Cher, Janet Jackson and all the supermodels of the 1980s and 90s. Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Julia Roberts, Barbra Streissand, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington… The “fan & friends” list goes on and on. Worth noting is the fact that he liked to have them lay down, with a pillow to support the head whilst he was doing the makeup, preferably with some relaxing music from his playlist.

As Nicole Kidman said, Kevyn’s makeup was magical. Just take a look at the pictures above, of celebs turned into iconic stars. They are part of “Making Faces” and “Face Forward”, (his first book was “The Art of Makeup and he also has a bio: Kevyn Aucoin: A Beautiful Life”). Unfortunately, Kevyn left us way too soon (in 2002, age 40, after an accidental overdose of painkillers to relieve the pain from a rare disease) but his influence is still strong. He defined the natural look of the 90s with a line of nude products for Ultima II, in 1988. His namesake line arrived in 2001 and is a total cult, with best sellers like the Sculpting and Celestial Powders, to contour and highlight (available in the UK at Space NK and Cult Beauty, among others). They may not have the power to transform you as Kevyn did, but it’s a start…

Note: if you still can’t figure out who is who, here are the answers: Kate Moss channelling the Biba look, Isabella Rossellini as Sophia Loren, Julianne Moore as Twiggy, Christy Turlington as Marisa Berenson, Julia Roberts as Julie Christie, Winona Ryder as Elizabeth Taylor in “Cat in a Hot Tin Roof” and Gwyneth Paltrow as Faye Dunaway in “Bonnie & Clyde”. 

Shopping with Whatsapp

You already use Whatsapp to talk to friends and family, are part of many groups, share pictures, videos, links, memes, jokes… So, why not shopping with it? As it surpassed the mark of 1 billion users around the world, the app reinforces the increased use of mobile to access the internet. Thus, it’s easy to predict that message services will soon evolve into a hybrid of social media and e-commerce. China’s WeChat mixes it all and is a huge success. Recent news that Facebook (who owns Whatsapp) is launching a business platform for its Messenger, with robots working as a sort of sales assistant is another sign that the trend is getting momentum.

In small business, selling through Whatsapp has already been a reality (I have friends in Brazil with new brands, using the app as an “e-commerce). British Vogue went ahead of the game and launched the service last February. As soon as you add the number, the notifications (no more than 2 per day) start to pop with website news, including images and links to access them, something that Instagram, for example, doesn’t offer and count as an audience meter. (Note: For the last 2 weeks, I haven’t received anything so I’m not sure if it was just a test or if they are optimizing the service)

Thinking strategically, besides being a practical and cheap tool for startups, the channel can also bring brands and customer closer with the possibility of personalized interactions. Imagine sending a message for your favourite label, telling what you are looking for or your body type, and receiving suggestions with images, prices and direct links to make the purchase? Or maybe getting access to exclusive promotions and previews? Of course, many details must be fixed in order to build a truly professional service, which may involve the training of dedicated teams, but for now, looks like a new kind of mobile commerce is surging and will be an instant hit!

 

The First Steps of My Career in London

When I started looking for a job after the MA, I must have sent my CV to dozens of places, in less than a month. I didn’t get any feedback apart from those automatic replies and didn’t even get an invitation for an interview. I also contacted many recruiters, some of them replied, a few called me back and that was it. Of course I was frustrated since I believed that with the MA degree and some work experience here, it wasn’t going to be hard to find a position.

At this point I realised that my frustration was not caused by the lack of feedback, but for applying for a bunch of roles that deep down, I wasn’t remotely interested. Sometimes, I barely read the job descriptions and just sent it to have the (false) impression that I was doing my part. However, as most things in life, if you don’t mean it, nothing will happen. And that’s when something clicked.

My goal when I moved to London, besides doing the MA at London College of Fashion, a dream that came true, was finding opportunities that simply don’t exist in Brazil. This included the work with archetype branding, my dissertation subject, and a plan to have a consulting business in the future. But the future was right there, in my face.

By the traditional means, i.e., being an employee in a company, it would be extremely hard to have autonomy and freedom to develop that kind of project in brand identity. Speaking of freedom, it has always pierced my professional decisions and it is the greatest reason I have never worked in a 9 to 5 model. Nothing against it, but in my perception this is not the way to be more productive, quite the opposite, with the constant office distractions, the useless meetings and all that petty politics with bosses and co-workers, I feel that I’m much more dedicated and active working by myself, organizing a day by tasks, regardless of shifts.

Understanding that I didn’t need to adapt to certain standards just for being a foreigner or because it’s  financially “safer” was a crucial step, as well as realising that the MA provided me the entrepreneurial pathway and all I need to do was put into practice what I’ve learned (seems obvious but sometimes you need time to digest certain things). Finally, a reminder about the importance of being true to yourself and to have the vision of where you want to go – things that I reinforce watching this video of Garance Doré interviewing Diane von Furstenberg over and over again, are constant pushes to keep going.

Since I made the decision, about 2 months ago, I started to present myself as a freelancer brand strategist, created a Meetup to network and exchange ideas, and signed my first contract! Not bad at all, isn’t? Evidently, I still have a long way to go, nevertheless, I believe 100% that when we do what we love, the universe conspires and things happen (pure cliché, but it’s true!). Now it’s time to prepare the next steps!