What’s A Girl To do?

I starting writing a blog post titled ’10 Things that Annoy the hell Out of Me For No Good Reason’. When I finally noticed that I was on #27 out of a list of 10, I decided to scrap that idea and write something a bit more positive. I have the propensity for negativity, a glass half-empty sort of person and I am trying to stamp that out in 2018. It doesn’t help that some of the music I listen to can be a little depressing (The Smiths) and the comedy I enjoy isn’t of the feel-good variety (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Couple that with relationships, work, finances and my health not being where they should be, and I can begin to feel rather overwhelmed. I want change. But where do I start? I decided to change 5 relatively small things across these areas of my life starting right now. Ok, so it’s not going to make my life perfect, but it might give it a wee kick up the backside? Possibly?

  1. Start eating a healthy breakfast. Every day. You know it’s bad when you find yourself logging ‘half a banoffee pie’ into My Fitness Pal at 9am.
  2. Create an biz Instagram theme. And stick to it. I used to be a prolific poster on Instagram. I haven’t posted anything on my business account for nearly 2 weeks!! I’ve lost my Instagram mojo. Having read a few online articles, and researched accounts that I like, I am going to pick a colour scheme, and formulate a daily plan of action for my posts. I’ve signed up to Schedugram again.
  3. Start contributing towards a Private Pension. I cannot believe I am 35 years old and haven’t got a pension. Due to having been self-employed for the last decade, this has been left up to me to do. There has been no employer taking contributions from my wage-slips.
  4. Go to bed earlier + wake up earlier. Get more done. This is something that simply must change. On average I go to bed at around 2am – it is 01:42am as I type this – and I don’t normally get back up until 11am. Well that’s not strictly true. I get up around 8am with my son, but once he is out the door and away to school, I usually go back to bed for a couple of hours. Sometimes with half a banoffee pie for breakfast.
  5. Do more exercise. As we are told often enough, exercise releases endorphins and can chase those blues away, leaving you feeling energised and refreshed. I wish I was the sort of person who enjoyed going for a jog every morning. The most exercise I do, is walking the dog a couple of times a day. Not really getting my heart rate up. But I must must must not allow myself to join another gym. I go religiously for a month, and then fall off the wagon and spend the next 11 months unsuccessfully trying to negotiate an early release from the gym’s contract.

Never Gonna Gift You Up

I am pretty addicted to Reddit. I have been using it for around 3 years, and subscribe to a few business/entrepreneur sub-reddits, along with the obligatory r/awww which is home to the cutest animal pics. This year, I decided to sign up for the Reddit Secret Santa Rematch service. I have participated in Reddit’s Secret Santa, and other Reddit gift exchanges before, but unfortunately I have always been unlucky with receiving anything back from my allocated Secret Santa. This doesn’t bother me that much, as I always find the giving much more fun than the receiving. If you are not familiar with Reddit’s Secret Santa, it works like regular Secret Santa but you could be hooked up with someone from the other side of the world which is a little more exciting than being paired with Barbara from Accounting. Some famous peolpe get involved including Bill Gates, who this year gifted a lucky lady a HUGE plush pusheen cat! Sadly, a lot of folk, like myself, send gifts, but don’t receive them back. Thus leaving them presentless. These unlucky people can sign up to be rematched with another present giver. And that’s where I come in! I was excited to see who I had to buy for, and when my giftee was selected, she couldn’t have been better! A tea addicted, cat loving, Engineer!

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I thought it might be a good way to promote my small business, albeit potentially to a solitary, singular person, but sometimes RSS participants share pics of their gifts on Reddit, so I thought if I included some La La La products, they might be seen by more than one set of eyes. In my giftee’s profile, she stated that she had a pet cat, so I included a little catnip toy mouse and a set of pencils printed with the slogan ‘Cats are people too’. She referred to herself as an ‘Enginerd’ which was a term I had never heard before so I had to google to make sure it wasn’t anything offensive before I hand-stamped it onto a bangle!

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She mentioned that as a child she had wanted to be an astronaut. By chance I was in Waterstones and saw this beautifully illustrated book titled ‘An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet’. No self-respecting Tea Jenny would not be familiar with Whittard – purveyors of delicious flavoured loose leaf teas. These mini tea caddies were in the sale at the time, down to £3.50 from £7. I deliberated far too long over what flavours to choose, but settled on Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Serenade.

I hope she likes it all!

Top 10 Gifts for an Indie Music Fan

I am a huge fan of indie music, especially the post-punk to Britpop years. Oh yeah, and my birthday is coming up. Take notes.

Liam Gallagher Candle £15, The Smiths Pencils £4.50, Ian Brown Tote £12, King Tuts Art Print £12, Live Forever Sweater £32, Unhappy Birthday Card £3.50, Liam Gallagher Mug £25, Arctic Monkeys Wall Hanging £22, The Cure Greetings Card £3, Stone Roses Raglan Tee £25.

Don’t Look Back Into The Sun

Occasionally I will receive an email, tweet or Instagram comment asking if I still have my bricks n’ mortar store in Glasgow’s west end. I moved La La Land online in January 2014, after 4 years of running the shop, as my sales online had increased to a point of overtaking my face-to-face sales. I was sad to leave it behind but was looking forward to La La Lands exclusively digital existence.

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What I miss most, is the visual merchandising. I loved making paper pom-poms, shop signs and slogan bunting, often featuring lyrics to my favourite songs (see above), and on quiet days, I was known to completely change the look of the entire store. When a new clothing delivery arrived, I liked nothing more than planning colour schemes for different areas of the shop. The shop was teeny tiny, but I always managed to make it look cute and colourful.

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I also miss talking to the customers. I made so many friends, many of whom I am still in regular contact with; from regular customers, fellow neighbouring shop-owners, to designers whose work I stocked in the shop. The odd celeb dropped in too. Kacey Musgraves (HUGE American country music star) came in, as did the v funny Kevin Bridges, Frankie Boyle and Limmy to name a few. When Game of Thrones was filming the first series, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams’ vocal coach bought them presents to give to them including badges that said ‘I Live In La La Land’. Now, working in my office/studio is a lonely existence, as I can go a full working day without seeing a single other person!! However, I don’t miss the children. Oh my god THE CHILDREN! I love kids but their cheesy-wotsit-covered-fingers, I could live without. When I saw a small, unruly child come into the shop with a sticky lollipop, I immediately started blasting N.W.A on my stereo. Parents don’t seem to like their children listening to sweary hip hop for some reason and were swiftly escorted from the premises. I know. I’m a terrible person. And I have a child who at one point definitely was entirely covered in wotsit stickiness!

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Whenever I go to another city, I always spend ages googling, and trawling streets away from the chain-store shopping malls, in search for shops like mine. On a recent trip to Manchester, I discovered a fab shop called Thunder Egg. It reminded me a lot of what I was trying to achieve with La La Land. Needless to say, I bought SO. MUCH. STUFF.

I often think about opening a pop-up shop in the run up to Christmas. Maybe I’ll do it one year, but I think I’d be hard pushed to find somewhere suitable to host it. My old store was located down a quaint cobbled lane, nestled among other like-minded indie stores. The perfect spot for a indie retailer. Maybe one day, I’ll have a physical shop again!

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