Posts tagged BUSINESS

Two of the most important areas to get right when you’re starting a business are the legal and accounting side of things, but knowing where to start can be pretty tricky – so I was delighted to host a Taking Care of Business masterclass at Vice UK’s London office a few weeks ago. Something of a ‘business 101 for creatives’, we were joined by experienced accountant Kate Levy (Head of Creative Businesses at Wilson Wright LLP) and intellectual property lawyer Amanda McDowall (Trademark Attorney at Olswang LLP), who each gave presentations on how to make sure your business is set up for success from the get-go, before hosting private one-on-one advice sessions. We covered everything from the importance of protecting your brand through trademarking (and how to do that), to how to put the right structures in place to make sure your business is ‘investor-friendly’, and of course, how to keep HMRC happy.

Huge thanks to my old stomping ground Vice UK for hosting us, and to Kate and Amanda for sharing their expertise with us. A heads-up for those of you who weren’t able to join us: I cover the basics of how to protect your creative work, and managing your finances extensively in Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women, which you can pre-order here.

Spring Flowers

Blossoms blooming, sun shining, and finally being able to ditch the heavy jumpers and ankle boots – there’s a reason why spring is my favourite season of them all. If the warmer weather and longer days have given you a fresh burst of energy, why not channel some of that energy into spring cleaning your life, and set yourself up for a new phase of mental clarity and productive working?

Read on for some easy ways to streamline your life inside and outside of the office.



Pay attention to the environments you’re in, and the spaces you create.




It’s no secret that the human brain responds well to aesthetically pleasing visuals - if your surroundings are looking tired or drab, that’s bound to have an impact on your day-to-day mood. To refocus your aesthetic in a way that's conducive to clarity, try creating a moodboard full of the sorts of visuals that reflect the vibe you want to recreate in your everyday life. If you're pressed for time (or space) then Pinterest is obviously perfect for creating virtual moodboards, but if you can, hang up a corkboard somewhere you’ll see it every day for maximum impact. Then get creative!



I'm all about the easy wins, and I guarantee you tidying up your desk is a quick and easy task with a disproportionately powerful gains when it comes to improving your mental clarity. That giant stack of papers you haven’t picked up in months? Go through it right now, filing the important things, and chucking the rest (preferably in a recycling bin). Feel better? Thought so.



At this time of year everything’s in bloom, and there’s no reason why your indoor spaces shouldn’t be too. Add some greenery to your work and living spaces to give them – and you – an instant boost: snake plants, bromeliads, and rubber plants are all aesthetically pleasing choices that also thrive indoors. Or (if you’re feeling fancy) treat yourself to some fresh flowers for your desktop once a week – I’m currently obsessed with ranunculus blooms, pictured above.



If you dress like a slob, you’ll feel like one too – and that way unproductivity lies, so treat yourself to one or two key pieces to refresh your look for the months ahead. Never underestimate the power of the clothes you wear on a day-to-day basis to impact your mindset, and the way you feel about your work.



The most important piece of the puzzle.




Why not check in with the New Year’s resolutions you made back in January, to remind yourself of the goals you’ve set yourself for 2017 and renew your efforts on any you’ve let slip by the wayside? Here’s a reminder of how to set yourself up for success when it comes to making (and keeping) resolutions.



With the warmer weather and longer days, now’s the perfect time to take your workout outdoors, so swap the fluorescent gym lights for fresh air and sunshine for an instant mood boost. Why not keep things interesting by taking up a sport instead of exercising solo – join a local netball or football team, and enjoy the added bonus of keeping your mind stimulated at the same time as getting fit.



Warmer weather also means lighter, fresher meals, so try to incorporate more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet to keep your energy levels up. Chef and food writer Anna Jones is an excellent source of delicious veg-based recipes that steer clear of Ottolenghi-esque levels of complication.



Get your affairs in order.




If you’re self-employed, now's the time to assess your clients and projects carefully to determine which ones are the money-makers - and which ones are the money pits.Which clients, projects, or strategies are profitable, and which ones require you to spend more time on them than really makes sense? Examine and evaluate where you’ve been expending your energies thus far this year, and think about what you need to do more – and less – of to grow your income as the year progresses.



There’s a lot of talk about the benefits of ‘digital detoxing’ these days – but how do you actually do that? Start by unfollowing any social media accounts that don’t actually add any value to your life (you know the ones), and unsubscribing from all those newsletters and email alerts you don’t even remember signing up for – Unroll.Me is hands-down the quickest and easiest way out there to streamline your inbox.



Review your bank statement for subscriptions or accounts you’d forgotten you’re signed up for. Chances are there’ll be at least one or two you never actually use, which means you can make some easy savings with minimal effort.


Happy spring cleaning!


We live in an age where more people than ever aspire to start their own businesses – and nowhere more so than within the creative industries, which have always been characterised by original thinkers and people who want the freedom to realise their own creative visions. Female entrepreneurs in particular are also becoming a more dominant force - 80% of the newly self-employed during the last UK recession were women, and it feels like female entrepreneurs are finally getting their turn in the limelight. Given that, it seemed fitting to hear the stories of the women behind some of London’s most exciting creative brands and businesses, which is exactly what we did at last week's Make Your Own Job event.

Speaking to a room full of women lounging very comfortably on the sofas at the gorgeous Soho Works, panellists Missy Flynn (co-owner of Rita's/Quilombero), Anna Murray (co-founder of Patternity) and Lana Elie (founder of Floom) covered the ins and outs of setting up and running a successful business during a 90 minute (!) discussion that could have gone on for much, much longer. Check out photos from the evening below.


The influence of women in the workplace, and more specifically the way women work, is a topic that – for obvious reasons – is never far from my mind. Whilst it’s tricky to talk about this without falling into the trap of making sweeping generalisations, in my experience I’ve found that there really are obvious differences in the ways men and women typically operate within the workplace, and certain defining characteristics about the way women approach their work. A few articles I’ve read recently have got me thinking more about how typically ‘feminine’ ways of thinking and working relate to the workplaces of the future, and the way work is changing - so of course I wanted to share them with you.

First up – a recent essay in the Financial Times, about the impact of women in the workplace, more specifically their impact on a company’s success. Highlights include the observation that:


Women are more likely to consider social, ethical and environmental effects of business…as a result, women are geared to address future customer demands better. Companies that encourage female participation will reap the rewards as environmentally friendly goods and services — as well as responsible business models — become more important to long-term corporate success.


Incidentally, this isn’t the first time I’ve come across the little nugget of information that women tend to have stronger ethical business principles than men, and are less willing to compromise their ethics in pursuit of success at work. It seems that when it comes to work, women have a different (...dare I say better?) values system. The article also goes on to address women’s contributions to the economy, noting that:


The British Chambers of Commerce noted that businesses run by women were more likely to launch a new product or service and to harness the benefits of technology to do so. It also found that women were nearly three times as likely to collaborate with research institutions than men. Increasing numbers of women in business will shift business models to be more responsive, customer-driven and tailor products and services to the expectations of future generations.


Jennifer Armbrust's model of the Feminine Economy

Another interesting take on this subject that I turn to time and time again, is Jenn Armbrust’s model of the feminine economy (right), which I find very inspiring. She believes that business, and the way we work, is largely determined by a very ‘masculine’ set of ideals - so instead, she proposes a new set of values, based on 'feminine' principles, such as collaboration, sustainability and mindfulness. 

Be sure to check out her Proposals For The Feminine Economy too.




The Female Economy - Harvard Business Review

Women In Business section - The Financial Times


P.S. Women Who will be exploring the topic of female entrepreneurs more in the near future. Stay tuned...

Rosh Mahtani Alighieri Women Who

My conversation with London-based jewellery designer Rosh Mahtani hits a stumbling block pretty much straight away. We can’t decide on what her title should be, which wouldn’t really matter except for the fact that – to be quite honest – I need something to put in her caption. Designer? Creative Director? Photographer? Writer? Rosh is one of those awe-inspiring creatives who's intuitively able to apply her eye for visuals to lots of different mediums, from photography to illustration – and the nature of running a business means there are very few jobs she doesn't do.

Still, it’s her talent for creating show-stoppingly beautiful jewellery that’s seen Alighieri, the luxe jewellery brand she launched in 2014, so readily adopted by the fashion set, garnering features in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar (where she once interned) and adorning the ears and hands of the chicest bloggers. We caught up in her studio to discuss how starting her own business gave her a sense of purpose, as well as the challenges of being an entrepreneur. These are the bits you don’t see on Instagram.



I fell in love with Dante Alighieri's work whilst reading French and Italian at Oxford University, and after I graduated I found that I wasn't able to let it go. I spent some time in Australia, and I had the Divine Comedy with me and wanted to explore it further. It's fair to say I've always been really into jewellery - I love jewellery, and I very randomly took a one-day course in wax casting. I started making things and thought, “how great would it be to create one piece for every one of Dante Alighieri's canti?”. It's such a visual text, and so much art has been based on Dante's texts, so I wanted to tell the story somehow - and it happened to manifest itself in jewellery. It's funny – I actually bought the domain name for Alighieri a couple of days after I did that course. I always had it in my mind that I wanted to create something from Dante’s work.



After I graduated, I had no idea what I wanted to do – I always knew I wanted to do something creative, and I think I always knew I wanted to start my own business but I never had a 'thing'. Lots of my friends had acting or writing as a 'thing' and I quite liked everything, but I'd never excelled at any one thing. I interned in the fashion industry, at Harper's Bazaar, and worked at Avenue 32 as a Visual Merchandiser during its early stages. I liked fashion but I never wanted to only do that.

"Starting Alighieri really gave me direction and allowed me to do all the things that I wanted to do."

I knew I wanted to write, I knew I wanted to take photographs, but I felt like I was neither a writer nor a photographer. I didn't really feel like I had the 'right' to be writing or taking photographs and putting them out there. Starting Alighieri really gave me direction and allowed me to do all the things that I wanted to do. It felt like all of a sudden I had a reason to write and a reason to take photographs – creating this brand and telling the story allowed me to do all the things that I loved.

Alighieri_Warrior Collection
Alighieri_Warrior Collection



The wax-carving course I took was very technical and precise and I thought, "I don't want something that's precise" – I liked the imperfections. I never felt like I was learning a trade, I felt like I was creating things and seeing what I liked and what I didn't.  I'm always really hesitant to describe myself as a ‘designer’ because I'm not technically a designer – I didn't study design. But also that's not what I love most about Alighieri – I like designing, but for me it was always about telling a story.



It's very varied. A lot of my time is spent at my caster's in Hatton Garden. It's a male-dominated, family-run business and it was quite intimidating at first - they're quite straight-talking, and you have to be quite assertive. A lot of my time is also spent packaging up orders - I spend a lot of time at the Post Office, sending out press samples etc. I have two other jobs as well, so I'm constantly flitting between everything. I save emails and admin for the evening because that's when other people aren't at work.



Part of the game of creating a successful brand is the social media aspect, and how you market it. It needs to look effortless - but that's an illusion. I often have people email me saying “Please will you pass this on to your accounts division?” or “Please pass this on to your marketing person”, and very few people realise that it's just me! I love it though - I wouldn't be doing anything else.



Making a sale! It never gets old - every time you get an email saying so-and-so has bought an item, it still is such a kick. Actually I lied - that's a really great part, but the absolute best part is working with my friends, and meeting so many amazing women. I've made a lot of amazing friends through Alighieri. There's this creative buzz and energy where everyone's helping each other, and I've built up a circle of friends, and I love that.

Alighieri_Warrior Collection


The money aspect is 100% the most challenging part - the constant barrage of bills can be pretty stressful! Other challenges are… wanting to do a lot of things, and not necessarily having the manpower to be able to do them. I have all these ideas, and I want to do everything to the best of my ability – so sometimes you just have to reign yourself in. I find that hard because there's so much I want to do. I have to think one step at a time, and set myself manageable goals.



My time to switch off is with my camera. Taking stills, or travelling alone with my camera - that's my therapy. I find I can completely switch off and zone out, so that brings me a lot of calm.



If you're making something, make something that you'd like, or that you'd want to wear - and then just go for it. Personally I go on instinct with most things and sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it wrong. It's all part of the process, so don't beat yourself up too much about the mistakes that you make.

Also - just hustle.