Dream Jobs – the Fashion Designer: Tanya Maxwell of THIRtEEN

A few months ago, Dale Street in Liverpool (home to the gorgeous Moose café and the inimitable Peaches and Cream salon) welcomed a new house guest… Tanya Maxwell, the flame-haired Irish beauty behind THIRtEEN Fashion. She took her flair for fashion design and built an impressive empire, starting by making Irish dancing costumes for her sister at the tender age of 13 and going on to dress the likes of Chloe Sims from The Only Way is Essex.

Tanya launched THIRtEEN fashion 6 years ago alongside her degree in Clothing, Design and Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University. The line has been stocked in the likes of Liverpool’s famous Cricket boutique and her intimate team of four offers a bespoke dressmaking service as well as ready-to-wear garments. Although her services can usually be booked with a 3 week notice period, busier times such as Ladies Day at Aintree Racecourse can result in high demand periods where as much as 2 months notice is necessary! Telling me all about the brand, Tanya talks sewing machines and NME with me in her usual eclectic style…

For the readers that weren’t fortunate enough to have joined us for cocktails as we celebrated Christmas 2011, remind me about the significance of the name THIRtEEN…
The name THIRtEEN was chosen for a few reasons. My birthday is the 13th, my mum is the 13th child and I got my sewing machine on my 13th birthday!

Do you think THIRtEEN has a signature look or vibe, and, if so, what would you say that is?
I wouldn’t say that we have a signature look as we like to be as wide-ranging as possible, but throughout our collections the signature THIRtEEN dress has consisted of a fitted upper bodice, a synched in waist and skater style skirt with huge underskirt.

Where does your inspiration come from for new collections?
I’m always looking high and low for inspiration for THIRtEEN, whether it be in magazines like Vogue or NME or on TV shows such as the X Factor, The Voice… anywhere! For my collections I like to keep up with what Liverpool girls want but, at the same time, try to put my own twist on it.

Recently your designs have attracted so much press attention from being featured on television stars such as the cast members of Desperate Scousewives and The Only Way is Essex. What does that feel like?
Of course it makes me feel proud when I see my designs in newspapers and televisions, but truth be told I feel equally as proud when one of my girls tags my dress in a Facebook photo before going on a night out with her friends. The publicity has been really good for business as it has projected the brand to a wider audience, especially through the mediums of Twitter and Facebook. We have never had so many customers from Essex, ha-ha!

You used to have a boutique in Quiggins (which houses lots of fashion designers/boutiques) and recently you’ve moved to a shop on Dale St. What are the best and worst things about both locations?
The best thing about being in Quiggins was the community spirit of all the shops in there, but the worst thing for myself was not having the space or environment that I needed to create the boutique I would have liked. The great thing about Dale Street is having the location I’ve always dreamed of (a shop) and, of course, being next door to the most supportive neighbours in the world – Peaches and Cream. The worst thing about being in Dale street is that I have 24 hour access to the shop (unlike Quiggins which would shut at a set time) meaning that I never know when to go home!

As well as stocking your own things, your Dale Street is also home to Minnie Bee, a children’s clothing boutique. What do you look for when sourcing other collections or designers?
The main thing we look for when sourcing our Minnie Bee labels is that we want to be different. Anyone can go to a big chain store and buy designer labels for their little ones; most of the children’s labels we stock are exclusive to us in Liverpool which makes us stand out all the more.

Tanya’s top tips for a successful career in dressmaking:

  • Be true to your own style and influences.
  • Perfect your pattern cutting skills; if your pattern is wrong, the garment will never be right.

Are you inspired by Tanya’s story or a huge fan of her brand? If so, let her know. She happened to mention that her small team are hoping to expand and suggested that they will do so when they “find the right person”. Who knows, could you be a lucky addition to the number that is unlucky for some – THIRtEEN?

Make sure you check out Tanya’s amazing designs by following her on Twitter and using the link below to visit her Facebook page.


If you feel inspired to go for your dream job after hearing Tanya’s story, remember to read my ‘How to Land Your Dream Internship or Job‘ feature.

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Dream Jobs – the Permanent Makeup Artist: Hayley McCaughran of Blushious Contour

Through working at Peaches and Cream during my time in Liverpool, I’ve met some real characters. One girl who really captures the spirit and passion for the beauty industry that Liverpool ladies all seem to have is Hayley McCaughran. Hayley works in the beauty industry as a semi-permanent makeup artist. She launched her own business, Blushious Contour, in May of 2011 and specialises in micro pigmentation.

Micro pigmentation involves using needles to apply pigment to the dermal layer of the skin. It is a permanent makeup procedure, meaning that the pigments applied will remain there forever; however, it is often described as a semi-permanent procedure because skin regeneration can cause the pigments to appear to have faded, and so clients often choose to top up their procedures. Hayley caught up with me to discuss her job, her business ethic and to tell me all about why this beauty craze has taken off so well in Liverpool.

When did you first realise that you wanted to pursue permanent makeup?
My mum was a permanent makeup artist and watching her carry out such excellent work with her clients inspired me to pursue a career in the beauty industry. Before I trained in permanent makeup I went to college and gained an NVQ Level 3 in Beauty. This gave me additional knowledge in normal makeup application.

If you could choose your favourite permanent makeup procedure, what would it be and why?
My favourite procedure to carry out is an eyebrow enhancement, especially if a client has no hair or very little.  Being able to design an eyebrow shape for an individual requires you to understand them as a person. I believe that an eyebrow shape can tell you a lot about a person through the shape, thickness, colour and boldness.

You’re based in Liverpool, a city famous for it’s immaculately groomed girls and beauty lovers! Do you think that this has given you a stronger platform to pursue a career in beauty?
Most definitely!  I have worked in the likes of London, Marbella, India and Dubai, and there is no-one like our Liverpool ladies. We are all about the big hair, those luscious pouts, the smoky eyes and the eyeliner flicks that accompany it all. Permanent makeup is now the way forward for those who love waking up looking perfect; they don’t have to worry about taking an extra 20 minutes to draw on their eyebrows or eyeliner. We are a nation of ladies that know how to look good and feel good, and being from this city has certainly made me want to put my own personal flair into the beauty industry.

What would you say is the most challenging part of your job?
I’d say every day is a challenge but an enjoyable one I may add. The reason for this is that every client is different. Some people desire the bold, brass look of make up; some desire that soft, subtle look. My job requires me to listen to my clients on a one-to-one basis and talk with them about what they want to achieve from having permanent makeup. I’m dedicated to helping those who wish to boost their confidence, and so this is a challenge that I take on every day and thoroughly enjoy.

What is the most enjoyable part of the job?
I love seeing the end result of my work. The before and after images I collate for my portfolio make my job worthwhile. I love seeing people’s reactions to how their whole facial structure can change; I can make them look younger or give them an instant face lift. I have worked with clients who have alopecia, or those who are in remission of cancer and have lost all of their hair through chemotherapy; tattooing an eyebrow or eyelash enhancement on for them and seeing the joy in their face is the best feeling in the world. I just love making someone feel like themselves again.

You’ve recently launched a new website with lots of information about you, your family and your background in business. Do you think you’ve learned a lot from your parents?
My mum and dad are my idols. Growing up, I wasn’t your typical girly girl. I was my dad’s right hand man so to say. I helped my dad with his business of selling quads and even helped out on market stalls my dad had around the country. This was the best form of business advice that anyone could gain as it involved direct contact with members of the public. I learned how to sell, how to pull the crowds in during auctions, make sure that stock take was right, pay wages… everything someone in business should know. He and my mom have always pushed me to follow my dreams and always told me to believe that anything was possible if I was to put my mind to it.

As well as demonstrating a passion for the beauty industry, I think Hayley is a great person to show just how easily business skills can be transferred from one profession to another. If you’re unhappy in your current line of work, why not try something new? Maybe you’ll find your own dream job.

To contact Hayley for more information about Blushious Contour and her services, you can find all of the relevant information by visiting her website below.


If you feel inspired to go for your dream job after hearing Hayley’s story, remember to read my ‘How to Land Your Dream Internship or Job‘ feature.

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Dream Jobs – the Art Workshop Facilitator: Becky Waite of the Bluecoat Blue Room

For lots of people, the idea of a dream job is one that enables them to help people. Wouldn’t it be great if you could combine something that you love to do with a role that meant you were making a difference in the life of someone else?

Becky Waite, a 25-year-old Embroidery graduate from Macclesfield, does just this. She works as an Art Workshop Facilitator at the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool, delivering creative workshops in the Blue Room to three groups of adults with learning disabilities. Becky filled me in on the role that keeps her busy from 9am-5pm three days per week.

What was it that attracted you to the job? Had you worked with people who had learning disabilities before?
I have wanted to work in the creative industries since about the age of 14 when I got really into my Art GCSE. I love making things and was naturally drawn towards working with people when I graduated with a degree in Embroidery from the Manchester School of Art. I only had a little bit of experience of working with disabled people before starting the job, but I have a cousin who has Down’s syndrome and so didn’t really have any apprehension about interacting with learning disabled people. I was drawn to the role as I wanted to gain more experience of leading sessions and loved the idea of working in an established and respected gallery.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love working with the groups and find that a day with Blue Room is always joyful and full of surprises. The group members are very creative and produce wonderful work in a very non self-conscious way. I enjoy motivating the group and nurturing confidence. The best thing is to see a group member overcome their initial hesitance and get really involved with an activity; they then feel a real sense of achievement from it. Seeing someone gain confidence and independence from being part of the project is so rewarding. I also get paid to be creative all day!

Which aspects of the job are the most challenging?
The group members have complex needs and sometimes you need lots of patience to deal with challenging behaviour. On the whole, the groups are a dream to work with and are such an interesting mix of people. They are great company and keep you smiling all day.  The most difficult thing is fitting all of my planning, evaluating, meetings and general admin into the hour or so at the end of the day after the session.

Has anything surprised you or been contrary to your expectations since you started the job?
Before I started it was hard to imagine how I could keep on coming up with ideas for sessions, I was a bit worried I’d run out of them! Luckily, one thing tends to lead on to another and I always try to draw from the group’s own interests and facilitate their ideas as much as I can. We always create work inspired by the gallery’s programme which is interesting and varied. I love that we can sometimes literally make something from nothing, the other day we made amazing abstract illuminated drawings by photographing ourselves twirling lights around in a dark room. It’s so simple but looked wonderful and the group really enjoyed it.

If you were to offer advice to someone who was hoping to undertake a similar line of work, what would you say to them?
If you are currently doing an art degree, I can’t stress enough the importance of doing work placements. Use you tutor’s contacts to get relevant placements with the education and learning departments of galleries or art departments in schools. Volunteering whilst studying is also really valuable in gaining experience of working with groups – I helped to run a weekly knitting group for mental health charity Mind whilst at University. Local arts festivals also often want voluntary facilitators to do drop-in workshops for families. Try and get as much experience while you’ve got your student loan to live off so you can use your time to (hopefully) find paid work when you’ve graduated. Although I got a good degree, all of my paid work has stemmed from building up a lot of experience of working with lots of different groups.

Becky’s top tips for working in the art industry:

  • Look online – websites like www.artsjobs.org.uk and www.full-circle-arts.co.uk (which also does great work in disability arts) are great sources of opportunities both paid and unpaid. I also do community arts projects as a freelancer so I check these all the time for new opportunities. Twitter is also a great source of jobs and opportunities.
  • Join AN (Artist’s Newsletter) – you get access to the online magazine with lots of jobs and opportunities advertised. Also, become a member of AIR which provides you with Public Liability Insurance, essential for most freelance practitioners.
  • Be prepared to work for free initially, for example at festivals, but once you’ve gained enough experience, be confident in expecting to be paid a professional fee for delivering a quality service. The arts are notoriously underpaid.
  • Keep on learning. Participate in other artist’s workshops to learn new skills that will feed into your practice. For example, I did a bookbinding workshop recently. I’ve also recently finished a teaching course; it isn’t strictly needed to be a facilitator but I found it great for my own development as a session leader.

For more information about Becky and her work, take the time to visit her Blogspot and Synthasite websites.

If you feel inspired to go for your dream job after hearing Becky’s story, remember to read my ‘How to Land Your Dream Internship or Job‘ feature.

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Dream Jobs – The Magazine Publisher: Kerry O’Coy of Fused Magazine

Imagine having a job that allowed you to compile an eccentric guide to your city every single month; not just contributing to it but actually running it? This is life as Kerry O’Coy of Fused Magazine knows it. At the turn of the new millennium, herself and her husband Dave launched Fused Magazine. From here, they launched the Area Culture Guide in 2009 which is now a monthly publication and a high-quality guide to what’s on in the West Midlands. When contemplating their initial inspiration, Kerry explains that, “like most people inspired to launch something new, it was because we were arrogant and didn’t think we were being catered for”.

With hours that can range from a standard 9.30am-6.30pm to a nocturnal 9pm-12am, no day is ever the same for Kerry but it sounds like that’s what she loves about her job. Read on for an anecdote of what it’s really like to publish your own magazine from my favourite Wolverhampton woman!

What does an average day consist of when you’re the editor of your own magazine?
Well I start with checking emails, scanning Facebook, scouring Twitter and replying to what I need to. That pretty much continues throughout the day. Most days are different but generally, depending where we are in the month, it will include sending potential articles to writers, setting deadlines and reading articles that come in. If we are working on events or trade missions overseas then I’ll do some research on that. My role involves me to wear so many hats – I can be writing and doing layout one minute, dealing with a marketing enquiry and sorting details for a party the next. It is never dull!

When compiling the Area Culture Guide, what kind of things do you look for in a story that you just have to run?
Something that catches my eye, that interests me personally. Would I like to go to that exhibition? Wear those clothes? Have that illustrators work on my wall? If the answer is no then it probably won’t go in. I suppose we keep things quite close and personal to us. We try to act like a digest of recommended happenings and events rather than put everything in just because it is taking place that month.

Area focuses on your community. How do you go about making local contacts, and, more importantly, how do you maintain the contacts that you make long the way?
It is really easy now; a tweet to say hi, an email introduction. When we first started it was very much face-to-face and getting on the phone but now it is a lot more casual and remote. We are pretty open so I think people feel comfortable in approaching us also. We attend events we need to and like to (art gallery openings, parties, gigs) and so you bump in to people that way too.

An art piece by Meeno Kawaii, one of Fused's most wonderful illustrators.

There’s so much to juggle at Fused Towers – organising local events such as the Urban Outfitters student lock-in, keeping on top of the Area Guide, heading to SXSW every year… what’s your strategy for ensuring that everything is organised?
Lists, lists and more lists. I suppose the more you do things the easier it becomes. We have a great team of writers and contributors around us too that are very reliable so that is brilliant. And so much talent!

Recently you moved from your city centre office space and began working from home. How have you found this transition?
It has been GREAT! At least I am not sick of it yet. I treat it the same as if I was leaving the house every morning – so if I get a last minute interview or meeting I can dash out. Moving to a home office was initially a necessity with issues out of our control but so far we’ve been that busy we haven’t even had chance to look for an office (even if we wanted to).

What would you say are the highlights of working for yourself? Would you recommend it?
I love working for myself. I set my hours, I set my rules and I answer to only me. I love the freedom. I get to travel a lot and I couldn’t do this in a ‘regular’ job (unless maybe I was a travel writer). I can/could work from anywhere and get mostly the same results and having that knowledge is brilliant. So yes – GO DO IT!

Kerry’s top tips for working in a creative industry:

  • Get a great portfolio together. For us it is really helpful to see a selection of work, whether that is written, photography or illustration. It helps us to get a handle on what you do.
  • Be an authority. It is so easy to start a blog/Tumblr so if you LOVE fashion then prove it! Love art, then how do we know? Write about it, comment on it, learn from it.
  • Network your ass off. The people that I work with the best are people I know. Usually they have kept in contact (not stalked), told me what they are up to and sent me examples of work. They are the ones that get the commissions – when we have them.

I worked with Kerry and Dave for a summer during 2010 and it was such a brilliant experience. They were both so positive, encouraging me to pursue my dreams and they were even the pair that suggested I start this very blog! To see some examples of the work that I did with them, check out their annual student editions of Fused Magazine by using the links below.

For all things Fused, follow Kerry and Dave on Twitter and be sure to check out the Fused website: www.fusedmagazine.com

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Dream Jobs: The Nail Artist – Scratch Dollface

In the Summer of 2011, I enjoyed the company of one of the most eccentric people I’ve ever met. Scratchy by trade and Scratchy by name, this Londoner is known to those who encounter her as Scratch Dollface. Although her 9-5 job is teaching at a secondary school, she certainly isn’t one of these ‘the bell is a signal for me, not you’ types; Scratch uses her love for Fashion and Textiles to teach BTEC as a day job and work as a nail artist in her spare time.

A girl of 28 who has taken her natural flair and made a whirlwind of creative products, Scratch tells me the story behind her ever-growing brand.

When did you start doing nail art?
I’ve always done nail art for my friends. As a teenager I think I had the whole Spectacular nail polish range from Tammy Girl – they were such great colours. It was always a hobby of mine because I’ve always been into art – I think its something I have a natural flair for.

How did the Scratch Dollface brand emerge, and what made you pursue this as a career choice?
I started Scratch Dollface about 18 months ago after numerous requests for nail art and face painting from friends and colleagues. Word spread fast and people were recommending me to their friends, so I thought it would be a great to turn my hobby into a career. I’m a dedicated tweeter, so I’ve gained lots of followers there. I’ve also built up a good client base in Liverpool since discovering Peaches & Cream. One day I went in to show them my designs and they invited me to come and work with them during my visit… I now work there during all of my school holidays. Due to the growing demand for high fashion nails, my work has appealed to a lot of fashion followers wanting something different from the ordinary white tip or glitter. My passion for creativity is what keeps me going and I would eventually love to pursue this as a full time career.

How does your 9-5 job as a Fashion and Textiles teacher tie in with your Scratch Dollface empire?
I love teaching. My students are very complimentary about my nails and they help me to keep my ear to the street. Because my school is a specialist arts college we are always putting on big performances, for which I design and make costumes and do the hair and stage makeup.

Nail art has become especially popular since celebrities such as Katy Perry and Jessie J have been known to sport elaborate manicures. How do you keep your ideas fresh and ensure that you’re one step ahead of the crowd?
In order to keep my ideas fresh, I am constantly watching the catwalk to spot emerging trends and investing in new nail products in order to experiment. For me, it’s more than just applying a product and offering good customer care; I am trying to create something different for each and every customer, so I’m constantly looking for inspiration from all around me. I am an avid reader and collector of  ‘Scratch’ magazine (which is not associated with my name). It is like a bible for the nail world – it allows me to see new, innovating ideas and see what other nail technicians and artists are up to. I particularly enjoyed creating nail designs inspired by the recent Versace for H&M collection using the O.P.I Nicki Minaj collection.

Since the Scratch Dollface empire began, you’ve started customising accessories such as shoes and earrings, and even made pieces of jewellery. Why do you think people are so keen to invest in personalised fashion pieces?
I think it’s because it enables them to have something individual and one of a kind. I love being creative; I spend most of my time teaching my students how to make dresses but never have the time to make anything myself. This means that when I do get the time to make things, I love making jewellery and customising trainers. Currently I’m in the process of organising my designs to be printed onto converse style high-tops and these should be available soon.

Of all of the things in your repertoire, which Scratch Dollface talent is most enjoyable to you?
Nail art is my obvious favourite. I love the ways it can transform a person, and that they can wear their nail art like a piece of jewellery.

As a nail artist I imagine you’re extra aware of people’s manicures and pedicures. What do you think hands and feet say about a person?
I don’t mean to sound judgemental but I think you can tell a lot about a person from their nails. I’m not one of these people who is dolled up 24-7; however, I do my best to look neat and tidy and try to keep my nails and toes in good condition. Imagine the scenario – someone has just spent hours on their makeup, chosen a beautiful outfit and then you look down and see some crusty toes hanging out of her Louboutins. It’s just not right- to me, that says “all cash – no class”!

Scratch’s top tips for creating fabulous nail art:

  • Subscribe to Scratch Magazine and read it from cover to cover each month.
  • Take clear pictures of everything you do because no one will take you seriously without a good portfolio.
  • Enter nail art competitions.
  • Go to seminars/workshops and exhibitions to keep up to date with new products.

Scratch is a fabulous example of someone who uses her time productively to have her cake and eat it too. Knowing her on a personal level, I can assure you that after all of her hard work she still has time for a cocktail or two! Famed for her outrageous cackle, she’s a great example of the following phrase: ‘do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’.

For more information about Scratch Dollface:

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Dream Jobs: The Jewellery Designer – Sarah Warner of Bits and Bows

You’re never fully dressed without a smile… or without your favourite accessories! If anyone knows this it’s Sarah Warner, 25, from Birmingham. She’s a fashion graduate, a mother of one and the founder of clothing and jewellery company Bits and Bows.

Bored of her retail job, Sarah decided to expand her passion for dressmaking into a business venture. Since then she’s been snapped up by online fashion boutique Truffle Shuffle and even seen her designs worn proudly by celebrities such as Cher Lloyd. I caught up with her to hear how she has managed to expand something that started as an enjoyable hobby into a full-time way of living.

Although you initially started as a dressmaker, you’ve since focused on lots of Bits and Bows jewellery collections. What was it that made you decide to take the brand down this route?
I started making some jewellery bits for friends and to sell on Facebook in the Summer of 2010, and as soon as I started I just knew that it was something I wanted to expand upon. It was a lovely change to attempt something new, and teaching myself a new trade was really exciting and fun! It was only really when Truffle Shuffle contacted me that my confidence grew, and I began to push the jewellery and accessories more than the clothing.

Your jewellery has since received media attention from the likes of OK! Extra and more! magazine, and even been seen on celebrities. How does that make you feel?
It’s honestly unbelievable. The first time it ever happened (more! magazine), a customer tweeted me saying they had spotted it. I haven’t ever run so fast to a shop in my life! It never gets boring; every single time it is featured or talked about it makes me so proud. I never dreamt that this would happen or that Bits and Bows would become such an established brand. It’s amazing to know all the hard work is paying off, and that what started as a hobby is actually now my life/career.

Some of your jewellery pieces are very niche, for example your beautiful food rings! What inspires you when you put together a collection?
I always try to look into future trends, as I did with clothing, so for example I monitor colours and textures in fabrics from collections. Sometimes, however, an idea will pop into my head and I just have to develop it. I’m very much a spur of the moment kind of person, so if an idea or project comes into my head I start working on it straight away. I also take inspiration from previous pieces that sold well and continue to do so.

Along the way a very special addition has been added to the Bits and Bows legacy… a beautiful baby, Daisy! How has your business strategy changed since becoming a mother?
I got a lot of, “Oh, so much for starting your own business…” when I found out I was pregnant, but it couldn’t have been more wrong! 2011 was the best year yet for Bits and Bows. It was quite hard settling back into work after having Daisy, but I was lucky in the fact that I could do things when she was asleep and choose my own hours. I love being a mumtrepreneur and I’m proud of what I have achieved for us.

For a while now you’ve been blogging alongside the Bits and Bows business. Do you think that this benefits the company, and, if so, how?
It’s going well and I’m receiving great comments from people. It’s nice to know that people want to read about my daily going-ons and views. I try to keep to a good balance of personal and business, as I think customers like to know what kind of person they are buying off. It has definitely helped with traffic to the website, and I’m hoping to bring lots of new things to the blog this year!

If you could style a celebrity in head to toe Bits and Bows, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt I’d style Jessie J. Her stylist actually requested some Bits and Bows so she had a load of goodies sent over! It would be my absolute dream to see her papped in them. I also love Katy Perry – I saw her in concert last year and have been a huge fan ever since. She is wonderful and I think that her quirky look that would represent the brand well.

What does the future hold for Bits and Bows? 
There will be more ‘buy it now’ clothing, new jewellery treats as always, and lots more to be announced soon… I just hope that people continue to spread the word and enjoy the goodies I sell!

Sarah’s top tips for being an entrepreneur:

  • Work hard. Determination and motivation are key. You have to love what you are doing.
  • Promote your business. Try to get your brand spoken about. For me, it is all about social networking. Share your website with people, you can build up great relationships with people this way, too.
  • Don’t let negativity get you down. Do what you think is right. If you are going to be taken seriously you need to stay strong-headed and not let negative comments get you down! Take everything as constructive criticism and let it motivate you.
  • Keep up to date on trends and style blogs – it’s god to know what people are loving at that time. Some of my favourite blogs are Temp-Sec, Mixed Gems, llymlrs and ifeellikeidreamtit.
I especially love Sarah’s story because she’s from the same small part of Birmingham as me. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be based in London to be huge… you just have to have a lot of ambition. www.bitsandbowsboutique.co.uk 
And now for the Bits and Bows GIVEAWAY!

To accompany her interview, Sarah has very kindly donated TWO surprise Bits and Bows packages for my first ever Mixed Gems giveaway! For your chance to win, simply enter your name and e-mail address via the contact form below*. Competition will close on Sunday 22nd January 2011 at 7.00pm and winners will be announced within 24 hours. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, I am searching for winners from London to Ibiza, straight to LA, New York, Vegas to Africa! Good luck!

*Your details will be kept completely private, only used to notify you should you be successful. If the winner has not replied to their confirmation e-mail within 3 working days another winner will be announced.

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Dream Jobs – The Festival Fashionista: Sarah Flynn of Phestival

Imagine making a living from partying your Summer away at all the best festivals? Your job would be to capture every hilarious moment on camera, be a source of information for every festival enthusiast, and – most importantly – to style the outfits of everyone present. For many this would be a dream job, but for Sarah Flynn (above, right), an ex-building surveyor from Liverpool, this is actually a wonderful reality.

24-year-old Sarah founded Phestival in 2009. Her company consists of everything from running a full-time website to visiting each festival and selling her Phestival goods. Although the company sees it’s busiest times in the Summer (with a killer 19-hour shift for the night-long Global Gathering festival!) the maintenance of the company and website keep her going throughout the year.

What inspired you to launch Phestival?

I was actually a building surveyor stuck in a ‘normal’ 9-5 job… Bored with the routine, I spent summer of 2008 attending every festival possible! I’m obsessed with personalised items and realised that at festivals there wasn’t anybody providing a photo or key ring service for memories! That’s when I considered doing it myself, only, instead of personalised key rings, we thought t-shirts would be better.

Is managing Phestival a full-time job?

Most people think that we are only busy in the Summer time as this is the festival season; however, the preparation that goes on behind the scenes is actually 24/7! At the moment I am applying to the festivals that I would like to trade at – most applications are released in January. Also, now that we have the online shop and the website, I spend every single day updating the site with current news and information so that people can find out all they need to know about any UK festival through Phestival.

One of the best bits of the job? "We sleep in the main area when everyone else gets kicked out!"

Are there any websites, magazines or celebrities you rely on to give you an indication of what will be popular in festival fashion?

I absolutely love Company magazine! They feature so much information on festival fashion and festival news that it gets me so excited. A celebrity that we rely on for festival fashion has to be Fearne Cotton. She is our ‘festival queen’. Everything she wears becomes an instant craze at a festival. Last year, for example, was the fluffy animal hat that she wore to Radio 1’s Big Weekend in May. After that people couldn’t get enough of the animal trapper hats!

Of all the festivals you’ve been to, which one did you enjoy the most, and why?

Our favourite festival so far has to be Global Gathering. It’s our favourite because it is relatively small in comparison to others (about 40,000 capacity). The team behind it are so laid back and fun that it rubs off on the festival and creates such a fun atmosphere.

Justin Lee Collins and his friends after purchasing a personalised Phestival t-shirt at V, 2011

Festival fashion has become a fashion movement of it’s own in recent years. Which 5 staple garments or accessories would you recommend to someone who was visiting a festival?

Festival staple garments haven’t changed in a while so they’re quite simple to follow…

  1. Bright coloured wellington boots
    Everyone has a bright pair of hunter wellies with thick, colourful socks. No matter how nice the weather is, the grass still goes muddy because of the amount of people walking on it.
  2. Sunglasses
    Whether it’s sunny or raining, sunglasses are an essential part of a festival outfit. Our biggest sellers are our RayBan Wayfarers as seen on Tinie Tempah and Rihanna.
  3. Hotpants
    It doesn’t matter whether its thunder and lightning, you still wear hotpants. All the dancing and walking will keep your legs warm!
  4. Flower garland
    The latest festival staple is the signature flower garland. Complete with a very hippy feel, every girl needs a flower in her hair to complete her look. (I’d recommend Big Mare’s Marebands. You take a peek at her bands by clicking here – Rose.)
  5. A thin parker coat
    Nothing too big, just something that you can throw on when the sun goes down or when it rains just to stay dry. There’s nothing worse than getting soaked and then sleeping in a tent, you just wont dry off!

These Noir Jewelry NYC bracelets were popular this Summer after Beyonce was seen to sport one at Glastonbury

Sarah’s top tips for starting your own business:

  • Visit www.businesslink.gov.uk for information on setting up the business.
  • Meet as many people as possible in your field of work – the more you can spread the word about your business, the more you’ll open doors of opportunity.
  • Don’t feel threatened by other brilliant companies. Take guidance from other sources but just be sure to make yours better!

The Phestival team with Sarah, third from the left.

In an economy where everyone seems to be so glum about making a living, it is so nice and refreshing to speak to a career driven girl who loves her job and started it from sheer determination!

If you feel inspired to go for your dream job after hearing Sarah’s story, remember to read my ‘How to Land Your Dream Internship or Job’ feature.


P.S Are you a student in Liverpool? Sarah is currently seeking an intern to assist in her social media and marketing. You’ll only be needed for one day a week, making this a wonderful and flexible opportunity! Click here to view the vacancy and for details on how to contact Sarah.