#1: Niamh Cunningham - How To Survive The Creative Industry After University, Celebrating Individualty and Combatting Imposter Syndrome
Starting a podcast, ey. Bloody tricky business but it's happening, finally it's happening.
WERKIN' ON IT WITH NIAMH SERENA IS FINALLY, 100%, DEFINITELY LIVE.
But where on earth did it come from? Bet you thought I was just bringing you another outfit post or a pity party about how I haven't been blogging lately. Haha - NOPE.
What once started as a slow burning love affair with podcasts has quickly transformed into one that consumes my every thought (hardly surprising when you take into account every technicality involved in starting your own).
I played it cool with the podcasting industry for a long time. To be honest, I was never really that interested to begin with mostly due to my own ignorance. I didn't know many podcasters or podcast genres that would actually interest me. When would I even listen to them? It's not really the same thing as plugging in your earphones and listening to a motivational playlist on a Monday morning. Nor can it replace the joy of belting out your favourite tunes any time you're in your car. Right?
Oh. So. Wrong.
It was as I found myself on a new daily commute that involved a 25 minute walk and 5 minute trip on the DART that I learned to fully appreciate a good podcast. I went so far as to subscribe to at least five or six (until iCloud decided enough was enough and played me on the storage front). Every morning, I would leave the house, lock up, stick my earphones in and catch up with the latest episodes. At a very lonely time in my life, living in a new city where I knew next to no one and was getting used to cultural differences I had never expected from somewhere not so far from home, these podcasts, their hosts and their guests kept me company. They kept my thoughts stimulated, geared me up for the work day ahead and sparked masses of content (and general life) ideas. I learned about new people who I may never have discovered before. Fair enough, each podcast played on my interest of fashion and entrepreneurship but it also opened my eyes to new possibilities, new people, stories I never would have learned otherwise and best of all, the power of female friendship (Lady Lovin' hosts Lo Bosworth, Greta Titelman and Jilly Hendrix along with Keeping It Candid girls, Sophie Milner and Millie Cotton - yep,I'm looking at you).
During these commutes, the seed was planted that maybe I could do this one day. It wasn't a seed ready to grow just yet though, just a fleeting thought that quickly disappeared when I nearly missed my train and immediately had to switch my focus to legging it down a little Irish country road.
It wasn't until my beloved podcasts and me took a romantic stroll along a Californian board walk last summer that I really entertained the idea - romantic in the sense that I let my thoughts on the idea really run away with me not you know, anything weird. By this stage my podcast of choice was The Skinny Confidential Him and Her Podcast by fitness and beauty blogger entrepreneur Lauryn Evarts and her husband (also an entrepreneur). I was religiously working my way through their entire feed during that holiday and by the end of the two weeks I'd decided on a name and format for my podcast.
Werkin' On It represents the idea that regardless of which age or stage of our careers we're at we're all constantly "werkin on it". Quickly after I thought of the name, Rihanna's song Work placed itself firmly in my head for the foreseeable future (werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, werk - you know the one), influencing the change in spelling of "werkin".
For now the podcast will be released on a fortnightly basis. I would love nothing more than to make this a weekly release but if I've learned anything in the last few months of preparation it's that these things take time, especially when outsourcing production isn't an option. Every other week I'll sit down with a fellow female creative and grill her on her career story, the good, the bad and the ugly served alongside the reminder that everything works out in the end and despite the lives we lead or interpret on social media, nobody has it easy in life particularly in pursuit of a career that truly fulfils them.
In this first episode I met with Niamh Cunningham - blogger, model and an unstoppable creative entrepreneur. I asked Niamh about her creative career to date as well as her hopes for that same creative career in the future. Niamh's individuality is something that really caught my eye on social media a few years ago but in recent months her honest and genuinely creative approach to producing valuable content has really shined through. We talk a lot about her Instagram stories in particular, the process of creating this kind of content and how it felt posting that first Instagram story vlog on to her profile for all of the social media world to see. Adding value through her content is clearly something very important to Niamh and in essence of this she was willing to share some of her tips on taking the plunge in producing the kind of content YOU want to create, using this content to deliver a message to the masses and maintaining uniqueness in an industry that's increasingly saturated. If you've ever felt lost along the way of chasing your creative dreams, Niamh's advice will certainly help see you through. She's been there and at times, still feels she is but she's clear in her vision and incredibly decisive when it comes to her own happiness. Oh, and rumour has it she's up to something and launching a business all of us creatives can seriously benefit from. Watch this space. After you've listened to the interview obvs.
So here we are. My first episode. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. It's a long one but Niamh's wisdom is worth every minute. Grab a cup of tea. Listen while tidying your room or recovering from your Sunday food coma and please, come back for my next episode with local artist and beautiful human being, Aly Harte - I'm very excited about releasing it.
LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE
Werkin' On It with Niamh Serena
#1: Niamh Cunningham - How To Survive The Creative Industry After University, Celebrating Individualty and Combatting Imposter Syndrome
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On the 1st of January 2018, I embarked on a shopping ban. Yep, me, a shopping ban. Pre-shopping ban I spent a lot of time browsing
online ASOS. To the point where I recognised the newest of the new in items and could tell you exactly when they had in fact been added to the new in section.
Is the word "new" starting to sound weird to you?
I checked ASOS at least three times a week. My saved items were overflowing and the panic that set in when an item only had 1 day out of 60 left within the saved items, felt like losing a limb. Bit dramatic, Niamh but what can I say, I
had have a shopping problem.
ANYWAY, said shopping problem has been dissected and discussed here so let's get back to the point.
One of the perks and the biggest tests of this shopping ban has been that I have an extensive wishlist of items ready to be reconsidered as purchases come February 1st. In a twisted attempt to soothe the pain of the shopping ban, I've spent some time scrolling through and just
checking in looking at all of my ASOS saved items. It was during one of these scrolling sessions that I noticed trends and patterns forming in the kind of clothes I was picking, trends that, previously, I hadn't been fully aware of my subscription to. So, at a time when we're all overhauling our lives from fitness routines, diets and friendships to our hair, wardrobe and overall aesthetic, I've put together a list of all of the trends that are easing the pain of January blues.
If I'm really going to have to brave the big, bad world and brutal weather of January, I'm going to bundle myself up in the cosiest materials I can get my hands on in other words - ALLLLLL of the knitwear. It's the first thing I reach for when getting dressed on these f-f-freezing winter mornings and the first filter I apply when browsing new in sections online (pre-shopping ban obvs). Bright, bold, classic or chic, whatever your style, knitwear makes the perfect foundation for a soon to be fabulous outfit.
No, no not the kind you send soaring into the sky in desperate need of help. The kind you thought had disappeared with the 70s. Hard luck, kid. I'm declaring 2018 the year of the flare. Yep, you heard it here first - give it a few months and they'll be everywhere, heavily cemented into the key trends of 2018 and written about by every fashion publication. There's a high chance I'm exaggerating but they definitely have potential.
A few months ago I (thankfully) rediscovered a pair of ribbed, jersey flares I bough during the Topshop January sales last year. I remember they cost about £10 and at the time were maybe, probably, definitely an impulse buy and a classic example of sales euphoria getting the better of me - one of the many reasons I've gone on a shopping ban for the month. The thing is, every so often in life the fashion Gods, in their mysterious way, throw a killer item your way, directly put in your path to challenge, confuse and delight you. Said item is the reason we take the risk on impulse buys. You never know when they're going to pay off.
To keep the tradition alive, I bought a second pair of flares in this year's January sales (again, bought on Boxing Day pre-shopping ban), this time opting for a black crushed velvet pair. Elegant some might say while to others, ridiculous.
The curvy proportions of flared trousers help to make the slimmest part of your trouser leg look even smaller. You know what they don't make look smaller? Your height. What a bloody bonus that is. A pair of trousers that are incredibly flattering for those of us more vertically challenged than others. Well I never. Inevitably they'll be far too long for you but that's nothing a quick alteration job can't fix and let's be real, at this point you're probably on a first name basis with your local seamstress #PetiteProblems.
You may think kimonos are limited to spring fashion. You're wrong. This quilted kimono has duvet day in style written all over it. Keeping in line with the "Do I really have to get out of bed?" vibe that seems to be dictating all of my wardrobe choices right now, kimonos done right make for the perfect (read: socially acceptable) substitute for your beloved dressing gown. As for this oriental inspired wrap dress - paired with Over The Knee Boots, a faux fur jacket and baker boy cap - what was that you were saying about Kimonos being reserved for spring?
DARK FLORAL DRESSES
This one caught me off guard and it was only when my latest ASOS arrival (I repeat, pre-shopping ban) made it's way to my doorstep that I realised just how far the obsession with florals had progressed. Previously I had never considered myself a dress kind of girl, nor would I have made many associations with florals until recently. Black, however, now that's something I can get on board with. Similarly to the "Spring only" misconceptions made with kimonos, florals are no longer for synonymous with the ditsy fabrics of summer fashion nor with your granny's old curtains. Gucci got on board with this one so naturally I'll be following suit.
FOR LOVE AND LEMONS
One of my favourite things about ASOS is its vast selection of brands and it's impressive ability to recognise a good thing - For Love and Lemons being one that's really caught my eye recently. Having unfairly dismissed the brands as being "too girly" for my style - the further on I get with writing this post the more apparent it becomes that my perception of my own style is a little off kilter - I've finally seen sense and learned to appreciate the brand's principles of confidence, femininity and individuality. While their designs may be out of my budget currently, by the end of 2018, I'm determined to make one of these beauties mine.
Working from home 85% of the time means that most of my workwear consists of well, whatever the hell I want. Obviously this has it perks but when fashion consumes most of your thoughts, living life in loungewear can only last so long. A girl's gotta get dressed up sometime and this season I'm ready to up my game with smarter, more tailored pieces. Not only is good tailoring the easiest way to smarten up an outfit but it can also make an otherwise very standard high street look ten times more expensive.
RED, PINK AND ALL OF THE PRINTS
Thank the fashion gods that pink is here to stay. Pink has some sort of power over me. Honestly, I can't stop. You'll find me wrapping up in the pretty hues of springs gone by and of those on the horizon. For those of you worried about looking a little too sugary sweet, toughen up the look with trainers or chunky biker boots.
As for red - prep your SS18 palette with a move away from festive burgundy and towards bright, tomato reds.
And about those January blues - it's time to brave the bold prints and patterns. The goal here is to have parents, grandparents and best of all, siblings feeling too embarrassed to walk down the street with you for fear of being spotted a mile off.
ACCESSORIES: BERETS, BELTS AND HAIR PINS
An all too crucial and frequently overlooked element of nailing a new season wardrobe is of course, nailing the accessories that bring the whole look to life. Plus when you run out of cute selfies for the 'gram, what else are you going to post to your heavily fashion focused feed?
You'd be surprised how much one accessory can overhaul an entire look - I know I have been over the last few months. For the most parts, accessories can be relatively affordable meaning that by parting with less than £10 you could bag yourself five new outfits. Time to channel your inner magpie and gather the finest shiny things you can get your hands on.
Overall, one my (self-imposed) shopping ban has been lifted, my 2018 shopping motto will be "anything but average." If you're not excited about its arrival, it's not worth it. If you aren't bursting with excitement to show it off to the world, you guessed it, it's not worth it.
Have you decided to have a wardrobe overhaul for 2018? Comment below with the trends you're welcoming into your life in the new year.
Niamh ♥Read more link text
It 2nd January 2017.
You've just spent yet another day slobbing on the sofa, scrolling through Instagram, promising yourself that tomorrow will be different. SPOILER: It won't.
At one point you managed to psych yourself up, peel yourself from the sofa and embark on the journey upstairs. You told yourself it was because you were finally going to get dressed (at 16:04 you're prouder of this than you should be) yet you've found yourself lounging on your bed, scrolling through Instagram yet again with next to no recollection of how you got there.
You've pretty much exhausted every Instastory on your feed and as for those 2017 recaps that are still lingering, they've left you feeling pretty deflated, not to mention inadequate.
Just as you feel yourself falling deeper and deeper into the pity party slump the door bell rings.
Your heart momentarily stops.
No one ever uses the door bell.
Nobody but one.
You grab your dressing gown, racing to get the door before anyone else sees what you've done...again.
After last month's incident you swore it was the last time. But alas, you caved. You caved because you're weak. A weak, silly little girl who likes
sparkly pink things.
You can feel their eyes on you through the window of the door but you can't bring yourself to look at them as you slowly unlock the door, release the chain and sign for yet another package.
You know you shouldn't but once the door is firmly closed again you sneak a little happy dance before returning to your room, ripping open the box and staring lovingly at its glorious contents.
Two pairs of shoes.
One B-E-A-U-tiful coat.
You've done it again. You've blown your wages on yet another ASOS spending spree. The guilt forms a ball of anxious fire in your belly and you know what you've got to do.
It's time to cut yourself off.
Face your biggest fears, embark on your toughest challenge yet and go on a shopping ban.
DUN DUN DUN.
Yep, you heard it here first. Technically second if you follow me on Instagram where I first declared my self-inflicted shopping ban - an announcement ironically followed by my top boxing day sales picks. They feature as a highlighted story feature on my profile if you're one of the lucky ones who have escaped a Topshop induced shopping addiction and need some inspiration.
Most people go with dry January as their not so grand entrance to the New Year but given how fond I am of a Saturday night in, giving up alcohol would have been a little too easy. Others opt to give up chocolate or crisps or all other sh*tty foods but given I've already had to cut out dairy and gluten in the last two years, taking any other food group from me right now would be too cruel. Shopping on the other hand, that's where the real challenge lies for me.
For the last three months I've made excuse after excuse to justify my never-ending shopping sprees. Interning in the fashion industry for most of 2016 and 2017 unsurprisingly left me with a shopping wish list the length of my arm so when I got my first job and as a result, first salary in August, how could I resist catching up on all of the shopping I had missed out on over the last few years? But when you've got to the stage where you're checking the ASOS new in section at least twice a week and consider clearing out your 'saved items' as necessary life admin, it's maybe time to reign it in.
I've finally caught a little bit of the travelling bug this year and have entered 2018 dreaming of trips to European cities, a return to my beloved New York and a few further afield adventures with friends. I've also got goals that although will take a lot of determination and hard work, aren't going to get anywhere without some savings behind them. None of these goals are going to get any further than my imagination if I don't start putting away some money. Ultimately this means cutting out the shopping sprees and while a sparkly new pair of shoes might up my Instagram game and bring me some momentary joy, memories created travelling and pursuing other dreams will last so much longer. Besides, fashion is an art and working with the many clothes I already have will challenge my creativity. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Plus I didn't start the ban until January which means I was still able to grab a few steals in the sales pre-January 1st, enough to shoot some January content without feeling guilty about shopping.
The plan is to hand my card over to my Mum (yes I'm a child who can't be trusted) for the month of January, only to be returned once a week in order to take out my weekly allowance in cash. Said allowance should cover me for petrol, parking and socialising but definitely not for spending on clothes.
While the ban is only temporary and come my birthday next month I'll definitely be treating myself to a little something, it's a start and hopefully seeing my savings pile up will be motivation to maintain the spending cuts.
Talk about a first world problem, 'ey?
Wish me luck because as ashamed as I am to admit it, I'm going to need it.
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Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Pretty Little Thing
Mission: Achieve (and maintain) best dressed status all party season long
Requirements: Sequins, sheer satin and sass
Location: Pretty Little Thing
The clocks are ticking, the invites are rolling in and there’s not a second to waste in prepping for party season. Logic would have us out shopping for gifts but let’s stick to what’s really important - what to wear. There’s the Christmas girl’s night out, the work do, Boxing Day, 101 family reunions, you name it, there’s a show stopping dress to be found and Pretty Little Thing holds the answers.
First and foremost: more is more on this occasion.
No really, I mean it.
More feathers. More sequins. More crystals. More jewels. More frills. I could go on…
These are your party season survival tools. Use them wisely.
It’s time to recruit your most flamboyant self to see through the last of 2017. Take your style cues from the autumn/winter’17 runways where chainmail, feathers and pearls stole the show. Not to mention the glorious glitter boots that shot straight to the top of our wish lists.
As for the LBD - don’t rule it out just yet. Just please, whatever you do, don’t be a bore about it. Reimagine the classic piece with frills and feathers galore. Play around with shapes (both with your wardrobe choices and on the dance floor). Channel your inner 80s dance diva and embrace the one shoulder dress. Throw in the occasional thigh split and RSVPs are no longer something to sleep on.
Six weeks of soirees are beckoning. What are you waiting for? I’ll meet you on the dance floor (preferably with a prosecco in hand.)
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I'm by no means a party girl. I enjoy a night out every so often but I've never been great at the whole 3 nights out in a row thing and don't even get me started on the hangovers - we do not have a great relationship. It's not that I've ruled out nights out all together, I need to let my hair down every so often as much as the next person. But I'd definitely take casual drinks at a bar or a glass of wine by the fire over a wild night out in a club.
One major consequence of not being a 'party girl' (aside from seeming like a total bore to everyone else) is that my going out wardrobe is severely lacking. SEVERELY. Any other kind of occasion and I'm almost always good to go with the outfit inspiration but night out style? Nah-uh not my thing.
For one thing, I like to be comfortable which makes a long night out wearing heels almost totally undesirable although my ever-growing shoe collection would suggest otherwise. Then there's the fact that wearing your fabulous new heels on a night out will inevitably lead to them being ruined. I learned the hard way that rule number one when it comes to day-to-night dressing is to find yourself at least one paid of 'going-out' shoes that are comfortable, easy to clean and won't break your heart if someone spills their entire drink over them.
Since nights out take up a much smaller portion of my social life, instead of buying an entirely new wardrobe of clothes I'll very rarely wear, I've adapted clothes and outfits that I already love and feel great in to make them more appropriate for post-work drinks or events.
It's alllllllll about the shoes
The easiest way to liven up an outfit for the evening is to switch up the shoes. Tuck them into your handbag, hide them under your desk, throw them in your passenger seat, whatever your mode of transport for the Friday shoe switcheroo, there's no denying that carrying one pair of shoes with you is a lot easier than lugging an entire change of clothes to the office.
When choosing the shoes (as mentioned above) its important to factor in comfort and location. There's nothing worse than spending an evening on your feet in uncomfortable heels except maybe wearing your brand new nude, suede shoes to a crowded bar or club. Then you're just asking for trouble - don't make their debut night their last and only night.
Block heels, mules and black - your absolute BFFs in this scenario.
Also - make sure the shoes are well broken in and the night is yours.
Rummage through your accessories collection
Admittedly the corset worn in this look isn't something I pulled out of the back of my wardrobe. I had just bought in from ASOS prior to shooting this look BUT it was in the sale and under £15 so you know, a forgivable purchase. Without the subtle glitz and glam of the corset, this look would just be a plain shirt - a staple and a classic in your workwear wardrobe but a little too meh for a night out. Strap yourself in to a little statement corset come 6pm Friday evening and bish, bash, bosh, you've got a look Carrie Bradshaw would be proud of.
Another example of corset belting - daytime look: Oversized band tee, leather trousers, converse. Evening look: Add in the corset, swap out the converse for Saturday night heels. Day to night look sorted in one fell swoop.
The three outfit rule
Sometimes it's best to go right back to the basics. That means taking it all the way back to when you're out shopping. Picture this - you've just picked up an item and you're about to buy it. Fight off the impulse shopper inside you and think about the purchase for a second. If you can't think of at least three different ways you're going to wear the item and three different outfits you can create with the item, then it's not for you. By curating your wardrobe as ruthlessly as possible, you're making day to night outfit planning one hundred times easier for yourself.
Photos by Kellie Scott
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