Category Archives: Interviews

SM chats to… Donna Read, author of The Secret Mums’ Club

412377607At SM we don’t judge how you feed your baby. As we know, with lots of children and demands, life can be hard enough without pressure to breastfeed. ‘The Secret Mums’ Club’ was written to help and support, without being in-your-face ‘lactivist’ – and we were delighted that it’s author Donna Read took the time to tell us all about it.

Donna Read: The Secret Mums’ Club is the title for my first book which was released in September 2016. Why choose this name? Introducing a bottle of formula or expressed breast milk alongside breast feeding is not anything new but like me so many keep it a secret from friends, family and often their midwives! In my case I was so lucky that I was able to have open discussions with my midwives and they were fully supportive of my decision knowing we had talked through the pros and cons and I was fully informed but I often wondered how many other mums were keeping this secret and how many mums didn’t know about it and gave up breast feeding without knowing about it.

SM: What was your own breastfeeding experience?

Donna Read: Looking back as I explain in the book I really was wearing “rose” coloured spectacles.  When I attended a breast feeding workshop the mums who sat before me happily feeding their babies were at the 8 to 10 week stages and I watched them thinking how easy they made it look, how well they looked and how happy their babies looked. It never occurred to me that breast feeding would be difficult. On day 1 after birth I had two midwives assist me to extract my colostrum by hand onto a spoon, it was then collected by syringe and given orally to my daughter Katie. The midwives were so supportive and were so keen to help me establish breast feeding but it wasn’t going as well as I had hoped. By day three I was home but was so exhausted I could barely function. I suffer from asthma and eczema and I knew breast feeding could help protect my babies from this along with other things. I knew all the facts, I was well informed, I was determined but breast feeding wasn’t coming to me with ease. My husband and I talked things through and we decided I needed to put myself first and get some sleep.  We agreed he would give Katie some formula and I would get a few hours’ sleep. Just a few hours’ sleep allowed me some inner strength and from that day we never looked back.

SM: In our mothers/grandmothers’ era, mums stayed in hospital for up to a fortnight learning ‘parenting skills’. Might there be a benefit in bringing back a system such as this?

Donna Read: I think elements of this should absolutely be considered.  The book also contains a 6 week baby boot camp to give a loose routine for mums / partners to follow. Although things may seem obvious, when you have a new baby and are suffering from sleep deprivation your ability to think clearly changes. My routine involves things like, no cooking or heavy housework in the first 2 weeks following birth. No trying to put baby into a routine in the first 2 months and in the first week I recommend at least 2 days to stay in your pj’s or onesie and just spend time breastfeeding and bonding with your baby. Bringing a baby into the world is demanding and mums have to accept things will be different and to have an open mind to welcoming these changes in whatever format they present themselves. Breast feeding isnt just about the physical action it’s about laying the foundations to enable it to happen. You cannot motivate a mum to breast feed you can only create an atmosphere where they feel motivated to breast feed.

image: Daily Mail
image: Daily Mail

SM: Do you think celebrity #brelfies create a positive image of breastfeeding, or just put more pressure on new mothers?

Donna Read: If a celeb breast feeding inspires any mum to give it a try then yes its great but bear in mind you rarely see a celeb breast feeding until they have it established and the reality part is what mums need to keep focussed on.

SM: Our writers and a lot of our readers have more than one child and the experience for many is that there simply isn’t the luxury of time to breastfeed on demand when you have other toddlers to juggle. Do you have any tips to share?

Donna Read: Involve siblings right from the start they are smarter than you think.  Take time to plan short activities / snacks to keep an older sibling occupied whilst you are feeding, and yes sometimes it may involve putting a TV programme on and not feel guilty about it. Older siblings may like to roleplay so giving them a doll to pretend they are feeding or changing a nappy is highly entertaining for them.

SM: There has been a lot of controversy in the press recently about mum’s milk not having enough Vitamin D and suggesting lactating mothers take supplements (or Health Visitors prescribe vitamin drops) If this is the case then might it strengthen the argument for combination feeding (as formula has added vitamins anyway)?

Donna Read: I wouldn’t say it strengthens the case for combination feeding.  I still believe 100% exclusive breastfeeding is the very best way to feed your baby and I explain in the book looking back there are things I could have done differently and may have only used formula a few times. If research shows that babies may benefit from a vitamin drop I’m sure it will be introduced. A new mum should not start out combination feeding but more I want my book to let mums make that fully informed decision on how they want to feed, especially if they feel at any point they may want to give up breast feeding and turn to 100 % formula feeding.  I think in the book I’ve captured a great analogy which gives mums something real to consider. If I was to say from tomorrow, you are only allowed powdered milk in you tea, cereal, cooking for the next 12 months of more and not allowed fresh cow’s milk , what would you choose?  Hold that thought…Both are still milk of course they are but it’s a scenario which we can relate too.

SM: And finally, whereabouts in Troon is the friendliest towards breastfeeding in public?

Donna Read: We are so lucky in Ayrshire there are many great schemes and support, one in particular is breast feed happily here where local shops and businesses sign up and breast feeding mums are never far away from a place to be welcomed in to feed their babies in this most natural way.

cover-idea-reworked-2In the UK I would love every mum to make it their mission to start off aiming for 100% exclusive breastfeeding and not be afraid to ask for help and support in achieving this.  In reality only about 40 in every 2000 mums will be unable to breast feed so potentially we all can. Wouldn’t it be wonderful that those who could did and those who couldn’t were able to get donor breast milk meaning every baby in the UK could have breast milk? Maybe one day this could be reality, I can only dream it happens in my lifetime. It’s not a secret any more let me introduce you to The Secret Mums’ Club…

Donna’s book ‘The Secret Mums’ Club’ is available on Amazon, but we have a copy to give away on Twitter – follow our feed @slickmummy and @secretmumsclub

Ten Minutes with… Natasha Bowes of Bio-tiful Dairy

Natasha Bowes is a former Russian figure skating champion, who set up Bio-tiful, bringing cultured milk drink Kefir (which she was brought up on) to the UK. Bio-tiful products are made at Organic Riverford Farm in Dorset and sold nationwide, including in Harrods.
Kefir Range shot_OnWhite_HiRes

We tried out the range of drinks and were really impressed – they taste super light and refreshing, not like you’d expect fermented milk products to taste, and can be drunk straight, poured on cereal, blended, made into dip – or even chocolate pots.

_DSC8076We grabbed ten mins with Natasha to find out more about her brand, which despite not winning over the Dragon’s Den has won her numerous awards and critical acclaim.

SM: Where do we feature in your busy day today?

Natasha Bowes: In the afternoon, between a raw vegetable lunch and a sales meeting!

SM:  From skater to finance to dairy, you’ve certainly had a varied career! What is it that motivates you?

Natasha Bowes: Learning and experiencing new things, grasping the essence of a business / job and excelling at it – that’s what I really enjoy.

SM: Your drinks can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, which do you prefer and how do you drink them?

Natasha Bowes: My favourite is the original Kefir and I love it first thing in the morning – on its own or in a green smoothie. If I am peckish, the best mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack for me is definitely Baked Milk Kefir – it fills me up with goodness and leaves me feeling light, just perfect!

SM: What would your advice be on getting children to drink them?

Natasha Bowes: Start out with the Kefir Smoothies – we had kids in mind when we created them, as they are a little naturally sweeter due to the fruit, yet have all the goodness that Kefir gives your digestion and immunity. I lived on Kefir in my childhood, as I was mildly lactose intolerant and Kefir is naturally low in lactose and the easiest food to digest.

SM: What are the benefits over – for example – Yakult? Or bio yoghurt?

Natasha Bowes: Kefir is as natural and light as a dairy product gets, and its authentic, 2,000-year-old culture has about 40 different types of beneficial bacteria plus beneficial yeasts (for comparison a typical yoghurt would have only a couple of different bacteria strains). It is the most probiotic of all the natural foods, and naturally packed with a number of essential vitamins and minerals, with an exceptional list of health benefits resulting from that.

 SM: What has been your biggest challenge, running the business?

Natasha Bowes: Sensibly balancing work and personal life.

SM: And your proudest moment?

Natasha Bowes: Every award and stockist win is a very positive and proud moment – for the whole team!

SM: What’s next for the brand?

Natasha Bowes: Our Kefir being easily available to everybody in any part of the country!

SM: And finally (we had to ask) do you still ice skate?

Natasha Bowes: Occasionally, and with pleasure!

Find out more at: biotifuldairy.com

SM chats to… Melanie Allan, Commercial Manager, Silver Cross – Head of Home Products Division

Recently we were invited to view the new Silver Cross Soho nursery furniture set, consisting of a cot bed and dresser combo, both designed to work in small spaces.

With its Royal connections, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Silver Cross aficionados all dwell in mansions or Disney-looking castles, but this is not so the case – and as a brand they are really pushing some design boundaries (check out the Surf2 buggy, for example…)

The Soho set itself has some great details, including a double drop of hanger space inside the wardrobe (which can obviously become a single drop as your child grows) and a changing table that pops out to sit safely on top of the drawer unit.

Melanie Allan from Silver Cross told us more about it…

SM: Why did Silver Cross decide to design a set of furniture for small spaces? 

Melanie Allan: We wanted to design a range with modern families in mind. We know that often the nursery is the smallest room in the house but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want and need premium quality furniture and flexible storage options to fit in that space. It just means that you need your furniture to work harder for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SM: What were the most important considerations?

Melanie Allan: The most important consideration was to design a flexible solution for a smaller space. From talking with mums and dads, we know that just because you have a smaller space doesn’t mean that you don’t need both hanging and drawer space. We have designed Soho so you no longer need to compromise. Now you can have flexible storage that grows with your child plus our revolutionary one touch changer unit that slides out when you need it and folds easily away when you don’t.


SM:  The changing unit is genius, is this a ‘design first’?

Melanie Allan: This is a patented design that is unique to our Silver Cross Soho range. It builds on our design concept of making your furniture work harder by integrating into our existing combo unit. Just one touch and the patented changing system slides out and locks into place. Then easily folds back when not in use leaving a clean, clutter free area to maximise the space in your nursery.
SM: Will the combo be available in different colours? 

Melanie Allan: We are launching it first in the ever popular brilliant white, but may also look to introduce a warm oak version in the near future.


SM: Can the bed withstand toddler bouncing…? What other tests is it put through?

Melanie Allan: All Silver Cross furniture is fully tested to British & International Standards (Cot Beds – BS EN 716:2008 & BS 8509:2008+A1:2011)


SM:  Are the Nostalgia/Classic Silver Cross furniture pieces the most popular, or are parents looking for more contemporary designs? 

Melanie Allan: Silver Cross now offer a range of products to suit all tastes whether that be traditional, classic or contemporary. Nostalgia is an extremely popular classic design but we are also seeing increased interest in our designer chic Notting Hill range and our contemporary Portobello range.

Find out more at: www.SilverCrossbaby.com

(images: Silver Cross)

Ten Minutes With… Jade Ecclestone from TagaTeddy.com

If the unthinkable has happened to you, read on. Not some other British Politics fail, or a flirty text you sent whilst drunk going viral – no, even worse. That moment when you realise your child has lost Bunnykins and no amount of frantic searching or ice cream will rectify the situation or stop the floods of tears…

tagateddyEnter Jade Ecclestone – hero and saviour of the lost animals – thanks to her genius Tag a Teddy brand, which reunites children with their toys thanks to a smart ID tag and an app.

We caught up with Jade to find out how she turned the unthinkable situation into a business…

SM: How did Tag a Teddy come about?

Jade Ecclestone: Tag a Teddy was created in 2004 after my little boy lost his favourite teddy. He was distraught as was I. unfortunately Bramble was nowhere to be found and I immediately researched to see if there was anything I could purchase that would stop us from having to go through this again. I came to realise that there was no solution and so If set to work to create my own. 

SM: Were you confident that teddy finders would use the service?

Jade Ecclestone: Everyday there are hundreds of posts on social media of parents pleading to the public to help find their children’s lost teddies some even offering large rewards. Being a mother myself and having experienced the heartache that my child suffered as a result of him losing his best friend I was in no doubt that anyone who finds a little ones teddy would be more than happy to help return a teddy if they found one. With our tags we have made it so simple for this to be done.

SM: How many teddies have now been reunited with their owners?

Jade Ecclestone: We don’t keep a record of teddies that have been reunited as this is done via the unique profile that is created on our website.

SM: Tell us about the Gatwick Airport partnership?

Jade Ecclestone: We were contacted via a PR company working with Gatwick airport who wanted to create a family friendly activity in the airport on the bank holiday weekend. They themselves saw that children losing their teddies on or before their holiday was a huge problem and could often result in a holiday being ruined because of this and so they asked us if we would provide a service for their customers.

SM: What considerations went into the tag design?

Jade Ecclestone: Creating the teddy ID tag took a lot of research. I wanted to cover all aspects in order to make sure the tag was suitable for all ages. I myself know that teddies that are well loved end up getting filthy and so it was essential that the tag was machine washable.

My little boy had his teddy from birth and often put it in his mouth so I needed the tag to be suitable for all ages but also safe and so we made sure that all safety tests and regulations were done to allow for this.

We wanted the design to appeal to both sexes and also wanted it to be stylish and so a lot of time was taken in designing not only the product but the website and logo too.

SM: Where can we buy the Teddy Forever Collection?

Jade Ecclestone: Our teddy forever collection has currently been taken down from our shop as we are creating a brand new range which will be coming soon…

SM: What has been your proudest moment to date, running the business?

Jade Ecclestone: We have had lots of moments over the last few years that have made us extremely proud from winning awards from the famous Dragon Theo Paphitis and the owner of Ann Summers the lovely Jacqueline Gold to receiving messages from people saying that they are so pleased that they no longer need to worry about taking their child’s teddy out with them. But from a personal perspective having my son’s teacher tell me that my little boy has been telling the class that he is proud of mummy because she saves children’s teddies and having him explain all about how tag a teddy works to his class mates. 🙂

 SM: What’s next for the business?

Jade Ecclestone: We have more great things to come. We have a brand new product just released the teddy travel tag which makes it easy to apply to any teddy just in case they decide that they have a new favourite teddy. This also comes in a choice of colours blue or pink.

We also are working on a brand new product due to be released very soon.

We are working every day to make sure that we can help spread the word that no more teddies need be lost and will hopefully be found in larger retailers and here and overseas.

Get your little ones’ special friends tagged up…www.tagateddy.com

What will #Brexit mean for mums…?

This morning we all woke up to big news…

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s tweet earlier I think mirrors the emotion of a lot of our readers…

sophie tweet

Arguably indeed, one of the tragedies is that our children have lost the right to live and work in 27 countries.

Here are some thoughts shared with us by mothers on how they are feeling about it all:

IMAG1465_1Our columnist Caitlin Hayward writes: “Just explained to three year old Bud that a bad thing happened yesterday; our country decided to leave its group of friends that takes care of each other. Our country has decided to be by itself. Is that a good thing? Bud said ‘no, we’ll have no friends then’…”

Galia Orme - founder of CHOC Chick 2Galia Orme, founder, CHOC Chick: “The UK’s decision to leave the European Union is a blow for business – and for small businesses in particular. It’s a blow for the freedom of movement of goods and people. In the short term, we’ve lost the value of our currency, costs have increased dramatically and trade opportunities have been reduced. In the long term, the time it’ll take to renegotiate trade deals and re-establish relationships internationally will see this instability continue. This will affect our ability to import our materials and export our products. This decision risks further erosion of human rights and the dignity of our fellow men and women as we close our borders and become entrenched in our own political issues. Optimism is the only way forward, so I’m determined to continue to strive for fairness in trade and in all dealings with others in this world.”

Mumpreneur and jewellery designer Theodora Gould: “We are a democracy, the majority have voted to leave, that’s just the way it is.  Calling people names and claiming they are idiots for voting to leave does nothing but spread hatred.  Things are going to change, no one knows if it’s for the best or not, but one thing I’m sure of is that we are better off if we’re nice to each other.”

Victoria Brook Headshot B b&wVictoria Brook, Founder of E-Bop.tv – the first online preschool channel with a daily viewing limit and 100% British content:
“A real concern for our little people. Is this now going to change our culture, our values and opportunities for growth and security. Younger people have given a strong voice to stay in Europe yet we find ourselves out, markets plummeting and without a prime minister. Our preschoolers have an uncertain future ahead of them. I guess we have to do the “British” broad shoulders approach and make the very best of what we now have and prepare ourselves what lies ahead. If ever there was a time to consider politics I think it would be now!”
D9619B69-EA95-48F1-8D59-D83A00AFE166
Sara Keel, Founder of Babycup – little cups for little people to encourage healthy open cup sipping. From a social perspective, I am disappointed with the result because I feel we should work with the bigger union and make it better than have a tantrum and storm out of the party. For my children and their children, we want to build bridges, not walls. On a business level, it’s a huge blow and as a small but growing brand, international trade is extremely important to us and the trade agreements that support EU export is vital. It is so uncertain right now as to how that will unfold and even if we have our own direct trade agreements in the futurist there could be a very unstable time between those becoming finalised. Every day of instability for a small business can have devastating effects. As business, Babycup is very strong and we will deal with the situation,  but we would rather be dealing with bridges, not walls..”
image: Belfast Telegraph

Sinead Murphy, Co-Founder of Shnuggle Clever Baby Products. 

“As a Mum and Business woman working closely with businesses across Europe I am shocked by the result. I don’t know what Brexit looks like and that is scary. It feels as though a vote has been won for something we do not understand. I am frightened for my children’s future. I tried to explain what happened to them on the way to school but they’re a little young to understand. I’m sure they’ll learn about it in their history books. All we can do is wait and watch and make the best of whatever happens. Cost of living, house prices, job creation….It’s out of our hands now.”
What do YOU think? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @SlickMummy

Ten Minutes With… Soléne Roure, on her collaboration with Bobux

French born, Dalston dwelling designer Soléne Roure has worked with the likes of Nike, Puma, Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen and Lululemon, but this week announces her debut collaboration with children’s footwear brand Bobux.

We caught up with her to find out more…

SM: Can you tell us how the collaboration with Bobux came about?

Soléne Roure: The innovation & design manager at Bobux had seen some of my work and contacted me through my website. We had a number of Skype conversations and I met other members of the team in London. The enthusiasm of the Bobux team was instantly infectious and I was very excited to be working with them. They gave me a lot of creative freedom, too. They truly care about kids’ feet from an ergonomic point of view, which is very important to me.

SM: What was on your mood board when designing the collection?

Soléne Roure: Whilst I have a lot of experience designing footwear, it’s my first time working on kid’s product. It felt like a new world full of possibilities! Bobux wanted me to use my influences from working in the sports and fashion industry, and inject them into a unique product.

I was looking at what mums were currently wearing, the shoes they were into, and I wanted to make a version for the kids. So I looked at slip on sneakers. They are practical, modern and stylish. I wanted to design a shoe that could act like a blank canvas, to hold lots of colour and graphic combinations. The sole however, is very curvy, and I thought it was an interesting hybrid look. I hadn’t seen that successfully done in a slip-on before.

We created graphics that almost look like a texture from far away, yet are quite intricate when you look up close, allowing kids to engage with the playful details. Meanwhile the adults can enjoy a tasteful graphic. You’ll see it more in our future collection.

I also wanted the graphics to look like they were created by a kid. Kid’s artwork can be very similar to modern art, in the best way possible! I am excited to explore this further, in the future.

SM: Bobux are obviously known for their ‘barefoot freedom’ in children’s shoes – did this pose any limitations on your designs?

Soléne Roure: Yes, it’s a difficult balance. It’s all about communication and my job ultimately is about problem solving.

Thankfully, the Bobux team held my hand. I’ve learnt a lot about kids’ feet!  Thanks to their technical and ergonomic expertise combined with my creative efforts we were able to come up with the best design possible as a team, without compromising ‘barefoot freedom’.

SM: If you could shrink your own feet down to kids’ sizes, which shoe would you pick from the collection?

Soléne Roure: I think I would wear the Xplorer City white/black+ (with the yellow sole). I was always a bit of a tomboy growing up.

SM: And have you had any feedback from children on wearing your designs…?

Soléne Roure: Not yet, the collection only launched yesterday, we’ve had some great comments on Instagram and Facebook though so I hope people will enjoy them.

SM: Will this collaboration be the start of a beautiful relationship with Bobux..?

Soléne Roure: It’s looking pretty good, yes! I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say about this, actually.  My first collection wasn’t supposed to come out for a few months yet. Bobux was so excited though that they arranged an early release of some of the styles! That means we have more shoes coming out very soon! I can hardly wait, as these are some of my favourites so far…

View the collection online here

SM chats to… Jacqui McDonald of Goddess School

If ‘Goddess School’ conjures up images of that episode of Friends with the ‘Be Your Own Windkeeper’ book (Ed – or maybe a great name for a 90s girl band) then you haven’t heard of Jacqui McDonald.

A former burnt-out media agency power-woman she embarked on a journey to find herself and discovered a whole phenomenon – namely that within every woman is a goddess that needs to be worshiped.

We were enthralled by Jacqui’s wry and relatable stories of afterwork wine binges or how to attract men and so were delighted that she could take the time to share some goddess wisdom with us all.

SM: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Where do we fit into your schedule today?

Jacqui McDonald: I’m just getting ready to fly to LA for a weekend of Aphrodite Training – which is about remembering that although our lives can be hectic and stressful, it’s important to know how to turn on that sensual, romantic and enchanting side of ourselves so that we can enjoy spectacular love-lives.
SM: How did the Goddess School come about?

Jacqui McDonald: In my personal quest to have it all, I ended up with nothing. I had focused too hard on my career in my 20s and 30s, and it left me with adrenal fatigue, a bulging waistline, a broken marriage and infertility.  And so I embarked on an epic journey to heal myself, and what I discovered along the way blew my mind.  I went from trying to be Superwoman – busy rescuing everyone else, to becoming a Goddess – gorgeous, feminine, full of love and proudly worshipping myself.  My whole life changed. By altering the relationship I had with myself I rescued my health, adopted two amazing children, created a business and found a hot new man. That’s the true power of love. It then became very clear to me that I needed to share everything I learned with other women who are suffering the consequences of living a life out of balance.
SM: What can women hope to achieve from the courses?

Jacqui McDonald: Primarily it’s about cultivating a crazy, loving, exciting new relationship with yourself. After that, the improved confidence, fabulous body, great relationships, better sex life and powerful sense of knowing your life purpose happen automatically.

The greatest challenge my clients face is that wellbeing feels like yet another thing on their to-do lists.  Goddess School works because it makes wellbeing exciting.  It creates a paradigm shift where all the healthy stuff seem fun, glamorous and highly aspirational.  My clients quickly learn to connect with their intuition to be guided towards food choices that they love.  And knowing that practicing meditation, mindfulness and my magic Goddess rituals will make them feel self-confident, sexy and even create more time in the day is all the motivation they need to stick with the programme. 
SM: You obviously have a lot of success stories, but do you get some strange looks when you tell people what you do?

Jacqui McDonald: It’s so interesting.  Most women react in exactly the same way, saying: “Oh! I want to go to Goddess School!”  I actually think there is a Goddess inside every woman, and that we intuitively know that we need to get back to this magical and powerful side of ourselves in order to start living our best lives.


SM: And what do your family think of Goddess School?

Jacqui McDonald: My boyfriend is hugely supportive as he sees what a difference it’s made to my health, confidence and our relationship since I began embracing my inner Goddess.  He thinks he’s the luckiest man in the world!  My 11 year old daughter is fascinated by it all and aspires to lead a Goddess lifestyle – which is fundamentally about having a healthy relationship with yourself. So I’m actually humbled that she won’t be growing up with flawed beliefs about diets and negative body-image.  That’s the best gift I can give her as a mother.
SM: You cite celebs such as Susanna Reid as goddess icons, but are there any celebs you’d care to name whom you think would benefit from the courses?

Jacqui McDonald: It broke my heart recently when I watched a documentary about Whitney Houston.  It just goes to show that you can have all the talent and money in the world, but unless you like what you see in the mirror each day, it counts for nothing.  What a waste of life.  And her daughter’s life too.  So tragic.  I think that learning to love and honour yourself should be taught to all young girls in high school. Our culture is so obsessed with working hard and achieving.  I aspire to teach women that there is another way to success, and it starts with love. 


SM: A good diet obviously has a strong link to goddess well-being… do we all need to lock away the biscuit tin to succeed? 

Jacqui McDonald: That depends what’s in your biscuit tin!  The 4 Week Goddess Re-balance Programme teaches you to think entirely differently about food.  You will learn about how certain foods affect your hormones, energy levels, moods and ultimately your relationships. When you realise that sugar and carbs can make you irritable and snappy, you no longer desire them.  If you want to be a fun, hot, healthy mama and a great role model to your kids – start making great food choices, today!  Don’t wait.  And remember that this is not about diet and deprivation.  Quite the opposite.  We focus on all the amazing, healing, cell-repairing, mood-enhancing, delicious, sociable and easy-to-make foods that you get to eat – i.e. crowding out the crap.  Very quickly you will be WANTING to fill the biscuit tin with healthier options. Anything else just wouldn’t make sense.


SM: And finally, if you could give our readers one piece of goddess-advice, what would it be..? 

Jacqui McDonald: Love yourself.  It really is the key to everything.  If you can learn to worship yourself like a Goddess, a magical shift occurs.  Firstly, you accept yourself unconditionally.  No more comparisons.  No more negative talk.  Just love.  It then becomes natural, fun and easy for you to nourish your physical body with foods that make every cell radiate with great health and vitality.  Then it keeps getting better and better.  You look in the mirror and see a radiant, confident, sexy woman who can do whatever she sets her mind to.  You make brighter, bolder decisions and you create a life that’s bursting with joy.  The love you have for yourself radiates to everyone in your universe, and comes back to you in spades.  Maintaining this state of wellbeing then becomes effortless. That’s the secret.  And it works.

Find out more well-being for women at http://goddessschool.co.uk/

Images courtesy of Goddess School

SM chats to… Georgia Metcalfe of The French Bedroom Company

The French Bedroom Company was set up by Georgia Metcalfe when she was unable to find the perfect bed…

Now the company – which stocks a whole range of beautifully chic bedroom furniture, bedding and accessories – has been named as a “Cool Brand” (for the 4th consecutive year) is a Sheerluxe winner, an Amara Blog winner and a House Beautiful Awards Gold winner.

We ooh-ed and ooh-la-la’d over the upholstered headboards, we swooned at the freestanding gilt mirrors. And were delighted that Georgia Metcalfe – Creative Director and Founder of The French Bedroom Company – had time to tell us all about her world…

Georgia

SM: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Where do we fit into your schedule today?

Georgia Metcalfe: I’ve just got off the phone from our delivery manager and I’m about to go into a team meeting. It’s Monday, so it means the team are extra busy processing weekend orders and getting deliveries booked in so we can get goodies to customers ASAP.


SM: Which are your bestselling items?


Georgia Metcalfe:
Our best sellers contain an eclectic mix of classic French items and also some contemporary and smart pieces. Our collection has over 500 products so there’s plenty to choose from! Our strongest contenders range from the bigger pieces, such as the Provencal Sassy Bed, Versailles Bedside Table and Strictly Studded Floor Mirror, right down to the smaller products and accessories like the Diana Bust, Provencal Rattan Chair and Grandeur Wall Light.


SM: And which do your own family love most?

Georgia Metcalfe: We love the whites; we mix French white furniture and mirrors with the modern white accessories and lighting.  My new favourite item is this Velvet Chesterfield Bench in pale grey, just can’t wait for it to arrive! and it will sit really gently in our all-white bedroom.


SM: As a next step from your role with English style brand Sanderson (Georgia was PR Director) what was the attraction of French furniture?

Georgia Metcalfe: The romantic curves, the femininity, the gracefulness and unashamed elegance.


SM: What advice would you give to someone planning a French style bedroom makeover?

Georgia Metcalfe: Start gently; go for an ornate French mirror and chandelier combination (you can pair this combo with just about any style you might already have in your bedroom).  Then, add more pieces when you’re ready: French Armoire, Chest of drawers, and then the grand French Bed!  And if you’re not sure if you can stretch your style (or convince your partner) to gold or silver then start with white and add a gold or silver piece further down the line.


SM: Are your pieces timeless or do you draw on trends?

Georgia Metcalfe: We tend to offer timeless furniture and then an array of accessories and lighting that span from timeless all the way to bleeding edge design.  That way, customers can style their bedrooms in an up to date way by only replacing a pair of bedside lamps or a chair.


SM: What’s on your moodboard at the moment?  

Georgia Metcalfe: We were just styling one of the shots for the next photoshoot today: a deep teal wall paint, a pair of wooden bedside tables, and a grey linen studded bed, accessorised with large green leafy plants, and a big pile of Vogue magazines.


SM: What has been your proudest moment?

Georgia Metcalfe: When we were first announced a Cool Brand back in 2011.  We’ve been named every year since, and I’m always so proud to feel that we’re recognised alongside brands such as Liberty, Apple and Aston Martin!  The team here work so hard so it’s a great reward for everyone.


SM: Finally (we had to ask), with such beautiful bedroom furnishings, are you actually a huge romantic…?

Georgia Metcalfe: Hahaha, yes! I am.  Because I work with my husband it’s very easy to just talk shop every evening (because we both love it so much).  We put a bath tub in our bedroom to ensure we take time with a glass of wine to chat through the day together, and we have a (True Grace) scented candle by the bed that gets lit every night.  Catching up with ‘us’ time is really important, and when you’re so busy with work and children you have to really make this time – it just doesn’t present itself anymore!

Editor’s pick: we love the quirky statement this Trippy Granny bedspread makes…

Order online from The French Bedroom Company.

Images: French Bedroom Company

SM chats to… Face Yoga Expert Danielle Collins

We were intrigued when the world’s leading face yoga expert Danielle Collins got in touch to tell us about her methods, her app and DVDs and her organic skincare serum.

But after a  few days of trying her face yoga app and nourishing our skin with her divine facial product we were hooked!

Danielle took time out for a chat to tell us all about her world.

SM: You obviously have a lot going on right now! Where does this interview fit in your schedule today?

Danielle Collins: I am sat in the gorgeous ‘Beyond the Kale’ juice bar in Bath having a green smoothie! I travelled back from my clinic in London’s Harley Street late last night after seeing clients for Face Yoga, did the nursery run this morning and did some training via Skype with someone in India who is training with me to be a Face Yoga teacher. Then I will pick my daughter up from nursery, bath her and put her to bed! Then it will be some time to eat, do yoga, see my husband and get a good night’s sleep! My days vary so much- one day I can be spending the day in the park with my daughter and the next I can be filming for a TV show. I love the variety- it keeps life interesting!
SM:  How was your face yoga method developed?

Danielle Collins: My journey started around 13 years ago when I was diagnosed with ME. I was very unwell for almost 2 years and despite doctors not knowing how to cure the illness I managed to completely recover from it using natural and holistic therapies. When I was recovered I trained as a yoga teacher, relaxation therapist, nutritionist and wellbeing coach and was teaching a lot of yoga classes. I was noticing more and more how my clients were enjoying how yoga was transforming their bodies and minds but they were increasingly asking for a natural solution to help the face to look and feel healthier too. This is when I started The Danielle Collins Face Yoga Method. I combined techniques that had been used for thousands of years in Indian and Chinese medicine such as relaxation and acupressure with new research and techniques which work with exercising the face muscles and massaging the skin. I have been very blessed that over the last decade I have been able to teach this to so many people around the world and regularly appear on TV and media. I have such a strong desire to help others to feel healthier and happier whether it be to overcome illness in the way I had or to just be our best self.


SM: You obviously have a lot of face yoga fans out there, but do you also get some strange reactions when you tell people what you do?

Danielle Collins: One of the things I love about doing what I do in the public eye is being able to reach so many people. Everyday I get emails from people saying how face yoga, yoga and the other things I offer have helped them and made a difference to their lives. That’s means so much to be as that’s why I do what I do on an international scale as I have a passion for helping as many people as I can to improve their health, happiness and well being. And yes I do have the odd surprised reaction when I say to people I do Face Yoga!! Most people seem genuinely interested in what it is though and by the end of our chat they are usually asking me to demo an exercise to help them! 

SM: Which is your best-selling DVD/product?

Danielle Collins: My DVD ‘10 Minute Natural Face Lift’ and my Face Yoga App (same content as the DVD) are the best sellers. I think people are attracted to the fact all the exercises are in 10 minute sections which fit in well to a busy lifestyle. And of course the fact that they can do something to help the face look amazing which is very natural and doesn’t cost much. 

SM: Does your daughter do yoga with you?

Danielle Collins: Yes she loves Yoga. She turns 3 in October and she has grown up with Yoga. I have a studio in my house so she just sees it as normal to play on yoga mats and with yoga blocks etc. She also loves watching my TV appearances and videos and joins in with them!  I always make the yoga we do together really fun and like a game. Yoga with children shouldn’t be too serious and can’t last too long as they don’t stay on the mat for long enough! I feel so happy that she is growing have up knowing a wonderful tool to help her mind, body and face be healthy and happy.


SM: You look AMAZING, how much yoga and face yoga do you do each day? 

Danielle Collins: As a busy working mum I have to fit what I can in around everything else. Each day I do a little face massage and face acupressure each time I apply my moisturising serum. Then I also do 20 minutes of face yoga- ideally on my yoga mat but quite often its in front of the TV whilst I am relaxing in the evening with my husband! I always make time for me on my yoga mat to do yoga though every day, this is non-negotiable as it makes such a difference to my health and wellbeing to do this. It really depends on time and energy what I do on my mat. Sometimes it’s an upbeat combination of strength exercises, Pilates and yoga focused on particularly parts of the body like the exercises in my 10 Minute Natural Body Lift DVD and Body Yoga App (I actually filmed this when my daughter was 7 months old as I wanted busy parents to be able to exercise in just 10 minutes a day but still see results). Sometimes I do a calmer, more meditative yoga like the techniques in my 10 Minute Natural Mood Lift DVD and Wellbeing Yoga App which I find are great if I am feeling tired but still want the benefits of yoga for my body and mind. 

SM: What has been the proudest moment of your career?

Danielle Collins: There have been so many moments which I have enjoyed and I am proud of. I think it was the first time I appeared at the Yoga Show in London. It was the first time I presented Face Yoga nationally and it felt like such a pivotal moment in my career. Also I loved teaching in Maldives. I am lucky to have a job where I have amazing moments every day!

SM: And finally, we had to ask, as the leading face yoga expert can you tell us if there is really any truth in that old saying ‘if you frown you’ll get wrinkles’?

Danielle Collins: There is some truth in this. Holding tension in the face for long periods for time can cause deep lines. Also, if we frown this is often a reflection of not feeling good in our minds and this alone can age us too. Feeling happy in our minds and relaxing, exercising and massaging the face is the way to look great! 

SM chats to… Cecile Reinaud of Seraphine

We were thrilled to interview Seraphine founder and head designer Cecile Reinaud.

Parisian born Cecile began Seraphine in 2002 after pregnant friends often asked her to alter their clothes.

The brand – which is loved by mums worldwide, including celebs such as Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson and Kate Middleton – is now the ‘go-to’ for chic, beautifully designed pregnancy style.

Cecile_PR_8

SM: Hello, and thanks for taking the time to chat to us. Where do we fit in your schedule today…?

Cecile Reinaud: You are very welcome, this is actually the last job on my list today and the office is nice and quiet. It’s always busy at Seraphine, so I like to save something nice and easy for the end of the day.
SM: Seraphine has won so many prestigious awards, what has been your proudest moment?

Cecile Reinaud: This has been a really special year at Seraphine; we had a win at the PayPal Awards and were tipped as the “Ones to Watch” on Richard Branson’s Fast Track 100 list. But my proudest moment has to be winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2015. It feels wonderful to have all of our hard work recognised, and I was honoured to be invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace to meet The Queen!

image: Seraphine

SM: So many celebs favour Seraphine, is there someone whom you feel really defines the brand when they wear it?

Cecile Reinaud: I think one of the best things about our collection is that it caters for every mother’s style, and our wide range of celebrity clients really reflects that. We’ve dressed everyone from Hollywood A-listers like Kate Winslet and Jessica Alba, to rock stars like Gwen Stefani and even Royalty. And I’m always excited to see how these stylish women take our clothes and make them their own.

image: Twitter

If I had to pick one, my choice would have to be The Duchess of Cambridge. She favoured our signature collection through both of her pregnancies, choosing our Fuchsia Knotted Dress for the first official photographs with Prince George, and opting for several of our classic maternity coats whilst expecting Princess Charlotte. The Duchess has a real talent for elegant pregnancy dressing, and I am thrilled that she was such a fan of Seraphine maternity clothes through both of her pregnancies.

image: M Middleton, eonline

SM: You’ve created some prolific charity campaigns to support Tommy’s and Baby2Baby, what made you decide to do these collaborations?

Cecile Reinaud: I’ve always felt very strongly about giving back, and as a maternity brand it felt right to support charities that work to help mothers and babies. I first collaborated with Tommy’s over 10 years ago when Seraphine was still new. It is such a fantastic cause, but I will admit that my finance manager at the time was tearing his hair out wondering if I’d gone completely mad to be giving away so much profit! This year I’m thrilled to be working with Tommy’s again on a brand new charity campaign that will be backed by many of our celebrity clientele. I’m very excited about tech new initiative and our goal is to raise £100k for a new research centre in the UK on miscarriages, the campaign will be unveiled the first week of October we are hoping it will be a huge viral success and raise lots of money for this important cause.
SM: What has been your biggest business challenge to date?

Cecile Reinaud: Working across 3 time zones – America where we are opening more stores and growing our stockists, Europe where our offices are, and Asia were we are sourcing some of the production. The email flows never stop day and night, so knowing when to switch off can be difficult!
SM: Where does your design inspiration come from?

Cecile Reinaud: Oh all over! I love keeping track of the latest catwalk trends, but I find street style just as fascinating; this year it has been wonderful having London Fashion Week based in Soho, right by the Seraphine offices! Sometimes inspiration even comes from the girls at the Seraphine office. They’re a stylish bunch and I’ll often stop one of them to take a picture of their outfit to store away for ideas later on.
SM:  What has been your bestselling item (we are guessing the Jolene dress?) and which items are your personal favourites?

Cecile Reinaud: You guessed it! Our bestselling item is the Jolene Fuchsia Knot Front Maternity Dress worn by the Duchess of Cambridge in the first official photographs with Prince George. It sold out within hours after the pictures were released, and then generated a 10 week waiting list! 2 years on and the style is still consistently one of our top sellers. My personal favourites tech season are some of the gorgeous coats we have; they are luxuriously warm and soft with wool and cashmere blend and it great without a bump too. I’ll be wearing this one for my next trip to New York as it can get very cold there and for an elegant function I love to wear the coat that The Duchess of Cambridge wore to arrive in New York , I do feel like a VIP wearing it!

image: SG entertainment

SM: When you created the ShoeTherapy range, were you surprised that there weren’t more ergonomically designed, fashionable shoes out there?

Cecile Reinaud: To be frank, I was horrified! I developed ShoeTherapy during my second pregnancy when I suffered terrible back pain. I was advised to try orthopaedic shoes, but there were zero fashionable options out there – even my grandmother wouldn’t have been seen dead in the selection available.

I started ShoeTherapy as a way of making sure that there were stylish footwear options out there for fashionable mums-to-be to pair with their Seraphine maternity clothes.

image: Seraphine

Shop Seraphine here and follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileReinaud