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Do we have to go back to normal?

My tin foil hat photoshoot

This blog was written pre new lockdown measures, please bear with me, but the sentiment is the same.

In the wise words of Zadie Smith when asked about the pandemic, “I don’t think anyone sane wants to go back to normal”

The idea of a  ‘new normal’ makes my soul shiver. I’ve never liked the term ‘normal, it feels so limiting, confining and quite frankly, boring. Yet it’s a term I’m hearing again and again amidst the backdrop of this pandemic. I can understand why, it’s a very confusing and often bleak time for us humans. Normal can be seen as a comfort, normal is safe, secure and not what we’re experiencing right now.

It has felt like we’re under pressure to move on, even though we are very much still in a pandemic. I was very pleased to be told by Kirstie Allsop to ‘get back to work’, daughter of a Baron who clearly understands what it is to be a ‘normal’ person. 

People’s reactions to this pandemic have fascinated me, including my own. It turns out I’m far more risk averse than I thought. I will recklessly cycle through San Francisco at rush hour following a man I don’t know, but I won’t risk mine or others health during a global pandemic.

UK Gov’s fantastic approach

The UK Government, like dear old Kirstie, really wanted us to get back to ‘old normal’, I’m thankful to be a Welsh citizen where health is devolved and we follow a plan for relaxing restrictions that I find more measured and sensible. 

A consumer focused marketing ‘gem’ from the UK Government was the ‘Eat Out to Help Out, (snigger) scheme which offers a 50% reduction on meals for diners for a limited time period. The announcement was accompanied by a crap PR stunt as Chancellor Rishi Sunak was filmed waiting tables ‘at Wagamamas in London looking every inch the idiot.

In being told to ‘spend, spend, spend’ to boost the economy we must face the possibility that we’re risking the health of ourselves and others. This amplified by the overcrowding of bars and people returning from holiday and not bothering to quarantine.

Even though Wales has taken a steadier approach but I still feel anxious, a bit vulnerable and scared of what the future holds. I fear we’re nowhere near over the worst of it, infact local lockdowns are now in place and Cardiff is landlocked by it!

The old normal was rubbish

Don’t @ me, it was and I’m glad it’s over.

I’m not sure how conscious I ever was, we would scurry around, proud to be ‘busy, so busy’, ram down a terrible £3 meal deal, be stuck in traffic, forget to text back, check instagram and see your frenemy has popped to Santorini the weekend, forcing us to wail ‘I WANT TO GO TO SANTORINI’ and immediately book a short break to Santorini and buy an ethically dubious sarong from TopShop, force ourselves out on the weekend (and put it on social media because otherwise it didn’t happen) because heaven forbid we rest, we burn out, then start again.. What’s the definition of insanity?

This pandemic has forced us to slow down and I for one am glad. 

Since lockdown restrictions came into place I’ve heard birds sing loudly and clearly. Their song is like a symphony to freedom. 

I started exercising again, at the start of lockdown slow but methodical runs took me down the middle of roads, I shunned the pavements because there was hardly any traffic. In Cardiff, air pollution dropped by 20% during shutdown.

I became determined to support local, favouring fruit and veg boxes over pre packaged sterile lettuces from chain supermarkets.

I did my best to support friends with their businesses and charities in need of aid. I practically stopped using the car and struck up conversations with friends, old and new. I also donned a tin foil hat and did a ‘fashion’ shoot in the garden but the less said about that the better.

Kindness has bloomed, I’ve seen it all around me, in actions, deeds and words and my heart grows fuller.

I feel the most positive attribute the pandemic has given us is time, which to me is a precious commodity. What a luxury and privilege to be bored, to have ‘nothing’ to do and nowhere to go. What you rue now, you will miss when it’s no longer available to you. 

It has forced us to be present, which I know for many people (my self included) is not a pleasant place to be. We want distractions and breaks from our reality but honestly, sitting with yourself and your feelings is truthful and human.

Time is a gift

Time was one of the biggest factors to me becoming freelance, I longed for freedom and the ability to create a day in my image and not that of someone else. My idea of productivity is not the 9 – 5 and I’m not entirely sure who that timeframe actually serves.

My hope is that businesses and organisations have seen that working remotely and different hours is still productive and useful. A happy and healthy employee is likely to be someone who has some autonomy over their time and can actually achieve a work/life balance.

Ultimately I don’t want to go back to a world where capitalism is king, even the rich have struggled with lockdown, this is the power of what a virus can do – strip you down to your very humanity. You may have a Lamborghini parked in the driveway and 200 acres but you are as vulnerable to a health crisis as most other people. 

The world collectively gasped when Tom Hanks announced he had coronavirus, “Not Woody?!” we exclaimed, but yes, a rich, powerful white man got the virus.

If we were to go back to normal, it would mean we will have learnt nothing from this experience which is quite frankly depressing. Kindness, flexibility and more freedom should surely prevail over a life lived less consciously. 

Let’s start how we began, with the wisdom of Zadie Smith, “I was living thoughtlessly, I want to remain in conciousness“.

Amen.

My depression and why I sometimes let the tidal wave wash over me

eminared_deepimpact
Deep Impact and that damn tidal wave

For #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek I thought I’d write about my own experience of depression and how sometimes I just need to embrace the darkness of it all.

Please don’t think you need to, or that I endorse this as a coping mechanism, it’s just for me and may ring true with some of you.

If you feel like your depression is unmanageable or that you might harm yourself then please do seek help from your GP, counsellor or an organisation like the Samaritans. You’re not a burden, you’re a human that deserves love and kindness.

The way we walk about depression sometimes sucks

There’s a lot of ‘fighting’ language used when it comes to illness, especially chronic, mental and cancer. We’re told to ‘survive’, ‘battle’, ‘fight’, ‘beat’ and ‘kick’ our way to health. This language can you leave you feeling like you aren’t doing enough or aren’t trying enough to be positive in the face of pain. I don’t see illness being as linear as that…

Toxic positivity is something that rears its ugly head around this subject too. Being told to ‘chin up’, ‘it’ll pass’ and ‘dance through the storm to find the rainbow’ leaves me cold. To condense very complex health matters into these meme-able sayings feels inhuman.

Depression = Deep Impact?

When I think of depression I sometimes see it as the huge tidal wave at the end of the film Deep Impact. It’s vast, will engulf you whole and inevitably sweep some loved ones along too.

I stand on the shore and look up at it, it’s ferocious and unwieldy, it scares me and it wants to do so but there are times that I stop trying to hold it back and I just shout ‘COME ON YOU FUCKER’.

When this happens I know to write off the day, I don’t even try and be happy or put on a smile. I just be, in the darkness, under the water, swept along by a CGI wave.

Tidal wave habits:

I listen to music that will perpetuate my mood and bum me out – I’m looking at you James Blake, Lana Del Rey, Mac Miller and FKA Twiggs. I wallow in it. Today, Lady Gaga has released a song that encapsulates my entire tidal wave mood but is A POP BANGER, so I dance instead….

It’s coming down on me
Water like misery
It’s coming down on me
I’m ready, rain on me

I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive
Rain on me, rain, rain
Rain on me, rain, rain

I Google pictures of celebrity couples that broke up and left me devastated. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett and Kerry Katona and Bryan McFadden. How could you ruin love for me? HOW COULD YOU?

I will fester in my own filth. Clothing won’t be changed, hair not brushed, teeth not cleaned and I will enjoy my state of being.

I will have a teaspoon of many, many things in jars… peanut butter, chutney, pickle, jam, honey, treacle, pesto and anything delicious looking.. nothing is safe from me and my spoon.

Bed is my friend and I stay in it, wrap myself up in a duvet and snuggle in, like a bear preparing for a hibernation or when a spider cocoons it’s prey for later. 

I withdraw from friends and family. I don’t like that I do this but I hate feeling like I’m a burden, real or imagined. 

Comparison is the thief of joy, but I like to compare and despair myself to people on instagram which makes me feel super shit!

A Star is Born, Fleabag, The Notebook and Up are just some films and TV that enter my brain, even if I don’t watch them I like to agonise over the sadness, the finality of relationships breaking down and the feeling of emptiness. 

Does the tidal wave end?

Yes, it does, and I think the point I’m trying to make is that we don’t always have to pretend to be happy, coping or ok – we can just be.

One bad day, week or month does not a lifetime make. There is always tomorrow, or a tiny chink of light to be found. If you can’t find it, don’t worry…. no pressure.

Here are some organisations that help me, hope they can help you too.

Blurt, Heads About the Waves, Beat Eating Disorders, Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation

Five fantastic TV series adapted from books

Normal People – it has my heart and soul

Recently my TV time has been dominated by series adapted from books and I’m not complaining about it. Often I get too emotionally involved with fictional characters but wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s not that often that adaptations are considered brilliant but these five, are for me, outstanding.

Normal People based on the novel by Sally Rooney (BBC iPlayer)

The story follows the complex friendship and relationship between two teenagers, Connell and Marianne, who both attend the same school then college.

Without a doubt, this adaptation is as good as the book. Sally Rooney’s novel had me in raptures, I read it in two days and a love for Marianne and Connell was sealed. I was terrified to watch the series but it lived up to its plaudits. The longing, tension, emotion and sadness were captured perfectly by Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones. On top of the sharp and evocative dialogue was stunning cinematography. I just wanted to walk into their world and never come back out.

If you like this, watch: Call me by your Name (Netflix), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (MUBI/Amazon Prime).

Unorthodox an adaptation of Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman (Netflix)

Unorthodox is a story about a girl who rejects her radicalized Jewish upbringing and leaves to start a new life.

Only four episodes but perfectly crafted, the attention to detail is exquisite and utterly beautiful. Shiira Haas as Esty is incredible, she captures the fragility and hope of a young woman wanting freedom like no other. The scene in which Esty enters the water is breathtaking, her literal rebirth captured infront of our eyes as her wig floats away. *chefs kiss* I cannot wait to read the novel.

If you liked this, watch: Schtisel (Netflix)

Shrill based on Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West (BBC iPlayer)

A struggling young journalist is determined to change her life without changing her body. While dealing with unreliable boyfriends, sick parents and a perfectionist boss, she begins to understand that she’s just as good as everyone else.

Shrill is boundary breaking and I’m here for it, I want to see beautiful fat bodies on my screen. Women like Annie, who like themselves despite society telling them not to. What’s so good about this is it’s combination of humour, body positivity and realities of being a woman. The fat babe pool party episode is wonderful. Also the costume department smashed it. The book is equally as great and it reminded me that’s it ok to be a loud woman. Amen.

If you liked this, watch: A-typical and Special (Netflix)

The End of the F***ing World based on on the comic book series by Charles Forsman (Netflix)

The series sees two 17-year-old outsiders, James and Alyssa, embark on a road trip to find her estranged father with disastrous consequences.

This series is just stylish as hell, the shots, lighting, locations and costume just add to the extremely sharp and funny dialogue. Jesy Barden delivers deadpan lines as Alyssa that simultaneously make you want to laugh and cringe. Not to mention the brilliant soundtrack that accompanies the story. You just end up rooting for these misfits.

If you liked this, watch: I Am Not Okay With This (Netflix), Scott Pilgrim vs The World (Netflix)

Sharp Objects based on a novel by Gillian Flynn (Amazon Prime)

Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to report on the abduction and murder of two girls. She is reacquainted with her distant mother and her half-sister, and finds she has to confront her own demons.

A total air of creepiness, isolation and desperation fill this series and it got under my skin. The acting is incredible, Amy Adams plays Camille and is totally believable as a damaged, fragile, alcoholic searching for the truth. Gillian Flynn also wrote Gone Girl which strikes a similar tone as a very intense but clever story. Not a comfortable watch but a really good one.

If you like this, watch: Gone Girl (Netflix), True Detective (Now TV)

Happy 3rd year of freelancing to me!

Whoop, the confetti cannon spews glittering shards of shiny paper, there is merriment and a band playing and there are many, many balloons – except the balloons all lose their air and make a raspberry noise like – plerrrrrrhhhggghhhhhh

It sort of feels like that at the moment, I’m not sure it’s ever been a worse time to be freelance? For some and many people I know, it is.

The life of a freelancer can be very uncertain and in these times, uncertainty is the only certainty (does that make sense? I hope so).

What I can tell you is that I still haven’t had to eat out of a bin yet, I mean given the situation if I saw half a still frozen Vienetta on the top of the bin then I would eat it, because I love it and that is not an essential item to just ‘pop out’ for.

Last year I celebrated all that I was grateful for and the for my first year I think I was ecstatic just to have made any sort of money whatsoever and busted some freelance myths.

Three things I have learnt since becoming freelance

  1. You will undervalue yourself, even though you tell others not to – on more than one occasion I have undercharged, or done more than the contract asked for and not said a word – just berated myself after. At Christmas time I met up with a freelancer I really admire who gave it to me straight – I was undercharging and over delivering, it was the boot up the arse I needed.
  2. Learning to say ‘No’ is a tool in self care – this is so important, no-one else is going to do it for us so we must be sure that we can do it. It will feel wrong in your mouth, we like to please people and be favourable, but at what cost? Burn out is not sexy and I have done it more than I like to admit.
  3. Being vulnerable is good – if your mental health isn’t good, if you’re struggling with money or finding more work then please share this with someone. It is not weak to admit you’re finding things tough. I know it’s really hard, but please consider doing it ❤

You’re on a downer dude

Sorry, I am grateful and ok I promise. This year work wise has been incredibly rewarding so far it’s just this is a very odd time and it’s Monday and I don’t like Monday’s.

Interviews, the good, the bad and the time you cracked a joke and they didn’t laugh…

Given that I’ve had more than a few interviews in my lifetime, I’m sharing my tips on how to have a good one, but before that here are some memorable examples from my career so far.

The good

I interviewed for the 2012 Olympics in a massive skyscraper in Canary Wharf and felt I’d gone to heaven. I didn’t get the job, but it was a great interview, I had awesome feedback and was encouraged to apply again.

The interview lasted three hours with three parts; formal interview, writing test and role play scenario, somehow I survived it. I came out triumphant, satisfied with my performance, I didn’t get the job, I came second. Why is this good? Because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, mentally coped with a three hour process and it came down to a bit of niche experience I didn’t have. I’m still proud of me.

The bad

I realised during the interview I really didn’t want the job and talked myself out of it during being questioned. Awkward.

I was asked what publications I read, I answered, “Heat magazine and Take a Break” and laughed, no one else laughed.

The ugly

The interviewer had some views I didn’t agree with and we sort of argued, I could tell she despised me, and the feeling was mutual… cringe.

I sent my prospective interviewer a text with two kisses on the end my mistake to which he replied “If I wasn’t gay, I’d blush”.

How to have a good interview:

Prepare

  • If you don’t, you’ll fail.
  • Where and what time is the interview? Don’t be late mun!
  • Look at the organisation as whole – history, values, missions, news, events, staff, projects, services, case studies etc.
  • Always look at their digital media – how and what are they communicating?
  • Low key stalk the staff – LinkedIn isn’t your friend for this but make sure you know a little about the CEO and Senior Management.

Use STAR

Most interviews use behavioural questions, “Name a time when…..”, “Tell us about a time when you used your initiative….” etc and these require you to have interview stories and STAR is a technique of answering them.

These stories should involve real situations that demonstrate you are a capable person for the job and based on the personal profile and job role and responsibilities.

For example:

Essential: Can problem solve

Your story must reflect this, and a likely question is “Tell us about a time when you have had to overcome a problem”

S – situation, setting the scene
T – task, build on the situation – what is the task at hand? Be specific about your involvement.
A – approach – what action did you take?
R – result – what was the outcome?

If you use this method to create stories and practice them, you will face the interview armed with lots of scenarios to talk about in a structured format so you don’t end up waffling.

Wear something that makes you confident

You don’t have to turn up like Ru Paul. Even if it’s just a piece of jewellery, shade of nail varnish or a keepsake in your pocket, do something for you. Always try the outfit on beforehand, I once had to safety pin my trousers because I had lost weight and forgotten to buy a new pair in time.

Be human

Acknowledge everyone sat in front of you, make eye contact, smile, breathe, sip water to take a pause and acknowledge it’s ok to feel nervous.

Ask a question

Always do this, if you can’t think of any beforehand here are some ready-made.

Can you tell me about the culture of the organisation?
What are the biggest challenges the organisation faces?
Why do you enjoy working here?

Have an opinion

It’s always good to have some praise or constructive criticism ready. Think about what you like about the company – is their ethos good? a project you like? a blog post you read and enjoyed? and then think constructively – is there a little suggestion you could make or something that you’ve seen that could be corrected?

I once told a company they had a broken link on a pivotal part of their website and they were grateful. Having an opinion shows you’re engaged.

If you don’t have a good interview?

Fxck it, it’s ok, we can’t always have good ones, learn from the mistakes, ask for feedback, grow and move on.

A letter to my body

This blog contains content that people may find distressing or uncomfortable, please don’t read on if you think it may trigger you. Lots of love xxx

lettertomybody

I first started this letter in March when I was having regular counselling and feeling completely overwhelmed with my negative thoughts.

I haven’t looked at it since then but in the last few days I have been absolutely horrible to my body, my mind overrun with insults, abuse and threats, all because I tried on a skirt that felt tighter than it did last year. It seemed as good a time as any to come back to it.

It offers me comfort to write and read it, I hope it can do the same for you.

Dear body,

Whether we like it or not we are stuck with each other so let’s put everything out on the table and try to get a bit of harmony.

I’ve been wanting to say these things for a long time to you, so here we go.

Thank you’s 🙂

Thank you for having rhythm, I love to make you dance. We have delighted people with our ability to find a beat and let loose. The times you’ve won lunging competition on dancefloors have brought me joy.

Thank you for the stretch marks and scars, a reminder that I have grown and changed over the years.

Thank you, big, sexy brain for making me creative and playful. I’m appreciative of my imagination, delight of colour and seeing the world with wonder and opportunity.

Thank you for enabling me to be on the hockey and athletics team in school. Running around that track gave me a great joy and a sense of accomplishment. Even when I entered the hurdles and cross country when I really didn’t want to, you got me through it (and made me sick on the bus home).

Also thanks for healing and repairing me when you’ve needed to. From a blister to a dislocated shoulder, you have worked wonders in getting me back to working order.

I really love my eyelashes, they get lots of compliments and look killer with mascara on – another thing to be thankful for.

Thank you for letting me bend, stretch, walk, run, crawl, jump, swim, cycle, fall over, stand up, sit down, lunge, squat, kick and so much more – things I take for granted on a daily basis.

Thanks for being small, even though you’re like Scrappy Doo and forget you’re only just 5ft, you rather like being small and pocket sized. Being small has led to slipping through the occasional queue, buying children’s clothes and being picked up and hugged a lot.

Sorry 😦

I’m sorry that at times I have decided to starve you or empty my stomach as a need to have control. I abused you and that is not ok. Sorry doesn’t really cut it but it’s all I have. I’m working on it, fighting the urge when it arises to use you as a last resort to gain control. I don’t want to do it anymore.

I’m also sorry for calling you terrible names, poking and prodding at you in disgust. It must make you feel really bad and that I am ungrateful, which I know at times I am.

Sorry for making you feel that how you look is linked to self esteem because it’s not and shouldn’t be, but I feel a victim of my environment and culture sometimes.

Sorry for not seeing you properly in the mirror, the image is distorted with a magnifying glass on the bits I don’t like and me forgetting about all of the amazing things you are and do.

Sometimes I really do hate you when I’m on my period and I curse you for the aches, pains, cramps, bloating and more but really I am lucky to have a period, others would like one and can’t, I must not forget that.

Lastly, sorry for the times I have shunned social plans because I wanted to hide you away, starve you or just felt so disgusted with you that I would rather wallow in misery. I’m really trying to get to a good place that we say ‘yes’ to more things and can relax.

I hope we can be better friends,

Lots of love,

Emina xxx

If you think you are suffering from an eating disorder, please see your GP and have a look at information on Beat’s website. They are a charity, champion, guide and friend to anyone affected, giving individuals experiencing an eating disorder and their loved ones a place where they feel listened to, supported and empowered.

I am always here to talk to, no judgement and any time.

 

 

Happy 2nd freelance birthday to me

Goodness me, here I am, a second year of freelance under my belt.

After my first year I was absolutely landed I hadn’t yet had to eat out of a bin and it’s pretty much still the same. The three second rule is now more like three minutes but no bin scavenging.

Things to be grateful for:

I am successful

There are times I don’t feel like it AT ALL, I berate myself for ‘not working hard enough’ or ‘not doing well enough’. It’s rubbish, I’m here, freelance with clients I’ve retained and new ones to boot. I am happy and grateful to be recognised for my work and experience.

My daily rate

Last year I finally started to get my daily rate and that feels like a huge win for me. Money doesn’t necessarily equate happiness or success but I feel valued and respected. Also it feels weird writing about money but we have to, it’s important!

Naps

They are a god send, I’ve chosen to not work a 9-5 so that means I dictate my own hours and if I want to nap at 3pm, I bloody will. Also great for if you’re too tight to put the heating on in the day in Winter.

My cat as a PA

Sometimes annoying, but the majority of time calm inducing and super cute. Her hair is all over my laptop but I’m glad for the cwtches, leans and distractions when I need time away from the screen. George, you complete me.

Supportive people

I have people in my life that support me in so many ways and none more so than other freelancers who just get it. When I freak out, need advice or just a friendly ear I have people to draw on. Lucky me

Time

It’s a precious commodity. Sometimes I sit in the library to work, I go to the gym in the day which gives me invigoration and clarity and other times I zoom across Cardiff on Penelope (my bike) for meetings, events and more.

Confidence

I trust my gut more, am not afraid to say no, argue my corner and value myself. This has come with experience and I still have a long way to go but I’m proud of me.

 

2018 in review

I promised myself this would be a year of JFDI or Just fucking do it and it didn’t disappoint.

I got married to a wonderful human.

img_5175

I launched my passion project Wicked Women’s Institute: recorded four podcasts, did an event in Made in Roath and Ty Seren a women’s hostel. A ‘Stitch, tits and clits’ workshop with fab Twin Made, tee printing with Printhaus. I wrote three poems and recorded videos to accompany them.

I got my first tattoo, then got another one.

      

Became a cyclist.

cardiff_cycling_penelope

Worked on my first re-brand project.

img_4377

Was part of a video with an incredible band for a bloody good song.

Tried professional baking.

bread model

Got rainbow hair.

Booked a trip to Japan for 2019.

rwcjapan2019.jpg

Bought a mooncup.

mooncup

2019, what have you got for me?

Feeling festive? Fa la la la la, No.

Image result for melting snowman

Snow, scarves, rosy cheeks, hot chocolates by a roaring fire and looking like you’ve stepped out of Joules catalogue is how Christmas is, right?

Not for me…. I’m blue, I can’t remember the last time it didn’t rain, my hair has been unruly for 35 days and I have a cold so suffocating that above the neck there is no orifice not leaking.

Hang on, Christmas is lush

Maybe when I was between the ages of 3-10, yes.

I’m 33 and cynical as heck.

Christmas is abundant with social norms, pressures, ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and I’m growing tired of it. Walking around Cardiff city centre to see huge bags filled to the brim makes me wince and feel a bit sick. As for the Coca Cola van, it makes me stabby.

Oh, so it’s not as fantastic for everyone?

No, sadly not. Winter is not my season, jumpers – yes, dark, cold and changeable winds that make my hair like a helmet are a no.

SAD syndrome or seasonal affective disorder affects many people, including me.  It also means it’s bully of an older sibling ‘depression’ comes along, who invites anxiety, paranoia and agoraphobia to a party where no one appreciates coasters.

The night is dark and full of terrors

Past 5pm I don’t want to be out the majority of the time, it’s got nothing to do with the location or the person/people, purely about me. I know in principle I will enjoy myself but the expectation, real or imagined, to be the extrovert I present myself to be, weighs heavy on me.

Social media does a cracking job of making you feel you are joyless, boring and induces FOMO (fear of missing out).

I get irrationally annoyed at people able to function past 5pm as there’s myself in comparison…. moulded to my sofa, book in hand, finding it easier to get lost in fiction than face reality.

It’s time we want

As I’ve gotten older I realise that time is a precious commodity and something we take for granted. I cannot tell you how many times this year I’ve said ‘I’m so busy’ and that’s utterly rubbish.

I create the busy, seek the chaos and the bouncing from place to place. If push came to shove I would give it up for the people I love.

What I would love most of all from people is time, for us to stop, appreciate the relationships we have, rebuild connections and be present in that moment.

Beat the sadness

If I had a cure I would give you it, but I don’t so here’s some things to consider.

  1. Donate to your local food bank, thanks to the T*ries, people are more in need than ever before.
  2. Give time – go and see friends, family and neighbours, you never know who feels the most isolation at this time of year.
  3. Re-gift – if you are given something that isn’t quite you, but you know would be perfect for someone else, choose to do that.
  4. Appreciate the little things – smells, sounds, taste, touch all help us to be present.
  5. Be honest – if you aren’t feeling it, say so. You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.

Pic credit.

How and when to rebrand

One of my favourite projects since being freelance has been a re brand.

I loved it, the excitement, possibilities and flow of creativity. Let’s face it, it’s a hell of a challenge too.

Production house Skint Student Productions or SSP  (now Copa) approached me in 2017 asking for brand services, after six years they felt they needed a new direction and refresh and I was the woman to help them.

Image result for ssp mediaImage result for copa cymru

I identified a re brand may be on the cards. but before that decision I needed to get to the heart of them, figure out who they were and wanted to be and if their current brand matched that.

What I also loved is that it HAD to be bilingual, what another great facet to consider. My A level Welsh is pretty sbwriel (rubbish) but I’ve worked a lot with bilingual brands, so I totally understand for Welsh not to be an afterthought but at the forefront of the creative design process.

Phase 1

I did an interactive brand session with each company member in which I presented some theories, a quiz (I am fun) and I got to the heart of the people behind the company. What makes them tick, their hobbies, beliefs and loves in life.

I adored this process, seeing creative people almost explode with pride and energy about who they are and what they do is infectious. It’s like crack (I have not tried crack) and SSP had boundless amounts it (enthusiasm, not crack).

Many people believe brand is just a logo, IT IS NOT OK? Its far, far more and my job is to remind people that.

Phase 2

A brand strategy document, an unwieldy beast filled with research, testimonials, competitor analysis and more.

It was decided a re brand was needed based on their current mission, vision and values (we did that together) not matching their current brand ethos.

Phase 3

What’s in a name? Everything turns out, I went in to my brand happy place (think a beach with coconuts and monkeys (throwing pineapples) and picked out a few names with bilingualism at the forefront of my mind and am ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED to say that a suggestion of mine is now the company name.

Copa meaning summit fits with who this company is; Welsh, ambitious, talented, dedicated, outdoor loving, adventure seeking mad men and women who want to exceed and achieve for every person they work for.

Phase 4

Branding needs design so we the next task was to get a designer on board. A call out using digital media was the most effective way of getting lots of quote applications through to my inbox.

It was an fascinating process. There was so much variation in the communication style, presentation, professionalism, portfolio and price of each designer.

I’ve worked with designers long enough to know what I consider to be good/bad, red flags and was able to whittle it down to four that I presented to the client based on their needs and vision. Studio Hicks delivered a great brand.

Phase 5

Implementation – there are SO many things to consider when you rebrand and I focused on the communications and marketing side which involved new content for the website, event organisation, merchandise, networking, many phone calls, ideas, contacts – the list goes on.

Phase 6

LAUNCH PARTY – if you’re going to do a re brand you’re going to shout about it, right? Invites were designed and sent out, press release, blogs and social media content written, new merch ordered – thanks to Printhaus for the tees and Rival Brewing Co for the awesome ‘Copa’ IPA.

New show reels created, The People The Poet booked and a fantastic trip to Costco (Muller Light aside, tut Osian) ensured we had everything we needed. It was GREAT, one of the proudest moments of my working life.

Phase 7

Lie down, it’s exhausting….

Need some help with you brand strategy? Let me know.