Is Mudho Really the Best Fitness Tracker out There?

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Who or what is Muhdo? Muhdo is a tool that scans your DNA profile and enables you to unlock your natural abilities and get stronger, fitter, faster. When I first skim read the brief and saw the words 'fitness' and 'Mudho', I thought this was Dwayne Johnson doing a sequel to Jumanji. How wrong I was.

Of course those that follow me on my Instagram stories know how hot I am on my fitness, regularly mixing it up at the Kobox gym. (Well mixing it up with the heavy bag).

But maintaining consistency with my work out routines and nutrition has been the true test. And this is what Muhdo sets out to achieve. Muhdo claims to be the answer in making sustainable improvements to your overall health and fitness levels is to listen to and work with your DNA.

Muhdo performs a detailed analysis of your DNA and provides you with personalized health and fitness recommendations to help you achieve your goal. They provide you with free access to hundreds of recipes, workouts and lifestyle advice – all tailored to your DNA.

How easy was it to use?

I need stuff like Muhdo in my life.

I winced at the sound of having to trawl through a 45-page document of any nature. I certainly couldn't do it without a couple of strong drinks, ironically reading about how pickled my liver might be. 

However, the data is presented much like the dashboard of a car. Numerous dials indicate where you're 'gifted' (believe me I'm very tempted to crowbar an anatomical gag here, but let’s keep it professional) and where your ineptitudes lie. 

My read outs were quite clear. Prone to yo-yo diets, lack of discipline in the 'prone to snack' department and susceptible to injury. I quite like the 'likely to injure' warning, would be a great tagline for the next Jason Statham movie. 

It has a very easy to navigate dashboard and disseminates the data evenly, and in quite a fun way. There weren’t too many red flags apart from knowing that my recovery time isn't that of a nubile teenager so I might reduce the weekly sessions as a result. 

I imagine this is how Daniel Craig felt when he over-beefed for his role as James Bond in Casino Royale and was consequently told by the producers, 'he had to lose muscle'. 

It's not the cheapest, £249 for the profiling kit, but as I always say, your body is a Ferrari, it needs to be treated like as such. You wouldn't have some cowboy do an MOT on your Ferrari would you? 

 

THE MUDHO DNA PROFILING KIT

Sotheby’s Partner with Savile Row Tailor Huntsman & Sons

This May, Sotheby’s will partner with esteemed Savile Row tailor Huntsman & Sons to stage its first online-only luxury lifestyle sale.

Featuring an array of bespoke pieces from the private collection of Huntsman owner and financier, Pierre Lagrange, alongside commissioned new works that exemplify the Huntsman lifestyle, this collection reflects Lagrange’s expert knowledge and appreciation of exquisite objects.

The sale will offer a view into the life and passions of Pierre Lagrange as a custodian to Huntsman’s unique heritage, which has attracted discerning patrons throughout the ages. 

Was this the best bloggers breakfast of the year?

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It was right up there. Many looking transfixed as they ogled the fine artisan pieces from Pierre Lagrange's collection, who by the way was impeccably turned out in a traditional pin stripe suit, elongated jacket. He spoke eloquently about his collection, always wanting to impart traditional heritage yet move the idea of tradition into new contemporary areas. (I'm not saying tradition with a modern twist. I REFUSE!)

Of course I have compiled a wish list of my favourite pieces, slightly out of my price bracket unfortunately.

The Huntsman x Sotheby’s auction will run exclusively online from Tuesday 22nd May to Friday 1st June, 2018

Lot 72: HUNTSMAN BESPOKE TANGERINE SMOKING JACKET | Matthew Vaughn

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Yes sir! I'd like the now famous Tangerine Velvet Smoking Jacket worn by lead actor Taron Egerton in the movie 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle'. This isn't the original one, but perhaps one better would be to have this prototype jacket recreated to my measurements by Huntsman's Head Cutter Campbell Carey. ESTIMATE: £7,000 - £10,000

 

Lot 77: THE GLENDRONACH KINGSMAN EXPERIENCE | Brown Forman

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I actually got close to this tipple of GlenDronach Kingsman Edition 1991 Vintage during the films promotion and it was just an awesome blend. As well as a tasty souvenir the bidder will also receive a VIP tour of the GlenDronach distillery in the Scottish Highlands for two people, along with one night's accommodation at Glen House, dinner and breakfast. 

If you'd like to know a little more about how Brown Forman got involved with the franchise you can check out this interview with ambassador Nate BookerESTIMATE: £1,500 - £2,000

 

Lot 5: HUNTSMAN BESPOKE BACKGAMMON JACKET | Amba Jackson

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I'd possibly say this is something I'd not only consider bidding on, but something I'd consider masterminding some elaborate heist for. Designed by Amba Jackson the rock and roll star’s granddaughter and designer and a keen amateur of the board game in her own right.

No one wants to schlepp a backgammon board game around whilst on set. Amba worked with Huntsman's creative team to produce a unique board design printed on the inside lining of creative director Campbell Carey’s black linen travel jacket, transforming it into a wearable backgammon set. 

The prototype offered to the winner of this lot is available in size 36, however the buyer's size can be accommodated upon request. ESTIMATE:  £2,000 - £3,000

 

Lot 43: THE HOURGLASS BY MARC NEWSON FROM THE COLLECTION OF HUNTSMAN'S CHAIRMAN

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Pierre spoke very elegantly about this this extraordinary hand-blown hourglass. It was the first thing he mentioned when doing the talk and I got the feeling he didn't really want to see it go. 

The design features contain a narrow waist, reminiscent of Huntsman's iconic one-button silhouette. ESTIMATE: £35,000 - £40,000

 

Lot 56: WORK AT HUNTSMAN WITH HEAD CUTTER, LUNCH AT ANNABEL'S WITH HUNTSMAN'S CHAIRMAN

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Ok lastly but not leastly, and this one resonates with me truly, a chance to cut my own Huntsman suit with those big Huntsman tailor shears. It would be an absolute dream to not only own a bespoke Huntsman suit, but to be able to make one also under the careful eye of Huntsman's Head Cutter Dario Carnera. 

Get this at a snip, pun intended. ESTIMATE: £8,000 - £12,000

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Lagrange comments, Harry Dalmeny, Sotheby’s UK Chairman, says, “From the clubroom and dressing room, to the garage and grounds, a Huntsman lifestyle can extend to each element of the home. I invite you to discover them in our exclusive online sale, where we celebrate the pieces that form the overall experience of the brand.”

Who is Pierre Lagrange? 

Pierre Lagrange is the owner and executive chairman of Huntsman & Sons, one of the world’s oldest and most sought after names in bespoke tailoring, and custodians of a craft dating back to 1849 when the store was established on Bond Street in London. Lagrange acquired Huntsman in 2014 with a view towards growing the 169 year old bespoke business globally.

All lots will be offered without buyer’s premium, and will be on exhibition in the Wemyss Gallery at Sotheby’s New Bond Street. Visit sothebys.com/huntsman for more details on to find out how to bid.

 

How I Get Ready For a Date | Men's Grooming & Fashion Advice

You're getting ready for the biggest date of your life, or week, depending how much of a woodsman you are.

I've just uploaded a new tutorial to my YouTube channel, giving you run down on how I get myself in the groove. In this article I'll give you the highlights reel on the MUST DO's to get you ready for that big first date

I've also teamed up with Base London to give my readers a chance to win a Base London £100 Gift Card and a Carl Thompson first date grooming kit.

I've included all the details at the bottom of the article but first, guys let's get you prepped. 

Get in the mood with ..  

I want to get in the mood, put a little Marvin Gaye on Let’s Get it On. Only joking. Normally I go for a bit of Jacko, I want to Rock with you or something equally as cheesy, don't ask me to sing it. Or how about a bit of Bobby Womack, Across 110th Street? Yessss now we're talking.

Make sure you're bopping around to a song that empowers you and gets you relaxed.  

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What's in my grooming kit? 

OK give the cash register a nice facial scrub. I currently using one from Lab Series, they're riding the crest of a wave at the moment these guys and I can see why. Makes my face feel really fresh, wakes me up! 

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Not all the girls like a man with a beard, so I make sure mine doesn't look to scabrous. I tame the beast with a bit of American Crew Beard serum

Moving onto the skin, I use the Clinique Maximum Hydrator moisturiser.

They say the eyes are the windows to your soul right? So got to have a little window dressing. Eye contact on dates, so important. I have been using Perricone MD for as long as I can remember. 

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What about my hair? 

You need something that is going to do your hair a solid service for the date, especially if you're going straight from work to the date. 

I use David Beckham's House 99 Pomade; it can give a decent enough hold for 8-9 hours before it starts to lose its lustre. 

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And the best Aftershave for a First Date? 

Keep that aftershave light and fresh, you don't want to overpower the poor girl or else she'll want to dine on one of those tables from that Bruce Wayne used to entertain Vicky Vale.

(That is a timely reference from 1989 and if you get that gag, then let’s go out for a beer). 

The best first date aftershave out there right now is Tom Ford Noir de Noir. It's pushy, but not assertive. 

Why I dress casual on a first date

Suits are too stiff for a first date, that's why I dress light

What’s the most important rule for light dressing? Go easy on the white wine vinegar but plenty of turmeric. Oh you mean clothes? Gotcha, (I have better jokes, haha) light dressing.

You should wear something that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Dates can be quite nerve racking; you don't want to feel rigid in an outfit you hardly wear.

I have my go-to outfit. 

Before you leave the house remember? 

If you've met her online give her profile one last eyeball before heading out. Look for some veiled clues, like if she's been traveling we can talk about places she's been that I might have been also.

Some people call that semi-stalkery, I call it good old fashioned research.

 

COMPETITION TIME FOLKS

As I promised you, here is your chance to win a Base London £100 Gift Card and a Carl Thompson first date grooming kit. Competition closes 31st May, UK Entrants Only. Enter by clicking this link https://mailchi.mp/683daaf6009a/07k68...

T&Cs blurb for competition:

Gift card can only be used at www.baselondon.com and cannot be exchanged for a cash alternative. Competition only open to UK entrants. Prize will be for one £100 Gift Card and a selection of men’s skin care and grooming products which will be delivered to the winner’s UK address. 

This competition is in no way sponsored, administered or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Lab Series, American Crew, Clinique for Men, Perricone MD, or David Beckham’s House 99. By entering, entrants confirm they are 18+ years of age, release Instagram, Facebook & Youtube of responsibility and agree to Instagram’s, Facebook’s and Youtube's terms of use. .....phew! 😓 Good Luck!

 

Ten Trinity Square Club | Private Members Club in London

Why join a private members club? Surely the whisky in Ten Trinity Square will taste the same in the local Lamb and Flag right?

Well to quote James Bond in Goldfinger, 'there are some things that just aren't done, such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. And not having a card for a private member’s club stowed discreetly in your wallet'. Or words to that effect.

The truth is I'm mid-thirties and entering the embers of my youth. I'm after something a little less disreputable than the saturated Saturday night takeaways. The gimmicky happy hours and cacophony of football fans bleating xenophobic tirades at the TV's in sports bars.

Thus, I broke free from my adolescent chrysalis that was rich with the stale funk of old habits and regret, and joined the Ten Trinity Square Private Members Club.

Ten Trinity Square is a Grade II* listed building that comprises a distinctive collection of spaces handsomely aligned to provide the very best of places to live, to stay and to meet. These are the Residences, Four Seasons hotel and spa, and the Club.

If you're thinking the exteriors have something a little Champs-Élysées about them, you'd be right on the money as Ten Trinity Square was designed by Parisian designers Bruno Moinard and Claire Bétaille of 4BI & Associés, renowned for combining the disciplines of creator and artist with a master craftsman’s attention to detail.

The Club has been created from the sumptuous boardrooms and executive offices of the original building, providing a wealth of opportunities for members to meet, engage and be inspired, with a rich programme of events ranging from arts and culture, to exclusive performances and wine tastings.

The wine room is a place to revel in sophisticated splendour with shadeless bulbs that hang succinctly above a space adorned with carved walnut paneling. 

The cigar room has a softer, modern aesthetic with low crimson padded armchairs, a large L-shape leather sofa harnessed to the rear wall, all carefully curated under the hues of oak-brown, burnt orange, and chocolate. 

I'm not massive on cigars but I'm massive on billiards, I'm a sucker for an indoor swimming pool and sauna, and moreover I'm very keen to build my rolodex with leaders and key-thinkers in business, academia and arts.

That's why high flyers fly business class. If you can afford it, it's something you can't afford not to do. 

Now accepting membership applications
club.tentrinitysquare.com

Breaking News to me! Men Can Get Thrush Too | Let's Talk Health

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Gentleman, brace yourselves I have some deeply disturbing news. Breaking news in fact. The kind of news the president of the United States of America might interrupt a special broadcast for. Men can get Thrush. I know it's devastating. Just when you think the only thing we had to worry about in life was our fantasy football team, this.

Wait, what do you mean you knew? Are you just saying you knew because you don't want to appear thick by not knowing? Ok so for some it may be old news, but for many this is a real head turner. I asked some close friends whether they knew, most didn't. One friend even told me that we can get breast cancer, which was another blow. Did I miss a crucial biology lesson in school? What a week of revelations this has turned out to be. 

I'm very much an open book these days, my philosophy is ‘ask me anything’, I'll shoot you straight. It's a lot less time consuming being transparent. Frankly I think you get further down the road in life if you're not constantly spending time trying to cover your tracks. I've never had male thrush thankfully, but I'm happy to have the conversation about it, particularly if it helps more men embrace the subject. 

A lot of men of shy away from intimate issues such as these. We're not wired like women to discuss our vulnerabilities and insecurities unless we're trying to be all 'new man'. There is one brand that's helping to quickly diminish the lack of awareness and inappropriate emotional embarrassment that shrouds this subject matter, Canesten®.

Canesten®, Bayer Consumer Health’s heritage brand, is the number one brand in Women’s Intimate Health category offering solutions for all common intimate conditions, as well as everyday intimate care products.

They've launched a campaign called Let’s Talk Health that not only brings some awareness to male thrush, but encourages them to talk about intimate issues. Intimate health is not just a feminine issue and this is why Canesten® would like you to open up the conversation and discuss health issues that everyone should be aware of. Let’s Talk Health is focused on widening the conversation around the topic of thrush, and how it is important for everyone to understand common health conditions.

Thrush is a common yeast infection, experienced by both men and women of all ages and you can contract it just as easily as you can get athletes foot or any other fungal infection. If you’re experiencing problems or discomfort, then consult your GP or visit the Canesten® website for more details on symptoms.

This post has been supported by Canesten®, but all thoughts are my own.

My Pre Workout Spotify Playlist | Get your Gameface on

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One of my keenest pleasures is manicure my Spotify playlists to my immediate surroundings. For example, if I'm on the way to Kobox, I'd put a flurry of what I like to call, 'gameface' tunes together for my twenty-minute hike to the gym. Upon arrival I'm ready to climb the fire escapes, bustle on all fours across the apex roof lean back and scream Draggggggoooooo!!

So when the news broke that Spotify did a superhero landing (one fist, one knee) on the stock exchange last month, I was, pardon the pun, all ears. But before I wanted to chip in with my tuppence worth I thought I'd get into the weeds a little bit and breakdown the Spotify model.

Launched in 2008, it is a tech based freemium company developed by Spotify AB in Stockholm that allows you to stream music, podcasts, and video. Spotify earns the majority of its revenue through premium subscription (ad-free service plus higher quality audio stream) of which there is circa 70 million paid users. They then pay the record companies who in turn pay the artists, everybody's happy. Well unless you're Thom Yorke who once heralded the company as 'the last desperate fart of a dying corpse'. 

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Thom has since returned to the platform with his solo albums. I guess some farts smell ok right Thom? Thom's main gripe was that the money doesn't get filtered down to the artist, that the subscription fees are being swallowed by huge swathes of debt the company has encumbered in order to pay off the royalties to record companies. In September 2016, Spotify announced that it had paid a total of over $5 billion to the music industry. 

So how does a company that has accrued such seemingly insurmountable debt, yet to turn a profit be valued at £118 a share? And an estimated worth of. A lot of analysts are speculating this is an inflated price that $30 billion dollars as already hit the high water mark.  

It’s certainly a strong company in regards to the service it offers,” said Jonathan Johnson, a relationship banker in Portland, Oregon told ReutersI’d consider buying it but not at these (price) levels.

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In an interview with Wake up to Money this morning Mouhammed Choukeir Chief Investment Officer at Kleinwort Hambros said "Spotify's biggest challenge is how it will face scrutiny from shareholders around its business model. It pays a lot to record companies, shareholders will demand profit so they'll pay less to the (music) companies. Certain artists have refused the platform and competitors have sprung up in place of that but not succeeded. $30 billion dollars is a 'punchy evaluation'". 

For a full run down on what the insiders are speculating about the future of Spotify, Angela Monaghan wrote a very thorough and detailed account on The Guardian.

My thoughts? Unfortunately, no one got back to me when I reached out to Spotify for a quote for the article, but I'll just shoot from the hip on this one. The reason why I think this is a more sustainable platform than the likes of other IPO companies struggling (Soundcloud, Twitter yet to turn a profit) is that it listens to its audience. When Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke demurred from allowing their music to be streamed, Spotify recognised that these juggernauts could sink them if they didn't garner their trust. Both Taylor and Thom are now back on board, the argument on whether it reduces music piracy is fairly divisive. In a nutshell a commission report has stated there's "clear evidence" of Spotify reducing illegal downloads, with every 47 streams leading to one fewer bootlegged track. But then factor in how many lost sales there are due to free streaming? An interesting guy to follow on Twitter about this is Jon Fingas from Engadget an online publication for home for technology news and reviews who seem to have the lowdown. 

I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts, please find below a link to my 'gameface' playlist.

Top 5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Life

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Bloggers love Spring, we love it! It's the time when brands come alive and the wardrobes need revamping. But a spring clean isn't entirely exclusive to chucking all the fast fashion into a charity bin. Here's my top 5 tips on how to declutter your life and make some road for the road ahead. 

TELL HER TO HIT THE BRICKS

Is she the one for you dude? Has your relationship turned into comfort food where it's making the both of you fat? Are you careering towards a loveless marriage that will suck ten years out of your life? Seriously unpack your relationship into mini fun size Tupperware boxes and ask yourself, does this look like a fun picnic for you. 

TRAVEL CUP

£3.60 for a coffee now in Liverpool St station. With 3 new coffee shops opening a day in the UK, it's no surprise we're all skint with the amount of coffee we're consuming on a daily basis. I'll admit I don't have one in my life as of yet, but I'm flirting with this Contigo West Autoseal Coffee Cup. According to an article in the Daily Mail the average Brit spends over £2,000 a year on coffee. Did you know you had a £2k a year drug habit!?

DIGITAL DETOX

Oooh the digital ones. I picked up this little nugget from The Health Sessions run by trained psychologist Jennifer Mulder most people I know have a dozen or so INSTA pages, twitter handles and Facebook business pages that are now cyber ghost ships drifting in the ether.

Yet they still manage to ping you emails, alerts, texts, as if they're inviting you to come rescue them from the binary beyond. I managed to get rid of subscription alerts and spring clean my notifications very easily with Unroll.me

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WARDROBE

Ah yes of course it was coming. Just divorce yourself from emotion and get rid of all the crap. Everything you've not worn in the last 3-4 months, toss it! Allow yourself one sentimental piece, and hang on to the interchangeable garments that can expand your wardrobe, but the rest can be put out to pasture.

If you're looking to make a little beer money from your hand-me-downs but are struggling to shift stuff on eBay, try Depop. As recommended by Ali Gordon on the Menswear Style podcast

TAXMAN

Being a one-man band it's tough to do everything yourself. If I ever had to clone myself, I'd call him me2 and have him just handle my tax returns. (Although I'm sure me2 will become self aware and start applying for dating reality shows). I personally use XERO, cloud based software designed for SME businesses and I have it on good authority that the HMRC will only accept tax returns submitted using accounts software packages in the future. 

 

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That’s all I got for today. Let me know if you’re thinking of doing a spring clean of your life and if you have any further tips, drop me a comment in the box below.

 

How I deal with Passive/Aggressive comments on Social Media

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It's been a new thing for me in recent weeks, learning how to tackle the passive/aggressive and the outright aggressive comments on social media. By and large I have a great community of influencers and fans that champion my platforms, leaving very encouraging remarks. But as the saying goes if you're pleasing everyone then you're pleasing no one.

Some recent comments have hit home of late, especially the ones of the passive/aggressive nature. The ones that sound like they come from an honest place, but are have an undertone of resentment and in my mind specifically engineered to get under my skin.

Why passive/aggressive comments are the worst is because the author lacks a complete backbone. They don't have the balls to be direct and call a spade a spade. A recent comment on my YouTube informed me that I was pronouncing a certain word wrong, calling me a tw*t in the process. Those sort comments I can digest, deflect, even laugh, but the ones that are surreptitiously masked, leave a taint.

Saying something mean whilst having plausible deniability. 

Just Saying

Just Saying, putting it out there, always with the open palms right? You're just saying it, but that doesn't stop people feeling it. You're 'Just Sayin' is the weasel's way out. Just say it, without the Just Saying.

Just Curious  

Just Curious? Just curious about how many blokes you've slept with before me. Just curious, out of curiosity, what's your dick count up to? Just curious how much did you make on your last job? Of course you're curious, but just by making the proclamation does not make your 'curiosity' any less invasive. 

No Offence

No offence but actually offence. No offence but that's not a good look for you. That's not a good look for you, and offence because I'm actually bang into this look, and I can handle criticism, but not when it comes unqualified. No offence, but justify your opinions, I'll accept them, respect them and we'll move on. No offence, but go eff yourself with your no offence 'offense'. (Americanism). 

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How do you handle Passive/Aggressive comments on social media?

Firstly, if you're being intimidated or bullied at all then this can lead to mental health issues. Please reach out to the professionals, the word is eCrime is now sadly becoming more prevalent, it's in the police lexicon but there are professionals that can help you out. There's no shame in reaching out.

Secondly, you can always mute, block or call them out. It's possibly harder to call them out because they're more than likely friends in real life that has perhaps just gotten a little jealous, or maybe you've hit a nerve somewhere you didn't know existed. That's where the third tip will help you out the most.

DETACH! Learning to emotionally detach will help you handle most things, but especially negativity in your life. To quote ex-navy Seal turned author and podcaster Jocko Willink, you need to learn to detach

"When you're not detached you're in the storm and you don't even know it."

That's all I have on this today. I'd be interested to know if anyone else experiences this on their channels, and how they react to passive/aggressive comments. 

Are There Any Stable Jobs in the Retail Sector?

It's really a fascinating time for the high street. I'd hate to call it exciting as many people within the retail sector will be echoing the words of President Whitmore, "EXCITING? People are dying out there. I don't think "exciting" is the word I'd choose to describe it."

Okay so maybe I'm being a little dramatic. But you have to sympathise, not only is the pressure on these positions under immense scrutiny, but living with the insecurity knowing it could be your brand that will consolidate its workforce, or simply go out of business altogether is enough for a few sleepless nights. 

This week in high street news, Shop Direct announced the closure of three of its sites across Greater Manchester leading to nearly 2000 job losses with many of the roles being replaced by automation. Mothercare expecting to announce closure of a 1/3 of its stores and WHSmiths rumoured to be in a spot of bother. 

So what are the current stable jobs out there? Well amidst all the peril and what some industry experts are referring to as 'media scaremongering' some sectors of the retail industry are not only hiring, but showing exponential growth.  

Jane Foley, Head of FX Strategy for Rabobank which is responsible for the G10 currencies, told BBC's Wake up to Money yesterday

'It really depends what sector of retail we're talking about. People want an experience, see their friends, drink coffee etc, but are becoming less bothered about shopping for clothes or shoes.' 

So what jobs should people be looking for right now if they're looking to get into the retail sector? In another interview on the same podcast, James Hick from ManpowerGroup cites, 

"We're seeing significant demand for shop floor specialists, I.E sales assistants that can up-sell you something you don't necessarily want. There is also a huge demand in digital marketing, e-commerce supply chain and of course cyber security is a massive growth area across the retail sector.

What to do if you've just lost your job? 

If you've recently been made redundant from the retail sector you should focus on those transferable skills. Many people are transposing those customer service skills they've acquired in retail to the service industry. In the UK 3 coffee shops are opening every day on average. 

Look for jobs in retail outlets slightly beyond your postcode. Huge outlets like Bluewater in Kent, or Bicester in Oxford boast 97% occupancy rates so their retail metrics and employment stats paint an entirely different picture compared to the high street.

Look to strengthen your knowledge gaps in and attend digital marketing evening courses at the University of Westminster

Stay tuned for more articles like these, as we'll be looking to go into more depth with the state of retail. Next week we'll talk to Anton Welcome e-commerce specialist and editor of Maketh the Man about what brands are getting it right! 

What do Women Mean When They Say 'No Spark' | Dating Advice

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It seems like an implacable rebuke, how can you work your way back from 'I'm sorry, I just didn't feel any spark between us'?

The truth is you can't. Women that reached this conclusion after a first date are obviously not interested in the delayed gratification. Or perhaps don't have the time nor inclination to test the slow burn theory. I'm personally in agreement with Stella Grey from The Guardian who wrote, 

'People who won’t agree to a second date “because there was no spark” are … I hesitate to say they are idiots, but they are discounting something that could prove to be a slow burner.' 

But what are women really saying when they mean there is no spark? For guys it can be dumbfounding. Especially when guys feel they delivered their A-Game. The conversation was fluid and peppered with light-inoffensive gags, and you didn't get drunk this time, right? 

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What is the Spark? 

I'm no woman, I've never used the line. I can only assume it means one of three things.

1# A bit like style, you know it when you see it. A 'Spark' is almost this indefinable feeling that permeates through every sinew.

2# An easy-out, a line that sounds better than 'I didn't find you at all attractive, and I can't see any scenario, including one where we're both forced to repopulate the earth for the sake of mankind, where we would end up in bed together'. Bless her she's just safe guarding your feelings and keeping you in her rolodex in case she needs you to build her a website, replace her spark plugs etc., pardon the pun. (WAIT is that what they mean?). 

3# A sign of being inarticulate. I understand this one actually. They were hoping for something more than what they've got. We've all been handed a pint of lager in a plastic cup before haven't we? That feeling of loving lager, but not like that. It's not imperceptible, it's palpable. Sure we might drink the lager, but we're not hanging around here. I agree with the Date Technician on this one who says

"No spark means she may have found you interesting, and nice, and kind, and funny, but not attractive. She’s got friends for those other qualities. She’s looking for all of those things PLUS a bit extra – the thing that is going to make her think about you long after the date and waiting by the phone for you to message her." 

In conclusion, the 'no spark' line leaves you with nowhere to go. Because it's nebulous. You can't improve your spark factor. You can work on charisma, you can work on confidence, your style, all of these elements I'll be looking at in more depth. So stay tuned, keep your chin up. And if you hear the words 'no spark' think of all the times you've circumvented the truth to protect someone else's feelings. 

'Really I'm just not ready to date, think I need to work on myself for a while. No it has nothing to do with the fact you have horrible kids, look nothing like your pictures and didn't put your hand in your pocket once to buy a round'. 

What the Hell is Going on With A Suit That Fits?

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As many of you know by now, one of my competitors* A Suit That Fits has collapsed into liquidation. In a very informative article by James Hurley of The Times, Daniel Warwick, the companies’ director, has blamed a weak retail environment, higher import prices linked with Brexit and an earthquake in Nepal, where its clothes are produced.

The brand was launched in May 2006 and were very transparent with their model of having their production in Nepal, even citing their generous payment methodology of paying it's foundry workers and seamstresses over 50% the average local wage. 

The idea initially being you can get measured by appointment by a local stylist, pick your cloth and styling, and have a suit turned round in 8 weeks. If you needed additional fittings (which of course you would) then that would be dealt with by their own alterations department which would take up to a month. Alternatively, you could measure yourself and order an e-Suit through their website. 

ASTF (A Suit That Fits) ran into trouble into 2013, fell into administration and was sold for a minute sum to a person called Keith Watson who decided to resuscitate the business through crowdfunding promising a ROI of over 9 times the share price. Third parties at the time pointed out to Crowdcube (the equity investment platform) that the directors’ previous insolvency had not been disclosed to prospective investors.

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As well as the article by James Hurley, I thoroughly recommend that you read this blog post by the Equity Crowd Funding Experts who deliver an excoriating assessment on the character of Keith Watson. Almost a crusade of sorts to deliver the man from the shadows into the gallows. 

'Round about 2012 ASTF used the services of an accountant, Keith Watson. Now it turns out that Watson was in the market for a failed company and was the only offer the administration for ASTF received. He paid a few thousand pounds for the business. Keith we will meet again.'

I've reached out to DW Clothing Limited, the trading division of ASTF for a comment but they have not got back to me. They have also failed to update their website and at the time of writing, have not issued a statement on their social media. 

My personal view is that Brexit has become this axiom for companies struggling to justify their lack of sales. Some sources and competitors I know have informed me that Brexit has boosted sales, especially internationally thanks to the weaker pound. Retail is tough but then ASTF was not shackled into any leases, no bricks and mortar so I'm not sure how they managed to hemorrhage so much investor capital. 

They might want to look at how dated and their platform has become. The tutorials offer zero personality and when it comes to augmenting the styling, it's an increasingly frustrating and tedious procedure. Not to mention all of a sudden, that 2-piece suit that you were promised for under £300, has now spiraled into 5, 6 or £700. Which is still not a bad price for a bespoke 2-piece, but all of a sudden you have to question its USP. 

Plenty of thoughts on this, very keen to rant on the podcast that's currently in the making. Stay tuned. I'll leave you with the last review posted by a customer on the services of ASTF found on Trust Pilot

'I ordered two separate set of multiple suits worth well over £3000 and they are refusing to repay me claiming that the company behind the brand is in liquidation, yet offering to complete my order. A task they have failed to accomplish in the last few years. The staff are rude and unhelpful and purposefully misdirect and lie in regards to support queries.'

*I use the word competitor here loosely. I sell ready to wear suits with 100% British Wool fabric for £250 on my e-commerce site Hawkins and Shepherd.

Simba Mattress Review | Get a Better Night's Sleep

It is Easter bank holiday weekend and I've completed a social media poll asking "what are you looking forward to most this Easter" with the options going out or catching up on sleep. Catching up on sleep got 86% of the votes and if I could vote on my own poll that would have been my answer too. Sleep is something that I've taken seriously lately for my wellbeing but it is not just about the number of hours sleep you're getting every night, it's also important to get a good quality night's sleep.

With that in mind, I have been testing out the Simba Luxe Mattress in search for the best possible night's sleep and boy did I get it. I've always been a very active person, playing all the sports from my youth, teens and continued into adulthood. The gym, HIIT classes and boxing is my way of life, so over the years I have put a lot of pressure on my body and in particular my mid and lower back. Over the last year I have suffered continuous problems with my lower back, so much so that I now visit a chiropractor every 2-4 weeks for an adjustment. That has worked wonders, especially during exercise and I no longer have 'twinges' whilst working out and the next day my back isn't aching. 

Saying that, there was still one major problem that I HAD to address and that was my sleep quality. Although the chiropractor adjusted my spine, it doesn't change your lifestyle and habits. I was still waking up in the morning with my lower back painful to move. I would have to move gradually with small movements to loosen my back up before I was able to even get out of bed. I always had an inkling that it was caused from my previous old spring mattress that I have had for about 5 years. My pervious mattress had a dip in the middle and regardless of where you went to sleep you would wake up in the dip! It was also higher near the head, dips lower around my back area and again up at my legs...causing my spine to curve especially if you sleep on your front - like I do.

My Simba Luxe Mattress was delivered exactly when arranged with the courier company called prior to their arrival to double-check you are in. They then install the mattress on the bed that you require (as they are quite heavy) and they take away your old mattress as part of the service. You have the leave the new Simba mattress about 6 hours to settle in to its new home before you lay or sit on it for the first time. Trust me it is worth the wait. Fall back into this mattress and you do not bounce up uncontrollably, the mattress absorbs you and moulds to your body. 

My first night's sleep was better than I've had for years, it was so comfortable I found myself able to sleep on my back with no problems. I didn't wake up at all in the middle of the night to adjust and I woke up feeling incredible, I just wish I had changed my mattress years ago.

If you’re a lover of luxury, a craver of quality or you just want the pinnacle of mattress technology, the Simba Luxe is for you. Limitless luxury, and all in a mattress that fits in a box. An inimitable combination of 10 sumptuous comfort layers, the finest hand-picked fabrics, 10,500 patented conical springs and an ultra-high-definition ‘7-zone’ support base; the Simba Luxe reduces pressure on key compression points across the body and enhances ease of movement throughout the night, whatever your size or sleep style.

Layers of luxury We reinvented what we can put in a mattress, and then layered an extra level of luxury on top of it. The topper alone contains 4,000 of our patented conical pocket springs. It could be a mattress in its own right. But with Luxe it’s just the beginning. The new comfort zone For ultimate support, we developed smaller, finer and more responsive springs - a total of 10,500 over three layers.

Then we varied the tension in the lowest layer to match the zoning in our expertly engineered support base - holding your body in perfect equilibrium. Soothing sleep We re-engineered our supportive, cooling material, Simbatex, especially for the Luxe. It uses charcoal, a natural purifier that delivers superior air flow and durability, so each comfort layer holds its shape and firmness impeccably for 10 years. It’s so soothing to sleep on, we included it twice.

 

The Philippines: Home of Don Papa Rum & The Land of Smiles

The Philippines is a fascinating country of contrasts; of tranquil countryside and noisy urban sprawl; of vertiginous mountains and golden beaches; grinding poverty and ostentatious wealth. Many of the rural farmers carry on as though the last couple of hundred years never happened, while just up the road are humming mega-cities that appear transported from the future. It’s not a place for doing things by half.

I was lucky enough to spend the very best part of a week here recently at a few contrasting hotels. The first was a high rise in the relatively sleepy Bacolod City. The other, an oasis of calm in the chaos of Manilla, all thanks to Don Papa rum who invited a selection of the UK's top press and bloggers to experience this beautiful country where they make their famous rum. 

Don Papa Rum is a genuine Philippine premium rum, inspired by the island’s legendary revolutionary leader, Papa Isio and the dream-like landscape, Don Papa was launched in 2012 and now present in over 20 countries including France, Germany, Spain, UK, United States of America, South Africa, Belgium, Italy, and Japan.

The Seda Capitol Central hotel is smack bang in the middle of the ‘City of Smiles’ – Bacolod which is the capital of Negros island aka Sugerlandia, where Don Papa grows, harvests and processes the raw material sugar cane which produces the molasses for their rum. Efficiently, a short drive away is the Bago Distillery where the molasses is fermented, distilled, aged and turned into the finished product ready to be shipped and bottled.

The Philippines is the 3rd largest rum market worldwide with annual volumes of c. 15 Million cases, although most of this is for domestic consumption.
Starting from a small base, exports are increasing rapidly with annual growth of + 30% vs LY.
— Stephen Carroll, Don Papa's Founder

The first of these smiles was waiting for us at the airport, where our super friendly driver, Bayani, greeted us. It’s often said of a country that its greatest natural resource is its people. This isn’t always true, but it definitely is with the Philippines. The genuine friendliness and willingness to go out of their way to help were a constant throughout our stay.

Once at the hotel we were ready for a siesta, so after a long trip it was a relief to find that it errs on the side of luxurious. The entire hotel is very tastefully furnished – light and airy, rather than cosy, which of course is the last thing you need here! There’s good wifi throughout, much-needed air conditioning and an excellent, also much-needed, pool. The bed was one of those King-size+ jobs; you almost needed Satnav to find your way out. 

The brand new building overlooks the Provincial Capitol Lagoon, the Negros museum and the capitol building itself. Of course, being so central, it’s walking distance to everything, including Pala Pala seafood market, barely five minutes away and another five to the spectacular San Sebastian Church. As usual, when this close to the equator I divided my time between sightseeing outside and ducking into shops or popping back to the hotel for a little air-conditioned relief. It was great having such a central base that allowed us to do this. 

Before heading to the airport we had to fully immerse ourselves in the Filippino lifestyle, which for us Brits is a visit to a secluded island staying in traditional beach huts and we found this paradise in Lakawon. Finally we left time to visit the beautiful Ledesma ruins in neighbouring Talisay City. This was a little different to the English ruins I’ve become accustomed to. While those date back to medieval or even Roman times, Ledesma was built only last century. Despite the condensed history it’s well worth a visit, especially if you can arrange one around sunset. It made for a beautiful, romantic end to our visit to the city of smiles.

Flights from the UK: I flew with Philippine Airlines where you can experience service from the heart onboard the Philippines' only 4-star airline. Flying non-stop daily between London Heathrow and Manila, Philippine Airlines has full-flat beds in Business, with Economy Class also equipped with personal TVs, USB ports and onboard wi-fi. Enjoy in-flight dining with a vibrant mix of Asian, Spanish and American cuisine offering a mosaic of flavours that are all passionately prepared.

Here are the lead-in fares: 
LHR-MNL from GBP 579
LHR-BCD from GBP 670
 
Business (promo):
LHR-MNL from GBP 2989
LHR-BCD from GBP 3079

salamat sa pagkakaroon mo sa amin (thank you for having us).

Next stop, Manila…

The Benefits of Using Klarna - The Safest Way to Shop

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There is a new movement coming from the Scandinavian shores when it comes to buying stuff online called Klarna. In a nutshell Klarna provides a transaction approvement on your behalf ensuring the payment to the merchant is guaranteed. Klarna takes care of the invoicing and the money collection, which leaves the end users (you and I) with two choices: pay by invoice or pay by account. Pretty simple and straightforward. Klarna is now one of Europe’s largest banks and is providing payment solutions for 60 million consumers across 70,000 merchants in 14 countries. 

So what's in it for Klarna? I'm curious to know where the catch is with deals that seem too good to be true. The truth is that Klarna is a win-win for both merchant and end user. If you're a business owner, then Klarna will secure the payment and prevent people from being detracted from the gateway. It also enables cash flows within companies. Suppose you're a startup company and I went on one of my notorious spending splurges and bought a couple of grands' worth of denim from your shop (not happened to date but the day is young) and the monies only transfer into your account only once you deliver that product. Klarna makes money by charging the merchants a percentage and by charging the customers interest if they want to make payments.

HOW DO I USE KLARNA

This was an interesting experiment for me. For one, the checkout experience when shopping at the multitude of merchants now offering the Klarna payment is now a breeze. I did the bulk of my haul through Asos, but there many more brands using Klarna, Topman, Burton Menswear, Schuh to name a few. 

I'm not a fan of submitting bank details online so fast tracking the payment process and having the added security of not needing to provide merchants with my credit card info is an immediate thumbs-up. 

 

From the haul you'll see that I treated myself to a the Muscle Harrington Jacket In Green, the Pull & Bear Faux Suede Bomber Jacket In Beige and the Skinny Denim Jacket With Cord Collar In Mid Wash. These are very staple pieces that will upgrade any man’s casual wardrobe. Their neutral and muted hues make them highly interchangeable with my other picks such as the grandad lightweight tee and the New Look Skinny Stretch Denim. The price point on those denim is insane. For anyone looking to sabotage or play around with abrasions, tears or tye-dye then start with these jeans. For £19.99 you can't go wrong, even if you go wrong! Here are the items I decided to buy:

With the buy now pay later capability it increases my optionality tenfold. For a start it alleviated the pressure of decision making. For example, if I'm meeting someone, friend or client, I like to dress in a different outfit to what they most likely would have seen me wearing in an INSTA post the day before. But having to pay for a dozen outfits at once just to keep people on their toes isn't the game plan. Klarna certainly helped me make some quick decisions which enabled me to pull the trigger on my outfits, and because of the delayed payment it nullified any immediate panic or buyer’s remorse. It's also convenient for me to structure my payments so they don't clash with other outgoings, like Netflix, utility bills, caffeine replenishments. 

LASTLY

Save the best to last, but one of the biggest benefits of using Klarna this month is that I get to inspect the goods before settling up. This is especially useful with fashion because how many times have you had to send stuff back, either wrong sizing or faulty goods etc. It's not good practice but I know from being an E-Tailor that a lot of people like to buy a few sizes in the same garment, knowing from the onset they'll be sending the ones that don't fit back. 

SUMMARY

In my opinion a very good experience. Enabled me to shop without feeling the weight of imminent payment, gave me great optionality, provided security and peace of mind and I feel more empowered knowing I can inspect any goods before having to pay. 

Here are the outfits I've styled, which outfit do you love more?

Further Reading & References:

https://www.klarna.com/uk/smoooth
https://www.klarna.com/uk/shop-directory/

*This sponsored post was created in collaboration with Klarna.

How to: Up Your Street Photography Game INSTANTLY

No doubt about it, Street Photography is a wave to be jumped. It takes balls. There is no safe spaces or comfort zones to be found if you want to become a great street photographer. The hum drum reality of photography is that a picture will often define the personality of the photographer.

Whether it’s the way it’s been edited, the subject matter or the composition, the shot you present to the world on your chosen platform says something about you. I am by no means a vociferous street photographer. My appreciation skills for street photography far out weight my own accomplishments in this field. However, I’ve hung around enough photographers and expunged as much wisdom as I can on the subject, which I’d like to parley onto you.

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1.   PICK YOUR SPOT

I have a pal that visits Westminster on his days off and just takes pictures of people coming out the underground. He says it’s the easiest, safest way of getting cool images. For one, people are coming into your space, you’re not invading there’s and also its super touristic. Most people think you’re taking pics of Big Ben over their shoulder. So pick a spot with high footfall, and just be patient.

2.  “OH WOW”

Another pal I know uses that line all the time when she sees someone dressed ostentatiously in the street. “Oh wow” she cries, “look at you! You have to let me take your portrait”. I’ve seen her in action and it’s dead easy, most people like having their ego fed, especially those that dress flamboyantly. Plus, using the word portrait instead of picture makes it sounds like you know what you’re doing.

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3.  IT MIGHT NOT BE WASTED

Just because you didn’t get the perfect snap, doesn’t mean it should hit the cutting room floor. Street photography by its very definition should display facets of vulnerability. It should have its faults and equally, not just be forgiven for them, but appreciated and loved all the more. Bit like how you love your missus for farting in her sleep!

Same theory with street photography. No picture will be perfect, it might be in focus then something will be in the background distorting the aesthetic, or it’s in focus but the expression on a kid kicking bubble-balloons make him look a demon child. Still the essence has been captured. The moment has been distilled and it’s honest.

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4.  SHUTTER SPEED

This is a technical one. With shutter speed I tend to go for a small aperture. If you’re shooting without a tripod, on the go and need to encapsulate a decent depth of field, then a smaller aperture will help you with achieve a faster shutter speed. For further reading on this I recommend you look up James Maher, although he goes for an f/8, f,11 or f,16, I’m much more inclined to go lower and whack up the ISO’s, perhaps it’s because the UK light is less forgiving.

If you are like myself and use a SONY A7S2 Camera, you can read my blog post on how to setup your Sony a7s2 camera.

5.  LOOK AHEAD

People hustle down the streets at breakneck speeds these days. You have to check the deepest points on the horizons for your potential subjects. Thus, when they move into shot you can get them coming in to your space and it’s less obvious. Also, I’ve only ever had one person tell me to delete a picture on my camera. (And he was dodgy, probably caught him in the middle of a drug deal). Yes, you might be invading someone’s privacy by getting a shot of them, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really nothing. It really is.

6.  EXHIBITIONS

You need to go to as many photo exhibitions as possible. Personally I love photo exhibitions and if I had the money I’d not only have a walk in wardrobe, a personal assistant who would walk Charlie and break in my new shoes, I’d also have a separate wing of the house dedicated to photography books. Sadly, they’re often super expensive. But there’s no better way to get inspired than by going to an exhibition. Maybe set one up? Why not hire a space and do one yourself?

In the meantime, here are a list of decent London based Street Photographers you can draw inspiration from:

Iconic NME Magazine Prints it's Last Edition | What Implications Does This Have on Other Print Publications?

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This week marks an end of an era for yet another print publication. The NME will print its final publication today after a 66 year run, citing rising production costs and a "tough" advertising market. This feels like going back to that snooker club you’d use to frequent when you were 14, when you should have been in Geography class reading the back of your eyelids. Only to find the snooker club is now bordered up.

The truth is NME is going to be ok. More than ok. And now that it’s cut the dead weight of its haemorrhaging print circulation, it might actually start to improve the quality of its content. Although surely the content is reliant on the landscape of the world in which it sits. To quote Tony Parsons in a piece he wrote in GQ three years ago,

“None of this brave new world would matter if there were a generation of bands with good hair and great tunes setting sweaty basements on fire with bass, guitar and drums”.

NME is a monolith of a brand. Online it claims to have more than 13m global unique users per month, including 3m in the UK (data from Comscore and publisher’s own internal analytics). It has some 921,000 followers on Twitter and more than 883,000 likes on Facebook. It claims its social media reach is more than 200m per month (own data).

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There is no way on God’s green earth for any company with that kind of leverage to making a loss digitally. Or is there? I can speak from personal experience that the hidden costs to creating an online magazine can be staggering. You need to factor in editorial creation, content writing, design, software, circulation, marketing, hosting/bandwidth, not to mention the amount of coffee I go through sat at the desk writing these damn thought pieces. 

However, I’m still emotionally involved and divided on this one. Since the news broke there has been an exorbitant amount of gushing praise for a newspaper that also “discovered” an awful lot of trendy-for-five-minutes shite. But as much as I’m a slave to nostalgia, and love the feel of a magazine in my hand, I’m a digital content creator. My bread is buttered on binary toast and that breakfast menu is not going to change anytime soon for me.

So what lies ahead for print magazines?

If you take the NME as a case study. It hit its lowest circulation figures of 15,000 in 2015. Was it a last throw of the dice to turn convert the publication to an ad-funded, free title with a circulation of 300,000 or an investment into building its online platform?

In a release earlier this week Time Inc's UK group managing director Paul Cheal said: "NME is one of the most iconic brands in British media and our move to free print has helped to propel the brand to its biggest ever audience on NME.com. The print reinvention has helped us to attract a range of cover stars that the previous paid-for magazine could only have dreamed of.”

The NME’s digital director Keith Walker has said “Our global digital audience has almost doubled over the past two years.”

A counter argument for this will be the decline of eBook sales in recent years and rise of print sales according to industry bodies. But these are books. And the print industry is really only making money in the children’s fiction genre. In short, we’re not comparing apples with apples here.

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Instead we should be looking at stats like Glamour magazine, UK’s 10th biggest magazine, focusing on a digital-first strategy with a print edition just twice a year instead of monthly.

We should look at the capitulation and print closures such as The Face, I.D, Maxim, Sugar, Nuts, Bliss, Loaded, Zoo, Company and of course FHM.

But for all those worried about the fate of NME, as Lord Flash heart would say, ‘tell the Queen to stop blubbing, I’m not dead, I simply ran out of juice!’

Ironically the free print publication has bolstered the brands immune system, selfless sacrificing its own existence for the greater good; the survival of the digital NME.

 

EXTERNAL SOURCES REFERENCED

Introducing Salt & Saunter on International Women's Day | The Art of Destination Dressing

It's not often, if ever, that I write about women's fashion because let's not pretend, I know f-all about it! However today is International Women's Day and in celebration I wanted to write about a brand that is making waves in it's field and a founder that I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for. Gemma Cheyne the co-founder of Salt & Saunter, please stand up and take a bow.

Whenever I talk to Gemma she has a hat-full of creative plans and being a fellow business owner like myself it's great to bounce ideas off her because in many cases we have been through the same ups and downs of running an e-commerce business. Not only is Gemma creative, she works harder than anyone I know, often up at 1am cutting fabric and stitching together her latest swimwear designs from her home office just to get the made-to-order swimwear orders out to her customers in time for their next beach holiday. 

Gemma is a powerful woman, intelligent, courageous, focused, kind, approachable and is the ultimate role model for empowering women all over the world - total #GirlBoss (had to get that in there somewhere!) 

Salt & Saunter was founded in 2017 by best friends Gemma Cheyne and Aimee Kewn, they met whilst studying contour fashion at university and bonded over swimwear design and holidays...hence the tagline 'The Art of Destination Dressing'. Salt & Saunter is mainly a swimwear brand but touches on lifestyle with their new travel wear Flight Mode collection and wicker bags, perfect for the beach. They've organically attracted various top Instagrammer's from all over the world wanting to wear the latest, unique Salt & Saunter designs including Chloe Lloyd (above pictures, photo credit Chloe Lloyd). And Rocky Barnes (below pictures, photo credit Rocky Barnes).

It's not all plain sailing for fashion brands such as Salt & Saunter. Their designs are all unique, the pattern, the colour designs, everything is the hard work of the founders and by buying a Salt & Saunter piece, you are purchasing guaranteed quality. Yet being a destination for the next top trends in swimwear comes at a price and that price is that larger global fashion brands and foreign distributers such as the factories on Alibaba (and others) copying their designs using cheap fabric and poorly fitting replicas. The problem is massive not only for Salt but for so many other SME businesses creating unique products and are finding that cheap, poorly made copies of their designs are being sold, often using the brands photos without approval. It's just blatant 'TAKING THE PISS'. 

The above problem is almost impossible to stop as websites are so easy and cheap to create these days, so if one gets shut down, another is there to pop-up in it's place within a few hours. But I would like to do my bit and encourage you all to support local small fashion businesses and to try and be more vigilant when purchasing from unknown websites. Do your research and ask questions prior to buying.

SHOP THEIR BEST SELLERS

My Thoughts on VERO | The New Social Media Platform

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Coined the new Instagram without the algorithms. Vero is the new social media platform that has peaked my curiosity of late.

First off, what is it?

Well it’s like Instagram, it allows you to upload images, links, locations, recommendations for books, films etc. Where it differs is the taxonomy of the posts on your news reel. Instagram introduced a rank feed 2 years ago which means you see popular posts first, on VERO it rhapsodises about the key differential. NO ADVERTS. No adverts mean no algorithms which allows you to see photos in reverse order from when they were posted.

The purists would claim this is social media; how God intended. Although I’d contest that God would love for you all to go back to the trees and try naming all the plants and animals. As Bill Hicks would once say, ‘the fact that we can’t name all the plants and animals on our planet suggests we left the garden (of Eden) too soon’.

What I like

I like the exclusive marketing ploy. If you are one of the first million subscribers you can use the platform for free, after that you have to pay. This has somewhat backfired as the supply has not met the demand, a welter of subscribers joining recently (current count of over 3 million) has melted their servers which are hampering the platforms performance. Complaints of glitch and unstable feeds. They have since binned the payment policy temporarily.

I’m curious. I have some friends who get seemingly brow beaten by the cornucopia of ‘faddish’ social media apps. You seem to master one and then a new one crops up and all of a sudden you’re back in that dreaded no man’s land of virtual uncertainty. You have to pack up your binary belongings and move out west like the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889.

I like shiny new things and I’m naturally curious as to what could potentially be the next shiny new thing could be. An excellent article by Senior Influencer Manager at Socialyse Nik Speller, compounds this theory of people wanting curiosity.

Human curiosity is the ‘lifeblood’ of social networks - the reason for their existence, growth, and survival’.  – Nik Speller

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I’m unsure about

The tiered system of connect and follow. It has a privacy setting with 3 levels. These varying degrees stipulate how well you know a person and how much you want the public to know about you. A neat idea for some. I know that some people don’t want their boss to view their INSTA stories because who wants their boss knowing they’re eating at The Dorchester on a Saturday night, right? Your boss will be seeing posts of you wolfing down caviar and tournedos, drinking the finest wines available to humanity all the while thinking, ‘hey asshole, at least have the verisimilitude that you’re under paid’.

For me, it’s just a bit awkward making that proclamation of how well you know someone and an unnecessary conversation to have.

The ethics. Apparently the Saudi billionaire that founded the company is being sued by the 30,000 disgruntled workers who certainly aren’t having conversations about which is the best hors d'oeuvre at The Dorchester around the water cooler.

Deletion is not great. I second the thoughts of Sara Tasker that if you’re not onboard with Vero, you can’t simply press the delete button. You have to jump through all the hoops, emailing and asking permission etc. At some point I fully expect General Gogol to arrive at my door with Dolph Lundgren over his shoulder. He’ll kindly remind me that nobody ever leaves the KGB before turning on heel and getting the first Aeroflot back to Moscow. (A View to a Kill anyone?)

Lastly

We shouldn’t forget that whilst everyone has mentioned MySpace being dead. It isn’t. OK so it might not be able to take on the monolith that is Kylie Jenner, if she tweets it’s all over for MySpace like she did with SnapChat earlier this week costing the company 1 billion in stocks, it won’t get off the canvass. But maybe, just maybe, Myspace could be something we all go back to once all the social media dust has settled and there is no more virtual terrain left to stick a flag in. It happened to vinyl. Come on hipsters, do your thing.

London Subscriptions You Need in Your Life Now

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We do live in a bit of a bubble don't we Londoners? We have our local newspapers outside every tube, we have pubs that have signs on their windows saying 'Arsenal supporters only', we woke up to find out Brexit was a thing we should have taken seriously because outside the M25 everyone wanted out. But we're here, and as self-deputized proprietors of the bubble we lube its membrane with our London-only amenities; the subscriptions. 

We live at a faster pace than anyone else. Our waiters slide our sag paneer across the tables frenetically because other mouths aren't being filled on the tables next to them. So we need subscriptions in our lives to optimise time, and because we're lazy and don't need the agony of choice. Here are my top 5 London subscriptions you need in your life right now. 

HAWKINS & SHEPHERD

Straight out of the gate with this one and I'm not going to apologise for beating the shameless self-promotion drum here. My own personal shirt subscription service through Hawkins & Shepherd accommodates everyone from all walks of life, no matter your budget. Whether you're the business professional needing regular wardrobe upgrades, or simply a shirt enthusiast wanting to leave great impressions wherever he goes, check out the packages that start out from as little as £24 a month and make sure your shirt game never gets old. 

EVERYMAN

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I love my films and I love seeing them as God intended, on the big screen. There's a whole bunch of Everyman cinemas around London (recommend the Baker Street one) and they do tiered packages all of which you can bring in a guest free on Mondays. Cool way to start the week huh? If you're looking to go whole hog with unlimited yearly cinema outings then its £50 a month for two. 

HELLO FRESH

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Eat healthy and save time. Have you already abandoned the New Year’s resolution of not eating crap that costs a king’s ransom? This subscription to Hello Fresh will get you on the safe and narrow. I'm traveling a fair bit and the subscription is perfect for me because the package is flexible, you can miss a week, mix up the recipes etc. You're never locked into a contract where your fridge is backed up with unmolested broccoli. 

THE HOPPIST

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Who wants to wait 20 minutes at the bar anymore and struggle to hear anything other the ubiquitous and quite frankly, shit muzak that is the scourge of London bars. Now you can appreciate the finest London craft beer as God intended, in your own armchair watching MOTD. 12 beers in a box every month, which if you don't drink like a maniac should be enough. Although if you're a regular entertainer or regular cowboy there is a 24 beer box available for £64 a month. You can also rate your beers each month, then our system will learn which styles you do & don't like as well as matching you with beers that people with similar tastes also liked

PROFESSIONAL SPEAKING ASSOCIATION

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Warren Buffet once said that his public speaking courses served him better than all his years at college combined. This public speaking association starts at £150 a year and you can apply for dedicated slots to sharpen your public speaking skills. Classes are held monthly in London at Marble Arch and people are invited to give speeches on any given subjects, with immediate feedback from other attendees and members. 

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Earn Rewards on your fashion purchases this spring with American Express & Nectar

This sponsored post was created in association with American Express and Nectar.

Anyone that knows me personally may have been subjected to my hypervigilance when it comes to spending. For example, I know my TV licence comes in at a handsome £147 a year. After I factor in a few variables like time spent watching tele, a few additional extras like subscriptions, electricity etc, a ‘cost per view’ on this tele works out to be circa 58p each time I switch it on.

My exacting relationship with cost per ‘fill in the blank’ doesn’t end there. Anyone that has followed my blog for a spell will be acutely aware of my enduring affection for the brand Reiss. I mulled over this shawl collar cardigan for all of 20 seconds before buying it. I quickly factored in the durability of the cardigan, its interchangeability with other outfits in my wardrobe and how perpetual the inclement British weather can be, I’d say the ‘cost per wear’ would be around 25-30p.

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However, if bought on the American Express® Nectar Credit Card, I can factor in the Nectar points on that spend and we all know that points mean prizes.  Ok, so this meddles with my algebra a little, but in a good way. The cost per wear now has a caveat of a Caffé Nero Flat White Coffee.


HOW IT WORKS

The American Express Nectar Credit Card is a loyalty credit card where Cardmembers can earn at least 4 points for every £1 spent; 2 on the card, and at least 2 points for every £1 spent with Nectar partners -and even more when shopping online with Nectar partners through Nectar.com.¹

My hunger for a new look has now been satiated. Simultaneously, my restless desire to find added value has been quenched by my coffee. Outside the orbit of my caffeine habit, I could also redeem rewards on a trip to Paris on the Eurostar or even further afield with Expedia.

So, what other rewards can I earn by using the American Express Nectar Credit Card with purchases that I would have made in my everyday life?

 

SHOP MY LOOK WITH AMERICAN EXPRESS NECTAR CARD

Lets calculate the Nectar points that I’ll receive with my new cardigan. As I can collect Nectar points with Reiss when I shop online through Nectar.com, I’ll get 4 points for every £1 when I use the card, totalling 500 points available to redeem. Furthermore if you sign up now, the American Express Nectar Credit Card is offering a welcome offer of 20,000 points which you can earn if you spend £2,000 in the first three months.²

·      350 Nectar points can be redeemed for a coffee at Caffé Nero, so for my one Reiss outfit purchase I’ll be rewarded with caffeine.

·      Assume I’ve charged £2,000 in the first 3 months to the Card, plus my Reiss outfit purchase I’ll have around 20,500 points to spend, which would get me a return flight from London Luton to Amsterdam with Expedia…or a return ticket to Paris on the Eurostar.

Many of us, including my ‘old’ self, are so used to spending without benefit, but when you can get rewarded for your seasonal wardrobe essentials and everyday spend it makes sense to do so.

Coffees on me, courtesy of my Nectar points! Just need to find a date for date night, any takers?

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Amex.co.uk/nectar

Representative 28.2% APR variable.

Important Information:
Applicants must be UK residents, aged 18 or over. Approval is subject to status, and terms and conditions apply.
¹The rate at which Nectar points are earned will vary according to where you spend.  See amex.co.uk or, for more information on purchases made via nectar.com visit nectar.com/eshops
²The welcome offer is subject to change, can be withdrawn at any time and are not available if you currently hold or have held the Nectar Credit Card in the past six months.

 

Amia Coalition Loyalty UK Ltd, registered in England and Wales (company number 04236999) is an introducer appointed representative of American Express Services Europe Limited. The Nectar Credit Card is offered by American Express Services Europe Limited registered office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.