Thursday, 26 January 2017

Valentines Collection 2017

I wanted to go full on cheese with the Valentines collection, with an teen 80's ~dare I say~ software vibe. When someone says Valentines day when you are 16, and you conjure up all these tacky images?Well seeing this Lookbook in all its glory I think I achieved it. Fizzy rosé wine complete with cork and glittery holographic fizz. Gaudy heart shaped box of chocolates, with huge bow, but they are dark chocolate not milk, so probably inedible. Finally some forecourt roses in mirror earring form. Pink or red you choose.

I think that's everything? Maybe except the cheap card shop cuddly toy, but you just end up burning it with the remnants of that relationships, photos, cinema tickets, your first condom wrapper, and other weird stuff you kept. Or if you weren't a pyromaniac like my mates and me, your Mum makes you keep it and you put it in the loft and it gets mouldy and damp. Hey ho.  

Friday, 20 January 2017

Makelight Taster Course: Day 1

When I first started BHC, I was very focused on organic growth and the idea that filling peoples timelines with my products was bad and would turn people off. wrong. I also thought that distancing myself from the brand would be a good thing, also wrong. On the social media side of things I did basic SEO research but nothing focused on the creative side, and just relied on my knack for being semi decent at it all. It is safe to say that nearly 4 years on I have learned some lessons.  

I wouldn't say that I am bad at social media, and I am not being totally self deprecating, I have achieved a lot, but the thing is I know I could be doing better. If I look at Twitter for example I feel like I have that cracked, especially when I hear a lot of people say they find it the hardest one to do. I have a lot of interaction, likes and retweets on a per tweet basis and my impressions are... impressive. However I do seem to have plateaued on the follower count a bit, and I would like to get some new followers there, but I am not hugely worried about it. If we take a look at my Facebook however well lets just say I am pretty close to ending it all there as no matter what I do I cannot get any interaction, likes or traffic. But its really very little effort to just repost whatever I put on twitter or instagram, on the off chance someone messages me once a month for a sale. 

One of my more instagramy photos 

Then we arrive at Instagram. Ah, Instagram, why don't you like me? Despite my photography being semi decent, all the hashtags and posting all different times of day for coming up to 4 years, I only have 5000 followers and roughly 100 likes per post, and if I am being honest that hasn't really changed in 2 years. Instagram is my measuring stick for everything too. I regularly check my competitors follow count against my own, I measure how well a new piece goes down on likes there,  how many comments it receives, I don't even take into account what happens on the other platforms. I get a lot of traffic from Instagram, so I know it is important to keep it up. So why don't I get the love I deserve? Is it because I don't curate my feed? I think my photos individually are good, it is just sometimes a bit hodgepodge on there. Occasionally there have been times that I have semi curated it, and it appeared to have worked in ways of more likes and more followers or I pyschologically tricked myself into believe it had. Either way, I was more at peace with my situation.

Problem is, that is quite a lot of work to keep up and I do not have the eye for perfect flat lays, or the staging area? Where do you go to learn how to do this? I cannot even remember what I was looking at, but Makelight popped up and I thought hey you know what, it is the new year, I got a bit of free time so I might give this a go. They offer a 5 day free course on how to make your Instagram a better place for business, blogger or personal.  So I will cover the 5 free parts of the course over blog posts for you to show you how I get on.

A big fave on instagram, marble background, pins, when I am doing it right! 

Makelight asked me firstly to write down my answers to all these questions, and then question those answers some more and keep probing until I get to the root of the problem or question. In fact they suggested asking why '5 times' although I am going to say I don't think these questions are that deep so I haven't done them five times, but I did answer honestly.

What are you mainly using Instagram for at the moment?

To promote My jewellery business. Why (x1) Because I believe IG to be a good social media tool to showcase my goods. Why (x2) Because it is image based and my jewellery is pretty much image based? Why (x3) Because it is?

What do you like about your Instagram stream?
That sometimes it is colourful and fun, and that it shows off my best work to customers, the small business community etc. (Why x1) This isn't a why question

What do you want to use your Instagram stream to achieve?
To showcase my skills, work and products in a aesthetically pleasing way, and overall to create revenue for my business. Why? x1 I think we know the answer here!

What is the audience that you want to attract?
People who are interested in design, jewellery, fashion, small businesses, and who are likely to want to spend their disposable income in my store Why? x1 Again so I can run a successful and profitable business!

A photo I did on the hop that I wasn't expecting to go down very well, but got LOADS of likes?!

OK, so that was easier than I anticipated. I think really that was for people who post holiday pictures and pet pictures with their business pictures and maybe thats not for the best? I know my goals here. Makelight then asks me to take a picture of my current Instagram stream so we can do a before and after. Now I know that things on the stream are in a bit of a state. Its January sales, I don't have a lot of new content at the moment, and in fact the reason things are in the sale is because they are old, I don't sell a lot of them anymore, and I don't even really like a lot of the designs anymore. I have evolved. So this isn't really typical of my stream. I won't cheat, but I will do a when I really like it and it had some sense or organisation and uniformity, and what is happening right now for you. 

One of my better months

How it looks today

I really liked it when there was a mix of lilacs, reds and whites. Today there is just mishmash and I don't like it. I think that I would like to curate a more colourful feed than just white and marble really, that is more fitting to my brand?

Lastly, Makelight ask you to do a short exercise, which I assumed would be do a flat lay or something but it was actually just answering some questions honestly about your photography and what you aim to get out the course. There is also a Facebook community which I will join, and the option for some paid courses which I am going to check out. I am excited to see what the next sessions bring! In the mean time, I am going to try and curate my feed with consistent pictures using bright backgrounds and see what happens. You can follow my Instagram here, and be sure to leave your links below in the comments and I will follow back! 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

New Year New BHC

I will be honest with you, I was totally inspired by Designosaurs blog post on small business new year resolutions, so rather than totally ripping it off, lets say this post is heavily inspired by it *shifty eyes emoji* When you start your business they tell you to have a business plan, and to keep updating it, so it's a 'living and breathing document' and to keep goals fresh and exciting, and despite 'New Year New You' being a huge cliche, I think it is a good time to renew these ideas. You are probably more inclined to welcome change, and come up with new ideas and have more time and patience to implement them into your working life. So here are my 2017 plans

I started off doing this in 2016 really well, however I became really unwell last year and certain things went out the window. I was doing a few posts a week including the interview with a small business which I super enjoyed doing, thinking back I was probably stretching myself a bit too thin with two or three posts a week, so I am going to set achievable goals. One post per week and make one of those post into the series of small business interviews of one per month! 

This is a big one because if there is one thing I despise doing it is photo shoots, but if there is one thing I hate more, it is poor quality photos on the site. I really got into doing photo concept shoots and look books so that is something I am going to continue this year too. 

Currently BHC is only stocked with the awesome Gimme Flair over in the states, but I would like to try some other avenues, maybe some local shops and online stores too? This one is quite scary for me, but I think it can only be a good thing.

If you asked for a commissioned piece last year, then chances are I might have turned you down. Time was limited for me for a number of reasons and often commissions are very time consuming, however much I enjoy them. So this year, I will be opening commissions once a month and setting a period in which to do them. 

In January last year, we launched monthly subscription boxes. However in December I decided that after a year it wasn't particularly working for BHC as a business anymore. There will be a blog post on this in more depth and more about the four bigger boxes I plan to do this year too which will have ready made exclusive pieces and maybe pins, patches, prints and hand selected pieces from other makers? 

Now I am not doing the subscription boxes I have more time to concentrate on new pieces, so rather than my usual two main collections, I am hoping to do three or four in addition to Christmas and Halloween, plus pins, patches maybe even some apparel? Also collaborate with some more people.

This is probably the most important one for me. I often have cool ideas for pieces but never get round to doing them fast enough and then someone else does them and I will look like a cheap and nasty copy cat. So if I think something might be an exciting piece, or want to jump on a trend but get worried about it, I should push that feeling to the side and just go for it. 

Those are my resolutions and now they are in print and out on the world wide web, I guess I have to hold myself to them, which was kind of the point! I would love to know any other small businesses resolutions, hit me up with them and I will link them below. 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Visiting Kiehl's at The Mall Cribbs Causeway

This post is in collaboration with Kiehl's 

I am one burned out business woman, let alone burned out blogger. Fear not this is not my '2016 has kicked my butt' round up post (that is coming though) but rather an out of the blue beauty blog post. I honestly thought these days were behind me, and I miss them as I felt like they had no place in my new business blogging world, but as many have pointed out to me recently, I am a very important part of what makes the BHC brand, so maybe some more in the future? Who can say.

Kiehl's, very kindly saw that I had been, lets say, 'not taking care of myself as well as I should have been' during the Christmas period and asked if I would like to come in to their new counter at The Mall Cribbs Causeway for a bit of a pamper session and consultation. To be honest I did wonder where I would fit in any time away from the workshop but if you don't stop to take care of yourself sometimes you will honestly burn yourself out into a dry husk and not be able to continue full stop. 

Jess the skincare consultant started by testing my face to see what kind of skin I had with these little pads. Turns out my forehead is a bit oily and the rest of my face is combination, which I sort of already knew. None of the other consultations I have ever had before with other brands have ever done this so I felt pretty reassured and was nice to have it confirmed. We then went through my current skincare routine, which consists of a cream cleanser, glycol acid toner, serum, and I currently use Kiehls avocado eye cream and face moisturisers, and morning just micellar water and a serum. 

Jess recommended that I start with Kiehl's Calendula deep cleansing foaming face wash, followed by the Calendula toner. The cleanser is a gel that you mix with water and it foams up, and if you watched my snapchat it worked, my hand was clean and it wasn't too harsh either, which you don't want with a cleanser. You follow this up with the toner which is very concentrated and has the Calendula flower petals in it. I found it really pleasant to use and it has no alcohol in which is very important, it is really hard to find an alcohol free toner (trust me I tried!)

We then moved on to Precision Lifting & Pore-Tightening Concentrate which I am all about, and a lightweight facial moisturiser called Rosa Artica which has a resurrection flower in, and is aimed at anti ageing. So these were two of my favourite products. I am looking for a pore refinisher/new serum as my cheek pores tend to be huge and probably not on the top of most peoples most troubling problems, they are one of my skin issues. I currently use a really heavy weight face moisturiser and it take a long time to skin in and sometimes I feel a bit greasy using it. Even with the pore concentrate on and then the Rose Artica my hand wasn't feel moist or weighed down. I am guessing that the pore tightening concentrate will take a while to see results, so will have to see it out. 

The Midnight recovery concentrate oil was 100% the best thing I was shown, and I hope will change my nighttime routine, because I am very lazy. Kiehl's claims that a cleanse, tone and a couple of drops of this is all you need at night and I am very sold on this. Jess did a tissue test to show me it leaves no greasy residue and I was sold you know. 

Jess then showed me some additional products like this Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque and Ultimate strength hand salve. Now I bought both of these products and used them that night. I am a huge clay mask person, nothing gives my face a proper cleanse like a good quality clay mask, and I know if it has done its job because I get a few very specific spots the day after, like you do a facial because all the crap in your skin has come out. I am very fussy about hand cream, and because I am constantly using my hands in the workshop making jewellery I need something akin to barrier cream to stop them being chapped, but cannot be too greasy and thick or take too long to sink in, and this seemed to do the trick. 

Overall my Kiehl's experience was great. They listened to what I had to say about my skin and what I liked and preferred and weren't overly pushy or overbearing with information. Their counters and staff are very welcoming but with this fun apothecary feel, but without it feeling like a quirk? The products I have used in the past of theirs have always been of a very high quality and I have never had any problems with them. I would highly recommend giving them a visit! 

Kiehl's very kindly gifted me three products and I chose Precision Lifting & Pore-Tightening ConcentrateRosa Artica and the Midnight recovery concentrate oil. I purchased the clay mask and hand cream myself. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Christmas Collection Launch 2016

I don't want a lot for Christmas,
there is just one thing I need... The new BHC Christmas collection!

I have eaten 2 tins of christmas biscuits, listened to Mariah on repeat, skipped some dinners, had fights with baubles but finally the Christmas collection is here! Continuing the Skandi theme from 2015, the Look Book is a dedication to Hygge with a warm, truly vintage feel. I tried to capture warm colours, and the vibrant feel of Christmas, whilst feeling a bit moody? Thats high concept at its most pretentious I reckon.
As well as bringing back some classics, I have added some new pieces, including a statement candy cane heart with a real working bell, holly leaf headband and for the first time some 3d tree ornaments! 
The 3D trees come as a set of three, and are flat packed. A perfect stylish addition to your Christmas decorations this year!
That bell on the candy cane heart necklace really rings! 
Our Skandi pieces come as brooches, and our ever popular snowflake earrings are back in 3 colours including pearlised!
The heart, bird and star are back in contrasting colours too, both in brooch and necklace form, you can choose from gold or silver chain as well! 
The sleigh necklace has had a small revamp and comes in 3 colours, and is always a firm fave with BHC fans! 
Christmas pudding has been resized so can be worn all day for those low key Christmas vibes 
In contrasting colours, this really is the statement piece of the collection. There is no denying you love Christmas when you are wearing this reindeer piece!
Why not just go all out and wear some holly on your head? Designed with comfort in mind, spread your festive cheer all day and night with this awesome headband 
There are lots more pieces on the site, and good ideas for secret santa and stocking fillers so go and an explore. Check out the rest of the Look Book here

Have a great weekend, we're having a chilled one playing games and eating lots of pasta before the Christmas rush properly hits! 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

London Jewellery Making Christmas Workshop at Strongroom Bar

2016 has been a funny old year for BHC. I am sure I will do an end of year roundup but its certainly had its ups and downs. I keep thinking of it as being incredibly depressing, both personally, professionally and on erm a world wide scale. I have been very ill which has had a an impact of what I can handle with BHC - which is why I haven't been able to keep up the blog, take on lots of commissions, lead times have increased and emails haven't been responded to within minutes like usual. However, I launched a monthly subscription box, 3 enamel pins, one of which sold out in two weeks(!) and two immense collections which tested my jewellery designing skills and used brand new methods and mediums. So perhaps I am doing myself down a bit. 

2016 did not see any real life workshops, and thats because on top of my new physical limitation and with the monthly subscription box, I felt I was able to reach more people rather than just in London every 8 weeks and I wouldn't be able to keep up. But with Christmas coming, I thought it might be fun to do a one off. A bit last minute but better late than never? Fortunately Amy at the Strongroom Bar very kindly offered to host for us and I have been busy busy planning it all. 

If you have been to a workshop before, then this will be a bit different. Having made hundreds of workshop boxes this year, I have learned some new workshop skills, mainly how different people learn, struggle and what they enjoy, so I have adapted what we will be doing, even down to the tools, trays and findings. I can assure you the main aim is to make some jewellery you can't buy in the shop and to get a bit drunk if you feel like it. 

If you want to come and are coming alone, fear not, I am incredibly friendly in real life, and my main aim of any event I organise is for people to feel comfortable, confident and to have fun. Not forced fun, but to enjoy themselves. You won't be left out at all.  Want an idea of what to expect? Check out some previous blog posts here and here, or why not check out the galleries of some previous workshops on pinterest here.

Sunday 4th December 
11am - 1pm


Monday, 25 July 2016

Working with: Gendered Intelligence Crowd Fund for Transgender Camping Trip

LGBTQ issues have, and will, continue to be incredibly important to me as a queer person and Black Heart Creatives. At times it feels like I have supplied the entire London Queer scene with jewellery at some point or another(!) and I have been so grateful to have the support from such a large community to grow my business in return. So when Gendered Intelligence contacted me about their Crowd Fund project to send 70 transgender and gender variant young people on a camping trip next month I was more than happy to get 

In 2010, Gendered Intelligence took a chance on arranging a short summer camping residential for a handful of young trans people. It was so successful that they have done it every year since. This year, GI is taking 70 young people camping over two weekends – the biggest number yet and a massive undertaking for the organisation. The camping trip attempts to solve some of the problems that young trans people face if they want to go away on conventional camping or activity holidays. As the majority of summer residentials are segregated by gender, they can prove anxiety-provoking for young trans people, especially those who identify as non-binary. 

Research Indicates That: 91% of trans boys and 66% of trans girls experience harassment or bullying at school (EHRC) 72% young trans people self-harm (Youth Chances, 2013) 31% of trans people attempt suicide and 73% experience harassment (Engendered Penalties, 2007) 81% say they avoid some situations in public spaces due to fear (Trans Mental Health Study 2012)

So you can see that attending the camping trip can make a massive difference to a young person's life. It's also a chance to learn new skills such as kayaking and raft-building, to go swimming – an activity which is generally unavailable to young trans people – and make new friends. The camping trip gives young people respite from the challenges that they face in their everyday lives. It can be a huge relief to be able to have fun in a safe environment. Many young trans people feel isolated and vulnerable, typically suffering inequality and discrimination across society.

The response to this year’s camping trip call out was phenomenal – GI received 134 applications, almost double to the number of places available. But to make this years trip happen, Gendered Intelligence require £12000, they have reached just over £7200 of their target.To help them get there, we have donated a one off exclusive giant glitter gold lip necklace.  We won't be making one of these again and the only way you can get your hands on it, is to pledge on the crowd funding site here! The necklace is a statement piece measuring up at approximately 13x9cm and comes with its own presentation and storage box. 

Here are some comments from previous camping trips from attendees, to me they really show the impact of how important they are to young trans people. 

"The best thing about GI camping trips is that everyone gets to relax and be themselves. We create our own community, respect and look after each other without having to worry about what the rest of the world thinks" – Jake, camp worker 

“A few years ago one of our young members described the camping trip as 'a little bit of paradise'. This has always stayed me - partly because it's wonderful to know that Gendered Intelligence is providing such valuable experiences, but also because it motivates me and the team who are working hard to make society more trans inclusive. Because at the end of the day, going camping should be fun no doubt, but 'paradise'? It points out to me that everyday life for young trans people is generally difficult. So in the meantime - until we make the world more intelligent about gender - let's go camping” – Jay Stewart, director of Gendered  Intelligence

"Perhaps the highlight of the year was the Camping Trip.  My son did things that he, and I, did not expect him to do, including swimming - something he used to love but had not felt able to do for some time. He spent quality time with his GI friends and made new friends and it was heart-warming to see them return, the bond between them was touching. My son came home tired, dirty, a little smelly, but most importantly, he came home very happy. “– Parent of a 15 year old trans boy

Gendered Intelligence are a a CIC, founded in 2008 who work with the trans community and all those who impact on trans lives; specialise in supporting young trans people 8-25. Their vision is of a world where people are no longer constrained by narrow perceptions and expectations of gender, and where diverse gender expressions are visible and valued.  They run regular group sessions in London, Bristol and Leeds for young trans people up to the age of 25, residentials, peer support for parents and carers and special projects. They also Work on one to one mentoring with young trans people from across England in their educational settings, workshops and assemblies for students across all educational sectors, staff training, consultation and policy development

Gendered Intelligence also offer Professional Services such as Trans Awareness and Inclusion training, consultancy work, policy development and a membership scheme, presentations, conferences, panel discussions, lectures and workshops.

Any pledge amount to the camping trip is appreciated and you can do so here! Thanks so much for reading <3 

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