Oh great, another women's event

Melanie and Sam

On the 13th of Feb we held a Galentine’s party with Mean Mail. A few weeks previous we didn’t even know what Galentine’s was, even now we're only 90% confident... but basically it's about celebrating love for your pals instead of just focusing on romantic love, which sounded good to us.

That said, there wasn't too much strategy behind us marking the day... But we never need much convincing to host a knees up, plus we thought it would be a good opportunity to counteract some of the lame chat around this time of year - from dreams of romantic grand gestures (caught on camera of course), to the myth of prince charming providing happily ever after, to our supposed universal desire to be given 'exquisite' Pandora charms. Vicky founded Mean Mail as a direct response to being exasperated by the lack of authentic, witty cards to suit her own relationships - so we felt like we had just about enough reasons to make it happen.

Galentine's UK party

But most importantly, we wanted to do something useful with the event. So we reached out to Bloody Good Period after hearing about them from the lovely Amika George who runs the Free Periods campaign. They provide menstrual supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and people who can't afford them. It's a simple solution to a problem that is all too easy to ignore when finding two quid a month for some tampons isn't something you need to plan for. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of the brands who donated to our fundraiser raffle. Please check them all out. They all made the effort to help - and we appreciate it >>> @ripostemagazine  @studio_b_fashion @paper_smiths @myfreda @daisyemerson @deloresdaywear @4thestatebooks @roserankin_ldn @sarahbaily @labasketry @skullandheart @saintaymeschocolates @tonightjosephine 

Back in party prep world, we concluded the appropriate refreshments were donuts & margaritas, naturally. The margaritas didn’t quite work out, but we had some tasty drinks donated from the guys at Kombucha and Ugly and filled the alcohol gap with love tokens for the bar and copious bottles of prosecco, so it was alright on the night. We were also delighted that Second Home wanted to work with us to host the event. We've been interested in their thinking on the future of work for some time, and also love their epic approach to design. It's a great space.

The second strand to our 'let's do something useful' ambition, was to call out some of the female-skewed Valentine's clichés and have a proper chat about why the heck we're subjected to all this rubbish. We had lofty ambitions to get a line-up of maverick, insightful and interesting women to take part in a panel discussion. And by some crazy stokes of luck, that's exactly what we did, hosting four brilliant guests that we are massive fans of, to discuss feminine stereotypes, feminism, best mates, personal heroes and more.

Galentine's UK panel

Our guests were:

  1. Cool as hell popstar @FEMMEHQ
  2. Entrepreneur, Exec Producer of WoW Festival 2017 & Chair of the Black British Business Awards @MelanieEusebe
  3. Founder of the Hackney institution, Rita's Bar & Restaurant @MissyFlynn of @ritasdining
  4. Body positive champ & model babe Sam Rowswell aka @FattyBoomTatty

Galentine's UK guests

It's hard to summarise what was covered since they shared so much interesting stuff - with candour, wit and conviction. For us, these were just some of the highlights:

  • Hearing from Sam on how she's had the same five best mates since she was a kid. They have stuck together even when their lives have veered in very different directions - from Sam's more recent move from Essex to Bristol, to being a 17 year old Mum when her pals were still out raving. There were a good few belly laughs when Sam gave a couple of specific examples of how different her daily life as a new mum was to that of her teen pal's at that moment in time!
  • Laughing (whilst empathetically all eye-rolling) as Melanie spoke about her frustration and the tedium of finding herself trying to tread a line when arguing against rubbish 'angry black women' clichés - all whilst feeling she couldn't allow herself to get angry (as a black women) making the case!
  • Getting some strikingly honest insight from Missy on how she felt her very identity was challenged when she had to admit that Rita's wasn’t making cash, despite looking like the ultimate success on social media. She shared some of the personal journey she went on to find peace with that and look ahead to her next venture, whilst also having a deeper understand on the meaning of success for her.
  • Learning more about the realities of being a young woman inside the music industry from Laura (aka FEMME). Including hearing some of the downright weird requests made of her whilst courting big labels, and the freedom and empowerment she now feels being independent, enabling her to do what she loves and be led by creativity.
  • Melanie revealed how her perspective on life has changed quite a lot over the past few years. She talked us through the transition from a senior corporate role to working for herself and being led by her passions, which has led to opportunities that she couldn’t have even predicted. She reminded us that change can be scary, but it also opens up lots of new adventures.
  • Sam surprised some of us by revealing that she definitely doesn’t see herself as a rebel. She told us that embracing her own bold style and sharing her body beautiful isn’t about trying to counteract more vanilla imagery. Far from it. It's simply about her being herself - and at times even taking one for the team to push herself to be that - because it's the right thing to do. She uttered some lovely words about every person have the right to take up space and to be what they are. It was right on, and powerful.
  • Missy introduced us to the Feminist Business School, Sister. She said the Founder Jennifer Armbrust was a real inspiration and it has introduced her to some brilliant thinkers with diverse experiences that she otherwise may not have discovered.
  • Laura shared that the pal she’ll be celebrating this Galentine’s was a friend who she values for celebrating the small successes, snapping her out of over-thinking moments when she's tempted to feel like she's not good enough - and always being straight up. Sounds like a friend we all need in our lives.
  • Melanie dropped a powerful quote from the amazing Audre Lorde that got us all thinking. We’ll leave you with that, ‘If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.'

Thank you so much to all the contributors, event partners, raffle donors and everyone who joined the party, bought a raffle ticket and supported online. You can check out more photos on social media. You can also still support the cause by donating to Bloody Good Period here.

Make sure you're signed up to our newsletter here so you hear about what we're up to next - and stay in touch through all the social channels, it's always great to hear from you.

Milk Tooth x Mean Mail Galentine's party

Love to Love: Part Five

Sarah Akwisombe

Welcome to Love to Love - a series of interviews with top women we love to love, about all the stuff they love to love.

Today we meet Sarah Akwisombe - the straight-talking interior stylist with a penchant for monochrome alongside bold colour pops.

You’ll have no doubt seen the fresh interiors Sarah shares creation of in her own Croydon home, lusted after her streetwear influenced style, and even spotted her and the fam in that festive Ebay TV ad. But, what you may not know is that Sarah is a bonafide popstar, who helped pioneer Grime music as alter ego GoldieLocks. Yes, really! Oh - and she has set up her own training programme, brilliantly named, the No Bull Blog School. You really should check it out... But for now, let’s find out more...

How would you describe your style?

I’d say my look is quite pop, but with a bit of humour to it - so irreverent basically. My clothes are always very casual, but in a put-together way. I love pastels at the moment - and am also coveting anything textured, preferably fluffy or at least stroke-able!

What’s your dream dinner party line up if you only had three chairs to fill?

I’d have to have my husband there - so we could tick off a nice dinner date at the same time, which is something we’re always trying to find time for (and a babysitter!). Plus he’d be excited to meet the same people as me anyway. I reckon we’d invite Tyler the Creator and… Jennifer Lawrence. I feel like I should say someone mega intelligent, but I don’t know any intelligent people... I reckon that would be a good group anyway - and most importantly we’d have fun.

Where’s your favourite place to visit and why?

I went to Austin Texas for a festival thing when I was making music. It was great weather, obviously, but also just felt like a really cool music scene. And the food is amazing. Loads of barbeques, sauced ribs and stuff like that. It’s somewhere I’ve always felt like I didn’t explore properly, so I would love to go back. Although that said, I’m also desperate to go to Japan. We’re saving up for a trip at the moment in fact. I feel like it’s going to be my spirit animal of countries.

Where do you get your style inspo from?

I don’t really look to fashion stuff. I don’t read fashion magazines or follow that kind of thing, but I really like counterculture - and  street-style. I also like to like look back in history for retro and vintage inspiration. I prefer indie brands if possible, but then the obvious like Nike for trainers and stuff.  It’s great when a little funny independent brand pops up on Instagram or something. I just found one that makes these t-shirts of chicken chubs, and I was like, yeah, I need that. I like things that are just a bit silly and don’t take themselves too seriously.

What does jewellery mean to your style?

I think it is a really good way to finish off a look. Because I dress really casual and wear baggy oversize men’s stuff, it’s a nice way to add some glam. I use it to make my outfits quite feminine - and to show I’ve made an effort basically. Otherwise, I could just look like I’m rolling up in my tracksuit, which is a bit dodgy in some circumstances. But if I rock up in a tracksuit with some blingy jewellery, people are confused and assume it’s a fashion look. So then I can totally get away with the tracksuit…

So what is your favourite piece of the Milk Tooth range?

I don’t have my ears pierced, so I’m all about the vintage clip-ons. I’ve got a couple of amazing pairs from Milk Tooth that I love. Normally anything chunky and gold is good for me. From the new range though, my favourites are the Women earrings. I like that they’re quite different to the other stuff that you guys have done before - and they’re quite different for me too, because I usually like geometric straight lines. But with these, I’m loving the fluidity - and it has a slightly retro feel as well. 

Love to Love: Part Four

Just a uniform

Welcome to Love to Love - a series of interviews with top women we love to love, about all the stuff they love to love.

Today we meet Siobhan Maroney aka Just a Uniform - the multi-coloured fashion blogger representing for Kent and leaving a trail of glitter wherever she goes.

You’ll have no doubt seen her honest blogs and daringly experimental fashion mash ups. But what you may not know, is that Siobhan used to be a teacher and counts her an envy-inducing ‘Bachelorette’ party in Las Vegas (gurl gang goals) as a true highlight of her past few years. Let’s find out more...

How would you describe your style?
More is more, less is bore - a phrase I live by! Clearly I’m a bit of a magpie, but I also love making fashion playful - breaking rules, mixing things up, experimenting basically. It has to be joyful!
What’s your dream dinner party line up if you only had three chairs to fill?
First off, Prince, definitely. Just because he’s an all-around genius of course - musically talented and also in the style stakes. I love how daring he always was. The second place would go to Iris Apfel. She’s the reason that I started my blog and I am absolutely inspired by her. For the final seat, I’m going to go with the blogging style queen Megan Ellaby. I think her style is everything - and she’s just the nicest human.
Where’s your favourite place to visit and why?
I’m going to be controversial and insist on saying two! My favourite city is Berlin. I go there every single year. I got engaged there and it holds so many great memories. It’s a really, really creative place, where you’re allowed to be who you are. And it feels really free because of that. One place I’d definitely recommend checking out if you go is Kreuzberg for it’s nightlife, vintage shops and amazing Turkish food. The other place is somewhere I haven’t even been yet, but I’ve been obsessed since I was in primary school! And that’s Japan - for all the crazy visual stimulation and a total change in surroundings - I love the fashion, the food, everything.
Where do you get your style inspo from?
The streets - just literally people-watching, I like my magazines, but I don’t really follow trends. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of trends in my wardrobe for sure, but they are there because I genuinely like them. Mainly I love observing and enjoy walking around shops and seeing what’s going on. I try to go to fashion weeks and like getting inspiration from there, but equally, I just think it’s great to just see what everyday people are doing. For me it’s mainly bloggers who are leading the way - and that’s where I see the most style. A couple of people I'd recommend to follow are @nicolekayclark and @tezzamb
What does jewellery mean to your style?
Last year I didn’t make a new year’s resolution, but my pledge to myself was to accessorize more! Basically because I always felt that my accessories game wasn’t quite up with my clothes game - so during 2017 I was really going for it - and now I get so many comments about my accessories and jewellery, especially my Milk Tooth London earrings! Loads of people stop me and ask me about them. Jewellery can complete a look, or make a look, so I love its flexibility.
Tell us about the earrings you’re wearing now?
For me I love The Cloud - how statement they are basically! They are a bit out there and really suit my style. But also gold, pink and red is the best colour combination!