George

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So I thought this little guy deserved a proper introduction. After years of thinking about getting a cat, my boyfriend and I finally settled on this kind natured British Shorthair. With the move and the biggest renovations behind us, it seemed like a good time. We wanted to give this royal kitten a name fit for a (British) king and picked the name George. (Major plus: also a Beatle!)

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George has been with us for a week now and I’ve already transformed into a crazy cat lady and made our little friend his own instagram. How quickly you get attached to a pet… I hope he gets to be king of our castle for many years to come!

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Young Creatives: Elene Veguin

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I met Elene on my first day at London College of Fashion back in 2010. I immediately thought she was very bright, had incredible positive energy and she was elegant with an unbelievable flair. Maybe it’s the combination of her Brazilian and Italian roots, but quite possibly it’s just Elene!

After London, we kept in touch (thank you facebook!). So when I visited São Paulo last summer, I was very happy to see Elene again. Between LCF and now, she founded the amazing handbag brand Artéria together with her friend Julia Sentelhas. Elene and Julia offer versatile slow fashion products that are made by hand and developed with care. No mass production, and designed to be both beautiful and useful, suited for everyday life and once-in-a-lifetime moments. A brand after my own heart that I’ve mentioned here and there on the blog, but I thought it was about time for a decent interview!

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Can you tell me who you are and what you do?
My name is Elene Veguin I’m 27 years old, I live in São Paulo and I’m a fashion designer. I knew I’d be in Fashion ever since I was a kid. I have studied at FASM in São Paulo, LCF London and Polimoda Firenze. I worked in the textile industry in a clothing and denim brand, then I worked in the shoes field and now I have my own handbag line Artéria with my business partner and friend Julia Sentelhas.

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Julia (left) & Elene (right)

What sparks your interests and imagination at the moment? What inspires you?

I’m always thinking and observing nature’s shapes in its simplicity and magnificence. Architecture also inspires me. What motivates me the most is how to make people’s lives easier and how to surprise them with design, making bags differently. A big challenge always instigates our creativity.

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Why did you start designing handbags? How did you come up with the idea of Artéria?

I never thought myself working with accessories until my graduation work at Fashion School, when I designed a bag which turned into a kimono for my beach collection. After that, the accessories classes in London made me more interested in the subject. I also started to realize that a lot of shoes sold in London were made in Brazil. I had the idea of producing something made of leather with an original Brazilian design. Julia and I felt a gap in the market of bags, where beauty and functionality don’t necessarily go together. One thing would often exclude the other, and we didn’t believe in that! After a lot of research, talks, studies and planning (around 9 months) Julia and I launched Artéria.

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What does a perfect handbag need to have in your expert opinion?

A perfect handbag should be thought out for you. It is not just a bag, it goes beyond, just like a person’s life which is full of changes, situations, emotions, needs. Your daily routine is not necessarily the same everyday. So the bag that follows you, must adapt to all these situations. It can be beautiful and practical at the same time. As we say: love your bag and it will love you back.

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How do you work? How do you get from a sketch to an actual product? Tell us all about the design and production process!

Julia and I work together all the time! We are better together than alone, and we complete eachother creating new designs. Most of the times we start thinking about the function of the product, we define what we want the bag to become and shapes that should transform. Then we experiment on sketches and 3D paper prototypes, different “mechanisms” until the original idea becomes real. This process can take many days.

With the idea defined, we go to one of our manufacturers so they can make the patterns and prototyping in leather. Once we have this prototype, Julia and I use the bags for a period, to check if it is working properly. If it’s not, we make the necessary changes.

Finally, it’s time to choose the materials, colours and details to send it to production. The whole process normally takes 3 months.

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What are your top 3 favorite spots in Sao Paulo?

1. I love the Japanese neibourhood called Liberdade, in downtown.

2. MIS: Museum of Image and Sound/ MUBE: Museum of Brazilian sculpture. Both museums host great exbihitions in Sao Paulo.

3. Dowtown of Sao Paulo because it holds a great part of our history and it has the most amazing architecture of the city.

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What are your 3 favorite travel destinations in the world and why?

It’s very difficult to pick 3 places, every place has what makes it special. I’ll choose the ones i’d love to go again, now!

1. Japan, I love Japanese culture and fashion, also I love big cities and their urban grey chaos. This place simply drives me crazy.

2. Italy, I’m half Brazilian, half Italian so I feel at home in Italy, it just lives in my heart

3. Maragogi in Brazil. It was my last beach destination in January 2014, it’s warm and has turquoise blue clear water in the Brazilian northeast, it’s awesome!

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Any advice for readers thinking of starting their own business?

There is nothing better than to do what you love. It’s a huge cliche but it’s also very true, “we only live once”. My advice is to plan it very well, study the field, your competitors, the market, make a business plan. To have an stable basis helps avoiding a lot of future problems. Try to see opportunities in your life, make problems into solutions.

Find Elene’s creations on

Arteria-br.com

Pictures (c)Arteria

An interview for Diamanti Per Tutti

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A couple of weeks ago, Antwerp based jewelry brand Diamanti Per Tutti asked me to interview and photograph a fellow blogger. And another blogger would in her turn also interview and photograph me. The idea was that you could ask 5 questions, and you can ask anything! I was pretty happy to hear that I got to interview Annebeth Bels from The Styling Dutchman, first of all because I don’t know her all too well and this was an excellent excuse to pick her brain, and second of all: you really can’t take a bad picture of Annebeth. (Considering the fact that I was sick as a dog when this all happened, I think the result is nearly a masterpiece.)

You can find my portrait over at The Merrymakers, and tomorrow, Annebeth will publish the portrait she made of LenaLena. But first, here are my 5 questions for Annebeth!

5 Questions for Annebeth

1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

Realistically, a journalist or a lawyer. Unrealistically, a pirate or a vampire. I like to think I’m pretty close.

2. Name three things you would never throw away.

The circle of life ring my boyfriend gave me for our ten year anniversary. And that’s honestly all, I hardly ever get attached to things, or places for that matter.

3. Annebeth, you are a self-proclaimed feminist (and hurray for that!). Can you tell us what feminism means to you?

Finding feminism was a eureka moment for me, really. So many experiences and thoughts I’d had all clicked into place, so in a way feminism has helped me grow by affirming me as a person.

4. If you could have a conversation with one famous person (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you want to talk about?

I’m actually apprehensive about meeting idols because meeting the human behind the ideal can only reduce your awe. I’m going to be a rebel and name three, though: Tavi Gevinson because she’s my idol in the professional field, Lady Gaga because I wrote my Master’s dissertation on her, and Kevin Bacon because I really want to have sex with him.

5. When it comes to jewelry, do you prefer understated pieces or statement pieces and why?

Definitely understated. Through the years I have tried so many trends, and I’ve gotten tired of every piece I’ve acquired except the simple things that are beautiful in their pure form, stripped from any sort of excess, yet elevated by what they mean to me.

No Glitter No Glory at Blogging Business

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Let’s rewind a little and give you some background info on my blogging history! Back in 2006, I published my first post ever on the popular (and award winning) blog Asfaltkonijn. I was 19 years old and it was a completely different time. Blogging was still considered very geeky, and not in a sexy way. These were the days you blogged under a pseudonym, pictures were tiny and the blogging world consisted out of a handful of people. And on that day in november of 2006, there I was, as the only girl blogger in a group of boys. That first article took me ages to publish, even though it consisted of 3 sentences and a very low res picture.

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We had so much fun at the time. We threw parties, suited up for events, had our own T-shirts and balloons and even made our own energy drinks. And, drumroll, my boyfriend (of almost 6 years) was the founder of Asfaltkonijn, so I guess it is fair to say I owe a lot to blogging.

Ella & Louise Weekend Blog Awards 2013

© Wouter Van Vaerenbergh

After these first steps, I was bitten by the internet bug. I started Dit Geheel Terzijde with one of my best friends, was part of the Belmodo writing staff for 5 years and founded the award winning fashion blog Ella & Louise with Marijs. I even made my internet obsession into my fulltime job when I founded Lily and the Lady together with my mom.

Blogging Business workshop

I thought it was about time I’d share my experiences after all these years of blogging. Want to learn from my successes and mistakes? You can on march 6th in Antwerp! I’ll be one of the speakers at Blogging Business, a series of workshops organized by Gitzwart.  The focus of my workshop is on creative content and keeping your integrity while working with brands. I’ll also talk about my webshop and obviously, you get to ask some questions!

I’m in good company as well! Stéphanie (70% pure) will be talking about her blogging collabs, Herman (Daily Bits) will teach you about the technical side of things & SEO and Tom (Woonblog) will tell you how to broaden your public and give you a behind the scenes look of the Woonboek!

Win a ticket!

I get to hand out one ticket to a lucky reader today! So be quick and send an e-mail to info@gitzwart.com with “No Glitter No Glory” and “Blogging Business” in the subject line before 18:00 today (13.02.2014). The winner will be announced later today. Tickets are available here. Hope to see you there!

Edit: There was an error in the e-mail address on thursday, so we decided to give you some extra time to participate to win the ticket: E-mail  to info@gitzwart.com with “No Glitter No Glory” and “Blogging Business” in the subject line before 18:00 today (17.02.2014)

Illustrated

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Last Christmas, I received a wonderful gift from River Island and their press agency Oona: a drawing of, well, me! I collaborated with River Island a couple of times in 2013 and this was their very personal way of thanking me. Definitely one of my favorite presents this year, can’t wait to frame it!

Drawing by Alessia Landi from The Red Dot.

First Cup by Coffeeklatch and LMBRJK

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Last week I headed over to Het Eilandje here in Antwerp for the launch of “First cup”, a collaboration between the creative folks over at Coffeeklatch and LMBRJK. They clicked during an interview and this all lead to the development of their unique product celebrating the ritual of the first cup of coffee in the morning. That product is a handmade wooden cup, accompanied by their very own roast. Making that first cup of coffee very special indeed. An interview with Magali from Coffeeklatch for the occasion!

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Congrats on your first product launch! I understand this is the result of another great Coffeeklatch, you guys and LMBRJK clicked so much you wanted to make something together? How did that happen?

“When we were doing the Coffeeklatch interview, the four of us felt a strong connection. We had so much to talk about that we ended up spending the whole day together. At some point we started talking about a collaboration and since coffee brought us together in the first place, we played around with that idea, resulting in the release of First Cup.”

You guys have been very secretive about what the product is exactly. Did you come up with the actual product during your Coffeeklatch?

“No, not quite. Jon has been working really hard looking for the right wood, the right treatment and insert. The product had to be food safe, which turned out to be quite the challenge. It went from tossing some ideas around to the final production. We were involved in every stage of the process. It was the first time we developed a product, which was challenging and very exciting.”

Do you see more projects like this in your future?

“Yes, most definitely. We love to collaborate with people whose work we admire. When you have a common ground, it’s all worth the while.”

The product is all about the ritual of your first cup of coffee in the morning. Can you describe to me what that ritual means to you? How do you like to drink your coffee/ how do you make your coffee/ what kind of “tools” do you like to use…

“No matter where we are, we always crave for fresh grinded coffee beans. We’re hooked on using the Bialetti. I’m a morning person and Bart clearly isn’t, so every morning I try to wake him up with fresh coffee.”

What are your 3 favourite coffee bars in the world?

“I don’t have favourite coffee post. I love to have coffee in my home, with my man, my friends and my cats, while flipping through magazines.”

First Cup is available online.

Pictures (c) Coffeeklatch

Forever 12

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I am a woman of many obsessions. When I was about eight, my room was plastered top to bottom with images of the Backstreet Boys. This included orange bedsheets with an extremely ugly cutout image of the band and matching alarm clock. By the time I was ten, the Backstreet Boys had to share the limelight with Leonardo DiCaprio. His boyish charm later resulted in a library full of photographs from the internet on our purple iMac. And also as an early teen, I didn’t just religiously watch Friends, I painted my walls lavender,  like Monica’s living room.

I guess that we all have fond memories of teenage fandom, but the thing is that with me, it never really stopped. The object of my obsession and the way I deal with it may have slightly changed over the years (DiCaprio and Friends are still in my life) but I sometimes doubt if the intensity of it all did.

Rewind to september, when the Arctic Monkeys played a show for only 69 couples in my hometown Antwerp. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket for this intimate event. The universe threw me a bone, and seeing as I knew the lyrics of “Do I Wanna Know?” by heart after just two days, I thought it was only fair. Working from home, I was able to play that “tune I found that makes me think of you somehow” on repeat.

So on that day, around five in the afternoon, I got massive stomach aches. I was so nervous that something would go “wrong” and I’d somehow miss the whole thing. I’d been listening to the band all day and could feel the concert fast approaching and my heartbeat rising every time my evening plans popped into my head (this has happened before). My body may be in its mid twenties, but in many ways I am clearly still 12. No dinner and several pills later, I stood in the rain shivering, waiting to get into Cafe Corsari, the TV show that hosted the event. Once inside, I doubt that I actually heard anything that was said before I saw the band, and when the concert finally started, the whole world sort of faded away for 14 songs.

A week ago, those same monkeys played in Brussels. Slightly bigger venue and less nerves, but once again, the world around me ceased to exist for that short period of time. And that’s probably the whole point of these obsessions, isn’t it? It’s pure escapism. I consider myself to have a happy life, but whenever I’m swooning over Alex Turner’s incredible lyrics and cute accent, I’m definitely not wondering how I’m ever going to pay for that new apartment. Whenever I see or hear something related to the band, my heart makes a tiny jump. And whenever I hear Fake Tales of San Francisco, well I still just HAVE to turn the music up and dance.

It’s pure bliss just melting away whenever you hear that voice, and for that reason, I don’t want to be 26 when it comes to fandom. I want to be 12 forever.

Image via Lady Lazarus

Twenty Six

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I turn 26 today! It feels just like yesterday that I turned only 16 to be honest, and I just realized that some of the lovely people that came to Antwerp on saturday to have a small celebration with me were already there 10 years ago. So far, it’s been a good one. I really got some of the best presents ever this year, including a trip to London from a whole bunch of my friends. And I had a wonderful dinner with my parents at Cuichine.

This year for the first time, I’ve really noticed that I am getting older. I can’t stay out as long as I used to and I’m not sure I want to, I’ve discovered my first grey hair and first signs of crows feet. But I can’t say I really mind: I’m happy and healthy and thankful that I already got 26 years on this planet from whoever calls the shots. On my to do list for today: write down my goals for the next year of my life! Bring it on 26!

PS: For all you twenty-somethings out there, this Buzzfeed article is a must!

Fashion Talks: The Report

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I’ve already shared some ups and downs with you about being an entrepreneur in this post here, and with last thursday’s Fashion Talks as a starting point, I wanted to dig a little deeper. The past weeks (let’s say months) have been an emotional and physical rollercoaster of epic proportions for me. Between the launch of this website you are reading here, my usual tasks for Lily and the Lady, a photo shoot that got cancelled and then finally happened last sunday, working on a redesign for our webshop, buying a house,  trying some new tactics like home sales and advertising and our first pop up event it feels like I haven’t had any peace of mind since I got back from Brazil.

Every new season, I feel like I need to step up my game and work even harder, try my best to reach my goals. And most of all, I want to be able to continue calling the shots in my own life. In the process of sticking out my neck, I feel that lately it has been chopped of more than once.

For this reason Fashion Talks and some other events I attended last week like the Weekend Fashion Award, Fashion in Antwerp and Krachtvoer left me with mixed feelings. I can tell you that I was bouncing of the walls with excitement before, during and after the lectures at Fashion Talks. The people there were SO incredibly inspiring, but at the same time, part of me wants nothing more than give up when Business of Fashion founder Imran Amed states that his website grew into what it is today in merely five years. Obviously, I’m well aware this is the reason why 600 fashion professionals even go to the Waagnatie to hear this man speak, and not everyone can be in his position while most of us want to be. Inspiring as these tales may be, they always cast a shadow of doubt over my head: “There must be something that I’m doing wrong.” Suddenly, those goals I reached aren’t as shiny as they used to be. It seems to me that with comparison comes the will to aim higher but also self doubt and yes, some frustration. So what I’m taking away on a personal level from this process is the following: my new goal is to think less black and white. It is to stop comparing myself and just go. To listen, learn and just do it, with the occasional meltdown, I’m sure.

With this in mind: some of the insights and quotes that inspired me during Fashion Talks!

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Designer dynamics

It was interesting to see different views on being a designer in the (digital) era we live in. This is something you hear quite often when there is talk of the medium that changed it all: the internet. I feel that with journalists and designers, there is often some nostalgia. They long for the time when information spread slower and the fashion industry wasn’t under the microscope. Understandable? Yes. Just a tad elitist? Also yes. I feel the internet has opened up the industry in both good and bad ways. For example: I think it is a wonderful thing that “the masses” can now follow the fashion weeks on style.com, but at the same time, I don’t like that this makes it easier for high street chains to copy designs.

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Walter Van Beirendonck

“Investing my own money and being independant saved me from the enormous pressure of the industry.” -Walter Van Beirendonck

Not surprisingly, we detect some of this nostalgia with Belgian iconic designer Walter Van Beirendonck. He also believes that setting up your own brand in 2013 is economically more challenging, but it is easier to get noticed now. I was only just born when he set up his brand, I take his word for it. Style.com journalist Tim Blanks also speaks with fondness of the real thing vs online: “Nothing replaces physical presence”.

“I’ve seen thousands of fashion shows. It’s a strange way for a man of a certain age to spend his life.“-Tim Blanks

Walter feels that by selling their brand too soon, young designers don’t have the freedom to evolve, which is a pity. Young designer Christian Wijnants on the other hand stated: “From the start I had a very commercial idea of working in fashion.” Other voices seemed to agree that creativity does need to be managed. On this topic, Stephen Burrell feels it is important to understand that the designer is the goal scorer, and it is his view the brand markets. A neverending debate in my opinion, and probably one that fuels a lot of the things that go on in the industry.

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Heritage & Craftmanship

I see this in my own behavior and I am not the only one: the past few years I’ve been drawn more and more to heritage brands. It’s probably also because I am getting older, but as a teenager, I would  have never imagined that someday I would buy a Burberry coat. On that note: I can also feel my need to go back to the basics. Buy something handmade. Something “real”. Not only in Fashion, but also when it comes to food. As I said, this has a lot to do with becoming a proper adult, but it’s also because the times they are a-changing. Not just a label fits into this perfectly: it is a wonderful platform that supports and promotes young designers, and fouder Stefan Siegel embodied his brand’s vision perfectly. I sort of agreed with everything he had to say. On this topic, we heard Concetta Lanciaux tell the story of Louis Vuitton and learned the history of the iconic Chuck Taylor All Star from Chris Snyder. Interesting stuff.

“Converse saw themselves more as the Beach Boys than Van Halen.” -Chris Snyder.

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Imran Amed

Storytelling & Social media

The talk I was looking forward to the most was Business of Fashion founder Imran Amed. I feel he gave fashion a decent economic voice, and is helping transform the public’s view of it from frilly to an actual industry. He truly found his niche and owns it. In my opinion, a real innovator. As his business is online, I was really curious what he could teach me. One of the most striking things I remember from his lecture is “let your community spread your brand.” So interesting, but a lot more difficult than it seems when he is talking about it. Another thing that made me think was “you don’t need original content”, meaning that you can offer another service by curating and offering the right service at the right moment, like he does with The Daily Digest.

Word of mouth is the advertising money can’t buy. Twitter is word of mouth on drugs” -Stefan Siegel.

I don’t really understand PR. It’s their job, but it’s not my job to respont to them.“- Tim Blanks

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Jo Jackson

And then there’s more…

I’m saving some specific insights on retail for an article I am writing in Pure Magazine, I’ll mention it when it’s out for those of you that are NOT bored of me blabbing on about this. Some of my favorite views on retail came from Jo Jackson, the managing director of Protein. Make sure to check out her video when it comes online. Oh, and do buy a ticket for the next Fashion Talks if and when it happens.

Pictures all (c) wouter van vaerenbergh via FFI

Fashion Talks

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FASHION-TALKS

Tomorrow I’m attending “Fashion Talks” , a Fashion conference hosted by FFI  in De Waagnatie in Antwerp. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced and  I’m very eager to hear the international speakers on matters that are currently evolving in the industry.

I think I’m  most excited to hear Imran Amed speak, he’s the founder of Business of Fashion as well as a consultant and I really admire his work. But there’s also the likes of Tim Blanks, Concetta Lanciaux Jo Jackson  and Chris Snyder. These names may not ring a bell, but do check out their resumés and get ready to be intimidated. I’m almost forgetting the talent from Belgian soil like Veerle Windels, Walter Van Beirendonck and Christian Wijnants. I promise that afterwards, I’ll report back!

I kind of feel like I’m going back to London College of Fashion for the first time. And I am so ready to be inspired.