July 14, 2020 § Leave a comment
Masks. Are. Cool.
From 24 July, we’ll all be wearing them in shops. All the silly British reluctance to do something a bit funny will be moot.
You could have been wearing them all along, getting used to it and building up a facial wardrobe – but no. You had to sniff and mutter about muzzles and rights and other NONSENSE.
Masks are cool. Get on Redbubble or Etsy and find some patterns you like. Work them into your palette or pick out something striking. Match to your suits, match to your dog’s collar, match to the weather.
My dudes, it’s fun. Such a simple act of respect for our fellow humans and in pretty colours!
No makeup required, no smiling required, no chit-chat required. It’s a dream. Especially if you’re not a critical worker who has to wear a surgical mask for nine hours a day in a room without air conditioning like my midwife best friend. Popping a mask on to go into Tesco is hardly impeding your joie de vivre.
I’ve been wearing masks defiantly for months now, which is mental when I’m in the right. When I’m protecting the staring elderly in M&S from myself. NO MILDRED I REFUSE TO KILL YOU.
I will now be regularly including masks in my outfit posts on Insta. I take it as a personal mission to flamboyantly embrace this single good (late, though) government decision.
June 27, 2020 § 2 Comments
Since lockdown, one of my best things has been two special women: Chloe, who is a long-time copybuddy, and Becca, who I’ve got close to since the world turned upside down.
We are three very different women, but have so much in common and seem perfectly harmonised for a supportive circle. Triangle, I suppose.
I recently saw a brand on Instagram called Manners London and posted some of their website copy. We started discussing it between us and got more and more obsessed with the whole vibe, which was all about simple, handmade, ethical clothes that make women feel powerful with zero fuss.
I licked that brand story up like croissant crumbs and, duh, ended up ordering some things. Then Becca ordered some things. Then Chloe ordered some things.
Becca’s arrived first and we were all like omgliterallythisisqueenshit. The photo she sent us – wow. Power BEAMING out of her.
My order arrived a couple of days later and I tried on the dress. Took the obligatory photo OF MY BUTT in this dress for the womenz. Then tried on the jumpsuit, which made my reflection look like the most Me it’s ever looked. Man, couldn’t stop smiling.
You see, the thing is – this is not just a brand story of female empowerment. You can tell the story is legit because the product lives us to the hype. THICK cotton that you swear won’t even go on your body, it’s so tight. But on it goes, and you’re looking in the mirror at some kind of actual goddess.
These are magic clothes but some of that magic IS from the story. Clothes designed by a single mother with a big bum who wanted to make things women feel good in, sans bra. Feel defiant in, really.
Because the magic isn’t just that they make you look good. They make you look like a sartorial FUCK YOU to anyone who doesn’t think women’s natural shapes are individually perfect and collectively sublime.
I’ve never in my life considered wearing a skin tight jumpsuit as out-of-the-house clothing. Well, guess what. I’ll be wearing that baby to every damn occasion going.
June 26, 2020 § Leave a comment
When I started the strategy course I’ve been doing, I associated the word with complicated diagrams and a vague image of intimidating men in suits.
I had always, ALWAYS got (been given) the feeling that I wasn’t the ‘right’ kind of clever for strategy. Too fluffy, too emotional – too female, basically.
And that kept me back. You see, it turns out I can do strategy like nobody’s business. I’ve been doing it for years.
Strategy is just where you want to get to, along with all the whys, hows and whoms involved in getting there.
Strategy is a one-liner. The rest is the plan of action.
My strategy for the next part of my life is this:
Live in decadent comfort and indecent happiness by being rich and childless.
Making that happen in a measurable way would involve research, problem-solving, insights about happiness, costs, activities, risk mitigation and lots of other planning.
But I’ve got my strategy. I know where I’m going.
Because I do strategy.
June 22, 2020 § 2 Comments
One of the most perfect vintage pieces I’ve ever had the fortune of stumbling upon is a red 1960s crimplene skater dress with a flowery bib and matching pleated pocket.
I was inspired to wear such a jewel of the 60s today because my new rollerskates are due to arrive soon. Major American Graffiti vibes with that combo.
Although rollerskates have existed for nearly 300 years and been a cyclical craze for the last hundred, the 60s and 70s are when quad skating got good. Not only were rollerskates completely redesigned using modern materials (hello, urethane wheels); skating also became an interesting part of the civil rights movement.
Recognising Black skate culture
Until the late 1960s, rollerskating rinks were segregated like most recreational areas. In 1962, a group of high school students in Illinois staged sit-ins at a local pool and rollerskating rink. The protest resulted in many arrests and 17 kids began a hunger strike.
One year later, a man named Ledger Smith rollerskated to join Martin Luther King’s March on Washington. It was a 685-mile journey and he completed it in 10 days, wearing a placard saying “I’m skating to Washington for Civil Rights” the whole way. Many people cheered him on – but one tried to run him over.
Due to the civil rights movement, most recreational centres were desegregated by the end of the 60s. Rollerskating became a point of pride as Black people were finally able to legally enjoy their communities.
Of course, even now, Black people can be in danger just by daring to exist. I can imagine that any public pleasure or display of skill could feel like a revolutionary act, in a system that still kills Black men and women as they sleep, drive, try to breathe.
The power of rollergirls in 2020
Instagram knows me better than my therapist, so as I looked at skates, I began seeing more and more rollergirl videos. Quad skating in 2020 is very female and beautifully diverse. The joy and power I see in these women as they skim like birds over pavement and tarmac…it thrills me. I want that.
So, I now have some Story Duchess side-by-side skates – a bit of an upgrade from my previous kiddie skates. I have a destination in mind for practising. I have a helmet, and pink and mint knee pads. I’m determined that I will get good at this. I skated a lot as a kid and I’ve always danced. All that’s missing is practice and confidence. The confidence comes from the protective wear, I think, at my advanced age.
Something else that excited me about the 2020 quad skating scene is the style, man. It’s like 70s rock ‘n roll meets 80s athleisure meets 90s girl group. Of course, it has to be comfortable and durable. It’s got to roll with the crunches and stretch with the body. But the less you fall, the less you wear – until you’re at skate-yoga-instructor levels of booty-shorted glory, like Coco:
Yoga has been part of the skating world since the 70s, when Denis Schufeldt pioneered its use in training for downhill skateboard racing. The balance and form achieved through yoga allowed him to hold exact poses to maintain control of a skateboard hurtling downhill at 50mph. Now, Coco is combining street skating with a ballet-like flow and I’m addicted to it.
I’ve changed during lockdown. I row for 45 minutes every day and run every other day. I speak to incredible, supportive women throughout my week and get so much power from them. Having more time means I’m eating better, I’m spending more time being creative and I’m reassessing what I want my life to look like.
Why shouldn’t I take up skating in my thirties? I can do whatever I want.
June 18, 2020 § Leave a comment
I’ve been art directing for 10 years: early on, with the words ‘art director’ in my actual job title, and for the rest of that time, organically.
My experience as a copywriter is that we’re exposed to the strategy of a brief so we get the context. You can’t write copy without that understanding, as well as a lot of extra research the briefer hasn’t done. It then makes sense for the design to be guided by the background knowledge and context.
I’ve sat next to designers for my whole career, briefing, sketching wireframes, working on designs back and forth, editing copy to work in the design or changing page hierarchy to fit the copy. That’s how I’ve always worked. For the many designers I’ve known, this was greatly preferred to being handed a brief and told to get on with it. They can and will – but they’ll do it to the letter, without the full context or strategy. I’ve never known a designer who wanted to do that lot by themselves, frankly.
It’s a collaborative process. Now I’m a brand manager (not ‘just’ a copywriter), I 100% see my role as one of creative director, planning and guiding the making process, communicating with stakeholders and then presenting the design – with all the research and context that went into it at the ready. I also feel that I’m a protective barrier between stakeholders and design. It’s tough to be creative under immense pressure, so there needs to be some defence against the noise and stress. Otherwise, you don’t get good stuff out.
No one taught me to do this work and I never studied it. I’ve never worked with a creative director because I’ve never been agency-side. But here’s something: they’re mostly male. All the books about creative direction are by men. The fairly poor reputation that creative directors have in the industry – built by men.
And you know what? They didn’t study it either. They simply reckoned they could do it and they did it, whether they were excellent or mediocre. I think women who want to be creative directors but don’t know how should stop wondering. The men don’t know either, and they’re writing BOOKS about it FFS.
We know how to strategise. We know how to write. We know how to brief. How to art direct, how to present, how to be a creative director. It doesn’t matter what that’s looked like before. This is how it looks now.