Happy Birthday Blog!

Well this is now officially the longest job I've ever had. Not that the blog is a job, I vehemently protest that the blog is fun and the consultancy is work but the reality is I earn a fair chunk of my living through South Molton St Style... And now it's 6. SIX. The last year has been the most fun with the most travel and I'm feeling the most comfortable about my presence online - which took me a while to find.

To "celebrate" the blog's birthday I'm getting smashed answering the questions you guys have sent me via Instagram because none of this blog stuff would have been close to possible without you all having my back. I thought about doing a giveaway but the reality is thats what bloggers do to attract new followers and today - just today - I'm not looking for any new ones because I want to say "hello" and thank you to the ones I've got.

What made you start the blog?

It was the classic "wanting a creative outlet" and being incredibly bored whilst recovering from an operation. A friend had a really cool blog and she (Geneva, here) talked about how it made her day job more enjoyable - knowing her "creativity box" was being ticked in her spare time. I knew nothing and no-one in the fashion industry.

To put it in perspective I started it during London Fashion Week and didn't know. I can remember seeing the terms LFW, RTW, AW11 and not having a clue what it was all about... Put simply, I was sick of not feeling very happy with what I was wearing so wanted to record (and therefore force myself to stick to) my style journey. Wow, that sounds naff! It took me two years to put myself on it - when I realised the reason people followed bloggers was because they were a person (with a personality) rather than a publication...

In 2011 the blogging landscape was entirely different. Had I known how public it would become I would probably not have started it... Strangely I felt like the internet was an anonymous way to document stuff. There was no Instagram, you couldn't even put pictures on Twitter. In fact, when people ask how I built my following the crazy fact is I used to write (note, not photograph) my outfits in a tweet with the hashtag #wiwt attached and British Vogue would retweet their favourites every day, and along came the followers. Can you even imagine that happening now!?

How do I start a blog? Any tips?

This is a question I, and I'm guessing the majority of bloggers, am asked all the time. I'm going to be brutally honest here - for the majority of people my advice is simple; don't. I get it, you see us all with our surplus gifts and trips and glossy Instagrams (ok, maybe not me with the Instagrams) and think "Hey, if she can do it I can too." Well...

The truth is setting up a blog is easy, anyone could do it. But that's half the problem - anyone can do it, and a lot who wouldn't bother if they knew the effort required, do. My stern advice to you if you're thinking about it is - do you honestly want to put the time and creativity into a blog - and keep it up - with the very strong possibility that no person or brand will ever notice you? Would you be ok with that? Because that is the reality.

I find a huge amount of girls don't want to write a blog; they want the stuff that can come with having a blog. But let me tell you, it ain't easy. You guys see the smoke and mirrors. For every friend I've made through blogging, I've lost five. It's because it's so competitive and it brings out the worst in people. I honestly think the only reason that my blog is anything close to a success is because I got in early. Brands had 50 to choose from, now it's 500,000.

Also, and I mean this politely - let's stop asking each other for shout outs and contacts. If you're my proper friend (ie; if I spend my free time with you and we've shared a vino at something other than a press event) then fine - but "randomly" emailing to "congratulate" someone on a great blog post, quickly followed with a contact request. No. If you were in line for a promotion, would you be happy to hand over your boss' details to a colleague who wanted to climb the ladder as much as you? No - and putting someone in that position is incredibly unfair.

Contacting a blogger on Facebook you went to school with (and in my case: bullied. LOLS) after ten years asking if they can promote your sister in laws jewellery brand? No. This happens so, so much to people - and never gets said.It's dog eat dog these days sadly - and any smart blogger knows it.

Where are my headphones from?

 On a much lighter note! It really makes me laugh that you ask this so much as they're something Gus absolutely hates and says they're way too big/hispter/cool for me! I love them though! They were a gift from Frends, and you can find them here.

outfit = striped jumper / jeans / sunglasses

  What are your all time favourite purchases?

This is going to make me sound so, so boring because these choices aren't any kind of revelation. I've put the first things that spring to mind below - but here is a download: Firstly, jeans. Before the blog I lived in those £35 Baxter jeans Topshop did back in the day. I owned them in every wash and I wore them because they came up big (so I wore a small size) which made me feel good. The truth was the zips broke after two wears and they were around my ankles by the end of the day, and not for any fun reason. Through the blog I discovered Paige Denim. If someone had told me I'd willingly recommend £200 pairs of jeans I'd have laughed out loud. But they're really good. Like, really good. I treat my denim really badly; wear them a lot and throw them in the tumble dryer... My favourite pair are the Hoxton but I also love the Jimmy Jimmy and the Verdugo...

1. black shirt2. green chinos / 3. white shirt / 4. Breton shirt / 5. denim shirt / 6. utility jacket

Clothing wise, it's been an education. You only have to look back at some earlier posts to see it look me a while to get to grips with fashion. Deciding that less is more has been a big step - I have one small wardrobe rail and a cupboard and I never go beyond filling them... My little collection of Equipment silk shirts are worn all the time (they're perfect for work meetings with heels), my MiH bretons are firm favourites too - and not forgetting this Reiss white shirt that I get every single season without fail. I also of course have to mention my handbags which have been bought through either dedication to the cause, or the blog.

I feel guilty the moment I'm not using something (so I am a big seller/charity shop giver) so when investing in something I'll always hunt for the best deal. Whilst I have every respect for those that do, having a tonne of designer bags doesn't appeal to me - so the few I have are pretty sacred. My much documented need for a Louis Vuitton Neverfull was finally fulfilled when I found a gem on Vestiaire Collective (where I worked before starting my own thing). Through them I discovered that new LV's are made of PU (plastic) so I really wanted a vintage one - another excellent reason to buy pre owned. My Celine Trio and Saint Laurent Duffle are both from Bicester; again with 50% or so off...

outfit = striped jumper / jeans / sunglasses

How many Breton shirts do you own and where are the best ones from?

Yeah, thanks for this as I now have to document my problem... I have a lot. I'd say it's probably around twenty which is pretty sickening. I have two favourites for two very different causes. For weekends and casual outfits I think Joules is the best (the fabric is soft but thick - so they're really warm) and you can find them here. If you're wanting to go for a more dressed up look; MiH's are the best here. They're more structured and look a lot more expensive than they actually are...

What are your favourite shoes?

What a question. Can I just take the moment to say I really don't consider myself a shoe person. Below are a few of my favourites but I've found what I like and I stick to it, religiously. As I just said about my denim discovery, I've learnt that it's not about quantity but quality. I used to just go to New Look or Dorothy Perkins and buy £20 shoes every month, even though they were made of plastic and so made my feet sweat like a b*tch.

1. taupe heels / 2. bright blue heels / 3. red heels / 4. cream and navy Chanel dupe / 5. navy suede heels / 6. grey suede boots

I have really small feet, a size 36.5 (3.5) and a fair bit for them to carry around so high heels hurt me and I avoid them. I'm lucky in that my job means I can wear trainers a lot - my favourites are the Nike Thea's here and Adidas Superstars here. When I do wear heels there are only two kinds I'll spend money on - L.K.Bennett's Floret here and the Jimmy Choo Romy 85 here. Yeah, I'll happily pick up other pairs through the blog throughout the year, but if all ended tomorrow those are the two styles I'd gladly spend my money on.

outfit = striped jumper / jeans / sunglasses

What breed is Lopez?

Lopez is a Maltese Terrier, which is somewhere between a Westie and a Yorkshire Terrier. He's nearly  6 now too which terrifies me because I've already explained that when the decision comes to say goodbye, I'm going with him. 2 for 1 at the vets, for real. He's hands down the best decision I've ever made and I don't know what I'd do without him.

  Where would I choose to go for a weekend break in England?

 I had a few people ask this which is great as I had no idea people from The U.S and other places followed me! We're really lucky here in the UK, as our weather isn't the best (that mean 9 months of rain/cold and 3 months of weird summer heat/sweat) the hotels and their facilities really are rather amazing. There are tonnes of places to go just an hour or two outside of London if you are visiting the city for a short time (and therefore unable to do a proper tour of the country). My favourites are Limewood which since I've been going has been cited as the best hotel in the UK. Their spa, food and furnishings really are very special. Every time I go there I leave relaxed, full and happy!

Also really want to include The Painswick; a lovely little hotel (only opened last year) in the most picturesque village in the Cotswolds. If you go there you are a stone's throw from all the wonderful things the English countryside has to offer (and it has an awesome Elemis spa inside, and the breakfasts are the best). If you are able to a little further afield I really recommend getting yourself to Devon. We had an incredible stay in Instow in November (we stayed at The Anchorage here). Believe it or not, it felt like a European break. The seaside towns, beaches, local pubs and best stocked local store in the history of time set the base of a super fun weekend. The house was amazing; even had a hot tub!

  Where do I get my hair done?

 I've been a loyal patron of Sassoon Salons for a long ol' time now. When they first took me in my hair was a blonde, bleached pile of mess. Now I like to think it's a lot better. I've learnt that you need to spend a fair amount on your hair to get a decent look - and (as I was doing before) not jump around visiting whatever salon has the best deal on. Seeing the same people makes an enormous difference, and sometimes if you tell them your plans to visit them regularly they'll give you a discount for the year etc... I get mine cut and coloured there every 4 or so month and deliberately have it styled in a way that regrowth looks ok as my hair always takes a while to recoup after its been coloured...

1. Living Proof Shampoo / 2. Living Proof Conditioner / 3. Duck and Dry Blow Dry Spray / 4. Phillip Kinglsey Elasticiser 

Product wise I've really shopped about and tried a huge amount of stuff. I absolutely swear by Living Proof's "restore" shampoo and conditioner here (it's what Jennifer Aniston uses, and anyone my age will all know we wanted the "Rachel" for most of our teens). I wash my hair every other day or sometimes every three days... Once a week I use Phillip Kingsley's Elasticiser here; it's brilliant for people like me who have naturally flat and uninteresting hair (probably the best find hair wise). For every day I really love Duck and Dry's Blow Dry In A Bottle spray here to give you a good volume boost (it's also very good to do the whole "beauty" look) and even though I have tried a gazillion more expensive and arguably more premium brands I can't beat Tresemme's Freeze Hold hairspray here.

outfit = striped jumper / jeans / sunglasses

How old am I?

 I'm 32. It's a tragic tale of time, fear and anti wrinkle creams and I don't want to talk anymore about it... I am absolutely dedicated to my beauty regime in a shameless attempt to defy time and ageing - I recently did a post on the product I find so useful here.

  How long have I been with the other half and how did we meet?

 I often forget that you lot don't actually know me like my friends do, so when I get sent personal questions it feels really odd. I was in a long term relationship that didn't work out when I started the blog so when Gus and I first started dating I was really hesitant about putting him on my social media channels having already broadcast one relationship so heavily... Plus it took him a while to get used to all the selfies (he's now an A Grade, fully fledged Insta Boyfriend). We've been together for just over a year and a half (neither of us can really remember the exact date, we just say "summer 2015"). We met through a mutual friend at a dinner party in Mayfair (something neither of us ever do on weekends).

 I remember the friend saying she thought I'd fancy him and being slightly cross about being set up. It was all very laid back until he went away for a week and I realised how "into" him I was. We were both quite happy as we were, having come out of fairly heavy things earlier in the year. I can vividly remember being peeved he hadn't called me all week, then I woke up to a message saying he missed me... He called on the last day of his trip, came straight to my place from the airport and we have been glued at the hip ever since. It's cringingly cliche and boring... We're an excellent team.

  What is my "day" job?

 I've always known I don't want to be a full time blogger (for the reasons stated in an earlier question); I think it strips the joy out of it a lot of the time. I never want to be put in a position that I'd have to take on a project for the money... Yeah there was one time I stood in Times Square eating an apple in the rain and had pictures taken, but I got to go to New York and the apple made sense because I was in the Big Apple. To me at least. So, yes I monetise the blog but it's my fun money and I never predict my earnings based on it.

There have definitely been points when I've strongly considered it, but I want to be able to not worry about it, let it flow - write when I want to write. The influencer market is enormous now; it's incredibly competitive and (in London at least) it can get quite b*tchy. Having experience a bit of that I decided it really wasn't for me. The real job is One Roof Social.

It's a little influencer media agency meaning we create and manage marketing campaigns for brands. We've been really lucky and worked with some incredible companies and - fingers crossed - this year looks really good too. It took me ages to find my feet working for myself - I knew I wanted to pair up my marketing experience with my influencer knowledge but didn't know how. I bumbled around for a year or so freelancing and then finally founded the business last year.

As a final note, it feels so cliche to say it but thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the support, comments, likes and feedback. It means so much and without it there is no way I'd have stuck at it. It would be lovely to know what kind of content you have enjoyed to date, and what you'd like to see more (beauty will feature heavily as my face is falling down due to my prehistoric age) - I'm also considering entering the world of YouTube... Any feedback much appreciated!

  Photos by Amelia Allen Photography, taken using the Canon 5D available at John Lewis.


Angie SilverSpoon said...

Happy blog birthday, Anna!!

Laura said...

Love this post and the question about Lopez nearly made me cry...I feel EXACTLY the same! x

KatGotTheCream said...

Love what you do but particularly inspired by how you set up your own business with One Roof Social! Happy birthday SMSS xxx

Marmalade said...

Loved this post lady. Can't wait to celebrate the anniversary over a bottle of vino and an Aperol or 10 next next week!! Ps loved the industry honesty, I hear ya and I'm super detached haha Xx

Auntie Foo said...

Please do YouTube! Your Instagram stories make me laugh so much.

Viv said...

Hi Anna, I really enjoyed this post and getting to know you a little more. I've becoe an avid follower of your blog. It would seem we have nothing in common (I am much older than you, married with kids-believe me 32 is NOT old - try 46!!) but I look forward to your posts and find them so refreshing! Thanks for sharing your world - it's been a little escape for me to be honest. Plus I just love your style! Happy blog birthday and thank you!

Felicity said...

I found your blog at the same time I learned blogs existed. I desperately needed help as I had just moved from a hot climate to London during winter and was having some sartorial 'issues'. Found your post on denim shirts and have followed ever since. By the wsy I think even if you started the blog now you would still stand out. :)

Anastasia said...

I'm one of your oldest readers and love how raw and real your opinions are-also I love your insta stories because they make me feel like I know you better :) . All you said about the blogging world is true and I can't even imagine how much more crazy things must be in London. Please post more lifestyle posts e.g your favourite cafes in London etc.
Happy blog birthday and all the best with the agency x

CaraA said...

Loved this Anna! Found you via Instagram a few months ago and now I'm hooked! Love your honesty and relatability and I've got a list as long as my arm of products I want to try from your recommendation. Happy birthday!

Aleksandra said...

I could never ever imagine myself living off blogging. It is just not a lifestyle that I could commit to? I like it, and I have fun with it, but I have a feeling as soon as I started relying on it, that'd be too much of 'goodbye fun, hello money'.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday South Molton St Style! I've read your blog every day since it began and absolutely love it. I used to read tonnes of blogs but yours is the only one that has retained its authenticity over the years. The perfect mix of fashion, beauty, travel and personal anecdotes - please never change!

Sophie xx

P.S. I'm heading to the Amalfi coast this summer and will be using your posts as my bible :).

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