Missuswolf launches her awesome debut clothing line

‘Every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do’ – Ani DiFranco

With everything going on at the moment with the ‘Me Too’ movement and the Harvey Weinstein scandal, never has being a woman been so in the spotlight. Airing my personal views on feminism and what it means to me is something I’ve always shied away from on the blog. Much like religion and politics, it’s such a complex and personal issue that without publishing a 100 page essay on the subject all that I would be doing would be opening myself up to criticism and again like religion and politics, it’s not a debate I’m willing to get involved in with strangers on the internet. I learnt that lesson he hard way as after what is now known socially as ‘The Mumsnet Debacle’.

One thing that has never been a secret though is my passion for women supporting each other. Throughout my teens and early twenties I didn’t always surrounded myself with the nicest people and have experienced my fair share of bitchy backstabbing women. As a result has often left me wary of trusting people. However as I’ve grown up and found my voice I’ve learnt to try and be the love and support I want to see in other people. And am absolutely in love with the supportive, empowering women I surround myself today.

So what a revelation when one of your favourite fellow north east blogging gals not only shares the same values as you, but has taken it one step further and created their own movement. Gemma from Misswolf was inspired by her days at pregnancy yoga class where the group of ladies she met there bonded and supported each other through their respective journeys into motherhood and started to refer to each other as ‘Warriors’.

I had a chat with Gemma about what led her to create the line and what feminism and the sisterhood means to her:

Feminism to me means empowerment.

Empowering females to become the best version of themselves. And in order to do that, it’s to build each other up and not knock each other down. Women work better together than pitted against each other. Social Media, especially platforms like Instagram, have become communities of support where groups of women are emerging, more so in business now, and fuelling each other along.

I believe it’s an exciting time for Feminism. Attitudes and working conditions of companies are changing, reverting from the archaic 9-5 and truly embracing work/life balance and agile working. We’re in an age where we now have the technology to work remotely and on the go.

This gives people, particularly women, the opportunity to pursue areas of business that they may not have been able to in the past.

As a little girl, I dreamed of writing books and sharing my content with the world. I used to write stories in journals, on typewriter’s and then, when I turned eleven, on a computer. We didn’t have one at home until then, nor did we have one at school. I’m part of a generation that has seen unbelievable advancements in technology and this has actually given people who once had a dream a chance of making it a reality.

So I started a blog. Then I wrote a children’s book. And now I’ve opened up an online clothing store. I appreciate the opportunity I now have to share my content and ideas with the world.

Therefore, feminism to me is setting this example to my daughter and to any other women out there. That if you have dreams and want to take control of your life, you can. Ideally I would love to work for myself and run my own business and I’ve always though this was a pipedream. But this now seems like an achievable target if I set my mind to it.

I would hate to look back on my life and regret anything I didn’t do because of fear of failure. I’d rather have tried and failed than have not tried at all.

You may as well start calling Gemma ‘Pink’ because she’s articulated my thoughts way better than I ever could! What’s the cherry on top of the sundae is that Gemma is planning on expanding the range. She’s rebranding and launching her Children’s Book, Ruby of Egypt, next month and ultimately there will be merchandise available on the website that relates to the book. She’s started small but perfectly formed at the moment and decided on showcasing 15 products to test the water but Teemill has the potential to house 500 products so the possibilities are quite literally endless.

Obviously being an entrepreneurial badass isn’t without it’s share of hurdles:

The biggest challenge I faced was getting it right. I had all these ideas that came spilling out and I designed them all in a short space of time. Then it was the time spent after that getting it right. Making sure the designs were sorted into collections and how they would appear on the website.

It was a battle of impatience and perfectionism. I wanted to share the project with the world, but I wanted to get it right. I did a lot of research online into marketing. I wanted the time to be right. I designed the collection on New Years Eve and thought early January was a good launch date – New Year, New Start and all that jazz.

But I wanted to pick my moment.

I felt sick at launching it as you never know how people will react and how well it will be received. Only time will tell but my biggest challenge was my battle of impatience and perfectionism. A very hard mental battle!

Hopefully one that will pay off. If not, I’ve had fun designing and launching the collection so it’s all good experience.

I always fall in love a little bit with people who actually go out and do all the stuff most of us just talk about. If i had a pound for every time I’ve drunkenly mused with Dave that i’s love to interview this person, or love to review this place or love to launch my own clothing line, but I never do anything about it. It just goes to show what you can do when you set your mind to something.
 Gemma very kindly sent me a jumper to try on and needless to say I’ve worn it to death since it arrived. It’s really true to size (full disclosure; I got a size 12) which is really comfy and long enough to ‘cover the crotch’ when wearing jeggings or leggings – a rule I live my life by. It’s 100% organic cotton and £1 from the sale or every item gets donated to the Children with Cancer Charity, which means guilt free shopping – hooray!
Of course the kiddies and the blokies haven’t been forgotten about, there’s a range for them too, all based on words and phrases that Gemma affectionately uses to refer to her own family.
To get you hands on anything from this fantastic range head over to https://missuswolf.teemill.com/ to get yourself (and the family) kitted out!

The stories behind my most successful blog posts

‘The influence of blogging is overall a very positive force in the media’ – Garrett Graff

When I started this blog a couple of years ago I never imagined it would have taken off the way it has. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not one of the heavy hitters of the blogging world; I’m not in a position to quit the day job and write full time – much as I’d love to but it’s the creative outlet I’d been searching for for years and the fact that anyone is interested in anything I have to say is quite frankly astonishing.I

I find getting inspiration for posts tough and I’m always amazed at what takes off and what doesn’t. Blog posts I slave over and am rally proud of, posts I’m really excited to publish, will only get a handful of views. Then posts that I cobble together and use as filler because I have nothing else to say do extremely well. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what floats and what sinks.

So I thought I would have a look back and talk you through my top 5 most popular posts, the stories behind them, and why I think they’ve been the most read:

Kaspas v Creams
Original post date: 20/07/2016
Views to date: 4,290

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One thing I love doing for the blog is ‘research’ so when 2 ice cream emporiums that look like total carbon copies of each other opened up in Newcastle in quick succession, I needed to ‘research’ them. Turns out the reason they’re so similar is they were owned by a duo I’m London (as Creams) who fell out so a second brand (Kaspas) was devised. I had great fun with Ang, Dave, John, Carrie and Emma trying one after another one weekend, who doesn’t love ice cream for lunch two days in a row?! I think the popularity of the post is simple. The brands are SO similar that loads of people google to find out which is better, and I seem to be the only person who’ve reviewed them side by side rather than individually. After the restaurants respective sites, my post is first hit on Google. Which is pretty bloody cool.

Remington Hair Straighteners Review
Original post date: 09/08/2015
Views to date: 4,077

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This one genuinely baffles me as I seem to get loads of daily hits when you would imagine it would just be easier to o straight to the Boots, Superdrug or Amazon for some user reviews. I suspect a lot of the referrals are through google images as the post contains a before an after picture of my unstraightened/straightened hair. I’ve been a loyal Could Nine an since 2008 when it comes to hair straighteners because they work as well, if not better, than GHDs but have the added bonus of being able to adjust the heat settings. Sadly one August they gave up the ghost and ceased working mid straighten. Luckily enough they retained enough heat for me to finish doing my hair (phew!). Cloud Nine have excellent customer care and would fix them for £30 for me but I needed an interim pair to tide me over. I settled on the remmington ones as they got the best reviews for the cheapest price and, well if you want to know how I got on with them you’ll have to read the review…

Buying Clothes from China in eBay – An Experiment
Original post date: 25/07/2015
Views to date: 4,020

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This post all started so innocently. I wanted a yellow blazer to be able to wear in the spring to brighten up some of my dullest outfits and it kind of snowballed from there into my most viewed post ever. I decided to take a punt at what looked like the dream yellow blazer and ordered from China, i’d like to say pretty blindly however I did take some advice on sizing and quality beforehand. I ended up getting a pretty substantial haul for about £25 (including postage) with varying degrees of success as the results and comparison pictures range from the surprising to the ridiculous. I suspect the majority of views to this post again come from google images when people are looking for comparison pictures but hey, a view is a view and I can only hope that people who stumble across the post stick around and read some other stuff while they’re there.

Newcastle upon Tyne walking tour
Original post date: 04/04/2015
Views to date: 3,961

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The opening statement says it’s all, the best ideas are born out of necessity. Dave and I wanted to do something on a rainy bank holiday so I googled free walking tours of Newcastle and couldn’t find one. So we decided to create our own. We had great fun devising it and including our own favourite pubs and sights. I think without a doubt what’s helped it’s popularity is I cheekily posted it on a forum on TripAdvisor and whilst I got an email from then slapping me on the wrist telling me off for self promoting, they never actually took it down, so I get a lot of referrals form there. I also get loads of positive comments from people who’ve done it and even messages from people from all over the world asking if I’ll guide them round! I love my city but i’m not showing tourists round for free!

 

 

Whatever happened to Tescos Along Came Betty Range?
Original post date: 17/07/2016
Views to date: 2,530

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I wrote this after I’d discovered the holy trail of anti wrinkle creams in Forget Your Lines by Tesco’s Along Came Betty range, which is a blatant rip off of Soap and Glory (how ever the girl with two knock off Mulberry handbags has no room to pass judgement on that!) What was even better it was only £3.99. I then discovered that pretty much the whole range was being discontinued bar some bubble bath and body butter. I even tweeted Tesco to see wagwan who confirmed the make up range was no more. The success of this post was a surprising one to say the least but I think I have timing to thank for that. The post originally went live over the summer so had a few months to develop a decide SEO. I reckon come Christmas peoples stockings were laden with ACB gift sets and people googled to find out more about the brand. The post now ranks higher in some search engines than the actual Tesco website itself. Which is still pretty bloody cool.

What been your biggest surprise hit? Leave links in the comments!

 

 

How Blogging Changed My Life

‘Blogging is a great way to show your talents and interests to prospective employers’ – Lauren Conrad

In the same way, before I got married, I never referred to Dave as my finance (he went straight from boyfriend to husband) I never refer to myself as a ‘blogger’ – I simply say I write a blog. There are some words that don’t sit right in my mouth. The blogging issue is mainly because I always only did it as a hobby, it was never my main source of income (or any source of income for that matter – until Santander start accepting mortgage payments in prosecco!) and something that I did on the side.

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Writing a blog has of course come with many, many positives. It’s the creative outlet I’ve been searching for for a long time and it feeds my need to be liked and accepted. I’ve had some amazing opportunities and worked with some fantastic brands like Coca Cola, The Inn Collection, Active Newcastle and Hotel Du Vin. Through these events I’ve met some people who I am genuinely proud to call friends like Cheish, Katie, Laura and Pixie. And I was even recognised at Wylam Brewery when someone approached me with her friend and said ‘oh my god you’re the prosecco girl!’ and hugged me so tightly I think she may have broken 2 of my ribs. That’s all incredibly cool for a girl with a B in GCSE Media Studies and who dropped out of A Level English because I was predicted a U.

Back in August though, my life changed drastically when I was offered a new job in business engagement, one of the main aspects of which would be producing new, original content. Granted it would be more writing business cases than reviews of the latest champagne bar but as someone who’s been a PA since they were 18 (i’m now 35) it is my absolute dream job. To be able to step away from a supporting role to be able to be more creative, managing my own workload and play a more active input into an organisation I’m incredibly passionate about. And it never would have happened if I didn’t write a blog.

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You see, word got round at work that I wrote a blog, and off the back of that I was offered more creative work, albeit within the confines of my PA role. People I worked with who hated having to write creatively would ask me to check over their work, then before long they were asking me to draft things for them. Before you knew it I had quite a portfolio of relevant creative experience I was able to use in my interview and let me tell you, when I got the call (while I was in the bath no less) to say I got the job I was the happiest little clam on the planet.

I’ve been in the job two and a half months now and I’m absolutely loving it. No longer and I tied to my desk being the main point of call and I am trusted to manage my own time and workload. I get to travel regularly up and down to London and Eastbourne (which makes me feel very grown up and glamourous) and when I’m invited to meetings it’s because my opinion is needed; not just to sit quietly in the corner and take minutes.

Getting acquainted with Southern Rail, hotel breakfasts and late train home treats are just some of the perks of the new job…

It’s not been without it’s challenges of course. In a meeting in my first month I was asked to give an update on a strategy and I assumed it would be a short verbal update round a table to about 10 people. When I arrived it was a group of 40 and I had to stand up at the front, mic and all. I really should have taken the hint when I was asked to produce powerpoint slides! So that was a big shock and not something I’ve ever had to do in any job before. The travel, however glamourous, takes a lot out of you (the 7:04 train to London has become my fortnightly frienemy) and as most of my team are based in Eastbourne, I sometimes feel quite isolated on my own up in Newcastle.

I can’t grumble though because this change is something I’ve wanted and needed for a really long time now and I think it just goes to show that if you plug away at something, eventually your passion and enthusiasm shines through and new opportunities will be opened up to you. It sounds cheesy but I never even considered myself to be that good a writer, so believe me when I say if I can do it, anyone can!

How can a Virtual Assistant change your life?

‘I would gladly have accepted a heaping spoonful of nepotism when I got out of college and was looking for a job’ – Sloane Crosley

Nepotism can be such an ugly word. In an ideal world we would all work hard for everything and everything would be awarded on merit and be fair and above board. The truth is we all need a helping hand every now and again. When my dad didn’t want me to buy remodelled tyres because he didn’t think they were safe enough he paid for brand new ones, and way back in my career I was given the heads up by a friend that my job was being made redundant and she put me in touch with a contact of hers who helped me move on from that situation and get a better job. That’s life, and sometimes you have to put yourself first and grab some opportunities that might give you a bit of a leg up.

When my bestie of all besties left her job last year, she didn’t mope around about how unfair it all was (like I did) or just accept the same unhappy career path she was on and take the next job that was offered to her (like I did). She decided to do what she’d always wanted to do and start up her own Virtual Assistant business. And (no bias whatsoever) she’s bloody excellent at it.

I know this (with no bias whatsoever) because one of the benefits of having a friend who owns their own business is that you can utilize them for your own personal gain. So I made Angela work for me. And believe me I would say if I thought she was crap. Ok I may not write a blog post about it, that would be pretty cruel, but I would tell her. So, not that I was surprised in the slightest, I’ve always known she’s brilliant, but the things she did for me totally exceeded my expectations and I’ll be honest, totally changed the way I thought about virtual assistants.

I was always under the impression that a VA was just there to book your gel manicure, arrange a few meetings and book your travel, and yes she has done things like that as well, but some of the stuff she picked up and helped me out with really, really impressed me.

So I’d asked Ang to help out with a few blog things, all the stuff I always plan to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon but always get side-tracked with crime documentaries on Netflix. I gave her admin access to both my blog and my Facebook page and within 48 hours she’d checked and fixed all the broken links on my site, and put together a stats pack for me (which I had asked for) but she added extra stats around average monthly stats that I hadn’t even thought of and produced the following:

Followers

Blog site: 220
Twitter: 823
Facebook: 189

Average monthly views for 2017 across social media platforms: 3,862
Average visitors for 2017 to blog across your social media: 2,694
Average daily view for 2017: 128

This is now going to be so easy to keep updated and fire off to anyone who ask, and makes me look way more professional and put together than I actually am (to be fair Ang has been doing that for me since we were 16!)

She then went on to produce some branding images (which I didn’t even have to ask for) but turned out brilliantly and will be extremely useful for invoicing and pitching to brands:

 

She even photoshopped away my double chin for a picture I was using for a post, which I shouldn’t really admit but hey, girlfriend got mad photo editing skills!

Lastly and probably most importantly, she put together a comprehensive list of pubs which fall along the metro line which I will now be able to use when continuing out Wine & Beer Metro tour, as it saves me having to just get off the train and google where the best place to go is, which is how we were doing it previously. Having  a plan of action and a direction to head in has been invaluable and saved me loads of time where I was previously walking aimlessly around places I’m unfamiliar with in search of a cold glass of Sav Blanc.

This is obviously just the things she’s done for me, there are seemingly no end to her talents and I honestly didn’t realise how useful it is to have help with my blog until I got it and now I don’t know what I’d do without her!

If you fancy giving her a try, send her a quick email (angela@nevirtualassistant.com) to see how it fits in with your requirements and lifestyle and her skills includes (but are certainly not limited to:

  • Data entry
  • Data/word processing
  • Creating and maintaining spreadsheets
  • Credit control
  • Travel arranging and booking
  • Diary set up and management
  • Email checking, responding and cleanup
  • Research
  • Social media management
  • Photo editing

For further information visit www.nevirtualassistant.com and tell her I sent ya!

What has blogging taught me?

‘In a faraway land called ‘pre-2000’ what Earthlings now call blogging was called ‘keeping a diary’ – Douglas Copeland

I’ve always ummed and ahhed about ever writing a ‘what I’ve learnt about blogging’ mainly because my experience doesn’t seem to have been as positive as most peoples but I’ve seen  a lot of my favourite bloggers do one recently, and I love a band wagon way more than I hate being negative so thought I’d give a shot too.

I started this whole blog for work purposes. I was doing a year long project whereby I had to record my progress, so me and another girl thought it would be good to write it as a blog, which everyone on the course could access and we could all help each other out. Then I left it along for a really long time until I logged in (to retrieve a quote by Gary Barlow I’d used in one of the posts incidentally) and saw that people were actually reading what I’d written, and had left nice comments about my style. So I then decided to try writing about other stuff I was interested in, and it kind of grew from here.

So here we are almost 3 years later (although I’d say I’ve only being doing it ‘seriously’ for 18 months) the old work posts have been deleted, they’re not relevant anymore and I’ve learnt a few hard lessons along the way:

You can have an opinion, as long as everyone else agrees

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I wrote a post about fat shaming because two seemingly intelligent woman were resorting to nasty schoolyard insults across their blogs and I didn’t like it. So I gave my opinion and what I thought would come across as a ‘hey ladies can’t we all just get along’ wasn’t taken that way at all and I got a lot of abuse for it, which leads me nicely to….

Stay out of other people’s arguments

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I hated what I saw when I read those two warring blogs. Both ladies had valid reasons and felt very passionately about their sides of the argument. I felt that the true meaning of the argument had gotten lost among all the insults and I wanted to help them see eye to eye or at least agree to differ. Problem was, it wasn’t my place to try and make that happen and should have be swiftly filed in my ever growing ‘none of my business’ filing cabinet.

No matter how hard you try, not everyone will like you (but it’s ok to stand up for yourself)

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My final example of ‘how Helen’s big mouth has gotten her into trouble on the internet’ is from January this year when I innocently used the hashtag #BOPO (which stands for body positivity) when tweeting about going to the gym to burn off some Christmas calories. I got a bit of heat from some PS Bloggers who weren’t shy in telling me that the #BOPO hashtag ‘wasn’t for me’ it was for PS bloggers who were proud of who they were and didn’t want to feel ‘shamed’ into going to the gym by ‘people like me’.  I’ll be perfectly honest I was pretty offended by this I mean, we all have our body hang ups, all of us and to be @’d in a conversation where someone says ‘ignore her she’s just another skinny blonde bitch stealing our hashtags’ was quite upsetting.  They’d taken the time to look through my pictures and makes sweeping generational about me. It hurt, however therein lies the beauty of the ability to block people on twitter. And buoyed by their nastiness the post I wrote about my cute new gym gear that week did pretty well with the #BOPO hastag all over it.

There’s a difference between being a ‘blogger’ and ‘writing a blog’

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I don’t consider myself a blogger. I did at first but having been accepted into the fantastically supportive North East Blogging community has made me realise the difference. Believe me when I say these girls (and guys), genuine bloggers, they hustle. Sam, Katie and Mandy are particular blogging heroes of mine and they’ve made an amazing career out of something they love (and are brilliant at). I can never put myself in the same category as them because I’m not, nor do I imagine I’ll ever be that good. Don’t get me wrong I would love nothing more than to blog full time, but such is my confidence that I can never really see it happening. My blog posts simply aren’t good enough to pay the bills and you can’t pay your mortgage with free Prosecco. The blogging world is a very very large pond and I’m a very very small fish.

Write about what you’re passionate about

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I don’t want to sound totally negative, because of course writing a blog comes with many perks. There’s a honesty and a vulnerability that comes with writing things down rather than saying them out loud and creating this blog has done wonders for my general happiness; proving that creative outlet that I’ve always yearned for.  It also means you get invited to some pretty cool events, meet some pretty cool people or get some pretty cool goodies sent to you. In the beginning I was like Ellis Island in the 1920s; I accepted everybody and I would write about anything that was offered to me. The problem was, I find it really hard to get excited about organic tampons (and my dad reads this from time to time to – he doesn’t want to see me talk about lady stuff) so the posts were I was shoehorning some kind of personality into something I didn’t care about made me feel grubby.  So now I only accept things that I would genuinely write about, or spend my own money on, which is quite liberating.

It’s not all about you

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This has been the hardest lesson. If you go way back my early posts are very much all about me, what I’ve been doing or how I feel about things and while that’s nice for people who know me, it’s of limited interest to the wider world. So I stopped trying to tell people what I wanted them to know and starting writing about what they wanted to find out about. It’s difficult finding a balance between writing a bog standard ‘review by numbers’ and what’s essentially a diary entry that only you are interested. I now try and put my personality across whilst still making it interesting or useful.  People want detail, how much things cost, how to get places, where to buy things from, they don’t care about how drunk you got or what you wore!

Finally the most important thing I’ve learnt is that it’s ok not to have an angle. I would always get jealous of all the brilliant beauty or fashion blogs that get hundreds of thousands of hits whilst I’m sat over here chuffed if I get over 100 views in one day but forcing myself to write constantly about one topic would bore me to tears. Plus there’s not one thing that I love that I’d be able to create enough content out of. Like everyone, I have many sides to my personality, I like a bit of music, a bit of travel, a bit of exercise, a bit of fashion, a bit of beauty and a lot of wine. So why limit myself to just one area when I can write about all the things that make me who I am?