Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Collaborating with brands/PR companies as a blogger

A new job-site called City Calling ( jobs online with City Calling) got in touch and invited me to work with them for a post. The brief was quite open; so I decided to write about working with companies, and brands, as a blogger.

I feel incredibly lucky to say that I have worked with some fantastic brands. I worked with Newcastle Building Society to customize some clothing. Minted.com invited me to write a wishlist of products I liked, and then kindly sent some to review. And last month, I was sent some Dylon fabric dyes to create something with and then post about. As a relatively new blogger, I have already worked with a few brands and new opportunities are coming up all the time. I thought I could have a lot to say about the topic, and knew it could open up a discussion; especially since the #bloggerblackmail debate on Twitter last week.

Left to right- The skirt I made with fabric sent from Minted, the kimono I made using Dylon dyes, the recipe book which I picked out from Minted.com

Working with brands takes time

When I first started blogging, I made a serious faux pas. I contacted brands and applied for press samples, within barely two months of blogging. Hardly anyone  read my blog, besides family and friends, so I got nowhere and looked greedy or naive to said companies. Of course, you can ask about collaborations with brands, if you feel you'd be ideal for them to work with, but don't pester or do what I did, and ask when you have no followers and barely any readers. There is a reason why 'big bloggers' get to go to all the exciting events and get amazing press samples: more exposure for the brand or company they are working with. There'd be no point to a brand working with a blogger who only had 36 followers, because hardly anyone would read it and learn more about them. It takes time to build up a following, but once you do, you will find that you start to get contacted by brands, without having to go to them first. I have only recently (in the past couple of months), set up an Etsy shop selling artwork, but haven't yet sold anything, or got much exposure from it. That's the same with working with brands for your blog, (hopefully) I will get a sale on my shop soon, but I need to build up a following and make Etsy shoppers aware of my products first.

Blogging doesn't entitle you to 'free stuff'

I have noticed this before on some blogs; people who assume that blogging entitles them to free products from companies. Even if it is a brand who do lots of work with bloggers, they have a limit to how many samples they can send out, so they are allowed to turn you down if you ask to work with them. I often mention certain brands who I buy a lot from, such as H&M and Primark, but don't expect them to start giving me free clothes because I mention them on my blog a few times. This is also something I've seen before on blogs; people thinking that because they write about a certain product or brand a lot, that entitles them to blogger benefits. These bloggers don't HAVE to write about that same brand or product all the time, they choose to themselves, so can't expect to be given discounts, free samples or tickets to events in return. Brands have to make money too, so can't afford to give out hundreds of free goods to people who they may not even feel are suited to their brand image or campaign. At the end of the day, PR work, free samples and event invitations are a privilege, not a right.

Blogging is a form of journalism

Especially if you are a full-time blogger, you may have to review some products which you wouldn't buy yourself or may not particularly be for you. It is important to take a professional approach; you need to be able to adapt your viewpoint and consider the pros and cons of various products and how these might suit a different demographic. It is also important to adapt your blog somewhat, to meet changing consumer tastes and trends and to seem 'up to date' with what's going on around you. Brands prefer to work with someone who is open minded and adaptable, with a knowledge of current trends.

Blogging is fun!

Blogger benefits such as events, PR samples and awards are all great, but see them as a bonus; not an essential. If you want to start blogging, or already have a blog, just do it because you enjoy it and are passionate about it. Whether you love beauty, fashion, lifestyle, cooking or all four; blogging can be a great way to meet new people, improve your communication, photographic and media skills as well as looking good on a CV.

If anyone has an opinion on anything I discussed in this post, please share it in the comments! 
Please nominate me for 'best student blog' in the North East blogger awards- here

Until next time, 

Holly Olivia x

Friday, 21 August 2015

New in beauty- Sephora and drugstore

When I was away, I visited a Sephora in a shopping centre, which was smaller than the actual Sephora stores but I still picked up a few bits. I also bought a few items before I went away (some of which I forgot to include, oops) so I will be talking about them as well.

Sephora purchases

I bought three products from Sephora, as well as some make-up sponges, which aren't pictured. The first thing I bought was one of their 'Kiss Me' lip balms in the shade 05-Candy Apple. I mainly bought it for the packaging, I was so intrigued by the unique shape of the product, that I had to try it out! I um-med and ah-ed about whether to get the clear shade or not, so that I could just use it on it's own, as a balm, but I opted for the red shade as I often wear red lipstick so thought it would be useful to have. I haven't tried it out over a red lip yet, but on it's own it has a more subtle red tone, and smells so so good! I think it'll be really good for when I wear red lipstick, and need to moisturize my lips, as the lipstick colour won't mess it up, as it does when I use other balms.

The next product I bought was Sephora's own waterproof 'Colorful Eyeliner 24H', in the shade 07- Sailor Kiss. I've been after a blue liner after seeing one in one of Alix (I Covet Thee)'s videos, but I don't like the Benefit ones as I find them too hard to work with and quite flaky. At first, I was unsure about whether or not to buy this eyeliner, as I don't really like working with any type of liner other than the felt tip ones, but loved the colour so decided to give it a go. I have used it multiple times and really like it! I'm still struggling slightly with doing my flicks using the wand, but it has great lasting power and the shade is quite subtle, yet obviously blue. I wore it one day to the pool, and it stayed perfectly in place, despite my sister splashing me multiple times and dunking my head underwater. I would definitely recommend this liner. The only issue I have is that it takes a few minutes to dry, if I don't leave it then it smudges onto my eyelash curlers and my liner is ruined. 

The last product I bought is probably my favourite! It's a Ciate nail varnish in the shade 'headliner' and I haven't stopped wearing it on my nails since I bought it. I know you can buy Ciate in the UK, but I have bought their varnishes before in Boots for around £10 and, in Sephora, they were only 8.50 Euros, so much cheaper and I couldn't risk not being able to find this shade again. It is a gorgeous blue shade, with a slight green tint to it, and it is very durable. I have been doing two coats of it followed by a topcoat (I forgot to pack my basecoat when I went away) and it lasts for around a week before it starts to chip. In fact, I think this may be my favourite ever nail varnish, so I would highly recommend it to anybody! 

Drugstore purchases

First off- I am a huge fan of the Kate Moss/Rimmel lipsticks. My favourite is the red in the shade 107, which I wear all the time, so when I heard she was releasing a new collection with them, I had to have something from it! The shade I got is 40, which was actually the only shade left in stock in my local Superdrug, and is quite a pale nude. At first, I was really unsure about the shade and thought it didn't suit me, but I have grown to really love it. I only wear it when I do a smoky eye, and I think it works really well. This is another lip product which smells really nice, kind of like a sweet shop, and I find it lasts quite well when paired with well moisturized lips.

I am also a huge fan of the Ted Baker body products and body sprays. I spotted this new one in Boots, and loved the scent, but there were none left, so I bought the giftset, which was only 50p (£7.50) more than the spray on it's own, but contains a body lotion, body spray and body wash- so a great deal! It was also stunningly packaged in a mint blue box with rose gold details and a floral print on the sides. The scent description says it contains violet, vanilla, patchouli, amber and fruity notes. My only problem with it is that the scent fades quite quickly, and it's only available in a small bottle, so won't last for ages but it smells so amazing and is such a good price.

Bourjois blushes are my favourites, they are beautifully packaged, come in lovely shades, and they last for years. (No joke, I've had one blush for nearly three and it's only just starting to run out) So as soon as I heard about their new Aqua Blushes, I ran straight to Superdrug. I got the shade 02 CocoriCoral, which is a really natural peachy-coral colour. I had an issue with this product from the start, however, the pump is useless. I don't know if I just have a faulty one, or if other people have this issue, but instead I have been unscrewing the top and applying it straight out of the bottle. Apart from that, I love it! It looks really bright coral when you apply it, but it blends really beautifully, lasts amazingly well and looks really natural. I will definitely be buying more. If cream blushers are good enough for Alexa Chung, then they're good enough for me!

I heard FleurDeForce talk about the Maybelline Master Sculpt contour and highlight, and decided to try it out as the highlight sounded good and I was over-excited by the big stands and adverts in Elle magazine, ha. I tried the contour, but I don't really like it. I am not a fan of contouring on my face anyway (or in general, particularly), but it doesn't blend very well and just looks streaky. I do, however, like the highlighter. It doesn't last incredibly long, but it has just the right amount of shimmer to it and is easy to apply. I wouldn't re-purchase or say I am wild about it though.

Lastly (phew!), I bought the Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation in the shade No52- Vanille. I have heard so many bloggers and vloggers talk about this, so when I needed a new foundation, it had to be this one. I got the medium coverage one, as my skin hasn't been great recently, so I had to stop using BB creams and the like, as they just didn't offer as much coverage as I needed. Now, I can see why everyone loves this foundation, it blends really well, lasts all day and matches my skintone so well. It also gives my skin a lovely glow, which doesn't at all matify once I apply setting powder.

Congrats if you made it to the end! I didn't know how much I could write about makeup so I have really surprised myself.
Please nominate me for 'best student blog' in the North East blogger awards- here

Until next time, 

Holly Olivia x
Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Les Jardins de L'Acardie

I mentioned about this post the other week, as I took outfit photos in the grounds of a restaurant we went to, whilst in France. My dad supports a French football team called Lens, so we went to watch one of their matches, before going for a meal on our last night. A couple of years ago we went to an Italian in the town of Lens, which is owned by the same people as the Jardins de L'Arcadie, we originally wanted to go to the Italian but it was shut for Summer, so we were given a reservation in their other restaurant instead. 
Italian's aren't much good for me anyway, as most things are bread or pasta based, so I was looking forward to trying out a different style of food. We'd warned the owner about my gluten intolerance in advance, so he bought some bread and pasta for me- which was so kind! 

When we arrived, we were asked about drinks and then brought canapes. To my surprise, a little bit later the waiter brought me a gluten free version- which was delicious. I think it was bread with a tomato-salsa style sauce and a sweet chilli pepper. The menu changes every few days, as they buy in all their ingredients fresh and make it all completely to order. Due to this, the menu is set at three options for each course and was 30 euros per person for three courses. 

 For my starter, I chose the goat cheese and asparagus salad, which came with gluten free bread. I love goat's cheese, and it was slightly cooked on top of grilled gluten free bread with warm asparagus, raspberries, more of the tomato salsa sauce, sweet chilli peppers and a vinaigrette. Spoiler alert: the starter was definitely my favourite course.

I don't have a photo of the main, as my camera started being temperamental and I was too hungry to faff around trying to fix it, as I didn't want my meal to get cold. I had the marinated lamb, which came with a choice of potatoes, chips, veg or salad, but I opted for the gluten free pasta they bought for me, as I couldn't have either of the potato sides. I didn't mind, however, as the pasta was really nice and it was so lovely of them to buy it for me.
For dessert, I had the strawberry soup, which came with what I think was some sort of frozen lime panna-cotta. (The menu was all in French and my French abilities don't stretch to knowing full menus, so I may be wrong).
Overall, the food was delicious and the staff were so thoughtful, it was incredible how much effort they put in to be able to provide me with  gluten free food, I will definitely return if I ever go back to Lens.

Until next time, 

Holly Olivia x
Friday, 14 August 2015

One day in Paris...

As I have more time now, I will be trying to put up two posts a week- on a Tuesday and a Friday, so this is the 'bonus post' for this week! Whilst we were in France, we hopped on the train to go to Paris for the day. I fancied going up the Eiffel Tower, but my sister wasn't bothered so we were going to go around Montmartre instead, after visiting the Pompidou Centre, so I could look around the modern art gallery where they have Matisse, Mondrian, Kandinsky and Picasso works. Sadly, the day was cut short for me, as I had a reaction to some tablets and came over in a fever before being sick, which was lovely- especially since I had been excited about the day-trip to Paris for months. 

Even though I only got to spend about 5 hours in Paris, at least I got to see the Eiffel Tower and skyline from the top of the Pompidou, which was a stunning view. I love the higgeldy-piggeldy chimney pots and all the shapes of the buildings. I am now desperate to own a Parisian apartment somewhere in the city.

The Pompidou Centre is, in my opinion, an incredible eyesore from the outside, but I loved the decor and layout inside, and all the neon signs that there were. 

With Matisse's Blue Nude III cutout work. I visited the Matisse cut-out exhibition last year in London, and fell in love with them. The Blue Nudes are my favourite, so much so that I have a framed print of one in my room. 

More beautiful views from the top of the Pompidou. 

I spotted this tree filled with hanging books near to the gallery, but can't find out anything about it. Regardless of why it is there, I think it is really pretty to look at and certainly was a change from the mass of un-adorned trees around the streets of Paris. If anyone knows why this was made or who by, please let me know in a comment!

My future apartment is on this photo somewhere... (fingers crossed!) I loved the balconies and plants, which really brightened up the outside of the building, and made it look even more beautiful. 

Until next time, 

Holly Olivia x

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

How I style jeans 3- Pink jeans

It has been so long since I did a post like this! I have just recently got back from France, and I picked up a new pair of (pink!) jeans whilst I was there, so decided to style them for an outfit post. The jeans were 25.99 Euros and are from a shop called 'Pimkie', which is a bit like H&M. I can't find the jeans on their site (pimkie.fr) but they have lots of other lovely clothes. 

I wore them with a striped top, which I also bought from Pimkie for 7 Euros (was 15.99) in the sale, which I think is an amazing price, as it is a bit more unusual than the other striped tops I own- I am becoming a bit of a collector. I also wore some silver sandals, which I got in the Office sale before I went away. The belt is from Oasis, and came off a denim skirt

One of my favourite features about these jeans is the cropped leg and little zips on the sides, as they make the jeans more unusual and quirky. These photos were taken outside a restaurant called Les Jardins de L'Arcadie near the town of Lens in France, and I have a post about the food lined up, as they made a huge effort to make everything gluten free for me! 

Nominations are open once again for the North East Blogger Awards, last year I won the student category and would love to again! It would be great if anyone could nominate me here

Until next time, 

Holly Olivia x