10 things I learned at Drapers’ Next Generation Event 2017…

What is Drapers Next Generation??

The event is designed for people in the early stages of their careers within fashion – from newly hatched graduates all the way to management level, first, second and third job stages. It’s an action packed schedule with talks from up-and-coming talent across the industry, sharing their secrets and experience which has progressed them to their current positions – to leading figures looking back at their career highlights. It’s a roller coaster of fashion-inspiration and exciting discussions set in London’s Euston Square.

How often do you get to hear a CEO tell you what they would go back in time to tell their twenty-something-self?!

Ok so it’s that classic”Best day ever” and we missed it – grrrrreat..

No worries- I went to town with my note taking – like Hermione Granger without magic and an out of practice writing hand. Now I’m serving up all of these wisdom nuggets to share.

There’s a vast amount of information to eat up so let’s break it down:

1…… Be realistic with your timings.

Don’t expect to go from 0-success in 2 years.

You need some good experience on board before you can make your way up to the top – and that takes time. When asked what her secret was to becoming CEO of East – Erica Vilkauls said: “Patience.”


I remember heating up a certain fashion-designer’s soup because she apparently didn’t know how to use a microwave. We all have to start somewhere. 

(Allowing yourself some extra time for the tube always helps.) Obvious maybe for some, but I learnt that the carefree: “I’m only 5 mins away”, doesn’t cut it in front of a 30min tube ride. Something I take for granted in Manchester… 

2. Celebrate the small wins.

Like when you do make it on time! It’s easy to focus on the big things and get frustrated when they don’t seem to be happening fast enough. By congratulating yourself or your team around you on the small things, it’s a feel good boost to keep working towards the bigger goals. Who doesn’t need some encouragement along the way?!

(My waxer is brilliant at this…)

3. Find yourself a mentor and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. 

I literally asked someone for advice in the jacuzzi the other day.  We kind of know each other but we’re in completely different roles and businesses – I was surprised this didn’t even matter. An objective viewpoint can sometimes make all the difference to guide you towards making the best decision for yourself. 

4. Don’t underestimate the power of branding…

When the Marketing Director says he doesn’t like the word ‘Marketing’, I was confused. Really it’s the push tactic nature of marketing which Simon Lee at Matalan has a problem with. He described how his career has been concentrated on helping brands to create a world for their customers to become a part of – the “pull tactic”. The Leeds-born-advertising entrepreneur drew us into his world, speaking about his adventures state-side; flashing the Justin Beiber -Lara Stone campaign on screen #MyCalvins, and regaling the impressive campaign results in his down-to-earth, not your usual-director-like-style. His drive to innovate brands like Matalan, is what the CEO of Jack Wills would call an acknowledgement of brand as a living breathing thing.

5. Obsess about the customer you want to sell to..

So this sounds creepy. It’s also quite necessary. It’s easy to get lost in other brands’ campaigns sometimes working in marketing – dreaming of copying campaigns which are actually irrelevant to the customer you’re trying to reach, just because they look pretty. Knowing more about who you’re targeting to makes it easier to connect and understand what they’re going to want to see.

6. Have a broader approach to your role. 

A few years ago when I started, fresh on the scene and terrified by the never ending office space, it was great that I had a manager who really guided me through every step of the way. I wanted to learn everything, but he was often the safety net which helped me avoid doing tasks that I didn’t yet feel confident enough to take on. The support was amazing but it was only really when he left – 6 months in, suddenly I was forced to take on a lot more responsibility and had to step up to what he had been working on. The jump paid off. This experience really taught me the importance of doing the job you’re aiming for, before it’s given to you on paper.

7. Use social media to get instant reactions.

I love the idea of social media now influencing product designs and buyers. It makes sense to have a conversation with your customers about what they want before you place massive orders. Social media platforms’ advertising revenue is also soaring. It’s not just paid for advertising, it’s brands themselves recognising the ability to use their presence to connect with their customers in the fastest way – building a targeted audience and influencer network. It’s much more personal seeing one of your favourite bloggers wearing a new brand.

8. Be resilient. Be positive.

Easier said than done when a bird shits on your head, just minutes before an interview (this happened to my friend last week!!) She’s always a positivity inspiration outside of work- so I know she will have bossed her way out of the mess! It’s so easy to just whinge whinge about stuff, but after a while it takes it’s toll and it makes it so much harder to keep pushing for the things you want. Oliver Proudlock said inspiring his team behind Serge DeNimes is key: “Always be positive and full believe in what you do….no one is going to be able to sell your brand better than you.”

And for those less positive days – bird shitting or otherwise, its important not to just have a mediocre day. If you’re going in – do it properly, have a terrible day or have an amazing day.


9. Establish what makes you unique.

Understanding your strengths but also your weaknesses, and being comfortable with those is key for Negin Yaganegy, Net-a-porter/YNAP’s eccomerce director. Weaknesses aren’t typically dwelled upon during this type of event. So it stood out to me in a way that was powerful and showed a strength towards being confident in what you are not. That self-awareness is integral both at a personal and brand level. It can define what your focuses should be for your customer, rather than trying to be everything to everybody. We all know a social chameleon, and they’re often hard to trust, just like an everything-brand.


It’s lucky we weren’t playing a drinking game for every time this was mentioned… I wouldn’t have made the after-event drinks!! Draper’s next generation event is like a testimonial of RISK TAKERS. Everyone mentioned it because it’s so important – yep saved the best until last.

Taking risks also comes with making mistakes. To quote Erica Vilkauls again: “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not learning anything.” I’ve constantly been afraid of making mistakes – not speaking out in case you say the wrong thing in a meeting. Well, time for that to change! Life is too short, and there’s so much to learn, so bring on the mistakes!

And finally To wrap up – if you want to attend next year’s event (hellaaaa yeah!), keep a look out for the application for 2018 on Drapers.

Thanks so much to Drapers and headline sponsors Matalan, for making the day so good – keeping us going with coffee, lunch, snacks, and topped off with wine and canapes – the perfect toast to end the day, and kick off some networking!





HA-HA HA-HA ha-ha.

A post-newsround guilty pleasure, byker grove was a staple of my early TV addictions, along with the Queen’s nose, Bernard’s watch, and my parents are aliens.


Head to to ankle -H&M
Sandals -Topshop 


Oliver Bonas – Manchester store

Is literally giving me a bonas. I want to own everything in there.

In fact, I’ve probably spent enough time in there to qualify for squatter’s rights. So it may officially be my new home…






It’s a great place for cards – Scribber & Waterstones are usually my go-to, but Oliver has done it again.




Fancy some Cat Bingo?


A pineapple cocktail??






‘Bold is Beautiful


LAST friday, walking around Manchester, super smug to be out of work for good friday – I found an all pink-errrythang store of dreams. Like the spice girls on steroids, it was girl power to the max. The music was blasting out, with neon pink lights, rails of clothes, and pink camo netting hanging from the ceiling. I went in to explore only to find it was a pop-up charity shop from Benefit.

POP-UP WHY?? Please stay!!






Benefit’s charity shop collaboration is to raise money for charities: Refuge & Look good feel better – supporting women with cancer. The charity shop has now left Manchester (sob!), but If you’re around Glasgow’s St Enoch Centre, you can still catch PINK DREAMLAND until Sunday 23rd April.


If you go for a brow wax at Benefit until 30th April – 100% of the profits will go to Refuge & Look Good Feel Better. #RAISEABROW

Find out more about the project here




Ladies Day at Aintree 2017

Ladies’ Day.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, except for a lot of fun, which is always guaranteed with my ex-work-wife-Jess. If our previous antics were anything to go by, it was probably going to involve alcohol, the occasional shot in an egg cup, and some hula hooping. If we could manage any of that and stay standing in heels- I was going to be mega impressed, and definitely a races convert.


My outfit was a charity shop mash up with current accessories, so I felt less cheap.


  • An unknown designer dress, charity shop
  • &Other Stories leather heels – my favourite ever find! Thank you charity shop-knutsford-WAG-cast-offs
  • Blue flower power earrings by H&M – £8
  • Black scarf / wrap by Primark -£5, with cute lace edges.
  • New Look Bird Embroidered Clutch Bag, ASOS – £22.99

And followed by a £9 fascinator which was a later addition to the outfit.. The fascinator hadn’t made it into the original outfit cut because all of the ones I had seen were either-

a) Way too expensive, and I was going to need to win a loooot of money to offset my new headgear expenditure.


b) Crap.

If I wanted a piece of bird wire sticking to my head I would go to Wilkos..and probably incorporate a fake bird.


(Glass raise to each prosecco-mention necessary)

When you google ladies day- it’s kind of a mash up of flashing body parts that you didn’t know existed, flying through the air- faster than their hosts, or women abandoning their sky-high heels and wading through a sea of plastic cups. I was determined to stay committed to my heels; making a pact of: “home-do-us-part”, rather than “drunk-do-us-part”. Of course in complete prosecco-abandonment there were some commitment issues, and we parted ways…


Our transport in style began with a train to Liverpool Lime St from Manchester Victoria, then a short walk, yet not-so-short-in-heels, to Liverpool Central to get to Aintree. Jess brought the class to northern rail with the best picnic ever: salmon & cream cheese bagels and prosecco.



The costa cups she had supplied us with were genius – and later meant we could continue subtly chugging prosecco, (in a lady-like way), whilst everyone else had theirs confiscated before we boarded the next train.

I wasn’t expecting the commute between trains to be eventful. IT WAS. Stopping half way to buy a fascinator for myself, inside Clayton Square, to cure the major F(ascincator)FOMO. We then went into Coopers  for more prosecco. I don’t think you’ve experienced liverpool until you’ve been to Coopers. (Liverpool Echo give the full lowdown..) There was no other way to describe it than Men’s day, but felt like this was probably the general vibe.

“Where are all the girls??” – Probably already at the races being papped to win best dressed, but to hell with that, where’s the prosecco??!


Our kareoke song of choice was Valerie. It took a lot of convincing from Jess, and me refusing to sing spice girls, but we bossed it! I mean I kept coming in too early apparently, but I think it was just the unrestrained passion to get those notes out. Jess invited one of the regulars to dance with us, and then we serenaded (insert appropriate old man’s name), and received a standing ovation. It was time to exit on a high.

Over to Liverpool Central, we jumped on a train with what was basically-Westlife. A big group of Irish guys who were also on their way to the races. When we started introductions, Jess decided instead they should be re-named as characters from Father Ted – my favourite being: ‘My Lovely Horse..’ One of the guys, definitely the lead-singer – ‘Ronan’, was wearing a massive foam hand which he kindly gifted to me. It was a winning part of my look before it was confiscated as we entered the grounds.

Inside, so many people, nearly all looking amazing. Queues to the bar and queues to bet. We decided to get our first bets in and then hit the bar! Beginners luck was on my side and although I only bet the minimum £2, I managed to win with every race I bet on!! Could this be a new career….?! I mean I’m clearly 100% psychic

(Although apparently still struggle to spell psychic)



Outside with wine, the sun was shining and we went to watch the races. Like, you know, the real reason we’re here?! You know you’ve left Manchester when it’s actually not raining. For the best view you can climb the hill – which looks terrifying in heels, until you find the stairs at the back. There’s also an indoor stage where Sophie Ellis Bextor was playing, and I would love to say we went for some murder on the dancefloor circa 2001 but I think by this point the prosecco was getting the better of us..


Bumped into some familiar faces!



Next year – we’re there. I love any excuse to dress up and now I can see this is going to be a reoccurring must-attend event. Definitely need a spray tan for 2018!!




..the Leeds Holy Trinity church on boar lane to be exact. This was the unexpected venue for the vintage kilo sale last Saturday,where it can be found every month. A church full of clothes and retro music in my kinda service.




I wasn’t expecting to find it right in the centre of Leeds, but the stock washing line is unmissable and the items clearly needed a home, so I had to go in and check it out. Also intriguing was the question of whether anyone ever runs off with, or changes into those items?? I’ve only been to the vintage kilo sale in Manchester’s sachas hotel before on Oldham st – where you might want to tie the clothes down a bit tighter, but you can also get married in for a bargain £999!

I would quite like a church-lock-in at a kilo sale. Spend a day with lots of food and wine, (the essential supplies), and try to put as many outfits together as possible. Time is definitely needed as it’s hard to quickly spot items. It feels like a challenge.There is so much stuff inside that you might need to mentally prepare yourself – especially if you’re more of a minimalist. But, it’s worth powering through the hectic vibes to find the hidden treasure – think  Aladdin’s cave- if Aladdin & Jasmine wore  vintage sportswear and faux furs.

If you opt for really light pieces then you can get amazing value for money. It’s £15 for a kilo or items can be bought for less, and are individually priced. Who doesn’t need a kilo though?! There’s no point having regrets in life. I’m still having flashbacks to the amazing Adidas jacket that I didn’t buy.WHAT WAS I THINKING?!! Also it was about as heavy as a napkin, so it probably wouldn’t have been anymore expensive than the other things I bought.

Here’s a look at some of my finds:







Keep up to date with kilo sales coming near you

Kilo sale  & Blue rinse 




I’m starving for some newness. Don’t get me wrong, sales are amazing, especially the Zara sale. (It’s obligatory to spend at least one of your work lunchtimes running around Zara like Dale Winton on acid!). But, bargains aside, I’m happy to start thinking about lighter layers and new season trends. If you’ve been similarly starved of sun like we are in the UK, you’ll know what I mean. Unless – you’ve been cheekily hitting those sunbeds and now have a suspicious, enviable glow. I’m less St Tropez and more magnolia right now because aside from risky skin damage, what worries me about sun beds is the fear of being baked alive – like the girl trapped in one in final destination (865?!) #FAKETAN FOREVER PEOPLE

So I’m going to turn the heating up and fake stepping into spring. “Fake it until you become it”as Amy Cuddy  says.. (I cannot recommend her Ted talk enough by the way! Perfect for helping to nail new year ambitions..)

First of my SS17 new favourites is a guide to gingham pieces: the chicest table cloths around…

Innocence Black Gingham Check Frill Trim Shirt Dress – £24.99, New Look Innocence Black Gingham Check Frill Trim Shirt Dress £24.99.JPGInnocence Black Gingham Check Frill Trim Shirt Dress £24.99 2.JPG


Deconstructed Midi Skirt in Gingham £32.00, ASOSasos-deconstructed-midi-skirt-in-gingham-32-00-2asos-deconstructed-midi-skirt-in-gingham-32-00


Madame gingham floral ankle boots, £89.00 – Topshopmadame-gingham-floral-ankle-boots-89-00-topshop-3madame-gingham-floral-ankle-boots-89-00-topshop-2

Connie pink gingham check bardot shirt – £20.00, Pretty little thingconnie-pink-gingham-check-bardot-shirt-20-00-pretty-little-thing

Black Check Print Necktie – £3.99, New Look black-check-print-necktie-3-99-new-look-2black-check-print-necktie-3-99-new-look


Innocence Black Gingham Check Tie Waist Cropped Trousers – £24.99, New Look innocence-black-gingham-check-tie-waist-cropped-trousers-24-99-new-look-2innocence-black-gingham-check-tie-waist-cropped-trousers-24-99-new-look



Gingham Cotton Cold Shoulder Top With Tie Detail – £34.00, ASOSasos-gingham-cotton-cold-shoulder-top-with-tie-detail-34-00ASOS Gingham Cotton Cold Shoulder Top With Tie Detail £34.00 2.JPG


Gingham Cropped Cotton One Shoulder Bralet – £36.00, ASOSasos-gingham-cropped-cotton-one-shoulder-braletASOS Gingham Cropped Cotton One Shoulder Bralet 2.JPG

Jumpsuit in Gingham with Cold Shoulder Detail – £38.00, ASOS asos-jumpsuit-in-gingham-with-cold-shoulder-detail-38-00ASOS Jumpsuit in Gingham with Cold Shoulder Detail £38.00 2.JPG

Rik Rak Gingham Off Shoulder Dress with Shirring Detail -£30.00, ASOS asos-rik-rak-gingham-off-shoulder-dress-with-shirring-detail-30-00-2asos-rik-rak-gingham-off-shoulder-dress-with-shirring-detail-30-00

Stripe & Gingham Shirt with Cold Shoulder – £36.00, ASOS asos-stripe-gingham-shirt-with-cold-shoulder-36-00-2asos-stripe-gingham-shirt-with-cold-shoulder-36-00

Cami Midi Dress with Dropped Hem in Gingham – £40.00, ASOS asos-tall-cami-midi-dress-with-dropped-hem-in-gingham-40-00-2asos-tall-cami-midi-dress-with-dropped-hem-in-gingham-40-00

Sally Gingham cold shoulder cotton top, £18.00 – Boohoo


Embroidered gingham shirt – £29.99, ZARA


Black and White Gingham Mesh Cropped Turtleneck Top – £24, Urban Outfitters urban-outfitters-black-and-white-gingham-mesh-cropped-turtleneck-top-24Capture.JPG