Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Busy Bee Part 2

Hello everybody!  So last blog post I said I would further divulge why I have been so busy and blog post less this month.  Well this is why.

After the excitement of Birmingham and winning, I had to get my head down and make sure that I had everything prepared for a photoshoot I had the following week.  It was again with the fabulous talent in one woman, Morgana of Iberian Black Arts.  She did my hair and make up as well as the photography AND the digital arty stuff afterwards (yay for photoshop!) which makes her a genius!  I shot with her two new items, for which I tweeted little teasers for y'all.  But for those not on twitter these are the fabrics the new items are made from.

Scrumptious candy floss coloured fabric (cotton candy)
AMAZING leopard print crepe de chine
I can't wait to reveal these babies, but in all honesty it won't be until the new year.  First comes the Tempest set (which hopefully I get delivery of this week!!! *fingers crossed*), then remember this one (below right):

Well this comes next on my to do list in production.  It has been a bit of a nightmare to source this fabric in any great quantity.  Apparently pale blue stretch satin is a rare commodity!  I bought mine to make this sample above from a fabric supplier who buys end of run type fabrics so he rarely has the same fabric twice.  I bought all he had which was about 11 metres.  I can probably get about 10-12 garments out of that at a push, so not much use when  it comes to production numbers which are a lot higher.  This means it would have cost a ridiculous amount of money for the size of the garment.  I'm talking like £95 which is the same as my Black Nell Robe.  So I don't think my lovely customers would want to pay £95 for a little teddy, no matter how awesome it is.  However!  A couple of days after my photoshoot the other week, I went to a fabric show in London.  And I think I may have found some suitable light blue satin to match up to my high expectations (satin can look and feel really nasty if you don't do it right!).  So it's back on!!!  I will be making the Hedy Teddy next :).

THEN the pink number will be released in time for Valentines :) so I will be putting it up on my website in January so you all have time to buy it to spice up your Valentines Day.  I may be kind and let you pre order it in December......it depends how nice you all are to me.

The shooting of this item even had a valentiney prop to make it look extra cute.  This picture to the left is the prop I used.  A beautiful vintage chocolate box - unfortunately there were no chocolates in it boo.

I decided again to model the items,  if you hadn't already guessed.  I had such a fun time last shoot with Morgana that I thought why the heck not!  And it was nice to hear feedback such as "ooooo who's the new model?! Haven't seen her before", which is obviously good for my business as my competing brands have not used this "new model", so it sets me apart from the rest :).  Clever non?!  Anyway the below picture is the make up and hair look that Morgana and I went for this time round.

The hair was inspired by Betty Grable in the film Pin Up Girl and for the make up we stuck with a neutral eye pallet to make a big POW with bright pink lips to match the pink set.  Morgana has the ability to turn ANYONE into a glam pin up girl, so if you want to treat yourself or your other half with some beautiful photographs be sure to look her up!  Her blog is here.

The last thing that has been keeping me nice and busy is the afore mentioned leopard print number.  Again I managed to choose a fabric that is as rare as hens teeth.  I have enough for an initial run of garments, but I have a horrible feeling it is going to turn out to be my new best selling design.  So I am desperately sourcing the right kind of leopard print fabric.  Leopard print is a funny old thing.  You can get it right, like I hopefully have, or you can get it very very wrong - as in looking like a prostitute wrong.  It's a very fine line between a classy leopard print and a trashy one and I have seen a lot of unsuitable prints in my search.  Again this is where the fabric show came into play.  I think I may have found a suitable substitute, should this design sell incredibly well and I need to get more made.  The only drawback isss...................it has a slight glitter in the fabric.  I'm not sure how I feel about a glittery leopard print.  So I thought I would open it up to you.  Yay or nay?

It is similar to the fabric I already have in that it is of a similar scale of print, but it is a stretch cotton as opposed to a crepe de chine (shiny satiny type fabric).  If you click to enlarge it you can just about see the glitter running through.  Please leave comments on whether you think glitter is good or bad.  It could be quite Hollywood glam I suppose.  Anyway let me know your thoughts!

Hope you have enjoyed my catch up, I will try and blog more next month I promise :).
Lots of Love
Betty xxx

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Lady Luck

Well I have been as busy as a bee these past few weeks and haven't had a chance to sit down and blog about it all.  There is much for you all to catch up on!!  So I will start from the beginning.

It all started with an article in the Basingstoke Gazette about being a finalist at The Start-Up Hub UK competition at the Conservative Party Conference.  I was on the FRONT PAGE!!! as well as page 3 (don't know if I should be mildly offended by that or not but hay ho!) and was famous in my village from that day forth.  The postman even commented to my Dad, and I quote, "I saw your daughter in the gazette............in fact I saw quite a lot of your daughter"............enter awkward laugh from my Dad.  Here is a photo of said article.

I hadn't shown the pics of me in the Tempest Set to my Dad to save his blushes..............until they were in the widely distributed press, sorry Dad!!
So to add to my accolades I can now say I was a page three girl.  (For my foreign readers a page 3 girl is someone who poses topless for the tabloid papers to be perved over by those of dubious nature).

This article led to a phone call from Solent news who asked me a few questions and prepared a press release to be sent out to the national press.  At this point I probably should have self edited, but I apparently don't have that function built in, because journalists take every word you say very literally.  Anyway I don't care as publicity is publicity right!  A couple of days later I got heaps of very excited emails and txts from friends saying OMG I'VE JUST SEEN YOU ON THE DAILY MAIL WEBSITE.  The article can be read here.

I'm pretty sure that the journalist lady I spoke to practically coached me to say I think Sam Cam should get one of my Nell Robes.  But I do happen to think she would look good in it, she has a wonderful figure.

The next day I got even more excited txts and emails saying OMG YOU'RE IN THE BLOODY METRO.

For the benefit of my foreign readers, The Metro is a daily paper that is distributed to all the train stations in the UK.  Typically commuters read it on their way to work, but anyone taking a train can pick one up.  In short the circulation is HUGE and this is a massive milestone for Betty Blue's Loungerie!!!  I think I gave the people in the Start-Up Hub office a mild heart attack with this article, as scantily clad models and politics don't usually mix very positively in the press.  But technically it wasn't my fault ;-).  None the less it was an hugely exciting moment in my life as it was one of my mini goals for my business to be featured in such a newspaper :) GO ME!!!!!

The exciting few days culminated in the actual event of The Start-Up Hub competition the following day.  To say I was excited was an understatement.  Rarely is one given such an excellent opportunity in life to shmooze with the elite.  Political party preference aside, this was a really great opportunity to promote my business and meet the kind of people who may be able to further my business or just generally give me advice or help.  I was very aware in the weeks up to the competition, the amazing opportunity I had been given and wanted to make the very most of it.

I'm afraid this came out in a way that only I could do, I was like an over excited puppy.  I think a few people were perplexed by why a young lady in the fashion industry was so excited to be at a political party conference.  Generally these things are considered to be a little stuffy and boring, especially to someone of my age who is not in the political world.  I, however, had the best time ever!

Me on my stand mid sentence - thanks to @ToryBusiness for the piccy
The idea of the competition was to convince people to vote for your company to win by placing a coloured ball in your tube.  The tube with the most balls at the end of the day wins.  Anyone walking past the stand could vote, so it was down to me to convince people.  There were 12 finalists exhibiting over 3 days, so 4 on each day.  I was up against three other companies.  They were:
Funding Options - Looking for business finance?  Well they help you find it!
Blendology - They do gadgety things that are very clever with 'tap' technology and were close competitors to me!!
Icotope - An amazing server cooling product that saves energy

Picture of the ball tubes, I stuck a picture of the Tempest Set on
mine :) - again thanks to @ToryBusiness for the picture
All worthy contenders and all awesome in their own way.  However they all lacked one thing..........pictures of scantily clad ladies.  I'm not going to lie, I may have used my feminine charms to gain a few votes.  Jokes aside though, I think people voted for me because I was able to communicate my enthusiasm for UK manufactured goods and my passion for glamorous loungewear.

As well as the passers by, I did manage to meet a few of the "Big Wigs" in UK politics.  I met the Home Secretary, Theresa May as well as Andew Lansley.  I did also meet a Lord, but I can't for the life of me remember which Lord it was, but one I do remember was Lord Feldman who had been "in the business" (fashion/rag trade) so he was pretty interesting to talk to.  Another big wig that I met was Damian Collins, the MP behind the Start-Up Hub competition.  I get the impression he now thinks I am a complete crazy because I kept saying to him, "Thank you SO much for inviting me, this is SOOO exciting, I don't get out much as I work from home so I've had an amazing time".  Pretty sure I said this more than once haha, I was just so excited!  Especially as I actually won on my day!!!  MEGA EXCITING!!

The official pictures of the winning ceremony haven't been posted online yet so I can't show you my super happy face but this is the certificate I was presented.

I'm putting it on my office wall so I can see it eeeeeevry day!  Something else I am putting on my office wall (and something I totally nicked) is this awesome rosette.

Technically this had already been promised to one of the other days winners, but I had asked Damian Collins MP if I could keep it and he said yes, and we all know politicians don't lie, so meh (sorry James I hope this doesn't get you fired, I tried so hard to behave myself but it's the former student in me; big signs must be stolen).

As well as the certificate and giant rosette, I also won some prizes from the sponsors of the Hub.  I got this awesome tablet computer from the lovely people at Fujitsu.

Anyone who is anyone in the business world owns a tablet computer, especially of the Apple variety.  You only have to watch "Be Your Own Boss" (programme with the Innocence Smoothie guy about helping start up businesses by investing in them) to see this.  EVERYONE has them.  Now as a start up company myself, and a young one, I am slightly confused by this as they can cost anything up to £1000 and that to me is A LOT of money that I could invest more sensibly in stock.  But ho hum, everyone spends their money differently, and something I have learnt is that not all start up businesses are new to the business world like I am.  Many have worked in the industry for other big corporate companies, before setting out on their own.  I think this puts my win on the Start-Up Hub into perspective; I have no previous business experience but I still won over other companies :-D yayyyyy.  Anyhoo I can now pretend to be very business like and consult my tablet computer when people ask me questions.  Awesome!!  I also got 3 months free on the Fujitsu cloud, as did all the other finalists from Fujitsu which is pretty awesome too.  The other sponsor, Immersat, has given me business mentoring as part of my prize.  This is something I was actually looking into before the competition, so again pretty awesome prize all round!

To finish off my day of awesomeness the final sponsor BVCA, invited myself and some of the other Hub finalists to the business dinner, where the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech.  The dinner was AMAZING!  The type where the plates are decorated prettily and the food is in small stacks to look all "cheffy".  It was extremely yummy.  I then went out for drinks with two of the other finalists, Bency from Think Drink and Peter from Iceotope.  I don't however have any pictures because my phone battery died :(.

All in all I had the most fantastic day.  It was so lovely to be surrounded by people who actually took the time to listen to what I had to say, and people were genuinely interested in my business.  Usually when I do events people don't really want to stop and talk or take your leaflet, so it was a refreshing experience.  I did have one silly lady come to the stand.  Unfortunately I was eating my lunch at the time so my Mum (who I took along with me) was the one who spoke to her, I wouldn't have entertained her ideas.  This "lady" did not want to be glamorous whilst she was lounging and didn't understand why anyone would.  She liked wearing tracksuits and T-Shirts and just did not want to look nice and pretty whilst lounging.  This is ok, not everyone is going to like my business and I accept that.  But my Mum was quite taken aback at how rude this woman was about my business to her face.  I wouldn't have talked to her.  The way to deal with those kind of people is just to get rid of them because she is NEVER going to a customer, so don't waste your energy!  But bless my Mum, she wasn't to know that.  Luckily that was the only negative person.  Everyone else was lovely!  A HUUUUUUGE thank you has to go out to Damian Collins for inventing the Start-Up Hub and all the lovely sponsors I met, as well as the delegates who voted for me :).

In my next blog post you will be able to hear about what I did the following week and why I've been so busy and unable to blog.  In the meantime though, if you haven't already, sign up to my newsletter for all the latest news :), you can do so on my website.

Lots of Love
Betty xxxx