Behind-the-scenes with London-based Sleepwear Brand Eight Hour Studio

I’ve recently started some work with beautiful London-based sleepwear brand, Eight Hour Studio. The brand will launch officially this coming week, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Eight Hour Studio use organic cotton and traditional Indian woodblock printing methods to create beautiful, subtle and incredibly comfortable sleepwear. Their sleepwear will add a hint of luxurious elegance to your evening when it’s time to wind down and relax after work.

Sonia and Ash, the lovely couple behind the brand, have given me some exclusive images of their pieces in the making. Everything is handmade in Jaipur, India, and the pieces are beautifully cut, too.

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Photography courtesy of Eight Hour Studio’s supply partner, Mehera Shaw, a fair trade artisan lifestyle manufacturer based in Jaipur, India.

10 British Contemporary Artists to Watch

Those who know me will know I’m a massive fan of contemporary art – I even write a contemporary art blog, called Art Blog Daily – and that’s why I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite British contemporary artists, who I think you should definitely keep an eye on. They’re incredible, I promise!

1. Paul Cooklin

Paul Cooklin

Paul is a fantastic landscape photographer, photographing beautiful sights around the UK and further afield. His work is entirely black and white, and he captures tone perfectly. If it’s black and white photography you love, Cooklin’s work may be your new obsession. I won’t apologise.

2. Patrick Palmer

Patrick Palmer

Patrick Palmer studied at Heatherley’s School of Art in London and The National College of Art and Design, Dublin. He now lives and works in Windsor, Berkshire.

Patrick is an incredible drawer, predominately drawing portraits. Everything from the detail to the striking colours will impress.

3. Oliver James Watt

Oliver James Watt

Amazingly, Oliver James Watt is a self-taught abstract painter who started painting at a very young age. A lot of his work is monotone, but interesting. Oliver was born in Suffolk, but he currently lives and works in London.

4. Jessica Slater

Jessica Slater

“Jessica Slater is a Cardiff School Of Art And Design graduate and currently lives and works in Cornwall, United Kingdom. She specialises in abstract paintings.”

Jessica’s use of colour and shape as one is just breathtaking, and everything she does makes you think a little bit more.

5. James Lucas

James Lucas

James is an abstract painter who loves to use colour. His work tends to be very busy, but it’s beautiful. Lucas lives and works in Nottingham.

“Colour and surface texture dominate my work. I work with rich vociferous colours in complex swathes, layers and trails of paint.”

6. Gina Parr

Gina Parr

“Gina Parr’s painted and photographic work uncovers complex connections and disconnections within form and landscape, explicitly questioning the relationship between chance and control.”

Gina’s work is unlike anything I’ve seen before… It’s incredible! I love the techniques she uses.

7. George Antoni

George Antoni

Perhaps a secret love affair of mine, the work of George Antoni is at the top of my list in terms of artists I would love to own numerous pieces from. George’s work is simple, but that’s what makes it for me. Subtle shapes and bold colours applied perfectly, but always varying.

8. Geoffrey Pimlott

Geoffrey Pimlott

“My work explores the shape of colour and the colour of shape through arbitrary geometric compositional arrangements that intend to engage the visual senses with their rhythms and sequences. ”

Born in 1946, Geoffrey Pimlott is a Wimbledon College of Art graduate. Geoffrey’s work is strong on bold shapes and colours, and his use of asymmetric patterns is really interesting.

9. Claire Pestaille

Claire Pestaille

Another secret love affair of mine, Claire’s work is beautiful. I absolutely love contemporary collage, and Pestaille’s work is some of the best I’ve seen and fallen in love with.

“Taking ownership of images from the past through the act of collage, my work establishes relationships and connections between the existence of one image and it’s marriage with another.”

10. Chris Stevens

Chris Stevens

Chris Stevens studied Fine Art at the University of Reading. He paints very detailed portrait paintings and is fantastic when it comes to tone and an on-point portrayal of different scenes and individuals.

Do you have a favourite?

See more contemporary art on Art Blog Daily, and find out more about the mentioned artists on the British Contemporary Art Association‘s website.

Images courtesy of the British Contemporary Art Association

Why Muslims could be the real victims of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy

In light of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in Paris earlier this week, I was reading The Independent, including comments on Facebook, and a particular comment jumped out at me. It questioned, “Isn’t it really Muslims who are suffering most because of terrorism?” and I thought, “You know, that could be very true.”

Charlie Hebdo

The sheer level of hatred I’ve seen towards the Muslim community this week exceeds anything I’ve ever seen before. The level of negative generalisations about Muslims that have been shared publicly via outlets such as Twitter has been incredible. It’s because of this that I agree, yes, Muslims could be suffering most because of terrorism. These incidents are horrific, incredibly tragic and, yes, unbearable for the families of the loved one’s involved. However, that is no excuse to throw racially insensitive (to put it nicely) comments around. These incidents affect hundreds or thousands of people closely involved. However, we must not forget that with every incident, millions of Muslims – many who do not agree with the actions of terrorists whatsoever – are negatively affected. They are deemed “terrorists” and “murderers”, despite being nothing of the sort. A large percentage of Muslims are simply average people, like you and me, who are educated, work full-time, and who just want to enjoy life. Yes, that’s right… Muslims travel, have parties, go shopping, watch films at the cinema, and do pretty much everything me and you do, too!

There are some hateful individuals in the world – some Muslim, some Christian, some atheist, and plenty from other religion’s. However generalisations on such a vast level because of the actions of a handful of individuals is completely unacceptable. Regardless of religion, race, age or sex, most are their own person with their own views. Religion shouldn’t mean definition. It does for some no doubt, but not for all. That’s what we must remember.

On a last note, in this incident I did see many condemning Muslims not as “terrorists” or “murderers”, but as “heartless” due to leaders in Muslim countries not publicly condemning the acts. However, again, remember that the choice of one individual does not span the whole religion, country or world. After all, how annoyed would us Brits be if the world assumed we all shared the views of Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron or even Nigel Farage? We’d be fuming, I bet!

Please do share your thoughts on this subject. I’d be interested to hear any feedback, positive or negative.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. May our freedom of speech always be just that. Free.

Rest in peace.

Images courtesy of Charlie Hebdo

Review: Jacamo Southbay Jacket

The lovely people at Jacamo sent me this Southbay Jacket (RRP £60.00 – available in navy, tan and burgundy) earlier this week and I was both impressed and surprised. Jacamo hasn’t been known as one of the coolest brands for young men, however I have to contest any negativity towards the brand, as this jacket, from overall style to quality, is just fantastic!

Jacamo Southbay Jacket

The tartan lining is very on-trend and incredibly soft, and the cut of the jacket is perfect. I wear a size small and there’s enough room for a t-shirt and nice chunky jumper underneath, and then the fit is rather snug with a slightly tailored appeal, which I really like. It’s a nice change not to have a winter jacket that is really, really chunky and makes you look like a bit of a frump.

Most importantly, this jacket does its intended job and is very warm but not so puffy that it leaves me sweating on the train on the way to work on those chilly mornings. I would even highly recommend this or something similar for a lightweight, warm coat for those evenings on the town or down the pub, as there’s plenty of pockets for your wallet and phone, too!

Take a look at more great options for a men’s winter jacket via the Jacamo website.

Images courtesy of Jacamo

Top 20 Kate Bush Songs

Everyone that knows me is very aware that I’m a fool for a female vocalist, and it’s this admiration that, thankfully, lead me to Kate Bush about a year ago. Since my discovery of Kate’s very raw, unquestionable talent – which is possibly the best definition of what I wish the music industry was and what I hope it will one day get back to – I’ve been hooked.

On that note, I’ve put together a list of my Top 20 Kate Bush Songs, some renowned and others that are slightly less popular.

1. Wuthering Heights


2. Running Up That Hill


3. Babooshka


4. Cloudbusting

5. This Woman’s Work

6. The Man With The Child In His Eyes

7. Hounds Of Love


8. Army Dreamers


9. And Dream Of Sheep

10. Waking The Witch

11. There Goes A Tenner


12. The Dreaming

13. The Wedding List


14. Breathing

15. Wow


16. Hammer Horror


17. Moving

18. Experiment IV


19. Them Heavy People


20. Sat In Your Lap


All of these tracks can be found on Kate’s official Spotify page, so do check them all out – especially those you haven’t listened to already – and add them to your playlist. You won’t regret it!

5 Great Christmas Gift Ideas

Finding Christmas gifts, whether they’re for your mum, dad, grandma, boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend or brother/sister, can be a nightmare (believe me, I know), so I’ve put together a list of 5 great Christmas gift ideas (hopefully covering all angles) to give you an idea of what to get your loved ones this year:

Tea For Two Set from Cornishware (£50.00)

Blue Tea For Two Set from Cornishware

Does your mum or grandma love anything kitsch and homely? In that case, the very sweet kitchenware from British company Cornishware could be a brilliant gift. I really like the blue Tea For Two Set (also available in red), which includes a tea pot, milk jug and two mugs. Perfect!

Men’s 506 Regular Fit Jeans from Levi’s (£75.00)

Men's 506 Regular Fit Jeans from Levi's

I don’t know about you, but my dad’s a typical man who tends to like easy gifts, like jeans or a jumper. I usually opt for jumpers, so this year I’m thinking I’ll go jeans, but a nice pair, such as these regular fit jeans from Levi’s. They’ve got a fit he likes (fairly relaxed – nothing overly “trendy”) and a nice, subtle wash. Plus, they look like all the cheaper jeans he has but will probably last much longer, so they’re a practical gift, too.

Pastel Birds Scarf in White from Lisa Angel (£14.00)

Pastel Birds Scarf in White from Lisa Angel

My best friends are a lovely group of girls I’ve known since school, but I still find it difficult to find a gift for Christmas, or even their Birthday, that I know for sure they’ll love. However, I just bought one of my friends a beautiful printed scarf from British brand Lisa Angel (also very affordable at just £14) for her Birthday, and I don’t see how she won’t love it. Lisa’s scarves are really pretty and they’re very seasonal, with the winter months just around the corner and all. One of these will make a great Christmas gift!

Sterling Silver Star Ring from Alison Moore (£45.00)

Women's Sterling Silver Star Ring from Alison Moore

For your girlfriend or sister, this handmade sterling silver ring from designer Alison Moore is a lovely option. It’s priced very reasonably and is something that the recipient would wear for a long, long time, so it’s definitely worth spending the pennies.

Also, take a look at Alison’s hammered heavy unisex silver ring (£60), which could be great for your boyfriend or brother.

Men’s Hooded Two-tone Jumper from Bershka (£39.99)

Men's Hooded Two-tone Jumper from Bershka

I have 3 brothers, so I can sometimes be a little lazy when it comes to buying them gifts. Often, they’ll just get some nice chocolate or a DVD, however if I’m feeling generous they might get clothes. I’m never 100% on what they like, but I usually just try to buy things I think will suit them and include the receipt, just in case they don’t like it. It’s usually the best way to do it. This men’s hooded jumper from Bershka is quite a nice option I think they would like, so this or something similar would make a nice gift this Christmas.

Good luck shopping for your loved ones this Christmas! I hope I’ve helped. Let me know how you get on!

Images courtesy of Cornishware, Levi’s, Lisa Angel, Alison Moore & Bershka

What types of Running Shoes are there?

Like many, I used to assume that running shoes were running shoes and that there was just one type for everything, however I recently realised that this isn’t the case and that the type of running shoes you choose can really effect the way you run in different locations and even help prevent injury. Here’s a quick guide to the different types of running shoes on the market:

Road Running Shoes

Road Running Shoes from JD Sports

These offer lots of support and cushioning to absorb the impact of hard surfaces. If you’re regularly running long distances – if you go for a morning or evening run, or if you’re training – these are the shoes for you. General purpose running shoes are available at reasonable prices from most, if not all footwear retailers.

Trail Running Shoes

Salomon X Ultra GTX Trail Running Shoes from GO Outdoors

Trail running shoes tend to have a deeper tread in comparison to the relatively shallow tread of general purpose running shoes. A deeper tread helps to provide better grip on softer, uneven and slippery surfaces. These are usually a bit more durable, too. Because of this, trail running shoes can cost slightly more than general purpose running shoes. If you’re in the market for a pair of trail running shoes, it’s best to go to a retailer that specialises in outdoor gear or activewear, such as GO Outdoors, Cotswold Outdoor and Mountain Warehouse.

Racing Flats

Adidas Adizero Adios Boosts Flat Running Shoes

As you may have guessed, racing flats have a very shallow tread and are consequently much lighter than the other types of running shoes. Racing flats are often raised at the front to encourage running on the toes to increase speed and some even have spikes to help improve grip. As these running shoes aim to help increase speed, they’re usually used by professionals or serious running nuts during races. If you’re after running flats, sports specialists such as Nike and Adidas have some great options.

Happy running!

Images courtesy of JD Sports, GO Outdoors & Adidas

5 Things A Good PR Agency SHOULD Say

After last week’s post titled “5 Lies Most PR Agencies Tell“, I received a lot of feedback, telling me that it’s helpful to know what lies PR agencies might tell, however how do you spot a good PR agency? In the spirit of supplying where there’s demand, I’ve put together this post, which outlines what good PR agencies should say and things to look out for, to give you an equal idea of positive and negative aspects of PR. Here I go…

“You’re not getting in Vogue next month…”

Unless you’re paying a large lump sum every month, it’s worth knowing that it’s unlikely your brand is going to be in Vogue just a few weeks after you’ve started working with a PR agency. Companies should be honest about this. Yes, they may strike gold and get you a briliant feature just weeks into the process, but the truth is that it does take time. A PR agency has to introduce you to their contacts and start building a foundation before the ball really gets rolling, especially if you’ve never worked with a PR agency before. What you should be hearing from the agency when you first meet with them is something along the lines of, “You’re not going to get Vogue next week, but we’re going to work hard and try to make this happen, but with time. We’d hope to achieve this level of coverage eventually.”

“You’re not quite the right fit for our agency…”

There’s a lot of companies out there that just want your money, regardless of whether they feel they could do a great job in working with you. A good PR agency should be able to say no. If your brand isn’t right for them and their client portfolio and contacts, they should give you a polite, “It was lovely to meet you and we like your brand, but we don’t feel it fits with our company. Other agencies you could consider that might be more suitable are…” – after all, if they’re not working with you, they shouldn’t hesitate in trying to help point you in the right direction with the knowledge they have of the industry.

“We specialise in PR, not sales…”

Believe it or not, there are countless companies that try and fob brands off by telling them they could provide a sales service for them, which usually involves the agency contacting buyers (who they should know already if they’re offering the service) and trying to get the brand stocked in a particular store. Some companies do offer this as an extra service and they do it well, but there are also lots of agencies that will jump on the phone and try to find buyers AFTER you’ve signed the contract, because they simply don’t have the relationships with buyers already established. A good PR agency should be honest and simply say, “No, we don’t work in sales but it is something we could look at in the future, however for the time being we’re solely PR focused”. There’s no point in offering a service if you can’t do it well.

“We hope the press we secure you will lead to an increase in sales, however we can’t guarantee anything…”

Obviously every brand and PR agency hope that press coverage will boost sales, however sometimes that isn’t the case. It pays to understand that press is presss and is, in most cases, more about building brand image than anything else. Click-through rates that then lead to sales from press coverage alone is very, very low, so it’s not something any agency should guarantee or enforce. They should simply say, “I can’t guarantee that the coverage we get you will generate sales, however we’ll target media that’s right for your brand and will help to build the brand’s image. Eventually, you should begin to see a boost in sales, along with a boost in brand engagement and support, but it takes time.”

“We’re happy to work with and around you and what you can afford…”

This might just be my personal opinion, however I strongly believe that a company who wants to work with you should be willing to adapt their prices and services to suit what you as a brand can afford. I regularly get approached by brands with just £100 or so to spend each month, and if I like them I’m always happy to work with them and provide them with a slightly reduced service – e.g. they will receive less press coverage than brands spending more. No agency should have 100% fixed prices that they’re not willing to budge on. If an agency isn’t willing to budge on their prices (within reason), they’re not that crazy to work with you. Fact.

Although, with this point, do note that agencies do have certain costs to cover and therefore when I say “within reason”, I do mean it. You can’t expect an agency to half their prices and still offer the same service they offer higher paying clients. It’s not fair. Start small and grow – the main focus is getting your brand out there, even in a small capacity.

I hope this gives you even more insight into what to look out for if you’re a brand seeking to work with an agency or if you’re someone working or wanting to work in PR.

If you have any questions or comments based on your own experiences, please do share them with me!